weekend open thread – September 11-12, 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.

Recommendation of the week: Instead of a book, this week I’m recommending a Netlix series: The Chair, about drama in a college English department. It’s like a David Lodge novel come to life. Highly enjoyable.

{ 1,067 comments… read them below }

  1. Come On Eileen*

    My birthday is coming up at the end of this month and I’m turning 47. I’m single, if it matters, and looking for some way to celebrate — likely on my own since most of my friends are still feeling very hesitant about get-togethers with the state of COVID, wildfires in Cali, etc. I live in Sacramento, CA. Last year I rented an AirBNB in Mendocino for a few nights and drove there for some downtime. It was great and I’d love to do something similar this year, within a few hour’s drive of where I am. I love quaint, small towns, places where I can sit on a porch, near water, gaze at nature, read my book, cook a nice meal or go out, maybe find a place to explore the outdoors with my kayak or just for a hike. I don’t drink so anything centered around wine is out for me, but other than that I’m truly open. Any ideas of towns I should check out, rentals or cottages I should look into?

      1. Nevada County*

        Nevada City & Grass Valley are quaint, have some cute B&Bs, some restaurants are open, and the smoke has cleared out. An hour to Lake Tahoe for a day trip. Or stay in Tahoe. Either place has great hiking.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I loved the Monterey Bay aquarium. I could spend several days there. The area nearby is lovely and there are good waterfront activities.

      1. jackie*

        i loved it too when i was there in 2018. 5 “selfies” that i took of the inhabitants are printed and framed and displayed in my bathroom!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also a relatively easy hop over to Saratoga for a visit to Hakone Gardens. (Website says the public the tea ceremonies have restarted.) Somewhere in that vicinity is the tree-lined highway traveled in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. (In the 80s it was still recognizable, which may not be the case now.)
        And Half Moon Bay and Carmel…sigh. Now I’ve gone and made myself homesick for a place I only lived 4 years.

    2. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

      Sea Ranch? Gualala? Bodega Bay is super cute, even though it’s where Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was set. And Happy Birthday!

        1. It's Growing!*

          Bodega Bay has the *best* fish and chips out on Spud’s Point! We had halibut – drool. Bodega Bay would be a good place to spend a few days.

          Our neighbors have just gone back to Gualala for the weekend. They’ve found it to be a great place to unwind. (Pro tip: do not type “Gualala” into a text and send without checking the spelling. We told our son-in-law that we were driving back from “Guadalajara” and would be back in an hour. It caused much confusion.)

      1. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

        Consider the Requa Inn an hour further north in the town of Klamath. We just did a mini vacation there. Their breakfast was amazing!

    3. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Carmel is cute beach town. And Watsonville is not cute but we got a great deal on a beautiful little beach cottage with a hot tub right on the bluff with direct access to the beach right off of Sunset State Beach. Watsonville is an easy drive to Moss Landing (kayaking on the slough or take a pontoon boat tour) and close to Monterey (aquarium, etc.)

      1. Retired(but not really)*

        Sad to hear that. I loved my tour of that with a friend (former college housemate) many years ago. If you ever do get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I was just coming to say that Cambria (just south of San Simeon) may tick all your boxes. I know its a bit further from Sac, but its quiet, nice walks along the coast, near San Simeon, some really great food outlets and you are near vineyards in Paso Robles if you want to do winetasting. Its a bit off the beaten path but we found a fantastic Air BnB there and really enjoyed the few days we had and remember it fondly.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Op sorry I see you said no wine, but thats ok, we never did that either!

          To note – its just to the south of Big Sur and we did the very southern portion on an afternoon up to where the bridge had washed out that year. There are some decent hiking trail in that area, and it looks like you can also do some sea kayaking.

    4. Another_scientist*

      The buckeye tree lodge at the gate of Sequoia NP has rooms and cabins by the river, and a few nice places to eat in the nearby village.

    5. California Girl*

      We just got back from camping in the redwoods in Humboldt county. Air quality was pretty good as it’s pretty near the ocean. Euereka has a nice waterfront and beautiful old Victorian homes. Lots of quiet and beautiful trails thru the redwoods. Highly recommend!

    6. Alex*

      Hello from San Jose! I highly recommend visiting the Avenue of the Giants/Lost Coast/Humboldt area. Specifically Arcata (cute college town) and Ferndale. Eureka is a nice place to base yourself up there.

    7. Lyly bell*

      I just went to Big Sur for my 45th birthday, by myself, and it was perfect. I don’t drink either. Stayed at Big Sur Lodge so had a cabin with a kitchen and porch all to myself, and it was close to plenty of places to walk on the beach, hike in the woods, or sit at a restaurant. On the drive up (from LA) I stopped for lunch in Cambria, which was a cute little town, but more beach and less nature than Big Sur. Cute for a day but probably not a weekend (for me anyway). Happy early birthday!

    8. Pam*

      I always like to spread my birthday over multiple days. Lunch here, dinner there, a short trip- it’s always fun!

    9. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Anything driving up or down Highway 1 on the coast had a special, vacation-y feel to me when I lived in CA! I think PCH is now opened up all the way after the mudslide near Big Sur, but you might want to double-check. before you go.

    10. Berkeleyfarm*

      I’d like to add the little town of Benicia to your possibilities list – historic downtown main drag, on the water, near the great outdoors. Very “cute small town” vibe.

      If you go, get take-out from One House Bakery – I am looking forward to going back there after Delta goes down.

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      Here’s another recommendation for the North Coast–Trinidad, Arcata, Eureka area. I’m actually taking a solo birthday trip myself up there myself later this month. The coast has been consistently clear of smoke as of now. Enderts Beach at Redwood National Park is lovely to explore, you can kayak in Humboldt Bay, and September is the peak of the dramatic mating season for elk. They are routinely visible in the area of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, frequently right next to the road.

    12. mreasy*

      SLO County has a lot of options – beaches (sunny and foggy types), tons of hiking, wine tasting in Paso, plus cute little towns like Cambria (fancy side) and Morro Bay (close by, much less shopping-focused, plus otters). The weather is usually good (way hotter in north county & temperate/chilly on the coast). SLO itself and Paso have some good restaurants & coffee shops, (Paso has amazing low-priced antique stores too).

    13. Quiet Liberal*

      We lived in Capitola and Santa Cruz back in the 80’s. I remember some fun shops and restaurants on the beach in both places, but don’t know how those places are now. This discussion brings back many fond memories, though. Happy Birthday, COE!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Excellent suggestion. Lovely trails, beaches, wildlife and the town of Point Reyes Station has interesting shops, art galleries, and excellent food. There are a few teeny towns to check out in the area–Tomales, Inverness, and Marshall.

    14. TiffIf*

      Have you done the national parks near you? Yosemite? Sequoia?

      A few years ago I took a solo trip to Yellowstone and it was fantastic.

    15. Pregnant During COVID*

      Don’t think I saw these recommended above. Houseboat rental in Tomales Bay. Cabin rental in Calistoga. I miss CA!

  2. Aphrodite*

    De-cluttering, anyone?

    I am a follower of Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. Josh has both a blog and a YouTube channel. Over the last few weeks I have been watching (from old to new) most of his short videos on various topics related to decluttering. He is a former minister and has a soothing, calming persona that make his thoughtful comments especially appealing.

    I am not a fan of self-help topics but this particular person/subject appeals to me because I think it is not just a good idea but offers an oasis of calm positiveness when so much else seems negative, angry or out of control. It’s all too easy to get caught up in that awfulness both in news and “entertainment” and truth to tell I don’t want to spend any time there. I subscribe to the New York Times but I only read the Covid information, nothing else. I don’t watch or see news anywhere else. My life, like most, has its difficulties at work and at home, and I need to save that emotional and physical energy to successfully handle those difficulties as they arise. Keeping a very positive and warm influence is essential to that.

    A couple of weekends ago, on Friday evening/Saturday morning (until around 2:00 am), I was watching and then practicing de-cluttering. I am not a person who has a lot of things. I’ve always preferred less than more but after watching a number of Josh’s videos I found myself turning off the computer and looking with a strongly motivated eye at my home. I already had a car trunk load of stuff that I hadn’t gotten to the thrift store for the past month and it was beginning to annoy me whenever I got in my car. But I was ready to go! I decided to start in the kitchen and within a couple of hours I had a huge pile of things to add. In fact, when I put it in my car later Saturday morning I had to fill the back seat because the trunk had no more room.

    Things I got rid of in both clean-outs included (but were not limited to): clothes, shoes, glasses, chargers, dishes, table linens and napkins, several small appliances including an electric steamer and a new gifted high-end air fryer, my late mother’s gorgeous silver-plated (but unused) coffee and tea set, and books. I also went through those scrapbooks and photo albums in the closets and removed the very few pictures I wanted, around six of them, and tossed everything else. I kept the slides and negatives I knew were mine and this weekend took them to a developing lab. I don’t miss them the ones I tossed. Keeping a bunch on a closet shelf where they are rarely if ever looked at anyway is, in my opinion, useless. Far better to have a few and have them where I see them every day.

    Do you know that I intend to keep on doing this? I love the empty closet, drawer and cabinet spaces. I love feeling oddly lighter, almost lighter than air. I love knowing that whatever I want to cook–stuff that small appliances were designed to do–can be done in the oven or on the stovetop or not at all. I love the free space, not just the physical kind but the mental and emotional kind as well. I love that even a semi-minimalist can de-clutter even more, not miss it, and still be surrounded by things I love: my gallery walls, the bookcases with some books, my silly lobster, some Eiffel Tower things, an old Moroccan teapot, and more things that make me smile.

    Last weekend, I finally made it to my favorite thrift store. They are wholly run and staffed by volunteers so that about 95%-98% of what money earn goes out to support community organizations including those that service seniors, low-income families, and more.

    So I am utterly content. I will continue to clean out; I think the closet can get at least 25% smaller. I did good. And I feel better.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for the tip which is timely for me. I did a purge a few months ago but I can use guidance on digging deeper for another round of decluttering. I’ll check out Becoming Minimalist.

    2. English Rose*

      Yes, I like Joshua Becker’s work as well. He’s very balanced. Some more extreme minimalists make it into a “who can live with the least” competition, which misses the point about intentionality and what’s appropriate for the individual/family. Like you I love art and have also have gallery walls. And books and some lovely pieces of pottery.

      Lots more I am decluttering, but not making it into a race. (Plus as Suzy Q says, in the UK lots of our charity shops are limiting what they will accept.)

      It is definitely freeing.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My hardest part about being a reformed packrat trying to purge? Being married to someone who is more comfortable with lots of stuff around.
      That’s way too deep for this forum LOL!
      I’ll take solace in knowing that my teenager has discovered that less stuff is easier to organize.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      That is so wonderful to hear! I got on a similar kick when I watched Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix a few years ago. It is more difficult for me because I live with my husband and child, who are not so much into the minimalism (although child gets into a mood occasionally and suddenly a trunkful of stuff will appear for Goodwill, and her room is meticulously organized, so there’s hope for her :). Still, even clearing out stuff that was just mine like extra clothing and books also gave me a feeling of being much lighter like you describe. I’m probably due for another round of decluttering, actually, and this guy’s blog sounds delightful.

      1. Batgirl*

        I love Marie Kondo because her rules for what you keep and what you don’t boil down to what makes you happy, regardless of how often you use it or value, or it being a gift or any of the guilt impulses which bind us to things. She’s also really respectful to the items, almost advising you to let them go for their own good, like a potential partner that you don’t love. It won’t be for everyone of course, but I’m always baffled by those who severely criticise her method when it is so freely adaptable. I moved from a three bed house into a bedroom at home, then my sister moved home too (with her husband, kids and dogs), which has cramped us further, and we will remain cramped until our house purchases are complete. So I have done allll the decluttering it is possible to do. It’s surprising how little I actually need to make my happy, and my current situation is teaching me that the main thing I need to be happy is space!

        1. Observer*

          but I’m always baffled by those who severely criticise her method when it is so freely adaptable

          I’d say that it’s because her approach is fundamentally wasteful. It’s one thing to say “This item is EXTREMELY useful, but I hate and I only use it once every 5 years, so I’ll get rid of it and get a new one when I need it.” It’s quite another to say “I need to use this once a month, but I’m going to treat it as disposable.”

          Also, it seems to me to be the hardest to adapt to group living, even if that “group” is a couple.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I don’t think that’s what she’s saying, though? Some items need to be kept, even if they don’t spark joy – like tax papers or a toilet plunger. But things like most clothes, toys, knickknacks, random kitchen junk — why keep it if it has no utility and doesn’t make you happy?

            1. Observer*

              her rules for what you keep and what you don’t boil down to what makes you happy, regardless of how often you use it

              Except for this. Most of the other stuff is ok, most of the time. But the idea that something you use often should be discarded because it “doesn’t bring you joy”.

              1. ThatGirl*

                it’s not meant to be that rigid, that’s one person’s interpretation. I watched the Netflix series; she does not say to throw useful and frequently used items away.

              2. ThatGirl*

                To elaborate a bit, I think I see the misunderstanding, what Batgirl was saying is it’s ok to keep things you /don’t/ use that often because they bring you joy, not the other way around.

              3. Peg*

                Yeah that’s kind of a backwards interpretation. You’re meant to first keep what you need and use. Out of everything that’s left – meaning, things that aren’t *necessary* or frequently used, that’s when you look at it and ask if it brings you joy. Meaning you keep everything you use, and are even able to keep things you don’t use as long as you really love them and they make you happy.

    5. Traveling Light*

      I’ve been pretty minimalist for many years now, and I think a key aspect is also breaking the habit of purchasing and re-accumulating more stuff again over time. Otherwise, it’s just an endless loop of decluttering. One thing that’s helpful is adopting some core principles about buying stuff. For me, I have to either use it a lot or know that I’ll really enjoy it — and really being honest with myself about what might feel good in the moment vs. something I’d sincerely appreciate adding to my life. And, oddly, I don’t really sacrifice anything, and there’s no guilt when I do splurge because I know it’s not an impulse buy. I’ve just really fine-tuned how I spend my money and use my space. It’s so much easier that way.

      1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings§*

        I agree this is key. I’ve had really thorough clean-outs of my closet several times, but always slowly accumulated more stuff. A few years ago, I resolved to stop decluttering my closet (basically the opposite of what every blog post seems to recommend) and honestly that has worked much better for me…I like variety in my wardrobe, so I’d rather just ‘shop my closet’ than clear it out and get more stuff.

        On the other hand, I’ve been very happy with my decluttering of kitchen and household gadgets/appliances, and recreational gear (would rather rent, even if it’s a little costlier over time!).

      2. the cat's ass*

        Love this; also true of me! I think COVID broke that habit because i liked to shop in person. I’ve been slowly sifting through things and doing the toss/donate/regift thing with a great deal of satisfaction. The GS troop we’re in also does a LOT of yard sales and it’s a lot of fun watching happy people carry former treasures out of my life while supporting our troop.

      3. Hairy*

        I’m having a problem with re-accumulating stuff right now. I started a new job a few months ago, and they keep giving us promo items with the company logo on them (an insulated lunch box, an insulated tumbler, etc.). It’s really nice, practical things that I like…but I also don’t need them (like I already have an insulated lunch box and a insulated tumbler). I want to keep them because they’re nice, but at the same time am annoyed to have extra things laying around that don’t get used. And I’m not sure if you can donate that kind of stuff?

        1. EngineerGal*

          Just don’t ever take them home. If you can don’t pick one up and if something does get forced on you, give it to a coworker-somebody wants swag cause it’s free

          In my 30+ years in software, I have received so much cheap crap -really wish companies would think before they print

          1. Hairy*

            Yeah, instead of the company spending a bunch of money on promo stuff I don’t need, I’d rather just get a small Amazon or Target gift card. Or even a free lunch or snack one day.

            When leftover promo items from company events are left out for anyone to take, I definitely avoid that area so I’m not tempted to take anything. The stuff I end up taking home is the stuff specifically bought for employee “appreciation” that gets left on our desks. It’s hard to give it to other people on my team right now because we’re all on different work-from-home schedules and don’t see each other often. Maybe I can find a friend to pass them along to.

        2. Edwina*

          Consider donating them to organizations that work with homeless people. They are happy to take almost anything–and most of them have fund-raising thrift stores, as well, and again, if there’s a very low-income population around them, that population would be thrilled with insulated lunch boxes and so forth, regardless of any logo.

      4. Aphrodite*

        Absolutely! If you are a successful de-clutterer, learning about yourself and your habits and making the changes you want to make then over time it will become less necessary and eventually cease. I know for me that is true. I have bought almost no clothing in several years excepting one purchase of ten identical black cotton tee shirt dresses for work. (Becker has a video on wearing the same thing and as we were being called back to work on campus over August, and it’s hot here, I decided to get them so, like him, there is no decision about what to wear. The other clothes I have will eventually when they wear out and I am replacing or adding nothing except underwear as needed.

        I am also very happy with my radical kitchen clean out. It has actually made dinner choices a lot easier because I have only a few pots and pans and, with very few exceptions like a toaster, blender, food processor, salad spinner, dehydrator, and the stove and oven. I put out good basic meals and I am not overwhelmed with all those speciality appliances that are good at inducing guilt of not using them .

        I find I eye all products with a “does this fit into my non-clutter mental and physical environment” question in the forefront of my mind. And I find that the more I think that way the more my mind automatically rejects buying. (That’s not to say I don’t enjoy looking. I do enjoy online browsing, particularly during the the last three months of the year–all those holiday decorations and scenes!–but I don’t want to buy that clutter.

      5. Decluttering Librarian*

        To avoid re-accumulating, I have a “space rule.”
        Partly inspired by the 90-90 and 20-20 rules of the Minimalists, I created my own rule that is based on the space I have.
        I have one shelf in the house for books. Books can only live there and if I fill the space and buy something else, then a book I own has to go.
        I use one hanging rack and about 60 hangers for all my clothing (plus drawers for small things, socks, etc). If I buy a new piece of clothing, something else has to go.

        This helps me a lot!

        1. Reba*

          I also have a one-in, one-out rule that I follow pretty well for my wardrobe. This comment hit me though, as someone with quite a few more books than bookshelf space at the moment. Ouch! I’m feeling almost ready to take a box to half price books or whatever — I’m much more likely to be able to do a sweep when the mood strikes, than to take care of this problem as it arises, one or two books at a time.

        2. Inspired Now!*

          This is a great rule, I’ve heard of it (and try to apply it) for clothes but never thought of it for books … maybe tools, gardening stuff, kitchen gadgets?


    6. Saturday Zen*

      Thank you for this. I’ve been de cluttering with the idea that we’ll need to downsize & move. Eventually. I thought I’d de clutter then. But it feels so much lighter to de clutter now & in a peaceful way instead of in a frantic rush when the move comes. Things that I’d stored forever I now easily toss.

    7. RosyGlasses*

      I love cleaning out and minimizing – the energy is so light and positive when I release items that are just taking up space. Marie Kondo has been my inspiration- especially last year after watching her Netflix series.

    8. Decluttering Librarian*

      I actually teach a class on decluttering for my local public library!
      I have my own “method” inspired by:
      Joshua Becker
      Courtney Carver (Be more with less, Project 333)
      The minimalists (Josh Fields and Ryan Nicodemus)
      and a little Marie Kondo

      I’ll post a link to the online classes I made during covid in case anyone wants to know more.

      Mostly I have really only applied the method to my clothing and a few areas of the house and I am so surprised with the way it lightens the mental load – and I would never be described as someone who is focused on clothing!

      Now we are moving from a 3 bed house to a 1 bed apartment in a week and I have downsized everything!!

      As with most people, I have found the sentimental things the hardest to get rid of. I am so inspired by the way Aphrodite was able to get rid of so many photos!!

      And I am so interested to see what it is like being in a 1 bed home and how we live with less.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I got rid of so much before I moved, I almost didn’t want to move, haha. Undoubtedly I will get rid of more when I finally get settled again. It felt nice not to have so much stuff everywhere. I donated quite a bit; anything that wasn’t in good shape went in the garbage.

    10. Windchime*

      Another good one is the Minimalist Mom, also on YouTube. She’s a follower of Josh Becker but she approaches it from the point of view of someone who has a bunch of kids. She has a very calm, practical style and I’ve learned a lot from her. Is my home totally decluttered? Not by a long shot! But I did get rid of a TON of stuff when I moved last year, and I don’t miss any of it.

    11. archangelsgirl*

      I once heard that the average household accumulates 800 pounds of “stuff” per year. I declutter a lot, but also move every three years, so that helps. Like you, I absolutely hate stuff. It literally makes me nauseous. That’s not a turn of phrase. It literally does. It confuses something in my head. I’m keen to check out these videos.

    12. Quiet Liberal*

      Wow, this comment is timely! I just purged a mess of stuff from our kitchen, today, and it feels amazing! I have been looking at those stuffed cabinets for a while, now, and finally just started doing it today. I put stuff on the table to give away and let my husband go through it and was amazed when he let it all go! Much of the donate pile was stuff we got from his Mom when she moved into her retirement home. We never use any of it, so it is going to a charity thrift shop. There is room around all of the stuff in the cabinets and drawers, now. Yay!

  3. Suzy Q*

    Thanks for suggesting Becoming Minimalist, I’m going to have a look at that. In UK many of our charity shops where overwhelmed by the amount of decluttering people did during lockdown and lots of them stopped accepting things. So my decluttering slowed down, but you’ve inspired me to ramp it up again. More space at home makes me feel light and free.

    1. Lujessmin*

      That’s what I did during the 2 months I was off work at the start of the pandemic – finally got around to cleaning out my shed. I would say only about a third made it back into the shed. The rest was either tossed, put in a donate pile, or brought into the house for selling on eBay. Took me about two weeks to go through everything.

    2. RosyGlasses*

      I don’t know if they have these in UK, but here they have Buy Nothing groups – usually on Facebook by neighborhood. I’ve lightened my load of things without having to go to the thrift shop and I love knowing someone else can use it and not have to pay!

      1. Usually a Lurker*

        In my area the Buy Nothing group crashed and burned, so my mom and her friends created a similar group. So even in an area where there’s not a Buy Nothing group, it’s still worth looking around to see what groups exist.

      2. SP*

        Yes – I have given away a lot of stuff for free online! It’s great knowing it will go to someone who will use it and it takes itself out!

  4. Anon and alone*

    This is what happens when you don’t pay attention. I bought tzatziki (on sale), get home, open it and it tastes strange. It turns out to be the tzatziki made with sour cream instead of the Greek yogurt one. Any ideas what I can do with it? I’m not really a fan of sour cream ordinarily but this didn’t taste too bad. It’s just not what I want to dip my crackers into.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Ew! Another sour cream hater here. Can they even call it tzatziki if it doesn’t have yoghurt…? I’d pull out a spoonful and see what it tastes like with extra lemon juice and garlic to cut through the creaminess. Or maybe it could be used as a sandwich/hamburger/pizza condiment? I’d likely end up tossing it though.

    2. Myrin*

      As a spread on bread or a sandwich, maybe? With something else on top of it so it won’t taste like just the sour cream?

    3. Pennyworth*

      Could you put it into a baked potato? I’d look up savory recipes using sour cream and see if any of them seem suitable for sour cream ‘tzatziki’..

    4. Meh*

      And for me sour cream and yogurt (Greek, thick style) are interchangeable. What about thinning it with some cream or water?

    5. Yum!*

      If you eat meat, use it to marinate and then cook chicken in. Maybe with added garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, onions….

      1. S*

        Seconding using it in a marinade- hopefully then it would just make the meat tender and flavorful but you can toss most of it after marinating!

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Put on tomato/cucumber salad, you can possibly bake something in it too.
      I personally love sour cream, but if truly don’t like the taste, toss it. It’s ok occasionally!

    7. Anon and alone*

      I’m with you, Expiring Cat Memes, it doesn’t even taste like tzatziki. I think I’ll do what a lot of you suggested and just toss it. Back to the store to find, you know, tzatziki. Thanks, everyone.

    8. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Sweet I’m the opposite. I don’t care for Greek yogurt but like sour cream. I would love finding one ile this. What’s the brand and where’d you get it?

      1. Anon and alone*

        I’m just here for the cats! first of all, I’m Canadian, so I don’t know where you would find it if you’re in the US or Europe. The brand name is Fontaine Sante. I think it might be available at all stores in the Loblaw’s family. I hope you do find some and enjoy.

  5. Myrin*

    When storing empty glass jars and bottles, is it best to leave the lid/cap on or to take it off?

    I have a lot of them for canning and storing and I’ve always wondered about that. They are always fully cleaned and completely dry. I have the most-often-used ones just standing around in a shelf waiting to be used but others I store in big boxes which have lids but aren’t airtight.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I find they can sometimes get a bit musty with the lids on, but I prefer to keep the lids on so I don’t lose them. I just re-wash them before I use them.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I leave the lids off, but in a box or something in the same cupboard. (Unless they’re new in which case, lids on because that’s how they’re sold.)

    3. Nom*

      Brand new jars stay wrapped until we’re ready to use them. For re-used jars: most of them are specifically for canning, and I store them the cardboard boxes they came in. I stand them upside down, with a paper towel lining the bottom. Since we give jars of homemade preserves and pickles as holiday gifts, we always need to buy a box or two each year, so I always have plenty of boxes (many people give us back the jars & bands but not everyone does). I have a separate box for lids and bands; like yours, it isn’t airtight. Since I always wash the jars, lids, and bands before a canning run, I’m not too worried about keeping everything perfectly sterile.

      For jars that are used for temporary storage (in the fridge, etc), we just keep those in the kitchen cabinet with our drinking glasses. If the lid is an unusual size then I store it loosely on the jar, but most of the time the lids go in our silverware drawer (it’s extra wide so there’s plenty of room for a lid section). We only use 1-piece lids for kitchen storage, since separate lids+bands are sort of annoying and the lid part frequently gets lost. Plus with the recent shortage of canning supplies, new lids are too valuable to use for everyday storage!

    4. Buni*

      Lids on & upside down, just because if they do get a bit dusty / grimey it’s much easier to wash stuff offa glass than metal / plastic lids. Also, as @Pennyworth noted, I would absolutely lose the lids.

      If I’m jam’ing / chutney’ing I always re-wash and oven dry them immediately before use anyway.

  6. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Gutter thread – hilarious euphemisms and sayings on adult topics?

    Nested to protect the eyes of the decent, and those who don’t care to stoop to this level of juvenility.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Once on a cool winter’s eve, a gentleman friend offered to “warm me up with his heat probe”. He only said it semi-seriously, but the fact that there was any serious in it at all gave me a tear-streaming, boner-annihilating laughing fit – clearly not what he’d intended.

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      New Zealand is currently in the throes of our second level 4 covid lockdown (well, Auckland is still in level 4, the rest of the country is at level 2). We have daily 1pm updates with the Prime Minister and Ahsley Bloomfield, the top boffin at the Ministry of Health. The PM decided to have a day off and left the boys in charge of the daily update – Chris Hipkins, the Health Minister and Ashley.

      (For context, at level 4 folk are allowed to head out for exercise but you are supposed to stay local). Chris was talking about exercise and meant to say ‘stretch your legs’ but instead said ‘spread your legs’. The entire country lost its mind and within 24 hours there were mugs for sale with Chris Hipkins face on them and the slogan ‘spread your legs, not Covid’.

      The best thing – at a another update a week or so later, Chris is drinking from one of those mugs :-)

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Man I love the NZ sense of humour! :-D

        The pollies in Aus have their heads far too firmly up their own butts to see the funny (or reasonable) side of anything.

        1. Sc@rlettNZ*

          Oh, he knew he was going to have the piss mercilessly taken. He commented at the time that he was sure everyone was going to have fun with him after.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thank you for this! I will share with a friend when we need our next laugh to ease the burden of current news.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        That is amazing and now I want to visit New Zealand even more than before (post COVID, of course).

        1. allathian*

          Me too! Visiting NZ has been on my bucket list for nearly 20 years, since The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2021.

          My only problems are that I hate flying and it takes me about 6 weeks to get used to the switch between DST and standard time, so flying halfway across the world would be tough…

      4. Felis alwayshungryis*

        That was brilliant. Chris Hipkins clearly has a fantastic sense of humour and was a good sport.

        The other one I enjoyed was the one when the journalist asked about patients allegedly having sex at Middlemore Hospital, and whether that could be considered a ‘high risk activity’ (there was apparently a case of a patient and a visitor getting it on in a large hospital that’s right in the current outbreak zone) – and the look on Jacinda Ardern’s face was absolutely priceless. I also liked Ashley’s ‘concerned and serious’ face.

        Our press c0nferences have had some great moments.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Bahahaha! I will now never look at gutters the same way. “The roof vaginas require clearing”.

    3. Sleepless*

      I saw a meme the other day that said “My favorite s3x position is the zombie. I just lie back and get eaten.”

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I once found myself using pizza as a metaphor for sex, and I found that it works pretty well. Some people want pizza for like, EVERY MEAL. Some people just want pizza on Friday nights, and some people never think “Hey, I could really go for a pizza,” but maybe if there’s a pizza sitting there and someone offered, they’d have an occasional slice. Some people want a nice simple pepperoni pizza, and some people want their pizza any way they can get it. If you’re sharing your pizza with someone else, you have to have the “what kind of toppings do we both want on this pizza” discussion, and if you can’t agree, then maybe you’re just not pizza-sharing friends.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        Here’s another sex/pizza metaphor:
        Sex is like pizza; when it’s good, it’s mind-blowing, amazingly good. And when it’s not…..eh, it’s still pretty good.

        1. fposte*

          I heard that in my grad school years, and disagreed on the basis that I’ve had both terrible pizza and terrible sex.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            How about when it’s good, it really hits the spot and leaves you craving more. And when it’s not, it leaves you unsatisfied, with greasy fingers and feeling gross in the stomach the next day?

            1. Clisby*

              Pizza has never been that good for me. The best pizza I’ve had merited a slightly surprised “That was pretty good.”

      2. the mom, ta da*

        When teen son was getting ready to head to college, we found a “cute” and well done video online that used “coffee” to discuss consensual sex: if your date drank too much and is passed out, you don’t assume that means they want coffee then, and so forth. The video was much better than what i just described, had several scenarios and less than ten minutes. So made good context for a conversation.

          1. Salymander*

            Yes! Tea Consent video is really good!!! My child watched it at school in 7th grade. It is funny and cute, but explains consent really well and in such a memorable way. We then watched it together at home and it inspired a number of really good discussions.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          it is a good one! My original pizza metaphor came from trying to explain asexuality to someone who doesn’t like pizza and couldn’t wrap their head around not being interested in sex, though there’s also a funny one I’ve read about how heterosexuality is a couch, homosexuality is a bed, bisexuality is a futon and asexuality is a table. I’ll see if I can find that one and drop a link.

      3. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        There’s sort of an inverse comparison in many crafting communities (I know it’s in crochet & knitting groups, but probably others as well) that some people use to explain why they personally would never open an etsy shop or try to sell their work: “Knitting is like sex. If I love you enough to want to, it’s free. If I don’t, there’s not enough money in the world to make it worth my while.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Is that the one where they go to that high society party? And Laverne breaks the ear off the statue and hides it and after they confront the snobs and leave, one of the dudes says, “My God! There’s an ear in my cup!”
        Watching that as a child, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. I need to find a way to get that show.

    5. Destiny's Auntie*

      (Disclaimer: this is not an invitation to discuss politics.)

      My husband is volunteering at a voting site for the CA recall election, and I keep telling folks he’ll be busy “working the polls” all weekend.

      1. louise*

        Ha! I’m on city council and at the end of every meeting, each council member has a quick moment to give kudos or an announcement or whatever. I said “remember to vote, and especially a big thanks to all the poll workers who put in such long days.” I realized what I’d said when there was much snickering.

  7. Compulsive eater*

    Has any compulsive eater joined the Overeaters Anonymous (12 steps programm derived from AA) ? Did it help you to overcome your addiction? I have just started attending meetings 2 weeks ago. I am hopeful but the problem is I don’t believe in God so I am afraid I won’t be able to fully benefit.

    1. Biel*

      I don’t know about Overeaters Anonymous, but there are 12 step programs that are not religious. My brother mainly has issues with alcohol, but has always attended Narcotics Anonymous instead of AA because it’s more suitable for him, as an atheist. I suspect Overeaters Anonymous may be the same.

      1. Biel*

        I should have said too, NA allowed my brother to learn to live with his addiction. He’s been sober for 5 years now. Which is amazing. It was bad enough that we really thought he would quite likely die before he reached 30. So, 12 step programs can work for non-religious people.

        But, I understand overeating is different. Apologies if my responses aren’t as relevant as they ideally could be!

        1. Observer*

          NA allowed my brother to learn to live with his addiction

          That’s actually really important, especially in a context like eating. It’s possible to live without alcohol or narcotics, but you CANNOT live without food. So, you need an approach that is not extinction / total abstinence based.

    2. Susan*

      I have been in OA for 40 years and it’s great. You
      don’t have to believe in God, just in a power greater than yourself. That power can be the OA group itself. After all, they are greater than you.
      For me I have to believe: 1) I have a problem with eating and 2) I need help to fix it. I can’t do it alone.
      If your group insists upon God then try a different group.

      1. Compulsive eater*

        Yes the OA group itself can be the higher power to a certain extent. And I am on the Buddhist path, it can help too (but I don’t worship Buddha the way you worship a god).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know where you are, but my sangha in OldCity has an adjunct Recovery Dharma group. There might be something in your area that’s similar.

          1. Compulsive eater*

            I am in the UK but I can attend meetings pretty anywhere as they are mostly on Zoom.
            I found a Recovery Dharma group online, attended one of their meetings. It’s too early to say if it will benefit me, but they don’t do 12 steps, they do their own thing.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Fellow OA member here, for 2 years and a bit.

        I am atheist/agnostic at best, and I do sometimes get frustrated when people tell me that my higher power has some plan for me — I just can’t believe in some divine being that has my personal interest at heart. (And if there *were* one that I believed in, I would be *incredibly* angry at that divine being for all the nonsense that goes on in the world.)

        I have an OA sponsorship sibling who is also atheist/agnostic and her higher power is spiritual principles: love, compassion, honesty, service, etc. I try to use that and the accumulated wisdom of the group as my higher power, and that works well enough for me. When people say “Let go and let God,” I substitute that with “Let go and let’s see what happens” instead, which helps me stop being so obsessively controlling. My friend in NA says a lot of atheists/agnostics there use “Good Orderly Direction” as a substitute for God, which I guess is the same thing.

        On the other hand, I’m not really an OA poster child in terms of abstinence so far, so who knows — maybe my atheism/agnosticism IS a barrier! But that’s who I am and what I (don’t) believe, so I just try to take whatever I like from the OA program and leave the rest (to borrow an AA saying). I have met some wonderful people through the program, and I still think it’s worth it for me to stay and get whatever I can out of it. Your mileage may vary.

    3. WellRed*

      No advice but I read an interesting book a few years ago about the challenges some women have with 12 step programs, in this case, AA, including some if the religiousness. Don’t remember why it focused on women, though.

      1. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

        Was it Quit Like a Woman? I just finished that one! Interesting read — definitely applicable to more than just alcohol. Her analysis of AA through a woman’s lens was eye-opening.

    4. Jay*

      I’m part of a different 12-Step fellowship. The God language can be off-putting. A lot of my fellow travelers are atheist or agnostic; for them, “higher power” is their own better nature, or the group. I’ve heard one person say “process is my higher power.” It can be challenging for those of us who grew up with an idea of God from a specific religious tradition, and particularly if we’ve left that behind. In my experience it was absolutely worth the struggle – 12-step work has been a great gift in my life far beyond sobriety.

      AA definitely has roots in Christianity and all the other 12-step programs are in some way modeled on AA. Individual groups have personalities just like individual people do – if the group you’ve been attending doesn’t feel right, you can try others. One of the few blessings of the pandemic is that so much more is available online. Be gentle with yourself.

    5. Public Health Nerd*

      Yes. I’ve been in OA for 2.5 years, and it’s changed my life. My body is different, but most importantly to me, I’m a lot happier, more able to deal with people at home and work, and a LOT saner about food. There are lots of people in OA who are atheists and do just fine. If meetings in your area don’t have a ton of secular people, you can add in meetings from other regions using zoom meetings. LA, San Francisco, and Seattle all have a fair number online with tons of secular people.

    6. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      I was a member of OA for many years. My first tour of OA, I felt free of the compulsion to overeat almost immediately, but I drifted away a few years later. Things were unremarkable until I quit smoking and began an intense relapse. When I started going back to OA and doing the steps with a sponsor, I slowly started to get better. I am in a place of neutrality when it comes to food. You don’t have to believe in God. I found it helpful enough to believe that there was something more powerful than the compulsion to overeat.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >I found it helpful enough to believe that there was something more powerful than the compulsion to overeat.
        Great insight, thank you, and can be applied in many situations besides resisting the urge to overeat. Also useful for those of us who are somewhere between belief and agnosticism.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      I have not, but my Buddhist friend did and found it very helpful. She had a history of other addictions so she was used to the model and found a way to deal with the surrender to God as simply surrender.

    8. beach read*

      A good memoir I read many years ago was “Passing for Thin” which is the personal account of a woman who joins OA. Best of wishes to you.

    9. Anonymous for this*

      If you’re looking for secular alternatives, I was able to overcome my binge eating disorder through a combination of seeing a therapist, seeing a dietitian, and mindfulness meditation. My therapist and dietitian actually worked together to help me with my case, which I found extremely helpful. I don’t know whether or not you have those kinds of healthcare resources available to you, but mindfulness meditation is something with many free online resources (or check out Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn from your local library). Loving kindness meditations directed towards yourself can be especially helpful.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, and I know how confusing and devastating it can be. Wishing you all the best on your recovery.

  8. Myrin*

    Please help me find the name of a thing I will now go on to describe very strangely:

    It’s a portable little stove but in the shape of a big cup/jar. And you put pieces of firewood or coal inside and then the pot or whatever you want to heat up on top. I watch a lot of cooking videos and I keep seeing those without ever actually hearing/reading their names.

    I’ve tried googling for like half an hour but to no avail. If anyone happens to know its German name, that would be absolutely perfect (if a veeeery long shot), but I can start with its English name, too. I’ll post a reply with a link to a video where one appears but maybe someone already knows what I’m talking about from my weird description.

      1. Femme d'Afrique*

        This is so weird because you linked to some Japanese videos, but that looks almost identical to the “jiko” that is ubiquitous in East Africa! I’ll put the link in the next post since it will go to moderation.

      2. Tumbleweed*

        I think the Japanese term for these are shichirin or hibachi? Might be something a bit more specific for the type of stove and those terms are a bit broader though (Hida kuro or just kuro also seems to come up as a specific type of Japanese mobile stove so the term might be useful but not sure it’s the exact type you want)

      1. Myrin*

        That’s not it, but I’m more than fascinated by that thing’s form. I have never ever seen something like it before! :O

        1. Always Science-ing*

          Ahh video was still in moderation when I posted last night, I was guessing based on your written description – it immediately made me think of our camping stove (a Biolite)… which works amazing, but not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as what you were actually describing!

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Looks like a Japanese cast iron konro grill.

      After visiting Japan we bought one for home to grill wagyu over charcoal at the dinner table (heart-stoppingly delicious!)

    2. Lime green Pacer*

      Okay, I looked at the video, and it seems like she might be using a Japanese tabletop grill called a shichirin or hibachi. Except hers is a bit unconventional in being round and naturally clay-coloured, and she is not grilling with it but is using it like a camp stove?

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, I know that and we actually have two but like you say, there really only seem to be ones for candles. (I also searched for “Stövchen groß” and “Stövchen Feuer” and “Stövchen draußen” which was very unsatisfactory! I apparently need to up my Google game.)

        1. KeinName*

          That‘s funny! Synonyms according to Thesaurus are Tischkocher, Rechaud, Feuerkorb. Maybe one of them works?

            1. Myrin*

              It isn’t, but I have indeed wondered what the name of that kind of pot is, too! I’ve always read a lot of manga and these pots feature somewhat often but they’ve never been explicitly named, also danke dafür!

    3. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      We had the simple version of this when I was growing up in Southeast Asia. It doesn’t have a special name – at least, not that I know of. We just called it a charcoal stove. My mum cooked on it regularly using either clay or stainless steel pots.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I figured they were the kind of daily-use item that maybe doesn’t really have a specialised name. However, looking for “charcoal stove” really does yield the best results so far, so thank you very much for that!

    4. Ron McDon*

      I wondered if it was a mini chiminea from your description, but then I watched the videos and see that’s different … I’ve never seen those before!

      1. Myrin*

        Ooooh, yes I think that might actually be it! I see them a lot related to Chinese food so even if it’s not the exact same type of stove, it’s definitely close. Thank you!

    5. German Girl*

      I’d call that a “Campingkocher”, but that might not be precise enough to fit exactly what you’re looking for.

    6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      It doesnt look that complex. Might be one of those things that you could cobble together a metal one if you have some basic tools and some clean, thick walled cans and sheet metal from the hardware store. May not be pretty when its done, but if its not available to buy, it just might be a fun project for a boring, quarantined weekend. Making a clay one would be a bit more complicated. Some clay and a kiln could be used to modify a clay pot maybe? It does look like an interesting tool for heating and cooking.

    7. Myrin*

      Thank you all so, so much for your guesses and suggestions!
      I think anon2 actually got it but you’ve all had such great answers which I’ll definitely look into more, too!

      1. Mimi*

        Late to the party, but I would call that class of object a charcoal brazier — the ones used in southern Africa are metal instead of clay, but a very similar object.

  9. Sleeping on the floor*

    My bed frame broke and I moved my mattress to the floor – but it’s so comfortable, I don’t want to buy a new frame!
    Does anyone sleep on the floor?
    Are there reasons I shouldn’t do it?

    1. Cute Li'l UFO*

      For me it’s a comfort and allergen thing. I also just don’t like the look personally, but it does look good in the right room. I will say that when ex and I went mattress shopping the warranty for the one we got was voided if you just chucked it on the floor so do beware if that’s you. The warranty should say what kind of base is acceptable.

      Mattresses need some air circulation. Otherwise they’re at risk for mold and generally closer to creepy crawlies (dust, etc) on the floor. Can you put it up on a low platform? I have seen some super, super low ones. Very minimal.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      Mattresses are so high nowadays that it might not look much different without the frame. You could make some kind of headboard to make it look more finished.
      My son had his mattress on the floor for at least five years without any problems.
      I have a storage bed with drawers and a mattress without a box spring. It’s very comfortable and I love it.

    3. Square Root of Minus One*

      Unwanted moisture and resulting allergens, mostly. Mattresses breathe, and dust goes through them. You might get the bottom of the mattress in a pile of dirt quicker than you know.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, that’s the main reason not to – even a very low bedframe with spaced slats gives moisture a chance to evaporate and the mattress is more hygienic. I know someone who slept on a mattress only and after three years discovered black mold growing on the underneath. Although maybe if he’d turned the mattress regularly that woudn’t have happened.

            1. Ana*

              Hah! Somehow, in my last apartment I wound up with two matresses and three top matresses and knowing not where to store them I placed them all on my bedframe. (Matrass+top+top+matrass+top) Everyone who saw it laughed and called it a princess bed. The neighboor’s cat sneaked in and looked incredibly smug and comfy when I finally noticed him!

              Now I just have one matress and one top matress and wondering whether I should get another top matress or just a different one.

    4. Carol*

      Can you find/obtain/buy some wooden pallets to place under you mattress, which will allow some air to circulate under your mattress.

    5. KeinName*

      I have read (here, I think) about people who do it especially to get the exercise benefits of getting up from the floor:-)

    6. AcademiaNut*

      Mildew and mold is the main reason not to. With Japanese Futons, which do go directly on the floor, they’re moved every day. You could tilt the mattress on its side to air out, or flip it, if you really wanted to.

    7. Not Alison*

      You are not alone. I also put my mattress directly on the floor and sleep on it. Never found any problems with it.

    8. Love WFH*

      In college, I had a mattress directly on the floor, and no problems.
      You don’t mention a box spring. A bed with slats and only a mattress is a lot like having the mattress on the floor, and looks more conventional.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. I sleep on a platform bed & love it. They’re also often cheaper than traditional beds.

        But I am someone who can fall asleep on the floor without benefit of mattress. As long as I have a pillow, I’m good.

      2. Hairy*

        My bed sits on a metal frame with slats and it’s great! Tons of storage space underneath. The one I have is about 13-inches high, but I believe it came in a version that was about 6 inches high, so somewhat close to the ground.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Our mattress is on a box spring, and the box spring is on the floor. We love it! The space under the bed was just a trap for laundry, and because it’s directly on the floor, there’s no squeaky bed frame. Any uh vigorous activities are whisper silent.

    10. fposte*

      I’ve done it for over a year from when I had some lower back issues; I just have a latex topper on the floor with a cheap skinny memory foam layer on it rather than moving the bed down. I really love it for a number of reasons even though my back is fine now. One, it’s super comfy; two, my HVAC vents are just above the floor trim so it’s much cooler during AC season; three, relatedly, it’s right under the room fan (especially useful during hot flashes); four, it’s super convenient to have stuff near the head of the bed on the floor (I use little baskets to group them) and have nowhere near that kind of room near my actual bed. I suppose also five, I feel very nimble when I get up from the floor; I’m really good at that now.

      I think I will try going back to my actual bed when the weather cools off, but it might get hauled out again next summer. I pick it up once a month or so to give it a day’s airing and vacuum the floor under it, but honestly, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. It’s also a lot cheaper than a bed so I don’t worry a lot if something does go wrong with it.

    11. RosyGlasses*

      Check out Nutritious Movement by Katy Bowman! She sleeps on the floor and has some amazing recommendations on what to use to avoid mold and to make the transition healthy for your body.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I did that when I was a teenager but I want a higher bed frame now. My knees are so bad now that it’s too hard getting up and down. They first went bad as a teenager, so I’m amazed I was able to do it then.

    13. Alexis Rosay*

      We have a 6 inch frame under our bed for air circulation. Feels a lot like sleeping on the floor though. I don’t know why but it feels great to sleep close to the ground.

    14. ShinyPenny*

      I could handle the occasional giant millipede crossing my pillow, but the black mold on the underside of the futon (and into the floor: yuck) ended that experiment. I thought being on the (thinner, plywood) floor of a loft would prevent mold, but nope. 

      People are sharing surprisingly different outcomes about mold.  I wonder if the key to whether mold becomes a problem, might be the general temperature of your house relative to human body temperature?  Like, how much condensation will occur at some place *inside* your mattress?  I was on the rainy side of Washington State, and the house was mostly 45 to 60 degrees F inside.  Lots of condensation potential.  

      Also, a generally damp environment– maybe overall dampness is the factor that separates the moldy vs. non-moldy outcomes? 

    15. Gray Lady*

      Besides what people have said about mold, I’d be concerned that if you injured yourself in even a relatively minor way in the back, legs, shoulders, etc., it could make getting out of bed extremely painful and maybe aggravate the injury. The more nearly lateral movement off of a bed frame is less likely to do that in many cases. And accidents or stress injuries do happen and getting in and out of bed is hard to avoid, so personally I’d be leery of that as a long term solution.

    16. The Time Being*

      I have my box spring directly on the floor, then the mattress on that. For me, it’s about two things:

      1) I caught my cat tearing a hole in the bottom of the box spring when I had a bedframe, so she could crawl inside and hide there. Bad kitty!
      2) Shoes and whatnot kept getting pushed under the bedframe, so I’d have to get down on hands and knees and fish them out. Being down on my knees isn’t very comfortable for me.

      Having the box spring resting directly on the floor solves both these issues, and I’ve found it quite comfortable. I don’t intend to change that unless I hear some really compelling argument about it.

    17. Christmas Carol*

      A mattress/box spring combo directly on the floor does have the advantage of eliminating the problem of monsters under the bed though.

    18. Cambridge Comma*

      I did it for a while but you might want to lift up the mattress when you get up and see what’s going on (on our wooden floor there was a puddle).
      In our guest room we have have a slatted frame from ikea under the mattress. It raises it up and is way more comfortable.

  10. Might Be Spam*

    I’m supposed to visit my son in New Orleans starting on September 25th. I’m not sure this is good idea anymore because Louisiana has a terrible vaccination rate, hospitals are full, and they’re recovering from the hurricane. I haven’t seen my son since the pandemic started and missing him is clouding my judgment. We’ve both been vaccinated and I might be eligible for the booster shot. I would be driving instead of flying. Should I stay home or should I go?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Actually New Orleans has a better vaccination rate and mask usage than surrounding rural areas.I think it’s safer in New Orleans than outside of it.

        It’s super hard to say. We are definitely still recovering from a hurricane. Store and restaurant hours are still short but I expect that to go back to normal now that almost everyone has power and almost everyone who evacuated has returned.

    1. identifying remarks removed*

      Can you meet half way or at least not in the city. Might be a good break for your son as well to get away from the city.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Last week I went to the deep south to see relatives I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. (They live deep in the countryside, and we are all vaccinated.) One thing that struck me was that when we went in to the hardware and grocery store: there were a lot of masks. All the clerks. Most of the patrons where it was optional, everyone where it was required. (This was not a state where the governor was trying to forbid any mask requirements.) It looked a lot more like the northeast than one would have guessed from the news reports.

      I think if you stay with him somewhere you can cook (his home, airbnb) it should be okay. Avoid unmasked indoor crowds such as one would find (deep sigh) at NO’s many wonderful restaurants.

    3. NopityNope*

      I so understand your desire to see your son. In my area, at least, third doses are only being offered to folks who are severely immunocompromised. The “booster” shots for the general population are still only a theory, and it’s unlikely to be a reality this month. If you are, in fact, immunocompromised, please factor that in with the highest of priorities. If you do decide to go, and keeping in mind that the vaccine isn’t a suit of armor, perhaps the two of you could agree to start being extra cautious now in anticipation (vigilant masking, limiting contact, etc.) to minimize risk, and keep your plans more home-centered.

      My sister and I were planning joint trip to Florida to see friends, but cancelled because of their (terrible, awful) reaction to all things COVID, and the resulting spike. So now she’s coming to visit me instead. We’re both in okay, but not perfect, areas, so we agreed to 100% mask for two weeks before her visit.

      I hope you do get to visit with your son sooner rather than later! Best of luck.

    4. AY*

      I would go! But this is the stage of the pandemic for the vaccinated where no one else can order you yes or no, dictate to you the risks to take, or set the parameters (masks, only getting food delivery, quarantining before or after) that will make you comfortable.

    5. Not A Manager*

      The only thing that gives me pause is that you might be eligible for the booster. If you have some condition that makes you more likely to have symptoms if you’re infected, or more likely to have complications if you have symptoms, then maybe no.

      Otherwise, given what we know currently about breakthrough infections, I personally would go.

    6. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

      I work for a home insurance company; we have many, many claims in NO. I strongly encourage you to postpone your plans for at least a month. Gas is still a problem, as is high humidity and power outages.

    7. Healthcare Worker*

      NOLA has enacted a requirement to show proof of vaccination or a negative test in the last 72 hours to enter venues, including restaurants. I’m sure the level of enforcement is variable, but it may give you some assurance. My daughter is getting married in NOLA the end of October, so I’m watching numbers closely!

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I’d worry more about hurricane recovery than COVID, but it’s likely to be okay by the end of the month.

      There are better mask mandates and proof of vaccination requirements than outside the city. You just be smart and do things outside. Get takeout instead of eating in restaurants. Don’t go to crowded places. Don’t go to Bourbon St.

      If the point is to visit a relative instead of doing traditional tourist stuff you should be fine.

  11. Arya Parya*

    How do you deal with a sudden, unexpected loss of a pet?

    I’ll put the details of the loss in a reply, so people can skip this in case they find it triggering.

    1. Arya Parya*

      My cat Hobbes died suddenly last wednesday. He was fine when I came home. Got a cuddle and went in our backyard to sleep under our apple tree. When my SO went out at 18:20 he called me saying something was wrong. I ran out and saw Hobbes hind legs were no longer functioning. He was obviously in pain and panicked.

      I called our vet and rushed over there. They told me he had a stroke and his blood circulation was no longer functioning. They couldn’t do anything to fix that and the best thing to do was put him down. So they did. I held Hobbes the best I could, he was still scared until he passed. At about 18:45 it was over.

      I’m still shocked with how fast it all went. He was 10,5 years old and had a heart defect. I knew he wouldn’t get very old. He was already older than we expected him to get. But still.

      So now my buddy is gone. I’m sad, still crying when I think about it. How do you deal with this? I know it will take time, but does anyone have any advice?

      1. Gracely*

        I am so, so sorry. This is such a horrible thing to go through. Infinite internet hugs.

        We lost our cat Boog very suddenly a week before Christmas a few years ago. One minute he was fine and sitting in his favorite spot, the next, he had either a heart attack or aneurism. It was very sudden and unexpected (he was only 5 and as far as we knew, healthy). It was really, really difficult, and even now, we still miss him a lot.

        At the time, I cried a lot. One thing that helped was making a little photo collage of him. Another that helped was, since he died at home and we had to bury him, we bought a little granite stone marker with his name and a picture of him (found the maker on Etsy). We put him in a place that he had always liked to look at in our backyard.

        After a couple of weeks, when I couldn’t look at his favorite bed or some of his toys anymore, we donated them to a local cat café that adopts out cats from a rescue, along with sponsoring a cat’s adoption in his honor. It helped knowing that his favorite things were being used and loved by other cats.

        Now that a lot of time has passed, it is easier, but I still cry sometimes. We try to remember all the funny, goofy things he used to do. We remind ourselves that we gave him the best life we could.

      1. Arya Parya*

        I don’t know why my reply won’t come through, I tried several time. But any advice on how to deal with a very sudded, unexpected loss of a cat?

        1. identifying remarks removed*

          When I lost my Lil Dude suddenly and unexpectedly – he just didn’t come home one day – I made a scrap book about him. Not something I’ve ever done before or since as I am not crafty at all. I put in favourite photos of him, wrote down my memories of him and little things he did. Was cathartic to write it and later, once the grief had receded, it was heartwarming to read and remember him.

        2. Becky S*

          Dealing with the sudden loss of a pet – maybe by being patient with yourself. We grieve them for a long time – they are the easiest most conflict-free relationship we’ll ever have. Talk to others who’ve lost pets – they will understand better than those who don’t have animals in their lives.

        3. fantomina*

          I’ve only ever lost a cat after a protracted fight with kidney disease (I’ve only adopted senior cats before, so it makes sense). The most recent was last fall. What helped me most was 1) giving myself permission/not beating myself up for randomly bursting into tears in the weeks following and 2) the fact that I was working from home, so I could burst into tears privately.

          Sending you virtual hugs– losing a pet is devastating under any circumstances, and I imagine that it’s even worse when it’s a shock.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Sorry for this loss. The dog to brain cancer (very fast) was harder than the slow descent of other pets.

      Give yourself time to grieve. I also recommend giving yourself 6-12 months before getting another pet. We didn’t do this when our first pet died–there was a dog-shaped hole in our lives–and the second dog was stuck with being “Not Spot.”

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks. I will give myself time. We still got another cat, so we want to give her time to grieve too. So we won’t be getting another cat until everyone is ready.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – my Elder Statesdog was trundling along with a slow-progressing but untreatable cancer for several months, but it metastasized to her brain and she went from pretty good to “Nope, it’s definitely time” in the span of Labor Day weekend. I was a wreck all weekend, because I knew it was going to come eventually, but was not expecting it that soon or that fast.

        I’m mostly distracting myself by minding the Junior Ambassador – she’s never been an only dog, and she doesn’t handle change well, so she’s needing a lot of attention right now, because it’s not like I can explain to her why her sister isn’t here anymore.

        1. Arya Parya*

          I’m sorry for your loss. My cat got a stroke all of a sudden. No indication something was wrong. One moment he was fine, the next he wasn’t. He was gone 25 minutes after the stroke, because I got him to the vet immediately who put him to sleep. So he didn’t suffer long, but it was super sudden.

          I’m trying a bit of distraction, taking it easy and sometimes just feeling my feelings. My other cat we’re letting her grieve and giving extra cuddles when she asks for them

          1. TvrH*

            Oh dear, that’s what happened to mine, as well. I did find ordering some canvas prints helped me, and I made a little memorial wall.

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          I am so sorry for the loss of Elder Statesdog. We are also in the slow decline phase. No amount of time could possibly be enough. (Best Good Dog was diagnosed with cancer in March and given 6 – 8 weeks. I am thankful to have had so much more time than expected.)

      3. Corrvin (they/them)*

        After spending my entire adult life with a succession of cats (first one lived to be 19 1/2, second one lived to be 12) I lasted a whole week with no cat. There’s “I miss this specific cat that I loved desperately” grief and there’s “I’ve got a hole in my life and don’t know how to get through each day” grief, and the first I can deal with, and the second I can’t. You’ll know what’s hitting you the hardest, don’t worry if other people would do differently.

        (Checkers Linsky, new hire for Best Spotted Cat, is doing an excellent job currently in his role as grief manager.)

    3. Saddesklunch*

      We recently lost our cat very suddenly – it was awful. Honestly my best advice is to just feel your feelings and to talk to other pet people who get it.

      1. Saddesklunch*

        I wanted to add that I’m very sorry for your loss – cats are such wonderful little beings and it’s so hard when they leave us.

    4. Sunshine*

      I lost my beloved dog very quickly. My work was really lovely and encouraged me to take a day or two. I think if it’s possible taking time to grieve is important.

    5. Stephanie*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.
      We lost one of our dogs rather suddenly a few months ago. It’s so hard. My only advice is to be patient with yourself and grieve. It takes as long as it takes to get to a place where you’re ready for a new pet.
      We were ready for a new dog pretty quickly, but only you know when you’re ready. Don’t rush it.

    6. TvrH*

      Oh no, I am so sorry. My beloved pet died in June quite suddenly; she started seizing and, well… at the emergency vet, they said, well she’s 18… it broke my heart. I sobbed like a child for days.

      I was lucky – I had friends and family who offered emotional support, and due to Covid, my industry was completely shut down, so I didn’t have to go to work. But you know? The emergency vet was the only one to send a card. I guess people don’t send cards much anymore.

      I just let myself grieve. I ordered a couple of photo canvas prints, too. However… I live alone, and she was my pandemic pal. After a couple of weeks, I started sliding into a depression, so I looked into fostering, but boy the groups had a lot of weird rules and requests, so I gave up on that. Then, my local SPCA had a half price adoption drive, to make room for wildfire refuges, so I ended up adopting a wonderful bonded pair of adult pets. That began the healing process for me.

      Maybe fostering might work for you? I don’t drive, so that was a factor here. It does help to reach out to the SPCA too, they often have volunteer positions.

      I’m sorry about your loss; it can be quite profound, and non-pet people often don’t understand the depth of it. I feel lucky my small group of family and friends were supportive and non-judgemental. People can be so weird about death. There’s something about the loss of a loved animal that hits differently. Maybe because they are so dependent on us.

    7. Green Potato*

      There are pet loss support hot lines if you want to reach out. I know University of California Davis has one and also support groups.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I’m so sorry. *hugs*

      Pig had a not-peaceful end, and I wish it had been different even now. But I’m comforted by the fact that I tried my best to take good care of her throughout her life. And she is absolutely in the Realm (that’s what I call it in my book and IRL), and she absolutely knows I tried hard and that I loved her. Hobbes knows this about you, too. Heck, they’re probably hanging out right this minute.

      I buried her in (her) backyard in a box with her toys and got her a little headstone. When I sold the house, I noted the location and asked that she not be disturbed, and I took the headstone with me.

      You just have to feel how you feel; it does get easier. The transition is quick but the love lasts forever. <3

    9. Derivative Poster*

      I wrote a list of things I wanted to be sure to remember about my pet: her traits and habits as well as anecdotes. Writing it was helpful and I’ve liked reviewing it from time to time.

    10. tangerineRose*

      I’m sorry for your loss. This is a tough thing to go through. Let yourself grieve. Try to remember the good times. Remind yourself that as hard as it was, you did the best thing for your kitty. Writing about your favorite memories might help.

    11. KR*

      For me I had to go to therapy honestly, which I had never done before despite a lot of Stuff happening in my life. My GSD Layla died suddenly and it sent me into a complete tailspin. I talked about her a lot, cried a lot, and made myself watch A Dog’s Life and cry some more. It took a year or so to not think of her all the time. Sending good vibes and warm thoughts your way.

    12. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for all the replies. And sorry to everyone who also lost a pet.

      I spoke to the pet funeral home that will cremate him. They will make a clay paw print for me, so I have something to remember him by. I also plan to display a picture of him in the living room.

      It’s still difficult, but I will give myself time and space. And I’ll try to remember the good.

  12. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I know in the last couple weekend threads I mentioned I was going to donate bone marrow and had gotten asks for updates once it was done. I did feel a good bit more vulnerable than, say, donating blood but I think that has to do with being face down and not really seeing what’s going on. I’m glad it got rescheduled because the projected day would have been just after a heinous sunburn and I think I would have fried the doc’s fingertips like hamburger. I’d hate to find out what the ultrasound would have felt like with that kind of burn!

    I was really excited and a little anxious but it was never rushed and I always got asked how things were feeling. I felt a little achey and bruised for maybe two or three days. It was all under local anesthetic and I was able to drive myself home after–no heavy lifting or exercising for a few days. I did sleep even heavier than normal that night but I’d also woken up at 5 AM for the procedure. I am so glad I was able to do it!

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Thanks for sharing – and donating! It’s such an amazing thing to be able to do for someone.

      Hope you get all the rest you need :)

    2. fposte*

      I’m glad too! I was always a little sorry I never got tapped before I aged out even though the procedure was, I think, a little harder back then. I think it’s a lower-profile kind of donation that deserves more attention.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Same here – I’m disappointed I wasn’t asked to donate marrow despite having signed up.
        There are 2 ways to donate bone marrow these days: one looks like a blood donation, the other is under anesthetic in a hospital. (A third way is donating cord blood from a birth.)

        Thank you, Cute Li’l UFO, for donating! Great job!

        1. allathian*

          I signed up for donating cord blood, but my son was born on a Saturday, and for some reason they can’t accept cord blood donations on Saturdays at the hospital I went to.

          I can’t donate blood because we lived in the UK for a year in the 80s. It’s odd, really, because you’d think that if I had CJD it would’ve shown up by now.

          UFO, I’m glad the procedure went well.

      2. Cute Li'l UFO*

        I think the reputation of it being pretty painful has persevered, too. My right iliac crest just did not want to give up the goods but the doctor assured me it happens, there’s lots of little pockets and everyone’s different. I did feel some sharp pains during the attempts on the right side before moving to the left where it was very tolerable and extremely dulled out, almost painless.

        I am definitely ready to pick up around the house and plant some plants today, though!

  13. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    I’ve tried to explain what it’s like having my particular brand of schizophrenia for those interested. By the way I do not mind questions on this thread! Ask away. Do any of you remember your dreams? There’s something weird going on but at the time you’re generally okay with it, accepting it as normal?

    That bit is cross wired in my brain to a waking state. Strange stuff my brain generates is accepted as reality. So, for example, I once genuinely believed a certain type of hedge contained people eating plants. I kinda still do…

    I also hear voices. They ‘hear’ as real to me as your friend sitting next to you. Mine are….not pleasant to me. Frequently telling me I’m worthless and annoying to others.

    Medications help with this, for me anyway. They provide a kind of muffling blanket over the whole thing so I can get on with life. The psych team also gave me tools on how to essentially put the thoughts into ‘long term storage’ for consideration later – it diverts my mind onto something else and gradually I go back to the intrusive thoughts less. I don’t know what this therapy is called though.

    It’s not easy. Sometimes I’ll go through a rough patch where the brain will absolutely not be diverted off the ‘Keymaster needs to fear X and btw she’s crap’ rails and the paranoia train goes down at full speed. That’s an emergency call to the professionals, I can’t work like that.

    Even at those times though, I’m not dangerous to another living being (except maybe myself) and I don’t regard it as another person in my head. I’m definitely quirky but I don’t think that’s the schizophrenia. Hope this proves a little helpful and again, questions welcome here!

    (Proviso: if you’re worried you or anyone else may have this illness please contact medical professionals for advice. I can only say what it’s like for me to live with it)

    1. Green great dragon*

      Thank you for doing this (and sorry you have to deal with it). I always look out for your comments and often find them helpful, and hopefully will make me start from a slightly less ignorant point if I ever end up working with/knowing someone in a similar situation. So no further questions, just thanks :)

    2. The Dogman*

      I don’t really have any questions, just wanted you to know I care and was interested in your point of view about your illness. As a student of psychology it is always useful to see others points of view on their mental state and comfort levels.

      Take care, and all the best for you and yours!

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      If you’re happy to answer random questions, Keymaster, a while back I read an AAM post or comment that stuck in my mind. I can’t recall the exact details, but from memory it was a woman who worked in a mental health unit and was getting creeped on by a coworker who’d been escalating his behaviour. Things came to a head one evening and a patient with schizophrenia walked in, alerted her to danger and told her to run away, which as I recall turned out to be the right thing to do for her safety.

      Something was mentioned about how people with schizophrenia are well attuned to dangers that others can’t or don’t perceive. Is that something you’ve ever experienced or could comment on?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        On personal experience, can’t say. I fear stuff that isn’t real at roughly the same rate as stuff that IS real when I’m at my worst. But I’ve also got a long history of trauma that’s given me a very ‘wary of people in general and men in particular’ mindset. Sorry mate, I dunno!

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Thank you for responding, and sorry, I wasn’t aware of your history of trauma when I asked the question. I appreciate you taking the time to explain what it’s like – the waking dream state reality is an interesting way to try to understand it.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Oh no worries mate, no need for apologies! I’m cool with talking about these things :)

    4. Laura Petrie*

      One of the service users at my volunteer gig has schizophrenia. A support worker in the adjacent day centre is convinced he’s dangerous and shouldn’t attend the social group I volunteer at. This opinion has only surfaced since he found out about the man’s diagnosis, before that he didn’t have an issue. He also has a learning disability and some other health issues and he finds it difficult to express how he’s feeling and to calm himself down if he’s upset. He does hear voices and he has conversations with them but I don’t think he’s able to rationalise them or explain what they say to him.

      I’m really sad that there is such a stigma around schizophrenia and such a lack of understanding of the condition. My family has expressed concern that I’m working closely with someone who has schizophrenia even though my time with him is spent discussing Scooby Doo, my rats and what food I enjoy eating. I like that the other service users just accept him for who he is; a lot of the other men have physical and/or learning disabilities.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Sadly, I’ve had the people who get terrified of me if they find out I have schizophrenia as well. It’s not founded in reality, we’re incredibly unlikely to attack another person. In fact we’re more at risk of people attacking us.

        But people conflate the ‘it’s a scary illness to have’ (which frankly it is. It’s not nice) attitude with the ‘this person with it IS scary’. Fear of the unknown.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          people conflate the ‘it’s a scary illness to have’ (which frankly it is. It’s not nice) attitude with the ‘this person with it IS scary’.

          This honestly explains a lot of ostracizing behavior. I’m tucking this away to reflect on. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I don’t have any questions right now but wanted to say thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’ve always wondered why people with schizophrenia never hear “pleasant” voices like “you look very nice today! Excellent job matching your outfit.” But apparently that’s not a thing… too bad.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It *does* happen! I think it’s incredibly rare though. I have a theory that those of us who are more likely to develop schizophrenia are also more likely to have conditions such as depression so the internal voices are naturally weighed more heavily toward feelings of worthlessness. That’s just my own theory though on a sample size of one ;)

      2. PT*

        I read an article written by a young woman who had schizophrenia who said her first symptom was hallucinating a friendly gray cat following her around.

      3. pieforbreakfast*

        Voices can be friendly, a lot depends on the surrounding culture and how mental experiences are explained- evil? spiritual? brain chemistry?. Here in the west it tends to be the latter and voices tend to be more negative in nature than in other regions like Africa and India.

        There’s a movie called “Crazy Wise” that discusses all this. There’s also a movement called the Hearing Voices Network that is working to destimagtize and educate people around experiencing audio hallucinations.

        I work with young people in early intervention for psychosis. I’ve had a few report their voices aren’t negative, just hella annoying. I have one client now who misses their voices when they stopped because they had become guides for making decisions and now they have to trust themself to choose things.

    7. fposte*

      I had a lovely co-worker with schizophrenia. She had some rough moments in early adulthood but stabilized enough to be a successful academic.

      Do you think it gives you a perspective into people who believe unreasonable things? It strikes me that you could be more aware than some of us of how our experience of reality is brain-constructed rather than external, and I wondered if you thought that had some relevance to the way we all have flaws in our constructs of reality.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It’s definitely given me an interest in philosophy!

        I can understand how people believe ridiculous things quite easily, yeah. I can’t bring myself to accept that though. By this I mean I can see how someone could initially get a really bigoted and incorrect view on something – but I can’t understand why they’d continue to hold it against evidence.

        Which is a bit hypocritical of me to be honest. I’m still terrified of tulips for instance (that is an OLD delusion of mine) despite knowing intellectually that they’re really not going to do a face hugger impression.

        I guess I see reality as a solid, proven *thing* and that any perceptions of mine that are off kilter from it are *wrong*.

        That was a blimmin excellent question fposte!

        1. fposte*

          Thanks! I’m with you on the reality of reality, or at least some of it. But I had a small incident in my teen years that left a huge impression on me about the ability of the brain to construct its own reality: I woke up at my usual winter before dawn time and was annoyed that the big living room clock was wrong, so I moved it up to the current morning time; the kitchen clock was also wrong, so I figured there must have been a power outage and reset it too. And it took me about ten minutes to realize I had woken up at 1 am or whenever instead of 5 am and the clocks were all right.

          Obviously that’s different from what you face but it left very rational me humbled about my brain’s ability to draw its own conclusions and stick to them in the face of evidence.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            The brain is fun isn’t it? I’m particularly interested in how the bits that ‘fill in the picture’ work from limited information. Such as in those optical illusions where your brain ‘puts’ blocks of grey or other colours in that aren’t in fact there because it thinks they’re supposed to exist.

            1. fposte*

              Have you read Ramachandran’s Phantoms in the Brain? I loved that book, and that “fill in the picture” is one of the big things it’s focusing on, using a lot of different real-life examples. Like the mirror box treatment for phantom limb syndrome, which is freaking amazing.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                I love that book! I was very interested in the mirror technique. It’s amazing how our sense of bodily awareness and where our limbs are can be essentially tricked by visual stimuli.

        2. Lora*

          Now that you said that about the tulip facehugger thing, I am not going to be able to *not* imagine that…

          Do you reckon it’s related to how people see ghosts?

          Reason I ask is, schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations seems to run in my family – I have cousins with it, some are minimally affected while others are really incapacitated – and even those of us who don’t have schizophrenia often have some kind of ghost story. Most of them not anything very evil or terrifying, but “was in old house, saw someone in old fashioned clothing” or “heard a conversation in the next room, nobody was there” type of stuff. And those are so common throughout the general population, I wonder if in fact everyone’s brain chemistry doesn’t occasionally veer off in that direction once in a while.

          Faith in your own perception gets worse the more you learn about how your brain actually does process different input, I’m sorry to say. You literally cannot see when your eyes are moving (“saccades”) – and your eyes move in rapid jerks, not smooth movements, very frequently even when you’re sitting still. Your brain takes the disjointed information and literally makes shit up about what happened in the time you weren’t seeing anything, so you perceive what you see as a smooth movement. You have no way of knowing what your brain inserted and what really happened. There are also a lot of colors that your brain just made up, you can only perceive a pretty narrow range.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            I’ve had…experiences that have left me believing in the supernatural to a certain extent and while I’m pretty sure they’re not generated by my brain I can’t, of course, be 100% certain.

            I love watching let’s plays of Phasmophobia (Eurogamer channel in particular – warning they swear a LOT) and do think I’ve seen similar things in the past. Because the let’s plays make me laugh I’m less afraid of experiencing the things again.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Thank you for speaking up!
      A relative is struggling with bad voices in her head and my heart aches for her.
      I wish you all good things and hope things improve for you.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        My sincere best wishes for her too.

        My grandmother had the same condition but far, far worse. She spent her later years shrieking about the Luftwaffe coming to get her (I mean, she did escape Germany in WW2 so that had some reality at one point) and frequently hearing voices to the point that she couldn’t hear anything else.

        To this day my parents do *not* know I have schizophrenia. I don’t want to make them relive all that.

        I do consider myself exceptionally lucky. Mine is mostly under control, I’m understanding I’ll never be cured but I can generally function a-ok. My husband is a saint frankly – he knows how to handle me when it all gets too much (don’t tell someone in a grip of delusional thoughts that it’s not real. We need comfort, understanding and sometimes professional help).

        I hope your relative finds a helping mechanism.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          For decades, my late great grandfather’s mental health issues were a family secret.

          After my brother was diagnosed, my father and I visited the hospital where his grandfather died, and obtained the medical records. Having a better understanding of his diagnosis was helpful, as we learned that it was the same diagnosis as my brother. Medical science in the 1920s was not what it is today, but it was comforting to see how compassionate the doctors and staff had been back then.

          Clearing away the mystery, to the extent we could, was beneficial.

          I have come to believe we all experience some degree of mental illness at some point in life. We might as well try to understand it, get help when we need it, and support our family and neighbors when they need it.

    9. the cat's ass*

      The hallmark of all your posts is your thoughtful generosity, Keymaster, and this post radiates it too. Thank you.

    10. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am sorry you have to deal with this, and really appreciate you taking the time to share your personal experience in such a thoughtful way.

      The brain is so complex and so much is unknown that I think everyone benefits from such an open discussion.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It’s a big part of why I went into IT I think. Computers are a kind of ‘reality anchor’ as you can’t trick them.

    11. MeepMeep*

      How can a non-schizophrenic ignoramus most helpfully support someone who is experiencing these symptoms? What was the most helpful reaction you’ve had to these symptoms from a “sane” outsider?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Mostly, don’t try and convince me that what I’m experiencing isn’t real. It’s real to me. Sympathetic ‘that sounds very scary/difficult’ helps, as does distraction – like giving me something else to think about or do.

    12. Mimmy*

      Keymaster, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I don’t know anyone personally with schizophrenia, so I have nothing but general descriptions to go by. I think this might be true for many people since it’s relatively less common than, say, depression.

      So I do have a question:
      1. Am I correct in that the experience is like being in a dream? Is it like you’re not fully awake or are in a fog all the time? Or is it just that your brain generates these ideas, such as your people-eating plants example, and they seem real. Do you recognize that they’re not real at the time?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Questions welcome!

        It’s definitely not fog like, although I have really really crystal clear dreams (even lucid ones from time to time) where everything is real too and it feels similar.

        The brain generates these ideas. For me it’s triggered by random things like sights, seeing text, even hearing a song and thinking it’s talking directly to me and telling me to be afraid of something. I’m pretty sure the plants one comes from Little Shop of Horrors but it was over 25 years ago so could be wrong. The medications generally prevent these ‘flares’ as I call them.

        I always know the voices aren’t real. They’re really pervasive but I know that there’s really nobody there telling me these things. The paranoid ideas are a bit different- at first I often believe them and it’s only the therapy and techniques I’ve learnt that give me the tools to put them on the back burner and gradually realise they’re not real.

        1. Mimmy*

          Thank you, that helps! I also appreciate your openness. Hearing (reading) first-person experiences truly humanizes mental illness (is it okay to call it that?), which counters popular stereotypes.

    13. Double A*

      Thank you for sharing and being so open to questions! How do you feel about people saying things like, “I’m so sorry” when they learn about your diagnosis? It kind of rubs me the wrong way because I really look at people with disabilities and what we call mental illnesses as differently abled, and it’s really that society doesn’t create a space for difference rather than the difference being an inherent problem, if that makes sense. I wonder how you feel about it?

      I’m also curious if you’re ever tempted to forgo your treatment regimen. It seems like that’s one of the biggest challenges with schizophrenia is people don’t like how the meds make them feel, or they feel good and think they don’t need them anymore so they go off, and then many factors such as paranoia can make it really difficult for them to get back on. If you don’t mind sharing, have you had challenges with this and how do you cope with them?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I get a lot of the ‘I’m so sorry’ stuff when I rock up somewhere with my cane (My spine was busted up in a car crash) as well as when I mention any of the mental conditions I have and…it really depends on my mood and how the person saying it is coming across. Generally I don’t mind it – I refer to myself as disabled, not differently abled and the second term kinda…annoys me (if used for me).

        Very true that society doesn’t cope too well with the unknown, the different, those among us with additional needs.

        I’ve never gone off my schizophrenia meds, but I have tried to do without my antidepressants a few times and it’s never gone well. The ‘oh I don’t need them, I’m fine, I don’t want to be taking pills for the rest of my life’ stuff has occurred. It’s taken a lot of work for the professionals to help me come to grips with the fact that I’m going to be taking meds for a long time, probably forever. Bit easier for me since medicated Keymaster is a far nicer person than unmedicated!

        1. Observer*

          I refer to myself as disabled, not differently abled and the second term kinda…annoys me

          Would you mind sharing why?

          Thanks for being so ready to share!

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            No problem!

            To me, and I readily admit this is personal preference, the label of ‘differently abled’ sounds condescending. I have no extra abilities that a typical able bodied etc person wouldn’t have. Additionally it sounds clunky, like referring to me as a ‘person with epilepsy’ (yeah got that too) instead of ‘epileptic’.

            I don’t like it because it tries to remove something that’s a really key part of me – or tries to imply that it’s something that is separate and I’ve spent a lot of effort accepting that these things will always be part of my life.

    14. Macaroni Penguin*

      Thank you for your story. I’ve always wondered, why are schizophrenic voices often so negative? Have doctors told you any theories?
      I know a number of people with schizophrenia. Sometimes I wish their Voices would give them compliments.

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        Oh! It looks like you’ve answered a similar question to mine already.
        Generally speaking then , how can neurotypical people support someone with schizophrenia?

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Don’t fear us.

          It might help to look upon it like a phobia: an intense fear that often isn’t rational and requires professional help if it’s got severe enough to impact upon daily life.

          Schizophrenia is a serious illness, it does require medical treatment but we’re often just trying to survive in this world same as anyone else.

    15. SnappinTerrapin*

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I deeply appreciate your contributions to this forum. I also appreciate the others who have participated in this conversation.

      It helps to demystify a sensitive topic, and that helps overcome the stigma of mental illness. The stigma causes people to fear treatment when they are not well. Your courage and compassion towards yourself and others is inspiring.

      Again, thank you.

    16. Bobina*

      Sorry, posted then realised I have an actual question – what what is like getting diagnosed? How was your NHS experience (if thats what you ended up using)? Do you have the situation now where there are certain doctors/specialists who you know and trust to work with only – and are wary of having to interact with new medical professionals?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It was a shock to get that diagnosis.

        From my GP basically saying ‘I think something is seriously wrong and I’m going to refer you to some experts’ to the psych team starting a series of meds I kind of just…went along with it? I felt too shocked to do anything else – was I really crazy? Could this be real?

        Nothing but respect for the NHS mental health lot. I’ve spent some time in the wards too (as recent as 2020) and I know mental hospitals get a bad rep but my experience was fine and truthfully I did need to be confined there. The staff did care.

        There’s other people in the NHS I cannot get on with and fear new people but it’s related to fatphobia and not my mental problems. Have had too many times of ‘you won’t have this issue if you lost some weight’ to not be wary.

        1. Bobina*

          Oh wow – that sounds like quite the ride! I think I’m used to hearing lots of stories of people who sort of self-diagnose and then have to fight to get taken seriously, and not a lot of “I didnt really know until my doctor told me”. Up until then, how…aware [?] were you that perhaps your experience of the world might be different to others? Or was it more like, I’m a bit weird just like lots of people are a bit weird?

          Really glad to hear you’ve had positive experiences with the mental health bit of the NHS! I am lucky that I’ve not had to interact with them (thus far) and alas, I mostly only ever hear the horror stories of people waiting years to get help or not really being able to get help/be taken seriously. I guess like with many things, its only the bad stories that make it out. Bummer about the fatphobia bit though, hopefully with enough time and education that will diminish!

    17. I take tea*

      Thank you for this! I am very impressed by your self knowledge and the work you’ve done to manage yourself. It’s really humbling.

  14. Birthday gift idea*

    Hi. My niece is turning 21 in a few weeks and I’m torn between giving her a fun kinda frivolous gift or a more serious ‘welcome to adulthood’ gift.

    She’s graduating from university next summer so she’s going to be interviewing for jobs soon. I remember at that point in my life I didn’t have things like a nice adult professional looking bag or accessories and would have appreciated them.

    On the other hand, it is a milestone birthday. In the middle of a pandemic. And I want her to have some fun. So would a splurgy frivolous thing that she wouldn’t normally get be better?

    If you could receive 1 practical/ could get a lot of use out of item OR 1 fun / would use occasionally item that you’d never buy for yourself because that seems wasteful which would you prefer ?

    1. Pucci*

      This is case where is would probably be best to ask her. If she wants a professional bag or an interview suit, then she should be involved in picking it out. If she wants a splurge, then she should also have a part in choosing it (maybe something the two of you could do together?)

    2. beach read*

      I like your idea of a bag! A quality professional tote will last her a very long time and she will think of you when using it. For fun, you could put inside something small, like a coffee gift card, lottery scratch-offs or movie tickets. If you decide on splurgy, frivolous, how about a wine tasting for you and she to attend together on a lovely fall afternoon?

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I’m with the one professional thing/one fun thing idea! I think it’s okay to buy something tasteful that will look professional, even if you’re not 100% sure it’s her taste — a fancy pen, a fancy portfolio holding a notepad, a fancy card case, a fancy bag, etc. She’s not necessarily going to be using the item in her everyday life all the time but more when she’s in a situation where she needs to impress. And I like the fun things suggested here that give her choice and are not high investment items.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Unfortunately, I feel like either one depends on knowing the recipient! I’d rather have a good quality practical gift over a “fun” thing that doesn’t fit my style/interests… and I’d rather have a frivolous splurge that suits me than a practical gift I won’t use. I guess assuming both gifts would be something I want, I’d prefer the fun one because it’s easier to justify spending my own money on something I need.

    4. the cat's ass*

      When i got out of my college nursing program, my favorite aunt bought me a VERY expensive stethoscope (which i still use with updated parts), AND a gift certificate to a local famous lingerie store. The perfect combination of useful and frivolous!

    5. Alexis Rosay*

      Do you live near her? An experience you do together is often the most memorable…when I was in my early 20s I felt embarrassed about not knowing much about how to pick wine or beer (after drinking crap at parties) and took me to wine and beer tastings where we talked through what was what.

      If you go with a professional item, have her help you pick it out—it could be fun to shop together. I know lots of people have gotten me professional items that I couldn’t use, like a bag that was unwieldy on my bus commute.

    6. Bluebell*

      I like the idea of going out shopping together for a bag or some other professional item, and then maybe you can treat her to a fun lunch. That way you have an experience as well as giving her a material gift.

    7. Observer*

      If you could receive 1 practical/ could get a lot of use out of item OR 1 fun / would use occasionally item that you’d never buy for yourself because that seems wasteful which would you prefer ?

      That may be a false dichotomy. Maybe get her something that would be useful, but something she’d never buy fof herself because she can’t afford it or because she would never spend so much on herself or it’s still a “luxury” even if it’s useful.

      Your example of a nice bag is a good one – I know a lot of people who would never spend a lot of money on a really nice, well made, higher end bag but would really enjoy having one even without the issue of nice accessories for interviews etc. So, if she’s that kind of person AND she’s going to be doing those kinds of interviews, you’ve got the perfect gift.

      But the key is knowing your niece and (as others have mentioned) getting her input.

    8. Laura H.*

      Ask her, but I would definitely save those accessory ideas as potential grad gifts too. I got my brother a nice folio and a classy pen (the gift of said pen was inspired by an AAM post on great gifts for coworkers/ professionals) as his graduation gift.

      Maybe for her birthday, you could get something for an apartment or a bedsheet set? Something that is still useful but not necessarily job related?

  15. Potatoes gonna Potate*

    What’s a seemingly minor household hack thats elevated your game? Like…”oh my god why didn’t I do this sooner!”? Could be cooking, cleaning, gardening, household etc related.

    1. Potatoes gonna Potate*

      For me I think recently it’s been adding and mixing things into condiments, like chaat masala & garlic into ketchup or garlic & another herb blend into mayo etc. I’ll try to add more as I think of them.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Delicate herbs like basil, tarragon and coriander (cilantro) will last a lot longer in the fridge if you stand them in a glass of water with a small, reasonably snug plastic bag over the top. I’ve had fresh herbs still be usable close to 2 weeks after I bought them.

      1. C*

        Basil actually does better in a glass of water on the counter than the fridge. It is a wimp when it comes to the cold.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I guess it depends where you live. I’m in the subtropics and anything left out on the counter here wilts within an hour.

    3. The Dogman*

      For me it’s white vinegar and bicarabonate of soda for eliminating pet waste smells!

      I paid so much for “odor eliminating” over the years and all this time the actual solution was waiting to be made into a solution!

      I use a little of the foaming mixture and an old cloth or sponge on soft furnishings, and just add some of each to some water for a pre mopping smelly areas, then use a more normal floor cleaner for the rest of the house.

      On the gardening front I found a type of coconut waster product that is turned into a feriliser/compost sort of thing, not sure what is it called (I have seen a few names I guess they are all brands) but it is a compresed dried block that massively expands when soaked in water. I use this as a water retention layer under my regular and home made composts, and the pots I tried it on did way better, needed less watering and all seem much bigger and healthier than the control ones!

      1. Pennyworth*

        Vinegar on mold in the bathroom. Apparently it actually destroys the mold deep into the grout between the tiles, while bleach just cleans it off the surface and also damages the grout. Cloudy ammonia is great for cleaning soap scum of tiles and shower screens, with some energetic rubbing.

        I have been trying to generate minimal food waste this year and discovered that my dog happily eats fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps cooked and added to her breakfast (not anything that is toxic to dogs) , and for myself I have been freezing any meat/chicken bones, no matter how well picked over, until I have enough to make stock. My food waste each week is mostly citrus peel, onion skins plus bones if I have been making stock, about 8 oz on average.

        1. sagewhiz*

          Oh my gosh don’t waste the citrus peels. There are all sorts of uses for them. Google and you’ll be surprised.

          1. The Dogman*

            Either neat or combined with some Bicarbonate of Soda to cause it to foam.

            This can be a vigorous reaction so DO NOT DO IT IN A SEALED CONTAINER!

            And open bowl or dish is fine.

            Rub vinegar or solution directly onto/into the mold and grout. Wash off with warm water. I leave it 10 mins to let the vinegar penetrate the grout a little.

            Test this first, sometimes grout is not well made and will wash out with the vinegar, but well placed and made grout will be fine.

            I use a white vinegar as the malted ones have more ingredients, the white vinegar is essentially just waste wine turned to vinegar with no additives.

        2. Another_scientist*

          Your onion skin should be included in the broth making, it gives the broth a beautiful golden color!

    4. Jaxy The Cat*

      Sheet sets inside a pillowcase.

      I spent *years* trying to fold fitted sheets and top sheets, and could never manage it. My linen closet was a mess. And then I was poking around the internet one day (maybe Reddit? I honestly don’t remember) and came across the idea of using a pillowcase as a bag for the whole set. Mind. Blown.

      Now I don’t even bother folding sheets. Just untangle, toss the other pillowcase on top, and pop the whole thing on a shelf. I never have to hunt for the rest of the set now, because it’s all right there. And while my linen closet is … not substantially tidier, I love just being able to grab a pillowcase and know that everything I need to change my sheets is in one easy to find bundle.

      1. Daffodilly*

        When my dad moved into assisted living, I brought the three sets of bedding they requested like this. The staff was amazed and impressed. I didn’t realize until that moment it wasn’t a well known way of doing things!
        Now the laundry service does everyone’s that way, eliminating the ziplock bags they used to use.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I started using Marie Kondo’s clothes folding style, because I realized I was living off the top seven-ish items in each drawer. Putting things sideways made it much easier to find that red top.

      1. Llellayena*

        I use this method in my suitcase when traveling, but at home I put my clothes on shelves instead of in drawers. Same effect, just a more vertical application!

    6. NopityNope*

      Microwaving corn on the cob. I got (fake) mad at the friend who mentioned it because, in my considered opinion, he should have told me about that trick YEARS ago. Much, much more corn was consumed this summer, as I didn’t have to mess with boiling water for such a short cook time on a hot day.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I literally encountered it this week, and as a food snob: Wow, really good and no boiling water. Just stick the whole cob, husk and all, in a microwave for 2-3 minutes on high per ear of corn.

          1. Yum!*

            *Running to store to get corn on the cob* Thanks! Do you wet it first, or put it in dry straight from the refrigerator?

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I use this method to steam almost all of my vegetables, including corn: place on a plate, add about 1 tbsp of water, cover with plastic wrap, microwave for 4 minutes. Just be careful taking off the plastic wrap.

            2. Dream Jobbed*

              Really late to this: I place the shucked, washed ear onto a piece of wax paper (that can cover the ear 2-3 times, sprinkle some jalapeño sauce on it (the green Tabasco sauce), and nuke it for one minute, turn it over, nuke another minute. Very yummy.

          2. RussianInTexas*

            Or you can wrapped the corn in the wet paper towel (if it covers without the husk) and microwave for 5 minutes.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              omg, “wrap in the paper towel”, and “if it comes without the husk).
              A kingdom for the edit button!

      1. NopityNope*

        It’s super simple. You don’t need to remove the husk or silk. If it’s got a super long stalk, I trim it just enough to fit in the microwave. Just pop it in whole, husk on, for 4 minutes if you’re doing one ear, 6 if you’re doing two ears. (Time can vary based on your microwave; mine is 1,000 watts.) Once it bings, use a knife to cut the ear just above the stalk. Then—and this is MAGIC—just hold/squeeze the pointy end and slide the ear out of the husk. The silk stays behind. It is hot, so you may need a hot pad for this part. If you like yours a bit more well done, you can let it steam in the husk for a bit. It will stay nice and hot for a good long while.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Yes, this really works and the silk comes off with the husk, which is soooo much easier. I’ve been eating more corn this summer, since I found out about this method. I hated dealing with the silk.

        2. Anono-me*

          When you cut the base of the corn off, be sure to make the cut ABOVE the widest part of the corn. It is really hard to squeeze the corn out of the husk otherwise.

      2. I take tea*

        Thank you! I impulse bought corn on the cob some time ago and it’s just been sitting in the fridge, because somehow I haven’t been able to get get around to getting it cooked. This is much easier! One is gone already.

    7. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Buying a dozen of the same socks: a dozen dress socks for spouse, a dozen short exercise socks for me, etc. No matching needed. Spouse has all the same plain color dress socks in one dresser drawer (the few odd ones are in another) and can just reach in there and grab any two of them (while I’m sleeping and they don’t want to turn on the light) and they match.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        YES! Not matching socks, priceless. I get the very generic ones at big drugstore chains so that when I want to replace socks, they still have the same exact style.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        Conversely, with my kids (and okay, sometimes with myself)- i solve the mismatch sock problem by letting them wear mismatching socks! They don’t seem to mind. For myself, i love fun socks so I buy patterned socks in the same style and colour palatte ans don’t worry about matching them.

        1. Salymander*

          My child wore mismatched socks deliberately up until high school. Actually, sometimes they still do! We decided that it is a sign of a creative mind.

      3. allathian*

        Now that we’re WFH, my husband’s switched to exclusively wearing exercise socks, the same brand, all black. He also has thinner dress socks, but they haven’t been used recently.

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      And: putting scissors wherever we use them (kitchen, office, etc.); putting inexpensive reading glasses wherever I might use them; having a special container by the gift-wrapping materials with tape, labels, scissors, pens, etc.; hanging up a key rack by the back door and training ourselves to always put our keys there.

      1. NopityNope*

        Oh, I have sooooo many scissors scattered around the house! If you are a sewer/crafter, that also eliminates the temptation to use the fabric shears/specialty scissors, just because they are close to hand. Those all-purpose scissors are right there to pry out a staple, hack open a box or whatever.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          This! I also take a sharpie and write NO!!! on my nice scissors in case they end up in someone else’s grubby paws :P

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Some quilters put a PADLOCK on their good fabric scissors when there are -uh- borrowers in the household! :)

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Dental floss for me — if I get the urge to floss while I’m at my desk or in my cozy chair, I’m way more likely to do it if the floss is right there!

            1. Ariaflame*

              The containers you get dental floss in are also excellent for cutting yarn if you do knitting and crochet and aren’t, for example, allowed scissors on the plane.

      2. GoryDetails*

        The multiple-scissors thing was a big one for me; odd that it never occurred to me when I was scuttling upstairs and down trying to remember where I’d left the utility scissors. Now I have some in the basement, in the kitchen, at the craft center, in the bathroom… [That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally misplace a pair, but it definitely reduces the scrambling around.]

      3. Stephanie*

        I have several pairs of dollar store reading glasses scattered around the house. The weirdest spot is on top of the dryer, so I can read care instructions on my clothes. I also have scissors in more than one spot.

      4. Msnotmrs*

        I do this with lip balm. One in my purse, one on my office desk, one on my home desk, one by the bed, one in my makeup bag.

      5. Potatoes gonna potate*


        When I moved into this house and was unpacking, I realized scissors in every room of the house were very important to have! Everything seems to be harder to open lately, and just having them made life so much easier.

    9. Zenovia*

      Bacon in the oven! Put aluminum foil on a flat pan, lay out the bacon, put in a cold oven. Set the oven to 425 degrees, and the timer for 18-20 minutes. Check on it earlier if you start to smell the bacon strongly. Older bacon cooks faster than new bacon.

      So much easier and cleaner than frying it on the stove top!

      1. SoloKid*

        Do you cook it on a low shelf? I tried this once and the bacon grease splatter made it a no-go to try again. Or is that what the cold oven is for? (I forget if I preheated mine)

        1. ronda*

          you can put a piece of parchment paper or foil over top to help with splatter.
          you do have to lift it then to check on doneness.

          also tried the twisted bacon this way and it is great.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I batch-cook bacon in the oven, but I put a cooling rack in the baking pan first, so the bacon sits above the fat as it cooks. I think that helps with the spattering, and makes it easier for me to determine when the bacon’s done to my preference. And of course I save the bacon grease for other uses.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also bacon-y — if your end goal is bacon bits or crumbles, dice the bacon BEFORE you cook it, then it pan-fries a treat without near so much mess. (I also do this with partial bacon packages – if I use half a packet of bacon for something, I dice up the other half and pack it away into the freezer, ready to cook, for the next time I’m doing beans-and-bacon or potato soup or something.)

    10. Pickle Lily*

      Storing a full bedsheet set (sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases) inside one of the pillowcases to keep them all together.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      Boiling white vinegar and water in the electric kettle, and let it soak for an hour afterwards, takes the hard water stains and lyme right out. Without much scrabbing.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Thank you for posting this! It was a reminder to descale my electric kettle and vinegar and water is boiling away in it as I type.

    12. Ranon*

      We keep socks in a basket by the front door now. As a shoes off house we’re not looking for them until then anyways and now no one has to run and get a pair when we’re on our way out the door.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Two things for baking potatoes:

      1. Poke them with a fork a few times and wrap in a damp paper towel, then microwave for 8 minutes. SO much faster and more efficient than baking them in the oven.

      2. If you have weirdos who eat the middles out of their potatoes but leave the jackets, or big potatoes that someone won’t eat a whole one by themselves, or you just need your potatoes to stretch a ways, slice the potatoes into 1″ thick slices. Arrange them on a baking sheet, brush them with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle them with a bit of salt. Oven at 350 for 10-12 minutes, flip and repeat. Slices of baked potato top just as easy as whole ones, can be a lot easier to eat, and you get more innards than jacket for them as don’t like the jackets. And the leftovers are easier to store and reheat than everyone’s topped, half-eaten potato would be.

      1. Windchime*

        I like the way oven-baked tastes better than microwaved, but I always start mine in the microwave and then finish them up in the oven. Microwave for 5-6 minutes while the oven is heating up, then pop them in the oven until done. MMmmmmm. It makes the jackets nice and crispy.

    14. ALM2019*

      I get out all my clothes for the week on Sunday, including workout clothes, and use one of those hanging sweater shelves in my closet to separate by day. This saves so much time and stress in the morning. I even continued it through the past year and a half of being at home when I’m usually just wearing leggings and a tshirt.

    15. Girasol*

      Making bread with a poolish. It’s sort of halfway between sourdough and cookbook bread. You make a batter of flour and water with a tiny bit of packet yeast the day before, then in the morning you add into the bubbly mass the rest of the packet yeast, enough flour to firm it up, and whatever else, like raisins and cinnamon. Then knead once, shape, rise, and bake. I can do the day-before mixing while I’m warming water for tea, and it takes barely longer to do the baking day work. And then it’s all done with no starter left in the fridge that needs to be fed and used. It’s way easier than it’s ever been to keep bread on hand.

    16. JB*

      Mine was more of a “duh” moment. I live in a 2 story house with high ceilings. The master (upstairs) has a MASSIVE closet with two different levels of shelving above my head. The top one especially is great for storing seasonal stuff, Christmas lights. But it’s a PAIN to get anything down. Grab the ladder from the shed, haul it up the stairs, try not to nick the walls… Consequently, stuff often set stacked until my next ladder errand. One day I’d dragged up the step stool from the laundry room. It folds, has 4 steps so a little taller than normal. Worked perfectly and I realized I could just LEAVE IT IN THE CLOSET permanently. Fold up, place behind the door. (Bought another for the laundry room.) Now, barely a week goes by that I’m not shifting or grabbing something from the shelves. So easy.

    17. Freezing my ginger & basil*

      Freezing fresh ginger bulbs and grate a bit when I need. Also wash, dry & freeze fresh basil to use later. Game changers.

      1. Salymander*

        I put a bunch of basil in the blender with a tiny bit of water and freeze the puree. Or, I make tomato sauce (from my vegetable garden) and freeze the sauce or peeled, chopped tomatoes. Put measured amounts (1/4 or 1/3 cup works) in a silicone muffin tray and they freeze into little basil or tomato hockey pucks. Put a bunch in a freezer bag and grab however many you need without having to measure or fuss with defrosting a giant lump of tomato. I do this with stock, horseradish (smaller pucks) and peppers too. It is surprising how much better a basic, plain dish tastes with a little extra garden vegetable or homemade stock added.

        I save lemon zest and keep in some lemon juice in the fridge. Keeps for longer than fresh citrus. I use the zest for baking or candy making, and the juice gets really extra lemony and flavorful.

    18. Angstrom*

      Oatmeal with steel-cut oats in a small slow cooker aka crock-pot. Put oats, milk, water, dried fruit, cinnamon, ginger, etc. in pot. Turn on shell. Put liner in microwave until milk starts to bubble. Put liner in shell, cover, take dog for walk. Come home to cooked oatmeal.
      -If you’re home, give an occasional stir.
      -To be truly decadent, when it is cooked, stir in a beaten egg or two and a splash of vanilla. Cook for another couple of minutes.

    19. fhqwhgads*

      I replaced the 1970s era trim in my bathtub/shower. New modern handle. New faucet spout. Both were basic “unscrew old thing, screw on new thing” tasks. Makes it look 100% less crappy.

    20. Hairy*

      If you have any dried oatmeal in a bowl, put some water in the bowl and microwave it long enough for the water to get hot (I usually do 20 seconds). The heated/remoistened oatmeal comes out with a quick wipe.

      (My dishwasher doesn’t do well with oatmeal for whatever reason.)

      1. Daffodilly*

        Similarly, after using the blender, fill it 3/4 up with water and give it a whirl before disassembling. WAAAAY easier to clean.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        If i’m feeling very lazy, and don’t want to scrub the dried out oatmeal out of my pot, the next morning, I will just put more water in the pot, boil the water, and make another batch of oatmeal in the same pot. The old oatmeal just softens and comes off and then mixes in with the new oatmeal.
        I guess that might fall under gross rather than efficient… but I don’t do it more than once, and I only do it the next day; I wouldn’t save the pot for several days or anything.

    21. Anono-me*

      In the before times for quick emergency cleaning: Vacuuming the entire house, not just the carpets. (Beater raised on the hard surface flooring to prevent scratches . )

    22. Nom*

      If you make smoothies at home: add 1 slice of avocado per serving (~16 fl oz). It radically improves the texture, and you can’t taste the avocado. Like, my smoothies have gone from being sort of watery and sad, to having the same texture as a fancy $$$ blended coffee drink. I don’t know why it works but it does, and it is so satisfying!

    23. allathian*

      A minor household hack that my son tipped me about was to cut two slits in the cover of a margarine tub so you can keep your butter knife in the fridge without making a mess. My butter spreaders are like small trowels, and I don’t want to keep washing them after every use.

    24. OxfordBlue*

      Sorry I’m a bit late but I’ll add mine for those reading later on. Buy a knife sharpener and sharpen your kitchen knives and scissors every week. Makes such a difference to everything you prepare.

  16. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Question for those with ADD or who live with someone who has ADD: what are some of the weird manifestations of stress behaviours that you attribute to the ADD?

    My husband and I have been together around 10 years. While I’m well acquainted with (and adore) his eccentricities, the last 10 months have been an entirely new and uncharted level of extreme stress for both of us… which has dialled him up to BananaCrackers and is consequently adding a huge load of additional stress for me. Eg: wildly erratic driving; getting passionately fixated on inconsequential things; forgetting to pay the rent; random, expensive online purchases; trying to have Very Heated Debates about Very Detailed Technical Topics while I’m trying to sleep and getting upset that I don’t engage.

    Some of it I can quickly recognise is related to poor impulse control/planning or hyperfocussing and hard for him to control, so I can still make the effort to be gentle and understanding in my response to it even when I’m stressed out and frustrated with him. Other times, in the longer space of time it takes me to make the connection I’ve already lost my (limited) patience.

    While it’s hard for both of us right now, I know that ultimately he will always prioritise my needs over his own and take what I say to heart, often without thinking of the detriment to himself. It’s taken a lot for him to start getting over the stigma of his ADD diagnosis so it’s important to me that he continues to get the space and support he needs to be himself, for him to know he is loved as he is, and to only draw hard lines when I feel it’s truly necessary for my own sanity.

    I’m curious to hear some anecdotal stories from others about their experiences with ADD and stress so I can better understand any common patterns.

    1. The Dogman*

      Maybe a code word or phrase that lets you know he needs some alone time to decompress etc?

      And one for you so he can know you are running out of patience?

      They can even be physical gestures if non-vocal is easier in the more extreme moments perhaps?

      Communication when both parties are stressed is hard to overcome, but if you have some “diversion in the heat of the moment” type of options you can swerve the blow outs and one or both can apologise later.

      1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        My husband and I have a few code words for different things, and we’ve found them helpful. It’s definitely lower-pressure to use a codeword for a sensitive thing than have to launch into a whole conversation every time. Our codewords are all silly things that are only very, very tangienitally related to the topic they actually deal with.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Mr Memes and I have a whole language of in-jokes that only make sense to us, and in that way I guess it’s like using code words. If it’s not a specific part of our established humour though, physical cues and code words don’t work as he doesn’t readily understand indirect or non-verbal communication. I don’t know if that’s the ADD, something else, or just him. But I have to be forthright, logical and precise with my choice of words, so if I need time out I’m best off just saying exactly that.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      You might have more luck with getting responses if you avoid things like “dialed him up to bananas crackers”. Or perhaps apologized? But it’s hard to want to help someone understand you/people like you when they’ve just insulted someone like you.

      I tried to write that as kindly as I could. I don’t have ADD, but a lot of my friends do, and I just couldn’t let the phrasing in here go unremarked upon.

      1. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        FWIW, I have ADHD and I read that phrasing as joking and affectionate, not insulting. I’d really prefer my husband speak to me with that sort of lanugage than use very clinical or precise wording. So this might be a YMMV thing, depending on the nature of the relationship.

        1. Hairy*

          I didn’t see it as insulting either. It came across as lighthearted and funny to me. I have chronic illnesses, and I talk about them in the same way. Being serious and strict about it all the time would just make dealing with it worse.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Ditto – my husband and I don’t talk about his anxiety and bipolar, we talk about what the brain weasels are doing to him today.

      2. Exif*

        Policing her language as she vents and asks for constructive help is the opposite of what we should be doing. Learn to use context clues. She’s clearly sensitive to his needs when dealing with him directly.

      3. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I’m struggling with how to respond to this comment as it comes across as quite hostile and I asked the question because I’m in a difficult place right now.

        I should have paid more mind to how large a role humour plays in my specific relationship with my husband. I probably should have said “dialled his behaviour up to an untenable level” instead of using a potentially offensive colloquialism like BananasCrackers. To anyone I unintentionally offended by saying that, I’m really sorry.

        While I appreciate that you’re a loyal person who will speak out on perceived slights to your friends, having friends with ADD isn’t the same as living with someone with ADD and being their primary and only close support person as they go through an extreme stress response.

        But if you do have input from that perspective, I’d welcome it.

      4. Bluephone*

        In what universe is this insulting?? I hope your friends don’t know that you’re using their condition for internet woke points (and in a situation where it’s not even warranted, to boot)

    3. Generic Name*

      Is he getting any treatment for his adhd whatsoever? My son is 14 and is autistic and has adhd, and while he is doing miles better than he was 10 years ago with maturity alone, the meds really help with his impulse control. Also, has he been assessed for anything else? The bit about the fixation makes me wonder if something else is going on. Is he rigid in other ways?

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Yes, he sees a psychiatrist regularly and is on medication. He was diagnosed as an adult long before we met. He generally manages it really well, it’s just a confluence of multiple stressful issues at the moment which are ramping everything up. His previous psychiatrist retired and trying to find someone new during covid was difficult. The new guy seems to be probing a bit more into other issues and trying different things, we’re yet to see a notable difference though.
        I’d say he’s selectively rigid? When it’s something he feels strongly about, he’s rigid in the extreme and sometimes in defiance of logic (though from his stance it’s always “logical”). Anything else he’s totally easy going.

    4. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I both have ADHD. We have been together going on 20 years. What you are describing is not OK. Your husband is in a very bad way, and it is putting you both at risk of serious or life-altering consequences.

      ADHD symptoms are certainly exacerbated by stress. It’s also very common for anxiety and depression to be comorbid with ADHD, so if your husband is getting meds from the GP and not talking regularly with a mental health professional, that needs to change ASAP. If he is in therapy but not telling his therapist what’s really going on because of his idealistic distortion, you may need to tell them yourself.

      None of these behaviors are acceptable because they are harmful to your well-being or actively dangerous. While it’s kind of you to try to discuss them calmly, you do not need to accept these actions in order to accept him as a person.

      Important bills should be on auto-pay. If he is endangering your family’s finances with compulsive spending, his credit card needs to be canceled. If he isn’t letting you sleep after you tell him “I need to go to sleep now,” you need a lock on the door. If he drives dangerously, don’t ride with him.

      It’s a big deal. It is okay if he temporarily feels bad. That is better than a fatal car crash or an eviction.

      There is a point at which extreme impulsive behavior and abusive behavior overlap. Dangerous driving and sleep deprivation are in that zone. Hopefully he will understand and support the boundaries you put in place to protect yourself. If he is in denial or minimizes what is happening, get into marriage counseling immediately and consider whether a temporary separation might be necessary.

      I know you love him and I am sure he has good intentions. But his symptoms are extremely bad right now, and you are not doing him any favors by tolerating it. Best of luck to you.

      1. Cleo*

        Well said.

        Sometimes the most supportive thing a loved one can say is “this is really bad and you need to manage this better / get more help.” Also “I’ll help you get help but you need to work on this because things aren’t OK right now.”

        It honestly took my husband telling me he wanted a trial separation to make me realize that I needed to get a better handle on my PTSD and anxiety. I’d been in therapy for years and had made great progress. And then I got laid off and that just dialed everything up to 11 and suddenly I was NOT managing as well as I thought I was and I almost lost my marriage. We managed to work it out (I changed my meds, found a therapy group and a new therapist) and things are really, really good between us now but I would not have blamed him if he’d left then.

        I’m not recommending going straight for the trial separation ECM*, but I agree with RagingADHD that what you describe sounds really bad. You’re past the point of gentle-support and well into need-a-serious-intervention territory. Best of luck to you both – this sounds really hard!! <3

        1. RagingADHD*

          There is a family we are acquainted with, where the wife has severe ADHD and a number of serious comorbidities, the medicatioms for which don’t always play nicely together. From time to time they stop working and she becomes volatile.

          When she threw boiling water on her husband, she was not intending to control or punish him in a classicly abusive dynamic. It was pure impulse that she immediately regretted and didn’t even feel like something she herself did.

          Her internal experience or intentions didn’t erase his burns.

          When an adult with responsibilities and intimate relationships can’t control their impulses, people get hurt.

      2. Cleo*


        (I wrote a longer reply and I don’t see it here – will come back and re-post if it doesn’t appear later)

    5. Double A*

      My husband has ADD and bipolar II. His ADD is actually fairly well managed, and the much bigger issue he deals with is severe and frequent depression that he has struggled to find effective ways to manage. However, it has gotten somewhat better over the years and he credits me with helping with that. Recently I’ve been thinking more about how his ADD might be contributing to his depression but thise thoughts are under development.

      My husband is very disconnected from his body. Both ADD and the treatment for ADD contribute to some of this. He doesn’t feel hungry and forgets to eat. Like, has straight up fainted because he just didn’t eat all day. So I will ask him about if he’s eaten and drunk enough water. He also started getting those complete nutrition drinks so he can easily just put calories and nutrients into his body. After years, he’s finally realized what a big impact exercise has on his mood. Now, he’s kind of weirdly stubborn about what kind of exercise he wants to do and he can’t do it a lot of times, but at least now he makes the connection and so his narrative about why he feels so bad is less dark. Basically, I help him observe patterns that he doesn’t otherwise notice himself, and he deeply trusts me to do so. When he’s depressed, I help provide him perspective that he can’t have in the moment and he trusts that perspective.

      There are some practical things. I handle all of the money in our relationship. I mean, he has access to all our accounts and buys stuff on our cards, but I manage the bills and the budget. He’s not really an impulse spender, it’s more he is avoidant about money. We have a joint account for most things and each get an allowance each month that we can do whatever we want with.

      Some of this probably sounds kind of codependent, and maybe it is. I have some codependent tendencies but we’re a good match because I can channel them pretty productively with him. It works for us with complete trust, respect, and communication.

    6. J.B.*

      What you describe “forgetting to pay the rent; random, expensive online purchases; trying to have Very Heated Debates about Very Detailed Technical Topics while I’m trying to sleep and getting upset that I don’t engage”

      sounds very much like my dad starting after his retirement. I believe my dad has undiagnosed ADHD. Unfortunately with covid hitting his behaviors spiraled out of control and he crossed boundaries with his family. Talking when you are trying to sleep is abuse. Forgetting to pay rent and random expensive online purchases are crossing into territory of financial abuse.

      While your husband’s behaviors may start from his brain wiring, he needs to be an adult and find a better way to deal with them. Please set boundaries and stick to them.

    7. archangelsgirl*

      My adult daughter lives with me for lots of reasons. ADHD is one. Crying used to be big when frustrated/stressed/anxious… almost any ADHD behaviour. That caused a lot of conflict. I said, “Don’t cry over such a stupid little thing.” Which was wrong of me. She said, “I cry easily and it’s how I express myself, you have no right to say don’t do it.” Which was true, but happened multiple times a day, leaving me feeling powerless.

      So now, we have an agreement that if she really must cry, she removes herself, or I remove myself. We get back together when the crying part is over to discuss the issue. I find that she cries less. I find that I don’t engage and therefore escalate her… I respect that if she’s crying, she must really need to, and nothing I say will matter until she comes down a bit. She knows that I’m not engaging not because I don’t care, but because she’s gone past the place where me engaging will help.

      All this is just to say… maybe… pick a behaviour or that you find especially hard, and say, “I can help you with XYZ, but I can’t help with/feel upset by ABC. If you engage in those behaviours, I will walk away, not because I don’t love you, but because our communication isn’t productive when those behaviours are happening. I’ll be happy to discuss later.

    8. ten four*

      Hey there, my sibling started showing exactly those signs: erratic driving, impulse purchases, going down rabbit holes of detail. Sib’s spouse attempted to manage but then sib’s behavior got so dangerous it eventually dawned on everyone that this was a new, serious issue. It’s a minor miracle that no one died in the 110 mph car crash that finally made us realize that this wasn’t a manageable shift in behavior. It turned out to be a manic episode, and that’s how we found out that sib is bi-polar.

      Things have not gone well with sib’s life since then, and a lot of that is down to sib refusing to accept the diagnosis and refusing to stay on the medication. Spouse is gone, job is gone, house is gone, a lot of money is gone, and we’re all basically waiting for a call from the police, the hospital or the morgue.

      It’s a depressing story and I hope that’s not what’s happening here, but I wanted to share it because we were all so blindsided! Even now when we talk I can sort of find my sibling in our conversation, and I keep hoping that sib will come back to themselves. In the early days we all made so many excuses for the weird behavioral departures – it’s so hard to believe that a person you know and love is losing touch with reality.

      I strongly recommend getting your husband to a competent doctor for an assessment. I know you’re trying with the psychiatrist, but I would call your regular doctor, describe what’s happening, and ask for advice on who to talk with next. And I would chase this DOWN – don’t let anyone fob you off.

      I hope this is an unnecessarily scary story and that everything goes smoothly!

    9. Macaroni Penguin*

      My partner of eight years has ADD, he was just diagnosed this year. With a combination of medication and therapy he’s become a much happier human. Sometimes ADD symptoms still explode and it’s not a fun day. (We call that situation an infestation of brain weasels). Typically these ADD explosions happen in the morning when Beloved hasn’t had coffee, food, or medication yet. Things also come up more often if he’s neglecting his exercises or overall self care. Life is good though, and I respect my partner greatly.

    10. WS*

      My partner has ADHD and a lot of it we’ve worked out with splitting responsibilities etc. – I’m 100% in charge of planning and household purchases and bedtime! But some of the things you’re talking about are actually dangerous – he shouldn’t be driving if he’s erratic, he should have a purchase limit on his credit card, and you should be in charge of paying the rent (or even better, automate everything possible). These stress points are the ones you need to address first because of serious consequences. Things like hyperfocusing on a topic when it’s bedtime are things that are relatively harmless and can be dealt with by keeping routine and making sure he has his own time to pursue these interests.

    11. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Thanks to everyone who’s weighed in so far with their experiences. I really appreciate hearing what things are like for others in this boat, as well as the words of support and the reality check on the worsening symptoms (thanks in particular RagingADHD and Cleo on that). I also want to clarify that I’m 100% safe and ok, both physically and financially.

      I did have a stern conversation with my husband a few weeks ago where I put the very real possibility of separation on the table if the extreme behaviours didn’t stop. It took some follow up, but we’ve worked together on lifestyle changes to lessen the triggers and pitfalls. Things have steadily improved since then, though there are lingering issues with sudden, unpredictable and intense flare-ups – which is why I’ve been wanting to understand more about stress and patterns. Thanks to Macaroni Penguin for mentioning “ADD explosions” between med doses, eating, lack of exercise etc. That actually sounds very possible in our situation and it would explain a lot. Sounds almost overly simple now, but in the context of all the other craziness right now that possibility just didn’t jump out at me initially. So that’s something we’ll both be watching more closely over the coming weeks.

      Thanks again to everyone, and I’m still following along with interest if others have perspectives to add.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’ll offer a bit more about symptom flareup or explosions.

        ADHD traits and behaviors are normal human behaviors, dialed up to a frequency or intensity that makes them problematic. The triggers for flareups are basically the same as for NTs having a bad day, it’s just a more extreme response to a lower threshold.

        So for example, a NT person who didn’t sleep well last night, or who is preoccupied about a stressful situation, or hangry, will become clumsy, forgetful, distractable, indecisive, and moody or irritable.

        That’s kind of like baseline for an ADHD brain with everything going well. The medication helps by making it easier to remember what to do, and easier to control impulses. It turns down the volume on the mental and emotional “noise” in your head and helps you make productive decisions. But it doesn’t completely close the gap between NT baseline and ADHD baseline, so those responses are still going to be heightened. They’re just easier to manage appropriately.

        So when an ADHD person is tired, or under stress, or hangry, etc — their forgetfulness, irritability or emotional intensity, etc is dialed up even more. The meds don’t compensate enough. And the symptoms themselves make it harder to do the things that would make it better – go to bed on time, eat regularly, make time to work out, walk away from petty arguments, etc. Because time management and impulse control are 2 of the biggest issues in ADHD.

        It can be really difficult to break the self-perpetuating symptom cycle, and it is really difficult in a marriage to not feel like you are parenting your partner when you try to help with this stuff.

        I don’t have it all figured out, but the good news about complex behavior systems is that there are many possible inflection points.

        All the symptoms and all the strategies are connected to each other, so incremental improvement in one area will make it easier to improve the others. A little better sleep, or a little exercise, or a little better eating day, or a little time outside moving around — any of these things will move the needle and make it easier to move toward a better routine.

        I’m glad you two are ablr to talk about this stuff and work together, and I hope things improve very soon.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Thanks for the additional info, this is really helpful! Appreciate you taking the time to follow up with this.

        2. Macaroni Penguin*

          *nods agreeably* That’s a very well articulated bunch of information, thank you.
          My husband and I are still very new at managing this ADHD thing. We’re still learning, and I expect it’s a lifelong process.

          Hope that everyone in this thread Lives Long and Prospers!

      2. Cleo*

        Good luck to you both! Thanks for commenting again. I’m glad to hear that things are at least getting better.

    12. Bethie*

      I dont have any suggestions, but just that I am in the same boat (if you see this). The pandemic … my husband has become hyper fixated on politics, religions, etc. But he started a blog and a Youtube account and that seems to help him have someone, not me, to vent to? He is almost a totally different person than before the pandemic. I wish he would get on meds, but he wont. Even my mom, who is a dr, is like whoa – and she has seen a lot of sh*t. But he’s still an awesome Dad and loves us unconditionally. So its a struggle.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Yeah, I hear you. It’s A Lot during the pandemic when what might usually get distributed across a few people is suddenly dialled up to 11 and being solely directed towards you.

  17. rabbit*

    I know this is light discussion so I’m not looking for super serious responses, I’m trying to see the funny side of what is sometimes serious.

    Has anyone noticed the latest PR move for people in trouble, be they famous or just someone you know, has been to claim every increasing levels of distress and struggle?

    As in, someone gets caught saying something racist, or committing a crime, or doing the wrong thing. They face consequences for their actions. They then say they are suffering very badly. Their mental health is ‘severe’, they are ‘struggling’, they are ‘devastated’ and so on. Quite extreme. It’s like, yeah well when there are consequences to your actions you’re going to be a bit upset at that!

    It’s becoming really weird. Someone does the wrong thing, gets in trouble then claims they are having breakdown. Not that mental health caused their behaviour, the consequences are causing them to have as one star put it ‘a complete breakdown.’ I thought the point of a breakdown was that it was complete!

    There is never any focus on the victims, if these people have victims. It’s just all about how badly the perpetrator is struggling in the face of condemnation. It’s gaslighting on steroids. Some even insist their victim comfort them.

    Anyway, it’s really weirding me out! If you’ve done the wrong thing and you’ve lost your job over it then yep it’s going to suck!

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      *Eyeroll* It’s totally a thing.

      But DARVO is as old as the dinosaurs. Like I imagine a conversation from 100 million years BC going like…

      Triceratops: “I find your predation terrifying.”
      T-Rex: ”I’m not terrifying, YOU’RE terrifying with those horns! I have tiny arms so I only have big jaws to compensate, and now you’re bullying me about my tiny arms and I can’t help it and my tiny arms came from my MOTHER and you’re offending her and it’s in my genes and I can’t help it and now you’re preying on me and I’m really self conscious about my tiny arms because I’ll never lift bro and my mental health and total breakdown and struggles and I can’t even turn on the TV anymore and these false accusations ruining my career and I’m terrified to even leave my house so how could I ever terrorise anyone! SNIFFFFFFFFFFF.” (*Gobble chomp munch eating your triceratops family.*)

      Yet T-Rex memes in 2021 are all about tiny arm pity instead of ferocious carnivore fear.

      1. NopityNope*

        Also the T-Rex, on tv/Twitter/cave drawings: I’m sorry you’re offended by my actions/words. Blah blah blah stress blah blah blah struggle blah blah blah.

        The classic blame-shifting non-apology!

      2. rabbit*

        I just wasn’t really familiar with this until quite recently. I worked with a girl who would do annoying things. We’d tell her to take her long personal phone call into a private office and she’d accuse us of bullying her.

        I’m used to seeing celebrities and politicians apologise or maybe deny they did anything wrong. I’m not quite used to the volume of people who now make it about how upset they are they got caught doing something wrong. Two celebs in my city just got done for things very clearly and then there were lots of articles about their struggle to cope and people bringing them flowers and food in their suffering. Weird! I’m supposed to feel sorry for you that you’re upset there are consequences to your own actions?

      1. rabbit*

        You’re so right! I forgot about that. Remember sex addiction rehab for the men who cheated? I totally forgot. No one seems to do that anymore as a PR move.

    2. AGD*

      “White women’s tears” and the like are a thing, and kind of a replacement for empathy. Someone from a more marginalized group pushing back on something is a) probably not doing it lightly (it is emotional effort and it can be a risk); b) typically much more about society than about an individual; and c) a source of assistance. It’s meant to help everyone do better.

      Turning it into highly self-centered shame (and/or a supposed “right” to be completely unchallenged at all times) is a major derail and a manifestation of status-quo power structures flexing.

    3. Generic Name*

      I remember when I was a kid a politician in my hometown suddenly resigned saying he “wanted to spend more time with his family”. This was in the 80s. I guess the public facing explanation for resigning in shame have evolved over the years.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Years ago some UK politician (can’t remember who) resigned to spend more time with his family, then reappeared some time later. When he was asked why he was suddenly back in the job, he said he’d forgotten to check first whether his family wanted to spend more time with him ;)

    4. Msnotmrs*

      One of my girl friends and I were just talking about this yesterday. We’re both having a situation (me with a friend, her with a brother) where the other person is flaky, uncommunicative, cold. My girl friend said her brother had promised to go on vacation with their combined families, but then about 10 days before pulled out and blamed it on his in-laws inviting them on vacation as well. My friend stopped texting me about a shared community issue we were both upset about (fine), and then about an hour later subtweeted me and said she was “too exhausted” from talking about the issue. When confronted, both of these people have said the same thing about how they’re struggling with anxiety and depression, please take pity on them… but then nothing changes. They don’t try harder, communicate better, seek therapy, cut down on drinking, change their lifestyles. Feels like a get out of jail free card. I know depression sucks and it makes you self-sabotage, but it doesn’t make you do things like double-book yourself for vacation or subtweet your friends.

    5. lemon meringue*

      This kind of thing comes from people who are not used to being challenged and who are used to having their feelings tended to. I think they are often sincere in their distress, but they really don’t understand that this moment isn’t about them and their feelings.

      On the other hand, I do have sympathy for anyone who has to deal with a huge amount of public condemnation, even if their actions really were awful. Having that level of scrutiny and anger levelled at you by possibly millions of people is not something that the human psyche was built to withstand.

      1. banoffee pie*

        yeah, before the internet there was probably a limit to how many people could be mad at you at once. And even if you did something quite bad, it would have been more awkward to insult you to your face than posting condemnation online, so everyone who was pissed at you probably didn’ necessarily tell you

    6. Double A*

      Related, language of violence to describe their experience also really bothers me. Like talking about getting “beat up” or “destroyed” or (the worst) “lynched” when actually what happened was they were criticized. Often by people who have experienced actual violence or at least threats of it simply for existing.

      Losing your job sucks. It’s not remotely the same violence as being beat up, killed, or run out of town.

    7. Lotus*

      This sounds like common narcissistic/emotionally manipulative behavior, if I’m interpreting your post correctly. Basically someone does something bad, and when they’re called out on it, they somehow turn the narrative into how they are the victim of the situation (instead of apologizing). It’s a deflection technique.

    8. Amey*

      American living in England here (for many years now) and people almost universally think classic PB&J is a disgusting concept. This is particularly complicated by the fact that they’ve heard ‘peanut butter and jelly’ on TV and assumed some strange combination of peanut butter and Jello. Even when corrected however, I’m still told this is weird and most people don’t want to try it. Peanut butter and chocolate also isn’t considered a normal combination here although a few American sweets/ice creams are starting to be seen here so maybe it’s catching on. Basically, peanut butter’s not a thing in the same way…

      In return, adding vinegar to anything salty (particularly chips and crisps aka french fries and potato chips) will never make sense to me. Also Marmite.

  18. Meh*

    What’s your favorite regional/ethnic/you-grew-up-on food that outsiders/foreigners think is weird or gross?

    1. Yum!*

      French fries with mayo instead of ketchup. It’s actually Americans who think it’s gross. I got it from my two European-born parents.

      1. Meh*

        Do you swirl ketchup and mayo? Military kids who grew up in German seemed to do this – like a best of both worlds thing.

        1. NopityNope*

          I did this for years, then found out that it’s an actual thing in Utah—called fry sauce by Utahns. And now I think it’s something you can buy in the store—Heinz?

          1. SoloKid*

            Yes I’ve seen “mayochup” from Heinz at the store.

            I love dipping my fries in pretty much anything – fast food shakes, chili, soy sauce, pesto, tartar sauce, I’ll try them all!

          2. The Dude Abides*

            Freddy’s gives out packets of fry sauce with meals.

            I can’t stand the stuff, but my partner loves it.

          1. Jen in Oregon*

            Duke’s is the absolute best. I live, well, far away from where you can get Duke’s in the store, so I have my sister send me 48oz. jars of it. People always laugh about my dedication, at least until they taste it, then they understand.

      2. londonedit*

        I love mayo with chips. But it depends on the type of chip – French fry type ones, or oven chips, definitely mayo. But chips from the chip shop are bigger and soggier (in a very good way!) and greasier and they need ketchup – mayo is too rich for chip shop chips.

    2. rabbit*

      Australian here. I can confirm that Vegemite is in fact disgusting.

      Most of our food is fit for others except Vegemite. Meat pies might be an acquired taste for some people.

      1. Girasol*

        Australian meat pies are *wonderful.* I wish I could pop out to a bakery in the US every day for an Australian meat pie for supper.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      A black bean dish. The black beans are blended so you can imagine what it looks like. People would comment whenever I had a sandwich with black bean filling so I just stopped having that in the office.

    4. Jay*

      Gefilte fish. Love it. I make it myself for holidays and always make enough to freeze. My husband was not Jewish when we were married and it took him years to even try it. He’s a convert now (in more ways than one).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’ve always encountered the opposite– fellow Ashkenazi Jews who make faces when I mention it! I love the stuff, even from the jar. My mom and I used to make it from scratch twice a year.

          1. AGD*

            I also eat it out of the jar. I liked it even as a picky little kid. Though somehow, the idea of making it from scratch had never occurred to me!

          2. tuesday last*

            Will confirm: Ashkenazi/Sephardic mix, and I hate gefilte fish. I don’t love fish (best is tasteless whitefish deep-fried and chips. that’s ok).

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Limberg cheese and chopped chicken livers come to mind. Not in the same dish, but sometimes on the same table of cocktail goodies.
      Also my mother’s 1950s and 1960s recipes, like Waldorf salad, ambrosia, and various forms of aspic (highly flavored gelatin with shredded vegetables & fruit, either sweet or savory.)

      1. ampersand*

        I admit I collect old cookbooks for recipes just like this. I find them fascinating, especially with the photography/artwork from the time.

        1. Clisby*

          I do, too. No one else in my family likes it, so I save it for eating out. On one family vacation, I ate liver & onions 3 times in a week.

      1. Meh*

        Costco (in Virginia) they had snack bags of dried squid, kinda like jerky. It’s salty sweet but super fishy smelling and I love it. An old white man read the label and was said, ew, I don’t think so! I had to reply, “sounds delicious” and spite bought a bag.

        1. acmx*

          Is it in a yellow bag? Anyways, I like that (might be cuttlefish) and I do not like seafood.

          I salt my watermelon pieces.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I brought bags of that stuff back from China years ago. The customs guy gave me a pretty odd look, but hey, more for me!

          I’ve always eaten things some people find “unusual”, like tripe and sweetbreads. Didn’t grow up with them; I think I’m subconsciously rebelling against my late grandmother, who thought pasta sauce was disgusting and who refused to try tofu.

    6. bassclefchick*

      Born and raised in Southeast Wisconsin. Raw beef and onions on sandwich rye bread. Add a little salt and pepper. Some call it a Cannibal Sandwich. We had it for Christmas. Clearly, we do NOT do this anymore. But I LOVED them! Only way I would eat rye.

      1. Been There*

        Toast Cannibale! We have that in Belgium as well :-)
        Other things that are eaten here that I think are pretty uncommon in other countries would be pigeon or horse meat.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Was coming to post this as I am from East-central Wisconsin :P We haven’t done it in many years but it was a BIG deal at the holidays for the old people for someone to show up with a pound of super fresh ground beef and some smaller cocktail rye sized bread, etc. I would probably eat it again – you have to have the right butcher who knows their meat, this can’t come from a supermarket or anything.

        My great grandmother used to take a day-old hard roll, pour cream over the top and then a little sprinkle of sugar. THAT was a pretty tasty way to use up bread!

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I can’t do raw oysters due to texture. I am annoyed with myself for it because we have the oyster season here.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Beets in various implementations, salted herring, kvass (fermented bread drink), cold soup based on kvass, herring under fur coat salad (kind of like the 7 layer dip, but with herriy, potato, egg, beets, mayo), aspic.
      And after living in the US for 20 years, I still hate peanut butter.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      Seaweed salad out of the tin. Tinned herring or sprats. Can eat a tin with a slice of bread for dinner, my American partner thinks this is extremely weird and bizarre, lol.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Yes, absolutely!
          I once took a friend to dim sum and ordered chicken feet. Well she popped the whole thing in her mouth before I could warn her about the bones and she spent the next little bit taking chicken bones out of her mouth. I still feel like I messed up a golden opportunity to convert her to being a chicken feet lover.

    9. Exif*

      7 fishes on Christmas Eve, particularly with baccalà. Everything smells like ocean-y death when you’re done–the house, your hair, your clothes. We had to attend Christmas Eve services when I was young due to the demands of my super-religious grandmother, and our odor cleared the pew. I don’t blame anyone for avoiding us.

    10. TechWorker*

      Not quite ‘grew up on’ but when in college on a tight food budget I got to like both instant mash and tinned potatoes. Instant mash (the cheapest version) is something like 99% potato with a bit of preservative and tinned potatoes you can chop straight into potato salad == minimal effort. Most people I know definitely think instant mash is gross but I still keep them both in the cupboard :p (and I’ve served potato salad made from tinned potatoes at patties and no-ones batted an eyelid except to say they liked the salad…)

      1. Might Be Spam*

        For years I was always assigned to bring mashed potatoes to my in-laws for holidays. Everybody liked my mashed potatoes. After I mentioned they were instant potatoes, suddenly I was allowed to bring whatever I wanted as long as it wasn’t potatoes.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Powdered potatoes saved my sanity one long lasting winter power outage. The only thing we had for cooking was an alcohol burner, so canned soup and instant potatoes were the hot parts of the meal. (We don’t eat a lot of canned soup so we don’t keep much of it in the pantry, and it was a couple of days before our street could be plowed.)

    11. marvin the paranoid android*

      When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and developed a taste for sardines, kippers, corned beef and steak and kidney pie. My mother did not understand this.

      1. Buni*

        I love a kipper SO. MUCH. But I’ll only eat them when the weather’s good so I can leave the windows open all day (hope the neighbours like kippers….).

    12. Girasol*

      Lefse, a Minnesota Scandinavian treat. It’s like a triangular tortilla made of potato. Lefse has all the flavor of wallpaper paste but as a kid I ate it the usual way, rolled up with a little butter and white sugar, and loved it. (Then again, as kids we actually did eat paste when the teacher wasn’t looking, so I suppose that makes sense.)

      1. Figgie*

        My dad would put peanut butter and jelly on lefse. The rest of us would just use butter and sugar.
        Along with lefse, was lutefisk. While I can eat it (lots of practice growing up), I don’t care for it. My grandmother used to refer to it as “fish jello.” :-)

        1. allathian*

          Ugh, lutefisk is awful, and the smell when you’re cooking it is absolutely gross. For those who don’t know, it’s dried fish that’s been softened in a lye bath. It’s pretty much the only food that I won’t eat.

        2. I take tea*

          I’m one of the few people I know who genuinely like lutefish. But only when my father cooked it, he managed to make it light and flakey, instead of soapy. I’ve never tried to make it myself.

      2. ClutteredBird*

        LEFSE. I was giddy when I found that the Norwegian all you can eat buffet at Epcot had it!

        But my sis always orders some for Thanksgiving. SO GOOD.

    13. Angstrom*

      Balachuang(balachung)a Burmese/Indonesian condiment made with dried shrimp, garlic, chilies, etc. Parents used it on scrambled eggs for breakfast.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I love that stuff! Haven’t had it in a while, and I should fix that. I didn’t think to put it on eggs!

    14. Aly_b*

      As a Canadian, I am here to rep pineapples on pizza, which I don’t think of as weird or regional but which I am told are divisive. I, naturally, cannot understand why they would be, as the best pizza topping. The sweetness and tang pairs well with your salty and savoury toppings, and any pizza with a pineapple on it is a treat.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        The first time we had pineapple on pizza was in Colorado in 1983. I thought, “yuk!” but I was a polite guest and ate it. Yum!

        1. Retired MT*

          In southern Ohio goetta is a delicious alternative to bacon or ham at breakfast. It’s a German food made of bulk sausage, pin head oats, water and spices .

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My family has gotten hooked on ham, pineapple, and green pepper pizza made with Alfredo sauce.

    15. GoryDetails*

      We moved around a lot, so the regional specialties tended to shift, but I have always been very fond of grits – the ground-hominy food that many people think of as bland and tasteless (and possibly of an objectionable texture as well). It is on the bland side, can’t deny that, but that makes it a great vehicle for butter/salt/pepper, or cheese, or sundry other flavorings, and it can be cooled in a loaf pan and then sliced, breaded and fried, for a variation in texture.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I have found that most people outside the south have only tried grits in a restaurant, and most restaurants don’t make them correctly. They undercook them and add salt at the wrong time.

        You have to salt the water before adding the grits, and cook them until very thick and creamy. It’s the same thing as polenta.

        And yes, cheese and bacon are great on them.

        1. Gracely*

          This. I never order grits in a restaurant, because they always suck.

          Nothing can beat my grandmother’s cheese grits. Especially when they’re the side dish to a fish fry.

    16. Aealias*

      Strawberry jam on unusual things. I grew up on jam-and-cheese sandwiches, and I prefer my scrambled eggs with jam instead of ketchup. Even my own children find that odd. (Clearly, all their taste is in their parents.)

    17. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Pickled pigs feet and herring! This was always my family’s tradition on New Years Day. I believe it has German roots, possibly in Bavaria?

    18. Cleo*

      Peanut butter on various fruit and vegetables. I grew up in the American Midwest and peanut butter on celery or apple slices or other crunchy type food was a pretty common snack when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s.

      I didn’t realize that it wasn’t universal until I spent a semester in England while in college. I was hanging out in the communal kitchen with my English friends when I casually spread some peanut butter on an apple slice – and suddenly the room went silent and everyone looked at me in shocked horror.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Northern Irish speciality that others may not like – soda bread and potato bread fried in bacon fat. Maybe even a pancake. Eat with bacon, sausage, fried egg, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms etc. Aka Ulster Fry. It’s the breakfast that keeps you going until dinner :)

      2. TechWorker*

        If it’s any consolation the concept of peanut butter on slices of apple, whilst maybe not super common, has come to the U.K. via diet books and articles recommending it as a healthy snack, so I suspect you would get zero weird looks if you did that today ;)

    19. Piano Girl*

      I grew up with an English grandma who immigrated to the US when she was sixteen. She brought mincemeat hand pie pans with her. I love mincemeat and often make it from scratch. Because the recipe makes so much filling, I bottle most of it and either give it away to family or save it for the next year. I have to have it at Christmas. Yum!

    20. The Dude Abides*


      Bread or Texas toast, topped with meat/veggies, then topped with French fries, then smothered with cheese (or gravy if it’s a breakfast shoe).

      My favorite is either a BLT shoe, or a breakfast shoe with over easy eggs, bacon, cheese and hash browns instead of fries.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          They’re only found in a specific town in the Midwest. It was invented by a local restaurant, and it caught on like wildfire. Most local sit-down joints have their own takes on them.

          1. saf*

            This sounds like a garbage plate, which is a Rochester NY thing. The original place has a copyright on that name now, so other places just call them plates. Potatoes of some sort, usually home fries, sometimes just fries, mac salad, baked beans, hots (sometimes hamburgers), and meat sauce.

            1. The Dude Abides*

              The horseshoe was invented in 1928 at a local hotel. There’s no copyright on the name, but there is fierce debate over where the best ones are.

              None of those ingredients are in a shoe, unless it’s a unique take on them.

    21. Amey*

      American living in England here (for many years now) and people almost universally think classic PB&J is a disgusting concept. This is particularly complicated by the fact that they’ve heard ‘peanut butter and jelly’ on TV and assumed some strange combination of peanut butter and Jello. Even when corrected however, I’m still told this is weird and most people don’t want to try it. Peanut butter and chocolate also isn’t considered a normal combination here although a few American sweets/ice creams are starting to be seen here so maybe it’s catching on. Basically, peanut butter’s not a thing in the same way…

      In return, adding vinegar to anything salty (particularly chips and crisps aka french fries and potato chips) will never make sense to me. Also Marmite.

      1. TechWorker*

        For me (U.K.) peanut butter is definitely a thing and I’ve seen plenty of chocolate and peanut butter desserts… but it’s plausible I seek them out and my dad is American so I grew up at least understanding what peanut butter & jelly *was* plus having the good stuff in the house :p lots of English peanut butter is less oily which is probably healthier but also makes it less attractive a prospect.

        (I also have a strong memory of going to someone’s house for a sleepover at the age of about 8 and having peanut butter on toast for breakfast. Their mum told me in a half-horrified/half fascinated way that they’d never seen someone use so much peanut butter (I was definitely used to spreading it on thick :p). They were minted so it was definitely not a food scarcity thing but I remember feeling quite guilty lol).

    22. Lora*

      Shoo fly pie is my favorite. It’s like, a sugar bomb. People who claim to love sweets nearly choke on the sheer amount of brown sugar and molasses, in pie form. I can eat half a pie in one sitting, no problem.

      I also grew up with scrapple (fried in margarine with ketchup on top for breakfast) but don’t actually like it much. I mean, it’s the leftover meat scraps after you’re done making hotdogs, mixed with cornmeal and bologna seasoning, it’s just not good.

      A little bit north of my hometown, where I went to college, we had a drink called Boilo, which is a bit like a hot toddy (honey, citrus slices and apple pie spice type seasoning, boiled together and then strained – hence the name) with Everclear. It tastes great, but being made of Everclear, you will damage your liver for sure. You can add normal rum or whiskey instead and have fewer regrets.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Shoo Fly Pie is the ultimate great food. I make a Shoo Fly cake because molasses (or sorghum) runs in my veins. I mix molasses with peanut butter, great as an apple dip or on graham crackers. Or molasses (regular or black strap) mixed with boiling water from a breakfast beverage. Molasses and butter on hot cornbread or biscuits.

        Gotta go eat something molasses.

      2. saf*

        As a child, I read a book called “Anything Can Happen” by Giorgi Papashvily. A Georgian immigrant, he and his wife wrote this book about him coming to the US. At one point, he is living in Bethlehem PA, and boilo is being made in a percolator. It’s such an amusing book.

    23. The Time Being*

      I’ve never not gotten weird faces from people when I try to explain coffee milk. It’s so tasty! At this point, I’ve resorted to making my own coffee syrup so I can savor the taste of my childhood.

    24. Sara*

      Australian. Hamburger with ‘the lot’. This includes a fried egg, beetroot (beets) and a slice of fried pineapple as well as the traditional beef patty, onions, tomato, etc. Delicious!

  19. Mary Anne Spier*

    I’m looking for a way to shut a conversation down. I’m working on losing some weight. It’s not easy and I have all kinds of baggage that goes with it; body image and stuff. I’m just going to the gym and watching my food. Trying to do enough without going overboard and making it the focus of my life. I’m a school librarian in a high school and I love it. It means that I interact with lots of coworkers because they need a laptop, the laminator that lives in my back office, the color printer, etc. Yesterday a guidance counselor came up to use the poster maker and said, “You are dropping weight like crazy!” (I really don’t know why she thinks that because I’m really not…) I know I made some kind of uncomfortable face and she said, “I don’t normally comment on people’s weight but…” Yeah, so don’t.
    If I am able to actually lose weight I will have to deal with more of this crap. I don’t want people commenting on my body. I refuse to participate in this conversation. It makes my skin crawl. What do I say to just shut it down other than “I don’t discuss that?”

    1. WellRed*

      Can you literally talk about anything else in response? “You’ve lost weight!” “ are you done with the laminator?”

        1. KeinName*

          Why would you say thank you though? It‘s not actually a compliment.
          Though for sure it is what the body-commentator expects and will problably make them leave, you are right.

          1. TPS reporter*

            Yeah I meant if you want to be neutral and kick without getting into any potential confrontation. Honestly a lot of times a short thank you just disarms people. Or thanks. They’re expecting some elaborate explanation or conversation around the topic they brought up like you’re going to bow to them for complimenting you. Saying thanks and moving on can get the message across to people you see all of the time and want to be cordial with. I also support more pointed responses indicted below but offering as a suggestion.

          2. TechWorker*

            You can also say ‘if you say so’ with a shrug then change topic. Indicates don’t care/don’t want to engage but isn’t (IMO) directly rude :p

    2. Choggy*

      Yup, one of the main reasons I did not want to go back into the office was all the conversations that would inevitably start around weight and dieting, and they have! I just keep my head down and focus on my work. I don’t think those discussions are appropriate for work at all. Hopefully you made your coworker stop to think a bit, and refrain from any further comments (to anyone!) around weight.

      1. Mary Anne Spier*

        She doesn’t seem to have a lot of boundaries so I don’t think I made a dent. If it comes up again I am fine saying “I don’t discuss that” but I don’t know if there’s a better things to say for the workplace.

    3. fposte*

      I’d cheerfully throw the students under the bus here, whether they’re there or not. “I don’t talk about weight; I want to model healthy behavior for students around body talk.”

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I understand that, but you’re in an institution for teaching kids, so you can use that as your reason for not talking about the subject with adults. It doesn’t matter if the kids aren’t present; you don’t have to explain yourself or make your point airtight in court.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I like this! It is genuinely a good goal to have, and makes it less personal/specific to yourself while also showing the person commenting how harmful their comment could be.

      2. Mary Anne Spier*

        Sorry, I read that too fast. I read it again and that’s brilliant. It’s also true. Teenagers don’t need to hear adults commenting on each other’s bodies. We need to model respectful behavior for them.

          1. Observer*

            And it’s even true – it’s a REALLY good idea to watch what you say in a place where lots of kids / teens are, even when said kids are not present in that moment.

            It’s the same idea as “work self” vs “social self”. There are just some things you don’t discuss at work, even in your office. And there are just some things you don’t discuss in kid / teen spaces even if the teens are not there that minute.

        1. Gracely*

          And honestly, a *guidance counselor* really ought to know better, so you’ll definitely be helping students who have to interact with her.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      “Thank you. I’ve decided not to talk about my body at work. Did you see the Brewers game? How about that laminator. We just got a shipment of books in, wanna help me cross-check the packing list?”

    5. TvrH*

      I am female and work in a male-dominated profession; these kinds of comments used to be quite frequent. I struggled with responses, until I found using My Loudest Possible Voice in response was quite effective, as in: I had someone ‘helpfully’ point out that I “looked better with longer hair,” and I said, “Oh, are we talking about bodies at work now? Are you doing something about that bald spot?” and that shut it down pretty quickly. Mind you, it is an aggressive response, but in my environment, it works pretty well. What is funny is, now that I’m an old fart, I’m invisible, and no one bugs me anymore. This was a bit of an adjustment for me – it’s odd what you get used to! – but I soon found the power in invisibility. It’s quite freeing.

    6. Lotus*

      Literally don’t respond. Either stay silent or completely pivot the topic to something else. The only exception to this is I like the comment above suggesting you say “don’t talk about weight around students”.

      Honestly, people are so rude! I’m lucky no one in my immediate circle does this because my weight tends to fluctuate a lot due to lifestyle changes without me even trying. It would drive me bananas.

    7. Ron McDon*

      I work in a school and lost weight a few years ago. A lot of my colleagues commented when I wore more flattering clothes which showed off my slimmer figure. I would just smile, say thank you and change the subject. They got the hint.

      For those that didn’t (and there were a few!) I would say ‘I’m sorry, I really don’t like talking about this sort of stuff at work’ and change the subject again.

      If you say it warmly with a smile hopefully people will just accept it and shut up – but there’s always outliers who might need it repeated.

      Good luck.

    8. RagingADHD*

      There’s no reason you can’t just say, “Actually I’d rather not talk about it. Thanks.”

      The gossipy people at work will probably start making up rumors that you have some kind of wasting disease, but you can’t control what those folks do anyway. Better they gossip about your imaginary cancer than about the imaginary affair or midlife crisis you aren’t having.

    9. beach read*

      How about two raised eyebrows and a thumbs up? Or continue what you are doing without looking up and a thumbs up. Non-verbal response?

    10. Salymander*

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Why can’t folks just not run their mouths? It is baffling.

      When confronted with one of these people, I say, “I don’t like to talk about weight. It isn’t really that interesting anyway. Very boring.” Maybe follow that up with a smile/grimace and a big sigh.

      This always seems to work for me. I guess being boring seems way worse to some types of people than being wildly offensive and inappropriate does.

    11. Weekend Pantomime*

      I’m trying to perfect the uncomfortable silence and/or answering the question they should have asked.
      “Hey, you’re dropping weight like crazy!” Pointed stare in a slightly disapproving manner until they squirm to follow up or get to what they were there for.

      “Hey, are you losing weight?”
      “Oh, I’m fine, thanks. How can I help you?”
      Let them be uncomfortable, not you.

    12. WS*

      I think the phrase is “return awkwardness to sender”. So, along the lines of:

      “You’ve lost weight, that’s soooo great!”
      “Can I help you with the laminator?”
      “I said you’ve lost weight!”
      “Oh, sorry, you were here for the color printer?”

      Do not engage at all, just like if you saw them picking their nose.

  20. Landscaping and gardening question*

    Question for my gardening (and tech savvy) friends here. Is there an app where I can upload a photo of my yard and design it to show a landscaper? My partner wants it a certain way and has shown me pix from google but I have a very hard time picturing how those would translate into our home.

    1. NopityNope*

      Unfortunately, I haven’t found one yet, but am waiting with bated breath to see if anyone else has a suggestion. I’ve wanted something like this for a long time. I find it hard to visualize what my garden will look like based on cartoon plants placed on a perfectly square grid, which seems to be all there is. I want to see *my* garden and be able to place “real” plants on it. Even better if you can select a month to view, so you can visualize what blooms together, when it looks a bit bare, etc.

      If you do eventually find one, do let us know!

      1. Landscaping and gardening question*

        Honestly, I would even be happy with cartoon plants, just to get a feel for it.

        I’m usually pretty good with envisioning a design but I’m struggling with this.

    2. NopityNope*

      This thread inspired me to take another look (it’s been a while), and lo and behold there are a few that look promising! I’ll make this week’s project trying out some apps and will report back.

  21. Teapot Translator*

    Today, for the first time in my life, I’m getting hair highlights! Blue highlights! I have black hair that is not dyeable (is that a word?) without bleaching first, so over the years, my hairdressers have said, “No!” whenever I’ve asked if I could get my hair dyed. My new hairdresser said yes. I know bleaching and dyeing damages hair, but my goal is to cut it short some months from now. I had it short before the pandemic started and I waited more than a year before getting my hair cut again.
    Have you done something for the first time lately?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have red hair that is not dye-able without bleaching first. I have it professionally bleached from the shoulders down (currently mid-thigh length) about every 2-3 years, and dye my ridiculous colors over that at home about every 3-4 months. I use a vegan semi-permanent conditioning dye (Arctic Fox, available at Hot Topic) and my hair is in fantastic health, according to the stylist who did my blowout on Thursday. So bleach and dye isn’t an automatic damage sentence :) Also, my brother has mostly-black hair with a lot of silver, and I keep suggesting that he try blue or purple dye because I think the silvers will take it and the black hairs won’t and it’ll look really cool, but he’s still hesitant. :)

      We recently decided we’re going to try axe throwing as a first time for all of us, but exact scheduling is undecided given the state of the world.

      1. fposte*

        Ooh, I’m looking for entertaining new pastimes and axe-throwing sounds like serious fun! Please report back when you manage to go.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I stink at axes, but throwing knives rotate like juggling pins, so those are more fun for me. Thanks for this reminder, I may order myself a set. We have plenty of wood to use as targets!

    2. anon24*

      Ooh, I miss having colors in my hair so much but at current job that’s a nono (and I say that’s BS, but I digress). I have blonde hair and have done both vibrant purple and electric blue in the past.

      I got my first tattoo earlier this year and my first facial piercing this month. Thrilled with both, and so excited for more of both in the future!

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I have blue hair! At my hairdresser’s suggestion, I went with dying the under part of my hair. My hair is so dark, she had to do two bleaches. It took so long I’m never doing this again, but I’m glad that I have my blue hair! It took a long time because it was done properly and it’s the kind of thing that requires time. But I was restless by the end.

    4. All the words*

      I’m a woman. I buzzed my hair off, as in, an electric trimmer buzz cut. I used the longest attachment, which is still quite short. I’ve always wanted to try this but never dared.

      I am LOVING it.

  22. Blackcat*

    Litterbox moving advice!
    We need to transition the litterbox to a different location in our house. Tips? I’ve been thinking of having two litter boxes for a while, one in the new spot and one in the old spot. Does that make sense?
    Cat in question is 13 and his memory isn’t great…

    1. TPS reporter*

      I’ve done the same with moving locations. I just kept the one box in the old and other in new for awhile until it seemed like new was frequented. Also scoop some used litter from old town new so your cat recognizes the scent. You can also get a littler attract powder that looks like catnip.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      If it’s possible, you can do what my neighbor did and gradually move the litter box a few feet every day or so toward the new location. It worked for the neighbor.
      Best of luck

    3. It's Quarantime!*

      Two boxes for a while is a good idea. Consider putting the “used” box in the new location and the new box in the former location. The cat will be more likely to use the new spot if it already smells like them.

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I read that you should put the cat in the new litter box, and gently dig the litter with their paws so they know it’s there and what to do with it. That always seemed to work with my cat when I moved house or took her for visits elsewhere. (Well, aside from her preference to hang her butt over the side and do her business NEXT to the tray.)

      1. What’s in a name, anyway?*

        When I moved, recently, I had the litter box in a new “safe” room with my cat but ultimately wanted it elsewhere. I gradually moved it a couple times, but then ultimately moved it downstairs on a calm day with not much else going on, and made sure to call my cat’s attention to it when I made the final move (literally said, hey, (cat’s name), come into this room and look at you litter box, and made sure she came and saw it). No issues!

  23. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had my first therapy session this past week and I am very much feeling lighter than I have in a while.

    Please share your joys.

    1. NopityNope*

      A bear (juvenile, not an adult) visited me! He came up the stairs to my deck, pottered around on the deck for a bit (I think he was looking for a way off the opposite side), peeked in the windows, then ambled off. (Don’t worry, I left him totally alone to do his thing, closed the sliding doors so he didn’t accidentally bumble through the screens.) I’m constantly reminded about why I love living in the middle of the woods, and it makes me so happy to see my furry and feathered neighbors.

    2. OyHiOh*

      I got to meet my partner’s youngest nephew yesterday. He is a delightful Gen-Z-er, and the group of us who got together had a lovely afternoon.

    3. rabbit*

      My area was in Covid lockdown and just got released. I live in a small town and the radius we were allowed to move around in cut out a lot of stores and food options. Now we are allowed to move around again I was able to travel to my favourite food places again.

    4. AGD*

      Walking through Place That Shall Not Be Named and just seeing the students back on campus this year, being students, spending time together. So heartening.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      My office manager moved things around so I can shift my vacation to go to a sewing conference I just realized is happening in October.

    6. voluptuousfire*

      My new front steps are in the process of being built. Also, the minor flooding from Ida in my basement is gone and the contractor who is doing my steps took a look at the basement and is going to fix whatever bits need to be plugged. I also had my dryer vent and gutters cleaned, so those have been on my mind for ages and they’re finally done. Just feeling a lot lighter.

      I also made the decision to sell my house in the next few years. I currently live in what was my family’s house and while it’s small enough for me to live in by myself comfortably, I don’t want the maintenance of a house. There’s a yard and I don’t want to have to deal with maintaining it and shoveling and such with the winters we have around here. I’d love a little condo or townhouse that deals with stuff for me.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I finished my library book (She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, great historical fiction if anyone is looking for suggestions) so that means I get to go to the library and pick out another!

    8. Water Everywhere*

      Seeing a man walking his two happy corgis as I was leaving the house in the morning. Never seen them before but saw them twice this week, so hoping for more sightings to come!

    9. Girasol*

      The heat-and-smoke wave that’s made the sky orange all week was swept out by a little rain yesterday. We’ve gone from red air quality to green, and 90s to 70s, with a breezy blue sky. It really lifts my mood.

    10. small town*

      My son joined the pep band at college and has been rocking out at sports events. He is so happy! I have more tomatoes than I can manage and am getting creative. We say that “the only 2 things that money can’t buy are true love and home grown tomatoes”.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      This was technically last week, but the backyard deer family came back! Apparently, the strip of woods out here winds all the way to the natural historical area nearby. I bet they’ve been hanging out there. The fawns are huge and all their spots are almost gone.

    12. Liane*

      I am officially **More Important Than Food** to our dogs, Bear (the extra fluffy Lab mix) & Gilligan (the cuddles-crazy border collie tripod)!
      I came home from work and Husband as usual let them out to greet me.
      Husband: You are more important than food to them. I just fed them when Bear heard the car and started barking. Both of then *abandoned their half eaten dinners* and ran to the door.

      I feel I have received a great honor.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Honeysuckle in bloom a block from my house, dozens of flowers , and we saw bees visiting it this afternoon.

    14. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My cats have started snuggling again. I thought that maybe they didn’t like each other so much any more, but now I think it was just the hot weather. At any rate, snuggling cats are adorable, especially because the older one thinks the young one needs more baths.

    15. The Dude Abides*

      I’m beyond excited for next week for two reasons

      1 – Toddler starts in-person preschool Tuesday. All adults (teachers and parent volunteers) must be fully vaccinated, masks are mandatory. She does socialize a decent amount despite the pandemic, but I’m excited for her to socialize with peers.

      2 – I get to run around with a whistle on a rugby pitch again. I’m only doing college games right now due to proximity and campuses mandating vaccines. I don’t trust social club sides to have their shit together right now.

    16. FarmGirl*

      Went to a fiberfest today and going to a sheep and wool festival tomorrow. Saw a woman spinning yarn by setting her bunny on her lap and plucking the hair off and spinning on the wheel. Bunny just sat there peacefully.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Three figs off of my husband’s three year old fig tree. And I found Hawaiian rolls at the local Shopping Club food store so we have been eating cheap-ass rolls for breakfast all week, and indulging in jokes about it.

    18. I take tea*

      As always, this thread makes me smile. Thank you.

      A walk in the woods picking mushrooms. It’s always exciting and we had a lovely little picnic in a sunny spot, just listening to the nature sounds.

  24. Hairy*

    Sorry if this is long and dramatic.

    I posted a few weeks ago about how the hairdresser (Anna) I’d been going to for years had surgery and I had to schedule an appointment with another hair dresser (Elsa) while she was recovering.

    Long story short, but Anna was always screwing up my hair in some way and simply doesn’t cut hair well (my mom went to her a few times and was always unhappy too). The only reason I kept going to her was because after my first fantastic hair dresser retired, I went to someone who absolutely butchered my hair (which is short—it took several months to grow it out). I was afraid if I tried someone new they might be worse than Anna.

    Elsa did a fantastic job on my hair, and she was more focused on cutting my hair rather than focused on talking like Anna was. (I’m an introvert so not having to make small talk is a plus.) I booked my next appointment with her on a day Anna wasn’t scheduled to be there.

    At this appointment, Elsa sat me in her chair at the front of the salon. I told her she could just soak my hair (at the sinks in the back of the salon) instead of washing it since I’d just taken a shower an hour earlier. At my last appointment, she soaked it, and I don’t remember any hairdresser ever not wanting to soak my hair. Soaked hair is easier to cut, isn’t it? But this time Elsa just sprayed my hair with a water bottle.

    Elsa was much more talkative than last time, but had to shout to be heard and couldn’t really hear my responses because a hairdresser in the back of the salon was shout-talking to another hairdresser the whole time (they were the only other people in the building and didn’t have customers).

    I realized the shouting-talker was Anna. So I guess Elsa didn’t soak my hair because Anna was back by the sinks? And maybe she was talkative all of a sudden because having to listen to Anna shouting was awkward? The whole situation made me really uncomfortable. I would just go to another salon if finding a good hairdresser didn’t feel so risky.

    I booked another appointment with Elsa on a day Anna isn’t supposed to be scheduled to be there. But what if Anna is there again? Would it make things awkward for Elsa if I tell her I don’t want to be there on a day Anna is and to help me schedule around her? Am I stuck going to another salon at that point?

    1. Mstr*

      It’s not a big deal to switch. Why do you feel the need to avoid Anna? Did you actually get a bad haircut last time?

      I’ve never had my hair “soaked” — it’s either been washed or just sprayed with a bottle to dampen it.

      1. Hairy*

        I wanted to avoid Anna to avoid awkwardness. And now I want to avoid Anna because her shouting (and Elsa’s shouting to be heard over her) made the haircut really uncomfortable.

        The second haircut with Elsa was still way better than any haircut Anna ever gave me, but she cut it a lot shorter than I’m happy with. (I showed her the same photo as the first time. The only difference this time was she didn’t soak my hair and she was busy shouting at me instead of focusing on my hair.)

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Anna likely has dozens of clients. I guarantee she is not thinking about this as much as you are right now.

          Also, it kind of sounds like you are viewing this all through the lens of what Anna is doing to distract/interfere with Elsa. If what you actually want is a stylist that’s quiet and 100% focused on your hair, all kind of non-Anna distractions could come up any time. Avoiding Anna won’t make the salon always quiet or ensure Elsa is never in a chatty mood – you need to explain what you want to Elsa, or (IMO preferably) find a new salon and explain all this from the beginning.

    2. BRR*

      I think the two best options are to either not care that Anna is there (I know easier said than done) or look for a new salon. The stress of finding a new place can’t be worse than the stress of going here. It’s not even clear about the water or talking and that sounds like it was very stressful for you.

    3. Anon for this*

      Go to the person who cuts your hair better. That’s it. Be polite to everyone but get a good haircut!

    4. Exif*

      I’d just find a new salon and be done with them both. You’re so worked up about this, you’re going to keep obsessing and dreading going there. Peruse online reviews, pick a new place, and test them out with a small trim so the stakes aren’t that high.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I get that you are worried about a bad cut. Why not try a new place and just ask for a trim- instead of a serious cut? I do agree that moving to a new place is probably your best idea. Where did your mom go after Anna? Does she like it there?

        1. Hairy*

          My mom started cutting her own hair after going to Anna, but it takes her hours to do it so she ends up letting it grow out until she hates it. After I went to Elsa for the first time, my mom booked an appointment for the next day and then raved about the awesome-ness of Elsa and how wonderful the experience was compared to Anna. She doesn’t like the idea of being in the middle of a shouting match either though, so I don’ t know if she’s going back to cutting her own hair.

          My hair is short so I literally only ever go to get a trim (so about 3/4″ to 1″ is getting cut off). I can’t imagine paying for a full hair cut (which isn’t cheap) just to ask someone to try to cut off only cut off a few millimeters or something.

          1. Mstr*

            What shouting match? Is this a conversation in loud tones, a brief exchange about inventory, etc, OR is there a full-on brawl over stealing each other’s clients? I can’t figure out what’s happening here. Some normal conversation will be had, and personable chit-chat with clients is usually encouraged — If things are WILD obviously go somewhere else, but if things are normal … then it’s normal.

            1. Hairy*

              Me and Elsa were in the front of the salon. Anna was standing with another hairdresser in the very back, talking loudly enough that I would say she was shouting. (It’s a big salon, so you’d have to shout for your voice to be so loud on the other side of it.) This went on the whole time I was there. Elsa had to shout at me to be heard over Anna. Elsa couldn’t really hear me when I was responding to her because I was talking in a normal volume.

              The only time I’ve ever gotten a haircut where someone needed to talk above a normal volume before was if people were using hairdryers on customers. But there were no other customers there.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            If all you’re ever getting is a 1-inch trim then *seriously*, just go to a different salon. Even if you end up with a trim that isn’t the greatest haircut in the world then it’ll grow out pretty fast. Honestly I would get the angst if you were getting major cuts or colour changes or stuff like that where you really need a lot of trust in your stylist, but this is all just way too much drama over which specific person trims off some split ends. Go to a new salon and when you meet the stylist be like “hey, I’m not a super chatty person so would you mind if I just scrolled while you do your thing? Thanks!”

            1. Hairy*

              I have short hair, so the “trim” is basically reshaping my hair. If they cut a lot more off or do a really bad job, it takes months to grow out. It’s not the same as having hair halfway down your back and getting the split ends cut off.

              1. Observer*

                It still shouldn’t take months to get to a place where you look ok.

                And besides, the amount of angst going on here outweighs the downsides of a bad cut. Actually DEALING with a bad cut (which may never even happen) is going to be less draining than all of the dread about the cut, and the ACTUAL current stress.

                Sure, you can just ask Elsa for what you need (ie skip the conversations and focus on keeping your hair at the length and shape you like) or find a different place. In the long term, you are going to be much better off.

    5. ....*

      This seems like a lot of thinking and emotional energy for a haircut. I would just speak honestly to Anna and tell her you appreciated working with her but Elsa is a great fit for you going forward or find another salon. If you’re looking for a new salon, try finding one where the artists have bios with their Instagram in it and then you can see a ton of their work.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        I agree! Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling your hairdresser that you’d like to focus on your magazine, book or whatever. My enjoyment of facials went up exponentially when I realized that I could just say that I like to enjoy the treatment in quietness.

    6. rkz*

      Just chiming in to say that my hairdresser regularly sprays my hair with a bottle when I don’t want it fully washed (I often get it done in the evening when I’m planning to go home and shower anyway).

      Personally, I think I’d just be straight with Elsa about the situation so she can schedule on days when Anna isn’t there, but I do think a lot of the other posters have a good point that with this level of stress and emotional investment it might be better to just go somewhere else. I always go based on a friend’s recommendation if I can get it – I have short hair too so I know how hard it can be to find someone who doesn’t just totally butcher it. That said, it does sometimes take a few visits (like 3-4) to really settle in, don’t be afraid to specifically say things like ‘last time was too short.”

    7. Easily Lemon squeezy*

      Totally baffled by this drama. It’s a haircut. A business transaction. I’m looking askance at my screen and can’t figure out what is so difficult about getting your hair cut the way you want and when you want. What could it possibly matter whether Anna is there or not? She’s not a jilted lover you’ve ghosted when you started dating Elsa. The uncomfortableness people seem to have with changing stylists is a self-induced fiction. A friendly hello is all you need. You don’t like the service or the shouting, then take your business to a place that fulfills your needs. Or you could just say to Elsa exactly what you want and that you’re not much of a talker. Hair isn’t risky. What am I missing?

      1. Juneybug*

        A haircut should be an easy event so between the bad haircuts, loud noise/talking, different approaches for cutting thier hair, etc., it’s understandable that Hairy is not enjoying the situation. And if you hate conflict, this situation would be so stressful.

      2. Hairy*

        I have short hair. If someone butchers it, I can’t just put it in a ponytail or go back for another haircut to get it fixed. It means I have to live with a crappy haircut for several months while it grows out. If you have long hair, imagine someone cutting a foot off the length so that it can’t be fixed and it’s going to take forever for it to grow back. You wouldn’t be upset?

    8. Holly the spa pro*

      Hi, i dont do hair but i do work in a salon and i can tell you that 99.9% of the time, stylists dont mind when you switch to someone else. It happens all the time for many reasons.

      Also, if elsa did a great job the first time bit not as great the second time, its ok to tell her what you would like her to focus on next time. Like, “btw, i feel like we went a bit too short last time (or whatever the issues were), can we do more like X instead?”

      All of the stylists i know would rather have you tell them what you did or didnt like because they may not always remember their first service with you and its totally fine to tell them you aren’t feeling like chatting, they want to know that too! Ultimately any good stylist wants to give you the service YOU want. But sometimes they arent as intuitive as we would like them to be.

      If you decide to go to a new salon, its great to say “im here because of X hair issues with my previous stylists, and because i prefer to just relax and not talk much during services”

      Good luck, please update us on what you end up doing!

    9. Person from the Resume*

      This is way too much stress – ongoing stress – for a haircut.

      Find a new stylist at a new shop. A bad haircut will grow out and I think it would be less stressful than you continuing to experience this shop for the rest of your life. You don’t actually like your current cut.

      Tell your new stylist that you prefer not to chat during your session. That may or may not help but you can give that a try.

  25. California Dreamin’*

    Looking for shopping help… my daughter is joining her high school speech and debate team, and we need to buy her the appropriate attire. The teacher told her “business attire” and that the girls will typically wear a pants suit or skirt suit. My daughter is fashion conscious and her style veers toward edgy. She won’t balk at a suit but would like to look on trend and not boxy (she is very short with a small frame.). Hoping some young professional women here can guide me to places to shop. I was thinking J. Crew, but that’s all I’ve got. Budget is not a constraint. I myself favor dresses for work and have never purchased a suit, and anyway, I’m middle-aged, so I’m really lost on this!

    1. Mstr*

      Also check the Juniors department at any major department store (Macy’s, Nordstroms, Dillards). Be wary of too trendy or too short skirts, but the sizing & price will generally be reasonable & styles more youthful.

    2. AGD*

      I have a super-cute, really well-made feminine-cut suit from BCBG Max Azria, which would have been several hundred dollars if I hadn’t found it at a Goodwill (new with tags – lucky).

    3. The Fastest Thumb in the West*

      I got my daughter’s speech and debate team outfit at H & M. A black sheath dress with with white trim, a black blazer, and black and white houndstooth checked ballet flats. Super cute “jr. attorney” look and very affordable. (A lawyer friend actually suggested this store.)

      1. California Dreamin’*

        I hadn’t thought of H&M… we have a big one down the street so we’ll check them out. Thanks!

      2. CTT*

        Also a lawyer and I have many work-appropriate pieces from there! This would be a good place for your daughter to start.

      3. PT*

        I got my most recent suit at H&M, too. They have a wider range of small sizes that would fit juniors and their suits are affordable, so they can be replaced easily if she grows or the style changes. I don’t wear suits for work often, and I got hardly any wear out of my previous suit before it went out of style despite it being fairly expensive and 11 years old, so I went with more budget-oriented.

        The one thing I would mention with H&M is you have to try on their professional attire and really put it through its paces in the fitting room. Because some of it is cheaply made, especially the tops, have terrible necklines that do not hold up to moving AT ALL. They will slide down forwards, backwards, and sideways and look terribly unprofessional. I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of cute H&M tops over the years for that. I just can’t be at work tugging on my neckline every 3 minutes.

      4. WorkwearWoman*

        +1 to H&M. I have a lot of cute, trendy work blazers and skirts from there. I like to wear pieces in different colours together, if that’s allowed for the debate team. I’m also short and in my 20s and I find that black pants and a black blazer just look like I’m trying too hard to be older/more serious than I am. Something like a navy blue or light grey blazer with a white shirt and black bottoms (skirt/pants) makes me feel professional but not overly formal.

    4. Exif*

      Ann Taylor and Banana do petites well, but they’re a bit dowdy.

      Theory is nice, but spendy.

      I’d start with Express. The age demographic is right, their stuff wears well and fits petites, and it won’t break the bank for something she won’t use often.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        I worked at Express when I was in college but haven’t been inside for many years… I’ll check them out!

    5. AceInPlainSight*

      High school speech vet! You might want to check out JC Penney- they have a good line of petite suits. If it’s in your area or you’re willing to deal with shipping, Uniqlo is another good bet; they’re an East Asian company, and their sizes tend to run small. The biggest thing for avoiding boxiness is making sure the waist of the jacket actually hits at your daughter’s waist. Good luck, and I hope she has a wonderful time doing it!

    6. MissCoco*

      As a petite person, I strongly prefer banana republic, loft, and ann Taylor for businesswear to J Crew, only because I’ve found J Crew’s fit is for a longer torso than mine.
      That being said, every short body is different, so their stuff might fit her great!

      H&M would be a great source for trying out stuff, especially if she wants some more trendy colors or brighter tops to pair with a classic-colored suit.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        That’s very helpful… I’m long-waisted, but she has a very short torso and I need to remember that!

        1. Generic Name*

          As a fellow short-torsoed person, I suggest measuring her inseam. I often buy petite tops and dresses, but many petite pants are too short. Petite pants have a 28 inch inseam, and I have a 30 inch inseam. I’ve had good luck with buying “short” labeled pants rather than “petite” pants. (Why can’t we just have measurements instead of arbitrary numbers with no variation in length?!?

    7. Jay*

      My daughter (21) loves Aritzia and I took her there for her interview clothes when she started applying for internships. It’s on the expensive side. The clothes are professional and appropriate and on trend at the same time.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re in a city with a large East/South-East Asian population, look for the stores serving them – they should have a better supply of business wear for tiny women.

    9. DebateCoachHere*

      Debate Coach Here — you’ve gotten a ton of great recommendations.

      My suggestion would be to look at what older debaters on her team are wearing, or if you can’t do that (she doesn’t know them yet, virtual, etc.) check out the NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association) final round videos for the event(s) she’s doing. I’ll post links in the reply so they don’t get stuck in moderation.

      Different “styles” of debate/speech have different flavors of what “business” means. Speech events (oratory, informative, dramatic interpretation) tend to be the most on the “business” end. They’re probably wearing actual matching suits rather than separates. Public Forum Debate and Lincoln Douglas debate are generally more “suit like separates” — blazer with contrasting pants/skirt. Policy debate is the most dressed down by far.

      Sheath dress + blazer works for almost all versions, and there are definitely ways to make that more on-trend and not boxy.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Thanks so much! Her first event in a couple weeks is a speech event, so I’ll keep all this in mind when we shop. I’m thinking a dress with blazer should be our target.

  26. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve seen (and used) plastic baby protectors for stove knobs, but are there plastic sheets that cover stove digital buttons for an oven?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never seen them, but my stove/oven digital buttons have a lock button on the panel and one of our house rules is that the range buttons are locked if the range isn’t in active use. (Technically you can’t re-lock it as long as the “hot stovetop” warning light is still on, but we’re pretty mindful to lock it up when it cools down.)

  27. RussianInTexas*

    Cat owners question: my beloved Orange Floofs have destroyed a side of an arm chair. The fabric is chenille-y, and there is stuffing coming out. How do I fix it? I don’t need to make it pretty, I got a throw to go over it, but I just want to get the edges together and keep the insides in.

    1. It's Quarantime!*

      Are you up for patching it? If you’re not worried about how it looks I’d get a piece of sturdy fabric and one of those curved upholstery needles and just sew a patch over the shredded areas.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Sounds like you need a patch! I would probably look for a similar fabric to hand-sew over the hole. Put a thicker fabric underneath to make it sturdier if the one that visually matches best is thin. Or you can use spray adhesive (some is temporary, so make sure to find a permanent one). Depending on how big the hole is, you could also find an adhesive patch if you don’t mind having more limited options for how it looks.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In case you’ve never worked this final project before… do you have an upholstery needle? Those are curved so it’s a lot easier to get the thread in and out of a flat surface. I’ve never done upholstering, but one came with a set I bought another craft.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I used duct tape to fix the arm of what I thought was a chair, but apparently was actually a scratching post. I found some really pretty patterned tape at the craft store, and I did the other arm to match. It actually looked pretty good for a cheap fix.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >what I thought was a chair, but apparently was actually a scratching post
        (Had to read it three times before the laugh arrived. You were perfectly clear; I’m just an allergic person in a cat-deprived household.)

    4. Eden*

      For my own cat disasters, I cut out some plastic drawer liner (the kind that comes in a roll), put it over the damage zone, and duct taped the whole thing. I didn’t want to make things worse by pulling stuffing out if I had to readjust the tape and it gives things a bit more structure.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Look up the subreddit Visiblemending for ideas on making it cute or cool without trying to make it perfect.

  28. voluptuousfire*

    Thank you for posting this! It was a reminder to descale my electric kettle and vinegar and water is boiling away in it as I type.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      And here is a reminder to you to finish the rinsing and cleaning of it when you’re done before you forget! Signed, the housemate of someone who has accidentally made vinegar tea more than a couple of times when he forgot to finish the job.

  29. Exif*

    Any good recs for educating yourself about ESPPs? I’ve found the usual generic online resources like Investopedia a bit lacking. I’m pretty financially savvy when it comes to IRAs/401ks/index funds/ETFs, but this is my first time having this particular option.

    1. Rick T*

      I can see buying your employer’s stock at a discount is attractive, but be careful about having too much money tied up in one asset.

      I started my career at an aerospace company that contributed stock to the employee 401(k) instead of cash. A good deal as long as the price goes up, but a real bummer when it goes down. I got a first-hand example when an entire group of senior staff had to delay retiring after stock market tanked in 1982 taking the value of their retirement funds with it.

      Having company stock as a small part of a larger distributed investment plan makes sense. The risk is having too much in one tiny basket.

      1. Exif*

        Thank you! I definitely don’t plan to overbalance, I’ll be contributing significantly to a standard 401k and my own IRA as well.

    2. TechWorker*

      Have a careful read of the terms of your particular scheme too, as they can vary between companies – the way my scheme works means that I can basically never not make a ‘profit’ if I sell the shares immediately, so that’s what I choose to do. (Also because as well as not losing money it means all the relevant tax is through payroll and I don’t have to care about it, which works for me). The financial advisor from corporate who came to explain the policy was like ITS FREE MONEY and was indeed correct :p

      (Note I could in theory lose some if I couldn’t find a buyer for the shares, but the company in question is huge so that doesn’t realistically seem to be a problem, perhaps relevant if the company is tiny but tbh v much not an expert there..)

      1. ronda*

        I also believe the best thing is to sell as soon as you get the stock and not to hold it for long term taxes treatment of the gains (or losses). Dont pass up the free money of the discount on the stock price, but dont take the risk of the stock price changes in the future.
        It is just much easier on your figuring out your taxes and avoids amassing a large position in your company stock, which is often considered risky cause if stock is going bad, your job may be at risk too.

        But if you really want to hold stock in your company, just know the only complication is the tax treatment (part is regular income, part is ST or LT gain) and happens when you sell, so hang on to your records until you sell, so you can do your taxes correctly.

        Mine was a purchase every 3 months, so the money was held by the company until they made the purchase at the end of the 3 months, but then you get the discount % at that point, which for my plan was 15%. Not a bad deal. So if I put in $1000 a month, at the end they would purchase $3450 in company stock and I could sell it about a week later (there was a freeze period during quarter ends cause of public company reporting — no employee transactions on stock). Gains/Losses would not be much in a week usually, company would add the $450 to my W2 (only if I sold the shares) and make it easy to include in my taxes.

        1. ronda*

          1 other weird thing. They would purchase partial shares, but Fidelity would only sell whole shares, so I did leave some partial shares til the next go. I was hanging on to some purchases, but selling others, if I had sold each time maybe they would let me sell partial shares when I sell my entire position in the stock.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      The Money Guy show on YouTube did a show about employee stock options not too long ago if you prefer a different medium. I like their stuff quite a bit.

  30. Not A Manager*

    The minimalism post above made me think about this. Does anyone else feel… weird or wrong or shamed for not wanting a big fancy home? I’m of a background and generation that was raised with what would have been called bourgeois aspirations – second generation immigrants who aspired to education, professional status, and the markers that came with that, including fancy homes with lots of stuff in them.

    All of my siblings and both of my spouses share(d) the affection for Place and Stuff that my parents did. Now I’m rounding the bend to older middle age, and I realize that all my life I have essentially gone along for the ride with family members who feel strongly about having a certain kind of home environment. I always thought that I just don’t have a lot of preferences about that, so it was fine to live however they wanted. But my family would sort of get on my case about *of course* I really cared about that stuff and I was just being lazy or disingenuous to imply that it was “up to them” because I didn’t have a preference.

    It turns out that I do have a preference. I don’t like living in a space that feels too big for me with a lot of stuff I’m not interested in. I affirmatively want less space and less stuff. But I still get a lot of pushback from other people and from myself like “who could possibly want that? You must interrogate your intuitions to see why they are broken.”

    So my first question is, are my intuitions broken? I know I’ve skewed this question and it’s like AITA in terms of “of course you’re not wrong, they are mean to you,” but really… space is good, and things are nice, right? Is it some kind of spoiled entitled fantasy to say that whenever we’ve been in small spaces I’ve not only been “perfectly happy” but actually much happier than in our actual larger home? (Being in those spaces was for extended periods but never as an ongoing plan for *living* in that space or in that way.)

    And my second question is, how on earth can I negotiate this with my spouse who is really, really attached to our current home, which in my opinion utilizes way too much of our financial resources but more importantly our physical and emotional resources? What do people do when they are in early retirement and one person wants to downsize and one person really does not?

    1. fposte*

      No, but I think culturally I’m the next generation on from you, though I’m probably about your age–my father would have gotten some of the pressure you describe, while my sibs and I got the “follow your dreams/you can afford to make choices that satisfy you personally” message. I mean, they wanted us to earn a living, but it was fine that we earned less than our parents and entered academia. The markers for what “doing all right” is change from generation to generation.

      But I also fall promiscuously in love with houses, and I like my non-minimalist stuff, so I have some sympathy for your spouse as well. When you say “way too much of your financial resources,” my question would be what’s the consequence of this spending. Are you having to forgo other pleasures because you don’t have the money? Are you spending down in retirement faster than you intended and in a way that means projections suggest too high a chance of failure? Is the burden for the house falling disproportionately on you? I think it’s one thing if it’s just you’re not crazy about a house this size and think you could save a lot of money without it and another if the cost exceeds your budget or you’re the one on the hook for cleaning and maintaining a house that you don’t like very much. And what are the future plans? Does spouse want to stay in this house forever or can they see a move to a smaller place when you’re somethingty?

      1. Not A Manager*

        Thanks for your thoughtful questions. We’re not financially unsafe. We are “forgoing other pleasures” in the sense that if we had more discretionary spending, there are ways that we would like to spend it.

        Obviously we prioritize differently – I feel that I gain almost nothing from spending $x as a premium to stay in our current home, and I feel a very strong desire to spend that $x premium on other things that I’d really like to do. But none of those things are like “eating food” or “having access to medical care.” They are more like, more travel, more time with family, less time thinking about the house. My spouse enjoys travel and family, but he feels that we get enough of those things on the budget we have, and he really gets a big bang for those x bucks spent on the house.

        I don’t think I shoulder a disproportionate burden of maintaining the home, but I think that I resent it more. I guess maybe an analogy would be to having a needy pet that you adopted “together” but really one of you wants and loves the pet and the other one does not. I also find that the house maintenance makes me anxious. I never know what the house is going to need and when it’s going to need it, and what that will cost both in terms of money but also in terms of time and energy. And I’m anxious about things falling through the cracks or making the wrong upkeep decisions and having to revisit them as a consequence.

        We’ve done a big renovation on the home when we moved in, and some big upkeep subsequently. While we had some bad experiences, there was nothing disastrous and nothing that couldn’t be remediated with additional time and money. But those experiences of discovering whatever was overlooked or misrepresented, and then having to address it, and waiting for the other shoe to drop… I wouldn’t mind it if the house were worth it to me, but it’s not.

        Spouse has been saying for years that “someday” he will be willing to move, but he won’t set a timeline or take any action. I think he’s hoping to run out the clock.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, that’s a hard difference, and I think the pet is a really good analogy; this is something where it’s really difficult to split the difference. This might be something to work through in couples counseling. Can you figure out a hypothetical budget and plan for the things you’d do otherwise, as a starting place?

          FWIW, it also sounds to me like it might not just be the size of the house but a house, period, since they all have ongoing maintenance needs. Admittedly it’s a lot worse if you have something like an old Victorian, but turnkey new houses tend to run big, so unless you can go condo–which might be what you’re really longing for–moving might not solve the problem.

        2. allathian*

          Can you ask him to do all the maintaining of the home? If you resent it, you don’t do any of it. You can do cooking, laundry, and other stuff that you’d do anyway, no matter how small and easy to maintain your home was. Make him shoulder all of the burden, and maybe he’ll be willing to move sooner.

          Of course, if your finances can stand it, you can always move into a separate space if you’re done maintaining your current one. This doesn’t have to mean a divorce, and you can still sleep over at each other’s homes, but then at least he’d be fully responsible for all maintenance and you’d be the guest.

    2. Water Everywhere*

      I sure do hear you on the parental aspirations front. Both my parents grew up poor, and it was especially important to my mother to have what to her were the visible markers of a successful adult; owning a nice clean house with nice things, having a certain level of education, dressing well. Me? Well, I have a good education and a decent income but have always lived in small apartments with a good portion of secondhand furniture and buy clothes for comfort level over style. Cozy rather than magazine-worthy. I do sometimes look at how my peers (I’m also middle aged) are living and think it would be nice to have more space or a yard all to myself but ultimately the trend towards bigger & more stuff just makes me…kinda tired. I feel like spending more energy or money on my space than I already do would make my life more stressful, so I’m satisfied with my small space. Even more so because I’m single, while most of my peers have a spouse or partner to share the upkeep of a larger space.

      1. Water Everywhere*

        I will add that my married siblings who have the whole nice house package also have basements/sheds/storage areas stuffed full of things that never get used. More space sometimes just means more clutter.

    3. Chicago Anon*

      The “right size” and “right amount of stuff” are so personal. #1, your intuitions are right for you. For awhile I lived with my partner in a big house, about the size of the house I grew up (& didn’t find too large, but that was then), and it was all wrong for us. Too much space, hard to heat. Now we’re in a smaller house that is only a little bigger than the townhouse we started in, and it is perfect. It is a relief to have a bedroom just a little bigger than the bed, instead of a huge room where the extra space just goes to waste. Partner and I are fortunate to have similar ideas about what kinds of things we do & don’t want to have in our space: books, yes; holiday decorations, no. Even so, I’m starting to wonder about maybe possibly having fewer books . . . but (#2) I’m only ever going to de-accession my own stuff. If you mostly have “our stuff,” rather than individually acquired stuff, that would be much harder and require more negotiation. But would it be possible for you to “downsize in place,” and let your spouse see how much happier you are, and how much easier it is to find and appreciate what you have, and then maybe get inspired by you? Or box up things and put them in the garage (or wherever), and only get them out if/when required, to show that you can do without those things without actually getting rid of them (yet)?

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Your intuitions are NOT broken. Less stuff = more freedom/less hassle. Space is good if it’s usable. Things are nice if they’re useful or beautiful. For the sake of the planet, I’m hoping people will start seeing the true, full cost of more-just-because.
      As for negotiating with your spouse, I don’t know. I have the same issue. Hubby wants a bigger house for a huge space-hungry hobby he buys stuff for but never actually does. *sigh*
      What I would advise is to evaluate your current space and any potential new home for aging-in-place viability. Full flights of stairs to an entrance or a full bathroom is not good. Narrow doorways that won’t allow a walker or wheelchair through is also not good. You will also have to repeatedly hire people for work you used to do yourself such as lawn work, cleaning gutters, etc. Those costs will rise over the years.
      You have time to strategize about the future. Best Wishes

      1. Girasol*

        Yes, this. We saved well for retirement. After buying bigger-bigger-bigger for years we ended up in a farmhouse out in the country. With my husband in ill health, I had to vacuum, clean, paint, mow, roof, fix, do weed control, and exterminate for a huge house and property, and deal with a lane with no snow removal. I felt trapped in a place that owned me. Yet it did feel weird to reverse direction. All our friends bought retirement dream homes in the country while we moved to a tiny place in a modest suburb that looks like we’re struggling, barely scraping by. But I revel in being able to clean the house top to bottom once a week, keep a lovely weed-free yard, repair everything as soon as it needs it, and never set mouse and gopher traps. And hey, there’s more vacation money. But we have lots less room, and I hadn’t realized until we moved how much comfort my husband took in having piles of stuff that he never used, could never find, and had pretty much forgotten he had. He grew up poor, so having heaps of stuff really matters for his well-being. So we’re sort of compromising that he gets one bedroom, most of the closet space, and a big shed to hoard in that I don’t clean or touch. I get to keep the rest of the place tidy and enjoy living in a clean orderly space. I can read in peace without having a broken faucet, peeling paint, dust bunnies, weeds, and the pitter patter of tiny feet in the walls reminding me that I really should be working.

    5. Angstrom*

      Spaces that are too large don’t feel inviting. They’re not cozy. Look at college dorms— they often have large common areas that are underused because hanging out in someone’s room or suite just feels better.
      Plus, there’s more to heat, maintain, clean, pay taxes on, etc.
      You can have a very nice house that’s not a big house.
      Having your own priorities is not strange. For a while we had a really nice canoe and a tattered yard-sale couch, because being on the water was important at the time.
      It is nice to have solid, comfortable furniture. It is nice to have a home you’re comfortable inviting guests to visit. That doesn’t mean it has to be big, expensive, or flashy.

      1. Aphrodite*

        You are so right! I recall once reading an article in House Beautiful, an interview with a successful interior designer. He lived in a rather small home, one about 1,200 square feet but it looks cozily comfortable and very welcoming. One of the questions asked of him concerned the comparison of his smallish home with that of his clients, many of whom had outsized places. He said that even in homes up to 50,000 square feet that the people who lived there spent almost all their time in just a few smaller rooms. I’ve never forgotten that. There’s no sense in having space you don’t use unless your goal is to show it off.

    6. Generic Name*

      I cannot WAIT to downsize my current home. It’s way bigger than I need for my 3 person family, although I’ve been super grateful for a private office space during the pandemic. It’s also moderately fancy, which is nice, but I don’t really need. I’m living here because a former spouse wanted to upgrade to a “nicer” house. I was fine with our 1980 split level. I’m staying while my son completes high school. My dream is to build a cabin in rural Wyoming, and it will be much smaller than my current house.

    7. SoloKid*

      Not with homes, but with children. People can shame me all they want but they won’t be the ones spending time taking care of a kid (or clean/maintaining your house).

      Space is nice, but I like natural space (gardens) over house rooms.

      To me, stuff is way less nice than making memories in my home and downright bad if you always replace things to get the shiniest, newest stuff (which I assume your family is also like?)

      re: negotiations, I find it harder to argue to move out of an established space vs moving into a different one because of what people outside your family say.

    8. PollyQ*

      First, anyone who doesn’t live with you doesn’t get a vote, doesn’t get to demand that you “interrogate your intuitions,” and doesn’t require an explanation. Period.

      Second, no, there’s nothing wrong with your “intuitions” and nothing wrong with your preference. Different people like different things, and that’s fine. It certainly isn’t any sign that you’re spoiled or entitled! Your preference is also not that uncommon. Plenty of people prefer smaller, simpler, more minimalistic surroundings.

      Third, the really tricky question is your husband, and how to negotiate sharing a living space & the various responsibilities for maintaining it. Is it possible to split up your space somewhat, so that you have a room or two of your own that can be simplified/decluttered? Is your husband truly attached to all his stuff, or is there a part of him that might like to downsize 10-20% but doesn’t know how to start? A professional organizer can help with that task, if that’s the case.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I prefer smaller homes because I don’t enjoy housework and like to keep things simple. My favorite thing about tiny city apartments was being able to deepclean the bathroom by basically standing in one spot and turning in a circle.

      I also prefer having bought my house for cash without a mortgage.

      I occasionally get a twinge because it’s difficult to entertain or host hobby groups, and there is a local cousin I won’t invite over because I know her attitude about homes would engender an offensive amount of misplaced pity.

      All in all, I feel that not being “houseproud” is more in line with my values than striving to get a big place and then struggling to keep it up. I’m fortunate that my husband and I feel the same way. I’m not sure how to negotiate a disagreement like that.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      When we first got this house here, some family laughed at our little house. It’s got a good overall layout and the way each space is used really makes sense. We liked it because we married EACH OTHER, not a house. Eh, home ownership is a part of life but not all of life.

      Years rolled by. Suddenly our little house with everything on one floor started looking good to the critics in our lives. We yawned. We knew it all along. (We were only smug because of their snobbery. We were totally normal with The Kind Ones in our lives.)

      I don’t really get where the pressure to consume, consume, consume is coming from in your life- but I’d suggest the only real concern is what you and your husband want to do. I think you might be saying that he feels pressured to keep a big house? I think I start a theme song of “we have to do what is right for us, screw what others think”. Your husband does not have to make decision based on popular vote. His vote and your vote is enough.

      I think doing a budget forecast might help. Just my opinion but it seems about every 25-30 years houses need a good make over- and I mean spendy stuff like roofs, furnace, wiring and plumbing. You can probably google some estimates for future expenses. I have seen the idea of taking a list of household systems, items and plotting out their average life expectancy. I know this sounds daunting but if you just chose a few things you might get your point across- you don’t need a comprehensive list.

      Another angle I would consider is asking him to help you plan how to manage this house- meaning the physical labor of taking care of it. If he really can’t hear you- it does not register that you are less interested in all this work- then open the subject of hiring a housekeeper or yard maintenance person. Perhaps you are a person who is into spring cleaning- maybe you could mention that you would like to hire a cleaning crew to help in early spring.

      I am a tiny bit concerned because it kind of feels like your own thinking/wants/concerns are being overwritten here by others superimposing their own ideas. We all have our own opinion on stuff and we all have our own likes and dislikes. This is normal. Why the people around you think that you have to be just like them really jumped out at me. They sound really annoying.

    11. Stephanie*

      I don’t think your intuitions are broken.
      I did not listen to my gut when we bought our previous house. We had two little kids at the time, and needed more space, and were thinking about starting to look for a bigger house. We were urged by my mom (a real estate agent) to look at a much bigger house that was about to go on the market. It was very dated and was being sold by the original owners of the house. I remember the sinking feeling I got when we toured the house, but my husband really liked it (it had lots of space, and it really did have potential). So I went along with him and my mom, and we bought it, even though it was a big stretch financially. And we were house poor for 16 years, and never could get improvements done that we wanted to do. It felt like I was constantly cleaning and that we were constantly fighting weeds and overgrown stuff in the much bigger yard. We never had much money for travel or fun stuff, and it was really hard.
      We finally moved to a smaller house two years ago, when our youngest graduated from high school. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff, and we gave up a lot of storage space, but I have ZERO regrets. Even after both kids moved back in with us unexpectedly due to Covid. Having less stuff and less house to clean has been amazing.
      The mental load of maintaining a large house is huge. I love that I can clean my house top to bottom in a couple of hours and that we don’t have to spend the whole weekend on the yard to just maintain the bare minimum of standards.

      Maybe there’s a bit of a compromise for you and your spouse? Would it be feasible to downsize a little? Like, we went from 2300 square feet to 1500; maybe 1800 square feet would have been the compromise for us. If that makes sense.

    12. Tiny Houser*

      I’m with you on all this. My partner and I live in a tiny town in a rural area near enough to a big city that most of the former farm-fields have been turned into giant McMansions, all built right next to each other. We have no idea who on earth the people are who choose to live in these houses! (These people have tons of money, and could have picked any number of different types of property in the same area. I am happy people are happy…but still I don’t get it, apart from “Following the American Dream.”)

      I lived in a small apartment where I spent time in: the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen counter, the couch, a table, the piano. For me, space between these areas was simply space to walk through. Then I lived in a tiny house I built (long story), 150 square feet but it still had: a place to sleep, to poop, to make food, to sit, and to work. There was simply less distance between these places. I didn’t mind it a bit. I can appreciate why someone else would like more space to exist in, but I didn’t miss it. Now my partner and I live together in a 1000 square foot house and it just feels so large! I have no idea what people do with all this space, and our house is pretty small.

      So while I do understand that many people are different from me, I wanted to write in to say that there are definitely other people who also affirmatively wants less space and less stuff than cultural pressure demands.

    13. TechWorker*

      Your intuitions sound fine – I would also add that home sizes really vary between countries. I love my house but it is already on the upper end sizewise in terms of what I would want to clean and maintain and apparently by American standards it is ‘rather small’ ;) (just under 1500 sq foot). To me it’s pretty huge and I can’t really imagine wanting more space (although I think my partner can/does). Obviously you and your husband both need to be happy where you are living and that might require compromise, but ignore what anyone else might think. People are different and anyone who doesn’t live there doesn’t get to have an opinion :p

    14. Not A Manager*

      Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. While we had thought about some of these solutions (have him take full responsibility for thinking about/maintaining the home, “compromise” on a downsize that is smaller than he wants but larger than I want, even live separately but remain together), it really helps to see that *other* people think some of those are viable solutions.

      Your comments also really helped me clarify some things in my own mind. I unintentionally made it sound like a potential move is up for a popular vote amongst our friends and that they are all undermining my desires. That’s really not true! What’s happening is that *I’m* conflating the fact that in my past adult life, certain close relatives (mother, sister) would not accept that I didn’t express a lot of personal preferences about living arrangements. I would defer to my partner because my partner cared a lot more than I did. (I have been married twice and this happened in both marriages.) My relatives’ assumption was that I wanted a big fancy house (of course), and that I wasn’t being honest about *what kind* of big fancy house that was. It’s very hard for me to accept that it’s legit to just not want that kind of living situation.

      It is true that my husband challenges me about this. Your comments here have helped me to see that him questioning my intuitions (which one could see as gaslighting in a way, but it’s not malicious) doesn’t mean that in fact there’s something wrong with my own preferences or that I’m mistaken about them. He has his personal reasons that a big, fancy house is important to him. I think it’s easier for him to think that I’m mistaken and will realize my error, than it is for him to acknowledge that we might each want very different things.

      It’s also true, as some people have said, that up until now my preferences haven’t really been honored or acknowledged. That’s partly because I think it’s scary for my husband to do so, but it’s also partly because I haven’t been completely clear with him or with myself until recently. I’m not sure how we’ll resolve this, but I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments.

  31. Another Academic*

    The Chair was like watching a train wreck for me. Way too triggering. I made it through only one episode. I guess too close to my own experience in Higher Ed for me to find it funny or diverting.

    1. fposte*

      Heh. I’ve wondered about it since hearing the ads; my immediate reaction was horror that a professor is the one doing the donation calls, but that seems likely to be a symptom of how terrible the situation is.

      1. AGD*

        Same. I love Sandra Oh, but I think I’m going to have to wait until mid-July or my next sabbatical to watch the show. A bit too close to home for me otherwise.

    2. WellRed*

      A friend and I decided just last week to try the Chair, probably starting tonight. I don’t usually like Alisons book recommends so we’ll see how tv works out.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      I’m not an academic but have worked in universities for nearly a decade. I enjoyed The Chair although I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny (but then I don’t often find that about TV shows, even if they are meant to be funny)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I really enjoyed it, and thought the performances were wonderfully complex. But I don’t have any direct experience to compare it to.

    5. Really*

      Haven’t watched it yet but some of the scenes were taped at Washington & jefferson College in PA where my daughter works.

    6. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I feel that way about the Office! Normally, I like that kind of comedy, but it is just too close to reality for me.

  32. the cat's ass*

    advice about cats?

    My 3 smooshy faced rescue kitties (persians and short-haired persian) are the messiest eaters ever. I’ve tried flat plates, deep bowls, shallow bowls in a raised and tilted tray (old guy likes that because he doesn’t have to bend, but still food everywhere), and even specialised Persian kibble made for their little mouths and flat faces. Does anyone have suggestions for keeping that food in the bowls? Thanks!

    1. TechWorker*

      I don’t I’m afraid, but I can recommend getting some clear plastic mats for the bowls to sit on, they do reduce cleaning time and we have two sets so you can brush the dried bits into the bin & then stick them in the dishwasher.

        1. SoloKid*

          I use one (“BarksBar Original Silicone Pet Feeding Mat” on chewy) with cats that make a mess but don’t push the bowls around too much.

          I wanted:
          Dishwasher safe
          lip to prevent wet spills from moving
          rectangular and no raised designs so they are easy to wipe (i had a few with cute designs but they look less cute when dried cat detritus falls in there)

    2. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I have a Messy Cat bowl. It sits in a little silicone mat that has its own lip. I have had a couple Messy Cats over the years and the one who uses it now eats like she’s some kind of excavator/cat hybrid. It at least keeps the kibbles contained since she likes to pick up her food and move it. I tried to feed her off plates and trays but she just really likes to pretend she’s Mike Mulligan the Steam Shovel at mealtime.

      It’s nice and easy to clean.

    3. TPS reporter*

      My cats are all messy and do not have for faces. Maybe it’s lack of teeth or general enthusiasm for food? I have giant silicone washable mats beneath the bowls that get cleaned every day.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        My cat, aged 12, has been a messy eater since I got her 4 years ago. Have tried every type of bowl and plate! Watching her, it seems that she takes a mouthful and then flicks her head once she has lifted it up. I found some improvement when I raised her dishes up on a box (and she threw up less after eating). Now I have her dishes on a large tray with a raised edge, still on the box, and I have two of these trays, so I swap them over and the messy one goes out for the birds who are unfussed by piggy table manners.

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Some cats are just messy. My Maine Coon always scooped the wet food onto the floor. When we got 2 kittens (Maine Coon, Siamese and Turkish angora mixes) they started mimicking her. It’s just messy. I would get a mat that you can put down to help cleanup.

      My one cat also likes to tip the dry food out.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Some cats are just messy eaters, especially Persians sometimes. I had two Persians. One had a very flat face and was a messier eater than the other one whose face isn’t quite so flat. We no longer have the first one, but the second one is now over 17 years old and I find he’s a bit messier these days.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Someone I know used to put the food and water dishes on a boot tray to catch all the spills and make them easier to clean up.

  33. Child-Neighbor Relations*

    What is the best way to excuse yourself from talking to children, and how long is enough time so that you aren’t being unkind? I have like four little neighbors that often shout over the fence at me, wanting to tell me random stuff etc. I totally understand that an adult’s attention is very desirable and I try to stop and chat with them kindly for a short time when I can (like for five minutes, not hours – it’s quite hard to hear over the road so we’re often shouting). Just now, though, it’s very hot and buggy just now where I live and I find myself getting grumpy if I’m caught at the door, often standing with one hand on the knob, and they’re chattering at me, but it feels so unkind to always be saying “okay, well I’m hot now so I’m going to go inside” after just a few sentences. I realized today that I actually listen to see if they’re out there sometimes before I go to move my bins or whatever, which is kind of a new low. I’m not the best with little kids but I respect that they’re my neighbors and I need to be kind, just as I am to the older busybodies who always want to chat at me when I’m trying to mow :D (Yes, I need to go live in a remote farm somewhere).

    1. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

      Actually, one of the nice things about kids is that they are more literal than adults — saying “it’s hot so I’m going back inside” works better on kids, who say, “yeah it’s hot, see you later,” than on teens and adults who think, “SHE JUST WANTS TO AVOID ME” (of all the horrible changes of puberty, self-consciousness is the worst).

      1. Amey*

        Yes, I’m a parent of the little kids who will start talking to you when you put out the bins and this is exactly how to deal with it. In a cheerful voice if possible – my kids at least are alert to tones of voice that sound like annoyance but 100% emphasise (more profoundly than most adults) with ‘I’m hot so I need to go inside now’ or ‘I’m tired so I’m going to go drink my cup of tea’ or whatever. They’ve started the conversation abruptly and don’t really mind it ending abruptly. (Unless you’re their parent and then they expect you to listen forever…)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      It sounds like you’re doing more than enough by stopping to chat. It’s definitely fine to just say “cool!” or “fun!” to the random comments and otherwise mostly ignore them. Making an excuse is fine too, they need to learn about those social cues. It sucks that you feel like you have to avoid them a bit, I definitely had this problem with an older neighbor (and actually also with a kid, as a kid – next door neighbor’s granddaughter was around my age and I HATED when she would visit them because she’d just invite herself over when she saw me in the yard). I think this is a common neighbor problem and it’s really okay to not be very friendly with them just because they can see you over the fence

    3. Ranon*

      As a parent with a kid at the chatty age, a few sentences seems plenty generous to me! Sitting through the long monologues about sharks or whatever is what loving relatives easily scammed by my adorable child are for. But honestly, even a wave and a good morning or whatever is plenty if you’re in a hurry or not up for a chat.

    4. fposte*

      In addition to what people are suggesting, I’d say that knowing you have a plan can make it a lot easier to deal with the situation. So have some exit lines at the ready–“Good to see you! I can’t talk anymore because I have to weed”; “Sounds like there’s a lot going on! But I’m way too hot now so I’m going inside,” etc.–so you don’t feel you have to make it up on the spot, and that will likely reduce your dread some.

      I know for a lot of us it’s hard to have a situation where we want to leave and the other person isn’t acknowledging that; it’s like sales calls at work. But it’s a really useful to remember that it’s not rude to end a conversation even if the other person doesn’t want to.

  34. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A couple of people have flagged the thread with a commenter sharing personal experiences with mental illness as “not okay for the weekend thread.” I’m responding here rather than derailing the thread itself: I cannot see why it should be removed. I suppose it’s true that if a completely unknown commenter appeared and posted something similar, I’d have concerns about it, but from an existing member of this community whose comments are regularly constructive and useful, why not? If the concern is that the rules say we can’t handle advice on serious mental health concerns here, the poster isn’t asking for advice; they’re offering to share what it’s like living with a particular illness. Or perhaps the concern is that I ask for “light” conversation, but we discuss grief here regularly and I’ve not seen objections to that (if anything, it points to a need for me to refine the “light conversation” rule, which I will think about doing). I just can’t see why this should be treated differently than “ask me your questions about living with cancer.”

    (I do acknowledge that if there were multiple such posts, I could see them changing the overall character of the threads and I wouldn’t want that. But one, from a commenter with a track history of discussing things responsibly and helpfully? Fine with me.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep, it sure is something I sometimes do! I don’t always have time to leave a note explaining why something was removed, particularly if I’m not at a computer (the moderation interface is much more of a pain on a phone). I’ve considered moving to not leaving notes at all because I don’t want to set the expectation that you can always expect a note.

      I stand by the belief that context matters. I also stand by being more alert to the need for me to ensure it doesn’t come across as different sets of rules. You can of course disagree with either of those! But I’m not going to run the space as a democracy; it’s not one.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nuked a whole long thread that spiraled out of this that started to seem overly personal re: one commenter. Leaving this top-level comment and closing the discussion.

  35. Jackalope*

    A lot of us who read this blog have critters and like to talk about them. I’ve also noticed that several people have posted in the last few months with questions about new pets they have, and I thought that might be a fun thing to have a thread about. Anyone in? Share questions you have about your critters, or critter training, or whatever. I’ll start in a response to this post.

    1. Jackalope*

      So here’s my pet question. As I’ve posted here recently, my husband and I recently got a pair of kittens, and we’re at our wits’ end trying to figure out how to train them to scratch the scratching posts rather than carpets and furniture. When I got the older pair of cats several years ago, I was living in an apartment with no carpet and virtually no scratchable furniture, so they pretty much instinctively started scratching in all the right places. Now, though, we have furniture that feels good to scratch (but we don’t want it damaged!), and carpet in some places, and the kittens as far as I know have never once scratched in an appropriate place. My greatest moment of despair with this was when one of the kittens was sitting on one of the cat scratching spots (I would say a scratching post but this one is more horizontal), and…. carefully reached over off the scratching spot to scratch the carpet instead. Any ideas on how to train them to scratch in the right places? We’ve tried saying no, moving them from, say, the carpet to the cat tree, squirting them with water when they scratch…. And we have a number of places to scratch around the house, including 2 cat trees, a couple of cat “bucket seats” (with 2 posts that can be scratched and a seat to sleep in), etc., so we can have options that are both horizontal, vertical, and other (and spread throughout most of the house).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Did you try spraying the no-scratch surfaces with some vinegar? (I put vinegar in a spritzer- label it of course.)

        My dog won’t touch anything that has been wiped with vinegar. I have a habit of stacking my used silverware in a bowl of water in the kitchen sink. One night I got up to see someone hunched over my kitchen sink in the middle of the night- it looked like a person as all I could see was a slim figure and a pair of shoulder blades.
        It was my DOG. He was taking the silverware out of the bowl and licking it off! I put a splash of vinegar in the bowl of water with the silverware and that ended that.

      2. FarmGirl*

        I hear you, my naughty kitties stand on their scratching post to reach my upholstered chaise. Which isn’t as bad as the top of my antique sleigh bed. For the last few months I have had a cardboard scratching post sitting next to my pretty shams on the other side of the bed!

      3. Missing my cats*

        We covered the arms and sides of our furniture with aluminum foil for a couple of weeks. Our two cats hated it and deided to use the uncovered scratching posts. After a couple of weeks we removed the foil and never had another problem. It made for some interesting conversations when people came over!
        Both cas are long gone but the furniture remains.

    2. Trixie*

      I had suggestions for those with kittens, and seniors.

      For kittens, many commenters have suggested getting them used to being in carriers, going for car rides, and have their paws handled which may help with nail cutting. I would add to this experimenting with dental care as far treat-flavored paste and gentle brush. If kittens are more familiar with having hands handling their mouth, it may make difference in pilling when they are seniors. My senior was the mellowest kitty ever but hated being being pilled, and eventually lost interest in pill pockets. Ideally, his meds would have been topical but that was difficult to find in my area.

      For senior kitties, aim around the litter box may become an issue. You can use a washing machine pan that is ideal for large low-lip container to keep the litter box in. If the kitty’s aim is bad, the pan is easy to clean up. For kitties that have higher aim. the high wall litter boxes are great. I repurposed a rubbermaid storage bin by cutting out an opening for entry/exit. (The lid helped contain the dust.)

  36. Anonymous Educator*

    I recently saw Shang-Chi at a drive-in theater (the Mission Tiki) near Los Angeles, and it was such a great experience!

    Do you have a drive-in theater near where you live? What is it, and what’s the last movie you saw there?

    1. CTT*

      There’s one about 30 minutes from me – I actually ended up seeing Tenet there last year (just as Christopher Nolan intended, with the sound coming through the speakers of a 2007 Corolla). The downside to it is that we are right on the western border of the eastern time zone, so it stays light soooooooo late and by the time the movie starts, it’s 9 and I am sleepy.

    2. Cute Li'l UFO*

      There’s a drive-in theatre in Concord but the last place I went was Fort Mason when they had Xanadu playing for my birthday last year! I went with my then-partner and unfortunately didn’t bring a battery powered radio and his car wasn’t happy about the radio being on. It was already giving him some super cryptic German Car Warnings about the battery leading up to it, but we got home okay.

      It was a blast. There were enough other cars and with the roof down we could still hear everything with our radio off! If I do a drive-in movie in the future I’m definitely borrowing a radio.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      We have one on the edge of town that has two screens.

      Last thing I saw there was Monsters University.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      My most memorable drive-in experience was seeing Frozen at a drive-in in Idaho in late December the year it came out. It seemed apropo.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I haven’t been to one in a long time but the one in my hometown is still operating (I think).

      Shang-Chi was AWESOME.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s long gone now but I lived in Henderson, Ky for two years fresh out of college, and they had a drive in called the Starlite. It was great and had awesome fried chicken, believe it or not.

    7. Ins mom*

      We are in the Midwest. I didn’t go last night but we had field of dreams and a league of their own this weekend! In a corn field!

  37. fposte*

    Inspired by the axe-throwing mention above: I am celebrating my new retirement (woot woot!) and enjoying the possibility of all kinds of new experiences. I’d love suggestions for them! I fade early in the evening so daytime stuff is better, and I’m looking for stuff that I can do solo (it’s fine if you get put in a group, I just want stuff where I can turn up on my own). It can be physical or not, one-off or continuing. I’ve been thinking I might try a nearby aerial silks place, for instance, and I’m considering trying cross-country skiing this winter; I really like the possibilities of geocaching. Now I can add axe throwing.

    So what do you do or think you want to do that I might want to try?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Things what may or may not be available around you: Rock climbing gym, trampoline park, indoor skydiving (it’s kinda like a vertical wind tunnel, and you wear a wing suit), REGULAR skydiving, horseback riding, gambling lessons at a local casino (frequently available weekday mornings), belly dancing, ballet, tap, jazz, square dancing (may be fiddly for now, but eventually), specialty cooking lessons…

      1. fposte*

        Oh, these are awesome suggestions! Thank you. I’m definitely in “What the hell, why not?” mode so I really like the wide open possibilities.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Tourist in your own town! Contact a local tourism board and ask them for all the brochures they have on local and obscure sites to visit, and then set a goal to visit every museum or whatever in a 50 mile radius :) oo, if you have a biggish city nearby, a lot of those will have tourist-friendly walking, biking or Segway tours. Cultural festivals, if you live where those might be a thing!

          Sporting events you wouldn’t normally be into – I’ve never been to a hockey or soccer game, but I’d give either a whack. Bonus points for minor league (or equivalent) teams rather than the big ones. Look for little community theaters, or matinee performances at the local high schools. (Ok, some of these ideas are better to hold for a little less fraught times, maybe, but.) I think geocaching would be a hoot for you, especially if you get into it. I don’t remember whereabouts you are located, but maybe any national parks around? Especially the ones with a historic bent frequently have guided walking tours – I did a whole week’s vacation a few years ago doing walking tours of civil war battlegrounds and parks. State parks too maybe. Kayaking, canoeing, zip lining. Cave tours? (*shudder*)

      2. Rick T*

        +1 on indoor skydiving! You aren’t moving in the wind tunnel so there is no sense of falling at all. There is actually a fan operator working to keep you at one level to make it easier.

        We went to one where the fans are above sucking us up, not one of the early ones with a giant (cuisinart) propeller below. I noticed I was focused on the instructor in the tunnel as soon as the air started, no looking down over a drop if that is a concern.

        1. fposte*

          This sounds amazing! I suspect actual plane skydiving would be too much for me but I bet I could manage this.

    2. Myrin*

      I have no recommendations but allow me to congratulate you on your retirement, fposte! I remember your mentioning it when it was still years out and now it’s already upon us? Time sure flies, and I so hope that you’ll be able to use that time to your utmost enjoyment!

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I tried aerial silks a few years ago. I’m glad I tried it, but it’s not to me. I would like to try pole dancing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), SUP yoga, and goat yoga.

      1. fposte*

        The aerial silks place also does pole dancing! I have not heard of yoga on paddleboards–I will look for that, and anticipate getting very wet.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, I’m getting kind of obsessed with the SUP yoga. I think it’s too late in the season for most of the ones near me but I have them earmarked for next summer.

    4. Silence*

      Since retiring my Mother has taken up tai chi, water aerobics scrap booking joined a walking group, joined a bingo group that arranges day trips.
      Your library or local council may have classes/ activities aimed at retirees.
      My library has a knitting group that makes items for charity that is mostly retitees

    5. nectarine*

      Things I learned to do after I turned fifty:
      – aerial silks (as a note: I wasn’t particularly upper-body strong. It took a good year of being *really* bored in class before I developed the strength for fun tricks. If you don’t hate it, I’d suggest going 2 to 3x per week to more quickly develop the strength),
      – SUP
      – skating. Took beginer lessons, then added dance. There is no jumping in dance skating, and all but one of the students were older than 40, about half the class was much older.
      – (wanted to learn) skate skiing. A type of cross-country that’s very aerobic. Sadly, now counter-indicated.
      – open water swimming. My area is wetsuit-free for everyone in summer, and a bit of a mix in winter. Cool water on the joints helps immensely. Majority of people who do it in my area – during the day – are clearly retired.

      Other ideas: bike touring. Depending where you live it can be short or long tours. Eg riding to the next town over to sample cheese shop or have lunch. My father did a 2 tours with me when he was around 70. the first one we camped, the second we stayed in hotels. I want to learn to quilt when I retire.

    6. Ranon*

      We have skating lessons on deck for this winter and sailing lessons in the summer. Local programs for adult Ed through parks and rec, the library and our public school system all look pretty cool, I’ve also seen super awesome continuing ed programs through community colleges and universities. If you’re plant oriented the master gardener program in the US could keep you busy for ages. Volunteer bike maintenance at local bike orgs (usually they’ll train you too), park cleanups, making boats out of milk cartons and racing them, volunteer docent at any number of places. Local youth sports leagues almost always need more refs and they train and usually pay.

      Goat yoga seems like it’s worth doing at least once.

      1. fposte*

        Your milk carton boat reminds me that I am an adoptive parent of storm drains. Our town has a thing where you can adopt storm drains (you get to name them) and then you’re responsible for quarterly cleaning of leaves and debris off of them. My block’s pretty low impact, and I thought that summed up my maternal instincts nicely.

    7. Traveling Light*

      Depending on where you live, there’s a series of books that I’m really enjoying as a local (or past resident) called “111 Places in (City) That You Must Not Miss”. Another thing I really enjoyed pre-COVID was Improv classes. Most places offer a free, introductory class. They’re really fun, uplifting, and great for learning how to let go and express yourself spontaneously. They also teach you how to be comfortable with the idea of messing up.

    8. mreasy*

      Aerial silks and trapeze classes are both so fun! And you’ll discover core muscles you didnt even know you had, when they’re sore the next day.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      Congratulations on your retirement! Have a blast with whatever you decide to pursue. (I confess I had to look up the reference to aerial silks, having never heard of it.)

    10. Anono-me*

      Horse back riding, comedy club, glass blowing, auto mechanics, motorcycle riding. Poetry writing. Library book clubs. In the USA, any colleges offer significantly reduced rates for seniors to audit classes on a space available rate. Many USA DNR departments offer classes on outdoor skills like fishing, camping, archery. Afternoon movies. Cooking classes, anything from a one off at the local community education center to the CIA. Actually anything from your local community education center (or nearby ones.) May places offer vacation classes, (a friend goes to a week long dance class at to a small venue).

      If you want to: Many parks have cleanup days, Animal socializing at your local shelter, sitting in courtrooms to help with justice system accountability (Many formal programs in the USA), Local politics, either elected office or committee.

      What ever you do I wish you joy in this new adventure .

    11. JustForThis*

      I cannot sing. At all. I lip-synch when a group of friends sings Happy Birthday. I started singing lessons last year, and it has been great fun and a surprising way to learn all kinds of things about me.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Congrats! I see goat yoga and glass blowing made the list. Along with glass-blowing, there’s hot glass working — beads & figures from glass cane, and glass ‘sagging’ into molds.
      A lot of my group-activity ideas are on hold due to pandemic, like bell choir, community band or chorus, being an adult volunteer with school music groups, or volunteering at a local hhistory museum.

  38. Fragile goods*

    How do you pass on fragile (but not valuable) items these days? My usual method of donation is chucking everything in the outdoor bin at Goodwill, which is fine for clothing, but I have some crockery and glassware I don’t use. (They aren’t allowing walk-ins right now, due to a local spike in cases.)

    1. fposte*

      I would start with a Google for “donations near me.” You may find local orgs as well as other national concerns. Around me there are a couple of local orgs as well as the Salvation Army and the Habitat ReStore.

    2. WellRed*

      Facebook marketplace. People will take anything if it’s free. I’m also not opposed to sticking an item on the front lawn/curb that says free.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I adore my buy nothing group on FB, just post and someone will DM you for things! and awaaaaaay it goes!

      2. Roy G. Biv*

        This! FB marketplace was a great way to pass along all sorts of items at no charge when we moved earlier this year. I also let my “highly connected with their community” friends know I had a variety of household items available for first reply, and now my ugly (but sturdy and in good repair) furniture now lives on in a visitor center at a youth camp.

    3. RagingADHD*

      We have several charities that run regular pickup routes and call periodically when they will be in the neighborhood.

      I just box up breakables carefully and mark them “fragile-glass”.

    4. ronda*

      I like my local buy nothing group. They seem to have somebody who wants most things. Its how I get rid of my cardboard boxes. most people seem to set the item out on their porch for the person who wants it to get, but I am in a locked building so set up a meetup in my parking lot.

      Mine is done on Facebook.

    5. Aphrodite*

      I give it away on the Buy Nothing group in my area or the free section of CL. Contactless pick up is easy if you leave it somewhere on your driveway or porch. Or you might put it out near the curb with a free sign on it; things disappear fast that way.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Freecycle.org is another group like BuyNothing.
        I’ve also known thrift stores associated with local senior centers & hospitals.

  39. the cat's ass*

    Did i miss the reading thread?
    Just finished “We Run The Tides”, by Vendela Vida, strongly recommend as insight into the minds of young teenage girls in the 80’s in SF.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I just read “The Ten Thousand Doors of January” and it was beautiful! I found it to have a bit of a slow start but it picked up overall and was really satisfying in the end. There are some cool connections woven between the fantasy elements and January’s experience as a biracial WOC raised by a wealthy white man. It has a similar vibe to “The Starless Sea” which I know some of us have discussed here before.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I just finished Bloodless, the next book in the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I enjoyed it, and I really liked the ending. I can’t wait to read the next book to see what happens.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          With most of the Pendergast books it just ends after they solve the case and there’s a slight setup for the next book–we know there will be another, just like always. But sometimes they end with a bit of a cliffhanger. I mean, they solve the case as usual this time, but the setup for the next book is pretty exciting! I can’t wait until next year (OMG a YEAR!) to see what happens next.

          I started to reserve a digital copy through the library…and there were 102 holds ahead of mine! I immediately bought the Kindle version because I couldn’t wait that long.

          Happy reading!

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I finished the Shades of Magic trilogy – loved it!!

      Also read Nine Perfect Strangers after noticing the Hulu show. Quick, fun read. The show is very, very different.

    4. Retired(but not really)*

      Just finished rereading the “Joust” series by Mercedes Lackey. She’s one of my favorite writers and this series is one that I hadn’t revisited since I bought the books as they came out in the early 2000s. Very glad that I stumbled across it again.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Interesting SF book for kids, JILLIAN VS PARASITE PLANET by Nicole Kornher-Stace: its protagonist Jillian has an anxiety disorder, and the author tries to convey how the world looks and feels to her when this kicks in. Aside from that, there’s a ripping space-yarn, with Jillian having to team up with a very cute (and snarky) AI/nanobot assistant to save the lives of Jillian’s parents on a supposedly-safe-but-now-very-dangerous planet, and help all of them to survive until the next portal home.

      In non-fiction, KAMIKAZE KANGAROOS by Tony James Slater, another in his series of very funny travel memoirs; in this one he’s visiting his sister and her friend in Australia, where the trio takes a battered old van around the continent, alternating sight-seeing with temporary jobs of various kinds, and all-too-frequent near-disasters. I really like Slater’s style, though I have to wonder how he lived to grow up, if he’s not exaggerating the risks he takes… Anyway, his books are very funny, with the audio versions also delightful (that’s where I first discovered them), and he has a web site with photos from his various adventures as well.

    6. Pam*

      A series of novellas by black science fiction writers. Currently listening to We Travel the Spaceways, by Victor Lavalle.

    7. Emily Elizabeth*

      I wanted to say thanks to whoever recommended The Feather Thief a couple weeks back on the nonfiction thread. I finished it this week and thoroughly enjoyed it – definitely fit the bill of learning about some fascinating parts of history, true crime, etc I would have never known about otherwise.

      Also just blew through The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and LOVED it. I loved reading through someone’s whole life and falling in love with Evelyn along the way, even with all her imperfections.

    8. HannahS*

      I read “Stranger Care,” which was one of Alison’s recs. I thought that it was well-written. I went into it knowing a fair bit about the failures of the foster-care system, so that part didn’t phase me, but…I say this without judgment of the author and her husband, but I found it hard to watch how sort of naive they were, and particularly how the author described her difficulty in knowing and saying what she wanted.

      I also read “Red China Blues,” a memoir from Jan Wong (a Canadian journalist) on her years as one of only two Western students allowed to study at Bejing University during the cultural revolution, and then her years as a foreign correspondent in China. It was excellent, though of course pretty heavy. A lighter one from her is “Apron Strings,” which is a travelogue of cooking and eating with various families in France, Italy, and China with her 22 year-old son.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Another title recommendation, since Talk Like A Pirate Day is coming up: MAROONED by James Schannep, a choose-your-own-path novel for adults, with choices that lead you to joining a pirate crew (voluntarily or not), or to signing on with the British navy, and with lots of alternate paths along the way – from career-path choices like how to get along with difficult work-mates or how to learn new skills before putting yourself or your crewmates in danger (very AAM topics there!) to survival techniques if you find yourself in the titular “marooned” situation. Very nicely done!

  40. RosyGlasses*

    Looking for cat recommendations

    We have an older cat and a younger cat who do not like each other. When our third cat recently died, it upended the balance as she was tolerated by younger cat and friends with older cat. Older cat is now marking and trying to become alpha (I think) and will corner younger cat.

    They have separate eating areas and separate litter areas (since before third cat passed) and we only have one room in our house outside of the bathroom that has a door (small older house).

    After some reading online, it sounds like potentially a calming pheromone spray may work but I’m curious to hear from others who have cars at permanent odds about anything else we may need to consider?

    1. A313*

      If they aren’t fighting, I would say this might just require some adjustment time. But the marking is a problem. I would try the pheromone plug-in and the spray you can use on their frequent hang-out spots. I would also consider a checkup for the older cat to make sure it’s marking and not stress- or grief-related medical issue.

      You can also watch Jackson Galaxy or Google his advice for this kind of situation. You sound like a good cat parent and understand their relationship dynamics!

    2. WS*

      Your third cat passing away is a massive stress for everyone in the house and may in itself cause behaviours like spraying. Feliway is really great for some cats, and some cats it doesn’t work on at all, and you don’t know until you try. An enzyme cleaner is important for any marking behaviour because the cat won’t go back to the same spot if they can’t smell their own pee.

      It’s okay to keep one cat at a time locked up if that’s what’s needed to keep the peace for now – you may need to re-introduce the cats as if they were new to each other. There’s lots of tips online on how to do this.

    3. Beep Beep*

      I also have an older and a younger cat who don’t always get along. It’s gotten a lot better since we first got the younger one- we’ve also used a combo of Feliway and learning what the warning signs are to help prevent confrontation, as well as tiring them both out so they don’t have the energy to fight even when up in each other’s space.

      Good luck!

  41. Berkeleyfarm*

    Shout-out for the David Lodge shout-out! (Former student of his and have lived in both the places in “Trading Places”.)

  42. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? Mine is starting to die off as the colder weather is here, yet there are quite a few tomatoes to enjoy.

    I’m offline a lot for the next couple weeks, so I encourage others to post. German Girl did a couple weeks ago and I really appreciate it!

    1. RosyGlasses*

      I finally pulled my gigantic kale that I am never going to eat thru – and made sauce with my roma tomatoes. I found four gigantic pickling cucumbers that were hiding and will do a quick salt and vinegar pickle on them today. Getting ready to plant garlic and onions to overwinter and hoping I get a few winter squash and potatoes – first year of growing those!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      My mystery vine is still growing, though the deer keep eating the leaves and some of the flowers. I do have a few with fruit, though. I’m hoping for pumpkins, but it’s looking like maybe cucumbers or squash. We shall see!

      I used all the jalapenos in my garden to make pineapple jalapeno jam last weekend. I also made crabapple jelly with the fruit from my trees. The prep on that was tedious, but the jelly-making part was easy. I only got 2.5 half-pint jars out of three pounds of crabapples, though. But it’s good! Pretty, shade of pink, too.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Harvested some beautiful eggplant today, but I think that’ll be the last. Loads of jalapenos and some sweet peppers that should be turning color soon. Tomatoes mostly gone, and the cukes and squash have done lots of vining and flowering but very little fruiting (sigh).

      But the morning glories – the dark-blue “Grandpa Ott” variety – have self-sown yet again and are happily climbing the trellis, providing stunning displays of flowers in the mornings, which almost makes up for the relatively poor veggie yield.

      And I will harvest some herbs soon – basil, sage, thyme – and bring the rosemary and bay plants indoors for the winter.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I have a bunch of morning glories that are reasonably confined to big patio containers (they’re currently climbing a downspout); there was Grandpa Ott and a few other strains and they happily hybridize into a variety of colors and patterns.

    4. Retired(but not really)*

      My garden is somewhat a disaster at this point. The neighborhood critters however seem to be enjoying it quite well. Lol. That’s what happens when you live in a little cabin in the woods.

    5. Mstr*

      Maybe someone can help me grow better tomatoes in the future? I’ve been container gardening them & it seems the shell or peel gets to hard to eat … I’ve tried different varieties & fertilizer — is this just how container tomatoes are? Would less sun help? Maybe I should move on to a new vegetable?

      1. Venus*

        Sorry, I wish that I knew! But skin splitting often happens due to big fluctuations in water amounts (drought for weeks then big rainfall) so maybe google watering options to see how they affect skin quality?

  43. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Question for primary caregivers and/or anyone who’s had surgery with no family support around and having someone come over isn’t an option right now?

    I’m having surgery on my wrist at the end of the month and I’m petrified tbh. The Dr & nurse explained everything in terms of how the procedure will be and what my follow ups will look like so that’s eased my anxiety a bit but my biggest worry is the recovery.

    We’re good on the food front cz we have a lot of freezer & instant foods so I won’t need to cook and we can always order out. Work is not an issue either, and I can go a few weeks without driving. My biggest worry is that I won’t be allowed to lift anything, i.e., my toddler! She is really mobile now, so I don’t have to lift her as much but nap & bedtime is the worst b/c I still rock her to sleep [although that’s probably a whole separate issue/question there]. I’m also worried about painkillers making me sleepy/drowsy through the day or night. I’m really tempted to put off the surgery for a few more months just b/c I’m scared of the recovery but my husband is adamant that I get it before my hand gets worse.

    1. Daffodilly*

      How helpful is your husband when he’s home?
      I had surgery when my third was a few months old, and I had many of the same concerns. My husband had used all of this available PTO when the baby was born, and had only accumulated 2 more days by the time I needed the (unexpected) surgery. We scheduled for a Friday (PTO day 1) and then had the weekend and he also took off Monday (PTO day 2)
      That was hugely helpful.
      After that, I only took the narcotic pain meds when he was home (1 dose around 5:30 pm, one dose around 1 am) and managed with ibuprofen during the day. It wasn’t great but I muddled through. I did have a friend bring my oldest home from school, which was a godsend to not have to pack up the other two and drive.
      I was still breastfeeding, too, which was a whole other dimension I can address if that’s a factor for you, too.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      No brilliant ideas about your toddler and the painkillers here, but when my ex had wrist surgery, the doc was adamant that she not do any dishes for 5 weeks or so to avoid the possibility of infection. Maybe stock up on a lot of paper plates and bowls and plastic tableware and make sure that your husband is on board to load the dishwasher with anything that has to be washed?

      Whether you decide to have the surgery now or later, best of luck with it! : )

    3. MeepMeep*

      Can your husband step up for more childcare? That’s really the only solution here. If you can’t do it and there’s an able bodied adult in the house, he should be doing whatever you can’t do.

      I’m the primary caregiver and getting some gynecological surgery next week. My spouse will be taking over all childcare activities for the duration of my inability to do so. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s the only solution in our situation.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        So, I should have mentioned – my husband IS very helpful around the house. He does a lot in terms of housework and taking care of our child. But to have him pick up the slack day and night seems unfair to him.

        1. Pam*

          Think of it like this- if/when he has a medical issue, it will be you picking up the slack day and night. Families can take turns as needed.

        2. MeepMeep*

          What’s unfair? This is what marriage is all about. That’s what this whole “in sickness and in health” bit is for. You’d do that for him, wouldn’t you?

        3. The Other Dawn*

          It’s not unfair at all. This is surgery. It’s not as though you’re taking off for vacation constantly. And it evens out in the long run. I’m sure something will come up where you need to pick up the slack for him.

        4. allathian*

          It’s not unfair at all. It’s what he signed up for when he vowed to stick by you in sickness and in health. Just remember that this will be temporary. Medium term probably, but still temporary. We’re talking weeks or months rather than years, after all.

        5. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I would probably outsource as much as I could lol. But yes I see everyone’s point, so I won’t feel bad.

          1. Observer*

            I’m sure. And I’m sure that your husband would outsource as much as possible now, too. It’s not your fault nor his that it’s just not possible right now.

        6. Observer*

          But to have him pick up the slack day and night seems unfair to him

          Why? I’m not being snarky – this is a very serious question. You’re not taking a vacation here, you are doing something that you both know is NECESSARY. And in a healthy and functional relationship, each partner does what is necessary at that time.

          Ask yourself this – if your husband became temporarily incapacitated would you consider it unfair to step in and pick up the slack while he recovered?

          Seriously unequal effort / work only becomes an issue if it’s sustained or due to one person just refusing to respond appropriately to needs.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      My experience with wrist surgery was:
      – high-level pain for the first 12 hours after surgery. Make sure you have adequate pain meds (including non-prescription if you can’t take more prescription than prescribed – ask your doc in advance about this). Then pretty much no pain at all after 48 hours so no painkillers after that. YMMV.
      – I used a rubber-type glove to wash dishes after about a week, so no problem there.
      – My biggest problem was