{ 824 comments… read them below }

  1. Silver*

    Reasons to be optimistic about this year? I am worried that it’s all just going to be the same and worse – worse climate change, gun violence, political corruption, pandemic… I want to see this year as a fresh slate but I just feel dread looking ahead

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I think both optimism and pessimism aren’t warranted. The year ahead will probably be globally difficult and internally-to-the-US difficult, but we’re not faced with an incontrovertible apocalypse–we can work to make it better.

      1. Artemesia*

        I doubt if 2022 is the year but read Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson — you only need to read the first chapter to see what the world holds for most people in the future. I was unaware of the physics and biology of the impact of global warming; this makes is vivid and clear. It doesn’t have to get very hot for the planet to be unlivable for any humans who don’t have access to air conditioning — and how long will that last once things get to that point?

        The failure to deal with climate change responsibly is mankind’s greatest failure. And there will be a point of no return. Happy New Year

        1. Purt's Peas*

          Huh?

          I wasn’t opening a debate about the reality of global warming. It’s real and serious. What I’m saying is that it’s not great to sit back and despair about how it’s coming and nothing can stop it. We can still work to lessen its progression and impact.

          1. Purt's Peas*

            I want to add, sorry–I definitely don’t want to start a political discussion here, and I know little things like “tone” and “a common base of understanding the seriousness of the issue” don’t come through on internet forums ;)

            Genuinely a happy new year to you both. Let’s do what work we can to improve and protect our world.

            1. Retired (but not really)*

              Definitely not debating climate change, but certainly experiencing weather volatility. 80 this afternoon, 70 now, due to be 30 when we wake up in the morning. Then cold for two or three days and then expecting back up to fall/spring temps the rest of the week. Gotta love Texas weather!

          2. WellRed*

            I read artemisias comment as a related reading suggestion, not trying to open a debate with you or anyone else.

          3. Lucy Skywalker*

            Global warming is 100% real, but the OP is looking for reasons to be optimistic, not to panic. This is the wrong conversation for this comment.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I think the book recommendation is one that did leave most readers feeling hopeful, that there were problems but there always had been, and we could face them.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Adding: Thanks to those who recommended this book, which I picked up at the bookstore today.

                His “Years of Rice and Salt” is an excellent alternate history, and I was captivated by the world-building in “2312” even while eh on the ostensible main plot. Hopeful world building right now is a good spot to look for hope.

          4. Pennyworth*

            I’m always open to book recommendations and have just reserved Ministry for the Future at my local library. On the positive outlook for 2022, it seems that Omicron is displacing Delta and that this is good news in terms of hospitalizations etc, and this may be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. I am feeling quite optimistic, which is unusual for me.

        2. PT*

          The US- as a self contained unit- has a declining population that’s elder-heavy. So theoretically- and I say theoretically- we should be able to absorb relocating people to accommodate climate change, because we have capacity for more people than we have in our population. There’s entire dead cities and towns. Obviously fixing abandoned properties and infrastructure to be habitable is work, but it is not impossible.

          1. It's Growing!*

            Housing and such isn’t nearly as big a problem as water. If you haven’t got it, you can’t live.

        3. Jackalope*

          I read the book A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety by Sarah Jacquette Ray and found it to be super helpful. The author talks about ways to deal with anxiety around climate change, ways to envision a life where we will survive and still have happy lives even with climate change, and talks about small local projects that are making a collective difference and how to focus on those and figure out how to make a difference yourself instead of getting bogged up in guilt over the inability to solve the problem yourself. I found it to be super helpful.

    2. allathian*

      One day at a time… Also, is there anything you could do in your area to help, even in a small way, that might make you feel a bit better?

    3. Courageous cat*

      All of those things but the pandemic have been a problem every year. It’s a part of humanity. It’s just all perspective. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail – that sort of thing.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s not the most hopeful thought, but I try to remember that things don’t just feel bad now because it’s bad, but because it’s now. There have always been things to worry about, before I was aware of them and before I was born, and even though it is unusually miserable right now part of what makes it so hard is that I’m an adult and I’m paying attention.

      I think of, for example, watching Mad Men and seeing the episode about the Cuban middle crisis, or the novel I just read about someone who lived through both world wars. The world always feels about to end and so far it never has. It won’t always be like this, but also it HAS always been like this. That’s the best I’ve got right now lol

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I think this is so true. During the height of the Cold War many people fully expected that the world would end. And we’re still here.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I do find this consoling–that feeling on the verge of apocalypse is something people have done for a very long time, and the other ones didn’t come off.

        A recent cartoon made the point that people who wax poetical about a simpler time when things were clear often mean “when I was about 8 to 10.” And if you talk to someone who was 40 at that time, it was not simple, nothing was clear cut (or what seemed clear cut wasn’t going to look that way 40 years later), and the big issues of the day seemed like they could go lots of directions. What was simpler was how you interfaced with the world, not the world.

      3. Clisby*

        My grandmother saw the young man she loved go off to WWI (and, fortunately, come back) and 20 or so years later sent their only child, my father, off to WWII. I’m sure that was far more stressful than anything I’ve experienced.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Optimism: The bulbs and wildflowers in my yard are already sprouting, and my kale is still going strong. There are babies being born. The sun came up this morning.

      The world has always been full of heartbreak and wonder at the same time. Bad things are going to happen this year, and good things will happen too.

      Make good things happen yourself: Feed a neighbor. Rescue an animal. Be kind to someone who needs it. Do your advocacy, vote when you may, give and volunteer if you can, pray if you do.

      And then go stick your hands in some dirt and plant something that will give you beauty, or food, or both.

    6. Happily Retired*

      That’s an AMAZING book! After reading it, I started seeing some of the climate events happening in the real news.

      He’s a very optimistic writer, by the way, in the sense that although he describes various disastrous situations, his books then describe how things were corrected.

    7. Nicki Name*

      You probably didn’t get to start last year already vaccinated! Vaccines are my #1 reason why I refuse to say 2021 was worse than 2020.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Exactly. A vaccine exists and – well, those who refuse to get it – nature has a way of resolving that. We will reach herd immunity one way or another.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          Hey, I know you were making a joke about wilfully unvaccinated people dying, and reaching herd immunity that way, but considering the facts that immunocompromised people are still at risk even after vaccination, the well founded distrust and difficulty getting vaccinated or boosted in some communities, and the many children can’t get vaccinated or have anti-vax parents who won’t get them vaccinated, hearing about reaching herd immunity through death is kind of hurtful.

          1. Jackalope*

            I totally hear you and agree, as someone who is close to people in some of the categories that you mentioned, that it’s not great to look forward to them dying. On a more positive spin, we know that immunity from having had COVID isn’t as good as immunity from a vaccination but it’s not nothing, either. So I like to think of it as that while those who refuse to get vaccinated will have a tougher time of it, ultimately most of them will survive it too and we can still get herd immunity with that.

            Knowing that many viruses adjust and mutate over time to go from being deadly (which from their POV destroys a host and makes it harder to spread) to being a nuisance, I’m hopeful that COVID could go that way too. Having a week of being horribly sick isn’t pleasant and I’d rather skip it, but if COVID went to that from what it is now, so long COVID and deaths/hospitalizations were less of an issue, then we could live with it and move on. I’ve heard that the flu strain from 1918 is still around, but it’s much milder than it was and people usually survive it. I hope we can get there with COVID.

            1. MissElizaTudor*

              You’re echoing a lot of my thoughts when it comes to natural immunity (not as consistent as vaccine immunity, but definitely not nothing) and hoping that COVID follows the increasing transmission/decreasing deadliness path that many viruses follow.

              Those are definitely reasons to have optimism.

              Also, another thing to be optimistic about is the development of pre-exposure treatments like Evusheld (recently got emergency authorization in the US) that help people who don’t have robust immune responses avoid contracting COVID.

              The US government didn’t contract for nearly enough, an unfortunately they’re the only allowed distributors from what I can tell, but I also read that they’ve said they will contract for more, so I even have hope on that front, as well.

        2. AnnabelleLee*

          Exactly right. Vaccines for younger kids are coming. Very few who can’t get them for health reasons. In Western countries this is exactly right.

    8. BlueWolf*

      I am trying to remain hopeful by doing what I can in my own yard to improve the environment. I want to convert some of my unnecessary lawn (and some invasive plants) to native plants to support bees, butterflies, birds, etc. It will be a slow process and a lot of work, but I’m trying to just focus on taking it one step at a time. I am also planning to expand my vegetable garden. Growing vegetables from seed feels like magic. I planted several little cherry tomato seeds and they turned into over 8 foot tall plants! Last year was my first year growing vegetables and not everything was a success, but I learned a lot and will try to improve this year. I have also been reading about the relationship between plants, insects, birds, etc. and trying to work with nature instead of against it. My county is also starting curbside food waste collection for composting soon. I am glad that so much of our waste will no longer go to a landfill, and will be put to good use. It is easy to feel hopeless reading/watching the news, so I have to remind myself to look for the small victories and appreciate them.

    9. Girasol*

      I am optimistic. The pandemic has been awful but it’s brought a silver lining. Thanks to all the isolation, family dynamics are changing. Kids have had less structured time and more contact with family. People have re-examined their lives and relationships and changed priorities. While I don’t mean to focus on work on a Saturday, its stranglehold on work/life balance has begin to slacken in favor better working conditions and more life. Work and school from home are much better accepted. WFH/SFH can reduce commuting and pollution and the need to maintain two living spaces – home and office/school – for each person, which is better for the climate. (How long would we have waited for that without being shoved by a pandemic?) While we haven’t solved our (USA) medical insurance issues, sick leave problems, child care systems, and income inequality issues, we’ve seen them under a new spotlight and are more motivated to make changes long needed. We haven’t solved our climate change issues either, but we’ve been hit hard this year with some quite dramatic climate events that are converting doubters and foot draggers and breaking down barriers to climate action. Similarly, some of the over-the-top political events have pushed inert members of government into action. Not that we wanted any of those awful things last year, but they’re pushing us to stop coasting down harmful paths and make some course corrections that have long been needed. That makes me optimistic about a new year.

    10. fueled by coffee*

      A fable I’ve been told (this was introduced to me as a Jewish folktale but I’ve since heard versions from non-Jewish cultures, so I truly have no idea where it originated):

      A high tide had washed thousands upon thousands of starfish up onto the shore, where they would die from being out of the water. An man walking on the beach came across a young boy who was tossing starfish, one by one, back into the ocean.

      “What are you doing?” Asked the man. “You’re just one child. You’ll never be able to save them all. It won’t make a difference.”

      “Maybe not,” said the boy, holding a starfish. “But to this one, it makes all the difference in the world.”

      We, as individuals, can’t solve climate change or gun violence or the pandemic. But we can call a representative, vote for a candidate, donate blood, wear a mask, plant a seed. Individuals can’t fix systemic problems, but that doesn’t mean our efforts don’t matter.

      1. Pennyworth*

        That’s a lovely fable, and it speaks to our instinct to help in any way we can. It reminded me of a time I was swimming in a lake and there was a really heavy downpour. It was midsummer and thousands of dragonflies that had been zipping around above the lake got drenched and ended up floundering in the water. I spent a long time rescuing as many as I could, putting them on any surface where they could dry their wings. I only saved a fraction but I still remember it as a time I was able to be useful.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Animal rescue can be emotionally exhausting as the need is never-ending, yet there is a soothing saying that feels very similar:
        We can’t change the world, but for every one that we help, we can change their world.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Sometimes I read a certain astrology column. The horoscopes are pretty awful, but the astrologer does have some interesting comments about the positive things that happened in 2021. (Some of them are a bit political, like the person who was banned from Twitter.) Here’s a link to the column: https://newsletter.freewillastrology.com/p/conjuring-blessings-for-yourself?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjozNzM0MjcwNywicG9zdF9pZCI6NDYwODQ3MzMsIl8iOiJVN2lFbSIsImlhdCI6MTY0MTA2NTQwOSwiZXhwIjoxNjQxMDY5MDA5LCJpc3MiOiJwdWItMzU5MjU0Iiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.p0v27ugQiV_LmrWzsC1Bo0zHT54p5iBKHD0J33wLyFc

    12. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Struggling with this too. I feel like I am slated to do well this year, but it doesn’t feel great to do well when you’re surrounded by problems. I think the larger social problems will get worse before they get better. I think instead of catastrophizing them we need to accept this and learn to live with them and to delineate between what actually impacts us, versus items that are occurring in the world at large that have always existed and are just more in our face due to social media. Things getting worse is part of the process. They need to come to a head. Many problems haven’t come to a head yet. Crime, to use one of your examples. I live in an area that has some crime, and its on an uptick, and that scares me. Every time I try to discuss it with people from other areas like my parents, they go into denial mode or go into how it must be a one-off or not be that bad. The public at large really hasn’t grasped this. I don’t know why. I think they think it’s fear mongering. I think the opposite is true. Some of the crime around here has barely been reported and I only hear about some incidents through word of month. This is something that people ignore until it impacts them. I don’t have an answer on this.

      The pandemic, maybe you can be positive it’s coming to a head? That’s part of the process of it ending. I just saw a NYT that they predict the national peak to be mid-Jan. I know more people who’ve had covid over the past month than the entire 20 months. All vaccinated, and some boosted. Half of them working from home. I think we should be grateful the vast majority, if not all, have been mild cases. I see online people acting like it’s a moral failing to get covid, but this outbreak is showing it’s not. If you saw some of the people I know who still got it despite what they did. That may make some people feel helpless, but at the same time, I now know so many people who were better in a week and now can look forward to the next year and not have to worry about the constant fear of getting covid they’ve had for 20 months.

      You also need to find something concrete in your life to look forward to. I have been thinking about buying a house and prices are on the decline and I have more cash than expected by cashing out some stocks that shot up last week. Before I was doing well in this way, I had fitness goals or hiking goals I could work on. I built a repertoire of places to hike over the past few years and now have 20 places I know well and it’s now a no-brainer to take a day trip, where in the past I used to fret over going to a new place and worry about how long it took to get there, and what the parking is like, or if the trail is safe. Now a day trip to one of these places is low effort. And if I am worrying about the world at large, I can donate some cash to the Open Space Institute

    13. tab*

      The FDA recently issued Emergency Use Authorizations that allow 2 oral antiviral agents to be used as treatments for COVID-19 in nonhospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to serious disease: ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir. I think this is a game changer. It allows people to stay home and take a pill for 5 days. I think this year will see Covid becoming more like a case of a bad flu for vaccinated people. I believe 2022 will be better than 2021.

    14. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      My personal reason to be optimistic: figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s 4 Axel attempt. He had a go at it last week in the Japanese Nationals and I almost screamed of excitement. He’s part of the Japanese team for the next Winter Olympics, so his next attempt in competition will be there. I’m super hyped.

    15. lobsterp0t*

      I recommend Under the Sky We Make by Kim Nicholas. It is meant as a science based antidote to learned helplessness and hopelessness that is really easy to slip into in such depressing times. Community. Mutual aid. Political organising. These will get us through.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        Good luck to both of you. I got divorced at the age of 60 and it’s been such a relief. It’s never too late to start anew. I hope your mom thrives.

  2. Asenath*

    It’s bound to be better in some ways and worse in others, just like pretty well every year is, on the whole, and excepting personal tragedies or triumphs but looking instead at the overall picture. There always have been and always will be good and bad public events and the necessity for dealing with them.

  3. Princess Deviant*

    What things are good for your mental health and to destress? I’m not stressed right now, but was making lists earlier.
    Here are my top tips:
    – thinking before answering someone
    – not replying to every text
    – setting boundaries with family
    – sleeping!
    – doing suguru puzzles (there’s something about the logic of it and not thinking about anything else while I’m doing them that’s great for my brain)
    – buying makeup. I sometimes think I enjoy collecting it more than wearing it.
    What about yours?

    1. Cooking Videos!*

      Cooking videos. They’re engaging enough that I’m not just mindless. But they’re non-controversial and kind of happy. Plus I learn things.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Cleaning
      Shopping
      Hot showers
      Weed/klonopin
      Doing something weird to myself like a piercing or haircut or tattoo

    3. allathian*

      I’m pretty sedentary, but taking a walk outdoors, especially in the middle of the day, usually cheers me up. I don’t think I have full-blown SAD, but I do tend to feel blue when it’s dark outside. I’m at 60 N and we have about 6 hours of daylight at this time of year. WFH has been a blessing, because I’m much more likely to get some fresh air during my lunch break than at the office, because then I’d take the minimum break to be able to go home earlier. My son’s in 6th grade, and while he can get himself home, and leaving a kid at home after school from 3rd grade onwards is standard practice here and not considered child abandonment, I don’t want him to spend hours alone.

      Avoiding social media. I have a fairly addictive personality, although my addictions/obsessions are reasonably innocuous (coffee, chocolate, playing games on my phone for far too long), and I’m afraid that if I started on social media, I’d go down the rabbit hole and it’d be awful for my mental health. So I haven’t gone down that road. I do use WhatsApp, but that’s it. I’m not even on LinkedIn. I do hang out at some blogs and a few fandom forums that are still around, but I cherish the anonymity.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just walking the dog around the yard a few times a day is so centering for me.
      Cooking
      Exercising
      Yoga (I have a 25 minute Karen Voight dvd that just gets it done!)
      Organizing a drawer or somethin
      Reading

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Embroidery and other crafts. Similar to doing puzzles or games on my phone but there’s a cute product afterwards so it feels like I’ve accomplished something (not that it’s always necessary to be productive, but it feels good to have a reminder of the time I spent enjoyably)

    6. RagingADHD*

      Playing with our cat.
      Calling my brother and/or my best friend from college. Both of them make me laugh till I snort, and that’s just good for you all over.

      Comedy – movies, tv, or standup-in general does me a world of good, as long as it’s the kind that actually tickles me, rather than the zinger or “good point” kind.

      If all else fails, videos of screaming goats make me laugh until I pee my pants.

    7. I take tea*

      – Waking in the woods, definitely. A botanical garden can be a substitute.
      – Cooking, if not in a hurry or very hungry. It’s creative and the result is nice
      – Dancing (sigh)
      – Reading, in bed or a hot bath.
      – Never reading news or responding to messages late at night
      – For a quick pick-me-up I watch cat videos online, if my own cats aren’t available. Sho Ko and Owl Kitty are my favourites

    8. The Dogman*

      Taking the dogs to the woods is always life affirming to me, they have such fun looning and hooning about the place that it is hard to be unhappy around them.

      The only downside is the cleaning them afterwards… one is a malamute and likes soaking in mud… Seen the Golden Retrievers coated in mud online? Mine is like that but way more fur and mud!!!

      Still good for my mind though.

    9. Asenath*

      Simply shutting off online posts/information that I can tell are not informing me, but stressing me out. It makes it so much easier to ignore them.

      Regular exercise, which is a challenge because I am very good at finding excuses to not even take a short walk if I’m not in a good mood.

      Jigsaw puzzles and other games or activities.

      Watching TV or Youtube videos that are escapist – silly historical or science fiction dramas, especially with a comedy twist (I’ve developed an interest in some Korean shows. I think Western historical shows often are too serious, and besides I know the history better and find myself yelling at the screen when I spot historical inaccuracies). Also shows featuring practical skills especially if they’re not too nastily competitive – cooking, baking, sewing and reno shows. Although I would never want to do it myself, I find myself fascinated by people who do cooking challenges, or decide to re-build a mountain animal shed with a leaking roof and no windows, doors or floors into a lovely home.

      1. JelloStapler*

        This. I realized I cannot change people’s minds and all it does is aggravate me. I have taken breaks from SM that have really helped, too.

        I have also bookmarked positive news sites to read including one dedicated to the pandemic.

    10. Xenia*

      Turning off the news. I check the local newspapers and browse a Wall Street journal every now and then but otherwise I stay away from aaaallll the media drama. Works wonders

    11. UKDancer*

      Dancing. I always feel better when I dance. It doesn’t matter what it is but when I’m dancing I feel good and afterwards I sleep well.

      Also a nice warm bath always helps. I put something that smells nice in and give myself a really good pamper and a facial beforehand for extra benefit.

      I’d also recommend massage. I have them once per month and usually feel good afterwards. Sometimes I get my nails done as well because the salon does a better job than I can.

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yes, dancing and yoga are my go to activities to de-stress.

        Funnily enough, I stress myself out a lot before dance class, especially privates, but I’m always super relaxed during and after. I just can’t get the stressig out before out of my system.

    12. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Doing some light reading in a scented bathtub, maybe with a cool drink handy — it’s like my cheap-o hot tub. Calgon, take me away! (I don’t actually have any Calgon — more like lavender-scented epsom salts — but same idea.)

    13. the cat's ass*

      My cats
      My family
      cooking
      something good to read
      good boundaries
      less social media and more fresh air

    14. MissElizaTudor*

      As annoying as it is, sleeping, exercising, and eating well are really good for my mental health.
      Outside of that:
      -being outside in a park or other nature area for at least an hour (if I can’t make it to one of those, then at least going outside)
      -reading
      -cooking
      -smoking weed
      -doing paint by numbers or making a book (something where at the end I have a new thing that *I* made)
      -decluttering my apartment

    15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I want to get my social media use down to a minimum (cannot get off FB completely, because that’s where my groups and events are, and also, last time I tried that, I missed a friend’s big milestone and it was awkward).

      Do an overhaul of my old unused reddit account, unsubscribe from unnecessary/gossipy/time-wasting subs, join the productive, informative ones (mainly thinking the ones related to my work). Then start using it. Develop a habit of checking the news regularly on the news outlets’ sites/apps (I have WaPo and NYT subscriptions, but had been getting them from my FB feed, which is not great, because the feed is clogged with other garbage)

      A new friend is a personal trainer, and took me on a free training session once last week. I never wanted to have a personal trainer in my life, but am now debating hiring this person. As I age, my self-guided workouts now tend to end in injuries that never go away (got my MTP arthritis to worsen last year from going on long walks in bad shoes on concrete surfaces. Hadn’t even known before that I had it, and now I have to do exercises for my foot every day and wear stiff shoes with no heels, otherwise I’m in a world of pain. And it all started with me wanting to do a lot of cardio to get in shape) and it’s probably better to be training with someone who can tell when I’m about to injure myself, and stop me from doing so. Hopefully I can afford this person. They seem really good.

    16. J.B.*

      I got off social media, and exercise. Preferably a mix of outside workouts and yoga, although I need to keep strength training mixed in. I’m currently streaming Austin city limits. And I am planning to go back on lexapro, because this year has been particularly difficult.

    17. Lucy Skywalker*

      Exercise. Watch comedy. Pray (if you believe in a higher power). Stay off social media, as mental health professionals have found that the more time one spends on social media, the more depressed one is. Also, don’t watch 24-news stations, as they are designed to make you anxious so that you’ll keep watching. Instead, get your news the way we did in the past: watch the evening news on a network station such as PBS, ABC, NBC, or CBS. Fact-checkers have found that those stations are the most accurate and the least biased of any news source, and they’re only for half an hour (or an hour for PBS).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That’s a good insight to the 24-hr news business model of building anxiety. If you watch the news, you’re addressing your anxiety! Except it doesn’t work, so you need to watch more.

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      Here are some for me. Time in nature. Exercise. Meditating. Being in touch with friends. Getting more sleep.

      And creative expression, which could be updating my blog, nature photography, singing and playing my instruments or listening to music.

    19. Might Be Spam*

      Dancing is great. I found a lot of groups that dance online and my in-person colonial dance group is fully vaccinated and we still wear masks.
      Stopped reading so many negative blogs. Like books, if the blog stops being a comfort, it’s time to put it down.
      I’m in an online support group and we occasionally text each other to get reality checks. Taking the time to write down what’s going on so I can explain it to someone else, helps me get a better understanding of the situation. Something I REALLY needed this week.
      On my phone, I changed the contact name of a toxic family member so I remember not to answer. (Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire) They don’t know, but I feel a lot better anyway.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I started filtering Bored Panda along those lines: 50 posts about terrible people being awful? Don’t need to read it. My third hand outrage stresses me out yet doesn’t help anyone described. 50 posts about a weird object someone found that other people knew what it was? Click on that one.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I was actually thinking about Bored Panda and Reddit. Sometimes I click on a post thinking that it will be amusing and then realize that it is making me feel worse. I get the third hand outrage and sympathy cringe.

    20. KR*

      Cleaning, weed, taking a shower/getting ready. Getting outside somehow, even for a drive or walking the dog.

    21. TiredEmployee*

      Quite a specific one, but the top all-time posts on the r/humansarespaceorcs subreddit – lots of creative writing exercises where the focus is more often than not on humanity’s more positive qualities. Though some are bittersweet and there’s the occasional “what if humans are just the best at war”, it’s usually quite uplifting.

    22. Windchime*

      –Creating things; sewing or knitting
      –Spending time with close family
      –Not watching the news (just can’t take it anymore)
      –Appreciating the little things like hot water, electricity, my pet, etc.

  4. Teapot Translator*

    I have a question about hair. I went to a store that sells hair products and they weren’t able to help.
    The day I wash my hair, it curls (since the pandemic, I’ve let it air dry nearly every day). But the following day, it’s lost its curls and the third day, it’s flat.
    So, I’m wondering if there’s something I can do or a product I can use to revive the curls on the second day? The usual products leave a residue that make it feel like the hair is dirty the next day and don’t help with the curls on the second day. Any ideas?

      1. Curly hair gal*

        I agree with with this. I have fine curly to wavy hair that loses its curl until I wash again. Best reviver is definitely just to wet it somehow. Either with spray bottle or to rinse it in shower (without shampooing or anything).

      2. jtr*

        Every day, I wet my hair thoroughly in the shower, put conditioner in, and wide-tooth comb it. AT MOST every other day I wash it first. If I don’t shower on a day (don’t judge!) I use the hand held shower head to still get my hair wet.

        Works a charm! :-)

    1. acmx*

      Try sleeping with your hair in a ponytail on top of your head. Don’t wrap the scrunchie around more than once.

    2. Purt's Peas*

      Since I cut my hair shorter, I’ve been washing every day with conditioner only, and using leave-in conditioner as well. It’s a bit of a puzzle in that my hair gets frizzy without enough moisture on day 1, then greasy on day 3. So I just wash with conditioner every day and have stopped worrying about day 3 :)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I have a brand new dutch oven! A gift from myself to myself. What recipes should I try?

    3. Curly*

      I have rather curly hair and rarely actually wash it, but rinse it pretty much every day. If I don’t rinse but I brush it, I’ll just get it damp to bring back the curls. I also have a spray bottle that’s mostly water with a tiny bit of curl cream mixed in that I’ll sometimes use to make it look a little better. I just spray and floof it.

    4. Dino*

      I had the same struggle! What worked for me was changing my wash routine. I looked into the Curly Girl Method (there a huge subreddit) and, since I’m lazy, started with the most basic steps of cowashing and “plopping”.

      I have a wide toothed comb and, with head upside down, comb my curls and then add curl crème (Shea Moisture). Apply a small amount to dry-er hands, then squish the curls from the bottom up. I use a long sleeve tshirt for my hair towel, and leave my hair wrapped for 30-40 minutes before taking it down. I have gentle rings that stay shaped for 2+ days. Total game changer.

      (Excuse typos, on mobile)

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      There are some curl reactiveator products. Bumble and Bumble makes one, and so does Ouidad. Also second the suggestion to spritz with water. I find that the combination of water and curl spray helps my wavy hair on the second day.

      1. Reba*

        Yes! I use a combo of this type of product plus a fine-mist water spritzer bottle (mine is from Pattern) rather than fully re-wetting the hair. It also helps a lot to use a light gel on the first day, I find that the curl bounces back a bit more.

        As everyone in this thread knows, curly hair styling is a major rabbit hole you can go down, lol. A major routine is not sustainable for me, but I have picked up handful of tricks from the curly hair internet and using water + product, along with plopping, have made a big difference for me.

    6. beach read*

      This is me too. I don’t like piling on the product either. For next day curl revival, I usually wet my hands, bend over to scrunch upside down. Not perfect but it helps. I try not to use too much water.

    7. Batgirl*

      Kinky curly curling custard and Umberto Gianni gel are low residue and if you use a tiny bit mixed with water to scrunch with after washing it gives you more hold for longer lasting curls. Shea moisture make a coconut water spritz that’s good for reviving.

  5. bratschegirl*

    My hair behaves similarly. Before COVID I was going to a salon that used the Deva Curl system, and they sold a spray mist for revitalizing curls on non-wash days, but it left the hair a bit sticky. These days I usually just get it damp again with water and scrunch the curls back into being. I also find that the longer my hair is, the more likely it is to go flat, probably due to the extra weight. The shorter I keep it, the curlier it stays.

        1. bratschegirl*

          I don’t, but if you have a leave-in you like, definitely try it both ways and see what works for you.

  6. Tabby Baltimore*

    Happy New Year! Anyone have any home-made salad dressing recipes they can share? I am not experienced with making dressing, so the more detail (precise amounts, specific ingredient names), the better. Thank you.

    1. The Dogman*

      Happy New Year!

      Balsamic vinaigrette:

      2 x oil to balsamic vinegar is the base.

      Then add flavours to taste… some people like a bit of mustard to add a kick for example.

      This is not really a precise recipes thing though, you should just start with a base, put a portion into 4/5 bowls and add different combos of things (herbs, pepper, mustard etc) you like to it and see what is your favourite.

      This is the “art” not the “science” part of cooking!

      I am not sure I have ever measured any portions for salad dressing sorry, I just eyeball them all…

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        My dad used to do this with the oil, vinegar, and mustard — his secret ingredient was a little sugar.

        1. The Dogman*

          Hmmm, I could see that working… someone else said honey, which I also have not tried… I will experiment with that next time! Cheers!

          1. river*

            My fave is maple syrup. Dissolves readily, and goes well with savoury tastes. Real maple syrup not the fake stuff.
            I like lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, for a basic dressing. You can add fresh hebs such as basil.

      2. Jackalope*

        The nice thing too is you can try other kinds of oil and vinegar if you want. Balsamic is good for most salads but white wine vinegar is also good too. My ratio is one spoonful vinegar to three spoonfuls oil (I like something like sunflower oil or canola, rather than something like olive oil that adds extra flavor, but you can experiment) and then one spoonful of Dijon mustard. You can also dice a clove of garlic in it if you want or a similar amt of onion minced very fine (let it sit in the vinegar for 10-15 min before you add the other ingredients and it mellows it out). And if you want creaminess add a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt.

      3. Bluebell*

        My vinaigrette is pretty improvisational too. Usually 1/4c oil, 1/8 c vinegar, 1 t mustard, 1/2 t sugar/honey/agave syrup, and a sprinkle of whichever herbs I have. I change up the oils and vinegars. I also love adding Trader Joe’s everything bagel seasoning for extra texture.

      4. CatBookMom*

        We get really good balsamic, quite pricey. And then use a high-quality Calif olive oil. To start with, Trader Joe’s (stores are not everywhere) has 2 levels of balsamic, at reasonable prices. We worked our way up, though we are more 1:1 oil and balsamic, or heavier on the balsamic. Whisk a lot. Still, maybe an 1/8 cup dresses a big salad for two.

        I have often tried to make a good coleslaw dressing, and have failed miserably, often. The bottled ones are awful. My spouse says the old KFC was the BEST ever.

        1. Clisby*

          Bottled coleslaw dressings are dreadful. So is the stuff in little packets that sometimes are included with already-shredded cabbage.

          I mix Duke’s mayonnaise (do NOT use any of those abominations that look like mayonnaise but are labeled “salad dressing”), lemon juice, and a tiny bit of sugar to make coleslaw dressing. I don’t know the measurements – I just mix and taste it until it suits me. I don’t like coleslaw to be dripping with dressing, and I don’t like it to be very sweet – but if you happen to like those two things, it’s easy to accomplish with these instructions.

        2. Stephanie*

          I make a very good basic coleslaw with a simple dressing: 1/2 cup mayo (the real stuff, not Miracle Whip), 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix it all in a large bowl, add the coleslaw mix (I buy the bagged, shredded stuff) and stir. It takes a bit of stirring, and it doesn’t seem like enough dressing at first, but it dresses it perfectly, without getting soggy.
          I hate those overly sweet bottled dressings, and don’t get me started on deli coleslaw. Nasty stuff.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      +1 to The Dogman’s comments, at least in terms of vinaigrette (although I’m a 3-to-1 on the oil to vinegar/citrus front).

      Think about flavours you enjoy/that go together for the flavourings, or look at what you have leftover from cooking dinner (which is also sometimes my go to for salad toppings lmao). Things like a touch of minced garlic or the crumbles from the feta you chopped or the odds and ends of herbs chopped.

      And just keep tasting at every stage of adding ingredients.
      I’m lazy and also don’t usually prefer creamy dressings so when I do want them I start with a base of mayo and thin with vinegar and mix in whatever else I want in there.

      1. The Dogman*

        Ohh oooooo adding cheese crumbs to dressings is a GREAT IDEA!!!!

        Stealing that one…

        :)

        Cheers!

      2. Sunshine*

        I love this one with a salad with apples cheddar and walnuts.
        raspberry vinaigrette, that’s where I would start. Homemade vinaigrette is very easy to make and so much better than bottled.
        Here’s Penzey’s recipe:
        1/2 Cup olive or canola oil
        1/4 Cup rice vinegar
        2-3 TB. RASPBERRY ENLIGHTENMENT
        1 tsp. CALIFORNIA BASIL
        1/2 tsp. KOSHER-STYLE FLAKE SALT
        1/4 tsp. GRANULATED GARLIC POWDER
        1/4 tsp. PENZEYS FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, it depends what you have on hand of course, but generally speaking for a vinaigrette style you want about 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to 2 parts oil, and a flavor additive thats somewhat less than the acid. It’s really flexible, though. Here are 2 vinaigrettes and 1 creamy dressing we like.

      Red vinaigrette:
      3 Tbs pomegranite or cranberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar, or balsamic- each is a different flavor, but all good).
      1 Tbs minced shallot (or minced onion)
      2 tsp honey
      0.5 cups olive oil
      salt & pepper – a pinch each.
      Whisk it all up or put it in a bottle and shake it.

      Dijon vinaigrette:
      4 Tbs white wine vinegar (or plain white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar).
      2 Tbs lemon juice.
      1.5 Tbs Dijon mustard.
      (optional – 1 tsp cayenne pepper).
      0.66 cups olive oil.
      Mix everything but the oil first, then stream in the oil while whisking.

      Green Goddess:
      0.5 cup mayonnaise.
      0.5 cup sour cream or plain yogurt.
      (optional – 1 ounce chopped anchovy).
      0.25 cup chopped parsley.
      3 scallions, minced.
      1 Tbs white wine vinegar
      0.5 to 1 tsp garlic powder.
      pinch each of salt & pepper.
      This will keep in the fridge 1 week.

      Hope you get lots of good ideas!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My baseline dressing is lemon, salt, and pepper.

      Moosewood’s Lemon-Sesame Dressing
      3 T sesame seeds
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1/3 cup lemon juice
      1 T soy sauce
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp black pepper
      dash of hot sauce

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      Here’s my version of a pretty low fat roquefort cheese dressing:
      1 tsp olive oil
      1 T or more of sherry vinegar
      1/4 c water
      pinch of dried tarragon, crumbled
      Black pepper to taste
      1 wedge of roquefort cheese, or just add it until you like the taste
      Mix well with a fork
      We like it over a salad topped with sliced grilled steak. Yum!

    6. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Oh!oh! I have one but I don’t know it by heart. Ask again next week and I’ll provide it.

    7. WellRed*

      One of my simple favorites is white wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I prefer a zinger dressing so my V to O ratio is more like 1:1. Salt and pepper to taste, keep whisking and tasting.

    8. Not A Manager*

      This is my favorite dressing. Samin Nosrat published it based on a restaurant’s dressing. I usually cut the recipe in half, but it stays pretty well in the fridge.

      Don’t omit the honey, or the warm water. They are both crucial.

      1 large shallot, minced
      2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon aged sherry vinegar, plus additional, as needed
      1 tablespoon warm water
      1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
      1 ½ teaspoons whole-grain mustard
      1 ½ teaspoons honey
      2 sprigs thyme, washed and stripped
      1 large clove garlic, finely grated
      Salt and freshly ground black pepper

      Place the shallot in a fine-mesh strainer, and quickly rinse with cold water. Allow to drain, then place in a medium bowl, and add vinegar and warm water. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then whisk in oil, mustards, honey, thyme, garlic and a large pinch of salt. Taste, and adjust salt and vinegar as needed.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      In this vein, I’d like to recommend Petit Pot pudding, found near the yogurt at your grocery store. The chocolate pudding is quite good, but the reason I put it here is that the little jars are the perfect size to make salad dressing for just a couple of people. I’ve also used them when cooking for meal trains, since you can send some homemade dressing/sauce in a container that doesn’t need to come back.

    10. Lizy*

      Crack ranch – aka ranch from Golden Corral (or any good restaurant ranch)
      1 cup buttermilk – if you don’t have buttermilk, 3 parts sour cream to 1 part water works, too)
      1 pkg hidden valley buttermilk ranch mix
      1 cup best choice mayonnaise
      Dash of sea salt
      Splash of milk

    11. delta*

      My favourite dressing is a green goddess dressing. It’s brilliant because there’s a lot of substitutions you can use. It’s perfect for summer, which is what I’m in at the moment, but it’s also great on a potato salad.

      1 cup plain yoghurt / sour cream / mayonnaise (or a combination of any)
      1 cup lightly packed herbs (any combination of chives, spring onion, parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon, and/or dill) (don’t use more than 1/4 cup of chives/spring onions or it’ll be too strong)
      2-3 cloves of garlic
      1/4 t salt
      pepper to taste

      Pop it all in a food processor and blitz until green with small flecks. Season to taste.

      Possible additions:
      – Chilli (jalapeños, habeneros, long red or baby green)
      – Citrus (half a lemon or lime)
      – Cheese (grated parmesan or diced feta)

    12. DonnaMartinGraduates!*

      Lemon Honey Mustard dressing

      Ingredients:

      1 fat clove garlic, crushed
      2 t honey
      2 t (heaped) seeded or plain Dijon mustard
      2 T white Balsamic
      ½ cup (8 T) good olive oil
      lime or lemon juice

      Method:

      Combine all ingredients in a blender and slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Enjoy!

      T = tablespoon, t = tea

    13. gsa*

      It’s called “Better than Ranch”. And it is!!!

      This recipe makes a ton. Hopefully you can divide and conquer!

      1/4 tsp garlic powder
      1/2 tsp salt
      1 TBS sugar
      1 cup Worcestershire sauce
      1 cup tarragon vinegar
      8 cups mayonnaise
      3 cups half & half
      1/4 cup buttermilk
      3 cups crumbled blue cheese
      1.5 cups crumbled Roquefort cheese

    14. Batgirl*

      I like the combination of Greek yogurt to fresh herbs in a recipe I use often. It’s two parts yoghurt to one part lemon juice with honey and freshly chopped mint and basil to taste.

    15. Tib*

      I just saw an interesting one on bonappetit’s website: it’s a variation of a ranch dressing made with about 1/4 cup sour cream (or yogurt or creme fraishe if you’re fancy and know how to spell), about 1-2 tablespoons brine from something pickled (pepperoncini, kimchi, capers, or olives), and about 1 tablespoon of the pickled thing, minced.

  7. The Dogman*

    How do you all deal with the more “ragey” fellow road users?

    I was just finishing a dog training session with some customers today when a very angry young man nearly hit my car on the way into the car park at the parks we were visiting. When I got out to see if he had skimmed my car (he was that close and I had to let my car roll back to avoid a crash) he was already out of his car and coming at me very aggressively (fist raised, screaming he would kill me etc) so my response was to open my cars rear door and let my Bull Mastiff out.

    She is a very big girl, with enormous teeth.

    The fight went out of him like a popped ballon, so I told him to apologise (he did) and told him to not drive that way in future or he might meet someone with a poorly trained guardian dog, rather than a perfectly trained one, or he might meet a person who really is ready to fight to the death.

    But it occurred to me that most people do not have a giant guardian breed dog with them almost 100% of the time…

    So how do you all respond (if at all) to the rage monsters who drive amongst us?

    1. Generic Name*

      I try to ignore and stay away, and remind myself that their rage is about them and not me. Mostly it seems like people are mad that my car occupies a point in space-time that they themselves think they deserve more (I normally drive the speed limit and I don’t just travel in the left lane- I’m 100% certain I’m not doing anything wrong). If I felt truly threatened, I’d call 911. I love how you handled it though.

      1. The Dogman*

        That space and time thing seems to be the heart of it… They get angry that we are in “their way” even if their way is the wrong side of the road!

        And reminding yourself it is not about you is a very healthy way to handle it for sure!

        My big girl is very good at intimidating people who are aggressive too, while remaining outwardly calm, so no chance of the police believing she is a dangerous dog, she actually loves police officers since some of my friends are police and have given her treats while in uniform. But unless people know how to control their dogs really well in stressful situation I would not recommend getting them out in the same situation. In this case she gave the rage monster a way out without having to lose too much face, he can say the dog was big as he was at least! ;)

        1. Generic Name*

          I’ve also noticed that the size/type of my vehicle is related to how ragey people are at me. I got tons of honks and middle fingers when I drove a Prius, significantly less in my Subaru, but still some, and pretty much zero when I drive my husband’s huge truck. Lol

          1. The Dogman*

            Yeah I think Prius and other EV owners get more hate, that is prob jealousy at how much it costs to fuel vs charge I think! ;)

            I have a compact SUV, so large, but not massive like a range rover, so maybe I get less raged at in this?

            I will borrow my friends micro car and see if it worse perhaps, could be an interesting experiment!

      2. Science KK*

        As a very small woman who lives alone/a person who’s classmate’s brother was murdered in broad daylight across the street from our high school over a road rage incident, I avoid avoid avoid them, take the wrong way home if they *might* be following, just do not engage. Not worth it, you have no idea who is in that other car or what their state of mind is.

        1. The Dogman*

          Oh that is awful! What a stupid person that individual must have been to carry out murder over being offended by someone elses driving!

          “Not worth it, you have no idea who is in that other car or what their state of mind is.”

          This is correct, I prob would have checked the damage elsewhere were I not with my dogs.

          It is also something I told the angry young man, for all he knew I could have been insane and armed, or mad enough to deploy my dogs against him. It is all so silly and ego filled…

    2. RagingADHD*

      Good grief. If we’re on the road, I just hang back and let people get far away.

      I’ve never been in a confrontation like that, but if I were I’d get back in the car, lock the doors, and either drive away immediately, call the police, or both. I’m neither qualified, physically capable, nor desirous of dealing with violent insane or drugged-out people.

      Of course, where I live more people are equally likely to have guns in their car as to have dogs, so only someone who was truly out of their mind would act that way, and if they were willing to go there, they might actually be capable of killing me.

      TL/dr: I diligently avoid dealing with them at all.

      1. The Dogman*

        I guess the lack of firearms makes it safer for me and my dogs then, that is something virtually no one in the UK has to worry about at least!

        Personally I have a lot of combat training and I am pretty fit and well, plus I almost always have at least one around 100Kg (220lbs) dog with me, which I have noticed makes even the angriest and most aggressive men calm down and reconsider violence towards me, but my go to recommendation to people is to leave before it gets violent, and if that has happened to run, there is no shame in being alive and away from danger in my eyes.

        1. RagingADHD*

          On the flip side I think the presence and awareness of guns around here makes people – men at least- less likely to behave like that angry man unless they are seriously chemically impaired or truly unhinged and ready to kill or die.

          Your reading of the situation as “an angry young man” that one might give a lesson to, and a “silly” situation, bespeaks a very different set of social expectations. The situation you describe as an unpleasant social interaction, would read to me as an immediately life-threatening scenario. Not silly at all.

          1. The Dogman*

            Well there is the element of understatement in there too, we Brits tend to under rather than over state things, but no, while it was a problem it was not life threatening to me, very few public situations in the UK end up in murder really. Though if I had not had the dog that could have been a much more dangerous situation.

            But we do have very different social dynamics for sure, perhaps me knowing my capacity for violence changes things too? I used to kickbox competitively and still train/stay in shape so I am very confident in that manner, but ultimately the giant dog tends to diffuse situations really.

            1. Batgirl*

              I think your instincts correctly assessed the situation at hand. People underestimate how well your gut instinct serves you in that moment. As a fellow Brit I agree there are few gun incidents (I was a reporter for years and never covered one), but it’s still possible to have a very fearful encounter. I was followed by a man who thought I took too long crossing a junction, (he couldn’t see who was coming but evidently didn’t care), beeping and calling me a bitch. I stopped outside the house of my boyfriend, where angry man also parked up to continue screaming at me, but I stopped short of going in for help. Something told me even the short walk to the door was a bad idea. I have no problem believing he gets in other road rage incidents and if he came face to face with a big dog and a scolding in one of them, well I’d consider that inevitable. And pleasing.

              1. The Dogman*

                I think the guy I encountered was one of those types of angry ragey man too, on a hair trigger while going through life. Personally I do not understand how anyone can choose to live at that level of intensity really, it must be exhausting to be that angry all day.

                Sorry you had that experience, that guy must be working towards a heart attack too!

          2. Cacofonix*

            Can’t let the “flip side” of the ubiquitous presence of guns go without saying that they have a huge societal downside. There is no place for guns in a ragey situation like this, or even the threat of them. Best to clarify that statistically, you are better off avoiding and not escalating.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Of course.

              My point was that the baseline stakes are very high where guns are common, so I’d automatically assume anyone behaving as described is in an actual, not metaphorical, murderous rage and their statement “I’ll kill you” should be taken absolutely literally.

              Those who don’t have the same level of risk have the luxury of messing around with their dogs to enjoy the look on the aggressor’s face, and pat themselves on the back for being tough.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Hanging back is good. I try to have an ”observer” mindset – see what other drivers are doing and never get involved or do anything which might escalate someone else’s aggression.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      I adore how you handled this! I agree that the space-time thing is the issue. I get a lot of nasty looks while waiting at a stop sign, in my lane, behind the stop line, when folks try to take the turn into ‘my’ street and cut the corner. There seems to be some disconnect from reality somewhere. And I do think it’s way more prevalent than ever.

      1. The Dogman*

        Hmm, I hope it is not more prevalent, but that might be the case here too I suspect.

        I think it comes down to selfishness coupled with fear, the subconscious is not comfy with being in a metal box at those speeds for a lot of people, so some get anxious, others get angry as the fight or flight response is triggered by an incident.

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I drive a teeny tiny Scion SA with Wiccan and Liberal bumperstickers. People used to react more to the Wiccan ones, but now it’s the Liberal ones

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I was thinking about this re bullies and how much they are into it.

      Suppose a red car cuts a blue car off in traffic.
      The red car driver is thinking either a) everything normal; b) damn stupid blue cars in my way, good thing I’m such a great driver; c) oops… well, these things happen, no harm done.
      The blue car driver is thinking “You insufferable jerk!”
      Hours later, I would bet you that the red car driver is not thinking about this at all, while the blue car driver may still be stewing.

      You respond to bad drivers by driving defensively (so you’ve got space to respond to aggression or stupidity) and remind yourself that they moved on to a new rage target five minutes after the episode and aren’t thinking about it at all, learning nary a lesson. (Unless they met your dog.)

      Example: I was once driving back from camp, kids about 8 and 2, and some moron decided to try passing a line of cars and was driving along in the wrong lane on a two . I drove right off the road, along with the two cars behind me. For most of that stretch of road, that isn’t an option–it’s trees right up to the edge. Never have I been so tempted to try and chase someone down and scream at them. 18 years later–college student is sitting across from me–and I’m guessing the idiot never thinks about it, while I can still emote at the drop of a hat.

      1. the cat's ass*

        This week especially traffic has been extra nutty in my neighborhood. People home for the holidays? Isolated folks who generally don’t drive? No idea. I pull into the slower lane or completely off the road if tailgated, wave and smile at the ragers, and otherwise DO NOT ENGAGE.

      2. The Dogman*

        I think you are right about this, I had a guy on my side of the road a few weeks back, he was raging and screaming at me, but I had nowhere to go, and all he had to do was reverse about 1 car length.

        I just gave the “shrugs” body language and sat there, he backed up when a dude in a van was laughing and shouting about how much of a (certain type of self pleasurer) the rager was.

        I did have the big girl then too, but the rager didn’t get out that time, but I was going to drop the rear window on that side and she always like to (carefully cos it only just fits) stick her head out and slobber down the side of my car… ;) I think that would have done the trick too!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In general, I avoid people anywhere who just want to pick fights of any kind. As the saying goes, it’s like wrestling with a pig – you both get filthy and only the pig enjoys it.

      1. The Dogman*

        Good saying, it is like Mark Twains one about arguing with idiots… they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience! ;)

    6. Jackalope*

      I don’t know that this will work for everyone but… When I was in elementary school my mom died in a car accident (no road rage, just super icy conditions that caused a major pile up and she didn’t make it). So every time I have someone be rude or angry to me I just keep going and tell myself a few minutes later, “We’re all still alive and our cars aren’t broken. Everything is good.” I’m usually good at not getting worked up about it for more than maybe a couple of minutes because I know all the way through my gut that it can be much worse. I will say that this is usually while we’re still driving (ie someone cuts me off and honks while doing so, or tailgates super close, or whatever). I haven’t had people approach me out of the car like what you described.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      In less densely populated areas a person can use a different strategy. I just let people go around me. Most of the time there is plenty of space to do this. I always say I want lousy drivers in front of me so I can see what poor choice they are making next. I have zero interest in “teaching them a lesson”.

      I do not have a cell phone (worthless in my area) so the only way to call 911 when they go off the road would be after I get home. It’s wrong of me, but I am not sad about this.

      A lot of people are filled with anger right now- road rage is only one type. I firmly believe that people who can keep their emotions in check will have a better quality of life overall. They definitely will make safer and more logical decisions. Anger erodes the vessel that houses it.

      1. The Dogman*

        “Anger erodes the vessel that houses it.”

        That is a wise view of things!

        I agree there do seem to be a lot more angry people at the moment, I guess the existential angst of the pandemic is getting under the more volatile peoples skins?

    8. Zona the Great*

      When you’re in a situation alone and a scary man is charging at you, you go absolutely bonkers. Crazy-eyed, red-faced, unhinged and you reach into your bag or coat or waste band like you’re holding a gun and you keep your face strong and confident. Yes, I’m a rural American and I did once have this happen. I don’t own guns. I had no options and was literally at the edge of a cliff. I went nuts trashing and screaming and flailing. He turned on his heels and left. In Munich, I did this to a plain clothes police officer because I didn’t believe him and he sort of aggressively walked up to me demanding I show my ID. He was doing his job and I lost my shit and he even backed off. It works.

      1. The Dogman*

        That certainly is one way to handle it…

        Can I recommend a large breed of guardian dog if you are out in the sticks?

        Bull Mastiffs and Rottweilers are two fearless breeds who spring to mind!

        1. Zona the Great*

          In my case, I was driving home from work. One simply cannot always have protection in that way and this person asked what if there were no dog. I wasn’t asking for advice, the OP was.

          1. The Dogman*

            I am the OP and I was more suggesting for home defence and deterrence etc…

            Plus I love the big slobber dogs so I recommend them to everyone really! ;)

    9. Record Everything*

      Not having a nice big dog, I might start recording, telling them “Don’t touch me. That would be assault.” Sometimes the fight goes out of people when they think they might get arrested or go viral. BUT would this just enrage them more? Not sure.

      1. The Dogman*

        That is a tricky one isn’t it. Plenty of people seem to go either super quiet or super angry when filmed, so that is a hard one to judge what to do really…

    10. Invisible Fish*

      I smile broadly and kindly and wave and mouth “Have a blessed day!” in an exaggerated way so they can’t miss it. I feel confident this drives them even crazier as they speed away recklessly. (I actually have to be REALLY careful – I have a bad temper, and I refuse to let someone random mess with my state of mind; I can’t afford it if I want a high quality of life.)

      1. The Dogman*

        I too have to resist the urge to mock them really hard… I have a bad temper too, but lots of kick boxing and dog training have let me control it… mostly!

        The maintaining a solid state of mind is very resonant for me, that is essential!

    11. Scared in the car*

      This thread interested me a lot, because in recent situations driving with a relative, they have begun flipping the bird at people who cut them off while driving, or shouting and making gestures out the window at people being foolish on the road, once with my kid in the car also, which really frightened my kid. They feel justified in making these gestures, because the other driver irritated them, but I reminded them you just never know who is going to turn around and maybe pull a weapon on you. They “agreed” not to do it when I or my family was driving with them.

  8. Teapot Translator*

    Shall we have a book thread? What’s everyone reading? (or has read or is planning to read)
    I’ve just finished The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Before that I read Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I’ve now started A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine.

    1. The Dogman*

      I am re-reading The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton, since it is a great book and has been a few years since reading it… I forgot how cheesy sex scenes are in SciFi cos most of the stuff I read recently has been sex free, which I prefer really, and I find myself skipping them now.

      I am also reading some non-fiction history books this last year… I am really glad I live in a 1st world country and therefore have free at the point of need healthcare! The medieval period would have sucked…and smelled really really awful too!

      James A Corey is the Expanses authors yes? Is that one of the books the TV series is based on or something else?

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Yes, James Corey is the pen name of two writers that are behind The Expanse books. Leviathan Falls is the book 9, which concludes the story.

        1. The Dogman*

          Ohh cool, I always wait for books to finish before reading them so I will get them all for presents next year I think, cheers!

          Have you seen the TV series? And if so how would you say it compares? Often TV is pretty poor compared to the books but I have been told they got as close as the can with the production of the show with this series.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            The TV series is awesome. Some of the best sci-fi in the last 20 years. I don’t think they’ll end it the same way as the books for certain logistical reasons, but it’s great nonetheless.

            1. The Dogman*

              Ahh nice, I did get the feeling they were doing a good job on that one…

              That is not a question I ask my Song of Ice and Fire friends… GoT was a bit disappointing for them by the end…

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I find a lot of sex scenes could be skipped. (In works where erotica is not the focus.)

        Also, if it’s a book on tape, having the sex scene read to me is very weird. Like I wouldn’t blink at it printed, but having the actor read to me I’m like “Hey! We don’t know each this well.”

        1. The Dogman*

          “I find a lot of sex scenes could be skipped. (In works where erotica is not the focus.) ”

          Absolutely true!

          And I never considered audiobooks (don’t like them much myself), and I cannot imagine how creepy some of those scenes would sound being read to me! Arggggghhhhhh!!!!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            We use audio books on long road trips, which haven’t been a thing of late.

            In this genre:
            For the whole family, I recommend The Phantom Tollbooth (classic for a reason) and His Dark Materials (which is performed by a full cast).
            For the grown-ups, anything by Carl Hiassen tends to be fun and easy to start and stop.

            1. The Dogman*

              Sadly not much in the way of long trips coming up for us, but next time we visit Scotland I will try and audiobook.

              Mostly I just listen to techno in the car…

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, absolutely! Audiobooks and podcasts aren’t my thing, because I can’t focus on them and my mind wanders. The only audiobook I’ve ever listened to was The Once and Future King by T. H. White, and I only listened to that because it was narrated by Sean Bean. He’s one of my favorite actors and I absolutely adore his voice to the point that I’d listen to him reciting random numbers. But there are no sex scenes in that one!

            No doubt it takes a real professional to read sex scenes in audiobooks.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          I feel exactly the same way about sex scenes in audiobooks. It makes me vaguely uncomfortable if it’s in any war explicit. And I’m fine with reading it.

    2. HNY*

      I’m current 1/2 way through Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – and I’m LOVING it. Before that I read A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson and also loved that (how lucky, two great books in a row!)

    3. RussianInTexas*

      The latest book by Ellie Alexander’s Bakeshop Mysteries (cozy murder set in Ashland, OR), and when I want to just page through things – Star Trek Costumes that I got for Christmas.
      I just finished Leviathan Falls as well! Found the ending unexpected, logical, and satisfying.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      I was gifted The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, from a friend! It’s definitely not my usual fare, and I have a huge TBR pile – it’s a veritable tsundoku! So I hope I can read it and do it justice.

      1. Lurker*

        I read that a couple of years ago. It’s supposedly one of the 100 greatest books of all time… I’m not sure I agree with that but overall I liked it.

    5. Podkayne*

      I’m reading three at the moment, each very engaging. An indulgence! They are: Fluke, by Christopher Moore (witty fiction a la Douglas Adams); All Her Little Secrets, by Wanda Morris (mystery, suspense), and Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (history).

    6. CJM*

      I’m almost done with Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, a book given to me by a friend. I’m not loving it. It’s too meandering and disjointed for my taste. But I like it enough to finish it.

      Next up is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It was recommended here (thanks for that!), and I bet I’ll love it.

    7. Jay*

      I’ve been reading the Murderbot series by Martha Wells. I do not generally read scifi although I love John Scalzi, and a friend recommended these. The first few books are very short – next up for me is the fourth one which is a bit longer. My husband’s reading taste doesn’t overlap with mine very often (see above re: I don’t generally like scifi) so it’s been fun to share these with him.

      I’ve also been reading the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin mysteries by S J Rozan. I’d read the first few years ago and then life happened and I lost track of them, so I started over last summer. I’m a bit obsessive about reading a series in order and reading all of them. Some are available on Kindle and some are out of print. I had to order the one I want next used and it just arrived.

      I tend to have a few books going at once and I also listen to audiobooks while I drive. I just finished listening to “The Splendid and the Vile” by Eric Anderson – it’s about the first year of Winston Churchill’s WWII term as PM. Really enjoyed it and got curious about WWII – my knowledge is pretty superficial. I now have “The Home Front” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and “In the Garden of Beasts” by Larson. The Goodwin is about FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt during WWII and the Larson is about an American family living in Berlin as Hitler came to power.

      It’s rainy and gray here. A good day for another cup of coffee and a book on the sofa. Happy New Year!

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        The Murderbot books are a lot of fun. I read the first 2 over the summer and it looks like my library has them all in audiobook, so thanks for reminding me of them!

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I got “Language of Thorns” and “Jane Austen Embroidery” (includes patterns but also history/biography, which is the main reason I wanted it) for Christmas so I should start with one of those, but it will probably be whichever audiobook comes available from the library next lol

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          It’s so nerdy but nothing has gone from “I am aware this exists” to “I WANT IT” so quickly lol

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I intend to start Chuck Wendig’s The Book of Accidents soon (I’ve had it for a while but my brain hasn’t been in reading mode). Also, I just got a fantasy called How Ari Got Religion, by Asher Elbein, with illustrations by Tiffany Turrill. She’s a brilliant artist and a friend of mine from my chat room.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I think I’m going to DNF this one. I’ve been trying to get into The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester.

      It’s a historical mystery, which is a genre I really *should* read, as it’s close to the genre I write. But it’s the type of historical fiction that aims to be highly cinematic, and where (if I’m going to be slightly snarky) the author makes sure we get every single word of their research crammed into the text whether it’s relevant or not, and whether it’s correct or not.

      Lots of visual description in disjointed snippets, with little explanation, in an attempt to be immersive. It’s about 3 pages of description to every paragraph of plot.

      I have a very weak visual imagination, so when authors push “show don’t tell” this far, it’s very hard for me to follow what’s going on.

      I like the general premise (aspiring woman journalist in 1912 who resents being pigeonholed into covering the suffragettes), and it would seem there’s a murder coming up at some point.

      But there are some odd items that jar me right out of the text. For example, I just came across a passage describing an elegant private carriage (decorated in such a way that it’s obviously not a hired vehicle) decanting a gentleman in a cape and top hat, where the uniformed driver was then referred to as a “cabbie.”

      A cabbie?

      I don’t know if I can stick it out.

      1. Aneurin*

        I remember finishing this one, but not super enjoying it – the problems you mention persist throughout the novel, if I remember correctly. It’s the author’s first novel, and with the pacing issues and Showing The Research it definitely felt like one to me! (Those problems aren’t unique to first time novelists, of course, but strike me as ones that are at least likely to improve with experience.)

      2. The Dogman*

        “It’s about 3 pages of description to every paragraph of plot.”

        Not so much “immersed” as “submerged” in descriptions then?

        I dislike those authors too, sometimes there is too much effort to flavour things and everything gets a bit blurry. The last book I read (tried reading really) of China Mievilles was like that, he spent over 2 pages on telling us about a single room, one that was not mentioned again as far as I got in the book!

        And with the “cabbie” bit… would that person not just be the driver or coachmaster or something?

        I find that sort of thing can be too much to retain my interests, and with that sort of book I tend to give up.

          1. The Dogman*

            I wonder how many amazing ideas have been ruined by the over telling style of author?

            Probably loads really…

            1. RagingADHD*

              That’s why authors never worry about people “stealing their ideas”. And indeed, why you can’t copyright an idea, only a unique expression.

              Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is everything.

              1. The Dogman*

                “Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is everything.”

                That is perfectly summed up… and explains a lot of writers block too I suspect!

      3. allathian*

        The vehicle was probably a hansom cab (carriage with one set of large wheels, as shown on the Sherlock Holmes shows starring Jeremy Brett, patented in the UK in 1834), so it’s entirely appropriate to call the driver a cabbie.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Of course it would be correct to call the driver a cabbie if he were driving a cab. What do you think I’m talking about?

          The carriage in question was described in great detail as a highly ornamented, expensive, glossy four wheeler with a perfectly matched pair of horses, and a liveried driver. It was not a cab.

          That’s why I chose the example.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress, as usual, including:

      audiobook: a complete collection of the ghost stories of M. R. James – all of which I’ve read before, most of them several times, but I love them so much that I’m enjoying them all over again.

      Light and funny: MERMAN IN MY TUB, Vol. 8 of a manga series about a high school student who rescues a merman and winds up hosting him – and an increasing number of his mer-folk buddies – in a series of humorous encounters. The series does riffs on the whole “bishonen” concept, with the merfolk mostly consisting of extremely attractive men (upper halves, anyway) – most of whom are quite ditzy, and whose relationships have more to do with who’s bringing the snacks than anything else.

      Funny/thoughtful: MEDALLION STATUS by John Hodgman, his writings about his various TV and movie roles and his checkered career as a sometimes-celebrity. Very entertaining!

      Very creepy: THE OVERNIGHT by Ramsey Campbell, about the staff of a bookstore that’s situated in a rather forlorn and fogbound shopping plaza that appears to have been built on cursed ground, judging by the mysterious displacement of the books (the staff spends most of their time reshelving things and wondering why some of the book covers feel so… muddy…). Campbell is good at finding terror in everyday incidents, from a mostly-empty parking lot at night to a co-worker who’s behaving oddly. There are also lots of scenes of Very Bad Management, making this one a lovely test-case for Ask a Manager {wry grin}.

    12. Bluebell*

      Reading several light things this week, as I am procrastinating on Seven Stormy Mountain ( book club). I just finished Switch by Beth O’Leary (fun Brit novel where grandma takes granddaughters flat in London, and she moves to grandmas village for 6 months, Kal Penn’s You Can’t Be Serious, and Helen Ellis’ Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light. All three were fun, and Nick Offerman’s latest is next.

    13. Siege*

      I just found out that Carlos Ruiz Zafon died last year, so I picked up his short story collection last week. I love his books, so I’m bummed out that they’re all written. I also just finished the Gamache series by Louise Penny, which I loved beyond any reasonable measure or expectation, and really need the next one to be out (not least because she’s the first author I’ve seen include the pandemic and, uh, it went a little differently than she wrote it going, as far as I know (they are set in Canada so maybe Canadians are not as willfully pig-headed as Americans have been!)). I’ll probably pick a few things up from end-of-year lists, but not sure what yet. (I did read Under The Whispering Door.)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m in Canada, in the province of Québec. I haven’t read Louise Penny’s Gamache series beyond the first one, but I can tell you that the provincial government’s response to Covid over here has been much different from the US response. Much more cautious. Masks, vaccine passports, etc.

    14. Aphrodite*

      I’m a nonfiction reader and I just started Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries by Kim MaQuarrie. It is damn good! It is his journey. of his 4,500-mile trip through South America alonng the spine of the Andes and the stories of the characters connected to this region–from the terrifying Pablo Escobar to a 14-year-old sacrificial Incan girl.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Nonfiction recommended here recently, that I really liked: Almost Human, about the discovery of two different sets of pre-modern humans in South Africa.

    15. Jackalope*

      What did you think of The Priory of the Orange Tree? I read it in 2020 and really enjoyed it, although I know some people found it was a bit long.

      I just finished a lovely week of vacation in which I read roughly a book a day, and the last one was Hell and Other Destinations by Madeleine Albright. I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to anyone wanting to read a political memoir, although I think I liked Madam Secretary by her a bit more. I also began Maggie Tiefvater’s series that starts with The Raven Boys (and would probably have finished it this week too except that the library was closed all week for weather issues and so my copies on hold are sitting there waiting for me).

      1. Stitch*

        I personally DNF Priory of the Orange Tree. I just wasn’t enjoying it and qas halfway through, realized how much longer I’d have to read and bailed.

        I do feel like I bail on Libby books more often because of the low investment factor.

        1. Jackalope*

          I’m not sure if this was an auto-correct issue or just a term I don’t know, but what is a Libby book?

          1. Teapot Translator*

            I don’t know if that’s what Stitch meant, but Libby is an app where you can borrow ebooks from libraries. That’s the app I use to read ebooks from my local library.

            1. Stitch*

              That’s what I meant. Libby is the app you can use to borrow Ebooks from your library, so you borrow a book with very low effort (and there’s always something to read if you want to switch books).

      2. Teapot Translator*

        I enjoyed, but it felt like the end was rushed? And it is a long book, so it’s a bit of a contradiction. I enjoyed it overall, but would not reread it.

        1. Jackalope*

          One of my good friends who read it around the same time I did said that she wished it had been a duology or even a trilogy. I’m not sure if I agree, but some of the rushed bits might have worked better that way. The bit I loved about it was that the author decided she was going to make a world where race, gender, and sexual orientation were just accepted and the related isms didn’t exist. I found that so relaxing that I wanted to just keep coming back to it.

      3. The Smiling Pug*

        The Raven Boys series is amazing! Personally, I felt that the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but I loved the Welsh mythology and the way the romances and character development was handled.

    16. Rara Avis*

      I just finish The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins), a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. Worth areas if you liked the first three. I’m starting a mystery called The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne. The first chapter is intriguing. And I want to get The Latinist by Mark Prins. About a grad student whose advisor torpedoes her rev so he can keep her. I think I saw it on AAM first? Or my Latin teacher Facebook groups?

    17. Dainty Lady*

      In non-fiction, I am reading “The Menopause Manifesto” by Dr. Jen Gunter. Highly recommended for anyone of any age who might experience menopause, but VERY recommended for women in their mid-40s or so, by way of getting educated early on. Dr. G has an aggressively feminist tone, which I find mostly helpful, and a clear, readable, informative style.

      1. allathian*

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll turn 50 in a couple months, so this is timely. (My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer when she was my age, and had to take estrogen blockers for years, so she had an induced menopause; her mother was 45 when she had her youngest child, but I have no idea when she hit menopause.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I really feel like shooting laser beams from my hands should be included. I build up this abrupt surge of intense heat energy, but can’t channel it into anything other than sweating.

      3. Dainty Lady*

        As I read, I’m finding that the book is very wide-ranging; she has lots of opinions about many things and uses menopause as the thread to tie it together. Granted, menopause is very complex and involves the entire body, mind, and emotions, and everything is useful to know.
        But the book is long and unfocused as a result.

      4. Bookbookbook*

        It was on sale in ebook for $2 yesterday. It might still have that price on one of the seller sites?

    18. Blomma*

      As of yesterday, I finished reading all 80 of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels and short story collections in (mostly) publication order! It took me exactly 2 years. I also read 22 of her stage, radio, and tv plays.

      Currently, I’m reading Bad Blood (the Theranos book) and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. My library holds on Daisy Jones and the Six and The Devil and the Dark Water just arrived too. This should keep me busy for the next few weeks!

        1. Blomma*

          I haven’t read those because mystery is my favorite genre and romance novels don’t generally appeal to me. Are they as good as her other books?

          1. allathian*

            I don’t know, because I haven’t read them, but then, I’ve probably only read about half of her mystery books. If I ever get closer to reading all of those, I might give them a shot if only for the sake of completeness. The romance genre doesn’t generally appeal to me, either; I grew out of it around age 16, when I’d been devouring my gran’s Harlequin romances since I was about 12, but admittedly I’ve never read much quality romance literature. Given Christie’s mystery writing, I bet the quality is closer to Austen than Harlequin.

            One of my favorite authors for a long time was Anne McCaffrey, and she’s written some romance novels, but most of her books are romances in a soft sci-fi guise (she’d be annoyed if you said Pern was fantasy, the dragons were genetically engineered to make it sci-fi, but she’s no scientist and it shows in her writing; interpersonal relationships and worldbuilding were her strengths, a lack of consistency and a tendency to favor Mary Sue and Gary Stu characters were her biggest weaknesses). The quality of her writing also deteriorated a lot during the last decade or so of her life, and her editors didn’t have the guts to be firm enough with her, I guess they didn’t care because her books were selling like hot cakes anyway, but I suspect it will affect her ability to attract new readers in the long term.

            1. Jackalope*

              I avoided romance novels for most of my life too but in the last year a good friend introduced me to some that I’ve really liked. My personal favorite right now is Courtney Milan; if you are ever interested in trying her stuff, the Brothers Sinister series is one of my favorites; it has great plots (including a lot of stuff that happens like a female lead who is also a scientist trying to get her research out there despite he gender, which is at times frustrating but ends happily), lots of great humor, and fun characters that I really enjoyed.

            2. Blomma*

              I might give them a chance eventually as I agree that they’re probably closer to Austen than other romance novelists. A fair number of the mysteries have a love story or two running through them and (when they don’t involve a murderous partner) they tend to be sweet and have happy endings. I have quite a few other books on my to-read list to get through first though!

          2. MizPurple*

            I have read the Westmacott books – big Christie fan here. They aren’t particularly romances, but more “psychological” studies. In these short novels Dame Agatha is working out some interesting story ideas that didn’t fit into her usual mystery/puzzle mode. I like them all, though they are definitely of their era – my favorite one, Absent in the Spring, is a particularly ingenious and memorable bit of writing. I bought these as a single volume decades ago.

            1. Blomma*

              Cool, thank you for this! I will check those out after I’ve had a break to read some other books/authors.

    19. Stitch*

      I just finished Leviathan Falls. I thought it ticked all the boxes and if you like the Expanse Series, you’ll be satisfied with it as a finale.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I just started the series! I’m glad to know that the series is complete! I’m waiting for the second book to be available at the library.

    20. GermanGirl*

      I just finished Ella Minnow Pea, which was recommended here in November, I think. I loved it.

  9. Falling Diphthong*

    Books: What’s everyone reading?

    I just finished the second “Scholomance” book by Naomi Novik, and loved it. Even better than the first. (Wizard children in a boarding school packed with things that routinely try to kill them, but the odds are better than if you try to make it through adolescence on the outside–high school hell on steroids.) I love this plot for the same reason I loved Nikita, that it comes down to building teams rather than a lone hero doing everything by sheer gumption.

    Returned to “Under the Whispering Door” which I am sticking with based on the author’s “The House on the Cerulean Sea” being so good. I’m a third of the way through and feel like we have had the conversation “You should ask questions.” “Okay, (question).” “Oh man, that’s what you ask?” a lot. I assume the metaphysical characters are being played straight, but it would not be untoward for the main character to ask if, say, he’s been captured by some sort of vampires who feed off the dead rather than the living. And I should be the ideal target for a book where we live in a tea shop surrounded by tea plants and trays of chocolate chip scones.

    I feel the books are a contrast on how one feels about the exposition fairy showing up to explain things, which I often like. I hate the opposite trope, where no one asks obvious questions because then this would wrap up too quick.

    1. The Dogman*

      Teapot Translator beat you to it this week!

      The Reality Dysfunction is my current book, haven’t read it for a while and thought I would have another blast through it since I recommend it so much.

      As I said in the other book thread the sex scenes are really unnecessary!

    2. KeinName*

      Oh god I am also at 11% of this book (Whispering Door) and so bored. I liked the first one a lot better

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I am around the midpoint and it just picked up: the main character finally did something, rather than passively observing.

        I can see “What if Scrooge wasn’t visited by ghosts, but instead became a ghost himself?” as an interesting writing prompt. But the execution feels like it’s way too slow to get anywhere, and I am not seeing the humor or charm from the reviews.

        It’s like you started a new job and your new coworkers were like “We don’t want to push you, so there is zero orientation. We won’t explain anything. We’ll tell you to ask questions but then be surprised when you do so.”

        …. That could make an interesting story, I guess, as the pov character slowly realizes he is in purgatory and nothing will happen and no one will explain anything.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Coming back to report: I persevered to the midpoint, then started skimming. The plot described on the inside front cover kicks off with 100 pages to go. (Rather than within the first 50-100, as one would expect.)

        The first 10% is indicative of the whole book–it doesn’t suddenly pick up steam after all the groundwork has been lain. If you’re charmed, the whole thing will likely charmed; if you’re bored, the whole thing will likely bore.

    3. Stitch*

      I’m exactly the same on Under the Whispering Door. I’ll finish based in the strength of Cerulean Sea but I took a break.

      I just started Song of Achilles.

      I started Seige and Storm but bailed when (very mild spoiler), they got caught again like 10 pages into the book.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Hee.

        I learned this week that my beloved Leverage coined the phrase “competence porn,” which is a thing that watching Alina and Mal is not.

        I did really like the Six of Crows duology set in the Grisha-verse, accurately described here as “Ocean’s 11 with teenagers and lots of murder.” It’s a huge contrast with the extreme passivity of Alina.

      2. Not a cat*

        Just finished Queenie a few hours ago. It is about a WOC and resolving her childhood and adult trauma. It was fine.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      I’m reading Dream Snake by Vonda McIntyre, a feminist fantasy novel written before I was born that I just discovered, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s my ‘before sleep’ read for this week, which is always a book that’s light and comfortable. It reminds me a bit of Tamora Pierce’s books, though written for an older audience.

  10. Turning 40*

    Anyone have any favorite locations/hotels/resorts in Florida? Preferably near Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale? Planning a 40th birthday trip with two girl friends for this year.Looking at those two locations because it will be warmer than where we live and we can all get cheap nonstop flights. Want to pretty much spend entire time outside doing pool/beach and water activities such as kayak or paddle board. And will be mostly trying to eat putside too. Haven’t spent any time in Florida so any recs welcome.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I haven’t spent much time in Florida, but I did spend a week in the Everglades. A bit of a drive from Fort Lauderdale though.
      There is a number of short trails near the entrance. I highly recommend Ahinga trail. So much wildlife it feels like you are at a zoo. We saw two gators get into a disagreement! All sorts of birds and water so clear you can see the fish.

      If you are outdoorsy, I also highly recommend the Hell’s Bay canoe trail. It goes twisting and wandering though a mangrove thicket and is just so much physical fun to paddle. There are plenty of markers so you can’t get lost. If you really want an adventure, there is a chickee platform to camp on at the far end. We saw freshwater dolphins cruising about! A sea turtle came to beg! An osprey shook itself off like a dog midflight after diving for a fish!

      If that sound interesting, I can give you more specific recs about camping etc.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      There’s a hotel called The Green Island Inn in Ft Lauderdale. I had booked a trip back in 2019 to visit family there and booked that hotel.

      It’s small and inexpensive and reminded me
      of the hotels and guesthouses I saw in Key West.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh yes, and Sanibel Island is WONDERFUL. Nice restaurants, you can bike all over the island, the beachcombing is the best anywhere and they have a great bookstore. And a nice nature preserve where you can rent kayaks and see manatees and dolphins!

    3. Deanna Troi*

      LOVE LOVE LOVE the Pink Shell resort in Fort Myers Beach. Amazing beach, several pools, spa for massage, suites with full kitchen, walking distance of a bunch of restaurants and bars. I’ve been there half a dozen times.

    4. Anon in IL*

      Vanderbilt Beach & Harbour Club in Naples rents condos by the week. One building is right on the beach with kayak and paddleboard available (at extra charge). The units have two bedrooms with full kitchen and laundry facilities. Very comfortable.

    5. ATX*

      Captiva Island 1000000%!!! I used to go every year with my parents (they still go) and it’s an absolute dream. I went last year and it’s just amazing. You can stay in a beachfront villa, go paddleboard, see dolphins, watch the sunset, walk around the entire island for boutique shopping/eating, and go on a boat ride to other small islands (and the dolphins will play with the wake that the boats make!). AND there are manatees on the bay side :)

    6. Florida Woman*

      I’m late to the party but wanted to comment! I personally think Fort Myers is a better experience, with less traffic and more natural beauty. Lauderdale is more of a party scene, high priced, busy, and water activities are more limited to the rich and famous (or those who can afford boats). On the west coast, Sanibel and Captiva are fabulous for natural environment and serenity. Sanibel, Estero Island (Ft. Myers Beach), Lovers Key, and Bonita Beach are all award-winning beaches and most have their natural sand and shells. (Ft. Lauderdale is largely renourished AKA artificial). The interior sides of all these barrier islands are great places to kayak or paddleboard and see lots of wildlife (mostly birds and gators). Most restaurants in the area will have outdoor dining, or will be outdoor only. If I were to recommend just one, I would go with Sanibel Island for the combination of natural beauty and good amenities (lots of outfitters to rent gear, lots of good restaurants, variety of lodging options), but there are many lovely places in that part of the state. Have a wonderful time!

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

    Has anyone started an online store with the intent to just to break even or at least fund more of your hobbies? I don’t actually want to turn my hobbies into a JOB or a business. I have enough sense to know running a truly profitable online shop is a lot of work, and I’d need to be making “inventory” like crazy… and bookkeeping and following laws, ack! But I don’t need all the stuff and I want to keep doing my hobbies. I have several craft hobbies that keep me occupied: I sew bags (zippered totes and wine gift bags mostly), make jewelry, and macrame (mostly large things that take a long time like wreaths/dreamcatchers). In the before times, I could gift them away, sell in person for a nominal amount in cash, or donate them to a charity event for instance; but those opportunities have dried up with everything being virtual and I’m not shipping this stuff around or gathering home addresses of coworkers for instance.

    Talk me down from the edge of insanity, or give me tips on how to make it work.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’ve been pondering a variation of the same topic: whether and how to find sufficient time and energy to add a side gig or significantly increase my crafting in order to sell in someone else’s store. Questions:
      Can I fit comfortably, regularly, and realistically fit more work into my already overextended schedule and already overcrowded living space?
      Can I consistently make sufficient quantity and quality of “inventory” and also not spoil the self-renewing happiness of that comes from doing my craft hobbies or using my favorite professional skills?
      Conversely, could I find a “go there, work hard, and don’t take it home with me” part-time job working for someone else? In a pandemic-safe situation?
      So far the answers are No, No, and ROTFLMAO at the very idea. I haven’t given up but I remain highly skeptical.

      1. JSPA*

        If you need a purpose / outlet more than money…

        Donating items to fundraisers for worthy organizations is an option. Artists do NOT get to write off a “fair market value” or cost of time, only (at most) “cost of materials.” So it’s a significant imposition, when worthy charities request art for a fundraiser. Yet, good art can really lift the perceived quality of a raffle or auction. That can makes donation a good match for highly‐skilled amateurs, doing pro- quality work.

    2. Another crafter*

      I got as far as listing as few things on Etsy once, for a small fee. Without actual marketing (more effort and money), there were no sales. My city also wanted a business license (min hundred something dollars per year) for a home/online business. Add doing business taxes on top too. What I wanted was to get my makes out of my home and maybe fund my crafting a bit. I gave up. It’ll cost more in effort and money to sell things then I’m willing to put in.

      I’m still making. I put items for friends by their front door, usually in bags to keep out the weather. For coworkers, I’ve been leaving things on their desks for the next time they go into the office. I’m going to experiment giving things away on my local Buy Nothing community next.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        On my local buy Nothing Group, there are some hobby bakers who often post their baked goods… so I think it would make sense that there might be interest there for other goods!

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      A really neat shop recently opened in my town that sells nothing but locally made products. Everything from honey to fabric wine gift bags, jewelry, knitted items, everything you can think of. Is there maybe something like that near you?
      I think they had been a pop up before they decided to go bricks and mortar. They also hold crafting classes there

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

        There is a shop like that in my extended area (40 miles), but I think they’ve either been closed or very sporadically open the last few years…even prepandemic; the owner had health problems. They sold on consignment but I think their circle of craftspeople was pretty exclusive and there was never info on how to become a seller there.

        There used to be small pop up craft fairs around me — just rent a table — but those obviously are out right now and who knows if they’ll return. I imagine the margin is pretty slim and they start to get taken over by MLM sellers rather than hand-crafters so buyers get turned off.

    4. Swisa*

      I sell things on eBay as basically a way to get rid of stuff we don’t want/can’t use. It will never be lucrative, but it’s not hard, and I like the both decluttering and small spending money aspects of it.

      Etsy is probably similar in terms of ease of use. I know they charge a small fee, but the storefront is all set up!

    5. Girasol*

      I’m doing craft fairs with that in mind. I aim to cover the cost of booth supplies (awning, tables, etc.), booth space fee and sales tax, cost of materials, and what I need to keep my hobby funded. My dollars per hour worked is well below minimum wage but it’s just a hobby so that’s okay. I donate whatever is left over. I like craft fairs over online sales for several reasons. The fairs have a tax number for state sales tax, at least in my state, so I don’t need a tax ID of my own. If I’m feeling “meh” about my hobby for awhile, then I don’t sign up for a craft fair and don’t have to do anything until I feel like it again. But if I’m up for it, it’s great fun to do my craft at the fair, talk about it with people, enjoy the party atmosphere, and sell half my inventory in a couple days. The event is more fun than job.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        I really like this idea. Also, for the U.S., just Google “selling at a craft fair taxes” and you can get sites that have a state-by-state summary of what’s required, who has exemptions, etc.. I think this is a brilliant idea!

    6. Ewesername*

      Etsy can be problematic if you aren’t marketing. It’s very easy for your store to get buried. I have one, and I’ve found the easiest way to market is to cross post on Instagram. Hashtags help to bring people in, link to shop in your bioline. But truthfully, I sell more on Facebook marketplace right now.

    7. Anima*

      I do historical costuming, in full scale, so human size, no dolls.
      There was a market a few years ago, because Germany and Belgium had a huge community and events for wearing costume, but it totally dried up even before the panini. My handmade clothes, that often take months to make and are quite expensive, startet to suffocate me. I pondered stopping entirely and selling machines and material (that market is still alive), but I just… Couldn’t? I purge my closet every year and just give away what I will probably never wear. I also started re-doing stuff. I cut the garment apart and make something new out of it after I documented it (I have a blog and I do YouTube for that, and Insta, of course). Is that an option for you? YouTube will probably not make you money, mine does not, but there is a small chance it will for you?
      Anyhow, I decided to wear my costumes anyway, especially at meetings with my friends who just accept my kind of weird.

  12. Leah Nora*

    My Mom is slipping away from us due to Alzheimer’s/dementia. Although nothing is imminent (we hope and don’t see major signs), we (my sister and I) are exploring the possibility of her signing into the hospice program. She’s in a nursing home. And (very long story) I am her roommate. It’s right for both of us right now. I can advocate for her: changing her brief (totally incontinent), current medication, and of course the confusion, delusions, and occasional hallucinations.
    My question to all of you is about your experiences with hospice care. Pros, cons, questions to ask, what you wish you had known at the beginning or at any time.
    Thank you.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      There were no cons to hospice care. When my mom was nearing the end of her life, the only thing we really thought was that we should have engaged the hospice team sooner. They were nothing other than caring, professional, respectful, and an excellent resource in a really difficult time. Questions to ask would be probably specific to the memory care aspect of it: is hospice for memory care patients housed somewhere else and maximized for that specific circumstance, or is it a generic hospice setting, and if so, are they set up for things like wandering (if your mom is still that mobile)? Not super urgent, but some small things: how closely does the hospice team work with her existing doctors regarding medications, etc., would they be taking over things entirely or working with her existing medical team? Does the hospice facility allow a sort of live-in setting where you can stay, essentially unlimited time, especially during these covid times?

      My mom’s hospice team also put my dad in touch with an extraordinarily helpful grief support group. About ten people who had all lost their spouses within a couple of months of each other all met once a week with a counselor for about six weeks, and now they continue to meet on their own. It’s been wonderful for helping my dad connect with other people going through the same thing. Many hospice organizations offer similar programs, and they’re worth looking into.

      1. Washi*

        Interesting, in your situation did hospice = moving into a hospice facility? Are you in the US?

        In my experience in several different states, hospice facilities are few and far between and when they exist, they are typically very small and only for particularly challenging symptoms that can’t be managed at home, or brief respite stays. A patient in a nursing home would just almost always stay where they are, unless the nursing home has its own special hospice wing for their residents.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          My mom was in the US. The hospice was a specific floor of the hospital that she was moved to after spending a couple of weeks inpatient on a “regular” floor. She didn’t suffer from memory issues, though, but cancer. The team discussed whether it would have been possible for her to come home, but ultimately it wasn’t going to be an option.

        2. Filosofickle*

          When my grandmother had hospice care at the end of her life (dementia, in the US) that didn’t involve moving into a hospice facility. They sent someone to where she lived every day for an hour or two.

        3. RagingADHD*

          My mom was in a nursing home and stayed where she was. My aunt was in the hospital and was moved to a different floor.

          I think the separate floor was better for the families, because the hospice floor had no restrictions on visitors or visiting hours. It was also better for staff to have the patients grouped together, as they had no monitors and the care routines were quite different.

          Both in the US, pre-covid.

        4. JelloStapler*

          Our hospice was meant to be a support while my dad was still at home, but they offered respite care. My dad started actively dying while in respite so he stayed due to the comfort measures they were giving him. Before this stage, They were also considering what care center he would go to as it became evident in their experience, just like Valancy, that he wouldn’t be going home.

      2. Washi*

        Ohh, yes hospice in a hospital, not a standalone facility. That makes sense.

        I asked mainly because it’s a common misconception in the US that hospice is a specific place, whereas it is almost always a service that you get wherever you are at the time, whether that is home, nursing home, or hospital. But there are other countries that do it differently so I wasn’t sure if that’s what you were referring to!

        1. Washi*

          (Not meaning to imply that you had any misconceptions about hospice, it’s just a thing I hear a lot so I was curious about the context of your experience)

        2. the cat's ass*

          Thank you, yes! As a former hospice nurse, I used to say, “hospice is everywhere.”

      3. Our FIL*

        Washi notes some cons below that are a good guy check. Our family had a bad experience with hospice with them aggressively insisting we needed to accept my FIL’s fate. He had had a bad scare from a UTI that made him seem like he had dementia but once cleared up he was his old self. He lived with reasonable medical care for chronic conditions for another 2.5 years.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          That’s because hospice shouldn’t be brought in until it has been determined that the person is going to pass away soon. Hospice doesn’t make that decision – they don’t get involved unless the person isn’t going to get better. The mistake with your situation wasn’t with the way hospice was behaving, it is with whomever decided they should be in hospice to be begin with.

          Hospice workers are constantly dealing with family members who refuse to accept the inevitable and are constantly wanting to do things to try to help the person get better. It is an exhausting job, trying to help the person who is dying and dealing with family members who refuse to believe that they are dying.

    2. Washi*

      I am assuming you are in the US…

      Pros:
      -extra support with the nursing/home health aide visits plus spiritual care and social work if you want it
      -potentially better med management (hospice has a particular expertise in reducing the number of pills people take while still effectively managing symptoms)
      -potential access to other services such as volunteers if the nursing home still lets them in (covid!)
      -access to bereavement support after your mother dies

      Cons:
      -Because the course of Alzheimer’s is unpredictable, patients can end up “graduating” from hospice for a little while if they stabilize too much to continue being recertified, and that withdrawal of support can be tough. In a nursing home though, your mom always has a certain baseline of care though, which is great.
      -Hospice only covers things related to comfort and the primary diagnosis. So if your mom was going to get something like cataract surgery, this would not be covered, same with many labs/scans. If this would raise any concerns, it’s important to talk to the hospice team early.

      Definitely use medicareDOTgov to compare hospice agencies – every single caregiver gets a survey, so these satisfaction statistics are fairly accurate in my experience, not like trying to use Yelp.

      Questions I would ask at an info session:
      – Can you tell me who the nurse case manager would be and how much hospice experience they have?
      -What is a typical caseload for the case manager and how often will she/he see my mom?
      -What other services are offered (volunteer, etc)
      -If I have a question, can I call the case manager directly or is there a main number I’m supposed to call?
      -If I call the triage line after hours, how long will I wait for a response?
      -What kind of training does your staff get specifically for working with dementia patients?

      I am a hospice social worker so feel free to ask other questions! Though if you are not in the US, my knowledge will not be as helpful.

      1. Not a cat*

        We had hospice and his case manager was lovely. Unfortunately, she had a preplanned vacation scheduled and my father died three days after it started, there was no substitution, so the family nursed him in the end.

    3. Just a name*

      Glad you can be there with your mom. When dad went to assisted living in 2020, there were a few months over winter when no one could visit because of Covid. He had dementia and other medical issues. We found out during his 4th visit to the ER that he had cancer that had metastasized. They strongly recommended hospice. He was able to stay in assisted living, but he got a new doctor (the hospice doctor) and was visited by a nurse regularly. The visits were not as often as I would have liked but the assisted living place shut down hard because they had several positive Covid cases before vaccinations. What hospice did: managed pain (fentanyl patches), got him a hospital bed, wheelchair as he got weaker and never remembered that he needed a walker. Emphasis shifted to comfort care. Cut out meds like Coumadin and blood pressure meds that didn’t mix well with the pain meds and his changing metabolism. End of life though. Wow. I wanted to rush him to the ER because he was having trouble breathing. But as my sister pointed out, it would just extend the inevitable. He had lost so much weight. Plus we would not have been able to be with him in the hospital. I still struggle with that. Hospice nurses came every day, gave the assisted living nurses orders that made him as comfortable as possible. The hard choice is picking out which hospice service to use. Ask the staff where she is living for recommendations. I knew a pharmacist in town who made recommendations based on her experience working with them. He was supposed to have an aide but that rarely happened because Covid. Same for the pastor. First talk to the local senior services social worker. They can walk you through the process.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I am so sorry y’all are going through this.

      My mom was on hospice for only a few weeks (different condition), but the people were wonderful to her and to us. There was a whole team, a chaplain, a social worker, and the extra nurses. They have lots of good advice and support.

      I was surprised at how the hospice designation changed the resources that were covered by Medicare, even though she was in the same facility, in the same room. She got an upgraded bed, more nursing coverage, and just a lot more attention and was more comfortable. It also helped a lot that she could get aggressive pain management, as that was an issue for her condition.

      The only (temporarily) wierd bit for us was actually getting her into the program. It seemed like everyone was tiptoeing around, reluctant to break the bad news. Whereas we had been aware for some time that she wasn’t going to get better, and we knew she didn’t want to be subjected to a bunch of pointless, invasive procedures that would only prolong her suffering.

      I guess that is my advice then: be as forthright as possible with the staff, and don’t wait for them to bring it up, because their ethical / duty of care position leans toward active interventions as long as possible. You can probably get her more comfortable, sooner, if you are proactive.

      Take care, and best wishes to you both.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My dad was in hospice for a few days before passing away from cancer. (They’d just finished the paperwork to admit him, and he died right away.) But even based on those few days, I thought it would have been a great place for him for a longer stay too. It was inside a small hospital, so medical staff was available to help him. There was also a chaplain. I am not religious, but from talking to him, had the impression that he was a great help to the patients and would’ve helped dad immensely if dad had checked in earlier. (He mostly slept through the 3-4 days he was there.) I second the comment about no restrictions on visitors and visiting hours. I could come in as needed and my mom was there pretty much all day long. He was on Medicaid and Medicare and between the two, they covered everything.

    6. I got a Robe*

      The biggest pro for us was that my dad was in assisted living and his dementia was progressing to the point where they were going to insist he move to either a full nursing or memory care facility and hospice allowed him to stay in his home until he passed.

      However, that was with a terminal diagnosis on top of the Alzheimers (Lung cancer with brain mets) with an “under 6 month” prognosis. I think without the terminal diagnosis hospice would not have been enough to allow him to stay in his living situation.

      I had to advocate a little because my dad preferred to sleep on the floor, always has and hospice was insisting on a hospital bed for a little, but once I explained that the floor had been his bed for the better part of 50 years, they adjusted. (They did have to change the caregivers as they needed someone more agile to deal with care on the floor)

      If she qualifies for hospice, I saw no downsides. They were also a great resource after he passed and took care of a lot of the stuff I was just not equipped to deal with.

    7. Deanna Troi*

      My dad was in hospice care for 8 days. It was part of the retirement community that he and my mom lived in, and they brought in the hospital bed, wheelchair, medicines, etc. to their apartment. The nurse came every day for an hour and the nurse’s aid came every day for an hour to bath him, etc. The nurses responded immediately to phone calls and called the doctors right away if we needed something, and the doctors were incredibly responsive as well.

      It was WONDERFUL. These were the most careful, helpful, smart people I have ever seen, and the experience was as good as it could have been.

      HOWEVER, I might hesitate to get hospice care for your mom in her situation. Once you sign up for hospice, they won’t do any treatments other than comfort and pain relief. So, for example, when we signed up for it, they said if he got a urinary tract infection, they wouldn’t give him antibiotics, but would give him pain medicine so it wouldn’t hurt. My dad was on morphine, an anti-anxiety, and an anti-seizure medication (because the seizures were painful, not necessary to make them get better). That was really all that he was allowed. We had to sign paperwork agreeing to that. If your mother’s death is not imminent, once she was in hospice, she wouldn’t be able to be treated for pneumonia, a broken bone, etc. The point of hospice is that you are no longer going to do anything to help this person get better, but you are going to make them comfortable until they die. It doesn’t sound like your mother is at the point where you want to give up all treatment in that way.

      1. Squidhead*

        The Hospice here focuses on supporting in-home care, so if “home” is a care facility then the patient remains in that home setting.
        There aren’t Hospice wards in my local hospitals, but there are some stand-alone Hospice houses with medical staff for situations where the family is unable to provide the necessary care.

        Hospice here would treat a broken bone, at least to relieve pain. So, that might mean someone would get the bone reset and placed in a cast vs a surgery with plates and pins needed for a fully functional recovery. Or, in your examples of a UTI or pneumonia, they would treat the discomfort but not the underlying cause (so probably no antibiotics, but pain meds, oxygen if uncomfortably short of breath, etc…) This approach might vary some between Hospices and is definitely worth asking about. In general, a patient receiving Hospice care will only be hospitalized if the symptoms exceed what can be managed in the home setting, and they will return to the home setting as soon as the episode is resolved. While hospitalized, the hospital will work with Hospice but it requires coordination: If (for example) the patient is admitted for a broken bone, the orthopedic doctor will be treating the bone but Hospice will be managing the other medications and treatments provided by the hospital staff.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Yes, Squidhead, that is similar to what we experienced.

          Once he was in hospice care, they said not to give him his heart medication, blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, etc., because those are all medications you take to lengthen your life. Most insurance is not going to pay the expense of hospice care AND allow for treatments/medication that make you live longer at the same time. Hospice care is supposed to be when death is imminent.

          I have to say though, though, that they were excellent with pain management. Because they’re not worried about addiction, they told us to give him morphine as often as needed to make him feel comfortable – ended up being every 2 hours.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          To provide further details on what Squidhead said, when we got hospice, they said you don’t go to the hospital, don’t call 911, there is no intervention if they have a heart attack or stroke. Hospice is about making dying more comfortable and as pain free as possible, not doing anything that will save them. My mom kept measuring my dad’s blood oxygen level. I finally asked what she was going to do if it dropped dangerously low. She was quiet for a minute and said “nothing. Before hospice, I would have called 911, but now we would do nothing.” That was the moment that it really clicked for her and she accepted it.

          I say all this so that Leah Noah and her mom can be sure they’re ready to forego lifesaving treatments and life extending medications. Maybe they are. But hospice isn’t something you just do because you’re probably going to die at some point. Signing up for hospice is saying – I acknowledge that I’m dying and we aren’t going to do anything to try to stop that process.

      2. Washi*

        Hmm, I have definitely had hospice patients get antibiotics for a UTI and get broken bones set! The key difference is that on hospice, if someone falls but seems like they are doing fine, we wouldn’t pay to get an xray done just in case they maybe broke a bone. However, if someone fell and was then in a lot of pain, we have certainly agreed to pay for patients to go to the ER, get an xray, and get a cast put on.

        I guess this would be something to add to your list of questions for the particular hospice.

    8. HannahS*

      I’m sorry for the situation you’re in. Having worked a bit in palliative care (in Canada, though, so YMMV), I found that people, once connected to our team, often said they wisher they’d been connected earlier. I can also say that because of the focus on quality of life and symptom control, palliative care doctors are sometimes much free-er with prescriptions than other doctors, and much quicker to de-prescribe medications that are no longer necessary, so it’s definitely worth asking about, if your mom is currently on a lot of meds. Best wishes to you both.

    9. Mary T*

      Hospice agencies will have set criteria, to determine whether a patient qualifies for their services. You can have them come and do an assessment. Or, the nurses where you are (if they are good) will already be considering when to make the referral. She may not qualify yet, but you can ask the question and get information.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      We waited too long for my cousin. (I had POA, but didn’t want to step on toes of closer relatives.) It wasn’t until she was hospitalized the final time that the hospice people actually did anything.
      So check out the available providers. Some are better than others, as is true of everything. Some residential facilities are uncooperative if you don’t choose their preferred hospice agency, which I think was part of the problem for us.
      When my mother was dying, the hospice had an in-patient unit in a different hospital than where she was currently admitted. She had to be moved by medical transport, but it was worth the inconvenience because they took very good care of her.

    11. Cheshire Cat*

      I don’t have any advice, just Internet hugs if you want them. My mother was also recently diagnosed with dementia, and since her diagnosis she has taken a downward spiral. It’s so hard watching your parents slip away like that.

    12. JelloStapler*

      First if all, I am so sorry. My dad had Parkinson’s which lead to a very quick decline in Spring 2019 with dementia.

      Hospice was amazing – so much support and help for my mom. Hospice does not mean they are imminently dying, but near enough (6 months?) without expectations to improve enough to extend their life.
      I think asking what hospice can do for your mom family and for your family. Ask about respite care, what kind of support they have given other families, etc.

      My dad went into respite care for what was going to be a week. We all think he decided to let go since my mom was no longer caregiver (in a positive way, he knew he had nurses and doctors for the final weeks instead of “burdening” mom). I cannot say enough how wonderful the Hospice Center was- supported us, laughed, cried answered questions even before we asked. It made a heart wrenching experience so much easier.

      1. JelloStapler*

        ETA: he was accepted into a Hospice program in August 2019, went into respite around the 23rd and passed in early September.

  13. Just a name*

    Family stuff: I’ve become the keeper of family stuff. Knickknacks, photos, linens. Some I like, but after my last parent passed this year, it seems to have snowballed. I know it was because I’m the stable one with a decent sized house, but trying to figure out what to do with so much stuff. I did buy a photo album and took many of the photos out of their frames. I have a trunk full of things. Nana’s handkerchief collection, which brought comfort to my mom but not me. Been there since 2006. Any suggestions for dealing? I should probably ask the relatives what they really want me to keep so they can have it later but they aren’t much help. I’m the 3rd child of 4 siblings (now ages 54-70) and now apparently in charge of everything. Maybe I’m just overwhelmed right now and should let it slide for now.

    1. WellRed*

      No, you should not ask the relatives what they want you to keep for them. If they want it, it’s time for them to take ownership. After you sort that, give yourself permission to find new homes (including the dump) for the rest of it. I prefer to sell And give away as much as possible rather than toss of course.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 ask them what they want themselves to keep, and set a deadline for THEM (not you!) to figure out where it’s going and how it’s getting there. When the deadline arrives, sell/donate anything you don’t care to store (this is still a disproportionate burden to be taking on! No one gets to complain that they got free storage for over a decade and then also a free decluttering service when they chose not to claim/move things!)

        1. the cat's ass*

          Perfect. It’s time for your fam to come and retrieve what they’d like to have. Set a date for it to be gone. After that date, yard sale/sell online/FB marketplace (if you FB)/freecycle/donate/recycle/toss.It’s very liberating to weed out these thing that have lost their meaning for you. Let them go elsewhere to spark you! I’d adore the hankies,myself.

        2. Wishing You Well*

          This is good – set a deadline for getting their stuff! After the deadline, get rid of the stuff. You’ll find there are some things your relatives don’t actually want enough to keep in THEIR homes. For things that are significant to you, take a photo/photos and get rid of the thing if you have no room for it.
          January is a great month to start this project! Nibble away at it! You’ll feel better!

      2. The Dogman*

        I agree with this plan 100%!

        Sometimes you need to tell other to take responsibility for what they really want.

    2. Ellie*

      If it’s too much and you can’t deal with it now, stick it in a corner and give yourself permission not to think about it until you are ready. You are not obliged to stress yourself out over this. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost.

      If and when you are ready, it’s completely fine to tell your family that if they want to claim anything to keep, the deadline is X. They can collect it, pay you to ship it to them, whatever works for YOU. Then decide what you want to keep. Anything that’s left at the deadline, you can dispose of in whatever way is best for you. You could potentially have the photos scanned and digitised so you don’t need to keep the prints but still have them so they can be reprinted if desired. But only if you WANT to! (We did that after my grandma passed away last year – she had all these photo albums and none of us wanted to keep the physical albums, but we couldn’t bear the idea of losing the photo history either so we made it a project, and now they’re all digitised, organised and available to the whole family.)

      Being the stable, solvent one does not require you to accept the role of keeper of the things.

    3. Generic Name*

      While it’s very kind of you to provide free storage for your relatives, you are not morally or legally obligated to keep items you don’t want that no one does either. I agree with the others to offer the stuff you don’t want to relatives with a deadline, and then deal with the items however you wish after the deadline passes. Unless your family is wholly unreasonable, people will have no room to criticize you for not keeping an item that literally no one else wants to house.

      When I donate or sell a family item, I tell myself that the item itself is not the memory of the person. The memories are independent. Also, plenty of people collect antiques, and I like the idea of giving an unwanted item to someone who will get use out of it. You specifically mentioned handkerchiefs that you don’t want. I happen to collect—and use!—handkerchiefs. For many items, people want them, even if they aren’t useful for your family.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I am also the family keeper, and have no one to pass things down to. My Buy Nothing group has been great for things like the hankies — it’s much easier to let items go when they are going to an excited person and not a donation bin. Photos have been scanned, and only the best saved as prints.

      Take your time.

    5. Swisa*

      If you’re weary of keeping the stuff, like others have said, i’d give people fair warning, and then feel free to get rid of it.

      Something like “With the new year, I’m decluttering and downsizing. I’m finally tackling some of our old family belongings. If you’d like anything, please make plans to come get it by the end of the month. Otherwise, I’ll be donating everything to our local charity shop.”

      And then I’d follow through. It’s a kindness that you’ve stored things up to now, but it doesn’t have to be forever! If people really want stuff they’ll make it happen. Otherwise, it may not be a priority for them (even if they say/have said) otherwise.

      1. Swisa*

        And I read your question as mostly being about the family aspect, but for the stuff aspect, I’d just do little bits at a time.

        For some stuff, you could donate, for others sell on eBay, and for others maybe just discard.

        But do little bits at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed. Reward yourself for progress. And take breaks!

    6. Also too much stuff*

      I agree with WellRed, don’t offer to keep things for relatives. It’s too easy for them to say yes and not think about the space stuff takes. Give deadlines for taking stuff off your hands. If they’re not willing to take it, they didn’t really want it.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Designated Keeper of the Things here. It’s a blight and a curse.

      Tell them to take what they want, because you are downsizing and will be getting rid of a lot. Don’t specify unless it’s something you definitely want for yourself.

      Do not offer to keep anything “for” anyone, because they will want you to keep all of it forever.

      Better yet, if your sibs are 55+, reach out to your niblings to see if they want to take anything. They will be the ones clearing out their parents’ houses eventually.

      Anything that isn’t personally meaningful to you, donate. Or if it’s a lot of collectibles or furniture, things that might be worth selling, get a consultation with an estate-sale company. Their percentage is more than worth it for dealing with the hassle.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        +1 for asking the younger generations if they want things!

        When we cleaned out my grandmother’s house, there was lots of “stuff” that felt sentimental in the “we can’t just throw this out” sense, but none of the established adults had room for a random set of dishes or cheap artwork or mismatched furniture sets. As 20-somethings moving into our first/second/third apartments, though, my cousins and I were thrilled to take these!

      2. HannahS*

        Yes! When my aunt cleaned out my grandparents’ apartment, neither she nor my parents wanted anything, and neither did my older cousins. But if I had lived on the same continent, I would have taken loads and loads of stuff, because I had just graduated, moved, and gotten married.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Agree with what everyone has said. I am also the Keeper of Things, and I decided last year to deal with the Things. So whatever the family didn’t want, or couldn’t commit to getting, I dealt with. First, I asked myself was it something I loved? Loved to see it in my house? Loved to use? Yes? Then keep it. Did it not “spark joy?” Then out it went. I was able to donate a considerable amount to charity thrift shops, quilting clubs, homeless shelters. That made me feel really good that these things were going to be used and appreciated. I also took photos of things that I was emotional about, but didn’t like. That seemed to help an awful lot.
      Good luck!

    9. Dino*

      Can you set up a yard-sale-style family reunion and get it over with in one day? Could be a fun way to spend a day together and get the max amount of stuff off your hands in one go.

      For making it easier: You could grab all the stuff in boxes and not even bother sorting it. Just put boxes on tables or blankets outside and let the family do the work. Or even things like keeping the picture frames and setting those out too; that let’s family have a blast reminiscing and mixing + matching, while taking some picture frames off your hands too. If you can enlist a family member(s) to help with final cleanup once the and trip to the dump/senior living center/homeless services/etc, even better!

      If that’s not an option because of distance/scheduling/whatever, and you really really want folks to have a chance at things: you could take a video or a series of pictures of things and share the album, then ask if anyone wants anything. You could ship things out (maybe they ph for shipping?), that way you can get it out of your house on your schedule.

      Even easier option: mass email saying you have a ton of family mementos that you unfortunately don’t have the space for. [insert general categories of the stuff, or a list of names of whose stuff it is]. “Is anyone interested in taking these items, or anything you remember fondly that you want me to look for?” Put a deadline to respond, and maybe ask if folks can pass the word to those family members further out the tree for max impact.

      My family has hoarding tendencies and so I have a lot of family passed-down items. I had to start telling family members “no” to taking things because I was getting overwhelmed. I now only keep things that were handmade/art done by my favorite relatives, that I actually like the aesthetic of, and which I will actually use. Having just a few cherished items has made my living space much more manageable. Best of luck to you on getting your space back!

      1. beach read*

        This is a great idea. I have the same problem. I didn’t want to toss everything right away when my siblings and I cleared things away from my Parents home, so I kept ALOT of stuff. Now that some time has passed, I am feeling stronger to trash or donate. I thought about letting TNG look through first and whatever they don’t want will have to go.

    10. Rara Avis*

      My mom is the keeper of things and has been working on lessening it bit by bit. Has donated to museums, sold some. She also inherited a hankies collection and sewed each grandchild a memory pillow with screen-printed pictures and hankies. If you have the time, pick one project to start with and leave the rest for later.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      The sibs are 54-70 and you’re number 3.

      Uh, most people in this age bracket that I know are starting to unload. I say if they have not taken it by now then they never will. However, fair is fair and offering one last call would be wise.
      And I have to point out, their homes must be very tiny if they can not house handkerchiefs. There are some items that there is no need to consider housing stability- either the person wants them or no.

      First step is to stop bringing home more unless YOU actually love it and will use it or display it.

      Second step is to skim off everything that you are keeping because “it’s an obligation”. I found those obligatory items had zero meaning to me. A few of them made me down right sad. Worse yet, of the people who thought they should be saved, those people did not want to house the item. (No, you don’t get to hold ME to YOUR standards. If you won’t house it, then why should I?)

      I took those items and sold them for what I could get. I took the proceeds from the items and rolled that to paying for repairs on the few items I would be keeping. That actually made me feel good to see the keepers fixed up.

      I also pushed items toward where I wanted them to go in my last wishes. This meant putting some stuff with the Historical Society. (Never got any acknowledgement from them.) I pushed some antique toys towards younger family members who were responsible enough to be careful. (This floored some people, what if little Bobby ruins it? Eh, it could get ruined just sitting in someone’s nasty, damp basement. Does the age of the recipient make it “less ruined” somehow?)

      I think the thing that converted me from “family historian” to a practical person was watching my friends try to pass on their stuff to younger family members who just. did. not. care. One particular friend was super upset about some old coins. She had no intention of keeping them, the goal was to pass them to the younger ones. The younger ones had less than zero interest. We chatted about this and I had to mention that SHE could sell the coins herself and get something that was meaningful to her. I think this is the route she went.

      In the end, it’s someone else’s dream that some of this stuff gets passed down, but it is not OUR dream. And that can be a stunning eye opener. I am watching a friend struggle to hold on to two parcels of land to pass down to his kids. Neither kid shows an interest. They will say they want the parcels but that is all. My friend is stuck with this boat anchor of an obligation to his dead parents to pass these properties on. It’s very painful to watch this thing that should be a joy but it isn’t. He is tied to these properties and there are plenty of days where he just does not care. You can break free of your boat anchors and you should if that is what you want.

      1. RagingADHD*

        A lot of times people forget that the emotional significance of these objects is tied up in relationships and menories that the younger generations simply don’t have.

        Its not that they’re callous. They are sentimental about the people and things that were important in their own childhood, not their parent’s or grandparent’s childhood. Many of the original owners died before they were born, or even before their parents were born. There is at best, an intellectual curiosity. I inherited boxes and boxes of photos of people I can’t identify, and nobody else living can identify either, or only vaguely. Sometimes they aren’t even my family – just neighbors or friends of a distant relative from 70 or 80 years ago.

        There are a few natural family historians out there who are just insatiably curious about it all and attached to the family stories for their own sake, but those are relatively few.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes! Even some things from my own childhood feel like a burden now. Like oh… my parents stored this toy for me for 30 years… and my kids would probably enjoy it… but do I WANT it? We’ve been slowly clearing out my childhood home for awhile now and already I’m losing interest in some of the things I decided to keep on the first visit! The longer you keep things the harder it is to stop keeping them, but it’s really okay to stop anyway.

    12. beentheredonethat*

      It is overwhelming. Divide and conquer. Documents get scanned. Stuff you want. Stuff you think some family might want. Everything is else is for sale or donated. Also set a limit on how much space you will use in your house. I have the 2 walls of books rule. If I won’t read or reference again. It goes.
      Ahh, When my Dad died in 2018, I discovered that I became the keeper of things. I also had to deal taking care of my mom with dementia. The night before his funeral. I offered the family to take a camera or 2(he collected stuff) then 20 boxes went to a college for display. The next year I had a box of pocket knives that I gave out as party favors. I had nieces help me and I have about 6 gig of pictures and scans of documents, letters, diaries on google drive. I probably have another 6 gig to be done. I have told family as they come over, if they want something, say so, if it is not claimed I will give it to them. We sold about $1500 in a yard sale. I found 2 operettas signed by the author in 1934. (worth about $25). I have a paratroopers emergency kit — either from my Dad’s time in the Korean conflict or he picked it up in a yard sale. A friend vet, suggested I loan it to the local Air Force museum. Four years later, anything that annoys me leaves the house. Either trash, gifted, donated. I have a cousin who helps me smuggle stuff out. Instead of 50 red vases we are down to 25 and I plan on going down to 10 of anything being max. Teapots are next…

      1. beentheredonethat*

        Also, if you know any family memories to go with items. Attach it to it. That will give it more value in the future. I am trying to do this now.

    13. Sara without an H*

      Suggestion: Don’t feel that you have to handle everything at once. (Especially now, when the weather is lousy and That Virus is still on.) My first suggestion is to let things sit until the weather is a little nicer and you’re prepared to entertain your relatives outdoors.

      You say you’ve already pulled photos out of their frames and into a photo album, which is a good first step. Can you divide the other stuff into categories and tackle them one at a time? For example, get the handkerchiefs out and invite your relatives over for drinks, snacks, and to pick out a hankie of their choice. Anything left over gets donated to a charity.

      I say this from experience — my elderly father died a couple of months ago and, if you look at someone’s lifetime accumulation of stuff as a whole, it’s impossible to process it. But if you break it down into manageable categories (clothes, books, photos, etc.) and deal with them one at a time, it’s much easier.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yes, I’d sort of forgotten that she started working as a child! And while it’s too bad she didn’t hit the 100-year mark, we got 99.95 years of her amazingness, and that was a gift.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just learned that when she had her own-named variety show in the 50s, she refused to stop having black performers on her show. She was a good one.

    1. the cat's ass*

      A life well-lived and a woman ahead of her time. I know she was 99, but DANG. Thanks for the kidney punch on the way out, 2021.

    2. Choggy*

      Thankfully she died peacefully in her sleep, in her own home. I like to imagine her husband and legions of loved ones (both human and furry) were waiting for her with open arms (paws) on the other side.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Betty White and Alan Ludden were inseparable until his death from stomach cancer in 1981. I can bet you the first words he said were “Hi, Doll!” (what he always said to Betty’s mother whenever he began Password and Password Plus)

    3. Aphrodite*

      I just thought of the joyful reunion she had with Allen Ludden after more than thirty years apart.

      1. WellRed*

        I had forgotten the snickers commercial until they showed it on a retrospective yesterday. Bwahaha!

    4. Aphrodite*

      I still remember and laugh about an interview someone did with Allen Ludden during which he was asked what the difference was between Betty and Sue Ann Nivens. His succinct reply: “Betty can’t cook.”

    5. Mimmy*

      I gasped when I first read that she’d passed as I loved her on Golden Girls. I’ve seen the adoration for her in the last 10 or so years…just so sweet. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to check out her more recent work.

      She was just gearing up to celebrate her 100th birthday (would’ve been on January 17, in just two weeks). That would’ve been really special.

    6. Double A*

      Golden Girls has been my postpartum comfort watch with my most recent baby. I’d never seen more than snippets! I’m surprised how often I laugh out loud at it. When I started watching earlier this year I was surprised any of them were still alive and was amazed Betty White was 99! She’ll live on fondly.

    7. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I loved her in everything I saw her in but especially the movie Lake Placid. I shall truly miss her.

    8. Frally*

      I’ve been nostalgia-watching The Carol Burnett Show and Betty was so great as Eunice’s bitchy sister Ellen in The Family sketches.

  14. Elizabeth West*

    What’s everyone watching right now?

    A bunch of my shows ended, but all of a sudden there was an influx of new stuff and new recommendations. So I’ve had plenty to watch.

    Just finished:
    What If and Hawkeye – much better than I anticipated, but Hawkeye was too short
    The Witcher season 2 – gaw, I love this show so much
    Cowboy Bebop (anime) – I never saw it before and it was fantastic
    What We Do in the Shadows season 3 – it just keeps getting better and better!
    Doctor Who: Flux – Jodie is leaving and I’ll be sad to see her go. I don’t feel like they gave her a good chance.

    Currently watching:
    Letterkenny – new episodes! (but only six, waaah)
    The Conners – I didn’t watch this at all until Roseanne left. I like it but it can get pretty dark.
    Kingdom – I feel like everyone has seen this Korean drama with courtly intrigue and zombies but me. It’s an absolute gem and I’m loving it. I’m on season 2 now and there’s one extended episode after that called Ansin of the North. I started following critic Carolyn Hinds on Twitter; she recommended it.
    She also recommended a sci-fi show on Netflix called The Silent Sea. I’ll hit that when I finish Kingdom.
    The Book of Boba Fett – just started on Disney Plus; there’s only one episode so far. It’s not as compelling as The Mandalorian (more Din Djarin and his son Grogu, please!), but I’ll keep watching.

    Who needs cable? Not me! :)

    1. WellRed*

      I just watched the first five episodes of And Just Like That last night. I will also check out mare of east town while I have HBOMax.

      1. I got a Robe*

        I have just started re-watching the original SATC because I am not sure if I have ever seen the entire thing and I am sure if I did it was not in order. After that, despite the generally poor reviews, I will likely watch AJLT

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve mostly been rewatching comfort shows – I tend to rewatch things a lot anyway but right now I’m skewing more towards wholesome stuff like Schitts Creek and brain candy like Downton Abbey (it gets less fluffy in the later seasons in a bad way, but early on I love the low stakes drama and pretty clothes lol)

    3. LNLN*

      I am a Korean drama buff. Liked Kingdom (LOVE Bae Doona) and just finished watching The Silent Sea. Word of warning: don’t get too attached to the characters. I recently re-watched Sisyphus, which is fantastic. You might enjoy it.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Really liked Hawkeye. Trick arrows!

      Just started Only Murders in the Building (3 true crime podcast devotees investigate a mysterious death in their building), which so far is quite fun.

      Put aside Attack on the Titans as too violent/grimdark for me. (Humanity is pretty much at the mercy of giants who eat them, and everything is terrible, and all the moms are dead.)

      Rewatch of Good Omens on Amazon, in which we try to divert the Apocalypse.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        All my friends are watching Attack on Titan and we’re waiting with anticipation for the last season.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Rewatching The Crown because I originally binged while very sick with flu, and it turns out I slept through a lot.

      Also going slowly through Dark Matter when my husband is free to watch with me. The structure is predictable, the characterization is straight out of TV Tropes dot com, and the dialogue is pure Velveeta. But I love the premise and the cliffhangers so much that it works.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I thought Dark Matter did a good job of executing cheesy space opera on the top while tossing out some interesting ideas in the understory.

    6. cat socks*

      We make it a yearly tradition to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy around the holidays. The first two movies are done and we’re going to try and finish Return of the King this weekend.

      In parallel, we’ve been re-watching True Blood and The X-Files. Also new episodes of Cobra Kai are here. And we need to watch the Hawkeye finale.

    7. Anono-me*

      You might like ‘The Indian Doctor’. After a family tragedy; a doctor husband and socialite/sahw wife move from a cosmopolitan Indian city to a small remote Welsh mining village as part of a 1960s government program to recruit doctors from the colonies to the British Isles to address the doctor shortage in the Isles. There are three seasons.

      I think it is incredibly well written and beautifully shot. I would say this is a gentle show, but I do not consider it a light or fluffy show. Several things to be aware of: The ethics of the gov. program are not directly addressed; However the show does address a number of the difficult issues that were first really openly discussed in the 60s. Raceism, classism, and vaccines are storyline subjects.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’ve been rewatching, or watching new to me old shows lately.

      Rewatched Breaking Bad, then watched The Wire, then The Boondocks, which I recently finished. Want to see Boardwalk Empire next. Also Mad Men, but the first time I tried it on Amazon, I was turned off by the ads (yes, I see the irony). Might try again someday.

      Started on Star Trek, the original series. I’ve caught bits and pieces over the years, but want to watch the whole series start to finish. This will probably take me a year or two :)

      I loved Good Omens, and am glad to hear it from a comment on this thread that the show is still on Amazon. Might rewatch.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh and I forgot to add Lovecraft Country. The show was canceled after one season, but even the one season is a great viewing experience.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      I also love What We Do In The Shadows!
      For those of you who can access BBC shows, I love Ghosts and recently finished the first season of This Country, both comedies which have 3 seasons so far and which are now being remade by American TV (sigh).
      I’ve seen the first 4 seasons of Line of Duty (drama about police corruption) and I’m interested to see how much more bonkers it will get in seasons 5 and 6.
      Mini-series wise, I just finished an excellent Danish series called The Investigation, which is a (thankfully) non-exploitative true crime drama about the murder of journalist Kim Wall. They don’t even use the killer’s name in this series and that person isn’t even depicted as a character, so everything is focused on the investigating team and the victim’s family.

      1. Morningstar*

        The American version of Ghosts is surprisingly good too & differs enough from the BBC version that it’s easy to watch & enjoy both … so it’s actually a win. The world of the American one is a bit bigger (sometimes leaves the house) and they’re doing a great job making humor from historical references & pop culture.

    10. The Dogman*

      The Expanse (only 2 episodes to go… :( )

      Rewatched Rick and Morty recently, still very funny…. Keep Summer Safe!

      And I think I will start on the Star Treks (ENT, TNG,DS9,VOY) again soon, the are great, but Disco and (lets depress) Picard arenot getting watched cos they are not really “Star Trek” Star Treks, the Federation is supposed to be hopeful and positive, those series and the new films should have been in a different IP I think.

      Shogun the 1980’s miniseries of James Clavells’ book Shogun… mostly in Japanese, and no subtitles! Excellently made and really well costumed etc. The main Japanese actor (Toshiro Mifune) is amazing and worth a watch in other of his works. It might be on YouTube for free too at the moment…

      Top Gear and The Grand Tour. Always reliably silly and daft, so I come back to the specials as I like to see the three of them in peril and deep physical discomfort, the “Seamen” and the “Survival of the Fattest” episodes of The Grand Tour are especially funny to me.

      1. Not a cat*

        Loved TNG’s Picard and Patrick Stewart is genius, but Picard is too dark and they’ve really crippled the main character. It makes me sad.

    11. I got a Robe*

      I just had finished reading “You Should Have Known” from Alison’s book list so I just watched “The Undoing”

      They are only tangentially related – except for a few sporadic details after the first episode they strongly diverge. Without giving too much away the book is much more about the wife and her relationships with people and her internal dialogue and is much more a commentary on how we see what we expect to see, the miniseries is much more of a mystery/thriller with a strong commentary on class and privilege.

      I’m not sure what I would have thought about the miniseries had I not read the book. I wasn’t able to be drawn into the whodunnit aspect as easily. Nicole Kidman is always a risky call for me, she does very well in shows where she is able to stay cold and distant so she fit the tv series, but wouldn’t have done so well had it remained closer to the book.

      1. WellRed*

        I read the oil and felt the wife was pretty cold but I also dislike books that are heavy on inner dialogue and prefer actual dialogue. I couldn’t get through first episode of the undoing and yeah, Kidman is risky for me too.

    12. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m halfway through the second season of Emily in Paris (binged the first season and a half yesterday). It’s light and fluffy and inconsequential, which is exactly what I needed to close out 2021, but it’s also smarter and more charming than I expected.

      1. anon24*

        I’ve read the books. I have hundreds of hours into the games. I can’t watch S2… They’ve mutilated my favorite stories ever and I am furious and heartbroken.

        1. PollyQ*

          My only experience is with the TV show, so I don’t have your sense of betrayal (although I’m very sympathetic!). I just thought it wasn’t good television.

    13. Swisa*

      Showtime: Billions (catching up on the latest season)
      Hbomax: And just like that
      Netflix: about to start the latest season of queer eye!

      Just finished:
      Hbomax: the sex lives of College Girls (excellent!)

    14. Stitch*

      I wanted so badly to like Jodie Whitaker’s Dictor but the writing was just off for me. I feel like something jus

      1. Stitch*

        Argh submitted early.

        I feel like around when Clara got introduced the writing went off. Bill reinvigorated rhe show for me but what happened to her was so disturbing I had to take a

        1. Stitch*

          Okay, this Discovery ad is definitely doing something to my phone.

          I had to take a break after Bill. But Jodie’s Doctor just never landed emotionally for me. I’ve had episodes that straight up made me cry (first River episode, the Van Gogh one) and I just couldn’t connect.

    15. Cheshire Cat*

      I’ve been watching Station Eleven — I loved the book, not so much the show. The actors are great, but there are So Many changes. Some of this is inevitable, of course, especially in an adaptation from a book with a lot of interior reflection. But this time, many of the plot changes seem pointless, or they change major story arcs. Much of what happened in the last 2 or 3 episodes didn’t occur in the book at all, and the entire most recent one seemed to be an extended hallucination. I mean, flashbacks are okay—just not with the framing that this one had. So disappointing.

      On a positive note, a graphic novel created by one of the characters plays a large part in the story. You can see some of the pages in the show, which is pretty cool. I’d love to be able to read the whole thing!

    16. Steeped Tea*

      I’ve just stumbled upon a show called Station Eleven and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. My dad has gotten me into Billions too.

    17. allathian*

      We’re currently watching The Wire for the first time. Intriguing. I liked The Shield, so it looks like this one could also fit the bill.
      The Book of Boba Fett looks promising. It didn’t grab me quite the way The Mandalorian did, but with only one episode, it’s hard to tell where it’s going. We’re definitely going to keep watching.
      Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’m pretty Marveled out by this point, but I really liked this one. I think it also helped that most of the actors were new to me, except Michelle Yeoh (always awesome) and Ben Kingsley.

      Rewatches:
      We’re introducing our son to TNG, we’re almost done with season 2. He likes it well enough so far, and we’re certainly going through the episodes faster than we ever did with Babylon 5. He did like it in the end, but took some persuading to watch. We don’t have Paramount+ or TOS on DVD, so that one’ll have to wait, but we do have DS9 (my favorite Trek show), VGR, and ENT.
      The X-Files on Disney+. The HD remaster is very good. I tend to prefer story arcs over episodic shows, but this is an exception, the alien conspiracy stuff bores me, but the standalone stories are fun.
      I was on vacation during the Christmas break, so I watched the Hobbit movies again with our son while my husband was working, because he didn’t feel like watching them again. (The kid’s almost finished reading LOTR.)

      Soon, we’re also going to watch Hawkeye, and Eternals, whenever it shows up on Disney+.

    18. Anonymouse*

      It’s been around a while–but I recently started watching Call the Midwife. I love so many of the characters; I love seeing compassionate, competent women as the protagonists; I love that the narrative almost never goes for the DRAMA (unless a baby being born at an inconvenient place or time); it can be funny and sweet while still being very very real about health/poverty/pregnancy/history in 50s-60s East End London. I’m in season 9 right now.

    19. Scotlibrarian*

      I am currently binge watching Queer Eye, which I’d always avoided. But it is so good … the Five are so kind, thoughtful, caring, and emotionally intelligent and I pretty much always end up crying. Also rewatching Star Trek deep Space 9 (fave Trek of all time)

    20. Princess Deviant*

      On Netflix: Borderliner (it was good but it ended on a cliffhanger and there’s been no second series, which is frustrating.)
      I watched the film follow up of Bordertown (these are both Nordic noirs… that happen to have Border in the title!)
      True Story.
      The Witcher.
      Harlen Coban’s Stay Close.
      On Now/ might be different outside the UK: Dexter New Blood. I LOVE it.

  15. Siege*

    Any tips for fleas? I have an extremely complicated situation and I’m starting to lose my mind.

    Where I live, we don’t get hard frosts (ho ho ho, it is 27 degrees, there’s three inches of snow on the ground, and it hasn’t been over freezing in a week) so the fleas decrease in fall but apparently do not die off completely. I have two cats who both have them.

    One cat is allergic to fleas and flea treatments. He has terrible FAD, including bloody scabs that aren’t really healing. (He has seen the vet and she is aware of this.) Because of this, I need to take a cautious approach. I’ve been combing multiple times a day, combing in dish soap, both cats are on Revolution (the only med we know he can safely take), we bathed them both with Dawn the other day, I’ve used diatomaceous earth in their cat furniture. I typically vacuum twice a week. I cannot flea-bomb the apartment because of the allergy issue, as well as omicron limiting escape options, and an animal-unfriendly dog at my parents’ house. I have a chinchilla whose cage is not transportable as well. (But chinchillas can’t get fleas so I’m not worried about her.)

    At this point, I’m thinking I need to bag up all the bedding on my bed, lay down diatomaceous earth on accessible carpeting (ie, not under the couch but under the plant stand they walk through to get to the litter box), bathe the cats again with dish soap and vinegar, and then take all the bedding to the laundromat. What else? I’m wondering if I could put a flea collar in a likely hotspot (but since we don’t know exactly what he’s allergic to and most collars are preventative, not treating, I don’t really like the idea). What else am I missing?

    This infestation started in August but I didn’t catch it till Thanksgiving; the allergic cat was giving me lots of FAD evidence but in hindsight it was clearly from one flea, who eventually found a friend and started a family, since I didn’t see fleas or flea poop on the comb till November.

    1. Generic Name*

      Do your cats go outside? I used to live in Texas and our cats had a real flea problem. I used revolution and then flea combed the cats every evening. We lived in a low income area with a ton of free roaming cats. The flea issue actually got better when we moved to a different area in the same city with a lower free range cat population. So I assume my outdoor cats were catching it from other outdoor cats. Either strays or pets, who knows? It’s hard to get a handle on fleas when new ones are being constantly introduced.

      1. Siege*

        They’re indoor-only. To my knowledge, there’s only one cat in the building who’s indoor/outdoor, and she doesn’t like other cats. It’s not an area with a lot of loose cats (an unspayed female outdoor car went into heat a few years ago and no male cats found her).

        The combing seems to be the most effective, and I have noticed that I was mostly getting mature fleas when I started but am now getting very small ones almost exclusively, so I may have killed off most of the living fleas and now I have larval fleas that hatched since the bath. I’m combing twice a day, so I’ll keep that up. I just wish it was all over. I will wash my front step and see if there’s any kind of barrier I can put at the door, though, that’s a good point about roaming cats.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Seriously- you need a professional to de-flea the house. Yes- it might mean you have to move out for a day or two with your critters. You will not get rid of the fleas without treating the whole house- including all furniture and mattresses. Don’t know about the cat who is allergic to treatments- but maybe the vet can deal with it in a boarding situation.

      1. Siege*

        Where do you suggest I go? What’s the best way to transport the untransportable cage? Shall I board the cat being treated for cancer who stops eating when he’s in an unfamiliar environment? What about the allergic cat, who is unvaccinated because he is allergic to vaccines, too? I wonder what my COVID risk looks like in a hotel, since I’m already high-risk and other people are using them to quarantine?

        When someone tells you “here are my parameters,” it’s quite a bit less than helpful to say “the thing you cannot do is the thing you MUST do. There are no other solutions.” Please trust that when people say “here are my parameters” they aren’t saying “I’m really looking for ways to make this more complicated but none of these things are really REAL. I can avert them all with ease.”

        There is no professional here. There’s just me. Mostly because I would like myself and my cats and my chinchilla to not be worse off, sicker, or dead as a result.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Sometimes the answer is “there are no other solutions besides the thing you said you can’t do”. Given your parameters, it sounds like your options are: there will continue to be fleas and you’ve got to live with that OR do something that will likely put your animals at risk while you do it.

        2. WellRed*

          Well I wouldn’t automatically assume you’ll all be worse off. (I admit I don’t understand what you mean about the unvaccinated cats risk.) surely the vet can care for your sick cats and you can visit? Your Covid risk at a hotel is very low, etc. ultimately what you are doing isn’t working and making you all miserable. If your risk assessment of fleas vs. all the possible negative outcomes is that you’d rather deal with fleas, that’s your right.

        3. Lucy Skywalker*

          I suggest you find a pet-friendly motel (as opposed to hotel) and stay there for as long as you need to. The COVID risk is lower in a motel because you don’t have to walk through halls (although it’s not bad in hotels, either, as long as you have your mask on and are vaccinated).
          If you can’t find a pet-friendly place to stay, then find a pet sitter (and stay in a motel with no pets).

        4. Anonanon*

          Years ago, before the modern topical flea treatments existed, I moved into a house with an existing flea problem and I had it treated by a company that used some kind of high powered blower to blast diatomaceous earth into all of the carpeting. The fleas were completely gone in a few days and one of the big benefits was that I/my pets did not need to be out of the house for more than a few hours, just long enough for it to settle out of the air. Also, no toxic residues like you get with flea bombing.

          You could take your pets with you to a motel for a single day/night while this was being done and it would probably be the least stressful/toxic way to achieve a flea-free living space.

        5. CatBookMom*

          Long ago, before we got rid of the carpets in late 90s, we’d get some fleas. We’re in Southern Calif, and there was (maybe still is) a company called Fleabusters. Excellent service, no noticeable problem with the treatments for me (some smell/respiratory issues with some chemicals), nor for the resident felines. We figured the fleas were coming into the house on our trousers, or socks. We did not have to leave the house. I did take a bit of time off from work to monitor the in-house workers for the couple of hours it took (2bd house).

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m going to second this. A housemate’s ferret got fleas when the people on a completely different floor got a dog. The ferret was not going out anywhere to find wild fleas. Fleas can survive in cracks waiting for the food to come back around, and if you can’t treat the cat you’ll need to treat everything around the cat.

    3. coffee is my friend*

      Oh your poor cat – our dog is allergic to fleas and it was tough the one time she got them but thankfully she’s not allergic to the treatment. We had a small infestation a few years back and dealing with it was a daily task for a few days – tho we had managed to kill them on the dog at that point, so they had less to live on. The vacuuming needs to be done daily (and slowly) for a while to deal with the new eggs – you need to empty it after each use as the fleas can live in the vacuum. (I’ve heard of people putting a flea collar in the vacuum bag but never tried it). We also use DT earth but there are other products to check out. Cats also need to be combed daily as you’ve been doing – can the other one use the better treatment to at least reduce the fleas feeding options? And everything needs to be washed and perhaps bagged until you get them out of the carpet/furniture. We also used sticky flea traps all over the house.
      Any chance they can be indoor kitties? Otherwise you will always be fighting this battle…
      Good luck!

      1. Siege*

        I’m pretty concerned about treating this with the same tools on both because they do lay together and the allergic cat grooms Cancer!cat, so I’d rather be cautious.

        I saw the thing about the flea collar in the vacuum too. I’m going to go stock up on cat food today anyway, I might try that since it’s pretty self-contained (and I have never once seen Allergy!cat groom the vacuum. :)) I will try traps, that might help. Thank you!

        1. Generic Name*

          Could you ask your vet for guidance on what’s safe for your cats? What about keeping the cats separate for a few days after you treat one cat? Meanwhile, you could ramp up the flea combing on the cat that can’t get meds. Honestly, the flea combing was the best way I found to keep the fleas at bay, but my whole house wasn’t infested. Just the cats.

          1. Siege*

            I’ve talked to the vet. Due to Reasons, I don’t think she’s fully retaining info that isn’t right in front of her (for instance, due to vaccines, general health, and the pandemic, Allergy!cat hadn’t been to the vet since 2019, so his record fell out of their system. When she called me, she wasn’t sure which pet this was about because her records only reflected Cancer!cat who she’s seen the week before, and our deceased guinea pig, so we had a little straightening-out to do.) I am comfortable this is stress and overwork and everything else, but I’m vetting her suggestions a little more than I have in the past and so far, the only one I’m not following is a medication rec she suggested for a new flea med. I don’t want to deal with another near-death situation so we’re not pursuing that. But she’s clearly pretty limited by not being able to hit it with a big medicine hammer, so I think I’ve tapped out that resource.

            I don’t know how successfully I can isolate them, since I only have two doors in the place, :), but that’s not a bad idea to try, since Cancer!cat can be treated with a stronger med and isolation would alleviate my concerns about touching and licking. Thanks!

    4. RagingADHD*

      If they are on Revolution, they shouldn’t be able to live on the cats anymore, but you could be getting hatch-outs for a long time.

      Put diatomaceous earth everywhere, including down in the cracks of the floor, in all the carpet, and in the back corners of the closets, everywhere they like to go hide. Sweep it all around, try to work it down, and just sweep up the excess.

      After a day, to let it work, vacuum every day.

      Wash everything. Keep up with the combing.

      We missed an infestation until it got bad, and it took 2 months of Revolution, daily vacuuming + combing, plus getting into all of the hidey-holes.

      Good luck!

      1. Siege*

        The Revolution doesn’t seem to be working this time, and I don’t know why. I don’t know if it loses its effectiveness (it is in-date; the older prescription expires in April) or if there’s something about this particular infestation, but seeing live fleas after three doses of Revolution is concerning.

        I keep reminding myself that in the scheme of things, this is barely any time to deal with fleas at all, I just want it to be over because it’s another drain on my “coping” battery and it’s awful watching the cats scratch and flinch. But one of the vet techs said she had one that took six months to eradicate once, and by those standards this is a baby of a problem. The closets are a good reminder; I would’ve left those out but they’re accessible.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think ours is actually Revolution Plus. Can he have that? It’s got 2 different meds in it.

          It doesn’t kill them right away necessarily. My vet said it’s normal to see a few live ones afterwards. It’s mostly supposed to stop them from breeding. And of course, they have to bite the poor cat for it to work in the first place, because it’s systemic.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Revolution Plus is the same as Revolution except for an extra ingredient for ticks. I don’t expect that the Plus would be any more effective.

            There is no hard expiry date. I have successfully used doses that were expired by a year or two on outdoor cats that had fleas and were brought indoors. They typically only need one treatment, although we give two (each a month apart) to be safe. If they are a problem after three doses then sounds like the fleas in your area may have developed an immunity to the poison. I would suggest contacting Zoetis to ask if they have a different or new product as Revolution is not working well in your area.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      Chinchillas can get fleas. They’re mammals. It’s not as easy for them to get fleas as it is for cats (or humans, frankly), but they can get it.

      I’m afraid I don’t have advice, though.

      1. Siege*

        Their fur at the skin is too dense for fleas to survive. Functionally, they don’t get fleas. They can rot to death if they get wet, the fur is very dense.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Fleas can survive on the face, around the ears, the feet, and in the thinner fur around the, uh, other GI tract opening. If the fleas are allowed to rampage, hair loss can cause them to be able to expand to other areas of the chinchilla. Like I said- it’s not easy for a chinchilla to get fleas, and if the cats are isolated from the chinchilla I would assume the chinchilla is untouched, but it is possible and something to keep an eye on.

      2. RagingADHD*

        You know, it might be worth asking your vet if the Revolution is safe for the chinchilla.

        Guinea pigs almost never get the same fleas as cats, because the difference in body temperature isn’t conducive to breeding. But the vet gave us a dose of the kitten-size Revolution for our piggies just in case. When you have a really bad infestation, all bets are off and the rare or almost never can be the very thing that trips you up.

        You might also put diatomaceous earth under the litter or bedding in the cage, if that’s safe for the chinchilla. If its warm, dark, and within 3 feet of where the cats go, the fleas can jump in there and deposit eggs.

        1. Siege*

          I think the thing I haven’t been clear about is that this ISN’T a bad infestation, it just seems that way because of Allergy!cat’s FAD. When I’m getting six fleas and a bunch of reddish dandruff on the comb after extensive grooming 36 hours after the last grooming, this isn’t bad, it’s just making him incredibly miserable in ways I can’t readily solve.

          In any event, the cage is basically 40 inches off the ground (the bottom 8 inches are coroplast) so I’ll worry about the chinchilla when I see evidence the chinchilla has fleas. We do not have a good small-animal vet that I’ve found, so I’m not willing to take proactive steps for something so low-risk. The other times I’ve sought treatment for the chinchilla or our former guinea pig were not exactly resounding successes.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Nobody is trying to make you do anything. It’s just an exercise in lateral thinking to try to problemsolve.

            You sound very tetchy toward people who are trying to answer your question the best they can.

            1. Siege*

              I have found, and this forum is absolutely not an exception, that people make up a narrative of your problem and then answer that problem. The only way to even try to cut back on it is to explain everything to death. If that makes me sound “tetchy”, then so be it, I cannot overstate how much I don’t care how you feel about how I respond to non-helpful advice like how I need need need a professional to do this. I’m trying to respond thoughtfully to people who are offering helpful advice, and there is quite a lot of it, which I appreciate. Tone-policing me isn’t that.

              1. RagingADHD*

                Eh, it wasn’t the overexplaining that sounds tetchy, FWIW.

                I hope you and the kitties are feeling better soon, because you sound like you are very stressed right now, and as a result, seem to actually care way too much about some low-key household maintenance tips.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          I don’t know if this has changed since I was in high school, and frankly the teacher wasn’t a small animal vet so a competent vet might have a different answer, but the only time I’ve encountered chinchillas with fleas they were given topical flea treatment. The topical treatments were dangerous for them due to the aforementioned dense fur that traps liquid very easily, so it’s definitely NOT something you want to do preemptively.

          (Both chinchillas came out fine, if traumatized.)

    6. The Dogman*

      Buy some Pine Cedar oil spray.

      Use it liberally on everything soft the cats can walk over, especially beds and fav spots to snooze. Spray into cracks on skirting boards and over floor if it is carpeted or has gaps eggs can get into.

      DO NOT ALLOW THE CATS INTO THAT ROOM FOR MINIMUM OF 1 HOUR!!!

      It is not exactly toxic (well it is deeply toxic to fleas) but cats can be very vulnerable to essential oils of all kinds, so let the room air out before letting them in again.

      Once they are safe in the treated room treat the rest of the house.

      Do this once a week minimum and you should have a handle on it in under a month.

      Also ask your vet about Bravecto. It is a spot on, but it uses different ingredients to the Fipronil based ones that are most common. Your cat might be ok with it and that one actually works on most fleas for now.

      But I dealt with a serious infestation (a dog arrived who was literally crawling with the little buggers) with just the cedar oil last summer.

      Good luck!

      1. Siege*

        I will look into this! One of the elements that had had me worried has been a hand-knit afghan that there is just absolutely no way to wash – it’s too big, too heavy, too delicate, too many fibers – that they like to lay on. If this is fabric-safe, that might be a GREAT solution for things that can’t otherwise be washed. Thank you!

        I don’t know about the Bravecto, but maybe in combination with cleaning one room and isolating them, the non-allergic cat could have it. I’m not very adventurous with meds for the allergy cat, I’m afraid. :)

        1. The Dogman*

          Then stick with Pine Cedar Oil and careful room management.

          The US military and New York health board use Pine Cedar Oil to treat infestations (from what I have seen online) as the mechanism of action (it forces the fleas to close the spiracles they breath through) is not something they can adapt to, while the neurotoxins used in the flea “spot ons” is something the can develop an immunity to over a few years.

          I have had a bunch of infestations over the years (as any dog sitter can attest to as well I am sure) and Pine Cedar Oil is a life saver in my opinion. My cat is a sensitive and itchy cat and just dealing with the eggs over time (the Cedar Oil dries out and kills the eggs before they hatch if you coat all carpets and small cracks etc) has helped us solve the issues.

          You will be spraying a lot, so buy the 1 litre or larger one (2/4 pints… sorry I don’t really do fluid ounces), and hopefully in 4-6 weeks you will be flea free!

          You will need to keep combing the cats a lot though.

          Also I second merope*’s vacuuming position… do it a lot, I would say twice a day (before spraying and an hour and half after, let cats in after second hoovering) for the first 3 days, then daily (and our and a half after spraying) for 2 weeks. By then you should be more or less over it, you just have to keep up the spraying for 30 days or so to get all the newly spawned ones)

          Sorry, flea infestations suck, and with an allergic cat it must be really hard to deal with!

          All the best!

    7. merope*

      Having recently recovered from a flea infestation myself, I think you are doing many things right. However, I would recommend daily (not biweekly) vacuuming of EVERY vacuumable surface in your dwelling. This includes your furniture and the cats’ furniture. Fleas are immune to many anti-flea treatments during certain stages in their lifecycle, but they are not immune to suction power at any stage. You also need to take the vacuum contents out of the apartment as soon as the vacuuming is finished. You may already be doing this, but upping the vacuuming frequency will help decrease the fleas. I would also endorse the washing of all their bedding (and yours if they sleep with you), being sure to wash it all on hot, so that the eggs are killed. I wish you the best!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh yeah, and vacuuming up an extra bit of diatomaceous earth each time can help as well, to make sure nothing escapes before you get it out the door.

      2. Siege*

        Can I just vacuum the cats? I’m sure that couldn’t entail more bloodshed than bathing them. :)

        I’ll start vacuuming now and make plans to get to the laundromat (we don’t have a machine that can handle the comforter here) this week. It’s the frustration of the egg-larva-flea cycle that makes this so hard, but I’ll take the good wish of a seasoned pro and kill all the fleas!

        1. allathian*

          One of my parents cats adored the vacuum cleaner when he was shedding. On the minimum setting, it would suck up all the loose hair but wouldn’t pull out any unshed fur, or hurt the delicate skin of the cat. But I’m not sure if the minimum setting would be sufficient to dislodge fleas.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Just some random things I have done with success:

      I have used either borax or baking soda on the rugs. Apply with a shaker container so that it spreads out like a dusting. Let it set for a few hours then vacuum.

      I am a big fan of peppermint soap- but not all animals can tolerate it. I wash things down with peppermint soap and water.

      I got some flea lamps. It’s a light with a sticky pad. You leave the light on, especially all night. The fleas get stuck to the pad. You toss the pad, then put a new one in its place.

      There are some vitamins and nutrients that can act systemically to repel bugs of any sort. Again, check with your vet to figure out if anything is appropriate for your pets.

      When the fleas were at their worst, I vacuumed every day. And I emptied the vac outside before putting it away. While this is exhausting to the point of causing tears, I found it did work.

    9. Invisible Fish*

      Could you find soothing shampoos or other treatments like that? Obviously, that won’t end the fleas, but while you’re tackling the fleas, shampoo meant to soothe skin might help them feel a bit better. (Only our dogs are sensitive to stuff- our cats keep on rolling no matter what happens, so I can only speak to what has worked for them.)

      We have entirely too many animals, and the dogs are indoor/outdoor, so we’ve had plenty of flea battles. You’re doing everything right; it just takes a while.

    10. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I had good luck with a spray that contained an Insect Growth Hormone Inhibitor. The formulation has both a long-acting residual larvacide (won’t work on pupated larvae but you will catch the juvenile stages) as well as an adult killing compound. I vacuumed every other day and discarded the dirt straight outside when I finished, spraying the bin with more flea killer to keep them from spreading further.

      I also kept surveillance of the flea population by placing a white saucer of soapy water on the floor of a dark room with a bright light shining close to it. The heat of the lamp and light drew the fleas to jump in the soapy water and drown. Neither the cats or the dogs bothered it, as I kept it partially protected by furniture.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A low-tech trap that an engineer friend came up with: A lasagna pan of soapy water in the middle of the floor with a high intensity light right over it. All night.
      Do this in each room you can risk curious cats spilling water. It’ll cut the population down at least.
      I don’t know if light type/color makes a diff, but his 1990s desk lamp drew fleas like moths to a,flame!

    12. KR*

      So I was fortunate that my cat isn’t allergic to flea treatments. I never actually gave her a flea bath to get rid of our infestation. I gave her one of the treatments you put on the shoulder (frontline or similar), a good brushing with a flea comb, and she wore a flea collar for a month or two. I wish I had more advice on the kitty front, but I am glad that there’s a medicine that he can take.

      I dealt with our flea infestation in a hellish weekend. I had to throw out my mattress pad because there was no good way to clean the foam. All other laundry and anything that could be thrown in the washing machine was washed and dried at a high temperature with extra soap and kept on top of the kitchen table until I could be reasonably sure the fleas were out of the carpet. I think I put some laundry sanitizer or borax in there as well.

      Any carpet or fabric furniture (couches, mattresses) was heavily sprinkled with borax, left to sit, and then vacuumed up. Over and over again. Hard floor surfaces and baseboards were cleaned with a heavy disinfectant/vinegar/water mix. I also cleaned the bottom part of the furniture with the disinfectant. I probably went through 3 or 4 boxes of borax. I noticed that even when I emptied the vacuum the fleas were hanging out (alive) in the cannister. Fortunately, it was cold in the evenings so I kept the vacuum outside to kill the fleas – you could probably wipe/flush with a bleach/water mixture to kill the ones in the vacuum (but only once you wipe the borax out as much as you can so you don’t clog up your vacuum). By Sunday, the fleas were significantly lessened but still here and there. I did a flea bomb. Because I didn’t have a place to keep my cat we spent the afternoon in my car and she hung out in there with the car running while I cleaned up from the flea bomb (yes, she hated it).

      For the next few months after The Flea Weekend, we vacuumed every week with borax and made an effort to be extra thorough with it. If you have been dealing with this for so long, it might be worth seeing if you can board your cat & chinchilla at the vets office and pay for a professional pest control spray.

      Good luck. Fleas are the most infuriating thing to deal with.

      1. KR*

        Edit – for the chinchilla, they make travel cages for rodents that would probably be suitable for transport or a temporary trip. I searched on google and it looks like there are options ranging from under $20 to $50+, and there may be something available on your local Facebook marketplace/Craigslist.

    13. Cat and dog fosterer*

      When there are flea problems with the rescue, maybe once every couple years thank goodness, we buy siphotrol (vetkem) from the vet. It is a spray that goes on things, not the cats, and the pets can go into the room as soon as the chemical dries. So you could do a room, let it dry, then put the cats in the room while you spray and dry the rest of the place. No need to go elsewhere. In combination with Revolution for the pets, washing bedding, and vacuuming, that has resolved the flea issue for our rescue.

    14. Mary S*

      I think I didn’t see this mentioned yet… As a supplement to vacuum cleaning, I’ve seen professional steam cleaning for carpets and upholstered furniture be recommended. My cousin had her carpets professionally steam cleaned and it got a lot of fleas and eggs out of the carpets that just vacuuming didn’t. I think she was lucky in that the flea medicine did most of the work for her, though. She got the carpets done as one of her last steps of flea clean-up.

    15. Claire*

      I don’t have any additional suggestions for the fleas themselves, but have you talked to your vet about anti-allergy treatments for your cat? I had a cat with pretty bad allergic dermatitis, and he took a medication called atopica that made a significant difference to his quality of life—we have both dogs and cats and live in a flea-prone area, so even with everyone on flea medication, there was no way we were going to be able to completely prevent any fleas from entering the house. I also learned while we were trying to resolve this that there are veterinary allergy specialists, and so that may be another option for you, if you’re concerned your kitty may be allergic to a new medication.

  16. OyHiOh*

    I live about 3 hours south of the Marshall and Middle Forks fires that brewed up in the greater Denver area Thursday morning. The area these fires started in is a heavily populated urban/suburban interface so the damage to property was immediate and severe. That part of the state started getting snow late yesterday afternoon which is thankfully improving the fire situation, but we’re also having the coldest weekend we’ve had so far this winter so basically, it’s a horrifying start to the new year for everyone affected.

    1. Lifelong student*

      My sister lives in the foothills in the general area. She said today the fires were 10 miles away from them and they had their go-bags ready. Lots of snow now. Horrible!

    2. Generic Name*

      Yep, I’m in the county just south of Boulder County. As soon as that wind kicked up I knew we were going to have wildfires. My neighborhood only lost fences and at least one tree, so we were lucky. I’m thankful that my friends who were in the area weren’t in the burn zone, but I have at least one friend of a friend who lost everything. What I think is interesting is that while people in other parts of the country are expressing shock, I really haven’t heard too many people here say, “I never thought this could happen here”. I live in a small development with noting but grassy open space and a highway between us and the hogback/foothills. When I bought my house, I thought to myself that our house would be susceptible to wildfire.

      I’m amazing that no people died, but I’m very sad over all the missing pets.

        1. Rainy*

          3 now. Presumed dead. They’re also investigating whether it was actually downed power lines. :/

    3. Anon in Colo*

      Extremely scary up here on Thursday night. I had friends who live 20 minutes away under pre-evacuation orders, and then the evacuation orders hit the edge of our town, only a few miles away from us. I was up until midnight checking to make sure the zones weren’t expanding any more.

      It came on so fast! Hundreds of homes burned in less than 12 hours. I’m just sick for our neighbors.

    4. Mimmy*

      The footage of people trying to escape is really scary. There was one I saw of people trying to get out of a Chucky Cheese eatery. The wind was so strong, people couldn’t immediately open the door, thinking they were trapped. Someone was finally able to get it open, thank goodness. That would’ve freaked me the heck out.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      Such horrible news. It sounds like a combination of drought, high winds, and downed power lines comparable to the situation in the Santa Rosa area of California a few years ago. A family member in Colorado shared that about 35,000 people were able to evacuate in only 3 hours, pretty incredible that they were able to make it out. At the time, we thought no one had been injured but just read that a couple people are missing. If only the snow had happened sooner. Just tragic all around.

    6. Double A*

      The Caldor Fire was in my county so I’m just sending you support and solidarity. It’s super scary.

  17. Hotdog not dog*

    I hope nobody minds, but I’d like to start a Little Joys thread…
    So far I have a 100% success rate for the year at getting out for a walk first thing in the morning with Best Good Dog. (BGD himself is a great joy, and enjoying a nice stroll through the neighborhood together is a smaller joy). What’s happening to get your year off to a good start?

    1. The Dogman*

      I had two very good training session with two GSDs today, slightly flavoured by a road rager, but he left when my Bull Mastiff smiled at him.

      So far so good! ;)

    2. Laura H.*

      My little joy is that I like my dresses I got for Christmas and that “I feel pretty oh so pretty…” Show Tunes are a perpetual Little Joy of mine.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      My son (college age) and I went to the gym this morning. Crowds not bad and it felt good. (He lifts weights; I exercise in the pool.)

    4. Filosofickle*

      I bought a dress with foxes and owls on it. I’m nearly 50 and feel slightly ridiculous ordering a dress with embroidered animals, not to mention I don’t wear dresses often, but it just makes me smile!

          1. Camelid coordinator*

            I am deep in an owl phase and love this dress. I might have to get it! Thank you for the link.

    5. the cat's ass*

      Thank you! I always appreciate this thread!

      DD got booster yesterday
      DH starts his new job monday
      I got an unexpected bonus and we bought (a very badly needed)new stove

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I bought a pair of rainbow-colored zebra-striped crocs and they arrived yesterday.

      (Me: “No, self, you do not need any new shoes, especially crocs. What are you doing.” *closes page*
      Amazon: “We saw these and thought of you!”
      Me: “… shut up and take my money.”)

    7. Jackalope*

      One of my best friends lives in another state. Last night the two of us and two more of our friends rang in the new year with a Zoom call. It’s the second year in a row that the four of us have gotten to celebrate together this way (last year we had one or two more people too, including someone in a THIRD state, but they weren’t free this year), and it was so much fun.

      Also I got myself a Christmas present of several new books which are on their way. And we have a shelving/storage unit that I put a soft puffy blanket on, and one of our cats is ringing in the new year by lying on top of it basking in the sun. I just went over to pet him and he was full of purrs.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      A Little Joy recommendation:

      Last year I got Sandra Boynton’s Every Day is a Fabulous Holiday calendar, and it really was a small joy to, say, realize that it was Static Electricity Day in Hot Tea Month. (January 6th.) If you are looking for a way to put a tiny spurt of joy on random days, consider getting 2022.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I woke up to an excellent blood pressure reading. This has been a concern for a few years now, and it looks like I’m doing better with my plan than I thought! A huge relief.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Eighteen more months on my mortgage.

      A friend read that as “so near and yet so far”. Not where I was going with that at all. I took out a 30 year refi, about 14 years ago. To be this close to finishing blows me away. It’s really looking like I am going to make it- I will finish paying for this house. What a ride this has been. I am so encouraged by thinking of what I have waded through so far- that it just reinforces the idea that “yeah, the next 18 months is actually doable”.

      All too often we brace for failure. This one time I decided to frame my choices around, “What will I need if I actually succeed here?” I used this question for planning financially, doing repairs on the house and even my own health. And I believe that question has helped guide my choices so much.

      So it’s a quiet party inside my mind only, 18 months, not quite there but almost.

      1. allathian*

        Woot! We still have a lot more to go, but we had two loans, one for the lot and the other for the house that we built. We just paid off the first mortgage, and now our monthly payments have been cut in half, so that’s quite a big joy.

    11. Hattie McDoogal*

      I got my dad set up with the Libby app on his phone so he can borrow audiobooks from the library. He’s currently housebound following surgery and I was wracking my brain trying to think of gifts I could get him to alleviate his boredom – he and my stepmom have all the streaming services already and he’s a voracious reader but doesn’t want any more physical books and doesn’t like ebooks. I had thought about an Audible subscription but he reads enough that I think the monthly limit would constrain him. So the library app is the perfect solution!

    12. Chicanery*

      I got a late Christmas gift from my mother and it is (drum roll please…) leggings with pockets! Side pockets deep enough to hold my phone! I am in heaven.

      1. Mannequin*

        I bought 4 new rayon jersey tank dresses to wear as nighties/loungewear, and was astonished/stoked to realize they have pockets!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve spent pretty much the whole pandemic living in Lifesky yoga leggings off Amazon – they come in both full length and capri, reasonably priced, several good colors and neutrals, and have pockets on both thighs that will fit an iPhone 12 Pro Max well enough that it doesn’t budge when I run. And I just had the first pair develop a tiny hole almost three years after I bought them, so they’re nice and sturdy too.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Husband’s coworker gifted us a jar of homemade apple pie filling, so I am making apple pie scones (got kind of pied out over the holidays). The house smells so good!

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had an incredible birding trip over the Christmas holiday and got great photos. I’ve at last figured out the nuances of my camera and am more satisfied with my nature photography, I’m inspired to share images on my blog and update it more frequently. It’s nice to indulge in being creative.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        What did you get pictures of, if you don’t mind? My son and I are deep into nature photography and I always love hearing about what folks get pictures of. Thanks!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          You can go to my blog WoodswomanWrites dot com to see my nature photography. If your photos are posted anywhere, I’d love to see them as well.

          On this particular trip I photographed multiple species of ducks and geese, wading birds, a gallinule (formerly called a common moorhen), coots, sandhill cranes, red-shouldered hawk, probably forgetting some others since I haven’t sorted through them all yet. We also saw a lot of other birds that didn’t cooperate for the camera–tundra swans, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, kestrels, turkey vultures, songbirds, etc.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Yeow! Tundra swans?? That’s awesome.
            I’ll check out your blog! My son used to have one, then he was posting to National Geographic, but not sure what he’s doing now.
            Thanks!

    15. RagingADHD*

      Just got another one out on my walk! It’s extraordinarily warm here, in the mid 70s F.

      There was the cutest tiny baby tortoise in the street. He seemed stuck there, so I put him over in the grass verge. When I came back around on my route about a half hour later, he was gone, so hopefully he got to somewhere good.

      Just a wee little thing, barely larger than a ping pong ball.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Ah, google tells me he was most likely a common snapping turtle, so I probably should have taken him all the way over to the creek. But he didn’t have far to go.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Good for you spotting and helping the turtle. I always feel bad for critters that haven’t evolved to handle roads.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Following up on the little joys thread a couple weeks ago about yummy maple products, I ordered the maple sprinkles that Edwina recommended and they are fantastic on my cereal. Thanks for the suggestion!

      1. Wandering*

        If you enjoyed that, I discovered a delicious beverage this Fall: 3 tablespoons of (real) maple syrup in 10oz of seltzer, ice cubes as needed. Light, refreshing, delicious! Adjust quantities to taste.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That sounds amazing for a warm weather drink. Now I’m wondering if I could make a variation with it heated for cold weather. I’ll check it out, thanks.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve read for years that some American Robins overwinter in southern New England…and this year there’s a flock visiting my yard every few days. I am no longer eager to replace the ornamental crabapple tree, because the birds love those bitter little things!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        It’s very warm here in New England so far and I’ve had a few robins on my crabapple and the viburnum

    18. I take tea*

      A walk on snowy fields in the sunshine. The snow actually has a lot of colours and glitters when it’s cold enough. It was so beautiful it just filled me with joy. A good start for the new year.

      1. allathian*

        That’s so beautiful, isn’t it? The snow crystals are like tiny prisms, so you’re seeing lots and lots of minute rainbows.

    19. allathian*

      My son just read his first English chapter book, one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, in a couple hours and in one sitting. He’s 12, in 6th grade (1st grade starts the year the kid turns 7 here), and has been learning English since 2nd grade. He watches a lot of videos on YouTube in English, and it shows. I’m so proud of him!

      I got my booster shot on Monday, and now I’m finally feeling like I’m more or less back to normal. I was really tired all week, and extremely grateful to be on vacation between Christmas and New Year.

    20. Might Be Spam*

      My adult kids staged a video game intervention for me on Tuesday. They want me to START playing video games online with them. They brought their laptops over and installed Stardew Valley on mine and taught me how to play. I wasn’t given a choice. LOL

      I never played video games because the video movement made me nauseous. They figured Stardew Valley wouldn’t make me sick. So when my son goes back home we’ll start playing online. It will be nice to have a family activity to share online.

  18. Teapot Translator*

    I have a brand new dutch oven! A gift from myself to myself. What recipes should I try?

    1. Generic Name*

      Chicken cacciatore! Anything that requires using stovetop heat and then oven in the same pan.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Carnitas! Google “Homesick Texan carnitas Houston style”. The simplest recipe possible, but so good!

      1. RagingADHD*

        I am using the fancy ham from our charcuterie last night to start the hoppin john for today.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That sounds decadent and celebratory, which is just what New Year’s food should be! (Our HJ is vegan, but NYE dinner was a fancy cheese plate.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          If you use another bean, it’s not Hoppin John– won’t bring you luck, will just be a decent stew. In other words, ultimately you can use any white bean and it will taste fine, the black eyed peas are for symbolism as well as taste/texture.

    3. the cat's ass*

      SFChron recipes has a lemon/chicken/arugula/parm risotto thing that is baked in a dutch oven and insanely good, even tho i know baked risotto is anathema to ‘real’ risotto fans. Enjoy your dutch oven, it’s a real workhorse!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Smitten Kitchen’s oven baked risotto. I am never standing over a stove stirring again.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Pot roast!!
      And I think King Arthur Flour has a recipe for bread that is baked in a dutch oven

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ooh, yes! Daughter made garlic-rosemary bread in a dutch oven over the holidays, and it was delicious.

    5. J.B.*

      Wapo has an ultimate ragu Bolognese recipe I’m dying to try and that would do well in a Dutch oven. Daube is my favorite beef stew variation.

    6. bratschegirl*

      Smitten Kitchen “Maya’s Holiday Brisket” if you’re a red meat eater. So delish!

    7. Slinky*

      I like to use mine to cook bread in! I’ll link a recipe in a follow-up comment, but you should be able to use any bread recipe that yields a fairly large loaf. Shape it into a boule, place it seam-side down on a piece of parchment paper, and lower the whole thing into the Dutch oven.

    8. Owler*

      I second the bread suggestion! Google “no knead dutch oven bread recipe”, and a lot of great options come up. The original for me was a New York Times version. Enjoy your new dutch oven!

  19. KoiFeeder*

    How do folks go about finding specialists when the one the doctor recommends falls through?

    (I guess this might be a little too medical? But this plus insurance is awful complicated :c )

    1. mreasy*

      I usually search on zoc doc or just Google specialty + my city, then read reviews. I always call to ask about insurance as online info is so often out of date.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I figure Google knows more doctors than my doctor does, and my doctor doesn’t necessarily know how far I’m willing to travel or what my insurance covers. So I ask both–I found my own for my back surgery, then found one for another specialized problem who then referred me to even more specialized experts.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I don’t have enough of a social network IRL for that- most of my fellow spoonies are not in the state :(

        But I can ask my GP.

    2. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I’ve had the best luck just calling my insurance and asking for names. I spent a SIGNIFICANT amount of time trying to find an in network specialist who was also taking new patients for my son, and the one he sees was one suggested by my insurance company.

      1. Girasol*

        Our GP often refers us to out-of-network specialists and ones who don’t use masks. I use the insurance company’s web portal to find in-network specialists, look at patient comments/ratings to make a short list, and then call their offices to ask if they’re taking patients, what masking rules they use, and such. Then I call the GP back to get a referral to the one we chose. (Getting a GP’s referral to the doc we chose, rather than just calling for an appointment, really speeds up how fast they’ll fit us in.) If the insurance site doesn’t list any such in-network specialist in our area, I call them and they work something out.

    3. cat socks*

      I log into my insurance company’s website and I’m able to search for providers based on my insurance plan.

      1. HoundMom*

        The national carriers actually have quality ratings associated with specialists. I have found those to be accurate. You can check your own carrier but also check other carriers in their public website.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I call the office and ask to speak to the billing department. They have the most up to date info on insurance contracts.

    5. FACS*

      As a physician, I really do recommend calling the office directly. I have been listed in all kinds of ways with different insurances and kept on the list for years after I was not participated. My staff know what is what.

  20. Puppy!*

    Update and question.
    Now co-parenting older dog with relatives 10 minutes away. Old lady dog is smothered with love and attention and enjoying being the center of attention. Spends her days being cosseted and watching dog tv. (who knew this was a thing?) Her favorite is ducks on a pond.
    Puppy took ill suddenly- 3 vet visits in 5 days. Diagnosis is pancreatitis, unknown origin. She is spending her days recovering eating home made chicken broth, breast meat and rice with a handful of prescription meds. Training is put off until Feb.
    The question- it is negative 7 degrees here. Been googling but can’t figure out what safe is for how long a dog can be outside. She is super furry and I put a polar fleece coat on her. She doesn’t exhibit ANY sign of distress and would be outside forever. (I don’t leave her in the yard alone but I am am super bundled in layers of wool and down.)
    I googled and there are conflicting opinions.

    1. The Dogman*

      What breed or cross is the puppy?

      If a snow breed (Spitz, Malamute, Husky, Vallhund etc) then -7 is nothing. Hours will be fine.

      If she is a smaller type (Pomeranian, Shitzu, Lhasa, Cockerpoo etc) then up to an hour supervised (pay attention to her paws, if they feel too cold it is time to go in) should be fine really.

      My old choc lab was a short coat breed, but weighed over 100lbs, and he was fine out all day, so I think the reason you get such varied results is cos so many people will swear their way is the only way.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I see you’re in the UK so -7 is much colder in the US, btw (-21 C). I would not leave any non-Arctic breed out below zero for very long.

        1. The Dogman*

          Ahh they are closer to snow dogs than most breeds with that coat, but not actually snow dogs.

          Over an hour should be fine as an adult dog, as a puppy I would stick to under 30 mins for a bit and see how she is doing (even just 5-10 mins inside is fine to warm up then head back out for round 2/3/4/5 etc). Since she is wearing a fleece too I am sure her core temps will be fine, you just need to work out how long her pads will endure cold. I suspect she would give up playing before damage but just err on the side of caution is my recommendation.

          Also is -7F actually -21C? If so, oooof, chilly! Lucky you… my malamute hasn’t seen any decent snow for 3 years now…

    2. ThatGirl*

      What breed is your pup? Huskies and related breeds can be outside longer than others. But even so, I would make trips pretty short at those temps – even if she’s not complaining her paws are exposed. Our little guy was only out long enough to go potty if it was under 15F.

    3. Dino*

      Breed really matters here. I knew someone who kept getting Animal Control called on them in the winter for leaving their dog out. A huge husky. In winter.

      He finally got Animal Control to leave him alone after showing that his dog wouldn’t go inside out of the cold for anything. No amount of calling, treats, or even prodding would get him to go inside. The guy also put up a sign explaining Husky fur and asking people to stop calling.

      If you’re not sure, call your vet. They should be able to tell you what they’re seeing and what they know of your pet.

      1. Dino*

        Oh, I read that as 17°. -7, unless it’s a big dog I’d be putting booties on them for potty breaks.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        This is the only real answer. You should talk to your vet and maybe the breeder/rescue you adopted your dog from. They know your dog’s health and your local climate better than Google and better than randos on a forum.

    4. Puppy!*

      Wheaten Terrier. I had tried booties. lost one in the snow the first walk.
      Ok. I will keep the walks to 5 minutes.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Wheatens do well in cool weather but are definitely not Arctic snow dogs, so yes, short trips outside.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Keep in mind that I am a person who does home cooked for my dog, so FWIW and all that.

      When the temp goes down to the teens or lower, I stand just inside the door (for the dog run) and wait for the dog. My friends laugh at me for being so cautious because current dog is part husky. He is inside with me, so he does not have a heavy outdoor coat. When it is down around zero, I bundle up and go outside with him, but just long enough for him to empty then we go back in.

      My last pup actually cowered in the cold. He was very afraid. Going outside consisted of keeping him in my coat. There was just too much cold and not enough of him. His body was too little (6 pounds). He was paper trained for Feb and March. As it warmed we went out more often. Once his body got bigger (he went from 6 pounds to about 30 pounds but not full grown) I stopped using the papers entirely- he went outside to “go”.

      I think it is fine to let the pups tell us, but we reserve final say. Previous pup who cowered, I just scooped him right up and tucked him in my coat. It’s up to us as pet owners to make sure they are not afraid or overwhelmed.
      My current dog (part husky) was a little wise guy. He was fine in the cold and the snow- he had a very different problem: Captain Oblivious. He had NO ability to keep himself safe. He ran and tore at everything. I went outside with him also, but he never needed to get in my coat. He needed me to keep him from taking off and running away. He loved to run.

      When professional advice is conflicting- take a look at your animal. What does your specific animal need from you? Erring on the side of caution and safety is the stronger choice to me.

    6. Sunshine*

      If roads and walk ways are salted, don’t stay out/walk as long, make sure to wash paws when you come in and maybe a paw safe lotion. Like bag balm. Your dog should let you know if their paws are irritated by lifting them. I had a Bassett who would just stop and then I’d carry her home.

    7. Generic Name*

      I feel like dogs are much more comfy in cold temps than we think. I have an Aussie mix who loves to play in the snow, and would have been happy to be outside tons today when it hasn’t gotten warmer than 10F all day. We’ve let her go out and run around a bit, but let her in after 20-30 mins or so. She also really wanted to go on her afternoon walk, which is usually 15 mins, but I cut it in half today. When it’s above freezing, I let her stay out as long as she wants.

  21. Bibliovore*

    Looking for light, distracting podcasts-
    I look forward to Terrible Thanks for Asking but I think I need something lighter.
    I enjoy The Business (Hollywood stuff) and On being with Krista Tippet if that helps.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I like Gastropod (food + history + science) and You’re Dead To Me (a historical topic, explained by a historian to the host and a comedian). Both can touch on weighty things, but the overall effect is “This is cool! We’re going to learn about cool things!”

    2. Defective Jedi*

      99% Invisible is usually light and the host, Roman Mars, is 100% cozy to listen to. My recent favorite episodes: #468 – Alphabetical Order and #449 – Mine!, with many awesome episodes going back 10+ years.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      I love listening to the unedited episodes of On Being. There are always so many great conversations and thoughts there.
      I like The Moth Radio Hour, and Planet Money, Desert Island Discs, . For great conversations, 10 percent Happier, What Should I Read Next (it’s a book recommendation podcast), and Fresh Air, and A Slight Change of Plans.

    4. Swisa*

      Gee thanks, just bought it (shopping)- it’s with Caroline moss, who is actually friends with Nora Macanearny. They also have a Patreon podcast dedicated to rewatching silly reality shows, if you want something with Nora but light.

      I also really like Forever 35, which is loosely about skincare, but also about plenty of other topics

      By the Book- they live by self help books for 2 weeks

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      If you like the tv show The Good Place, the podcast hosted by Marc Evan Jackson (he plays Shawn) is great. I’ve never been super into behind-the-scenes stuff but everyone involved just seems so wholesome and and like they loved being part of it, and he interviews everyone from the writers and main cast to the people who managed the props and animals.

      1. I take tea*

        I’m not really much into podcasts, but I’ll have to check this out. I love The Good Place.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        On science podcasts, a few more I find enjoyable and fairly light-hearted:
        *Sidenote (by ASAP Science)
        *The Wild
        *Science VS (now only available on Spotify, boo)

        Other light-hearted podcasts:
        *Flyest Fables (fairy tales!!)
        *Home Cooking from Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway
        *70 over 70
        *Guilty Pleasures (movie reviews, generally NSFW and not children safe because of liberal use of swear words)

    6. AnonLibrarian*

      The SharonSaysSo podcast is one I really enjoy- lots of stories about American history!

    7. I take tea*

      I don’t listen much to podcasts, but one that I like is David Tennant does a podcast with… usually someone in showbiz. They really feel like a genuine conversation, he really seems like a kind person that talks with other people in the biz.

    8. Train rider*

      I like no such thing as a fish. It’s just a random facts but the comedic chemistry between the hosts makes it fun to listen to.

    9. Grackle*

      How did this get made?! is lighthearted discussion of so-bad-they’re-good movies by several actors/show biz ppl

      Answer Me This – no longer running but there’s a giant back catalogue. They answer listener questions and there’s fab chemistry between the hosts

  22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Plant questions! I went through all my houseplants this morning (no, computer, I do NOT mean “house pants”) because my overall goal for 2021 was to have more plant successes than failures. I only had three plants outright die over the year, and I’ve had (ahem) rather more than that come in, plus my spider plants and tradescantia have spread their offspring over multiple states with great success. So I’m pretty stoked. :)

    However, I noticed something when I was pruning and tidying this morning — I have two types of tradescantia (wandering dude and Purple Heart) and both of them are fairly vine-y plants. They both had mostly dead leaves along about 2/3 of each vine, but the end third, farthest from the roots, were all in absolutely excellent shape, healthy, new growth etc. Is that normal for this type of plant?

    I ended up cutting most of the ends off to cuttings and replanting them for sort of a fresh start, and cutting off most of the bare vines in between but leaving the current roots/bases, so now I have something like a dozen “new” plants started around the original bases. I’m out of potting soil so I just stuck them back into what they came out of for now, but I’m planning to repot them into fresh soil next week when I get more.

    I also have a new plant that I’m not sure what it is — it was in a big combination planter along with spider plants, Pothos, and ivy. It’s all greenery, no flowers (currently at least), seems to stand up rather than drape over or vine, and the leaves are sort of trilobal, but the lobes are a bit subtle, there aren’t big divides between them, if that makes any sense. I’m not sure how better to describe it and my google-fu is failing me :)

    1. Reba*

      It’s very normal for plants to shed the old and concentrate on growing the new. And particularly common for tradescantia to get a bit bare looking at the base — though consider if light or humidity could be contributing to loss of foliage as well. With these guys you can feel free to trim more or less any time of the year. Hopefully your cuttings succeed and your cut-backs start new shoots!

      Mystery plant — arrowhead?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Good to know, thank you! The wandering dudes are in a window that gets lots of indirect natural light, the Purple Heart are farther back inside. I got both of them as cuttings about this time last year and they’ve expanded dramatically! (I found my “hopefully more successes than failures” facebook post from last year and the comment on the picture of the wandering dude, which was at the time a single 4” cutting, was “Man, I’m not sure if this guy is gonna make it, he’s lookin pretty rough.”)

        Mystery plant: On googling pictures of arrowhead, mine is not that pointy, and the lobes are pointing out toward the end of the leaf rather than back toward the base – sort of like a white oak tree leaf, only without any real “notches” in between the lobes?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do too!! I wasn’t super keen on the original, so I googled other names and found a couple of different sites suggesting this one :)

      2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        There’s an app called LeafSnap that works pretty well on identifying mystery plants, including most houseplants. Maybe it can help you?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Plants live to reproduce themselves. Some plants have a faster turn over rate than others. This means you will frequently take cuttings and start over because the branches or vines are too long with a lot of dead space.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And yep, that sounds exactly like what’s happening – perfect, thanks :)

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Mystery plant: a philodendron perhaps? There’s a huge variety, some non-vining and several with notched leaf shapes. Most would be happy with similar care to a pothos or chlorophytum so it’d make sense for them to be planted together?

      Your wandering dude sounds like he’s wandering about for a new place to put down roots. Tradescantia is a declared environmental weed where I am and the garden at my old place was covered in it. When ripping it out I’d find long, leaf-bare sections where it had wandered under a hedge/lawn looking for a new place to spread. So yeah, totally normal and healthy for that plant, just keep trimming it back.

    4. Girasol*

      When a plant makes a long long vine and the only leaves are way out on the end, far from the pot, the best thing to do is to cut it back to a pitiful looking stub at the pot and wait for that to send up fresh healthy shoots. It will grow back fuller and healthier for not having to waste energy supporting a long leafless vine. If you make cuttings from the leafy tips at the end of the vine, you can put them in a jar of water next to the poor bare pot for some greenery until the stubs sprout out again.

  23. Daphne (UK)*

    My resolution for this year is to be more active and I’ve always wanted to try something like kayaking or paddle boarding – is this an activity that you can start on your own or join a group not knowing anyone? I’m in Scotland so I think outdoorsy stuff is still ok (will need to check restrictions again). However, most of my friend group that live near me are either still very cautious socialising or their work hours don’t match with mine.

    1. Reba*

      I definitely see paddleboard meetups listed in my area! So you might see if Meetup or a similar resource has any groups for outdoorsy things near you. It should be easy to go for a lesson/rental with an outdoor operator to try before you buy, so to speak, and it’s better not to start totally alone I think.

      We got inflatable kayaks for flatwater paddling this year and it’s very fun!

    2. HBJ*

      You can start it by yourself. Obviously, you want to be safe – start with shallower water/smaller lakes or bays/close to shore etc. until you’re comfortable with paddling and being able to move around. Wear a life jacket. Know how to swim.

    3. ECHM*

      I love paddleboarding! If I can do it, you can do it!
      I learned because I had a friend who had started a paddleboard business and she very patiently taught me. But it didn’t take too long to learn.
      Best wishes!

    4. Anom*

      I’m in the States but follow some Scotland outdoorsy folks on Instagram- I saw a post today about the Outdoor Swimming Society. Even though you didn’t mention swimming, I’d bet that folks involved there might either also kayak or paddle board or know people who do! Could be a place to start finding folks near you :)

    5. Chrysoptera*

      Wear a life jacket. Join a club if you can, and don’t go too cheap buying a kayak. Better models are easier to maneuver. Where I live, the local paddling club offers safety courses in a large indoor pool.

    6. Scotlibrarian*

      I’m not sure where you are in Scotland, but there’s a lovely place to learn called Willowgate in Perth https://www.willowgateactivitycentre.co.uk/ the people there are great and it’s a smallish, enclosed lochan, so if you fall off and can’t get back on easily, you can swim to the side and get on there. We did paddleboarding and kayaking (and archery) there in July and August last year. They were careful around Covid concerns and were helpful and friendly. You can get lessons, or hire kit and DIY. They also do stuff on the river too, but with two kids, we stayed in the lochan

    7. fposte*

      Hey, I just tried SUP paddleboarding last year and also returned to kayaking after decades off. I’m in the US, and both kayaks and paddleboards are things that our state and national parks commonly have for rent, and they include lifejackets and other necessary equipment–I would bet that Scottish parks will have similar. I’m not super-fit so I started just renting a kayak for an hour on a nice calm lake day and seeing how my shoulders fared.

      I found paddleboarding harder; my body picked up the balance pretty quickly but my feet still clutched onto the board enough to get pretty sore after an hour, and my back got tired; I think it’s less efficient movement than kayaking, at least with an amateur, and you’re more vulnerable to winds. I still plan to go again (and I’m desperate to try paddleboard yoga, which looks enjoyably ridiculous).

      I like having a waterproof watch (you can get then pretty cheap online) so I can keep an eye on the time without bringing my phone out, though they do make nice waterproof pouches if you’re more comfortable with a phone (I wouldn’t bring it along on a paddleboard, though, because there’s such a high possibility of a dunking on those as a newbie). A lot of places will hold your car keys for you; I keep extra towels in the car, and if places are restricted in a way that makes changing out of water clothes difficult I’d add a dry hoodie there too. I rely on a cheap pair of water shoes but low-tech trainers would probably work to start with if you’ve got some you don’t mind walking through water in.

      1. fposte*

        Forgot to mention I’ve been doing this alone and I really like the peace. Also, watch some YouTube videos on form before you start, especially with paddleboarding.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      I go by myself all the time! I have both a kayak and a paddle board and both are fine to do alone in calm waters

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I got my autism diagnosis of the back of a discussion on this forum! It’s so well moderated and really friendly, generally.

    2. allathian*

      Absolutely, these are great. I like them as a way to get to know other posters just a bit better.

    3. I take tea*

      Yes, I’ve got a lot of good things from here. It is a nice corner of the internet. Thank you.

  24. Texas*

    Advice on finding treatment for debilitating/extreme anxiety? I have panic attacks most mornings and I’m convinced whenever I get an email that I will either fail at what’s been asked of me (so I delay opening emails, obsess over them, and get nothing done) or that the next line of any email is criticism of me for a terrible mistake I somehow made (so I delay opening and spiral into an anxiety attack and get nothing done). It isn’t about the work itself (if I just did what I needed to do as it came in things would be fine) but about how I react to it, and it consumes my life. I can’t find any therapists on my insurance who have openings for new patients. Does anyone have advice on working through anxiety like this on their own?

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, this. My PCP was so helpful to me when I was dealing with terrible, extreme anxiety. I have now been properly medicated for the past 5 years and it’s honestly been life-changing for me. Your PCP will know if/when you need to see a therapist or psychiatrist and will refer you if you need that. Good luck!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ask your primary care physician about medication. Therapy is great, but meds can help rewire your brain and be a big help on their own. Your doc might also have referrals or ideas for counseling.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        A plus of meds was that they booped my brain back to normal (after a very slow slide into depression), which made it much easier to remember after how normal felt. Even if you can’t or don’t stay on a med, it can be helpful.

      2. Texas*

        Thank you. I don’t have a PCP as most places in my new city are full or don’t take my insurance, but I have a psych and have tried multiple options from almost every class of antidepressant. My psych wants to put me on lithium which I’m scared of but I should probably agree to it at our next appointment.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’m glad you have a psych. Sounds like it’s time for a very honest conversation with them.

        2. mreasy*

          Have you ever been prescribed a benzo or other medication that is taken when you panic? They are not good for habitual long term use, but I have had a Klonopin prescription for a decade now and only ever take it when I feel a panic attack coming on. Just knowing I can defuse it will itself help lessen the symptoms. You’ll still need other treatment, but this can help in the moment. There are new antidepressants cross-indicated for anxiety in the market now, but lithium is very safe (albeit high maintenance until you are at the right dose). My anxiety has been immensely helped by EMDR to treat my C-PTSD, and TMS (which I had for treatment-resistant depresssion but with an anxiety protocol). I truly hope you are able to find relief. It has been a long journey for me, but I am here from the other side to tell you it’s possible.

        3. Opinions*

          I’ve been on lithium since 2004. The side effects are mild compared to a lot of newer drugs and it’s super inexpensive. We landed on lithium after 18 months of the medicine roulette wheel.

        4. Sandi*

          I mentioned this in a comment further down but I’ll repeat it here:
          I would suggest finding someone who is good at diagnosis as my first step. Someone I know was treated with lithium for decades, got really sick, was told by multiple psychiatrists that it was their fault for wanting to stop the lithium. In the end they went to a specialist who diagnosed anxiety, and they said that lithium wouldn’t help and it would likely be talk therapy in combination with as-needed anxiety meds. After decades of bad physical and mental health, he was feeling healed in both ways within a year. That year was a lot of hard work, but the physical and mental therapies were made easier knowing that there was finally improvement. It was so useful to know that some experts can make themselves available for this type of work. My coworker didn’t meet with an anxiety specialist, instead he met with a bipolar expert who could confidently say that his original diagnosis was all wrong. There was a chance that the anxiety diagnosis was wrong, but treatment was effective in this case, and if it wasn’t then they would have probably tried another session with another expert. That experience made me realize that there are all sorts of specialists for physical health, so we should consider different specialists with our mental health.

          I’m not suggesting that you leave your current healthcare team, but if you aren’t confident in your way forward then please know that there might be other options. They might have a cost, as my friend did have to pay some added fees, but if you can afford it then it might be worth the cost based on how much it could help you. If your current team is truly supportive then they should appreciate more info on how to treat and support you.

        5. Teatime*

          My partner is on lithium and it works fine. You will have to get blood work regurlarly, which is annoying, but nowadays they are good at balansing the meds, so you don’t end up as a zombie.

    2. i will do it anon*

      Take all of these suggestions with a grain of salt: this is just what worked for me. A lot of the “traditional” ways people talk about dealing with anxiety weren’t helpful to me so these were my alternatives;

      1. I have taken anti anxiety medication before and it worked well for me but I went off it as some of the side effects were not great. Instead these days I treat the physical symptoms of anxiety by taking chewable Alka Seltzer tablets if I feel antsy.

      2. CBT (and the associated worksheets) did not work for me. A combination of journal and poetry writing was slightly more effective. Most effective was a rotating cast of sympathetic ears so none of my friends/family had to spend too much time listening to me ramble about how I was sure everyone hated me.

      3. Activities that take a bit of concentration were better for calming myself down than mindfulness or meditation. Ex: complicated knitting projects, phone games based on puzzles, taking typing speed tests

      4.

    3. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I have pretty bad anxiety, and procrastinate a LOT because of it. One thing that helps me is to deliberately quantify things by asking myself questions. What is the WORST thing that could happen? What is the most LIKELY outcome? How would I respond to each of them? For recurring anxieties (like phone calls ), it was worth taking the time to plan out, because I could use the same script every time. I always know the anxiety isn’t rational so it helps to spell it out for myself. It takes the uncertainty out of things, because I have a plan to deal with the (unlikely) really bad outcomes.

      And the other thing that helps me with really bad anxiety attacks, is exercise. Anything that moves around enough to get my heart rate up, seems to calm me down. It feels like I’m making all this extra energy to deal with the “scary thing” but with nowhere to go, the energy just sits in my chest and builds up. When I can release the energy, everything seems to calm down a little.

      It could also be worth it to think about WHY you’re worried about failing everything that’s assigned to you. Is it something that happens often? Do you beat yourself up over minor errors that other people don’t think are big deals? Are you dealing with too much responsibility for your comfort? Are there issues in your personal life that are using up your mental resources? Do you not get feedback on your work quality? There could be a root problem beneath the anxiety.

      And don’t forget to be kind to yourself! If you have to talk yourself through emails like a little kid, then do it! “OK, I will eat this treat after I read this email. It’s ok, it will take 30 seconds and then I can walk around the room a little. I can do this. I know because I did that awesome one last week! It’s ok to be scared, but I can remember I have a plan for whatever it says.” If you wouldn’t be mean to someone else with the same problem, then don’t be mean to yourself!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “what is the worst thing that can happen?”

        Ya know, this is a great technique and I have used it quite a few times. What’s worthwhile here is that by planning for worst case scenario anything less is much easier to handle.

        For example. The longest I have been without power in this house is three days. I know the house will go down to 45 degrees and hold there for at least 3 days. I know I can stay here 3 days before it starts to really wear on me. So I have a list of items I stash each fall to be ready for 3 days without power in the winter. This gives me 3 days to find a stronger plan if the outage goes on and on. IRL, I usually end up with an outage for 6-8 hours. Much easier to handle than the 3 days I planned for.
        Any time a major worry hits, I try to get some worst case scenario plan. What if the boss fires me? What if someone steals my credit card number? What if my dog gets really sick?

        The toughest worries are the ones with no real answer. What if my cohorts don’t like me? What if my closest friend moves away? Some answers do not appear until we are right in the moment and this is a very important thing to keep in mind. Ever go to the cupboard and need something from the top shelf? You stretch as much as you can and still can’t quite reach it. Then you get on your tip-toes. No dice. So then you decide to grab a spoon or something with a long handle and pull the item toward you. Still no go. What’s the actual problem? It’s a case of trying to reach too far. Until you drag that stool or chair over, you won’t be able to reach the item on the top shelf. This is worry. Worry is reaching too far, trying to see the future and fix things in the future without the life-equivalent of a chair or stool to help you along. Once you get into a different position (such as using a chair or a stool to reach that top shelf item) then things actually look different and we probably find out that the problem is actually not as big as we thought.

        A really good rebuttal to these types of future worries is to look around at current time concerns and try to remedy something that is currently going skewed. It’s in taking care of known problems that we can often times lessen or prevent future problems.

        One key thing I hope I can encourage you- respect your own concerns. Don’t blow yourself off by concluding “I am a worrywart” or “I am anxious, that’s me” or whatever you think of to say. Take care of you and take care of your surroundings. If you need help with specific things then ASK for that help. (I have called for furnace repair because I was worried. The furnace was actually fine. I apologized, of course. The repair people did not mind- they’d rather be safe than sorry.) You will find other times where you can pay it back or pay it forward in the future. But respect your own concerns enough to take some steps for whatever things are bothering you. Other people can let us down and that is one type of problem. But when we let our own selves down that is an all new level. Take care of you.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      What helped for me was a combination of meds and therapy. The meds were prescribed by a psychiatrist and they helped me get the most out of therapy.

    5. Anon for this*

      I can’t say that it will work for you, but what’s been helping me is to go through exposure and response prevention therapy exercises on my own, using materials published by Nathan Peterson. I’ve been reading and watching a lot of educational videos about how anxiety and OCD work and common cognitive distortions they come with, which at this point, is helping me because I knew so little about it before.

      Also, making sure I’ve got the basics in: making sure I’m eating enough balanced meals throughout the day, sleeping 7+ hours a day, and trying to make sure I walk or exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. But this is just while I continue to look for a therapist who could guide me through this, I don’t expect to get through it entirely on my own.

      1. Anon for this*

        Also, maybe you already tried this, but have you tried looking for an in-network therapist who does teletherapy who is licensed in your state? Some therapists are even licensed in multiple states, you just have to search for them.

    6. Esmeralda*

      Actually I’d start w a psychiatrist rather than a therapist so that you can start on meds if they’re appropriate for you. Therapy will more manageable with the meds, in my experience.

      For the therapy, your insurance might cover betterhelp.com or another online therapist. My son could not use his school therapist while at home last year (different state) and they were very helpful. Not cheap…I think $300 for a month.

    7. Almost Academic*

      Find a therapist that specializes in Exposure Therapy (a CBT-based approach). It is by far the most effective treatment according to clinical trials (including above and beyond medication) but can be tricky to find someone since a lot of providers are not trained in this specifically (even those who list CBT as an area of specialty). Treatment involves gradually approaching the things you are fearful of, to essentially teach your mind that they are not actually going to result in the outcome that you think they will (or that if they do, you can survive it). You’re basically re-training yourself to approach the tasks rather than avoid them, with the help of a skilled support. It can sound scary but really does work wonders, and a good therapist will be able to help you do the work in a way that is sustainable to you and support you throughout the process. The workbook I usually use with my clients is titled “Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic: Workbook” by Barlow & Craske – it is meant to be used in conjunction with a therapist, but you may find it helpful to read through sections and try out some exercises if you can’t find a good therapist locally.

    8. Observer*

      I’m going to disagree with asking your PCP to prescribe. Most of them don’t know enough to do so effectively. But I DO agree that you should find a psychiatrist who can prescribe for you. That doesn’t negate therapy, but if you can’t get therapy, at least get the appropriate medication. Besides, it’s quite possible that you would need medication even with therapy. Either way, see if you can find someone with the qualification to prescribe for you.

  25. Chicanery*

    Does anyone in the US have advice about making sure a provider is still in-network for the new year? I have an OB visit in a couple of weeks and an ultrasound just after, and we’ve budgeted to cover my in-network OOP max for the year but the out-of-network OOP is massive, so I really need to get this right.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Your insurance website should have that info and is your most reliable source, but you can also ask the office (personally I would do both).

      1. PollyQ*

        I’ve had too many experiences where the insurance website was wrong to trust it. I’d just call the doctor directly. Also double-check that the same provider would be doing the ultrasound.

        1. Chicanery*

          I spent three weeks trying to find this provider because the insurance website’s information was so unreliable.

          Is there a way to be certain that the information I get from the provider’s office is good? Her office is treated as an extension of the hospital where my ultrasounds are done so I believe if her is in the network then they should be as well, but I’ll double check since that’s where I would be delivering.

          1. Lore*

            Call the insurance company’s customer service and the provider’s office and keep the names of the person you spoke to. My insurer’s website is awful but the CSRs are excellent.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            There’s a no surprise bills law so if they’re sending you to this person because you go to that in-network hospital, if the provider is actually out of network they should not be able to spring a larger-than-anticipated bill on you.

          3. Esmeralda*

            You cannot be sure that a doctor whose office is in a hospital is actually employed by the hospital. Even when you go to the ER, you will get separate bills from various practices, for instance an MRI might be billed by the hospital but the radiologist who interprets theMRI may bill separately from a radiology practice. One or both or neither might be in-network!!

            Best to call the insurance provider directly. And talk to an actual person. (Speaking from experience…)

      2. Grits McGee*

        Second doing both- my insurance never seems to remove anyone from their list of in-network providers, and after the first nasty surprise at the dr’s office, I’ve always double checked.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And call Monday morning, because many medical offices are now short-staffed for the people who answer the phone.

    2. Stitch*

      When I had my c section even though my OB and hospital was in network the anesthesiologist was not and we got a huge bill. Fortunately we were able to negotiate it way down. Because when you’re having an emergency surgery you have time to quiz all the people in the room what insurance they take.

        1. fposte*

          I had missed this! Thanks for mentioning it. Looks like the main exception is ground ambulances. Anesthesiologists are the ones I hear about over and over again, though; I think they tend not to join insurance networks.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              But the anesthiologist is the one who puts you under, so you could theoretically ask before they do it. Although again, you likely don’t have a choice in who does it at that point, which is why surprise bills are now illegal federally in the US. It’s already been illegal in some states for quite some time.
              I mean yes, f’ing US healthcare system, but this particular problem is not one anymore as of two days ago.

    3. bratschegirl*

      You have to verify with the provider directly. And even then, the answer may be “we don’t know, we’re still negotiating with [insurer].”

      There are sometimes loopholes for continuing care where you started with Dr X while they were in network but now they’re out. And sometimes you can get a provider to write their bill down to what they would have gotten if they were still in.

      But hey, at least we’re safe from the scourge of “socialized medicine,” whatever that means. /s

    4. Bethlam*

      It’s late, so you may not see this, but i was the insurance administrator at my company and one important piece of advice: Ask specifically, “are you a participating provider in my network?”

      When we changed from insurance 1 to insurance 2, a number of my employees asked their providers if they “accepted ” insurance 2. Many providers accept and process any insurance, but that doesn’t mean that they are in network. A few of my employees got very upsetting bills.

  26. Lucy Skywalker*

    This year, my parents are going to sell the lake house that has been the location of many happy memories and good times together. It is going to be sad to say goodbye to such a special place. I’m thinking of making them a video of photos that were taken there over the years. They bought it in 1982, so I’m thinking of having one song for each decade. Here’s what I have so far:
    1982-1992: This Is The Time- Billy Joel
    1992-2002: This Used To Be My Playground- Madonna
    2002-2012: Photograph- Nickleback

    But I’m really stumped trying to come up with a song for the 2012-2022 decade. Anyone have any suggestions? It should be a slow song, preferably one that is well known, about saying goodbye to a special time and place. Please only mention songs from 2012 to the present.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Back Home – Andy Grammar
      7 years – Lukas Graham
      Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheehan
      I Was Here – Beyonce

      1. Lucy Skywalker*

        I actually was going to use that one, but decided against it because my family’s musical tastes are more pop-rock than country.

    2. Memories*

      “The Things That We Are Made Of” by the great folk singer (some say country singer) Mary Chapin Carpenter, released in 2016. Joan Baez also does a lovely cover of it.

      Also “The Blue Distance,” also by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

      BTW, what a lovely idea you had for preserving memories of that time and place. Please come back and tell us how it all comes together.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Photograph – Ed Sheeran

      I love castle on the hill but it’s a pretty fast paced song. Photograph is not as fast and also includes the element of nostalgia

      1. I take tea*

        Just reading the title makes me teary, it might be a bit too sad. Lovely song, and lovely movie, though.

    4. Lucy Skywalker*

      Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions! I wound up choosing “Memories” by Maroon 5. Also, I replaced “This Used To Be My Playground” with a different Madonna song from the era, “I’ll Remember.” I realized that playing TUTBMY immediately after “This Is The Time” would be too much of an emotional overload.

  27. CreepyPaper*

    Husband and I are going bikepacking this summer! We intend to load up our gravel bikes and ride and camp through Wales.

    Has anyone here tried bikepacking before? We’ve done bike touring where we stayed in B&B’s but not proper full on carrying a tent bikepacking. I’m so excited, we just need the ‘rona not to close the borders and spoil everything.

    So any tips on what to bring/what not to bring? We will be staying at campsites but we’re total numpties at camping too so… help!

    1. PollyQ*

      When you say “total numpties,” does that mean you have no experience camping at all? I’m not any kind of expert, but I would probably not do your first camping trip (or even your second) with only bikes. Maybe get some local weekend car camping experience in the spring, before your bike trip?