weekend open thread – June 5-6, 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: Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I’m reading everything by this author after loving The Plot recently. In this one, an admissions officer at Princeton confronts her failing marriage, issues with her mom, and a momentous decision from the past. There are fascinating details about how admissions officers work!

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

{ 1,007 comments… read them below }

  1. Melandra*

    If you’re having a small group of friends over for dinner and one of them keeps doing things on their phone during dinner, is there a polite way to ask them to put it away or should I assume they’re an adult and it’s up to them whether they want to join the rest of us in conversation or not? I think it’s really rude but I’m not sure if speaking up about it would be rude too. Does it make a difference if it’s a good friend vs someone who is more of a casual acquaintance?

    1. Virginia Plain*

      If it was a close friend I’d probably make a sarcastic comment (for this is the British way) such as, “oh are we boring you Jane?” or, “are you blogging about this for your 9 followers? Will we go viral? Hang on, is it insta, let me do my trout pout…”

      But if it was just a casual acquaintance I would probably just silently judge them. I think it’s rude but pointing out rude behaviour is an awkwardness minefield with someone you don’t know well.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh my god, this happened at dinner with me once. My friend and her boyfriend came over for dinner with my parents (lines were blurred in this friendship which is why I don’t talk to her much any more) and once we finished eating and were talking, he sat at the end of the table on his phone the whole time. It was so rude but none of us said anything because that would’ve made everything awkward.

      However, that was a one-off occurrence. I think if this person keeps coming over and is a repeat guest, then it’d be worth saying something.

    3. Washi*

      One-on-one, I occasionally ask if everything is ok in a mildly worried tone with a glance to the phone. That way if something is going on, they have a chance to explain a bit, even if what’s going on is that they’re seeing someone new and can’t stop texting them! I understand people may sometimes need to take care of something while in my presence.

      But in a larger group, I would probably leave it alone, and stop inviting that friend to dinner parties if it was a pattern. For me personally, being on your phone all the time is just not compatible with my own friendship style and I tend not to get close to people who do that. (On the flip side, a lot of my friends are not big texters precisely they value disconnecting from their phones!)

      1. On the seaside*

        This. There are situations where you need to be on the phone (both work and personal emergencies), it can be good to give an opening to explain.
        If it annoys you (rightly as it’s rude if it’s not an emergency) and happens regularly, can you atop inviting them over? I sure would.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Agreed. Sometimes people have a lot going on, it might be uncomfortable to bring up unasked, and it shows real consideration to ask in this kind way.

      3. traffic_spiral*

        I agree with this. I’d ask if there was an emergency, but other than that, I’m just not going to socialize with you in real life if you’re going to ignore me in favor of your phone – and I am most definitely not inviting you to any kind of gathering I put on.

        If someone doesn’t want to get off their phone, trying to make them will just piss them off, and won’t result in any improvement to their company or conversation. Just make a note that this person is best only interacted with via text.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I don’t think this needs to be quite a fraught as people are implying. You’re the host. I would just say, in a friendly tone, “Hey Tom, can you please put your phone away at the table? Thanks!” I certainly wouldn’t stew silently about it. Even if I were a guest, if this was a personal friend I would probably say the same thing.

      1. Sam I Am*

        If I were to say anything, it would be this. Generally I just deal with it and will mention it later, if I bring it up at all, so I’m not “scolding” someone in front of a group. I’ve also simply not continued dining with people like that. They like to have the phone out during a meal, I prefer we don’t, so we do other activities together instead. I don’t mind folks having their phone out really at any other time.
        If I’m dining 1-on-1 I just stop talking until they put the phone down, but keep it light. They can, indeed be the boss of them. What I’m trying to convey in this situation is that I’d like their attention, not that they’re doing something wrong. It’s important my face and tone reflect this in such a moment.
        I generally leave the phone elsewhere when I’m dining with a human, it’s just easier for me and I have no reason calls etc can’t wait an hour. That isn’t true for everyone and I understand that.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes, a friendly suggestion should do it. In the friends/family social circles of which I am a part, the host generally says “It would be great if everyone could limit the phone activity at dinner if possible.”

        The thing I find to be more annoying is when people insist on taking videos and photos of everyone present, and posting them on social media. I stopped attending certain events (we’re talking pre-covid) because one person refused my request to stop posting (and tagging!) photos and videos without my consent. The guy said “I wasn’t taking a video of you. I was taking a video of the person next to you. It’s not my fault you were next to him. This how things are now. If you don’t like it, stay home.” The guy eventually alienated everyone else (by posting pictures with other people’s kids in them) but, as far as I know, he still thinks everyone should expect to be on video if they walk out their own front door.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d assume one of two things. Either there was something going on in their life that was none of my business, but the need to stay on top of it (family or work emergency, maybe). Or checking their phone from time to time is a strategy they use to get through social situations like a small-group dinner. As to the second, I do have a couple of friends who have diagnosed, undiagnosed, treated, untreated, or untreatable issues, and I’m happy to have them around, if checking their phone once in a while is what it takes for them to hang out with me. (Twenty-five years ago they would be standing up and scanning a bookshelf or playing with my cats or sitting in a corner doing a puzzle. At least now they stay seated with the group.) It feels rude but honestly I don’t take that kind of thing personally.

      1. Liz*

        I think the second is a major factor for me. Many of my social circles have comprised of a large majority or neurodiverse folks (diagnosed or suspected), and as such, various coping mechanisms are welcomed. Phone use is one of them. Just today we had just come back from a few hours outside, and 2 of us were sitting on the couch reading (in my case, this thread, in her case, Facebook) and the 3rd party member got a bit annoyed because she wanted to talk to us about a hotel booking. My other friend (her partner) simply said “we are decompressing” and all was fine. We sat in silence for a bit, read some internets, then put our phones away and looked at hotels.

        I think this kind of thing illustrates the social model of disability, in that a thing is only a disability if the environment makes it so. Im only now, at 36, being investigated for autism as I have spent much of my life around adults with autism and so many of my behaviours were happily accepted and not perceived as rude. The people around me were doing the exact same things. Had I been expected to pay attention, act interested, remember various other social etiquette things, maintain eye contact, etc, it’s possible I would have struggled way more but been pointed towards an autism diagnosis at a far younger age.

      2. Barbara Eyiuche*

        If I go to a dinner party or a gathering at someone’s house, I do not sit and look at my phone, but I definitely do look at their bookshelves, and play with their cats, and I have been known to sit on the floor in a corner and do a puzzle. Does this mean people think I have issues?

        1. allathian*

          Not necessarily, but it probably depends on the size of the gathering and how well you know the other guests. If it’s about 6 people or so and you’re all good friends, I’d say that focusing on anything other than the conversation for most of the gathering would be either impolite or a sign of a coping mechanism, at least if everyone else is having a lively conversation while you’re sitting in a corner doing a puzzle. In a bigger gathering I think it’s only natural that people take breaks from the conversation and look at bookshelves, etc. YMMV.

          That said, I couldn’t resist playing with a cat, either.

          1. Don P.*

            I mean, if you have a playable-with pet, and you invite people over…well, that’s on you.

    6. Liz*

      I can only speak for myself here, but I have a knee jerk reaction to being told to put my phone away. I really struggle to be “socially on” for prolonged periods (my job is very people-focused) and I use my phone to recharge while dipping in and out of conversation. In my circle, we also read out stories from our phones if we think they might be of interest to the group, and use them to prompt conversation. If I had to give a group of people my full attention for the whole time I was visiting, without microbreaks, I’d probably wind up exhausted and have to leave early. I can understand that some people don’t get that, but I find “no phones at the table” to be a tad infantilizing. It takes away my ability to manage my social energy and makes me feel like the other person is demanding I entertain them for the duration of the visit.

      However, it is your house and your rules, and if this is a deal breaker for you, you can absolutely say something with the understanding that perhaps a few people with different preferences might self select out.

      1. Empress Ki*

        If we have a social dinner together, there is an expectation we will entertain each other.
        If retiring to your phone is essential to your wellbeing, you may explain that to your friends so they won’t get offended.

        1. Liz*

          In all honesty, it’s never come up. When I get together with people, there’s not really an expectation of entertaining one another, just that we hang out together, whatever form that may take. This has included falling asleep on the couch and being brought tea upon waking. Each of us do as much or as little talking as we like, people are understanding if someone in the group is feeling quiet, and usually every one of us will have a certain amount of phone time. This is just normal in my circles.

            1. Liz*

              Yes, this happens pretty much every visit. But it’s usually pretty laid back, and yes, phones are a feature. Someone might want to show us a funny video. Someone else will be scrolling through the news and regale us with a current affairs story and we will dissect it. Someone’s phone will go off and it will be a comment from a mutual friend and the receiver will tell us about the conversation because there is an overlap of interest. Someone else then might jump on the same thread and also comment and read their comments aloud to the rest of the group and we will make suggestions. At some point occasionally we might video call another mutual friend so they can “join us” virtually. But I also there might be someone who is feeling quiet and exhausted who might just not be hugely “on” but would like to be out of the house with the option of socializing as best they can, and that’s ok too. Everyone gets fed, zero pressure or expectation.

              1. Calliope*

                It sounds like you have a tight social circle that hangs out a lot in very informal ways which is great. I suspect the issue is more that for a lot of us, you see a particular friend once every two months when the stars (jobs, babysitters, family obligations) align and you get two hours for dinner and drinks and if someone spends a lot of it on their phone, you feel like you didn’t get to catch up.

                1. Liz*

                  That’s fair. I think when i read these questions i can’t usually envisage the specifics of the scenario and get stuck on my own experiences. I do have friends i often only see every few years or so, and I think on those occasions I tend to focus more on them, particularly if it’s only a flying trip for lunch.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Just curious, what did you do before smart phones? Bring a book?

        1. Clara*

          Speaking for myself only – I didn’t go out. I turned down dinner invites and social events because I didn’t have a mechanism to manage them. Now I engage much more because inahve that option, and my friends understand and accept that this is how I manage my social energy and am able to participate. It works for me.

        2. Liz*

          Sometimes, yes. Or find one. I also remember that I would just find a quiet room to just sit and be for a while. My father is exceedingly quiet and often when visiting friends or family he will find a good book on a shelf and just sit in a corner and read for a bit.

        3. Queer Earthling*

          Can’t speak for Liz, but I sometimes have that issue as well and usually I just zoned completely out or hid in the bathroom for a bit.

        4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I certainly used to do that. Or I’d wander away from the table and find something to look at.

        5. Sleepless*

          I’m convinced that half the reason my BIL smokes is that it gives him a reason to walk outside for a bit during social occasions. I can’t blame him.

        6. Beatrice*

          I take walks. Still do. Depending on where I am, I’ll invite others to come with me. On my in-laws’ farm, I just slip out a side door and disappear, and it’s fine…it’s a huge house, usually with a huge gathering (pre covid) and nobody knows where everyone is at every moment anyway. The worst gathering I ever went to there was one where the house was jam packed and there were no quiet corners, and it was sleeting outside so I couldn’t escape outdoors. I was upset about something private that I didn’t want to share, but I was unable to find a place to calm myself and wound up bursting into tears in front of a crowd and had to explain. Awful. (This was post smartphones, but in a place with terrible cell reception and uselessly slow Internet.)

      3. WS*

        Same, but it depends on the situation. A casual get-together, everyone would be on and off their phones, no problem. A special occasion dinner, I would not expect people to be on and off their phones frequently during the dinner. Before and after, yes.

        1. Liz*

          Ahhh this makes sense. Formal dinners are not really a feature of my social life – birthdays and anniversaries are typically just the usual routine only there are cards exchanged – so I think I’ve managed to gravitate towards a group of extremely laid back people. I expect I would find more formal events extremely challenging.

      4. Pocket Mouse*

        It’s rude to be focused on your phone while ostensibly interacting with people in person. There are options to avoid being rude, whether that’s having a shared understanding that social interaction will include time on phones, explaining why you’re doing it, or really making an effort to not do it. It’s not infantilizing to ask you find a way to meet your needs without doing something otherwise regarded as rude.

        I also tend to dip in and out of conversations for microbreaks (love this phrasing!) depending on the situation- but I mostly do it without staring at my phone in front of people. Zone out while appearing to concentrate on my food, examine books on a bookshelf, pet the pet, escape to the kitchen to refill my own drink, help tidy/do some dishes, etc. In some cases I excuse myself to the bathroom a bit more frequently and for a bit longer than usual, and look at my phone there. All of these are easiest in a group setting, and if anyone comments, easy enough to say a few words about and move on with the day. If exhaustion sets in and leaving early is the best option, so be it. A real break achieved by leaving the situation is better for me than extending the struggle to stick it out.

        You mention that in your circle you read things from your phone as prompts. In my experience with this, it’s thinking of something we saw and would like to share, and searching on the phone specifically for it—and even then, there are times when retelling is more appropriate than finding and reading it. For us, it’s definitely not being on our phones until we come across something interesting enough to share. Your circle of friend may well be different, I just think it’s worth pointing out there are different patterns around what you describe, and each will play out differently with different audiences. If your friends are on the same page as you, kudos for finding them and more power to your friendship!

        1. Liz*

          We’re definitely in the realm of shared understanding. It’s just something everyone I know does when we’re together. I can’t say it’s a generational thing either as we’re a mix of late 20s to early 40s. The eldest in our group will usually be the one scrolling through the news and filing the rest of us in on current affairs and prompting discussion. In my case it’s not about /wanting/ to read anything in particular on my phone but the act of scrolling is like a gentle, visual white noise that helps to soothe my brain and being told “you’re not allowed to do that” would just make me a smidge anxious i guess? I think if i fell in with a crowd for whom that wasn’t alright, I doubt I would feel ok asking for accommodations but I would probably just wind up feeling rather twitchy and uncomfortable and might not want to hang out much. But i can understand that this differs depending on the crowd.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Personally, when I’m just sitting around with friends chatting, drinking, playing a game, watching a movie etc I have no problem with phones being out. But for 20 minutes or so during a meal I do put my own phone down and focus on food and conversation and generally expect others to do the same. Part of it is cleanliness too… I don’t want food debris on my phone. I can understand where you’re coming from, but is 20-30 minutes focused more on eating really that big of an ask?

            1. Liz*

              It’s hard to say. I’ve not really been in that situation for a very long time. I can’t really imagine how I might react, but it sort of feels like someone away a coping mechanism. For all I know I might not need it, but being told “you’re not allowed to do x” can make me more stressy – like climbing without a safety rope might make even an easy climb more frightening.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I don’t tend to scold people, I would not say “you’re not allowed to” but I might ask nicely if you could put it down orrr… I would just make a mental note that I didn’t seem to have your attention. And we frequently just hang with 2-3 others max so it’s more noticeable than in a bigger group.

                1. Clara*

                  Fair enough! And if you asked me to do that, I’d make a mental note that I don’t want to hang out with you again, so we’d be good! Your expectations and requirements for friendship/social interaction do not play nicely with my needs for accommodations for my social anxiety, and that’s fine. You’re not a safe person for me to be friendly with, so we’re better off staying far apart with people who understand and accept us as we are. Win/win!

                2. Liz*

                  That may well make the world of difference. The last person I knew who objected to phones at the table would snap “Ah ah ah! Phones OFF!” Or would hold her hand out and take it away from me like a teacher. It wasn’t the most relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes I used to hide in the bathroom for several minutes at a time because I couldn’t handle being there. I also used to feel so exhausted by the constant demand to be “on” that I had to go upstairs and just sleep. I still get fatigued in social situations now but it’s nowhere near as bad.

                  We generally hang out in a group of 4 adults, maybe 5. There’s largely overlap between our interests but it’s also pretty common that 2 or 3 people might be talking about a topic that the other(s) have no interest in, so they might just sit and chill in silence and read a little until the subject changes. Often, if 2 people have wandered off on a lengthy tangent about a particular subject that’s of no interest to anyone else, looking up to find 3 other people engrossed in their phones is usually a gentle cue to change the subject!

                3. Yelm*

                  I think accommodating and understanding others’ social anxiety is important, and I also think it’s important to take on the challenge of pushing against the boundaries of social anxiety, in your own time and maybe as guided by your own professional support. I don’t have severe social anxiety, but I do have a mental illness. Getting the help that allows me to push back against the ways my mental illness wants to keep me confined has made the world a lot bigger for me. Of course, this presupposes that one has access to good resources—I didn’t, for many years. I just think this issue is best addressed—compassionately—from both sides. It’s legitimate to make space for others’ struggles, and it’s also legitimate to consider what you may be capable of, with the right support.

                4. ThatGirl*

                  Wow, didn’t expect so much pushback, Liz’s reply seemed quite fair to me. I do have friends with anxiety, and other mental health issues. I have a developmentally disabled brother. I’m certainly not without compassion. If I felt like someone wasn’t able to connect with me, we probably wouldn’t end up being friends and that’s fine, but it’s not about the phone per se.

          2. Washi*

            This is really lovely! Though it wouldn’t work for me personally, it’s awesome that you all have that shared level of understanding and are able to just be yourselves together. I’m suprised you’re getting so many questions haha.

            1. Liz*

              Thank you! It can be quite challenging to engage in discussion like this, as I’m often quite afraid of being judged. I’ve struggled with various mental health issues since I was 10, and often just labelled as being disruptive or acting up for no reason. Im fortunate enough now that I don’t get anxious in many social situations, but I do periodically just need to check out because I can’t pay attention to people for that long.

              I think conversations like this highlight the subjective notion of “rudeness” and how it varies across society. I saw a similar discussion about the idea of calling someone without texting first to ask if they are free. The growing prevalence of mobile phones has made it so many people have their phones on them at all times, and a growing number of people feel the polite thing to do is to text first and ask “are you free to talk?” This saw some heated debate, but not down the generational lines as one might expect. The people who felt the expectation to text first was antisocial were in their early 20s.

              I’m very aware that I might not be everyone’s cup of tea to socialise with, and I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to seek out adults with shared expectations and similar needs. I like to think this is what comes from people being their authentic selves and setting their own boundaries, whatever form that might take.

              1. Laure*

                Liz, where did this discussion happen? If it is on a public forum of course.
                Thank you for all this discussion, it was fascinating!

                1. Liz*

                  It was an instagram post that came up as a suggestion based on the fact that I follow a lot of accounts around neurodiversity. Sadly I wasn’t able to find it again, but it made for interesting reading as the two most outspoken objectors were 21 and 22 respectively.

                  If you Google something like “texting before calling etiquette” there are several articles on the subject. Technology changes our world in so many different ways, I find it quite fascinating.

      5. PrincessB*

        This is me exactly. And if we’re close friends, just ask and I’ll explain.

      6. Caroline Bowman*

        I’m one of the people who doesn’t get that. I don’t understand why a person who is presumably there voluntarily, at what sounds like a casual supper with friends, a small group, cannot, for the duration of a meal, not sit with their eyes and brain glued to their phone, and that if they are unable to do this, it will exhaust them to the point of having to go home.

        I’d not say anything – I do agree that to do that is infantilising – but I’d certainly expect people who are at an in-person social occasion, especially not a huge, long one, to be present for an hour or so.

        If someone has a message or a call they are waiting for, or they’re on call for whatever reason, clearly that is different.

    7. matcha123*

      I generally try to put my phone away when I am meeting people. However there are times when there’s a bit of a lull in the conversation or someone goes to the bathroom and I’ll check my phone then.
      If they are pulling out their phones to chat with other people for ten or twenty minutes or something, I’d find that off. But if they are checking messages and such, I don’t find that so weird.

    8. lapgiraffe*

      I sit between two extremes of this in my friend group – in one corner is a friend who definitely offends people by being on her phone during social gatherings, but I’ve realized it’s a social anxiety coping mechanism and not exactly the rudest example of phone behavior, while another friend is so aggressively anti phone that she rudely scolds me and I have to preface any expected phone use with an emergency like explanation or else I am shamed like a child. So even though I, personally, put my phone away while at dinner and prefer to not engage with it unless i’m pulling up photos or looking up important information, I’m actually more annoyed and offended by the no phone friend because I find it infantilizing, snobby, and irrational for her to take such a hard stance. Her father even scolded me at their house when I was looking up some critical information, besides the fact that it was a casual cocktail time before dinner, I’m 36 and definitely didn’t appreciate him treating me like I’m 8 years old.

      So that said, I’m a fan of not having the phones *on* the table but not forbidding their use outright. If you want a no phone environment at a dinner then say it in a nice way beforehand, so as to not single anyone out, but also in a way that is friendly and understanding that some people will need to engage with their phone for whatever reason at some point and the world will not end.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Asking the group to limit phone use to “important stuff ” during the meal has worked for us. No-one ever questions or comments on phone use after that point, but just saying it seems to reduce phone time a lot. Anyone who needs to have more than a brief phone conversation always leaves the table – not sure if that was ever discussed, its is just what we do.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        Agree. There is always context to consider, and whilst I loathe having someone sit there on their phone at dinner, particularly in a small group, I do not agree with scolding that person in any way at the time. If anything, I’d just not invite them the next time if it seemed like a regular thing (rather than a private emergency or personal situation – I’m not talking about one-offs or being on call etcetera), or say before sitting down to eat ”okay chaps, no phones for dinner! Let’s look at each other’s weird faces for a change!” or something like that.

        Personal choice is always important, and if someone keeps doing that in ways I consider inappropriate, I have the choice to either speak with them privately at a different time, or simply not include them next time.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I think you all should each send the friend a text asking if everything is alright.
      Uh, okay maybe not.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        Actually, I think that’s not a horrible idea! It let’s the person know that what they’re doing *is* being noticed, but you’re not calling them out in front of everyone in an embarrassing way. And when they look up, give them a kind smile, because why not?

    10. MissElizaTudor*

      What others have said about politely asking people not to be on their phones before dinner, or even kindly mentioning to this person one on one that it bothers you is good advice, but it might be valuable to work on reframing it for yourself so you no longer find it rude, if you want to continue to invite this person.

      It sounds like these aren’t one on one interactions, so their decision to spend some time quietly looking at their phone isn’t interrupting anyone or interfering with others’ ability to interact socially, like it would if you were having dinner with just that person. Similarly, it isn’t as though anyone is getting completely ignored in favor of a phone because there are multiple people there to pay attention to each other. So it isn’t objectively rude (if such a thing even exists) or hurtful, so it’s something that one can shift one’s perspective on.

      1. Cassidy*

        Sorry, but I don’t understand people who agree to let someone else feed them, and return the kindness by staying glued to a phone.

        If a guest is waiting on a true emergency phone call, s/he should let host/-ess know. If it’s that hard to look up from a phone for a 30-minute dinner someone has made for guest, guest shouldn’t accept the invitation in the first place. Nothing says “You’re boring me” like staring into a phone screen for the duration. SO sick of “But…my phone!” being an excuse to be rude.

        1. Windchime*

          This is kind of how I feel about it. I go to dinner frequently with a particular friend and she is hooked on her phone. It’s almost never turned on silent so it’s constantly dinging and chiming with different notifications, and she is compelled to check each one. Same thing in the car; she keeps her phone on a little stand and it almost makes her crazy if someone texts her and she can’t read it. I don’t understand what is so hard about just turning it onto silent or keeping it in her purse until dinner is over or we reach the destination in the car. These aren’t emergency situations; just texts from kids and friends. It drives me nuts.

        2. allathian*

          If this happened with a friend I was meeting one on one, I’d agree with you, it would just be so awkward. But if it’s a bigger group and someone’s paying some attention to the conversation and scrolling on their phone during lulls in the conversation or because they feel they don’t have anything to contribute to the current topic, I don’t think it’s that bad. I certainly feel that a person who’s talking all the time and doesn’t give others a chance to say anything is more rude than the one who’s looking at their phone.

        3. MissElizaTudor*

          That seems like viewing social interaction as more of a one to one exchange than a mutually beneficial interaction. I would hope people invite people to dinner because they enjoy cooking and hosting, not because they expect something specific in return except the company of others. Someone looking at their phone doesn’t remove them from your company any more than not fully engaging in conversation or getting up to look at books or play with a dog or cat. As I said, if it really bothers you, express yourself kindly in a one in one conversation. If they don’t stop, and that means you no longer enjoy their company, then don’t invite them any more.

          Doing things on one’s phone doesn’t inherently read as “you’re boring me” and being somewhat bored and wanting to have some different stimulation for a bit also doesn’t inherently mean the person is insulting you. So long as you have other people to interact with, it doesn’t objectively hurt you in any way or take anything away from you, so it’s more about your own interpretation of it. That’s why I said it might be valuable for Melandra to work on shifting their own perceptions so it bothers them less.

          1. Artemesia*

            someone scrolling, playing, texting other friends etc is in fact NOT present and engaged with me and my dinner party. They are not ‘company’; they are giant toads planted in the middle of a group of people who have to interact around them. This is incredibly boorish behavior. The idea that you invite them therefore you must put up with boorish behavior because you can’t demand anything of guests strikes me as bizarre. Would you also be good with them arriving, packing up your carefully prepared meal in tuperware and heading home so they can watch their soaps? After all you have no right to expect anything from them when you make them dinner.

    11. Bri*

      I agree with many of the other replies you’ve gotten. I don’t think it’s rude to ask and I wouldn’t be shy about asking, in a kind way, for a friend to put their phone away. My mother is the biggest offender of checking her phone during meals. Like, she can’t get through a meal without checking. For financial reasons, I share a home with my parents and my brother and our meals are largely silent because my mother can’t focus for 20 minutes – it’s Pavlovian at this point – any sort of phone noise and she’s whipping it out of her pocket to check.

      I get it if it actually rings with a call – my grandmother is 92 years old, we need to be available to her, but social/games/etc can wait, in my opinion.

    12. LQ*

      One on one with a close friend I’ve just said something like I get 3 nonwork hours a week and I’m choosing to spend one with you, but you clearly don’t want to spend it with me so if you’re not going to put that down I’m leaving.

      With very very close friends and sisters in small dinner things I’ve taken phones away and put them in the middle of the table face down and they’ve done the same to me. (To be fair this is mostly done TO me, my sister one time stuck it in the fridge because I would not stop.) In less intimate friend groups I’d just let it go, I might say something briefly but only once.

    13. Grapey*

      I also agree it’s super rude. I’d never say anything to another adult though.

      More likely I’d see if their phone use stopped conversation (e.g. them asking “huh?” after being addressed every time) and never invite them back if that were the case.

      Personally, my good friends ARE my good friends because we have these social rules that we don’t need to actually spell out. I tend not to keep friends with people that I think are boorish or where I would want them to change somehow.

    14. Mourning Reader*

      My friends have settled into a pattern in which someone might occasionally do a quick lookup for a piece of info relevant to the discussion, but I don’t recall anyone sitting and scrolling for long periods while at the table. I have a similar dilemma during casual socializing that I’d like to say something about, but I’m not sure what to say or if I should.

      That is, when a visiting friend gets a call from their adult child or elderly parent, they take the call and then talk for a long time. (5 minutes to an hour.) now, I understand talking the call, it could be an emergency. But after a couple of minutes, when they’ve checked in and everything is ok on both ends, I’d like to hear, “I’m visiting with my friend right now, can I call you back tonight/tomorrow/on my drive home etc.”

      So, do I pause whatever we’re watching or talking about for the duration? Do I take out my own phone? Do I leave the room? Can I ask them to keep it short? Do I add myself to the conversation by shouting out “hello, Friend’s Child?” I have at least two friends who do this. Apparently they think their family person takes precedence over talking to me, even if they have driven hours to see me. I think it’s weird (I am rarely that much of a phone talker so it feels excessive even to be passively listening to one end of this conversation) and rude to me, but it’s also rude to correct an adult’s manners, so…

      Maybe I could stage whisper “could you take that in the other room?” When it hits 5 minutes or so? I’m not sure it’s worth a “when you do x, I feel y,” conversation.

      This is not the same problem as phone scrolling, it’s using the phone as a phone (telephonic communication device) but with everyone else in the room hostage to the one-sided conversation until she wraps it up.

      Any scripts or advice for this situation? Or is it better to just continue to suck it up?

      1. Crackerjack*

        I definitely don’t think you’re wrong that it’s rude and weird. I’m not sure of any useful scripts though. I think I prefer the suggestion of, when it starts going on, asking them to take it in another room. And then see if they take the hint.

      2. Who is the asshole*

        Same issue with a friend and I’m always pro talk about it, state your needs/let them know what you want from them. in my friend’s case I ask her to take it outside because it will absolutely make it hard to impossible to continue a conversation with other people in the room. If it’s just the two of you I find it quite rude.
        In my opinion it’s OK to not shield people from natural consequences of their behavior. That means continue any conversations you are having or take out your own phone. you can also shorten visits or see them less often if it’s not enjoyable to you.
        I can recommend looking at captain awkwards blog for more ideas.

    15. Artemesia*

      No way I am going to the work of hosting a dinner party to have someone playing on their phone during dinner. Only exception would be someone looking up something that comes up in discussion (being old many conversations at my dinner party begin with ‘it was you know, what’s his name, who was in that movie about that French novel by whosis’ — )

      If I had a friend who did that a lot I’d talk to them privately — if someone pulled out a phone during a dinner, I’d josh them about it right there — better to nip these things than to let them fester.

    16. Budgie Buddy*

      I think the most polite way to prompt someone to put the phone down is whenever you see the phone staying out, make a point to bring that person back into the conversation. Don’t mention the phone, just say “Bob- what about you? Do you think…”

      In my experience my phone hand usually starts twitching whenever I’m being left out of the conversation, or the topic is something I e heard before, or not something I have any relevant comment on. People tend to have the cause and effect backward – a lot of time people don’t disengage in favor of the phone, phones come out because people are already zoned out. So reframe it as a visual cue that the conversation has become unbalanced. If someone isn’t comfortable, isn’t it better to know?

      In my view, one person monopolizing the conversation is much ruder than a person checking a phone in a group because at least the phone checker isn’t insisting everyone else look at the phone and frowning on them if they dare get distracted. But the oversharers fly under the radar because that’s more socially acceptable.

      Phone – revenge of the quiet and the neuroduverse?

      1. Cooper*

        This is a great point about cause and effect– the phone makes it obvious that I’m completely disengaged, but in the days before the phone, I was just as distracted. But with a phone out, I can sit there absentmindedly scrolling Twitter until something in the conversation catches my ear and I can join in again. Without the phone, I’m probably going to wander off to the bathroom or just stare into space and be truly not participating in the conversation. It basically boils down to: do you want me to be engaging with the conversation, or do you want me to look to neurotypicals like I’m engaging? Because I can’t do both.

        1. Freya*

          This.

          Do you want me to listen to what you’re saying while looking at my phone (or doodling), or to stare at you creepily and hear nothing?

  2. ArtIsCool*

    I’ve been trying to learn German for the past three months. I know it’s still early, and it’s only been three months, but I find myself losing motivation.

    What motivated for me to start was to talk fluently with a German friend, but we had a sort of fall out the other day and am in no-speaking terms anymore. So that’s probably why I’m losing motivation, but I still sort of want to learn German. So I guess my question is, what motivates you to keep on going? Also, does anyone have recommendations on learning German other than using Anki or Duolingo? I’m very bad learning via textbooks but would be willing to try a good one.

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Find more people who speak German or are learning it! Maybe you can find an actual German in Germany who wants to practice their English. People are hugely motivating for me, especially with languages.

      Otherwise: make practicing a habit as much as possible. So, all the advice about forming habits applies: fold it into your routine, do it at the same time every day, reward yourself if you do X amount, or whatever other methods work for you.

      Find media you like in the language or around the language. Since you’re way at the beginning: are there books you can read about Germany or Austria or Switzerland? What about a travel video, like on Netflix or something like that? The more excited you are, the more likely you are to want to practice. Also, usually you get some cultural information along with, which is really important.

      I’ll write back if I think of books to recommend.

    2. RitaRelates*

      I like to use YouTube videos. When I was learning Spanish, I found quite a few channels specifically for listening comprehension practice which is something I really needed to work on. I kept motivated by the excitement of eventually being bilingual and telling myself I’d travel to South America or Spain one day

      1. Crop Tiger*

        Be careful that you don’t let your interests divert you. I learned to read Portuguese because my favorite F1 drivers were Brazilian. I can’t speak it, but if you want to have a conversation about tires and down
        force, we’re all good. Anything else…I think I know Portuguese for garlic.

    3. Ana*

      I’ve been trying to refresh my German and just discovered that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier had German dub on Disney+. There might be other German dubbed movies/series there. (Though the German subtitles don’t match the dubbing.)

    4. Aspiring Francophone*

      If you are a podcast person check out “Coffee Break German”. Their French podcast was a favorite of mine when I was early in learning the language. Their episodes are usually 20 minutes or so, and they build upon each other in really practical ways. Start at the beginning and then jump forward to whatever episode/season feels appropriate with where you’re at.

      Seconding other commenters who recommend finding groups/other native speakers if you can. Language learning is hard and there can be a big gap between learning on your own and learning how to have more “natural” conversations. Practicing with those who are fluent will help, even when it’s frustrating. Good luck!

    5. Tau*

      I’ve been learning Spanish for around three years and have reached a decent level with it. Honestly, I find that the only way it works is if you talk to actual people. I threw $$$$ at the problem, in the form of:
      * taking a full-time language course in Spain for vacation a few times
      * then doing an evening Spanish course back home
      * once pandemic hit, taking private Zoom classes on iTalki

      I can, for the record, highly recommend iTalki (link to follow) – in addition to hooking you up with a private teacher, including “community tutor”s without professional credentials who are often so cheap per hour that I don’t use them because I’m worried it’s exploitative/contributes to devaluing the profession, it also allows you to find a free language exchange partner where you can practice each other’s language. I don’t use that functionality myself (my speech disorder was extremely strong when I was starting with Spanish and I honestly didn’t want to subject a tandem partner to it :/) but I could see it being very helpful.

      In general, language is a tool for communication and the only way I’ve been able to keep my motivation up, and to get to a point where I can actually speak the language, is by putting myself in situations where I’m using it to communicate. Trying to continue with just vocabulary decks, duolingo, online courses and the like always resulted in my motivation fizzling out shortly.

      Viel Glück und viel Spaß beim weiteren Lernen! Ich hoffe, dass dir das geholfen hat. :)

      1. Nicotene*

        Hmm, based on your last line I’m not sure your Spanish classes are as effective as you may have hoped! :D (kidding)

        1. Tau*

          Unfortunately, the only advice I can offer with learning specifically German is “be born to German parents”. :P

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      Honestly, my motivation rises and falls with Spanish even though I’m living in Spain. My Spanish is at a decent level that I can leave it without it deteriorating too badly for about six months when I generally get another burst of motivation to learn. I’m currently in a period of learning at the moment because I’ve got an appointment at the local tax office coming up and need to make sure my Spanish is ready for that. So don’t worry if your motivation isn’t always at 100%. Even if it’s at 1% you can still do some reading – just an article of a newspaper or something – or even listen to movie trailers on YouTube in German. It all counts.

      But I have to second what Tau recommends with iTalki.

      Full disclosure, I do teach English on iTalki but I also learn Spanish on there (and I had a brief flirtation with French back in the day) but you can choose your own teacher via your requirements i.e. native speaker, availability, etc., and the price point varies for community tutors and professional teachers. To give you an idea of price, I charge $20 per one-hour lesson for a conversation class and $25 per hour for exam preparation but I’m classed as a professional teacher because I have a CELTA. Community tutors are generally anywhere from $5-$20 but, honestly, the community tutors are fantastic. I’ve always had a wonderful experience with the Spanish ones.

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      I belong to a German-American Lutheran church. There are people who pop into the German service for the language, and we have a Saturday German language school. Depending on where you are, there might be something similar.

    8. Elf*

      I really like the old school Pimsleur language cds. I’m doing Portuguese with them right now. They are expensive, but I’ve been getting them from the public library, which is free.

    9. e271828*

      Motivation: I can’t tell you what will motivate you. For me it was interest in the 19c poets and some specific authors and movements, and also (initially) it was a non-Romance language so it was a pleasant challenge to break from those. I studied German at university and I continue to be engaged with German culture and so my comprehension, at least in reading, is still good. I can’t tell you what will motivate you. For me it was interest in the 19c poets and some specific authors and movements, in culture and history, and also (initially) it was a non-Romance language so it was a pleasant challenge to break from those.

      Reading: Your local library may be able to get comics/bandes dessines in German. I am specifically thinking of Asterix, as it’s funny, engaging, and, although not slangy, has dialogues, grammar, and so forth, and it has helped generations of students.

      Exposure to spoken language is very helpful for developing
      German media: there are some German-language subtitled shows on Netflix, at least, IDK about other sites. Check YouTube for dubbed shows. Bayerische Rundfunk has a streaming site for radio and there are other German stations streaming too. You can find something that suits you. Just having the radio on in the background helps habituate your ear and brain to the sounds of a new language.

      General help: If you aren’t aware of the Goethe Institut, you should be! https://www.goethe.de/en/index.html They have forums for practicing and you may be able to meet up with other students in your area for conversation!

      1. e271828*

        Sorry, something really weird happened with the entry box there!!

        Anyway, Übung macht der Meister, so do keep engaging with it if you want to progress!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Just listen to it when you are not sitting down to study it. Play some German audios while fixing meals, driving, whatever. Maybe you can find a new channel online?
      My aunt lived with her German husband and MIL. She never studied German. The hubby and MIL spoke German so much in front of my aunt that she eventually caught on to what they were saying. (Yeah, I know, right? Her revenge was she never told them that she had finally learned to understand them. lol.)

    11. Atx*

      I recommend 1:1 classes or finding language partners to practice with who want to learn English. If I can be frank, duolingo is a waste of time and no app will teach you how to speak the language. Apps like that are good for people who are traveling somewhere and want to learn a few phrases, or are learning a challenging language then after a month or so move onto classes. Apps are also addicting and designed for you to waste time on, when you could be doing other productive things to learn.

      Imagine if you were learning how to play the guitar, could you learn how to play by never playing? The same concept applies to language learning. You really need to speak it and apply what you learn.

      This process takes time, especially for a Germanic language. Diplomats learn languages in record time but they’re taking 1:1 role play classes for 3 hours a day then study the rest on their own (they’re paid to learn the language and don’t work during this time). Romance languages take 3-4 months to learn and Germanic languages take 7-8 months. So imagine if you never speak it, how are you going to learn? (I know this info bc I know a professor who teaches to diplomats).

      Italki is a great place to find professors.

      Tandem for language partners.

      I’ve been learning languages for 5 years, speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese and started from scratch. I’ve downloaded ever y language app and none of helped me excel like taking classes with native professors. For Spanish, I felt confident in my speaking skills after 2 years of taking classes and practicing on my own.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I found Duolingo to be useful, but I agree with you that the app alone won’t teach you the language. The thing Duolingo does very well is repetition, repetition, repetition of the same basic things over and over and over again. I like(d) it for basic vocabulary and very basic grammar. Anything complicated or involving nuance or pronunciation or natural language formulations….nah. I think it makes the first hurdles in language learning a bit easier and provides a gamified system that is motivating for a subset of the population, so I think it is a useful thing to have on hand, but it’s not enough by itself.

    12. PiperWhite*

      There’s news in slow German. They speak slowly so you can catch on and then there is an intermediate level. There is also a French version which I am finding very helpful.
      www. newsinslowgerman.com
      As for motivation, plan a trip!

    13. Girasol*

      I like to do Duolingo Irish lessons in bed in the morning. It’s a mental warmup that just feels good.

    14. Ursula*

      I feel you. I’ve been trying to become fully fluent in Spanish off and on for years (and I even have relatives I speak it with, but it’s still hard!)

      A few things that have been working for me lately…

      1) Replacing routines/activities I usually do in English with Spanish. For example, I was doing yoga at home with YT videos in English, then I switched to Spanish yoga videos. I also like to watch cooking tutorials in Spanish and try to make the dish. I find this literally active listening cements the vocab for me and also doesn’t feel so much like studying.

      2) Like others have mentioned, I’ve been doing one-on-one virtual tutoring, but through Live lingua (just to give another option).

      3) listening to music, but in particular political rap and folk music that has more vocabulary than the top 40s stuff. I find learning the lyrics a more fun way to remember new words. (If you don’t already have German music you like, I like Peter Fox)

      Anyway hope that helps! :) I think it’s totally understandable for motivation to wax and wane. That’s why I’m trying to build some habits & I tell myself, just some Spanish everyday, at least 5 minutes

    15. slmrlln*

      For German specifically, if you live in or near a big city, see if there’s a Goethe Institut in your area. Their classes are expensive (and excellent), but they also organize other kinds of activities (like movie nights) where you can hear German, practice German, and meet other people who are doing the same.

    16. dieStreberin*

      Agh German, how I love/hate it! (and of course the Germans have a word for it – Hassliebe) Ten years I had to teach myself university-level German in 8 months from scratch and oh boy, it wasn’t pretty. But it’s doable, and once you’re fluent there’s no language like it – the precision of expression is intoxicating, and Germans/Austrians are funny as hell. If you’re someone that loves languages for their own sake, German is a tumultuous love affair well worth getting into. It’s incredibly high-maintenance right from the start (all that grammar!), but after you’ve put your brain through the blender you’ll come out the other side stronger ;)

      Aaaanyways, here are some resources that might be helpful:
      – A book that you absolutely need both for language learning and emotional support is Mark Twain’s The Awful German Language/ Die schreckliche Deutsche Sprache. It’s written in parallel text in English and German which is great for learning vocabulary, and it’s basically and essay-length rant about the impossibility of the German language – hilarious and true. Even if you don’t get the book definitely google the quotes.
      – I know it’s a total bummer, but you really do need grammar with German, the sooner the better. You don’t need a textbook if you have a good grammar book, coupled with your preferred method of learning vocabulary (reading/listening/whatever). “Die Gelbe Aktuell” is good to start with, but there are also many grammar websites out there.
      – Deutsche Welle has a ton of language-learning resources, including some good podcasts for different levels: https://www.dw.com/de/deutsch-lernen/s-2055 Slow German mit Annik Rubens is also a classic, great for beginners.
      – dictionaries: Dict.cc for looking up words, deepl.com for text translation that is waaay better than Google Translate
      – There are also good German-language series on Netflix (Dark, for example!), but I don’t think it’s ideal to start with that after 3 months.
      – For a beginner, I would suggest listening to/reading the German translation of a book you know well, so that you know what’s going on even if you only understand half the words. You’re much more likely to give up if you have to run to the dictionary every 2 minutes! (My Rosetta Stone is the third Harry Potter book, I have it in 7 languages, works like a charm!)

  3. Boundary Book Request*

    My friend told me her partner is a narcissist and asked for my advice setting boundaries with him?

    I don’t know what to tell her? I said I’d send her some resources (books, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc) but really I’m just googling over here so do y’all have any resources that have helped you learn to set boundaries with narcissists?

    1. ..Kat..*

      The Out of the Fog is a great resource for understanding, setting boundaries, and otherwise dealing with people with personality disorders.

      Sometimes, the best way is to not be a partner with someone with a personality disorder. I.e., don’t marry them, have children with them, be in a business (or other joint effort) with them in the first place.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I know this sounds harsh, but the best way to protect yourself is to be able to identify and avoid partnering with someone with a personality disorder. This opinion was earned through several bad experiences.

        1. StellaBella*

          Echoing your comments and Kat’s.

          But talk to your friend about getting therapy to learn boundary setting if they can afford it. Brene Brown has good stuff on youtube and there is a subreddit about raised by narcissists that has good advice.

          I have been in three work relationships in my career where the director general big boss was a narcissist. One was fired after 38 complaints, 18 months of investigations, and losing half the organization to his villany. That is the only good thing to happen for those of us who were involved.

          All that said, BBR, your friend cannot fix the partner so the best thing would be to leave/block etc but if they cannot leave then I hope they can build strong boundaries against the gas lighting and such.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Not only can your friend not “fix” their partner —

            but YOU can’t fix your FRIEND either. Your friend could google this just as well as you can, presumably.

        2. StripesAndPolkaDots*

          Hi, I have a personality disorder (not narcissism), as does my mother. I’ve been in therapy, take meds, and still have symptoms. I’m also married, have friends, and have had a career. Many people with personality disorders are just people with a mental illness. If you don’t want to associate with any of us, fine, but lumping us all together is ignorant. Not ever person with every personality disorder is abusive or terrible.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with you. At the very least, don’t have kids with them, don’t combine finances, don’t have kids, don’t live together and don’t have kids. That way, you’ve got space to protect yourself, you can leave if it gets unbearable, and you aren’t knowingly saddling a child with the pain of being raised by a narcissist.

    2. Ana*

      I’d probably tell her to really really rethink having a relationsship with a narcissist.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      I’d second the recommendations to seriously rethink having a relationship with a narcissist, but if that’s a no-go then Meredith Miller on YouTube has fantastic videos about relationships with narcissists (in English and in Spanish!)

    4. Anona*

      This is a resource oft- mentioned, but Captain Awkward’s website is advice-style (like ask a manager), and has TONS of letters about setting boundaries. She has class act boundary advice.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Unless you’re an expert in personality disorders, I don’t see what information you will get from Google that she can’t get from Google.

      If I were you, I would focus on her perception that he’s a narcissist. Why does she use that term? If she means, “my partner is a boundary-stomping pain in the butt, how can I set limits,” then she’s not helping the situation by pathologizing him. She should just explore resources about dealing with pain-in-the-butt partners. If she means, “I have actual reason to believe that my partner meets the clinical criteria of a personality disorder,” then one of them needs help and it’s probably her. Helping her deal with that kind of situation is way above your pay grade, and most likely she needs support in realizing that it’s time to leave.

    6. Workerbee*

      Oof. If that’s an accurate assessment, the only way I’ve kicked free of narcissists in my life is to:

      -Wrench myself free with the help of a friend
      -No longer be of use to or provide whatever they were looking for, in which case suddenly I was “dead” to them

      Those people are experts at passing for real human beings—charming, charismatic, often brilliant, so focused on you!—when instead they’re just looking to fill up their hollow shell with your essence.

    7. WellRed*

      Why is she asking you instead of doing it yourself, if all you’re doing is googling?

      1. RC Rascal*

        +1. She wants you to solve a difficult problem that she needs to solve herself. That in and of itself is a problem and a sign of boundary issues. She wants to draw you into her drama.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. She needs to do her own homework. You can role-model how not to get sucked into it.

    8. fposte*

      I hope she means set her own boundaries. You can’t make other people have boundaries; that’s a control thing.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I don’t think you can “set limits” w/an actual Narcissist. Unless the boundary you’re setting is to keep your distance. If it’s a close relative you can try not to get triggered and to make your own choices. But choosing to be w/one when you don’t have to is just counter-productive to a healthy life.

        1. Ice Bear*

          I agree. Narcissists don’t respect other people’s boundaries. This person’s friend would be best terminating the relationship.

        2. fposte*

          That’s what boundaries are always going to be—they’re not about what the other person has to do, they’re about what you do.

        3. Generic Name*

          Sure you can. Limits and boundaries are about you and what you will tolerate. The hard part is deciding what to do when the other person doesn’t respect your boundaries, which is typical for a narcissist. Breaking up and going no contact is the best way to enforce your boundaries with a narcissist.

        4. Yelm*

          No, I have to disagree. You can ONLY set boundaries with a narcissist, and stick to them. The narcissist will not like it, and will push back. But honestly, there are so many websites and books on this subject, plus entire subreddits. I don’t know why she doesn’t start there.

    9. Disco Janet*

      This feels like a trick question. I’d say the best boundary to set would be a boundary for yourself that you don’t do serious relationships with narcissists who have no interest in changing (like serious therapy change). They make for terrible partners and worse parents.

    10. PollyQ*

      I’m wondering if when friend says “narcissist”, what she really means is “abuser” and that perhaps she’s asking you to do the research for her because she doesn’t feel safe doing it herself. Anyway, if you think that might be a possibility, I recommend Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

      1. Generic Name*

        Oooh, good tip. If she lives with her partner she could go to the library (hopefully they’re open in her area) and read a copy there. This isn’t a book I’d have sitting in my nightstand while living with my abuser.

    11. Small town*

      Perhaps she could read “The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists” The author is Payson, I think. Best advice is what you see here. Run far, run fast.

    12. Budgie Buddy*

      Dr. Ramani’s videos on YouTube are the best. Her entire channel is devoted to the relationship dynamics with narcissists. (Hint: the advice boils down to “Accept that they suck and aren’t going to change.”)

  4. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Favorite Sandwich! Go! :)

    Right now, I’m loving honey mustard, aged cheddar and oodles of veggies, olives and artichoke hearts on ciabatta roll.

    1. PollyQ*

      Sourdough bread, very rare roast beef, very sharp cheddar, Dijon or grainy mustard. (The leftover veggies can go in a salad.)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m really simple: Sliced turkey on a sesame bap with mayonnaise, maybe some spinach if I’m trying to be healthy.

    3. Bobina*

      I need to eat more sandwiches, but I have fond memories of a really nice boiled egg (a super fresh egg), butter, salt, pepper and tomatoes on some extremely basic white bread.

      The other side is roasted veggies (peppers, onions), sun dried tomatoes, some kind of sharp dressing in a ciabatta.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      Wholewheat pitta, toasted, stuffed with shredded cabbage and carrot mixed with vegan mayo, kebab ‘meat’, and sweet chilli sauce. It’s delish without the meat, just coleslaw and sweet chilli sauce, too.

      I also love, love, love Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s shitake banh mí. In fact, I think I might have that today ❤️

      1. RussianInTexas*

        One of my favorite summer dinners is a pita pocket, feta, cucumbers, scallions, bell peppers, whatever herbs you want.

    5. Buni*

      EITHER cold roast beef, lettuce and a ton of mayonnaise on granary,

      OR smoked ham, smoked cheese and mayonnaise on – and this is the really important bit – a brioche roll.

    6. Anona*

      A ciabatta roll with prosciutto, provolone, olive oil marinated tomatoes, and some greens, with a mayo/dijon spread.

    7. Elf*

      Good rye bread, very rare roast beef (leftover from my Christmas roast is the best I get all year), horseradish and mayo, plus some lettuce or sprouts

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Varies!
      Hard salami and provolone on a crusty bread roll.
      Creamy peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam on wheat.
      Sliced turkey and cheddar with yellow mustard and mayonnaise.
      Bacon and mayo on toast.

      … mostly I just like sandwiches. But I don’t much care for veggies on my sandwiches.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      I had a delicious broccoli Rabe, roasted pepper, and fresh mozzarella with basil on a nice, soft Italian roll the other day, although that’s not something I could eat every day, it was fabulous!

    10. Queer Earthling*

      Absolute all-time fave? Cold turkey, bacon, tomato, greenery (prefer spinach but I’ll take lettuce in a pinch), cheddar or gouda, some mayo (MUST touch the tomato!) and maybe some mustard, on either toasted wheat bread or a bagel.

      Runner-up is roast beef and swiss on a Hawaiian roll, lightly toasted in the oven, with some horseradish.

    11. Firefly*

      New fave: grilled cheese with caramelized onions, like a French Onion Soup sandwich.

      All-time best sandwich I ever ate was called a Thanksgiving Club, and it was turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sautéed spinach.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I make grilled cheese with caramelized onions, too, with hot beef/onion broth for dipping. My family has seriously considered having this for Thanksgiving because it’s pretty much the best food ever.

    12. GoryDetails*

      If you count wraps, I found a recipe some years back for a wrap featuring roasted eggplant in a balsamic dressing, with some hummus and greens – I used arugula. Really tasty!

      For ordering-at-cafes sandwiches, I might go for a good grilled cheese or a BLT (plus avocado if that’s an option).

      Growing up, I spent an entire school year having the same sandwich for lunch: Oscar Meyer bologna on Wonder Bread with mayo. Not my most adventurous dish, but it was quick and easy to assemble, and at the time I prioritized the long walk to and from school at noon over the actual making-and-eating-lunch part – I spent the walk daydreaming.

    13. Rain rain go away*

      Currently loving whole wheat pita, with an olive tapenade and tuna prepared with fresh basil, marinated artichokes, squeeze of lemon, and capers.

    14. ThatGirl*

      I had a killer BLT riff last week, it was fried green tomato, bacon, buffalo mozzarella, arugula and pesto aioli on ciabatta.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      Reuben. Or go full Russian, rye bread, butter, raw onion, salted herring, dill.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I recently realized, “Never pass up a Reuben if there’s a chance it’ll be good.” Never had a bad one.

    16. Nicole76*

      Homemade chicken salad (rotisserie chicken with mayo, celery, red grapes, salt, and pepper) on a croissant.

    17. All Monkeys are French*

      I don’t eat sandwiches all that much, but lately we’ve gotten into making tofu banh mi for dinner: marinated and fried tofu, cucumber, cabbage/jalapeno/cilantro slaw, sriracha mayo and preserved lime on a baguette. It’s messy, but freaking delicious.

    18. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I get on grilled sandwich kicks in cooler weather. My basic is extra-sharp cheddar for flavor and Munster for meltiness, on a grainy wide-loaf bread. A heartier version has a layer of lightly crispy bacon, thinly sliced tart apples (like Granny Smith), and a sprinkle of Penzey’s Bavarian Seasoning between the cheeses. Another is Munster and Gruyere with caramelized onions between the cheeses, on a hearty farmhouse white, grilled and served with beef/onion broth for dunking. A surprisingly delicious sandwich is sliced Spam Lite baked until the slices are slightly crisped; use Hawaiian or potato bread, spread with honey mustard, pile on the baked Spam slices, then cut pineapple rings or well-drained crushed pineapple, topped with sliced green pepper and sharp cheddar cheese, then grill the sandwiches to make Hawaiian Reubens. If you just can’t do Spam, ham will do.
      For warm weather, I love a good tuna or ham salad sandwich or a BLT.

    19. Sleepless*

      My daughter works at an Italian restaurant, and my newest favorite thing is their veggie wrap: naan with grilled veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions) with tzatziki sauce.

      Otherwise, I can never go wrong with turkey, provolone, avocado, and bacon on sourdough.

    20. SaraV*

      Bacon and cream cheese on cinnamon raisin toast

      More traditional sandwich would be a turkey bacon bravo from Panera

    21. T. Boone Pickens*

      Pastrami. All the pastrami. Pastrami on a hero roll with spicy mustard, Cole slaw and Swiss cheese toasted. Yup, sign me up for that.

    22. Chantel*

      I riff a sandwich I first had in a Manhattan restaurant 20 years ago:

      Large portobello ‘shroom cap halved sideways, with freshly-cooked baby spinach, roasted red peppers, and melted provolone cheese on top, between two slices of a toasted bun.

      I consider it my second husband.

    23. Cabin Fever*

      That sounds delicious! My current favorite is turkey, greens, cheddar, and sliced apple with whole grain mustard on fresh sourdough.

    24. Rebecca Stewart*

      Toss up between a patty melt with bacon added or a steak quesadilla. (I call it a toasted sandwich, bread’s just different!)

    25. *daha**

      A good, honest reuben from a place with access to quality pastrami. And suddenly I’m craving a monte cristo, which I haven’t had in years.

    26. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      Banh mi from our local Vietnamese sandwich shop. Pork roll, pate, ham, picked veggies, jalapeño, and that special mayo sauce that’s unlike any other mayo I’ve ever had. Perfection.

    27. AnonInCanada*

      This thread is making me drool :-)~~~

      My personal favourite: take one croissant, cut it in two, stick some turkey breast (the real stuff, not any of that pre-packed crap,) bacon, mayo, aged cheddar, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles inside it, give it a couple of minutes in your toaster oven to melt the cheese a little, and thank me later when you experience a mouth orgasm!

    28. Slinky*

      This is a tough one! I think I’m going to go with the Suzanne Sugarbaker from A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches by Tyler Kord (highly recommend!). Spread some mayonnaise on white bread. Top it with homemade fried mushrooms and pickled peaches. It’s weird but so good. Links to follow.

  5. Frally*

    If we accidentally hurt a pet, do they know it’s an accident? The other day I was standing in the kitchen and didn’t realize my sweet doggie was right behind me. I turned around and stepped on her paw, and she yelped with pain. I felt terrible! I gave her a ton of rubs and scritches, kept telling her I was sorry, but does she understand I didn’t mean to do it, or was she just wondering why I abused her? I know she’s forgotten about it by now, but I do wonder what pets think when something like that happens.

    1. Ana*

      I have never had a dog but I think I have seen them react the same way when they have accidently hurt someone they liked so they might be able to extrapolate that when a human accidently hurt them?

      1. Beatrice*

        Yes! Mine has accidentally hurt me during play before (most recently, accidentally nipped a bit of my arm skin during vigorous play, while grabbing at a toy), and he always reacts to my pain sounds by stopping, wagging, licking, and general apologetic behavior. I assume if he can do that, he can understand if I accidentally trip over him or step on him. He does know I make him take baths on purpose though, and tends to be lots less forgiving about that, lol.

        1. Jeeptrixie*

          Same here! I had two of my cats on the bed sleeping one night. One made a sudden move, and the other went to swat him with a paw that had her claws unfurled. By accident, she caught me on my forearm (I sat up upon waking to intervene), and I received a nasty wound that required a doctor’s treatment. She was very sorry for what she did! But this particular cat is always my nurse whenever I don’t feel well (if I lay on the bed during the day, she assumes it is time to become my nurse by keeping close by). But I swear she was apologetic.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      If you immediately gave her lots of positive attention with pets and talking to her in your good-dog voice, I’m sure she understood. She probably forgot about her paw by the time you finished her belly rubs!
      There’s a psychological thingy, I forget the name, it’s a type of bias, where the last thing you tell someone is the thing they are likely to remember most (good tip when giving presentations!) and that applies to humans who have a bit more complex thinking than dogs. I bet this sort of concept applies here!

    3. WS*

      I think they’re startled, but it takes a lot more than that to override everything else they know about you. Especially if you then comfort them.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      I don’t think they can differentiate really what an accident is, but I think that with lots of love and cuddles afterwards they ‘forgive’ you :)
      I once rolled over my cat’s tail with the office chair, and it was awful! But he recognises the words “sorry”, plus he likes the cuddles if I do actually step on him. You’d think he’d learn to not be behind me so often, I’m constantly on the lookout!

    5. Not A Manager*

      According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, “even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.” I think this is a true statement.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        YES, they understand us when we speak.
        Look at animals before a storm — they’re much more aware than we are. We have to read one is coming, but animals have shown they sense it and start preparing.
        They have a 6th sense in many ways, flying thousands of miles to the same spot annually, etc. We know they have gut feelings they use all the time in life.
        They communicate w/each other, too. All this is documented in science.
        And when I’ve believed my cat can get what I’m saying, and spoken to her that way, she HAS. Even though she acted oblivious until I showed intent and belief. She’ll respond if I ask one question but not another. “Want a treat? Want a nice dinner? Later.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Nailed it right there. Yep, they know. You handled it perfectly, OP. See this one is a two way street, you can teach your dog that stomping on your foot hurts, or jumping on you hurts. I have done this by saying OUCH! even if it did not hurt that much. Dogs quickly learn that they made a mistake and they too will ask forgiveness, with little nose bumps or little licks. I call that “resetting the connection”, it’s very similar to the way we pet them and say we are sorry. We reset our connection to them. Dogs will mimic that reset in their own way if they make a mistake.

        Both dogs and cats will forgive much quicker than many humans- you will notice a remarkable difference.

      3. Jackalope*

        My cats totally understand that I’m clumsy and hurt them accidentally. They will forgive me pretty quickly after I apologize. I notice that they do, however, tend to give me more space for the rest of the day if I’m doing the thing that caused me to hurt them. So for example they will happily come sit on my lap if I’m sitting down but if I stand up and I earlier stepped on their tails by accident they will move away and give me more space until I sit down again.

    6. Nicotene*

      I think about this in terms of my cat, who I don’t think realizes that I can’t see in the dark like she can; if I get up at night, sometimes she’s lying across the doorframe or on the bathroom tile and I walk right into her / step on her. She must be so confused by this!! I always yelp which I think helps her to understand, and then apologize with lots of petting, but since she can presumably see perfectly well she must really wonder about me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When I had my dog, I took to walking toe first at night–sliding my foot along the floor so I’d poke her not step on her. (This skill proved helpful in the toddler & LEGO brick days.)

    7. aubrey*

      Yes they understand! You can see how puppies or kittens act when they accidentally bite too hard when playing and then make up with each other. Just yesterday one of my adult cats jumped off the counter and collided with the other one, and he groomed her after she yelped. So if you make apologise with attention and petting they do seem to understand it was an accident.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Yes, this! Dogs are social animals and they are perfectly capable of accidentally hurting each other, so they do understand that their big clumsy friend might have accidents, too, and when you make a big fuss after they know it’s an apology. Same with cats, and even pet rats.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. We used to baby-sit my previous dog’s brother. We had the sister. Those two had their own relationship that did not include us. Sis was really rough with her bro. (She was a total PITA.) I could not keep up with all the things she was doing to him- tugging his tail, his leg, his belly- omg. Finally he let out a growl that was so soft yet so deadly. He meant business and I had no doubt he was going to actually hurt her. She knew and she cut her crap. It came to a full stop once bro growled.

    8. Mimmy*

      This made me think of the time when my sister’s cat was with us (back when I was still living at home) and I accidentally stepped on her paw. She let out a scream I’ve never heard before or since from a cat. She took off and hid under the dining room table until my sister came home sometime later. I felt so awful :( I think pets can forgive easily as long as you are otherwise very loving and take good care of them.

    9. JobHunter*

      I think so, especially well-socialized pets. My hound is like a bull in a china shop and very emotional. She seems to understand both ‘Are you OK?’ and ‘Sorry!’. She wags her tail and curls in for the hug after the apology. She ‘apologizes’ when she accidentally hurts us by bowing when she hears us yelp and wagging her tail, giving kisses, and making a big show of giving us space for a while.

    10. Tea and Sympathy*

      My brother once accidentally stepped on the tail of my mother’s cat. She yelped and ran a little ways away. He sat in a chair near her and very sincerely apologized. She came over to him and rolled her “welcome home” roll as an obvious acceptance of his apology. The communication there was so clear, it was a bit amazing.

      1. pancakes*

        I will never not smile at that tweet or Miette’s little face no matter how many times it crosses my path!

    11. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      If the dog isn’t acting any different around you, she probably doesn’t even remember it.

  6. WoodswomanWrites, seeking advice for aging parent*

    I posted in the past about ideas for figuring out how to set up financial plans when my 93-year-old mother comes to the end of her savings soon. The advice I got her for setting things up with my siblings so we can support her was useful and that’s all taken care of.

    She has been remarkably physically healthy and at last the years have caught up with her. She is having some medical issues and she is losing her cognitive functioning. It started becoming apparent occasionally about a year ago but has accelerated recently. She forgets things she said a few minutes ago and repeats them. If she doesn’t write something down, it’s gone. The good news is that she is set up for life care based on her needs. She lives in her own apartment in a retirement community and gets her meals in their dining room with a refrigerator and microwave in her own place, having moved herself there many years ago. Should she ever need assisted living or be bed-ridden, those options are available for her in the same building at no extra charge. She has no appliances that could be a hazard in her place, she has a medic alert she wears in case she falls, she’s happy, her friends and the staff look out for her.

    While she’s managing fine with her routine and taking her daily blood pressure medication without forgetting and gets herself to meals and other scheduled things, she is increasingly needing help remembering things and understanding what’s going on with her medical appointments. She and I have arranged for all the HIPAA paperwork with her medical team so they can communicate with me. Fortunately I live nearby and I schedule all her appointments, drive her, and take notes she can reference. She increasingly needs more attention. My siblings who live far away are grateful that I’m here, and so am I. My employer is understanding and gives me all the flexibility I need.

    I’d love to get any advice from those of you who have gone through this about how to navigate things emotionally. I’m hoping that she can be independent enough not to have to move her into assisted living at some point at her kids’ initiative instead of hers, and I’m trying not to go down the road of what ifs. I’ve been lucky to have such a fantastic parent (not the case with my father who died decades ago after they were long divorced), and going through this is just tough. I’m on top of the logistics with the help of my siblings. It’s the emotional stuff I welcome advice about.

    1. Emma*

      This is a really tough situation, I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

      For people who struggle with memory, going over old photos or stories is often helpful – usually older memories don’t fade as much as new ones. So that might be something you could do together, which could help her feel a bit more anchored, while also giving you the opportunity to think on some happy memories and feel more like a daughter/son and less like a carer.

    2. Copper Penny*

      Make sure the emotional burden flows outwards. So your siblings who are further away from the situation should not vent to you. And their spouses or children should not vent to them. The emotional burden does not need to be any greater on you.

      1. Generic Name*

        Ooh, this is a good one. If your siblings can’t physically help, maybe they can provide you emotional support.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Oh boy. I went through this with my late grandmother in her final years, and it was hard. Like your mother, the logistics were in pretty good order so it was primarily emotional labor. While she was physically able, I would take her to local parks, gardens, museums, restaurants, performances, etc. Sometimes those activities triggered memories for her and she was able to share some wonderful stories. Other times we would just sit together in her room. It’s difficult to patiently listen to the same stories, questions, and comments over and over, but I was able to frame it as an act of service for someone I loved very much. She would become agitated when she thought she was “slipping”, so I always tried to play it off that we were just having a pleasant conversation, even if it was for the third time in five minutes. I knew I couldn’t have my grandma back the way she was, but even when she couldn’t quite remember my name she always lit up with a big smile when I arrived. At the very end she lost her ability to speak at all, but when I sat with her and held her hand she would visibly relax and sometimes even smile and squeeze my hand.
      Now, years later, I see those last months with her as a gift we gave each other. I brought her peace and comfort, and she taught me that even after nearly everything else is gone, love remains. I was sitting with her, holding her hand, when she passed. It was the most profound, peaceful, and beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. She looked at me, smiled, and softly exhaled.
      I don’t really have advice for you; just that although it’s almost unbearably hard, you will likely find strength and beauty where you aren’t expecting it. Try to enjoy the good moments, make the best of the bad ones, and know that you are doing something good and loving and necessary for both yourself and your family.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Though I have (luckily, not yet) not gone thru this with my own 93-yr-old mom, for lots of solid info on all aspects, I recommend getting “Connecting Caregivers—Answers to Questions You Didn’t Know You Needed to Ask” (amazon). Linda Burhans “stumbled” into her career as caregiver to caregivers after her own mother died. She also has a weekly radio show via FB. (Transparency: I edited the book. And learned tons!)

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        How lucky you were to go through that together! I read or heard somewhere that one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to assist them in dying – not in the medical sense, but just helping someone make that last transition.

      3. Just me again*

        “Now, years later, I see those last months with her as a gift we gave each other. I brought her peace and comfort, and she taught me that even after nearly everything else is gone, love remains.”

        That is so beautiful… What a wonderful blessing you were able to be for each other. Thank you for sharing.

    4. tab*

      It’s so hard to watch a parent you love go through this. Although she struggles with her short term memory, she still remembers her past. This is a great time to ask her about her early life. You’ll get great stories, and it will make her happy. I’m sending you a virtual hug. Your mom is lucky to have you.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Oh this is so hard. I’m sorry. I’ve been only mildly involved in this process with two grandmothers and a friend’s mother, but I wanted to add a few things that might help? All of those situations had their challenges, especially emotionally.

      First off: you’re amazing for doing what you are doing! But do, please, try to remember to build in breaks for yourself as a caregiver. It can feel difficult to step away (what if X happens and I’m not there?!?), but caregiver burn-out is a real thing and adds so much stress on top. For example, my aunt took a set number of weeks of “vacation” (she was usually still in town), in which my mother or one of the other siblings flew out and took over the day-to-day care. I think this was great because it gave her a break (especially emotionally), but it also made the conversations about care with her siblings easier–they saw themselves what was going on, experienced what it was like, and had context for the things she was bringing up. Everyone being on the same page, more or less, without her having to explain at length was a huge thing and lightened her burden immensely.

      Second: I was very unprepared for how frustrated and *angry* one of my grandmothers would get when she started losing access to memory, especially vocabulary words in the moment, but was still there-enough to be aware that she was forgetting. If this happens to your mother, do whatever you can to reframe her reactions as about her and not about you. For a while we were all getting snapped or yelled at constantly and that was…shocking and upsetting for the first few rounds. But really, she was just scared and frustrated! It was a phase and it settled down: after a while she seemed to accept it and became more grateful for our trying-to-be-helpful suggestions of ways to finish her sentences.

      Ironically, right after that phase, she settled into one dominated by the most positive emotions: earnest, thankful, loving messages, being grateful about everything and everyone…it was a switch! It was nice, but also hard in its own way because it was so intense. I got a lot of “Grandmother to Granddaughter” speech-conversations in which she tried to impart all of her worldly wisdom about being a woman and a mother and all sorts of things. It was really interesting but it was also very emotional.

      Thirdly: all three people that I helped care for started to slowly lose their filters. That means I know some stuff I shouldn’t know about people I am related to. Like, some really big things that I really shouldn’t know. I was unprepared for how much I needed to process that for myself.

      So my last piece of advice is related to all of this: Find the people on team YOU and ask for help. Find a friend to meet for coffee once a week, where you reserve a half hour to spew whatever you need to about your mother. Give yourself some time off every once in a while. It has the potential to be totally dominating for you, both in terms of time and emotions and…just, give yourself a break as much as you can. You’re in this for the long haul and there’s probably plenty of people like me would be willing to help!

    6. Jay*

      Been there personally and work with people in this situation professionally. It is HARD. Gentle hugs to you and I echo everything said already about self-care. Take some time to think about what you need and what can make the rest of your life easier. I’m not just talking about daily things you can throw money at like housecleaners and grocery delivery (although that helps a lot, too). It’s what you need to have some emotional reserve to cope with the bad days. What feeds your soul? Do you need time outside? Time alone? Time with friends? Physical soothing like soft fluffy things or lovely scents or colors that make you feel happy? I needed time with friends and so I asked a couple of my besties to meet up regularly. It wasn’t even to talk about my mom; it helped me stay connected to the rest of the world and to my adult self.

      The Alzheimer’s Association has great suggestions on how to be with people who are losing their memory. We tend to treat them like children, and we have a subconscious expectation that they will learn like children. They don’t, and that adds to our frustration. “I showed you how to do this yesterday! Why don’t you remember?” Because she can’t, and she never will. Resetting expectations helps a lot. The Alzheimer’s Association also has local and online support groups if you’re a support group sort of person.

      Hugs again. Your mom is lucky to have you.

    7. Anono-me*

      I am glad that you gave a plan in place for the financial and logistical parts. That is a huge part of it.

      Here are some things that might help with the rest of it:

      Let the people help. Right now you feel like you have your Mom’s appointments etc under control, which is good. But if a sibling is in town and offers, let them do it. Reason one is their feeling of contributing to both you and Mom. Two is more visit time with Mom. Three is a better understanding of Mom’s day to day challenges. Four is conservation of your resources for later.

      One big medical history book. You say you have been taking good medical notes for your Mom. Can you put everything in one big 3 ring binder? That way you have everything together if you need information and if one of the siblings takes Mom to an appointment, they can the notes so you are still in the loop. Bonus if you can write big using a felt tip pen or print out the notes in a large font.

      Consider a separate email just for all things Mom medical care. It is much easier to keep everything straight and you can share the access with your siblings as appropriate without having to give up more of you or Mom’s privacy.

      Can you keep several copies of a list of your Mom’s current medications handy for her medical appointments. Be sure to date them, so you don’t grab an outdated one. This will save you time at the doctor’s.

      Talking to someone who knows you, nut that you can not remember is frustrating and stressful. Can you hang some big current labeled photos of the people most apt to visit your Mom? Bonus points if you can set them up so that Mom can see the photos and read the labels from her favorite chair.

      Go through old albums with your Mom. (Often older memories are clearer. ) If she agrees, record them for transcribing later.

      Self care. You are worth it. Also if you don’t take care of you, pretty soon you can’t take care of anyone, including you and Mom. There are lots of components to this, but two that I think everyone in your position should do are to have a “If X then Y Plan.” and atleast 3-4 hours of you time a week.

      The if X then Y plan is a list of what you know you can and can not handle down the road before it becomes an obstacle. For example: if Mom needs help bathing, and/or dressing; we need to get PCA. Because of a variety reasons including that you cannot long term run over to your Mom’s every morning before work and every night before bed.

      If you and Mom have a hard week, it can be helpful to remind yourself that have a 4 hour window Saturday morning when sibling X or Y or Z will make sure that Mom is safe, either by being present or by being the one to take any emergency calls.

      I wish all the grace and strength that you need for this beautiful difficult part of your lives.

      1. Anono-me*

        Forgot to add, I find it helpful to have some green live plants in the house. Mostly super low maintenance bamboo shoots in rocks and water.

      2. Squeakrad*

        I think what you’re doing is amazing my echo the thoughts are there is a post about getting your own emotional health. But I’m wondering what your resistance is to assisted-living? It sounds like in someways assisted-living is exactly what your mom may need. I have had friends in a similar spot and I don’t list difficult for them to make that decision, it’s worked out great to move up a tier

    8. Katefish*

      The 36 Hour Day is a great read about what to expect with memory issues. My mom is one of the primary caregivers in our family and she and I both found it enormously helpful. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything for the emotional side – it’s a long tough journey that depends on the day.

    9. Squidhead*

      I know you said you don’t want to get bogged down in “what-ifs” so disregard if this is too much in that vein: Pre-planning for some predictable, challenging times might help you and your siblings. Specifically regarding medical care–if you and your siblings haven’t already had conversations with her about “what would she want in an emergency?” (hospitalization, CPR, ventilator, dialysis, etc), have those conversations now while it isn’t an emergency. Of course you won’t be able to predict every possible thing but if you all agree that “she would never want XXX” then this is an important thing to put into writing and communicate to the team at her residence. Conversely, if you all agree “she believes that life should be sustained by any measure,” then this would help guide a decision about starting certain treatments.

      Of course I hope she never has a medical emergency and you never need to consider these decisions. Or perhaps you have already thought long and hard about them and have no need to delve into them further. But too often I see a patient who is no longer able to express their own wishes (due to chronic and/or emergent medical conditions) and the family realizes they aren’t sure what the patient would have wanted, which just adds tension and heartache to a difficult time. Since you specifically mention “not wanting to move her into assisted living at her kids’ initiative instead of her own,” focusing on using her own opinions as a guidepost for future medical care may be a good framework thinking & talking about this.

      Best wishes to you and your Mom for gentle, enjoyable days.

    10. LuckySophia*

      Things I witnessed as multiple Aunties’ cognition deteriorated:

      They are aware of, and deeply embarrassed by, their mental slippages and word-searching. If you can intuit their roundabout references, e.g.: “…I don’t have what the Doctor said…” it can help to give a open-ended reply that includes some of the key words they might be searching for: “Is there a prescription you need to get at the drugstore? I can go there if you need anything.”

      The embarrassment (mentioned above) can quickly escalate to shame if they are scolded for their forgetfulness. Please don’t let anyone scold them! When Auntie asked, for the third time in 20 minutes, whether her next doctor’s appointment was “on Wednesday?” her old-enough-to-know-better son lashed out: “Mom!! We just talked about this TWICE already. I TOLD you it’s Wednesday!” It was obvious she felt humiliated to have her “failing” called out in front of other people.

      Watch for the point when “writing things down” no longer helps, because she forgets to look at those notes…or she reads them, but doesn’t retain the information for more than a few minutes. It was about at this point when another Auntie also lost her ability to read a digital clock…she couldn’t correlate the digits with “what time she was supposed to go to the dining room.” The purchase of an analog clock helped for a little while, but eventually she lost the ability to correlate that clock with daily events also.

      Others have commented on the value of looking at old photos or asking about events from decades past. I second that! Another really amazing thing was, even while experiencing cognitive difficulties, when my Aunties got together and were reminiscing about their childhood hi-jinks…one of them would start singing a song they had learned as children or teens, and without hesitation the others would join in, in perfect vocal harmony. And they remembered ALL the words and notes. They would usually go through four or five songs in a row, with great zest and HUGE smiles! So try sharing music they loved from decades past, and see if that brings your mother joy.

      The last time I visited one Auntie, I could tell she could not longer grasp who I was, despite my attempts at verbal prompts like “Hello, Auntie, it’s me, your lovin’ niece…I drove up from (My Town) today to visit you!” Even though she didn’t have a clue who I was, she was still pleased to have “a visitor” who was interested to speak with her.

      I wish you strength, patience and compassion in abundant measure.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        When my aunt started losing memory and cognitive function, one of the saddest things for me was when we were talking and she was trying to tell me something, then looked at me with such a desperate look and said, “I don’t have the words any more.” I think it took so much for her to admit that, since she’d been kind of faking things for quite a while.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Gear up for worst case scenario and keep hoping for the best.

      This means self-care. We went right down to the basics with my mother. If someone did not spoon feed her then she did not eat. The amount of energy that went into her care was staggering. Start planning now how you will spread out the responsibilities. The solution to everything cannot possibly be, “I’ll do it!” This is how caregivers die before the care recipient. Not exaggerating, this is super serious stuff.

      For yourself start now with eating nourishing foods, connecting with supportive people, even go as far as considering taking in less news and there are many other things that go into self-care. Get your own self-care plan up and rolling, just in case you need to do a harder journey here that one would ever want.
      This is not a waste of time. A body that does not have adequate nutrition/rest/hydration will be also have a mind that is more vulnerable to emotional pain and have more difficulty mentally processing emotional pain. Fortify with self-care.

      Next. You know me and talking about grief. Grief isn’t just for funerals. It’s also for a loved one’s final illness and their slow fade from our lives. I sometimes think this is actually harder than a funeral, honestly. But learning more about grief and having that insight can be a powerful tool in communicating with emotional and seemingly opinionate family members. If we know even a little about how grief works, we can cut through a lot of clutter (okay, crap) and get to the heart of things. (“Why am I so mad that sibling Bob lost mom’s house key? This is not a big deal, but I am hopping mad.” Grief can really contort things into bigger issues. This is why so many relationships among the living end when a person they had in common passes.)

      And last, keep an eye on her meds. google, talk to the pharmacist etc. Some med combos are big no-nos and not everyone realizes that the combo can contribute to mental decline.

      FWIW, my father was my good parent. And it was super hard watching him backslide. IMO, he had a horrible life, reality is that other’s have had worse lives. But I was overwhelmed by all he had pulled himself through then came his final bout. In that moment I was so very humbled to see that the best we can do some times is just be a soft place to land. We can put ourselves between them and the concrete and we know it’s not going to do that much but it is the best we can give them. (And yeah, there’s that element where we know this is going to really freakin’ hurt us, too.)
      I redefined what success looked like. Success became helping to lessen his discomfort, his worries, and keeping negative away from him as much as possible. It’s super important to remember: Their final decline/illness is NOT the sum total of their lives. There is much more to their life story, this is only part of the story.

    12. ronda*

      does her retirement community have any resources for the families in a counseling type way?

      Maybe meet some of the families of other residents and have a chance to talk to some folks in the same boat as you.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      So much wonderful advice here, thank you. I’m taking it in and will respond more fully later.

    14. Tuesday*

      Your description sounds a lot like my mother about three years ago, but I’m the out-of-town sister. My mother ended up moving in with my sister, though she still wanted to remain at home. Like your mother, my mom has been a fantastic parent, and witnessing her sadness about losing her independence feels like a knife in my heart. What I have started doing is setting aside a little while each day to write down my thoughts. I don’t keep a journal (I toss what I write regularly), I just scribble out everything that’s weighing on me. It helps me organize my thoughts, helps clear my head, and I feel less burdened by emotions for the rest of the day. I think I’m less distracted by thoughts, memories, and worries because some part of my mind knows it will be able to focus on these things soon. I don’t know if that will work for you, but I thought I’d mention it here because before I started doing this, I was feeling really emotionally overwhelmed (and as I said, I’m not even the one who is there every day). The other small thing I’ve found that helps me is immediately stepping outside after I wake up. I was starting to feel a rush of anxiety flowing through my body upon waking up but stepping outside makes me feel a bit calmer. I try to think about how this part of my mom’s life doesn’t negate all the other positive times that came before it – it’s just a very, very difficult stage. Hang in there. I wish you and your mother well.

    15. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a virtual hug. What a gift to have your care and planning. I agree the emotional is the hardest.
      Thank you for asking the questions and for others in sharing. Taking notes here (following with my parent in close time frame here).
      No advice, just support.

    16. Loves libraries*

      So sorry you are going through this. Both of my parents lived to 89 but Alzheimer’s took both of them. They moved to a senior living place that had all levels of care for me, so I would not have to struggle like my husband did with his mother. Your siblings need to know how to support you from a distance. While your mother still enjoys phone conversations, make sure your siblings know to call her. When a cousin in a distant state was caring for our aunt, I would send post cards from travels as well as post cards I made from photos. My cousin said they read each one many, many times.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      I am grateful for all the encouraging responses. I know I share this journey with so many others but it’s easy to forget that, and I’m sure I’ll be coming back here to reread your comments.

      A few things in response. First, I’m lucky to have wonderful siblings. All of us are patient when our mother repeats herself and none of us say a word to her about that. Although my siblings are all out of state, they stay connected with my mom. They all also actively check in about how they can help not only her but how they can support me. My sister, a retired nurse, has useful perspective and great suggestions about practical stuff. She takes on as much as she can to help my mom from a distance and just as important, is helpful to talk with when I just need to vent. My mom and I can talk with her on FaceTime so she can provide direct help. She’s the most nearby, a day’s drive away and retired, and has offered to come down if needed.

      The fact that my mom is living in such a good retirement facility means I don’t have to take on physical caregiving should it come to that, a real relief. I take her to medical appointments. My earlier note about hesitancy for assisted living was reflecting that I hope she can make that decision herself should it be needed, rather than being forced to do so by her kids or the facility. In fact, the option of assisted living is something she wanted to have access to and why she signed up for that option when she moved in years ago. We’re all glad it’s an option, just hoping we don’t get to a point where there’s an argument about it. Years ago, She put together an advanced care directive saying she doesn’t want resuscitation. She designated my sister with medical decision-making and me with financial power of attorney.

      I appreciate the reminders to do good self-care. For me, the thing that can get compromised when I’m stressed is sleep, so I’ll put in extra effort to make sure I’m not staying up too late scrolling online. Being well-rested makes a huge difference.

      I feel the support from afar, and really appreciate it.

  7. Liz*

    This morning I declared summer and shaved my legs. This is a thing I HATE as my skin tends to react badly. I also usually miss bits as well – this morning I went over twice and tried to inspect everywhere but I’m still finding patches of straggly hairs around my knees that just don’t show up in the shower. I would wax, but it’s too expensive and lasts less than a week on me.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to avoid missing patches, and reducing irritation/red bumps afterwards?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I went with an epilator years ago, and am quite happy with it – it’s a similar effect to waxing, but easy to do yourself, and my epilator has lasted about 8 years so far. Also, if you miss a bit, it’s easy to go back and redo it. I have sensitive skin, and do tend to get red itchy bumps right after (it’s a histimine reaction, apparently), but I find that a hot shower right after epilating minimizes the itching.

      1. Generic Name*

        Woah, I’ve never read that it’s a histamine reaction! I wonder if taking an antihistamine beforehand would work? I get terrible razor burn when I shave my *ahem* upper leg area.

      2. Liz*

        I’ve never considered an epilator before. I think I’ve always been afraid of the pain. Do you find it hurts much?

        1. Grace*

          I have an epilator because I find that it helps with my keratosis pilaris – it hurts most at the ankle and knee, and it’s definitely an unexpected sting on the first time using it, but it gets easier. I barely notice it anymore, bar the sensitive areas. I’ve never waxed my legs, but I have waxed my eyebrows – I would compare epilation as being closer to plucking brows than waxing them, with no lingering pain. I do it with something on the TV as a distraction, sat on the sofa with a towel under my leg. So much easier than shaving in the shower, especially as someone who wears glasses!

    2. Bobina*

      Do you use your hands to feel if you’ve missed bits? Maybe it depends on how coarse the hair is, but for me if I run my hands over my legs or the bits I’ve shaved in both directions, my sense of touch is enough to tell me where I’ve missed a bit and need to go over.

      1. Liz*

        Hmm, the parts i miss tend to be the finer hairs, and the skin on my legs is quite rough and bumpy, so I don’t tend to feel the hairs much. I notice them afterwards when I sit down in daylight and look at them up close.

        1. Pippa K*

          Ha, I’ve settled on the approach that if you can only tell by examining really closely, it’s not a problem. I can’t feel it, no one else can see it, job’s done!

    3. Virginia Plain*

      Have you tried lots of different types of razors/lubricant etc? I find that redness or soreness usually comes from a blade that needs changing (or was cheap-ass like a hawaiian roll!) or there isn’t enough moisturising product in the mix. I wonder if a multi-blade razor aimed specifically at leg shaving, with a gel that is suitable for sensitive skin, would work? My go-to is a type of razor that has a sort of moisturising block around the blade (I’ll do a link so you can see what I mean – sure there’s something similar where you are).
      As for missed patches, I inspect my handiwork as I dry my legs, then if I see a missed bit I just grab the razor, run it under the tap and fix the issue, then wipe with a flannel . If you use separate gel just dab a bit on or use a smear of body lotion.

        1. Liz*

          Ooh I’ve not tried one of those before. I’ve rotated through a few higher end razors but not one with the big block thing.

      1. Loopy*

        seconding the razor with a built in moisturizing block around the blade. I always used to buy basic, cheap razors. This was a splurge meant to be one time and now I can’t go back!

        1. Might Be Spam*

          My daughter loves the Hawaiian rolls. We have to have them for holiday dinners or it isn’t a holiday.

          1. Virginia Plain*

            I believe the rolls of which that LW dusaporoved were cheap-ass Hawaiian rolls whereas she would have provided, no doubt, expensive-derrière Hawaiian rolls…

      2. Stevie Budd*

        I just switched to an electric razor and I’m pretty happy with it. I always hated shaving and would then get desperate when we were about to go to the beach or something so I’d do a quick dry shave with a basic blade which gave me a rash. But with the electric razor I can do that and it’s fine. The shave isn’t as close, but it’s fine for me.

        1. Liz*

          I’ve acquired an electric for the second time. So now im using the electric one to take some of the length off and then i do a wet shave in the shower afterwards. I think perhaps the difficulty im finding is that if i miss the longer hairs with the electric, the wet shave won’t touch them.

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

      – Make sure you rinse out the razor well after each pass. If it’s been a while it’ll get clogged with hair instantly and will stop shaving. A single pass with a new, clean, sharp razor will irritate you much less than multiple passes with a blunter, clogged one.
      – I always do my knees while standing. If my knees are bent I’ll inevitably miss bits where I was trying to avoid nicking the skin around my kneecap. It’s much easier if your legs are straight.
      – Hot shower, don’t ever try shaving over goose bumps!
      – Get a thick moisturiser for sensitive skin and lather it on the minute you get out of the shower. Something a little greasy will form a protective layer that helps a lot with the shaving dryness and irritation.

      1. Liz*

        I’ve bought Aveeno moisturiser for dry skin recently, so I’ll try to remember this!

        Im probably leaving the blades on for too many uses, to be fair. The replacements are expensive so i think i eke them out for a little too long.

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

          Same one I’m using right now, it’s good.

        2. Silence*

          Scrub before shaving
          Replace razor often
          Rinse after each pass
          Use body lotion after every shower not just after shaving

    5. Mary Lynne*

      I also hate not only the act of shaving, and all the stages of stubble, but the strong social pressure to do it at all. I have tried every method to minimize the aggravation, and have ended up using coconut oil instead of soap, Using a fairly sharp new but cheap razor, and doing only one stroke at a time and rinsing the blade out very thoroughly every time – no cheating! The coconut oil makes a big difference, and sometimes use that for more moisturizer after

      1. Liz*

        Oooh i have a giant tub of that but never use it for anything! I’ll give it a go.

        Im with you on the social pressure! I’d love to be one of those women who don’t care but my hair is very dark, long, and coarse. Many of my friends have finer hair and tbh, if mine grew like that, I’d never shave again.

    6. Delia K*

      It sounds weird, but I shave with conditioner instead of shaving cream and I find that out works better – smoother and with less irritation. I also throw some lotion on right after getting out of the shower.

      Seconding what everyone else said about not cheaping out on razors. I go for the five blade ones and sometimes shop the guy’s razors. Also, I definitely grab the spots I missed if it notice them while drying! I just run the razor underwater.

      If you don’t shave often, it might be worthwhile to use a new head each time. A sharp blade does wonders.

      1. Jay*

        Men’s razors are cheaper. I guess blue costs less than pink.

        Seconding all the advice about sharp blades. When I’m shaving my legs regularly I need to change the blade about every week.

        1. Liz*

          Absolutely! My current razor is a men’s 5 blade one with gel strip. But i think i do need to change the blade more.

      2. Clisby*

        That’s not weird – coating your legs with hair conditioner before shaving and waiting 5 or so minutes will definitely make it go easier.

    7. Ranon*

      Mostly I just… don’t shave. But I’ve also found a pass with a trimmer does the job most of the time, and then if I still feel like dealing with it going full razor post trimmer is a much easier thing to do.

      1. k*

        This is my method as well. It was a big leap for me to stop shaving last August: while I believe societal pressure to be a hairless woman is bullshit, I still had old bullshit rattling around my head and felt self-conscious, once in a while, for some time. (I wear skirts at work every day, and without tights of any kind almost half the year.) About a month ago, I seemed to get a couple ingrowns in response to a particular pair of boots, so I wondered if using an electric trimmer would minimize that risk. I used it and found I had more interesting feelings on having less hair. Either way, for me, not shaving and using an electric razor to remove most of it are sustainable solutions for me. They might be for others as well. TL;DR: the solution could also be in changing your mind rather than changing your shaving method only.

        1. Liz*

          I would dearly love to be able to forgo shaving and fortify myself against the societal bs. I think if my leg hair were less noticeable, i probably would, but my hair is very dark, thick, and grows quite long. Ive had well meaning male friends roll up their trouser leg and declare “well, just as long as it doesn’t look like this!!” only for me to reply that my legs are actually hairier than theirs. I do love the no-shave movement, but so much of the visibility is based around having fine, soft fluff, and many people seem unaware that very hairy women like me exist. I’d love to see some more visibility around that.

          Mostly, I just live in trousers. Or opaque tights. But for a few months over the summer i get too hot and need to let my skin breathe.

          One development though is that when i go running im comfortable showing a few days worth of growth – which on me is a few mm – and not worrying about whether anyone will see.

    8. Vanellope*

      I use St Ives apricot scrub on my legs just before shaving – I get razor burn too and this helps me more than any razor/shaving cream changes I have tried.

      1. Liz*

        I have used this! I try to exfoliate, but i think perhaps i don’t do it often enough to be effective? Patches of my legs are now permanently covered in hard, red bumps. This seems to remain whether i shave or not. I think perhaps i need to keep on top of it a bit more and do it more often.

    9. mreasy*

      I like to use a very foamy shaving cream so I can easily see if I’ve missed any stripes.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      The best thing I’ve found to help missing spots is to use a transparent shower curtain to get more light in the shower. I have super sensitive skin and use Vanicream Free and Clear soap in the shower. They also make a shaving cream, but it’s crazily thick, so if you get it, mix it with the soap.

      1. Liz*

        Light is kind of a problem in my bathroom as the window is only tiny. However, I might be able to increase the wattage of the spotlights over the bath by replacing the bulbs.

    11. Green Mug*

      I moisturize with Jergens Healing lotion immediately after the shower. That product helps me.

    12. Llellayena*

      I wear glasses so shaving in the shower is a recipe for ow. I shave immediately after I get out and dry off. The skin is still soft/ moisturized from the shower but I can run my hand over my leg at each pass and it’s easier to tell if I missed a spot since the hair is rough. I follow immediately with lotion.

    13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If it’s been a while, I shave two days in a row (less likely to miss again on a separate occasion the same spots) then switch to my normal interval (1-2x per week).

    14. WellRed*

      Ugh, I need to do my first post winter shave. I swear by Aveeno shave gel and razors with moisturizer.

    15. Generic Name*

      I was planning on asking on here on how to avoid razor burn! From what I’ve read, exfoliating prior to shaving, using shave cream, and using a brand new razor is supposed to help. But I’ve tried all that and I still get bumps. Boo. Even waxing is terrible for my skin.

      As for the missed areas, shaving cream helps me to see where I’ve shaved already. Honestly, some missed areas are inevitable for me. I try to inspect my legs in bright light right after I get out of the shower and go over missed areas again.

      1. mreasy*

        Those “Venus” and other brand razors with the lanolin and moisturizing block all around the blades make a big difference for me. They’re so expensive though.

        1. Generic Name*

          Good to know. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t mind the natural look, but I prefer to clean things up a bit when I wear swimsuits.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      Try do some exfoliation first, and a good sharp razor is a must. And lotion afterwards.

    17. BrambleBerry37*

      I have grumpy skin too. What I have found that works is 1. Exfoliate first. 2. Use your conditioner to lubricate (if your scalp won’t freak out, neither will your legs) 3. Make sure your razor is new.

      Personally, I leave the conditioner on for a couple minutes before shaving. It just makes the legs soft.

    18. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I switched to a shaving oil and started to use a post-shave spray, and seem to have fewer bumps now. I use Tree Hut Bare Moisturizing Shave Oil and Tree Hut Bare Post Shave Soothing Mist. Oh, and exfoliate before shaving (day before if you have sensitive skin).

    19. Dark Macadamia*

      I do better if shaving is a separate pre-shower endeavor. I used to sit on the edge of the tub and do it but now I find that less comfortable and stand at the sink with one leg up on the counter. Lotion immediately after showering and for the first day or two after shaving. I also started dry brushing for bumps/itchiness and I think it helps? I’ll do it when the stubble first starts growing in and then again before shaving, maybe it’s just my imagination but it seems to help me avoid ingrown hairs.

    20. Wishing You Well*

      I don’t shave my legs but I sure wish men had to go through this! I think it would change things!
      I hope your skin recovers soon.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I don’t shave my legs, either. I read this thread to learn what others experience because it’s something I haven’t. I totally agree with your perspective. And Liz, I hope you find a solution that is more comfortable.

      2. allathian*

        Too true. I don’t shave my legs in the winter and I only shave up to the knee in the summer, just so I can wear capri pants. I use a men’s razor and Venus shaving gel, and it seems to work well. I have sensitive skin, but I don’t shave often enough for it to be a problem. Although I’ll try exfoliating before shaving next time, to see if it makes a difference.

        I haven’t been on a public beach in about 20 years. My sister has a vacation home with a private beach, I’ll wear a swimsuit there, but nowhere else.

    21. Paris Geller*

      My skin isn’t as sensitive as it sounds like yours is, but it can definitely get a little irritated after shaving (and while I totally support anyone’s right to not shave natural body hair, personally I prefer to shave my lefts to at least my knees), and I have found exfoliating first, shaving with an oil-based shaving product instead of a cream or foam, and then moisturizing with a heavy-duty lotion or body butter right afterward is what my skin responds to best.

    22. Anon for this*

      Amlactin lotion has made a huge difference for me in reducing my keratosis pilaris – sounds like that might be what you’re dealing with? Just be aware though that the lotion does increase sun sensitivity so you’ll definitely want to sunscreen up if you use it.

      1. Liz*

        I googled this and i think this looks exactly like what happens with me. It happens whether I shave or not, which makes me think it’s not necessarily ingrown hairs. If regular exfoliation and moisturiser doesn’t help, I’ll definitely look into a more specialised treatment.

    23. Lynne*

      +1 to the epilator idea. I have one with a light near the tweezer end. It shines on the skin ahead of the epilator which makes it super easy to see if there are any hairs. If you get one with a lot of tweezers (over 40) that helps too. I tend to get 80% of hair on pass 1. Pass 2 gets about 95% of what’s left, and pass 3 picks up the few remaining ones. On pass 2/3 I sort of hover the epilator over my skin a bit and only touch it to my leg when I see hairs in the light. That cuts down on irritation for me.

      Also – I keep some aloe vera gel in the fridge, it’s even more soothing when it’s cold.

    24. Drtheliz*

      Electric razor. When my excema flares up, I genuinely can’t use a razor without getting so itchy I scratch until I bleed but I also really hate the feeling of long leg hair against clothing :/

      Running moisturiser/electric razor/moisturise again usually does me pretty well, but I’m also blonde enough that stubble doesn’t show, so your mileage may vary.

    25. OneTwoThree*

      I have sensitive skin. I also used to get ingrown hairs regularly – especially in my arm pits. I switched to a safety razor. I’m not sure if it’s the design or using a new blade each time, but I have significantly reduced my irritation and ingrown hairs. I also feel like the shave lasts longer. The blades are relatively cheap, so I use a new one every time.

      I’ve recently started using a makeup cleansing oil (double duty for the win) as my “shaving cream.” It won’t help with being able to see where have shaved, but I feel like it makes my legs so smooth.

      On areas that I often miss hairs I shave verticle and then horizontal. I know this can increase irritation, so I do this only in problem areas.

  8. TechWorker*

    Pretty niche question but AAM has given good recommendations for shoes in the past so worth a shot…

    I wear custom orthotics and will probably need to for the foreseeable – I currently have one pair about 3 years old and the top part is pretty worn. I ruined a pair of running shoes by moving them in and out, so need to invest in some more (and probably more than one pair so I can leave some in my running shoes.)

    They are.. not cheap. My first pair cost £300 + the appts to get them (Tho the appt was at least covered on insurance). There’s a few websites that sell them for £150ish (the process looks the same, you step in a foam thing and they use that as a mould). Has anyone tried this and would recommend/not recommend? It’s still a lot of money! But if I want 2-3 pairs then it’s a huge saving…. TIA

    I am U.K. based but US recommendations still welcome I can look them up & compare.

    1. TechWorker*

      I realise I was pretty unclear lol, I am talking about custom orthotic insoles, not actual shoes :)

    2. Burnt eggs*

      I am the same! With Plantar fasciitis, I need them in whatever I wear. My orthopedic doctor suggested before going to the full orthodox to try these. Powerstep, Spenco, and Superfeet are brands I use. They are online, but I found them at a sporting goods store with a good shoe department which let me test the first time. Each pair is about US $40, and lasts 6 months to over a year depending on wear. I used to sew itch from shoe to shoe, now just have one for each pair.

      1. TechWorker*

        True that I could try going back to generic ones now my feet are a bit better… there was a reason I got the custom ones though so I am a bit wary! :)

    3. fposte*

      Can you be more specific about what your orthotics are shaped to do? Are they higher front or back or one side or another? Are they for high insteps, plantar fasciitis, valgus, something specific?

      1. TechWorker*

        Uh, honestly I have no idea. My podiatrist described it as ‘foot ligaments are like plastic, once you stretch them they stay stretched’ so I think it’s just like overall weak feet (?). I didn’t get anything more specific than that.

        1. TechWorker*

          The non-custom ones he had me use first were Vasyli Dananberg, if that means anything to anyone else.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Not exactly what you asked, but have you tried physical therapy? My mother had lousy feet for well over a decade-bunion surgery, custom orthotics, always having to wear supportive shoes, frequently in pain, limited in what she could do. Then last year she got physical therapy, which strengthened her feet and solved a lot of the problems. Now she can just wear regular shoes again.

      PT ain’t cheap, but when option A involves £300 orthotics, it’s definitely worth a go.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve never heard of PT for dealing with foot issues. It sounds promising. I suppose you’d need to find a therapist who specializes in feet, but I would think that could be done. I’ve had good luck with PT when dealing with other issues, which were never completely cured, but very much improved.

      2. TechWorker*

        My podiatrist was extremely confident it wouldn’t make a difference… I mean he could be wrong but before him I saw PTs and a consultant (I think initially I broke some toes and all my issues started from there..) and he was definitely ‘right’ about how to fix it so I do kinda trust his expertise.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Ah bummer, but I would definitely believe your podiatrist over some rando on the internet.

          It helped my mom so much I keep hoping it will help other people, but alas bodies are not one size fits all.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I had custom orthotics several years ago because of a heel spur. I tried, but just couldn’t wear them. They were rigid, and the hard arch hurt so much. They didn’t fit in most shoes because they were so thick and I almost fell on stairs because of the lack of flexibility. Now I use good old Dr. Scholl inserts of different types, many of which have lasted for YEARS.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I can finally go back to recreational writing, woo! Looking over those old notes I found a few weeks ago to see what I can salvage.

    1. Aoife and Magda*

      I am in the terrible lull between books. Just being patient with myself because it happens every time. When one book is in promotional stage it’s very hard to start a whole new project for me, although that’s exactly what I should be doing. It just feels a bit futile as I’m usually worrying about sales for the one I already have – will anybody want it?? Am I going to end up embarrassed by the lack of sales? Why would I write a new one right now?!? I try to set myself on “fun” writing projects instead and see if the urge to write another book comes back.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Spreading the word: EscapePod posted that they’ll be taking submissions in September. So if it’s your genre, that’s time for a short fiction polish.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      Last summer I made an online friend and we co-wrote a story together–well, part of one–that ended up about 850 pages long. Now that summer is here again and they’re done with the school year shortly, we’re both looking forward to picking it back up again. I’m INCREDIBLY excited. I’ve never co-written with someone before, and it’s very interesting and different for me and tons of fun.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, revision blues! I tried to move an info dump that really needed to be moved but can’t exactly be deleted, and it demanded its own space. This meant writing a new scene. But I can’t have a scene just for that conversation, so I tried to marry it with something else I wanted to include and the relationship is just. not. working.

      Today, during meditation with my group, I had an idea of how to fix it. (Always while I’m doing something else! :P) It’ll no doubt require some shuffling, but I think that will be okay.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered childhood favourite.
    I’ve been getting back into Stardew, moved my coop to hopefully see my ducks have a little swim. Also gathering lumber for that boat over at Willy’s.

    1. WS*

      I’ve moved my coop near the lake but the damn duck is not interested! She just wants to wander around in the grass!

    2. Gaming Gary*

      I’ve gotten back into Kitchen Scramble as a time waster. Plus family members are playing it as well so it’s fun to compare where we’re at.

      We’re still in lockdown here but looking forward to getting together again with my sister and brother-in-law to play Ticket To Ride: Rails and Sails.

    3. twocents*

      My Dungeons & Dragons campaign ended after a year, so we’re taking a break for a couple weeks to give people time to think up their next characters and how they’ll fit in the next campaign’s concept. So for tabletop, I’m heading to my parents’ house for us to play board games tonight instead. Very weird to use my Saturday for something else!

      In video games, I’ve decided to go back and finish the third act of Dragon Quest XI S. You technically get the credit scroll at the end of the second act (and 65 hours of gameplay), so I’d put it down a few months ago. I’ve been plugging away at it all week, so hopefully I’ll see the true ending today.

      Also poking around in New Pokemon Snap, just still have access to the first two places, but there are a lot of challenges that are pretty tricky! (The comfey just won’t cooperate!) So a lot to do.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      I have finally tried Wingspan, the board game, and loved it.
      The rule book is long and complicated, but the game play itself is a lot less complicated than you may think from the rule book.

      1. TX Lizard*

        I played for the first time last week! I’ve had the game since it came out but I was too intimidated by the rule book. But I visited family who had played before, so they explained it. It is way less complicated than it seems and I love the art.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I went to a gaming convention last weekend and did a ton of RPGing. Also started preparing for the return of in-person gaming– it probably won’t be for another couple months at least around here, but I’m getting excited about it so I may as well start gathering supplies.

    6. TX Lizard*

      I just downloaded Subnautica Below Zero, I’ve been waiting for the weekend to start playing!

    7. KristinaL*

      Does writing games count? These are kinda basic educational-ish games. I wrote a Guess the Number game and a vocabulary game and put them on my website recently.

    8. The Dude Abides*

      I recently discovered a randomized for Minish Cap, and have fallen back in love with the game.

      I don’t know how I missed the existence of Zelda randomizers for so long, but I’m trying to make up for it.

      1. twocents*

        Minish Cap is one of the bonkers Zelda games that I love. I hope they give it a remaster someday.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          It did get ported to the Wii U.

          I loved the original, but playing a rando version is nutty. Getting the cape and lantern early makes the first dungeon a much better/easier clear.

    9. Jackalope*

      Not sure if anyone will see this so late in the weekend, but I just GM-ed a round of Monster of the Week (an RPG in the D&D style). It was a lot of fun and satisfying, although went longer than I thought it would! So tired now!

  11. Princess Deviant*

    I feel you! I have a pair of extremely expensive custom-made insoles that I can transfer to different shoes when I need to. I have to wear basic flat boots or shoes though, which is hard work in the summer.
    I’m thinking I might invest in a pair of orthotic summer sandals too, just so I don’t get too hot. Then again, summers in England aren’t usually hot for long, are they.

    But I would say get the insoles, they’re just as good (unless you need support on the top of your feet, in which case I think it’s better to get the shoes custom made and pay the money. Unfortunately. But feet are worth it. I haven’t tried those websites you speak of, but I think I’d want to know if the person prepping the shoes is a podiatrist. If that were the case, I’d go for it.

      1. TechWorker*

        Thank you! I did mean insoles I was just very unclear ;) the pair of custom insoles I have was £300, idk if that’s overpriced or not really (I contacted another podiatrist near me but they’ve not got back to me yet).

        1. TechWorker*

          (And I am lucky in that – unusually? – my feet don’t get too hot even in summer. I can manage sandals for popping to the shops but otherwise sticking to trainers isn’t too bad. I find ‘smart’ occasions harder as most shoes that fit insoles tend to be on the heavier side :p)

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Yes that’s the problem isn’t it!
            Ok, I understand now :)
            £300 sounds about right for privately made insoles then, but same thing – if the website uses podiatrists to measure your feet then I’d go for it! Otherwise, you can get them free on the NHS, through a referral from your GP, but the waitlist is very long. And I think (from what others have told me – I couldn’t wait for the NHS ones, so I didn’t use them) they don’t use the foam to measure, they kind of balance you on a board… Things may have changed though! Good luck with it!

  12. On the seaside*

    I have a gold plated vermeil bracelet. How do I clean it? It has some gray faded areas and I’d like to ‘polish’ it back to its original shine.
    I’m a total jewelry newbie so all help is very much appreciated.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Soaking jewellery for a short time in full sugar Coca-Cola is effective in removing dirt, then you wash it with soap and water and rinse thoroughly afterwards. I have done this before with my own jewellery and was kind of horrified but also fascinated. I don’t drink coke anymore!
      You could also try gently buffing it with a cloth and some bicarbonate of soda powder, which is mildly abrasive, and then rinsing it off with soap and water. I don’t know how that would affect the vermeil layer, however.

      1. Kuododi*

        Full sugar Coke will also take off that funk which builds up on car battery connectors and will take off the build-up of rain scum buildup from the car windshield.

        The mind shudders at the thoughts of drinking Coke after knowing all it’s “alternative” functions.

        Blessings
        Kuododi

      2. BelleMorte*

        It’s the citric acid in coke (and pretty much every tart drink including a lot of natural juices), that does the cleaning. Nothing to be really terrified of.

    2. Meh*

      Hey! Metalsmith and jewelry maker here. You can’t polish vermeil. The grey you are seeing (if it’s vermeil) is actually the silver underneath the plated gold. You would need to have it piece replated.

      Do NOT scrub with baking soda unless you want up remove more vermeil and give it a matte finish.

      For home cleaning karat gold jewelry you can use an old toothbrush and some dawn dish soap. It’s gentle enough not to scratch but will help dissolve body oils/lotions/gunk stuck in the crevices.

      1. Delia K*

        I bought an ultrasonic cleaner that I use for my engagement ring – and any other jewelry I happen to run across. It works well – things get real shiny – but does it actually damage things in the long term, do you know?

        For everyone else – I love the cleaner, and as long as it’s not secretly damaging things I highly recommend it. They’re like $20 on Amazon.

        1. Meh*

          The Amazon ultrasonic cleaners aren’t the same as a “professional” one but they can do a good job (a heater, strength dials, timer, etc are features).

          An US will crack some gemstones (diamonds, rubies, and sapphires -untreated- are fine) . So make sure to read your product info. If you are doing gold or silver jewelry it’s fine. If you have something with a decorative patina, the US will strip it..so be aware.

          Don’t ever put turquoise in water and never put pearls, coral, or shells into the US.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Probably not opals either? I just had the gemstones in my e-ring replaced because my husband was dead set on getting me a ring with orange stones and he picked fire opals, which are lovely but apparently stupid fragile and the jeweler was amazed that I’d managed to go five years of regular wear before one of them got chipped.

            1. Jay*

              I also have an opal in my engagement ring (my choice) and I think I’ve had it replaced three times. I don’t wear the ring regularly anymore. My husband has given me three other rings as anniversary gifts so I wear those instead. He’s switched to rubies (my birthstone and I love them) which are much more durable!

            2. Meh*

              Oh good gosh no! No opals in the ultra sonic. It could shatter or explode. Opal is a very soft stone and really doesn’t stand up to daily wear. Earrings or a pendant will last longer.

              Opal is a 5.5 on the MOHS hardness scale
              Alternative orange stones:
              carnelian which is a 7,
              orange topaz 8
              corundum (sapphire) 9

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                He wanted orange because that’s my favorite color – we ended up replacing the two stones with an orange Madeira citrine and a sapphire, because blue is HIS favorite color, so now we’re both represented in it. :) I do still have the opals though, and will probably do something with them for a future anniversary :)

          2. RC Rascal*

            Also do not put amber in a US and I would not put jade in there either.

            I use a commercial jewelry cleaner on the hard stuff and Ivory liquid & a toothbrush on the soft stones. For silver a polishing cloth. Pearl strands I don’t clean.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              For anyone with pearls, make sure to take them out & handle them frequently –without your body oils they can start flaking. Luckily I didn’t learn thus with a high quality piece of jewelry!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Scroll down–they have a 5 year warranty. It’s worth asking if they maybe had a defective batch.

    3. Generic Name*

      I have a jewelry cloth I use to polish my jewelry. It works on gold an pad silver. But I’m afraid the grey color on your bracelet is where the gold has worn away. Jewelry shops that do repairs should be able to re-plate it for you.

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        I have a fairly large amber piece that has gotten quite dull over the years. It also survived a fire! Anyway I would like to know how to safely polish it to restore the shine.

        1. Meh*

          Amber can’t stand up to long water soaks or harsh soaps. If it’s dirty you can use a wet cloth and wipe it clean then dry it. You can also oil it. Rub some olive oil in your hands. Lightly rub the stone and then wipe it clean.

          Also check into a local lapidary club. Someone there might be happy to help restore your stones

    4. Laura H.*

      Seconding looking into jewelry repair shops and re-plating the piece.

      As for storage, I know the place I work at seasonally (a regional jewelry company in my area) recommends storing their sterling silver in ziplock bags to keep the tarnish away longer. (Gold jewelry is stored the same way by the company.)

      As an aside, a baggie is easier to find if you lose it in the house.

      Squeeze the air out and use one baggie with one piece of jewelry. (Although I kinda cheat with necklaces that are a chain and a pendant- I store those in their pairing in the same baggie.)

      If you have soft pouches that the jewelry came in, still use the baggie.

      Baggied jewelry in the soft pouch? Yes
      Soft-pouched jewelry in the baggie? Yes
      Baggied jewelry on its own? Yes

      Solely soft pouching the jewelry is not recommended.

      Sorry for the length but I hope it helps.

  13. ZAZ*

    Hey all, if you had a friend who was constantly posting on social media about wanting a relationship, being lonely, wanting to cuddle with someone, etc… what would you do/say to that person, if anything? It would be one thing if he were cold-messaging or harassing people, but I don’t think that’s the case. But still, this is basically his entire feed.

    For what it’s worth, we are the same age, but I am female and he is male.

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

      Depends how close you are and what outcome you’re hoping to achieve?

      If it were one of my close mates who I love, I’d pull him aside and ask what’s up with all the sad panda posts. Assuming no perspective-altering information was forthcoming, I’d remind him that women aren’t charity holes and they will not flock in en masse because he puts up a Lonely Penis Batman Signal on social media. Then I’d buy him a beer, let him whine a bit, and try to help him think of less pathetic ways to get a date.

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

          Ha! Although I did intend it metaphorically, I now appreciate the literal interpretation more. (Not sure how you’d make the eyes, but the droopy frown sounds achievable…)

      1. Generic Name*

        If this guy is looking to date women, the OP buying him a beer and listening to him whine is rewarding his off-putting (to put it nicely) behavior. She’s basically giving him a date!

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

          For anyone who wasn’t a close friend, who I wouldn’t ordinarily catch up with for a drink, for sure I wouldn’t do this! Just unfollow/hide and let natural consequences follow.

          At my stage in life though I have a few male friends (some of whom I’ve known since long before social media was invented) who are suddenly single after having been with only one woman their entire adulthood. And holy crap, have they been capital C Clueless and said/done stupid things when trying to start dating again. If he’s a good friend who’s stuck by me during tough times and poor choices, yeah imma be there for him too.

          That said, there was one (spoiler: former) friend who, knowing I’m happily married, still used his new dating status to start getting uncomfortably suggestive with me and demanding more “friend dates”. No amount of friendship history will make me stick by through that amount of Clueless.

    2. WS*

      What outcome do you want here? Are you wanting to date them? Tell them to knock it off? Give them dating tips? Hook them up with a friend?

      1. Pennyworth*

        Kindly explain to him that neediness and desperation are two big turn-offs, and suggest he puts his social media settings on private or whatever, so he isn’t signalling ‘avoid me’ to the whole universe. He sounds like a potential Incel.

    3. sswj*

      Personally, unless I was a close enough friend to tell them that those sorts of posts are not helping anything, I would hide their feed(s) for a while. It sounds callous, but that would be the only way I could still interact and be pleasant, not irritated or uncomfortable.

      1. Nicotene*

        People all use social media *so* differently. There are lots of times I raise an eyebrow and think, “hmm, I probably wouldn’t do that,” (post 800 memes in 30 seconds? Post the same poor content to FB, Insta, Insta stories, and twitter? Post pictures of yourself with a caption “please send me compliments I’m sad?” vaguepost about rude family members not respecting you?) but honestly I assume it’s addressing a need for them. Unless it was my best friend I’m not sure I’d bring it up; he’s going to feel how he feels.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Unfollow or unfriend them. I don’t want to see that in my feed.

        That neediness and desperation is unpleasant and annoying and would make me like them less. Also IMO not appropriate for FB. I don’t like people who use FB to guilt their friends into a response.

        There’s also the added negative of guys feeling like they are “owed” relationships and sex from women which he’s brushing up against.

        Only thing I might say is that if he wants a relationship he needs to take action to make it happen (try online dating) and desperation is going to turn people off do he needs to scrub that from his feed.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          I know a guy like this, and…yeah. He laments to Facebook with a lot of punctuation and/or words in all caps that he doesn’t understand why he keeps getting dumped. It’s because he has only two modes – needy and entitled – neither of which involves acting like an adult partner.

    4. twocents*

      If I was really close, I might say, “Hey, you know any girl you’re interested in is going to google you, and might see this stuff, right? Have you thought about what kind of impression that might leave her with?”

      But most likely, I’d say nothing at all. If he wants to fill his feed with that content, that’s his choice.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OR: “If you were interested in a girl and her FB posts looked like this, would you want to date her?”

    5. Analyst Editor*

      It’s hard because whining and passivity are unattractive, and he needs to be working on being more attractive and active and at ease in his own skin, but this is much easier said than done. And you don’t always have the standing to tell them this in so many words.
      He’s probably lonely, depressed; if he’s been living alone for the last year and not interacting with anyone, especially. If you can phrase it kindly and have the standing as a friend of his, you can say something to this effect. Otherwise you kind of have to let others do that job and just un-follow.

    6. Generic Name*

      I would be tempted to say something really snarky like “You know what [preferred gender] really want in a partner? Someone who constantly whines and complains!” But if you say anything, be prepared for him to assume you are offering yourself up for dates (and hopefully more!). People know online dating exists. They’ve heard all the suggestions to join meetup groups or clubs. This guy must be getting something about of his sad sausage routine. Maybe the absolute most I would do is refer him to Dr. Nerdlove’s webpage. He teaches dating skills to (mostly) men.

    7. matcha123*

      In my view, that kind of post isn’t all that different from posts about being upset with a partner or posts about kids or any other content I’m not particularly invested in. Which means I’d just scroll past and give an occasional reaction.
      I am sure that I post things on Facebook that other people don’t care about, but then what’s the point of using Facebook? I only keep people I’ve met in real life or very good internet friends in my “friends” list. When people only posted food pictures, people complained about seeing food. When people post babies, people complain about babies. I don’t use Facebook as a news source, I use it to see what’s going on in someone’s life. I guess if their life sucks, and they want to post about that, my options are to ignore them, unfollow/unfriend them, or confront them.

    8. Tofu Pie*

      Yikes. Do you get the sense that he’s neurotypical in some way? I ask because my son is autistic so sometimes I have to tell him explicitly to not do Some Obvious Social Infraction because he genuinely doesn’t know.

      Otherwise, this is a realization he has to achieve on his own. If he doesn’t have enough sense to know how off putting it is to broadcast his desperation and neediness, he also doesn’t have enough sense to learn from someone else telling him so. Also, he’s doing his future potential dates a favor by revealing this aspect of his personality? Or maybe it’s a plus for women who find that attractive.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      My male friend did not do this on FB. He did it in real life.

      This may/may not help, but I used stuff out of my own life to help him think about this. Fortunately (???) I had pretty much decided not to date by the time I met my friend. He knew upfront that this choice was not about him but rather it was a life choice for me. And I talked about what helped me arrive at this decision. It’s a 1000 talking points and some of them are actually funny. (Odd, but true.) I talked about life on my own and things that I was afraid of and things that did not bother me. See, a lot of mourning the lack of an SO can stem from fear; lack of connection to others; lack of shared information/knowledge; and so on.

      My friend and I have been through some stuff together. There’s a couple times he has appeared on my doorstep (without calling- highly unusual) and all the color drained out of his face. “Com’on. I’ll put on some coffee. Let’s talk about this.” There’s been times where I have called him crying about something. I remember one time, he drove to my house late at night because something was very wrong with my dog and I needed help lifting and transporting. Long story short- by the time he got here the dog was much better. “Yep. The dog looks sick to me! NOT!” But he laughed about it.
      Just my opinion, but it seemed to me that my friend felt that not too many people in his life were a “got your back” type of friend. This is pretty basic but we all need it. I think that some of my friend’s mourning over not having an SO was actually mourning the lack of real and lasting friendships/relationships with others.

      It’s been a while. But I heard less and less about getting an SO. He did date, but that did not get far. And after a bit he decided that he was a complete person on his own. What struck me here, is this is something women talk about- I very seldom hear men say it. And this is where I land, perhaps there are ways you can tell your friend he is a complete person on his own.

    10. Yelm*

      IMO, the best remedy for self-pity and loneliness is helping others. If you really want to get involved, find an avenue for volunteering that involves one of his strengths and suggest it to him—if he doesn’t do it, he’s missing a chance to get out there and meet someone while helping folks who need it, so he has no room to complain. Also, physical activity helps with happiness and confidence. If he is conventionally-abled, he can meet people and boost his elf-confidence by joining a “boot camp” or a newbie runners group.

      That said, whining about loneliness is one of those things that, in my experience, make even especially compassionate people impatient. The world is full of people—he’s likely not lonely, he thinks he’s entitled to a specific kind of person or relationship. That’s why he’d get one attempt at help from me, and if he didn’t take it, SUX TO BE U, DUDE. BELT UP.

      1. Yelm*

        Note: he can also do these things if he’s not conventionally abled, I just didn’t want to assume. It can be more challenging to find these kinds of groups if you have a disability or a chronic illness. Also, self-esteem. Elf-esteem is a whole different reindeer game.

  14. Washi*

    Has anyone used Bumble BFF successfully and have any tips? I recently moved and figured I would try it out, but since I’ve never done any online dating, I’m a little unsure of the etiquette. How quickly are you supposed to respond to people’s messages? How long do you have to text before meeting up? I’m not a big texter so my instinct is to go to a meetup relatively quickly (like after 2-3 days) but I’m getting the sense that might be too quick. And any tips on what makes a good first friend date activity when you have only met online?

    1. Anona*

      For the friend date, my first thought was coffee or a beer.

      For romantic dates, that was a nice, low key start, without the expectation of hours of hanging out. I feel like the concept might be similar. Either that, or an activity like paint on pottery- something for you both to focus on, and a finite end time.

    2. Venus*

      My experience (many years ago) was that many people just wanted to talk online. So if I suggested meeting up within the first week then it would be too soon for that person, because it would be Too Soon two months later. I wanted to meet new people so I used their reaction as a filter, and if they didn’t want to meet up then I would limit my conversations with them. This may be very different this past year, of course, as in-person meetups are now discouraged.

      I eventually gave up on online dating, but I think success is very regional. My part of the country isn’t very tech.

      1. Nicotene*

        I agree, when I was internet dating I tried to move it to in-person as quickly as possible (a low stakes in person thing, like meeting for a coffee or one drink and an app before something else); this was the best defense against people who were catfishing or were never going to get serious about meeting.

        1. WellRed*

          This also lessens disappointment if the in person chemistry isn’t there. Several weeks of build up and then bleh

          1. Filosofickle*

            100% this. Move to in-person quickly so you can’t build up a virtual crush that doesn’t meet reality.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              It’s a real problem if you have great chemistry writing each other but then don’t when you meet. You want to know you click when writing but face to face chemistry is impossible to tell until you have it. Get to it soon.

              1. Filosofickle*

                BTDT. It’s such a letdown! (I know, I know, that’s why they call it a crush…)

    3. twocents*

      I’ve never tried Bumble BFF, but I’ve had a lot of success with finding friend groups by attending activities I want to go to anyway through meetup. Friends are really a combination of proximity + time + connection, so just being even an occasional face at a hiking meetup or board game meetup or whatever, and you’ll make friends over time.

      But I also think online dating in general is onerous, so I wouldn’t put myself through trying to befriend people one by one.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        My suggestion … meetups and if you click with anyone getting their contact info before you leave – be it a phone number or FB. FB is less pressure IMO. It’s easy to unfriend but there’s messager to communicate.

        I made 2 long term friends from a disastrous meetup group by getting their FB details and keeping in touch that way. There was only 1 successful meeting for the group and the leader was a loon who didn’t understand how to run a meet up group (IMO). I think leader was looking for friends which I don’t think she made but I got some friends out of it.

        I’ve tried online dating unsuccessfully. Personally I am doubtful of the success of making friends that way.

    4. ResponseX*

      I used BumbleBFF to make friends when I was a late-20s working professional. I didn’t stay friends with everyone I met, but I made several close friends from BumbleBFF. I think it’s because I did the following:
      1. I invited people to meet in person if we made it to three days of engaging, reciprocal messaging. I wanted IRL friends, so if they did not want to meet in person, I didn’t message further.
      2. My matches and I combined matches. For example: I matched with A, we hit it off. Separately, A matched with B. She thought B and I would also get along, so A, B, and I all met up for drinks. And thus a friend group was born! This was also more manageable (for me) than many one-on-one friendships.
      3. Related to 2, my groups started regular activities. A, B and I met up once a week to watch a TV show we were all obsessed with. Another girl pulled a bunch of her matches together for a monthly book club. Having that continuity and consistency of interaction really helped cement our friendships.
      Good luck on your friendship journey!

      1. Paris Geller*

        Your second point is genius. I also just moved to a new area, am now currently long-distance from my partner, and finding new friends 1-on-1 sounds intimidating, but something like meeting in a small group sounds so much more appealing! I’ll have to try that strategy on Bumble BFF. I met my boyfriend on Bumble dating, so here’s hoping it works for platonic relationships too.

      2. Washi*

        This is super helpful! I actually don’t like hanging out in big groups which is why, although I’ve joined meetups, I wanted to try this as well. But I do like hanging out in 3s and maybe 4s so combining matches and kinda creating our own “meetup” is a great idea.

  15. Batgirl*

    I can’t get over how happy I am. We started house hunting two years ago, ended up separated during Covid, but yesterday we had an offer accepted on a house that I couldn’t have designed as being more perfect. Everywhere else we had looked had some huge dealbreaker, my mother is selling her house, where I live, so I was going to be without somewhere to stay unless I started ransacking my deposit for rent. We couldn’t even get viewings for most properties. Now somehow I have dibs on this beautiful 1930s semi with trees and it’s so huge! There’s even a cupboard over the alley I thought was a small box room at first. I don’t know whether to make a storeroom or a walk in. The kitchen has a teeny pantry. The house needs modernising, but honestly that’s just fun. What are your best tips on fixing up a new place? I’ve already exhausted Pinterest.

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

      Congratulations! The right one comes along at the right time, hey?
      We’ve been looking for about 2 years too, but put the search on hold during plague uncertainty, and now property has gone bonkers where I am (like, +30% kind of bonkers) – so I’m feeling pretty disheartened in our search right now. All the available properties are eye-wateringly expensive, with multiple big compromises (if not deal-breakers), and they’re all sold within 1-2 weeks of listing.
      But your excitement at finally nabbing the Perfect Place makes me second-hand happy :-)

      1. Batgirl*

        I do not know how we got this house because two weeks ago, we would have said the same. They undervalued it imo, but it’s probably because the vendors, two grieving sisters, don’t want to sell to investors but to someone who would live there. If they’d tarted it up a bit, and been a bit less choosy on who it sold to we probably wouldn’t have gotten a look in.

      2. Batgirl*

        Thank you so much for all these tips. We decided today that we’re getting our own full inspection survey done because, as Ranon says, the boring invisible stuff will affect our budget and may affect safety, like wiring. Delia, my fiance will probably want a complete rewire too and he wouldn’t let cheap paint into the house!
        I would love to go around with the inspector, that’s a good idea Seeking Second Childhood. Wishing Well, I think asbestos is one of the things that’s gets flagged in a basic inspection, but I will make sure.
        Stephanie, we’re going to have to get rid of some wood chip on the walls and ceilings before we paint so hopefully that will be enough time to get a sense of the place. Lots of pizza nights are going to be in play with that one.
        Alas, Anono-me, the estate agents didn’t take or list any measurements! Which is standard but they seem to have put their feet up and relaxed with no long distance investors allowed to be in on this listing. But since it’s empty, I’m going to get the keys, go around again and take some measurements myself. The project book sounds great. I’ve never heard of a home warranty, though. I hope it’s a thing here in the UK; I will look into that. I Take Tea, I have already made so many lists! Glad to hear that it’s not just me who does that!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If by ‘wood chip’ you mean texturized surface, that too may contain asbestos. The stuff was just really good at holding things together so it got used in unexpected places. Even the glue used to hold down some linoleum floors.
          If you aren’t on city water & sewer, well&septic tests are separate.

    2. Ranon*

      Do the boring modernizations first before you blow the budget on pretty tile- weatherizing, air sealing, energy efficiency, air quality, etc. Makes a world of difference in comfort and can save money long term.

    3. Delia K*

      I’m not sure if you got one as part of your closing, but I highly recommend a home inspection to help you get to know your new home better. Our home inspector was amazingly thorough – probably some of the best money we spent during our buying process. We also bought an old house (1890s old) and having an electrician inspection – and then the very expensive rewiring – was also helpful.

      Other than that, I’ve been sucked into some Apartment Therapy before and after posts. I think the biggest thing you can do is paint though. And remember that it’s worth investing in this house – don’t buy the cheapest paint.

      And if you’re having any water pressure issues, try getting a new shower head. I think ours was like $30 and made such a difference to our quality of life.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This might be late because yoyr offer is accepted but….some home inspection details I learned the hard way. 1. Go around with the inspector and YOU lift any drop ceilings to make them look under at what it hides. In some places they are not allowed to open up things that are not actually doors.
        2. You have a period of time to report problems they missed–I didn’t know I could have made them fix XYZ that they missed until after the date.
        3. They don’t do outbuildings unless you specify. If the outbuilding has electric or evidence of an old stove/furnace definitely get them to look.
        And a 1930s house get them to check for asbestos especially on hot pipes.

    4. Stephanie*

      Focus on fixing the mechanics first, if they need it. Things like the heat/air conditioning, water heater, etc. Structural things should be a priority before cosmetics, too. But if all of those things are in decent shape, paint is your friend. Buy good quality paint. I buy from a paint store or old-fashioned hardware store instead of a big box home improvement store, because they are much more helpful and knowledgable. Prep for painting is the most important step, but it’s also the most tedious and boring (and annoying), but it is worth it in the end.
      Take your time and live in the house a bit and do a little at a time instead of trying to do the whole thing at once.

    5. Anono-me*

      I recommend a home inspection and a home buyers warranty (if offered in your local. )

      A home inspection means a knowledgeable professional evaluates the home for possible issues prior to purchase in order to minimize surprise repairs. A home warranty is similar to a car warranty. If a covered part breaks, the warranty company paid for repairs or replacement.

      Paint all the closets in a durable white right away. Nobody ever wants to paint the closets.

      Use the realtor ad to start a house decor and project book. It already has all the room measurements and photos that show window placement and wall colors. It will be helpful when shopping for new kitchen flooring or a sofa. It will also be fin to look back at how things change.

      1. Anono-me*

        I forgot to say, anytime you have an expert out to do something, ask about other small projects. For example; if you have a plumber out, ask about adding or replacing shut off valves. (Also, maybe check to see if the washer hoses need replacing. )

    6. I take tea*

      That sounds so nice. One tip I read about was that you should go through the house and write down what you want to change. You don’t have to do it all at once, but that way you can have a list for later, when you don’t really notice some things anymore. (Although, if you don’t notice them, why should they need fixing?)

    7. Wishing You Well*

      A THOROUGH home inspection is a must in a house this old – top to bottom. PLEASE test for lead paint and asbestos.
      I hope it turns into your dream house!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        There’s no point in testing for lead paint. If it were built in a year that were legal, it should be treated as a given there is lead paid under however many layers. Asbestos is worth testing for.

    8. Batgirl*

      Thank you so much for all these tips. We decided today that we’re getting our own full inspection survey done because, as Ranon says, the boring invisible stuff will affect our budget and may affect safety, like wiring. Delia, my fiance will probably want a complete rewire too and he wouldn’t let cheap paint into the house!
      I would love to go around with the inspector, that’s a good idea Seeking Second Childhood. Wishing Well, I think asbestos is one of the things that’s gets flagged in a basic inspection, but I will make sure.
      Stephanie, we’re going to have to get rid of some wood chip on the walls and ceilings before we paint so hopefully that will be enough time to get a sense of the place. Lots of pizza nights are going to be in play with that one.
      Alas, Anono-me, the estate agents didn’t take or list any measurements! Which is standard but they seem to have put their feet up and relaxed with no long distance investors allowed to be in on this listing. But since it’s empty, I’m going to get the keys, go around again and take some measurements myself. The project book sounds great. I’ve never heard of a home warranty, though. I hope it’s a thing here in the UK; I will look into that. I Take Tea, I have already made so many lists! Glad to hear that it’s not just me who does that!

    9. Felis alwayshungryis*

      My best tip is to live in it for at least six months to a year without making any major changes, if you can (i.e. nothing’s unsafe).

      That gives you time to get to know the house and how you live in it. That thing you initially find really annoying may turn out to be a complete non-issue and actually help the house flow, while that feature you love at first might turn out to be a huge PITA in a few months. It’ll also give you some time to shore up your finances!

      We had to fully rewire our place weeks after moving in, and made some decisions we wouldn’t have if we’d been able to leave it for longer.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Oh, and in a house that old lead paint is basically guaranteed. Treat all paint like it’s lead-based, because even if the top coat has been redone, there’ll probably still be undercoat residue.

        1. Retired (but not really)*

          The most important safety issue with older homes is the wiring. Find out how long ago it was rewired and whether it was completely rewired at that time. If it was more than twenty years ago it very well may need that done again.

      2. Elle Woods*

        Speaking from experience, I second your point about living in it for a bit before making any major changes.

  16. Anona*

    Cooking and food thread! What are people making or eating?

    I’ve been doing a lot of popcorn popped in a paper bag in the microwave, sprinkled with olive oil, nutritional yeast, cheese, and tajin lately.

    And today I think I’d like to do a smoothie with banana, greek yogurt, whole milk, and cocoa powder.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been making a friend’s pasta dish that’s sort of jambalaya inspired, with chicken and sausage and onions and peppers and tomatoes and farfalle pasta, and I love it. Plus the recipe is relatively inexpensive to make, and produces a HUGE batch of food so I get leftovers for days, haha. (And usually I’m so bad at eating leftovers but not this stuff. I’m gonna go have some for breakfast. :-P )

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I found some lamb at the supermarket that was reasonably priced (for me), so I’m going to make it in the crockpot (something Mediterranean inspired)!

    3. HannahS*

      Smitten Kitchen’s bolognese. It’s soooooo good. It’s really tolerant of variation: I chuck in little pieces of zucchini, eggplant, and mushroom to try and bulk it up, I’ve omitted the pork, dairy, and wine, and I’ve replaced the tomato paste/water with canned crushed tomatoes, and I just need stacks of it in my freezer.

      I’m also thinking to make granola. Every time I make it, I leave more ingredients out, until now my recipe is just oats, a small amount of oil, a small amount of honey, and a pinch of salt. I can’t do anything too sweet in the morning, so a big scoop of that on some whole-milk yogurt is a wonderful summer breakfast.

      I’m finding that a lot of freezer recipes are heavy winter food (stews, casseroles, heavy on the meat and cheese), and I’m always on the lookout for more vegetable-based things to freeze for quick weeknight meals. It won’t be this weekend, but I’m hoping to make a big batch of tofu-and-veggie gyoza.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Tonight I’m making Puerto Rican chicken and rice in my IP.

      Today we are headed to Massachusetts’ North Shore for some fried whole belly clams.

    5. WellRed*

      I’ve suddenly discovered I can make excellent breakfast sandwiches. Really simple: grilled English muffin, egg, bacon, cheese, salt and pepper and now also a spicy sauce from hidden valley. Can we talk about the delightful explosion in condiments and sauces that are now available in stores.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I even found a good cheap “Jerk Sauce” — store brand! It’s spicy enough and great for a chicken thigh.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        When I’m feeling indulgent and ambitious, I make a really yum breakfast sandwich. First cook some bacon if you’re a meat-eater, then set that aside and gently fry an egg (or eggs, one per sandwich), seasoned to your liking, until the whites are firm but yolk is very soft. Gently remove from pan and set aside. Using good sturdy sliced bread (farmhouse white, wheat, whole grain – whatever you prefer), layer slice of bread, sharp cheddar (or other cheese you like), bacon strips, then gently slide egg on, cover with Munster and piece of bread. Carefully transfer to heated griddle that you’ve melted butter in. Don’t press on it or egg will burst. Cook until golden on both sides. Ideally, egg yolk will still be runny or at least soft, and biting into that toasted bread, melty cheese, runny yolk and bacon is like food sex.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I’ve been playing with a couple of different meal-kit services, and one of them had a Moroccan-style chicken dish that turned out quite well – and that also introduced me to preserved lemon (the salted variety). It was a flavor I hadn’t experienced before, and while it was definitely on the head-tilt “do I like this? I’ll try another bite – do I like this? Hmmm” spectrum, I was glad to have had the chance to try it. [The dish also had dried currants and a seasoned red sauce, so the lemon was more of a flavor note than a major ingredient.]

      For a more simple dish, I had veggie skewers – chunks of onion, sweet pepper, tomato, and zucchini on short skewers, sauteed in a cast iron frying pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. Very simple indeed, and quite tasty. Could have done without the skewers and just mixed the veggies, but the extra step did seem to add some interest. Would be a good dish for a grill, if I had one…

    7. Tau*

      I have had an absurd craving for homemade brownies the past few days (absurd because I hardly ever eat brownies, have never actually made brownies except with a friend and a packet mix years ago, and don’t actually like chocolate that much). So I guess that’s happening!

    8. JobHunter*

      Different types of tacos! This week was cabeza and al pastor. I made a big tub of diced onion and cilantro, sliced limes, and thinly sliced cabbage that lasted all week. I also made salsa and bought some black habenero sauce to with them.

    9. OyHiOh*

      I had saag paneer, raita, and aloo naan last night for dinner (that’s spinach and cheese in cream sauce, yogurt salad with shredded cucumbers and carrots mixed in, and flatbread stuffed with potatoes, for those who don’t know), with enough left over to have for lunch today. It was spectacular.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      Last Sunday we had people over for bbq so boyfriend smokes brisket, ribs, pork loin, we are still eating the leftovers.
      I made Texas Caviar to go with the meat, and it makes perfect lunches, especially during summer. It’s light, has right amount of garlic and spiciness, filling without meat, and I believe even vegan. The recipe from Comfort of Cooking website is my favorite. The only downside is that you maker a huge vat of it at once, but it stays perfect in the fridge for days.

      1. automaticdoor*

        Quick recommendation – use the leftover smoked meat in tacos! We just did that — flour tortillas, chopped meat, chopped sweet white onion, and cilantro.

    11. BrambleBerry37*

      I have been craving veggies like mad lately, so have been assembling some side salads to snack on. First is a honey mustard broccoli salad with almonds and cranberries. Then a ginger sesame slaw with peanuts. Finally, a simple smashed cucumber salad with a rice vinegar seasoning. I also have the fixings for mango tofu bowls with coconut rice for tomorrow.

      ALL the veggies!

    12. TX Lizard*

      I am going to attempt to copycat Trader Joe’s Herbs and Spices popcorn today. Nutritional yeast, olive oil, parsley, dill, and celery seeds (but I accidentally bought celery salt!). If it goes well I am going to premake a jar of the seasoning mix.
      What kind of cheese do you use? Do you add your toppings after it is fully popped?

      1. Anona*

        I use whatever cheese I have on hand- sometimes cheddar, sometimes parmesan, and sometimes something different like Gouda or blue.

        I add toppings after fully popped, but still hot.

    13. Batgirl*

      Today I hacked a gluten free pancake recipe so I can keep it as a premade mix and not do any weighing or measuring when I want a quick pancake. It’s slightly thinner than an American pancake, thicker than a crepe…so like a British pancake more or less. Nice and squishy rolled up around some Nutella.

      1. TX Lizard*

        Please share if you are so inclined! Either the original or hacked version- I haven’t found a GF pancake recipe that I’m happy with yet.

        1. Batgirl*

          This is the original recipe and it’s very good, it’s just that it involves buying buttermilk and melting butter and weighing things. https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/perfect-gluten-free-buttermilk-pancakes/
          My hack is to put all the dry ingredients together (which the recipe author Nicole Hunn herself recommends in her quick and easy cookbook, but she’s still melting and weighing stuff post-mix). I also add a teaspoon of buttermilk powder per cup. Then I use a half cup of mix, half cup of milk and one egg when I want a few pancakes. You can add more milk or mix depending on whether you want thin or thick pancakes. The flour you use is pretty key. I use Doves plain GF flour, because I’m in the UK. Cup4Cup and Better Batter are the American brands Nicole uses; she recommends their gum free versions for pancakes. It’s still very easy to accidentally pick up a GF flour brand which is terribly grainy and will ruin everything you try to make.

        2. Emma2*

          I’m not Batgirl but I regularly make the buckwheat flour pancake recipe from the Doves Farm website (Doves Farm is a flour brand in the UK that makes a variety of regular and gluten free flours). On the website, they make the pancakes with blueberries, but instead I add a bit of cinnamon, 15 g of dark chocolate chunks and around 60-65 g of frozen raspberries.
          These pancakes are not an attempt to mimic pancakes made with white wheat flour, but are naturally gluten free and I love them (I do tend to eat a lot of whole grains, so my preferred flavour profile may be different from someone who eats more refined grain products).

        3. Batgirl*

          My reply with the link isn’t showing but go to glutenfreeonashoestring and see the buttermilk pancake recipe. Make a mix out of the dry ingredients and add a tablespoon of buttermilk for every cup. To make a few pancakes, use half a cup of mix, half a cup of milk and an egg.

          1. Batgirl*

            Oh and I use Dove plain gf flour, but the site author recommends American brands Cup4Cup and Better Batter.

    14. Ali G*

      Tomorrow I am making balsamic glazed steak tips and mushrooms. Yum!!
      Tonight we are going out – I’m so excited!

    15. BlueWolf*

      I think tonight I’m going to harvest some of my basil I’ve been growing and make pasta with shrimp and sundried tomato pesto. It’s a favorite recipe I haven’t made in a while. I’m terrible about using store bought basil in a timely manner so I’m glad to finally have some homegrown to use. It’ll be my first basil harvest of the season!

      1. TX Lizard*

        I would love to know your pesto recipe! My basil is almost ready to harvest too! Pasta and shrimp and pesto sounds like the kind of thing I could eat everyday and not get tired of it.

        1. BlueWolf*

          I replied with the link so I’m sure that reply is in moderation. It’s the 20 Minute Sun-dried tomato basil shrimp pasta recipe from Carlsbad Cravings.

    16. Girasol*

      Cinnamon raisin bread for toast. I’ve made all our bread for years but thanks to running out of things during covid, I’ve finally learned how to use a poolish. Now making bread is an afterthought instead of a project. I start the poolish the day before, a sort of yeasty porridge of flour and oatmeal. The day I bake I add more flour, salt, and some raisins, knead it up, shape it, and drop it into pans to rise for an hour before baking. It makes a crusty rough loaf, kind of halfway between sourdough and regular bread, sturdy enough for sandwiches and remarkably good for toast. But what I like is that it takes five minutes to set up on the first day and ten to finish the loaves on the second. So easy!

    17. Charlotte Lucas*

      I got some escarole in my CSA box & made lentil escarole soup. It was tasty & nourishing. I also have some napa cabbage, so I think it will go in a stir fry with tofu this week.

    18. Small town*

      Patty LaBell’s mac and cheese. No one should ever actually eat it (5 kinds of cheese), but it is sooo good.

  17. Loopy*

    All, as a very grateful follow up to those who gave extensive recs on good pre-prepped meals- I start Splendid Spoon later this week and have a gift card for Daily Harvest! I am pretty over the moon to have every aspect of my main meals taken care of for a few weeks.

    In other news, it’s my birthday today and this year I struggled with what to do or anything I wanted. Truthfully I had kind of forgotten about it. I didn’t even have plans until a friend invited me out for dinner. I wasn’t particularly sad about it, but it’s my last holiday/life event for a while so I’m trying to enjoy it. Its going to rain all weekend so I likely wont be able to make much plans (it was going to be hiking or blueberry picking). My husband is working all day so after volunteering I’ll be on my own until dinner. What are your favorite low key solo bday activities? I’ll probably nap and read, but open to treating myself to things I haven’t though of!

    1. MCL*

      If you’re comfortable, a service like a massage, manicure, or pedicure are nice. I booked a massage with a fully vaccinated massage therapist after I was fully vaccinated, and it was magical.

    2. Mila*

      Happy birthday! I’m always a fan of creating a nice experience that is just what I want to do — eating a special snack or watching something my husband has no interest in, etc

    3. RosyGlasses*

      I love planning solo bdays! Usually will treat myself to a massage or facial, or maybe getting my nails done. Favorite smoothie or coffee shop, maybe splurge on a pastry that is a favorite. Visit a shop that I love or buy flowers. Read and nap and enjoy a takeout dinner of my choosing (during COVID). If you can’t tell, I’m a hardcore Taurus! :)

      Enjoy your special day!

    4. Double A*

      I’m a teacher and have a summer birthday so I’d often get my birth day to myself on a weekday, especially before kids. I always enjoyed getting myself a decadent pastry and good coffee, preferably in a place I could people watch, and some flowers.

      Happy birthday!

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Happy birthday. I have done a couple solo birthdays (realize I’m a day late here)…by gifting myself an experience I would otherwise consider a splurge. A museum membership (I go through and savor, so if I go with friends it is frequently more rushed than i like). An art class (my skills are abysmal, but I keep trying new things). Glass blowing, for example (pre.covid). You dont have to do it on the day of, I relish the planning and choices as much as the experience. Or a cooking class for a new technique.
      Hope it was a good one and I also like to celebrate “the week”

  18. Anona*

    Laundry strategies!

    Does anyone have tips for staying on top of it? There are two of us, plus a toddler, and while we’re good at washing and drying, I can think of only once or twice during the past year that we’ve put everything away.

    Instead, we have “laundry mountain” in the laundry room, and fish clean outfits out of that.

    So what works for you? Specific times of the day or week to fold and put away? Other tips?

    1. On the seaside*

      I love folding while I’m watching something on TV. The YouTube videos I enjoy are usually the right length (5-20min), so I can watch/listen and fold at the same time. Pause, put things away, and reward yourself with the rest of the video/episode. Maybe choose a film that you can watch in small portions?
      (I realize this might not be ideal with a toddler but maybe helpful?)

      1. Kage*

        In addition to doing loads when I can fold watching tv, I’ve also found it helpful to switch to doing loads that just belong to one person. We’re a family of 5 and used to have very similar challenges to you where things would get washed and dried (and even sometimes folded) but then never put away. Usually because I’d get stuck around having stuff to get into a kids’ room after they were already in bed and I avoid going in there like the plague once they’re down lol.

        I switched to doing each person’s stuff individually so I can wash, dry, fold and then cart upstairs in their specific basket. It makes the putting away process go so much more smoothly (especially if my husband is the one putting away as he can’t keep our kids’ clothes straight on whose is whose). It also lets me do just a single load some nights rather than trying to tackle 3 massive loads all at once. It does take more time overall (as I’m doing more small, dedicated loads rather than bigger, mixed ones, but I’ve found it so much easier to just get rid of our clean pile as I don’t constantly have tiny folded piles that need to be split up and put in each room.

        Also- the dirty basket doesn’t come downstairs until right when I’m going to do it; no one gets a new empty basket until I’ve sent up their basket of clean stuff. So if anyone wants a basket to put their dirty stuff in, it’s more motivation for them to get their clean stuff put away.

        1. Pregnant during COVID*

          That’s how I’ve always done laundry – loads specific to each individual person. I can go 2 weeks without needing to do my own laundry, husband is weekly, towels weekly, sheets every other week, toddler and infant 2 x per week. I suggest getting the toddler involved for folding – I have a 4 year old and she’s been helping me for the past year. It’s a nice “game” for her that’s helpful to me.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our routine (two of us, no kids) is that every Sunday, my husband does the laundry (minimum two loads, one “regular” and one that can’t go in the dryer and hangs to dry, which is mostly his button down shirts plus my bras and anything I wear outside of jeans/yoga pants and t-shirts, so not much :-P ). When it’s finished, I help him hang the second load to dry, plus we fold up any extras he might have done (towels etc) and put them away. Over the course of the week, he pulls his daily underthings out of the basket and I mostly ignore it because I have too many clothes. Saturday night I put away everything that’s mine from the basket, and Sunday morning he puts away anything of his that’s left in it, then empties our hamper into it for that weekend’s load. So there is a clean laundry pile, but it’s limited.

      Usually sometime during the week I have him strip and remake the bed, and bring down the sheets, then I do the bedsheets during my workday, since he does the clothing laundry on the weekends. But that’s not super scheduled, mostly just when I go “hey, that’s due.”

    3. WS*

      Monday evening is folding/put away time. Everything goes on the dining table, is sorted into the appropriate baskets, and taken to the appropriate bedrooms, where it is put away. Each laundry basket then becomes the next week’s dirty clothes basket.

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

      LOL to Mt Laundry… only the energetic and determined will conquer its lofty heights!

      My strategy is 3:1 need-based clothing ratio with my spouse. I can go 3 weeks without *needing* to do a wash, while he must do at least one load a week. This means I have a magical laundry fairy who… takes loads… off me.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s about our ratio, haha, and my husband also has become the laundry fairy as a result. It wasn’t intentional, but I’m definitely okay with it and he doesn’t seem to mind. :)

    5. Ranon*

      We have the same family size and I still haven’t folded last week’s sheets so I might not have the best system, lol. I wash on weekends, clothes, pants (as needed), towels weekly, sheets bi weekly. We hang dry most of our clothes so I do the putting away for those on Monday while my partner does bath time. Lots of stuff dries on hangers and goes straight in the closet. Towels usually get folded over the weekend, sheets tend to get, well, forgotten, lol, but worst case scenario they’re back on the bed in two weeks. We mostly have about a week and a half worth of outfits for everyone so stuff tends to cycle through pretty quickly. I also have about a zillion laundry baskets so stuff stays sorted both in the dirty laundry piles and the clean ones.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      I handle all the laundry in the house, and here’s my setup: many laundry hampers. One for our work uniforms. One for civvy regular clothes. One for (my) delicates and things that need to hang dry. A basket for towels. A basket by the washing machine for dirty cleaning rags. The routine is that Fridays after work, work clothes get washed, dried, and put away. Sundays are the big laundry day: strip the bed and wash the linens, towels, regular clothes, and if necessary, my hang-dry stuff. Wednesdays I’ll wash regular clothes if we’re having a busy sweaty week and going through lots of them.

      For me, the chore isn’t done until the laundry is returned to its home in the drawer or closet. We don’t have enough space in the laundry room to leave stuff there, which helps, so I fold everything in the bedroom and can’t just leave it there, so I put it away while I’m standing there.

    7. My code walks instead of running*

      Make laundry plateaus instead of laundry mountain. As you take clothes out of the dryer, lay similar items flat on top of each other. This keeps them from getting as wrinkled and makes it easier to find what you want when searching for an outfit. Typically I put away socks/underwear/things that get hung up as they come out. Then just tackle your plateaus bit by bit. Pants are the easiest for me so sometimes I will just tackle the entire pile. Shirts I might make a rule that if I take one off the pile I also have to fold and put away a couple.
      And then if you get some time and do want to tackle the whole lot, I agree with what others have said about YouTube videos. They seem to be the best kind of background entertainment for laundry and if you watch on your phone you can bring it with you for uninterrupted enjoyment while you put stuff away.

    8. Burnt eggs*

      I loath folding clothes, so I don’t. I have taken to hanging anything I can- shirts, tank tops, bras. That leaves only jeans, shorts, underwear and socks. That’s helped me a lot. As a kid, when anything came out of the dryer it went on the dining room table and all the kids folded, so maybe putting it somewhere that it can’t just be shoved to the side?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, yes – I don’t fold underthings or pair socks, just chuck them into bins. (It does help that as I’ve mentioned before I deliberately mismatch my socks anyway.) Noooobody cares if my scanties are wrinkled. :-P

        1. Don P.*

          Per Marie Kondo: if you at least make the socks lie flat, instead of putting them in a heap, they will fit in less space.

    9. Elf*

      Similar situation in my house (toddler and a six year old) and in general washing and folding is my job and putting away is my husband’s. We had been in the situation where it was sitting unfolded in baskets forever, but I have mostly fixed that by putting on a tv show in the kitchen, cleaning the kitchen table super well, and folding the laundry while my husband does dishes. The combo of “only time we watch TV” with “both people working at the same time” really got me over the hump of not wanting to deal with it. It is unfortunately mostly sitting folded in baskets forever, but at least it’s folded in the relevant bedrooms, right?

    10. Teatime is Goodtime*

      We are aided in this process by having limited space to hang dry (we do not own a dryer). So if I want to hang up anything wet, I have to take down all the dry things. Usually that means I put in a load to wash, then de-hang and quick-fold all the stuff. Because we have such limited space, we wash continually during the week, so there’s never more than two loads to de-hang and fold at a time.

      Beyond that, I have two things I do that might help you.
      First: Toddler’s clothes go unfolded in bins next to the changing table, sorted by category (right now: short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, PJs, pants, shorts). I don’t fold the toddler’s clothes much for several reasons: 1) he doesn’t really own much that wrinkles (mostly jersey and other stretch fabrics, though we have a few overalls in jeans fabric), 2) any wrinkles there may be are run-through, added to, smudged up with food and dirt and anything else, so they aren’t really that visible, and finally 3) he roots through the baskets to pick stuff out anyway, so even if it WAS folded, it wouldn’t remain so–folding our kid’s clothes is a sisyphean task that I do not have the patience nor the time for. Maybe that might work for you?

      Second: I put the stack of clean stuff, quick-folded or unfolded depending on what I was able to do, on our bed. That means I HAVE to fold them and put them away before I go to sleep. That or my husband does. I usually fold everything, but clothes-putting-away is delegated. That means I put my clothes away, my husband puts his away, and we share responsibility for linens and towels. For us, this system is necessary: we do not have much space so there’s no place for a mountain to build, but it is nice that this is now a habit for us.

      1. Nicotene*

        Yes to toddler bins – I was originally trying to put kid clothes away the way I handle my own clothes (folded/sorted by type and season / some items hanging by color) but that was dumb. Now I just dump things into a tops bin and a bottoms bin and it’s fine (folded if it’s something that matters, but for a lot of his clothes it doesn’t). Kiddo doesn’t care and he doesn’t have a wardrobe the way I do so it really doesn’t create that much difficulty.

      2. Jay*

        Thirded not folding kid’s clothes. There is no point. I put them unfolded into her drawers. I have friends who deposited the basket of clean laundry in each kid’s room and left it to them. Little kids rooted through the basket. When they got bigger, one started putting her clothes away and one kept rooting through the basket.

        For ours, I also fold and put away while watching TV. We have a big TV in our bedroom really for just this purpose.

      3. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Fourth not folding kids’ clothes. It was a life changing revelation when I realised I didn’t actually have to do her clothes…when she was about 2.

      4. Windchime*

        I fold my clean stuff on my bed, too. I usually do laundry once or twice a week (it’s just me, but sometimes I need to throw in a load of towels mid-week). For anything that can go in the dryer, I dump that load out on the bed and fold it immediately. I keep dumping loads out and folding as I go, and since it’s on my bed, it has to be put away that evening. For things that can’t go in the dryer, they either get hung up on hangers right away or put on the drying rack on the back porch.

        When the kids lived at home, we had a big green chair in the living room where the clean laundry got dumped and we mostly just dug through that for clean clothes. I didn’t really like it but that’s just how it was with busy teenagers.

    11. BonzaSonza*

      I have three young kids (one a bed wetter), a new puppy and no dryer. We’re also pretty minimal (my 3yo daughter’s entire wardrobe can fit into two drawers) so I do one or two loads of washing a day.

      In summer it’s fine because clothes dry on the line in a couple of hours, but winters are harder and I’ve got a revolving line of indoor drying racks on the go permanently. Side note – while most people do own a dryer air drying is still the norm here, we have copious amounts of sunlight.

      Everyone has a laundry hamper in their bedroom and is responsible for getting dirty clothes in it, I won’t hunt down washing. Even my 3 year old manages that ok.

      Dirty clothes are periodically taken to the laundry room and always separated for washing. In a week I’ll do at least one load for blacks, whites, dark colours, bright colours, pastel colours, bed sheets, towels, cleaning cloths/rags. I dump the hampers out in the laundry, pick whatever will make a full load (whites, towels etc) to put in the machine and put the rest in a hamper for the next load.

      First load is put on during breakfast. At lunch time I remove yesterday’s load from the clothes line and hang out the current load, then put on the next one to wash (if necessary). The second load gets hung out when I’ve finished work. The time varies – a load of sheets will take less than 5 minutes, a load of small kids clothes takes longer.

      In the evening I’ll put on my headphones and fold the day’s dry washing – usually yesterday’s load – while catching up on YouTube or an audio book. Takes about 1-2 videos to get through. While I’m doing laundry my husband is usually doing dishes (or vice versa).

      Each person has their own basket that I put the folded laundry into and then leave in their bedroom. The kids (ages 3-8) will either put their clothes away or pull them straight from the basket to wear. I don’t sweat that, as long as they’re not mixing clean and dirty laundry.

      Wow, typing it out makes it seem like a lot, and there are times it all piles up on me, but for the most part it’s in my routine; if it’s only ever one load I am dealing with at a time it’s never overwhelming. Still, not my favourite chore and I live for the day I can go back to weekend washing.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        We also have the problem of drying stuff in winter–can I share something we did this year that was a game changer? If you do not already own one, I HIGHLY recommend a dehumidifier! Our biggest drying-space is in the bathroom and that, along with showers, baths, cleaning and so on, made it basically a swamp in winter. We had a little mini dehumidifier for a while just to discourage mold, but that died and we bought a bigger, more efficient one. If I play it right I can get a load dried in a few hours in winter! Totally worth it.

    12. Stephanie*

      I watch something mindless on TV while I fold, usually an HGTV-type show that I can pay half attention to. I absolutely HATE digging through laundry baskets to find the piece of clothing I’m looking for, so that’s usually incentive enough to put things away–although I sometimes let it go for a few days before I get fed up enough.
      When my kids were little, the only way I could seem to stay on top of the folding was to fold right out of the dryer. Like, standing in front of it and folding each thing as I took it out. I would sort everything into separate baskets as I folded (the kids’ stuff in one, mine and my husband’s in another, towels separately). It was tedious, and meant two or three baskets to haul up the stairs, but it worked best for me at the time.

    13. ThatGirl*

      We don’t have a kid, but we do laundry every Sunday, and once it comes out of the dryer it gets folded right away and taken upstairs. I realize with a toddler that might nit be quite as simple, but I do think dealing with it ASAP is the only way to go. If it would help you could designate two days a week and break into smaller batches. Definitely fold while watching tv or similar.

    14. Aly_b*

      We don’t have kids but honestly my answer is that the only way my laundry gets folded is if I set a trap for myself by putting the clean stuff on the bed so I have to fold it before bed. This is one persons worth of laundry so doesn’t take that long. YMMV with higher volume.

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Right now, washing and drying is the routine. You need to expand that to washing, drying and putting away. The laundry isn’t done until it’s put away.

      In addition, try to reduce how much laundry you need to do. Tough with a toddler because they’ll make a mess, but if you happen to be one of the people who uses a fresh towel for every shower, stop. Reducing the number of items that you have in general will help too, because even if you fail to put it away there’s only so much that can build up.

    16. RosyGlasses*

      I’ll echo what a few others have said about folding while I watch TV (altho I have been known to dress from my laundry basket during busy weeks!). I tend to follow the @cleanmama strategy of one load of laundry a day, and saving towels and sheets for Saturday. It helps to keep on top of daily chores to do one cleaning item a day + daily pickup and one laundry load.

    17. ronda*

      my moms laundry room had a clothes hanging rack like in a closet across one wall. All shirts went from dryer on to hangers and put there. I think maybe pants did too. clean socks went into a laundry basket…. when they ran out of sock in their rooms, that basket came in front of the tv and socks got matched. There was also a pile of clean towels (folded straight out of dry to flat surface beside dryer or above hanging rack), that you could move to your bathroom closet when the towel supply there got low.

      Each person generally came to the laundry room and moved their clothes to their closets (& put empty hangers in laundry room).. but now there are less people living in the house and I think they stay in the laundry room until someone wants to wear them :)

    18. Belle*

      We have two adults and a toddler in our household (husband is 6’5″ though so like three adults in some ways).

      What works for us is to keep our laundry separate for each person. Hampers keep it separate and make it faster for sorting. I put in a load every night as I start dinner and then put in dryer as we are sitting down. I then do bath time for our toddler as it finishes drying. My toddler loves to help put away laundry, so we then all (including my husband) fold and out away clothes after bath time. Everyone helping means it usually takes less than 10 minutes. Plus it helps my toddler learn how to help.

      Works well for us and keeps it really manageable. I might have to do an extra load on the weekends but never builds up this way.

    19. Batgirl*

      I have removable baskets in my Ikea wardrobe and one of these baskets is dedicated to clean laundry, because I also suck at putting stuff away. I take the basket out and place it near the laundry while it’s still being done, so that when it’s ready it will go straight in. I fold as I put them in them in the basket (good music really helps with this) and then the basket goes back into the wardrobe. I will return to put each item away exactly where it goes as the next load washes, but if I don’t have time, I at least have a clean laundry pile in my wardrobe which is relatively easy to go through.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      When it was the two of us, I did the laundry marathon. Wash it, hang it up to dry, next day fold it, iron it, whatever it needed. It was grueling.

      Older me came to the conclusion- I add to laundry and dishes every day. So I should do something with laundry and dishes every day. I had been doing dishes every day right along, but laundry- nope. Now on non-wash days, I do repairs, hunt for missing socks. weed things out a little or whatever else makes sense. It feels like i am spending less time but doing more. I can’t really explain that but to say that it’s so different from the marathon laundry days that it’s a relief.

    21. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      My cousin (with 3 little kids) recently posted her laundry routine, which entails 4 baskets in the laundry room: bleach, whites, tumble dry, hang dry.

      “I used to do all our laundry on Mondays, start to finish, but it was exhausting, and laundry took over the entire house. A basket in each bedroom, some on the stairs to be put away, some on the floor not folded, some forgotten in machines, the kitchen table and counters covered in half folded piles, and the floor heaped with sorted dirty laundry. It was crazy.

      NOW, I do laundry almost every day, but it is determined by these four baskets. They are the only baskets in the house.

      At bedtime, all dirty laundry gets sorted. As soon as a basket is full, it gets washed, dried/hung, folded, and put away. Some days 4 loads go through. Other days 1 or 2.

      But I no longer stress about getting laundry done on Mondays, or that we don’t have clean clothes, or that there are heaps of unsorted laundry in every room of the house.”

      In my house (2 adults, no kids), we are each responsible for our own laundry. When we got married 11 years ago, one of the first “rules” we set (which actually came from my husband) was that no one did each other’s laundry on a regular basis. It’s not my job to manage his clothes. (We make exceptions for things like, “I need this pair of jeans washed; can you throw it in next time you do a load of denim?” and right now, our masks all get tossed right into the washing machine when we walk in the house, so masks get washed in whatever load comes next.)

      I have a LOT of clothes, and I tend to stretch out my laundry as long as possible, and then do a marathon day which involves folding to a podcast. I wash EVERYTHING at once, and usually try to time my last load as I’m going to bed so I strip out of the day’s clothes right into the washing machine. My husband has fewer clothing items and is more likely to have a load or two going at all times.

    22. Jane*

      I fold my laundry while watching something on TV, and if there’s a lot of it, I’ll listen to an audiobook or music on my Amazon Echo while putting it away.

    23. allathian*

      We have weights in the utility room. So I lift a bit, and then fold a few pieces of laundry, lift some more. Light weights so I don’t get sweaty, for warmup. When I’ve folded all the laundry, I’ll start on the heavier weights.

    24. Retired (but not really)*

      As someone else with the laundry mountain, one hint I can add is to let your toddler”help” with putting away.
      Also do you have specific spots where pants, socks, undies, miscellaneous items actually need to end up besides on top of the dryer? It’s easy to hang up shirts if you have a closet rod over the washer and dryer, and folded towels have a spot in the bathroom but at the moment my folded pants/shorts don’t have a designated spot so they still end up on the dryer with the socks and undies. I need to rearrange my closet -get a rack & basket system to accommodate them. Unfortunately that priority has not made it to the top of the list yet. Lol!

    25. Small town*

      We divide and conquer. One washes and dries, one fold and puts away. Young ones get assigned the folding and delivering to various places. When the not so littles were smaller we used to have contests about who could be fastest. If you have a toddler, heartfelt congrats on having clean clothes!

  19. 36Cupcakes*

    My mother is 66 and heading towards a dementia diagnosis. She doesn’t have long term care insurance. She gets Social security disability payments and is on Medicare but the payments put her over the monthly limit for Medicaid. And since she is on Medicare/an advantage plan her medical costs aren’t high.

    I’m a bit lost on what to do. I’ve read maybe a lawyer can help figure out options for long term care. Is that correct? What questions do I need to ask a lawyer?

    1. WS*

      A lawyer will be good for working out which options are financially possible and how to make them happen, but you might want to talk to an aged care social worker or someone similar in your area first, to work out what options are available in your area. Talk to her medical clinic and they will know who to put you in touch with – it may even be someone at the clinic. Do you (or someone in the family) have power of attorney or power of medical attorney for your mother? That’s an important early step to be able to make decisions for her care and discuss with her what she would like to do.

    2. Policy Chick*

      Being a lawyer myself, I’m always one to recommend seeing a lawyer!

      However, if your issues center on financials, I’d also suggest you talk to a certified financial planner (CFP). You’ll have to figure out her needs relative to her income; if she has any investments/savings, how to make those dollars work the hardest, etc.

      Meanwhile yes to an attorney. You’ll need several things (if you don’t already have them): Power of attorney, a general will, whatever measures your mom may want with medical care such as a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) order. You’d be well-served to get your name on all her financial accounts – checking, savings, etc. Take her to the bank and sign a signature card to be added to such accounts. A good will/trust & estates attorney can help with a checklist, provide forms, and draw up anything (like the will) that is specific to your mom.

      Good luck Cupcakes!

    3. Jay*

      Agree with talking to a lawyer – find an eldercare attorney who specializes in this kind of thing and ask them for a rec for a financial planner. Every county has an Area Agency on Aging. Call them and ask for resources – this is exactly what they do. They’ll have lists of eldercare attorneys. You might also want to meet with one of their caseworkers for general advice.

    4. Ana Gram*

      AARP’s website has a lot of good tools for these types of situations and might have useful questions to ask so you can maximize your time with a lawyer.

      1. Corkey's wife Bonnie*

        Yes, this plus if your county has a Department of Aging, they can also help you figure things out.

    5. fposte*

      Medicaid details are state variable. Have you talked directly to your state’s Medicaid agency? They might have more information. Some states have a buy-in option, for instance. I’d look specifically for an eldercare attorney if possible; they should be aware of how Medicaid operates in your state.

    6. Reba*

      Look up your mom’s state/city/county Office on Aging or Elder Services or whatever it’s called where you are. That can help you get the lay of the land of resources available near her, and help you understand what you need legally and financially. They may be able to assign your mom a case worker to navigate care resources. The National Council on Aging website is another good resource to understand what you need to plan for.

      You can also hire an elder care consultant — my mom used one when planning her parents’ care (dementia involved as well), the consultant made recommendations on facilities and coordinated their moves, and basically guide them through the intricacies of the various care systems.

      1. 36Cupcakes*

        Thanks everyone. I have POA for healthcare & financial matters. Our area agency on aging wasn’t very helpful. I’ll try the state medicaid office. Not sure why I didn’t think of that. I just have a hard time thinking her disability payments might be too high for help

        1. Bluebell*

          Really glad to hear that you’ve dealt with the legal details. If you like and trust the lawyer, you can ask them to refer you to a planner. Does your town have a Council on Aging? Sometimes there are knowledgeable staff there. When I was dealing with a relative’s dementia, I talked to Council on Aging staff in a few towns, and got some great info. Hope it goes well.

  20. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? How are the veggies, the flowers, and the weather?

    My veggie plants are starting to grow, in fact the potatoes are starting to take over my raised bed. I look forward to my garlic snapes popping up as I think those are the next big change to my garden!

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

      Shorter, darker, cooler days now down under… I’m just trying to keep my indoor babies alive with the right balance of light and water with the shifting sun. It’s dark in some rooms and blazing in others so I’m shuffling pots around a lot.

      Wondering if anyone has found any good inspiration blogs/books/Pinterest boards on mid century modern landscaping? Architecture and decor always appreciatively devoured too :) Just haven’t found any great resources on landscaping yet.

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

          And I’m off down a rabbit hole… thanks for the rec!

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I bought another rose! I feel a bit silly since the last one isn’t doing so well, but I’m hopeful it will work like the first one, which is happier than happy at the moment. Wish me luck!

    3. GoryDetails*

      Summer in full flow here in New Hampshire – after a cold spell that made me delay putting my veggies in the planters or the ground. Did a lot of planting yesterday, including an Earthbox (six types of peppers) and two “City Picker” planters (three tomatoes and three eggplants), plus herbs and some ground-cherries (aka husk tomatoes). All of these had to be protected against the plague of adorable-but-insatiable chipmunks, so I have chickenwire fencing wrapped around the planters. Will be putting in the summer squash, okra, and beans today, I hope, with yet more chickenwire.

      Things blooming: yellow irises, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, columbine (a lovely dark blue variety that’s been self-seeding in the same spot for years now, always a welcome sight), and a clematis that climbed an evergreen tree and is blooming at the top like holiday decorations.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Recently I planted cilantro for my partner who just a couple weeks later abruptly moved out, so I now have a pot of vibrant, flourishing cilantro…which I absolutely loathe.

      I am thrilled that my sticks on fire are recovering and showing new growth. I wasn’t giving them enough water.

      1. Susie*

        If you want to turn the cilantro into a positive and use coriander when you cook, let the cilantro go to seed and harvest the little spherical seeds. You literally have to do nothing except ignore it. Cilantro pest is good too and doesn’t have the soapy flavor a lot of people dislike.

        All that said, if you want to let this cilantro plant return to the earth, for example by tossing it out the window, 100% support from this commenter.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Unlike produce planted for an ex? Offer that up on freecycle, and free your soul!

    5. Susie*

      A groundhog destroyed my green bean, kale, and lettuce plants, just when they were about to be harvested. So I built a fence with netting around my beds…but this will make it harder to harvest.
      All that said, one of my biggest joys right now is sitting in my yard with a beer in the evenings looking at my garden.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We did some yardwork for my fatherinlaw and raided the garsen for some plants to put here. Alas not the rhododendrons but lilac and lilies (2 kinds). We have to go back to finish tomorrow and I’ll try for quince, giant bleeding heart, epimedium, and whatever of my bulbs have survived in the overgrown corner he’s been mowing & mulching.

    7. Bobina*

      Think most of my anemones have now flowered which has been pretty to see, and looks like I’m going to get at least 1 last Dutch Iris to flower. My lesson is that for next year I definitely want to have a load of anemones in one pot (vs now where I put a few corms in different pots with other things) because I think that will make for a lovely spectacular colour explosion.

      The coreopsis seeds I started a while back dont seem to be growing (they germinated and are alive, but just arent doing anything) – I think I transplanted them too early, so sowed a few more that I had left, hopefully they will do a bit better. I really want some yellow flowers to look at eventually.

      The selection of random annual seeds I bought and planted a while back seem to have mostly survived the slugs except for 1 pot, so hopefully in another month or two I should have some happy flowers to look at from there.

    8. MissB*

      Finally set up one of the raised beds I got a month ago. Still have one in my basement but it’ll wait until fall.

      I was out there planting the rest of my plants today and I realized I grew SO much from seed this year! I did buy two eggplant starts but the rest of it was from seed. Hoping the cukes and various winter and summer squash plants take off.

      I ended up planting in about 10 bags since I ran out of bed space. Ran out of soil too. Figured that meant I was simply done,

      Seriously sore,

    9. Clisby*

      My cherry tomatoes have been ripening for a couple of weeks but the bigger ones are slower. The first one ready to be picked and made into tomato sandwiches was snagged by (we think) a squirrel. I have lectured my indoor-outdoor cat on how he isn’t doing his job, but oddly enough, he seems indifferent. No idea why pests haven’t been targeting the cherry tomatoes. Anyway, now I’m picking them as they get within 2 days of being fully ripe and putting them in a sunny window. We’ve eaten the first beefsteak tomato ripened this way, and now a Celebrity is in the window. Jalapenos are flourishing, and my basil is flowering so I’m going to see if I can root some for a couple more plants.

  21. Policy Chick*

    Being a lawyer myself, I’m always one to recommend seeing a lawyer!
    However, if your issues center on financials, I’d also suggest you talk to a certified financial planner (CFP). You’ll have to figure out her needs relative to her income; if she has any investments/savings, how to make those dollars work the hardest, etc.
    Meanwhile yes to an attorney. You’ll need several things (if you don’t already have them): Power of attorney, a general will, whatever measures your mom may want with medical care such as a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) order. You’d be well-served to get your name on all her financial accounts – checking, savings, etc. Take her to the bank and sign a signature card to be added to such accounts. A good will/trust & estates attorney can help with a checklist, provide forms, and draw up anything (like the will) that is specific to your mom.
    Good luck Cupcakes!

    1. Lifelong student*

      I often see the advice to add someone to an account. While it is easy, it is not always wise.

      If the new co-owner dies before the original owner, there may be inheritance tax. If the new co-owner is sued or divorced, the assets may be subject to claims.
      When the original owner dies, the new co-owner becomes entitled to the balance. If that is not the intent, other heirs are disadvantaged. Even if the new co-owner shares, there is a potential for gift tax issues- and there may be state gift tax even if the federal limits are not reached. Even if no federal gift taxes are due there may be filing requirements.
      Just get a POA and avoid these risks.

      If you have a properly drawn POA, there is no need to add names to an account.

      1. Frenchfry*

        This just happened with my mother’s estate. She had added a sibling to her checking account because she somehow thought it would be easier to send him money overseas in case of an emergency. She never told him about his name being added and it was never intended to be a joint account. When she passed away he was able to gain access to quite a bit of money and it’s caused a lot of bad feelings!

  22. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Hi. I am hoping I can get some help from fellow crafters here? I saw this backdrop (link in reply) and after a bit of googling and asking around earlier this week I think I understand how it’s made but would just like some confirmation?

    The reason I’m asking is bc I’m planning a small event and I’m hiring a decorator to recreate this backdrop for me. I got very wildly different prices (ranging from $250-1000), so I’d like to know what I’m paying for and what to ask for. I have never done crafts, so there’s no way I’m going to DIY this lol. For example, if I’m quoted $$ for a cake I know pretty much what’s going into that–the ingredients, supplies used, design, labor, etc.

    This is what I was able to learn:

    From the picture, it looks like the pink flower arch?” is a mix of either premade or self assembled flowers in various shades and sizes that are made of either plastic, tissue paper, cardboard or felt. There are a few butterflies and plastic-looking leaves placed here and there as well.

    Structure wise, I am not sure if its two separate pieces-a frame placed inches in front of a wall, or just one arch/wall? If it’s 2 pieces, it could be frame that is placed a few inches in front of the grass wall, and the flowers are assembled and glued on to a Styrofoam board that may be covered in a fabric? The “grass” behind it is either a heavy sheet with grass-like pieces on it OR it’s a very realistic 3D print of grass.

    I’d appreciate any help or guidance on this!

    1. HannahS*

      Having planned a wedding in the last year, I’m not surprised at those prices–$250 feels low, if someone’s making it from scratch. Fake flowers and greenery are WAY more expensive than I thought they’d be. In my region, unless you’re buying wholesale, they’re about $10 a strand for plastic, which is the cheapest. A strand is maybe a yard long, so multiply that by how many you’d need to lushly cover an arch! Add on to that, if the flowers are not mass-produced, someone has to cut each petal out of paper or felt and attach it to a wire stamen, 5-10 times per flower, then multiplied by the number of flowers–this is a LOT of hours of labour that need to be paid for.
      If you’re hiring a decorater, I’m guessing that you aren’t buying the backdrop; more like having them make it for you but they’re sourcing the materials, some of which they may use again. The price difference probably depends on what they already have and feel they can re-use in someone else’s event, plus how much time they’re guessing it’ll take to set up (a lot).

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yeah, $250 did seem extremely low and it made me think that maybe they’re just going to use a printed canvas. The higher end of that price range was going to use half balloons which I def didn’t want. The one I am leaning towards told me she has a vendor who creates these for her, so I suppose I am paying for the item + her commission and labor and whatnot. Which, I am 100% OK with paying a pro for.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yes, fake greenery is quite expensive. I have a large vase with some fake greenery, and it was over $100 worth of materials, excluding the vase. You can ask them what materials they anticipate using to get an ideal of what you’re paying for. I’m not surprised at all the quote is so high. Most of the flowers look handmade, and that takes significant amounts of time. I would expect whatever end product you get would be more “inspired by” this photo rather than an exact replica of what you see.

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Those flowers are made from card stock. They can be attached to foam board, wire, a wall, etc. I am guessing what is in the pic is foam board.

      You can probably only get the backdrop for a reasonable price if the decorator already has the flowers. The flowers are handmade. Or if you have a very crafty friend with a lot of spare time and a cutting machine.

      Look on Etsy (search for giant card stock flowers) to see examples of how much they cost.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Also, the green stuff in the background looks like faux boxwood panels. Expensive to purchase but a decorator may already have them to rent

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          ohhh thank you for the terminology, I just googled it and it looks exactly like that!

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Card stock, thank you!

        So I was able to go to a Hobby Lobby & Michaels and I got a better idea of everything; it really helped to see the paper/card stock flowers, greenery, foam boards etc in person and see/feel the materials. I’m still hiring someone to do the backdrop but I’m brainstorming ideas for centerpieces/favors as well so this was helpful. I was searching on Etsy the other day and came across a gorgeous wall flower arrangement. The item description said 3D but when I read the description it said it was just a print. I messaged the seller and they said it was a print, so I was super confused about that.

      3. lemon meringue*

        Hmm, I was going to guess that the flowers were made from sheets of craft foam. The material looks more pliable than card stock to me, particularly the centres of the roses.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      Don’t really have an answer for you but wanted to report that my first attempt at growing potatoes seems to be going great guns! The green part of the plants are flourishing which must mean that the potatoes below are getting lots of energy to grow. My potato project is bringing my JOY so I am sending that JOY on to you for your project!

    1. Wishing You Well*

      My 1979 Kenmore microwave is still running! …but Kenmore might have changed since then! lol

      1. AnonInCanada*

        And here I thought the Danby I’ve had since 1990 was a workhorse! And it still works like the day I got it. Sure, it doesn’t have any fancy-pants settings, but if you need to heat something up, it’s still there! And I also don’t think I’ve ever had to replace the incandescent light bulb inside of it, either!

    2. Been There*

      Whirlpool! Mine is well over 15 years old and, with heavy use, only now starting to show signs of age.

    3. Ali G*

      If counter top space is a concern, we recently bought a Whirlpool corner microwave. It tucks in a corner and is just as big as the turntable (it fits one regular dinner plate). We are actually going to be putting it in a cabinet soon so it’s perfect.

      1. NYC Redhead*

        I came here to recommend a corner microwave! I love mine and it makes use of space efficiently.

    4. allathian*

      Our Electrolux is 12 years old and still going strong. It’s perfect for our needs, mainly reheating.

      My parents have an ancient microwave, I actually don’t know how old it is. My dad bought it at a police auction of confiscated stolen goods some 30 years ago. The original owner didn’t want it back, I assume because they’d already replaced it.

    5. Retired (but not really)*

      I love the one that came with my cabin. It is a Whirlpool and is installed over the stove. It has a vent fan and a light (which burned out -after 11 years- a few days ago).

    6. Imprudence*

      UK reader, love our Panasonic combination oven. Roasts chicken with a mixture of microwave and oven in 30mins, jacket potato in 11 mins.
      The software takes some getting used to, but once you have it’s great. Make sure to get the one with a grill.

  23. Codependent Carol*

    Can anyone provide strategies or recommend books for when you realize a friendship has become co-dependent (or dependent, really, since I don’t know how my friend views our friendship).

    We started out as co-workers and developed a very deep friendship. We usually get together at least once a week. We still work together and spend almost all day chatting on our work’s instant message system, to the point where other people have commented that if one of our dots is red, the other’s will be red too. I’d say it’s about 50-50 as to who initiates contact each day and throughout the day.

    I don’t think it’s healthy to spend this much time in a day talking to one person, probably 4-5 out of the 8 work hours and then 1-2 hours outside of work. I really think I should be cutting back on this but I dont know how because I enjoy it, it helps pass the time and I still get my work done.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Oooh boy no reccs but I feel this; sending support. I’m prone to doing this kind of thing too. I hope you’ll get good tips here. Maybe start taking a class and explaining you’ll be out of reach after work MWF from now on, and build up from there. Tangent: isn’t it weird that we instinctively know we should probably cut back on these types of friendships but that this amount of connection in people who are newly dating would be fine?

      1. HardlyLovelace*

        I think we undervalue friendship in our amatonormative society, unfortunately. And we overvalue independence.

        I for one would love to be this close to someone!

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Codependent No More By Melody Beattie is a very good book, albeit focused on alcoholics and their partners. But the tips are transferable. Relationships are relationships.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        There’s also a phone app for the book that brings up a page every day. It’s a helpful reminder to keep me on track.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Focus on cutting back on the outside-of-work time. Start small and pull away gradually since your quality of work-life depends on this person. Fill the time with finding other people to be with – don’t leave that freed-up time empty. Do some reading: analyze how you got here and what you need to change going forward.
      Sending you good vibes.

      1. ronda*

        I was more focused on the work time engagement seeming excessive. The out of work by itself does not really seem excessive to me.

        So I think telling her you think that spending so much time at work chatting is not good for your work product and the optics for both of you on being focused on your work. Maybe say how much you think is reasonable… ex: still chat 1x morning 1x afternoon. — but it might also lead to gossip at work about how you must have had a falling out :)
        If you are good friends I do think it is kinder to say this than to just start pulling back with no explanation.
        If you are lacking work to do in this time your will be limiting chatting, fill it with work improvement activities, like classes or reading on subjects that would be helpful in your job.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The fact that others are commenting is a signal to change what you are doing. You can even say it that way too her, “Others are talking about how much time we spend chatting.” Just a reminder you are using company resources here…

          But underneath it all, I have to ask how do you like your job? It sounds to me like both of you are bored out of your gourds. It might be time to ramp up what is going on in your work life.

  24. Despite The Nora*

    After a year of not working (thanks Covid), I feel like I’m struggling with getting back to adulting with a full-time job. How do you prioritize and organize what needs to be done on weekday evenings and weekends? How do you balance cooking dinner, cleaning the house, doing laundry, having downtime, and seeing friends/family? I know I did this just fine a year ago but it all seems to have gone out of my head and it feels like there’s never enough time in the day to get it all done. So I want to borrow other people’s tips and tricks.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Good lord I feel this. I was underemployed for much of 2020 and now I feel like I have NO IDEA how I used to get everything done. Working 40 hours a week, commuting an hour each way, and still finding time for chores, exercise, social skills, errands, and everything else?? I’m not even doing half of that now and I’m way overwhelmed. I just hope I’ll adapt over time again.

    2. Clisby*

      On a weekend (or days off, if you happen to work weekends) cook a couple of easy substantial things that can be leftovers for the rest of the week. Soup, beef stew, chili, pot roast, mac & cheese, etc. That’s the only way I ate decently when I was working while going back to school.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I think for one you have to give up the idea of being able to do all of those things each night. Laundry is tough because it takes hours so that’s a weekend thing. See friends and family for a meal so those days you skip cooking and cleaning. Embrace leftovers.

    4. RosyGlasses*

      Honestly, I have embraced a new normal. I am limiting social interaction to a couple of friends or short outings until I rebuild my energy (I love friends but my introverted self expends a lot of energy when in social situations). When my husband and I were both working full time, I hired a house cleaner to come every two weeks to keep my sanity and gave up some other niceties to pay for it. It helped tremendously.

      I try to do one small house chore a day to keep on top of things, but extend grace to myself if I just need to veg in front of Netflix for a night and order takeout.

      Getting out for a daily walk or short exercise video also helps rebuild those energy stores.

    5. OtterB*

      Unf*ck your Habitat has some good checklists, etc. for organizing your cleaning

      But yeah, I’m having the same problem.

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      What works for me is having a routine. I like having a clean and tidy house because it helps me feel calm. I also value downtime so that means not everything gets done.

      On weekdays, I get up and take care of the cats (food, water, litter boxes) and then workout. I shower and get dressed and start my work day. I usually cook Monday-Wednesday.

      In the evening, I like to make sure the dishes are done and kitchen counters wiped down. I like coming down in the morning to a clean kitchen.

      Thursday evening, I volunteer so I get carryout for dinner. On Fridays, my husband will pick up food on his way home from work.

      I always sleep in on Saturdays. Snuggling with the cats in bed is my happy place. Laundry is done on the weekends. I don’t like cooking and all the dishes it entails so I don’t always cook on the weekends. I need to get better about meal planning and grocery shopping.

      I work from home, so on Thursday and Friday I’ll take breaks during the day to run the vacuum and clean the kitchen floors. Bathrooms get cleaned on an as needed basis.

      All that to say that it’s difficult to do it all and it’s okay to let things go that aren’t important to you. I am introverted and need downtime during the weekend, so that means I’ll order a pizza for dinner and watch TV instead of cooking.

  25. HannahS*

    Talk to me about food processors! We finally have the space for one. Favourite brand/model? I’m thinking the Cuisinart 14 cup, which was America’s Test Kitchen’s winner. What do you like to use it for?

    My parents had one, and I think it’s a really underrated kitchen tool. I feel like stand mixers became trendier as a kitchen tool, but I know I’ll get more use out of something that can knead bread, puree baby food, and chop/shred/slice veggies more than something that’s primarily for baked goods.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I have both, and while I use my stand mixer more, I definitely use my food processor a lot! I have a Cuisinart 8-cup. I don’t make bread in it, because it’s not big or strong enough, but a bigger one might be capable. I use my processor for shredding vegetables and cheese, which has cut down tremendously on the time I spend actually working in the kitchen. It’s great.

    2. Jay*

      I would do what ATK says :) We have a Cuisinart that we bought with wedding money. We’ve been married 36 years. I replaced the bowl when it cracked a few years ago. It still works fine and we do use it a lot. We also have a stand mixer and I love having both because I love to bake, but for general cooking you’re right about the food processor.

    3. Meh*

      I use my Cuisinart (the large one sold at Costco) to make ground chicken or pork, cut butter into flour quickly for biscuits, shred cheese, make pesto, grind almonds. I think I’ve kneaded dough once because a recipe directed that tool, but otherwise I use my stand mixer.

    4. MCL*

      I have a Ninja from Costco. It came with a large food processor, a smoothie maker, and a blender, which can be used interchangeably in the same base. I did have to replace the piece with the blades on the smoothie cup earlier this year, but I’ve had the whole thing for maybe 5 years and like it.

    5. blue wall*

      I love my Cuisinart food processor and use it weekly! I’m staying with a friend for a month, and she doesn’t have one, and I didn’t realize how much it’s altered my cooking not to have one available. I make hummus in it, vegan chopped liver, veggie burgers, energy balls…

      I personally don’t think I would do well with one that combined with a blender, because I like to use a blender regularly in the summer (cleaning time), and also I use very different flavors in blender vs food processor.

    6. Might Be Spam*

      If you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer there’s a food processor attachment so you don’t have to have another base power unit taking up space.

    7. lapgiraffe*

      I was gifted a kitchen aid one and it is not what I would have chosen for myself. It works fine, but it’s no cuisinart or breville. I can only imagine it’s cheaper than those but this is one of those kitchen gadgets I wouldn’t nickel and dime over.

    8. No Tribble At All*

      Cuisinart 14cup is amaaaaazing. I don’t remember if the dough blade comes with it by default, but it’s worth buying the blade case as well. Seriously, any slicing/dicing you need to do, any grinding or puréeing, it’s fantastic. Shred carrots? Purée squash? Make pizza dough in 5 minutes? All of the above.

    9. ronda*

      the stand mixer was great for making cookies, which my mom did a lot! buying extra mixing bowls was great when making lots of cookie.

      the only thing I really remember her making with the food processor was hummus (before every grocery store sold it)

      Veggies were mostly prepared by knife skills. Although some things used the box grater. (yum- potato pancakes & coleslaw)

      My sister had a new ninja blender with this huge blade (multi level) that we used to do the ground nuts for cookie making last Christmas. worked just as well as a food processor. Mom had a hand-powered grinder for the nuts that worked a little better, but gave that to mom’s sister when I moved.

    10. Ali G*

      I have a Breville. I love that it has 2 size bowls (prob 8 and 12 cup if I am guessing). the small one nests in the big one. I can use the different blades for slicing, shredding it has a dough blade (though I like my stand mixer for dough).
      One thing I would say, most of the time the bowls are high quality acrylic and everyone says they are dishwasher safe, but I don’t put mine in the DW. I did with my previous Cuisinart and I ruined it, which is why I got the new one.

    11. Cookie D'oh*

      I think a stand mixer is good if you want to bake a lot. And it’s needed for things like Swiss meringue buttercream.

      A food processor is great for chopping onions, shredding veggies, etc. I actually bought a mini version when I only need to cut/chop a few things.

      1. allathian*

        Our mini food processor is used almost daily, because we like onion in our food. It’s also easy to clean.

    12. saf*

      I have the cuisinart 14 cup. My husband, who does most of the dishes, HATES it. Cleaning is a PITA.

  26. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    We’ve had breaks in the rain this week and I’m having breakfast with a friend this morning.

    Please share your joys, I know I’m in a better mood when reading them. :)

    1. Queer Earthling*

      We took my cat for a car ride. He loves trips to the vet (an hour drive easily), and he loves going for walks on his leash, so when he “asked” to go for a walk when my spouse and I had a ~20 minute errand, we let him come along. He loved it and had a great time! The only part he didn’t like was the 10 seconds when my spouse had to leave to actually do the errand, haha. We might try taking him to the pet store sometime, just because he had so much fun going out.

    2. Jay*

      It’s been warm enough to eat on the porch. I had lunch with an old friend I haven’t seen in person since pre-pandemic. My white jeans still fit me (I’m old-fashioned about white pants after Memorial Day).

    3. Might Be Spam*

      It’s finally warm enough to sit outside in the morning and the wind is warm instead of cold. I can sit on my balcony in my pajamas and read before starting my day.

      My mom gave me an old straw hat that fits perfectly and doesn’t blow off. It helps keep the sun and wind out of my eyes so my eyes don’t tear up and make me look like I’m crying.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      The strawberries are starting to ripen, and they are delicious! Somehow they taste better when they’re home grown and still a little warm from the sun.

    5. Anon5775*

      I finally get to hang out with my friend after getting vaccinated! We’re playing board games and catching up!

    6. Filosofickle*

      I ordered Chinese delivery and it was delicious. Finding salt and pepper fish was a revelation and has ruined me for fish and chips forever. I’ve been having a hard time with food lately due to a breakup and it was the first time in weeks I’ve actually had a whole meal at home. And I have enough to feed me all weekend!

    7. AGD*

      I was walking down a street on the opposite side of a park that has a big playground. An ice-cream truck drove up and all the kids came RUNNING.

      1. Chantel*

        Some things never change and stay fundamental throughout generations. It is so good to hear kids came running. Warms my heart. Thank you, AGD.

    8. Ali G*

      Last night the weather was perfect for our new outdoor living room! We have a large screened in porch off the kitchen and we just got all new furniture and even hung a Roku TV. We watched 3 episodes of Shrill with the cicadas going crazy in the background. It was really nice!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Rainbow! Probably the most vivid one I’ve ever seen… It was a very hot day, and then a line of thunderstorms rolled through in late afternoon, moving on so quickly that there was a “raining while the sun’s shining” situation. The combination must have been perfect for a rainbow, and this one had broad, clearly delineated stripes, with the colors amazingly intense.

    10. Bucky Barnes*

      A collectible that I preordered 2 years ago finally arrived after multiple delays.

    11. Girasol*

      I solved the problem of the odd-shaped decorative window over the front door putting sunshine right in our eyes in the evening. I got some sun-reducing window cling film. It was easy to put up and actually looks pretty nice. But at 7:30 in the evening, surprise! It sprays rainbows all over the living room. What a treat!

    12. Susie*

      I took a hike and found a lovely spot to paint. First time I got my watercolors out in almost a year.

    13. Laura Petrie*

      I had a lovely reservoir swim this morning and the walk up was beautiful. The woods are full of willow blossom, the highland calf said hello as we walked past and I met a few friendly dogs.

      My really shy rescue rat is getting a bit more confident and is spending more time out and about in the cage. I adopted three girls from a bit rescue in some woods so they didn’t have a great start in life but it is great seeing them blossom. They get on great with my older rats too.

      I made fab vegan burgers last night out of one of the newer types of mince that you can mould into shapes. My meat-eating OH really enjoyed them too.

      1. Chantel*

        This is awesome. I wish more people understood what awesome companions rats can be.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          Rats are just amazing little animals. I’m sad how few people realise how fab they are.

    14. allathian*

      School’s out for my son, he’s happy so I’m happy.

      We’re having July weather in June, perfect.

      We went on a bike ride to a local pizza place for early lunch, and ate outdoors. There were shades, but the seating area was in full sunlight and there was no wind, so it was a bit too hot. But I enjoyed eating out for the first time in almost a year.

    15. Is it tea time yet?*

      I went to visit my aunt and uncle at their new house last Sunday, and it was an even nicer visit than I was expecting. Plus, it was my first time seeing them since early last March, and the first time I’ve left town since last Christmas. (hooray for a long weekend plus all being fully vaccinated and much-needed hugs!)

      Last fall, in a fit of unemployed boredom, I bought 2 bottles of nice fountain pen ink in two of my favorite colors. Then I couldn’t find my fountain pens. I’ve been looking ever since, and recently decided they must have been lost in my move. This was very sad, because a few of the pens were gifts from my mom, and the rest were originally hers. I found them this week!!! So now one pen is full of ink, and I’m using it for all my writing and doodling needs. My grocery list looks fancy, and the dark green ink is exactly the shade I was hoping for. The pen feels so nice in my hand. I feel inspired to send some lucky friend some snail mail! (now, where are my postage stamps? lol)

    16. Small town*

      I had a 2.5 hour lunch with my best friend. We solved all the world’s problems and laughed at anything else. I have a great book and everything is blooming, so reading on the porch is a joy.

    17. voluptuousfire*

      Got my first pedicure in over a year. I feel much better about myself when I have a pedicure, my eyebrows shaped, and a haircut. They didn’t do a great job, just fine but found a much nicer place across the street that looks really cute and I can book appointments online.

      Also found this cover band I enjoy is doing their Tuesday night residency at a bar on the beach an hour away from me. I love this since the place is right on the water and on Tuesdays it’s quiet. I can park on the street and it’s not crowded. Since I work from home, I can leave right after and enter at the end of the boardwalk where the bungalows are and think about how I’d love to rent one for a few weeks one summer. Last time I went I did that and it was such a perfect time, one of my favorite memories of recent years.

    18. Second Breakfast*

      We acquired a chicken flock during the pandemic. Last week we went on our first vacation, so I paid my niece and nephew to feed them every day, but decided to risk not shutting them up at night. (We free range them during the day, but usually shut them in the coop at sundown, and I didn’t want them trapped in the coop until the kids made it up every day.)

      I came home fully expecting to find fewer chickens than we started with. Instead, the flock has grown by seven. We have a surprise clutch of baby chicks, and watching them peaking out from beneath their mama’s wings is such a joy. I love their fuzzy black heads and their little yellow bellies.

  27. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I was watching trashy murder tv the other day and while it turns out that in this case the wife was totally behind the murder, the officer talking about the case listed, among his reasons for finding her suspicious, the fact that she had filed a life insurance claim against the victim’s life insurance policy only TWO WEEKS after his death. And I thought that was weird, like… why would two weeks be suspiciously early to be handling logistics like that? Isn’t one reason that people do life insurance to cover funeral expenses? But I’ve never had to file a life insurance claim and hopefully won’t for a good long while (knock wood), so … what is the socially acceptable time for such a thing?

    1. Asenath*

      I don’t know if there’s a socially acceptable time to file an insurance claim. Two weeks doesn’t sound excessively early to me at all, but I have never had to file an insurance claim for anyone’s death.

      I just finished listening to a true crime narration about a case in the UK in, I think, the early 20th century, and the alleged murderer (who, unbelievably, was found not guilty) bought an insurance claim on the deceased under a really shady excuse. Supposedly he, although practically penniless, was in a business deal with the deceased and needed insurance in case of an accident. So the insurance went into effect one day, the next, the victim nearly drowned in a boating accident, the day after that the victim “accidentally” shot himself fatally in the back in a hunting accident, and the suspect claimed to the police that there was no insurance, and immediately filed a claim. The insurance company went to the police, the accused was charged but not convicted, but the company didn’t pay out anyway. Now, that’s a suspicious insurance claim!

    2. Life Insurance Claims Examiner*

      There’s no ‘socially acceptable’ time. Many people notify the Life Insurance company within the first few weeks. Some people may call that same day, especially if the insured has been ill and the death was expected. Most people are using the policy to help pay for the funeral.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      IDK but I imagine that after a death you need to get the money / legal things sorted and 2 weeks seems reasonable to me. And if you are going to need the money because you’re not getting your spouse’s paycheck it seems like you should get that sorted out ASAP.

      Was the wife supposed to be non functional for more than 2 weeks? That seems sexist.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Two weeks? That long? :)

      I am very organized and after the funeral, filing the claim would be at the top of my list, even before throwing out all of Mr T’s boxes in the basement, one of which contains his employee benefits manual from his job at Apple in 1992. (Companies used to offer good health insurance to people, it seems.)

    5. fposte*

      That’s the work of a scriptwriter who’s never dealt with a death. You file for the insurance as soon as you get your paperwork together. For a lot of people, that’s vital money to keep their household afloat with the sudden loss of a breadwinner; it’s ridiculous for the show to imply they should politely wait.

      1. Generic Name*

        Seriously! Needing money immediately after a spouse dies isn’t exactly a sign of foul play. Maybe if the a life insurance policy had been taken out on them just prior to their sudden and unexpected death that could be fishy.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nonfiction show! That’s why I wondered if maybe I was off — presumably a police officer has dealt with death more frequently than I have, but I just couldn’t figure out why he thought two weeks was shady-fast.

        1. fposte*

          Then that is really weird. Maybe he’s just not used to dealing with people who are competent while bereaved.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. When each parent died, we filed the claim as soon as possible so we could pay for the funeral arrangements and anything else that was needed. Thankfully they each had prearranged everything with the funeral home, so we didn’t have to worry. Last week we lost my 21 year old nephew in a serious car accident and my sister and BIL were on the phone the next day, at our urging, to find out about any life insurance he might have, either through work or on his own, and to also figure out the auto insurance. He didn’t have life insurance on his own (possible some through work, which would take a while) so my sister and BIL had to pay thousands for an unexpected funeral, though another sister and I, and one of her sons, covered it for them.

        1. Anono-me*

          I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

          Please ask your sister and BIL if your nephew belonged to a credit union, a union, a fraternity or any other clubs or groups as sometimes those organizations have small insurance policies for members.

    6. RC Rascal*

      Speaking as someone who had done this, and dealt with death during a pandemic:

      You can’t file the insurance claim until you get a death certificate. Should take a week to ten days in normal times but took a month due to the pandemic. Then you call the companies & they mail you claim paperwork that you mail back. Pretty much none of this is online or electronic in any way. It takes 6-8 weeks to pay out.

      What I learned is that you either need to be a trustee on a trust or have a joint account when the loved one dies so you can get enough money to just pay bills & expenses coming due. People don’t understand this until it happens to you.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        My father died on a Friday in normal times. His funeral was two days later, on Sunday. At the funeral, the funeral director gave me the 20 death certificates that I had ordered.

        I had quit work two years before my father died so that I could take care of him. Twenty-three days after he died, I went on a cruise. I’m lucky that that policeman wasn’t investigating my father’s death, or else he would have suspected me of killing him.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        And even with a joint account, the bank might freeze the account when one party dies. 20/20 hind-sight, but if I had to do it again, I would empty the safe deposit box and withdraw a LOT of money before telling them XYZ had died. (Assuming I could get there before the gossip.)
        You can get an EIN for the estate on the IRS website very easily, and open a new bank account for the estate. Or just an individual account, if you’re the spouse or sole heir. But don’t count on access to a joint account.

    7. OyHiOh*

      The funeral home that took care of my husband submitted the life insurance claim for me. They got paid within a couple weeks of the funeral, and I got the rest a week or so after that. I was well and truly surprised at how many different bits of sorting out the unexpected end of a life that the funeral home was either able to do for me, or helped me know where to go for.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t know whether the funeral home submitted the life insurance claim when my father died, but for sure they were in charge of ordering death certificates.

    8. Teapot Translator*

      Was it fiction or non-fiction? I think we all have different ideas of what is acceptable/not acceptable after someone dies. For example, after my dad died, I felt like I needed to empty the house to mourn. One of my brothers wanted to wait.
      Also, this reminds of a discussion on Twitter about the CSI episode where they think it’s murder because a woman wouldn’t wear an expensive bra without matching panties. My bras are super expensive because of my size, no way am I going to start wearing matching panties.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It was non-fiction – I think it was an episode of Forensic Files, though I can’t swear to that. (I watch a lot of trashy non-fiction murder TV :P ) Usually it’s the criminals doing dumb things, like mailing in the warranty card for the chainsaw they use or (this one just kills me, no pun intended) writing the victim’s name on the memo line of the check they used to buy their murder gear at the local hardware store. (SERIOUSLY.)

        But the cop in this episode was all “Then the icing on the cake, this was a huge red flag to me, she had already filed the insurance claim two weeks after his death! I thought that was really suspicious.” And I just couldn’t wrap my head around WHY that would be suspicious. Two HOURS, sure, I could even see being a little surprised that someone was in that state of functioning after two DAYS, but two weeks? Shit gotta get done, yo.

        1. newbie*

          Was it 2 weeks after his *death* or two weeks after he went missing? The latter would be a huge red flag. The former, not at all.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            After his death – there was no missing, he “just” got shot.

        2. Lcsa99*

          It’s likely there were just a lot of little things about her mannerisms and so on and he couldn’t really put his finger on why it felt wrong so this was the easiest thing to point to.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      That’s a stupid plot. An officer should suspect the spouse because if there’s foul play, the spouse is statistically likely to be involved. The time to file a claim doesn’t make her more or less suspicious. She’s suspicious by being the spouse.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah, I think that was just a way of coming up with a more interesting reason than “it’s standard procedure to suspect the spouse”.

    10. Valancy Snaith*

      To me, that almost sounds like a confusion between getting a new life insurance policy two weeks before someone dies–very possibly suspicious!–and filing for the policy two weeks after someone dies–not suspicious at all. When my mom died we filed about two weeks afterwards–it definitely took about a week-plus to get the death certificate, plus another couple of days or whatever.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I guess I should be arrested then? With the funeral home calling for payment plus all those medical bills, you better believe I filed as soon as I had those DCs.
      The officer was naïve.

  28. Acorn tv recommendations*

    I have a subscription to Acorn tv but other than Agatha Raisin and Brokenwood Mysteries have not found anything I like.

    Anyone have any recommendations?

    I prefer lighthearted, contemporary (takes place after cellphones are common use) mysteries.

    I tried to get into Queens of Mystery but did not like the characters.

    Wish Shakespeare and Hathaway was on Acorn instead of Britbox.

    Thanks

    1. Mari*

      Is death in paradise on acorn? I haven’t had a subscription there in a while.

      There was also one about crime scene cleaners … mr. and mrs. murder …a little more comedy mystery but in the same vein as Agatha raisin I think.

    2. WellRed*

      If you don’t mind subtitles I just started watching Candace Renoir on Acorn. What about My Life is Murder with Lucy Lawless?

    3. Clisby*

      I was really bummed when the latest season of Brokenwood Mysteries ended; that’s a good series. (My husband bought me several CDs of the New Zealand-flavored country music Mike is always playing in his car.)

      1. pancakes*

        We recently started watching that and are enjoying it a lot. We’re nearly through with season 3 and can’t resist practicing our NZ accents around the house.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes and I think the UK version while not lighthearted is lighter than the American ones.

    4. Aly_b*

      Is Phryne Fisher on there still? It’s a charming detective show though not contemporary. The one with the niece is less good but still fun IMO.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Midsomer Murders – although 4 murders in most episodes is a bit much!

    6. Clisby*

      Have you tried Foyle’s War? It’s one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen. It takes place starting just before WWII and goes through a few years after WWII. Michael Kitchen plays Foyle.

    7. Miriam Collins*

      It’s not a crime show, but have you watched Doc Martin? Vera is really good. Hamish McBeth, Pie in the Sky, and Lovejoy are good but a little older. I’ve watched a lot of mysteries that aren’t lighthearted: Hidden, One Lane Bridge, Jack Irish, Mystery Road, Thorne. I really enjoyed the Wisting series (Norwegian so you have to use subtitles) and Rebecka Martinsson (Swedish).

      1. Clisby*

        Yes to Doc Martin! I was really sad when that series ended. Mystery Road also is good.

    8. Anono-me*

      I don’t know if they are on Acorn, but two that might be are ‘New Tricks’ and ‘Rosemary & Thyme’. ‘New Tricks’ is post cell phone and ‘Rosemary & Thyme’ is just pre cell.

  29. M. from P.*

    Has anyone else started reading Alison’s book recommendation of the week?
    I looked up a sample chapter and got hooked immediately. To be honest, I was initially more interested in the Princeton admission process than the interpersonal angle. I wonder how much it reflects the actual experience of admission office work?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I checked my library for it, because I also liked The Plot (which I read the weekend she rec’ed it) but while they had other books by the same author, they did not have this one. I did grab two others though. :)

    2. AGD*

      I read ‘Admission’ not long ago, oddly enough. I thought the description of Portia’s work was so thorough as to be way more interesting than the fictional framing, but some of the professional reviewers thought the opposite, so YMMV. The author has been fascinated by the admissions process for decades and apparently worked as a support admin officer for a while both to satisfy her curiosity and do research for the novel!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! The thing I liked most about the book was all the details about her work. It was so thorough and detailed (and continues throughout the book as a major theme; it’s not like you just learn about it once up-front and then that’s it) and was utterly fascinating.

        1. Unladen European Swallow*

          This book made the rounds in the admissions office I worked in when it got publicity right before the Tina Fey/Paul Rudd movie came out. Then we organized a group outing to see it together in the theater!

          I’d say the admission work pieces are “realistic fiction.” It’s been years since I read the book (I haven’t reread it since that one time, now about 10years ago!), but I rememeber thinking the descriptions of the fall travel being mostly true (I felt more exhausted at the end of the day than the main character from being “on” for hours on end). The application reading descriptions were OK: yes, you’re trying to make distinctions among students who have very similar, impressive backgrounds; yes, you’re keeping your eye out for that “diamond in the rough”; yes, there are always more amazing applicants than there is room to admit. Reading applications at an extremely selective school like Princeton is very much about processing lots of information at a very high volume. Previously, I had considered myself to be a fairly quick reader – working in admissions developed that skillset to an exponential degree.

          The Gatekeepers is an excellent nonfiction book about the inner workings of an elite admissions office, Wesleyan. It’s now many years old, but it does a good job of capturing the rhythms of an admissions office. Biggest differences are that apps are now all electronic and it’s even more competitive because of record number of apps the school now receives.

          *background: have worked in admissions at selective institutions, though neither Princeton or Wesleyan