weekend open thread – November 13-14, 2021

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Told from the perspective of an “artificial friend” — a highly intelligent robot — who’s selected as the companion for an ill teenager.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,125 comments… read them below }

  1. Taking the long way round*

    Laurie is absolutely hilarious :)

    To those who have tattoos: when did you get them? Did you get only one?
    How did you find the right tattooist and get your first design?
    Did you need to ask for accommodations, such as extra processing time?

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve only gotten one so far but would like to get one or two more. What I did to find where I would do it was a bit of online research. Our local newspaper had done a review of local tattoo places and so I read up on them. They talked about the different styles that each one did and so I looked for a couple that sounded like they had the vibe I wanted. Then I went to their websites and looked at their portfolios, which helped me pick the best one for me.

      And I’d been thinking about it for a long time. Years, in fact, and I’d waited until I’d had the design I wanted more or less solidified in my mind for a few years before getting it done permanently. It’s a symbol that has had great significance in my life so having it permanently engraved on my back made sense. I also took care to pick a spot that could easily be covered by clothing but wasn’t so private I couldn’t show it off if I wanted to. And I don’t think I needed any extra accommodations.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Yeah I’ve been doing online research and had a few misses! I think I’m getting there though.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I got my first at age 37 – a small tattoo of a line from a song. I googled tattoo places near where my parents lived because I was getting the tattoo while visiting them and picked someone whose style appealed to me, then emailed and asked them questions before booking them.

      The second time, I was 41 and grieving a miscarriage. I went to a place an hour from my house and showed them the picture I wanted done (a simple drawing from a beloved child’s book) and they told me to come back in an hour and they’d do it for me. It was lovely and perfect, even though I did much less vetting and fretting over this tattoo than the much simpler song lyrics one.

      I am49 now and have been unable to commit to any more tattoo. I’d still like one, but when it comes time to have a consult, I can’t bring myself to do it.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        I’m sorry for your loss. The tattoos sound really meaningful, and I get that you’d spend a while thinking about getting the first one especially done.

      2. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        I have two, both more than 20 years ago, when I was 40. I was reading tattoo magazines and the book “Modern Primitives” and had many friends who had tattoos, so I had a pretty good idea of artists who’d be a good fit and their reputation. I lived in San Francisco where there are lots of good ones.
        The pain varies by location – if it’s close to bone, it hurt more. I have one on my ankle that was painful and another on lower back that wasn’t as bad. For me it was less the pain than a feeling that I needed to get up and stretch, run, anything, because the back one felt like it just took so long, even though it’s not that large. Then afterwards endorphins kicked in and I felt fantastic.
        Biggest problem with healing was that they itched, but if you slap the area good and hard, that helps. Something about how the pain / itch signals are related.
        I have more I’d like but have put it aside during the pandemic. Plus since I’m 66 my skin is looser and I bruise easily so I’m not sure how it would work – need to research that.
        Good luck! Be sure to tip your artist.

    3. StellaBella*

      He is a cute kitty.

      I have one tattoo (wolf paw print, black, on hip). 1995 with best friend in Seattle. visited 4 shops, checked autoclaves and sterilisation and shop cleanliness. took 20 min but hurt like heck.

    4. something*

      An acquaintance of mine got a tattoo from a particular artist and I found myself living fairly close to his studio some time later. I looked him up and he was renowned in his field; some international news organizations had even written about him! I sketched out an idea I’d had and sent it over; he refined the idea and put it on me. I had expected it to cost around $800 USD but he only charged me $600. My advice would be to think of some general themes/animals/images you like and not stress too much about the exact design, as this is the sort of thing where even a professional will inevitably get a few little things wrong. Healing was easy as he only used a machine for the linework and used a gentler method for the rest. I only got one, but I definitely have another couple or so in mind for the future! I don’t think I’ll get more than 3-4 more, though, as I have to confine them to a certain region of the body for various reasons.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have 25, all of which I got between ages 19 and 35 (I’m 40 now). I probably would have gotten a few more, except I haven’t put in the effort to research a good tattooist in my current city/state of residence. My first two tattooists were personal recommendations, one by my then-fiancé (who sold her shop and moved) and one by my sister (who may still be there, but is a state away from me). I’m not sure what you mean by accommodations, so I probably didn’t ask for any, I just do the thing :)

      1. Taking the long way round*

        That’s very brave! Did it get easier after the first one? I have ideas for lots :)

        I know what I want for my first design, I’ve thought about it for years. I need extra processing time for the design, I can’t just have it a couple of days before the appointment because that will freak me out which I think is why I’m finding it hard to find the right tattooist. I’m willing to pay extra because I know it’s extra work. I’m thinking I might book a small tattoo with somebody who is right for me, and then chat to them about the big one as they’re doing that one.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, I got 11 of them between age 19 and 20. Then I moved to Seattle, and since my artist of choice was in Michigan, my mom at one point said “You sometimes come to see us, right, not just the tattooist?”

          One day I got three new ones and a touch up all in one afternoon – all four limbs were healing at the same time. That was interesting.

          Also I am entertained that you say “brave” – that is the Disney movie nearest to my heart, and I have a line from its theme song tattooed on my back in my parents’ handwriting :)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              “chase the wind” in my dad’s handwriting, including a little swirly underline thing he drew, and “touch the sky” in my mom’s, with a little heart she drew in the middle of dad’s swirly underline :)

              We are kind of the epitome of a headstrong daddy’s girl with wild curly red hair that breaks brushes being raised to do whatever sounds fun by a dad who likes to be the popular fun guy, while a fairly calm and sedate lady with well-behaved straight brown hair and Opinions on Manners has to try and keep some sort of rules going on for the household :) Luckily we all survived successfully and I never turned her into a bear.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  I also have one in my best friend’s handwriting and one in my own, and several others in different fonts :) (I like song lyric tattoos.)

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          Mine got easier after the first one, though the pain differs by body part. As someone said above, joints are the worst.

          Dan Ariely did a study on pain. He had people hold their hands in buckets of ice water for as long as they could. He found that people who’d had long illness/injuries that they’d recovered from had higher pain thresholds, that is, they were able to hold their hands in ice water for longer. Iirc, he suggested this was because they’d had more exposure to pain that was making them better, so they’d ‘learned’ to tolerate it. People who had long illnesses they were not expected to recover from didn’t have higher pain thresholds.

          This makes a lot of sense to me in light of tattoos, although, obviously, they aren’t life or death. You experience the pain, you know it doesn’t kill you and it got you what you wanted, so the next time your body is like “Oh, I know what that is” and turns the signal down. This is my completely non-scientific theory which is presented more to describe the experience than as a literal description of reality.

          1. Tabby*

            This is a good explanation. Ive had arthritis for about 10 years, along with horribly painful periods – and my forearms are covered in tattoos, about half of which I slept through!

            I also have about 30 piercings, most of ehich are split between my ears, that I did myself without flinching, except the industrial one, ehich I didn’t even notice was installed until the piercer was finished!

            She was like, “Are you even alive?” Apparently those are supposed to really hurt, but I didn’t even blink. It was weird, because there wasn’t any sensation at all for me, other than the barest prick of the needle through the upper ear.

    6. Anima*

      I got… A lot. Two of which made by a friend who was an aspiring tattoo-artist back then and needed someone to train on. First one isn’t that great as you would guess, but the second one is ok. My advice: don’t do that. I got at least two more tattoos by artists who were residents in a studio for a long time, and the quality is top notch! You want to find an artist with good crafts(wo)manship, someone who knows their craft well. They can also refine your ideas and will redo the sketch if it’s not exactly your idea. Money sometimes is an indicator of good quality.
      I actually have no idea right now where the star tattoo on my ankle comes from. :D But I remember having it re-done because the quality was so bad. I was 19.
      As for accommodations: you know all tattoos will hurt, right? Some places more than others, but it will hurt like **** especially if it’s your first tattoo. I told one of my artists that I will make noises, but that’s about it. I tend to faint after the deal so I had someone pick me up sometimes.
      As for healing: I used the plastic wrap/wound cream method and never had any issues. Don’t go swimming in the next four week after healing though. ;)

      1. Taking the long way round*

        LOL I know it will hurt but I guess I can’t really imagine how it will you know? I’m not expecting it to be a breeze at any rate :D

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Think a cross between a sunburn and a cat scratch. Everybody’s pain points are different – my worst is my sister’s easiest and vice versa – and the pain will pass. No way on but through :)

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            Yikes, yes, pain. And I’ve just had eyebrows done, because with age, my eyebrows became snowbirds and moved south to my upper lip. Even with an anesthetic cream, done in a med-spa, it felt like a red hot electrified stabby thing was going into my skin, and I’m absolutely dreading the touchup.
            I’ve had a lot (LOT) of medical things, but the eyebrows were ferociously painful. So much that I had a nightmare that they were on fire, and wouldn’t extinguish.
            It’s nice to have eyebrows when I’m sweating behind a face shield, though. People can see when I’m ticked.

    7. mreasy*

      I have a lot, and usually I’ve gotten recommendations from friends. Luckily, there are also tons of tattoo artists on Instagram, so you can look up some local folks and see whose style you like. I’m a woman and feel much more comfortable with a woman artist, but ymmv.

    8. Daisy Avalin*

      I’ve only got one, so far, mostly due to lack of money, I have a list of more I want, when I can afford it! Re the tattoo artist, I kind of got lucky, I knew the design I wanted, had been thinking about/refining it for a couple of years, just picked a tattoo shop in the city and got it done there and then!
      Pain wise, it stung like a sunburn while it was being done, and for a couple of days afterwards… but that was it, for me. I do have a good tolerance for pain though, and it’s on the top of my arm so very fleshy, which is less painful than near bone, I’m told.

      1. Nicotena*

        Yeah I’ve heard the location matters a lot. I have both my tattoos on fleshy areas that aren’t super sensitive and it was not painful at all. It felt like somebody drawing the lines with a pen and pressing a bit. I literally thought he was still tracing it but nope, that was the tattoo gun. During healing it was like a sunburn, not much worse. I hear sensitive and thin-skinned places are much worse (the feet, wrists, ribs).

    9. Jay*

      I have one. I was 57. My daughter wanted us to get a family tattoo in memory of my mother (who would have HATED the idea, but oh well) and I agreed. She did the design. I did a lot of research to find a piercer for her the year before and one of the reasons I chose that tattoo/piercing business was that their piercer and tattoo artists had been there for years. They’d been in business over 20 years and many of the employees have been there for over ten. We had a consult with one of the artists, looked at some of his work, and chose him. Turned out I used to work with his mom (small world, small city). He has since done second tattoos for my daughter and my son. I want another but haven’t settled on the design yet.

    10. Wrench Turner*

      Mostly in my 18- early 20’s. I definitely want a lot more but it’s not a money priority at the moment. I’m going to be the inked up scruffy biker trash but painting beautiful watercolors in the nursing home when I’m old.
      My first 3 were all my own design and I just searched around til I found a reputable shop. The last one was the embarrassing Japanese kanji. At least I know exactly what they mean, and had it verified by native speakers before getting anything. My first tattoo was so simple – literally just two lines and a dot- the guy kept asking “Are you sure that’s it? I have to charge a minimum…” and I still like it. That one I won’t cover up.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      To those who have tattoos: when did you get them? Did you get only one?
      First tattoo, in the early 90s. It’s really tiny. I went to a shop in Ca. Second, I was in OldCity. Both are related to favorite books, although I’m rethinking the second one because it’s Harry Potter. :\

      How did you find the right tattooist and get your first design?
      Recommendations from other people. I thought hard about what I wanted (and what I could afford). The first one, the symbol from Red Dragon, was sort of testing the waters.

      Did you need to ask for accommodations, such as extra processing time?
      Nope. The first one took no time at all. The second took several hours. I was fine during that except near the end, when he got around to the softer part of my upper arm; then it stung a bit and I was all, “Are you done yet?!”

      I would definitely get more, and I want them to be tied to my favorite books. I have several in mind but no money to do it.

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      I have two – one I got in November 2019 on a trip to Nashville, and the second in February 2020 in London. I would like at least one more and have a ton of ideas, but am waiting for the right time (and need to save up first).

      For my first design, I knew I wanted to get it on that particular trip for symbolic reasons (the tattoo is music-related, and the Nashville trip was my first trip after my divorce from my ex-husband who did NOT like tattoos so I saw it as the ideal opportunity). I was 32 at the time. I emailed a studio a friend had recommended and asked if there would be any artists available on the dates I was in town, and luckily they had somebody! I’d say it took about 30-40 minutes and wasn’t too painful – the needle going in was like a cat scratch and then the work itself was like being pinched really hard – but it’s in a place that’s known for being relatively comfortable and also only really involved line work so I’m not sure if that’s affected it.

      I’d known I wanted the particular design for a long time, but to prepare I spent six months drawing my version of the tattoo in roughly the place where I wanted it with biro every day so I could get an idea of how I’d feel about it being on me long-term. I’ve also known people who did things like get temporary tattoos close to what they wanted or have an image of the design stuck somewhere they’d see it every day for a long period of time. Obviously it won’t be exactly what you want but could something like be an option to help with the processing?

      1. fposte*

        Etsy has several people who do temporary tattoos–I got great ones from TempxTats on Etsy. I messed up the size on a couple (that were bought with the idea they might be the design for permanent tattoos), so I’m going to order again and just ask her to do what needs to happen to get to that size.

        It was interesting, because it made me realize I might have been thinking about too visible a place for me–that I wouldn’t want to see it tons of times a day.

        1. Taking the long way round*

          This is a really good idea. I’ve just contacted someone local on Instagram to see if they can do me a version of it to test out.

    13. twocents*

      One tattoo right now, which I got by checking out other friends’ tattoos and going with a guy whose designs I liked well enough on them.

      I want to get a second one, but life is expensive so I’ve been putting it off.

    14. Nusuth*

      I’m 25, and getting my first one next week, eek! A while back I decided that it was no longer my dream to work in the very conservative industry I’m in at the moment, and that life is short, so I asked my tattooed friends to send me the instagrams of artists they have been to/liked. I followed a bunch and found my way to artists I liked, helped along by the fact that tattoo artists are constantly sharing the work of their peers. My preference is “flash,” which are pieces the artists pre-design and then offer for tattooing (only once, in the case of everyone I am following, which makes it feel extra unique and special). I’m drawn to colorful, abstract pieces (both for next week’s tattoo and another I have scheduled), and I love the idea of tattooing a unique piece of art so much I never really see myself seeking out a custom piece. I want many more….but $$$. The artist I am going to sent the sweetest brochure full of information about them and about the process, including the importance of comfort and consent throughout. So excited to start my tattoo journey :)

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Good luck! I’m 47 and getting my first one soon (I hope? I’m still searching for the right tattooist but I’m getting there!) Who knows, I might be 48 by the time it’s finally done!

    15. int*

      I have 13 and I’m 34. I got my first one at 18 and just picked an artist that was in the city I lived in. Now I know more and stick with the same shop (though not necessarily artist) because the ones I want and have tend to not be super complicated.

      I didn’t ask for accommodations but depending upon where on your body you are getting them, it’ll hurt more. Ask for breaks if you need them and definitely eat before you go. Don’t scream like a banshee either before or during. IF you’re nervous, it’s totally okay to bring someone with you and hold their hand – on my bigger ones I always do because I need the distraction and ability to squeeze someones hand when it’s particularly painful.

    16. Windchime*

      I only have one and I think I’ve had it 5-6 years. We were all on vacation and all of the ladies (moms and daughters-in-law) decided we wanted to get matching tattoos. We had decided on a very simple design that took about 10 minutes per person to do and we did it at a shop in our vacation town that had good reviews and good sterilization procedures. Mine is on the inside of my leg just above my ankle and I love it, and I love that my sister and my DIL also have the same one.

    17. Blythe*

      I have… a few? 7, I think. 8? I got my first one in my mid-twenties, right before I started teaching, once I knew my school was ok with visible tattoos. I’m now 34 and I’ve gotten new ones at fairly regular intervals. They range in size, style, complexity, and location. I love them all, though I would choose a different location for one if I could.

      I found my artist by contacting the place my friend went (though ended up working with a different artist). He is awesome. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend Christopher Gay at Rabid Hands Tattoo. The procedure is always the same:

      Step 1: Consult— I describe what I am looking for and show him source images

      Step 2: He shows me what he has designed (usually over email a day or two before the appt for the tattoo). He makes changes if requested.

      Step 3: Tattoo! Mine are not huge. All have been done in one session per tattoo, and I have never sat for more than 4 (?) hours.

    18. Dr Sarah*

      I got mine in 1999, but I don’t know that my story will be any help; I was travelling to another country to join a group meetup with online friends who only knew one another through a newsgroup, and some of them wanted to get new tattoos and it turned into a ‘hey, let’s make a trip to the local tattoo place on Saturday and do it together’, and I decided getting a tattoo sounded cool and so I joined in. I have no regrets at all, because not only do I still love my tattoo but it’s also a cool memory of a group weekend, but on looking back this probably wasn’t the most sensible way of doing things; I never even thought to check whether the place was reputable!

      I was into amateur dramatics at the time and decided to get the drama symbol of Komos and Tragos masks (I think that’s what they’re called; the two overlapping masks, one happy and one sad). I love it and I’m really happy with it as a choice, but obviously your choice of tattoo is individual. I didn’t plan the specifics in advance because it didn’t occur to me; I went in, asked for that design, and they gave me a choice of the different versions they had and I picked one. You might want to plan in more detail.

      I also thought carefully about what site to go for. I wanted to be sure I’d never have to worry about ‘oh, goodness, can I wear this great dress to this event or will my tattoo peek over the top?’, so I was originally going to get it done on the top of one buttock. Then I realised that I might actually *want* to show it off if I was out in the pub or whatever, so I went for right upper abdomen. This turned out to be painful to have done as it was just over my ribs and I hadn’t realised that sites that were that close to bone would be more sensitive, but it was definitely a case of short-term pain for long-term gain, as I’ve always been really happy with the site for reasons I just gave. (Also, it means I can admire it in the mirror, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I’d gone for a butt tattoo.)

      No, I don’t ever plan to get another one. To me, it’s one of those things like going to university or having a big wedding; very happy to have done it once, don’t feel the need ever to repeat.

    19. Taking the long way round*

      The issue I have is that I found a tattooist, local to me, I really liked her work, and she was female, which was important to me. Plus, she did the design ahead of time (like a couple of months), which I really needed…BUT she posted a ‘freedom day’ celebration post on her Instagram the day that the government demandated mask-wearing in shops, so I just thought, ugh. I asked her what she would do if a customer wanted her to wear a mask and she said she’d wear one, but I kind of felt icky about the whole thing.
      I’ve since looked at other tattooists but none of them will do the work ahead of time. And I’m thinking am I just being too picky with the original tattooist and should I just go back to her?

    20. Dwight Schrute*

      I have 4, my most recent is my biggest, best, and most expensive and time consuming tattoo. I found the shop from a friends rec, went through the artists profiles and picked one. We met for about an hour to discuss what I wanted and she designed it. I came back about a month later for the first session and that’s when I saw the design. I didn’t get to see it in advance because artists don’t typically send the design via email or anything so they don’t get ripped off. Keep that in mind when scheduling. You may have to make a separate appointment to ok the design before you actually start it.

    21. Laura Petrie*

      I got my first tattoo just over a year ago and now have three, all by the same artist who works in a shop in my small town. I saw a post on a local FB group about the shop and looked her up on Instagram. I’d wanted a tattoo for years but didn’t know what I wanted. Once I decided, I sent her a message then went to see her to discuss it. She measured the space, I told her my idea and sent her some photos (this tattoo was my heart rat, we had a really special bond).

      She sent the design a few days before my appointment and I could have then sent feedback. My appointment took 5 hours and it wasn’t too painful as it’s on my upper arm. I did feel a bit dizzy and they made me lots of sugary tea. I also took snacks, cold drinks and sweets (candy). I could also stop for a break whenever I wanted.

      Subsequent tattoos have followed a similar process, she makes the design based on what I describe and send photos. My second was the same rat as an angel after she died, in the spot she loved to sit on my shoulder. My third is Crater Lake in Oregon and is on my back. That took two sessions.

      I’m booked in for number 4 in early December, this will be two of my previous guinea pigs dressed as victorians. I’ve not seen the design yet but I imagine she’ll send it through soon.

      My advice is decide what style you like then look the artists up online. A lot have Instagram accounts with their work. Discuss your ideas and requirements with them and if they can’t meet them they’re not right for you. Personally I like having a custom design so I’m happy to wait a while for my appointment. The place I go to is really relaxed and friendly which is also important to me.

    22. I am a unicorn but not your unicorn*

      I’m 45, and I have 12. The first was when I was 25, and it was an artist who was a friend of a friend’s mother, and in retrospect I’m sure we were a huge pain in the butt that day and the friend who paid for it got way overcharged, but it still looks decent 20 years later, so that’s saying something. I’m going to get it touched up eventually, I’m still just noodling with what.

      We found our current shop, that we love so much, by googling artists in the area and looking at portfolios until we found someone that we thought we liked. We walked in, did a consultation, and liked her but weren’t crazy about the same but really liked her. This one was for my wife, so she booked the time and Sebrena did a great job. Turns out, she was opening her own shop! So that was serendipitous. She’s got her own space now and it’s female and queer owned and perfect and friendly and warm but still definitely a tattoo shop. Sebrena did one of mine before I moved over to someone else in the shop whose style better aligns with mine.

      Re: accommodations, what I think I’m reading is that you want time between when you go in for the consultation and when you get the piece done? Anyone who pressures you to book before you’re ready, you want to walk out; anyone who says “I had a cancellation, I can do this right now” and pressures you, you want to walk out (on the other hand, if you’re fine with right then, roll with it). Also, a lot of shops are booked out right now with the rona – when I got my latest one done in June, Jess was booking about a month out – so you should have time to ponder.

      Expect to pay a deposit, and pay attention to their cancellation policies if you do change your mind. :)

    23. Random Biter*

      I was 60 when I got my first tattoo. I have 3 currently. All of them are memorials to people I have loved and lost..a pawprint for my Abby, a dragonfly with the word BELIEVE for my mom (dragonflies are symbols of life everlasting), and Mr. Krabs, my spousal equivalent could do a spot on Mr. Krabs imitation. The first 2 I went to places that were recommended to me. The last one I had a gift certificate to. I am diabetic, and they all told me up front it would take my tat a little longer than usual to completely heal (which I already knew).

  2. Cheezmouser*

    Currently considering whether to go for baby #3. I’m 38 now, turning 39 in a few months so we need to decide pretty soon. We have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. In my heart I want one more but I also know it’ll be nuts. To working parents out there, how did you decide whether or not to go for one more?

    1. Loves libraries*

      The biggest thing for me is what my partner wants. He is 100% sure he only wants two so I’m not going to push for three as he has found parenting a big challenge. What does your partner think? What are the pros and cons on both sides?

    2. Bumblebeee*

      The reasons I don’t want a third child, in no particular order:

      I feel concerned about the risks of having a baby at 35.
      My earlier pregnancies were difficult and I don’t want to go through it again.
      Having a new baby would disrupt my existing routine. I remember reaching a point in my parenting life where I could leisurely wash my face and poop without screaming little ones outside and the thought of going through that again scares me.
      I feel like my resources and energy are better invested into the kids I have and unsure how how much I can give if I spread myself out to three.
      The world is already overpopulated.

      Yes, I occasionally have moments where I would love to cuddle another squishy, wrinkly newborn. But I think I would “grieve” not having a baby whether I had two children or twenty. At some point I would be done with having a tiny human and it makes sense for me to stop now.

      Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

      1. Nicotena*

        This is what my parenting friends have mentioned: no matter how many kids you have, there is always a point where you’re folding up the little clothes for the last time, packing them away or giving them to your friends, and it hurts. Babies have a magical appeal and they are only that little for such a short time. My one friend ended up getting a pug instead of having another kid! “He’ll always be this smoll and round,” she said. I cried laughing.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Nature mostly decided and we opted to stop pushing back. Took me years to get pregnant a third time, then had a miscarriage. Tried for another year and then decided that we would stop–the monthly ups and downs were taking too much of a toll. Did not pursue adoption because it seemed like the same emotional ups and downs.

    4. allathian*

      I was 36 when I got pregnant on the first cycle we started trying (non-hormonal BC). My pregnancy was ordinary, I was tired and had a bit of nausea, but nothing major. Our son was a reasonably good sleeper from the start, but I remember almost nothing from his first year, I’m so glad we took lots of photos and some videos. It took me a long time to recover from a protracted labor. I was 40 when we decided to give another pregnancy a chance, because my husband would really have liked a sibling for our son, and I wasn’t totally opposed to the idea at the time. I had a chemical pregnancy and two first-trimester miscarriages. My husband probably mourned the second miscarriage more than I did, and at that point he finally realized that a second child wasn’t in the cards for us, so we quit trying.

      I’m privileged because I was able to take 2 years’ maternity leave and work a 6-hour day until my son’s 3rd birthday.

    5. Kathenus*

      I’m childless, but a third child. The one thing I’d mention for consideration is my mom often, mostly jokingly, told me that for her the third threw things off balance – for example she could only hold two kids’ hands at once and now there’s three – that type of thing. I wouldn’t make a decision just on logistics like that but I heard the comment enough times growing up that I thought I’d share in case one factor in the decision mix.

        1. Sleepless*

          Or, as a friend said after they had a third…with two you can still do a one-on-one defense. With 3 you have to convert to a zone.

        2. twocents*

          Yes I’ve heard that a lot: that going from 1 to 2 isn’t that’s much more expensive/time consuming, but going from 2 to 3, things ramp up. For example family passes or family dinners are packaged for 4. You need a larger car. As they get older, thinking about separate bedrooms and just the time sink involved in managing three different friend groups and carting to different activities.

        3. PT*

          A lot of my friends with kids have said current carseat design means that you pretty much can’t have a sedan with 2 carseats any more. Carseats are designed to go in the middle seat of their own row. They simply won’t fit side-by-side any more. So 2 kids means a minivan or SUV now.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            Actually car seats are designed to go behind the front seats in a sedan. But they are a bit bigger than the seat so with two, you don’t really have a middle seat anymore for sitting in.

          2. Cheezmouser*

            I haven’t heard this at all. We have a Honda Fit and two car seats fit in the back no problem. There are anchors on the left and right passenger back seats.

            Now, fitting a third car seat would be impossible, that’s for sure

          3. Fellow Traveller*

            I have three kids and we fit three across in both our Subaru impreza and my Subaru legacy with three Diono car seats. But it wasn’t easy and took the better part of an afternoon trying every configuration of latch vs seat belt possible. Thankfully the oldest was able to move to a backless booster soon after the third child arrived.

          4. HBJ*

            We had two convertible car seats plus a bucket seat with its base in my car. They fit much more easily than I would have expected considering what you read online.

          5. Cera*

            The graco slimfit3 changes that. And with age gaps one is moving into a booster as the 3rd is born. It’s definitely doable. Though I got my SUV with 2.

        4. HBJ*

          Not true. We did upgrade to a larger vehicle (not a minivan), but the number of kids was a secondary consideration. We had various reasons for upgrading. Three kids and their car seats fit just fine in my regular car.

    6. sp*

      I have 2, and some of my oldest friends had their 3rd within the last year. I definitely feel a bit left out. We are holding steady at 2 because:
      The daycare in our area is SPARSE
      Our financial resources would be strained
      The 2018(?) climate change report
      Currently, my local health care system is overloaded and quality of care is not where it could/should be, so I want to avoid a scenario where I need it
      I feel like my parenting would suffer – often I feel like I don’t have the time, energy, or patience for the kids we do have.
      We got a puppy last year and I could not deal with the couple of weeks of interrupted sleep. I can’t do months of it again.

    7. Sunshine*

      We had planned for two. During my first ultra sound my on joke maybe it will be twins. The picture shows up and sure enough two little circles. So three now! And our oldest is three year older.
      I had my twins at 39. There are never guarantees. You will definitely benefit from your oldest being more independent. But my oldest still struggles with the split of attention.
      Have you made a pro con list to get your thoughts out? Or maybe meditate on it. You know your answer sometimes we just lean into our gut.

    8. Mia*

      Following this. In the same boat although had a chemical pregnancy last month. I had been very gung ho about #3 after some months of dithering and now feeling more on the fence but also pressured to decide. My husband was initially more ambivalent and now is more excited. I can imagine a third so clearly but also am like, what if this ruins everything?

    9. RagingADHD*

      I had my kids at 35 and 37, got pg immediately, easy pregnancies, totally healthy , no issues. I feel mostly great (well, better than normal) during pregnancy because it puts my autoimmune disease into remission.

      Trouble is, the symptoms & damage rebound twice as hard when my immune system recovers postpartum.

      Baby #2 broke my body so much (not the labor or anything, the autoimmune rebound) that I knew another pregnancy would make it impossible to care for my other 2 kids for months and months, much less work a job.

      And we were just dealing with various life, eldercare, job, money problems for a number of years. By the time it would have been feasible, I was mid-40s and knew neither my husband or I could deal with not sleeping for months. (Both my kids took a looooooong time to sleep thru the night.)

      If I weren’t autoimmune and our finances could handle it, or we had parents/relatives who could help instead of us caring for them, I think we would have gone for a third a couple of years after the second, because little humans are awesome. And from an OBGYN perspective, I had a great track record despite being “geriatric” or whatever horrible term they use for a woman’s expiration date.

      We were kinda sad it didn’t work out.

      1. allathian*

        Geriatric? Older women have been having kids for as long as humans have walked this planet. My maternal grandma had her tenth and final baby at 45, in the mid-60s.

        1. Ampersand*

          I think it’s kind of insulting—why didn’t they come up with a different word?! I imagine a group of (male) doctors sitting around trying to think of a word that means you’re having a baby nearer to the end of your good fertility years, and one of them is like, “I know! Geriatric! That means old!” and the rest of them nod in agreement. And here we are.

        2. WellRed*

          Geriatric is a medical term. Pregnant Women over a certain age (35 ?) are referred to as geriatric pregnancy.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Sure but the statement was in response to – what read to me anyway as – surprise at the term. Given the context, pointing out it is the actual medical term is useful information. It doesn’t mean it’s not insulting. It does mean it is not an incorrect term, given the context.

            2. Double A*

              I don’t know if this is common, but my doctors never once used that term with me even though both my pregnancies fell into that category. The only person who used that term was me, because I thought it was pretty funny.

        3. banoffee pie*

          Exactly. Just because women used to start earlier, didn’t mean they stopped earlier. Some of them had one every couple of years, from about the age of 20 to 40. It used to be common in Ireland for women to have 12 or 13 kids

          1. NancyDrew*

            Not by choice. Jeez, people, are we forgetting that birth control only became widely available in the last century?! I promise you, women of yore were not all thrilled about having so many kids. Yikes.

            1. banoffee pie*

              That’s what I meant! I meant it was awful to have to have so many kids. Crap, I thought it was clear what I meant, but reading it again I can see that it wasn’t, sorry.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Whoa there, there was nothing in Banoffee’s statement to say it was either a good or bad thing, just that it happened. They weren’t condoning or advocating. There’s really no need to get all riled up, please.

          2. allathian*

            Yeah, I never implied they had any choice in the matter. My maternal grandmother certainly didn’t. In theory, she would’ve had access to the pill in the mid-60s, but they lived in the country, so somehow I doubt she used it. Her youngest child was born 4 years after the next youngest, so it might’ve been a surprise pregnancy.

        4. NancyDrew*

          I mean, they also died after childbirth in large swaths of numbers and didn’t have birth control, so I’m not sure it’s useful to compare the two…

      2. Ampersand*

        These are pretty much the same reasons my husband and I didn’t try for a second. Well, we also had to do IVF, but we had four or five frozen embryos and I got pregnant on the first round of IVF so there was a pretty good chance we could have had a second child.

        It wasn’t the IVF, it was a traumatic birth + postpartum awfulness that did me in. My autoimmune issues quieted down during pregnancy (yay!), and then came back worse than before after my kid was born (I didn’t anticipate that). I semi-joke that having a baby broke me. I knew that having a second would have really broken me. I didn’t feel like I would survive it—or, my quality of life would have been much worse, and that made it not worth it. Also we don’t have any family nearby to help, and I would have been over 40 when we tried again, and I was/am tired as it is. :)

        I know we made the right decision, though it took some time to come to terms with it. It was sad—mostly for me, since I wanted two. My husband is cool with having an only child.

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      We have three kids, now 9, 4 and 2. I got unexpectedly pregnant with the third a month after turning forty, so it’s not like we decided to try for a third. Well, I guess we did decide to have a third in that we didn’t terminate the pregnancy. But I was genuinely excited to be having another baby. I guess in my mind, I knew that there was nothing disastrous about a third child. Sure our kids sleep three to a room and going on a vacation is going to be more expensive, but everyone is fed, clothed, and loved. It’s loud and frenetic and tiring with young kids, but I feel like I have a high tolerance for mess and chaos and noise and half finished projects. (My Husband does not and it’s definitely more stressful for him). I’m sure it will get harder in a lot of ways as the kids get older, but I try not to think about that.
      I think, sometimes of something I read where they said, when you think of the number of kids you want, think about what you want the Thanksgiving table to look like in twenty years. I’ve always wanted lots of people at the table.
      I would go for a fourth child in a heartbeat, but my Husband does not want to be paying for college in his retirement and has declared us done. So I guess if I would say the reason I don’t have more kids, that would be it.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Yeah, I think this is the sticking point for me and my husband. When we look forward 20 years, we see 3 kids around the table at Thanksgiving. When we look forward 1-5 years, we see us lying exhausted on the floor with toys everywhere and kids running amok. You have to go through the latter to get to the former. I want the bigger family but I dunno if I can do it.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Eh, a little bit of running amok never hurt. One upside of being an older/tireder parent is that it knocks you out of the Helicopter Parenting Olympics, because you just can’t even. And to me, that’s a good thing for raising well-adjusted future adults.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yeah that’s what my friend calls “healthy neglect” (she has four kids, and one of them had her friend over, an only child who freaked out at all sorts of things and expected my friend to swoop in and make everything better)

            1. Fellow Traveller*

              Hah!. Yeah, there is a lot of healthy neglect going on at our house. I like that term. I also have very low sleep needs and I think that helps.

    11. Ally McBeal*

      Just sayin’ – we had a girl and a boy, and went for #3 – now I have identical twin daughters as well! I was very upset at first, as it upended my entire vision for Baby #3, but of course they’re the most delightful children (11 years old now).

      And for the carseat talk, we had fit 3 carseats in the back of my VW Passat sedan when we knew we were pregnant but before we knew it was twins – I had purposely bought a really narrow one for my oldest. Now I drive a minivan…

      One big issue is travel – once you’re bigger than a family of 4, it’s harder to fit in a standard hotel room. Since I went from 4-6, I’m not sure if it’s doable with 5, but we rent suites or furnished apartments when we travel. Way too many people in one room!

    12. Felis alwayshungryis*

      We’re one and done. I’d be open to another, but my husband is adamant that, while he loves her to bits, he’s done. I’m okay with that, though sometimes I feel a bit left out when most other people I know have two. But I believe that if ‘should we have another?’ is not answered with two enthusiastic yeses, then it’s a no.

      (I’m also okay with not going another three years without a full night of sleep!)

    13. NancyDrew*

      Honestly, two did me in. And then our second has now been diagnosed with special needs, and I am incredibly grateful to not have a third. There’s no mental space left.

    14. Alexis Rosay*

      There’s no right or wrong answer. I’m the oldest of three and grateful my parents went for the third. I’m close to my youngest sibling and rarely talk with my middle sibling. That closeness only developed as adults though, we were too far apart as kids to play together. Like many things in life, the fact that we get along as adults feels like complete luck. But life would sure be lonelier without this youngest sibling.

    15. Retired Prof*

      The plan had always been for 3, but then it took longer than expected. So when #2 was 18 months old, we looked at each other and asked – do we go for the last one? Then we said, it could be another boy (we had 2 very rambunctious ones). It could be another boy like #1 (who had non-stop colic and was the world’s neediest small child). Then we remembered the twins that run in both families and thought – it could be TWO boys like #1.

      But we did it anyway. And it was another boy, with his own challenges. When the kids were little the biggest difference (aside from child care costs) was that laundry went from being a chore to being a lifestyle. Because #1 was so needy, having 3 kids was not much more demanding than 1. In fact kid #2 took a lot of the stress off us by giving his brother something do do besides torturing us.

      I was 38 when #3 was born. By far the most difficult pregnancy but the easiest birth. It took a few years before we recognized his special needs. We don’t know if it was my age, something that happened during the birth, or just genetics. So #3 ended up taking twice as much effort and emotional energy as the other two combined, but he is an amazing and perfectly functional young adult. We just had to battle the world (well, mostly the schools) to get him safely to his successful transition to adulthood. Life would have been much easier had we stopped at two kids, but nowhere near as rich, and I am forever grateful that we didn’t.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I think this is a lot of it right here for me. One never regret the kids themselves, even though one might wish one didn’t have to stretch resources to have them.

        1. Cheezmouser*


          I know I would never regret the kids themselves. But when we’re up at 4am with the baby or falling over trying to juggle 3 separate drop offs in the morning, I can see us saying jokingly-but-not-joking “why did we do this to ourselves?” On the plus side, the craziness eventually passes. Kids grow up. On the other hand, it’s a long way to go before you get to that point. There will be lots of tears and frustration and exhaustion, but lots of smiles and hugs and love too. Ah, I don’t know!

        2. Green Beans*

          That’s not actually true – a lot of parents do end up regretting kids. They’re just not public about their feelings.

    16. Cambridge Comma*

      Being one of three made me stop at two. Three kids with even gaps means constantly changing alliances. I hoped that a pair would have more stability and so far it seems right. Also almost never getting a parent to yourself is a negative.
      But you will have a feeling whether it will work for your family, follow your gut.

    17. Cheezmouser*

      Thanks for all the comments! So far it sounds like:
      1. Both partners need to agree, and one no means no go for #3
      2. This is assuming there are not medical or financial factors, which for us there aren’t. We are fortunate that we can afford to have another kid, and both my pregnancies and deliveries were relatively smooth.
      3. The logistics of 2 kids vs 3 kids are different, more complicated than when going from 1 kid to 2 kids.
      4. You won’t regret the kids themselves but you might the craziness of daily life while they’re young.

  3. Loves libraries*

    Content warning:pregnancy

    Just for fun, I’m looking for the best ways to say “I’m pregnant” that aren’t that. The middle of the road euphemisms like ” bun in the oven” don’t appeal as much as as much as super clinical or super “woo”. Examples – “I’m gestating a fetus” or “I’m bringing life to the next generation through my Sacred Yoni”.

    Alternatively, I’m also interested in suggestions on outrageous/cryptic denials if visibly pregnant and asked to confirm it. E.g. “no way! This is just a dare (gestures to stomach), but I’m definitely going to win!”

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      There was a pregnancy Tshirt I found on the internet somewhere ages ago that had a bar mostly full at big-belly height with the words “Loading…” above it. :) Made me laugh.

      As for words, there’s always the classic “I’m spawning!”

    2. SC in NC*

      I have friend at work who was starting to show but doing a fairly good job of covering it up. When it became noticeable but not blatantly obvious, we eventually just asked her if she was expecting (our relationship was close enough that this wouldn’t be an issue). With a completely serious face she stated that no, she had just decided to let herself go. Thankfully she only left us hanging for a few seconds.

    3. Sunshine*

      My favorite (though some people got really mad about it) was from someone I worked with. She referred to my bump as a sexually transmitted parasite.

    4. MoreFriesPlz*

      My first boss out of college was this incredibly dry researcher married to a brain surgeon. She got pregnant while I was there and referred to it as her parasite the entire pregnancy.

      For the second question, my best friend had a shirt that said “I swallowed a watermelon seed” and used to tease her 3 and 5 year old nieces that’s what was growing in her belly. She took it really seriously and both girls were truly unsure if it was a melon or a baby.

      1. PollyQ*

        Hee! My sister’s OB said something similar: “Yes, you’re eating for two, but one of them’s really really teeny.”

  4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    The conservatorship is over! Britney did it! Now, here is to reform to stop others being abused by the same system. (And also a dance partyyyyyyyy)

    1. Taking the long way round*

      I thought the #SheIsFree hashtag on twitter referred to Nazanin, so I was disappointed briefly, but I’m really pleased that Britney is free of her conservatorship. Antidisablist BS.

      1. Nicotena*

        I remember reading articles when her conservatorship first resurfaced saying there was basically no legal way to fix the issue, that many had tried in the past, etc etc. Well look what being famous, rich, and high profile can achieve. Happy for her and sad for others who got caught in this web; hopefully this will clear a path forward in future.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m not really a Britney fan but I was glad to hear it. Jamie Spears 100% abused his position, IMO.

          Buzzfeed News did a three-part series on the guardianship industry (shockingly, yes it is an industry!) that will make you absolutely furious. I recommend reading it.

          1. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

            Same. I’m a bit older than her usual fan, but I was completely appalled for her, what was done to her. She deserves much happiness now, and I hope her fiancee is as good a man as he seems to be. Her…. father… only wanted to control and abuse his daughter. If his goal was truly to see her well and healthy she would have had much better care, and be much stronger now.

            1. Nicotena*

              I’m indifferent to her individually but I remember reading, “hey, all these male music industry and sports people are displaying just as many signs of mental health challenge, but none of their momma’s literally took over their businesses and made them work unpaid …” Really made me think harder about it.

            2. Observer*

              I’m not a fan at all, but that’s not the issue here. What was done to her was utterly appalling.

              So is the hypocrisy of some of the folks crying crocodile tears over the situation, when they were among the people who helped precipitate the crisis that put her into conservator-ship in the first place.

          2. Sue*

            Same, but a system which can so easily be abused combined with what appears to be a strong patriarchal family dynamic spelled disastrous results for her. I sincerely hope the publicity from this case leads to reform. The more I read about this case, the more outrage I felt and I have worked in the courts for 25 years. I have never seen any (in my state it’s guardianship) case even remotely like this. Most are for elderly with dementia or those who seriously need help. It appears her wealth was the main factor in the whole case, requiring her to work to support her extended family and others. Huge conflicts of interest in the whole mess. So glad she finally got out of it and now the process needs a thorough overhaul.

        2. Observer*

          I’d say that being rich, famous and high profile actually worked against her. I suspect that if all three didn’t apply to her, she would not have wound up in conservatorship in the first place. And the constant scrutiny on her (with none on her father) didn’t help anything for a looong time – it must made it worse.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      It’s just a stark reminder of how far rights for women haven’t progressed in some areas. In another era, her family would have had her sent to an asylum instead.

      It’s just such calculated cruelty and I hope each and every member of her family gets what’s coming to them.

      1. WellRed*

        Right? Access to birth control? Nah, you’re responsibility, let’s make it difficult. Freedom from forced bc? Seriously, we can’t win. Like others, not a fan but very #freebritney

    3. Zona the Great*

      If you would have told my 12 year old self that one day I’d care a great deal about Britney, you would’ve knocked me over w a feather. But here we are #freedbritney

      1. banoffee pie*

        lol same. I wasn’t a fan when I was the ‘right’ age, now in my thirties I really like her!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I hope she has some course of legal action. They embezzled money from her! “Oh she’s crazy, give us her money and we will take care of it.” They used our legal system to defraud her of her own money. If that’s not criminal then I don’t know what is.

      Britney has grown on me over the years. I don’t think what she did deserved any consequences from her family. I think she is a super strong woman as she was basically “owned” by someone else all these years. Being forced to perform while sick, forced to use an IUD, forced to take lithium and on and on. omg.

  5. Jackalope*

    A book thread: What is everyone reading? Anything fun or interesting? What have you been enjoying lately?

    Also, anyone have some light, fluffy books to recommend? My preference is sci-fi/fantasy, but other stuff works too.

    I can’t remember if I mentioned this here previously, but I recently finished The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I ended up really enjoying it. The only bad part was getting to the VERY LAST PAGE and discovering it was not a stand-alone book but the first of a series. And I can’t find when the sequel will be out!

      1. Jackalope*

        I too hate cliffhangers, unless the next book is already out. Thankfully this one wasn’t too awful. The main story line was wrapped up and it was more the main characters saying, “Right, now that that’s done, let’s go do this other thing that we’d talked about.” I just had thought that The Other Thing had been wrapped up, and didn’t realize the author was setting us up for it to be in a sequel book. But I’d still like to get the sequel before I forget everything that happened in book 1, you know?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Alison’s recommendation, “Klara and the Sun.” It’s really good – kind of a combo of sweet and unsettling, somehow?

      The fluffiest book I’ve read this year was “The Sun is Also a Star,” a very cute YA rom-com type book.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m reading Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides and it has more incest than I was expecting (which was none); however, the voice of the narrator is very readable.

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        I really liked that book, but the one element that I found jarring was the incest. I just didn’t believe the characters would do that.

      2. Nicotena*

        Ha but that part is important to explain how the narrator’s situation came to be, right? It’s not like it was just tossed in for drama.

    3. GraceC*

      You’ve probably had her recommended before, but Becky Chambers writes lovely sci-fi that has a heavy emphasis on slice-of-life, normal people, found family etc. Her worlds and alien races are all so intriguing – she doesn’t hand-hold you with explanations of them, I found it very immersive, and more of a focus on interpersonal stuff rather than world-saving or universe-saving exploits.

      1. Workerbee*

        I am in the middle of her Wayfarers series and read a standalone (so far) as well—absolutely brilliant, and such a refreshing evolution from the majority of the sci-fi writers I grew up with.

      2. Aneurin*

        Seconding the Becky Chambers recommendation! Her Wayfarers series makes me think of Firefly — if Firefly were wayyyy queerer and also written by an actual feminist! But the found family + people working scrappy jobs relying on each other to survive in a wider world are definitely reminiscent of Firefly.

      3. Double A*

        Was coming here to recommend this! I’m almost done with book 3, Record of a Spaceborn few.

        I like them all but so far the second book is my favorite, A Closed and Common orbit. Such an interesting look at identity and learning to be in a strange world.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      If you like tie-ins… “The Vulcan Academy Murders” is one of my comfort books. Very sweet (despite couple of deaths tobe solved).

    5. Taking the long way round*

      I just joined a book club and read One Hand Clapping by Burgess. It was grotesque and he is sexist and snobby, but it was certainly interesting. It’s quite a literary reading group but I wanted to push myself to read things I wouldn’t normally read, and that’s certainly working.
      The next one we’re tackling is Joyce’s The Dubliners, I think we’re doing a couple of stories a week.
      At the moment, what I’m reading for fun is Zoe Chant’s “…Of Glass” series, the latest one. It’s a paranormal romance which is my usual fare. It’s quite good.
      I also have been searching for Holly Smale’s Geek Girl but can’t seem to find it in my library but I’d like to read that series. I know it’s YA but she’s autistic so I’m interested in reading an autistic girl written by an autistic woman.
      Zoe Chant has written disabled and autistic characters before, and I like that, but I didn’t resonate fully with the autistic character in her books.

      1. allathian*

        Have you read Elizabeth Moon’s (The) Speed of Dark? I borrowed it from a friend and I’ve read it only once, but it really made me think. The narrator char is autistic.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been reading “From A Certain Point of View” – there’s two of them so far, one for the original Star Wars and one for Empire Strikes Back. Each one is 40 short stories from the POV of some side character in the movie – Jawas, droids, Tusken Raiders, other x-wing pilots, one of the players in the Mos Eisley cantina band, etc, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them, but some are really uniquely insightful. The one about the little red R5 droid that Owen and Luke started to take before they ended up with R2-D2 almost made me sniffle :)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is one of my favorite books. About time-traveling historians from Oxford. Owes a lot to screwball comedies.

    8. Lilo*

      I’m trying to read the 6th Expanse book before the series comes out.

      I honestly haven’t been super excited by any new book in a while and it makes me a bit sad.

    9. AY*

      I just finished Stanley Tucci’s memoir, which in celebrity-adjusted memoir terms, was really fun! It helps that he kept the book pretty focused on food and cooking, which gave the whole thing structure and purpose that memoirs often lack.

      I’m doing all nonfiction all November, so next up I have a book called Outlaw Ocean about crime and piracy at sea. I may also check out a Ghost in the Throat, which I understand is about an Irish poet.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        For your nonfiction November, I’ll recommend “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” which I just finished reading. A quick note of thanks to PARENTHETICALLY who recommended it a while back to me.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I’m listening to T J Klune’s THE LIGHTNING-STRUCK HEART on audiobook – from the title and cover-art I’d expected a dark, dramatic fantasy novel, but it turns out to be a very wacky and funny tale of Sam, a very gay apprentice wizard, and his even gayer best friend (a unicorn named Gary whose horn is currently missing for reasons as yet unexplained), their pal Tiggy the half-giant (who comes in handy when they need bad guys smashed – literally), and the hunky knight Ryan on whom Sam is madly crushing. (It’s clear in-story that Ryan likes Sam too, but Sam can’t seem to see this at all, and since the king announced Ryan’s betrothal to the crown prince Justin things don’t look good for the Sam/Ryan pairing fans. (Yes, there’s a fan club. Sam attends it in disguise. Did I say this book is wacky?)) I’m at the point where the gang is off on a quest to rescue Prince Justin from the dragon that captured him, and it seems likely that there will be drama and possibly even some angst, but in general the story’s so very flirty/goofy/frivolous that it’s hard to imagine it being serious for more than a paragraph at a time.

    11. Nicki Name*

      If you’re up for some nonfiction, the most fun book I’ve read recently is Around the World in 80 Trees. It’s about a selection of trees and their role in human society, which sounds like dry stuff but it picks some really entertaining examples.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      The second book in the Richard Preston’s dark biology series. It’s non-fiction. The first book was on the discovery of Ebola and Reston outbreak, this one is about eradication of smallpox, and the anthrax attacks of 2001.
      It’s very interesting, but also gorier than any horror movie I’ve ever seen, because he describes in details what these diseases do, and there is a lot of monkey death.

    13. Aneurin*

      In addition to seconding the Becky Chambers recommendation, for fluffy sci fi I really enjoyed John Scalzi’s Redshirts!

      In the fantasy arena, I’ve just finished TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, which took me a while to get into, but is sweet & hopeful and rather lovely.

      1. book thread yay!*

        Gosh I love Scalzi. Even the works that deal w/ darker themes, such as the Collapsing Empire series, have enough humor and strong characters to avoid being really a bummer. (Mostly Kiva Lagos rocks, but)

    14. Gaggle*

      I recently finished Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao and it was really really good. It’s sci-fi and has a Pacific Rim type set up. I’m thinking of getting the audio book too so that my sister and I can listen to it on an upcoming trip.

    15. Oddity*

      Light and fluffy is my jam. I’m quite into light novels and there’s a recent trend of “I was reincarnated in a fantasy world so now I’m going to enjoy an easy life doing very little”. Can definitely recommend: Dahlia in Bloom, I said make me a pampered pooch not Fenrir and Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter.

    16. The Dogman*

      Light and fluffy Scifi?

      Neal Ashers “The Owner” series is light and fluff… oh wait, over 7 billion dead in book one… not fluffy at all! Sorry!

      If you like Scifi with a Fantasy flavour then Anne McCafferys Dragon Riders of Pern series is very good and not too heavy.

      There is Arthur C Clarks “Rendezvous with Rama” series, all very good and not too heavy.

      I like The Forever War by Joe Haldeman is a great book, not “light and fluffy” exactly but a quickish read and not too dark, obviously some violence though, it is about a war.

      Charles Stross released “Accelerando” for free online in a number of formats, I thought it was an excellent book and it was free too!

      The “Culture” novels by Iain M Banks (same person as the non scifi Iain Banks) are all worth a read, odd and exciting but not heavy or dark usually… If nothing else it is worth it just for the AI spaceship names. One of the ones I like the most is “A Series of Unlikely Explanations”, and another good one is “Funny, It Worked Last Time…”

      The Isaac Asimov “Robots” books are light reading, interesting, maybe a spot flat/2D, but def not heavy or dark.

      The Last Legionary series of 5 books (Young Legionary, Galactic Warlord, Deathwing Over Veynaa, Day of the Starwind and Planet of the Warlord) are brilliant YA scifi books that I deeply enjoyed as a 9 year old and again a few years ago when I reread them I thought they were excellent again!

      I hope you find something fun to read!

      1. allathian*

        Asimov’s George and Azazel stories are a hoot! Most of them are collected in his fantasy anthology Magic (companion piece to his sci-fi anthology Gold).

    17. twocents*

      I’m rereading Graceling by Kristin Cashore. With the fourth book out, it’s a good time to revisit the first three and get refreshed on the world.

    18. book thread yay!*

      Reading The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie. Leckie is sometimes a little weak on plotting but always good at inventing new worlds and new ways of understanding ourselves and the people around us, so I never regret spending time w/ her work.

      1. book thread yay!*

        I see nobody has mentioned The Eyre Affair, which is as 100% “light and fluffy” fantasy as I can think of. Jasper Fforde simply has a lot of fun w/ his characters and literary puns. It’s a delight.

    19. Kathy*

      Although I’m not reading it yet (releasing 11/23), I’m looking forward to the new book in the Outlander series, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone. I still love to re-read the series before each new season of the Starz show based on the books.

    20. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’m reading Light from Uncommon Stars based on a recommendation from last week’s thread, and I wanted to pass on the recommendation again. It has some strange elements that seem like they might not fit together (an intergalactic donut shop, a deal with the devil, along with a pretty realistic depiction of a homeless trans kid), but somehow it works.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Thanks! Got sample on kindle after this reccommendation, bought full book and totally engrossed in it :)

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am a fan of whimsical sf/f, both current and old. Two favorites for you—
      T.Kingsolver “Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”
      Janet Kagan “Mirabile” (Unfortunately, I’m going to send you to second hand book stores because the ebook doesn’t include the in-between paragraphs that tie the short stories together.)

    22. Akcipitrokulo*

      Variable Star by Robert Heinlein/Spider Robinson. Spider Robinson, with family’s approval, fleshed out and finished book based in very copious notes and outline left by RAH. And it’s… kind of lovely :)

    23. Hunnybee*

      I’ve been reading a book of short stories by Shirley Jackson and it is amazing! I’d never heard of her until recently (and I can’t understand why). Each story is like a little Twilight Zone episode. I highly recommend it if you like SciFi.

      PS I just finished the “Darker Shade of Magic” series by V.E. Schwab before this, and I highly recommend her books as well!

      PPS This week I had my first date in a year (thanks COVID) and it was horrible, and all I could think was how much I wanted to be home reading my Shirley Jackson and hanging out with my dog.

      1. *daha**

        One of my favorites by Shirley Jackson is “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts”. I don’t know if that is in the collection you read.

    24. OtterB*

      Just finishing A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske. Pretty sure it’s the first of a series but it’s not badly cliffhangery. Victorian-style England with magic, m/m romance. Not fluffly, though – some amusing but some angsty as well.

      I have been rereading the Comfortable Courtesan series by L A Hall, which are feel-good popcorn books for me. Regency-era historical, some romantic subplots but not romances. The interlocking stories of a set of friends, their household servants, etc.

    25. Dancing Otter*

      Light sci-fi/fantasy: The Wizard’s Butler by Nathan Lowell. He’s writing a sequel, but I don’t know why – everything’s resolved, I thought.
      Anne Bishop’s series about The Others, which starts with Written in Red, is good but maybe not as fluffy as you want. No significant cliffhangers, though there’s a story arc. Oddly, I haven’t enjoyed her other books as much.
      Have you discovered the Liaden series by Sharen Lee and Steve Miller? More space opera than light fluff, but really good space opera. There are two dozen novels and many, many story collections.

      1. Ariaflame*

        YES! Liaden series excellent and first book Agent of Change available free in baen free library as eBook. Ok slight cliffhanger but next book is available

    26. Albeira Dawn*

      I just blazed through THE GREAT SUBWAY MAP DEBATE, which is the transcript of a heated public debate in the 1970s between graphic designers for the New York City subway map. It’s for a very, very specific audience, and I am that audience.

      1. AnotherLadyGrey*

        Thank you, I would never have known of this book and it’s a PERFECT gift for my husband who is shockingly hard to find presents for. I can’t wait to give this to him!

    27. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Someone just gave me *A Spindle Splintered* by Alix I-forget-her-last-name — it has some heavy plot elements and references, but the general tone is light, and the narrator’s voice is great. Basically, heroine with fatal disease gets zapped into the multiverse of possible Sleeping Beauty narratives. Will she figure out how to get rid of her own curse and cheat her fate? Read and find out. I liked it.

      1. AnotherLadyGrey*

        Alix Harrow, I believe! I recently read her book The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and I quite enjoyed it. Adding this one to the TBR pile!

    28. allathian*

      I was in the mood for a cozy mystery, so I’m reading TY Fielden’s Died and Gone to Devon. I haven’t read any others in the series yet. I’m almost halfway through the book and they haven’t found the first murder victim yet…

    29. emzmoo*

      Pretty fluffy sci-fi rec would be The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers! Not muuuuch plot to speak of, very character driven. Chosen family feels. And sequels if you like it. (:

    30. ronda*

      for sci fiction and fantasy. Lois McMaster Bujold is my favorite. She has several series and does both science fiction and fantasy.

      I am not sure light and fluffy describes them, but I do find a lot of humor in them.

      1. LunaLena*

        Seconding this, I read the entire Vorkosigan Saga in the last few months (finished Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen in August), and I loved her writing. It felt really different from male sci-fi writers’ works and had much different perspectives.

        I also absolutely adore Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s fantasy works. I tend to re-read their books (along with Agatha Christie mysteries) in between reading new books, as a sort of palette-cleanser. Currently re-reading Appointment with Death, and will probably re-read Gaiman’s The Sandman: Overture next.

        For light and fluffy, if you’re open to comic books, I recently finished both the manga and anime series Cells at Work, which is an imagining of how the human body works if our cells were people. The anime (which is on Netflix) focuses mostly on a directionally-challenged Red Blood Cell and a homicidal White Blood Cell as they try to keep their human healthy through bacterial infections, cedar allergies, heat stroke, and other common afflictions, while the manga has chapters on a lot of other cell processes (mitosis, acne, etc). It’s pretty funny and light and actually fairly accurate with the science – both my husband and I have backgrounds in health sciences and found it enjoyable and educational. There are two series, the original and Cells at Work: Code Black, the latter of which I haven’t read yet. The difference is that the original takes place in a relatively healthy human, whereas Code Black is set in a human with unhealthy habits.

    31. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I loved The Hands of the Emperor – Victoria Goddard. Light, fluffy, multi-cultural fantasy – I thoroughly recommend it :-)

  6. Home*

    Looking for advice on how to make my first place that is 100% mine feel like home. For context I just moved into a 1 bedroom apartment by myself and it’s the first place I have lived that didn’t involve roommates or family. I work from home so I got that space all figured out and visually using some book shelves and the chase lounge part of the couch made it clear the work and the relax part of my living room but I can’t figure out how to make the relax area feel like mine. How do I make it home? How long did it take you to get settled in a place for it to feel like home? Right now I still feel like it’s not mine, like I am going to have to move again or that it’s someone else’s place so I have to keep it at this state of always perfect. Any suggestions/ ideas/ personal experiences would be welcome.

    1. triceratops*

      this might be a weird suggestion, but I think cleaning regularly helped make my apartment (when I lived on my own) feel like mine. whenever I did I good clean of the counter tops or mopped the floor, I would always feel like YES THIS IS MY HOME and would flop onto the couch to watch tv… there’s something about taking care of something that instills feelings of pride and ownership…

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I do that — I like to wash the windows so I can watch the weather.
        I also feel more at home when i have my old favorites art somewhere—the watercolor from a family member, a poster from college, some family pics.

    2. Rosie*

      In my experience it just takes time! For the first 2 or 3 weeks a place still feels not-quite-like-home, but then it gets a bit more lived in and becomes yours. Congrats on the new place :)

    3. Not A Manager*

      A nice soft throw on the sofa, maybe a few small cushions that work with the sofa but don’t matchy-match. Good lighting. If you haven’t hung some art, get something that you like that’s actually framed – you can find lovely and unique items in resale shops. A few tchotchkes, but not too many, that are actually arranged and not just lined up in a row. Snacks.

    4. Clarita*

      I agree with triceratops about the cleaning… keeping the apartment at MY level of preferred cleanliness is amazing! Similarly, spreading my food out in the fridge and pantry (although I haven’t got much, shopping for one and all) has been fun… breaking the habit of condensing to one side after years of roommates has been harder than I thought!

      With decor, just go at the pace of finding things you like, not “decorating to decorate.” I’ve still kept it a bit spartan (because I do have to move again), but it took about two months of slow shopping to feel like the place is mine and mine alone. Have fun!!! :)

    5. LadyWhistledown*

      Yes! Free things that I love to do when I have a space entirely to myself:

      – Play music or podcasts at whatever volume I want
      – Walk around naked or in just a bath robe (close the curtains!)
      – Take up all the room in the fridge and pantry
      – Leave a dish in the sink
      – Leave my favorite pot on the stove
      – Watch my shows on the TV in the living room knowing I’ll be able to hear it perfectly
      – Indulge in any activities previously banned or otherwise frowned upon by roommates (see: leaving a dish in the sink above)
      – Savor going to bed and waking up to the same level of cleanliness
      – Shower whenever you want and completely own all of the bathroom real estate, especially around the sink
      – Leave your shoes right by the door
      – Park in the “good” parking spot
      – Light a candle with your favorite scent
      – Wreck the kitchen with a giant meal prep and don’t clean up until the next day

      Basically be the kind of person who roommates would find scandalous. It’s not forever, and I wouldn’t lean too heavily into the physical mess bits but they can be fun to savor as temporary acts of rebellion. Congrats on the new apartment!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes to all of this! The way I use my own space made a huge difference, beyond the physical layout. I savored storing leftovers in the same pot I cooked them in, getting dressed whenever I wanted, and not having to close doors to any rooms. Freedom!

    6. mreasy*

      Congratulations! Living alone in your own place is (in my opinion) one of life’s great pleasures. It will take some time to get used to it for sure, but meanwhile, decorate however you want, toss your jacket in the living room on your way in, try to treat the whole place like your bedroom for awhile. Agreed with everyone on cleaning – finally nobody else’s dishes will be in the sink! All the mess is yours, which makes cleaning less annoying.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      When I move to a new place, the thing that tips my feelings into the “home” category is pictures on the walls. Could be framed paintings, sticky-tacked posters, photo collage, whatever. Even with all my furniture arranged, a place doesn’t feel like mine until I’ve put something on the walls.

    8. Wrench Turner*

      Plants and art from people you care about – and especially your own if that’s your thing. Also making intentional, cohesive design choices like colors or shapes of things all around, so that wherever you look it fits with other places and it’s something that’s especially to your liking. I had a similar problem for a long time and it was really when I started putting some plants and art, and making intentional choices, not just whatever I dragged with me, that made it feel like mine.

      1. Overeducated*

        I really love homes with plants and I can’t keep them alive. It doesn’t help that the only places I can put them out of reach of toddlers don’t get much sunlight. Any tips on how to do better?

        1. the cat's ass*

          I gave up and got artificial trees and plants and thry just need a light dusting! No toddlers here, but my cats are totally uninterested, so it’s a win-win!

        2. Hlao-roo*

          I know someone with plant-hungry cats who keeps their plants in birdcages so the cats can’t get to them. It sounds a little strange in theory but looks really good in person. Birdcages could also work as toddler protection.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Grow lights. LED bulbs are cheap to run, and the 5000k white lights are all you need. And make sure you know how much water. ( I killed African violets and Christmas cactus for decades until I learned to never water them more than once a week max.)

        4. CSmithy*

          Get really easy plants. Money trees, chinese money plants, and radiator plants are the only plants I’ve ever kept alive, but I’ve kept them all alive for 3 years+ with very little care and not a ton of sun (thankfully the cat eventually got bored of them). :)

          1. Lady Glittersparkles*

            Oof, I got a money tree for the first time this summer and it’s currently almost dead. No clue what I’m doing wrong there. Succulents are the only type of plant I can reliably keep alive.

    9. Kathenus*

      For me it’s totally wall art – I love a lot of color, nature-related photos/prints/paintings – so one of the first things I’ve done when I’ve moved in the past is to put up art in the living room area where I spend the most time.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s a function of time mostly.
      Cleaning it does help familiarize with the place.
      Usually I had at least one thing about the new place I thought was adorable. I’d let myself think about how adorable that one thing was. Ex. In one place I had an 8′ x 12′ window. I turned it into a little greenhouse type area because it got the southern sun. I had fun with all kinds of plants. Find ways to maximize the points you like. It helped me to think about the fact that not every place has x feature and I could enjoy the feature while I was living there.

    11. Chaordic One*

      It took me quite a while to make my current apartment feel like home. The thing that really made it difficult was the lack of storage. I solved that problem by buying two large white storage cabinets. One for the bathroom, which is used as linen closet, and one for the kitchen, which is used as pantry. The other cabinets in the kitchen are all full of dishes and pots and pans. And I really don’t have that many dishes or pots and pans.

      I also bought some cheap bookshelves (because I have too many books), a display cabinet for some of my doll collection, and artwork for the walls. I ended up buying prints of well-known artwork I admire, but I like it.

    12. fposte*

      For me putting stuff on the walls–stuff that is mine, mine, mine–is key. It’s resetting the landscape.

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

      When i was first creating my own home away from family and roommates I had a bunch of hand-me-down or thrift shop items and nothing matched; and I was very conditioned not to get rid of things people had given me…it felt rude and wasteful…even if I hated the stuff or didn’t need it (ie. thanks for the beautiful king-sized quilt that could keep me warm in Wisconsin winter…but I live in Los Angeles). So for me, I finally claimed “my space” by getting rid of cast-off or unused stuff that felt like other people inhabited my apartment.

    14. MJ*

      I like to find one new object that I fall in love with to add to the space.

      Whether it is framed art for the wall, a vase, plant, coffee table book, small piece of furniture, kitchen gadget, table runner, candle sticks, knick knacks, something that catches my eye, etc. It doesn’t have to be large or expensive, just MINE, bought (or found) by ME, for MY space. Something that isn’t a hand-me-down, and totally suits my taste – not what someone else likes, or thinks I need/will like.

    15. Chauncy Gardener*

      Agree with all of the wonderful suggestions above. Would like to add: maybe some holiday/seasonal themed decorations that you really LOVE and are in keeping with your whole vibe? That always makes me feel like YES! this is really, really mine.

    16. Virginia Plain*

      Is it rented or can you paint? When I bought my first flat, I started decorating by painting the bits of wall in a little hallway mostly taken up with doors, a very very bright colour that brought joy to my heart. I declared that it didn’t matter if nobody else liked it it; I did, it was my flat and I would do what I wanted!

      With decorating in general it is very liberating not to have to please anyone else. I had coloured skirting boards in my living room (quite subtle; imagine a light sage colour with the walls painted a very pale green, or Wedgwood blue woodwork with cream walls) – my mum Could Not Cope with skirting boards not being white, but she had to shut up and get over it eventually.

  7. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    The joys can be big too- “Little Joys” just has a bit more whimsy.

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had a hard week emotionally but taking it one step at a time and knowing little steps are progress too is mine.

    Also Band Booster Turkey Dinner on Sunday. Always happy to give back to one of the programs that helped shape me into a teachable adult. The food is great too.

    1. StellaBella*

      I saw a friend who was recently married, that I had not seen since August. Also I had a cupcake.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      My mom in her 90s is having physical and cognitive challenges and often forgets our conversations. But having just had cataract surgery, I’m loving that she calls repeatedly to share how excited she is to be able to see well.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m super sick this week and my partner 100% has my back. I can’t begin to say what that means to me!

      Also: we started the annual “what presents should we give this year” conversation and we basically knocked out the hardest people in one go. That has never happened before!

    4. Clarita*

      A first grade student of mine gifted me a bear coloring sheet, which is now on my fridge.

      And I had an unexpected/unplanned phone call with my university-aged brother, which was so nice, because between a sizable time zone difference and busy lives, normally calls require a bit of coordination and we can go a month or two only texting memes back and forth.

      Lastly, and this is a big joy… due to COVID, I haven’t seen my immediate family since August 2020, and my extended family since August 2019, but I just bought plane tickets to visit my hometown for the holidays!!!

    5. German Girl*

      Had a private ballet class and worked on port des bras, artistry and pirouettes. It was sooo much fun.

    6. Somewhere in Texas*

      I’m getting to spend a few weeks with my parents before moving far away from them (again).

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yesterday when I was out for a walk, I came across a lady playing with a 3-month-old puppy in her front yard. I asked if I could say hi, and she said yes please, she’s fostering the puppy so the more folks puppy meets the better, so I got a couple minutes of frantic puppy wiggles and cuddles :) Then I got home and my own puppy (in the all-dogs-are-puppies sense, she’s 7) climbed into my lap to snuggle for most of the evening too.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I wondered about that, but she’s also just generally a snuggly dog, especially when the weather gets cold :) She’s currently wedged behind me in the chair, curled up into my kidneys.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I talked on the phone to my daughter while she attempted to make custard for the first time. We agreed it was very Great British Bake-Off.

    9. allathian*

      My son used the oven all by himself to cook a frozen pizza. I supervised, but he switched it on, opened the oven, put in the cooking tray, and when it was done, he did all of it in reverse with confidence, and without burning himself.

      Our microwave is on the counter rather than on a shelf, so he’s been reheating stuff in it since he was old enough to reach it safely. But this was his first time using the oven.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I went to see Eternals yesterday. It was okay, not as good as Shang-Chi, but I found myself absorbed and enjoying it. Once again, I was alone in the theater! Friday morning at 11 am seems to be the sweet spot. So I could go, “Ah ha ha!” and “Nooooo!” as loud as I wanted to, haha.

      I do wish there was an Alamo Drafthouse here. No ads and a quiet rule, although the latter wasn’t an issue since I had the theater to myself.

      1. allathian*

        Ooh, that was cool. I’m looking forward to both of them. Finally got to watch Black Widow (streamed), although we have a movie room with a projector, and a 100 in silver screen and a 7.1 sound system, so it was almost like being at the movies. We did go and see Dune a few weeks ago at the movies (masked while queuing up and going to our seats, masks off once seated, it was an enjoyable experience).

    11. AnonAgain*

      There was a shredding and E-cycling event at work. Could bring in things from home, most accepted for free. All data securely destroyed. The many things I brought in included two PalmPilots. Loved them and was so sad when smartphones took their place.

    12. GoryDetails*

      I got to participate in the World of Warcraft promotion via a trackable travel-tag for geocaching: I signed up for the random drawing for free travel tags, got one of the “Thrall” ones (he’s an orc-shaman-leader), trotted it around to caches in a couple of states before dropping it off again, and am now hoping that the Thrall tags will win the global-mileage race (though they’re lagging behind at present – maybe I shouldn’t have dropped my tag in a puzzle cache {wry grin}). [For interested parties, there’s a map showing the current locations of all the promotion’s trackable tags that are in caches; folks who didn’t win a free tag can find wild ones and move them along.]

    13. the cat's ass*

      My flu was just that, the flu. I’m COVID negative.
      The cats are all getting along.
      My daughter’s birthday is coming up and we are looking forward to celebrating!

    14. Chaordic One*

      I managed to find some packages of Starbucks Fall Blend coffee on sale for half price in the clearance aisle of my supermarket. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if hadn’t been on sale, and it was excellent.

    15. Aneurin*

      I got to meet and have cuddles with a friend’s baby! It was really lovely to see my friend again, and the baby was super chill and happy to sit on my lap, and chew on my fingers – she’s just on the edge of teething at the moment. :D

    16. Oddity*

      I finished my first watercolour painting. It’s not impressive at all, I’ve copied a screenshot of a video game I like and the colours are pretty simple. But, I did actually do something creative for the first time in months!

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      Generally I’m a tea drinker but I bought myself a one-cup coffee maker since I’ve been craving coffee in the morning. I really enjoy it and I bought myself a cute coffee mug for $1.50 in Target that says “Witches’ Brew” on it that I brew my coffee in.

    18. Last Daughter Standing*

      I’m on a weight loss journey, and hit the 65 lb mark this week! Nearing the halfway point, which will require bells, whistles, and balloons!

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        Awesome! Congratulations to you for your hard work and dedication!
        Bells, whistles and balloons standing by

    19. beep beep*

      I have my first vacation that I booked for myself- not to do anything with family or friends, just for me- this week :) I ordered myself breakfast and hung my new shower curtain and I just feel…free to let myself have my small joys. It’s so nice!

    20. slmrlln*

      I took a bath in the morning! Occasionally I take baths at night to relax and fall asleep more quickly, but it feels special to have a slow morning and start the day relaxed.

    21. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I colored my hair! I used Arctic Fox’s wrath from Sally’s. It turned out a bit more deep maroon than red, but it’s still pretty. The only comment I got from my boss was a laugh and “you and your hair!” So, thankfully, I don’t have to change it, lol. Once it fades, I may try bleaching my hair and trying again for the red color that it looks to be rather than the deep maroon I got, but I’m not sure I’m that brave!

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sunlight through the brilliantly red Japanese maple. A flock of Eastern bluebirds busily finding supper in the raked leaves. Geraniums blooming in the house. Getting an oil delivery ahead of our first solid freeze. Getting the leaves raked and gutters cleaned ahead of a wicked thunderstorm.

    23. Might Be Spam*

      This could have gone in the gardening thread, but I have a great feeling of accomplishment.

      Someone offered a strawberry plant for free on the Nextdoor app. It was bit of a drive, but where else would I find one this time of year? I forgot about the clock change and it was really dark. I didn’t find out my phone wasn’t working until I got in the car, but I knew the address and figured it wouldn’t be hard to find. Apparently, I don’t know the area as well as I thought I did and there are a lot of winding roads and streets that don’t go through all the way. It was hard to find house numbers and when I found the place it turned out to be a duplex and I couldn’t figure out which doorbell to use and the porch lights were turned off and it was pretty late. My phone wasn’t working so I couldn’t call them. By this point I was really frustrated and gave up.

      After I got home I texted them and decided to give it another try today. By now it was a Challenge. Phone still not working so I studied Google maps (it gave me different directions this time which were simpler. ????)

      Finally got to the right place today. VICTORY is MINE. The strawberry plant was already potted in a nice pot so I don’t have to repot it. They also gave me some nice plant stands and a nice long spouted watering can that I didn’t realize I needed.

    24. SpellingBee*

      I got to spent the whole day with my sister yesterday, just the two of us. We don’t live too far apart and see each other fairly regularly, but due to one thing and another we hadn’t been able to get together for over a month, so this was a real pick-me-up for both of us. We had lunch out, went to our favorite nursery and bought plants, laughed like loons over silly things, and just had a lovely day. Today I spent a couple of hours outside doing some garden clean-up, moving a few things around and planting my new stuff. It was cool but sunny, a brilliant fall day.

  8. Private Investigator Rosa Diaz*

    So this week, through total coincidence, I found out I have (probable auto-immunie type 1) diabetes. On Tuesday I was fine (I have no symptoms) and on Wednesday I had to go into the ER. I am home now with my gear and my insulin and still a bit… not disbelieving because I know I have it and I know it is for life but manageable. But… I don’t know… I was fine on Tuesday!! Now at 32 I have a chronic illness. It still feels like a joke or like a play. I was relieved to be going home from hospital but now I am scared to forget something or fuck up. And the diet part of it is… very dispriting (as I have two jobs, a toddler and no partner and kind of let healthy eating slide in favor of “eaten is better than healthy”. I don’t know how I will find the time, money, or headspace).

    Anyone here been in a similar boat? Where do I go from here?

    Also, any low carb, high volume meals, or no carb snacks you can recommend. I hate raw veggies…

    1. Not A Manager*

      Cook the veggies! I can’t eat a lot of raw veggies for other reasons. Ratatouille is delicious and I think pretty low carb. So are things like cream soups (cauliflower cheese is delicious and filling, and so is something like fish chowder). Obviously broth-based soups can have no carbs at all, and they’re lower fat. I do find them filling, but not stick-to-your ribs if you know what I mean.

      I like to lightly steam or par boil veggies like broccoli or green beans, and then dip them in my favorite dip or dressing. They taste much better to me than raw veggies.

      Maybe check out some recipes for keto diets? I’m not a dietician, but I thought the whole point of that diet is that it’s super low carb.

    2. Kuododi*

      I’ve found a number of low ingredient recipes for no bake homemade protein bites. (Usually just 3-4 ingredients. Dump, stir, form into balls or press onto cookie sheet to make protein bars. Refrigerate until solid.). I’d suggest a Google search for “no-bake protein bites” and see what happens. Also, batch cooking will become your new best friend going forward. (As an example, I will oftentimes, make either a pan of veggie stir fry to have on hand as leftovers. I can pair it with brown rice, turn it into a brown rice veggies stir fry, pair it with a protein of my choice. Options are pretty limitless. )

      I find many commercially made protein snacks to be a source of a great deal of “hidden sugar.”. Additionally, they typically have a weird chemical aftertaste.

      I’ve had excellent success with finding quality information regarding living as a diabetic from the American Diabetes Association.

      The most critical thing for me is to remind myself regularly I deserve and am worth taking the time to make the health positive choices. After all, if you don’t take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health how can you be your best self to care for your beautiful child? I wish you nothing but the best as you step out to greet your future. Please let me know if I can help with any type of support while you are making these life adjustments.


      1. Double A*

        Minimalist Baker has a lot of good recipes for those protein bites. They’re really easy to make and my 3 year old also likes them, and likes to help me make them.

      2. Private Investigator Rosa Diaz*

        Thank you so much for your last paragraph. It really struck a chord and I will keep that in mind.

    3. Venus*

      Is there a diabetes group near you? I know someone who joined the local one here and was overwhelmed in a very good way with how helpful they have been.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      I’m also on a low carb diet for the rest of my life for medical reasons. I can’t even eat a whole fruit anymore, ugh. Look into paleo or keto recipes. Those saved me. I like the recipes by Minimalist Baker.

      Breakfast is probably the hardest meal to deal with because most breakfast food is carbs. Find some things you can batch cook.

    5. Llellayena*

      Roasted veggies! They end up in easy snackable bite-size bits, and the roasting softens them and gives them a bit more flavor. Roasted carrots also tend to caramelize a bit so they taste sweet like candy. Also, I’m not diabetic so I don’t know if the diet allows, but cheese? Like cheese and apple, cream cheese and cucumber (add smoked salmon if you can afford and like), cheese sticks?

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I have several T1 diabetes people in my family, including my spouse , father, MIL, and a nephew. It gets easier as time goes on. The key is to count your carbs, check glucose levels frequently, and learn to adjust your insulin according to your daily physical activity and food intake (as well as adjusting your activity and food to your insulin). After nearly 30 years as the family meal planner and preparer, I’ve gotten to the point where I can calculate the nutritional value of a plate of food at a glance. As a side bonus, the rest of the family has grown up eating a healthier diet. (I won’t cook twice. Everyone gets low carb nutrition-dense meals.) I would also recommend the American Diabetes Association’s website for information. They were very helpful when I had to learn everything at the beginning.

      1. WellRed*

        I was thinking the other day how much I miss getting my Diabetes Forecast mag every month. The website is good though.

      2. Shannon*

        I was recently diagnosed (T2 but diet recommendation is similar) and have been pleasantly surprised at how good the ADA website is. They have a bazillion recipes!

        My snack recommendations: string cheese and nuts have been recommended in this thread and I’ll second those. I like homemade granola with Greek yogurt for “I need to eat but food, blah” times. (I’d I make it I can omit things that don’t sit well with me.) I have also found the keto/paleo stuff to be interesting and helpful.

        Good luck! <3

    7. fposte*

      Well, surprise! Sorry it was a crappy one. On a very different note than other suggestions, you might enjoy Ed Gamble’s comedy special Blood Sugar, which is on Amazon. He’s a British comedian who does a lot of eating-related media (he’s going to be a judge on The Great British Menu, and he has a food-based podcast), and he’s very clear about how he balances that with his diabetes. Plus, Blood Sugar is just really funny.

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      Don’t underestimate snacks! Keeping stuff like low fat string cheese and apples or pears in the house can help when you’re on the run. Just toss it in your bag and you’re good to go. They even make peanut butter in individual servings, so more shelf stable than string cheese. Eat like your toddler, so to speak. Protein snacks are ideal in combo with a carb since it helps your blood sugar to stabilize.

      Also keep something like glucose tablets or a sugary snack/drink in the house. I grew up with a mom who was type 1 diabetic (diagnosed at 29) and we kept orange juice in the house to get her blood sugar up if it dropped. Signs can include dizziness, irritability, sweating and a few other things.

      Be glad you caught it in time!

    9. anonforthis*

      Sort of…I recently found out I’m hypoglycemic. As diabetes runs in my family, I’m afraid it might develop into that if I’m not careful. I’m currently on a low carb, weight loss diet set by my dietician. It’s been working really well and I will be sticking to it in the long run.

      I don’t have a specific recipe to recommend, but whatever I make, I make sure I have the following ratio of portions: 2 cups of veggies, 1 cup protein, and 1/2 cup carbs. Obviously, run your recommended portions by a healthcare expert, but following this rule of thumb has been pretty straightforward for me.

    10. Invisible Fish*

      I can’t provide exactly the type of info you were asking for but … there’s the potential for people in your life to see you making changes to best suit your needs, and they may think they have something to say about it. They don’t. Tell them to hush. I’ve had to do that. (“Yes, I must stop now and eat ___. No, it can’t wait. No. No.”)

      You’re competent and capable, and if you’ve got what it takes to wrangle a toddler, then you’ve got what it takes to set yourself up for healthy living in a way that works for you.

    11. VermilionOwl*

      I would check to see if there are any support groups available locally or online.

      I would also recommend checking in with your primary care doctor. They might be able to connect you to a diabetic educator or nutritionist who could help you personalize the general advice to your life. Eventually you might want to ask your doctor about technological solutions like continuous glucose monitors or insulin pumps. Good luck!

    12. Last Daughter Standing*

      Talk to your endocrinologist about getting an insulin pump! This made all the difference for me. I was diagnosed in 1994, and went on a pump for the first time in 2008. What a difference! And so easy to manage. Also, if you can get a Continuous Glucose Monitor you will save yourself multiple finger sticks a day. I use a T-Slim Pump with Control IQ, and have that paired with a Dexcom G6 CGM. The Dexcom is linked to the pump through Bluetooth so that I get immediate alerts if my glucose is too high or too low. I’ve never in my life been in better control.

      And if you don’t have an endo yet, get one! This is not a disease to be managed by your PCP, no matter how wonderful they may be.

      Best of luck to you.

    13. Jamie Starr*

      My ex (of 8 years) had T1 and we lived together so I got a fair amount of experience learning about it. Shortly after we started dating I bought “Type 1 Diabetes for Dummies” and that helped me a lot. I wanted to make sure I understood the basics so I could help them if/when needed. They also had an insulin pump. Like Last Daughter Standing said, it made a huge different for my ex. So much easier than having to do injections multiple times a day. They had had T1 for ~ 12+ years by the time we met, so they also could basically just *know* how much of a bolus to give themselves when they ate.

      This may be an unpopular opinion, but you can still eat what you want… you are going to have to take insulin no matter what! Not like T2 where your body is still making insulin. I would get annoyed with my friends who would make comments about ex eating ice cream. It didn’t matter whether they ate ice cream or salad – they still had to take insulin! Ex *always* started the day with eggs — high protein, low carbs. Peanut butter is good – it has a lot of sugar but also protein.

      Now, I’m not saying you should ignore your doctor’s advice, or not try to eat healthily. The point I’m making is don’t stress about it if you’re not perfect with your diet. It will get more manageable with time.

      Final tips
      1. buy some glucose tabs (you can get them at CVS or Walgreens) and carry them in your purse in case you are out somewhere and suddenly realize your sugar is low. I always carried a pack with me and they came in handy several times with the ex.
      2. at some point your sugar will be low – possibly dangerously low. This is very scary for the people around you. Even though your toddler is young, try to teach them the basics of what to do in that situation (e.g. get you a glass of orange juice, a glucose tab, call 911 if you are unresponsive, etc.)

    14. Girasol*

      Nuts make good snacks, with some protein and a good bit of fat to fill you up but not many carbs. We love cashews, and here where we can get hazelnuts in bulk we toast them and they’re yummy.

    15. Call me St. Vincent*

      I am so sorry! I found out at 36 that I have a chronic and progressive illness (not diabetes) and it really sucks. I know the feeling of being fine one day and then the next realizing that you have a serious lifelong illness to manage. Sending you good vibes and hope you know that you are not alone! I did have gestational diabetes though. When I had gestational diabetes, the hospital hooked me up with a diabetes nurse educator who was AMAZING. Gave me help with diet and meal planning and just generally was so helpful. If you haven’t already found one, your endocrinologists office (when you get one if you haven’t already!). My favorite meal was one cup of protein spaghetti mixed with cooked ground turkey and pasta sauce. Super high protein and fiber, fairly low carb and filling.

    16. Silver*

      I was dx’d at 19. You’ve got this. If your insurance covers it, a CGM is your best friend. It will read your blood sugar for you so you don’t have to poke your fingers. It can also connect to your phone and send you notifications if you go high or low. Look into it!
      As far as eating – cheese and eggs are great and filling. Green salads with bell peppers and cucumbers are great. Not sure if you count those as raw veg but they can be very pleasingly dressed up with olive oil, salt and pepper. Avocados are good. Nuts are good.
      As far as things to avoid – pizza is REALLY hard to appropriately dose for. This goes for anything high in both fat and carbs.

      1. Kuododi*

        I’ve been on the Dexcom CGM for a few years now. In the beginning, I had a number of issues with Tech support as well as customer service. (Long story!!!) I do believe the company has successfully addressed my concerns in those areas and I continue to use the product without difficulty.

        For me, the ability to get 24/7 information not only helps improve my overall perspective on my diabetes but enables me to research trends in my blood sugar levels.

        Best wishes

    17. Squirrel Nutkin*

      You can buy pasta that is made from chickpeas/lentils/beans, and it shouldn’t affect your blood sugar quite as much as regular pasta, though you still may have to watch portion sizes.

    18. Pennyworth*

      My friend is pre-diabetic and uses cauliflower a lot in her cooking to replace carbs – she makes a savory cauliflower cake which is delicious and could be cut into snack sized pieces (recipe by Yottam Ottolenghi, easy to find on online), cauliflower ‘rice’ and pizza crust. The other thing she does is just leave out the carb components of recipes – tray bakes with chicken and vegetables but no potato, for example.

    19. Juneybug*

      Allow yourself some time to grieve this massive life change. When I found out I had celiac disease, all the stages of grief involved. I was already going to a counselor for anxiety so I was able to talk to someone about my health diagnose.
      Wish you the best as you deal with the new chapter in your life!

      1. Blomma*

        Seconding this advice. I was diagnosed with my major chronic illnesses as a kid but have added a few more now in my early 30s. The grief relating to all of my issues is…immense. Do what you need to do to take care of your mental and emotional health.

  9. Don't want to shake hands*

    Since the pandemic, I just don’t want to start shaking hands again. I’m vaxxed to the max, so I’m not super worried about getting COVID from touching another human. But almost 2 years of not shaking hands makes resuming it feel weird, and I’m more aware than I used to be of fomite transmission of germs in general.

    Currently I sort of awkwardly try to avoid handshakes, and when I can’t avoid them, I use hand san shortly after which I’m sure makes me look less than gracious.

    I’d love to try some of the things people have suggested when one has a religious objection to handshakes. Something like placing a hand over the heart and making a little bow, or clasping ones hands in front of one’s midsection and bending slightly. Something to graciously acknowledge the other person without the handshake. But both of those feel somewhat appropriational, and also really affected.

    Any suggestions other than just saying, “I’m avoiding handshakes right now, I’m sure you understand?” People do understand, mostly, but they also feel weird and judged because they offered their hand in a totally sincere and normal manner, and I’d like a kinder approach.

    (P.S. I still remember offering my hand in good faith to someone whose faith prohibited touching someone of the opposite gender, and feeling so bewildered when he just “overlooked” it while shaking my husband’s hand. I really would like to avoid this.)

    1. WS*

      Keep your hands to yourself – clasped together or a hand on your heart, giving a slight bow, so there’s no offering and awkwardness.

      1. JB*

        I agree. Hands close to body, polite head bow. A smile.
        Add a quick explanation in situations you feel the extra step is: “I don’t shake hands but it’s lovely to meet you.”

        The point is to make it natural and quickly convey respect, friendliness. I bet, for most instances, it becomes seamless after a short while.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I don’t bow to anyone, but I’ll do a very quick, very small acknowledgement nod. Almost all my clothes have pockets, so that’s where i keep my hands.

    2. aarti*

      Hand on your heart. Very slight bow if you want to be extra respectful. Make your voice warm and friendly “it’s so nice to meet you.”

      My former boss was a Muslim woman who wouldn’t shake hands with men and that’s what she did. It seemed to go over well

    3. We need a way forward eventually*

      Can I gently suggest that while it’s totally fine to have and exercise a personal preference that’s a bit outside the norm, relearning how to be part of a society after prolonged isolation is going to be an important part of COVID recovery. Developing a personal protocol to build a habit of not participating in a social greeting has risks to it. Our brains think how we train them to think, and part of feeling safer is acting like things are safer.

      I understand that you might not be in a position right now where you ARE safer, and you might want to continue being cautious for the moment, but that’s not how you framed the question. Basically, do you, but understand the risks of acting as though it’s too dangerous to shake hands in perpetuity.

      1. lobsterbot*

        Nah, this is a perfect time, when everything is so disrupted already, to make a change you might not have realized you wanted before. Handshaking is, by many measures, weird and gross, and can have competitive (that aggressive squeeze) or sexist factors. This is a great time to realize you want to opt out.

        1. Peasblossom*

          This is a pretty extreme response. I don’t know all of OP’s reasons for wanting to pass on a handshake, but the reality is that part of why they’re struggling to find a gracious way to opt out is that handshakes are an everyday part of being sociable for a large section of people in western cultures. If OP wants to opt out, that’s their choice, but it’s worth recognizing that even the kindest approaches will read as unusual and/or affected to many people. (And I think OP is right to want to avoid certain gestures not a part of their culture because it feels appropriative. I think one of the reasons it does is that is because the OP can opt in when convenient and opt out when there’s real social risk.)

          1. A.J.*

            I’m sure at this moment in time, there’s at least an equal number of people who feel like OP does and would be uncomfortable with people trying to shake their hands. Not sure why the feelings of the people who want to act like the pandemic is over should get priority here.

      2. Workerbee*

        I think it’s a great time to continue to retrain our brains so we don’t just accept things because they’ve been around for X number of years. And that includes training ourselves to stop, think, and understand why someone may not want to do the same X we want them to do. I see this as our world expanding beyond our backyards.

        1. Lovey*

          Agreed. I’ve taken a certain “ew” approach to shaking hands in the way that, even pre-covid, I stopped holding public door handles without a tissue, began pressing elevator buttons with my knuckle, and using toilet seat covers in public restrooms.

          I think it’s just good hygiene. But it’s interesting that some consider going back to handshakes as a social “must.” Weird.

          1. banoffee pie*

            It’s particularly bad in sport. If you go to a tennis club or whatever and swap partners all night, you can easily end up shaking hands with 20 or more ppl at the end of matches. It’s just a lot of risk of catching even a cold or flu for very little gain. We’re all just bashing rackets now which is hard on the rackets but easier on my immune system. I hope we never go back lol

      3. PT*

        I’d like to point out that there is currently a very enormous disparity in the level of COVID safety within the US. Some states are at 80% of adults fully vaxxed and some are still under 50%.

        Those of you who are privileged enough to live in one of the states or cities that gets a Gold Star for Following Public Health guidelines, and are able to start thinking about it being safe enough to start returning to normal, that is fantastic for you. But you need to realize that millions of people aren’t that lucky, and they might be spending their days surrounded by people who insist those basic safety guidelines are unnecessary, or worse, are some sort of conspiracy and lash out violently at people who do want to protect themselves.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My mother had terrible arthritis, and she would have loved the opportunity shaking hands. I remember one executive who shook my hand so hard he made me yelp and I DON’T have arthritis.
        And I’ve had people offer to shake hands right after they wiped the back of their hand across their snuffly nose.
        I’m looking for a new tradition too.

        1. allathian*

          My SIL is a Lutheran preacher. Women preachers have been ordained here since the early 1980s, but some people still refuse to accept them as “real” preachers. She has to shake hands a lot in her job, and once a few years ago someone shook her hand so hard that he *fractured her metacarpals*. She wore a sling and shook hands left-handed for at least 6 months.

    4. Flower necklace*

      Elbow bump? I’ve been offered an elbow a few times, and the message I get from that is, “I’m being friendly but also don’t want to shake hands because we’re still in a pandemic.”

      1. Pennyworth*

        I’m not a fan of elbow bumping because you have to get close to do it. If I think someone is expecting to shake hands I just say that Covid has made me nervous about shaking hands right now.

    5. Choggy*

      Ugh, I hate shaking hands. I am sure I grimaced a bit when a furniture sales person shook my hand when concluding our sale (which I had successfully avoided upon initial meeting) and it was cold and moist. Pretty much ran to my car to lather on the hand sanitizer. My hands can also be kind of dry and chapped so it goes both ways. I opt now to avoid it altogether and speak up if I see someone going in for the shake.

        1. banoffee pie*

          I read somewhere Leonard Nimoy thought of it himself, based on Jewish religious ceremonies. I always thought the writers invented it. I’d love it if it caught on in society.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      I would just keep my hands in a neutral position (folded together at the waist, casually clasped in front of you – whatever feels natural to you, but also signals “I am intentionally keeping my hands to myself”) and verbalize it, briefly and matter-of-factly, but congenially. “I don’t shake hands, but it’s very nice to meet you.”

      Personally – and this is my own comfort level – I would skip the slight bow unless it was a particularly formal meeting, like a receiving line or I was being introduced to a VIP.

      1. WellRed*

        I would be pretty surprised to have someone bow to me. I would not think twice about someone saying “no handshakes for me.”

    7. Reba*

      In situations where there are several people around, such that everyone is sort of standing in a little circle, I just stay where I am and do a quick wave/smile. Usually (at least for me) you would have to take a step or two forward to shake hands with someone, and I just don’t take a step and it seems pretty clear. I don’t think I’ve been in like a 1-on-1 hand shaking scenario anytime recently, though.

      Anyhow, this is one of those things that I think as as awkward as you make it.

      If you are bouncing around like “ehhhhh what do I do, where do I put my hands” that will come across as “ok, they are weird about this!” Whereas if it’s quick breezy and friendly, things will just move on and people probably won’t even remember!

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Try offering your fist and saying in a friendly tone,”Fist bump!” It’s worth a shot.
      There are people with arthritis who can’t tolerate handshakes. I wonder what they do to avoid them.

      1. Mstr*

        I’m always puzzled by solutions that suggest alternative forms of touching. I think the point is not to touch? I don’t want to fist bump or touch elbows anymore than I want to shake hands, and think both those options are just as (if not more) awkward than not touching at all.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Me too – in fact I usually stand further away from people than in the before times, so generally out of traditional handshaking range.

    9. Texan in exile on her phone*

      I was so shocked yesterday when I met my mom’s pathologist neighbor – she reached for my hand and shook it. Then her husband grabbed my hand.

      “I’m vaxxed and boosted,” I offered.

      “So are we but we don’t care about that!” he said.

      And yet I do.

      I need to practice not shaking hands. I didn’t even know anyone did that anymore. Anyone rational, I mean.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If a pathologist trusts the vaccine and knows they are low risk, I wouldn’t consider that irrational.

        1. Texan in exile on her phone*

          I really didn’t appreciate someone I’d never met before and whose vax status was unknown to me grabbing my hand.

    10. Invisible Fish*

      Can I just say how sorry I am for my husband? We’re in the south, and here men just automatically shake hands all the dang time, and he hates it. I usually stay where I am when the round of hand shaking starts, give a little wave as I say hi, then clasp my hands together in front of my abdomen- people quickly realize I’m not shaking hands.

    11. Maggie*

      I’d rather someone just say “oh I’m not a hand shaker” than do a specialty bow or put their hands on their heart. If someone doesn’t wanna shake hands, no worries but bowing and stuff isn’t common where we are so people might not know what to do and I honestly think it’s more awkward

    12. No hand shakes*

      I enthusiastically elbow bump/offer my elbow.
      I think this works for me partly because I am very clear in my head that that is what I do now, and I don’t give much mental space to worrying about it coming off weird. I kinda just take the lead when someone is coming in for a handshake and warmly offer my elbow.
      I am also doing it most often when I am working as a bagpiper, so I already stand out a bit and setting the tone for this temporary interaction.
      I was already doing elbow bumps at work pre-pandemic, as I worked in a sewage plant lab. It would come up when it made sense to shake but I was gloved up and dirty. So it was something that was already comfortably in my physical vocabulary.

      1. Sq ueakrasw*

        This is a fascinating thread for me. I live in San Francisco and I have to say most business people here have abandoned the handshake. In fact, I teach business communication, and I warn my students if they go to job interviews don’t be the first person to offer your hand as it’s really becoming out of fashion.

      2. Squeakrad*

        This is a fascinating thread for me. I live in San Francisco and I have to say most business people here have abandoned the handshake. In fact, I teach business communication, and I warn my students if they go to job interviews don’t be the first person to offer your hand as it’s really becoming out of fashion.

      3. Lilith*

        I realize that droplets aren’t the same as handshaking when it comes to transmission of Covid, but my kid who’s fully vaxxed came down with Covid. So no more shaking of hands or breathing around her. I guess my point is, you just don’t know how ‘healthy’ anyone is who is vaxxed. Granted she’s not old enough to get the booster but this came as quite a surprise.

      4. Mstr*

        Just an additional perspective — some of us don’t want to touch elbows. It requires standing closer to you than a handshake & we’re also being taught to cover a cough or sneeze by doing it into our elbows so to then bump elbows seems gross.

    13. Retired Prof*

      I don’t shake hands because I have a collagen disorder that means most of my joints have been injured and that includes my hands – I am have to be defensive of my hands if I want to stay functional in the world. So I just nod at people, keep my hands in my pockets, and say in a friendly tone, “Sorry, I can’t shake hands but it’s good to meet/see you.” That’s it, and people usually just nod back and it’s no big deal. I suggest “can’t shake hands” rather than “don’t shake hands” because then people don’t question it.

    14. Rich or Poor...*

      I’m not in a position to have to shake hands very much at all, but can I just say — I’m thrilled that it’s now socially acceptable to wear a mask while traveling and out in public? I can avoid ‘regular’ germs now.

    15. Where There Never Was a Hat*

      Here’s what I do. When someone extends their hand for a handshake, I say, “I don’t like shaking hands, but it’s nice to meet you.” I keep my tone of voice, body language, and facial expression friendly, (though I’m likely to be masked when meeting someone for the first time, I think a smile is audible in one’s voice, and visible in one’s eyes). This seems to work very well.

  10. Dating-question*

    Last weekend I asked ya’ll what your deal breakers were in relationships. And what an amazing pile of comments you left!

    This week I’m wondering what your “deal-makers” or green flags are when early days dating. What things should I look for that are good markers of a healthy relationship?

    1. Isashani*

      My deal-makers:
      Things are easier together.
      I feel like a better/smarter person with them.
      I feel like I’m making them happier/better.

      I’m a very assertive woman and being made to feel desirable and feminine without having to ‘dial down’ my personality is huge. But i also couldn’t be with a man who expects to be mothered.

      I’m happily married to an (emotionally) intelligent man who feels quite secure in his gentle masculinity and is both assertive and a great listener.
      He’s also a truly great dad with our infant, which I couldn’t have predicted a decade ago, but I’m thrilled ( I guess that’s a deal maker too : being regularly pleasantly surprise).

      1. Isashani*

        I realize I come from a position of privilege because I didn’t even think to type this out at first :
        – never being afraid of him
        -never being afraid to break up (as in : being confident that even the “worst” version of him will be someone I could respect. And not fearing he’d hurt himself or something like that).

        1. RagingADHD*

          It’s a sad thing that “not physically or emotionally abusive” even needs to be stated, but here we are.

      2. allathian*

        Your deal-makers sound a lot like mine.

        I’d also add that I enjoy being truly accepted for who I am, and that I can truly let my guard down with him.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      He has a job and pays his own bills, preferably with a side of having lived on his own (by which I mean not with his parents) successfully for a while. (You’d think these should be obvious, but I am dumb and married unemployed mama’s boys who pretty much moved straight from mom’s house to living with me TWICE, more fool me. :-P )

      He doesn’t make me feel dumb for not always getting the funny in mainstream comedy, because I won’t. And he tolerates, if not outright appreciates, my love for dumb dad jokes, mixed metaphors and groaner puns.

      I started to put in more examples but – in short, I am not a very easy person to be friends with, and even harder to be in a relationship with, by nature of partly my particular flavor of ND brain chemistry and partly legit personality quirks that I don’t intend to change, so in general I appreciate when people don’t make me feel like a job or something they have to put up with.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Two things I think are wildly underrated in a partner are a sense of perspective and adaptability. They’re not immediately sexy, but they’re the things that will get you through the unexpected parts. Someone who is kind and considerate even when there is no benefit in it for them is also a good thing.

      For me personally, one thing I looked for was someone who could take care of themselves – I had no intention of stepping into a Mommy role for a fully grown adult, and wanted an egalitarian division of household stuff. Plus someone even keeled, because unpredictable moods stress me out.

      1. Washi*

        Agreed with all of this! I was going to say that one thing I love about my husband is that he can stay calm and kind even when things are going wrong, and I think that comes down to perspective and adaptability. Life is so much less stressful knowing I don’t have to worry about his reaction in addition to whatever difficult thing is happening.

        1. Juneybug*

          Scene: Ex-husband shows up at pool hall where I am currently on first date with new guy (who later becomes current husband). It was my ex’s weekend to have our two young kids. Ex says that he had a stressful week and needed to let off some steam so he found a babysitter (I had no idea who was that person) and showed up at the pool hall.

          Current hubby reacted in a calm manner to ensure that my ex-husband was ok (no emergencies) and the kids were ok (again, no emergencies). Because it was awkward playing pool as my ex glared at me, we left to a 24 hour restaurant for coffee and pie. We talked for hours.

          Later, I told my girlfriend that I am going to marry this man because he’s a drama-free adult. Twenty-six years later, that man is my rock.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I don’t bow to anyone, but I’ll do a very quick, very small acknowledgement nod. Almost all my clothes have pockets, so that’s where i keep my hands.

    4. StellaBella*

      Great threads last week and now. Thank you.

      Here are a few.

      1. Is kind and not agro and treats service people and animals and kids well. Makes me laugh. Likes humour like Eddie Izzard.
      2. Is mostly healthy meaning not a lot of junk food but also not obsessed for 3 hrs a day in the gym.
      3. Has a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world. Likes learning new things. Reads (books). Likes to travel and try new foods.
      4. Agree with Isashani, makes things easier together when together.
      5. Knows how to do laundry, clean house, fix minor things.
      6. Does not require a mother, wants a partner and has lived on their own.
      7. Is good with money but not stingy either.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      He messed up–jumped out and grabbed me from behind thinking “ha ha” while I thought “freeze with terror” (we were 18)–and listened to why this wasn’t good and apologized and didn’t do anything similar again.

      1. Daffodilly*

        I was totally about to say “handles it well when they make mistakes”
        I think the willingness to learn and adapt to how I like to be treated is huge.

    6. Angstrom*

      – Adversity brings you together instead of pushing you apart.
      If something goes wrong — picnic gets rained out, concert is cancelled, car breaks down, etc. — do you work together to solve the problem and laugh about it afterward? Or is there sniping and complaining and blame?
      – You’re comfortable being silent together. Can you sit in the same room and both read without the silence feeling awkward or tense?
      – Offers to help, but isn’t pushy about it. Is quick with a “Would you like help with that?”, will take direction, respects your “No thanks, I’ve got this”.
      – Reserves judgement. Will say things like “I’ve never seen someone do it that way” instead of “You’re doing that wrong.”
      – Polite and kind. Treats everyone with the respect they deserve. Thanks people.

    7. Nicotena*

      Others have said, able to share silence comfortably – to me, this is a marker that something’s really working (but doesn’t happen right away and that’s fine). I’ll add seems to genuinely enjoy conversations (with me at least) – some people don’t really like to talk just to talk, which is fine, but doesn’t work for me in a partner. I love conversation and some people really click, make you glow and feel smart and heard and add good insights – others, I stammer and blush and feel like they’re wishing I would Shut Up and Stop Overthinking Everything. I mostly try to notice how I feel about myself when I’m with people. Sometimes, even though it’s not their fault, I don’t feel good about how I’m coming across, and that’s a dealbreaker. Also with friends.

    8. Wrench Turner*

      Listening. Not just hearing but actually actively listening. Should be so basic, and yet…
      Active participation. Not just going along with whatever dates I had in mind but planning your own.
      Being open about big things. Talk about marriage and children right away. You want it or you don’t. It’s ok!
      Being comfortable hearing about previous relationships and why they were important or impactful.
      Being cool with children, pets and service people (waiters, bartenders, electricians, drivers, etc). Don’t have to actively like them but be cool.

    9. fueled by coffee*

      When we argue, there’s no name-calling or ad hominem attacks. Afterwards, we’re able to make up, apologize, and move on without holding grudges or being weird or passive aggressive about it. (Also: is willing to argue, and not just avoid the issue or insist he’s right!)

      Seconding all of the “able to take care of himself” comments.

      Has an outlook on the world that is kind to others and understands how systems affect individuals. I live in a major metro area, so I pay close attention to how potential partners discuss crime, poverty, etc.

      Is not a Republican.

    10. Bibliothecarial*

      Ooh, I have one: treats people well when he/she/they have nothing to gain from the people.

      Ex. 1 (red flag): a friend of mine had a new gentleman caller. The three of us hung out one day and the guy completely ignored me, even when I addressed comments to him. Jerk. He didn’t last long.

      Contrast the green flag, my long time partner: when we first met, I was care taking for an elderly relative. Partner invested time and effort into getting to know the relative and helping them out with things. (With full consent of elderly relative, who is sharp as a tack and can spot people who are trying to take advantage of them – it was because Partner genuinely wanted to know the people who are important to me.). Partner also treats service people, children, homeless people, and others kindly and as fellow humans. Partner is a good egg. Be like Partner.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Yeah great point. More people than you would think only bother with ppl if there’s something in it for them. And they don’t even seem to mind if it’s obvious. If someone is naturally nice to everybody and isn’t looking to gain some advantage from it, that’s a great sign about them.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      It feels easy. Like I’m not constantly second-guessing them/myself, trying to read into what their messages mean etc. Essentially, no game-playing.

      Also, kindness (particularly how they treat people in a ‘lower’ position to them, like wait staff or bartenders) and generosity (I don’t want you to pay for everything and I accept that people have budgets, but I also actively dislike stinginess). And being able to manage your own time/responsibilities well – we’ve all got busy lives but if you’re an adult then it’s on you to ensure your work gets done in time to meet up when you said you will, but then go home at a sensible time if you know you’ve got plans the next day so you won’t oversleep, for instance.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Intellectual curiosity. It’s one of my favorite non-romantic things about my husband. I want to be with someone who likes to learn new things, try new things, who’s interested in the world and people around them, and who isn’t afraid to replace old/outdated knowledge with new.

      In a similar vein, being able to really understand and accept that not everyone has had the same life experiences or thinks the same way about things. I see a shocking number of adults who don’t really grasp this.

    13. No Tribble At All*

      This one is a bit tragic, but: a few months after we started dating (in college), Mr. Tribble’s parents called to tell him it was time to let go of their elderly cat. They’d had the cat since Mr Tribble was a kid and the cat was a kitten, and everyone knew that cat was his best friend, but the cat was also 17 yrs old and hadn’t been doing well for a while. Well, he just started sobbing in front of me. He was a little embarrassed but I said I could tell how much love he has in his heart. And it’s true, he’s a very loving guy. So as sad as it was, his reaction to a beloved cat really showed how caring he is.

      PS we adopted kittens together and he is absolutely 100% the dad who spoils them

    14. Wishing You Well*

      My deal makers are he is respectful of everyone, regardless of status and he is very supportive of me.
      Thank God, I still have him.

    15. HannahS*

      Things that were green flags about my husband:

      1. He had friends. He put in work to maintain his friendships. The friendships included emotional intimacy.

      2. He was good at taking care of himself. He took good care of his possessions and apartment.

      3. He was deliberate and introspective. He could articulate why he chose his profession. He could tell me what he wanted out of life and a relationship.

      4. He respected me.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I read a while ago that one of the ways love is expressed is by showing concern for the loved ones close to you. In other words, “I care about the people who care about YOU.” So watching how he treats mine and watching how mine react to him are big for me.

      My husband said a similar thing because he said he was impressed that I had relationships with family type people for most of my life. I was surprised/pleased that he noticed.

      I also watch how they react to small things. I read a cool thing somewhere that said, “Watch how a person reacts to a tangled cord of Christmas tree lights.” I shared this comment with a person in my life and she bragged (???) that when she dealt with xmas lights her family cleared the room. hmmm. Yes, this was absolutely a sign of bigger problems. (Okay, so a person knows tangled lights are super irritating to them, so what do they do to PREVENT further tangles and further irritation? Do they try to resolve their own upset?)

      Willingness to forgive and willingness to see a perspective that is not their own.

      1. Jackalope*

        Hah! Tangent, but when I was younger I worked at a place with a huge holiday set (we’re talking ACRES here), and one of my jobs was dealing with the lights. HOURS every week spent dealing with lights. So in my household everyone knows that taking down and putting away the lights is my job; no one else wants it, anyway, and I have a method that keeps them from getting tangled. (For those who are interested, rubber band each set of 10-20 lights depending on your preference together after folding that set together [hard to explain, but the lights tend to do a zig zag pattern so just make them do that and then put the rubber band around the cord in the center of the zig zag]. They stay super organized and you can have a whole box of lights thrown together with NO TANGLES.) So much less stress!

        1. banoffee pie*

          Untangling the Christmas tree lights could start a fight between the most laid-back people in the world. I actively dread it every year lol

      2. PrincessB*

        I love the ‘green flags’ term. My husband’s green flags: 1) he will change his mind with new information- he didn’t have to be right. 2) is protective of kids 3) walks the talk on charity, even when no one is watching 4) we can be goofy and laugh together 5) listens

    17. anonforthis*

      Looking forward to reading this thread!

      I sort of alluded to this in the last thread, but a green flag for me is they appreciate my “core competencies”, aka my strengths/the things I value. They are also supportive of the things I like and aspire to. Obviously, this also needs to be the case the other way around.

      Other green flags:

      I feel energized/interested when talking to them

      I want to be around them/seek their company (this may sound obvious, but I have a history of dating guys I realize I didn’t actually like being around)

    18. RagingADHD*

      They make you sincerely belly laugh. Ugly-snorting-crying-pee your pants laugh.

      You enjoy each other’s company, romantic or not.

      They are a good teammate/partner in practical or fun things, like playing a game or making a project.

      You look forward to seeing them and miss them when you part. If you feel things are moving a bit fast and need more alone time, they can adjust without having a major crisis or making their attachment style your problem to solve. That’s true of other things too – they tell you how they feel or ask you for help, but they don’t make their internal stuff your responsibility.

      As things progress, you can talk to each other deeply and sincerely about values and things that matter to you. It’s a 2-way conversation. Your values are parallel where they aren’t exactly the same.

      You both feel like you’re a better person due to the other’s influence.

      They can give -and receive- an apology graciously, and let that be the end of it.

      You can both say things you like or don’t like without it being an issue. When you say no to something you don’t need a big justification or get pushback.

      They demonstrate attentiveness and consideration for your (reasonable) needs and preferences.

      Their needs and boundaries are clear, reasonable, and consistent. No need to be psychic, play guessing games, or tie yourself in knots.

      Disagreements are uncommon, and even when they become emotional the discussion remains respectful and productive.

      Expressing affection is easy and mutual.

      You are generally happier and your life is better in multiple ways because they are in it. You’re getting more out of life and contributing more to the world together than separately.

    19. Invisible Fish*

      I expect to be spoiled, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I don’t mean with gifts or items or tangible things- I mean with consideration and attention paid to who I am and what I need. If I’m exhausted, then my statement of “I’m going to nap” should be met with “Do you want me to check on you at a certain time? Think you’ll want dinner when you’ll get up?” And not because I can’t take care of myself or expects someone else to do it!! Just an awareness of “this person who is important to me isn’t 100% – I will try to help.” (This is a two way street. When my partner said he didn’t feel well this week, I came home with a car full of everything I thought might make him feel better and put him to bed.) Life can grind you down, so it’s important to have someone spoil you a bit while you recover.

    20. Daffodilly*

      – Can change their mind when presented with new info
      – Cares about others even when it doesn’t benefit him
      – Can disagree and discuss hard things without it being a fight
      – Willing to apologize as needed (and not “I’m sorry that you…” but a real heartfelt “I screwed up, I understand why it was a mistake, I’ll work on not doing it again.”)
      – Values me and my goals and ambitions as much as his own. Isn’t looking for a good woman to be behind the great man he believes himself to be.

    21. The teapots are on fire*

      His friends are kind and welcoming, while also watching you to see if you’re good enough for him because they love him and want him to be happy.
      If he messes up, he apologizes and asks sincerely what you would like him to do differently next time.
      He genuinely laughs at your jokes.
      His jokes are funny to you.

    22. Colette*

      I think it’s important to be with someone who is a functional adult without having someone else tell them what to do – I.e. pays their own bills, books their own appointments, notices what needs doing and does it without being asked.

      1. Jackalope*

        That’s a big deal. One of the benefits of meeting my husband when we were both in our late 30s was already knowing how to adult separately. We’ve divided some of the labor for ease but we are both competent in All The Things.

    23. Call me St. Vincent*

      Things should feel easy and fun in the beginning of a relationship. If it doesn’t feel that way, it’s not going to get better. While it’s true relationships and marriages take work, the beginning of the relationship should NOT take work. Personally, I am a love at first sight person but only because that’s what it was like when I met my husband! Not everyone has that, but I think it’s about that electric energy that you feel when you’re with them. You should really really like them! Before I met my husband, I would try to make things fit and force it with someone and try to imagine how we could make it work, but when I met my husband, none of that stuff mattered. All I cared about was when I could see him again!

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is so true. A long-term, committed relationship takes work because life is full of ups and downs.

        A brand new shiny romance that might have potential should be easy.

    24. MeepMeep*

      Here’s when I knew the woman I was dating was the one I would marry. When a friend of mine was in the hospital, I had to cancel a date to go visit my friend. My girlfriend’s first reaction was to offer to make some freezer meals for this friend – someone whom she’d never met.

      To put it more briefly – kindness.

      And yes, I married her. We just celebrated our 6th anniversary.

    25. NancyDrew*

      It should be easy right away. It should feel comfy.

      I know women who were in couples counseling within the third month of their relationship (so, when they were just dating) because things were so “hard” — like, just break up! It’s not supposed to be hard yet!

    26. Squirrel Nutkin*

      –If male, secure enough not to have to prove how masculine they are — when I see I guy wearing a pink or lavender shirt, it’s a good sign. Actually, for any gender, not too hung up on how to perform that gender according to societally assigned roles.
      –Kind to people they don’t even know. Kind not to get anything out of being kind, but just because that’s the way they interact with the world.
      –Respectful of any boundaries I may happen to set, without nagging at me to try to change my mind or trying to go around my wishes.
      –Good at explaining what they want or need in a matter-of-fact way, and being open to hear what I want or need in a matter-of-fact way.
      –Friends or friendly with at least a couple of exes.
      –Hangs around with nice friends and is willing to introduce me to them at some point.
      –Able to say they’ve made a mistake without its being a big thing. Able to be compassionate when I make a mistake without its being a big thing.
      –Responsible — do they help clean up after parties? My panties are hitting the floor.

    27. Retired Prof*

      I got engaged to my husband three weeks after our first date, married three months later, and that was 41 years ago. I knew right away because he was the kindest person I was ever involved with, and a nurturer from our first date. He does things to make my life easier and values the things I like about myself – and I value the things he likes about himself. There are lots of interests we diverge on, but we have some core things that are really important to us that we enjoy together (like we are both big outdoors people). We were both brought up Catholic but left the church, and that gives us a common moral/ethical framework. We both like to laugh but hate mean humor. Really the ultimate test for me is – does your partner act like they are lucky to have you? And do you do the same? Does the relationship bring you energy and joy? Are you both better people because of it? Then you’ve got a keeper.

    28. Squishy*

      Some commenters have touched on this indirectly: this person has an independently satisfying social life outside of your relationship, with people who leave a good impression on you. They desire to bring you into their existing social circles, but you’re not the only source of emotional intimacy and friendship for them.

      This is true for all the best relationships I know in my life!

    29. Green Beans*

      I didn’t necessarily do this intentionally at first, but I have only slept with people who have taken a soft no really, really well first and it’s something I intend to continue. If they push back or argue against a soft no, I end the interaction. (It would be the same if they pushed back against a hard no, but I always try a soft one really early on if I’m interested in someone.)

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? For those participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope it is going well!
    As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    Still on my calm project for busy times, which is going quite well! It’s definitely one of those projects that really lends itself well to writing 15 minutes a day.

    1. Maryn B.*

      I have a new beta reader who may be onboard for a three-book series that’s complete. Book One has been beta read and is quite clean, so I suggested she read it as if it were for pleasure, so she’ll know what’s what when she starts Book Two, if she chooses to. Yesterday she worked alone in the lab for eight hours and read Book One aloud to the rats she was monitoring. Apparently they were indifferent, but she’s really enjoying it. Man, rats just don’t appreciate good writing, you know?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Not doing it; too much stress going on.

      I’m trying to get into my headspace for Book 3. Job-hunting stuff keeps intruding. It’s super annoying. I don’t want this to take as long as the others did, but the situation is killing my creativity.

    3. HBJ*

      NaNo is going great! I’m at over 27k, which is a solid three days ahead. I haven’t done this well since the last time I won, so I’m super happy! And I think I have enough plot left, too. That’s always the big concern – running out of plot long before I hit 50k.

  12. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    For the Animal Crossing players: how’s the update holding up now that it’s been a week?
    If anyone has started Shin Megami Tensei V, how are you liking it?
    Still mostly Stardew Valley for me. One day I’ll get that boat finished.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Oh, and as usual, this is not limited to video games, feel free to talk about any games you want including board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely-remembered game.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am loving a water sort puzzle game on my phone – the type where you move the bits around until all the colors are sorted into their own tube? It doesn’t have a timer, or a score, or a limit on the reset button, and extra undo options are easily available, so it’s super no pressure and I can just zone out and pour virtual colored water back and forth in beakers. I love it.

      1. Oddity*

        That game is so addictive I had to put a timer on it. So satisfying when you finally finish all the test tubes!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m into the level 3400s, and I let myself do five at a time. I’m gonna be so bummed if I ever run out.

    3. lobsterbot*

      I’ve mostly been enjoying the new Niantic game based on the Pikmin Nintendo game. Very chill, mostly a walking app with cute critters. Unfortunately it eats battery and messes up other things on the phone.

      1. Merle Grey*

        The Pikmin are so cute! It hasn’t messed up other things on my old phone, and the battery wasn’t lasting long anyway. But it has helped me get my teen outside.

    4. The Dogman*

      I have been tired this week, so mostly energy management games like Creeper World 3 (1 and 2 are fun too, but 3 is best) as they are challenging (if you want to be challenged, plenty of easy maps and modes too) but not intense, you can give orders while paused and play at variable speeds so, for me, they are great when a bit zonked out.

      But I have still been playing Dawn of War 1 Ultimate Apocalypse Mod, did it as the Space Marines and now bashing away with the Eldar. Next faction I try will be the Necrons I think.

      “Shin Megami Tensei V” Not only have I not tried it I have never heard of it? What sort of game is that? (I am aware I could google it, but that is not a conversation…)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you’ve heard of Persona, Shin Megami Tensei is the parent series for Persona (and SMT is strictly speaking a spin-off of Megami Tensei). Basically they’re JRPGs in which the Apocalypse is triggered and you use demons (used in the older sense of the word, denoting any supernatural creatures including literal angels(though don’t tell them that – they resent being lumped in with the rest)) to basically try to survive. Your actions also determine what kind of world will be born from the ashes of the one that just got destroyed. The three possibilities are Law, Neutral and Chaos: Law is a world without conflict but also without free will (aligned with God/YHVH*), Chaos is a world with radical free will and as a result very violent (aligned with Lucifer), and Neutral has you tell both of them where they can stick it and creating a world without either of them in charge (though I remember at least one game in which Lucifer mentions that ultimately this whole cycle begins anew so everyone will just try again). Basically, all your options aren’t great and the games themselves usually don’t judge you on whatever path you choose, though the fandom tends to have its own opinions as to what endings are “good” or not.

        *Very few beings actually refer to him as YHVH, with most calling him God or “the Lord”.

        1. The Dogman*

          Ahh sounds like the same basic concept as the Jedi Knights RPGs and some others.

          Not sure I will try that, those RPGs can take up way too much time for me! ;)

          I have a habit of trying to “complete” all side missions and such before much character progress missions… this takes ages…

    5. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      Still playing Pinball Wizard. I make the daily top ten list every now and again. Also Words With Friends.

    6. SparklingBlue*

      I’m counting down the days to Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl–am mostly excited about the revamped Super Contests, but it will be nice to reunite with my old team from the original Diamond, and see what else is new.

    7. DistantAudacity*

      The Animal Crossing update is great! I bought the expansion pack, and am now designing many many vacation homes. Hadn’t really played for 8-9 months before the update.

      Also love the fact that it’s now easy to get all the variations to the items in your catalogue (yay blue-striped lighthouse!). I’m not sure how all of that has affected the unofficial economy around the game, though – I made my game-currency millions and haven’t delved into that for a long time.

    8. twocents*

      I’m about halfway through Atelier Lydie & Suelle, which is the last of the Mysterious trilogy. So far, I think it’s the best part of the trilogy, feeling a little less aimless than the previous two, but the vast amount of characters sometimes gets in the way of the gameplay. Pros and cons.

      My steelbook version of Shin Megami Tensei arrived yesterday! So my plan is to jump into that after I finish Atelier.

    9. LGC*

      I have got to force myself to get started on Stardew Valley! Maybe not before the Pearl remake, though. (Sword ate a month of my time, and then of all things Snap ate a couple of weeks.)

      The 2.0 update is niiiiice. I’m pretty sure Katrina is the reason my photo wall is complete. (Thanks for soul bonding me to O’Hare!) So it’s held up pretty well for me. Cooking is what I’ve been most obsessed with, although I’m trying to figure out how to get sugarcane in the northern hemisphere without getting the DLC.

  13. Bobina*

    Plant/Garden/Living things that arent animals thread: How goes it?

    I planted a bunch of bulbs last weekend – I shall have many crocuses in the spring if all goes well, along with some Scilla which should bring some life to January.

    Found some plant pots that someone was giving away which was perfect timing as I’ve got a few more bulbs to plant for late spring, and I think I’m done for this year!

    But the bulb Instagram I follow (Farmer Gracy) posted about Nerines which flower in November, so now I’m already thinking about those for next year. The quest to have year round flowers and colour continues :D

    1. Sleepless*

      I’m about to finish planting tulip bulbs. I also moved a bunch of daffodil bulbs temporarily to my front yard last fall. They normally grow in the woods behind my house, but I had to spray the area with Ortho Ground Clear to get rid of some invasive plants, and I dug up all the daffodils first in case the spray damaged them. That led to something nice I could do for my mother. She had daffodils that she had gotten from my grandmother’s house, but she didn’t have time to dig them up and bring them with her when she moved. Most of mine had come from her! So, it turned out that my bulbs were in dire need of being divided, and I divided them up and gave her a bunch of them.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      My garden is in full swing! With the heat gone the peppers are producing like crazy. The tiny bok choy is ready for harvest (some already flowered). The radishes and lettuces are ready for thinning and I can start using the kale/cauliflower/broccoli leaves. I tried to plant the big garden so it was sorta decorative – but one of the sprinklers flipped over on week two and blasted seeds everywhere. If I have time this weekend I’ll replant the blasted spots: maybe with more tiny bok choy or radishes, since they’re so fast.

      The kittens my friend suckered me into are ready for homes, so I’m actively trying to schlep them off on good friends and neighbors. I’d totally keep them all if I were the only decision maker in the house, lol.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      On one hand it’s kind of sad to see that 3/4 of the plants on our property -a fruiting tree, most of the grass- was completely destroyed by major plumbing work that needed done. On the other, we’re excited to look up native wildflowers, new garden beds and more that we’ve always wanted to plant but the American Suburban Lawn was in the way.

      1. fposte*

        That’s one of the things about gardening, isn’t it? Every failure is a new opportunity. I have a bed that’s never really worked and I’m making it a pollinator garden.

    4. Mister Lady*

      I put my garden to bed for the winter last weekend. Time for me to check out from it for a while, so that I can come back to it in January or March with fresh eyes and renewed excitement about seed catalogs! Happy to have several home-grown butternut squashes to cook in the coming months. Goal for next year is more flowers!

      Does anyone know about growing globe allium from seed? My mom saved me the seed heads from hers, and I shook and picked as many seeds out as I could…now what??

    5. GoryDetails*

      Had frost here, so outdoor gardening is over (though the cleanup is yet to be done). Took my bay plant indoors.

      My experiment in starting a Venus flytrap from seed is actually going better than I’d dared hope: I did use a heating element to keep the pot warm, and have two tiny seedlings now. (I think it took about a month, but I forgot to note the actual dates; the package said it could take up to three months for the seeds to germinate, so in that sense I came out ahead!) Next step is to wait ’til the seedlings are 3 inches high before removing the plastic dome permanently. And from there… um, apparently the plants have to be 3 years old before the traps can consume insects. Will they survive until then? Who knows!

      On the easier/quicker side, I’m firing up my Aerogarden with a lettuce assortment; nice fresh greens are lovely, and the light helps on dreary days. Got a second unit as well, a six-pod circular style, to use for herbs.

    6. fposte*

      I have finished the great bulb interring! 506 bulbs, broken up over 7 days. And it was just before the weather really got cold, so I couldn’t have timed it better.

      Then a friend gave me two amaryllis bulbs so I had plant those up inside. I *think* I’m done now.

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

      It was getting cold(er) here for a bit but now we’re back to 80+ degrees outside so most of my succulents probably tried to go dormant for the winter and now are sprouting uneven new growth and looking a bit shaggy. I hesitate to actually do much to them (pinch back or water) because who knows how long the heat will last. On a whim, I potted (in tiny plastic temporary pots) a bunch of pups and clippings late in the summer and to my surprise they have ALL rooted…and thrived…now I have more plants than i really want and no room to really put them in permanent pots. I’ll see if they survive the Los Angeles “winter” and then give them away in Spring.

    8. The Dogman*

      My Christmas Cacti/susses are FLOWERING ALREADY!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!111oneoneone!!!!!

      I love them, the flowers are so pretty and my kitchen would look weird without them along the big window, and this year one of the pinks is looking more purple, which is pretty cool. It is the one next to the white one so I wonder if some cross pollination going on.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      For the first time in decades, I’m doing some gardening. My long-term rental building in California has had weedy ornamentals in the front for years. They turn brown for months at a time and are a fire hazard, my landlord has no interest, and I finally had enough. I took advantage of the first rainstorm of the season creating soft ground and spent hours over a few days digging out hundreds of bulbs to clear an 8 x 4 space. Someone I connected with on NextDoor is generously donating her expertise to give me advice about creating an organic native plant garden, drought-tolerant and attractive to wildlife. I’m at the prep stage removing ancient cloth that someone put down forever ago, and learning about soil amendments, but it’s really fun already.

    10. Might Be Spam*

      My bedroom is now a plant hospital. I’m not planting outside because I plan to move in early spring and I want to bring as much as I can to my new place. I potted some pepper plants and tomatoes. Some of them didn’t survive so I’m going to try to germinate some of the seeds and see if I can get them to grow. A neighbor is giving me a strawberry plant this afternoon. My plants are all gifts from neighbors and will be a nice way to remember them when I move.

    11. Bluebell*

      I planted some milkweed seed this week, and harvested the seeds from my four o’clocks. I still have checkered fritillaria bulbs to plant. They look so cool!

    12. Dancing Otter*

      The trees outside my window are dropping their leaves, and I can see all the squirrel nests. Fortunately, Maintenance is reasonable about not running the leaf blowers too early in the morning. This is a close as I get to outdoor gardening or yard work.
      Before I moved to an apartment, it was so frustrating how the trees would hang onto most of their leaves until the week after the village stopped collecting yard waste. There were four huge maples on my property and a cottonwood next door. That’s a lot of leaves for a home compost pile.
      My aloe plant may not be getting enough light, but the windows are single paned – I don’t want it to get chilled. Would air temperature in the low 60’s hurt it?

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      First leaflet this morning on the African violets I’m trying to propagate from cuttings. 3 of 5 have rootlets; 2 have died. Next step is to find soil. I saw some in a local nursery in the summer but it’s not there now. I hate having to buy soil online, but it needs to be lighter than any soil I have, without being sand.
      The pictures I’ve found of them in the wild show a vining variety on a cliff face near a forest waterfall.

  14. Bobina*

    What new (or not done for a while) thing have you tried recently? How did it go?

    I tried making bread again for the first time in ages and it was a total disaster, but I didnt mind! It was just nice to try something new again, and I know what I did wrong so its not the end of the world. I just put in another attempt for this weekend, so we’ll see how it goes. In a way its been nice to try and fail at something with basically no consequences. I feel like its good to remember what that feels like sometimes.

    1. sagewhiz*

      Re bread: does the recipe use water? If so, do you have a water softener? I do, and started baking my own bread long before the covid surge. Cannot tell you how many loaves were a total disaster! Then a pro baker (ships nationally) clued me in that it was the tap water, to use bottled. He was right. But, have since changed recipes to one with milk. Search Excellent White Bread, I think it was in the NYTimes. (Hint: increase recipe by half & it makes two beautifully sized loaves baked in 9×5 pans.)

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I went to a bar just to hang out last for the first time since COVID. It was for a friend’s b-day. It was good. I don’t actually car for bars, but we sat outside at picnic tables and talked. I didn’t even get a drink.

      And I was late b/c of another commitment but I am so glad I went b/c I like her and wanted to show up for her b-day. Then just after 10 pm (after I was there 30 minutes) we went home which was also great because I was tired and wanted to be home.

      I’m glad I was able to show up for my friends b-day. Bar experience was as good as it could be. I did think walking up, I haven’t done this since Covid.

      In good news, while 30 US states have rising COVID numbers mine does not, our numbers are still dropping after a bad August, September, and early October.

    3. Sleepless*

      Went to church last Sunday for the first time in about two years. My religious feelings have…disentegrated a lot over the last 10 years, and I will never be a regular churchgoer again, but it was kind of nice to sit in a pretty sanctuary (I picked this one partly because it looked nice), sing hymns, and speak to people who seemed friendly.

      (A lady from the church dropped a visitor packet off at our house this week. Sweet of them, but my 21 year old son answered the door, wearing a profane T shirt and holding back our very unfriendly dog, so I hope we aren’t getting blacklisted even as we speak.)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      It would be so nice to do new things in a new place…*sigh*

      I’ve saved a bunch of recipes I’m eager to try when I can cook again. The only other thing was learning how to edit video, which was kind of fun (if frustrating at times).

    5. Girasol*

      Trimming a fruit tree. My husband is talented at trimming so he usually does it but he’s on crutches. I did it and not too badly, I think. I’m also pleased with myself for climbing onto the roof and checking the dryer vent for excess lint. I hate that awkward stretch to clamber on and off the ladder where it touches the roof.

    6. banoffee pie*

      I didn’t really ‘do’ this but I got kicked out of somewhere for the first time ever. It was r/guitar on reddit. I know it sounds stupid but I’m slightly upset. It’s so ridicuous, it’s because I warned a newbie not to mention this other subreddit no one’s allowed to mention for some reason. I was trying to help (to stop them getting banned) but since I mentioned it, I’m gone. It’s permanent, no appeals. Oh well. Never even been kicked out of pub or anything before.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As I just wrote in the gardening thread, I’m trying to grow cuttings from an African violet. A friend in another state has grown them for years but has such different climate & water that I’m mostly still on my own. Most importantly comma I haven’t killed the mother plant trimming leaves.

    8. Incessant Owlbears*

      I made low carb cinnamon rolls, but I forgot to add the coconut flour so the dough mixture was completely sloppy and impossible to work with. I corralled it into a rectangular shape on my Silpat with tools, then piped the cinnamon mixture on top with a piping bag, and managed to roll it into a very wet log. But I realized there was no way I could cut it and have the slices hold any sort of shape, so I just half-rolled, half-poured it into the pan (lined with parchment paper), flattened it out a bit, and baked it like that. So instead of cinnamon rolls, it was more like a flat cinnamon snake. I called it cinnamon roadkill.

      Surprisingly it tasted just fine! It’s hard to go wrong with something covered in cream cheese frosting.

  15. Somewhere in Texas*

    What is your favorite recipe to cook lately?

    Backstory: We’ve been living in a hotel for a few weeks and now I’m back at my parents’ place before we move across state. I want to do some cooking, but also want to branch out a bit!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      From Smitten Kitchen, stovetop chili.

      This came out in the pandemic, and is great for being a chili recipe with a short list of ingredients, mostly things you might have on your shelves. It’s delicious. I serve it with the pickled red onions, grated cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips. Most recently for my son’s sports team, and while teenage boys are their own eating category it’s nice as something for two (plus a lunch tomorrow) on a weeknight, for four with a big salad, or scaled up can feed a crowd.

      If you are into warm dinner salads (one dish, vegetable heavy meals) I have been into those lately and would provide some recipes.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      My impromptu oden. Daikon, fish cake, mushrooms, sweet potato, boiled in miso, mirin and soy sauce. Serve with kimchi and sweet chili saute tofu with sesame seeds for a full and delicious stew/soup thing.

    3. Pippa K*

      For the past year or so I’ve really liked making a particular fish stew (link in reply) that turns out well every time and is great for lunch the next day too. Sent the recipe to my dad, who doesn’t cook a lot but liked it so much that he freestyled some variations (a chicken version reportedly worked well) and now makes it for his buddies a couple of times a month. I stick with the fish version and love the aromatic fennel and orange with the slightly salty olives.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Ooh. I just got a new Dutch oven and have a frozen chicken on the freezer. I will make this. Thanks for the mention!

    4. Not A Manager*

      We’ve been getting a fish subscription box each month due to a suggestion I read on the weekend thread last year, so I’ve been making a variety of fish soups and stews. We really enjoy those.

      My recent fave is falafel waffles. They are quite easy, require only a food processor and a waffle iron, and freeze beautifully. I reheat them in a very hot oven, straight from the freezer.

    5. the cat's ass*

      corn chowdah! (that’s a funny Boston accent, sorry, it’s chowder).
      Spinach soup
      Miso soup
      Chicken soup.

      It’s soup season there at the cat’s ass residence!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Believe it or not, I can do this without a stove!

      When my sister visits, she’s been making this pasta dish she got out of some magazine (she couldn’t remember what). It’s pretty delicious. I’ll post it here:

      The Pasta Thing My Sister Makes

      1 package of the pasta shape of your choice (she uses orecchiette but bow ties would work well)
      2 packets Knorr Pesto sauce mix
      1 packet Johnsonville turkey sausage
      A veggie

      Cook sausage and set aside. Prepare pesto sauce according to package directions. Boil water and cook pasta until al dente. Add cooked turkey sausage and pesto sauce to pasta. Serve hot.

      While cooking, you can roast a veggie of your choice to go with it (green beans or carrots roasted with pecans work well). Optional: add peas or another veggie to the pasta.

      I tried it with frozen green beans roasted in the toaster oven, pasta I cooked in my NordicWare MultiPot (sadly discontinued!) in the microwave, and vegan sausage and jarred pesto from Aldi, if you want to use that instead of the Knorr stuff. I had to add extra olive oil because the pesto is a bit thick, but it was good. It reheats fairly well also.

    7. WellRed*

      I’ve begun trying out various comfort foods. My first meatloaf was last month. Tomorrow: Shepherds pie.

    8. Girasol*

      Icebox cake. I’ve always made it with just whipped cream and chocolate wafers, but I’ve been making it this summer with plain old graham crackers sandwiched together with chocolate pudding or apple filling or pumpkin filling and then slathered all over with whipped cream. Chocolate pudding and grahams and coffee-flavored whipped cream comes out like a poor man’s tiramisu. It’s a little messy but it’s fun because it’s almost impossible to do it wrong.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      Udon or ramen with tofu. I make this with some shortcuts like noodle packs and bagged coleslaw, but adding rough-chopped baby bok choy is great too. Drain, cube, and season the tofu. I season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and add minced garlic to the oil. Saute in olive oil til slightly browned. Add 5-6 cups water, 2-3 TB miso paste, and one or more of the seasoning packets from three udon or ramen noodle packs and bring to boil. Add a bag of coleslaw or pre-made chopped Asian salad mix and cook for ~5 min, then add the noodles and cook until they’re ready.

  16. computer woes*

    I’m having this weird issue: there are some websites that I don’t seem to access anymore, they just time out. This happens on any browsers, and in private mode. Yet, I can access them fine on my work computer or via VPN to work. I don’t remember changing my settings but checked them and nothing jumps at me as too tight, I’ve cleared my cached. I’ve disabled my adblocker for sites that I can’t access, still can’t access them. I’ve had anti-virus software since before this happened but am not sure what to look for there. What am I missing? These are regular sites, like my library’s site, a shopping site, not anything too out there. Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Saltedchocolatechip*

      Is anyone else using/in control of your wifi? I once had a landlord add parental locks for their kids and while the sites that got blocked for me made more sense (dating apps!) I wonder if some weird setting could be blocking them?

    2. Angstrom*

      3rd-party cookie blocker? A browser update may have changed some settings. Some sites won’t work unless they can get information from you — I enabled some of the new privacy features in iOS 15 and now I can’t get to any Facebook sites, even public ones, without logging in.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d give the library a call and ask them what are the common reasons that patrons find their website blocked.
      They probably have a list. I bet something on that list will also unblock other sites for you, too.

    4. The Dogman*

      “This happens on any browsers, and in private mode.”

      This is weird. There is not a lot of reason why this could occur across different browsers, basically only Antivirus and Firewalls can do this.

      If you use a free VPN to go to those sites does it work from your PC/laptop?

      And to sort it I will need more data…

      What browsers,

      What PC/laptop and What Operating System,

      What sites (just one or two examples),

      What AntiVirus and What Firewall.

      I suspect something got clicked or put on a red/warning list, possibly by others and your AV/FW is blocking those sites based on “suspicious activity” or something similar.

      Happy to help, need more info though!

    5. PT*

      Could it be Flash related? Adobe canceled Flash on December 31 and prompted many people to stop using it/uninstall it. I did at home. But perhaps these sites still use Flash, and your work didn’t uninstall it?

    6. Elle Woods*

      Do you have a wi-fi range extender (like TP-Link) by any chance? We had one in our house last winter and found that it interfered with our desktop computer’s ability to access certain sites (news sites, shopping sites, email, etc.). Once we unplugged the extender, the problem disappeared.

    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Are you on your own dedicated wi-fi, or is it a shared wi-fi router?

      If you are using your own dedicated wi-fi spot/router, did you password-protect it? If you didn’t, little Johnnie down the street could be tying it up playing online video games, or somebody could be downloading huge files on it.

      Are you still getting full signal (‘five bars”) on your router? And are you sure you”re connected to your OWN router?

  17. Falling Diphthong*

    I am reading and really enjoying The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, about a woman trapped in a library with books that represent all the different paths she might have chosen in her life. It’s about regret at paths not taken, and also that all of those paths had pain. It’s reminding me of other stories that conveyed this well–a short story by Ted Chiang in which every path chosen by a teenaged girl when she and a friend were about to get in trouble led to a future in which she felt great guilt about ruining her friend’s future. On TV, what I thought was going to be a theme of the final season of Lost (I was wrong) about how without the island messing in their lives for added drama some people were more content, and others on the same path. In recent books recommended here, The House on the Cerulean Sea had no alternate lives but did have small people deciding to make the effort to make things better.

    Interested in any reading (or watching) recommendations these might spark in people.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Have you read “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson? It follows a woman living her life over and over, a little bit differently each time. I highly recommend it.

      I hadn’t heard of “The Midnight Library” before. I’ll put it on my list!

    2. Workerbee*

      I just read Midnight Library a few weeks ago! I knew nothing of the author, but thought he must have had an experience that made him write this. I think I saw he has a non-fiction, spiritualistic book out that I’ll have to explore.

      Though it’s been years, this has sparked a remembrance of the Griffin & Sabine series by Nick Bantock, in some ways.

    3. It's Quarantime!*

      I also recommend The Midnight Library! I have listened to the audio book from my library, twice.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: she can live forever but the trade is that people forget her as soon as she’s out of sight. There’s a bigger plot surrounding this, but one of the most interesting things is how she lives her daily life (she can’t have a job but it’s really easy to steal, etc)

      The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: murder mystery where the person trying to solve it wakes up in a different person’s body every day and relives the same scenarios from different perspectives

    5. Forrest Rhodes*

      Don’t recall the title, but a favorite de Maupassant short story is along those lines: A young man kisses his sweetheart goodbye and leaves their small village to make his fortune, after which he will return and marry her.
      After a day or so, he comes to a triple fork in the road: he can take the left road, the center road, or the right road, or he can simply turn around and return to the village and his beloved.
      Each of the four parts of the story follows him as he makes one of those four choices, and we see how each would turn out.
      I first read it as a kid, re-read it often as I aged, and have never forgotten it—so you’d think I’d remember the title, too …

    6. Runner*

      I loved both the book and movie, “The Remains of the Day,” by Kazuo Ishiguro which the main characters sadly reflect on the paths they chose not to take.

      A book I liked was “Aquamarine,” by Carol Anshaw in which a 17-year old Olympic swimmer is seduced, and cheated out of a gold medal, by her rival at the 1968 Olympics. The book then tells the stories of 3 alternative lives she might have lived, but all of which have the same ending.

      If you can get past the fact that it was written and directed by Woody Allen (of all people), the movie, “Melinda and Melinda” is an interesting take on the concept, as is the movie, “Sliding Doors.”

    7. CJM*

      I thought of a TV series calling Being Erica as I read your post. I enjoyed it very much and plan to watch it again. I remember it as time travel, but one Google result is more specific that it’s about do-overs. It’s easy to imagine a perfect do-over … and easy to forget that it will include surprises and disappointments.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        I was just going to say Being Erica! I’ve watched it several times and enjoyed it for different reasons each time. It’s set in Canada! It’s on Hulu and Amazon Prime right now.

    8. Invisible Fish*

      Worth joining a book group over, do you think? I’m looking to join one, and I found one for which this is the next book.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. It’s a good balance of “I want to know what happens next” and “Hmm, that’s an interesting point.” It’s compelling to read and there’s stuff in there to debate.

        Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I hope this isn’t considered too work-related. Going down the rabbit hole of the parallel universe theory, there was an episode of the “Twilight Zone” TV show revival from 1985 titled, “But, Can She Type?,” where an overworked, underpaid and unappreciated secretary (played by the actress, Pam Dawber, right after Mork and Mindy was cancelled) is transported by a malfunctioning copying machine into a parallel universe where secretaries are treated with respect.

      I love the ending where she figures out that the copier transported her to and from the parallel universe and what she needs to do to get back to it. The episode is terribly dated, a bit cheesy, but still a bit fun and there’s an appearance by a young, pre-Star Trek TNG Jonathan Frakes.

    10. marvin the paranoid android*

      This description made me think of Jane, Unlimited, which I really enjoyed. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s about a young woman inside a mysterious manor house that contains multiple stories and possible timelines. It’s genre-y but beautifully written. If you liked The House on the Cerulean Sea, I think you’d like this too.

    11. Jamie Starr*

      I love the film Sliding Doors from the late 90s. It follows Gwyneth Paltrow’s character on two paths her life could take depending on whether or not she catches a train.

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      The novel In Five Years is sort of a twist on the theme in that the main character wakes up five years in a future she doesn’t recognize and then goes back to the present. Much of the book is about how that flash into the future haunts her present life. It’s kind of unexpected for me in many ways, too, about what one thinks are the constants in life.
      I feel like there have been a lot of “what if life…” books lately. i honestly liked Haig’s How to Stop Time better than The Midnight Library. I felt like it was more effective and less didactic in its exploration of life’s choices.
      Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrongs Today also looks delves into the idea of alternate lives and I found it a really beautiful book.

    13. Virginia Plain*

      The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is excellent.

      Or there’s the Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Tustin which is a bit weird I’ll be honest but is fascinating and along the lines you describe.

      1. Tofu Fan*

        I loved the Harry August book but didn’t care for Evelyn Hardcastle. Interesting premise but didn’t stick the landing.

    14. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I immediately thought about The View From Saturday, which is a kids’ book, but has a very meaty theme of people’s life paths bringing them together in unexpected ways. The Immortalists is about four siblings who find out how long they are going to live, and their life paths change (or not) because of it. It’s wonderful but a bit sad. And the movie Arrival is based on a story by Ted Chiang. I actually don’t want to explain how these themes relate to the movie but I think you’d enjoy it!

    15. I went outside*

      Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw. It’s an older book, but worth tracking down second hand. The stories of the possible futures of an Olympic athlete who just lost out for the gold medal. All the stories interconnect; each possible future informs and affects her other storylines. I thought it was a wonderful novel

    16. Felicia*

      Being Erica is a great series that is a very similar concept as the Midnight Library with the main character reliving her regrets to do whatever she thinks she should have done differently . It is multiple seasons and all great

  18. Constance Lloyd*

    I have a fairly low-stakes Thanksgiving question. My father in law has started dating for the first time since my mother in law passed away several years ago. He was only in his fifties, so while this is of course bittersweet, we’re just happy to see him happy. We will be meeting his new partner for the first time when they come to stay with us for a week at Thanksgiving. I usually go a little (read: very) overboard with food because it’s nice to be cooking for more than two people. Onto the question: New Partner loves to cook, any tips on sharing a very small kitchen with a stranger? I want her to feel incredibly welcomed, but I usually do that by becoming an ultra-host and I know doing that here will likely lead to her feeling pushed aside so I’m fighting my instincts on this one. I know there’s extra emotional baggage that comes with dating a widow/widower and I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable in any way. I’m most certainly overthinking it, but my spouse’s sibling isn’t ready to meet New Partner yet so I also want to counteract that by just being as warm and welcoming as possible and kitchen logistics are the only place where I feel out of my depth!

    1. Migrating Coconuts*

      Personally, I would just tell new partner this. How much you go into cooking overdrive when you have more than 2 people to cook for, how much you enjoy it. Then, tell new partner that you’d also like to include them wherever they feel comfortable and see if they have suggestions. Maybe they have a favorite dish, or dessert, that they could make separate from what you make. If they are actually in your house for an entire week, you could always split the cooking duties by day/meal, making sure the other person stays out of the kitchen on their off day/meal.

    2. WellRed*

      Do you have to let her share the kitchen? I can’t imagine wanting to do this as a guest especially if they are new in my life. Are you sure she wants to? If so, maybe she likes to cook big breakfasts or whatever so you could steer clear but be available. I’d also decided ahead of time how to handle cleanup so your stuff doesn’t get moved all around.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – the posted info sheet in my guest room flat out says I prefer other people not try to cook in my kitchen because I’m weird and territorial, so it would be clear that it’s not a her thing, it’s a me thing. (Does anyone else do that? Starting my own thread to not derail this one.)

      2. twocents*

        This. Loving to cook doesn’t mean that New Partner will want to spend her vacation time cooking in a stranger’s house. I’d make sure there’s a problem here first before jumping to solutions.

      3. Constance Lloyd*

        I do know for a fact she intends to cook one side for Thanksgiving, which seems very kind though slightly complicated from a logistical standpoint. I think I’ll leave it to her to bring up, then ask what she needs as far as bakeware and utensils are concerned and use that as a transition into showing her around the few cupboards we have and ironing out the details.

        This may sound awful, because she is of course a competent adult, but I used to nanny a 6 year old who liked to bake and I think if I can channel that same patience/tolerance for a bit of chaos, it’ll be fine. Thanks, everyone, for chiming in :)

    3. Kathenus*

      If you really want to let her have cooking time I’d suggest agreeing in advance – let her know that you love cooking and are happy to do so and let everyone else take a break from the kitchen – but that if she has a particular dish(es) she is dying to make agree who is making what and how the cooking can be scheduled due to the small size.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Maybe use the shared love of cooking as a conversation starter. Sharing ideas and memories about cooking, rather than cooking space.

    5. Somewhere in Texas*

      Maybe ask her to bring a few things. (Perhaps some appetizers and/or desserts) She can showcase her skills and feel included. Definitely love the idea of specifying that it’s a small kitchen and you go a little extra.

      Possibly have a few things in the back of your mind that she can do if other family members aren’t welcoming and she comes to the kitchen for comfort/something to do. Possible chopping certain things, settling the table, mixing things. Just things to give her a space to decompress a stressful situation.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Having been in this situation, I usually find myself biting my tongue a lot. I focus my energy on washing the dishes and pots and pans afterwards and putting everything back where it belongs.

    7. fposte*

      I agree with everybody–there’s no reason why you’d need to let her into the kitchen to be hospitable, and that would be an unlikely expectation from her as a guest, so it would be surprising if she felt pushed aside merely because you cooked in your own home. You might invite her to bring something premade if she seems to be leaning in that direction, but I wouldn’t have her in the kitchen and wouldn’t think of it as anything exclusionary.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, she might be very happy with the role of the second fiddle- meaning she may volunteer to help do dishes or help set the table. Accept the help, turning it down might be the wrong answer.
        You can also think about tasks where the two of you are not on top of each other but still both of you are working.

    8. The Dogman*

      Could you arrange a phone call with her so you can ask her what ingredients she prefers to use if she wants to cook?

      That way you can say that she is welcome to cook in your kitchen, or to help you cook, but if she prefers to take the day off cooking on Thanksgiving that is cool too.

      You could also ask her to make her favourite dish, to “save you some effort” perhaps?

      I think being open and straight up saying “No pressure, feel free to say no, but if you want to squeeze in this Ships Galley of an excuse for a Kitchen with me I am sure we can rock up some amazing food between us?!” Then if she says yes have an amazing time getting to know her, I think you will get on well if you both love to cook!

      Good luck, have fun, be relaxed!

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Thank you! We do have a few days together before Thanksgiving, so that should give me a chance to give her a bit of a tour and break through any awkwardness. I think the main reason I’m overthinking is because I can’t imagine cooking in the kitchen of someone I’ve just met, so I’m not sure what she expects from me! But if I keep it light and take her lead it should work out just fine.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I can’t imagine a new date expecting to cook in someone else’s kitchen as a guest! That seems like a real overstep unless specifically invited to do so.

      If you want to offer her space/time to make something, then you just talk thru the timings and resources needed and work it out.

      Just start by asking if she wants to. I’d be really surprised if she expects to, or would feel left out as long as you’re able to chat while cooking.

    10. beach read*

      Maybe sit new partner down with a charcuterie board and have them work on that. Helpful and easy.

    11. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I love to cook, but I hate using other people’s kitchens. Hate it. Don’t assume she’ll want to cook in your space. Also, even though I usually love cooking, if I’m on vacation, I don’t want to cook. I loved my job, but I still took vacations to get away from it.

      1. Juneybug*

        I don’t mind helping (washing dishes, taking out trash, etc.) but I too rather not have to cook a meal while on I am on vacation.

  19. Anoner*

    So I was just told, based on my lab work that I am borderline pre-diabetic, my healthcare provider actually said to me “Metformin is coming for you.” (Nice, right?). I’m working on my health, eating healthier, less carbs, more plant-based, my struggle is with exercise. I was asked how many times a week I work up a good sweat…um, never? As long as I get my heart rate up, is sweating mandatory? In my younger years I was a tennis player, walked everywhere, and went to the gym pretty regularly. Now I drive everywhere and have a very sedentary job. I go walking but not consistently, so trying to get some ideas how to incorporate more activity into my day.

    For those of you on Metformin, did it help or hurt you turn things around?

    1. Nicotena*

      I can’t speak to all of this, but I definitely think if you’re getting your heart-rate up you don’t necessarily have to sweat. I take walks and bike rides, and usually don’t sweat much especially when it’s cold, but I believe both are very beneficial. I’ve heard things like cleaning or yardwork still “count” even if you don’t have like a unitard and a sweatband. I’ll turn on jam music when I clean house and try to make it more aerobic. Starting small like a walk after dinner is definitely easier than trying to hit the gym. (I do have a treadmill I try to use once a week to get that hard cardiovascular workout – which does happen to make me sweaty – but guess which one never quite gets done in a week vs which ones do).

      1. Nicki Name*

        “I’ve heard things like cleaning or yardwork still “count””

        Yes! As long as you’re up and moving around, it counts.

      2. PT*

        I have a water fitness instructor cert and I endorse this. Google a target heart rate chart, and check what the different types of target heart rate for your age should be based on your fitness goals. Someone exercising for health can be on the lower end, someone exercising for competition would want to be on the higher end.

        A quickie rule is the talk test: if you can hold a conversation easily you’re not working hard, if you have to stop talking then you are working hard enough to be getting cardio. (This doesn’t mean dramatic panting and gasping between words like a tired TV character stop talking, just that it stops being easy to hold your average casual conversation because you’re now breathing heavier than normal.)

        If you have a smartwatch that reads heart rate, your smartwatch can track this for you.

    2. Jay*

      I took metformin for years before I had bariatric surgery. It helped me tremendously. Even when I went completely off the rails with food and regained the weight I’d lost initially (see above re: bariatric surgery) it kept my blood sugar in the normal range. I didn’t have any side effects, for which I’m grateful, and because it’s available as a generic and I am lucky enough to have insurance it cost very little.

      Exercise is now the most important part of my maintenance now, four years post-op from gastric bypass, and I’m fairly sure that if I’d started this kind of exercise years ago I could have avoided the surgery. Sometimes I sweat and sometimes I don’t – depends on the temperature, my clothes, and what I’m doing. I decided not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I tend to fixate on numbers and get very all-or-nothing if I get the idea that there’s a goal to an activity, so I don’t monitor my heart rate. I make sure to do something that feels like exercise (so is not part of my other activities) at least four days a week. Most often it’s six days a week. I work out with a trainer on Friday mornings and the other days I walk. I strongly prefer to walk outside but I do have a treadmill so I’m not dependent on the weather. When I started, I could barely walk around the block. Now I do two miles without thinking about it.

      Take it one small step at a time – pun intended. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Make one change in your diet, take a walk around the block, do five minutes of yoga. Whatever you can.

    3. Lilo*

      I just got back bloodwork with elevated cholesterol and ugh. I have a low BMI, I work out, I eat healthy. So you can do everything “right” and still get bad test results.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        Yep. I have high uric acid levels, to where I am taking medication for it. I don’t drink (when I did, I had maybe six beers a year, at most), and I eat plant based or vegan 95% of the time, with a hamburger, a hotdog, or some tacos twice or thrice a month at the most. Still nothing. I have a family history of high uric acid levels and gout, and I suspect I may be super sensitive to purines, so it’s probably a factory problem more than a diet and lifestyle problem in my case.

    4. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      In 2013 I was diagnosed with type 2 and put on Metformin ER. I ended up losing a lot of weight but not really exercise, just diet change. I did a bit of walking but that didn’t have much effect on my weight. I’m sure the Met played a big part in reversing my condition. I was taken off Met due to improvement in less than a year.

    5. SoloKid*

      Metformin was a great drug for me. While on it, my acanthosis nigrican went completely away, which IMO was the biggest factor in me gaining self confidence and wanting to change my diet for the better. I was only on metformin for two years before I stopped.

      As for sweating, that is a different story than getting your heart rate up. Your medical providers could be better about not conflating the two.

    6. tab*

      I think sweating varies from person to person. My dad was a prolific sweater, and I inherited that gene. I could feel the sweat dripping down my chest as I was cross country skiing when the temperature was -40! (Fun fact; -40 °C = -40 °F). No one in my husband’s family was sweating as we skied. If you move and get your heart rate up, you’re taking care of yourself.

    7. fposte*

      Some health care providers offer classes for people at risk of diabetes–I suspect they’re also helpful in getting people just to commit to reshaping their thinking. A sibling (a scientist in their day life) found them very useful. Can you see if anything like that is offered?

      I am not a big sweater; never have been. If you look at things like the American Diabetes Association position paper on exercise you can see the recommendation is more subtle than just sweating, and it includes the need for light exercise (like 3 for 30, 3 minutes of light movement for every half hour sitting) as well as heavy. I’d dig down a little deeper into the recommendations. I’ll append a link in followup that looks pretty useful.

    8. The Dogman*

      Get a pair of dogs.

      Walk for miles each week.

      Bonus points if you can get and keep up with (ish) a Springer Spaniel…

      Don’t really get a spaniel, get a Golden Retriever!

      1. Anoner*

        While I think it’s a great idea, hubby and I aren’t animal people…so we’ll just have to walk each other! :)

        1. Pennyworth*

          I knew a couple who use to chase each other when they walked – one would set of a minute or two ahead and the other would try to catch up. They got very fit.

        2. The Dogman*

          Then volunteer with a shelter and walk some dogs for fre that you don’t have to feed?

          You will not believe how much more walking gets done each week with a dog!

    9. Invisible Fish*

      Metformin changed my life. Taking it allowed me to see what life was like for people who didn’t have giant changes in blood sugar!! Did you know other people realize they’re hungry and decide to eat, rather than realize their hands are shaking and they must grab whatever sugary thing is closest?!? I did not know this! It’s affect on the digestive system is a trip, however- prepare to … uh … have your stomach call the shots on your schedule sometimes…

    10. RagingADHD*

      With all I’ve been reading about the ancillary benefits of Metformin for anti-aging, reducing risks of cancer, dementia & liver problems, etc, I’ve been trying to think of a way for my doctor to prescribe it off-label.

    11. Anoner*

      Appreciate all the responses! I’ve never been someone who needs to take medication (I’m 56) so the thought of having to go on one for something I should be able to just change through diet and exercise is really not sitting well with me. Thankfully, I was told told to start taking it, and I will be doing a follow up with labs in three months, so I am going to try my hardest, and it helps to have a supportive partner too. Will look into the options recommended as well. Thanks all!

    12. AnonAgain*

      Over five years ago I was in the same situation. I went totally Whole Food Plant Based. Nothing from animals, no oil at all, no sugar, whole grains. Only fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans/legumes. Lost 40 lbs and went from A1C of 6.2 to 5.4 without any medication. Also without exercise. I know I should exercise for overall health reasons…. There is a lot out there on WFPB eating and diabetes. Most recent book is Mastering Diabetes.
      Good luck to you whatever path you choose!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        In this vein, there is a book called *The End of Diabetes* that basically suggests this kind of plant-based diet described by AnonAgain and includes some recipes and explanations about which plant foods are the most nutritious in various ways. Back when I was able to follow the program in the book, I lost a ton of weight and had spectacular blood work. I have to get back to that, though . . . .

    13. TPS reporter*

      You can try tabata workouts- essentially intervals but short so don’t take up a lot of time. You have to go hard though during the on interval. But it’s worth it and over fast. You will sweat!

    14. Retired Prof*

      Don’t know if it would work for you, but my husband got started by walking to the supermarket every day or two to buy a few things rather than the big weekly trip he had been making by car. The market is about a mile from our house. From there he added extra walks each day (the dog helped with this) and eventually started Couch to 5K. From there he started running and now does half marathons. He lost over 100 lbs and is now off all his diabetes meds and all but one blood pressure med. His doctor considers his diabetes to be “cured” or at least in remission. Just starting with walking to the supermarket.

      1. Anoner*

        I was in the BEST shape when I lived in a walkable city without a car, I think what made it so workable for me is that there was a purpose to my walking, and walking was my only option. I really miss those days, and still hate that I have to rely so much on driving now.

  20. Angstrom*

    Hmmm….never been in that situation, but when I was dating and invited to an occasion with partner’s family it was nice to do something that felt like being a participant instead of a guest.
    A gracious invitation might be something like: “Hey, I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving, I know you like to cook, and I could use some help. Would you like to come over for an afternoon of chopping and stirring? I’m planning on having x,y, z, . If you’ve got a favorite dish it’d be great if you’d bring the ingredients and teach me to make it.”
    If kitchen is tiny and counter space limited, prep can be moved to a table with a cover and cutting board. Learning to work together in a small space can actually be fun if you have the right attitude.

  21. Cat Plus Dog*

    I am introducing a large new adult dog to my existing female senior cat. I know cat will probably take it a bit hard in the beginning but luckily I have enough space that they can be separated forever if that’s what it takes (finished basement, gated upstairs etc) – although I’m hoping for better. The dog is not cat-reactive according to the foster mom, but I know situations can be unpredictable. Does anyone have tips on how to make this as harmonious an existence as possible? I plan to keep them separate and introduce them slowly. I suspect it will be more about the dog’s behavior than the cat’s, but I’m a bit worried about her not getting enough alone time, as the dog will probably be needy and want to be around all the time. Not sure about like, crating the dog downstairs to give the cat cuddles in bed, but maybe that’s what it’ll have to be.

    1. Cat Plus Dog*

      To clarify rather than “alone time” I should have said “one on one time with me” – because if I’m not careful I fear the cat will have *too much* alone time by herself in another room, avoiding the dog.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      We have had great luck with our middle-aged cat meeting cat-friendly strange dogs in her space when friends come over. The key for most of them has been that the dog has had lots of exercise just before the initial meeting. Then the dogs aren’t quite so frenetic inside and are just quieter and more chill. She’s fine with them as long as they’re content with a sniff and a liedown and don’t come after her. All she really wants is her peace, dog or no dog. :) Now if only that worked consistently with my toddler!

      This doesn’t work for my cat because she doesn’t like going up, but ample space for your cat to exit any given situation would be another good idea.

      1. Cat Plus Dog*

        Yes I’m so concerned because the dog is quite tall! This would have worked perfectly for her otherwise, as she loves her perches. But they are mostly counter-height and I think this guy could get up there probably, if he wanted to. I’m hoping he doesn’t want to.

        1. GraceC*

          Do you have the wall space for cat shelves, à la Jackson Galaxy catification? They don’t have to be purpose-built for cats, some normal shelves with a decent weight rating also work, and I’ve seen some where they’ve made them look pretty good and intentional even if you have to avoid having anything on top where the cat could knock it. Those cube shelves work, with the interior of the cube for books or records and the top as a cat perch

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Friends made an amazing cat space from deep IKEA Ivar shelves. There are so many clever ideas when i just looked online!

        2. Teatime is Goodtime*

          I second putting up cat shelves! I’m mildly disappointed that my cat has zero interest because I really want cat shelves…

        3. The Dogman*

          “I’m hoping he doesn’t want to.”

          Don’t hope! Insist he does not jump. Keep him on a collar attached lead for the meeting for sure, and perhaps put something (a chair) up on a table for that first meeting so she can get way out of range just in case.

          With dogs you must remain in charge, or they start making decisions and, unlike cats, dogs almost always make stupid decisions! ;)

    3. The Dogman*

      First few days keep them apart, put a blanket on the dogs bed/sofa and after a couple of days take the dog smelling blanket upstairs and leave it somewhere the cat might usually sleep, like on your bed or on an indoor window ledge.

      Do this for a couple of weeks and if the cat sleeps on blanket then you are probably good to go, if she avoids the room the blanket is in then she will prob never like the dog. If something in between then there is hope but will take longer for sure.

      When/If you introduce them directly do this once the dog is really really tired, take the pooch for a few giant walks in the days leading up to the intro and then on the day of meeting you need to deeply tire the dog before they meet.

      Then i recommend having a room you can put the cat in downstairs (so upstairs can remain the “safe” space for the cat) and bring the dog in on the lead. Any signs of aggression or even being intense you need to consult a dog therapist who specialises in animal aggression cases.

      The dog may be needy but with some time you can reduce seperation anxiety too, so perhaps consult a local dog therapist about this in advance and you can get started on that the day you get the dog. And yes, make sure you carve out some space for the cat daily too!

      Good luck, you can do it!

    4. Cartographical*

      I can only speak to introducing large dogs to small dogs but the principles are the same on the large dog’s side of things. The advice about separation and getting the cat used to the dog’s smell tracks with my knowledge of introducing two cats. If you’re not familiar with “clicker training”, it can work with any animal of any age, if you want to quickly reward positive interactions without interrupting them.

      Some general suggestions:
      * Teach “leave it” to your new dog immediately during the time of separation. You can look up how to do this but I recommend working up to where the dog can ignore a favourite toy or treat for a minute or more, even one thrown in front of it or squeaked enticingly.
      * Leash the dog during early introductory sessions and make sure it learns to “leave it” when the cat is present. You want to override any instinct to chase as much as you can, at least enough for the cat to leave the scene.
      * Provide safe “bolt holes” for the cat where they cannot get stuck to the point that you can’t reach them.
      * Always separate the two when you are unable to be present or in full control of the dog. You want to witness all interactions and curate them so they are all as positive as possible.
      * If you know the breed of dog, be aware of the limitations of training for high-prey-drive or herding dogs who may struggle to overcome those instincts.

      A small caveat: As a pet-fosterer myself, I would be wary of basing expectations entirely on a fosterer’s experience simply because it can take months to really know who a dog is. That’s no one’s fault, it’s just sometimes it takes longer than one has to see the whole personality; you will experience the same thing as the dog adjusts. The longer the dog was there, the more accurate the assessment, but the dog will not always be the same for you as for their foster parent. Some dogs need months to get around to showing who they are. Not chasing during the early adjustment period is not uncommon but the good news is that’s a window of behaviour you can reward lavishly to maintain it. Training isn’t limited to training sessions, you can name and reward a desired behaviour every time you see it.

      1. Cartographical*

        Some YMMV additions that are a little more on the personal experience side and less on the behaviorist side:

        * Teach the dog the cat’s name if possible. If the cat can be in the same room as the dog, or the dog can see the cat, you can work on that and the “where is?” command. Where is mom/dad? Where is cat? You’re teaching equivalency and also giving a specific reference for other commands like “leave cat alone” or “cat said no”.
        * Prioritize the cat, even be dramatic about it, in front of the dog, then give the dog some similar warm attention. I know this sounds silly but I’ve found that many dogs are very aware of social dynamics and my more intelligent dogs have been respectful of animals or people they saw as “important” but not taking away from their own happiness.
        * Giving treats should always be fair (cat gets one, dog gets one). Many dogs have a strong sense of fairness and I’ve even had dogs who could “count” and knew that getting three treats was more than getting two. Jealousy is very real with some dogs.
        * Associating the other animal’s presence with getting treats can encourage positive feelings, especially if you can do little “training” sessions with both of them together.
        * Walking them together, even if the cat is in a stroller or a carrier, can be positive. So can car rides together or “picnics”, just sitting together outside at a park and getting a high value snack like bits of fish or chicken. You want them to experience things together. The cat may be less affected but dogs are pack animals and I find these “family” outings can be super helpful for making those bonds. Some breeds of dog are real “us against the world” types. You just have to define the “us”.

        1. Cat Plus Dog*

          Update for anyone still checking: new dog has done GREAT so far! I realize though that his behavior is not natural yet and will definitely not be leaving them unattended, maybe ever. But he has seen her, even sniffed at her, and then returned to playing with his toys. Cat has been willing to hang out in the living room while he’s around and even purr when I put her – if anything I wish she’d be a little less curious (but it makes me happy she’s not hiding away wretchedly somewhere). His breed is not known for prey drive but a) he’s a mix so you can’t assume and b) I assume there’s always gotta be individual variation in dogs anyway.

  22. Bob The Skull*

    What mobile games do you enjoy playing? I’d especially love recommendations for ones that are fast paced and would allow me to get some aggression out with button mashing, but I would also be interested in calm distracting games as well.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Definitely the latter category, but the one game on my phone is Singularity, a tile-flipping game. Different rules apply to each stage, and you try to get all the tiles to be the same color. Each level starts with several designs that can be solved with one move, then two, and so on.

      I like that it’s a pattern-finding puzzle, that each puzzle is short, that they get progressively harder, and that there’s no timer.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Sagrada, Ticket to ride, 7 Wonders, Splendor, all have good apps that mirror the board games. If you play against the AI, they are very low stakes and relaxing.
      Otherwise I play basic puzzle games like Gardenscapes and Homescapes.

    3. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      The only game I play is kinda not even a game, but it’s seriously awesome. And very popular, oddly enough. Neko Atsume. It’s a game where you collect cats, feed them and provide toys and other cat things with the money they pay you for having got those things. You can also take pictures of the cats, and expand their photo albums. You never see the cats actually doing anything but there’s a little song too, when you are watching them. It’s hard to explain the appeal especially to non cat people, even the creator doesn’t really understand why it’s so much fun. It just is.

    4. fposte*

      For calm games, it’s hard to beat I Love Hue Too, which I first heard about here. It’s playing with color gradients in patterns of varying difficulty, and the colors and patterns are really pretty (so I’ve stuck with it where I didn’t with Blendoku).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been using Happy Color, a color-by-number app, quite a bit. It’s very soothing. There are ads in between pictures, but I just turn down the volume on my phone and look at something else to rest my eyes while the ad is playing. My friend from CA who passed away in August introduced me to it. Darn her, she got me hooked! I’ve only purchased the Marvel packs because they were cheap, and I’m a nerd. There are more than enough free pictures to keep me going forever. They add new ones every day.

      Best Fiends, a bug-themed puzzle game where you match little thingys to kill slugs, is also fun. I don’t make in-app purchases with this one. Neither of these is button-mashing or aggressive, but I like them a lot.

    6. beep beep*

      I really like getting into the zone with Cooking Dash- it’s not mashing, but it is super fast-paced especially at higher levels. If you might be interested in an endless runner, I also play Cookie Run Ovenbreak, which has all the pitfalls of a gacha game, but has cute art and is F2P accessible if you put a little time into it. (It does have an ongoing snafu with the creator announcing NFT integration, but c’est la vie.)

      For calmer games, if you like nonogram puzzles, the Luna Story apps (there’s three so far I think) have a weirdly translated but genuinely intriguing storyline. It just can take forever to get through :P

    7. New Bee*

      I love 2 Dots. Lives only take 20 min to regenerate and there are enough side quests that you don’t have to watch an ad or make in-app purchases if you don’t want to.

    8. Cartographical*

      I love the Hue games so much. Strong second for fposte’s suggestion from me.

      I play Wordscapes as well, I am on an embarrassingly high level but it’s my go-to when I am too stressed to focus.

      If you’ve ever had an interest in chess, I love “Really Bad Chess”. It’s an anarchic take on chess that teaches you how the game works by playing it “wrong”. The pieces all use the same mechanics but you don’t get the standard number of them and the AI is variable, it improves as you improve.

    9. Beachlife*

      I’ve been playing Candy Crush for years, it’s my zone out game. For something more engaging, I really like June’s Journey. It’s a “find the hidden objects” game but it has lots of other components, like short term challenges, decorating the island to be able to advance etc. It has in app purchases but I have never spent a cent on it and still am very, very far into it.

  23. Former student*

    Hi all, especially teachers…low-stakes question: do you remember your former students?

    Some context: I graduated from high school 25 years ago on the other side of the country. I was a good student (in the top 10 of my class of 500). I was involved in a couple of clubs pretty heavily. I went away to a good private college. I have a unique surname and did have a sibling so our name was around the school for 8 years. Buuut, I’ve only rarely visited my hometown since then, and not at all in the last 10 years. I’m not connected to any of my former teachers on social media.

    My father will be visiting the hometown and offered to stop by the high school and say hello to people for me. I was like, “even if they haven’t retired I doubt they remember me! Why would they?” I think my dad thinks I’m being overly-negative, while I think I’m being realistic! I’m not offended either way but it has me curious…teachers, what say you?

    1. Workerbee*

      I am not a teacher, but I successfully contacted and enjoyed a brief but lovely catching-up with a beloved teacher I last saw in 1992 and had lost track of a few years later. Teachers do remember! I went into it knowing I could have anything from no response to a puzzled response to a positive response, and that I would be able to handle any of these.

      I am grateful to have had the chance to express how they influenced me and my life.

    2. sequined histories*

      If you have good memories of them, they would love to hear about how you’re doing, whether they recall you the instant you are mentioned or not! Teachers put up with a lot of rudeness and disrespect from a variety of stakeholders, but most of them work hard and want to believe their hard work has done some good for some of their students. Hearing anything positive from or about a former student is always welcome.

      1. Name Goes Here*

        Yes, this. I’ve been teaching for more than a decade and while I don’t remember every single student who enrolled in my class, I always appreciate hearing that former students are doing well and thriving.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Yes — even if I don’t remember the student, it’s always nice to hear that someone is doing well or liked my class back in the day or found it useful later on. And if I do remember the student, it’s even nicer.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t remember all of them organically but would have memories about them once I knew their name. I feel like overall I remember the class as an entity (oh yeah, those 7th graders were a really fun bunch! Ugh, that 6th grade class was rough) and then some of the kids more than others. I think if YOU visited the teachers would remember you, or at least be nice/appreciate the gesture if they didn’t, but personally I would find it weird and awkward to have a parent stop by on a student’s behalf.

    4. Reba*

      Somewhat beside the point, I can’t imagine any school security procedure nowadays allowing your father to “stop by and say hi” — to them he is a rando! Some schools make visitors submit to a *background check* before entering and always be escorted inside!

      I get the feeling your fathering may be picturing just popping in to ask the secretary which way to Mrs. Murphy’s room…that won’t happen.

      In some school districts he would need to make arrangements with these teachers first to let them know he wanted to visit, and while they might be touched to hear from your family, they are probably also pressed for time.

      1. Mstr*

        +1. I appreciate what he’s trying to do but you can’t casually enter a school these days & you really shouldn’t try even if security is lax. Students are minors in the school’s care & outside adults are very much not welcome. He would indeed have to make special plans in advance & it would likely be onerous/a burden if accommodated at all.

        Besides which your teachers might remember *you*, especially if they saw you in person, but they certainly won’t remember *him*.

        That’s not to say they wouldn’t like to hear from you — I’m sure a social media message or a kind note/conversation would always be appreciated & they would love to hear your memories even if they don’t fully remember you personally. But the days when an adult can just drop by a K-12 school are long over.

    5. Mister Lady*

      I’m very curious about the responses to this. I was a teacher for 13 years, but never in k-12. The longest I ever had students was for a semester, but usually for only eight weeks at a time. I remember a lot of my students, but honestly, sometimes I look back at attendance records and have no clue who some of them were. And, if you graduated 25 years ago…how good are the odds that those same teachers will still be there? I have no idea!

      1. Observer*

        It depends on the teacher. One of my second grade teachers is now teaching my grand daughter (and neither I or my child got married in our teens).

    6. Double A*

      I’ve mostly taught small groups for the most part (special Ed and at risk kiddos), but I do believe I would remember mt students as long as they gave me some context, especially the time frame when they were my student! If someone popped up saying, “Hi Ms. A, it’s John Smith, remember me?” it might be hard, but if they’re like, “It’s John Smith, I had you for 10th grade English in 2012-13 at Sunnyside” then I think I’d probably remember.

    7. Teacher, Here*

      I remember most if not all of my students and absolutely love seeing them as adults and getting updates, but I’d have a hard time either (a) being surprised, or (b) connecting a student name to the student absent seeing the kid or a picture of the kid.

      So basically, if you’re asking about you reaching out to former teachers (via email or social media, for example), YES ABSOLUTELY, we tend to love that!! But your dad swinging by on a random day with no warning? Ehhh that sounds really hard, especially without context or if I’m in the middle of something.

      Also most schools I know aren’t allowing visitors because of Covid.

    8. WellRed*

      I don’t think your dad stopping by the school on your behalf makes sense at all. It’s one thing to run into someone organically but these aren’t even his teachers.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      A lot of them yes, but I’ve been teaching for 20 years and have taught over 1000 kids. Some I remember not for good reasons.

    10. Invisible Fish*

      Teachers do remember, but take into account the average high school teacher sees 100-150 kids a day. The parent of a former student stopping in to say hi would be super stressful – my brain is already going as fast as it can. ;)

    11. Daffodilly*

      I graduated about the same time, and just for funsies I went to my small hometown high school’s web site and looked through the teacher directory. Not a single one of my teachers is still there. But one of my fellow classmates is a teacher there!

    12. Rara Avis*

      I’ve been teaching 28 years. I remember a lot of my students (and in fact recently reconnected with one from 20+ years ago on Facebook), but not all. My parents still live in my hometown and run into MY old teachers from time to time, although most are retired by now, and some have died … I guess I’m old.

    13. Alexis Rosay*

      I would remember most students I think once they reminded me of their name (those I forget quickly). But I was lucky enough to have many students multiple years in a row. Give them a heads up that you’re coming and that will give them a chance to recall who you are. I always really enjoy hearing from former students.

    14. Esmeralda*

      My dad sent me a news story about one of my junior high teachers. I looked her up, sent an email, and she did remember me! Almost 50 years, so…

      I myself remember many of my students from the past 25 years. Haha usually not their names, but I’ll remember everything else about them.

    15. MuseumNerd*

      I left teaching 10 years ago and I can say that I remember *most* of my students . . . but like, I remember them as they were then. A young woman came up to me once and was telling me excitedly how because of me she became a teacher herself and I felt terrible but had no idea who she was. Later it dawned on me that of course I remember her but she looks a lot different now, and she never gave her name when she approached me so it took me a few hours to place her. I’m a lot more likely to remember students I had for an entire school year– I had one of those awful rotating schedules for 5th and 6th grade so I only saw each group once per week for one semester so those kids, maybe not.

      But having said all that, I’m sure your teachers would love to hear from *you* but agree it would be a little odd for your dad to make a special trip to the school just to say hi on your behalf.

    16. Former student*

      Thank you all for your input! I, too, thought “Dad, you definitely can’t just roam the high school campus and, like, stick your head in to interrupt the pythagorean theorem or The Scarlet Letter or whatever!” The campus was pretty open 25 years ago but even then this would have been weird.

      It’s nice to hear that so many teachers do remember students (at least with a little memory jog). I definitely remember many of my teachers and have valued their influence in many parts of my life, but I know I’m one of hundreds of students times 2.5 decades! I have enough trouble remembering the names of rarely-seen coworkers, to say nothing of people I haven’t seen in a long time!

      So, to the teachers on here, thank you for your work and for the way you touch so many lives!

    17. Observer*

      Some will remember. Some won’t entirely remember, but will be pleased that YOU remembered. And some won’t remember.

      I bumped into one of my first grade teachers when my daughter was in High School (30 about 30 years later) and she recognized me. I knew who she was, but I was startled that she remembered me.

  24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    In an earlier thread I mentioned my posted info sheet for guests – is that something other folks do? It’s just a one-pager, tucked into a plastic sheet protector, that has like, the address, wifi info, pet names/descriptions, the general household schedule, here’s where the towels and TP are, a sample of local delivery options and stores, and a couple of quirks like “please don’t try to cook in my kitchen I get weird about it” :)

    How do you prep for guests?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      We almost never have overnight guests (in think actually never, except partner’s sister, she is a flight attendant, and would crash here occasionally before she found a place, but she would just come and go, more like a very occasional roommate). And we never stay at someone’s house either, both of us vastly prefer a hotel.
      But few times I have, there was nothing formal like this. Your system sounds more like few VRBO places I stayed at, when the owners are not there.
      I also can’t imagine cooking in someone’s kitchen. Or a guest cooking in mine, unless it’s my mom.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I was recently permitted to cook in my mother’s kitchen for the first time at age 52. The exception was made because she was recovering from a knee replacement and couldn’t toss me out!

    2. Victoria, Please*

      Wifi password on a post it note, that’s about it. Our guests tend to be very close friends or family.

    3. WellRed*

      I’d make sure I have things like sugar for coffee (sugar is not a staple in my house). I’d love a tip sheet, as a guest, with that info above plus please, please, tell me what to do with towels and should I strip the bed when I leave.

      1. Cordelia*

        I think I’d just ask, to be honest…I wouldn’t feel comfortable staying in someone’s house if I didnt know them well enough to ask what to do with the towels

    4. Not A Manager*

      We do something like what you describe when we’re having people stay at our home when we’re away, which happens surprisingly often. In that case, it does feel a bit vrbo, but that’s okay because the situation is a bit vrbo, only they’re not paying.

      It sounds to me like you do this when houseguests are actually staying with you, though? In that case, I don’t exactly see the point unless you are both very busy and have different schedules and you want to be sure that they can access that info when you’re not around.

      Both as a host and as a houseguest, I lean much more toward the “parallel play” model – we plan a few times to do activities together, we check in on whether the guest will be home for dinner or not, and otherwise we live our own lives. Even so, I’ve never been in a situation where the guest couldn’t just ask where are the towels, or what time do you generally start your morning.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I leave it up there all the time, and honestly it’s mostly unnecessary because the only houseguests we ever have are my parents, occasionally my husband’s brother, and my best friend, but I would love to have that kind of info, so it’s there for the referencing but can be easily ignored :)

    5. anon7557*

      As a guest, I would love that attention to detail, especially if it’s not a family member I’m staying with. If you want to add more maybe something about how to use the tv, Roku, all the remotes, etc. And anything that you have to know a trick in order to get it to work correctly, like: the door won’t latch unless you really throw your weight against it and hear it click.

    6. Jay*

      I don’t have anything written out – the WiFi password would be a good idea, since it’s a random string of over 10 characters and I can never find it when I need to give it to someone. I make sure there’s caffeinated coffee (we drink only decaf) and some kind of breakfast food available so they can eat if they wake up before we do and I show them around the kitchen so they can find what they need. Clean sheets on the bed, extra TP in the guest bathroom, clean towels in the guest bedroom, and that’s about it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      The only thing that was ever a concern was household address. Family would stay with us and once in a while we’d get a comment, “I can’t tell 911 where I am, because I dunno and I can’t figure it out quickly!” I have landline phones (rural area) so I put the address and phone number on the phone itself.

    8. German Girl*

      Idk, I think that getting such a sheet would feel very much like renting a holiday home from a stranger and not so much like visiting a friend. When we visit friends or friends visit us, we’ll usually just ask about these things in personal conversation if and when needed.

      Maaaybe if you’re just providing a place to crash during a busy week and not actually spending time together then I could see this make sense, or if you have a disability that makes conversation difficult and you’d rather save your efforts for more meaningful topics, but usually when you have visitors it would feel odd to do it this way.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I agree. If I were staying with a friend and I found an info sheet I would feel very weird and uncomfortable. If you want me to stay at an air bnb just tell me and I will.

        1. Hornets*

          Agreed! I would find this very uncomfortable, as a guest and also as a host unless I was running an airbnb. When friends or family come to stay in my spare bedroom, I just verbally tell them whatever they need. The only thing written down is the wifi password. But my guests usually stay for a week or less.

        2. Clisby*

          It seems odd to me, too. Unless it’s something like – if you want a cup of coffee or tea, the Keurig’s over there. Help yourself.

      2. Not A Manager*

        To me, I think it depends on the info. We used to stay with friends who lived in a large U.S. metro area. They had a lot of houseguests, and the guests stayed in a room on the first floor while the household living happened mostly on the second and third floors. So in some ways staying with them already felt more like a homeshare, but in a really nice way.

        They left a sheet in the guest room with (a) technical info involving numbers and instructions (alarm code, wifi code, how to work the downstairs TV), (b) neighborhood and city info (nearest subway stop, name of the neighborhood to give to taxi drivers, a few fun excursions), (c) *some* household info that was clearly directed to “if we don’t overlap at the right time” like how to work the coffee maker, that was literally prefaced with “if you want coffee and we’re not around.” They also left a pre-loaded payment card for public transport and some street parking passes.

        I think what made all of that feel welcoming and not distancing was that most of it was stuff you’d want written down anyway (like codes and instructions), or that you really might want to know immediately and without bothering them. They saved things like a tour of the kitchen or info about the washing machine for face-to-face conversation.

      3. Sierra*

        Yeah, I’d find this weirdly official and unfriendly personally. It feels like you are renting out the room as an AirBnB, not welcoming a friend as a guest.

        I have the WiFi password on a post-it note on the pinboard in the hallway to show people who need it. I put fresh bed linen and towels on the bed before guests arrive. That’s it. Everything else we just chat about as it becomes relevant.

    9. RagingADHD*

      We have a small place with no guest bedroom, so we only have kid sleepovers with sleeping bags on the floor, or very close friends/family that we’d camp in the office for on an air mattress, or who’d be okay on the couch.

      That also means there isn’t really a normal household routine when we have guests, because everything has to change in order to fit them in. So the purpose of them visiting is for us to hang out. And we rarely have “new” adult guests anymore.

      Guest prep is just making sure everything is scrubbed up, the nightlight is in the bathroom, and clean towels are laid out.

      I wouldn’t expect our guests to order takeout on their own, because we’d eat together. If we’re getting takeout, I pull out the menus of places we like and we pick something together. And the other stuff like wifi and pets, or what to do with the sheets, we just say out loud. If they need to run to the store, they ask what’s close by or open.

      I guess it’s because our contexts are quite different, but some of the stuff on your list seems a bit hotel-ish to me. I wonder if you have a lot of guests coming and going when you aren’t home?

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I do something like this, but it’s more for when I have a guest but I won’t be around to be a good host (because I’m working or I’m going out of town myself). It’s a one-sheet thing with the house WiFi password; where to find the aspirin, fusebox, thermostat, fire extinguisher; where to find the nearest gas station, best parking, nearest drugstore, supermarket, post office; and a bunch of other stuff about the house and the neighborhood.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I don’t have an info sheet, but should probably set one up now that actual visits can take place again! My house isn’t especially tricky – no sneaky electronics, etc. – and it’s rare that I’d have company who’d be in the house when I was not, so for me the basics would include the WiFi password and the instructions for enabling the shower. (That’s the thing that always throws my visitors – it’s a non-intuitive setup where you pull down on the ring around the spout to activate the shower.) The thermostat has its own instructions inside, though I trust my family and friends not to mess with that without mentioning it to me first!

      When visiting friends with larger homes, I did appreciate their info-lists – WiFi information, local phone numbers for food delivery or for emergencies, locations of the controls for the sound system and so forth. They did tend to offer their country house for folks to visit even when they weren’t in residence themselves, so having a house-manual made sense.

    12. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I try to make sure that I have whatever they like for breakfast handy, get them their towels, show them how to use the shower, and then just give them an oral invitation to eat, drink, read, or use anything that they want.

    13. Virginia Plain*

      This sounds like something I’d see in an Airbnb or other holiday let; I wouldn’t do it for guests that are people I know. They know the address because they got here, they can ask for the WiFi password, I put towels out for them on their bed and make sure there is a spare loo roll to hand if it’s low, and I wouldn’t expect them to have to find and order their own takeaways or cook their own meals. I’d put coffee/tea/mugs etc out on the counter before bed in case they were up before me, so they didn’t have to look through cupboards, but that’s about it. Tbh if I saw something like this when staying at a friend or family member’s house I’d feel it was a bit unwelcoming (like saying, I haven’t prepared for you and you are on your own for meals), and wonder if I was going to get a bill!
      But perhaps such instructions are good if you have guests staying a week or two; I don’t have guests to stay that long.

    14. Cordelia*

      I guess it depends on the “type” of guests you have. I can’t imagine a circumstance when my guests would suddenly start cooking in my kitchen without planning it with me first, I can’t see that I’d need to write it down for them. Also delivery options – I wouldn’t expect my guests to be ordering takeout without me, we’d eat together. But my guests are only ever really close friends or family, staying for a short time and coming to spend the time with me, not doing their own thing. Perhaps I might go to work for a day, in which case I’d chat to them the night before about what they were planning to do and give them any advice they need, but I wouldn’t have it pre-prepared. Interesting range of views in the comments – I’d have to say, I think I would find it a bit too formal and unfriendly

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      A plunger in each bathroom.
      We have the wifi and password in a small frame on the dresser in the guest room. The password is kind of ling and convoluted so it’s always easier to show someone it.

    16. Beachlife*

      We live in a town adjacent to a popular beach destination so we get quite a few family and friends coming to visit. I decorated our guest room with lots of photos of family and friends, beachy decor, and created a welcome basket. It has staples like ibuprofen, small sewing kit, toothbrushes, sunscreen and small unopened toiletries, etc. And I try to add something personal for each visitor. My best friend likes Mimosas so I put a single serve bottle of Prosecco; Another upcoming visitor likes Moscow Mules so I bought a copper mug for her. I also have the WiFi password in there.

  25. Looking For Christmas Spirit*

    I feel like I am going to have a hard time shifting into Christmas spirit this year. I’ve had a lot of drama going on in my life with family, friends, and work; I’ve just felt so overwhelmed and yes have a bit of a depression going on. But I do enjoy the Christmas holiday and I don’t want to miss out on it completely. What do you do to enjoy the holiday season? Would especially love tips on what you enjoy doing solo, since at the moment I’m trying to lay low and not see many people to avoid the previously mentioned drama. Not that I won’t see those I care about this holiday season, but I would like to Focus on things I would enjoy rather than everyone else in my life right now.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Christmas short stories can be a good way to enter the holiday spirit. Connie Willis is my favorite, but I’ve seen collections across genres. (Romance, mystery, etc.) From Miracle, my favorite fun story is Newsletter (in which everyone becomes very thoughtful and generous as the holiday approaches, so obviously an alien invasion) and my favorite makes-you-think story is Epiphany, in which a minister is preaching at Epiphany and suddenly realizes that He is coming and the minister should travel west to find him. Something that seems normal in an old myth but what would people do if that old-timey thing happened now?

      Is there something you have thought about doing in the past that you could launch into, with the thought that it might or might not become a tradition? Make a gingerbread house. Get a nice creche scene. (I am not religious but love the setting-up-miniatures aspect; unfortunately my cat wants the figures to experiment with flight.)

    2. LadyWhistledown*

      As a fellow depression prone person with some ongoing family drama, hello!

      Things that help my mood:
      – Researching thoughtful holiday gifts for close family. Bonus points if it gets to be something fun for the kids. I get excited picturing their eyes lighting up!
      – I love to cook so I’ve been trying to recreate some favorite street food recipes from my time abroad. One of them is about 90% of the way there and my husband is ECSTATIC
      – Organizing my space and filling a couple of bags for donation. I get to declutter and someone else hopefully gives those things a new lease on life.
      – Spend an afternoon in the library reading a new book or even better an old favorite
      – Sip your favorite holiday beverage, calories be damned. Really focus on the flavors and immerse yourself in the moment
      – Send a physical card to an old friend or a thank you email to a kind colleague. Spreading smiles and joy absolutely gets me in the spirit
      – Stay off social media and even the news if you can manage it
      – Listen to an old favorite artist. If you like video games, YouTube has many soundtracks and they can be oddly soothing to listen to
      – Find some sunshine or a sun lamp
      – Research your next big travel trip, going really into the details of where and what to eat and top tourist sites
      – Grab a fancy peppermint bath bomb and enjoy a hot bath with the smells of the season
      – Donate to a local charity
      – Recreate something from your childhood (a favorite recipe, a fun tradition etc). Tap into the nostalgia of happier times (if they were happy)
      – Dip your toe into something you always wanted to do as a kid but couldn’t. Treat it as an experiment so that there is no success/failure binary with embarrassment

      And if all else fails, feel free to lean into the melancholy and just feel your feelings! Sometimes the only way *out* is *through*. I’ll even reward myself for doing it. Like, if I spend today processing all this dreadful stuff and journaling it out, I know I’ll feel better and tomorrow we’re going to sit in the sun with those amazing croissants you love. Be gentle with yourself and good luck!

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I love the “stay off social media” point. I feel like it’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else has decided is Christmas that it’s hard to figure out what *I* want Christmas to be.
        For me, I want:
        – cheesy Hallmark movies
        – Elaine Stritch reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
        – baking
        -Midnight mass

    3. Still*

      Fairylights, red bedsheets, plenty of mulled wine and mocha lattes, writing cards to mail to friends, watching ridiculous Christmas movies, ice skating, going on walks in the cold. Plus giving myself permission not to put effort into any traditions that seem like a lot of work.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I enjoy Advent calendars – yes, plural! The old-fashioned paper ones, the gifts-behind-each-door kind, etc. [Not so much the chocolates, though.] This year I have a Bonne Maman one (teensy, adorable little jars of different flavors of jams and honeys), a marshmallow one from XO with different flavors of marshmallows – and the Jacquie Lawson e-card company’s animated and interactive calendar, this year set in London. Loads of activities and games, some available right away and others added on each new day. The London scene includes all the major London landmarks, with the Big Ben clocktower showing the accurate time (and chiming on the hour)…

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Lights – last year I had lights up on the window/patio before Thanksgiving and will probably do that again. Other decorations have to wait until December but lights come out whenever the dreary weather starts getting to me. I also have a couple of light-up decorations like a snow globe and wooden diorama, and of course candles are nice too.

      Baking – do a variety of small batches if you don’t want to be eating a ton. Old favorites + fun new recipes! Most cookies freeze pretty well so you can make them throughout the month and have a variety to enjoy yourself or share with others later on.

      Are there Christmas events in your area that would be fun on your own? A lot of zoos and gardens do light displays, or a crafts market, gingerbread house display/contest, etc.

    6. WellRed*

      I find I need a tree. Even when I think I won’t bother or will not even be home to enjoy it, I need the tree.

    7. fposte*

      I am ordinarily not a decorative person, but I like doing a few things for Christmas, and it can run the spectrum from low effort to high effort. If you already decorate, maybe you can pick the three most pleasing aspects and chuck the rest. Or, if you’ve got the budget or the time, consider swapping the old routine for something new–I got lovely origami strings from a local craft fair and I hang them from my curtain rod, for instance, and instead of decorating a tree I hang a few favorite ornaments off of my mantle, which could also be done with a shelf.

      And then I play a *lot* of Christmas music. (Food is always a question mark because of the Crohn’s, so only short-term plans apply there.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      For such a simple thing, I get the biggest kick out of battery operated window candles. I have some that are on a timer so they go on and off by themselves, with no additional effort on my part.

      I have no idea why, but the candles give me a sense of hope for the future and a sense of comfort in the present.

      If this appeals to you, it’s worth the bucks to get some that are better quality rather than just the cheapies.

      1. fposte*

        I *love* these. I also recommend getting the rechargeable. I usually put them in things that show the glow; last year I also wrapped green and red cellophane around the usually pointless tubes they come with to make colored lights.

        1. marvin the paranoid android*

          Have you seen ceramic “luminaries”? It’s basically a ceramic shell that fits over a candle with a series of small holes cut in it to create light patterns. They’re very mesmerizing! I wanted to learn to make these when pottery classes still existed in my area.

          1. fposte*

            I have! I look around at available ones periodically and discover that I quickly develop very expensive standards. And then I worry about buying just one fancy one and having all the other candles be…jealous? I dunno. But they are lovely.

    9. Double A*

      I love putting and having a Christmas tree up! That’s really the core of Christmas for me. Having a lit Christmas tree in the evenings is very cozy and soothing to me. I usually put it up right after Thanksgiving but am feeling antsy this year so I’m thinking of doing it next weekend.

    10. Aphrodite*

      I am solo too and I am crazy about the autumn and Christmas seasons. Having missed so much of it last year I am due to COVID and an interim housing situation that it is getting extra attention this year. My city just put out the announcement that the annual (except for last year) holiday boat parade will be taking place so I will be going to that plus the attendant events. Masked well, of course. The city also decorates the main street with lights in every tree, a massive Christmas tree at one end of it, and many other events. There are, or more accurately have been, theatre productions, concerts on street corners and churches as well as professional ones, fairs and much more. I have spent so much time away from others that I am definitely going to partake in a lot of what is offered, alone or with friends.

      Now that I am living in my own home (!), this being the first holiday season in it, I plan to decorate beautifully. I don’t have a normal six-foot tree any more as I gave my red one, which had become too flashy for me, to the thrift store, but I might buy a white one to replace it. Or not, I have some small tabletop ones and may just go with that this year due to relatively new and excessively playful younger cats. (They mostly, sort of, left the autumn decorations alone so I am going to try it anyway. And now that this home is mine, all mine, I may well do outside lights all over the porch too.

      I love it all so much but I also am careful to recognize when begins to veer into “too much.” I don’t bake; TJ’s has good candy and other sweets or savory treats if I want. I am debating what to make for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners or if I just want to do nibbles all day.

      The one big change I made a decision on several months ago was to drop all gift giving (unless I can find a “giving tree,” preferably for seniors, here. People in my life will get handwritten cards with a long letter inside about our relationship, shared memories, and how much they mean to me. I might get the cats a couple of gifts but since they have already conscripted some faux acorns and leaves from my display into their over full toy box, I am not certain they need any.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I also listen to Christmas music, high quality ones online from the London Symphony Orchestra ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlwnNKsidw ) as well as the Trans Siberian Orchestra and also the incredibly wonderful annual Christmas in Vienna concerts ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT8aDuWrwe4 ). I do this at work as I have a private office and at home plus have CDs for the car; it’s the only music I listen to as I strongly prefer audio books the rest of the year.

        I reread A Christmas Carol every year and also watch it online as I do not own a television.

        I drive around and also take walks to look at lights in various neighborhoods.

        I am undeniably and relentlessly cheerful at this time of the year because I do not get caught up the commercialism of it though I love getting emails from all the stores with their holiday offerings. I do love to look but rarely buy as I need nothing in the way of holiday decor. I even decorate my office door to the hallway, which is always closed due to a women’s bathroom nearby, but have printed out funny “cats & Christmas trees” pictures from Google Images and taped them to the door for people to enjoy.

        So, in general, I do what makes me genuinely happy so I am neither overwhelmed nor depressed by parts that mean nothing to me. I make it my own. And, finally, and most importantly, I do not impose, even unintentionally, my passion for it on anyone else.

    11. Girasol*

      Go out into the woods on a sunny winter’s day and bring home a big bouquet of evergreens and berries or of interesting dry plants. Also snuggling down with a cocoa and a good kid movie like Harry Potter or Narnia.

    12. Loopy*

      Most of the things I love about xmas are solo! I love the flavors and scents of the holiday season. So I love those cinnamon brooms and pinecone things! I also adore certain flavors only this time of the year- gingerbread being a major one. I also adore watching all the holiday baking shows and enjoys holiday lights in my neighborhood and all downtown areas.

      One thing I’m thinking of doing all trying to get all my holiday shopping done before December. I do want to continue my gift giving tradition but honestly, it’s only of my least favorite parts of the season. I adore the people I gift for but they are hard to buy for and even though I love them it’s a semi-stressful chore. That being out of the way just leaves all the joyful bits!

      1. banoffee pie*

        If there are any Christmas markets near you, they should help get you into the Christmas spirit. I don’t know if they’re so popular in the US but we love them here in Europe. I’ve been to some excellent ones in Edinburgh, Germany and Belgium. Sometimes they have ice rinks, ferris wheels etc there too. I always feel Christmassy after visiting them.

    13. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Maybe treat yourself to some yummy mail-order food for your Christmas dinner? I’m planning a solo Thanksgiving with an Omaha Steaks order, and I am totally looking forward to it!

      I also like looking up the Christmas episodes of various TV series on YouTube and watching them. Christmas isn’t even my holiday, but it’s nice to mark the season with some Christmas-y viewing.

  26. JB*

    Like many, we are facing the daunting task of preserving information as our parents age, protecting against that time when they are no longer with us. First there’s family history…so many stories about the past, how things happened, connections. Then there’s the mind-boggling volume of ITEMS. Some with sentimental value, some worth quite a bit of money. So many collectibles, jewelry, tools.

    We adult siblings know we should be collecting info, but are struggling with “how”. We’ve started recording some short videos of our parents talking about past events. Documenting the collectibles is harder. We need pictures plus descriptions and whatever they can remember about provenance. We’ve looked at apps, index cards, notebook pages, just keeping an exhaustive Word doc. Frankly, taking and printing pictures of these thousands of items isn’t really practical in order to add to a paper-based system. So digital is probably best, but that means a routine way of capturing and storing. We’ve had many false starts.

    I’d love to hear ideas from the rest of you as to how you are approaching this.

    1. Reba*

      There’s a free software called Tropy that is designed to organize and keep notes about research photos. It can be used on a simple level or in more sophisticated ways with lots of metadata. A simpler/more accessible way might be using the text description field (I think allows up to 1000 characters) on images in Google photos. You could make a shared album that each sib can contribute to as they go through items.

      It might be beneficial to do a big sort first, of things that are emotionally important to your family versus not. Then, focus your efforts on objects that matter to you all or have a family story attached.

      Not knowing what the collectibles are, I also encourage you all to be ruthlessly honest about what your goals are for the stuff. Even if they are worth some money, are they worth your time to deal with them? If your parents did not keep the receipts or other original forms of documentation, their memories about where it’s from are not going to enhance its provenance much more than the basic fact of its being in their possession, so I’m not sure that’s it’s worth doing a lot of digging there. OTOH, your parents bought the things for a reason, so talking about their interest in the objects is probably emotionally rewarding, even if not sale-price enhancing :)

      (Sorry to be an Eeyore but I have seen people sink so much effort into dealing with objects and just be disappointed. To state my bias, I have a pretty low “stuff” tolerance so I would be looking at getting a dealer or estate sale manager to take it off my hands.)

    2. Chaordic One*

      Well, so far I haven’t. But after my grandmother passed away when going through her jewelry collection she left lots of little notes with various pieces saying things about where and when she bought it and what it cost, or who gave it to her. She was a young woman in the 1920s and a bit of a flapper. Much of her jewelry looks like the kinds of things they wore on Downton Abbey.

      Initially, after her death, it kind of made me feel angry and sad and depressed but I now realize that was part of my grief at the time. At this time, I’m glad that she left the notes and they add to the provenance. I can’t speak for your relatives, who may not appreciate the collectibles in the future, but I’m certainly happy about the effort my grandmother made before she passed.

    3. fposte*

      Just checking–is not doing this, or not doing this in this way or for all of the items, a possibility? I see “should” in there, but most people don’t do this. Do you want to? What’s the goal here?

      It can be reasonable to keep notes on the valuables, but otherwise I’d pull the stuff together by kind and do a video of the lot with a voiceover from your parent talking about the memories.

    4. WellRed*

      As someone who loves history and can be sentimental, I admit I’m having a hard time understanding why you want to take all this on. You say you should but, must you? What is the end goal here? Why do you need to document “collectibles” (which I admittedly find to be a catchall phrase for Stuff no one really wants but also can’t part with). Are you and sibs all fully onboard with this mammoth project? Who will look at all these documented items? Future generations? Don’t count on it. I’m truly not trying to be unkind or unhelpful, but as someone who’s “ inherited” a bunch of Stuff I’m still unloading (and in many cases, finally giving myself permission to toss), it’s exhausting and often sad but at the end of the day, most of it is still just Stuff. And rarely valuable.

      1. JB*

        Figuring out the valuable items from simple knickknacks from scratch would indeed be a nightmare. The point is to document pattern names, purchase dates, estimated value, family history (in some cases) of the collectible versus the every day stuff. For instance one table has 20+ figurines that I’d likely put in a garage for 50 cents each if I hadn’t actually bought some as gifts for her and know they are collectibles that go for $100-$200 each. At a glance, I wouldn’t have a clue. Those we wouldn’t keep, but at a value of $2000+ they won’t go in a garage sale.

    5. JB*

      There are a lot of issues at play. Some of the items are very valuable. Others have emotional significance. Some of it may be honoring my parents. If my mother spent 80+ years carefully cultivating these pieces, it can’t simply be tossed without thought. And then there’s also historical loss. A few pieces would literally be welcomed by museums! How much time we want to spend on it is indeed a good question. When my grandmother passed, she had a large number of “collectible” dolls. Mostly could be found on Ebay for $20-$50. But it wasn’t worth our time to deal with setting up an ebay store for 15-20 pieces. With my parents, they traveled internationally and have some pieces that very old, collection of civil war memorabilia, depression glass, hand-crafted antiques, silver coins, jewelry. We don’t want to document everything in their house. There’s also lots of just regular consumer items. However, I’d estimate 200-500 pieces need documenting.

        1. JB*

          Thanks, but my question isn’t so much about valuing. It’s really about the best way to capture and store the information. We might need these details next year or not for 10 years, so values will change. And then some of it’s literally just family history, not commercial value. Honestly, my inclination is to have a notebook or large index card box where I can have categories and then a page or card on each. As we find details, write them down. When the time comes, card or page could be placed with item. But that would mean taking pictures and PRINTING them to glue onto the pages/cards which became a project itself. So I think some sort of digital method will be better.

          We have also started making some videos.

          1. WellRed*

            Ah, I was thinking there was a time crunch. Was also thinking a pro just to tell you what NOT to waste time on. Honestly, I kind of like your idea of notebook or card box and updating as details come. Less overwhelming, even if a bit old school.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Insert the pics into a word doc? Then add descriptions as they come up.

            Numbering the pictures is also helpful- each pic has its own unique number. Even if you toss the pic later, you don’t reuse the number so there’s no confusion later on.

            I had a bunch of photos here that were of people I never knew. I scanned the photos, numbered them by hand and sent out the booklets. Emails came back to me, “#51 is great grandma with her neighbor” and so on. It was fun.

            1. Reba*

              Having written a dissertation with lots of illustrations in Word, may I recommend not going that route…

              But I do have another, less techy suggestion which is to number/code the objects and unobtrusively label them with a post-it, or acid-free tape label on the bottom. Then don’t worry about photographing them! Just make your notes according to the numbers.

          3. Grits McGee*

            “Professional” might include appraisers, but you could also talk to people who deal with estates, conservators, or collections specialists. (Appraisers could probably refer you to other professionals, depending on your needs.)
            As a professional museum/archives collections manager, the biggest concern for me would be to make sure that descriptive information can be matched to the correct item. Honestly, I think you could just do this with a spreadsheet- one column for the description of the item, one column for the provenance, and maybe one column for memories of the item/ how it was used.

    6. sagewhiz*

      Gathering life stories from parents can be a real challenge for the *kids,* for a slew of family dynamic reasons. Seriously consider hiring a professional personal historian—we’re skilled in drawing out the stories, plus do it faster ( and better ;-) than family members can/will. Hiring a good PH isn’t cheap, but the investment pays off big time, in quality and in stories their descendants would otherwise never know. The cost can be split by the adult siblings, which does make it affordable.

    7. Loopy*

      Honestly not sure if this is a practical approach, but I would see how archivists / museums handle this- in terms of software. I would guess a digital approach is best. Large museums/archives ones probably use something very expensive but I would research open open source or free options as if you were a smaller museum/archive. This might provide you with a practical approach/tool.

      Also check out how to conduct oral history projects – this is all stuff I remember researching when I went to grad school to become an archivist- I’m sure there are some great guidelines and resources out there- I’ve been out of the archives world for almost 7 years but I bet researching from that angle that would give you some good resources.

    8. Green Mug*

      I got my parents StoryWorth last Christmas. Each week they receive an email with a question. They can upload photos and tell all their stories. The process takes a year. I haven’t seen the finished product yet, but I’m hopeful.

  27. Humidity Rising*

    We recently got new siding on our house and have now been dealing with high humidity. Since we’re concerned about mold and allergies, we bought a couple dehumidifiers. Other than that, any tips for getting the humidity down in our house now that the siding is keeping everything locked up inside?

    1. Generic Name*

      My husband says to investigate getting a sump pump. Running forced air heat dries out the air like crazy. Where do you live?

      1. Humidity Rising*

        Mid 60s. I don’t actually think it’s that bad but my roommates saw condensation in the windows and have been freaking out about it. I’ve been trying to gather solutions

    2. Anono-me*

      Have you checked out how your bathroom and laundry room fans vent? Sometimes they vent to the attic and sometimes they vent outside.

    3. Sleepless*

      You can buy standalone dehumidifiers, but I’d want to look for the source of the humidity. Unless your living area is below grade in a humid climate, you really shouldn’t have that much humidity inside your house.

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

      If the problem lies in small specific areas, like a laundry room or a closet, and you don’t want to dry out the whole home, you could try desiccants instead of running a dehumidifier 24/7 (jar of silica gel or open box of baking soda). 60 percent sounds mostly comfortable to me, especially in winter. I’d only be concerned about moisture in poorly ventilated places where mildew would normally thrive like storage spaces. I think good air circulation helps with window condensation.

    5. Juneybug*

      We live in the PNW and humidity inside our house can be 50 – 60 percent. These actions help us keep the humidity down.
      1. Run bathroom fans 30 minutes (or longer) after each shower/bath. We have a timer on our bathroom fans so it’s easy to set the time and walk away. If you don’t have a timer or can’t install one, set a reminder on Alexa/Google/kitchen timer.
      2. Condensation on windows can come from temperature differences (cold outside, warm inside temps). Shut your curtains or blinds at night and open them during the day.
      3. When cooking, make sure to run your exhaust fan during and for 15 minutes (or more) after your done cooking. Heat from oven and cooktop, especially cooking liquids, can add moisture into the air.
      4. Use your ceiling fans on humid days to help dry out the air.
      5. Don’t plant shrubs, flowers, etc. next to your house. They can trap moisture.
      6. Keep gutters clean and make sure your downspouts drain a distance from your house.
      7. Turn your heat down few degrees when guests visit (not to drive them out due to the cold temp – ha!) but because body heat can raise the temp and add to the humidity.
      8. Open the windows when you can.
      9. Make sure your dryer vent hose is clean and goes fully to the outside (not the garage or attic).
      10. Make sure your bathroom vents go to the outside as well (again, not the garage or attic).
      11. Replace your bathroom vents if they no longer work or don’t have the cubic foot of air per minute exchange you need. There are online calculators that will help determine what you need for CFM. It doesn’t hurt to go higher than suggested (we did).
      12. Make sure your inside plants are not adding to the humidity.
      Good luck!! I hope this helps.

    6. ShinyPenny*

      I wonder if some vents were accidentally blocked with the new siding? Or some other installation error was made? You could hire a house inspector– if you just take notes yourself as they inspect your house, and don’t need a written report, it’s a lot cheaper. Might be worth it to head off long term high humidity trouble.

  28. Victoria, Please*

    I am so excited, next weekend I am going to a live concert for the first time in, you know, two years. And it’s the musical equivalent of a total eclipse of the sun: the LA Master Chorale singing Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil.

    Choral music lovers, what is your total eclipse?

    1. Buni*

      I went to a mass sing-a-long-a Zadok once: 1500 sopranos, 1200 altos, 300 tenors (we joked that was probably all the choral tenors in the country), about 800 bass and a small chamber orchestra. We all stood there respectfully for the intro that goes on for 3 days, then we all came in on cue, hit the first note and…. the whole thing fell apart. Because 3800 people all went “JE-sus..!” and couldn’t continue.

      Obviously I’ve never been able to repeat that Wall of Sound, but I still love the piece.

    2. Classical Music Nerd*

      I’d have to say Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis! But I wish I knew choral music much better, including the Rachmaninov.

      So many wonderful moments in the Bach cantatas; oh and I was reminded of the Brahms Requiem completely by accident this evening and I could just listen and listen to the “Wie lieblich . . .” movement for weeks. For a total eclipse, though, well it’s gotta be the Beethoven.

    3. Shemhazai*

      Biebl’s “Ave Maria” makes me weep, every time. It has a 4-part choir vs a 3-part and at some point in my life I’m pretty sure I’ve sung 5 out of the 7 voices. When the “Sancta Maria” section starts and the second choir just SOARS in, my knees literally tremble and the tears start.

  29. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’m getting a bearded dragon today! I have a turtle but this will be my first non-aquatic reptile. I’ve done a ton of research but would love any tips and tricks for a first-time beardie owner :)

    1. Generic Name*

      Cool! My son has a corn snake. Got him as a baby pencil-sized snake and now he’s like 4 feet long.

  30. Dainty Lady*

    Is there a digital book rental service, like the library only because you are paying for it, you don’t have to wait? I know Audible, but prefer text. In searching, all I’m turning up is Libby.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is Oyster Books still a thing? I used it for a few months, like six or seven years ago but — not anymore, I guess they shut down. Sorry :(

    2. urguncle*

      Scribd is also nice for this. Kindle Unlimited doesn’t have a great selection of books, but I’ll use Libby and Kindle Unlimited to have something to read until my book on hold comes up. One other nice thing about Libby is that if you have friends in different places, you can trade e-library cards. I have three libraries that I borrow from occasionally.

    3. mreasy*

      I like Scribd! I mostly use them for audiobooks but their selection of text books is even larger. Also if you sign up you can get a NY Times digital subscription for like $5 more/month.

    4. JustForThis*

      archive . org
      It’s somewhat spotty and the search results may be hit or miss, but I’ve had good look finding books I want to read. It’s totally free, you only need an email address to create an account.

  31. Nisie*

    Here’s an oddball that hopefully some readers can help me with. My 8-year-old daughter is totally enraptured by the French language. She’s started watching familiar shows in French, she just hit her 100-day streak in Doulingo, and I don’t know what to get her for Christmas that could help support her passion. She’s taking a French class in Outschool, I’m trying to talk her dad into private Zoom lessons, but besides that- what do I do to help her? We live too far from the nearest Alliance Française for her to attend classes.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Does she have any other interests where the French can cross over? e.g. does she like to cook/bake, you could hunt down a simple recipe book in French etc.

      I was super into Asterix at that age (my dad had a bunch of them) and you can get them in the original French as well.

      (It depends if her interests change quickly, but a ‘fund for France’ with a really fun piggy bank could also work)

      1. German Girl*

        Another hobby that benefits from knowing some French is ballet and eight is a good age to start (yes there’s pre ballet from age three in some places but good schools don’t get serious about it until eight so she won’t be behind in any significant way).

      2. banoffee pie*

        Was just about to suggest asterix! You could also watch some French films with english subtitles with her. It should help her to pick up the language and even if she can’t understand, she’ll be able to follow it cos of the subs.

      3. Empress Ki*

        Asterix is great for a kid this age. There’s also Tintin (it’s from Belgium not France but was written in French anyway).

    2. Alex*

      Books in french? I’d go for slightly under her current English reading level, like probably picture books, etc. A kids-level or visual dictionary in French? She also might enjoy something like Atlas Crate if she is into other cultures.

      1. German Girl*

        Books she already knows and loves, but in French. When I tried to get serious about my French, I picked up Harry Potter in French … was way above my French reading level at the time but I enjoyed it anyway because I already knew it so well from reading it in German, English and Spanish.

      2. Law School*

        Thirding this. Not just books translated into French but also books originally in French, like Asterix, Le Petit Prince, and Tintin. I’m also a Franco-phile (and a history buff) and I loved Asterix at that age.

    3. Reba*

      How about some french comics/graphic novels/bandes dessinees?

      The site BDFugue has recommendations by age (use the google page translate tool if you don’t read french yourself :) )

      There are also many delightful animated films and series in French from France and Quebec. I found some on FrenchCulture . org under Film TV & New Media > Kids.

      “Le chat du rabbin” is a classic bd series *and* animated film!

    4. StellaBella*

      look for a box of 100 french verbs on flash cards. Also, look for easy books in French on Amazon. Barron’s 501 french verbs is good and on Amazon, also I think you can get it on Vocabineer’s website. as a pdf to download too. Also how about French recipe books?

    5. Almost Academic*

      When I was that age I loved Tom Tom et Nana comics. They would come as a part of a j’aime lire book subscription. may be outdated at this point but you could look into if anything like that is still available?

    6. CJM*

      I was ten when we moved to a school district with French classes, and I fell in love.

      Does your daughter want to travel to France one day? If so, a travel DVD might make a good gift. Does she like to explore cultural differences? A book or online series on that might be a hit.

      If there’s a large city near you with a French section, a short trip there would make an awesome gift.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Books in French (print and audio); music in French (doesn’t have to be children’s songs – the French version of whatever American genre she likes could be fun); French cookbook for children, either in English or in French.

      Even if you and her father decide against ongoing Zoom lessons, there are tutoring sites that connect you with a native-language tutor on an a la carte basis. You can select the tutor yourself based on their profile and the rates are VERY reasonable. You could gift her a few sessions with a native French speaker not as a lesson but just as a fun way to practice her conversational skills.

    8. Purple Penguin*

      If she’s into reading, get her some kids books written in French. Le Petit Prince immediately comes to mind. There are also adaptations of French classics written for kids, like Les Miserables. Your local school district French teacher might have other suggestions (you can often find theirs deets on the school website and they’d likely be thrilled to help, even if she’s not their student).

    9. urguncle*

      “Let’s Sing and Learn in French” is an excellent resource. I started learning French in 8th grade, was an exchange student in high schoool, majored in French, taught in France and worked in interpretation/bilingual services for the first part of my career. My teacher was a French woman who used songs to teach beginner language lessons and literally 17 years later I STILL have some of them stuck in my head.
      To convince your husband for lessons on Zoom: you probably wouldn’t lock her in a room with a youtube video to learn how to read and never give feedback or correct her. Maybe she hates it by this time next year, but lessons are a pretty affordable way to give her encouragement.

    10. snail's breath*

      French versions of movies? Littler-kid books in French? Like, if she’s at an 8-yr old reading level in her native language, maybe 3 or 4 yrs old for French? The picture books will help with the story. But, really, just as much media in French as you can.

      Also, if she’s watching shows she knows in French, her level of knowledge won’t have to be as good as when it’s a story she doesn’t know. Ernest & Celestine is a good movie.

    11. Tayto*

      You mentioned the Alliance Francaise being too far away, which is a pity, and I’m sure my suggestion is something you’ve already considered, but just in case I’m wrong, have you looked into French classes in other locations near you? Community Centres or classes put on by your municipality or the like?

      Other suggestions are French-language comics. Someone suggested Asterix and there’s also Tintin and many many others!

      Your kid sounds great. I love to hear about a child with an all-encompassing passion!

    12. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’ve started getting into a French learning podcast called Français Authentique. The podcast is free, but they’ve also started a program where you listen to stories and answer questions in French. You could try playing your daughter the free version to see if it’s the right level / if it interests her, and if so, you could try getting a subscription to the paid version. (Or maybe she’ll just enjoy the podcast itself.)

        1. German Girl*

          On YouTube there’s a channel called Easy French (they have a bunch of other languages, too) where they mostly pick a random question (like “what did you have for breakfast?” Or “why do you live in Paris?”) and ask it to a bunch of random native speakers – it’s actually quite interesting because you get a glimpse into French culture and also lots of different options. They have French and English subtitles and there’s also a patreon option to get a worksheet for each episode, but I haven’t tried that yet.

    13. Koala dreams*

      Books, for example an easy reader in French or comic books. Jules Verne books (you can often find simplified versions for learners) and The little prince are classics. I’m not too familiar with French language comics other than Tintin and Asterix, but you can probably find Donald Duck in French, as well as Japanese manga. Picture dictionaries (first words in French, or learner’s picture dictionaries) would be suitable for all ages, I think. Fact books on various topics are good for that age, too, if you can find a suitable reading level.

      The children’s animated tv series “Le Ranch” is quite nice if she likes horses, but I don’t know where to find it.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Another animated tv series is “My Knight and Me” (Mon chevalier et moi), if you can find it.

    14. Canadian psychologist*

      I have no idea where you are, but if Eastern Canada is close, maybe a trip to Québec is more possible than a trip to France? Post-Covid most likely, currently the restrictions on unvaccinated kids entering Canada are tough for travellers. Some places, like in Montreal, most people speak both French and English; others, like Quebec City, are unilingual French for the most part. It’s a beautiful place!

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Has she found the show “Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir” ?
      Superhero kids in Paris, and I’m told the DVDs have the original French track as well as the English version.

    16. Blomma*

      I agree with everyone suggesting getting her books in French, especially ones that she has read and loved in English. Audible has some beginner French audiobooks available (and more advanced ones too). A BD series that is probably a bit too mature for her now but might be fun in a couple of years is Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-sec. I also loved Astérix and Tintin but some of the imagery is fairly racist so that’s something to keep in mind.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      I really loved Pimsleur when I was learning Italian. I went to Italy (pre-Covid) when I had only done a 4 or 5 of the CDs and everyone thought I was Italian because I had no accent at all.

    18. Annony Mouse*

      You might like to look at iTalki … you can find native speakers to just chat with you. Might be an easier sell (and maybe more fun!) than actual classes!

  32. Ed123*

    I fell into a Wikipedia wormhole (you know listened a 2pac song and then read about the rivalry with biggie and then got to east cost and west coast gangs and then ended with the 5 families of the Italian mafia). Any podcast recommendations about gangs and mafia and other organised crime groups?

    1. Double A*

      I haven’t listened to them, but On the Media had a podcast in the past month about all the mon podcasts that are out right now. Like, a bunch of former mobsters have podcasts. You could listen to that for some ideas.

      Also I think Slow Burn did a season about the East Coast/West coast rap rivalry.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      I like one called Mob Queens, a 12 episode podcast about Anna Genovese, the wife of Vito Genovese, one of the heads of the 5 crime families of the Italian Mafia in the 50s. She was quite a woman. They initially found nothing about her but they ended up finding her I think grandson and granddaughter by using a genealogist. I highly recommend it.

    3. The Dogman*

      The first Cocaine Cowboys doc was good, the 2nd not so much…

      Most of the mafia and mob docs are in the american style though so I find them unwatchable. Loud music in weird moments, crashing sounds, and the narration is like they set out to annoy me… repetitive and overly dramatic usually.

      Oddly I thought Ross Kemps “On Gangs” was one of the better ones… Mr Kemp is a soap opera actor of some note in the UK for some reason he wanted to go to the most dangerous gang areas in the world and talk (sometimes though interpreters) to some of the more psychotic and dangerous gangsters in those areas.

      And he didn’t get killed, was bricking it a few times it seemed but managed to avoid violence mostly…

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Crimetown! The first season was about the mob in Providence, RI, and season two is about Detroit.

    5. now podcast listener*

      Not a whole series, but there was a recent episode (this week?) of the history/current events podcast “Now and Then” that dealt with the origins of the mafia that was really interesting.

    6. Observer*

      Business Wars recently did a series on this rivalry. Also, a couple of their other series might be interesting – like the development of Las Vegas.

  33. Strained Siblings*

    Last night I was out to dinner and ran into some of my brothers friends. My brother and I haven’t gotten along in our adult years so I don’t know much of what’s going on in his life. The friends of his I saw he had known since our childhood so I spent some time catching up them.

    The conversation turned kind of uncomfortable when they told me he has recently developed what they think is a drug addiction. They don’t think anyone in my family knows but they have had to start distancing themselves from him and the situation. I kind of felt like they are expecting me to “do” something about it. I don’t know what I can “do”?

    I had to cut down contact with him years ago for my own mental health. I still see him at family functions and we basically act like the other doesn’t exist. I also try not to bring him up in conversation with my parents because they accuse me bad mouthing him.

    I guess I don’t know what I’m looking for by posting here but if anyone has been in a similar situation I would be interested in hearing about it.

    1. WellRed*

      I lost my brother last year to chronic health issues related to drug abuse. I minimized regular contact a tad but we were friendly enough. You can’t do anything though. , especially if your parents are acting this way.

    2. fposte*

      I think probably they knew that doing something was beyond them and that the best they could do was report it to the family. That doesn’t mean the family knows what to do either.

      It sounds like it would be hard to tell your parents. I might still try, just so if he wants money they at least have an idea of where it might go, but if your parents have made it too difficult for honesty it’s on them if they don’t get it.

      Sorry about the situation; the weird and uncertain ones are often the hardest.

    3. Not A Manager*

      The expectations of others in these situations can weigh unreasonably heavy for a lot of reasons. I think it would be helpful for you to acknowledge that they might have had “expectations” of you, sit with how you feel about that, think about why those expectations engender such strong feelings, and then move on from whatever you think they expect. In the end, they are not you, they don’t know your situation, and only you can decide what’s safest and healthiest for you and your relatives.

      In terms of what to do… Maybe nothing. Maybe this is FYI information that doesn’t have an action item.

      If you think that your parents are at risk of exploitation, or if you think that they might be in a position to favorably influence your brother, then maybe you want to tell them, once, what you’ve heard. You can minimize the accusations of badmouthing by being very factual (“this is what x told me, I have no idea whether it’s true, but I wanted to share it with you in case you’ve noticed something similar”), but probably you can’t escape the accusation altogether. The question would be whether it’s worth tolerating one more accusation if it’s possible that sharing the information really could be valuable to someone.

    4. RC Rascal*

      This is not the same but there may be parallels. When someone is dealing with a difficult mental health/addiction situation people tend to expect the family to magically “ Do” something. Even when there isn’t much that can be done.

      I am dealing with the aftermath of a mother who was a hoarder. People don’t understand it. I get lots of bizarre comments from people as to why I didn’t “ Do” anything about it. She hid the problem and refused to deal with it or allow assistance of any kind.

      As painful as it is sometimes you just have to allow these things to play out on their own.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would have continued the conversation a few minutes because it would have been a relief to talk to someone “who gets it”. But that is me.

      I do not think they expected you to do anything. I suspect you expect *you* to do something and there is really nothing to do. We cannot help someone who does not want help.
      I think the most I would have done here is said, “Yes, I understand. I have also separated paths with my brother.”
      BUT you do not have to say this if you do not want to. For me, it would feel like I could finally exhale.

      I think they were just looking for some confirmation that they were not alone in the observations and thinking.

      Everyone finds their own path when it comes to how they choose to deal with a person suffering an addiction. My aunt kept giving my cousin money, until she lost her house. Then there was no more money to give, so cousin went total no contact. We tried to tell Aunt that this adult child was going to bleed her penniless. The therapist tried saying the same thing… and nothing stopped the process. She just kept giving him money.

      With my father’s drinking, some family members got it and some family members did not believe alcohol addiction is a thing. No, he’s not addicted. hmmm. Fortunately for me family decided not to cut ties with him, they kept talking to him and helping him. And no, he never stopped drinking and it was probably a contributing factor in his death. A big difference here between these two stories was my father was quite likable and he did not accept money from other people… ever.

      Again, there is nothing for you to do here. If you would like you could learn more about addiction and it’s layers of complexity but that would be just for your own knowledge and your own fortification, as this can get super heart wrenching.

    6. Stella*

      Could you get in touch with his friends again and ask them to talk to your parents without mentioning that they had talk to you? If your parents won’t listen to you because they know you’re on the outs with your brother, perhaps they’ll listen to his friends? Good luck.

    7. Girasol*

      No solutions here, just sympathy. My brother got into drugs and alcohol. Six stints in rehab didn’t help. The alcohol always won. Family and friends tried one thing and another but nothing worked. Everyone said that someone really ought to do something but no one knew what more they could do. It’s no surprise that friends who had run out of ideas for helping your brother hoped that perhaps telling you might help somehow. If you find an opportunity to help him, of course, take it, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t see a way either.

    8. fposte*

      It just occurred to me that I do have relevant experience with an in-law. There was a big life upheaval and it took two stints in rehab, but they’re living a good life now, so it’s possible.

  34. House sitter question*

    Dh and I are taking a short vacation soon. We will be gone about 10 days and have arranged for a house/pet sitter.

    The sitter is actually a nanny for a nearby relative’s kids, so I’m not terribly worried about how she will treat my pets. Or my house.

    I’d like her to be comfy here. She’s already met the pets and gotten the general lowdown on how to care for them.

    What do you do when you leave your house in other people’s hands? We usually board the dogs and cats and have someone come over daily to take care of the outside animals so this is new territory for me. I’ve never used a house sitter/pet sitter, lol.

    I’ve told her to eat the food, drink the drinks, sleep in whatever bed she feels like. Use the truck to take the dogs to doggy daycare for a day she can’t be here. What else can I do to make her stay here comfy?

    1. Alex*

      Make sure to leave instructions on how to adjust the temperature in the house, use the TV, etc. Make sure there is plenty of TP, dish soap, and other supplies like that. If you have preferences about if she can have people over, let her know about them.

      1. House sitter question*

        Yep! All good points. I tend to have stuff in mostly obvious places but I don’t want her to have to look for TP.

        We did tell her it was fine to have a friend stay over. I don’t particularly care if she has a boyfriend stay there. Honestly, don’t care. Or if it’s just a friend. She said “friend” and I’m not horrified at the thought.

        My relative trusts her with her three small kids, in her house, with her car and overnights. It’s a bit less than hiring a stranger.

      2. KittyCardigans*

        The TV instructions are so, so useful for housesitters/babysitters. I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to get technology to work at other people’s houses, and it can be really frustrating when the system is different from your own.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      I think sometimes being too accommodating is more stressful than laying out instructions/boundaries properly. e.g instead of sleep in whichever bed, letting her know ‘X guestroom is set up for you but feel free to move if A, B or C happens’.

      Emergencies need to be covered. Contact details for all the house issues (plumbing etc.) and also the pet issues (Vet A for these animals, Vet B for these, call C if it’s a middle of the night animal emergency etc.)

      1. House sitter question*

        Yeah- I’m definitely worried about pet emergencies because there is really no good solution here. The regular vet has just directed us to the emergency vet clinic which he an have an 8 hour plus wait. My BIL will be home during the time we are gone so he is the first contact. My brother lives close by too so he can help as needed. That brother does all sorts of things plumbing and electrical stuff so he’s a good stand by person.

        It’s definitely a top concern, at least for the dogs and cats. (The chickens, not so much. I don’t take my hens to the avian vet.)

        1. fposte*

          A friend of mine has a big red binder with all the relevant pet info sitting prominently out on a table.

    3. Not A Manager*

      This is a good time for the info sheet that Red Reader described above. Wifi info, tricky door locks, weird shower faucet, etc. Emergency vet info and who to call if something goes wrong with the house.

      Be careful about telling her to eat and drink whatever she likes unless you mean it. My friend told a house-sitter she could “open a bottle of wine.” Apparently the house-sitter heard that as “drink as much as you like of my fancy wine collection.” Hilarity did not ensue.

      1. House sitter question*

        Ha! Yeah, I have a some frozen wild Alaskan salmon and halibut that a relative dropped off recently so I’ll be marking those with a sticky note. Most of our wine is under $40/bottle and there isn’t that much of it, so not worried about it.

        I saw that sheet of info from Red Reader and it’s a really great idea! Thanks

        1. Pennyworth*

          How about putting out a bottle of wine for her along with a gift card so she can order in a nice meal or buy groceries she likes. My daughter house sits quite a bit and never likes to use food in the house even if she is told to, but she will use a gift card.

    4. Kathenus*

      Agree with others on the info sheet, I just updated mine today for an upcoming trip. I suggest in addition to house stuff be very clear about pet care expectations – I do a.m. and p.m. basic routines written out as a resource. It’s not to make it so specific that it has to be ‘just so’, it’s to have an easy scan reference sheet to not forget important details. I know what I’ve liked when I’ve been the petsitter, so I think about that when I’m making an info sheet for a petsitter.

      1. House sitter question*

        Yeah that’s what I’m worried about- being far too specific. I will not wait until the last minute to write it out. She’s perfectly competent and I’ve already talked to her about emergency contacts etc.

        I can see leaving a small notebook though. /engineer

        1. Kathenus*

          You can totally balance the details and not being micro-managey, intentionally. I even have written into mine things like a.m. routine – options include this, that, the other, or use your imagination – for some areas. The reason to me for the list is it’s easy to think you remember the details when someone shows you but when your brain is full of other life stuff and the owners are gone, so easy to be less confident that you’re not forgetting something.

    5. Dino*

      It sounds like you have things covered! Two things I’ve really appreciated when house sitting: info on trash/recycling pickup and the location of bedding. I like to change the sheets on the last day because nothing sucks more than coming home from a trip and needing to make a bed/change sheets ASAP.

  35. Dino Gal*

    It’s a teenage stereotype to daydream about running away from home, but I never had that when I was younger. Now though, in my 30s, I would love to run away from home. Ditch my job and responsibilities to run away and join the circus. That sounds lovely right now. My daydream is to buy a walk around dinosaur costume and a trailer to put it in and travel around the country making money by doing photo ops and interactions at cons, carnivals, zoos, anywhere else that would like to have a dinosaur. What’s your run away from home daydream?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t have one, but a dear friend bought a huge inflatable unicorn costume during the height of the pandemic and did drivebys to cheer people up.

    2. Not A Manager*

      My run away from home daydream is to live very frugally in a tiny rental apartment and spend all the money that I save on luxury travel.

    3. Migrating Coconuts*

      I commuted to college, I got married and had my first kid before I was done college, got divorced with custody of 2 toddlers, got married again and had another kid 10 years apart, so I have spent my entire life living with other people and taking care of those people/running a household while working. My kids are great and so is my husband, but I dream of running away to the highlands of Scotland and living by myself. With great internet access so I can get all my favorite books and movies, maybe work in a tiny local shop or library, and just live by myself, rejoicing in my introvert/hermit tendencies. :)

      1. usernames are anonymous*

        I dream of running away to a bothy by the sea in the Scottish Highlands too. There’s a old BBC series called Monty Halls Great Escape. He went to Scotland for 6 months and rebuilt a bothy,grew vegetables, raised pigs. He had a rescue dog Rufus and the scenes with them walking along the beach in all kinds of weather were lovely and I daydream of doing that.

    4. Bobina*

      Definitely having dreams of running away from home right now. I’d like to be independently wealthy, have a fabulous house near a beach, and spend 1-2 days/week doing some kind of useful thing contributing to society, and the rest of the time just lazing about being a beach bum.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Independently wealthy. Such an evocative phrase lol. That’s what I’d like too ;) I’d love to travel the world playing music to people (stage fright magically gone) but not really needing the money, it’s just for fun. And plenty of exploring foreign places.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      My running away from home dream is spending months on a solo trip visiting parks and wilderness, camping or staying in cabins. Sandstone canyons, old-growth forests, high ridges with views, coastal bluffs, lots of wildlife sightings. And of course the weather is always perfect.

    6. marvin the paranoid android*

      I always had the dream of walking across the country (in my case Canada, so that’s a long walk). I once thought about busking from one town to another, but now I’m thinking of making it into a kind of conceptual art piece.

      1. Loopy*

        A family member did this in 1980 with a group in the US- they called it hikanation. You can look it up. I think it was a highlight of his life. I always wondered if there was some modern equivalent.

    7. Marie*

      You sound like someone who might really enjoy Burning Man (I say this as a Burner myself). It’s not exactly running away to join the circus, but it is a short time when you can step outside the frame of your normal life and then can reevaluate what you want to keep when you come back. Dinosaur outfits welcomed.

    8. Loopy*

      I want a cabin in the woods. I live in a nice modest suburban neighborhood and worked my butt off to get here but damnit I cannot stop dreaming of a small cottage/cabin on a few acres surrounded by nature.

      This past late spring/summer, I took my dad on an extended weekend and got a lovely cabin in the mountains in Vermont. It was a DREAM. Since then, he’s repeatedly tried to warn me about the difference between being an air bnb guest and reality of owning a second property but the daydream lives on STRONG six months after the trip.

      My bank account will not allow such a thing but my dad still seems nervous about it, ha.

    9. Tris Prior*

      My partner and I fantasize about running away to a beach and opening up a bar there. Of course, then one of us points out “but that would mean having to deal with drunk a-holes!” and we amend that plan to being just full-on unapologetic beach bums.

    10. Anima*

      Mine is currently super small: I want to have my own room. I would totally run away to flat without my husband and have my own space (without divorcing him somehow). I hate that I have my own desk, but no space for crafting, since that desk holds my computer and two monitors. We also need a big desk for board games. I wish to pack my stuff and just run away to somewhere with space!

  36. T Stew*

    I recently made sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew) and it was a 10/10! My cooking is usually a 5/10 and it felt amazing to eat and know ~I made that!~ I wish I could do that all the time, even with “simple” things like roasting potatoes.

    For those of you who are great cooks, what do you think takes your food or meals to the next level? Is it one or two things that make the difference or a whole series of events?

    I know not everything can be 10/10, but if I could get my weekday cooking up to a 7 or 8 more consistently that would be so cool.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      In terms of flavour, salt and other seasonings. Don’t be afraid to have a heavy hand.

      In terms of behaviour, not being afraid. I was very overcautious in a lot of directions including both over and undercooking food at time, specifically overcooking meat and undercooking things involving pastry and dough. My cooking improved a lot when I just let myself be more confident in my decisions vs. just clock/recipe watching.

      1. T Stew*

        Holy crap, this is me! Typically not heavy handed on the salt and spices, I overcook meat, and mostly decent in the bakery department, but I terribly undercooked my last attempt at making blueberry biscuits even after cooking longer than directed (should have just bought the bag I saw at the grocery store).

        Most of the time I am a distracted and insecure cook. However, I was so excited to try making the stew that I think all that went out the window and I ended up doing a great job. I’m going to try that attitude in my future cooking endeavors :)

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Properly seasoning will get you a long way and you’ll start recognising as you taste what the food needs. Figuring out the balance of salt, sweet, bitter, spicy, umami etc. will really help get you to that next level.

    2. Ethyl*

      Learning about the science of food and cooking helped me become a much better cook! Alton Brown’s books, the Serious Eats website, Cooks Illustrated magazine, and anything written by Harold McGee all helped me a lot. Good luck!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        America’s Test Kitchen (the people who publish Cook’s Illustrated & Cook’s Country) are great, because they explain why recipes work, & what didn’t during development. I love them, & their tips are phenomenal.

      1. T Stew*

        Yes! I totally meant to add it.

        I currently live in a rural-ish area and my choices for acquiring ingredients are limited, so I tried with Alison Roman’s version. I used a little less than a tablespoon of fish sauce on step 3 and a splash+ of rice vinegar on step 4. Also, there is only firm tofu in this state apparently LOL, so I used that instead of silken. When eating with rice, don’t add too much rice! I could have tackled my husband when he said it didn’t taste like anything. I had a bite from his bowl and the rice muted the flavor significantly.

        Also, if you feel like watching the accompanying YT video, know that is she isn’t joking when she said it is “truly chaotic”.


    3. The Dogman*

      “what do you think takes your food or meals to the next level?”

      Learning that you can always add more, but you can never ever take away.

      This is the cooking equivilent of the carpentry “measure twice, cut once” but also in cooking sometimes measure twice is useful too!

    4. Bobina*

      Oooh I love this question. I think for me, there’s two things:
      One is taking the time to understand more of the fundamentals. Why do certain things work? What is some of the science behind things? Really understanding techniques vs just following recipes. Ethyl has recommended some resources, but for me it was just watching *a lot* of cooking related things (cooking shows on TV/Youtube). Currently, one of the people I enjoy a lot is Sohla El Waylly who used to be on Bon Appetit but is now on Food 52. A lot of her videos are initially recipes, but also break down the fundamentals of what she’s doing and why, which helps a lot.

      The other part is understanding where you go wrong! So for example while I love food and know a lot about it, I’m terrible at following instructions and love to improvise. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesnt. But I know that about myself, and understand that it sometimes means I might have a few disasters if I choose to go off piste. Often if I force myself to not add just one more ingredient or actually follow a recipe exactly, it works out quite well. So understanding where you go wrong is often the first step to starting to go right.

      But also, more salt, sugar and/or fat are often key in making things taste amazing ;)

    5. marvin the paranoid android*

      The feeling you describe here is why I like to cook! I know how to make things that I like, and I can pretty consistently cook things that I prefer to most takeout. It took a few years to get to this point, but I can’t say that I followed a specific plan. I just tried making a wide variety of things and took note of when something worked and when it didn’t. If you collect a big binder of recipes or a big collection of cookbooks, you can write tons of marginal notes that will help you improve. I highly recommend Cooks Illustrated as a source of reliable recipes.

      These days I’d say my cooking “superpower” is that I can look at a recipe and pretty accurately envision how the final product will turn out, based on the ingredients and the techniques used. That allows me to make tweaks to the recipe to improve it as I go, or abandon the recipe if I can tell it’s not going to work. When a recipe turns out better than I think it will, that always impresses me, and I go back to see what other recipes the author used.

    6. LNLN*

      Well, I don’t consider myself a great cook, but people tell me I am. I did learn a lot about food chemistry in college and I apply that knowledge to improve recipes. So read books or watch videos about what happens when food ingredients are mixed and cooked. Also, when I look for recipes online, I read the comments people make and often use the techniques or substitutions suggested in the comments. Good luck!

    7. Purt’s Peas*

      Mostly it boils down to thoughtfulness—and salt fat acid heat, a la Samin Nosrat. Do your dishes have enough fat? Salt? Are they brightened with acid? Are you frying to golden brown, cooking gently, roasting—any of those are lovely but are you making the decision and doing it fully?

      Also if you’re inventin’, there’s a really nice formula in Simple by Yotam Ottelenghi which is: prepare the thing, maybe roasting, braising, or fresh. Add an acidic creamy sauce. Add a fresh/acid/crunchy topping.

      For example, green beans. Blanch em. Add a creamy sauce—oil, lemon juice, chopped herbs. Add a topping—toasted chopped pistachios & parm.

    8. Esmeralda*

      Use enough salt

      Don’t poke/move/lift up anything you want to get brown in the pan

      Leave the lid on the rice and do not be tempted to peek until the cooking time is up (or get a zojirushi rice cooker)

      Spend time cooking with someone who is a good cook

      When you taste/eat the food you’ve cooked, think about what’s good about it (so you can do it again) and what you’d change to make it better

      Keep cooking! Like most everything else, it takes practice

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      Every so often it’s a little tool. Like i just got a fish spatula and now flipping delicate fried foods is so much easier! I’m not a big fan of single use items, and I know that they say a poor carpenter blames his tools, but every so often there is one thing that just makes things easier. And I’m all about simple, easy cooking… i don’t care how good something tastes, if it was too complicated or involved to make, I’m not going to make it again.
      Two more examples:
      -Tofu press for making paneer that actually sticks together
      – food mill for making silky easy apple sauce

    10. Lilith*

      Learn about herbs and spices. They really can make the difference between something tasting great to tasting absolutely incredible.

  37. Runner*

    When I was much younger my dream was to run away from home and rent a small inexpensive charming cottage by the sea. I would take long solitary walks along the shore, collect shells, watch the birds and the whales and write precious thoughts. Someone would buy, publish and pay me for the precious things I wrote. And even though I was poor, I might still have enough money to hire someone to cook and clean for me.

    More recently, I dream of getting in my car and driving along the Interstate until, at some point, I stop at a truck stop in some little town that’s just a wide spot in the road and I get a job waiting tables there. I move into a double-wide trailer house and, every once in a while, I might pick up a handsome trucker.

  38. Double A*

    I haven’t listened to them, but On the Media had a podcast in the past month about all the mon podcasts that are out right now. Like, a bunch of former mobsters have podcasts. You could listen to that for some ideas.

    Also I think Slow Burn did a season about the East Coast/West coast rap rivalry.

  39. Come On Eileen*

    Women who live where it snows: what is your favorite snow boot? I’m going to be visiting the snow a lot this winter and need some good boots that offer warmth and traction. Good looking would be a bonus. So far in my research, Sorels seem to be popular and I’m leaning toward the Tivoli IV Tall, but am open to other suggestions or advice on what to look for.

    1. Fall Leaves*

      Do you get Rieker or Ara shoes where you live? I can’t find the exact model I have ant more from one of these brands but it works great in snow but looks like regular winter shoes.

    2. Tofu Fan*

      I bought a pair of Kamik boots a few years ago. They have great traction and are super warm. I also have Blondo waterproof boots that aren’t as warm but are dressier. They’re expensive but worth it for me.

      1. PT*

        I LOVE Kamik boots. I had a pair of lined Kamik snowboots that were key when I lived in Boston, and now that I live somewhere warmer, I have a pair of Kamik rainboots that I use in the rain and in the mud and brush in the yard. They’re essential.

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      I grew up on an area where it either snowed or was 35 degrees and raining from October to April, I loved my LL Bean boots. We called them ducks but they are rubber on the bottom and leather from basically the ankles up. So warm dry feet no matter the weather.

    4. Eden*

      Love my Sorels. I have some older Tivoli than IV (not tall though) and it’s very warm and comfortable. And cute imo.

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I have a pair of Uggs Adirondack winter boots that I love. I tried Sorel boots but i found the insoles rather hard, whereas the Uggs were comfy the moment I put them on. I had a friend say similar things that she loves her Sorels but they tend to wear through her socks rather quickly.
      I usually will order a bunch of shoes/boots from zappos and try them all on to see what works best for me.

    6. Warm feet are everything*

      Manitobah Mukluks! They’ve been keeping my feet warm in -30 weather for three seasons so far and holding up great, they are incredibly comfortable and beautiful, and it’s an Indigenous-owned company. Not cheap, but worth it, in my opinion as a person who walks 30 min to work each way in the Canadian winter :)

    7. AGD*

      I’m in Ottawa, Ontario. My winter boots are from Pajar; they’re very warm and have little panels underneath that can flip out to reveal spikes for traction!

    8. Alaska_Blue*

      I am on my second pair of Baffin winter boots, that fit a wide calf, and are waterproof. The Baffin Madeleine, which unfortunately they do not make anymore. First pair lasted 3 years with daily winter lunchtime walks in Alaska. Looks great with skirts/dresses and has plenty of room to tuck pants into. Great traction and easy on/off. When my current pair (winter 3 this year) wears out, I’ll start at Baffin first. Found them at Zappos.

    9. DistantAudacity*

      Love my Merrels – I’ve had several different pairs.

      My main trick is to put in an extra insulating insole, of the ty

      1. DistantAudacity*

        pe that is foil on the underside and wool on top. I do this with most of my winter shoes/boots

  40. PrincessB*

    What are your favorite natural shampoos? I seen to have developed an allergy to the shampoo I’ve been using for a decade (Organix/OGX). My scalp got super itchy (no flakes, bumps or parasites, just itchy). I finally got my scalp to calm down with baking soda paste and Benadryl (anti- histamine). But I need to be able to wash my hair.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I’m not sure if they’re particularly natural, but I’ve had very good results with Neutrogena shampoos when I’ve had allergy problems with my skin and scalp. I especially like their T/Gel Shampoo when dealing with dandruff, and redness of the scalp, but their basic anti-residue shampoo is gentle and great.

    2. 00ff00Claire*

      I have started using the Hibar brand soap and shampoo. I use the blue ones and I don’t notice too much difference in how my hair responds compared to when I was using OGX brand. I feel like my hair is clean and the scent is pretty light. Even though I have sensitive skin, I’ve never been bothered by a shampoo before, so I can’t comment on whether I find Hibar less irritating than others. If you go to their website, you can search for physical stores where it is sold – it’s only sold at Whole Foods in my area, for example. You can also buy it online though.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      The Body Shop ginger shampoo and conditioner is great – on the pricey side, but their rewards scheme has good discounts. Search online for fragrance free shampoo, gentle shampoo or sensitive scalp shampoo. (I used to use OGX products too, but the fragrance was just too irritating for my scalp.)
      I’ve also found that using a scalp scrub a couple of times a week is helpful, but you may have to try a few to find one that works for you.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I use bar shampoo from Chagrin Valley soap company and find it pretty gentle. There is kind of an adjustment period, though, when I started using it where my hair just felt heavy and gross, but then everything kind of magically got better.

    5. ATX*

      I tried many natural shampoos including Organix and eventually had to stop bc of the same issues you have. I now use Pureology (sp?) and my hair and scalp have been so healthy!

    6. Elle Woods*

      I’ve been using Odele shampoo & conditioner for about 18 months now and love the difference its made in my hair. There are different varieties (volumizing, moisturizing, ultra sensitive, curly hair, smoothing, clarifying, etc.). I believe it’s exclusively sold at Target, though you can also buy it online at Odele’s website.

    7. Batgirl*

      Shea moisture. Alas, they’re discontinuing the best one; the coconut and hibiscus, but I like what they do across the range. Lots of quality natural ingredients and gentle cleansing that actually does clean your hair. I have scalp psoriasis so I need to clean it without angering it. I steer clear of sodium laureth sulphate, which is in most shampoos because most people like to have the super lather foam party type of shampoo; which is great if you have greasy hair and scalp, not so great if it’s dry and sensitive (but my hair does get greasy too).

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have sensitive skin and allergies, and for many years I’ve been happy with Desert Essence’s Fragrance-Free Gentle Shampoo. It’s worked great for me. I use in combination with their Fragrance-Free Conditioner.

      1. JustEm*

        I use this too!
        I previously used clean and clear by the makers of vanicream, and it is even less likely to trigger skin allergies but the dessert essences makes my hair shinier :)

    9. Blomma*

      I use Aveda hair products and have for probably 14-15 years with no issues. Before that I had to change which shampoo/conditioner brand I was using every few months or it would make my head itch terribly. I have scent sensitivities as well and my Aveda products are lightly scented enough that they don’t aggravate those issues.

        1. Not a cat*

          There’s a podcast, “The Beauty Brains” the hosts are cosmetic chemists. They talk about haircare a lot and I’ve found I spend less money on hair and skincare but am happier with my choices,

    10. Hornets*

      I actually wash my hair with baking soda and water. It got rid of my dandruff and itchy scalp. I put 2 tbsp of baking soda in a squirt container, mix with water, and use it up over 4-5 days.

  41. Chaordic One*

    I was one of the lucky people who was able to take Thursday off from work to celebrate Veteran’s Day in the U.S. It was a much needed and appreciated break from work. That morning I was absent-mindedly watching TV and flipping channels when I came upon a (new to me) channel called Digi-TV that features reruns of British and Australian TV shows, along with a whole bunch of paid infomercials. There were a whole bunch of crime shows, including endless reruns of “Midsomer Murders.”

    What surprised me were the many shows about home remodeling. It was like the British version of HGTV. There was one called “Country House Rescue” where owners of large estates turn to a professional to help them find a way to keep ownership of their estates. One owner ended up turning his mansion into a cooking school where guests stayed overnight in the bedrooms for a several day stay while they learned new cooking techniques and recipes. There was also a show called “Restoration Man” where the star helped people preserve old buildings and turn them into homes. I never knew such shows existed and it was entertaining to watch.

    Has anyone else ever unexpectedly come across something like this, that many people already probably know about, but that was complete news to you?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a history buff and THIS sit introduced me to “Secrets of the Castle” and the other living-history shows the same team did. I finally gave up on trying to get my family to watch it with me, and I’m diving into the Victorian period with them.

    2. Daphne (UK)*

      I think it’s George Clarke that’s the presenter on Restoration Man. He’s done about a million similar shows here in the uk but I love his demeanour, so enthusiastic about everything!

    3. banoffee pie*

      Yeah those restoration shows are very popular here in the UK for some reason. Often they involve Nick Knowles in some way. People even seem to like watching people buying small, ordinary houses, painting them up a bit and selling them on. Eg Homes Under the Hammer. It’s a bit like your Flipping…wherever show.

      1. Batgirl*

        I would quite like to see old episodes of House Doctor or Changing Rooms because they were hilarious. House Doctor always did a decent job and sold the unsellable house, but the owners always seemed to want her to say: “This is perfect, you don’t need me at all!” They would get offended if she suggested something simple, like: “I know you have five sofas in here for your many grandchildren, but a buyer probably only wants to see two, and then how much extra space that leaves in the room”. That couple made a memorably sniffy speech about how young people don’t decorate for themselves any more after moving in. I have no idea why they were on the programme then! On Changing Rooms, you had the opposite problem with the decor involving primary colour paints, life size statues, lit candles strewn across the room so you couldn’t walk across, a chessboard floor, or the designer’s face as a mural on the wall. It never looked like somewhere a real person would live, it looked like the set of a new play called Nightmare in Wonderland. The reactions of the owners were always pretty memorable. I went shopping for a sofa last weekend and Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen actually has his own range of furniture that looks like it’s come straight from a Roman orgy. I don’t understand how he’s successful at all after all the mockery he took in the nineties.

        1. banoffee pie*

          lol I know, LLB seemed to turn the vulgarity into a feature not a bug. Have to admire him for that. I guess he can’t really bring out a range of tasteful miminalist stuff in soft neutral tones ;) I used to absolutely love Changing Rooms but I was well aware I wouldn’t have wanted the tean in my house. Sometimes after the makeover, the looks on the victims’, I mean participants’, faces made me feel really sorry for them. Bendy MDF as far as the eye could see.

  42. Computer Engineer*

    Has anyone had success relearning concepts from college? I had to learn a ton of things in college – advanced calculus, physics, circuits, organic chemistry, etc – that were pre-reqs in order to take my higher level classes, but then none of that knowledge was needed ever again once I got to the coding phase. I’m drawn to smart people, so my current life involves a lot of very smart phd folks who rapidly whip out complex equations and it has me missing my old days of being able to understand even basic trigonometry, much less the complicated stuff. There’s some side projects I could get back into if I understood matrix math again.

    With winter setting in and the pandemic stretching on, doing some old school studying to get my old skills back is really alluring. I learn best with workbooks – reading physical pages and putting a pen to paper – but all I’m really finding is review books for passing professional exams that just give practice questions or the barest of an overview because it assumes I just finished learning this stuff in the past couple months rather than a decade ago. Online courses haven’t done anything for me – I think its a combo of not being able to look at screens after 8-12hrs a day of work related screen time and not being an audio learning.

    Anyone have a brand of workbook that tends to be useful? (Amazon reviews on a lot of them are rather negative and bring up wrong answers and typos). Or have you basically given yourself the book version of a college crash course? I’m a total nerd who would have happily spent my life as a forever student so once I get the topics I want back I’d love to keep branching out into all of the sciences.

    1. snail's breath*

      For college level work: Schaum’s Series. (schaum’s outline series). Tons of topics, some books better than others. Basic intro to the subject, then worked problems, then problems, mostly with worked answers. The only one I hated was a Fluid Mechanics book, in part because it wasn’t using SI units. But, Schaum’s is my go-to for new technical topic.

    2. Missb*

      Have you considered Khan academy?

      When I sat for my PE exam, I found my EI exam and the PE exam books to by helpful. They covered general chem, physics and calc type math.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Two thoughts:

      (1) Could you buy a textbook? You can read through the section/chapter to brush up on the concept, follow the step-by-step solution to an example problem, then take a crack at a few (or all!) of the problems at the end of the chapter. There are probably reasonably priced used textbooks available online from college students looking to resell when their professors switch to the newest edition.

      (2) Are there community college classes in your area? Like you, I can’t do online classes, so a community college with a night pre-calc or calculus course could be a good way to stay motivated.

    4. tangerineRose*

      Maybe check the library for books? There are better books about a lot of this type of thing now.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I’ve even forgotten how to do long division. Crap, even long multiplication…and proper adding and subtracting. I know it’s bad. I feel guilty about it.

  43. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Question about formatting a document so it can be printed like a half page booklet.

    Hello, I have a recipe book in Microsoft Word. It is just for myself and to share with my kids. I would like to print it in a half page size but also have page numbers, headers, etc. Its currently in a full page format because that is the only way I can figure out how to have page numbers and headers. I then change the layout to two columns in landscape mode, print and cut in half – but the page numbers don’t work that way.

    Any templates I find for a booklet size are not expandable – I frequently add recipes so I need something I can easily update.

    Ideally I would like a format that you can print out 2 sided (and ends up in the correct order.)

    Does anyone know of a program that can do this?

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

      Professional level design programs would do this — InDesign or QuarkXpress — but it would be much easier to manually number your pages unless you’re making a large booklet. The trick to making “printers spreads” is that number of pages must be in increments of 4 (4, 8, 12, 16…) and you start numbering on the right side and alternate until you reach the middle spread…this is so much easier to show than describe…so you could google printer spreads and look at a diagram.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Create a page layout in Word that is 5.5″ x 8.5″ and write all your recipes in that.

      When you are ready to create, print it to a pdf file. It’s ideal if you can make it a multiple of 4 pages, but that’s not necessary.

      Next, google and download a program called PDF Booklet. Add your pdf files (Files menu >> Files) and click “Go”. It will create a new pdf that is 11″ x 8.5″ with all your pages imposed in print-ready order. Print double-sided, making sure to duplex along the short edge. You will now have a booklet that you can fold in half and staple using a saddle stapler, or staple in the middle with a long-reach stapler and then fold in half.

      Your local copy shop should have both of those staplers, if you don’t want to invest in them.

      Technically, what PDF Booklet does is called “page imposition”. Enjoy!

    3. RagingADHD*

      This is in my print settings. I lay out the page full size as normal, and then go into print settings and hit “booklet.” It does all the mumbo jumbo of putting the pages in the right order automagically.

      I don’t know if you have this option in WORD, but for sure it’s in Adobe Reader. So you can print full size to a PDF from Word, and then print the resulting PDF as a booklet.

      1. Buni*