weekend open thread – August 7-8, 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: Friends Like Us, by Lauren Fox, which is about what happens to two close friends when one starts dating the other’s BFF from high school. It is, as you might imagine, about trust and betrayal, but it’s also funny and feels real.

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

{ 1,277 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonononon*

    What do you do when poking around in a dating app and you come across someone you know? Does your answer change depending on whether you’ve had a bit of a crush on them or if you think they might have one on you?

    1. Fran Fine*

      Whenever I’ve come across someone I knew on an app, it was a guy I didn’t remotely like in high school and had no desire to get to know as adults. I’d swipe left and keep it moving.

      Now, hypothetically speaking, if I ever stumbled upon a crush on an app? I don’t know – I’d probably do something to express interest, or if on Bumble, would send a jokey message about being shocked to see him around. But I probably wouldn’t do anything to show romantic interest right off the bat – I’d feel him and the situation out a bit. It’s been my experience that guys I’ve crushed on in the past generally turned out to be no good, so I’m extremely cautious.

      1. OKCrap*

        You think this is bad, now play again when both you and this other person are on a site for uh a sexual minority, neither of you knowing previously that the other was also a member of that group! We both mutually decided to ignore the elephant in the room and never mention it again. The fact that neither of us messaged the other makes me believe the feeling was mutual!

    2. The German chick*

      A friend spotted his teenage crush on Tinder – he had a crush on her for years, they kissed once or twice, but she just wasn’t as into him as he was into her. They had since lost all forms of contract. Since he swiped right on her Tinder profile but she had not (he did not know – was it because she had not seen his profile or because she didn’t like him), he found her on Facebook and sent her a sweet, concise message that he had seen her profile on Tinder, it had been ten years and if she was up for it, he would still really like to go for that coffee date they talked about but had never had.
      They have been dating ever since.

    3. DrunkAtAWedding*

      Honestly, this only happened once and I was surprised because I thought they were in a relationship. I had a quiet word with a mutual friend, who explained to me that they were poly and in an open relationship, so I put it out of my mind from that point on.

      I think if I saw someone I had a bit of a crush on, I’d probably swipe left on them or whatever the thing is on that app and then let things happen. If we have a mutual crush, great, if not, they won’t swipe on me and they’ll never know. That’s way less awkward than what usually happens.

      ….but, now it occurs to me that some guys will swipe left (or whatever) on everyone and then look through their mutual matches to see who to respond to. I hate that, since it’s so against the spirit of the thing, and it would mean they knew I liked them a bit while not liking me. :(

    4. Helvetica*

      I’ve had this happen with someone I disliked immensely, so I ignored it, but also someone I had met once and kinda was interested in, so I swiped right and so did they, so we were a match. We had a date but nothing came of it, so I’d say if it’s someone you think you could be interested in, go ahead and swipe right! It is a way to find out if they like you too in a relatively low-risk way, I’d think.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve had this happen and so has a friend! Their swiping turned into a serious relationship that lasted 2 years. For mine- we were both looking to just hookup but I found out he had a serious girlfriend (now his wife) and would have been cheating on her so nothing came of it.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      If I wasn’t interested in dating them, I wouldn’t do anything.

      If I’m interested, then it depends a lot on how I know them. I might contact them through the dating app, or through other channels. If they’re someone I interact with fairly regularly, there’s probably a reason why I haven’t asked then out already.

      I should point out that I’m gay, so seeing them on an app might be how I find out that they’re interested in guys in the first place.

    7. Generic Name*

      I came acros my ex husband right after I first signed up on a dating app. We were 97% compatible!! I blocked him lol

    8. Batgirl*

      I saw an old college friend on a dating site; well I could hardly have avoided seeing him since he messaged me. It wasn’t clear at the very outset whether he was just saying hey or expressing interest, but it wasn’t long before it was evidently both. I was kind of nerve wracked about my first potential date after 15 years out of the water and thought a familiar face might help, so I said OK. It quickly got weird though and he was asking me about what I was wearing at home and whether I wanted to go out or a “big night in”, when I was really only ready to get coffee with someone, so I bailed.

    9. Heffalump*

      Some years ago I got an email from a website saying a coworker had a secret crush on me, and if I signed up (not for free, of course), I could find out who it was. I took a pass.

      I couldn’t think of any coworker of the opposite sex whose behavior towards me had ever been anything beyond friendly. And I wouldn’t date a coworker in any event–if the relationship ended badly, having to face them every work day would have been intolerable.

      1. Mstr*

        Sometimes that’s just a scam. A few years back, I think there was a site that started with the letter C that used to send a bunch of those out to supposedly reunite you with your college chums.

    10. The Dude Abides*

      I once matched with someone I used to work with – took a shot, she wasn’t interested in a hookup.

      I also matched with someone whose name I saw at work, but never worked with, as she left about three months before I started. Swapped war stories, and ended up dating for a short time. In hindsight a bad decision, since she still was in touch with most of my co-workers.

    11. Ginger ale for all*

      I saw a library regular on a dating website. I read his profile to see what he would say about himself. The way he described himself and the way he actually is did not match up. He was a problem patron in many ways and we had contemplated calling the police on him one time years ago (ironically because of a book he ordered through interlibrary loan was delayed, the title of the book was Dating for Dummies or something similar to that). He called himself a pretty chill dude. Jmo, if you ever threaten to knock the crap out of a public servant at the top of your lungs, you are not chill.

    12. Anonosaurus*

      I think if you might want to date then, you swipe right on them and let the cards fall as they may. If not, you swipe left and pretend you’ve been zapped by the memory erasing device from Men in Black. I’ve seen coworkers and also clients on dating apps and I only hope that mutual silence applies!

    1. MEH Squared*

      Very striking! I only noticed Laurie at first because I’m partial to black cats. Took me a hot second to realize that Wallace was in the pic as well.

  2. Fran Fine*

    Is anyone else watching the Virtual Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender 2021? I am, and the lineup is so jam packed for 48 hours, I don’t think I’m going to sleep much at all today or Sunday morning, lol. If anyone is interested, please check it out and consider donating to the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum – they have an insane fundraising goal this year ($75k) to maintain their brand new museum space, and they’re only currently at $12,100. I really hope they make their goal if not this weekend, then by the end of the year because I’d hate for them to have to close. The pandemic really screwed them up (but of course, they’re not the only ones, smh).

  3. Despite The Nora*

    I was talking to a friend of my mother and she expressed a genuine surprise when I said that the majority of my friends are college friends. She said how nice it was that I could hang onto friends for that long. I am in my early 30s and over half of my friends are college friends, the rest are old neighborhood friends. I guess she thought it was odd/special that I had held onto college friend now 12 years past graduation. So I’d you don’t mind sharing, what’s your age and when did you meet most of your friends.

    1. Claritza*

      60s. BFF college friend from 8am Freshman Calculus (50 year friendship). The rest – colleagues from teaching, 20-45 year friendships. Wondering why mother’s friend thought long term friendships are unusual.

    2. Weegie*

      50s, and most of my friends are from various places I’ve worked or clubs/ societies I’ve been involved in. The last of my university friends dropped away (or should I say, I quietly dropped them!) in my 40s.
      Funnily enough, I was just thinking about the vast (and it really was vast) network of friends I had at university and for a few years afterwards and how I literally have no idea where most of those people are now. I might have a clue had social media been in existence back then, although I’m rather glad it wasn’t. People moved away for work, and life moved on for all of us.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      30s and… I don’t really have friends right now? I drifted apart from high school friends about 6 or 7 years after graduating, and only stayed close with 2 college friends for more than a year or two out of college. I have one friend I became closer with as internet friends and we still chat a lot but have never really socialized in person.

      It seems typical of the peers I know to have more recent friend groups because we’ve all spread out and moved around since school. A lot of my older relatives still live near where they grew up and seem to still be friends with people from their childhoods.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Your experience is very similar to mine, and I’m 34. I tend to make “friends” in whatever situation I tend to be in at the time, but once that experience is over (e.g., graduation, job change, etc.), I slow fade away.

        1. Golden*

          This is me too. I don’t really have friends. I’m not a 1-on-1 person at all, and it seems more difficult to luck into an existing friend group or have one form naturally than make one friend.

            1. banoffee pie*

              I’m pretty sure lots of people don’t have as many friends as TV shows like, er, Friends, would have us believe lol

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            This is me. Mid 30s and not really a priority for me to have or maintain friendships. I have surface level friendships but nothing more. Cis-gendered female.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Same here for most of my life, and I’m in my early 70s. I wonder if it would have been different if there’d been Facebook when I was younger? I keep in touch with several work friends from where I retired almost a decade ago, and pre-Covid, we’d get together periodically. But anyone prior to that job has been a drift-into-oblivion situation, although if I accidentally run into someone, it’s usually a pleasant, but brief, reconnect. One exception is a high school friend I saw at a reunion, and we’ve stayed in touch. I’m not in the town where I grew up, but I’ve noticed those who stayed have the same friends they’ve always had. My other social connections are mostly my in-laws, lots of them.

      2. Not playing your game anymore*

        60. I’ve lost touch with most of the people from childhood/highschool. In those pre internet days, it was harder to keep track. Add in the women changing their names… My dearest friend I met in collage and we are still tight. Couple of friends I made early in my career, so 35-40 years. And a fair number of casual friends, people you meet to do a thing or have lunch or… all are dog club friends. People who you describe to others as “Karen – you know the one with the dobermen” or “Art – Nemo the Giant Schnauzers Dad.” We do dog things together and I’m really missing these folks because Covid.

    4. Just Lurking*

      I’m 31, and I am not friends with anyone from college or before. The few friends I have I met after graduating.

    5. Lamm*

      I’m 31. My closet friends are 1. Someone I’ve known since I was 7, 2. Someone I’ve known since I was 15, and someone I met at 28.

    6. Quoth the Raven*

      I’m 34. I met my best friend when we were both 13 in 7th grade (which is ages 13-14 for most of us in private schools where I live). We’ve been friends for 21 years now and through a lot of changes and adventures (and misadventures).

      Other than him, I met most of my friends in university (I took time off before starting in order to work, so I didn’t start attending until I was 22) and in my late 20s through volunteering/working at a pop culture convention in my city. I’ve been friends with these groups for 5-12 years depending on the person.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      Just turned 60. My high school friends are still my closest friends. My college friends are from some 20 years after high school.

    8. Cordelia*

      I’m 50, and in a couple of weeks I’m going to stay with my friend from university, together with another university friend (and assorted partners, kids, dogs…) – I’d consider them family now. It’ll be the first time since the pandemic started, but we used to get together like this a few times a year, and always for New Years Eve. My other friends have been collected from jobs over the years, and from a social group connected to a shared interest, but my closest friends are from university. So, 30 years and counting…

    9. Anon now*

      In my 30s. Closest friends are from elementary school (I’m friends with them separately, we’re not one friend group). Another close friend through my mom’s friend group (we’ve known each other since birth). I’m super happy to have had them in my life for so long, and we haven’t even lived in the same country for the best part of the last 10 years.
      I do keep in touch with two friends from grad school but we don’t share so many personal news, especially struggles.
      I know that the friends I listed above have friends from college, high school, and work. Some have been struggling to make new friends as adults in a new city/country while others have very recent friend groups as well (eg. through roommates).

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I’m in my 50s, and I’m still friends with some folks from the playground, kindergarten, middle school, summer camp, high school, college, and grad school, as well as some exes with whom I am on very good terms. The frequency of our contact may wax and wane and wax again over time, but even when we’re not in close touch, I still think of all these folks as my good friends, and they have often had my back when I needed it.

      My two closest college friends both kind of ditched me about 15 years post graduation, though, and that sucked. I’m over it now, but the pain of having people I was so close to no longer really want to be in touch was awful.

    11. Liz*

      I’m 36 and met most of my friends through the science fiction conventions I attended in my 20s and late teens. I once sat down and figured out that basically everyone I considered a friend could be traced back through association to one of two events, almost ten years apart, and in particular to two individuals who I met there. I’m no longer friends with the initial contacts who started the chain, but everyone I know is connected in some way, a friend of a friend etc., and only ever a few steps removed.

      I didn’t stay in contact with anyone from school or university. I didn’t really have much in common with them aside from being in the same place at the same time, and even when I was there I was very much doing my own thing. I was quite surprised a few years ago when I ran into an old school friend a few years ago and she gave me a rundown of what everyone from high school was up to, and I realised the group I was part of was still very much together. I’m not sure whose experience is more common, though.

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        I was surprised at how many people I went to school with ended up in long-term relationships with one another. I thought that was mainly a convention for TV, because of limited casts. I didn’t expect it to happen so much in real life! It’s not like we’re even from a small town or anything, we’re from one of the top 3 biggest UK cities.

        Of my main school friends group, two were sisters, call them A and B. Friend C had a baby with A and B’s cousin (call him D), and then ended up long-term with A and B’s older sister’s best friend’s brother, who was in our class at school and also hung out with us sometimes (bit of a mouthful, that relationship!). So 4 of that group are now officially family.

        D also very briefly dated me and another friend, G, before having a baby with C. I say D and I dated – I was 11 and he was 12, and we were boyfriend and girlfriend for an afternoon. Our entire relationship was conducted by notes and we were in separate rooms the entire time.

        After D, G dated F. Another of our friends, L, had a baby with F’s brother. G also briefly dated my upstairs neighbour, whose mother my mother didn’t like. They’d both had toddlers at the same time and my mother was judgey about her parenting (ironic, considering my mother was so awful).

        Sorry that got confusing. Basically, our relationships were very much like a teen sitcom, and I was surprised at how many of them continued into long-term adulthood. I stopped hanging out with most of them in my early 20s, but we’re still connected on social media. I’m closest to W, who wasn’t really involved in our inter-group dating shenanigans.

        I’ve never been close to G, but I am glad to still get glimpses into her life. When we met, we were both 11. Her father had just left her mother and married her aunt (mother’s sister). Her cousin was now her stepsister, and she’d been moved from Scotland to England. In hindsight, all of that explains why she was something of a compulsive liar as a teenager. Every story you had, she could top it, and her story would always explain why she was better or more important than you. At the time she just got on my nerves, but I now see that she was probably really unhappy. She’s much nicer now she’s an adult and a mother with a loving partner. I wish I knew what had happened to R, who was similar unhappy. We only knew her briefly, for less than one school year. She and her brother were in foster care. R used to steal – always food – which, again, annoyed me as a teenager, but, in hindsight, I think I understand more of why she was like that. She had gaps in her knowledge, like not knowing how to read analogue clocks (we’re in our early 30s – forgot to say in my other comment) or how lifts worked, and her brother had an untreated cleft lip. I didn’t know a lot about their home life, but all those things make me think they might have been neglected. I’d like to know that she’s doing better now.

        1. The Dogman*

          It could be just me but I find initials instead of names much harder to follow.

          Personally using fake names would make it way easier to keep track how who is whom etc in future, and I am def not having a go, just seeking clarity!

          1. DrunkAtAWedding*

            Honestly, I’m the same. I just didn’t realise how long it would be when I started writing it, and then I figured it would probably still be super confusing even if I went back and put the names in.

            Some of the girls I was friends with at school were Amanda, Betty, Carrie, Gina, and Lucy.

            In short(ish); Amanda and Betty are twins. Their cousin, Daniel, had a baby with Carrie. Carrie is now in a long-term relationship with Xavier. Xavier is the younger brother of Amanda’s and Betty’s sister’s friend, and was also in our year at school and on the periphery of our friends group.

            Before all of that happened, Daniel also dated and me and another person in our friend group, Gina. Gina also dated Fred, whose brother went on to have a baby with Lucy, and she dated one of my neighbours, who was also at our school.

            Really, there were only two people in our friends group not involved in our dating shenanigans. Kyle was gay and so non-compatible with everyone else in the group (though my sister had a crush on him), and Helen just didn’t fancy any of us.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Most of my made-as-an-adult friends are also from SF conventions and SF-adjacent conventions/fan things. Back when LiveJournal was a thing, I also made local friends that way (there were some active groups for our area and we’d organize in-person things using those groups), but most of those have gradually faded as LiveJournal did.

        I’m really not in touch with my school friends anymore. I was for a while, but the people I was closest to all moved away (or, very occasionally, there was late teens/early 20s Drama that caused us to lose touch) and while I still think of myself as vaguely friends with some of them the reality is that I haven’t seen them in a long time and, since I don’t use social media, I’m completely out of the loop on their lives.

        My mother, on the other hand, continues to get together regularly with her 3 best friends from high school. They’re in their 70s now. Somehow, they all still live in the same town they went to high school in and all still get along. Growing up, I assumed I’d have the same thing, but I’m really not in touch with anyone from HS or college except for people who I wave at or hang out with during SF cons.

        1. Liz*

          Yes, I think moving is a big factor with this. I left the city I grew up in to go to university in the same city as my first boyfriend (who I met at that first convention). He broke up with me before the term even started, but he started the social chain. Then after uni I moved across country to be with my first girlfriend who I met at, you guessed it, another convention.

          I also had the cadre of Internet friends, usually focusing around a particular interest, but most of them would fade as I lost interest in the hobby (same with a lot of the convention folks). The ones that remained are the ones I have a more solid basis of commonality with.

          Geography was never a factor though. Oddly, I’m now back in my hometown and bought a house here. I’m a 5 minute drive from my closest friends, but I initially met them in another country entirely (at a convention) and had no idea they lived here.

    12. DrunkAtAWedding*

      Can’t remember where/when I heard this, but someone’s said that the friends you meet when you’re young are just the people who happen to be around, while the friends you meet when you’re older are the ones you’ve chosen because you really like them. I suspect, for many people, college/uni will be the sweet spot between those two states – lots of people around, but you’ve got more choice and possibly more in common (e.g., if you’ve met because you’ve chosen to study the same thing).

      For me, most of my close friends are people I met on the internet as a teenager. We’ve hung out in person a handful of times (since many live in different countries) but mostly just write to each other online, which is my preferred way of communicating anyway. A few others are people I met at uni, including my fiance. Other than that, my close friends come from a feminist bookclub I attended before I moved for uni.

      I’m still in touch with some people I was friends with in secondary school (because facebook) but there’s only one I really consider a friend and we don’t talk or visit each other as much as we used to. I have a few friends from jobs I used to work at as well.

    13. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Mid 30s here. I guess I always pick up a few long-term friends wherever I go. I’ve got one or two from school still, several from college and the locations I’ve lived since then. I’d say my closest friends are currently a local neighbor and two people from college, but some of that is just because I’ve moved continents a couple times and it is hard to keep the intimacy with so much distance (and time zones) between us. Some folks are up for that kind of friendship and some less so, depends on the people and the circumstances, I guess. But if I were to go to the places I’ve lived again, I’d always be able to rustle up a group of friends for lunch or go on several visits (and maybe even crash on someone’s couch or guest bed, depending). Perhaps because of this way of living so far, most of my friends do not know most of my other friends, which is possibly slightly unusual.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m 40. I have a couple of close friends I’ve known since 2000 that I still talk to daily, a couple of used-to-be-close friends I’ve known since my senior year of high school that I talk to probably only once a year or so, and a handful of friends of varying closeness that I’ve known since 2004, including the two I live with. I deliberately keep my social circle small though – not like I get rid of people, but I don’t generally go out of my way to cultivate new friendships.

    15. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I’m in my 50’s. I met my closest friend when I was 15 through my then boyfriend (she was going out with a friend of his). My other close friends were accumulated via work, flatting, and mutual friends during my late teens, and early 20’s and 30’s. I’m also still on very good terms with my first serious boyfriend and another ex, even though we’re not in contact often.

      I’m not really in contact with anyone from primary or high school, other than seeing their posts on Facebook.

    16. Janet Pinkerton*

      I’m 32 and I have two friends from freshman year of high school, let’s say four good friends from college, and probably 30 friends from the internet, some from almost a decade ago.

      My friend is forty and still very close with his high school friends. There’s several groups of friends who went to my elementary school together and are still bffs. Whereas like my mom’s closest friends are someone she dated 7ish years ago and people from her job of the past 20 years. People vary!

    17. allathian*

      I’m 49 and I’ve only made one genuine friend in my 30s, my son and her daughter are the same age and we spent a lot of time together when both of us were on maternity and parental leave. All the rest are from college or high school. A couple of them I knew in middle school, but we didn’t become friends until high school. Going to the same college and having the same major cemented our friendship, and we added a few more friends into our group in college as well. So I’ve been friends with them for more than 30 years.

      We moved a lot when I was a kid and I’ve lost touch with my childhood friends, but I’ve lived in my current city since middle school. My husband’s lived here all his life except for a few years when he worked in another town, and he’s still friends with a guy he met in daycare when he was 3 years old!

      I’m in Finland and ours is very much a coconut rather than a peach culture. We can seem aloof and standoffish until you get to know us better. I’m also introverted enough that I just don’t have the energy to maintain a large network of casual acquaintances.

      1. allathian*

        I get along with my husband’s friends and their spouses, but they’re very much situational friendships in that if my husband and I broke up, I wouldn’t want to stay in touch with any of them.

        I’ve come to realize that I don’t have any male friends, and I haven’t had them since college. I think that sometimes it would be nice to have a male friend, but the friendships I’ve had always ended up as either FWB, or one of us having an unrequited, friendship-ending crush on the other, so I don’t have any experience of an opposite-gender platonic friendship where neither is attracted to the other and you’re just friends. I do know that such relationships exist, it’s just that I don’t have any experience of them.

        That said, I’m absolutely not in the least jealous if my husband goes to lunch at work with a female coworker, or if he goes to the same conference as a female coworker, or networks with women in his field. He feels the same about my male coworkers and male professionals in my field. But I don’t think either of us would be very comfortable if the other, say, went to dinner with a friend of the opposite gender, because it would feel too much like a date. So I guess it’s just as well that we don’t have such friends…

    18. The Other Dawn*

      I’m 46. I met my best friend when I was about 6 years old and we’re still friends. I met another friend in freshman year of high school, and we’re still friends; however, it’s more like we talk a lot for a bit, then go completely silent, then start up again. It just seems to work for us. I have another friend who went to high school with me, though we weren’t friends at that time. She was a cheerleader and very popular, and I most definitely was not. We started talking on Facebook maybe 10 years ago and we’ve met up a couple times when I’m in her area (out of state). We text every now and then, and we talked a lot when we were each going through various surgeries that were similar. Again, it works for us.

      I have two new, surprising friendships. Both of these women are former coworkers. One is 71 and she was the CFO at a bank I worked for. It’s funny because when we worked together we all thought she had a major stick up her ass, but now that I know her I think she’s great; we have so much more in common that I ever would have though. The second woman I worked with at a previous bank–bank was bought and we lost our jobs–and we became friendly afterwards. That surprised me because I was always very intimidated by her and tried to avoid her and her team. She reached out maybe eight months after we lost our jobs and we went to dinner. Turns out she’s great and we get along. We’ve been texting throughout the pandemic. She’s now working at my current bank and we’re going out to lunch next week.

      Most of my husband’s friends are from his childhood. He’s 52. He’s lost a few through deaths or just drifting apart, but other than that they all still get together. They camped in our backyard a couple weekends ago. He’s made two new friends through work and they’ve been friends about eight years.

    19. Alex*

      I’m 40, and I have friends from all stages of life–from when I was in elementary school through a friend I met just this year, with everything in between.

      That sounds like I’m a huge extrovert but really I’m a person who keeps a few close friends–so it’s more like I have one “close” friend from lots of different stages of life. Some of them I don’t get to see often because they live far away, but I just spent a week with a friend I met in kindergarten, whom I hadn’t seen in a few years, and it was like no time had passed at all.

      1. Washi*

        Same! I think I read somewhere that introverts tend to have fewer but often deeper friendships. I’ve made a few very close friends in each stage of life starting in middle school and have generally stayed in touch with all of them. And actually it’s kind of adding up now to having a lot of friends, which is never how I’ve thought of myself!

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          This describes my (introvert, INFJ if you’re into that) experience, with lots of acquaintances from work, writing groups, community activities, etc. I have a well-peopled life, I’m realizing, although still feel lonely often! Weird!

      2. Liz*

        I’m sort of the same in terms of closeness – the people I consider true friends are the ones I feel I can tell anything, and I don’t have much energy for casual acquaintances.

        I was kind of shocked when someone on a forum talked about romantic partnership being “like a friendship but closer, you can tell one another anything!” It blew my mind because my friends are 100% the people I can tell anything, and romantic partnerships are when I’m on my best behaviour and trying not to let on how messed up I am. But this is probably why I don’t have romantic partnerships anymore! :D

    20. JT Rideout*

      Hmmm interesting! My closest friends are definitely the ones I’ve known the longest: from college and as a teenager (not from hs… I haven’t kept any friends from middle or high school).

      Other friends that I keep in touch with less frequently are from previous jobs.

      I’m in my 30s

    21. Pugs for all*

      mid 50’s.
      – one friend left from HS
      – 5 good friends from college and a couple more from graduate school
      – another 5ish good friends met while my kids were at nursery school.
      – everyone else – from work, neighbors, hobbies – falls more into the close acquaintance category
      – and I guess I should count my husband, met him at work 25 years ago!

    22. SoloKid*

      The vast majority of my friends are college friends, 15 years and counting. The rest are friends that I got through my husband – and they were his college friends too.

      I have one friend I made through work. I tend to not make work friends since there is the potential for things to get weird.

    23. Nicotena*

      This question made me think – good question! It’s really important to me to hold on to friendships, so I do have at least one close friend from high school (defining really close as both still in regular contact and “would I call this person in a crisis”) it’s been my experience that you have to constantly make new good friends as you move around. If I still lived in my home town, and so did my high school friends, it wouldn’t seem at all strange to me that those were my main friends. But I went to college in a different state, and made one or two friends I’m still really close to, and then moved across country for a job, where I made one or two new good friends that I’m still seeing most weekends after ten years. I don’t have a high number of friends compared to most people, but I’m good at holding on to them.

    24. Paris Geller*

      I am 30 and my two closest friends are both from college. We’ve stayed in touch and still see each or talk to each other regularly, but other people I’m friendly with have become more acquaintances than friends. My high school friends and I all changed so much–if I happen to be in back in my hometown when they are too we catch up a bit, but I wouldn’t say we’re friends.

    25. California Dreamin’*

      I’m in my 50s, and my closest friend is a college friend. We remained friends the whole time, but the friendship intensified when she and I and incidentally a third college friend all gave birth to twins in the same year. We did weekly “playgroup” from the time they were newborns until they went to school, so we really became like family. Tomorrow we’re doing an end-of-summer beach day with the six kids, now teens!
      I also get together monthly with a group of moms I became friendly with when my older son was in elementary school. We’ve been doing a monthly dinner for 17 years now!
      I keep in touch with a number of high school friends on Facebook but those are pretty surface level at this point. I still really like my high school best friend and wish we were in closer proximity.
      My mom, age 80, is still very close with her college roommates. Pre-COVID they used to meet up on a trip to explore a new US city every year.

    26. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am in my late 50s and some of my closest friends are college friends, though geography (and a pandemic) have kept me from seeing them as much as I’d like. The rest are from my long time workplace. Oddly, they are people I met at the first job I had when I started with the company when I was in my early 20s, and from the last job I had with the company, when I was 50+. I didn’t click with anyone in the years in between. I have other friends from a shared sports-related interest, but those are more “situational” friends.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        The gap between friends at the start and then much later at work is so interesting. I went hiking with a friend from a job twenty plus years ago, and I also spent time this weekend with friends I made around then through a sport we played. In less than a year I’ll be leaving a job I had for twenty-something years, and this question made me wonder which friendships from this job will last. I think two will for sure, maybe 4 or 5. I have a close college friend and a close grad school pal also (who was actually my now-husband’s house at when we started dating).

    27. CJM*

      I’m in my 60s, and all of my friends are from work or hobbies like book clubs and golf lessons. Several friendships are decades old. I sometimes exchange Christmas cards with one high-school friend and one college friend. I wish I still had good friends from high school and college; that sounds wonderful. Between a change of towns when I was ten and an unhappy time in high school, I’m not in touch with friends from childhood. As for college, 95% of those friends have drifted away, moved away, or passed away.

      On a positive note, I seem to have a knack for making friends. I love my good friends, and I’m confident I could make more if I wanted to.

      My husband, on the other hand, is ALL about his high-school and college friends. I can’t think of a single person among his many friends who is more recent. He’s all about loyalty and old ties. I’m different, I guess: more focused on where I am — and who I am — today.

    28. the cat's ass*

      What an interesting thread! I’m in my 60’s and i have a few friends from HS, a few from college, and few from various jobs, and former neighbors, fellow troop leaders, mommy group, etc. I think when you move around a bit as i did in my 20’s and 30’s, you shed some people who stayed in the same place, but if you’re lucky you pick up some new ones in the new places!

      1. Blue wall*

        Yes agreed! I’m only 35 but I’ve lived in four different cities as an adult, and have close friends in each- im so grateful that I’ve been able to cultivate those friendships; I do need really one or two good friends who live locally to thrive.

        My current closest (not closest geographical) friends are a mix of neighbors, corner coworkers, and from a religious affinity group. Im still friends with a couple people from college but no longer “besties”.

    29. Anonymosity*

      I’m in my fifties. Some of my friends are from college and a couple from high school, but we’re mostly Facebook friends, as we don’t live near each other. I’ve made friends in various groups I belong to where we all have a common interest, both online and off. However, I’ve moved and haven’t been able to make new friends in meatspace due to the pandemic. I still talk to people from the groups in my former town, but the majority of my social activity these days is online. I’m looking forward to getting out in person again.

      What I really miss is having a best friend. I haven’t really had one for a long time.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I don’t think I’ve had a best friend since about second grade. But it’s less of a big deal the older I get.

    30. Sunshine*

      One bestie from kindergarten. Two from college. And a wonderful group of women who came into my life about ten years ago. I’ve lost a few who are important to me as their lives went in destructive directions (I moved around a lot and my middle school high school group was a little rowdier).
      Here is my thought. I had a really close friend. After a couple years of friendship I met my now husband. He was in the military and I ultimately moved. Having moved around a lot I’m used to maintaining friendships long distance. I thought she would be in that group. After I moved it was really hard to connect. I tried to make time when I visited home and she made minimal time. My first birthday after I moved my husband was deployed and I asked her to have a bday zoom dinner with me. She was on and off in 15 minutes. I honestly still grieve the loss of the friendship now 8 years later.
      But I know the truth of the situation is that for some people, friendships have meet certain criteria of proximity or convenience. It’s just not in their wheelhouse.
      I imagine if you are friends with people from years ago some of them have spread out and you have worked to maintain those connections. Maybe she doesn’t have that capacity or interest.

    31. ThatGirl*

      I’m 40. My closest friends are my college friends, though we’re scattered so I don’t see them as often as I’d like. I am in touch with a few people from high school but not that frequently, nor are we that close. And actually it was a bit of a challenge to make and keep friends in my 30s, since we don’t have friends, though I do have a few in the area.

    32. Generic Name*

      I’m in my 40s and my oldest friend I met when I was 3. I have another friend from elementary school, a couple more from jr high, a few more from sr high. I’ve lost touch with my college friends. Have a few friends from grad school. Most of my local friends I met in my 30s through my son’s school.

    33. Chaordic One*

      I’m now in my early 60s and I don’t have any friends left from childhood or high school. I think that it would be possible to revive some of those friendships if I wanted to, or if those people took the initiative. I’m not on social media and that makes it a bit more difficult to keep in touch. I still have a couple of close friends from college, but over the years quite a few of them have passed away. With other college friends, we just grew apart and no longer have anything in common.

      Many of my closest friends are people I’ve met through work. I met one of my best friends at a job I left more than 25 years ago. (Shortly after I left she was let go from that job in a mass layoff.) With work friends, it seems like we already have a lot in common and then meet because of proximity. I have a couple of neighbors that I’m close to, and also a couple of friends I’ve met because of shared interests.
      Surprising, to me, is that I have a surprising number of friends who were originally friends of my parents. These people tend to be younger than my parents, but older than myself, sort of at halfway point in age between my parents and myself.

    34. MEH Squared*

      50 here.

      1. BFF. Met at my first job out of college, nearly 30 years ago. She is the yang to my yin and my joy-bringer. I know I could call her at three in the morning and she’d be on a plane here as soon as possible. I’d do the same for her. I like to joke that we’ll be in a old folks’ home together, shaking our canes and heckling the other residents.

      2. My other bestie. We met on Twitter right around the time Obama first ran for office. He was witty and incisive, and we quickly took our friendship offline. We’ve seen each other through some really dark times and we are ride-or-die with each other. We message each other on the daily.

      3. My taiji (tai chi) teacher. I met her when I started taking classes thirteen or fourteen year ago. We clicked instantly and are good friends along with being teacher/student. I am very thankful to taiji for bringing so much into my life, including her.

      That’s all the close friends I need. I’m good with online friends, casual friends, and family, otherwise.

    35. Jackalope*

      I’m in my early 40s and the corest of my core friends are all from college. I settled down in the town where I went to university, and a number of them did the same, and so many of us are still here. I lived w/ one of my college friends & her husband & kids for several years after I graduated, and we still see each other pretty regularly. I have another college friend that was in an activity with me post-college and we saw each other a few times a week, and another that I would have weekly phone calls with. These friends were my pod for the pandemic; the weekly phone call friend actually became a quarantine housemate, and the others were basically the only people I saw outside of the grocery store for the last year. I also have other college friends I’m still close to, and a handful of elementary-high school friends that I still consider close friends; we don’t see each other as often, but we’re still close and still get together regularly.

      I’ve made some good friends since college. I worked overseas for about half a decade and still have at least one good friend from that time, and I’ve got a number of good church friends. Plus a scattering of other friends here and there that I’ve picked up. But as I said earlier, the closest friends are from college (and earlier).

    36. Cafe au Lait*

      39. I have one best friend from elementary/middle school, and one best friend from college. The rest of my friends are situational or colleagues.

      I tried to make friends five years ago. It was a weird experience. I’m a knitter and I joined my local stitch and bitch. The co-organizer, who was my age, was incredibly jealous of my experience and ability. It was bizarre. She was talented in techniques I wasn’t or had no desire in learning. I ended up “finding” reasons to ask for her advice to calm the one-sided animosity. I ended up bailing after five or six meetings.

      I sadly did not get the contact info for the one person who I really liked. (I was trying to play it cool and not act like a weirdo). I think she saw how the social dynamics played out made the same choice as me. It wasn’t worth spending time in a group if the leader felt threatened you didn’t need her help to cast-on a project.

    37. Laura Petrie*

      Late 30s.

      I have t really kept in tough with any university friends other than via social media. I’ve just gone back to uni as a mature student so it will be interesting to see if I stay in touch with any of my current course mates. We’re on a vocational degree so I guess I’ll see more of them once we graduate anyway.

      I have one friend from secondary school, we’ve been close friends for 25 years. Other than that I’ve met most of my other friends through work although I met my best friend on a message board.

      My husband has lived in the same area his whole life and he has friends from nursery!

    38. Bluebell*

      I’m in my mid 50s. I have no friends from elementary school, as my family moved when I was 11. I keep in touch w one HS friend and have a very close college friend I’ve done a trip with almost every year for the past decade. The rest of my friends are from the state I live in, and I met most of them either when I moved here right after college, or through my synagogue or my kid. One nice thing that happened during pandemic was that I started doing zoom calls every other week w 2 friends who have moved across the country.

    39. RussianInTexas*

      I moved countries right after college, so none of my friends are before I was 21. I picked up friends along the way, work, pub, etc. I see my old school and college friends on social media, but that’s about it.
      But I also don’t have a best friend per se, I don’t like close one on one relationships.

    40. Deanna Troi*

      What a great topic, Despite the Nora! I am loving reading everyone’s responses!

      I am in my early 50’s. We moved around when I was growing up, so I have close friends all over the country. I have been friends with all of my closest friends for at least 25 years:

      *My best friend is from junior high. We moved to another state when I was in high school, but she and I always stayed close (we wrote ACTUAL LETTERS every week for decades, until email and texting became available; we now text every day). She still lives in the state in which I met her and we each visit the other one weekend a year, so we get to see each other at least two weekends a year (except of course for the pandemic last year – it was the first year I hadn’t seen her since 1980). We also have gone on several cruises and a few beach vacations together.

      *Close friend from elementary school. I was in the maid of honor in her wedding. We try to see each other one weekend a year.

      *Close friend from high school. She lives about 1.5 hours away. We try to have a lunch/shopping trip once every year or two.

      *Close friend who was the girlfriend of my college boyfriend’s best friend. Neither of us is still with those guys, but we stayed friends. We text every day.

      *Close friend from the first job I had out of graduate school. We both still work in the same industry, and get together for lunch/pedicure about once every 3-4 months. We text 3-4 days a week.

      I love having so many close friends that have shared so much of my history. I do sometimes wish I had a local friend that I could grab brunch with on the weekend, though – there has been a lot of discussion on this board about how hard it is to make friends when you are older. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the amazing friends I have, though!

      My mom, who is in her early 70s, has 3 best friends for at least 50 years – she is still close with her two friends from elementary school, and a friend from college. They are all three like aunts to me.

    41. Disco Janet*

      I’m 33. My two closest friends are from middle school and high school, and then my other close-ish friend is a coworker at my current job (she’s the other teacher for my subject/grade level). Friends I see less often are from high school, college, or my former job.

      I didn’t go away to college and live in a dorm though – I feel like that definitely has an affect on how close your college friendships are.

    42. Small town*

      Age in mid 50s. Two close friends from college, 4 from professional school, same bestie for 30 years met early career.

    43. SophieChotek*

      40 and most of my friends are from graduate school, though I am still casual friends with a few friends from undergraduate and kept 1 really good friend from high school, and am “exchange Xmas-card level” of friendship with people from high school/high school church years

    44. Rock Prof*

      I’m 39. I have a huge mix of friends but weirdly not a ton of recent close ones. I’ve found it really tough to make friends in the region I live in.
      The friends I talk to the most day-to-day are actually a big group text of women I went to high school with. Most of them I even went to middle school with! I’m also really close friends with quite a few people I went to grad school with and a couple people from my post doc. I don’t have a ton of college friends except my husband. I think moving around for academics made me make friends quickly.

    45. Jay*

      61. One or two from HS, several from college, and the rest from connections since then – some work, some the college network even though we weren’t there at the same time. That’s an odd comment.

    46. Needs more friends*

      I’m 65. Really good friends: 3. One fun HS, one from when we each had 2 kids the same age, one is my cousin. None live near me. Still keep up with a couple of people from HS and none from college. We’ve moved a few times and I made friends/friendly acquaintances each place but they didn’t last after moving away. I would like some close friends here; my two closest are 72 and 83!

    47. This Old House*

      30s and what friends? LOL mostly kidding? I have a couple of college friends who I still see regularly but not particularly often, and that’s about it. Not much in the way of work or neighborhood friends. Luckily I live close to family!

      I’m not great at keeping in touch with friends, but it’s still a million times easier to keep in touch than to make new friends!

    48. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am 64 (female). The oldest friendship I have (that has been continuously maintained with letters/phone calls/visits over the years) is from 1978, a woman I met while in the Air Force stationed in Turkey. I last saw her in Nov 2019 and last spoke on the phone about two months ago and might be seeing her in October (depends on the Delta variant of Covid). Constantly moving every couple of years (pre-social media) and many assignments overseas made it difficult to keep in touch unless the people were good at writing letters (not all people are). I have several other long time relationships, but that is the longest.

    49. fhqwhgads*

      Late 30s. About 50% of my friends have been friends since middle school. The rest I met as an adult.

    50. Blue Bear*

      I’m in my mid 20’s, two years out of undergrad and just started grad school. I am still very close to one childhood friend – we lived in the same neighborhood growing up and are both only children, so we consider one another to be surrogate sisters. I’m sure things will change with time – she’s probably going to get married in the next couple of years – but I hope that we stay close. I keep in touch regularly with three friends from high school and sporadically with a few more. I graduated in 2019 and was loosing touch with all but two of my undergrad friends (moved to a different part of the country), but when the pandemic happened and everything went virtual I was actually able to come to things! Now we have a discord server and chat almost every day on that, and at least once a month on zoom. The pandemic has been awful in every other respect but I am perversely a little grateful that we’re all still close, which I don’t think we would have been in other circumstances.

    51. Coffee Anonymous*

      Early 50s here.
      – My BFF is from college, as is 1 other local friend and 3 others who live on other continents but are in pretty regular text/email contact.
      – 2 (a couple, so 1 social unit) I’ve known since our kids met & became friends in grade school (almost 20 years ago).
      – 1 I met through a religious organization 20+ years ago — neither of us are really affiliated with the religion any more.
      – 3 work friends I’ve met within the past 10 years and stayed close to even though we don’t work together any more. (This is a pretty good conversion ratio, since I only work with any 1 person/team for 6-12 months max, and my colleagues almost never live in my city.)
      – My high school best friend & prom date, 30+ years.
      – And, saving the best for last, 1 I’ve known my entire life since our parents knew each other before we were born (though we didn’t really become friends till HS), and their spouse (who I’ve known for >20 years).

    52. Anon the mouse*

      I have several friends from high school who I’m close to, enough to be in their weddings and talk at least every month or so – some much closer and more often than that. We’re all in our mid-20s – early-30s (I’m 29; college was 8 years ago). It is tough with some of them, which is why I’m anon for this. I have a couple of friends who really don’t make an effort and who I feel will lift right out of my life if I don’t make the effort to talk to them/make plans, which is really getting annoying as we get older. It doesn’t help that my husband and I are childfree, so while we really like kids we will have less and less in common with some friends from college whose lives inevitably get swallowed up by eventual parenthood. I don’t begrudge them that – I can just definitely tell the difference between our friends with a toddler (our goddaughter) who make an effort to keep in touch/see us versus those who don’t/won’t when their lives get more complex. I’m hoping to make more childfree friends, and may end up resorting to meetup groups in order to achieve that eventually.

      I’ve managed to also pick up a couple of good friends with a lot (perhaps the most) in common at my last job – we all hated it there and bonded over that, and turned out we actually were very compatible friends for more than after-work happy hours! We all have similar interests and have higher career aspirations, which isn’t so much a thing with some of my other friends.

      I understand why your mom’s friend sees your friendships as more rare! I think they are, or at least they can be. I have some really meaningful shared experiences with our college friends, but with high school people I’m just following on instagram but aren’t actively talking to them (aside from the occasional story like). My husband, on the other hand, has our mutual friends but also a little network linked to his best man and his best man’s brother, who husband’s known since they were all very small.

  4. WoodswomanWrites pondering wildfires*

    First, for all who are affected by fires in the west, my thoughts are with you.

    Twice in the last three years, friends of mine have lost their California homes in the firestorms resulting from climate change, drought, and decades of fire suppression and as I write this, a third friend is at risk of losing their home. The headlines about the Dixie Fire have changed in a matter of hours as the narrative went from something like the 13th largest in California and then to the sixth and now it’s the third. For my friend whose rural home burned last year, her location used to be the wettest in her county.

    I’m far from the flames on the foggy coast and I make my donations to emergency funds and have my air filters ready to go for when the smoke inevitably arrives. While everyone I know evacuated safely, it’s devastating to hear about entire communities completely destroyed every year now. Just heartbreaking.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Yeah. We had some massive floods over here a few weeks ago (also linked to climate change, though admittedly a lot of damage was also simply because people building houses in designated flood area – sometimes even with a permit). One arrogant douchecanoe of a mayor also told firefighters from other places who were literally ready to jump into their trucks and come help out that “their help was not wanted” until the federal disaster plan was declared and the decision was no longer up to local governments.
      We’ve had the wettest July since 1980 (sixth wettest overall since the measurements started, with number one being July 1942). Meanwhile Italy can’t get their wildfires under control (though I also heard rumours that at least some of the fires weren’t started by natural causes – I’ll have to check Italian newspapers for that).

      1. Been There*

        I think you’re Belgian, like me? The floods were honestly terrifying to watch.
        Which mayor did not want to send help? I have some guesses, but missed that bit of news.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yup, Belgian. It was indeed pretty terrifying to watch and hear about at The Place That Shan’t Be Discussed In This Thread (radio’s on all day).
          Apparently the region around Luik/Liège didn’t want any help. I mistakingly thought it was just one mayor, but googling it now makes it seem like it was more places and that it was the firefighters in the region themselves who didn’t want any help. Googling “Vlaamse brandweerlui niet welkom” should bring the articles up – both Het Nieuwsblad and Het Belang Van Limburg have articles on it, at the very least (not posting the links here so as not to bother Alison, and I don’t know if she’d okay links in foreign languages anyway). I should point out that this whole “you are not welcome” thing wasn’t just limited to Flemish firefighters – firefighters in Henegouwen/Hainaut and Luxemburg/Luxembourg got the same message.

          1. Been There*

            Thanks for the tip on what to Google.

            I had a virtual meeting with a coworker on the Thursday when it was raining the hardest, and we kept talking about how strange it was to just keep working when you know disaster is happening. Like someone mentioned lower in the thread, it reminded me of the last days before we went into lockdown.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Burn us out, flood us out, stop the Atlantic Oceanic water current, the planet is changing and I believe it’s our end.

      All we need now is a wold wide pandemic. Oh wait…

    3. Pippa K*

      Downright dystopian. And it’s so jarring, the way parts of normal life just continue on while disaster strikes. (Same with COVID, really.) I wonder how we will assess not only the environmental and material costs but the psychological toll this is taking.

    4. Double A*

      We’re not threatened from the current fires, but the wind changed and yesterday we woke up to hazardous air quality so we’ve got the air purifiers running full blast. On the plus side the apocalyptic smoke has cooled the apocalyptic temperatures a bit?

      I do believe we could adapt and mitigate fires and it’s just frustrating to feel we’re moving so slowly doing it. Insurance is something all of us in remotely rural areas struggle with; I wonder what will happen as insurance becomes unaffordable or unavailable. I’ve already heard of people letting their homes go back to the bank because they couldn’t afford insurance premiums.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      As sad and difficult as it will be, people need to move away. Climate related migration will happen, must happen. And yes, I’m well aware of the myriad of complications and difficulties. We have to figure it out.

      1. Pippa K*

        We’re now talking about so many places that people can’t just move away. Agricultural areas and cities are both affected by climate disasters. There have been 1800 wildfires in Montana alone so far this year, burning almost half a million acres. Floods in Europe. Crop loss, loss of animal feed sources and herds – seems like this will only get worse, and very few people can opt out of the food supply chain and be unaffected by this. You’re right, mitigation has to happen, and it may involve some degree of shifting where we live, but I don’t think that can do much for the larger problem.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Yes, I’m aware. It wouldn’t be easy. And no, it wouldn’t fix the bigger problem. But it would help some problems, it would help prevent deaths, it would ease the burden of trying to protect people if we can at least get the highest risk areas cleared, or keep people more centralized rather than spread out. No more cabins in the middle of the woods, or if they’re there, we’re not trying to save them from a fire. No more building on the beach or in major flood plains. Change building and zoning codes to encourage density and sustainable living.

          As areas are destroyed or majorly damaged in various disaster, actively think about if that town should be rebuilt where it was. Don’t just automatically rebuild in the same place. I saw an article that a small town in CA was pretty much destroyed by fire this week. Perfect opportunity to make that evaluation. What’s the fire risk of that location? If it’s high, lets encourage those people to move the 50 miles away or whatever to the lower risk area.

          It’s not going to happen of course. But it should.

          1. PollyQ*

            Two problems for California, though.
            1) Moving people out of those areas does nothing to alleviate the air quality issues from massive fires that affect millions of people living hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
            2) When CA is as dry as it is, there aren’t that many truly lower risk areas to live. Many of the fires over the past years have happened not just in rural mountain areas, but in suburbs that are near major metropolitan areas. Even the “foggy coast” isn’t safe — there was a major fire last year near me that was right near the Pacific.

            1. Lives In a Shoe*

              Late to the party, but also California’s coastal areas, which are probably climate-wise the safest, have earthquakes but more importantly have not build enough housing for 30+ years. There isn’t enough housing stock for the people already in the areas, and there’s enough NIMBY pushback that the odds of enough enough market rate housing being built (ignoring the fact that “market rate” is way beyond most folks’ budgets) are super slim. Every fire increases the numbers of unhoused people.

              I have no solutions, only sorrow.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      Today I checked the news and there’s a feature story on how the town where my friend lives has been saved, definitely welcome news. Firefighters let vegetation around the community burn as a buffer and they’ve been able to maintain the fire line. There are photos in the news story of houses sprayed with red fire retardant in advance. These firefighters risking their lives are true heroes.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        East bay here – and I remembered that you had 2 friends who had lost their home, but did not realize you have another at risk. My heart goes out to them…

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Thank you. Friend number 1, lost their place in the Sierra foothills in Paradise in the Camp Fire in 2018, rebuilt. Friend number 2 who lost their Sonoma County home in 2020 is trying to figure out whether to rebuild or not. Property in the area is way expensive, but they might find themselves unable to get insurance in a few years if they rebuild where they are. It’s tough for all.

  5. Party Time!*

    When you’re hosting a party with your friends, how do you arrange food? Potluck that everyone chips in? Providing the basics like drinks and veggie while asking your guests to provide the rest? Or you take care of everything and you ask people to chip a few bucks at you?

    With my friends, it changes up every gathering and I don’t know if there is a normal standard anymore.

    1. anonnie*

      I’m guessing you’re still in your twenties since you didn’t include ‘take care of everything yourself’ as an option. In my social circles (I’m 42) we usually just invite people for dinner (or whatever the event is) and cover the costs without expecting others to chip in. But occasionally someone hosts a more informal ‘everyone brings a dish’ kind of party. Typically though you just invite people over and cover the costs. I remember doing it the other ways you listed for most of my twenties. I don’t think there’s a single standard, it depends on your social circle and to some extent age and means.

    2. Granny Smith apple*

      I’m in my 30s and when my partner and I invite friends over, we cover everything. They always ask what to bring, and we always say ‘a bottle of wine that goes with [vague description of dinner plans]’.
      In my 20s, we’d cook together with friends and split the costs. Occasionally, one would be responsible for drinks (not necessarily alcohol but soda/juices) or for dessert (like a few slices of cake from a nice café – not all of us had ovens to bake). Would very much depend on the budget of the participants.

    3. Brent*

      20s and host covers everything but the others can bring anything they want. Sometimes the guests get asked to bring some drinks or dessert. My friends and I are really casual, though. Pre-covid, we still had impromptu sleepovers where we buy everything we’ll eat for dinner and breakfast from 711.

    4. DrunkAtAWedding*

      I was a vegan in my early 20s (I’m not now because it triggers disordered eating for me) and my group of vegan friends would normally do potlucks. I think that was specifically because we connected over diet though.

      I haven’t hosted many parties myself, but I’d normally expect to provide everything. I’m hosting, they’re guests, I feed them. I think I’m picturing more of a small dinner party than a large gathering though.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My co-workers are pathological potluck people, so every work-related gathering, even at someone’s house, is a potluck.

      For non-work friends, when I was younger it was often potluck or, if I was hosting “I’m making x, so feel free to either bring add-ons that work with that or a side”. Tacos work well for that if everyone signs up in advance – I’d usually supply meat and beans since they needed to be cooked, and let everyone else bring a specific additional item such as lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, avocado, tortillas, etc. that would make tacos better but not need on-site cooking or, in most cases, any particular expertise. I’d then also fill in any major non-chosen gaps (like at least one kind of tortillas) based on who wanted to sign up for what. As I got able to afford it, I more and more went to a “I’m cooking x for dinner, let me know if you need any adjustments for dietary reasons” model, since I really dislike potlucks and having other people try to cook in my kitchen.

      With regular groups (usually TTRPG groups in my case), we’d rotate whose turn it was to cook independently from whose house we were at, since often one house was the best place to gather but we didn’t want to dump dinner prep on that person every week or month.

      When I had a few friends who were not just vegans, but vegans who would also embrace additional complicated dietary restrictions that changed regularly based on advice from the internet, we went with an “everybody bring your own food and we’ll call it a picnic” model. This is pretty much the only way to go if there are people you want to include who are impossible to cook for and who you don’t want to do all of the group meal planning themselves.

      I don’t think there’s one right way to do it, but ideally your group of friends will optimize around something that’s relatively easy for each person to remember what, if anything, they’re supposed to bring at any given time. At this point in my life, I have enough spare money that I much prefer to just buy and prepare everything myself and not deal with collecting money, but I also realize that’s not realistic for every person or every friends group.

    6. German Girl*

      Im in my 30s.

      For a normal dinner party, we either cover everything, or if someone wants to bring something, we ask for dessert.

      For a barbecue, we usually ask that everyone bring their own meat/cheese/tofu/whatever they want to put on the grill, and we provide salads, dessert and drinks.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        40 and same all around almost, except that

        —I tell people not to bring anything to my dinners period (and I expect them to listen, none of this “she said don’t bring anything but I am going to bring something anyway”) and
        —For bbqs my “bring your own grillables” comes with a side of “if you want anything other than burgers with or without cheese because I’ll have enough of those to go around.”

    7. allathian*

      Late 40s here.

      We haven’t really had any formal dinners with friends, just with family for Christmas and Easter. Even for Christmas dinner, my parents like to provide the ham and warm side dishes (reheated in our oven) and my sister brings the dessert, while we fix everything else.

      When we host a barbeque for our friends, they sometimes bring something they particularly want to eat, but otherwise we fix stuff. There’s always enough hamburgers for everyone.

      When I was in my 20s, we did pretty much the same, although it was more common for everyone to pitch in. Sometimes that started with a joint trip to the grocery store…

    8. I should really pick a name*

      Depends on the group, and the reason for the gathering.
      I just make sure to communicate how it will be handled.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Is it a group event that just happens to be hosted at your house, or is it a party that you are throwing? If I am throwing the party, I provide the food, or maybe the main dish while the guests bring sides. If it is a group event, then pot luck or other sharing system is appropriate.

      Examples (lots of these are actually my mom hosting, BTW, since I only moved out 2 years ago):
      -Thanksgiving last year: I provided the turkey, pies and I think mashed potatoes and gravy. My brothers and parents each brought a pre-arranged dish.
      -Any dinner invite: I provide the main meal, the guest offers to bring something so I ask them to bring a dessert or maybe a salad. If I am invited over for a meal, I always ask if I can bring something but expect it to be a token of appreciation not a major part of the meal.
      -Large harvest party for maybe 100 people: My mom provided pulled pork and buns and I made apple pies with help from the guests to peel and slice. Guests were asked to bring a side or something for the grill, plus apples if they wanted to bring home juice from the cider press.
      Young adult group movie night: I provided a desert and I think a dip. Everybody was asked to bring something snacky.

    10. Nicotena*

      Have to be honest, now that we’re in our early 40s the host provides everything and tells people not to bring money / doesn’t accept donations. The assumption is it will get paid forward as everyone will either end of hosting or treating a future meal, or just paid into the ether. But in my circle at least one pair of most couples or each single person has a pretty good salary.

    11. Generic Name*

      Most of the parties I go to are potluck with people bringing drinks to share as well. My friend group is fairly large with lots of kids, so providing dinner would be very expensive. I say go whichever route you like, but be very clear with your guests if they need to being food.

    12. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Asking for money would feel gauche among my friends.

      What we ask for depends on the event. We’ll often ask a friend or a couple over to share an informal dinner on a Saturday or Sunday, and in that case I’ll ask that they bring a bottle and/or a side dish or dessert. (And bringing a pre-made salad or pie from the supermarket is fine.) If it’s my birthday or a sportsball championship party, I’ll say “BYOB or a bag of chips if you like, but not required at all, your presence is your present.” Thanksgiving among my friends is potluck-ish, where contributions are welcome but not requested or expected.

      1. Nicotena*

        In my circle the potluck element is mostly people wanting to bring something that meets their dietary requirements (vegan or gluten free or whatever) so they can be sure they will have at least one thing they can eat. “Bring drinks” is a common unspoken rule for larger gatherings, but I don’t think it would be noticeable if someone just – didn’t. Again, I assume it’s at least partly because the host may only have MaxHops: IPletric Boogaloo on offer, so if you want something you know you’ll like, just bring it.

    13. RagingADHD*

      We don’t really have space for more than 1 other couple with kids, or maybe 2 couples without. So when we host, we do everything. If somebody offers to bring something, I’ll say dessert or wine.

      Part of that is just that it’s less hassle to cook than to organize. Money-wise it all evens out in the long run because everybody reciprocates.

      For activity or affinity groups, potlucks are more usual. But we don’t host those due to the aforesaid lack of space.

      We used to go to more potlucks when we were younger, but I never really liked hosting them. That may be because I’ve had so many friends who were just such terrible cooks. I’ll choke down tasteless food to be polite (except the time someone served bloody chicken). But if I’m in my own house, I want to enjoy the meal.

    14. WellRed*

      Do not ask for money to subsidize your party. If you insist on having them chip in, let it be with actual foodstuffs. I also think you should provide the mains, not the drinks and chips. I’m 51.

    15. Trixie B*

      When we host we provide everything. When asked to attend as a guest, I ask if I can bring something. Some family gatherings are potluck depending on host family members. I am always asked to bring a charcuterie board, since that is my signature dish.

    16. HBJ*

      Sometimes it’s a potluck. Most commonly, however, we invite people over, they ask if they can bring something, and I say a side or dessert. I have never asked someone to chip in cash, I’ve never been asked to chip in cash, and I’ve never known anyone who has done this of my, my parents, my grandparents, etc. generation.

    17. Quinalla*

      We are in our early 40s with friends from late 20s to early 50s. We tend to just provide everything when we host, if folks ask if they can bring something we will say bring something you like to drink or if they want to bring food we’ll suggest something appropriate, but expectation is you don’t need to bring anything. I think as long as you are clear in your invitation what is happening, its all good!

    18. Malarkey01*

      My first reaction was oh no we always provide everything, but then realize we have other more informal times where people do bring stuff. One family with kids gets together with us once or twice a month and one family orders pizza and the other brings beer and dessert and my husband has poker and football het together where we always have food but the guys all bring extra alcohol and other snacks.

      I think it’s really what your group does and if these are actual more occasional parties or more informal “hang outs” where you’re hosting but not exactly throwing a party. I would probably never ask for money though.

    19. AcademiaNut*

      When I was a student it was pretty exclusively potluck – the hosts would usually provide a venue ice, mixers, plastic cups and chips and dips type snacks, guests would BYOB and sometimes some food as well.

      Gradually things shifted over to more host provided. An exception tends to be when one person had a significantly better place for hosting, particularly in HCOL, small space situations, because reciprocity is difficult when one person has a house with a yard and a BBQ, and the rest have one room apartments or a ton of random roommates. In those cases, you might have the hosts providing burgers and hotdogs with all the fixings, while everyone else brings a side dish and a bottle of something, or it might be completely potluck.

      Now, when I host, I provide all the food, and if people ask if they can bring something I request beverages. It’s honestly kind of annoying when people insist on bringing something potluckish when I’ve prepared a full dinner. I have to find a serving dish and utensils, and half the time they want to use the kitchen to heat or assemble it, and I’m already using both burners, the microwave and the toaster oven, plus all the limited counter space.

      For other people it tends to scale with age. New graduates tend to go more potluck, people more established host fully. But it’s also really common to go out with friends, and do dinner or a KTV room rather than a home party, as space tends to be limited.

    20. twocents*

      My friends’ gatherings seem like yours, but then people are just up front. “For our weekly board game night, I prepare the food and provide beer, and guests chip in $5 to offset costs. Please know that if you decide you want to join in!”

      “For this BBQ, I’ll provide water, burgers, and hot dogs. Please bring a side!”

      My family normally does pot lucks, and I’ll usually check in with the particular host if they want more desserts or sides or what.

    21. fhqwhgads*

      I take care of everything myself, but usually guests ask if there’s anything they can bring. I generally say no. Then they bring something anyway, usually their preferred alcohol, which is fine by me since my alcohol may not be to their liking.
      Any of the options you listed also fall under “normal” assuming the person who does the inviting establishes which it is up front.

    22. Dumpster Fire*

      Are you hosting a party WITH your friends (“hey, let’s throw a party”) or FOR your friends (“I’m having a party, you should come”).

      For the former, we always made a list of what we need and then sign up to bring stuff.

      For the latter, I get everything; if anyone offers to bring something, that’s fine (but I’ll double-check with them if it’s something that I’m counting on).

    23. KR*

      I try to start with the base assumption that I will provide everything. But people always ask what they can bring, or ask to bring something. Or just bring something anyway (and don’t take it back with them when they leave)! So we almost always end up with way too much food if we provide everything for parties/cook outs. For a sit down dinner, it’s usually easier to plan amounts and sometimes we will say “yes” when people offer to bring something but we don’t mind providing for the whole thing. It honestly depends on the person. We’re late 20s.

    24. Workerbee*

      I don’t know if there is/should be a standard versus letting things be customized on a case-by-case basis.

      One couple hosts two annual parties: One is an outdoor BBQ where they provide all that will be grilled or smoked, and some sides and desserts, but ask that everyone bring a dish to pass. The other party is a chili party where a core group provides different chilis while the rest bring a dish to pass.

      Family reunions, everybody is responsible for their own “main meal” but also brings a dish to pass.

      American Legion picnics, depending on the ages of those involved, someone will fund something fun like those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoons, but otherwise you’re on your own.

      Houseparties, entirely dependent on the host. Some don’t know how to handle it if someone brings a treat. Others say you can bring something if you want, no obligation.

    25. Jay*

      We never ask for money. We are prepared to provide everything for some parties, especially smaller ones, I say “no, thanks” when people offer to bring something and they mostly listen. For larger gatherings if they offer I’ll ask them to bring a side or dessert. We have a couple of large holiday gatherings with the same crew pretty much every year and everyone has something they usually bring. When you have friends who have an organic farm and supply the best salad to the best restaurants in the area and they offer to bring salad….you say “yes! Thank you so much!” We do the same at their house (well, not salad, but you get the idea).

      I have a friend who loves to cook and entertain and has a teeny-tiny kitchen with a teeny-tiny table and limited outdoor space, plus she has a cat and my husband is seriously allergic. We have a lot more space. We’ve done several parties where she plans and prepares most of the food and we get together at our house. Looking forward to another one in a couple of weeks!

      For reference, we’re in late middle age, nearing retirement. Most of our friends are a bit younger, although none any longer have little kids (youngest in our crew is a HS senior). We were 39 when our daughter was born and our group of local friends mostly coalesced around the kids.

      When we were in grad school we loved to host and didn’t have enough money to feed everyone so we often did potlucks. The most successful version was a cioppino party. We made the base for the stew and provided homemade sourdough, salad, wine, and dessert. We asked every guest to bring a serving of fish or seafood to add to the pot. It was SO much fun, and it was delicious – capped off by the friend who was working for a restaurant and managed to snag a pair of lobster tails.

    26. Brambleberry37*

      Honestly, it depends on your friends, the culture, and the dinner. I’m in my 40’s and our friend group does potlucks because we all like to cook. *shrug*

    27. Anon the mouse*

      Usually we do potluck style, with solid success. Hosts are usually one set of friends who cook the main dish and the other couples bring sides or fixings for a dish (burgers, tacos, etc) and drinks/mixers. Most of the time, that setup sticks when someone else hosts, except for the times when I’ve wanted to cook for everyone and have said for people to bring wine/drinks but nothing else. We have a friend who never brings what’s asked, or brings too much, or they’ll forget and half-ass something at the last minute.. We’re in our late 20s – early 30s and are comfortable enough venmo-ing each other for anything expensive (like if someone buys tickets to a thing where there’s food in order to get seats together, etc).

  6. Clueless*

    Does anyone ever use the service of a personal stylist? How did you find them, what to look for, etc?

    I’ve tried reading blogs about fashion, but I can’t seem to apply the advice to my wardrobe. It’s like there’s a disconnect between what I read and what I do when I shop.

    I guess what I want is someone to walk me through the whole thing. If there’s a similar service for makeup I’d be up for it as well.

    1. Fran Fine*

      I’ve only worked with one personal stylist through Trunk Club, and that was a disaster. I filled out my profile in great detail, spoke directly with the stylist that was assigned to me to ensure she knew exactly what I did and did not wear, and she still sent me pieces that were on my do not send list. When I asked her about this, she responded that she thought I should give these items a try anyway because I might be surprised and change my mind.

      I changed my mind alright – I ended my membership. But I’m also a fashion person with dreams of being a personal stylist myself, so this whole experience rubbed me the wrong way and I was able to cancel because I was only experimenting with the service (it was new at the time). I probably would have stuck it out with another stylist (the company let you request a new one if you and the person they assigned you didn’t mesh), but I just didn’t have the patience.

      I’ve heard others say they have had great experiences with Stitch Fix, though, so maybe try that. Also, contact Nordstrom directly and ask to speak to one of their personal shoppers – they may be able to help you.

      As for makeup, they have subscription boxes that give you a bunch of different products from different brands you can try. You might want to sign up for one of those services and then use YouTube makeup tutorials to teach you how to put makeup looks together. Good luck!

      1. Clueless*

        Thank you! And sorry about that first stylist.

        For makeup, I don’t need a lot of looks actually, more like one or two looks that I can use every day for work mostly. I know which parts of my face I want to camouflage, so to speak, and I guess I’m envisioning someone who’ll say, “okay, with your concerns, this is the look that’ll suit you best, and this is how to apply it.” I’ve tried YouTube tutorials, but again, I think I’m the type of person who needs hands-on instruction.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Ahhhh…I guess you can always try going to a Sephora makeup artist to see if one of them can help you, but if you go that route, make sure to check your makeup outside in natural light before buying anything. Every time I got a makeover there, they’d have me looking about three shades darker than I actually am, lol. The store’s lighting suuuucks.

      2. annonie*

        A warning on StitchFix, I just read they’re moving to an algorithm where your pieces are half selected by the algorithm, half by the stylist and people are getting some really bad boxes as a result. Also their stylists are saying their selection has gotten bad in recent years and the items they can choose from are often really limited so a lot of the time they literally can’t send clients any of the things they’ve requested and so someone who wanted going out tops will be sent something unrelated like 3 pairs of jeans and a winter jacket, because that’s all that was available to the stylist.

        All of this is on the StitchFix subreddit. Here’s one in particular, read the comments:

        1. the cat's ass*

          I had an awful experience with Stitch Fix, everything was too small and too dressy and when i complained, the response was sort of, “sorry you’re fat.” Now it’s kind of funny, but i was pretty annoyed at the time. I’ve had stellar luck with the personal shoppers at Nordstrom’s, tho that was pretty big ticket.

      3. MechanicalPencil*

        I went in person to Trunk Club, and I think that helped significantly. She had pulled pieces that, on a hanger, I’d have said no to. But I have a weird policy of always at least trying something once. Once she showed me how it was supposed to look/fit and how to style it, there were a few things that I changed my mind about. And still plenty others that I walked away feeling more educated about but feeling like it’s not quite my thing. It also helped that she could run and grab a different color or whatever right there instead of just “here’s the box” and being stuck. If that’s an option for your area, I’d recommend it. I haven’t done Trunk Club in a few years (pandemic!), and my stylist has unfortunately moved on.

    2. Pregnant during COVID*

      I’ve used Blushington dot com for their online group makeup tutorials and it was great. With camera on she is able to give personalized advice. I ended up purchasing most of the makeup the artist recommended and couldn’t be happier with how it looks on me. They also do 1:1 online tutorials.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Thank you for this! I’m going to sign up for a class so I can learn to do more advanced looks (I’m so basic).

        1. Pregnant during COVID*

          Nice! I’m on their email list and they frequently host free evening zoom classes around different themes (makeup for zoom; going out looks; and my favorite the one on how to update your look for when you’re in your 30s, 40s, etc.). And they offer a nice discount off your cart when you buy any products that evening.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      Do you have any department stores handy that do personal shopper/stylist services? Over here in the UK a chain called John Lewis do it for free. You book in and say what you are looking for, could be a special outfit, a selection of work clothes or a “wardrobe refresh” and you go in a private room and they bring things for you to try on (behind a curtain!) and advise you, suggest things, do the running, maybe order something in for you if you really like the fit of the dress but want it in the blue etc. You tell them your budget beforehand. I have many friends v pleased with it and I used it to get a an outfit for a funeral (sorry!) which made a nice experience in the circumstances and the stylist was just lovely.
      Something like that sounds like it might work? Or if unavailable, have you a well dressed and honest friend you could take with you shopping that could act in that capacity? Sometimes one needs a second voice to suggest things we may not have thought of and be kind but honest about what suits us ( eg saying that skirt isn’t the right shape for you, these cooler shades look great with your skin tone, you might want to try shorter length trousers, as opposed to that you are too anything for the clothes!)

      1. RagingADHD*

        Lord & Taylor used to do this in the US, and I had a good experience. Are they even still around?

        I think Von Maur does, too.

    4. Anona*

      I have a friend who tried stitch fix this week and really liked it! She kept 3 of 5 things, and is doing it again soon.

    5. Valancy Snaith*

      For makeup, check out your local independent salon/spas. Most places that do esthetics do makeup, and lots of artists will have a sort of “makeup lesson” available. I know before Covid one of my local places did group lessons, but I think that’s been axed. You can peruse the artist’s portfolio to see if they do a look you like, and then see about a lesson.

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      I believe Nordstrom offers personal styling services. I have not tried them myself, though. The forums at You Look Fab are helpful. People post pictures of their outfits and you and you can get feedback. A lot of people blur out their face to keep is somewhat anonymous. The forum is pretty helpful and kind.

    7. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I second (or fifth, whatever number we’re on) Nordstrom’s personal shoppers if you have a store nearby. Years ago one completely changed my style (that is, she helped me find one) and it was so much less stressful than shopping alone. I gave her a budget and she stuck with it, too, picking most items from the sale racks.

      Nordstrom also hires some extremely talented makeup artists. Make an appointment and they can show you how to get the look you want and what products you need, and don’t need. Eventually with clothes and makeup you’ll get more confident choosing things on your own.

    8. RosyGlasses*

      I’ve learned quite a bit from Janice Hurley – @jhimageexpert and I’m saving up some cash to engage her services directly where she works on makeup, hair, clothing.

    9. lisette*

      Avasha does virtually personal styling and will help you evaluate your existing wardrobe.

      (Disclosure: I have not used their service and am a paid contractor for them)

  7. Pillow Talk*

    Can anyone recommend pillows that don’t go flat after a few months?

    At this point I don’t mind forking out for something more expensive as long as I don’t have to replace them every 6-12 months… Or is this just how pillows are and my expectations of sleeping on a cloud for years are off?

    I’m a petite woman, I don’t – as far as I am aware – have some unusually heavy acme-anvil head. Wah!

    Please & thank you in advance.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I know you can get refillable pillow – when they go flat you don’t need to replace them entirely but you can just buy some extra stuffing when they go flat and add that.
      Another option might be a buckwheat pillow. They’re smaller than a normal pillow and I wouldn’t call them a cloud (and they take some getting used to) but they might hold up longer. They’re also usually refillable so when the buckwheat does get crushed and goes flat you can add more.

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        Seconding – I have a buckwheat pillow and its volume hasn’t changed over the 6 years I’ve used it. I also have a memory foam pillow. The latter is more comfortable when I lie on my back and the former is better when I roll onto my side, so I have them arranged in an L-shape. The memory foam one has stayed pretty firm too. I think I bought that about 4 years ago.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My mom has those memory foam contoured I Love My Pillow ones, and she got me one, but I gave mine to her after she cut her head; she bled onto hers a little and ruined it. I found it comfortable but somewhat hot.

          Right now, I have a Beautyrest Aquacool pillow (Walmart) but it only has the cooling stuff on one side. I really want to try a buckwheat pillow because they’re supposed to be better at cooling. Have you found this to be the case?

          1. DrunkAtAWedding*

            I’ve never noticed the temperature of it, even in the recent unusually hot summer days we’ve just had. I think that means yes.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Cool. I love my buckwheat hull meditation cushion; I think I’ll try one of those then.

      2. Joanne’s Daughter*

        I have a millet filled pillow with organic wool on the side you sleep on. It’s super comfy and can be refilled if needed. I have had mine since 2011 and sleep like a baby.

    2. KristinaL*

      I had the same problem, and I ended up buying pillow stuffing from Joanne’s Arts & Crafts store. It’s lots of soft stuff that pulls apart and can even go through the wash (don’t put it through the dryer; it lumps up). The problem with it is that it gets lumpy here and there (but if you pull the lumpy parts apart, it tends to get soft again), and I regularly have to push the stuff around in the pillow so it is about the right height.

      But whenever I am frustrated with it, I remember what a hard time I was having with regular pillows. They’d go from too thick to too flat so quickly! (So now I have a bunch of flattish pillows and keep thinking they must be good for something.)

    3. Squidhead*

      I have a latex pillow that hasn’t gone flat yet. It doesn’t have “filling”, it’s just a pillow-shaped blob of soft latex with holes in it for ventilation. I don’t know what you’re currently spending on pillows but it cost me about $70US a few years ago.

      1. Meh*

        I’ve used latex pillows for 15 years now. Love them. There is a wide variety on the market and they come in a range of firmness. I picked a style that was good for side sleepers. But go the solid route, not the chopped up My Pillow style.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Seconding latex. Don’t know if you can get the same brand in the US, but I’m a diehard fan of Dunlopillo Classic. I get bad shoulder and neck pain, and these help a lot. Anyone who’s slept on the ones I put on the spare bed has also raved about how comfortable they are. Expensive but worth it. They’ll last about 5 years before getting gross, but they still hold their shape.

        If you’re looking at memory foam, see if you can try one first before committing to a pricey one. Some people love them, but I find them really uncomfortable as a stomach/side sleeper and they exacerbate my pain.

      3. The cat’s ass*

        Latex pillows are the BEST. I got my first one at bed bath and beyond and then on Amazon.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Someone gave me a bamboo pillow that I loooove. This is not for everyone because on a bad day, or with a head ache the pillow might feel hard, rather than cushy. I probably use it 80% of the time. I have a softer pillow to switch off with. What I like about it is the pillow does not flatten out. I like to keep my neck and spine in some kind of alignment when I sleep on my side and this does the job.
      My softer pillows that I have been surprisingly happy with came from JCPenny. I bought something modestly priced, did not expect much and ended up pretty happy with the pillows.

    5. Anona*

      I have some kind of memory foam pillow (maybe from Costco?) that’s still going strong after a few years. My husband has one too

      I saw some other commenters mention latex- maybe this is similar?

      I also recently heard on a podcast about a Purple brand pillow (also memory foam) that they seemed to really like.

    6. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I have had the same issue and been through so many pillows in the last 5 years. I bought a COOP pillow last year and it is fantastic. You can add filling/remove filling (which is like foam stuffing) so that it is right for you. In a year I have only had to readjust the filling once.

      I got mine on Amazon but I think they are available other places as well. I highly recommend.

      1. COOPenthusiast*

        I second the COOP! I have been on a quest to find a pillow that doesn’t leave me with a sore neck and shoulders in the morning and have bought so. Many. Pillows. Over the last year. The COOP was the winner. It plumps up wonderfully and I love being able to customize it with the filling they give you. I don’t like memory foam pillows but the COOP’s stuffing is shredded memory foam and it feels both super soft and supportive.

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        Third the COOP pillow. It recommends you fluff it to help keep its shape and that works well.

    7. Nerdgal*

      I have down pillows from Lands End and they feel brand new after 20 years.
      My husband likes memory foam pillows and we have different color pillowcases to keep them straight.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Feather pillows from IKEA here. I found that I can make the pillow feel flatter or thicker by changing the size of the pillowcase. Put a queen size pillow into king size case and it goes flat, but the same pillow in a twin case is a pretty supportive bolster.

    8. coffee is my friend*

      I was in the same boat a few years ago. We shelled out for memory foam and haven’t regretted it. Two tips: buy in person so you can feel the thickness- you don’t want to end up with one so thick your neck is at a strange angle. Also get a pillow protector or cover – since you will keep it longer than a regular pillow you want to keep it in good shape

    9. The Other Dawn*

      I use only one pillow so this might not work for you, but thought I’d mention it.

      I have the Brookstone BioSense memory foam 2-in-1 shoulder pillow, which is meant for side sleepers. I can’t find it anymore, but they sell this brand at Bed Bath & Beyond, so you might go there and see what they have. Mine has a memory foam core and a cover that has filling like down. It’s soft on the outside with a little bit of firmness inside. I love it and it’s never lost any volume. I’ve had it for probably about five years now.

    10. Generic Name*

      I’ve used fieldcrest brand down pillows for years now. I am a small woman (child sized hats fit my head), and latex pillows are too “tall” for me and gave me horrible neck pain.

    11. Middle School Teacher*

      I have a pillow you put water in. It never loses its volume. Chiroflow I think.

    12. California Dreamin’*

      I have a Tempurpedic pillow that’s still great after maybe ten or twelve years. It’s one they have that’s more “cushy.” My husband has one of their more formed pillows, and it would be too stiff for me but he seems to like it.

    13. Juneybug*

      I love my Sertapedic Super Firm pillow (make sure it’s the super firm version). It’s the only pillow that I found that doesn’t cause neck pain or aggravate my chemical sensitivities. You can get them from Walmart for $8 for standard size.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Two sofa cushions side by side under an ordinary pillow is what I do. It’s not for everyone lol

        1. Fran Fine*

          This is what I’ve been doing (though I only use one sofa pillow because it’s massive).

    14. AceInPlainSight*

      Down pillows! Whenever they go flat, you shake them out and they’re fluffy again :) You just need to get a tightly woven inner pillowcase for them- the feathers like to work themselves out of the seams

    15. 653-CXK*

      Target’s Won’t Go Flat Pillows are quite good. They are just the right amount of firm and they do keep their shape for a long time.

  8. Cookies For Breakfast*

    This one’s for the cat owners reading AAM.

    My partner and I have always been wanting to get a cat. We bought our first home, and once a few improvement works are out of the way, we’ll finally have the right space.

    At the moment, I’m home most of the time, and if both of us are ever out together, it’s rarely for longer than an hour or so a day. Our life pre-pandemic involved working in office at least part of the week, doing and seeing things at weekends and sometimes after work (cinema, restaurants, exhibitions, etc.), and travelling a few times a year, at the very least to see our families abroad. So if things ever feel safer again, I expect we’ll be out of the house more often.

    Does that mix well with having a cat – is it true they can adapt to being home alone, as long as their bowls are full? Or would we be putting a cat into an uncomfortable situation, and so shouldn’t get one? Also, does this change depending on whether it’s a kitten or an adult cat?

    Bonus: if you’re based in the UK, what options do you trust for cat care when you’re away on holiday, aside from asking friends or neighbours?

    1. KristinaL*

      I’ve found it’s nice to have at least 2 cats, so they can keep each other company when I’m away. (I’ve got 3 cats.) I think a lot of this depends on the individual cat, but a lot of them seem to be OK with people coming and going, as long as the people come back eventually and as long as the cats have food and water.

    2. Southern Girl*

      Cats are fine when their people are gone for a while. We leave ours for a week several times a year (except during the Time of C) and had someone check on them every 1 or 2 days. Agree 2 cats are best, they keep each other company.

      1. Clisby*

        In my experience, this is even more important with kittens – the ones I’ve had really wanted a lot of attention, and having another kitten to play with meant they didn’t have to get all the attention from a human. My older cats have been fine when left alone for parts of the day.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      Kittens are a bit more hands on because they are little but as for adults cats? Mine does ok with, for example, a night out after work (so out all day working and then out anywhere until 8pm-1am) and I also sometimes leave her for a weekend (leave Sat am, come back Sun pm/evening).
      Other than friends/neighbours/family I’ve had decent success with cat sitters (sometimes your vet might recommend or have flyers of local sitters) or failing that…Google local ones, they usually have an interview beforehand (not sure in covid times, maybe a phone/video one or distanced within your home if rules allow) so you can see if it’s a good fit for you/cat.

      1. Nicotena*

        Agree, with the described lifestyle I’d say don’t get a kitten, maybe not even a kitten pair (but if that’s your dream you could, with sitters / friends coming by) but you could absolutely adopt an 3 year old cat or up, who would be quite settled. Pick a personality that’s chill and not super needy and voila. My cat was taken off the streets in your youth and honestly I think you can tell she’s just chuffed to have a warm place with food laid on, and nice places to sleep. She is affectionate and wonderful but she’s not super bothered by being left alone. She’s also got an only cat temperament – don’t feel like you have to adopt two, once they are adult there are plenty of cats that prefer to fly solo.

        1. Jackalope*

          The nice thing with kittens is that they grow up pretty quickly. I wouldn’t leave tiny kittens home for a long period of time, but once they’re a couple of months old they’d be okay. (One of my two older cats right now was 4 months when I got her, and I had a lifestyle similar to the one described above and she did okay.) I would generally recommend getting a bonded pair, though, so they have some companionship.

        2. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Thank you! I’d love an adult bonded pair, but realistically the space we have is more suitable for one cat only.

          One of many reasons I’m finding everyone’s comments so helpful is seeing that it’s possible to choose cats by personality. My mum and I got a kitten when I was a young teen (20+ years ago), and even at a young age, she was never an attention-seeking, people-loving or house-destroying type. In fact, she loved her alone time. Going by what I know about kittens now, she was the exception rather than the rule. Also, school and my mum’s job only took up half the day, and we had family to rely on when travelling, all of which are advantages I won’t be able to count on. I want to make sure that I don’t default to assumptions based on that past experience – we had it easy in many ways!

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you, will definitely keep in mind checking with the vet. What would an interview with a potential cat sitter usually cover? Just things like the cat’s habits and food schedule, or are there any red flags worth looking out for?

    4. Sjnb*

      I’m in the UK and we’ve used someone from the catinaflat website to find a cat sitter who has been great. It’s worth asking around though for people who might enjoy staying in your house while you’re away – we’ve had a friend of a friend who lives in a shared flat come and cat sit, as she enjoys the chance to have somewhere to herself.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I heard of catinaflat. Glad to hear you’ve found it helpful! Was it easy to find the right catsitter for you, and what gave you the confidence that you were choosing the right person?

    5. Liz*

      I’m a lifelong cat owner and ours have always been pretty independent and don’t mind being left alone. If in doubt, you can always get a pair so they can keep one another company.

      For holidays, there are essentially 2 options – you can board them in a cattery, or to can get someone to come in to provide food and fusses. My dad’s neighbour has always fed his, and he returns the favour. I hired a professional from a franchise called Homeloving Cats – they also handled the quite complex medications I had in place for one of mine.

      A pet is always a big commitment, but cats have the advantage of being pretty independent creatures while also providing companionship.

    6. WS*

      If you adopt an adult, or even a young adult, cat you can select for a personality that will be happy left alone. If you get a kitten it’s a gamble. Your local vet will often have a list of pet sitters – vet nurses often do this, because vet nursing is not a job that pays well – depending on how much attention your cat needs. You can also board the cat.

    7. Helvetica*

      I am a cat owner with a job which used to require me to travel extensively. I left my cat alone, and someone checked up on them every other day. But my cat is very low maintenance; I know friends whose cats are very needy so they can’t be left alone even overnight basically. So far, I’ve used friends and family members but if it’s available in the UK, I’ve heard good things about Pawshake too.
      I got an adult cat because in my experience, being a volunteer at a cat shelter, it is easy to see an adult cat’s personality but you can’t do too much to influence a kitten’s personality; you can try but they can grow up to be menaces.

      1. Nicotena*

        Also EVERY kitten, even those who will grow up to be chill cats later, go through a Tween Horror stage, in my experience! Like real children there seems to be a period where they test boundaries and don’t have much common sense.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The young, be they people or animals, are cute specifically so that nobody mails them off to Timbuktu before they grow up. :)

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’d never heard of Pawshake and just saw it’s available in the UK. I’ll definitely keep it in mind, thank you!

    8. puffle*

      Most cats will be fine being home alone- mine even prefers to have the house to herself for at least some of the day and gets miffed if she doesn’t have enough alone time.

      As Helvetica says, the big advantage of adult cats is that you can see their personality and know in advance if they are a cat who is happy being at home alone or not. When I went to the shelter to have an initial meet and greet, I was very upfront that I’m at work most of the day (this was all pre-Covid) so wouldn’t be a great fit for a cat who wants/ needs human company all day.

      If you look at cat profiles on rescue websites they’ll often specifically say if a cat can’t be/ doesn’t like being home alone all day, as well as if they can live with children/ other pets/ etc.

      One thing with adult cats is that they don’t always like living with other cats. It doesn’t automatically correlate that getting two cats means they’re less lonely- unless of course they are already a bonded pair. My cat enjoys human company but gets intensely stressed and territorial around other cats, to the extent that the rescue I adopted her (Blue Cross) from specified that she cannot live in a home with other cats again.

      Regarding cat sitting, I googled local cat sitters and picked someone with very good reviews. She did an initial free visit where she came to my house to meet me and my cat, talk through how she operates, etc. I believe she’s part of the Homeloving Cats franchise? She’s excellent, and will send me daily updates and pictures on WhatsApp while I’m away.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you! I had a look at Homeloving Cats, and they don’t flag up anyone near me. Shame, as it looks like a lady who sounds great does cover the local area…just not my postcode for some reason. Who knows, maybe someone will be available by the time we get the cat.

        Your cat sounds a lot like the one my family used to have. She’d have hated it if we’d got another pet, and having humans around all day in pandemic times would definitely have been a shock to the system. But we got her as a kitten, so had no idea what she’d grew up to be.

        And I’m glad to hear it’s possible to be upfront about lifestyle and still find the right cat. I’ve felt very bad about my cat owner potential for years, because a certain shelter in my city only rehomes cats to places that have a garden, and at times it’s been really hard to even imagine a way out of living in small rented flats. Don’t think I could deal with being judged about time spent out of the house, especially since most of it is work and not really my choice.

    9. Treefrog*

      In the UK and used to travel a lot for work – I adopted a bonded adult pair so they could keep each other company, and my neighbour would check on them at least a couple of times a day. Before my neighbour started doing it (she loved the cats and basically asked me if she could do it instead of the catsitter) I had a local catsitter come by twice a day. Lots of people I know only do one visit per day, but my cats were used to being fed twice a day so I kept with that. I interviewed 3 local catsitters (I think this was before the big websites were really a thing), discounted one I didn’t like, and of the other 2 went for the one the cats preferred. One time I had a very sick cat and really didn’t want to leave her but also had a very important work meeting, and my vet boarded her so she could be monitored. In retrospect I wish I’d just cancelled the work meeting and stayed home that time.

      It does depend on the personality of the cat but a huge number of people with cats have similar lifestyles to you. If the cat is going to get access outside via a cat flap or something where they can come and go that makes a difference too, it means they’ll be less dependent on you for entertainment. I’d second the other people saying an adult cat is best, rescues are generally good at knowing the personalities of their cats and will know which ones will be happy with your lifestyle.

      I’m now at home for the majority of the time due to chronic illness and I have a boisterous young cat who loves attention and who I’d be much more nervous leaving for a work day + stuff in the evening etc. But then he was rehomed to me partly because I’m home all the time and that won’t change. Normally shelters here will only rehome kittens either in a pair or to someone home all the time so they have that interaction too.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you, this is so helpful! I was already leaning towards an adult cat, and appreciate seeing from many of the comments that I’m thinking along the right lines.

        If you happen to see this, could I ask how you’ve done the interviews with potential cat sitters – what sort of questions did you ask, and what were you looking out for?

        1. Treefrog*

          I picked my initial 3 after googling and finding 3 that covered my area, had good reviews, and that I liked the look of. I remember there were a couple of others I liked but that didn’t cover my postcode. To be honest interviews might be a bit grand, they were really more of a chat, I can’t remember what sort of questions I asked but I wanted to get a sense of how they worked and how they’d interact with the cats. I love my cats to a really dopey level and I wanted someone who also loved cats and who would give them some attention and play as well as feeding them, but not push them or scare them (very timid rescues that were nervous of new people). I was looking for someone who’d be reliable, stay the full half hour to give the cats a chance to interact if they wanted to, and who the cats would be comfortable with, and I mostly did it on gut instinct. The cats had previously been abandoned and neglected and were very keen on routine, it was important to me that when I was away they’d know the same person would reliably come in and look after them and they weren’t being abandoned again.

          The person I decided against told me a story (I assume intended to show how dedicated she was) that one night she’d been in another city for a gig and had still done the evening checks for the cats even though she was back late and it wouldn’t matter if she hadn’t (!). That was just an immediate no for me. I don’t remember much about the conversations with the two I was happy with but I had a good feeling about both, they were both really interested in the cats and wanted to know all about them. The one I chose had one of my cats come up really close and ask to be petted by her which was a first for any new visitor. To start with she picked up a key before a trip and dropped it back once I was home, but after a few trips I told her to hang onto the key.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I’ll add to what Treefrog said about adopting an older cat: you generally know what you’re getting. In other words, generally, what you see is what you get. When you adopt a kitten (preferable two together), you can’t be sure that what you see now is what they’ll become as an adult. Their personalities aren’t cemented yet.

    10. Cookie D'oh*

      Agree with getting an older cat. I have five and when my husband and I were both going into the office, they did fine at home all day. I WFH full time now and they mostly sleep during the day.

      Some cats prefer being singletons! My tabby girl who passed away a couple of years ago loved people, but not so much other cats. She did fine with her two kitty siblings after a slow introduction, but she would have been just fine by herself.

      1. Double A*

        Yes and a lot of time you’ll see descriptions that note a cat would prefer to be an only cat! I have a potato chip attitude about cats (can’t just have one!), but for someone who only wants one, there are a ton of cats who would do best that way.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          Haha, I have the potato chip attitude too! My chips just show up on the doorstep looking for free room and board. Thankfully, we live in a house and have enough room for multiples. I’m sure there are people in apartments with pet restrictions where it’s only possible to have one cat.

          1. Double A*

            I just had 2 for the last 18 years or so, but last year we added a 3rd and now I’m all for 3 cats!

            I do feel 4 would be too many as we have a lot of space but not a great place for litter boxes. We’ve managed to squeeze one in each bathroom but that’s my limit for scooping.

            1. Cookies For Breakfast*

              This is why I think we’ll end up getting one! There’s lots of space for a cat to explore and relax, but the room layout wasn’t necessarily designed to create a private space for multiple litter boxes :D

    11. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Your preferences are specific, so I would suggest you avoid shelters and try to adopt from a foster-based rescue. Shelters are great, and much needed, but rescues that have cats in homes often know their personalities better, as shelters don’t always show their true personality. A good rescue will ask what you are looking for and then provide you with a few options. We have a few adult cats who are happiest without cat friends, and would be okay on their own provided they had a good window to look out from. In fact one of them is in the room with me now! She came from a colony and is friendly with me, but loves her own time too and hates other cats. So there will be options for you!

    12. JustGrad*

      Cats are ridiculously independent if you let them be. Our cat was bought when my parents worked full time and all kids were at school and we now (8 years later) have no concerns about her whereabouts or if she’ll come back etc. The neighbour feeds her twice a day (she is picky about her wet food haha) and she’s a little clingy when we get home.
      Don’t coddle them though. My boyfriends family have acquired 3 cats in the last 3 years. As you can imagine, they’ve mostly grown up with everyone at home all the time. The cats are pretty dependent and as a family they panic about where their cats are when they leave the house, whether the cats are safe, etc etc.
      Also get a microchip controlled cat flap!!!! And check the batteries. It’s a lifesaver in terms of keeping the house secure but also letting your cat in and out. We often find out the batteries died when we find a random cat eating the cat food…

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you! The cat flap is in our plans.

        Your comment helped me better understand where some of my concerns come from: how challenging would it be to get a cat used to alone time if, when we get it, the situation is still similar to now? (home almost all the time, never travelling, no need to have others come in for feeding, no guests so the cat would be very used to the two of us but not other people) Maybe that’s material for another thread :)

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    I didn’t get too much done due to being very busy, but I did get some characters fleshed out a bit more.

    1. DrunkAtAWedding*

      Sometimes, I have dreams with a very strong narrative. I intend to write them out in full some day, and, for most of them, I’ve worked out the details the dream glossed over so they make more sense to a waking mind. One that I haven’t yet done that for is….

      Well, it’s set in a society of fairies. They are very keen on good manners, particularly in the upper echelons of society. The main character is a very nice girl who has ‘frenemies’ – girls she was friends with at school, but mostly so they could look down on her. She’s the ‘duff’ (weird movie, but explains the concept). Maybe she had to hang out with them because their mothers are all duchesses or something.

      Anyway, they’re all grown up and my main girl – well, woman – is getting married. She’s marrying the Prince, the most eligible bachelor in their society, and her frenemies are green with envy. They are poisonously nice to her face – as always – but behind her back make it clear that they believe he’s only marrying her because of her family money. They expect him to have affairs, hopefully with one of them.

      At fairy weddings, there is a tradition of the bride giving her female guests a magic potion. The idea is that the bride must be the most beautiful woman present, and the potion insures this by (temporarily) warping the appearance of all the other women. It also illustrates the brides cleverness and magical strength because, in the past, the guests would be tricked into drinking it and would try to prevent the effects with their own magic. These days, it’s just an old custom and it’s considered very rude not to drink the potion. The effects are intended to be friendly and comical.

      The frenemies decide to humiliate the bride by having her potion fail. This is the bit where the details really need working out. I think they either just mime drinking it, or they drink an antidote beforehand. Their plan is to play innocent, and claim that their natural magic must have fended off the effects of the potion, implying that the bride must be incredibly magically weak. They’ll also be overdressed – in an attempt to look better than the bride – because “they thought the potion would make them ugly”. It’s the equivalent of turning up in a white dress (but expecting to get paint on it so it won’t be white, and then dodging the paint and claiming that your natural reflexes are just so much better than the brides that you couldn’t help it and, oops, it’s entirely her fault you’re wearing white to her wedding – she should have been faster/smarter).

      Somehow, the bride tricks then anyway. I’m thinking that the potion she made and officially gave them was actually the antidote for the real potion, which was in the tea she innocently served them. So it becomes obvious that they refused to drink it when they all turn blue and no one else does. Alternatively, if they tried to make an antidote to her potion, they did so based on information the Prince gave them, which turns out to be false because he and the Bride knew they would do something like this and the Prince does really love the Bride. So maybe the combination of their ‘antidote’ and the real potion causes them to turn pink (like the other guests) but with purple spots (from their ‘antidote’). Something like that. Some twist that reveals that the Bride KNOWS they’re not really her friends and that the Prince really loves the Bride. Ideally, it will also be satisfying and clever and embarrass the frenemies, either openly – so all of society knows they were incredibly rude by trying to circumvent the bride’s potion – or discretely, so they know that the Prince and the Bride know what they’re really like.

      Apart from that, I’m trying to write my Masters dissertation which is due in about 6 weeks. I’ve spent most of my time gathering/processing data up until now. I recently wrote out a chapter plan which reveals that the analysis of each set of data – e.g., the dietary isotopes of every Romano-Britain – can only be allocated 500-700 words. Which, in turn, reveals that I have definitely been overthinking the amount of analysis I’ll need to do. I think the most valuable part of the project will actually be my spreadsheet, which contains every single bit of British dietary isotope data I can get my hands on. It’s over 2000 entries so far, stretching back to Paviland 1, the ‘Red Lady’.

      I’m excited to get to the Plantagenet/Tudor era. I have data from the skeletons recovered from the Mary Rose and from Richard III. Both sets are exciting because I have an exact day and year of death, which is rare for this sort of thing. Richard III is even more exciting, because he’s the most ancient set of remains with a concrete name and history attached. We don’t have to guess that he was wealthy and was raised on better food than the rest of society, we KNOW that, which makes him a useful data point to compare to the others of the era.

    2. Curly sue*

      My rom-com debut published this week! It’s been two years in the making – pitching to the publisher, writing, then the rounds of editing- but it’s finally out in the world and that’s been incredibly exciting.

      I’ve been poking away at the second one, but it’s slow-going. I’ve got the lead characters figured out, but their supporting casts are proving a little more elusive. I ended up junking half of the opening scene and rewriting it completely, and things are flowing a little better now. 2k done on it this week, and I think I know where I’m going. Fingers crossed!

      1. sagewhiz*

        Congrats to you, Curly Sue! Getting pub’d is no small thing. Tell us the title, please. And where it’s available. Toot that horn of yours loudly!

        1. Curly sue*

          If it’s okay with Alison! I’ll drop details and a link to my book page (with the book trailer and various buy links) in another comment. And thank you very much! My better half bought champagne for release day on Tuesday, and fancy cheeses. Best part of the whole thing. ;)

        2. Curly sue*

          Here we go – it’s called I Kissed A Girl, and it’s a queer, new adult rom-com set in Hollywood. A b-list scream queen falls for her makeup artist on the set of a creature feature. Shenanigans and pining ensue. It’s low-heat and low-angst, and is a stand-alone (no cliffhanger ending).

          You can get the full details and buy links to various stores here:


    3. RagingADHD*

      I got the dry nonfiction MS turned in on time, hooray!

      I really have to dig into development for 2 others, but I have the can’t evens today.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        The occasional break should always be okay. Maybe taking a day off will help you get in the mood better tomorrow.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I write stage plays.

      Last night, one of the plays I wrote was performed for a live audience in my community. First time I’ve done that. The actors did a great job and we got rave reviews.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Surprisingly, no. People kept asking if I was nervous last night: No! I had the easy part. Introduce the thing and then laugh with the audience. Actors had the hard part :-)

      1. curly sue*

        Fantastic! Were you at rehearsals, or was this the first time you’d seen the staging?

        1. OyHiOh*

          I directed it, which is way, way outside my comfort zone. The three actors involved are friends of mine (well, one is the adult child of a friend). Very low key production, outdoor/festival environment, on basically a wide section of sidewalk.

    5. Cendol*

      Not a great week—progress has ground to a halt as I reap the rewards of not outlining, lol. (This isn’t my usual plot-heavy, action-adventure setup, so I didn’t think I *needed* to spend time mapping it out…whoops.)

      I’m less than 16k from the end of this novel and the thought of being between projects is also a little daunting. I’m never very happy when I’m not writing.

  10. RagingADHD*

    I wrapped up a big work project this week, and was going to spend Friday catching up on housework and some side-gig stuff.

    Instead, I discovered that our indoor kitten has fleas. He got treated at his initial vet visit, but I guess we didn’t know enough/do enough to follow up.

    So my day was all about medicine, laundry, vacuuming, nit-combing, etc. I was having elementary school headlice flashbacks.

    What derailed your day?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My toddler. My snarky humor wants to say this happens every day, but that’s not fair. This week was just so hard because he was age-appropriately driving me bonkers, seeking conflict at every turn, bugging the cat constantly, etc. I had many dreamy plans of getting X and Y done but… nope, I spent as much time as possible this week outside at playgrounds, watching the trains go and doing things that were sufficiently active and conflict-free in order to defuse everything. That’s fine and all, but it was just… a lot. Yesterday went so much better and today seems much the same, so it seems like whatever was going on for him is blowing over, thank goodness.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband was supposed to be traveling for work next week which was a whole level of fraught nonsense, because they didn’t actually tell him that for sure until like Friday of last week, at which point he set up his travel, and then Tuesday the week’s meeting agendas came out and he and his boss were listed as remote attendees, so then the rest of the week was spent in chasing down the “so are we really going or not” question and he didn’t get a definite no until like 2pm yesterday.

      So while I’m high-level glad he’s not flying off to Texas in the middle of this nonsense after all, I had planned a bunch of things I was going to do around the house next week while he was gone that will be harder to do while he’s home and dammit, I was looking forward to a week of sleeping without snoring and CPAP noises and being woken up when he and the dog come to bed three hours after I do. :P (That one’s not their fault, I’m just a light sleeper, but still.)

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Right now it’s my headache! I need to get outside this morning and work on my yard before it gets too hot. Here’s hoping that my giant iced coffee and headache pills kick in soon!

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I find it ironic that life always happens when we’re busy making plans, don’t you?

    5. Perstephanie*

      Beavers. I live on a dead-end road, and the only accessway goes over a culvert. Periodically beavers pass through the area, spot the culvert, realize it’s the perfect dam-building spot (fill one culvert, voila! insta-dam!), and build one. Which threatens to wash out my road. The town will come and remove the dam, but the beavers return overnight and build a new one. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

      I call the town when I have to, but I don’t like to abuse my (cheerful, helpful) road crew’s goodwill every single day if I can avoid it, so a lot of days I just go out there and dismantle the dam on my own. It is exhausting and physically punishing. It has derailed a bunch of days this month.

      It’s also, I swear, the most fun it’s possible to have in life. It’s my grown-up, mortgage-paying, chore-doing, deadline-meeting chance at *unsupervised outdoor play* and I’m having such a blast.

      1. Details please*

        I wish l could see pictures! I love chunky rodents (we have a series of groundhogs that take up residence in the yard and they make my day!) How many work on the dam? Do you see them out there building? I am jealous!

        1. Perstephanie*

          They are amazing creatures that can remake whole ecosystems; if human beings all disappeared tomorrow, in ten years the beavers would make the US unrecognizable. I am privileged to have them around!

          Except of course they drive me nuts because their dams are waaaay too well built. I’ve spent mornings down at the pond dismantling a dam while the beaver herself cruised back and forth in front of me, staring daggers, occasionally slapping her tail at me.

          My neighbor says he watched the whole family down there one evening: Mom and two cubs. She was teaching the kids how to build a dam. Wish I’d seen that!

          If you get a chance, one of my favorite books of all time is “Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter” by Ben Goldfarb. Well worth the time.

          There’s also the beaver who came to house every night for a few weeks and ate my front-porch stairs. I caught her in the act; she didn’t care. No one I’ve spoken to has ever heard of such behavior!

          1. MassChick*

            This is just too adorable! Now I have to go read up about why beavers build dams (I knew about the beaver/dam association but not why).

    6. Nicotena*

      The mosquitoes!! I had several outdoor plans (putting some new plants in, having drinks on a patio, going for a nice walk) but after a pretty mild summer for bugs, the skeeters here have hit that late-summer desperation where they will swarm you as soon as you step foot outside. I’m the first person they go for, too. Guess I’ll be staying inside this weekend, I’m already covered in welts from just a few short excursions (like literally watering plants and taking the compost out).

    7. GoryDetails*

      Bees. I went out to change the feeders and orange-halves that I put out for the orioles (and the catbirds and even the occasional cardinal), and discovered that a number of ground bees had settled in at the base of one of the poles. Got a couple of stings on one hand and another through my denim jeans before I knew what was happening; beat a quick retreat to the porch, looked down to find several more bees stuck to my jeans but not quite able to stab through, so I shucked off the jeans on the spot (glad of an overgrown shrub that shielded my strip-tease from passersby on the street) and dashed inside to apply a soothing paste of baking soda.

      I’m not allergic to bees and the stings, while painful, were the kind of localized pain that I find a lot easier to bear than headache-type pain, so it wasn’t horrible, but it definitely derailed my immediate plans!

    8. Cookie D'oh*

      Our A/C broke last night. We usually sleep in on Saturdays, but we were able to get a tech out at 8 AM this morning. Thankfully it was an easy fix and we are back to cool air. The tech that came out was very nice and showed us pictures of his cat.

    9. Double A*

      The gas company not coming when they said they would three days in a row. It’s over, the gas is on, I don’t want to think about it anymore but it really stressed me out and derailed my week.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Well, there are customers from work who call shortly before my shift is supposed to end with complicated problems that mean I end up leaving work late. (And no, no one else can help them.) This happened one day last week, and when I finally had the customer taken care and was going to go on my way, I found my car had a flat tire. I changed it myself, because it would take the auto club as long to get there, as it would to do it myself. It only took about a half an hour, but it was hot and in the 90s, and I got dirty and very sweaty. When I finally had the little temporary spare tire on the car, I drove to Costco where I bought the tires, about 8 miles away. By then, the tire department was closing in an hour, but they able to squeeze me in and patch the tire and send me on my way with 4 normal tires again. (I’d run over a nail.) It just killed the whole evening. I came back home, ate dinner, and went to bed.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The lawn mower stopped moving. I did all the hard bits of the yard, but now I can’t do the flat, easy, and *very visible* main section. I hope the new leaf bagger didn’t break something.
      By the time Mr fixit is free, it will be time late timeout finish today. Phooey.

    12. anon lurker appa*

      I just want to say I really appreciate this question!!

      My Friday was slightly derailed by insurance shenanigans. My vision insurance card says Blue Cross Blue Shield on the front. So I called around, found a place nearby that takes BCBS, and had a 5 pm appt Friday because my vision has been getting blurry again.

      Show up, they take 30 seconds to look at my insurance card, and it turns out I -actually- have vision insurance through Davis Insurance, because BCBS subcontracts their vision insurance to them in my case. It says it on the tiny font on the back of the card, submit claims to Davis Insurance etc etc etc.

      I could pay full price, $90, or find some place that takes the insurance I actually have. So I went home, and made a new appointment at a different place for this coming week.

    13. RC Rascal*

      Parking tickets!

      On Monday I got 2 parking tickets within an HOUR!!!!!!

      One was for street parking someplace that evidentially wasn’t a space, that I have parked in a million times before without consequence. They other was for street sweeping.

      I haven’t had a parking ticket in over 2 years prior to Monday.

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want, including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered childhood favourite.
    I’m finally getting around to finishing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night after randomly remembering I never actually did (woops). Also got myself a physical copy of Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (not in the US so had to import it). I wonder of that download code for the early buyer DLC will work, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      Bloodstained is so much fun! I hope you enjoy it. I never got around to finish it. I made it all the way to the last boss fight and then my PS4 decided to just die on me.

      I took a break from Resident Evil: Village and started playing Doki Doki Library Club. It’s an interesting game — it looks so much like a standard dating sim, but it’s just so terribly unnerving and, though I haven’t finished, I’ll join the chorus that says one should proceed with caution with this title.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, DDLC definitely comes with quite a few trigger warnings. I’ve only played the free version, kinda curious about the upgraded version though.
        I have the Switch version of Bloodstained which is not ideal, though it is perfectly playable. Just got the special sword to save a friend so off to battle I go.

      2. Jackalope*

        Okay, just looked that one up, and it sounds seriously disturbing. Definitely giving DDLC a pass!

    2. The Dude Abides*

      Soon I should be getting back some cards I sent to an artist to sign.

      With the pandemic killing off in-person conventions, I’ve found it much easier to reach out to artists about sending them cards to sign (and paying them for the time and effort).

    3. Liz*

      I’m a Sims geek, and I’m absolutely in love with the new Cottage Living pack.

      I had my eye on an enormous house in Scotland – https://www.threaverural.co.uk/property/bonnyton-house/ – where I wanted to raise chickens and run yoga retreats, and I was gutted to learn that it’s sold after 2 years on the market. So I recreated it faithfully from the advert and built it on Sims: https://www.ea.com/en-gb/games/the-sims/the-sims-4/pc/gallery/5B634E65F45311EB806CA46954E8DEB9

      Now I can live my dreams vicariously through pixelated chickens!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If I’m not mistaken there’s a castle in Scotland that’s for sale for like 1 pound.
        Of course the renovation costs would be somewhere in the millions…

        Honestly “living vicariously through pixelated chickens” would be a great slogan and I need it on a T-shirt and a mug.

        1. Liz*

          You do get some really cheap properties coming up north of the border. I think with things like the castle, they’re hoping for someone to take it on and give it the chance to get back to its former glory. That’s the extreme end of the scale, though.

          What we’re looking at doing is going into partnership with a small group of people, getting a large house with plenty of rooms, and running retreats and an airbnb/guest house while using the land as a chicken sanctuary. A friend of mine has a similar setup in Wales, only she’s on her own in a smaller house, and has sheep instead of chickens: http://more-to.org/

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      My latest bout of Minecraft obsession has actually lasted longer than the typical 3-5 days! (For anyone who doesn’t get the joke, Minecraft tends to be one of those games that people don’t play for months, get a sudden craving to play and play for 3-5 days straight, and then don’t touch for months again. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.) It helps that I’m playing a modpack (Enigmatica 2) that has a zillion mods in it, so if I start getting tired of what I’m working on I can switch gears and try something else. That DOES have the unfortunate side effect of me having 70 projects going at any given time and needing to keep track of them all, though!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I often have three different life sims/farming sims going at once so I’ve actually resorted to post-it notes where I write down what I was doing in which game so that when I go back to it I won’t loose precious time trying to figure out what I was going for. Might work to keep track of the Minecraft projects?

      2. LimeRoos*

        I am literally going through this with Minecraft right now!! So yes, it’s definitely a thing XD. We’re waiting for the caves & cliffs 2nd update, the new stuff is gorgeous, but we don’t want to explore too much extra before the depth/height changes.

      3. Lonely Aussie*

        Enigmatica 2 was great, I loved the extra animals, even if it drove my servermate crazy. The world was really beautiful.
        I really wanna get back into MC, I’m very much a social minecrafter and my server buddies have been too busy to play.

    5. LimeRoos*

      Please update us on the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles! I loved Phoenix Wright and some of the spin-offs so I was super curious when I saw an ad for it. I’m waiting on the fall Metroid release before committing to another game lol.

      But Also….
      I DELETED MY ACNH ISLAND AND MADE A NEW ONE. So uh yeah, I haven’t played in months and just revisited Pamplemous (I ran out of spaces). It was a hot mess of weeds, I had pretty much terraformed it to its full potential, and it was my first ever Animal Crossing game. Poof. I did what I do for Zelda BotW, delete and start over (I have an obsession with discovering Koroks). So I’m totally creating a new island resort thing and it’s been fantastic. I have an orange airport, peaches, and tulips, so it’s a completely different biome from last time. Though I do miss my windflowers. I can’t wait to start terraforming in like a month. It’s been surprisingly fun to redo everything and see how the items you get influence the designs you create. #imadork.

      New Island is Frambois if anyone wants to visit. I have nothing fun yet lol. Though my 2 villagers are strange af.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I plan on starting it later today so hopefully I’ll have time to talk about it next week :)

    6. Stitching Away*

      I have been diving into my switch, mostly cheap indie games. Rediscovering my nonogram obession. Minesweeper Genius took me right back to my childhood of obsessively playing for hours and trying to shave a second off my score, and I care way to much about keeping the little dude alive. Found a few cute platformers.

      If anyone has an recs for switch games that would work for when I’m recovering from major surgery, my vision is on the blurry side, and I won’t be up for anything complex, I will take them!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If reading isn’t an issue a Visual Novel might work – it’s mostly reading and making the occasional choice. I’m very fond of Steins;Gate (and if I’m not mistaken Steins;Gate Elite, which is the version available on Switch, also incorporates scenes from the anime) and am currently going through Code:Realise – Guardian of Rebirth -. The latter is a romance game, which may or may not be up your alley.
        The Ace Attorney games would also work pretty well – you play as a lawyer defending clients from criminal charges (usually murder), which sound dark (and it can be) but the cast consists very…peculiar characters. Cross-examining a parrot isn’t even the weirdest thing you’ll be doing, just saying. Great Ace Attorney Chronicles should even have an automatic mode, where the story just advances regardless of your input. I know a game from the Professor Layton series is also on the Switch (Layton’s Mystery Journey) is also available on Switch, but I haven’t played that one so I can’t talk about it too much.

        If reading much is an issue, perhaps something like Stardew Valley would be an option? Just something relaxing, planting pixelated parnsips and living off the land, making friends with villagers, etc.

        If you like platformers, maybe the Ori games would work too? I would stay away from Hollow Knight (notoriously difficult) and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (pretty dark so might be difficult to see if your vision is blurry). Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 1&2 might work as they’re pretty bright. They also come with a classic mode (you have to restart after losing three lives a la ClassicVania) and an easier mode where you basically have unlimited lives.

        1. Stitching Away*

          Thanks for the suggestions!

          I’ve never played any visual novels. I’ve tried a few point and clicks, and find them frustrating because I can’t generally puzzle my way through them, but my impression is that visual novels have less freedom and thus you don’t tend to get stumped the same way? I may very well give one a try!

          I quite like Stardew Valley, actually, and had been planning to avoid it so as not to mess my current game up, but I wonder if I could start a separate one to mess around in. Or try a different one in the same genre.

          I haven’t heard of Bloodstained, but a mode where you can die infinitely sounds perfect for my post-op abilities! The meds that control my pain unfortunately relax my eye muscles to the point where I can’t focus my eyes, and so everything blurs. Plus I will pass out into naps mid sentence.

          1. have we met?*

            Stardew on PC definitely allows multiple saves – I think 6? I have two at the moment.

      2. Tali*

        Whenever I’m kinda sick or sad I like to play games where you wander around a beautiful world. I play a lot of cheap indie games! Here are my favorites:
        – Yonder: the Cloudcatcher Chronicles. I think it’s for many consoles and PC. Picture Breath of the Wild but scaled way way down. Lots of exploration, some light crafting, farming and fetch quests, you can modify your appearance and run around all day and night.

        -Journey: an atmospheric experience where you go on a pilgrimage, you might encounter other players in the world or you might go it alone. Beautiful (sound and visuals) way to spend a few hours.

        -Abzu: made by the same people as Journey, and they have several other games in this genre. Basically like exploring an aquarium. Absolutely beautiful and very relaxing and moving, this is a go-to and very replayable.

        -Tetris Effect: I believe this is for Playstation and PC. If you like puzzle games like minesweeper and nonograms then this is for you. I had never played Tetris before but this elevates the puzzles to a new level with absolutely stunning visuals and music. Didn’t think Tetris could be like this! It may be tough with blurry vision/high speeds but might be nice as you recover, you can play slower simpler levels or just listen to music on sick days and challenge yourself when you feel up to it.

        -Murder by Numbers: I believe this is on Switch and maybe PC. If you like nonograms this is for you. Think Phoenix Wright but with nonogram puzzles. Seriously there are so. Many. Nonogram puzzles! Might be hard if your vision is blurry though!

  12. Granny Smith apple*

    What are your tried and loved rules about arranging pictures on a wall?
    I have three framed prints that are the same size (between A2 and A3, with different vintage fruit botanical prints). They would go on the wall behind the couch. I don’t know what would look best – in a line? Different heights? Should I just take take on one side and add shelves on the other?
    I’d love to hear what has worked for you or collect links to resources as I’m in the process of moving and other walls are also coming up (with different ideas like a gallery wall).

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      What about in a line, but so they line up with the edge of the sofa? Then your eye is drawn to the images.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is what I would do too. I always line stuff up by eye, and if I have to reposition it’s not a big deal because the holes from picture nails are so small.

    2. DrunkAtAWedding*

      Honestly, I just shuffle stuff around until it looks nice.

      The one ‘rule’ I have is something the art teacher taught me when I was about 11 or 12 and sticking images onto a poster. Basically, that the gaps between the edges of each image should usually be about the same width. I feel like that sentence doesn’t exactly say what I mean, but I’m not sure what else to say. I’d normally explain it by pointing to the wall next to me (which has pictures and postcards arranged on it) or by physically shuffling things around or sketching something to illustrate my point.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes to both points! I think another way to think about your second point is to keep the white space the same around each picture.

    3. Jen Erik*

      My daughter was trying to hang a disparate collection of pictures, so we looked up a lot of ‘gallery wall’ tips, which didn’t get us much further, except that it eventually led to the phrase ‘salon-style’ and when we googled that, we got much more useful advice. They ended up mocking up the wall on the ipad, so they could virtually move the pictures round and see what they liked best.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I use a similar method for pictures as I do for hanging tools and other such tasks.

      I measure out (roughly) a spot on the floor and I line things up to see how they work together or against each other. Usually a configuration jumps at me, “this is it!!”. I organized a wall of hand tools in the garage by laying them out on the pavement. It made it very clear how much space each tool needed and allowed me to factor in the ease of getting the tool on and off the hook. (Things have to be easy to put away or else they don’t get put away.)

      In my house I have a wall of photos in the hallway. Again, I figured out a space on the floor about the same size as the wall (very narrow in this case) and I started moving pictures around until it made some kind of visual sense.

      With pictures behind the couch, the first thing I think of is not to put them so low that people could hit their heads, or accidently bump one some how. (Think kids bouncing on a couch or pets getting on the couch and bouncing around.) But you don’t want to hang it so high that you can’t appreciate the detail in the picture.

      Just my opinion, but lower pictures tend to bring a cozy feel and higher or more spread out pictures tend to feel open and spacious. You might like to think about how you want the room to feel and that may guide your answer.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I like random clusters, but I usually have more than 3 and also different frame sizes to work with. I play with the arrangement by laying it out on the floor first, then stand on a chair to take pictures of the arrangements I like and compare the photos while looking at the wall and deciding what will work best in the space before I put hooks in.
      Remember too that it’s not just about filling the wall space; it’s about arranging pictures so they work well as a collection. Look at the mood, symbolism, colours and visual weight of each piece and arrange them by the story or feel you want to create – not just the size of the frame and how it fits in the room.
      Also, have you thought about mixing up the layout with some smaller, different prints that pick up something similar from your 3 but add vary it up a bit? Eg: different vintage prints, prints in similar colour tones, or a different take on the fruit botanical theme?

    6. fposte*

      I print out mockups and try them on the wall. But I also think this is very personal (I deliberately hang my art a little lower because I’m not very tall, for instance) and space dependent (my ceilings and floors aren’t super-straight or parallel so I choose alignment by eye–you might find the top of your sofa and your ceiling aren’t exactly parallel, for instance). Some people like more space and fewer objects on the wall, others the reverse. And of course it depends what else is going on in the space.

      Are they landscape orientation or portrait? They’re easier to group together at the same height if they’re portrait rather than landscape, IMHO; I think a long unbroken horizontal line on the wall can be a little stiff. Is there anything tall to one side of the sofa/room that you’d like to balance out? Stair-stepping them can work nicely for that. But mostly I really like messing with the printouts–that way I also get used to them being on the wall and taking up that space.

    7. Double A*

      Our style is eclectic and our entire living room is essentially crowded gallery walls. I lay out the art on the floor and try different things. I usually eyeball the hanging but this does mean I end up putting extra holes in the wall, so I’ve taken to measuring more.

      This article has a bunch of tips and I like the graphic about different gallery wall ideas: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyshwake/essential-tips-gallery-wall

    8. Aphrodite*

      I love art on walls, and I have both single-picture walls as well as gallery walls. How you want to arrange. your framed botanical prints really depends on how formal or informal your home is as well as your personal preference. I have two framed nineteenth-century botanical prints and they are alone together on one wall and hung side-by-side in a formal look which, I think, suits them quite well.

      But I also have a wall around the corner from them that is a gallery wall with about 15 very. different items including a couple of three-dimensional ones. All the frames, where there are, are different. I am looking at it as I write this and I see an oversized wrought iron “key,” a decorative item, a black-framed and matted newspaper obituary of a boyfriend who died in Vietnam, a large-ish framed antique map of Paris, a medium-sized canvas print of a favorite painting, a small metal travel trailer (originally a wind chime from World Market with chimes removed) a large architectural drawing of a nineteenth-century bookcase, framed photograps and prints of beloved painting. Another wall has a massive print of Paris over a long but short white bookcase and more. In the bedroom is, among other things, a gallery wall I am developing of women’s faces; one is a round top to an old hat box that had been painted with an almost art decor woman on it.

      I am going to go through my old scrapbooks and photo albums soon and do some serious weeding out. The very few individual items that I will keep will be added to my walls because I want to see them every day. Everything else will get tossed (and why would I miss all that stuff that sits in a dark closet almost all the time anyway).

      My point is to think about what works for you. Do you think mixing up formal and informal settings work best? What do you have that you want to include? Articles often talk about mixing your proposed ideas on the floor or lightly taping pieces of brown paper to the walls in the shape and size of your things to get a feel for what looks good to you before you start putting holes in the wall. (I don’t do that because I don’t create “walls” at once; my. primary gallery wall took years of adding things here and there and I seem to have a feel for what works and where.

      Here are some links to articles about wall art that might be helpful:


    9. Juneybug*

      I trace the frames on paper (anything will do like newspaper, packaging, scraps, etc.), cut to size, and then hang them on the wall with blue painter tape. Arrange as needed. Nail pictures/art/decor up. Remove your mockup and enjoy!

    10. Gallery height*

      I hang pictures with the same centre height. Very cohesive, even with different size frames.

      I hang my pictures with their centre height at 150 cm (around 60 inches), which means they hang at eye height when standing.

      1. cleo*

        I came here to say the same thing. That’s one of the standards used in art galleries – hang it so the center of the art is 60″ (5 feet) from the floor.

  13. Tell Me About Your Pets*

    Readers, a request:
    Tell me the cutest or funniest thing your pet has done lately. Be as detailed as possible please!

    1. KristinaL*

      I don’t know if it’s the cutest thing, but my kitty Leonard will meow at me sometimes when he wants attention. If I take too long before sitting on the couch (or at another spot he likes), he’ll scold me in his cute kitty voice while rubbing his head on my hands and purring.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My cat does this thing when she gets overstimulated sometimes where she nuzzles the couch with her whole body. I’m honestly not sure how to describe it–I went looking for nature videos because I swear I’ve seen something like this before, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So she’ll start by nuzzling the couch and then drop her shoulder and push with her back legs so that her whole body glides forward and she ends up on her back looking adorably ridiculous. Belly rubs are not recommended at this time, despite being so tempting!

    3. DrunkAtAWedding*

      The family cat broke a glass at 2am. This is why both cats have the same middle name. They’re both First Name “wake you up at 3 in the morning every morning pain-in-the-arse” Last Name.

      The glass-breaking cat has been mopey recently. Have you ever noticed that in every pair of cats, one has chosen one human as their person and hates everyone else, and the other will cuddle anyone with food? That’s always been my experience. This cat is the hate everyone kind of cat. His person has recently started a new job and he does not understand why she has to leave him every day. He’s starting demanding cuddles before she leaves for work and jumping on her the second she gets home.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Hah! That’s not been my general experience but it is def the case with my husband’s current cats – one is the biggest chicken, refuses to leave his office and is glued to him while he’s in there, and if he comes downstairs she lurks on the stairs and glares at him, but flees if anybody else takes a step in that direction. (I can usually get a little bit of petting on her if I’m in that room, but nowhere else.) The other one is one-eyed, fearless and dumber than a box of dirt, but seems to think she’s a dog, so she’s always in the middle of everything and demands pettins from, and gives kisses to, anyone who comes in range, but especially me because I’m the dog lady.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          My adult son’s cat (both son and cat have been living with us during pandemic) will tolerate everyone in the family but my son is unmistakably his human. When son is in the bathroom, cat sits meowing at the bathroom door the whole time. Loudly.

    4. Flower necklace*

      My cat’s favorite cat wand has a long handle (at least twice as long as he is) with a little gray rabbit at the end. I don’t know why, but he adores it. The other day, I was using it to play with him when he got tired of chasing it. So he pounced, grabbed the mouse, and dragged the whole thing into his cat tunnel.

      It looks so odd to see him with his really long cat wand dragging behind him. Cracks me up every time!

      1. Bostonian*

        Too funny! I love it when cats carry toys in their mouth. The image of him dragging that long wand is hilarious!

        1. Siege*

          I bought my large cat a narwhal dog toy. He drags his special babies (right now he has a fish, a pillowed strip, the narwhal, a tennis ball, and a stuffed pineapple) around while making the most godawful noises. The narwhal is hilarious because it’s a dog toy so it’s almost the size of his body sans head and legs, so at some point it rolls under his body as he drags it around. It’s the most entertaining five dollars I’ve ever spent.

      2. Cookie D'oh*

        That’s awesome! My cats do that too. It’s like they’re walking off with their prey.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Despite being a sighthound mix and not a scent-hound mix, my younger dog has unerring Bone Sense for lost bones. And she is PICKY. So on a semi-regular basis, she decides that of all the ten bones laying around the living room, she wants one in particular, and it’s the one that’s stuck in that couch RIGHT THERE. And she’s never wrong. So she will lay down with her nose pointing at the couch, and start to fuss. The bone may be under the whole couch. The bone may be under the couch cushions. The bone may have fallen through a rip in the lining and be IN the body of the couch. And it may be one of five bones that’s in, under and around the same couch. But she knows which bone she wants, and even if you find the other four first, she will keep fussing until you find the right one. I cannot count how many times my husband has been like “THERE IS NOTHING ELSE HERE” and then he keeps digging somewhere highly improbable and pulls out the right bone, going “HOW DID YOU EVEN KNOW THAT WAS THERE.” And she’ll carefully and politely take it out of his hand and wander off to one of their seven dog pillows to lay down and chew on it.

      This doesn’t happen any more because Elder Statesdog stopped chewing bones a while back, but in times gone by, if Junior Ambassador decided the bone she wanted was the one Elder Statesdog had, she would run to the back door barking wildly, wait for Elder Statesdog to come see what was going on, then loop back and grab the bone Elder Statesdog had left behind. She tried that on people for quite a while too, like maybe I would put my sandwich down in nose reach if I was going to see what she was hollering about, but she eventually figured out I wasn’t falling for it and she stopped.

      However, my husband accidentally trained both dogs that if he lets them in from the backyard, they would get a treat, so now they both (when he’s around) will go to the door to be let out, then immediately turn around and come back in (sometimes before he even gets the door closed behind them), then run over to stand in front of the shelf with the cookie jar and wait expectantly. :P

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My cat loves to roll around on the bed first thing in the morning, so that I can scratch her cheeks, chin, and tummy. This morning she was so happy and energetic that she rolled herself right off the desk.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          She will have you know she did it on purpose, because when it happens mommy picks her up and gives her extra cuddles. She’s a crafty one.

    7. Bostonian*

      Well, I’m in bed, and my cat just dropped a twist tie next to me to throw for her (we play fetch). So… there’s that. :-)

      1. allathian*

        One of my parents’ cats used to play fetch with the kind of “pipe cleaner” that you buy in crafts stores for kids to play with, folded and twisted multiple times until it was about 2 in long and ½ in thick.

    8. Cookie D'oh*

      One if my cats has a stuffed rabbit toy that he loves. He will carry the thing in his mouth and meow at the same time. He usually does this when we go up to bed in the evening. It makes the strangest noise! The first time I heard it, I thought he was hurt. He will drop off the rabbit in the bedroom. He’ll sometimes do this during the day too and I’ll find the rabbit at different places in the house.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      My banshee of a cat starts screeching every morning when it’s close to breakfast time. She sits on my bedside table and meows in my ear, and if I don’t respond, she’ll start bapping me in the face. This morning I started petting her to distract her, and because she’s sitting right next to my face, when she went to head bump my hand, I leaned over and headbumped her with my face. Well she instantly started purring so hard! Her whole demeanor changed from “I must scream or I will starve” to “Mom’s awake!! Time to snuggle her!!” Her tail was curled, she went in for another few headbumps and stopped screeching and I scritched her for a good 10 minutes. It was just so sweet that she didn’t expect me to (basically) hug her and how happy she got when I did!

    10. Anon working class*

      My cat purrs when I work out on the carpet and cuddles up against me. He’s really interested in what I’m doing when I’m doing my reps.

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        Awww -one of my previous cats did this. Not a snuggler unless I had weights in my hands….

    11. Generic Name*

      One of my cats’ favorite toys is a narrow brown grosgrain ribbon with white spots. He adores it. I think it came off a gift at one point. He drags it around the house. He often leaves it next to his food dish. My dog has discovered that if she picks up the ribbon in her mouth on one end and walks around dragging the ribbon, the cat will chase the other end. It’s a riot.

      We also have a snake that this same cat seems desperate to get to (don’t worry, the tank lid is very secure). I like to think that the cat is pretending that this brown spotted ribbon is really a snake.

      1. I take tea*

        One of our cats actually always drags the end of her favourite ribbon into her food dish, or alternatively into a water bowl. She also soaks other toys in the water bowl regurlarly.

    12. Laura Petrie*

      My rats are in intros at the moment so they’re in a tiny cage aka rat jail.

      I got them out for a few minutes earlier and they all mobbed me, even my super shy rescue girls. They were so happy to stretch their legs and spend some time with me, it was lovely.

    13. Whiskey on the rocks*

      My 75lb boxer mix snorts like a pig when he gets annoyed, usually if I’ve gone outside and not taken him with me. He also stamps his back feet. We’ve taken to calling him Stampy McTemperTantrum.

    14. Rara Avis*

      While walking and geocaching yesterday, I must have knelt in something amazing, because my enormous, fierce bruiser of a cat spent 5 minutes licking my knee, drooling on me, and rubbing his face on my knee. Then some noise startled him and he made a two-foot vertical leap (claws engaged for the takeoff) and spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping it off in his favorite bed under my daughter’s desk.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Oh, and he steals my daughter’s ponytail holders off her dresser to play with and loses them under every piece of furniture in the house.

    15. Monty &Millie's Mom*

      Monty is my 55-ish-lb hound mix mutt. Millie is the 13-lb chi-mix. Millie has a soft basket to sleep in on my side of the bed, and Monty has a cushion on my husband’s side. When there is a storm, Millie goes insane and cannot be calmed (not the cute thing!), but Monty just gets worried, and comes to my side of the bed and wedges/curls himself into Millie’s basket. I have no idea how he makes himself fit, and it can’t be comfortable, but he stays there until the thunder and lightning has passed.

    16. Mephyle*

      I feed our dog when I’ve finished my breakfast. My breakfast ends with a leisurely cup of coffee while I read the news. She has learned to tell how close I am to finishing – I assume she’s watching the angle of my coffee cup. I can tell she’s aware of it because the closer I am to finishing when I raise the cup to my lips, the more excited she gets. When I tilt the cup way up to get the last drops, she’s vibrating with that “Now!!!! YES!!!!” that dogs do.

    17. I take tea*

      Our younger cat adores her elder sister and always wants to snuggle. The elder cat is less amused, but will tolerate it now and then, and they will even wash each other. One of the cutest things I know is to watch how the younger cat slowly edges nearer the older, until she can finally burrow her nose into the older cat’s stomach (I don’t blame her, it’s so adorably fluffy) and fall asleep in complete bliss.

  14. annonThisThyme*

    Putting the question in a reply because it has to do with clean up after a kitty.

    1. annonThisThyme*

      I’ve got a kitty who’s well into her teens who has a thyroid problem. She’s recently had bloodwork done at the vet, and I’m following doctor’s orders. The kitty seems to have more energy lately.

      This kitty has always been one who sometimes vomits. Lately she’s been doing this more and having diarrhea attacks, sometimes on the carpet (the vet knows about this, too). At this point, I’ve basically given up on the carpet as a long-term floor covering, but until I figure out what to do instead (assuming that I can afford it), I’m trying to keep the carpet at least basically clean, even if it doesn’t look great. Do you have tips or tricks for cleaning up after kitties?

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Don’t have any kitties, but as someone who has dealt with elderly dog emissions, if there are certain Chosen Vomit/Diarrhea Locations, put a machine washable area rug (or several) over the carpet there and hope that doesn’t spook the cat into finding a new spot. (You can get small, washable area rugs that are a little bigger than doormats, and some carpet runners are also washable. I usually get mine at Costco.) This gives you a much simpler item to clean and re-purchase as needed. My current dog has decided at an early age that he has a One True Vomit location, and after replacing the original non-washable rug with a cheap washable one it’s been much less obnoxious for me. (The vet and I are trying various interventions, but in the end he may just be a dog that pukes a couple of times a month after eating, then the same food stays down on the “second try” if I don’t immediately clean up the mess before he does. It doesn’t seem to bother him any. Dogs are gross, and I love him anyway.)

        If they’re particularly non-picky about additional protection layers in their chosen place and you need the extra absorption, you can also buy “bed pads”, which are designed for incontinent humans to have as a layer of protection in their beds and are basically the same as puppy pee pads without the special scents to attract dogs to pee on them. (I believe they were also cheaper and/or larger than the ones for puppies. Details are hazy now as this was several dogs ago.) If you end up with a washable area rug without rubber backing or some other moisture barrier, you could also layer a bed pad under it.

        If the vomiting is not in predictable locations I have no useful advice.

      2. Lizzie*

        Environment: Try raising her food and water dishes so that she stands to eat and doesn’t have to bend her head down – that helped my chucker a lot! My 12 year old cat has been on methimazole (thyroid gel) for a couple of years. Add more litter trays if you can cope with them, to increase the chances she will be able to reach one in time.
        Food: My cat is on a grain free diet of wet food, and biscuits from the vet; she was on prednisone for itchy skin when I got her 4 years ago but changing to a grain free diet stopped the itchiness. If she is exposed to grain she gets diarrhoea now rather than itchy skin. Earlier this year I tried her on a new supermarket wet food advertised as grain free and very tasty – she loved it, but quickly got upset bowels, which did not firm up again until I stopped giving her that food. The fine print on the packet said it might have grain in it!
        She also eats tinned sardines in spring water (aka fish soup in my house) once a week and if I can find a small bit of steak I cut that up for her again about once a week. And she does enjoy tasty cheese, preferably grilled… helps to bind things up! No milk ever, unless it is lactose free. I have read that cooked pumpkin is soothing and helpful for cat bowel issues.
        Cleaning: When vomit or diarrhoea did/does occur, I put some paper towels on it, to soak up the liquid, and then scrubbed at the carpet with some baby wipes, and when they came away clean I would give the spot a scrub with a disinfectant wipe. It is debilitating to see these things and know only you will clean them up! Bicarb soda absorbs moisture and reduces odour too, if you sprinkle that on the carpet.
        Other: Sometimes swallowing too much fur when grooming will lead to vomiting, so more brushing even if she is shortfurred might help. My cat also has a pot of cat grass in the house, and will bite at the blades of grass as a digestive aid; if I see her actually eating the grass I know she will vomit in a minute or so. The raised dishes really seem to have stopped the vomiting though.
        If your cat does seem to go back to the same spot you could try putting a puppy pee pad down, maybe your cat would use that. I read that cats like to vomit on carpet because they prefer to hold on while they are vomiting, which is interesting isn’t it!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I swear by enzyme cleaners. Even if I no longer had pets I would still keep an enzyme cleaner in the house- it’s great on any thing natural- grass, food, blood, and the nasties like vomit and poop.

        Nature’s Miracle is a terrific product. Back when we wore a lot of suede coats etc, I even used it to clean up natural stains off of a suede jacket. It was indeed a miracle- absolutely NO sign of a stain. A dry cleaner could not get these results at that time.

        The drawback is that NM can get a little spendy if you use it often. I found a similar product at the pet store for substantially less money and I have been happy with that also.

        Recently I was a tag sale. The lady was giving away some throw rugs because “they had stains”. All I found was a little cat stain on one. I took some of the enzyme cleaner and thoroughly soaked the stain. Remember stains spread out when they break down- so you want to soak and area around the stain in anticipation of that spreading. I set it sit for a bit and took a soft brush and simply brushed up whatever was left. That free rug looks like new.
        The other thing to remember is the sooner you get the stain the more luck you will have. When I have a sick pet, my rule of thumb is to get something on the stain within 12 hours. This gives me enough time to get home from work and find the problem areas and treat them.

        But keep the spray handy for pretreating clothes in your laundry. Dirt, grass, blood, the stuff works with very little effort on your part.

      4. Valancy Snaith*

        We had a cat with persistent diarrhea and went through oceans of Nature’s Miracle. Blot up as much as possible with paper towels, soak the stain with Nature’s Miracle, let sit a few minutes, then blot it up. Always came up beautifully. I also would rent a carpet cleaner once a year to really thoroughly clean the carpet, but you can get excellent deals on professional carpet cleaners via Groupon and such now and then you don’t even need to do the work yourself.

    2. CJM*

      I love our SpotBot and use it a lot lately because one of our cats is often sick. I don’t have a favorite carpet shampoo, but some are designed for pet messes and may work better. I try to immediately wipe up the debris (don’t skip that step) and then run the machine before the stain dries or sets.

      1. Generic Name*

        I was going to recommend a spot bot. It takes the work out of cleanup. You set it on the spot and it scrubs away on its own

  15. annonThisThyme*

    I’ve been thinking about getting some nice vinyl or linoleum or something like that, maybe for the whole house if I can afford it. (My kitties have done things to the carpet.) Any recommendation for some kind of easy-clean floor covering? I’m looking for tough but hopefully inexpensive. I think something that looks like wood (maybe medium brown wood) flooring might look nice.


    1. WS*

      My previous house had 1960s vintage carpet in the kitchen (yes really) and I replaced it with linoleum that looked like boards. I had to make sure I got something heavy-duty enough that the cats couldn’t claw it – apparently a lot of lino has a heavy base and then a thinner decorative layer, and that’s not great for claws!

      1. Liz*

        Seconding this – the better quality wood-effect linoleum/vinyl is actually pretty convincing, as well as being cheaper, easier, and oh so much QUIETER than wooden laminate.

    2. Pregnant during COVID*

      We recently replaced cheap laminate kitchen flooring with luxury vinyl planks in a med-light oak color and I am obsessed. The texture is really nice underfoot. I think it was about $2.50 per square foot. It’s not the cheapest option out there but highly durable and easy to clean for a high traffic area.

    3. Girasol*

      We have wood grained vinyl in the kitchen – a pergo sort of flooring – and it looks terrific. We need to change the carpet too, but I’m wondering if putting flooring through the house would make it feel chilly in winter.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It does, but only in the sense that when I’m walking around the house barefoot my feet get colder on the non-carpeted floors than on the carpeted ones. I don’t notice any difference above the ankles or if I’m wearing slippers. :)

    4. RagingADHD*

      We got resilient vinyl plank for the kitchen that looks like slate, but you can also get wood-look. It’s comfortable underfoot, spillproof, and very easy to clean.

      The color goes all the way through, so you don’t have to worry about scratches. And it snaps together with no underlayment or adhesive, so easy to install or replace a piece.

      It isn’t the bottom price range, but not the top either.

    5. Floor lady*

      I have put vinyl plank flooring in two homes and I love it! I used the cheapest kind from Home Depot, that went on sale for $1.99/square foot, and it has survived quite well. No cats but multiple dogs and kids.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Linoleum requires periodic waxing I believe. Vinyl doesn’t need maintenance, and you can get it in glue down tiles or sheets. Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) is the click together flooring that everyone is putting in, relatively diy-friendly, so you could do it yourself. It comes in a variety of colors and styles.

  16. GingerSheep*

    Introducing a puppy to an adult cat – In two weeks time, I’ll be bringing home a 12-week old puppy, and would like advice on introducing it to the resident cat. The cat is not quite two years old, playful and very social with other cats (and misses his playmate who died last January at only two years old as much as we do), not so much with humans, and very fearful of large dogs. The puppy however is of a tiny breed – a papillon, adult weight and size estimated to be quite exactly those of the cat – and one reputed to get on really well with cats. I would really love for the two to become friends – any advice on how to encourage that result? Thanks!

    1. WS*

      Make sure the cat’s food and litterbox are in a puppy-free area. Give the cat lots of places to observe the puppy where the puppy can’t reach the cat. Basically the more secure and relaxed the cat is, and the more the cat can choose the interaction, the better everything will go.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        An old friend put the cats’ bowls on a small table of the puppy’s bowls. Easy to feed both at once with no arguments.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I second the idea of giving the cat secure space away from the dog. The fact that the dog is smaller actually complicates things a little bit because the great solutions I’ve seen for this involved things like baby-gates and cat flaps that could let the cat through but not the dog. My grandparents had a whole room, as to my parents-in-law, that remained permanently dog-free. The other good option is “up”, but that depends a little bit on the cat. Mine, for example, doesn’t go up much at all, if she can help it.

      I’d also say: give it time. Don’t force interactions. Don’t expect any friendship to happen right away. Let the cat take as much time as it needs….but also watch for long term stress for the cat because that can have huge health impacts.

      Lastly, I’d say tire the pup out before first interactions with the cat. I don’t know if that works as well with puppies, but the times that dogs have come over to our house, it always went better when the dog wasn’t in PLAY NOW WHAAGH mode.

    3. sswj*

      I’ve done this quite a few times over the years, and it’s usually pretty easy for the cat to train the puppy.

      Since your puppy will be teeny, a low pet gate will work well to give the cat a dog-free zone. That’s always worked the best for me, giving them a place that’s not just up out of dog reach, but is really their own. They can come and go and interact with the canine invader at their own comfort level, and retreat when it gets to be too much. My dogs love the cats, and vice-versa. It’s pretty cute to watch them seek each other out for chats and lick fests :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The cats do train the pups. One of the things I did was support the cat’s wishes. If the cat acted upset with the pup, I would tell the pup, “easy, you have to be gentle”, then remove the pup from the vicinity if the pup persisted in poor behavior. I said it, oh- about 500o times but the pup learned. As an adult dog, a cat could make that 60 pound dog walk backwards to get away if she wanted. lol. Good dog- respect others whoever they may be- animal or people.

  17. Foreign Octopus*

    After a month of playing phone tennis with my health centre here in Spain, I finally got my first vaccination yesterday. I’m so happy about it as my second will be in a month and so grateful that I live in a country where this is possible.

    For the last 18 months I feel like I’ve been living a different pandemic to everyone else. I’ve seen people travelling, socialising, not wearing masks, and more while I’ve been inside and watched as four of my family members have died from it. This has been the worst experience of my life and this vaccine really feels like there’s hope in my life again. I wish more than anything my family were here with me to get this vaccine but it’s just me now and the vaccine gives me the safety to live my life for all of us.

    I hope everyone’s having a good week and is staying safe and there’s something positive in your life to look forward to. If you want, share that thing below!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m getting my last vaccine today! I’m the only one at work who have consistently been wearing masks and don’t understand the ones who are planning to vacation abroad. Also disgruntled with the compagny party being changed from a smallish outside affair to an inside 500 people affair. So looking forward to my vacation in one week! Two weeks just with family :D

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I am so sorry for your losses. A big hug to you, and congratulations on getting the vaccine! Fellow person spending the pandemic mostly inside here, but I’m looking forward to a tasty weekend breakfast and listening to the radio.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I am so deeply sorry to hear about your family. For something positive, I’m getting excited about a road trip north to some of my favorite places, the forests and coast of British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am profoundly sorry for your losses. I lost most of my closer family members earlier- B.C., before Covid. It sure is a journey. I hope life is kind and gentle to you and I hope things come into your life that fill your glass and your heart.

    5. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Foreign Octopus. What a horrible time for you. I hope you revel in that brighter future.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 to the comments of fposte and NSNR.
        I’m enjoying having two similar journeys both enter a place of calm: caregiving for one person while grieving the death of another. (Both are/were more dear to me than these cold psueudonyms might indicate! Impersonal tone adopted solely to maintain anonymity.)
        Less seriously, I am grateful for a few days with unseasonably low humidity.

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      I am so incredibly sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced. Glad you were able to start the vaccination process.

    7. Well...*

      I’ve got my 2nd shot scheduled next week, so looking forward to being out of the woods. My people in the US are always -shocked- I’m unvaccinated even though the vaccination rates are higher where I live. It’s like… Yes more people are vaccinated here but we’re going in order so it’s not like I can skip the line. It can be frustrating. I caught covid this summer, and after all my family in the US was vaccinated. I took some solace that the hospitals were empty when I caught it, and I knew the vast majority of older/at risk people around me were safely vaccinated, so I likely didn’t spread it to them.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      My condolences – that’s awful, and I am so sorry you have lost family members.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My heart breaks for your loss — I’m so sorry vaccination was too late for the others in your family.
      This week I will be seeing my sister for the first time since well before the pandemic.

  18. WoodswomanWrites*

    I am so deeply sorry to hear about your family, and glad to hear you’ve found hope again. In response looking for something positive, I’m getting excited about a road trip north to some of my favorite places, the forests and coast of British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Good idea to travel and see things while they still exist, with fires and flooding and what not.

  19. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    Mine is really little this week.

    Chocolate is lovely.

    Please share your joys!

    1. Fran Fine*

      Having a coworker send me a Teams message after a group call where she told me I looked amazing and she loves my style. That was very sweet, and I didn’t realize how much I missed little compliments.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Isn’t it the best? I received a similar compliment this week and it still makes me smile.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My child is going to a museum with trains! I am so excited for him. He is two and a half and this is his thing at the moment. The other fun part is that he is there with his papa, which means I get time to myself to drink tea, pet the kitty and generally just…chill. Calm down. Breathe. It’s a gorgeous day and I’m sitting in the living room, still in my PJs! Win win win.

    3. StellaBella*

      I am making meatballs and red sauce and just got a block of parmesan and a nice red wine, for a dinner later with a close friend, she and I will honour the life of a dear friend who passed 2 years ago this week. I am surprised that in these two years we have had so much happen with both of us including this pandemic. Both of us are 7,000 miles from families so it will be a nice dinner, and hang out.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I enjoyed the first tomato of the season the other day. I don’t know why, but that first one, picked fresh and eaten while still warm from the sun has always been the best tomato!

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I agree!! One of our local bakeries has the best BLT sandwiches during tomato season and I cannot wait to enjoy – but I also like that first tomato off the vine. Something about growing it yourself too!

    5. allathian*

      They just announced that they’re going to start vaccinating 12-15 year olds with no chronic illnesses next week! We’re going to schedule a slot for our son as soon as the website starts accepting reservations for his cohort.

      1. allathian*

        Oh, and I spent 2 hours picking blackcurrants from our bushes yesterday, and now the juicer’s almost done with them. We’re going to have homemade blackcurrant juice this winter. Yay!

      2. Sagentime*

        So happy for you! We were able to vaccinate our 12 year old on his birthday! Such a relief- now we are just waiting for the vaccine to be approved for younger kids for our other son

    6. fposte*

      Took a museum jaunt to a museum I hadn’t been to. The special exhibit was nice, if not brilliant, but the museum was a gorgeous new build with lovely gardens, and there was much to explore that I didn’t get to (though it was an absolutely beautiful day so I greatly enjoyed what I did see). So I’m planning a return trip and probably a membership.

    7. the cat's ass*

      Took DD,15, back to school shopping, and then ruthlessly purged her closet of all the small clothes dating back to 5th grade.(clean out massively overdue, i know) Those cute little t shirts really gave me the feels, almost every one had a story behind it. I was sharing the sappy story with my MA, and she said, “wait here.” and found one of our other MAs (sort of new, not someone i know well yet) whose daughter is going into 5th grade. And who now has 5 bags full of gently worn and new back to school clothes!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Some people have their T-shirts made into quilts because the shirts mean so much. It sounds like you found the BEST solution, though!

    8. CJM*

      My daughter and I set our worries aside for a few hours and laughed together over a good movie. (It was Palm Springs, and I loved it! Time travel rocks.)

    9. Voluptuousfire*

      I rediscovered oolong tea. It’s the same tea that you get the little pot of when you eat out at a Chinese restaurant. It reminds me of my mom—we would go to a Chinese restaurant around the corner from our old house for dinner, just me and her. She passed in ‘06, so it’s a daily reminder of her.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I got into the sourdough craze last year and enjoyed it, but it petered out after a while. I hadn’t ever made my own starter, though.

      On Thursday I mixed one up, and it was bubbly in a couple of hours. By Friday it was already doubling in the jar, so I started doing 2 feeds a day. It smells nearly ripe, and I think I can bake with it tomorrow.

      I thought it would take a week to get going! I never heard of a starter doubling within 24 hours. I guess our petri-dish climate is good for something.

      It was a really nice surprise.

    11. Laura Petrie*

      New rats! Two babies from a reputable breeder we’ve had girls from before. They’re all in intros now and it is going really well. I’m looking forward to lots of crazy rat kitten antics once they’re settled into their big cage.

      I finally had room in the freezer for ice cream. I’d forgotten how nice it is to have it in the house!

    12. Double A*

      I got my hair cut during the brief window when that felt ok, and my stylist had tons of plants including cuttings that were just growing from glasses or water. It was the same type of houseplant I have, so I tried it with a cutting and the plant is totally sprouting roots and new leaves! It’s by the kitchen sink so I get to watch its progress every day and it’s a nice meditative moment to observe it.

      Also my baby got his 2 months shots and that’s always a joy for me. They get a lot of shots at that first appointment and I’m just so relieved that he’s building more protection against a bunch of stuff. He was a little fussy for a couple days but hopefully that means his body was working hard building antibodies. Hoping the covid antibodies from my shot when I was pregnant and from my breastmilk are helping out some too!

    13. ampersand*

      I used some of my fresh basil in a quinoa/veggie bowl that I made for lunch today, and it was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a while! It made me surprisingly happy. :)

    14. Rara Avis*

      Last night was the performance for my daughter’s theater camp. Fun stuff. It’s at the school where I teach so I got to see some former students as well.

    15. Jackalope*

      When I’m in the office I use my 15 min breaks to walk around the nearby residential area and chat with our neighbors. This week I had my first day working in the office since March 2020, and as I walked through the neighborhood on my breaks I had a number of people welcoming me back and being excited to see me again. That made me feel really happy.

    16. The teapots are on fire*

      I’ve been on an elimination diet because of a chronic illness, and today is Corn Re-introduction Day, in which we find out if corn gives me symptoms. Whether it does or it doesn’t, I get to eat corn for the next two days.

    17. Small town*

      Our senior dog had a massive zoomies attack that ended in him writhing around on his back for about 3 minutes. He is asleep now with his head on my foot. I made a good call at work that will materially improve someone’s life. And I got to have lunch for 2 hours with my best friend and then my elderly mom. Mom loves to get out of the house and putter around in the world but can no longer drive so she was stoked.

    18. Pamela Adams*

      My 60th birthday, so we have been spreading out the celebration. Funnel cake one night, a drive-in movie another, and two different lunches this weekend.

    19. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I watched the Val Kilmer documentary with my sister last night. It was very interesting and highly recommend it if you’re a fan of his. It’s interesting to see the behind the scenes stuff interwoven with the struggles he’s going through now with his throat cancer battle/recovery. It was nice to spend quality time with my sister. :)

    20. IrishEm*

      Ate food at a table with another human being for the first time since the OG lockdown in March 2020 yesterday.

      Also am finally getting the house to look how I (the person living in the house) want it to look as opposed to how my parents wanted it to look in 1992.

    21. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I held my daughter’s birthday party. Everyone who said they’d show actually showed up, tater tot got a lot of great gifts and everything worked out beautifully. And I learned a little bit of crafts and created the centerpieces/decorations, so that was fun.

      Ok maybe this is a big joy not a small one lol.

  20. Liz*

    I have a gardening question, if you could call it that.

    I live in a tightly packed suburb and our driveway essentially touches those on either side. On one side, we had a tiny strip of grass growing between the two driveways, which got kind of wild and out of control. Plus, the neighbourhood cats all used it as a toilet. Last weekend, I decided I was done with it, so I dug/pulled it all up.

    Now there is this narrow strip of earth about 4 inches across, and with the internet cable buried (barely) in it. (The cable is a real bugbear because its not quite long enough to lie flat and kind of sits awkwardly on the footpath nearer the house.) I’d like to do something with it to stop the grasses from growing again, deter the cats, and try and hide the cable where it sticks out of the ground near the path. Any ideas what i could plant that won’t need much room, won’t disturb the pavers of the drive, and will bounce back pretty well when we inevitably run the car over it trying to park?

    The alternative is that I remove the earth and fill the gap with gravel.

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m not good with plants, but I had a friend who spent some extra money to get really pretty rocks (with some extra handy to refill when the one or two rocks went missing via mistake or interested small child). It ended up looking surprisingly good and might do the trick if you don’t find anything living that works.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Lavender, maybe? I’ve accidentally run over the lavender my dad planted next to his driveway multiple times and it never seemed to mind much. It will attract bees, particularly the fuzzy black ones, which may be either a benefit or a drawback depending on how you feel about bees.

      I am personally terrible with plants, so I would be on Team Gravel, maybe with a few interesting larger rocks as accents. (Put landscape fabric under the gravel to deter weeds from poking through.)

      If you want advice from plant people who have more of a clue than I do, they’ll probably have questions about climate, sunlight, growing region, rainfall, and soil type when giving you plant advice. If you’re in the USA, there are USDA hardiness zones that you can look up on a map and see where your house is for a starting point on that kind of info. (I’m lucky enough to live in a place where gardening is more about getting the plants you don’t want to stop growing rather than about trying to get things to grow, so I just mostly let the existing landscaping from when I bought the house hang out and see what survives on benign neglect so I don’t know my zone offhand. Most of my “gardening” is removing weeds and invasives, with some pruning when things end up in the way as well.)

      1. Liz*

        I do love lavender. I was planning to have some in pots out there, so that’s definitely a possibility.

    3. WS*

      I would go some kind of gravel or decorative stones in there. Herbs like lavender and rosemary bounce back when run over (at least at my house they do) but you’re still going to have to weed around them until they get a bit bigger.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      River rock with creeping thyme to fill in gaps would probably work. I have creeping thyme between the stepping stones in my garden path. It keeps the weeds down, and doesn’t mind being walked on or being run over by the lawn mower. Smells nice, and attracts pollinators when it blooms.

      1. Bluebell*

        I was going to say creeping thyme as well. Mine is blooming right now and the little flowers are so lovely.

    5. Jen Erik*

      Depending if they’ll do where you are, vinca – or even just ivy. You could also try bergenia, but I’m not sure how well it would bounce back from being driven over. I think heather would be pretty robust as well. We have a creeping cotoneaster that’s fairly mat-forming, and I think would take the necessary pruning, but it’s growing over a wall, and I’m not sure if it would grow along the ground, but it’s a possibility.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Skip the ivy. It’s an invasive species and it can damage your house if it gets out of control, which it will easily.

        My mother’s house came close to being condemned as a result of an out of control English Ivy infestation that happened in 12 years, after my father died.

      2. Sandman*

        I was going to say vinca, as well. It’s not my favorite plant overeall, but it’s pretty in spring especially, forgiving, and grows in terrible soil.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Lowes has some landscape stone in bags. I like the pea gravel with the colors.

      For a swath 4inches wide, I don’t think I’d try plants- too much work and high likelihood that they will get driven on. You can put some landscape fabric or plastic down to help as a weed barrier. I think cost wise this is probably your best bet in the long run. It will probably be less frustrating to maintain than plants.

      1. Liz*

        Yes, low maintainance is crucial – I don’t have the energy for anything that needs too much tending!

    7. fposte*

      Depends where you are. That strip is popularly termed the “hell strip” because of the way it gets cooked by the driveways, and that’s for ones a lot wider than yours. If you do gravel, which is probably what I’d recommend, 1) put down a weed barrier first and 2) understand that eventually weeds will still grow in it anyway. It is likely to deter the cats and survive better than intentional plantings, though. I really like the creeping thyme idea, too–that’s not likely to mess with the driveway as it tries to expand, and it’s pretty resilient.

      1. Liz*

        Hell strip sounds accurate – it did look quite pretty for a short period when there were some wild flowers sprouting, but as soon as we had our little hot spell in the summer it all died instantly and looked dreadful.

    8. Girasol*

      We have a four inch un-watered strip of dirt next to the front walk, shaded almost all day and too narrow for anything, so the builder chucked some ugly gravel in it. I got one of those half-flats of mixed sedum at the home store and planted a scrap here and a scrap there all down it. That worked surprisingly well. It filled in and now succulents are exploding from it. It hardly ever gets a weed.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Brick, dug in but not mortared in place. Much less likely to get scattered into new places, or shoveled& plowed all over if you are in a snow zone.
      Scattered gravel is as awful to step on barefoot as LEGO bricks.

      1. fposte*

        Good points, and that might pair nicely with the creeping thyme, too–put the thyme between the bricks to crowd out weeds.

          1. fposte*

            In my neck of the woods they’d cook (people often favor desert-friendly plants in the hell strip, in fact). But I don’t know where Liz is, so maybe.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Which reminds me of Corsican mint–I had decided not to plant it in the old house, but here it will fill in my own weed-prone sidewalk strip. (I’m near the north end of its growing range so I do not have worries about it escaping.)

    10. ronda*

      goggle tells me:

      “Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme.”

      google also suggests others. look at the descriptions to see if it fits your needs, apparently lemon grass grows tall.
      look at your local agricultural extension office lists to check on which plants are best for your area and which are considered invasive plants in your area.

      one suggested a potted plant would repel them because they dont like the smell and you can take it inside if the weather would kill it in the winter.

      you might also want to consider it it will deter dogs as when I lived in apartment property could smell pretty bad cause of the dogs.

  21. DrunkAtAWedding*

    Are their guidelines for commenting on the regular posts anywhere? I ask because I’ve noticed that some people have the idea that the comments should be seeking to advise the letter writer and I’m not sure if that is actually the intention or not.

    1. Meh*

      Yes there are rules, I’ll link below but you can do a site search for commenting rules. Posters are allowed to give their own feedback/responses-I believe that’s what creates the community and not just ‘atta girls to Alison.

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        Oh, I assume they’re allowed. But some commenters have given the impression that all comments are supposed to be further advice for the letter writer, and that’s the point I’m not sure about.

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        To discuss the post, but not specifically with the idea that the letter writer would be reading and looking for further advice from commenters. Personally, that is not a responsibility I would prefer to take on.

        1. fposte*

          Well, they should definitely be written in the expectation that the letter writer might be reading it–don’t write anything that you think the letter writer would be horrified to read. They also should be on topic (Alison prunes them sometimes when the outgrowth is too much), which might apply to what you’re thinking of–a “here’s what I did in a similar situation” would be on topic even if you’re not necessarily advising the OP to do the same (different countries will have different recourses, for instance), but “Wow, I had a crazy boss too! Here are all the weird things she did!” would be drifting afield.

        2. StrikingFalcon*

          The general expectation is that letter writers will be reading the comment section and discussion should be on topic and useful to them. Every comment doesn’t have to be further advice, but the official rules request that commenters stay on topic and take the letter writer at their word, and sometimes Alison will add a note to a post that touches on contentious issues, asking commenters not to get derailed debating the issue at large and to stay focused on the letter writer’s situation and question.

          You may also want to know that Alison also sometimes publishes comments as part of posts she writes for other sites, so if you don’t want your comments published elsewhere, you should note that when you post.

          The full rules can be seen by adding /how-to-comment to the end of the home page address.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Commenting is at your discretion. If you feel like you have something to add, comment. If not, it’s always OK to just read.

          I don’t really understand your concern here– it sounds like you want to be sure you’re commenting correctly? There’s not really a right or wrong way to do it, as long as you’re not ignoring Alison’s rules.

          1. DrunkAtAWedding*

            My concern was basically that…well, if someone expresses disapproval of a comment of mine (or someone else’s) are they just disagreeing with the opinion expressed or is the comment inappropriate for the site? I wanted to be able to check if there was any confusion over that question.

            Luckily, Alison has shared the link and pointed out that it has literally been right in front of my face this entire time.

        4. Disco Janet*

          I’ve had a letter answered here before, and Alison emailed me beforehand to let me know and encouraging me to participate in/read the comments, so I do think your expectations are off base here.

        5. LauraF*

          Allison does encourage commenters to consider whether a comment is actionable for a letter writer when commenters stray really far afield in explaining away behaviour based often on medical diagnoses. Yes, your employee might spent 6-7 hours asleep every day because of narcolepsy, but since the letter writer can’t let customers stand in line in front of her all day while she sleeps, attributing it to narcolepsy (with the attached judgement on the LW for daring to ask her to wake up and work) isn’t terribly helpful.

  22. Binder basics for nb's mom*

    My high school aged child is asfab and newly came out as nonbinary. They want to get a binder and I’ve had such dreadful luck with mail order bras I’m worrying.
    Without Covid I’d have planned an overnight trip to Greenwich Village or PTown. Now I need a specific store so we can get there for the store’s least busy time. Where do we begin? All I know is fit is important.

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      Disclaimer that I do not bind but I’ve been on the queer internet for over a decade so I have often read about binders. From what I can tell one good brand to try is gc2b. It’s trans-owned and I hear a lot of good things.

      If you Google “Daniel Ortberg binder” the first result should be him talking about the first time he tried a binder, on the shondaland website. It’s really good. (His name now is Daniel (Danny) Lavery but this was published under Daniel Mallory Ortberg.)

      Another thing to Google is “autostraddle binder”. Autostraddle will have a bunch of articles and reviews and 101 content.

    2. Tib*

      I second the recommended for gc2b. I don’t wear a binder but my son does and he really likes these. The product line is very easy to understand, there are instructions for getting the right fit, and a message board where you can ask questions.

      I think you’re comparing a binder to a bra when really, a binder is more like a girdle. My son likes the ones that look like a flat sports bra. It’s made of an extra thick knit fabric with a little stretch. Fit is important because you can damage the breast tissue if you compress it too tightly and for too long. And because binding too tightly can affect the wearer’s ability to breathe. A binder should only be worn for 8 hours a day. My son likes to wear a sports bra the rest of the day.

      1. Binder basics for nb's mom*

        “Fit is important”–that’s what I’m worried about, I have misordered my bras so badly over the years. Is there an advice source like r/abrathatfits?

    3. Other nb’s mom*

      Same situation, my kid did the research and wanted to order online from gc2b. There aren’t that many choices for size and the site had some sizing advice so it was not hard to know which size to order.

      1. Binder basics for nb's mom*

        Oh you’re not kidding the instructions are clear enough even I should be able to follow,the measurement instructions.
        Thanks everyone!

        1. The Time Being*

          Be careful with it — gc2b’s sizing runs big. You may need to size down a size or two to get a good fit.

    4. Small town*

      Supporting the advice to check out gc2b. Their binders wear well and are reasonably priced. Sizing info is really helpful.

    5. Anon working class*

      Binders have come a long, long way from using tensor bandages. Please don’t use those, because they’re designed to get tighter the more you breathe. They can cause tissue damage and shallow breathing.

    6. Bee Happy (they/them)*

      Seconding the advice NOT to use ace or other medical bandages to bind- proper binders are made to flex as you breathe. Improper binding or binding for too long can damage your ribs and lungs.

      If you’re careful, though, binding is such a joy. GC2B is a wonderful company and very affordable- I have several day-to-day binders from them- but I wanted a nicer one to splurge on and got a custom one from Shapeshifters, which was much more expensive, but it brings me joy every time I look at the fabric :) They also have a very well-illustrated fitting guide that describes the measurements you’ll need to take.

      Best of luck!

    7. The Time Being*

      Either gc2b or Underworks/F2M will do well. I don’t know of anywhere that will sell binders in person but those two shops are very reliable. The binders they sell are slightly different, and which is better will depend on your kid’s comfort.

      gc2b binders are mostly very stretchy swimsuit-style material, with a non-stretch panel in the front to provide binding power. Upside is that if the fit works well, they’re very comfortable. Downside is that the panel is the size the panel is, and if the body that needs to be bound overflows the panel’s dimensions, you’re stuck. I find it’s rather difficult to get myself arranged correctly in a gc2b binder, and I’ll often wind up looking crooked and a bit odd.

      Underworks/F2M’s binders are an elastic mesh, with 1 layer of mesh in the back and 2 layers of mesh in the front, meaning that the front is much firmer and more binding, while the back is looser and allows for more movement. The upside of Underworks is they’re very flexible, and the long-style binders can also provide some all-over compression that will help an hourglass figure look less hourglass-y. Downside of Underworks is they have a tendency to roll up if the wearer is too active. I’ve solved this for myself by adding a strip of no-roll elastic to the bottom of my UW binders, which solves the problem, but does require some basic sewing skills.

      I personally use both — UW for daily wear and gc2b for exercising/physical activities. They cost about the same, and each have their pluses/minuses in different areas. If it isn’t a financial stretch, I would say let your kid try both and see what works better for them.

      A final word of caution: Underworks binders need to get broken in a bit at first. Do not be intimidated by the first try-on! They will loosen up and become much easier to get on/off. gc2b is pretty good from the word go; either they fit or they don’t.

  23. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Car horror stories!

    I bought what I thought was the perfect car for me 5 months ago — a low-mileage used 2018 Honda Fit. The car does everything well, gets incredible gas mileage, and I love driving it. But a few weekends ago, I discovered that the driver-side wheel well of the car was absolutely saturated with water. I figured I accidentally tipped over a water bottle while exiting the car or something and didn’t think much of it. I forgot that there had been a major rainstorm in the area two days earlier. Next weekend, I discovered the passenger-side wheel well of the car was even more saturated than the driver’s side.

    The local Honda service department said a clogged drain somewhere in the car caused the leak, and now mold set into my carpet and it’s ruined. The car is a year out of warranty since it’s an early 2018 model. I’m out a minimum of $2600 unless my comprehensive insurance covers it (and even if it does, my insurance rates probably will skyrocket in the future, because that’s what happens when you actually use insurance). Worse, the service adviser couldn’t give me a way to prevent this from happening again. This is apparently something that just happens with this model of car. (I don’t really buy this.)

    I’m up in the middle of the night because I’m panicking over how stupid I was to buy this car. For what it’s worth, when I bought it, an independent mechanic (not the Honda dealer) inspected the car stem to stern and found nothing wrong with it, so maybe it really is just bad luck. Anyways. When I eventually get the car back, what so you think I should do? Since the problem is supposedly unpreventable, should I cut my losses and sell the car while I still can? Should I make a stink with Honda corporate office for selling a car with a design defect? Is this really something that just happens with cars and I’ll shrug it off as bad luck? Does anyone have a worse story to share? Ha.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      FWIW, I’ve never heard of a car having that issue, but I don’t know anyone with a Honda Fit. If it’s really a plugged drain, couldn’t the mechanic…find the drain and unplug it to prevent future problems?

      I had an elderly (25+ year old by the point of this story) Camry that I drove for a very long time for a combination of sentimental and fiscal reasons. At some point, a red light that said BRAKE came on on the dashboard. I asked my dad, and he said it was complaining because one of the 4 brake lights on the rear of the car was burnt out. As there’d been a water intrusion into that particular brake light compartment and the bulb had corroded onto the socket in a way that would be a major project to fix, and since the other three lights worked, he said to ignore it for now and get around to fixing it “someday”. I believed him, and kept driving the car (I was pretty broke at the time and really was not in a position to get a different car, and the nature of my job at the time made public transit impossible).

      Quite a while later, my brakes completed failed to stop the car, which thankfully happened as I was exiting the parking lot from work onto a dead-end street during a non-busy time. After towing it to a mechanic, it turned out that I’d had a slow leak in my brake fluid the entire time and that’s what the light had been about. So gradually that I didn’t notice it, my brakes had been getting worse and worse, to the point that it was basically like driving on ice all the time near the end. Since it was so gradual, I basically just trained myself to drive in a car with the currently level of brake functionality and plan more and more slowing/stopping distance. Driving it once the leak was repaired was a revelation.

      On the bright side, the brakes didn’t fail while going over the large hill/small mountain on my work commute, which included having to make several turns without guardrails even though there were dropoffs involved since it wasn’t a numbered highway or anything fancy like that, and I’m really, really good at driving on ice now.

      (Also, listen to mechanics rather than relatives about whether it’s ok to ignore a warning light in your car.)

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Yikes!! What a relief that it happened in a parking lot. Yes, you can’t ignore the red lights on the dashboard. You can ignore the amber ones :-)

        For what it’s worth, some cars DO have a separate warning light when a brake lamp is worn out, and that’s a great feature, because in my area getting pulled over by police for inoperative brake lights is a thing.

        Just to clarify my post, the Honda dealer was able to clear the drain. My concern is that if it clogged once in the first place, it can happen again. It was likely from tree debris, and parking under trees is completely unavoidable in my neighborhood (and I live in an apartment building, so garage is not an option).

        1. WellRed*

          It seems like such a rare thing it might not happen again. Just a fluke but if you’re concerned, maybe get a car cover (pain in the ass to use)

    2. FD*

      I’m having a really, really hard time buying that this problem is unfixable and that the carpets are truly ruined. I mean, surely someone can steam clean the hell out of the carpet and get the spores out. That might leave discoloration but the primary issue is to remove the mold spores and stop them from growing anymore?

      I did some quick googling and found a YouTube video from a detailer called “How to deep clean car carpets” by Attention2Details on YouTube. Personally, I’d probably try to get the supplies and DIY it because it doesn’t seem like something that’s too complicated, just time consuming and irritating, but if time’s at a premium, you could likely get a few bids from detailers to fix the problem for you.

      I found a few hits on suggested solutions you can do at home for the drain issue too in this range of cars, which range from some minor repairs to applying a chemical to prevent clogs.

      1. Observer*

        surely someone can steam clean the hell out of the carpet and get the spores out. That might leave discoloration but the primary issue is to remove the mold spores and stop them from growing anymore?

        I would never take that chance. Mold is HARD to get out of anything. The last time I got stuck with the potential for mold, my insurance covered ripping out the relevant wall, ceiling and floor (and putting replacements) because if mold set it, we’d have to rip everything out anyway. I’ve heard similar insurance stories from others. And, as you know, insurance won’t cover stuff without good reason. At work we ran into something similar – one of our sites wound up with mold and had to rip our portions of some walls to fix the problem.

        And it’s unlikely to be that much cheaper anyway. It’s not so easy to kill mold in a carpet under good circumstances. In a car, you have almost no chance. So, taking out the carpet, (possibly) killing the mold, then putting it back in is going to be expensive enough that it just doesn’t make sense.

    3. Angstrom*

      Clogged drain sounds like the air conditioner. There’s normally a drain for the condensate, which is why you see puddles of water under cars running the a/c. If that gets plugged — which can happen as the ventilation system accumulates dust/hair/pollen/crud — the water usually ends up in one or both foot wells.

      Some cars also have a drain to clear the windshield-wiper pocket at the base of the windshield.

    4. WS*

      This sounds really dodgy – carpet should be replaceable and while clogged drains do happen, that should also be fixable. It might be a good idea to go back to that independent mechanic.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Oh I think I have to write a letter to the attorney general on this one. Mold is a serious issue and they are saying they cannot prevent the problem from happening again? Whoops, wrong answer, there has to be something that can be done.

      I did a quick google search and it seems like there are other models having the same problem. (People are making YT videos about this?!!! wth.)

      It looks like the water is condensation from the AC? One video I watched show the water going right down over the wiring harness. omg. nopety, nopety, nopety. I think it’s time to look for some advocacy from the AG, you are not the only one seeing this issue. Be sure to type in something about mold being a known health hazard.

      On behalf of the mechanic who inspected it, if the AC had not been used recently he may not have noticed water out of place. That sucks, but my husband used to repair stuff and he always said that it is impossible to find every single thing that can go wrong. So there’s that. You did your best in trying to get a good car, not your fault the manufacturers are playing us… again.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Oh, I definitely don’t blame the independent mechanic for not catching it. I bought the car and had it inspected in March, so A/C would not have been an issue then.

        I need to find out from the service department exactly what the problem was, to be honest. It very well could be the air conditioning but it also could be a leak stemming from the sunroof or from the door seals. The service adviser made the mistake of leading with “it’s gonna be really expensive” and throwing the big number at me first. After that, he mentioned a leak, but by then my brain had completely shut off.

        Either way… my mind did jump to reporting the problem to a government agency, because leaks and mold don’t seem to be an isolated incident with this model of car, so I’m kind of glad to see the suggestion here.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If it were the sunroof or the door seals you’d see water on other places. I’m not there, so yeah, I could be off base here. But looking at the videos, it seemed just like what you are describing here. Some of the videos show the hoses involved and yeah, that’s going back into the dash and onto the floor.

        2. saf*

          I have a 2007 Fit. The seal around the hatch developed a leak at one point. My mechanic was able to fix it, but getting out the water that had gotten into the frame and then into the well where the spare tire lives was a pain in the ass. Has not re-occurred.

          A friend in OK with a 2015-ish mazda has recurring problems with drains that get clogged with dust and have to be re-opened regularly.

          Go talk to your independent mechanic – they might be better than the dealer. Mine CERTAINLY is.

          1. Observer*

            Go talk to your independent mechanic – they might be better than the dealer. Mine CERTAINLY is.

            Even if only as good, almost certainly cheaper. Do your research. But don’t stick only to the official service departments.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      My first car was a 1995 Taurus that I bought in the summer 2010 from a mechanic for $500.

      Two months in, tire blows out on the interstate at 10pm.

      Two months and a move to a neighboring state later, engine blows. Spent $500.

      February 2011, brakes go out. I was at my then-partner’s sorority formal, and was leaving the hotel. I rear-end a giant truck, truck has no scars, car is totaled.

      Uncle tows the car back, we pull the engine out and sell it to a scrapyard. Engine is kept because I bought a ‘93 Taurus that actually works for $700, and the engine could be put into it.

      The following November, I’m driving to do Thanksgiving with then-partner’s family, and the speedometer stops working. Uncle and I replace every $2 part from the dashboard to the transmission, and nothing fixes it. He didn’t have the tools to just drop the transmission, and I had to move back to home state for a job, so I just drove it like it was until 2013.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Holy cow, tire blowouts and brake failures are scary. I feel pretty lucky to have never had either.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          The key is to not panic, and get somewhere safe quickly.

          My other brake story, in 2017 I bought a 2001 Grand Am. It was a steal in that it only had 60k miles, and I was doing a lot of highway driving.

          Lo and behold, I hit a rough patch of road early into a trip to NW Indiana, and as it turns out the brake line had rust spots. I bought 2-3 bottles of brake fluid; and used the brakes as little as possible.

        2. fposte*

          My love for my old Honda Civic peaked when it had a tire blowout (entirely the fault of my negligent maintenance) on the interstate and just docilely steered to the shoulder exactly as I asked nonetheless.

    7. Choggy*

      Hi there, I googled your problem and found a YouTube video about what seems to be the same issue, though the water was getting into the back seat floor boards, not the front. The issue is the seal in the door, and this guy shows you how to confirm and fix the problem. Thought it might be useful.


    8. fposte*

      I’d get a second opinion from an independent mechanic with a good reputation. Dealerships are…variable, IME.

    9. Voluptuousfire*

      Would it be possible to have the carpets take out of your car and have something like an Ameritech liner put in, like you see the commercials for? If this did happen again, I’d gather it would be much easier to clean than carpet.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Excuse me, that would be Weathertech, not Americtech. I happened to see the commercial again just now. LOL

    10. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks, everyone. I just heard back from my insurance company; though the service adviser at the dealership was so extremely confident this was an issue that insurance would cover, it isn’t. This seems like it’s just as well. It gives me a window to pull the car out of there and act on some of the excellent suggestions here.

      It’s still troubling that this happened in the first place, to say the least, and that I don’t have a clear answer on how to prevent it from happening again. The only useful data point I gained from this is that my local Honda service department is absolutely, positively awful, and I will stick with independent mechanics.

      1. Observer*

        If you find a good mechanic, they should be able to give you some tips. I simply don’t buy the idea that there is no way to deal with this. There may not be a 100% solution, but there must a way to minimize the chances and ALSO a way to catch problems early enough to keep problems from getting really bad.

        Like if you have known that something like this could happen, you probably would have acted as soon as you saw the first water. That extra week could have made a difference. Also, if you had been on the lookout, you might have notices something even earlier.

    11. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

      I have an 08 Fit for over 5 years. Never had this problem, so I don’t believe the model is the problem.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        This is a 2018; from some of the reading I’ve done, it’s a bigger issue in the second-generation Fit than in the 2007-2012 models. Obviously it’s not an issue I researched before I bought the car, unfortunately!

    12. ronda*

      I had a leak in my car and it was a pain to get fixed.
      people do have lots of trouble figuring out leaks and often dont really get them fixed the 1st time.

      I do think plugged drains do happen, so that is a good 1st step, but it is possible it is other things too.

    13. Somewhat Happy Camper*

      All cars with sunroofs have roof drains. All sunroofs leak a bit—-that’s why they have roof drains. All roof drains can clog if you have debris from the trees. Cleaning the roof drains is easy. Just open the sunroof and vacuum out the 4 corners. As for the moldy carpet. Any shop can remove the seats, rip out the carpet and padding and replace with a custom fit aftermarket carpet. A custom fit carpet runs around $300, so I can’t fathom how this got to $2,600 unless the seats were also damaged or there was damage to the wiring.

      This really isn’t a Honda defect because cleaning the roof drains applies to every car with a sunroof.

    14. anon lurker appa*

      I had this happen to my in my ’08 Rav. I realized what was going on partly from listening to a Click and Clack episode rerun/podcast. (That might be an outdated reference – they had a car talk show on NPR for -years-, and there is a podcast that has reruns).

      fwiw, I was also told that this is something that just happens. I’ve had my car since 2015, and it happened once ~3 years ago. I noticed it partly by the dampness on the passenger side and partly by a weird wooshing sound that developed when I made strong turns. They unclogged the drain, dried out the mats/carpet, and its been ok since then (knock on wood).

      1. The Dude Abides*

        My local NPR station used to run Click and Clack reruns on Saturday mornings. I loved it so much, I would use my phone’s NPR app to listen to it once I was out of range.

    15. Esmeralda*

      Google Honda Fit wheel well water. Seems that this is indeed a problem w this car. I’m sorry, that’s a terrible problem to deal with! Not an odor that anyone wants to smell, for sure.

    16. Grits McGee*

      Omg, I just had to deal with this almost identical problem with my car (2016 Nissan Versa Note), and it is such a hassle! In my case, it was an issue with a blockage of the drain where water comes off the windshield, and the water was coming through the passenger side. By the time I noticed, the foot wells in both the front and rear passenger side were covered with mold. If you want to try to fix the carpet your self, this is what I did-
      -Get the leak issue fixed first. In my case there was still tons of water in the reservoir underneath the windshield and kept draining into the car. Any attempt to dry the carpet was useless until I got the drain unplugged.
      -I used a combination of car wash sponges and old towels to get the bulk of the water out of the carpet. I kept track- almost a full gallon of water. Towards the end, I used a granite pestle + absorbent bath towel to remove surface water
      -I sprayed the carpet with vinegar once it was only slightly damp to the touch to inhibit further mold growth while I worked on getting the carpet completely dry.
      -I bought a couple of containers of Damp-Rid to passively soak up moisture in the car.
      -I was able to pull some of the carpet up in the front passenger seat and spread a synthetic chamois underneath the carpet pad. I put a towel and some weights on top of the carpet to soak up moisture on both sides.
      -Once all of the carpet was dry to the touch, I saturated it with Concrobium Mold Control spray and rubbed it into the carpet fibers with a toothbrush. I applied that a couple times.

      The plugged drainage hole is apparently a common issue across all of the Versa models, and it’s seen as a maintenance issue rather than a mechanical issue, so owners are on their own.

    17. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I bought a 2019 Nissan Altima SL last year after being in a wreck and was in kind of a hurry since the rental was running out. The Siriusxm radio quit, then it just snowballed into little things would go wrong, and I’d take it in to get fixed since it was still under warranty. It was so bad that the song “One Headlight” came up on my dash, and I thought it was telling me only one headlight was working. Finally, what made me trade in a car is had six months was when it began to not start. I went to get in and it wouldn’t start. Had to call someone to jump it off. Took it by Autozone and the battery was fine and so was the alternator. Thought it was a one off but no. It did it again and I traded it a week later for a 2018 Nissan Rouge SV.

    18. Observer*

      I’m out a minimum of $2600 unless my comprehensive insurance covers it (and even if it does, my insurance rates probably will skyrocket in the future, because that’s what happens when you actually use insurance).

      What is that supposed to cover? If it’s just the carpet, it does sound high to me.

      In any case, since you are not under warranty I would strongly suggest that you find a good mechanic who is not an “authorized” servicer. They can be significantly less expensive. Shop around.

  24. Zooey*

    Baby proofing / cat solutions! I’m looking for a way to protect my cat’s food bowl and water fountain from a crawling baby (not yet crawling but she’s clearly working up to it!) As my cat is getting a bit old I don’t want a solution that involves him jumping. I feel like there must be some sort of pen / crate that has a cat flap opening so he could go in and out but she couldn’t, but no luck so far finding such a thing! Anyone know of one (available in the UK) or know what you would call what I’m looking for?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I never found anything that worked perfectly. In the end, we went for a combination of things that slowed the kid down long enough that we could respond and just never having our child play in the room with the food and water without very close supervision.

      Slow kid down method: we basically shoved our sofas (relatively tall legs, a two-seater and a three-seater) together such that a corner was almost completely blocked off and put the food there such that the cat could eat in peace. The arms and back of our sofas bow outward a little bit, so the food was accessible for the cat via a tunnel behind each sofa and a small space between the arms where the two sofas met. This worked for a while until the kid got too good at the most direct route (small space between arms where the two sofas met). We then turned our coffee table 45 degrees and pushed it up against both sofas, creating a triangle in front of the quickest route to plug the gap. This slowed him down long enough that we were able to pull him away or help him watch without bugging the cat while eating.

      It was awkward for adults sitting on the couches for a while, and goodness knows it looked unelegant, but it worked for us well enough until he could learn the rules. Best of luck!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Ah, I should add: part of the problem for us wasn’t just the physical access part. If Kid was close enough and making noise or sudden movements (hello toddler!) close to the food even without being able to reach it or my cat, my cat was freaked out enough that she didn’t want to eat. So not only did my cat need a space for the food, she also needed a buffer around that space so she didn’t feel threatened. We don’t have so much space that we can really block off an entire room, so a corner had to be it for a while. The corner is still blocked off, but more conceptually than physically. We also put one of her cat beds there (cave style!) so she could always have a place that he couldn’t get to. Our kitty, like yours, doesn’t really go up much these days.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve definitely seen baby gates with pet doors in them, so if there’s a room in your house (maybe a bathroom or closet?) that baby doesn’t need to be in, gating it off for the cat would probably be the simplest solution.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Or maybe the section of the kitchen where you cook.

        Mobile baby + stove, knives = bad.

        They start pulling up before you know it, and they have a truly impossible reach. My toddler completely defied the laws of physics to grab the chewable vitamins off the middle of the kitchen island, far above her head.

        1. Zooey*

          I wish I could have the food in the kitchen! Unfortunately ours is so tiny there is literally nowhere it could go without us falling over it. Same with the hallway!

      2. rkz*

        I was thinking this. We have a 13 month old and once he was crawling fast enough, we moved the cat food and water to the hallway and put up a baby gate. We mounted it high enough off the ground that the cats can go under it but the baby can’t, but I’ve also seen gates with pet doors built into them and heard that they work well.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In our case, we needed way to enclose a litterbox to keep the dog from helpfully cleaning it for us, but same general concept — we started out by enclosing it in a corner with a few panels from a “puppy playpen” – that was my amazon search term; there’s a thousand options, the one I used was wire mesh and we used tinsnips to cut out a space large enough for the cat to get through and then wrapped the edge with duct tape to make sure it didn’t snag. Once we confirmed the general concept would work, my husband and his brother whacked together a box out of plywood that has a little cat door in the bottom of it. (And now her favorite place to be is in her cat bed on top of the box. So she has a private bathroom, with a balcony and a view. Spoiled rotten.)

      1. ronda*

        dog was the issue for me too. The litter box went in a room that I could block the dog from with baby gate.

        It was a pressure holding one, so I put the bottom a few inches off the ground, the cat could squeeze under but the much bigger dog could not. The dog was also someone who stopped at an obstacle, so she never tried to go over.

        sometimes I forgot to leave the crawl under space and she was also able to climb over it, just not very gracefully.

    4. WS*

      How wide is the cat? My parents got a baby gate to keep their toddler grandson out of their small kitchen but the cat could easily get through the bars.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Hell, I’ve seen my neighbor’s cat easily jump the 7ft tall fence between our houses.

    5. Belle*

      We used a baby gate with cat door for this issue. We had gates on both kitchen doorways so the cat could get through but not our little one. Petco sells them.

    6. Figgie*

      We did a variation on our kitten feeding station. We took a plastic storage container, cut an opening on the side big enough for the cat and too small for the little one. Then put it down over the food and water dishes. A heavy concrete block on top kept it from being able to be pushed over or pushed around. We would face the opening to the back, leaving enough space between the wall and opening for the cat to get in and out and for it not to be visible to the baby. The trick is getting a sturdy enough container along with a heavy enough concrete block.

      For us, that meant a rubbermaid container and a construction size concrete block. We also chose a clear container so we could more easily check the status of the food and water dishes. Our crawling babies never figured out there was an opening facing the wall and it was too heavy for them to topple over (not that it was very high….maybe 20 inches or so).

    7. Stitching Away*

      Does/will cat wear a collar? There are pet doors that only open if a chip is present, and usually you can just attach it to the collar. As long as the baby isn’t following the cat, then the cat can go in and out and baby can’t.

    8. Honey Badger Don't Care*

      Mine wasn’t to keep a small child out but to keep a new puppy away from the cat food/water and litter box. I put a cat door in a closet door then placed all three items inside so the cats could eat, drink and go potty in peace and quiet.

    9. Kitty NYC*

      We use this for our cat who eats slower than his fast eating brother. It would work well for protecting from a baby as well. https://meowspace.biz/ I’m not sure if they ship to the UK, but you can see how you could craft something similar.

  25. Princess Deviant*

    What great things have you learned from the weekend thread?

    One of the greatest things from interacting with people in this forum has been that I got an autism diagnosis as a 46 year old adult woman. That was life-changing!

    But I’ve also got excellent reading recommendations for things like becoming a vegan and staying healthy with flexible joints.

    What about you?

    1. I take tea*

      I have learned that while I don’t necessarily have ADHD/ADD (toying with the idea of getting tested), I definitely have had lots of help from those kind of sources. I’ve read a lot about how to stay focused and be on time, that have felt helpful instead of accusing. (I’m pretty good at accusing myself anyway.)

    2. Paris Geller*

      Courage & advice to seek treatment for years-long depression & anxiety, which lead to therapy & medication, which lead to a much more manageable life.

    3. RosyGlasses*

      Personally my favorite learning comes from new book recommendations (I’m a voracious reader) and there have been some great threads around books and a few on good show recommendations as well.

      There have been some great threads about finances and how to plan for the future – and that has been helpful, because I am not great at understanding markets, stocks, different retirement funds etc.

      I also just love learning more about how people think and view different situations. That, along with the comments on the regular workweek threads have (I think) made me a better manager and given me better perspective on how to help support my teams.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve gotten food ideas for managing a low FODMAP diet when I first started it. The suggestions from people who have been on the diet have been helpful.

      1. OtterB*

        Ooh, I missed those. Will have to go searching. My daughter (young adult with intellectual disabilities, lives with me) has recently started a low FODMAP diet and the dietician is very helpful but I could use more suggestions.

        1. Imtheone*

          My s.o.’s dietitian suggested the Monash University app for the low food app diet. It’s been very helpful. After a few weeks, the dietician supervised his slow reintroduction of foods.

    5. Stitching Away*

      This is not the most life changing, but one of my favorite things was the recommendation for Taskmaster. If I want a laugh, that’s what I watch.

    6. photon*

      Can I ask what was life-changing? Are there resources or tools you’ve learned about since that have helped you navigate life better?

      1. Princess Deviant*

        It’s been more that I’ve discovered what makes me tick more, and as a consequence of being more authentically me I’m learning to do things like set boundaries in my relationships, be emotionally honest with those close to me, and cut myself some slack too. I’m just more me.

    7. Ali G*

      I’ve realized recently that my family and friends groups aren’t terribly diverse (we are all white and middle/upper class and grew up that way). Reading this site gives me so much insight about how many other live their lives and ways I can be more an ally or just more sensitive to how I move about the world. I’ve learned so much and gained a lot of tolerance as well.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, same here. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from so many ND, POC, and LGBT+ posters. I have a few friends who’re living with mental health issues, and I was depressed in my 20s, but other than that, all my friends are white middle-class heterosexual women in their late 40s, just like me.

    8. the cat's ass*

      TONS of great book recommendations, given and received.
      Great advice of gardens, clothes, shoes, travel.
      a place to be grateful for life’s sweet little moments.

      The commentariat is pretty awesome here!

    9. I take tea*

      I also have learned that people can be both kind and helpful on the Internet. That’s really nice. Thank you all.

    10. Free Meerkats*

      I occasionally get esophageal spasm with makes it hard to swallow, sometimes to the point where I can’t swallow – as an aside, you don’t notice how much saliva you unconsciously swallow until you can’t. I mentioned it here and a regular commenter mentioned an instant fix and have used it ever since. Thank you Elizabeth West! When I was in her part of the world, I bought her lunch.

      The solution is to take a small sip of the coldest water you can lay your hands on and swallow it. Even if nothing else will go down, for some reason that will and it relieves the spasm.

  26. DrunkAtAWedding*

    Have you ever thought about a (relatively) small detail you’d change in a movie or tv show to improve it?

    Mine are HIMYM and Goodnight, Sweetheart. Spoilers for both, so I’m going to put what I’d change about them in a comment.

    1. DrunkAtAWedding*

      For HIMYM, I’d change the reason why the story is so long. As the series was released, it’s long because Ted is obsessed with Robin and wants to talk about her. That completely derails the entire point of the show, which is him meeting the mother, and the fact that the mother is dead by the final episode makes it worse, not better.

      So, in my version….Ted’s about to finish the story and describe his first conversation with the mother. Then he starts going “oh, but first, I have to tell you about this! And this! and this!” and starts rewinding.

      One of the kids speaks up at this point – maybe in voice over, since otherwise they’d need to have recorded this way in advance – and says “It’s okay dad. We know”.

      “Know what?”

      “We know why you don’t want to finish the story”.

      “Okay kids, I know this story has been pretty long but I swear, I’m close to the end. I just need to tell you about Uncle Barney’s tie and why -”

      “Dad. We know. We know that mom’s dying. That’s what she sent you out here to tell us, isn’t it? And you don’t want to say it.”

      Voiceover: he was right. I didn’t want the story to end. I didn’t want to tell my kids that they were going to lose their mother and I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was about to lose the love of my life.

      And then they all go in to see the mother. The camera’s on her, and it’s implied the kids are behind Ted, because we can’t see them on camera. And the mother says “you told them?” and Ted says “Yes” and she says “took you long enough” or something better than that, because the mother was really well written and performed and I can’t do her justice. And they all hug and cry.

      Later on, we get a scene with just Ted and the mother. And they talk about how long his story was, and they agree to make the next few months/years the best they can, so he and the kids will have even more stories to tell later.

      After that, you can do a montage. You can even show the mother’s funeral before the end of the episode and you can even have Ted end up with Robin at that point. For me, it’s just important – for Ted to be likeable – that the story is because of his love for the mother, not his love for Robin, even if they end up together later. Tbh, in practice I just stop the final episode when they’re toasting in the bar and watch the alternate ending on youtube instead.

      As for Goodnight, Sweetheart…well, it’s about a man – British – who finds a magical doorway that takes him back from his time (90s) to the 1940s. In the 90s, he’s kind of a dork. He has an unflattering haircut, a boring job, and a nagging wife. In the 1950s, he’s suave, he wears nice suits, his hair is better, and he’s rich (because 1950s money is really cheap to buy in the 90s). He also claims to have written loads of songs (stolen from the Beatles). Over the course of the show – 6 years, I think? – he gets married in the past and has a baby. This is all despite still being married and trying for a baby with his wife in the present. The present wife is the classic 90s British TV woman – shrewish, sarcastic, constantly insulting him – so it’s really unclear why they’re still together. Plus, the fact he has a wife in both eras means you can’t really like him.

      So, what I would change is the 90s wife. He – Gary – needs something important in the present to explain why he doesn’t just move to the 1950s full time, so I’d give him a child instead. He was previously married, they’ve divorced and he now has partial custody or visitation rights. That’s why he can’t move full time to the 1950s – he has to care for his child. The child needs to be old enough that it’s not a total disaster if he’s late or disappears for a bit – since some plots have him arrested on suspicion of being a German spy – but young enough that it’s a problem. You can do all the same plots, about Gary being torn between eras, about disappointing/confusing someone in either or both timelines, and about him trying to conceal things, but Gary’s a lot more likable because he’s not cheating on his wives for no good reason (not sure what a good reason would be, but he definitely doesn’t have one).

      1. Liz*

        I remember watching Goodnight Sweetheart as a kid and thought it was a cool timetravel story. Then I grew up and really disliked major elements, and you’ve kind of hit on why here.

        It felt like they were trying to make this clever, nuanced comparison of the attitudes of the eras, but made the 90s wife really 2 dimensional, in that the only distinctive things about her were that she was a) successful, and b) mean. It almost seemed to be implying that all that freedom to have a job and earn money had made women unappreciative of their menfolk. And Gary’s ongoing affair made him pretty unlikeable, as you say, and the story seemed to almost gloss over it.

        I like your version better.

        1. DrunkAtAWedding*

          There are so many women in 90s British shows written like that. :( Like all of Jonathan Creek’s partners. They’re always being mean and smirking at trying to show him up. I’m so glad we seem to have moved on from that!

      2. Nicole76*

        I like your version much better, although I would have been even happier if Ted never got together with Robin at all. She never appreciated him, nor do I think she even loved him all that much. I felt it was a real slap in the face of the viewers that it was more about Robin than the mother who was so much more suited to Ted, not to mention a better person in general.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Gilmore Girls:

      I didn’t like the reunion season much because in order to have a plot/conflict they had to lean into a lot of characters’ worst qualities and it largely felt really negative. I am NOT one of the people who thinks the story was out of character – it was very much not – but it’s just not where I’d want to see them all end up. My headcanon was always that Luke and Lorelai got married soon after the original series ended and had twins like in Lorelai’s dream from the show. Coming home for visits would have gradually brought Rory and Jess back together when they both actually have the maturity for a decent relationship.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I was with you until the Rory/Jess part, lol. I just don’t understand why she couldn’t move on to a healthy, adult relationship with someone new.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Because I love Jess, lol. He was a TERRIBLE boyfriend but his later appearances (the self-help book with Luke, making Rory realize she needs to go back to Yale) show great offscreen character development. I think he “gets” Rory better than her other boyfriends – I haaaaate Dean and just don’t care about Logan at all. I do love that the show ends with her single, but if she ends up with someone eventually I’m Team Jess :)

          1. Fran Fine*

            All three guys brought out terrible aspects of her personality. Rory needs to just be single and focus on her kid and building a career at this point because her taste in men is dreadful.

          2. DrunkAtAWedding*

            I love Jess, but I don’t think he and Rory were right together. I got the impression that he had an idea of her in his head that he was constantly trying to get her to match, and she was just never going to be the person he thought she was at 16. It felt like he never really saw her clearly, to me.

            I felt like Logan DID see her clearly, but I think their relationship had a lot of unhealthy elements. I don’t think they were good together either.

            Rory and Dean were kind-of good together. The first time around, the flaws were mostly the I-love-you break-up and that, by the end, it felt like Rory was staying with him because she wanted to be the person Dean and Lorelai thought she was (“Rory is a nice girl who loves Dean, a boy her mother approves of”) rather than because she actually liked him.

            The second time around, they were only together because they were both trying to go back in time, and be in love and sixteen again, before the struggles of college and married life, and whatever other stresses they ended up comforting each other over that season. But that fell apart immediately, when Lorelei caught them just after they slept together, and then got further deconstructed by how hard it was to see each other between Yale and Stars Hollow, and how the town and Dean’s parents reacted, and so on.

            I think Rory should have ended up with whoever she wanted to end up with, but I think the trickiest part of that would be for her to let go of her people-pleasing tendencies, figure out what she wanted, and go after it without compromise. She wanted Logan, but she didn’t want to be around his dad, and, I suspect, she didn’t want to face his family’s disapproval of their relationship. And somehow, in the missing years, that morphed into their affair. If Rory could let go of her desire to keep everyone happy and never face disapproval, I think their relationship would either be over and it would be healthier. The people pleasing wasn’t an entirely negative trait – it’s how Rory was able to ease the conflict between Lorelai and her parents, for instance, and it helped motivate her at school – but it really didn’t help in her romantic life.

    3. Double A*

      I’m watching and really enjoying Good Girls, but there are several occasions where I wish they would better justify why they don’t go to the police/authorities. Or why they just get themselves deeper into crime. Overall they do a pretty good job justifying this, I think it’s just so many choices they make to dig in deeper that sometimes you’re just telling at the about different choices.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Nah, the show’s just ridiculous and unrealistic because Rio should have killed all of them already about two seasons ago.

        1. Double A*

          That’s another thing, I think they could develop more about why Rio doesn’t kill them! I think if they showed a bit more of his life they could explain this pretty easily. His life is kind of the inverse of theirs and overlaps in some ways, like with his kid and his country club lawyer. He’s definitely getting drawn in not just to the convenience of having a suburban mom working for him, but into some kind of fascination with her life.

          Yeah the first time they talked themselves out of getting killed it made sense but by like the 3rd time not so much.

          Anyway I try not to think too much about the plot because besides that the actors are so good that I enjoy watching it.

          1. Fran Fine*

            That’s where I am with the show, lol. I love Rio (and the actor who plays him) and Ruby and Stan, so I keep coming back even though none of this stuff makes sense! But I suspect you’re right – if they had bothered to develop Rio as a three-dimensional character earlier in the series, this stuff probably would have made sense.

    4. Lucy*

      Great question! I have just been ranting about a teenage love story which would be much more interesting if the focus was on the mother and the pregnancy and the pregnancy’s impact on her job (space mission to Mars!) instead of her now-teenage son and his story. But that is much more than changing one small detail, lol.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Selective application of science, especially in adventures. As my kid put it “that’s so wrong but it’ll work because his main-character-ness demands it.”
      Likewise butchering of police procedures because it let’s the main characters get more screen time. (“Murder she wrote” and “CSI”, I’m looking at you!)

  27. Meh*

    Hamhock help

    I accidentally bought an unsmoked hammock and it’s been sitting in my freezer because I don’t know what to do with it. I can only find recipes that use smoked ones (like beans) or recipes to tell you how to smoke one. If you have a recipe or idea on how to use it that would be great, otherwise it’s going in the trash when we pack up the house next week.

      1. Meh1*

        Not fish :) ham hocks, the ankles of the pig. They’re usually smoked and give flavor to beans.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I saw the hammock typo and was wondering why you’d smoke a hammock?

        I think you could still use it in beans etc. It won’t give the same flavor, but pork generally goes great in beans. Maybe brown it first for extra flavor?

        1. Clisby*

          I agree. Have to say, I’ve never seen anything but smoked hamhock in a grocery store (this is the South, it’s very popular for cooking), but I can’t imagine a fresh hamhock wouldn’t be OK.
          It would just add a somewhat different flavor.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The internet suggests low-and-slow cooking, or boiling them for 2-3 hours and then roasting them to crisp up. I found some suggestions by specifically googling “unsmoked ham hock recipe” as well :)

    2. GoryDetails*

      Try searching on “pork hock” instead of ham hock – I found some hits for braised pork hocks that sounded tempting.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes – it’s the same as pork knuckle. I saw one German recipe for it that looked really good, but can’t vouch for it.

    3. Ham hock = soup*

      Throw it in a pot with either lentils or split peas & make soup. Add chopped onions, carrots, potato, celery, salt, pepper, thyme & cook on low for several hours.

  28. Pharmgirl*

    A friend’s birthday is coming up, and she’s lost a parent within the last few months. Should I acknowledge that this might be a tough birthday? We live in different states and aren’t super close (only communicate through text and maybe meet up 1-2 times per year, less now with covid). We’re also in different life stages, but we worked together a few years back and clicked. I don’t want to over step but also would want to let her know I’m there for her.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just suggest a meet up before Covid runs amok in your area again?

      Sometimes actions speak louder than words- such as making a solid plan or setting aside time. Maybe suggest a Zoom call if that seems like a good idea.

      A friend called me on the 10 year anniversary of my husband’s passing. Never mentioned the anniversary. Did not have to, really. ;) His call was enough.

    2. Nicotena*

      For friends I’m not speaking to often, I have written nice cards with a longish thoughtful note. If I don’t have addresses, I could do an email; this gives them the chance to read when they’re ready, and stop if they need a break, without hurting my feelings. I’m a bit reticent to call if that’s not our usual practice and would hate for them to feel put on the spot.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        This is a good idea. My birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and my dad passed away last November. A card or even email with a lovely, heartfelt message is something I would appreciate. I don’t like talking on the phone anyway and talking about a difficult situation might make me emotional. I would prefer to process the message on my own.

    3. RC Rascal*

      She might appreciate a small gift.

      I have lost both parents, and now that they are gone I don’t get gifts from anyone. I get really tickled when someone give me something.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      from someone who felt it very heavily – yes acknowledge it. My first birthday was 4 months after my dad’s passing and it was bittersweet, as was every occasion naturally. Trust me, it’s not like she’ll have forgotten or not realized this. It wouldn’t be an overstep.

  29. Dino Denise*

    Does anyone have a hard time justifying a large purchase for a purely leisure item even when you have the money?

    There’s an item I wanted to buy, a small dinosaur statue if I’m being honest, that’s $150. I told myself that i wouldn’t get it unless I sold some items on eBay and made up that money. Well I did, I sold the other things and have the $150… and yet I’m still hesitant to buy it. For some reason, with luxury items, I always second guess buying it. I wouldn’t think twice about the cost for something I need like a car repair or something for my house but fun purchases make me pause. Does anyone else feel that way?

    1. Ins mom*

      You are being cautious and there’s nothing wrong with that! Will it “bring you joy?’ My own train of thought – is it at the top of my list of things I want (or need?)

    2. Toothy*

      I feel hesitant about buying anything that’s purely “fun” as well. Funnily, enough, before the pandemic, if I sold things on eBay, I’d use the money I earned to buy fun things too! And I give myself a weekly $5 allowance and use that money to buy something fun once in a while.

      I try to think of it as “this money is designated for fun things, so I can buy whatever I want.” And since it usually take a while to earn enough fun money to buy something, “I’ve wanted this for a long time now, so I’m not going to change my mind and regret buying it.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Just buy the darn statue. Life is too short to torture ourselves over these decisions.

      I have a bear rolling on it’s back, a cute gargoyle and a dog made out of metal parts such as nuts and bolts. I am 60 y/o and one day I decided I was not going to end up sitting in a nursing home regretting the fact that I did not buy a couple cute things for the yard. (Yeah, framed that way it sounds different doesn’t it?)

    4. Paris Geller*

      Yes, and I saw a budgeting strategy that actually really helped me with this–I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but it’s sort of a rolling budget. If you want a specific item for X (in your case, this $150 dinosaur statue–which sounds amazing, by the way), save up 4x that amount. So you sold some items on ebay and have $150. Keep saving or if you have other things, sell until you have 600 saved for this specific item. Once you do, buy the item and the surplus save for something else, since you will eventually want another leisurely item. I did this about a month ago when I decided to buy a fitbit and it definitely helped me with that kind of purchase mentally.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      Oh yes. I do what you did – find some route to make “extra” money to justify the purchase. Then, I wait a couple of weeks and usually make some sort of a bargain with myself as in “If you vacuum out the car and fix that broken shelf you’ve been avoiding, you can buy that thing.” So I totally get being hesitant.

      That said, please order the statue (and post a link so we can see what you’re getting)!

    6. AGD*

      Oh, this is me too! I get needlessly cautious about spending money on luxuries. Any individual item over $50 will make me get nervous. I have to really want something, and even then I’ll second-guess it repeatedly.

    7. fposte*

      This what budgets are made for. I explicitly had a budget for “fun stuff” when I was first budgeting to give me permission for that kind of spending.

      Money is a tool. You can use a tool to enhance the enjoyment of your life. You can also support the shop and, if it’s an original, the artist. I have pleasure purchases like art and pottery that I’ve gotten enjoyment out of for years, even decades.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes! You budgeted the money for it and you should buy it and enjoy it. Go dino!

      I recently did this with a staycation – I felt like I couldn’t justify booking a really nice hotel because it cost twice as much as a hotel that I would normally stay in, but eventually realized that the difference is that when I stay in a cheaper place the point is to have a place to sleep and for this “trip” the point is to have a nice experience. If the priority was minimizing expense I could just stay home! I booked the nicer place and it was SO worth it and made the experience way more special.

    9. Liz*

      ALL THE TIME!!!

      I’ve never earned over the poverty line, and I keep my head above water by keeping my expenses low and just not buying things. Due to extensive assistance from family, I’m now in a situation where my bills are super low and I have a modest disposable income.

      But unnecessary expenses make me twitch. Clothes are a big one – I usually shop in charity shops, but this month I bought some brand new work trousers for £20. I also picked up a dress for £25, a couple of tops for £5 each, some PJs for £10 (because I was some to 2 pairs and one had holes in) and a sweater for around £7. So over £70 on clothing, and I’m REALLY quite panicky over it. I have plenty still in the bank, and I’m buying these things because I realised I have very little in terms of nice clothes for work, but I feel very stressed by the whole thing. I will spend days or even weeks debating these kinds of purchases, questioning whether I need them, often just kind of hoping that I’ll forget I wanted it in the first place!

      My partner is the opposite and sort of has expensive taste. We own a handmade glass fruitbowl that cost £35 from Etsy. Totally unnecessary, but it is very pretty.

      The only non-essential I don’t beat myself up for is takeout – I struggle to cook, so splurging on food to go is often a borderline necessity or I won’t eat.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Yes, and I only wish I had the same degree of impulse control over other things, like eating.

      I don’t go without nice things altogether, I just think about them longer and occasionally decide I’d rather have something else (like an experience), or that shopping for the thing was actually more fun than owning it would be.

      To me, it seems like a good thing, not a problem.

    11. Anon working class*

      My parents, who are frugal, always taught me that if you have the money and really want something to just buy it. I know this goes against their frugal sense, but since most decisions are emotional it does make sense. You have the means and really want it. So why not buy it? You might regret it if you don’t.

    12. Aphrodite*

      If you have thought about the item for a while and still love it, but it! A couple of years ago I saw a tiny Eiffel Tower by Swarowski for $80 and loved it immediately. But at 5 1/2 inches tall it made me hesitate. Finally, I realized that I still thought about it a lot and splurged. It has been worth it. I love that gorgeous little thing.

      Along the same line, I once ran across a stunning piece of metal art (All My Walls), a four-piece work in a glorious emerald color. It was priced at about $350. I hemmed and hawed for more than three years hoping to get it on clearance. Well, it never went on clearance but I did manage to get it with about $50 off–and a good thing too because several months after that it was no longer available. But I am as passionate about it now as I was when I first ran across it.

      Yes, yes, yes, do buy it! I sense that same long-term passion from you about the statue. You’ll never regret it if you only buy “leisure” items that you truly love.

    13. Guava*

      Yes! Buy it and enjoy it :) I hem and haw over things for months before I buy things, so for me if it’s been 3-6 months and I’m looking at or thinking about it frequently and still want it, I buy it.

      I wish we could see a picture. I love all things dino!

    14. Can't Sit Still*

      Decades ago, I spent around $75 for a small dragon statue. I was making $5/hour, so this was quite an expenditure then. (I’m pretty sure I used gift money for it.) I never regretted it and it still has pride of place.

      I’ve made it a policy that I can only purchase non-essentials if they “haunt” me, that is, if I can’t stop thinking about whatever it is for at least a month (the more it costs, the longer I need to wait to buy it). I also have other things that are on my permanent wishlist, that if it comes up for sale, I can buy it if I can afford it at the time. For example, last year I purchased a Pucci scarf that I have wanted since high school. It makes me very, very happy to see and to wear, even though I’m not really a scarf person.

    15. Malarkey01*

      If something is really extravagant for me I’ll make it a reward for doing something I’ve been putting off. Then I don’t feel the same guilt for splurging and as a side bonus what I’ve been dreading is done.

    16. Stitching Away*

      I live that. Part of it is I’m financially conservative, part of it is that I’m disabled and have routine expensive surgeries, and so my emergency money is not for what ifs, but when ifs, and part of it is that I deeply feel that I don’t deserve nice things.

      One thing I’ve just started to try is setting myself a target budget that I have to spend on silly things each month. So right now, I have to spend $50 a month on things that are not necessities for me. It’s a challenge!

    17. Pennyworth*

      Justifying it to yourself or to other people? You had a plan to get something you wanted by selling stuff you didn’t want/need, which is admirable. I understand your attitude to luxury items, I avoid them because I think the luxury industry is a bit of a con and I can always find a cheaper and equally useful item, but I wouldn’t think of a statue I really loved as a luxury. My occasional indulgence is art – not expensive but I could probably better use the money. I never regret is because they give me pleasure every day.

    18. Camelid coordinator*

      I hope you’ve bought it already! Earlier this summer I saw a bear statue for the yard I really liked in an art auction. It also had a buy right now price that was reasonable. For whatever reason the hubs liked auction route and we didn’t get it. I wish I had just bought it. Recently kiddo spent some of the earnings from his first summer job on a mouse statue (I guess we are an animal-statue loving family).

  30. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Do you shower every day or more per day?
    Just curious what the readership personal preference is regarding showering.

    I shower ever other day or third day, with face, pits and crotch washings daily. It has really improved all the irritation and itching that my skin would encounter due to daily showers. This is also pertinent with the drought here in the Western parts of America, as showering is one of the main water uses in the home.

    It seems to be in the news lately. I also remember the nightly bath we gave our son, regardless of visable dirt.

    What’s your take?

    1. Toothy*

      I shower every day. I use all unscented/gentle products and am only in the shower for about 10 minutes, so maybe that helps keep my skin from getting irritated?

    2. Workerbee*

      I have switched to every other day with occasionally a two-day gap. I was brought up with the shower every day motif, so it’s only been over the past couple years that I realized I can keep quite clean with the ol’ handwash method, and my hair does not need the daily wash. It used to, but I’ve been able to adjust it.

      I wholeheartedly embrace having a customized approach!

    3. ecnaseener*

      I’m with you, if you aren’t naturally very sweaty and you don’t exercise daily, no need to waste water on daily showers. Baby wipes are great

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Between the facts that I hate being in water (it’s a sensory thing) and my hair demands to be washed no more than once a week and I almost never leave my house, I full-shower about every 3-4 days with, as you say, sponge bath to the pertinent areas more frequently. If I’m working out or it’s otherwise warranted, I’ll shower sooner, or if I’m going to be spending time around other people outside of my house — but I spend most of my waking hours either sitting at my desk or on my couch, I’m not getting that grungy for the most part.

    5. mreasy*

      Every day but very quick (5 min or less) unless it’s a hair washing shower which is twice a week. Grew up in a drought zone so I’m functionally incapable of a long shower. But also I exercise most days and just feel gross if I don’t.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      My husband and I both shower daily or twice daily in the summer. We both work out 5-6 days a week and he has a pretty physical job, so between that, my gardening/yard work, and the general summer humidity and weather, daily showers are a must. In the winter both of us have been known to skip a day every now and then, though.

      1. Old and Don’t Care*

        Me too. I draw a hard line at three times a day, though it’s tempting sometimes.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      I work out nearly every day. If I don’t exercise, but I’m going out, I need a shower either the morning of or the evening before. So it works out at a shower everyday, but I don’t take long showers. I live somewhere where we think water is plentiful, but I still try not to waste it.

    8. James*


      If I’m doing office work I wash daily, but not full-on shower. I’m not doing much physical work and my environment is clean, so that’s sufficient. I usually shower every other day or every third day, like you.

      If I’m dealing with sampling I shower as soon as I get a chance. It’s actually a requirement, and it’s common sense–the stuff I’m sampling is assumed to be toxic, and you really don’t want to have that stuff on your body.

      The interesting one is my kids. My kids have really sensitive skin, and we had to work with a pediatrician to figure out the best bath routine. Too often and they get skin conditions.

    9. allathian*

      Varies a lot. I basically shower when I feel dirty enough to need it. I don’t shower every day or multiple times a day unless there’s a heatwave, like this summer. If I shower more than once, I won’t wash my hair the second time. In winter, I shower every time I exercise hard enough to work up a sweat, so every two or three days.

      I almost never shower in the morning, usually in the evening a couple hours before I go to bed. I have long Covid hair and almost never blow dry it, so I want it to dry enough to be just slightly damp rather than sopping. I cover my pillow with a towel when my hair’s damp.

    10. Girasol*

      Have you looked at the articles by The Atlantic’s Dr James Hamblin? (You can google “James Hamblin, shower” to find them.) He says we shower way too much for our skin’s health and says showers are way overrated. That said, when I exercise, the salt on my skin makes me itchy, so I at least rinse off once or even twice daily, healthy or not.

    11. NeonFireworks*

      If I’ve been sweating a lot, I’ll take a shower. Otherwise, every 3-4 days with a supplemental sponge bath if needed. My issue is that I get cold so easily that it’s hard to force myself to a) undress and b) go through the drying off process, because rebuilding the comfort takes a lot of time and effort. It’s 80 degrees outside and I’m thinking of putting a sweater on.

    12. noodles*

      I shower/take a bath 1-3 times a week, depending on the week, what I’m doing etc. Even when I go swimming in the sea, it’s usually just a quick rinse sea-side and not a full shower when I’m home.

    13. Cookie D'oh*

      I shower every day, usually in the AM. It’s part of my exercise, shower, get dressed routine for working from home. I don’t always shower on the weekends, especially in the winter.

    14. Double A*

      In the winter and when I’m not pregnant/breastfeeding, I sometimes shower every other day. But pregnancy and now breastfeeding hormones have made me stinkier! Plus it’s summer and it gets hot where I live (also in CA). But I just take a rinse off shower most days (5 mins, wash my body). I was my hair every 3-4 days, and shave my legs maybe once a week or less.

      Also a shower is like the only “me time” I get so it’s important to have a moment to myself before bed. Like my kids I need a consistent bedtime routine.

    15. RagingADHD*

      I’ll skip a day in between sometimes, if I’m not going anywhere and am not stinky. But it’s not really a plan.

      I am a pretty sweaty person in a hot, humid climate, so skipping showers too often means worse skin for me.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It depends on the weather and what I’m doing. If it’s hot and humid, I’m probably showering just because I’ve been sweating. In the winter I can go longer between showers without feeling gross. My hair doesn’t handle oils well, so it needs to be washed every other day at minimum. My showers are quite short in general.

    17. ThatGirl*

      I shower every day, though I may not shampoo my hair.

      All of these white celebrities admitting how dirty they are is bothersome. There is a racial component to it because for so long BIPOC have had to maintain the highest cleanliness standards and still get told they’re dirty, they smell, etc. it’s only white people who have the “privilege” of bragging about not washing themselves.

      1. RagingADHD*

        That is a helpful perspective, thank you. I wasn’t aware there was a celebrity trend about this recently.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’m the past week or two Dax Shepherd, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mila Kunis/Ashton Kutcher have all talked about how little they bathe or their kids bathe. I’m guessing that’s what inspired the question. And like first off don’t brag about that, and second….like I said, racial component.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Do you suppose it has occured to them that they could move where the water is? Or stop buying California-grown produce that demands far more water than is naturally available in the climate?

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Every day; it became a habit when I was exercising more regularly. It’s a quick in-and-out mostly, and I try not to use water that’s too hot. Showering at night helps relax and cool me off so I can go to sleep easier.

      I only wash my hair with shampoo twice a week since coloring has made it drier, but I will rinse it out with conditioner in between if I’ve been sweating or it just feels gross. This is done every day when I’m working so I don’t have smelly hair at any given time.

    19. Chaordic One*

      I shower or take a bath daily. Usually in the morning. I tend to go more for showers in the summer months and baths in the winter. I always use gentle soaps (Dove or Neutrogena) and when I take a bath, I use a bath oil so that my skin doesn’t get dry. Rarely, I’ll bathe more than once a day if I’ve done something physical that has caused me sweat a lot during the day or if I been doing something that made me dirty (like heavy-duty cleaning that has left me covered in dirt and dust).

    20. CatCat*

      Shower or bath 1-3 times per week and wash hair 1-2 days per week. Wipe down with a wet cloth the other days. Use dry shampoo if needed. I don’t sweat a lot, even in very hot weather so that works for me.

    21. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

      Every day and twice daily if it’s really hot outside. Florida is not a good environment to skip this. I do often wash my hair every other day. I use lukewarm water, my skin is sensitive and doesn’t like hot.

    22. Clisby*

      I shower (or bathe) every day. I wash my hair once every 7-9 days, or it would look like straw.

      That said, it’s certainly not *necessary* to shower every day in order tot be clean. Unless you work construction, or in a coal mine, or something like that.

    23. The Other Dawn*

      Every day. If I’m sick, I take a shower because it makes me feel a little better physically. The only time I don’t is if I’m very sick, or I just had surgery and it’s too difficult or I’m not supposed to get the surgical site wet.

    24. Be the Change*

      Bathe most days at night, hit the hot spots with a washcloth every morning, wash hair every other day or so (more often if needed, less often if I don’t have anywhere to go). I’ve recently re-discovered bucket baths rather than showers; it’s amazing how clean you can get with about 3 gallons of water. In my bathroom, that’s just about what it takes to catch the water as it’s heating up for the shower and the bucket ends up a nice temperature.

    25. AY*

      Such a great question–loving reading the responses. I sweat prolifically, magnificently, even. I shower in the morning every day and again after working out on weeknights. Otherwise, I have a real stank from all the sweating.

    26. RosyGlasses*

      Every day – hair washing every 2-3 days. I’m pretty fast – I got used to military style showers when I was younger and then being a single parent when my son was a baby/toddler made it so I got really great at fast showers. There is a really funny/gross instagram story series that happened on @luvvie last week after Ashton Kutcher claimed he only showered once a week and twitter and instagram went crazy with people’s stories about personal hygiene. It totally makes sense why society needed to be retaught how to wash our hands!

    27. Washi*

      Ok, so I often see that people just wash their pits/groin each day, but my very silly question is…how? Do you take off all your clothes and go in the shower? Do you stand in front of the sink and drip water on the floor?

      I exercise 4-5 days/week so that is how often I shower. I would wash my bits the other days but it seems annoying so I just…don’t.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        At the sink, lather up a washcloth. Wring it out so that it’s not too drippy. Clean your pits. Rinse the washcloth and wipe up the residue from your pits. Repeat for other areas.

        You do not have to disrobe 100% for this process, and I recall seeing my grandmother do it without removing her clothes at all.

        1. Clisby*

          +1. When I and my siblings were growing up, this was often the drill. Wrangling 6 kids through a nightly bath in a house with 2 bathrooms would have been no treat, I’m sure. It works and it’s fast. Of course, a shower doesn’t even take me 2 minutes unless I’m washing my hair, and I’m usually not.

    28. Rhymetime*

      I’m the same as you, daily wash for critical areas and every few days for a full shower. Between having dry skin and conserving water, this works well for me.

    29. Unkempt Flatware*

      Everyday unless I’m too depressed that day. I develop BO while I sleep and have never been able to re-wear clothes without washing.

    30. Flower necklace*

      For most of my life, I would shower every other day and wipe down on the off days if I exercised. But I started showering every day when the pandemic started and now it’s just a habit. My hair and skin are actually much better when I shower every day.

    31. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I shower every day in the summer – I live in the South and am inevitably coated in multiple layers of sunscreen and bug spray. In the winter, every other day mostly, unless I’ve gone to the gym and gotten all sweaty. I do find, like you, it helps with dryness/itching, in the winter.

      We almost always have the kids bathe every night in warm weather because they are coated in sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, *and* mud! Sometimes also river water!

    32. fhqwhgads*

      For ages I was a once a day person. At some point during the pandemic I managed to become an every other day showerer. This summer it’s been hot as hell, and I’ve been in the pool. So I’m back to once a day because given my activities it’d be gross not to. I have occasionally showered twice in one day, but that’s generally out of necessity, not part of my normal routine. For example, exercised first thing in the morning, then showered, then in the afternoon had to unexpectedly deal with something muddy/otherwise gross. That’s a two shower day. But if I could’ve planned it to not need to do it twice in one day, I would’ve.

    33. Chief bobbin winder*

      I always bathed my kids every night until my littlest got a urine infection type thing. Then I had a medical appointment with her and the doctor asked if I bathed her every night and I proudly declared yes, he asked if we used bubble bath and again I proudly declared we did, and then I got told off!
      Turns out that daily baths with bubbles are actually a bad thing. Oops.

    34. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I shower once a week. :-/ Face & privates daily. We weren’t’ raised to shower everyday, my parents didn’t think it was necessary…
      When I was in college I would shower more frequently and continued up to a few years ago as I was working out and active.

      The last few years though….I began to experience a lot of leg/back/arm/wrist pain and it was exhausting and painful to shower or wash my hair. I dropped to 2-3x a week, most of the time skipping the hair wash and just spending hte money at the salon to have someone wash my hair and dry it. Last year when COVID began and I was sent home, I was pregnant and the cool air would exacerbate other pains so I really dropped down to 1x a week or less. (but man, that first shower after delivery was a luxury!)

      My pain is still off and on, and after showering, the bathroom is just so hot and humid that I feel icky. I like being in water but hate being wet, it’s weird. But it’s mostly pain and lack of time that stops me from doing it more frequently :(

    35. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I shower at the end of the day when I’ve gotten dirty or sweaty, been outside in tick country, applied bug spray or sunscreen, or worn polyester. (Nothing brings out B.O. like that fabric!) Otherwise, I can go 2-3 days, content to use a washcloth & the sink. I cut my hair recently and do have to wash it more often than I used to my long hair, but now I can do my head in the sink too.
      I blinked at reading some as ‘only’ in the shower 10 minutes, because I lived in 2-minute shower drought country for a while!

    36. Sandman*

      Typically every other, with groin and pits touch-ups in between when that seems necessary. I tend toward dry skin and live in a northern climate, so most of the time that’s adequate. If I’ve been sweating a lot I’ll do more.

  31. Vivi*

    The friendships thread above is interesting because it’s something I’ve been melancholy about for a while now. Despite all the worst going on in the country/world, I personally feel like I’m finally feeling on an upward path with my life …except socially! I can’t help but notice my current friends who live out of state are the type who only want to complain (with their job, dating life, etc). This was pre-pandemic too, and worse now. The dynamic is awkward and I can’t help but think our friendships will eventually fade away if it goes on like this.

    1. Yep*

      I can definitely relate. I have been divorced for over a decade without so much as a second glance and l had really hoped that eventually l would be in another relationship. I do not want to hear people’s complaints about minor things their spouse did or being pestered for sex or anything about their second divorce, etc. etc. It feels like people are rubbing my nose in it, and it is very hard to be around.

  32. Team9to5*

    Anyone have experience getting a window-based “cat solarium”? I live in a small apartment (400 sq ft) and am doing everything I can to give my cat space for play, hiding, scratching, and napping. I don’t have any balcony or private outdoor access, and though I’m slowly training her to be comfortable with a leash, it’ll be a while before she can go outside. I’m interested in getting a cat solarium (fits into the window like an AC unit), but not if she’ll never use it! Has anyone purchased one and found it to be helpful?

    1. Anon working class*

      My brother built a rabbit hutch for his indoor cat and poor Georgie hated it. He screamed the whole time he was ever in the hutch. I’d say be prepared for your cat to hate it.

    2. Paris Geller*

      I don’t have experience with a cat solarium, but I would ask–is she already a window cat? If she’s the kind of cat who can spend all day in the window sill, I think the odds are good that she’ll like it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you seen the cat hammocks that mount inside the window? That might be a low-cost trial run. If the cat likes being there when the windows are open (screens sturdy & tight!) I’d bet she’d like the bigger item too.

      1. Lizzie*

        In the 1920s someone designed wire cages that fitted to your window so that your baby could be put in there for fresh air – an entertaining idea for sure! If you google Anthony Bond Baby taking up too much room window cage, you will see some pix.
        So, I don’t know if you have a window that actually could have an insert put in it, of some kind. It might give you some ideas anyway

    4. Tea and Sympathy*

      If she doesn’t like the leash, try a pet stroller. My Mom’s cat refused a leash, but loved the stroller.

  33. Toothy*

    I’ve had pain in a lower side tooth for about a month. It hurt to eat food, the more strenuous chewing required the worse the pain (salads and meat hurt more than well-cooked pasta). Sometimes it would ache for a while after eating. Went to the dentist twice, and he couldn’t find anything wrong, but thought the pain might be coming from a crack because pressure caused the pain (he said all teeth get cracks over time, and most don’t hurt, and he couldn’t pinpoint which tooth/crack was the culprit).

    I was supposed to make an appointment with an endodonist, but I called them over a week ago and just got their answering machine. I filled out their online scheduling form and waited, but never heard back from them.

    After having eaten nothing but soft/squishy food for a week, the pain is mostly gone, even if I eat things things that used to cause a lot of pain. Next week would be a bad time to miss any work, so I’m pointing off calling the endodonist again for now. But I’m confused at how the pain could almost go away.

    Has anyone else had long-term tooth pain that seemed to suddenly go away? Do you know what caused it? Did it go away completely or return?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I’ve had teeth pain that comes and goes. Not sure why as my dentist saw no issues.

    2. HannahS*

      I had this intermittent tooth pain in one molar. It came and went when I was eating, but was pretty infrequent. My dentist explained that I had a filling in that tooth, and that the filling might be lifting up a bit, so that the nerve in the tooth was more easily irritated. It went away after a few years; I have no idea why or how. I saw the dentist recently and he wasn’t concerned.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I had long-term tooth pain that did not go suddenly away, but it was not related to the teeth. It was jaw-related. During a routine filling, my mouth was open too long (I clench my teeth in my sleep, so there’s a lot of tension in the jaw) and it caused pain in the tooth. The pain went away with physical therapy and one of those things you use to stop your jaw from clenching too much (I forgot the name right now).
      So, tooth pain may be caused by something else sometimes.

      1. Fran Fine*

        My nightguard actually ended up causing wear on my lower molars and chipped one of my fillings, smh. Now I don’t even wear it anymore.

    4. Bobina*

      Interesting. I have a tooth that gives me intermittent pain (root canal that never quite settled right), and one of the things I’ve learnt from the dentist is that tooth pain can definitely be affected by other things. If you’re stressed and clenching your jaw/grinding your teeth at night, if you’re otherwise sick and you have inflammation in the area or if life just decides to irritate the nerve, you can have pain for periods then goes away by itself.

      Not sure if you got an x-ray, but I’d probably say thats one of the things that might help show any issues, but otherwise the intermittent pain is definitely a thing that can happen.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, I have tooth pain that comes and goes. It’s from an irritated nerve that runs along the jaw near the tooth. The tooth had a root canal, so the tooth itself isn’t what’s hurting. I also use a night-guard. If you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night, it’s essential you get one and use it to avoid having big dental/jaw problems in the future.

    6. CatCat*

      I’ve had very similar symptoms that my dentist couldn’t pinpoint and referred me to the endodontist. The pain would go away sometimes, but eventually it came back. The endodontist did a test with applying cold to the teeth and that pinpointed the problem. So I’d recommend getting in when you get a chance.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      You can get tooth pain from sinus inflammation. I have a benign sinus cyst that acts up when my allergies are at their worst and causes referred pain in one of my molars.

    8. Callisto*

      I clench at night and this sounds like the pain I get. I wear my post-braces retainers every night, and also get masseter Botox.

    9. Malarkey01*

      You can also get tooth pain for an infection or irritated nerve that just needs time to clear up. Like any part of your body sometimes it’s a “watch and wait” thing and by babying it or giving time to rest and heal the problem can clear up.

    10. ronda*

      I had pain in my jaw, dr said take more pain meds, & it went away in a while.

      next dentist appointment, tooth had issue and referred to endo. turns out that pain was probably from the nerve to that tooth going bad. Had a root canal.

      I would have the endo check it if I were you. If you prefer to reschedule the appointment to a time that will work better, do that.

    11. Best behavior*

      I’ve also had tooth pain that turned out to be inflamed gums. Mouth stuff is tricky! Hope your tooth pain goes away permanently.

    12. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It could be a nerve that was irritated and now it’s not. But I think I remember from years ago that an infection can actually make a tooth hurt less because the deep down swelling cushions the nerve. I’d keep the appointment.

    13. CanadianCatLady*

      Sounds like me – at its worst, I couldn’t tell whether it was upper or lower teeth that were hurting more. Turned out to be a lower back molar that had cracked, and apparently the whole side of the face was involved with the nerve pain – which finally went away by itself. When the endodontist saw the tooth, he said that there was no point in doing a root canal – at least one nerve had died. So, the joys of an extraction to come!

      I had a course of antibiotics which cleared things up, but I can feel that the gum is a little spongy around that tooth, so there’s still something going on.

    14. it's me*

      I had a shooting pain in my jaw that I thought was due to my crown, but no, turned out after I went to a TMJ specialist (apparently regular dentists know very little about TMJ), it was due to the way my arm on that side rested on my office chair armrest. I switched out the chair and the shooting pain went away.

  34. HannahS*

    Breast pump recommendations, please*! There seem to be one billion brands with myriad features. My priorities in a machine are speed, ease of use, and portability.

    *While I’m usually fine with unsolicited advice, in this case I am ONLY looking for machine recommendations and what YOUR experience with pumping was like…i.e. what was comfortable and convenient for you, what you might do differently next time, etc.

    1. Generic Name*

      I don’t have a brand recommendation, but for speed, I recommend getting a double pump. One with 2 flanges so you can pump both breasts simultaneously. That cuts pumping time in half.

    2. German Girl*

      For speed I recommend getting an electric one that can express milk from both sides at once.

      If you get a matching bra, you can even pump hands free and read stuff while you express.

      I used the one from Lansinoh, mostly because it was the cheapest electric double pump on the market in my country, and I was pretty satisfied with it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      It was 14 years ago, but my Medela Pump in Style did great for me when I had to pump after every feed to get my supply up for #1, and again with #2 when I pumped to donate. All in all, it was very reliable & comfortable for 4 years of use.

      It still runs, as a matter of fact. I cleaned it up to donate to a charity not long ago.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Same timeframe here, and I also had a great experience with the Medela pump in style. Mine was passed on from my sister in law, who had used it for her two kids. Good luck, HannahS!

    4. Double A*

      My insurance only covered a couple models; the one I got was functional but I can’t say I recommend it per se (it was a cheap Ameda). I did have a hospital grade pump on loan for awhile, and while it was a nicer and quieter machine, I can’t say the pumping experience was that much quicker/easier, because flanges and the way they work are pretty similar no matter what model you’re using.

      So I mostly have tips about what worked well and what I would do differently with pumping this time!

      With baby #2 I’m still on maternity leave so I haven’t needed to pump regularly (I just can’t bring myself to bf all day and also somehow find the time and willpower to hook myself up to a machine), but I did buy a couple of the silicon Haaka manual pumps and they are super useful, especially in the early days when your supply is all over the place and you just need to catch some of the milk. Way better than the manual pumps I used sometimes last time. So I’m not recommending those as your only pump but as a useful supplement.

      In terms of what made pumping easier, I got a pumping bra and I found I could just put it on over most shirts and didn’t have to like change into it to pump. Kindred Bravely has these nursing/pumping bras that if I were needing to pump at work I would look into getting, because just wearing your pumping bra as your regular bra seems super convenient. I haven’t actually purchased those bras, but have been happy with other Kindred Bravely bras I have gotten.

      I also got a small fridge (like, it’s designed to fit a six pack) and used that to store the milk. This may or may not make sense at your workplace/pumping situation. I actually now have it set up next to my bed and I use it for the Haakas, which I sometimes use at night because my baby won’t latch on my right boob at night (no one tells you you’ll probably have one power boob and one problem boob) and I use the Haaka to express.

      1. Double A*

        One thing I’d recommend is seeing what your insurance actually covers — I initially thought I had a ton of choices but then it turned out they only actually covered a couple of the models they had listed. That basically made the choice for me. The pump was portable and effective but it didn’t like wow me. But it was good enough that I wasn’t going to drive myself nuts choosing and paying full price for another model and I’m glad I didn’t spend tons of mental energy on that. It’s really easy to go down a rabbit hole with baby gear! (Mine were strollers and baby carriers. I’ve spent so much on baby carriers and it turns out kids are just a pain to haul around).

    5. rkz*

      I’ll preface this by saying I did not pump exclusively so was really only pumping at most 2-3 times a day. I got a Medela pump in style free through my insurance and found that it was very efficient. I didn’t find it complicated to use. I can’t really speak to portability as I almost always was using it at home, but the pump itself is not very big and comes in a little carrying case, but you’d need a slightly bigger bag for all the pump parts etc.

      Good luck!!

    6. Aurora Leigh*

      I chose the Lanisoh pump from my insurance because the Lanisoh bags/ some replacement parts were available locally and the panic has taught me not to rely on fast shipping. Where I am Walmart has Lanisoh products and Target has Medela products. Also the pump has the option to plug in or be battery powered. If money was no object I might have looked into the hands free pumps like a Willow or Elvie.

      I wish I had done more research in figuring out flange size while I was pregnant. I believe Spectra has the most options for different size flanges but you can “hack” other brands as well. Pumping was very painful for me and I had very poor output — I later learned this might be part of it.

      My daughter could not figure out how to latch and I was having issues with undersupply so we ending up switching to full formula pretty early on. We did get her tongue tie corrected and it helped immensely with her eating.

      For a second baby, I would figure out the whole flange size measurement thing, experiment with my pump a bit in the last few weeks of pregnancy (and freeze any colostrum I got that way), have nipple shields on hand at home and ask the nurses to bring me one if baby struggles to latch in the hospital, and also have some formula on hand to combo feed from the beginning if needed.

      Everyone’s body and baby is different, and I hope your nursing/pumping journey goes smoothly!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh yeah, getting the right flange size is crucial. It’s the same principle as getting a good latch with the baby.

        I wish there were better standards of education about all this stuff. It shouldn’t come down to word of mouth or a crapshoot of what nurse / lactation consultant you get. It’s basic healthcare, and there should be uniform standards of practice.

        1. Blackcat*

          And your flange size might change! I started at a 24 and needed a 19 by the end! Apparently this is somewhat normal.

    7. Clisby*

      My experience with Ameda was really good, but my son is now 19 so my advice is surely way out of date.

    8. eilie1224*

      I loved the SPECTRA S1 and S2. It has a dual pump, was relatively quiet and very powerful/quick with a memory feature that remembers your preferred speed and suction level. The simulated letdown function worked great for me. I got one for free with health insurance but decided to buy another (the battery powered version) just so I didn’t have to lug it back and forth from work, but it was pretty light weight and easy to transport. Also good range of flange sizes available (I have ver small nipples and was able to find the flange size to fit me). This was the brand recommended during my breastfeeding class at the hospital. Less common in the US than the Medela brand, but it is quieter, faster and more powerful than Medela. Recommend heartily.

      1. Anona*

        I also used the Spectra S1, and used it for pumping at work for about a year. I did a fair bit of research, and I can’t remember all of the reasons I thought it was preferable to some of the other popular ones, but I did. This was 2018.

        And the S1 is cordless! You can use it either plugged in or unplugged.

        It’s awkwardly sized and didn’t fit in some standard pumping bags, but I got a little professional looking backpack at target, and that was fine.

        I definitely recommend something that can pump both breasts at the same time, because otherwise it’ll just take forever. Same thing for electric vs manual (not electric).

        For a pumping bra I used something called the pump strap- it’s really straightforward and simple. Not something I would wear all day, but just when I pumped.

        A random thing that was useful was one of those stretchy breastfeeding shawls/covers. I never used it for breastfeeding, but it was perfect for pumping in my car (not while driving- I’m not that coordinated!) if I went somewhere without a good place to pump.

        Good luck! And usual disclaimer that everyone is different, and if you end up not breastfeeding, that’s fine too!

        1. Anona*

          Ohhh!!! Something I forgot that made things much easier. Having a complete spare set of parts was key, so I didn’t have to get everything washed and dried at the end of the day (or had more leeway). I put everything in the dishwasher. I’m sure hand washing is preferred but I didn’t have the time.
          Also, I got a couple cheap wet bags (dry bags?), They keep the wet stuff inside from getting everything in your pumping bag wet.

          I’d refrigerate just the wet bag full of parts (plus a small water bottle filled with milk). I never figured out/attempted to figure out pumping directly into bags of bottles. But refrigerating the wet bag was nice because it meant I only had to wash stuff once a day.

          1. eilie1224*

            I definitely second the spare/second set of parts suggestion! I also stored my parts in the fridge in a waterproof bag (I used Sarah Wells Pumparoo Wet/Dry bag for storing parts in the fridge in between pumping sessions). I pumped directly into bottles. The Spectra pumps have wide bottle mouth flanges that fit the Phillips Avent Natural baby bottles perfectly. I also bought a set of silicone day labels to stretch around the bottles to track what day the milk was pumped (Before that, I used to use sticky notes which was a pain and I felt bad using so many notes!). The silicone day labels were called “Bandit Breast Milk Bottle Bands. Definitely a time saver and so helpful! I breastfed both of my kids for at least a year so these all came in handy!

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I have a Spectra S1 and a Freemie Liberty. (I pumped until the end of last year). I also have a Hygiea which i thought was the best in terms of efficiently pumping, but they don’t make that model anymore.
      Love the Spectra because it is quiet, and you can customize suction and speed separately and program your own let down phase. It was much more efficient than my last pump (Ameda Purely Yours). It is pretty portable, has a nice handle and can run on battery. The battery is essential because i didn’t want to lose time having to plug it in, and also I could pump in the car.
      I also loved my Freemie because the cups fit in my bra and the motor clipped to my waist band so i could pump while getting things done- driving, cooking, etc. I even pumped in meetings with it. (Bending over in it was tricky, though). However, it wasn’t as efficient; it took me thirty five minutes to pump with the Freemie whereas the Spectra took 15-20. But… the trade off of being able to be mobile made up for the extra pumping time. I would not get the Freemie as my primary pump, but it was great to have as a secondary pump. I know there are other wearable pumps out there and i feel like they are awesome if they work for you. From
      My own experience and of other people i’ve talked to, I feel like the learning curve is steeper with the wearable pumps, and a lot of the fit depends on the shape of your breasts.
      With my first kid (preemie, and I travelled a lot), i rented a Medela hospital grade pump, and I felt that it worked really well for me. But it is also really awkward to lug around.
      Also- having a manual pump is really useful too for those times when you want to do a quick pump. I could do a full pump in ten minutes with my manual pump, but of course that was only one side at a time.
      Also- google “nursing bra to pumping bra hack” and watch the youTube video. It was life changing for me. After three kids, it’s the only thing i really swear by.

    10. Blackcat*

      I had the whole family of Spectra pumps. I got the S2 free from insurance (corded) and the S1 and S9 (both battery powered, one full size, one small portable one) from other moms (found on Facebook Buy Nothing groups). These pumps are closed systems, so I had my own new tubing and parts and it’s fine to re-use the actual machines.

      I left the S2 at work so I wasn’t hauling a big pump back and forth. If you can have two pumps and a place to store the pump at work, I really recommend this.

      I used the S1 and S9 at home and for travel. I pumped once daily no matter what, which made it much easier to have plenty of milk for the travel I did. If you don’t anticipate traveling while pumping, two corded pumps would be fine. If you would travel away, I highly recommend the S1, which is a full sized, powerful pump and is much easier to use while traveling due to the battery. The S9 was helpful during things like conferences, where I couldn’t store my pump and had to carry it around all day (in these cases, I mostly pumped and dumped for convenience.) I also recommend a hand pump both to keep in the office and bring for travel in case the main pump has some disaster.

      Overall, you are going to find there is a trade off between speed (which has to do with power) and portability (battery and/or size). The S9 is maximally portable. The S1 is pretty heavy and a pain to lug around, but relatively portable due to the battery. S2 is the same dimensions as the S2 but lighter (due to no battery) but requires plug (which is often a challenge). The S1 and S2 have the same power unless the battery in the S1 starts to fail (which happens if you get it used).

      You will want a hands free bra. I found the Simple Wishes to work best for me (I am petite with a large chest).

      One pumping thing that worked GREAT for me but is not an option with all daycares, was that I delivered bottles for the next day at daycare pick up on my way home. The Spectra pump works with Avent bottles (which we used), so I pumped directly into the bottles used to feed the kid the next day. This meant, with the exception of Mondays, there was one fewer thing to deal with in the morning. I froze milk from Fridays and sent thawed milk on Mondays, which rotated the frozen milk stash.

    11. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I had a Medela- not the very most expensive one, the next one down- and it worked fine. I would recommend getting a couple sizes of flanges because oof, that can be super uncomfortable.

      Seconding everyone’s recs for a pumping bra; holding things up there for an hour a day is super not fun.

      Not really necessary to get any of the ‘steam sterilization’ supplies, hot water and soap are generally good enough (just like all your plates and cups and so on!)

      I’d also like to add that some people just can’t pump enough milk- including my sister! – and I hope it works out for you, but if it doesn’t, fed is best! Her three formula kids are now 14, 11 and 4, and are all hearty and healthy.

      If I had to do it all over again I would have thrown in the towel the THIRD time per baby I got thrush and mastitis and just given the baby formula. (I did this with my third and she was also fine.)

    12. Allie*

      I had a Spectra from my insurance that worked great. Remember to replace your parts after a month or so.

    13. Observer*

      I pumped a long time ago, so I’m going to skip recommending brands.

      See what your insurance covers. Also, if you are eligible for WIC (they have a MUCH higher income threshold than other public assistance programs), see what they offered. The models they offered in NYC the last time I talked to someone about it (3 years ago) were really ones that most people might choose for themselves in any case.

      Nth’ing the advice to check flange size. Also, the the size might change. That’s why I liked the fact that my model actually had adapters – you got the largest flange that you might need, then used the adapters as needed. It worked really well.

      Also Nth’ing the advice to use a model that lets you pump on both sides at once. Even if you are not dealing with unpaid breaks, there is just no upside to the extra time it takes to do it one side at a time and a lot of downside. And it’s not just time.

      If you are going to be pumping regularly, you don’t want the very smallest units – they just don’t have a lot of power so while they are better than manual, it’s not your best bet. You can still get quite quite a bit of portability with a larger unit. One of the things I really liked about my Medela Pump In Style was that the pump itself was built into the bag, so I never had to deal with pack / unpack. And there was an insulated compartment in the bag for putting ice-packs and expressed milk. Very convenient. The downside is that you have to choose your carrying case and you can’t really change it. But, compared to all of the other moving pieces that wasn’t so big of a deal. The one thing that could theoretically have become an issue for me was the choice between a shoulder bag and backpack.

      The other thing I found useful was using freezer safe baggies for my milk rather than the bottles that came with the machine. I had to pump several times a say when I was at work, so that was one issue. But also, it meant no need for two sets of bottles. I just poured the milk into the baggies which could be used directly with the baby “bottle”. (Look for Playtex Nurser to see what I’m talking about.)

  35. Teapot Translator*

    Cycling question.
    My hands still go numb while I’m out cycling. I right 45-50 each time and it happens maybe halfway through. I use riding gloves (they help but not completely). I thought the better I got at cycling, the numbness would go away. Any advice?

    1. Toucan*

      There are tons of online resources and some YouTube videos I saw after a quick search. Looks like it’s pressure on a nerve.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      This could be related to your neck/head position while riding. You could be compressing cervical nerves.

    3. Girasol*

      What kind of handlebars? If you have the older rams-horn kind you can change your grip from one angle of the bar to another and that helps.

    4. fposte*

      How serious a cyclist are you? I am not at all serious (is “frivolous cyclist” a thing?) and I replaced my handlebars with taller ones so I didn’t have to lean over as far and put as much weight on my hands. Is that a possibility at all?

    5. apple core*

      You should be able to raise the height of the handle bars (or get a bike shop to do it). That will put less weight on your hands/arms and hopefully will help. Depending where you live, there may also be someone at a bike shop who can help fit the bike to you, but that costs money. Cycling is a sport with much information out there, so I’m sure there are many articles out there. I’ve been helping my dad trouble-shoot his numb-feet-while-cycling problem, and the info out there is vast.

      1. Sandman*

        I agree with checking in with some local bike shops. A couple of ours would probably take a look at this for you free of charge, but there’s so much variation between shops. If you can find one you like they’re gold for this sort of thing. If you can find local riding groups in your area there are usually a lot of really knowledgeable people there who may be able to take one look at your set-up and spot the issue.

    6. Lizabeth*

      Make sure your wrists aren’t flexed on the handlebars – they should be as straight as possible (much like your position with using a mouse). I found myself doing that a lot. Also as light as a hold on the bars as possible. Shoulders down – I find I scrunch up my shoulders a lot. I also changed by handlebars from the downturn ones to straight and I sit as upright as I can because my neck doesn’t like the other position.at.all. Gloves I use mostly for sunscreen and wiping crap off my tires.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Ask your doctor but also check out carpal tunnel symptoms. Cycling might just be the last straw for your hands for some reason (or not). I hope a change in handle bars does the trick but, if not, ask your doctor about it.

    8. Angstrom*

      What style handlebars? Flat or drop?

      If the problem is that you’re putting too much weight on the bars, it could be:
      – bars are too low (swap bars, swap stem, add spacers)
      -reach is too long(stem is too long, bike is too long for you, saddle too far back)
      – saddle is tilted forward, so you use bar pressure to keep from sliding forward.

      For flat bars, “wing” style grips can help. I use them.

      For drop bars, thicker bar tape can help.

      Increasing core strength so you don’t need your hands to support your torso can help.
      Riding with bent elbows and a relaxed grip helps.

    9. Stitching Away*

      This is something that needs to get evaluated – it’s so difficult to track down the source for this kind of thing, it can be neck, shoulders, elbows, wrist, etc.

    10. allathian*

      I can only do granny bikes, where you sit upright and have straight handlebars and a pedal brake for the rear wheel. Of course, if you’re serious about cycling and want to go fast, that’s not an option.

    11. Rear mech*

      Handlebars that allow multiple positions will help. Road drop bars will allow 3-4 for me, but I also don’t ride particularly fast or in a tight pack of cyclists where you need to be ready to brake at all times.

    12. KTNZ*

      If you’re using a bike with flat bars, it could be that your grips are too thick. I used to have a similar issue and switched to narrower grips and it’s made a huge difference.

  36. You Better Shop Around*

    Anyone have recommendations for a compact laser printer that’s reasonably priced? (I’m just using it for occasional personal printing–don’t need anything expensive or fancy.)

    Also, my current printer is an inkjet all-in-one, so I’m able to scan and make copies. I basically only need to make copies or scan things once or twice a year for my mom, which I don’t think warrants another all-in-one (which I assume will cost more and be bigger). Would taking a photo and then changing it to a pdf for printing suffice if I ever need to make a copy of a document?

    Thank you!

    1. fposte*

      Yes on the second one.

      For budget black and white-only laser printing, Brother gets recommendations on Wirecutter and from another forum I read. The current model recommended on Wirecutter is HL-L2350DW but I suspect whatever their not-fancy model is would be fine. (I actually have a Samsung that’s probably over a decade old–I took it in for a $50 repair two years ago but other than that it’s chugged along just fine. Laser printers seem to be pretty tough.)

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I’ve had 2 Brother laser printers – each lasted for YEARS, and neither was expensive. I used to have a color inkjet printer, and I’d never get another one of those.

      2. Zephy*

        Can confirm, have a basic Brother laser printer (HL-L2360D series) purchased in 2016 and I think we replaced the freebie toner cartridge sometime in 2018. Husband went back to school in 2019 and started printing pages more often, so we’ll need to put in the new cartridge soon, but the thing beeped that it needed toner about 8 months ago and still prints perfectly fine…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep, I just replaced the freebie toner cartridge on the Brother I bought in 2017 a few months ago.

      3. Sandman*

        I bought a Brother laser printer right at the beginning of the pandemic and have never been happier with a purchase in my life. Unlike every other printer I’ve had, it’s been absolutely no fuss at all. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    2. Flower necklace*

      I use an app called Turboscan for scanning. I have an ancient all-in-one printer that I’ll probably keep using as long as it still turns on, but I stopped using the scanner on it after I realized that it’s much easier and more convenient to use my phone.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I bought this one several months ago and love it. HP Color LaserJet MFP M283cdw. It was about 330.00 (USD) I believe. I has scan, copy, and fax functions in addition to printing.

      I love laser printers because there are no ink cartridges. When I had an ink jet, the ink always dried up because I didn’t use it enough.

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      I did a lot of research and wound up with the Brother MFC-J805DW INKvestmentTank Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer with Mobile Device and Duplex Printing (copy and pasted item title from Amazon) that I bought in February 2020, and it is still using the original ink that it came with. I’ve been very pleased with it. It’s $159 on Amazon today. It was $119 when I bought it, and it was the lowest price I could find for it at the time.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        I should also mention, I liked this one due to the size. It has a smaller footprint than my old all-in-one.

        If you don’t care about the scan feature anymore, I love the Microsoft Lens app. It is fantastic at flattening images from photos and converting them to PDF.

    5. allathian*

      Our HP LaserJet’s been in use for about 9 years. We don’t print much and I think we’ve replaced the toner once. It’s also a scanner and copier, and it’s on our LAN.

    6. Observer*

      I really like the HP’s as well. I’ve had good experience with them.

      If you don’t print a lot, injets might be better for you. But if you print very, very it swings back to laser, because the toner doesn’t go bad after a certain amount of time, whereas the ink in an inkjet printer can go bad.

      Lexmark makes decent laser B&W. I wasn’t impressed with the color ones we had.

  37. MechanicalPencil*

    I used to enjoy a good glass of wine on occasion, but then I realized that the sulfites were causing massive headaches for me. Didn’t matter what type of wine, though some were better than others.

    I keep seeing various drops and so forth that supposedly help with that, but does anyone know if they actually work? It’s not something I really just want to experiment with, given the outcome if it doesn’t work.

    I’d love some recommendations if someone out there has personal experience in this realm. I generally don’t drink wine nowadays, but having a glass or two without a raging headache after would be lovely. Thanks for your help!

    1. Girasol*

      I wonder what would happen if you made your own wine. Aren’t sulfites an additive that you don’t have to include?

      1. traffic_spiral*

        It would be far worse. Alcohol is a poison and amateur poison-brewing tends to go wrong in fun ways that will *definitely* leave you with a headache.

          1. traffic_spiral*

            No one will die, but there *will* be a long trial-and-error process where the hangovers are worse.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m one of the home winemakers, although it’s been a while. And yes we’ve successfully brewed sulfite-free. The sterilization is harder than with sulfite but if a batch goes bad, it smells foul enough you’ll know to flush it.
          Another key is to let active yeasts settle out before bottling & aging so you don’t drink an unintentional bowel cleanser.
          I think you’re confusing wine-making with distilling. The concentration is where you get potentially dangerous chemistry– one reason home distilling is illegal in the US. Even the new micro-distilleries are heavily regulated for safety as well as tax income.

    2. fposte*

      There’s also sulfite-free wine, which means not only no added sulfites but naturally occurring sulfites are below a preset level. It looks like several wine sites have that as a setting so you could get names pretty easily that way. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way of knowing if that will work for you without trying yourself.

    3. LuckySophia*

      There are commercially-available sulfite-free wines. I tried a couple different sulfite-free whites many years ago. Mixed results: loved one I tasted while visiting an out-of-state friend; did not like the one at my local store.) Try googling it, or check with a local/knowledgeable wine merchant in your area.

    4. ATX*

      Sulfite free wine is the way to go. I would find a shop or wine maker that focuses on low intervention wine. There are tons of wine makers that do this, but finding it can be limiting if you’re not in a trendy hip city that offers it (like NY, LA, San Francisco).

    5. Wireknitter*

      My husband has this sensitivity and it is sometimes triggered by other things as well-on tap beers or deli jello have triggered massive headaches. He has found that a half glass of wine is usually fine. He also found that Excedrin migraine formula was the only medicine that worked, and it always works quickly. We always travel with some in case something unexpected has lots of sulfites.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m some restaurant salad bars can be sulfite sources, because rinsing in a sulfite solution helps veggies stay fresh. (Probably not many of those in covid times I suppose.)

    6. RC Rascal*

      I have this issue as well but weirdly enough it is only a problem for California wines. Wines from Argentina, France, Italy are all fine.

      A California red will make me feel like wolves are eating my brain before I finish the first glass. Doesn’t matter if it’s an inexpensive wine or a nice one.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I usually notice a difference the next day after new world vs old world wine. Not always, it depends on the wine and how it’s made. But my current working theory is that the old world rules about not being able to “adjust” the wine (eg: acid/sugar/inoculation) also plays a part.
        With new world wines, I’ve had better luck with organic wine or small producers. But even that can be a bit of a crapshoot with the marketing, premium price signalling and oft times creative interpretation of “natural” winemaking.

  38. Batgirl*

    What am I doing wrong when making Mac’n’Cheese? Since going gluten free, I’ve become obsessed with Amy’s kitchen’s gluten free Mac’n’Cheese because it’s one of the few gluten free convenience foods consistently in the freezer aisle that isn’t also vegan, but mostly it’s because it’s just basically delicious. It’s also pretty expensive and in tiny portions, but I can’t seem to make a decent facsimile. The sauce that I make is either too thick, eggy and spongey (I’ve tried both casserole style recipes and stovetop), and the pasta gets too soft and disintegrates. Amy’s sauce is more like liquid cheese and the pasta is al dente. What trick am I missing?

    1. noodles*

      I don’t know this specific product, but what are you doing? I’ve done it stove top before which is basically: heat butter (and maybe flour? for gluten free maybe a bit of cornstartch), add some cream, when hot add grated cheese, then slowly add milk till the right consistency. I don’t know much about GF pasta, but I understand that can be tricky.

        1. twocents*

          Yes, when I was a kid and didn’t know how to make a roux, all my mac n cheese was just cheese melted in milk, stir constantly to prevent burning.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve done this with cornstarch successfully, also just plain left out the (white powdery stuff) at all and just gone butter > milk > cheese. I generally have to put in an extra handful of cheese when I leave out the thickening agent, but that’s hardly an issue in my book :)

        3. RosyGlasses*

          You could always use a bit of all purpose gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes one) or use arrowroot powder as thickener. It is GF.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That depends a lot on your recipe. What are you using? Basic saucy mac and cheese starts with a bechamel, but if you’re gluten free, you’re not doing a traditional one, so it’s tough to say where you’re going wrong without knowing your ingredients and steps.

      1. Clisby*

        One type of basic mac & cheese starts with bechamel, but IMO the best doesn’t involve that at all. Maybe it’s what the LW calls the “casserole” method, but essentially you cook the pasta until it’s al dente. In a bowl, combine egg, milk, salt, pepper. Grate extra-sharp cheddar cheese (or cut into small cubes.) Toss cheese with pasta, pour liquid over, and bake. I like the consistency a lot better than with the bechamel sauce.

        However, I’ve never tried to make GF mac & cheese, so I don’t know whether there are specific things to tweak with this recipe.

    3. Tib*

      You’ve got two challenges: finding pasta that will hold up to boiling, being mixed with the hot cheese sauce, and possibly being baked; and making cheese sauce without flour. You can undercook the pasta somewhat to allow for the cooking that will happen later, but also some gf brands hold up better than others.

      For the cheese sauce, I found that using something like potato starch or potato flour worked well as a thickening agent and was cheaper than using a gf flour substitute. You could also try corn starch or tapioca starch for a milder flavor. It takes some practice to use these things, so maybe experiment by making gravy first. But I’d get your cheese sauce recipe and technique set first and then work on adding the pasta.

      The thing to remember is that wheat flour and recipes that use it have grown up together through the ages, each modifying the other to suit a need. We’ve only had a few decades of the substitutes and they often can give similar results, but it can take a significant amount of trial and error to get there. It helps to see every new recipe as an experiment.

      1. Batgirl*

        I like the idea of focusing on cheese sauce only first. That’s what’s really evading me: I can’t get it liquidy enough. As for pasta, I have a few types I like from rice, rice/corn to red lentil and since they take the same amount of time to boil as wheat pasta, I’m not sure they’re the issue. It’s my inexperience with the dish and the different ways of making it.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Commercial cheese sauces use sodium citrate for that smooth texture that doesn’t clump up. You can buy it – I’ve seen recipes that call for it.

          I use a stovetop sauce myself, and the liquidiness is mostly a matter of the balance between the amount of thickener and the amount of liquid. If you’re using cornstarch, mix the cornstarch with some cold milk and add to the simmering milk a bit at a time, until the milk is thickened, but still runnier than you want. Then add the grated cheese. The sauce will thicken more as it cools, and as some of the liquid is absorbed by the pasta. I use a pretty runny sauce, mix with al-dente pasta, and let it sit for a few minutes for my favourite consistency.

          The cooking time with the pasta isn’t the issue, it’s more a texture problem. With standard wheat pasta, I cook the pasta al-dente (ie, so it’s still fairly firm), mix with the pasta and let it absorb some of the liquid. That results in pasta that’s perfectly cooked – not too firm, but not mushy. Gluten free pasta cooks quite differently, so you can end up with an end result that’s too chewy, or too mushy, or gummy (probably one of the latter two). I’d try cooking the pasta less than you think you need, mixing with a liquidy sauce, and not letting it sit too long before eating.

          1. Batgirl*

            Of course! It’s ‘setting’ as it cools. Thank you for the detail you’ve provided here.

      2. Clisby*

        You don’t have to make a cheese sauce with flour/cornstarch/whatever. That’s just one method of making mac & cheese.

    4. Batgirl*

      So to add more details; I’ve made a version in the oven with eggs which is essentially al dente pasta with melted butter, evaporated milk, eggs and grated cheese mixed together over it and shredded cheese over the top. https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/classic-mac-and-cheese-gluten-free/
      Also, this version which starts with a roux on top of the stove, then add the milk and the cheese with a bit of seasoning and mix with prepared gluten free pasta. https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/easy-stovetop-gluten-free-mac-and-cheese/

      1. Clisby*

        This is my favorite method, although I generally use a combination of milk & cream instead of evaporated milk. I also put in a combination of grated cheese and little chunks of cheese. (I haven’t tried to do it with GF pasta, but it’s my favorite method with regular pasta.) Also sprinkle in a little cayenne, or chop up a jalapeno pepper and stir in if you like spicy food.

        1. Batgirl*

          Yeah I think the evaporated milk might be too thick/sweet/cloying but it’s hard to know if I’ve picked on the wrong suspect.

      2. Stitching Away*

        Celiac here!

        When I was making mac and cheese (before the type 1 diabetes and severe milk allergy developed, oops) I started with a roux (equal parts butter and King Arthur’s flour sub) and then slowly added milk. Stirring is key. Once all the milk is added, add in the cheese. If it’s too thick, add more milk, until you get the texture you want, this is a very easy thing to play with. More cheese makes thicker, more milk makes thinner. And you can add whatever seasonings you like – I always did garlic, usually some chipotle, lots of pepper, anything else that seemed good. I would mix in a couple pounds of gf pasta (tinkyada is good!) and then a ton of diced (cooked) chicken and some veggies, cover in gf breadcrumbs and parm, and bake for 45-60 minutes.

        It takes time, but what I would do is bake a huge tray, then after it cooled, cut into meal sized portions and freeze them individually. Then whenever I wanted a quick mac and cheese, I just popped it in the microwave.

        1. Amey*

          +1 to this method, this is exactly what we do! I’m celiac too and always just use a gluten free flour blend (that I have on hand for other things) and follow these steps. It’s great! You can make the sauce thinner or thicker by having more or less milk (I’m with you I prefer it not quite as thick and stodgy).

        2. Batgirl*

          This sounds like it might be simple advice to those in the know but I really need it! It’s not a common dish in Britain and I had no idea if it was flour that was responsible for thickening it or cheese; so thanks! I absolutely want to freeze portions so this was very helpful.

          1. Stitching Away*

            Glad to help! Once you know the chemistry behind recipes, it can make a huge difference to get the result the way you want.

            I’m from the US, but I lived in the UK for a year, and that really threw my cooking.

    5. Double A*

      Are you still trying for this to be a quick and easy recipe or are you just trying for some delicious mac and cheese?

      I love the Budget Bytes Bacon & Broccoli Mac and cheese. Just use gluten free pasta. The trader Joe’s brown rice or brown rice and quinoa is our go-to; we’re not gf, but that’s pretty much the only pasta we use. I’ve found other brands of brown rice pasta disintegrate.

      The cheese sauce uses evaporated milk so it’s gluten free.

      1. Batgirl*

        Id prefer it to be quick and easy, but I will definitely spend some time on the right recipe.

        1. Double A*

          It’s not that this recipe is hard, it’s just not as easy as boxed Mac and cheese, you know? And if you skipped the bacon, it would be super easy. For some reason I find cooking bacon annoying. But this recipe makes great leftovers, so you could make a big batch so a little extra effort up front means less work the following days.

    6. ampersand*

      Don’t overcook your GF pasta. I usually use Tinkyada and I have to made it al dente or it disintegrates. I’ve had good luck with Barilla brand holding up well. I can’t speak to the cheese sauce issue, but maybe try different pasta brands if you can to find one that holds up well.

    7. Girasol*

      Mom used to boil macaroni, then warm a little milk with Velveeta cubes in it until they melted, and then stir it all together. For years whenever I mentioned mac-and-cheese in Dad’s hearing, he’d say “You don’t use Velveeta like your mother did, do you?? Ugh!” But when I looked for recipes the other day hoping to find a better one, I was surprised how many called for Velveeta. I might have to break down and try it again. Velveeta mac and cheese was my favorite food as a kid.

    8. not that Leia*

      There is an excellent Mac n cheese recipe from serious eats that uses condensed milk and cheese only for the sauce—I have found it creamier (and also more similar to packages Mac n cheese) than versions with a bechamel. It’s also very fast & easy. I e only made it with regular pasta, but it seems like you could substitute gf pasta pretty straightforwardly.

    9. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I can’t help with the pasta but you can make a roux using GF flour and then make a good GF cheesy sauce

      1/4 cup butter
      1/4 cup GF flour
      2 cups milk
      8 oz. grated cheese (I like sharp cheddar and Swiss)
      8 oz GF pasta cooked to al dente

      Melt butter in saucepan
      Add flour and cook for a few minutes
      Add milk and heat to hot but not boiling
      Add cheese and stir until melted
      Remove from heat and stir in cooked pasta
      Pour into greased casserole
      Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top
      Bake at 350 for about 25 min

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      I follow the recipe / technique of a faux roux and that speeds up making the sauce. Plus you can adjust the consistency with some milk if you’d like. The Kitchn website has a recipe “How To Make the Best Macaroni and Cheese on the Stove” (just Google that exactly and you will get the recipe). I’d recommend following the recipe as written at first, but I have found it easy to tweak for my preferences (like adding a little butter to the pasta before the cheese sauce). I recommend using either tinkyada or jovial pasta if you can find either brand. You still have to make sure that you don’t cook them too much, but I’ve had the best luck with those and I usually use tinkyada for Mac and cheese. I make enough for leftovers, so the pasta breaks up when those are reheated, but it doesn’t get mushy. I also recommend using very flavorful cheese (such as sharp cheddar) and grating it from a block.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Forgot to add. I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1 gf flour blend for the flour called for in the recipe. It works just fine!

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My family’s standard mac and cheese has a sauce thickened with cornstarch. It’s Mueller’s baked mac and cheese recipe, if you want to search for it. It’s a couple steps, but not too complicated. It’s one of our family’s standard potluck foods and we rarely bring any home. I may be biased, but it’s exactly what mac and cheese should be. Use butter instead of margarine and sharp cheddar for the cheese.

      I’ve no experience with gluten free pasta, but I’d suggest trying other shapes instead of the normal elbow macaroni. We use penne because the holes are big enough for the cheese sauce to get inside.

  39. Peppermint Patty*

    Does anyone else hate traveling? We just got back from a week’s vacation and I am exhausted! It seemed like the majority of our trip was spent driving from one place to another, trying to see everything, spending sometimes 3-5 hours a day just driving from place to place. By day three, I am grumpy, tired and just want to be home again. Perfect vacation for me is hanging out with old friends at a cabin, doing NOTHING, but catching up, drinking, laughing and relaxing!! What about you?

    1. ATX*

      Lol I definitely do not hate it but also don’t spend time like that driving in the car to see the sights.

      If it’s a week travel, I would only spend it in one place but have enough to do to keep me occupied so that tons of driving isn’t needed. Perhaps one day trip somewhere else.

      Most of my travels are 2-3 weeks where I spend 4-6 days in one place.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I really don’t enjoy driving. I went to visit friends, two hours up, visit for several hours and two hours to come back home. I slept most of the day the next day. I enjoyed my friends, their place is lovely and I had a great time. But I was still exhausted. My dog was the opposite, “Let’s go do that again!!” ha.
      It’s a lotta work.

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

      I’m one who enjoys road trips and being on the road, so driving is part of my vacation. I hate flying — it’s too stressful to be on their schedule and at their mercy, and too many people. Other than that, I’m like you with wanting to relax more than pack in activities on a vacation.

    4. Bobina*

      Oooh I like travelling but not the kind you describe. Driving throughout (unless its a road trip) is definitely not relaxing. If I was away for a week, I’d probably alternate days being active and days just chilling. I know some people who really like to be active on holiday and *doing stuff* all the time, but like you say, thats not relaxing at all for me!

    5. RagingADHD*

      I like being in different places, but not the transportation part. Three to 5 hours of driving a day isn’t a vacation to me at all. That sounds awful.

      I like sightseeing on foot, or taking the train for day trips. That’s why I enjoy New York, the UK, and older cities in Europe.

      I’d like to try a river cruise at some point. It seems like my speed.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I like traveling, but if it’s by car, I prefer not to do all the driving. I like trains and flying is okay if it’s not too long a trip. If I go abroad, I like to take a night flight so it goes by faster. Coming back, it’s always a day flight and I just have to endure it. I wish there was a way to fly back at night, but that doesn’t seem to be a thing.

      1. Clisby*

        I like going to different places. I just don’t like getting there. If I could somehow teleport to my destination, I’d be happy.

          1. Clisby*

            I’m already dreading an upcoming family visit to Ohio. I know from experience that once I get there, I’ll have a great time. It’s just all that driving between SC and Ohio.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh man, that would be perfect.
          Unless….*points to the Stephen King short story “The Jaunt”* 0_O

    7. Paris Geller*

      This is an interesting question because I’ve had conservations with both one of my best friends and with my boyfriend about this. I do like traveling, but for me “traveling” and “vacation” serve two different purposes. I love going to a new place, exploring, meeting new people, learning new things, etc. . . but I don’t find it relaxing. It is, as you said, exhausting. A vacation/staycation that is hanging by a pool sipping drinks with little umbrellas while I read three novels in a day? That’s a vacation. What I’ve tried to do now is if I’m taking a week off work, (so I have nine total free days–a work week and two weekends), I’ll do say, a 5 day trip and then give myself a little 3 or 4 day break. Not always feasible when you’re traveling with others, but I’ve found that’s what works best with me.

    8. AY*

      I love those kinds of vacations when I’m not the one driving! I can read in the car, so the travel time flies by for me. But when I’m driving, I get tired and cranky easily.

    9. The Dude Abides*

      I’ve done enough long-distance driving for various hobbies/interests that a 2-3 hour drive doesn’t bother me.

      Traveling for pleasure just doesn’t interest me. Flights, hotel, eating out for almost every meal, I just don’t get enough out of it to justify the expense.

    10. twocents*

      I love traveling, but the getting there and back is exhausting. I always need an extra day to recover once I get home.

    11. allathian*

      My husband likes road trips, but he’s also the designated driver when we go, so that’s okay. In 2019 during our road trip around the Baltic Sea, we spent two days walking around in Berlin during a heatwave, and then we decided to drive through Poland without stopping except to eat and go to the restroom, more than 12 hours in the car was a bit much even for me!

  40. Cookie D'oh*

    I’m considering fostering kittens for the shelter where I volunteer. I will need to keep them separated from my five resident cats.

    I have a spare bedroom and my adult cats have done fine in there when I went through the process of introducing them to the household. I went to take a look at it and I don’t think it’s kitten proof.

    I have an octagon shaped playpen. I think it’s around 5 feet wide. Another option is a bathroom in our finished basement. If I use the playpen, I would keep that in the basement too.

    I’m leaning towards the bathroom. It has a sink, toilet and shower still, so no curtain that can be climbed. I think it will be easier to clean. It’s not a huge bathroom, but it would be bigger than a cage at the shelter.

    I was thinking of lining the shower area with blankets for a cozy area and setting up a box I’d they want a place to hide. I would also keep a nightlight in there so it’s not pitch dark.

    I WFH so I’ll be able to check on them multiple times a day.

    I’ve only ever had adult cats, so any tips for fostering kittens for the first time?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My worry about using the bathroom is that kittens really need a lot of socialization time with you, and so you’d need to spend a ton of time in the bathroom. Ideally it would be a room where you can hang out more easily — not just checking on them, but really spending long stretches of time in there. Also, unless they’re very tiny, I’d want them to have more space for zooming around. I think you could use the bathroom as a transition area (like for the first few days) but I’d want them in a different space after that.

      Can you kitten-proof the spare bedroom?

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        I took another look at the spare bedroom and maybe it’s not so bad. The main pieces of furniture in there are a queen size bed and a few shelves with a bunch of DVDS/Blu-Rays. There is one window with blinds. If the kittens got on the bed they might be able to reach the strings on the blinds, but I could put them out of the way.

        There a couple of old computer monitors that can be moved to the closet, but no other electronics or wires to speak of.

        Not sure how concerned I should be about them getting under the bed. There are some boxes and bedding stored in bags under there. I guess my other concern would be them trying to scale the shelves, but I have no idea if they would be interested in something like that.

        I have no idea how many kittens I’ll be getting or their disposition. I could start them off in the playpen in the spare bedroom and then open up the playpen once they get a bit settled.

        1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

          Kittens will get everywhere, it’s in their nature. You may want to consider removing the bed or possibly the frame and setting the mattress/boxspring on the floor. Maybe swap it entirely for a couch or futon instead.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The room I used to keep foster kittens in had a bed in it and they did go under it at first when they wanted to feel safe, but were easily coaxed out with toys. I wouldn’t worry about the bed! I’d just make sure they can’t pull down the shelves.

        3. Stitching Away*

          Unless they are sealed in that playpen, or under 6 weeks old, they’re staying in the playpen for approximately 15 minutes.

    2. Foster kitten mama*

      You might have to do litter training, so best to keep them on a floor that can be mopped. I recommend buying several disposable litter boxes with pellet litter. Put one in every spot they have accidents. If they’re old enough and have been raised by a mama cat (not orphaned), they might already be litter trained.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Hopefully I can get some of those details before I pick them up. I know the ones I’ve seen at the shelter are pretty good about using the the boxes in their cages, but I’m not sure what kind of kitties I’ll end up with. They use non clumping litter at the shelter, but I the pellet stuff actually looks easier to clean up.

  41. GoryDetails*

    Reading thread!

    As usual I have several books in progress; some recent discoveries that I’m enjoying very much are:

    ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, an epistolary SF novel in which two teens on a remote mining planet survive a surprise attack that destroys their home, and wind up on separate ships fleeing the attacker while attempting to cope with new and more terrifying trials. The presentation via documents, emails, transcriptions of video files and other media is quite entrancing, with humor and suspense and an intriguing plot.

    GLISTER by Andi Watson: a collection of comics, short stories all set in the near-sentient Chilblain Hall, where young Glister Butterworth copes with ghosts with literary designs, visiting tourists, a tree that grows ancestors (makes sense in context), and more. Very funny and charming.

    THE BUS DRIVER WHO WANTED TO BE GOD by Etgar Keret, a short-story collection with odd, sometimes-surreal, sometimes-gritty plots and characters – it kept surprising me.

    And for some traditional lit, I’m listening to Anthony Trollope’s CAN YOU FORGIVE HER on audio – some really good interpersonal-relationship issues and psychology there.

    [Erk – lost my connection while trying to post; hope this doesn’t wind up as a duplicate!]

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Right now I’m reading “Detox Your Thoughts” after the author did a guest post here! I don’t really go for self-help type books but this one sounded very relevant to my current mindset and has had some helpful sections for me.

      Also reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” and enjoying it – I don’t love the other Brontes but I wanted to give Anne a chance!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of those that I didn’t appreciate in my younger days, but that struck me as much more interesting once I had more life-experience under my belt. (There’s a good audiobook version of it as well, btw, narrated by Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter; I really enjoyed that.)

    2. anon24*

      I read Stephen King’s new book, Billy Summers this week. It released Tuesday and I finished it Wednesday. It’s about a former Iraqi war vet turned assassin who only takes hits on “bad people” and gets hired to do a job that pays very well but also feels a little wonky. The one downside with King is that he’s known for being… not great with writing his female characters and there were a few moments where I was shaking my head going, no, no woman would act like that, but overall I liked it and will read it again.

      He’s gotten away from the horror genre (not that it was ever all he could do, I love his fantasy) and I’ve found that I don’t like his newer novels as much. Compared to his older novels Billy Summers was not as good, but King is still my favorite author and I couldn’t put it down. There’s something in the way he writes that sucks me in like no other author does, and with King you’re not promised a happy ending so its agonizing waiting to see if the protagonist will make it out ok or not.

    3. Rara Avis*

      I just read Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost, a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. Surprisingly suspenseful, given that I know the original pretty well.

      1. Bluebell*

        If you’re up for another modern retelling of Jane Eyre, The Wife Upstairs takes place in a wealthy Alabama suburb. I liked it a lot.

    4. CJM*

      Right now I’m rereading the first book in the Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon. It’s been a few years (long enough that I can’t remember who the bad guy is), and I’m in the mood for her kind of writing. I’ve tried a few other series recommended by the same friend who introduced me to Brunetti, but they haven’t been nearly as satisfying. I enjoy Leon’s balance of dialog, likeable characters, and setting (Venice).

      1. I take tea*

        I have liked the Donna Leon books well enough, as soon as I learned that not every detail matters. I used to get exhausted trying to remember the colour of Brunetti’s tie, because surely it must be important when it’s mentioned. I have read too much Golden Age, I think.

    5. AY*

      I love those Anthony Trollope titles. I remember watching a TV series of “He Knew He Was Right” and I just love that the whole theme of the book is right there in the title. Can’t miss it!

      I just finished Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, and it was a delight! Started The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (love