weekend open thread – April 30-May 1, 2022

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Secrets of Happiness, by Joan Silber. In a story told by six different narrators, a family finds out their father/husband has a second wife and two kids living across town. This is about what happens afterwards.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 995 comments… read them below }

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Happy weekend, Pam! I just took a walk and enjoyed the sunshine and spring blooms. Right now, for me, it IS a happy weekend.

  1. classic lit*

    What’s everyone reading? I’m thinking about going back to some of the classics that I haven’t read since high school like A Tale of Two Cities and Madame Bovary and seeing if I like them more this time around. I’m not sure I could appreciate them properly then. What’s your favorite classic?

    1. Squirrel Nutkin*

      What a great project! I didn’t read them until much later in life, but I really enjoyed *The Count of Monte Cristo* and *Moby Dick*.

      1. Ness*

        I reread Native Son last year (for the first time since high school) and really enjoyed it. It’s a tough read but powerful.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Madame Bovary is wonderful.. But I think my favorite is Anna Karenina. Tolstoy’s writing is fantastic. It took me three weeks to read it but wow, time well spent. Beautiful!

        1. pancakes*

          That’s probably my pick as well. I own two translations, though I’ve only read one so far.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I enjoyed most of the English class books, but the ones I think about or reread the most are probably Austen, Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Shirley Jackson. “The Bell Jar” when I’m feeling low. Is “The Handmaid’s Tale” old enough to be considered a classic?

      1. Kivrin*

        How long a list do you want? :-)

        Let’s see… Everything Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. The other Jane – Jane Eyre. Bleak House, the first Dickens I actually managed to finish (+1 to the commenter who said that some classics require a few more years of life).

        North and South, A Room with a View, Far from the Madding Crowd, Middlemarch, Vanity Fair, My Family and Other Animals, plus The Turn of the Screw and Dracula for chills – the latter had me looking over my shoulder after dark for days.

        … and it’s after midnight so I’m going to stop there before I review my entire reading history.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I also Dracula! It’s the perfect October read. But so it Frankenstein! It’s hard to believe Mary Shelley wrote it at age 18. It made me cry.

        2. AY*

          Oh my goodness, I adored My Family and Other Animals! Do you have any recommendations for books that are similar to that one?

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            I’m not the person you asked but Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat? Pretty sure I read that one first and loved it so my parents got me MFAOA as a result ( I liked it too)

            James Herriot’s books?

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’m so glad to see you include Bradbury. Science Fiction as a genre doesn’t always get the respect it should. That said, even some of the sci fi classics, like Bradbury, can seem a bit dated now so you do have to keep in the mind the times in which they were written. Things that seemed were bold and original 60 or 70 years ago, can become common place and “meh” over time. But they still have their place and provided a foundation for others who would follow.

        1. the cat's ass*

          my (now 16 yo) read “The Martian Chronicles” in 8th grade and her only criticism was that “it was awfully heteronormative.” Which is legit! But also a great foundation.

    4. Jelly*

      I did this too and highly recommend it! Really changed my perspective on some books. My favourite classics are Anna Karenina, Animal Farm, A Clockwork Orange (is it considered a classic?), and The Little Prince :)

      1. Stitch*

        I like Sense and Sensibility. I think it’s Austen’s most explicitly anti sentimental novel.

        I also love Moby Dick.

    5. Raboot*

      I love The Great Gatsby. Didn’t love it in school but now I think it’s great. Wish we’d focused more on Nick as a character way back when!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        YES! I thought Gatsby was okay in high school, but then when I re-read it a couple of decades later, I was like WOW, Fitzgerald’s language is SO gorgeous. I went on a Fitzgerald tear then and tried to read everything he’s written.

      2. Software Dev (she/her)*

        This reminds me that I just finished reading the Chosen and the Beautiful, a fantasy, somewhat queer retelling of the great Gatsby that I really enjoyed, told from the pov of Jordan, who is Vietnamese in this version. Highly recommend.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m currently going through Petrarca’s Canzoniere with footnotes by Giacomo Leopardi and the introduction was an essay by Ugo Foscolo (though the book’s editor does step in if Foscolo said something that has since been proven wrong). It’s pretty interesting to see their take on the work.

      I’m probably also going to read Dante’s Commedia again at some point, especially as I’ve now learned Italian and can tell what gets lost in translation and this weird insistence schools have of only focusing on Inferno while ignoring Purgatorio and Paradiso exist. It leads to some incredibly wrong interpretations sometimes, let me tell you.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Also just realised I didn’t answer the question as to what is my favourite classic and…I’m actually not sure? Like with any art form my favourite tends to change ever time you ask me.

    7. misspiggy*

      Persuasion and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are the ones that get better for me the older I get.

    8. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve noticed that classics are “better” when we get older. I liked reading Elizabeth Gaskell in my 30s. I also enjoyed Jane Austen.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’d wager part of it is not being forced to read them by people who don’t actually understand them. If I had a nickel for every English teacher who teaches Austen or Shakespeare as Very Serious when in reality the former was a snarky parodist and the latter couldn’t write five lines without inserting a crude joke…I’d probably own a First Folio at this point.

        Also just…life experience, I guess. A lot of themes in classics aren’t really the kind of thing teenagers are interested in.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I agree. Being a teenager and not enjoying classics is OK.
          For some classics, you need experience in general and experience as a reader to get why they’re classics (and you might still not like them).
          I’m saying this as someone who’s always enjoyed reading (and got good grades) and have a degree in literature.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Same love for reading and same degree. I still absolutely *loathe* On The Road , though, to the point where I consider it a warning sign if someone is reading it for any other reason than “I have to”.

            And then there’s what a book I recently read termed “Dostoyevsky boys” – the kind of guy who reads Notes from the Underground and acts all snotty about it “oh it’s by this Russian guy called Dostoyevsky, ever heard of him?”. For some reason saying I have a literature degree brings those guys out of the woodwork and just…sorry, since when was Dostoyevsky supposed to be obscure?

        2. Disco Janet*

          It’s likely that your teachers would get complaints if they pointed out the crude jokes. I’m an English teacher, and this is what my last school was like – “here’s what we want you to teach, but not THAT way. You must stick to the bland pre-approved methods.” Like I’m sorry, but how does one teach Othello without getting into all the sexual innuendo/jokes?! But that’s what they wanted because parents had complained when the last teacher pointed it out. At my current school I can do it the way I want, which amuses some students but gets me a blank stare from others. Always harder to get some students to care about what they’re reading when it’s for school.

          The assumption that the majority of English teachers (which is how the “if I had a nickel” reads) don’t understand literature rubs me the wrong way.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Oh absolutely, that’s what I meant with “being forced to read them by people who don’t understand them” – though I can see how that reads like I assume English teachers are like that. I’m not naive enough to think teachers have a lot (if any) choice in what they teach.

          2. Rara Avis*

            My kid just read Romeo and Juliet in 8th grade. Their teacher did not pull any punches — they dove into all the jokes. And do you know what? Those kids LOVED R&J.

        3. Scarlet Magnolias*

          Like Picture of Dorian Gray, read when I was 12, loved it but didn’t have the life experience, read it when I was older and oh wow, THAT’S what he was talking about.

      2. BethDH*

        I agree with this somewhat. I enjoy a lot of books as an adult I wouldn’t as a kid because of the themes. But I think I was more able to give myself over to a different world as a kid/young adult. Now it’s a lot harder for my reading time to be truly immersive — I need to watch the time for my next thing, I’m tired, I’m interrupted by kids. There are some books I wish I could have read as a kid just to live in them fully.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          My reading experience was certainly much more intense as a kid/teenager. But only speaking for myself, that experience was *not* with the classics. It was with SF, fantasy, Agatha Christie, etc.

          1. MEH Squared*

            I would argue (and I have) that Agatha Christie IS classic literature. In the aughts, I was getting my MA in Writing and Consciousness. In one class, the prof had us come up with our own top 100 classics of all time. I am a HUGE Poirot fan (have read each book between 5 and 20 times) and insisted that Agatha’s Christie’s The Big Four should be added to the list, genre be damned!

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              The Big Four is awesome! I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read that one.

              1. MEH Squared*

                I would not be surprised if I’ve read it over 20 times, honestly. Christie’s sleight-of-hand is masterful and this book is packed with one surprise after another.

                1. IT Manager*

                  Big Four is the one I skipped, again, just this morning when looking for an AC to read. But you both love it? May i ask why?

                2. MEH Squared*

                  This is for IT Manager since I can’t reply directly. It’s very twisty and bendy-turny, even for Christie. It really does the ‘did that just happen?’ trick well without making it seem gimmicky (IMHO).

                  I will offer the caveat that it hasn’t aged well as to its portrayal of people from other countries (Chinese stands out in my mind because I’m Taiwanese American), but I’m able to overlook that because of how gripping the plot is.

                  It can get a little pulpy at times, but I don’t mind that. I don’t want to give away the plot, obviously, but it hit certain emotional notes with me. Not sure how well it’s aged in that respect, though. I haven’t read it in at least a decade–now I want to read it again to see how it stands up.

            2. MeepMeep02*

              I definitely thought that Agatha Christie was classic literature when I was a teenager, and still think so. Her stuff is eminently re-readable, which is my test for whether something is a classic.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes, I basically stopped reading for fun in college (I was an English major so I still read a lot of fiction!) and had to make a conscious effort to reclaim the habit as an adult. I still enjoy reading but rarely feel immersed like that anymore. I can still remember details of books I read multiple times twenty years ago, but will see something from a year ago with a 4-5 star rating in Goodreads and be like “I read that???”

      1. Disco Janet*

        Definitely agree on Dracula! Although it’s a bit of a hate read for me because oh my gosh the misogyny, but interesting nonetheless.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ll put in a plug for The Odyssey, specifically that I picked it up after reading a travel book by someone who had read it in high school and college, picked it up again as a 40 year old, and was like “Whoa! This is not about the fun of endless adventures. It’s about how it sucks when you just really want to get home, but the gods are all ‘Wait, we’ve got a new variation on murderous psychopaths to run you through.'”

      I think the theme of “I want to sit by my own fire, pet my dog, and never see the ocean again” isn’t so resonant with 15 year olds.

      1. London Calling*

        *“I want to sit by my own fire, pet my dog, and never see the ocean again”*

        “And another thing. Don’t piss the gods off, kids. They have ways of getting back at you that you can’t BEGIN to imagine.”

      2. JustForThis*

        “I want to sit by my own fire, pet my dog, and never see the ocean again”

        Tennyson has interpreted that slightly differently:

        “I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
        Life to the lees:
        ‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
        Push off, and sitting well in order smite
        The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
        To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
        Of all the western stars, until I die.”

    10. GoryDetails*

      Of the classics, I’d put MIDDLEMARCH at the top of my favorites list – it’s George Eliot’s love-song/backhanded-slap to small-town life, with lovely if often frustrating characters and relationships and with snippets of mystery, humor, and the challenges of figuring out who one really is and what’s personally important. (This is not a book I read in my school days; it’s definitely more appealing once one has a few relationships under one’s belt, I think. And it repays re-reading beautifully, with some nuances feeling more significant as I get older.) That said, it is a bit of a doorstopper {wry grin}, so I don’t re-read it as often as some of the Austens. [The mini-series adaptation from 1998 was a pretty good one, so if you like to get nudged into a classic via a screen adaptation that one might be a good choice.]

      1. the cat's ass*

        Just reread Middlemarch, and that last line gets me right in the feels. I think you have to be (relatively) adult to really appreciate a lot of the classics. And it sure doesn’t hurt that I’m reading for pleasure instead of teeing it up for a term paper!

    11. Emma2*

      I go back to Jane Austen again and again (in particular, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion). I think, however, that my favourite classic is Middlemarch. I think it is one of those books that you read differently at different stages in your own life – there is so much in it that different things strike you more forcefully depending on the perspective you bring to the novel at the time, and I think also how you see some of the characters can change as you grow older. Eliot combines very keen observations of character with an interest in social issues, and what I think is a very readable writing style. I would argue that Middlemarch is the greatest of the Victorian novels. I am re-reading it at the moment, and while I knew I loved the book before I started, I am finding that I love it even more than I remembered I did.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Greetings, fellow Middlemarch fan! I remember being surprised, on one of my re-readings, to discover a new sympathy for Casaubon – not that it excuses the steps he took against his relative Will and his wife Dorothea, but the sense of his growing terror of his life winding down while his life’s work was not only incomplete but clearly flawed made me as sorry for him as Eliot stated herself to be. [OK, maybe she didn’t need to address the reader so specifically on that point, but then again maybe she did.] But his vicious dog-in-the-manger attitude towards his wife contrasts starkly with Farebrother’s handling of the Mary-and-Fred situation (I love Farebrother!), and whatever his personal fears were it doesn’t justify that.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      WHO MOVED MY BLACKBERRY? by Lucy Kellaway, a funny satire of woo-woo management practices in the form of emails and messages from self-centered Martin Lukes, who’s juggling an online career/life coach, an affair with his assistant, ongoing issues with his wife and sons, and massive rebranding/reorganization at work. He loves all the “making up new buzzwords” stuff (to the point of trademarking one of his own creations), and while he gripes about team-building he’s more than happy to use that as an excuse not to go home – or, apparently, to do any actual work… [Kind of begs to be introduced to Ask A Manager, doesn’t he? But he would claim to be inspired by words of wisdom and then completely fail to follow up.]

      MY SUMMER IN A GARDEN by Charles Dudley Warner: a change of pace, this one’s a collection of newspaper columns on gardening from 1870, by a man who was a friend of Mark Twain’s – living near him in Hartford, along with their neighbor Harriet Beecher Stowe; must have had some fun block-parties. Anyway, his garden-writing is charming and funny, and I’m enjoying it very much.

      On audiobook: THE STONE GIANT by Luke Smitherd, read by Mark Addis. This is the third in Smitherd’s “Stone Man” series, about a very weird and unnerving series of alien visitations. This one picks up immediately after The Empty Men, and while it does include a recap/story-so-far, making it possible to start with this one, I’d recommend starting with The Stone Man to get the full effect. (While I’ve liked the sequels, the first book is still my favorite, with its very unusual spin on First Contact…)

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Ooh, I love how that garden book sounds. I feel like sometimes, it’s just nice to time travel back to another place and read about people’s daily lives, even if those books aren’t that popular anymore. I notice not only what’s different, but also what’s the same about our lives and our reactions to things.

    13. Generic Name*

      I plan to re-read A Prodigal Summer this summer for the same reason. I read it the first time when I was like 23, and as I was reading it, I kept thinking, “I’m say too young to fully appreciate this”. I turn 43 this summer, so I’m giving it another go. I did enjoy it the first time I read it.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Is that Barbara Kingsolver? I remember trying it and not getting into it despite loving some of her other books. I’ve been thinking for awhile that I need to revisit The Poisonwood Bible – it was one of the first “grown up” books I read as a teen and really stuck with me.

    14. AY*

      A couple of “modern” classics to consider: True Grit by Charles Portis and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Even if you’ve seen one or both movie adaptations, you must still read True Grit. The whole thing is told from Maddie Ross’s POV and she has to be one of the greatest narrators ever. The Allende book is a magnificent family saga. If you like family sagas, you will love it.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’m enjoying this discussion of the classics. We moved around a lot when I was in high school and there are big gaps in my education. Can someone recommend a comprehensive list of classic literature I can refer to? Then I could print it off and dip in when I’m in the mood

        1. AY*

          The Modern Library put out a list of the 100 greatest modern novels (I think it starts around 1900), but it’s so, so, so depressingly white and male. Book Riot had a great article collecting lists that serve as correctives to the Modern Library’s list. It might be a good place to start: https://bookriot.com/100-best-novels-list/

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          A lot of the lists you’ll find online are very good but there’s not a lot of diverse voices on those lists as they normally hew quite close to the UK, America, and France. For a wider range, I recommend:

          1. The Wizard and the Crow, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
          2. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe (and the following two books in the series)
          3. Our Nig, by Harriet E. Wilson
          4. I am a Cat, by Natsume Sōseki
          5. The Cairo Trilogy, by Naguib Mahfouz
          6. Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin
          7. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
          8. The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu

          I’m sure there are many, many others that people can recommend but these are the ones I’ve pulled from my have-read Goodreads list so I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Fair warning though, I am a Cat will require some tissues.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            I’m also going to add Akutagawa to this list, though his work can be very depressing (especially his later work). He’s pretty much the only modernist I’ve found so far whom I can stand – perhaps because he was willing to admit he was a jerk (no really, his autobiography is called “The Life of a Stupid Man” and it’s not too long, either).

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Oh, and I’m quite fond of Toni Morrison as well, though again…quite depressing subject matter. The Bluest Eye also comes with trigger warnings regarding child molestation.

          2. MeepMeep02*

            I’ll add The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov; that’s one of my all-time favorite classics, and not really well known outside of the Russian speaking world.

    15. CatCat*

      Love the idea for thus project! I struggled with A Tale of Two Cities as a teen, but enjoyed it as an adult. Same goes for Billy Budd.

    16. Foreign Octopus*

      Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray.

      I’ve never read it before and I’ve been told Becky Sharp is quite the character so I’m looking forward to it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh, I *love* Vanity Fair – but it’s a lot darker than I expected. (If you’ve seen any of the screen adaptations, please throw them out of your mind while reading the book; I haven’t seen one that handled Becky’s character properly. She is a magnificent character – just… not quite the way she’s usually portrayed on screen!)

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m going in with absolutely no knowledge about it. I’ve somehow missed the adaptations and reading it until now so I’m excited that I know nothing about it except that Becky is magnificently awful and I’m hoping I’ll love/hate her as much as I did with Scarlett O’Hara.

      2. eisa*

        I chose this from the reading list to do a talk on in high school. Not the shortest book I might have chosen, but I liked it a whole lot. The very different main characters leap from the page and the plot is very engaging.
        It has a very modern feel to it overall.

      3. Salymander*

        Vanity Fair is wonderful and funny. It also made me really glad to be a woman living in the 21st century rather than the early 19th century. Seeing Becky Sharp navigate that world, cleverer than everyone around her but forced into a mostly decorative role in her own life was sad and yet did make me laugh.

    17. JSPA*

      Moby Dick. Unabridged Gulliver’s Travels, if you can find it. Jane Eyre. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Richard II.

      But also: read or reread Audre Lorde; Adrienne Rich; Marilyn Hacker.


    18. Person+from+the+Resume*

      I recommend Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James.

      A nerdy black girl attends one of those fancy New England boarding schools in mid-2000s. Later she becomes an admissions officer for those kinds of independent schools. Even later she reflects and writes a book about her experience and how she lied all the time in her job as admissions officer when she neglected to mention racism or “the black table.”

      Kendra is actually a legacy (her father graduated from Taft), and she’s not on scholarship like most of her black classmates. She’s an excellent, engaging writer with lots of pop culture references (a few of which I had to look up). This was a fast pleasant read even as the topic was serious.

      1. Alex*

        Oh interesting! I went to “one of those fancy New England boarding schools” probably a bit earlier than this author and DEFINTIELY remember “the black table” and the racism. I’m white though so I’d really be interested in reading a black woman’s perspective on the experience. Thanks for the rec!

    19. E. Chauvelin*

      What I’m reading now: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler. I know a bit about Edwin Booth and Karen Joy Fowler wrote one of my favorite books of the last decade or so, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, so I was exited about this and around halfway through I am not disappointed.

      Favorite classic: Les Miserables is one of the defining books of my life. For a long time I’d say Les Miserables and Don Quixote but after several rereads of each I’d say Les Mis pulled ahead.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Can I ask about some more details about what you think of Booth so far? I absolutely loathed We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (in the afterword she mentions her dad was a psychologist but she never understood what he actually did and uh…yeah I found that painfully obvious throughout the book. Interesting premise, poor execution) but I try not to give up on writers after only one book, so is there anything in particular you like about it?

    20. Quinalla*

      Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, been meaning to reread.

      Also really enjoyed As I Lay Dying by Faulkner.

      And yeah, shout out to Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, excellent book!

      1. allathian*

        I last read Frankenstein 4 years ago, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of its publication. When I read it, it was very obvious that the book had been written by hand rather than typed. Something about the way the sentences were structured…

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, let’s see. I liked most of what we read in school. I reread Catcher in the Rye a lot. All-time favorites would have to include the following:

      –A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
      –The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
      –The Diary of a Young Girl
      (We watched the films of these first four but only read the books of the last two.)
      –To Kill a Mockingbird
      –Fahrenheit 451
      –Of Mice and Men
      –Animal Farm
      –A Raisin in the Sun
      –Flowers for Algernon
      –The Hobbit
      –the poetry of Langston Hughes

      Most of them are in my library now. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter led me to more of Carson McCullers’ work, as did the Bradbury. We read Frankenstein in high school and college, which I also love, but never Dracula. I prefer Dracula, so in college I managed to shoehorn an assignment into a paper on it. I also wrote my senior capstone paper on literary doubling and the dichotomy of Light and Dark in The Lord of the Rings. Anything to get my horror/fantasy favorites in there, heh heh. :)

      My best friend was in the same class where we had The Hobbit and Flowers for Algernon. She had trouble with her eyes (still does), so I read them out loud to her. If I read The Hobbit to anyone now, you know exactly what Gollum would sound like!

      1. the cat's ass*

        I love this SO. MUCH. I just gave one of the young women in our GS troop “Rebecca.” My dear friend the ortho surgeon and I are reading LOTR in our own mini book group. Rereading through an adult lens is so fun.

    22. Chaordic One*

      Lately I’ve been on an Americana kick and rereading “My Antonia” and “Main Street.”

    23. Lady Alys*

      “Pride and Prejudice” (didn’t realize just how snarky it was until adult re-read) and “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov – also very snarky look at life in Moscow in the 30s, with a twist or two or three. “Manuscripts don’t burn.”

    24. Angstrom*

      Just started rereading the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin series. The first one is primarily a sea story, but the second (“Post Captain”) opens up to include many other aspects of Napoleonic-era English life, and the complexity grows from there on.

    25. StellaBella*

      I just finished two vampire books: Dead Until Dark (The Southern Vampire Series) and a new one, Empire of the Vampire. When Anne Rice passed, I started to find her books at various places, and re-read them. Now branching out a bit.

    26. eisa*

      “Emma” and “The Razor’s Edge” I can (and have) reread until the book falls apart.

      Other favourites : “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, “Shirley”, .. if you want to go all the way back, Vergil’s Aeneid :
      Speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem

    27. Jay*

      I read “Middlemarch” for book club a few years ago and loved it. Would have hated it in HS or college.

    28. Invisible today*

      Asimov. Specifically I Robot (nothing to do with the movie or the makers of Roombas). And the foundation trilogy (the later books get a bit..meh). Also LOVED his nonfiction science writing – even though the content is well out of date, the style is one I aspire to.

    29. Brookfield*

      Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Huston, and The Awakening by Kate Chopin… love them both and recommend to everyone! I re-read them every few years and still get something new from them. I was surprised to hear that some middle schools teach The Awakening now – puberty is probably NOT the best time to read this one… at 53, it hits differently.

      (Former English major, loving this entire thread. Middlemarch 4 Evah!)

    30. OtterB*

      A few years ago I reread Lost Horizon and found my perspective had changed substantially since I first read it in my teens.

    31. Batgirl*

      Far From the Madding Crowd. There’s always a brilliant new line to discover. Upon the first reading it’s the proposal, the second: “His dog waited for his meals in a way so like that in which Oak waited for the girl’s presence” and I think the latest one I liked was: “Shepherds enjoy, in common with sailors, the privilege of being able to summon the god of sleep instead of having to wait for him.”

    32. Red top*

      It’s lesser known but one of my favorites is Alas Babylon. It was written in the 50’s and it is about nuclear war with Russia. Sadly it’s become relevant again.

      1. OtterB*

        I remember reading Alas Babylon when I was much younger – high school, maybe? – and thinking it was very dystopian (although I didn’t know that word). Rereading more recently, the post-apocalyptic world actually seems pretty livable compared to what I fear the reality would look like.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          Remember that Alas Babylon was set in an isolated area and had the luck of a military resident with survival skills. It was very bleak. Powerful book but not a world I would call easily survivable. Especially not for its diabetic characters.

    33. MeepMeep02*

      Don Quixote, hands down. I’d somehow missed it when I was in high school, and wow is it ever wonderful.

      And by the way, I’m on my own classics-reading project this year, and it’s great fun. Those books are classics for a reason.

    34. KR*

      Probably Wuthering Heights. Also a fan of The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Awakening

    35. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      On a similar note, I’m reading at least one book a year that I somehow missed reading in high school and college. I adored Pride and Prejudice. I liked Jane Eyre. I was bored by Dracula and offended by its casual sexism & racism. (Previously read&loved Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde.) Did not like Rebecca.
      I’ll be mining this list for my next.

  2. ants*

    Student loan question. Does anyone know if a student loan that was originally federal but is now for some reason serviced through Navient, which I think is a private company, would be eligible for the loan forgiveness programs that are being discussed currently? (I realize those programs may never come to fruition, just curious if I’d qualify if they do.)

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes, Navient is the servicer of most federal loans. This is the organization overseeing the Public Service loan forgiveness program. But it is to change this year. There’s no reason to believe they won’t come to fruition. It takes a lot of personal oversight to ensure you meet the requirements.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        No, that’s FedLoan Servicing. I know this because I just submitted my PSLF paperwork to them.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Me too but through Navient. They lost the contract with FedLoan but are still transitioning.

    2. WellRed*

      I’d love to know this. Navient is contacting me regularly to restart payment ( it’s been a while). I was surprised to see I’m accruing interest despite pandemic rules. I’d welcome any forgiveness (but don’t expect it). It seems impossible to see if you might eventually qualify.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Navient no longer services federal loans, but “Navient will continue to service FFEL Program loans issued by the government and owned by private lenders”, which I guess is some kind of hybrid? If you don’t know what type of loan you have, you can find out more info by logging into StudentAid.gov.

      1. CatCat*

        Also, if anyone has FFEL loans, which are non-qualifying loans for PSLF, you can consolidate them into Federal Direct loans, which are. There is a PSLF program requirement waiver in effect until October that will count otherwise non-qualifying FFEL payments as qualifying if you consolidate and the prior payments would have been qualifying but for the fact that they were FFEL.

        Just wanted to mention this as it has been life changing for some folks I know!

    4. Stitch*

      Did you ever refinance?

      If you’re doing PSLF or the 25 year IBR thing you should make sure everything is consolidated federally and you are enrolled in IBR.

      I’m coming at this from someone who’s doing PSLF. I was told, take everything, consolidate federally, enroll in IBR and then send in recertification forms every year.

    5. Stitch*

      Did you ever refinance?

      If you’re doing PSLF or the 25 year IBR thing you should make sure everything is consolidated federally and you are enrolled in IBR.

      I’m coming at this from someone who’s doing PSLF. I was told, take everything, consolidate federally, enroll in IBR and then send in recertification forms every year. And never, ever refinance as that kills your eligibility.

    6. TryThis*

      Highly recommend reaching out to The Institute of Student Loan Advisors – they are a non profit of student loan experts who give individuals free advice

    7. KofSharp*

      They shoved mine to Aidvantage rather than Navient. I haven’t a single idea if it’s going to be forgiven.
      Most of what I’ve seen is if you were on an Income Driven Repayment Plan with your FedLoans, serviced by Navient or Aidvantage or not, they may automatically forgive you.

      1. Llellayena*

        I went to Aidvantage from FedLoan Services on an IBR plan and specifically asked if I was still on track for forgiveness and they confirmed the number of eligible payments for me. So it seems Aidvantage might have been ok with maintaining loan status during the transfer. I was also told I didn’t need to recertify until 2023.

    8. Esmeralda*

      Just read Bad Monkeys — fun!

      Just started Benedict Kiely, Proxopera. Beautiful and heart breaking. It’s more lyrical than his short stories.

  3. Wednesday Addams*

    My good friend who I’ve known for years has been snared by an MLM and keeps wanting to talk to me about it. She has only tried to get me to buy once and after I made it very clear I wasn’t going to she hasn’t continued to try the sales pitch on me. But she wants to talk all the time about her “business” and…I…Just…Cannot…Hear…It. I know too much about how much MLMs screw people over and women especially. I can’t say the supportive things she’s expecting. She knows a little of how I feel about MLMs but it hasn’t stopped her from these conversations and I don’t want to lecture her about it.

    She’s listened to a lot of job talk from me in the past two years–a lot more than she had to, to be honest–so it feels hypocritical to tell her she can’t talk to me about this. But I don’t see how I can listen in good faith. I don’t know how to handle this! Any advice?

    1. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I feel like this is the sort of question that tends to come up in the Captain Awkward advice column and for which she offers scripts — this is just my vague memory, but I think at one point she offered a script that was something like “Friend, I really enjoy spending time with you, but can we talk about something else when we get together? Tell me all about your {insert topic or topics that your friend enjoys discussing and that you don’t mind discussing}.” Or you could skip the first part if saying that is stressful and just try to re-direct with the “tell me all about X” part?

      1. Wednesday Addams*

        The problem is that she has spent many hours in the recent past listening to me talk about my own work things.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          She had the choice to set a boundary about that just as much as you do now! I don’t know what kind of things you were saying to her and vice versa, but friendship doesn’t have to be reciprocal to the extent of “you talked about work for 20 minutes so now I get to do the same.” Just like you probably wouldn’t expect her to, say, listen to endless complaints about your spouse forever just because you listened to her relationship drama recently.

          Unfortunately there’s a good chance she’ll throw this back in your face because that’s what MLMs train people to do (“but this is my CAREER, what happened to women supporting women?”). As with any time you set a boundary, the person getting upset doesn’t make you wrong.

          1. Viette*

            I agree with this! It’s not a straight swap of time spent listening to any and all work-related things. You’re allowed to say you don’t want to hear about her MLM even if she listened to you talk about your jobs for hours and hours. You’re not refusing to talk to her about any job she has, you’re refusing to talk to her about THIS job, for a real and specific reason.

          2. Squirrel Nutkin*

            I totally agree with Dark Macadamia and Viette — a good friendship doesn’t necessarily have to have you supporting each other in exactly the same way.

            And also a big yes to the idea that just because someone doesn’t like you setting a boundary, that doesn’t mean that you were wrong to do so. In fact, when someone gets upset that you set a boundary, that gives you more information about what they’re really like, like, “Wow, this person is selfish enough that when I told her I didn’t want to do X, she totally didn’t care what I thought or felt.” Or alternately, they might respect you enough to respect and honor your boundary, which suggests that this friendship is worth saving.

            P.S. I know it’s very scary to think that maybe your friendship may be evolving to be a little less close than it was–the very idea of that used to drive me nuts–but sometimes, that is actually okay.

        2. JSPA*

          1. If she’s ever suggested that there were structural problems at your workplace… and if you’ve a) ever listened or b) made changes or c) failed to listen, and had it bite you… then you could reference those things, for context.

          2. “If those things [that she is complaining about] don’t change in 1 month / 3 months / 6 months, what’s your exit plan?”

          3. “If those things [that she is counting on] don’t happen in 1 month / 3 months / 6 months, what’s your exit plan / backup plan?”

          4. “I know you’re all in on [x] but it’s such a shame to sit out the current hiring cycle! Would you consider putting in some resumés just to see what else is out there? You can keep [x] as a main focus or as a side hustle, while building your resumé with the sort of jobs employers really appreciate.”

          5. “I hear you. That’s apparently what people involved with [crapo co] say and feel at this point in the process.”

          6. “I belive that you believe that [crapo co] is not intentionally exploiting its people, and I want to be sensitive to your sense of hope, your optimism, and your loyalty. I love you, and I love how you’ve been here for me, and I want to reciprocate! But this isn’t a normal job, with normal job problems and normal job hopes. As I listen, it feels like I’m seeing my friend about to slam into the back of a multi-car pileup on a foggy, frozen interstate. I can’t make helpful suggestions or supportive noises or be happy with you over the small wins while my brain is screaming, ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!'”

          7. “Friend, I owe you more than I can repay. But taking about Crapo co. or any other MLM company isn’t a way I can repay it. You can call it a quirk or a blind spot or a bias–but regardless of why, it’s a simple fact: I can’t go there. Is there literally anything else I can do to make you feel heard, appreciated and valued?”

        3. Batgirl*

          But you wouldn’t talk to her across a boundary she’d set, would you? Even if she’d talked about it previously.

      2. Golden*

        Reddit’s antimlm board may have some resources and scripts too. What a frustrating situation, hopefully your friend sees the truth about these types of companies sooner rather than later!

    2. Maxie's Mommy*

      I remind my friend that we used to talk about cooking, kids, etc. Keep reminding her that there’s more to her than there is to her, to quote Max Bialystock.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve had to declare specific conversations off-limits before. “Friend, you know how I feel about [thing]. You don’t have to agree with me, it’s your life and you make the rules, but if we keep having this conversation then we’re just going to be upset with each other.” It’s worked for me so far, and I’ve been able to maintain the friendships in question.

    4. Salymander*

      I know you feel like you might be unfair if you aren’t wanting to hear about the MLM after your friend listened to your job talk. I think that an MLM is more like a cult/scam, not a job, so talking about the MLM really isn’t usually the same thing as job talk.

      I have a lot of Opinions about MLM. My dad got sucked into a number of them, and it ruined our family finances. We lost 2 houses, and ended up way below the poverty line. The MLMs just took everything we had, and made my parents feel like they were only poor because they hadn’t bought into them sufficiently. I know you are concerned for your friend. I hope she gets out of it soon.

      I know that another commenter referenced Captain Awkward. There is a ton of good advice in the archives, including some that deals with friends who are in an MLM, including scripts for what to say to your friend. I read a few posts and got hooked, then read the whole archive from beginning to end. Very useful and insightful stuff, and really funny and well written.

    5. Work/life balance*

      “I’m making an effort to stop talking about work so much because I want better work/life boundaries. Can you help me by reminding me not to talk about work if I start to?” And then when she starts talking about her “business” you can say “Oh sorry Lucille do you mind if we talk about something else? I’m trying not to talk so much about work.”

      You have to stop talking about work yourself of course, but I think “aaagh I realized how much I was talking about work, thanks for listening, now please help me stop” covers your past work chat.

      I think an MLM is different from a job or business for a lot of reasons, but your friend doesn’t, so it’s probably going to have to be a moratorium on all work talk if you don’t want to hurt her feelings. Depending on how annoying she found it to listen about your job, you might need some thank-yous and/or mild apologies in there too.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I’m not sure that I’d recommend this route, especially since the friend knows that she doesn’t like MLMs. I think it’s going to come across as inauthentic, and also not accomplish the goal of not talking about it because she’s still going to occasionally reference her MLM and that dynamic will come right back up again (friend silently scream-cringing and gritting her teeth while friend talks about her independent business ownership)

    6. DeNaranja*

      I think it would help if you were just honest! Especially if it’s a close friend. You could say something like, “you know I love you and I want to support you in every endeavor, whether it’s career or personal, but I just feel so strongly about MLMs and it’s been hard for me to chat with you about it.”

    7. justabot*

      I would just be direct that you don’t agree with MLM’s, that you wish her the best with it, that you are about your friendship, so it’s best to talk about other topics. If she gets defensive or angry, there’s probably not much you can do. If you don’t want to be direct, then just show no enthusiasm for it, don’t ask questions, and change the subject. Or give a, “Sorry, I love you, but this just isn’t my thing. It’s probably best if you talk about it with your upline or your friends in that community who can give the kind of support this requires.” You don’t have to get into all the predatory aspects of it or how most people lose money.

    8. Stitch*

      MLMs are really pernicious. She’s getting voices in her ear that her true friends would help her “business” and that the MLM people are the ones that really care about her.

    9. RC Rascal*

      Have you seen Pink Truth? It’s a blog dedicated to exposing Mary Kay. While it is specific to that MLM it covers the tactics they all use. You might try turning your friend onto Pink Truth. Even if she’s not involved with Mary Kay it might make it easier for her to figure out, sort of like you figuring out your boyfriend is a jerk by watching a friend deal with her jerk boyfriend.

      1. The IT Project*

        Also the LulaRich Documentary on Netflix. It’s about the LulaRoe legging/clothing company and how they have more than 50 lawsuits against them. Eye opening for those in MLM.

    10. Machine Ghost*

      You could try looking at it not as “the MLM that hast snared my friend” but rather “something that my friend does”. You can hate the MLM without hating your friend for being part of it. She has made the decision to join the MLM and even though you disagree with it, you can still support her in making the best of it, maybe help her avoid the worst pitfalls etc. and not judge her for it, if possible, so that she doesn’t feel she has to “prove” to you that she made the right decision.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I know intellectually that those are happy cat faces, but it *really* looks like they’re giving us the stink-eye for making them sit for a formal picture. All it needs is a Sears 1998 background.

    2. Deanna Troi*

      They are my parents sitting on the couch when I came home from a date at 3:00 AM.

  4. Jelly*

    I finally signed up for squash lessons, after months of dilly-dallying. Any tips for this newbie? I’m going from brisk walks (my previous exercise level) to private 1h squash lessons 3x a week, and I foresee the transition to be… rough :/

    All advice is welcome! I’d especially appreciate suggestions on how to train on my days off from squash, so as to become a better player + make sure that my non-playing arm also gets stronger.

    1. Quandong*

      It’s been a long time since I played squash but I’ll never forget the way I felt after the first session. Specifically my glutes and legs – it was before I ever did exercises like lunges and wow, did my muscles get tired out! I really recommend stretching and getting ready for leg and core strength workouts, in case you weren’t already aware of this.

    2. Lissajous*

      I very frequently get foot cramps after squash, but they’re really the calf muscle being exhausted. Magnesium, hot shower and heat packs, an epsom salt bath… whatever works for you. Sports drink during playing in summer especially. And eat well after the game!

      Warm up properly. I always pull much better when I’ve had time on the courts gently easing into the harder hits.

      1. Lissajous*

        And if something niggles, stop. Immediately. It might be nothing, but it might be a snapped Achilles in the next couple of rallies (thing I did see happen, and the guy had indeed had a niggle a bit earlier).

  5. Jelly*

    Another question from me this weekend! I’m a lifelong vegetarian who might need to start eating meat to meet my protein requirements. However I’m not a fan of the chewy texture or smoky taste of the meats I’ve tried. Any tips for easing into this while not being completely put off by the texture?

    Also if you have any high-protein low-carb vegetarian recipes (eggs and dairy are fine), please feel free to share!

    1. Aphrodite*

      For breakfast, try cilbir. It’s a Turkish egg dish, poached eggs (though I often saute mine) in a bed of flavored yogurt. It is absolutely delicious, easy to make on weekday mornings, and packed with protein!

    2. TangerineRose*

      For protein, I sometimes put unsalted sunflower seeds or peanuts in my soup or add it to refried beans.

      If you like pancakes or waffles, putting peanut butter on them (with a little syrup on top) adds some protein.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      What have you tried so far? Poultry is milder than red meat, ground meat has a totally different texture than whole, and sauces change the profile flavor entirely. If you are trying whole pieces of meat, go for something from the tenderloin in red meat, or breast in poultry. They are tenderer, milder and have less connective tissue.

      If you want as mild as you can go, I’d try something involving ground chicken and spaghetti sauce.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If protein shakes are something you’d consider and dairy is ok, the Premier Protein brand are high protein (30g) and low sugar/carb (1g I believe). I like their chocolate ones just as a drink, they don’t have the funky aftertaste or chalky texture that a lot of the shakes do, and my husband loves the cafe latte flavor. He’s also used the fruit flavored ones (peach, strawberry) as the liquid when making oatmeal and found that quite tasty. The company also has some recipes on their site for baking with them to make muffins or such, or you can put them in smoothies as well.

      1. Clisby*

        Are the Premier Protein drinks not sweet, then? I’ve tried 3 or 4 other protein drinks and can’t get past about 2 swallows because they’re so nauseatingly sweet. What I really need is a protein drink that tastes like bitter black coffee – I’m pretty sure I could keep that down.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The chocolate one basically tastes like chocolate milk to me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sweeter than you want it sounds like, but picking up a chocolate thing and expecting it to not be sweet is unlikely to end well.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      If you’re used to eating tofu, another idea to ease into it light be to mix ground meat with your tofu. I know that sounds weird to Western ears because we consider tofu to be exclusively vegetarian but in Asian countries it’s pretty normal to do because tofu is just another protein to them. (Seriously, to all vegetarians who want to visit Asia and cook their own meals: take a good close look at the tofu you buy).

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Also, mapo tofu is delicious! (And yes, in East Asia mixing tofu and meat is no weirder than mixing beans and meat). Fried gluten is a common vegan ingredient in parts of East Asia, and is high in protein.

        Texture-wise, ground or finely diced meat might be a good way to go. Do something like a chili with beans and meat, or spaghetti sauce with meat. What about fish – tuna salad, for example, or a fish chowder.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Another trick is if you have a recipe with ground meat, substitute part of it with chick peas. I don’t know what their carb content is though, so if you need to go high-protein low-carb you may need to look into that.

          1. Hen in a Windstorm*

            I think lentils work better. I was truly surprised when I tried lentil tacos how much the texture mimicked ground beef. So OP, if you like lentils, you might not mind ground meats.

    6. Lady Whistledown*

      Scrambled eggs with cottage cheese (link below)
      Overnight oats with chia, vanilla protein powder, PB2 peanut powder, and a spoonful of peanut butter

      I’m also on the hunt for more protein and it can be quite challenging!

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        The eggs-cottage cheese combo seems like a great variation on scrambled eggs. Most of the commenters who made it loved it. A couple found it too runny, I’m guessing bc they didn’t have very good-quality cottage cheese. It so happens that I have some cottage cheese (don’t usually) and will try this for Sunday lunch. Thanks for posting it!

    7. Good luck future omnivore :)*

      Have you tried deli meats? One of my kids is not a big meat eater (also because of texture) but she’ll happily scarf some salami (probably not for you if you don’t like smoky flavours) or shaved turkey. She also does well with finely chopped cooked meats in something else, like finely chopped chicken in a quesadilla or ground meat that’s been very well broken up and simmered for a long time in a pasta sauce. She also prefers crispy textures so breaded and baked or lightly fried chicken or fish is often a hit.

    8. Meh*

      I transitioned back to animal protein a number of years ago but still omit beef – I found it too difficult to digest. So be prepared for tummy problems, indigestion, your urine to smell strongly of cooked chicken (if you choose that as your first meat), etc.

      As the others have said, ground meat is easier to do. The consistency is less chewy. I make my own from good cuts of chicken or pork, but it’s easy to buy.

      I also second protein powder. I found a brand of whey based that was super smooth – Performex, Costco dot com sells their Fruity Pebbles flavor – and easy to digest. Vegan protein is too grainy and chalky from the pea powder. You can add peanut butter powder to Amp protein. I might have 2 shakes a day just to boost my intake.

    9. WellRed*

      I’m not a vegetarian but I don’t love a lot of meat. I like my chicken shredded rather than in chunks (but Mexican food fan here).

      1. ronda*

        yes, shredded meat is totally different texture. see if it works better. It the only way I like chicken in my paprikash is shredded.
        but skip the shredded bbq cause that is going to have the smoke flavor. poach or stew with flavors you like.
        also like shredded in a tuna salad type dish.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding the protein shakes as an easy vegetarian way to get more protein.

      I’d suggest the sort of recipes where the meat is lumps in sauce, like chicken tikka masala (for which my local spot offers a vegan version). The sort of thing most people do as “replace the meat with soy crumbles” but you’d be going the other way.

    11. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Maybe you could look for “transitioning to vegetarian” guides and reverse them? Or just start off by replacing a small portion, like 10% of your dish with meat: I’m picturing chili, pasta sauce, bean salad; things where it would all be chopped up together and you might not notice as much. Then as you get used to it, increase it again. Also, the more/longer meat is cooked, the chewier it gets, so if you’re doing the cooking, make sure not to overcook it.

      I think greek-style yogurt is the highest protein vegetarian food available, so look to Mediterranean cooking for ways to use it more.

    12. Invisible today*


      For example a hearty bean and cheese dip (as burrito or on its own)
      Lentil dishes – like Indian dals.
      Eggs with cheese and black beans and salsa.
      Depending on carb needs, quinoa.
      Tofu and veggie dishes

      Inspire yourself from cultures with a long tradition of vegetarian or low meat cuisine – they tend to have figured out what food combos give balanced nutrition.
      Also, not sure what your dietary requirements are but it isn’t too hard to get 40-60g protein eating vegetarian.

      Good luck and good eating.

    13. RagingADHD*

      The cooking method has a lot to do with things like a smoky taste, as do many of the spices or rubs, because some recipes are designed to enhance it.

      A white fish like tilapia, baked in white wine with fines herbes, is going to be flaky and moist rather than chewy, with an herby flavor.

      Similarly, chicken is only going to be chewy if it’s overcooked. Maybe a chicken soup with the chicken chopped up very small?

    14. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’m basically a vegetarian but recently felt like a needed a really, really simple protein (as in not much fat or fiber.). The grocery store had deli containers of “picked” chicken breast, which was from a rotisserie chicken and shredded in texture. I probably would not have picked up a “regular” chicken breast but this worked perfectly.

    15. cellbio_dweeb*

      Something I’ve tried recently is Textured Vegetable Protein — I honestly cannot tell the difference between that and meat, especially in any ground beef/saucy meals. Like tacos, chili, sloppy joes — those are now TVP-based in my house. It’s flavorless on its own, I reconstitute it with veggie broth and stick it in different dishes. Might be something to try!

    16. insert scream here*

      to try to ease meat into your veggie diet, I’d start by adding a tiny bit – say a tablespoon or so – of ground meat (chicken, or pork – but they won’t have the iron of beef if you need that) into a portion of chili, or falafel. The trick with the ground meat is that you won’t notice the texture as much, and then you’re only adding a little. You’d want to cook the meat thoroughly, of course.

    17. J.B.*

      Sweet potatoes and peanuts can go well together – they can be done together in stew or sort of a salad form with the peanuts left in for crunch. Lots of szechuan flavors could be adapted with veggies instead of rice or noodles – sesame paste and chile crisp are delicious together. Chick peas are a good protein filled option and there would be lots of Mediterranean dishes to try.

      If you want more protein but in a still vegetarian form, you could make some Szechuan dishes or larb (which is Thai) with the beyond stuff that imitates ground beef.

      1. pancakes*

        There’s a roasted sweet potato recipe I make often that peanuts would be a good addition to – I’ll see if I can find it and link separately, but it’s basically sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil, then dressed with more olive oil, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallions. It’s really good at any temperature. I always double it to have some more for lunch the next day.

        Now that you mention peanuts, I also like a salad of finely sliced green cabbage with finely sliced hot peppers (Serrano is good for me), a little sesame oil, a little more neutral oil like grapes seed, rice vinegar, coarse salt, and coarsely chopped cilantro with sliced green apple and a handful of dry roasted peanuts.

    18. Mary S*

      Hmm some things that came to mind as dishes where you can readily adjust the amount of meat contained (and still fairly high protein even without the meat, I think):

      1) Quesadillas with shredded chicken (could also add beans for protein)
      2) Beef and bean chili (I sub out half the meat for an extra can of pinto beans so it’s still mostly vegetarian)
      3) Stir fry with shrimp/shredded chicken/shredded fish/ham added (Can also throw in frozen edamame for more protein)
      4) Black beans and rice + pulled/slow-cooked pork roast (I usually make this Cuban style or Mexican style)
      5) Chickpea pasta with pesto & Parmesan

    19. Spcepickle*

      I like to lightly mash chickpeas, mix them with greek yogurt (high in protein, low carb, non fat if you like), lemon juice, chopped dill pickles, and everything but the bagel seasoning. Basically vegetarian tuna.

      Also I love lentils, try the black French ones they are much less mushy than the standard ones and add lots of texture and protein to salads

    20. anonagain*

      I can’t tell from your post if you actually want to start eating meat. Meeting protein requirements on a vegetarian diet is very possible for the vast majority of people at all life stages (including athletes, pregnant people, children). You will sometimes run into the odd doctor or dietician who is down on veg diets. If you want to stay vegetarian, I’d recommend talking to someone else or at least push your team to explain why your situation is so unique. How would they treat your medical condition if meat were off the table? That might give you more information so you can make your decision. Of course, if eating meat is your personal preference, then that’s all totally irrelevant!

      You’ve gotten a lot of good ideas from everyone else. Things like vegetables with tofu/tempeh/beans, lentil soup, tofu salad, chickpea salad, veg with hummus, nut butter sandwiches, etc. are staples for me. When I was recovering from a serious injury, I did supplement using protein powder. I didn’t like it to drink so I put it in my oatmeal with peanut butter, chia seeds, and plant milk. I also used the vegan ensure on my cereal. You can add protein powder into baked goods and hide it in other ways.

      Key for me during my recovery was to have a way to increase the protein content of everything I ate. I had tofu cubes, different nuts/seeds, nut butter, hummus, beans, and the protein powder. If something didn’t naturally have much protein in it, I could add a bit.

      Good luck.

    21. Sam I Am*

      Lentils are the plant with the most amount of protein. I’m lacto-ovo vegetarian, and I batch cook a pot at the beginning of just about every other week and add them to just about everything. I put them on toast. I make burgers out of them they go on salad, in curries etc. When I batch cook them I saute a chopped onion, carrot, stalk of celery in oil for about ten minutes, then add in a bag of lentils with about 2 inches of water covering them. Add a bay leaf. Cook until lentis are soft, about 30 minutes. There should be very little water leftover, but what there is I reserve for veggie stock. Often in the freezer.

    22. Batgirl*

      Have you tried paneer? It makes delicious soft chunks in a sauce. I’d also make a recommendation for tinned tuna and mackerel mixed in mayo with cucumber red onion and tomato. Lovely sandwich and cracker topper. For meat texture, an easy way to get soft shredded chicken is buy a ready roasted one, and mix the chicken with sauce or salsa. This is a good base for tacos and wraps.

    23. kina lillet*

      In broad strokes, a lot of American, English, and French-inspired cooking involve trying to evoke as much meatiness from a meat as possible. I would look at Chinese or Thai food, where there’s a lot more flexibility in meat preparation—velveting meat before adding it to a stir fry, using ground meat as a supporting player (like mapo tofu), spicing it and using it in sauce (larb or dan dan noodles), steaming and saucing.

      Another idea might be to combine ground meat with mushroom—I’ve seen this as a way to eat less meat, but I think it’d work in reverse as well—in stuff like hamburgers, meatloaf, etc

    24. SofiaDeo*

      Do you have an egg allergy? Eggs are complete protein. I only eat meat/eggs a few times a week because I get iron deficient otherwise. Plain egg white protein is the base for my protein shakes. I add ground cocoa nibs, ground flaxseed, berries, olive oil, and other goodies. I especially like frozen strawberries with the ground cocoa nibs, I then have a chocolate strawberry shake, although blueberries and acai also taste good.

    1. Salymander*

      I used to use them when I was at university. Taking notes with a fountain pen forced me to write a tiny bit slower, and so my penmanship was better and I could actually read my notes. This was before I could afford a laptop, so I couldn’t type them.

      My husband is trying to improve his penmanship, so he uses a fountain pen to practice with.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Me! :) I got one a couple years ago in an effort to produce less waste (my first glass ink bottle is still going strong – not that I write all that much) instead of always throwing out plastic pens, but also I quite enjoy writing with it.

      What do you like about yours?

    3. Barbara Eyiuche*

      I have always loved fountain pens. They and cartridge pens were banned at my elementary school, but I used them anyway – it’s true my hands were often an inky mess. When I moved to China to teach at a university, my students told me they were supposed to use fountain pens, and it was ballpoint pens that were not allowed.

    4. HHD*

      Yup. They’re pretty much all I write with. My handwriting was illegible growing up so my folks bribed me to improve it by promising me a nice pen, and I’ve been hooked since. People now get me them as leaving gifts!

      My go tos are Lamy AlStar and a Tom’s Studio Spark, who are a tiny business in southern England.

    5. Lissajous*

      Yes! Not for everyday office note taking, because they’re noticeably slower than a biro, but I use them when I work from home and for any thing else I can.

      I like a slim barrel, which helpfully limits my options significantly and makes sure I don’t get many (what is it with the fat barrels on all of the pens, I do not understand).

      My favourite is a Rotring 600, with an extra fine nib. I have a Lamy Logo as well, and while I love the nib I have in it (fine, with gold tones so some nice flex), the pen itself is not worth the current price tag. (I got mine many years ago.) Nice enough to write with for balance and all, but while most of the body is steel the end is painted plastic and the paint flakes off if you post the cap (which it needs for balance). And you can give yourself the steel equivalent of a paper cut on the barrel edge when it’s pulled apart, which is not fun.
      I know a lot of people like Lamy, but I have never found them to be that good, honestly.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      All the time – I only use ballpoints as a last resort or on paper that really needs it like the kind where you need to press hard so your signature or whatever is immediately on three different sheets. I write a lot faster and neater with them, and my hand doesn’t hurt afterwards. I write my first drafts of stories by hand so that adds up!

    7. owen*

      yes, they are the best thing ever. in fact i have something of a fountain pen… problem…. if having a lot of awesome, beautiful, beautifully writing pens can really be consiered a problem :D

    8. Buni*

      Love! Fountain pens were mandatory at my secondary school – biro / ballpoints were outright banned and you were on thin ice with muji-esque ink pens – so I got used to them. Still have at least one from that era (basic WHSmith job) and still use them for writing letters (yes, still writing letters…).

    9. Wombats and Tequila*

      Oooohh me too!

      Kaweco Sports are also good for starter pens, I recently got into a couple of smaller manufacturers, Newton Pens and Schon Design.

      Stub nibs help me write more aesthetically and legibly.

    10. Consul, the Almost Human*

      Used them for years but keeping up the affectation got to be too much. I spent far too much time refilling and maintaining them than actually writing with them. Any minor nib damage usually required professional repair and every one of them would leak onto fingers and clothes. Modern disposables such as rollerballs are at least as smooth, light, and so cheap you don’t have to worry about losing them.

    11. Lady Alys*

      Meeeeeeee (I had to miss the Chicago Pen Show for work this weekend and I AM SAD). Favorite brand is Pilot, favorite ink is probably Diamine, in various colors.

      1. Merle Grey*

        I bought some Diamine ink the first summer of the panini, and it’s very nice. A friend got into fountain pens a few years before, and had recommended a pen dealer that sells it. So while I was looking for work and trying not to be depressed, I treated myself to fun colors to add to the basic blue ink I already had. I love the way the ink looks, and my handwriting is slightly better with a fountain pen.

        My mom got me a Lamy Safari many years ago, and then a couple of Waterman pens and calligraphy pens. I inherited her small collection of nice pens and have been trying to keep them in rotation.

        Mostly I use them for writing shopping lists and notes to myself, and any snail mail. That Safari was what I used for note-taking (except in math classes) when I got my first degree.

        1. Lady Alys*

          I’m going back to paper calendars so that I can use mine more; the only issue there is you have to get non-rubbish paper, so it is quite the rabbit hole to sink into.

    12. I take tea*

      I like using them for zentangle type of doodeling. Filling small areas with ink is very satisfying. I used to write letters and my journal with them, when I did it by hand. I should try it again, it makes the thoughts more orderly to write by hand.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        As someone who works in marketing and PR at a bank…

        “ their determination to be on the leading edge about everything financial while also maintaining personal relationships with their customers”

        That sounds very much like a canned talking point.

        1. Aphrodite*

          It wasn’t, Alison. I was interested and thought others might be too. It didn’t occur to me that it might be taken for anything else. I apologize.

  6. Gloucesterina*

    Thank you for the poetry book suggestions from last weeks book suggestion thread—excited to explore! I have been browsing this poetry display at the library and picked up Amy Newman’s Dear Editor. It’s written in the recurring form of a cover letter submitting her work for publication, except that each letter veers off into childhood memories and imaginative terrain that breaks the formula of the professional communication. Highly recommend!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t read a lot of poetry, but a while back I randomly discovered the work of the Polish Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska. There’s a Faber collection (Poems New and Collected 1957-1997) that came out after she won the Nobel Prize. Her poems “In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself” and “Hatred” will give you an idea of the way that she examines the history of Europe in her work. She writes with moral clarity, but also a lot of compassion.

    2. Helvetica*

      Idk if this is contemporary enough but Nizar Qabbani is gorgeous. A bit hard to get to but his writings about women and love are just magnificent – tender, exquisite, full of life.

    3. JustForThis*

      You might like Poem-a-Day. It’s run by the Academy of American Poets, and as the name promises, they will send you one poem a day via email. Mon-Fri are usually by contemporary poets, Sat & Sun somewhat older. Most poems come with a few sentences about the poem by the poet, and a very short bio. Link in reply.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I like Paul Muldoon’s “Anseo.” And Derek Mahon is pretty good.

      And our president in Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is a poet.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      Sharon Owen, Dangerous Coats
      Kim Addonizio, To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall (copied in the link following)
      Pamela Gemin, Upper Peninsula Landscape with Aunts
      Olivia Keenan

    6. Rebeck*

      Jay Hulme – The Backwater Sermons. Jay is a trans Christian from the UK and his poetry is very Queer and very Christian and it’s altogether awesome.

      Also Evelyn Arulean has just won one of Australia’s major literary prizes with her poetry collection “DropBear”.

    7. Gloucesterina*

      Thanks for the wealth of suggestions! Among the various titles here I’m tracking down, I’ve signed up for Poem-of-Day (the poem of yesterday by Liza Katz Duncan was lovely, and the audio she recorded of her reading it was also very compelling – very monotone, allowing the language to quietly pop.)

      I just finished Ellen Bass’s Indigo, which is incandescent on illness, aging, and memory. I’m now giving Donika Kelly’s The Renunciations another go. On my first try I found it like staring at the sun, but now that I know what kind of things it’s doing, I’m better prepared to appreciate it.

      I found a link to a fantastic poem by Nizar Qabanni that I’ll drop below.

    8. Sg*

      Ross Gay! A Small Needful Fact is beautiful (written shortly after Eric Garner was killed), but he is amazing in general. Check out some of his readings from The Book of Delights too.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    Still not much for me other than loose scenes here and there. Hoping I’ll have more time soon to arrange them into a more comprehensible story.

    1. Anon FanFic Writer*

      In a video game I play there’s a character I really like. The character’s role, motivation, voice acting…all of it combines into a package that I think is fantastic. As a joke, a friend found some R-rated fan fiction with this character and posted it in our Discord chat. That fic inspired me to look and see what else is out there, and I found some, I’ll say mature, fan fics that were very well written. They sparked my imagination, and my current writing project was born.

      What started out in my head as maybe a mature scene or two has blossomed into almost 15,000 words, and I haven’t actually written the spicy parts yet. I was on several solo long-distance road trips recently, and I needed something to occupy my mind, so I started thinking about what I was going to write. Then I realized that I was interested in how the characters came to be in the situation, and the more background I came up with, the deeper it went. I don’t know how long it will end up being, but I can see it hitting 20,000 words easily.

      I was telling my therapist about it, and she asked if I had considered posting it on the same site that I found the other fan fics on (Archive of Our Own, btw, which has works for any fandom imaginable, with every rating imaginable, it’s not all mature content). I had been thinking about it, and am still toying with the idea. Regardless of what I decide, it has been fun writing this story, and it may end up inspiring me to write more things that have been rattling around in my head.

      1. Maryn*

        Quite a few erotica authors started out writing fan fiction. (Raises hand.) Some still write it because it’s fun. (Lowers hand.) Not naming names or outing anyone, but there’s a reason some of it’s damned good. And mostly it’s on AO3, which you’ve already discovered. IIRC, you can post under a pseudonym, if you want your anonymity.

        If it’s of interest, there’s a community of erotic fiction authors at AbsoluteWrite.com/forums. New arrivals are always welcome, whether they’re seeking publishing careers, writing for fun, or anything else. (Transparency: I am one of its moderators.)

        1. Anon FanFic Writer*

          Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll have to check that site out.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Fanfic is great! I have like…three different fanfic projects running next to my original ideas so…yeah^^’

        As a sidenote, having so many projects going at once is probably why I never get anything done.

    2. Maryn*

      Pfft, almost no writing happened this week. But the place I do my writing, which we painted, is slowly returning to a state in which I could actually use it again! (And it’s such a pretty shade of blue.)

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    Nothing for me this week as I have been very busy, so I’m curious as to what you all have been up to.

    1. Vistaloopy*

      I just downloaded the new Chrono Cross remaster onto my PS4, and loving the trip down memory lane.

    2. cubone*

      I’m on the hunt for a new video game to sink into. Big fan of Stardew Valley, enjoyed Animal Crossing and Spiritfarer, and recently beat Celeste (which was so difficult but worth it and I would like to put it on my resume). Friends loooove Breath of the Wild but it just didn’t do it for me. Considering the new Kirby game!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, that new Kirby game looks interesting – I’m keeping an eye on that one too.

      2. Smol Book Wizard*

        Gris! A splendid platformer with amazing art. More emotionally-driven than narratively, but good good stuff.
        You might also like Ascend: Ina’s Tale. It was too difficult for me and the controls didn’t quite do it on the Switch, but ymmv and it’s beautiful and the story intrigues me. It’s more puzzle than platformer.
        By which same token, you might enjoy Never Alone, or our house speciality Rain World.

        1. cubone*

          Forgot to answer and can’t believe I didn’t include Gris! One of my favourite games. Excited to check out the other recs!!

      3. MEH Squared*

        Hi! Spiritfarer is one of my favorite games of all time. If you like that game, Stardew, and AC, you might like Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. It has similar themes as Spiritfarer in that you are a spirit guide, guiding ‘stuck’ spirits into the next realm. I loved it and it quickly became one of my faves as well. One note: It’s played in real time so if you spend an hour in the game, that’s an hour of time passed in the game as well. The story quests are per day so once you’re done with that day, you’ll have to wait for more story quests in the next day. There are non-story quests that you can do at any time, and you can do resource stuff like planting/harvesting flowers, trees, bushes, etc. And mining ore, making (delicious-looking) food, fishing, and taking photos. You can also buy new clothes and wigs to change your looks. It’s very cute, fun, and surprisingly emotional.

    3. Jackalope*

      We finished the first story arc in my D&D game which I started DM-ing. It was a lot of fun but the last session was BRUTAL for me. The party had picked up various NPCs as they went along, and there were opponents at the end as well, so I was running almost 20 NPCs in the last fight. But they made it out and now I have to figure out what will happen next.

    4. SparklingBlue*

      Tried out Echoes of Mana on Android and was disappointed. I really wanted to like it since I loved Secret on the SNES, and Legend on the PSX/Switch.

    5. SereneScientist*

      I am about 70 hours into Hades and loving it more than I ever have! The design of the post-game in particular is really special.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Hades is incredible! And the amount of content is HUGE. I was getting unique dialogue up to a hundred hours into playing the game. It was one of my two favorite games of 2019 (I got it on Steam).

  9. Thread starter*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I encountered a new word I like: geophony. “Typically, geophony refers to the sounds of natural forces, such as water, wind, and thunder, occurring in wild, relatively undisturbed habitats.”

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      Love the word! I sometimes play a music channel that has rain and thunder to lull myself to sleep. So soothing! Little joy this week is watching the Great Pottery Throwdown. Very similar to the Great British Baking Show.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Discovering that “irregardless” has been appearing in dictionaries as early as 1917. That ship has really long since sailed (amusingly I have a red line under the word as I’m typing this – sorry, spell checker, but both the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary disagree! Though the OED does list its usage as predominantly North American)

      1. Katie*

        To note, my phone considers it an appropriate word and was a suggestion after irreg. I feel I use this word occasionally.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        In the beginning, it’s possible people mistook “irrespective” for “irregardless”. You’re right; even the spell checker on AAM doesn’t like “irregardless”! I don’t use it. It sounds like a double negative.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve got a weird one. A bit of context: I read Marie Kondo’s book years ago and didn’t like it. This week, I got a new bookcase and I was trying to decide which books to keep, which ones deserved to be on the new bookcase. And I realized I was applying Marie Kondo’s technique, if the book didn’t spark joy, it went into the donation box! I found it funny. I’m going to keep seeking the little joys in my books.

    4. WellRed*

      I got rid of a few things that have been taking up too much space (physical and mental) on the buy nothing group. I’ve given away lots there but these two items took me forever to get around to dealing with.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      In this vein I want to recommend Welcome To Earth episode 1 on National Geographic, which is focused on sound and did a great job finding sounds I’d never thought about before.

    6. mreasy*

      After a very hard week, my husband is now back from a work trip and I love to see him and our cat snoozing together in the morning.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The best thing about the baby puppy days is when she’s still little enough to curl up on me for sleepy nap time snuggles, and she tucks her chin up against my shoulder and snores puppy breath.

    8. Turtle Dove*

      I went to a happy hour last night to hang out with some old pals (from that place we don’t talk about on weekends). I was on the fence about going, but I’m glad I did. They even sat outside in the chill so I could feel covid safe. I felt a surge of gratitude and joy as I looked around the table at the faces of people I like, enjoy, and respect.

    9. Joie De Vivre*

      I’m thrilled that caterpillars are eating my pipevine. They will turn into beautiful black and blue swallowtail butterflies.

      They don’t show up at my house every year, so I’m so glad to see them.

    10. GoryDetails*

      Took a day-trip with a friend that included donuts from PV Donuts in Providence RI – they make a beignet-style that is really awesome, definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area. Also visited the fairy-house event at the botanical garden, which featured David M. Bird’s “Becorns,” tiny figures made from acorns and other natural items. (He has photos and videos of his figures with birds, chipmunks, and other wildlife – which sometimes doesn’t work out well for the figures, as in the time when a squirrel simply ate the entire thing!) Here, the figures were placed in and among the many fairy-houses in the greenhouse, a really enjoyable sight.

    11. AGD*

      I spontaneously reached out to an old friend for the first time in a while and it turned out that she’s going to be in my city for work-related reasons in a few weeks! We now have lunch plans that might not have happened otherwise. I can’t wait to see her!

      1. Turtle Dove*

        Oh, that’s the best! I’m glad for you.

        I just heard from an old friend I rarely see one-on-one, and we’ll meet for lunch next week. It touched me that she reached out, as I’m sure your old friend feels too.

    12. the cat's ass*

      I got over some miserable GI thing and it wasn’t COVID!

      I’ve added homes in the general Portland area to my Zillow homes for sale daily mailer and am enjoying the fantasy of relocating to the PNW on retirement.

      My middle cat turns 2 today and is much less of a nervous wreck.

      1. Missb*

        Portland is ridiculously expensive right now! It is a lovely area to live in, though.

        Glad you’ve recovered and it wasn’t Covid!

        1. the cat's ass*

          I know, but compared to the Bay Area, it’s positively affordable. And so beautiful. AND you can grow peonies and lilacs, something i can’t do here.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I so miss having lilacs from my Michigan childhood and wish we could grow them here in the the Bay Area. Good luck with relocating.

          2. Missb*

            I think we are definitely getting a lot of folks moving to portland from California. The housing costs are just crazy, and not in a good way.

            We won’t move out of our house in SW Portland until we’re too old to live here. It’s quiet and forest-y and I can have chickens and a big garden (and grow peonies!)

            I still measure housing costs by the cost of our first home, which was a craftsman for $56k back in 1988 on a 50×100’ lot in SE Portland.

            It sold again last year (we haven’t owned it since the early 2000s) for $900k. Same house. Same location. Just really really expensive.

    13. J.B.*

      Taking my 12 year old and her friend on vacation. I feed them and drive them around some but then they go off and I get to do completely my own thing. They are sweet kids too :)

    14. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      My parents visited and my dad and son had some fun gardening together. My son was super into the digging parts, and got really excited about seeing some earthworms and finding a quarter (“buried treasure!!!”). We are still catching up from not seeing them for 2 years and it is fun to watch them interact with my kids. Plus the yard looks nicer now, thanks Dad!

    15. small town*

      We went to a Jimmy Buffett concert! He did all the old favorites and some new songs. There were folks singing along with everything, dancing, a few people in animatronic parrot hats, some plain parrot hats, shark headdresses and some that were just a 3 foot tall shark fin. Lots of hula skirts and leis. The were beach balls bouncing around all night. If it came to you, your just bounced it somewhere else. It was just a big old party. I like Jimmy Buffett but my husband loves him, so a good time had by all.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        That sounds awesome. I’m a closet Parrothead. :)

        When I was in Key West, I made sure to have a cheeseburger in paradise. LOL

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      After a couple years of trying to persuade her, my elderly mom has started using the topical ointment that her doctor prescribed for the pain in her arthritic neck at the correct dosage for it to work. She’s no longer in pain and doesn’t need steroid injections anymore. She kept saying it didn’t work, and couldn’t wrap her head around needing to use it more than once a day until now no matter how many times her doctor, my sister, and I explained it. She at last understands that it only works if applied multiple times a day. It’s so great to see her pain-free and happier.

    17. beentheredonethat*

      I slept 8 hours last night So nice to wake up rested. I suddenly had pain in my right lower leg. After various tests to rule out serious stuff. It went away and then came back. I realized it was tension that was causing it. Yeah, stretch, breathe and it goes away.

    18. NeonFireworks*

      I discovered that one of the little parks in my neighborhood was completely overhauled recently when I wasn’t looking. I walked by today, and there was suddenly all this new playground equipment and there were giggling children everywhere.

    19. Voluptuousfire*

      Going into Manhattan for brunch, the bookstore and a photo exhibit. I haven’t done this in ages and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

      Also watching Elementary. I love this show. It was always entertaining and Jonny Lee Miller is charming.

    20. StellaBella*

      Thanks for the new word geophony!

      My joys this week were many: camping last night to honour my dad’s memory, reading two new vampire books (Empire of the Vampire and the Sookie Stackhouse series first book, Dead Until Dark.). Also playing with my kitty, I got her a new feather toy to chase and she loves it.

    21. Firebird*

      It’s my second morning in my new apartment and I just found out that I can hear church bells.

    22. Software Dev (she/her)*

      There is a big nature area behind my apartment that the dog and I walk in, and it’s in full bloom at the moment. Just utterly gorgeous. I’ve also been enjoying just spending time in it all year—I’ve seen opposum, deer and once a rattlesnake sunning itself directly on the path (we let it have the trail that day).

    23. Rara Avis*

      I put in a fair amount of effort organizing a trivia team; we had a lot of fun playing 90’s movie trivia and came in 2nd!

  10. Lady Whistledown*

    Favorite purchase of 2022? Big or small, what’s been the most fun or useful or simply joyful thing you’ve bought this year?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The first thing that springs to mind is All Systems Red, the first Murderbot book, which I had at that point checked out of the library 4-5 times.

    2. Flower necklace*

      I bought some brightly colored striped yarn to make a sweater. I usually dress in dark colors so I was a little nervous about it, but I got a lot of compliments when I wore it to work last week.

    3. Sunshine*

      I bought a pretty fiestaware teapot. Incidentally I learned that eBay is really dangerous for me. It makes me feel competitive. I don’t gamble so I’d never had that experience before. But I really like the teapot.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      A new kitchen mixer and a couple of Iceland poppies in a wonderful shade of coral! After not buying much of anything during the panini, it was pretty fun

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Bought a new pack of razor refills. Keeping all other purchases to must haves, without any like to haves.

      1. pancakes*

        I just got one, after wanting one for a while, and have high hopes for it. It arrived today! I am really looking forward to soft boiled eggs and a tinkly little song tomorrow morning.

    6. Aphrodite*

      Interesting question. I am looking around my home and. realizing how little I have bought. so far this year. But of those things I think I’d have to name the two vintage mini hat stands in the shape of a woman’s head, like this: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1049621710/vintage-art-deco-flapper-hat-stand?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=hat+stand+head+of+woman&ref=sr_gallery-1-41&organic_search_click=1

      I have three different ones on the small table at the front door as part of a vignette. They are there to “greet” me when I come in.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Tickets to an immersive Van Gogh exhibit! I originally bought some last year that ended up being kind of scammy (there are like 6 versions, this one ended up being delayed so long they refunded me AND it got bad reviews when it showed up) but the show I finally attended was beautiful.

      A dress from ThredUp. It’s one I really wanted last year but was waiting for it to go on sale and then when it did they were out of my size. I’m so excited to get it now!

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      They haven’t arrived yet, but I just treated myself to a new cutting mat (well two that I plan to tape together in the middle to make a huge one that folds in half) and a rotary cutter. It will make cutting fabric for dressmaking so much quicker, and I’m so excited about it!

    9. MEH Squared*

      My new desktop computer. It’s got all the bells and whistles because I wanted it to last for a good long time. Normally, I try to get my computers on the cheap, but then I’m always running up against the limitations (mostly memory). This time, I decided to slash out a bit more with the rationalization that it’ll last me that much longer.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      Outbreaker Laptop Backpack from Tortuga. It was clearly designed for what I needed it for – it holds enough stuff to get me through any trip I’d reasonably take, yet I can stuff it under an airplane seat. The main area has a zipper that lets you fully open it, and enough structure to hold itself up, so it’s like a box; it’s super easy to pack, and also super convenient while “living out of your suitcase”. Not cheap, but seems well-made, so hopefully I’ll get plenty of use out of it.

      I also bought a house. Haven’t gotten to the fun, useful, or joyful bits yet. Have signed my name about four bazillion times, and am now entering the phase where I get to figure out precisely how much of said house is beyond repair…but on the plus side, once it’s fixed up, it’ll be pretty much exactly the house I wanted.

    11. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Capsule wardrobe ebook with shopping links and pics of all the outfit combos. I cut out the pics and put them in a 3 x 5 album and now i just wear whatever outfit is up next.

    12. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I bought season 1 of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People, and it’s hilarious. Various unexpected characters keep turning up – I think we’ve had Aristotle, Julius Caesar and Fidel Castro so far, among others, and it’s just such a treat to watch!

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I ordered a custom musical instrument, a small mountain dulcimer that’s great for my small hands and easy to travel with. It arrived a few days ago. It’s wonderful to have a dulcimer that’s fun to play, sounds great, is a beautiful art piece, and supports the livelihood of an accomplished craftsman. I haven’t been able to put it away because it’s so lovely to see in my house where I can spontaneously pick it up and play it.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I play a variety of genres. I sing in addition to playing. My repertoire ranges from traditional instrumentals and from Ireland, Britain, and the US to contemporary singer-songwriter pieces and a few of my own compositions. I’m currently taking a fun class that’s teaching me to play blues and rock and roll on the dulcimer, which is fantastic.

    14. Tea and Cake*

      I can’t decide between two: new patio furniture which is a much more comfortable place to sit for daily sunset watching, and a charming watercolor hummingbird print.

    15. HamlindigoBlue*

      Mine is pretty boring. I’m a knitter, and I bought some 9-inch circular needles for socks. Knitting socks is so much faster now, and I wish I would have bought them sooner.

      I also bought a nice set of noise cancelling bluetooth headphones. They’re excellent for traveling on a plane or just overall tuning everything out.

    16. Firebird*

      I just moved to a new apartment which is a lot more expensive than my old one. Heat is included, the landlord is responsive, and there are six closets for a 2 bedroom apartment.

      My previous landlord ran the apartment building from his used car lot and was exactly like the stereotype of a used car salesman and never made repairs until after the tenant moved out. He said that I’ll get my security deposit back, but I wonder if he’s trying to keep me from suing him for tearing a ligament when I fell down his stairs last week.

    17. TransAcademic*

      2 men’s dress shirts, a pair of men’s dress pants, a new belt, and a tie. I’m a trans man and I had to go to a work conference. This is the first conference I’ve been to since I started transitioning, so I wanted to wear something masculine. When I put on the full outfit (with my binder) and looked in the mirror I teared up. I loved how I looked, it felt right in a way that women’s clothes had never felt. I’m so glad I bought those dress clothes.

      1. Squidhead*

        It’s late on Sunday so you might not see this but I am so glad for you! A few of my friends have teen kids who are transitioning. It’s prom/semi-formal time so everyone is posting pictures. Seeing their kids proudly, confidently, happily dressed in the clothing they have chosen is amazing.

    18. Isobel*

      Lightweight leather walking boots. I kept buying cheap “waterproof” boots that weren’t, and finally decided to spend a bit more on some that will keep my feet dry. The sales assistant in the shop explained that the waterproofing in non-leather boots is fine against rain, but if they get clarted in mud, which mine often do, it can’t cope. Anyway, I can confirm that Terry Pratchett and Sam Vimes were entirely correct about boots.

    19. bibliovore*

      Big. I bought a new laptop after fighting with my old ones upgrades. I talked it through with a friend who is also a freelance writer and it wasn’t just the upgrade. She took care of the specs the ROI and what I needed. Found it AND bookended the purchase, walked me through the transfer of data. truly. a real relief. I am enjoying the new one immensely and writing everyday.

    20. the cat's ass*

      My second pandemic cat, Rosso. He is a red tabby EXO persian and has resting punk face (he looks indignant all of the time, sort of like Garfield) and adores water, to the point that he has been extricated from the dishwasher. Twice.

    21. Blythe*

      Dresses from Son de Flor! I decided I am going to lean in to having a work uniform. I am a middle school teacher and our school is suuuper relaxed about dress code for both staff and students, so it all comes down to what makes me happy, which is fun. I now wear these dresses 3-4 times a week! Hey, if men can wear more or less the same thing most days without comment, why shouldn’t I?!

  11. Teapot Translator*

    I’m looking for Greek mythology inspired novels. I love Madeleine Miller’s books. I’ve read Daughter of Sparta by Claire Andrews and A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes; they were ok but not a big fan for different reasons.
    What would you recommend?

    1. Buni*

      Anything by Mary Renault. I was going to start listing titles, but seriously….anything by Mary Renault.

      1. London Calling*

        I’ll second the Mary Renault, including her biography of Alexander the Great, ‘The Nature of Alexander.’ Also, try Pat Barker, ‘The Silence of the Girls’ and ‘The Women of Troy.’ Barker and Miller are in a completely different class to Natalie Haynes.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Also, the Mary Renault books are great gay romances! Little closeted me was like hubba-hubba when I read them back in the day.

    2. J.B.*

      Emily R King has a series called wings of fury. It focuses on the women out of Greek myths.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I really liked the Percy Jackson series. YA, really gets into the nitty gritty of the mythology. (Don’t judge by the movie adaptation, which was bad.)

      Esther Friesner has tackled this in several books; Nobody’s Princess is about a young Helen of Troy.

    4. Emma2*

      You could try Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls (part of the Iliad from the perspective of the women). She has a second book along these lines as well.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I started to say Circe, but I think that is Madeleine Miller, haha.

      These aren’t exactly novels, but – Stephen Fry has a trilogy of books about Greek mythology, and narrates the audiobook versions himself. I don’t usually do audiobooks, but these were basically like Stephen Fry was just following me around chatting about Greek myths, which I greatly enjoyed.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I just finished a book by the Icelandic author Sjon called The Whispering Muse. It’s not like Mary Renault where you get a linear retelling of the myths (I love Mary Renault and second the recommendation). This is set in a mid-twentieth century commercial ship, on which the second mate retells stories from his past, as Caeneus on Jason’s ship Argo. His stories very slightly overlap and combine with the present-day experience of the (unreliable, not very pleasant) narrator. I both enjoyed the book very much and was quite puzzled by it.

      1. AY*

        I am so pleased to read this–I read Sjon’s The Blue Fox this year and want to talk to someone about him. The Blue Fox was great. It read like a twisted fable or fairy tale. The language was beautiful, and you could like feel the winter-iness in the prose. I definitely want to read more of him. I was looking at either Whispering Muse or the Mouth of the Whale.

    7. RagingADHD*

      People tend to have opinions about CS Lewis because of his religious and allegorical writings, but I think his Cupid & Psyche adaptation “Till We Have Faces” is vastly underrated.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and its sequels. It’s a fantasy version of the Greek gods, but it’s really good.

      1. Jackalope*

        I was going to suggest this one too. It’s not exactly Greek, more inspired by and with a feel of Greekness, but I loved this series a lot.

    9. Nopity Nope*

      Not Greek mythology per se, but I enjoyed Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series. It’s older—late 80s/early 90s. If you decide to read, I’d skip the author’s note at the front of each book. I have never read a more obnoxious, self-congratulatory load of drivel than what he puts in his forewords.

    10. the cat's ass*

      This is a really long shot, but “The Rich are Different.” by Susan Howatch is a modern-day retelling on the Cleopatra/Mark Antony/Caesar/Octavius story. She’s a compelling storyteller and the sequel, “Sins of the Fathers,” wraps things up nicely.

    11. anyjennywaynest*

      For Greek mythology inspired graphic novel / comics, try Li Österburg’s “Theia Mania”. It is on tumblr if you search for Theia Mania comics.

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      When I was in high school, I read a book called The Dawn Palace by HM Hoover- it’s a retelling of the Medea story from Medea’s point of view, starting when she is a child. I remember being enthralled and then so sad at the end. It was my first encounter with the Medea/Jason story and it wasn’t til much much later that I realized Medea is generally thought of to be the villain of the story. Haven’t read it recently so I don’t know if it still holds up, but thirteen year old me loved this book.

    13. Mrs Peel*

      If you feel like something a bit different – in the form of Canadian YA from the 1980s – one of my favourite, Greek mythology inspired books is The Moons of Madeleine by Joan Clark.

    14. Machine Ghost*

      “Helen of Sparta”-duology by Esther Friesner (Nobody’s Princess/Nobody’s Price) – lighthearted retelling of greek myths.
      “Celestial Matters” by Richard Garfinkle – science-fiction in an alternate, ptolemaic universe.
      You might also enjoy the “Sarantine Mosaik”-Duology by Guy Gavriel Kay (Sailing to Sarantium/Lord of Emperors) – inspired by Byzantium / Constantinople and the 6th century Mediterranean world

    15. Teapot Translator*

      Thanks everyone for your recommendations. I have added them to my to-read list.

    16. Pam Adams*

      Jo Walton’s Thessaly trilogy- the goddess Athena decides to create Plato’s Just City.

      Richard Purtill wrote a series of connected books in the late 1970’s, starting with The Golden Gryphon Feather.

    17. Dancing Otter*

      I just (today) discovered Richard Weyland’s From The Pantheon series. The first volume is available on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read other books by him which were good, though I’m not far enough to judge “Hecate” yet.
      If you dislike waiting for the next volume in a series, though, it might make sense to wait a while on this one. Weyland claims to write about ~2000 words a day, so subsequent titles should follow soon.

    18. Veronica Marx*

      I just finished Lovely War by Julie Berry. It’s a WWI love story told by the Greek Gods to each other one night during WWII. So it’s more of a WWI story, but I enjoyed the framing of the gods and thought it was an interesting angle.

  12. Turtle Dove*

    When you’re a senior citizen, how much risk-taking makes sense? That’s my general question. Specifically, am I nuts to start roller skating in my mid 60s? I’m a cautious person who isn’t very active, but I yearn to roller skate again. I want to feel the exhilaration (movement plus speed plus skill) I enjoyed as a kid and young adult. A rink about 40 minutes away has classes taught by a veteran roller skater who’s about my age, so that’s encouraging, and I’m willing to make the drive. Mostly I’m worried about breaking a bone if (when) I fall. Lately I feel the pressure of time, as if it’s now or never, so that’s a motivator. But it could be a red flag too. I don’t want to make foolish decisions. Saying “go for it!” is easy, but so is breaking a bone.

    1. JustForThis*

      If you’d never roller skated before, I’d have cautioned you somewhat. But as you enjoyed it as a kid and into young adulthood, the muscle memory will most definitely be there, and you’ll be surprised how natural the movement is going to feel. I would totally go for it. And just in case, you could always get protective knee pads and/or wrist guards.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        And a HELMET!
        I recommend you get a bone scan if you haven’t had one yet to assess your risk of fracture.
        Hope it goes well!

    2. HannahS*

      It might be worth talking to your doctor about your bone health. I say that because risking breaking your arm is different from risking breaking a hip, and it might be helpful to know where you are on the risk-spectrum. Obviously, serious injuries can happen to anyone, roller-skating or not, but if you knew that your risk from a normal fall was likely limited to a broken arm, as with someone younger than you, you might feel more comfortable chancing it.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        This. An aunt in the same age bracket first found out about her osteoporosis by falling while roller skating, and breaking her hip. She would have done things differently if she had known she had that risk factor. (The osteoporosis extended her healing time, too.)
        Getting tested to rule that out, and getting a Physical Therapy evaluation, would give you more data to inform your decision.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        That’s what I was thinking-breaking an arm is annoying and painful, but not in the same category as a hip. I’d actually guess an older-ish person who still has good bones would be about the same risk overall as a teenager: +risk for being more breakable and healing slower but -risk for not doing stupid stunts and pushing the boundaries.

    3. WellRed*

      Part of me wants to tell you to go for it since you loved it as a kid). Part of me says, yikes, how’s your insurance coverage! I will caution, especially if you aren’t active, that you might never feel that exhilaration again because I think so much of that is a youthful fearlessness thing and we simply outgrow it. However, I think you should go and check out a session, talk to the instructor., invest in protective equipment. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes! Every time my husband leaves for a hiking trip, I yell, “Remember we have a $17,000 deductible!”

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. My husband lost his exhilaration for motorcycle riding and explained it as, “I feel more obligated to stay alive now that I have a wife and kids”

    4. Sandi*

      Northern climates have piles of people who ice skate, and learn to skate, in their 60s. We all have to remember the skills every winter. So go for it! Wear wrist-guards and go slow, and you’ll love it.

    5. Not A Manager*

      How badly do you want to avoid the possibility of injury? I think this is a risk-reward calculation. To me, it seems like if you wear protective gear and don’t push to the very limits of your skills as you are developing them, you can reduce the likelihood of serious injury – but you can’t eliminate it.

      My spouse and I made the choice to keep skiing as we age, because we love it. We know that we will probably experience a career-ending injury at some point, but even when we’re not skiing, we still get weird sprains and injuries. Probably our bodies are going to work less well in the future whether we ski or not. Skiing adds a risk that we take seriously, but in the end it’s a risk we’re willing to take.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        My husband has a friend who still loves to ski at 84. Since he’s very experienced and skilled at it, it’s probably safer for him to keep skiing than to take up a new sport at this point.

    6. Tib*

      My dad didn’t give up ice skating until he was almost 80. And I think to some extent you can learn how to control your fall. I know when kids learn to ice skate that’s often one of the first things they learn.

    7. Poppy*

      Go for it! If you’re feeling nervous, I’d recommend a helmet (a hard shell one, rated for multi impact, not a bike helmet), wrist guards, and knee pads. You can also get crash/butt pads that are essentially padding with shorts if you’re feeling extra cautious. Ask the instructor how to fall safely (forward, onto your knees), and train yourself to not put your arms out when you fall to catch yourself – it won’t work and you’ll hurt your wrists. My roller derby league has two 57 year olds, and there are a lot of folks your age and older at our local rink.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I think you should go for it–life is short!–but I like the ideas here about trying to increase safety. And if you hit your head, ALWAYS get it checked out and consult your doctor, especially if you’re on blood thinners. But within those cautions, go have fun! : )

    8. fposte*

      I’m nearly sixty and have similar thoughts when trying something, so I’m interested in this thread. It looks like wrist injuries are most common, from trying to support yourself when you fall. Can you get falling practice at the start? Do you need to get used to safety equipment including a helmet (really wouldn’t do it without a helmet)?

    9. PhyllisB*

      You are speaking my language!! I always loved roller skating. In fact, I skated with my kids until I was in my 40’s. But the only rink we have in our area now has cement floor (old one was wood.)
      Alas, at 71 I now worry that I would fall and break a hip.

    10. Fit Farmer*

      I’m nowhere near mid-60s, but if it were me I would probably try to hem in the risk calculation by doing what others have said — taking to a doc to see if I’m higher risk than I’d otherwise expect, and researching safety gear and wearing all of it until I have a sense of how and how much I’m falling. If it seemed to be not an extraordinary risk, further mitigated by safety gear, that activity seems like a normal thing to be doing to me! Many of my neighbors continue doing farm-related activity and running tractors well past 80 (at a “retirement” level, but still), and seemed perfectly “middle-aged” and not the least bit “old” in their 60s. I don’t know your own particular experience of being mid-60s, of course, but in general I wouldn’t be surprised if the perception of danger for activities like roller skating is highly culturally-relative. Someone whose friends and peers are not doing physical outdoor work or athletic activity in their mid-60s would feel like an outlier doing such an apparently-risky activity as roller skating; the mid-60s people I know wouldn’t think anything of it going roller skating at 65, because their peers are still continuing activities in the same sort of risk category for another decade or two.

    11. RagingADHD*

      In one’s mid-60s, the risk of being sedentary is actually quite high. If skating inspires you to be more active, you can turn that to big advantage that will have long-term benefits. The risks from a fall can be mitigated beyond protective gear.

      Work on flexibility, core strength, and do some resistance/ weight work as you start. Even a little bit helps if you do it regularly. Those will help you stay balanced, avoid some falls, and minimize injuries like sprains and strains. Building up some muscle in the glutes, for example, can also create a little padding for your bones.

      Bone health is one thing, but unless you already have advanced osteoporosis it isn’t necessarily the biggest risk. A bad sprain or tearing a ligament can happen to anyone, and the stiffer you are the more likely it is. Soft tissue injuries can take longer to heal than a bone.

      There are several YouTube channels that have simple exercise routines for seniors. Prepping to mitigate sprains or tears will also help reduce the risk of falling overall because you’ll be stronger and more agile.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and weight-bearing + resistance exercise builds back bone mass, so it’s more and more important as we get older.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I am one to err on the side of caution. However, how active are you? If you do other things such as biking, running etc. that would give you a good idea of how well your sense of balance is doing. If standing on a short step stool is a problem, then this might be a warning flag for you.

      My other question is once on the skates will you “forget yourself” and get going too fast given your different setting now? It only takes a momentary lapse to forget our physical boundaries and the problems begin.

      All that said, I did have an 80 y/o aunt who tried her grandkid’s inline skates. It went well. I don’t think she tried a second time.

      1. HoundMom*

        I am in my late 50’s and I roller blade. I totally relate to wanting to feel the breeze and the motion. I took it up about 20 years ago. I am not athletic so I generally only blade on flat clean streets. I love it and it uses muscles that other exercises do not use. I have thought of trying roller skates as there are rinks for that. Going with an instructor in a controlled environment sounds ideal.

      2. HoundMom*

        I am a few years younger than you and regularly roller blade — not gracefully or super fast. I love it but only do it on flat, relatively clean streets. It helps my balance and uses muscles I don’t use in my other exercises (walking and yoga). Roller skating in a rink with an instructor sounds like a great opportunity to try it.

    13. noface*

      In my early 50’s I started figure skating lessons. I was definitely far from the oldest. I learned that the dedicated figure-skating shop had padded all around the outside bike short things for protection when falling on ice. I don’t know the name of the garmet, but you can scour figure skating shops. Can you wear wrist/elbow guards for the upper body?

    14. Sloanicota*

      You’ve got lots of great answers here so I just thought I’d add a suggestion for a few things that may give you that movement + speed + skill feeling that also may or may not be safer/easier – 1) biking down hills – I bike on bike paths during off-hours and feel extremely safe doing so, and I know where to go for all the good down hills now (without necessarily having to go up as steep an incline haha!) – 2) waterslides? Relatively gentle slopes on cross country skies? Have you ever been ziplining? It’s not actually very dangerous I don’t think but gets the blood pumping – any kind of ropes course really. Rollercoasters are fun/safe but have neither aerobics or skill involved, but I really love the ones where your feet dangle as you go in a circle, so you can kick and fly. I wonder how safe those indoor skydiving things are where you up in a big wind tunnel? Stay young!!

    15. Turtle Dove*

      Thanks, everyone! Lots of food for thought, and I appreciate both encouragement and caution.

      I walk regularly and am in good health, but I don’t have any markers for my bone density. I like the idea of going at this gradually with protective gear, and I may check in with my doctor. My balance is good, although I’d like to strengthen my core and start weight training.

      1. bratschegirl*

        Get a bone density test. It’s easy and non-invasive. Along with that you’ll get a “frax” score, which tells you how likely you are to experience a major fracture within the next X years. I didn’t get mine until after breaking an arm in what seemed like a minor fall at home…

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Good idea. I have an appointment with my gynecologist soon, and I’ll ask her about it. Thanks!

      2. Happy Thursday-Yay!!!*

        If you do decide to try the wheeled again, I’d recommend starting a a track (jogging not horses) as they are sooooo smooooth and made out of slightly bouncy stuff so that the parts that can’t have padding won’t be so bruised if you do stumble.

        Also—as a former Girl Scout—I’d recommend bringing a friend who can 1. Cheer you on, 2. Has a phone in case assistance is needed, and 3. Can safely drive you home from said track in case you’re too tuckered, exhilarated, banged up to do so safely in your own.

      3. Autumnheart*

        If roller skating turns out to be a no-go, you could consider something like bicycling. You still get wheels and speed, but with a lower possibility of falling on your ass.

    16. anonagain*

      Are hip pads a viable option for roller skating? I’ve worn them when playing sports before but I’m not sure if they would alter movement patterns too much.

      1. Happy Thursday-Yay!!!*

        There are padded pants for snowboarding but I think you may feel too MichelinManny in them—or too warm (if spring ever comes and stays)

    17. MissCoco*

      Wear wrist braces and invest in a good helmet! You could also potentially do bone density testing if you have a family or personal history that makes you concerned about that.
      My mother started riding lessons in her early 60s and her recommendations are to do balance work or start a practice like yoga or pilates, she has found both very helpful to following the most important principle of riding — keep the horse between you and the ground.
      I would also suggest talking with your instructor about practicing safe falling strategies, since you are right that you probably will eventually fall, there are safer ways to fall (though of course never 0 risk)

      My mom is 69 now and rides a large horse with some opinions. She’s fallen 3 times and broken no bones (though she came out of one fall with a nasty bruise and a trip to urgent care). We talk a lot about risk management, but 7 years in she feels safer now than when she started, and loves the sport and spending time with her horse and friends.

    18. Pool Lounger*

      My family tends to lives into their 90s. If they stopped doing things like skating at 60 that’s over 30 years they’d be living wishing they’d had more fun when they were younger! Getting tested for bone health is a great idea in general. If you’re healthy, go for it! My mid-60s mom took up ski diving a few years ago!

    19. Elf*

      My mother is turning 65 this year and while she has done some amount of figure skating off and on since she was a kid, in the past few years she has started taking more serious lessons and recently landed her first Loop (she’s working up to an Axel). Pay attention to some of the advice here (helmet and wrist guards, and maybe knee pads so you have a safe place to land) and go for it!

    20. Esmeralda*

      DO IT! I’m 60-something and love rock climbing (indoors, sport climbing not bouldering). I’m slow and haven’t been able to progress beyond a 5.8, max, but I enjoy it so much. Plus it helps all the creaky joints and muscles to loosen up and strengthen.

      Rock climbing is dangerous. So is roller skating. Take the precautions you can, get good protective gear, don’t push it too far past your comfort zone for awhile. You will not regret it. Haha, even when you forget to clip in and fall 14 feet. (No injuries, but I became maniacal about triple checking my safety gear!)

    21. The OG Sleepless*

      I love this thread and I wish I had something useful to contribute to it! I skated a few times with my kids when I used to take them to the rink about 10 years ago. It was AWESOME to feel like I was back in 8th grade feeling like the coolest thing in the world on a Friday night. And then I got too nervous to keep doing it because I didn’t want to injure myself. I wasn’t afraid of anything catastrophic, more just something like a knee injury that might have me in a knee brace and PT for months. My job is fairly physical plus I HATE being injured/ill more than almost anything.

      I’ve been thinking of stuff like this lately, and I can’t quite decide what to do. I would sort of love to take up karate again (I’m in my mid 50s and I did karate for about 5 years in my late 30s/early 40s), but realistically, that ship has probably sailed. I have bursitis in both hips, an old nagging hamstring injury, and a whole part of my knee that has no cartilage. I’m fine as long as I don’t put my joints under stress, repeatedly, in weird positions…so martial arts is probably the last thing I need to do. I’ve been getting a bit of peer pressure to try some whitewater kayaking, which I would have totally done 30 years ago, but I find that I overestimate my strength a lot the past few years. I don’t want to pitch down some rapids and assume I can just pull myself out, and then…not.

    22. Katie*

      As I have known 3 people around your age that have fallen this past week this makes me cringe a lot. One had to have surgery and is now in a rehab surgery for dislocating and injuring a shoulder.

      That being said, all three people probably didn’t have the best bone health and were not all that healthy beforehand.

  13. WellRed*

    How much are plane tickets supposed to cost these days? I’m trying to figure out logistics to an out if the way location (work trip but I think better suited for today’s thread) and it seems like my ticket always surprises people (this may be a them problem). And is it generally cheaper to book round trip or two one ways? Costs also seem to have increased quite a bit in the past few weeks, no? (I miss our corporate agent).

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Ticket prices really jumped in the last month in response to rising oil prices.
      2) A generation ago round trip was cheaper; now those are usually booked as two one-ways.

      1. Spearmint*

        Yep, you really want to book your flight 6-8 weeks prior in my experience. They also are more expensive if you try to book them too far in advance as well.

      2. Raboot*

        2. Not my experience at all. When I look at round trips they are still cheaper than 2 one way for pretty much any destination.

    2. mreasy*

      I honestly feel that I used to understand plane ticket prices, but I have recently booked a cross-country NYC to LA trip for less than $250 (usually $400-600), while Nashville to Chicago cost nearly $400 – a trip I’m used to seeing at closer to $150. So I just don’t know anymore – and I travel monthly for work.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It mystifies me that a direct flight to the far side of the country (I’m east coast) is much less than a direct flight to halfway across the country, like Minneapolis or Denver.

      2. Forgotten Username*

        How did you get such a cheap price for the cross country trip? I booked an East Coast to West Coast to a few weeks ago and it was just under $800 for the round trip… And that was the cheapest I could find!

    3. Disco Janet*

      This is a really tough to answer question without more information. It’s going to vary a ton depending on where you’re flying from, your destination, the time of year, etc. For example, flying from Michigan to Florida during times when school is out for their December or March/April break is at least double the cost of flying there over the summer. And flying from one of the smaller airports almost always costs significantly more than flying out of Detroit.

      1. WellRed*

        Interestingly enough, Whether I fly from my smaller regional airport or schlep to Boston doesn’t noticeably impact cost. But I still can’t seem to find a flight for less than 600 and even less than 700. Phoenix last month was nearly 800 while a coworker flew Bos to LV for 300. I’m flying to Iowa in June and it’s … challenging. I expected it to be, but this is tougher than usual.

    4. pancakes*

      I think it really depends, but use Google Flights to track prices for the trip(s) you want.

    5. PX*

      I can tell you that right now flights prices are being *very* weird as airlines try to figure out how to come back after the pandemic. Lots of things are happening (increase in oil prices, possible recession, lack of staff because they fired everyone etc) which mean that the “usual” factors that affected price (location/season/demand) arent the only ones anymore. So people who are used to how things were are definitely going to be surprised and I would ignore any weird responses.

      In the past booking a round trip would always have been cheaper than two one ways, but again, nothing is normal anymore so I would just play with as many options as you have the patience for.

    6. Sloanicota*

      Ughhh question this is my jam RN. I’m always stuck buying nonrefundable tickets because they’re cheaper and just rolling the dice, and buying on discount airlines like Frontier that have repeatedly screwed me over in the past (they cancel a lot of flights it seems like? Especially if you booked one way I’d say it’s 50/50 the flight you picked will actually go). I used to love Southwest Airlines and almost always choose them but it seems like they offer very few direct flights for my route lately – as cheap as I am I will ONLY book direct now – and the costs are really high.

  14. Golf Question*

    Golf Question!
    Golfers, what are your thoughts on choosing the golf balls that are right for you and your game? No matter the handicap, does it really make a difference or improve your game to use the top of the line, most expensive balls versus the lower tier, more economical, lower priced ones? I have a friend who just insists you have to use the more expensive balls to get better at the game. I’m a relative novice so I don’t like to spend a lot of money on balls when I know I’m going to lose most of them but I also don’t want to continue using the cheaper balls if it may be impeding my progress.

    1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      If you have developed to the point where you can consistently hit the ball solidly, accurately and straight, then the more expensive ball might get you more distance, otherwise you are wasting money. A more expensive ball won’t keep you from hitting poorly. Same goes for basic vs. expensive clubs.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Exactly. The ball doesn’t do anything but fly where you sent it. It doesn’t improve your skills.

    2. Blue Morning*

      Non-athlete here, but a good way to gauge your friend’s theory would be to apply it to other sports that use a ball. For instance, would using a more expensive or “elite” type of ball make one a better football, basketball, tennis, baseball player, etc? In the context of golf, let’s consider Tiger Woods. Would the price or brand name of the golf ball he’s using consistently change his game or score depending on which one he uses on any given day? Probably not. If you’re a skilled athlete in any sport, those skills will translate no matter what price or “level” of equipment you’re using at the time.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes and no. In golf the ball may not make that much of a difference, but I’ve heard from a friend who was a PE teacher that the ball material for other sports really can. Some of them stay inflated better, for example, so you’re more likely to be playing with a fully inflated ball. Some volley balls are less painful when you hit them, which makes it easier to learn the right skills. In archery the arrows are fletched a bit differently and cheap arrows are often less likely to fly true, which makes it hard to learn how to aim (since if all of them are off by a different amount they will tend to fly a little bit off but in different directions). And so on. You don’t have to have super fancy stuff, but not the cheapest either.

    3. Fancy Owl*

      Using cheaper balls won’t inhibit your ability to learn the techniques and skills you need to golf. After all, driving ranges use cheap balls that get hit over and over and that’s how almost everyone perfects their swing. Ball quality only matters once you’re at a high enough level to optimize your game. As long as the balls aren’t damaged or defective you’re fine.

    4. Alucius*

      I played quite a bit as a teenager, and got to the level of “decent-enough rec golfer.” I would say that until you’ve got the capacity to shoot below 80 over 18 holes, the brand/type of golf ball isn’t going to have a significant effect on your game. Yeah, the more expensive ones may carry further, or bite harder, but the likelihood of a weekend hacker hitting a shot where that would actually make a tangible impact is pretty small. Play with whatever balls you can find, or whatever you can get secondhand. Golf is expensive enough without paying for ProV1s or whatever Titleist is onto these days.

  15. Frank01*

    I’m a huge fan of middle grade books. Anybody else? Do you have any book recommendations you’d like to share or receive?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Robin Stevens’ “Murder Most Unladylike” series is pretty awesome. And Jaqueline Wilson is good. And Marita Conlon McKenna.

    2. ObserverCN*

      Anything by Gary D. Schmidt, especially “The Wednesday Wars” and “OK for Now.”

    3. GoryDetails*

      I like books all up and down the age-ranges, and I don’t always know where a particular favorite is ranked, but some of my favorites that I think would qualify include:

      The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, among my favorite books of all time, with its grumpy heroine, gloomy old house on the moors, dusty rooms full of treasures to explore on rainy days, new friends to be made, and of course that garden…

      The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling: another all-time favorite, from the “Mowgli” stories that made me long to be able to lounge on a tree branch with Bagheera the panther, or swim in the river with Kaa the python, to the stand-alone stories like “Rikki-tikki-tavi”.

      Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, mixing childhood friendship with the questionable advantages of immortality.

      The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: yes, there’s religious allegory in it, but that went over my head as a kid, and in-context I don’t mind it as an adult. And the magical moment of reaching through the clothes in the wardrobe to find a snowy landscape resonates as strongly now as it did the first time I read it.

      More recent favorites include:

      Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher, in which a 12-year-old boy with just a handful of very specific (and, to his mind, not very useful) spells must go on a quest to bring the rain back to his village. Inventive, sometimes, scary, often hilarious – not least for his sidekick/familiar, an armadillo with attitude.

      The “Tiffany Aching” books by Terry Pratchett, starting with Wee Free Men; delightfully weird fantasy tales of young witch Tiffany and her attempts to juggle her daily chores with the growing demands of her witch-life.

      Oh, and Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels, from Drama (middle-school life, including crushes, the school play, changing friendships, and more) to the more autobiographical ones like Sisters and Smile.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Just remembered another one: Jillian vs. Parasite Planet by Nicole Kornher-Stace; it’s SF about an 11-year-old girl with anxiety who gets to go on a trip to a remote planet with her parents on take-your-kids-to-work-day (how cool is that?) – but, alas, the planet’s more hazardous than anyone knew, and the story turns into a lively, sometimes terrifying, ultimately rewarding adventure.

      2. OtterB*

        Enthusiastically seconding Minor Mage. Also Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (real name of T Kingfisher).

        I haven’t read Jillian vs. Parasite Planet yet, but I bought it a while ago and left it in the living room and my husband picked it up and got hooked.

        Two series that fall somewhere on the MG-Young Adult border are Chaz Brenchley’s Crater School books (a cross between “planetary romance” and British school stories, girls at school on a Mars that is part of the British empire, with the worst of colonial attitude filed off), and C. E Murphy’s Guildmaster books, beginning with Seamaster.

        Will be following this.

    4. fposte*

      Where are you located (my recs skew American)? What kinds of genres–realism, fantasy, historical fiction–do you like? Good contemporary realistic authors include Christopher Paul Curtis, Hilary McKay, Meg Medina, Grace Lin; detective/caper/mysteries include Trenton Lee Stewart (Mysterious Benedict Society), Varian Johnston’s The Parker Inheritance; historical fiction look to Lesa Cline-Ransome (she’s got a brilliant trilogy following three different kids in mid-century Chicago), Lauren Wolk, Rita Williams-Garcia, Linda Sue Park; you could call Justina Ireland’s Ophie’s Ghosts historical fiction or a ghost story but it’s fabulous either way. Fantasy you’ll get a ton of other recs here but I would definitely recommend Grace Lin’s Where the Mountains Meet the Moon series and Kelly Barnhill, especially The Girl Who Drank the Moon; I also love Frances Hardinge’s everything.

    5. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire books are fantastic! I read a chapter a night to my husband, and we are on book 10!

      Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the Overlander books are good, but dystopian, like her Hunger Game books.

    6. Raboot*

      Been enjoying Lockwood & Co lately. Loved Bartimaeus when I was actually the target age group and it definitely holds up wonderfully.

    7. Aealias*

      Have been loving Roshani Chockshi’s Pandava Quintet (Aru Shah and the End of Time).

      Re-reading Bruce Coville’s “My Teacher Is an Alien” and getting into his Enchanted Files.

      My kid is passionate about Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire. She’s also into the Warrior Cats series, which I personally like less. It reads like a distopian take on Tailchaser’s Song (Tad Williams) to me.

      Seconding Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, although really, virtually all Pratchett is awesome. Readable, likeable, founded in a profound moral philosophy.

      Recently added The Bonaventure Adventures to my classroom library, enjoyed it on a skimming pass.

      Scott Westerfeld’s sci-FI is often good. I LOVED his steam-punk Leviathan series and sci-fi Peeps series. My students loved his Uglies series, but I adamantly did not. His Afterworlds a few years ago was strong, and the Imposters series is going well IMO.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Absolutely – some of my favorite middle grade books are Tamora Pierce’s early work (her more recent stuff is older YA), Rick Riordan, and Holes by Louis Sachar.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes! I’m trying to think of ones that skew younger since I read a lot of YA.

      “East” by Edith Pattou
      “A Wrinkle in Time” and its sequels
      “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson
      Tamora Pierce “Circle of Magic” series
      Ramona Quimby
      Laura Ingalls

    10. Smol Book Wizard*

      I am always going berserk about Kate Milford and her book Greenglass House. Alternate-history ambiguous era magical New England village life, full of mystery and delight and heartfelt emotions.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Those are very good! My husband discovered them and loves them. His favourite is The Left Handed Fate because he likes the sailing ship, but I liked Greenglass House better.

        Another fun middle-grade series is Alex Bell’s Polar Bear Explorers Club – lots of silly whimsy, a strong female lead, and some extremely good and wise messages.

        They’re probably at the high end of middle grade, more YA really, but Fleur Behl’s My Name Is Not Esther trilogy is also very good. It’s about a religious sect/cult, set in New Zealand.

    11. OtterB*

      Enthusiastically seconding Minor Mage. Also Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (real name of T Kingfisher).

      I haven’t read Jillian vs. Parasite Planet yet, but I bought it a while ago and left it in the living room and my husband picked it up and got hooked.

      Two series that fall somewhere on the MG-Young Adult border are Chaz Brenchley’s Crater School books (a cross between “planetary romance” and British school stories, girls at school on a Mars that is part of the British empire, with the worst of colonial attitude filed off), and C. E Murphy’s Guildmaster books, beginning with Seamaster.

      Will be following this.

    12. Machine Ghost*

      Michelle Magorian: “Goodnight Mister Tom” [historical WWII; one of my childhood favorites]
      Richard Roberts: “Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain” and sequels [superheroes/-villains; one of the best middlegrade books I’ve ever read]
      Peter Abrahams: Outlaws of Sherwood Street Duology (“Stealing From the Rich”/”Giving to the Poor”) [mystery/fantasy]
      Stephanie Burgis: “The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart” and sequels [fantasy]
      Jude Watson: “Loot” and “Sting” [contemporary/mystery]
      Anthology-series: Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide [science fiction]

    13. Rara Avis*

      I’m enjoying Kristin Cashore and Leigh Bardugo along with my 13 yo right now. Both fantasy authors.

    14. Three Pines Visitor*

      Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Myrtle series: Premeditated Myrtle, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Cold-Blooded Myrtle. It’s reminiscent of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series in that the main characters are around the same age, but Bradley writes for adult readers and Bunce is definitely writing for middle-schoolers.

  16. HannahS*

    What’s the deal with pet strollers? I didn’t grow up around animals. Now I live in a densely urban place and I see pet strollers frequently. There are one or two dogs in the neighborhood with obvious difficulty walking, but I’m seeing so many pet strollers that I’d be surprised if they were all for elderly or disabled dogs. Do the strollers serve another purpose? I feel like I’m missing something.

    1. Macaroni Penguin*

      Sometimes I take my cat outside in a pet stroller. Partially this is because he likes novelty, but it’s hard to walk a cat. It’s honestly an enrichment thing.
      Also, I take my cat for walks BECAUSE I know that I look silly. I’m a cat enthusiast. I know that I look absurd. And I don’t mind laughing at myself.

      1. the cat's ass*

        When I’m in SF near Japantown, i always bump into a woman who has 2 elderly pugs in one of those strollers. Everyone seems to be having a lovely time. I am contemplating getting one for my cat(s).

    2. Stitch*

      They’re also for poorly bred dogs who have breathing issues (like pugs).

      I’ll admit to finding it weird but I barely used a stroller for my baby as I found navigating sidewalks (filled with scooters and obstructions) a pain. I tended to wear my kid.

    3. fposte*

      I think they’re hilarious! But lots of smaller dogs tire out fast, especially in hot weather (many popular breeds have difficulty breathing, which–don’t get me started), so I think this means people can get an actual walk in even if the dog can’t make it more than around the block.

    4. Sundial*

      The closed kind can be for protection. It’s becoming a big problem (at least in my tristate area) that people with larger dogs don’t leash, train, or know how to control their animals. There are constant news stories about them rushing strangers and causing injury.

      1. pancakes*

        I think that probably accounts for a lot of it. Also, it can be hard to keep dogs from getting a hold of food and other things they shouldn’t have on the sidewalk. Chicken bones, pizza crust, etc. I think some people probably just want to get them to and from the park without dealing with that.

        1. fposte*

          You know, it never occurred to me that they’re commuting to a destination. That makes a lot of sense–that they’ll be decanted into a park at the other end.

          1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

            “decanted into a park” makes for a hilarious mental image of a dog owner spilling their dog out of a stroller onto gras xD Thank you for that!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Why did this turn of phrase make me laugh so much?! I’m going to look for opportunities to start using it.

    5. Maggie*

      Small dogs get really tired fast so you can walk more than a few blocks or maybe their dog is older or had a bad back. Also in the city there’s so much glass and nasty stuff on the ground they might want to walk with their dog and not worry about all that. I don’t have a dog stroller but I’m not opposed when my dog is older.

      1. pancakes*

        That makes sense too. One time I looked after a co-worker’s little dog during the day when she had a funeral to attend, and not only did it not want to walk much (or quickly, like I prefer), it insisted on carrying a giant stuffed toy maybe 1/4 of the way. Going out without it was not an option. I ended up carrying both the dog and the toy back. At the time we worked on a very busy block in NYC’s garment district and it was a little annoying because people were going “awww!” the whole way back, maybe half sarcastically and half thought it was legit cute?

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      In addition to what’s been said: strollers/wagons protect feet in the summer when concrete and asphalt are too hot, minimize exposure for pets with flea or grass allergies, and can provide enrichment for pets that might be on restricted activity even if they appear young and healthy (post surgery, heartworm treatment, soft tissue injuries, etc.)

    7. Malarkey01*

      I like to take 4 mile walks. I had a lab who was completely up for that. Then he passed and I was watching my mothers 15 lb little dog. After a mile she was out for the count so I popped her in my daughters old stroller so I could still do the long walks (for the same reason I brought my daughters stroller on our walks until she was 5- she could go about 2.5 miles at 3-4 before she crashed so I’d walk the stroller with us and when she hit her limit pop her in and enjoy the rest of the walk together- I occasionally got snide remarks about a bigger kid should be enjoying a walk until I told people she’d walked 3 miles already and deserved a rest)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Man, I did not appreciate how much SLOWER it is walking with a dog. I used to go for 3-5 miles a day before I got my big boy, but that would take us hours now. I am only walking half as far as I used to. I never though I’d be getting less exercise once I got a dog!

    8. ShinyPenny*

      I suspect cat enrichment and dog breeds with “bred in” functional disabilities (can’t walk as fast/far/long as their human wants to) are probably the most common “new” reasons, after the more standard age/infirmity of the pet. Also- puppies too young to have vaccine coverage could get enrichment without the health risk of touching the ground (and their human gets to walk fast/far/long without leaving puppy behind).
      For (some) people with (some) mobility issues, pushing a stroller can function like a walker without looking like a walker (and with better outdoor wheels, too). I fully intend to be out there with a cat in a stroller at some point in the future. I will be laughing, too!

    9. ShinyPenny*

      I suspect cat enrichment and dog breeds with “bred in” functional disabilities (can’t walk as fast/far/long as their human wants to) are probably the most common “new” reasons, after the more standard age/infirmity of the pet. Also- puppies too young to have vaccine coverage could get enrichment, without the health risk of touching the ground (and their human gets to walk fast/far/long without leaving puppy behind). But for a small dog in a crowded urban environment, I wonder if it’s just a safety strategy? I would feel uncomfortable trusting that I could keep her safe and not stepped on/tripped over. If I wasn’t able to carry her long enough to get to a safer area, a stroller would be helpful.
      Lastly, for (some) people with (some) mobility issues, pushing a stroller can function like a walker without looking like a walker (and with better outdoor wheels, too). I fully intend to be out there with a cat in a stroller at some point in the future. I will be laughing, too!

    10. E. Chauvelin*

      I see smaller service dogs (the ones whose jobs I know tend to be alert dogs, but sometimes I just see a strange dog in a vest and a stroller) in strollers sometimes, I figure it’s because they need to be with their people all the time without having trouble keeping up/getting stepped on or entangled in crowded settings.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Do the strollers serve another purpose?

      This sounds a bit morbid but I suspect that, as in the Laurie Anderson performance piece, “Beginning French,” these pets are being used as traffic testers by people who don’t have babies. (At least they are using their pets and not their babies.) Apologies to Ms. Anderson.

      “And one of the things I noticed about these babies pets was that they were apparently being used as some kind of traffic testers. Their mothers would be pushing them along in their strollers–and they would come to a busy street with lots of parked cars–and the mother can’t see what the traffic is like because of all the parked cars–so she just sort of edges the stroller out into the street and cranes her head out afterwards. And the most striking thing about this is the expression on these babies’ pets’ faces as they sit there in the middle of traffic, stranded, banging those little gavels they’ve all got and they can’t even speak English.”

      O.K., so the pets don’t have little gavels.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      Besides physical disability as you mentioned, I’m aware of them being used in places where the pavement gets hot enough to burn the pets’ feet. So like if you were walking to a park with grass, you might stroller the dog en route and let them run around on the not-burning grass.
      Other than that, human vanity.

    13. Pool Lounger*

      My mom has one for her two chihuahuas. One hates walking, and neither can walk for a long distance, or quickly. So she takes them out in a stroller, and the one that likes walking walks when he feels like it. It’s also helpful when she takes them to breweries and restaurants.

    14. Blomma*

      I have one for my indoor only cat. It’s an enrichment thing for her and a stability thing for me (mobility issues). I live in a rural-ish area where, despite leash laws, people let their dogs roam so it isn’t safe to take her out on a leash. I know it looks ridiculous and hopefully my neighbors think so too!

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        I thought about getting one for my indoor cat as well. I think she’d like it and I think it would help her with being exposed to other people might help, since she only sees me.

        I also want to show her odd because she’s gorgeous.

        1. Blomma*

          We hardly ever see other people since we’re in a fairly quiet neighborhood and I don’t take her far from home but I’d totally love to show off how beautiful she is! It gives her something to think about other than food so that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. (She’s food obsessed, on a diet, and fed via automatic feeder that she stares at or yells at all. day. long.)

  17. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My tomato, pepper, and a variety of other seedlings are doing well. I planted them late, but at least they are doing well now. The tulips are starting to come out of the ground, and it feels like spring is on the way.

    1. Macaroni Penguin*

      My garden exists!
      A few weeks ago I mentioned that my traditional community garden was unavailable this year due to renovations. Well, another garden in a different neighborhood came through! We didn’t expect anything so late in the year. But now we can introduce our Sweet Baby (five months old) to gardening. The new gardener orientation is today. The garden is just a plot of dirt at the moment, but we are hoping to grow carrots and beets.

    2. Lizabeth*

      The recent cold nights claimed some pansies :(

      But I remember to bring in everything else from the porch :)

      Planted garlic in two barrels – they’re starting to peep out.

    3. fposte*

      My rabbit luck ran out this year. I have a beautiful display of tulip stems chomped off at the top. Boo.

    4. Salymander*

      I finally finished planting my community garden plot this past week. I’m growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, florence fennel, cucumbers, zucchini, cilantro, dill, basil, parsley, garlic, green onions, mint, lemon balm, chamomile, calendula, California poppies, cosmos, borage, nasturtiums, scented pansies, lobelia, French marigolds and violets. All the work I did on the soil seems to be helping a lot.

      I’ve read that fennel, cilantro and dill shouldn’t be placed too close together, so I have them in three separate spots that are separated by taller plants. I think the fennel is the one that can alter the flavor of the others if they pollinate each other, but as fennel is harvested before flowering I think it will be ok. Has anyone else planted Florence fennel? Any advice?

      At home I have rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, lavender, chives, peppermint, spearmint, Corsican mint, lemon balm, tarragon, and lots of flowers. Most of the bulbs already flowered, but there is still some freesia blooming. The iris that I moved to a sunnier spot last fall bloomed beautifully, and now it is a nice green backdrop for some other flowers.

      My guerilla garden spots have California poppies, calendula, cosmos, sunflowers, borage, California bluebells, milkweed, buckwheat, penstemon, chia, and alyssum. The parks and recreation people in my city have let me have wood chip mulch for my spots, and they seem to like my little gardens. One of my tree pits was ruined when someone broke a huge bottle of vodka into it. During lockdown, people would hang out in that parking lot to have socially distanced parties, and it made quite a mess. I tried drenching the soil to flush it out, but it still is pretty barren. Has anyone else ever tried to fix something like that?

      Everything is growing well. I’m waiting for the praying mantises I bought to hatch. They are hidden in safe spots at the community garden. They are so cute when they are tiny babies.

      1. Tea and Cake*

        In addition to flushing, have you tried turning the soil and/or adding high volume mineral amendments? I believe the vodka will strip most minerals from the soil, so you may see results with adding minerals at a higher rate than “normal” amendment or fertilizing techniques.

        1. Salymander*

          I turned the soil and added quite a lot of minerals and compost (about twice what I normally would) after flushing the soil, but it is not too much better. I will try a few more things, but maybe it needs to rest under a really heavy layer of mulch for a season. Or maybe the sunflowers and borage will pull the toxins from the soil. Not sure. I think you are right, that the vodka stripped the soil.

          On the bright side, the other tree pits and the other spots look nice. The amount of trash left in the area has dwindled to almost nothing now that things are blooming. I think people appreciate the flowers.

      2. Tea and Cake*

        Also I wanted to ask how you have several varieties of mint and they haven’t taken over everything? I cannot for the life of me keep mint from being everywhere, even with separating into its own pot! It trails so fast.

        1. Salymander*

          Unfortunately, I inherited peppermint and lemon balm that infest one corner of my community garden plot. I don’t know who planted them, but it was before my time. I mercilessly pull them up a couple of times a year and this keeps them in check. They are still in that corner, but they can’t take over any more before I rip them out. That pulled up mint is then dried or blended up and frozen. My kid likes to eat the mint and make tea with it, so that helps too. Pulling up the mint has actually made that area’s soil better because it breaks up the clay. It also is able to deter the terrible bindweed that plagues us here, so there is at least one part of the garden without bindweed. Mint is just as invasive, but easier to pull, useful and nicer smelling.

          At home, I have peppermint in a planter with an 18 inch or so pedestal, so it can’t escape. I plant it with nasturtiums, and they work fairly well together. I have to chop out the roots every year because it will get really root bound otherwise. The Corsican mint, spearmint and lemon balm are in several brick raised beds about a foot high and bordered on one side by a concrete walkway and on the other by an area that was lawn and now is a rather patchy pollinator garden that is more oak leaf mulch than plants. The are planted with bulbs and other flowers. I pull the mint and lemon balm up every so often, but they don’t crowd out the other plants. The bulbs especially seem to like this arrangement. We had a good crop of saffron last year despite the mint. The beds are heavily mulched with oak leaves, and I think that helps.

          I think overall that people tend to be careful of their plants and the don’t want to hurt the roots. This means that the mint overpowers everything including itself. It is so hardy and fast growing that you can be quite savage with it and it will thrive on that treatment much more than if you were more gentle.

          1. Tea and Cake*

            Thank you for this info! I also enjoy mint tea but holy cow I just have so much mint. I have previously only pruned the trails and now I’m going to start pulling excess.

    5. Jackalope*

      I planted a bunch of wildflowers recently that are exploding. I was trying to spread them over a wide range of ground but a whole bunch of the seeds jumped out in the same spot so there are so many little seedlings in that area. I know they will probably need some sort of thinning but I don’t know what they are yet so don’t know what I want to thin.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My husband got 3 truckloads of free mulch from some guys who were trimming trees along our street for the city. He put down some weed barrier and has gotten a good start on eliminating the front lawn in favor of some decorative plantings. Also our bees came in for our first hive so we’re excited to see how that goes. Our neighbor is an old retired farm lady who has done it all, and she’s been helpful with advice and some equipment

    7. Girasol*

      Peas are up but going very slowly because it’s unusually cold. I’ll move tomatoes and peppers from the windowsill to the garden under milk jug cloches tomorrow and seed a bunch of cooler weather veggies. I’ll set up the soakers and mulch them for efficiency but I need to start catching kitchen water and carrying it out, too, because we’re in a drought this summer.

      1. Salymander*

        I keep two 5 gallon buckets in the shower to catch the water as it is warming up. I put the nozzle right into the bucket. We get a fair amount of water that way. We also keep a container with a lid in the kitchen so we can save some of the water there. It takes up a fair amount of space, though.

        I want a rain catchment system. I only know a couple of people with rain barrels. You would think that a drought prone area would have more homes with rainwater barrels.

        1. Jackalope*

          It depends on your weather system. I know people who have rain barrels, but they don’t work well in our climate because we have months with a fair amount of rain but then in the summer we can have weeks at a time with no rain at all. During the time when you can catch rain you don’t need to since it will probably rain again the next day, and during the dry season you’ll almost never get the chance to fill them.

        2. Girasol*

          I’ve got to try that bucket system. That warmup water is clean and there’s lots wasted. I like the rain barrel idea. We could do that in spring before the dry summer hits, but there would have to be a plan to inhibit mosquitoes in the barrel, BT maybe.

          1. Salymander*

            We have no rain at all for about 6-8 months at a time, and then when it does come it is overwhelming. Maybe a storage tank without access for the mosquitos would work? I was watching Huw Richards on YouTube. He has a series of tanks for his garden that I think are filled with rainwater, and that is all he uses to water. Of course, he is in the UK, so they get a lot more rain than we do here in California.

            I think that Israeli homes are likely to catch rainwater for gardening. I read something about that a couple of years ago. Hmmm… maybe I should try to find out more.

    8. Virginia Plain*

      In December I acquired my first ever garden, aged 44 (previously lived in flats). A hot mess – no lawn and a huge amount of very overgrown shrubs (trimmed a bit but never properly cut back) meaning it was very dark. But I got some laurels cut down as a starting point, and this week I planted some herbs in a grow-bag and bought a watering can! One step at a time…

    9. allathian*

      No flowers yet, but the tulips and daffodils are sprouting nicely. We’re having a very cold and late spring this year.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      The tulips in front of my apartment building are in full bloom, and so are many flowering trees in the neighborhood.
      I can’t claim credit for those, but I’ve kept my aloe alive since November, watering it only every third week. It’s put out several children and lots of new leaves on the main cluster. I might try a Christmas cactus next.
      I have a long history of killing houseplants by either over or under watering them.

      @Salymander, what are guerilla garden spots?

      1. Salymander*

        Guerilla gardening has been around since the late 60s or early 70s. Started by 2 women in NYC who wanted to help reduce the urban blight in their neighborhoods. They cleaned up vacant lots and planted them with flowers and vegetables. They used seed bombs to plant areas that were fenced and they couldn’t access. It led to many areas of NYC being cleaned up by residents, and to a community garden that I think is still there today.

        A guerilla gardener finds areas of public space or sometimes vacant lots that are neglected and full of weeds and trash. The gardener works the soil and plants them with hardy plants, or sometimes edible plants so they can improve food access for people who live in food deserts. Tree pits, sidewalk strips and areas of waste ground around bus stops and next to buildings are favorite places. Some gardeners plant along roads, near signs and in meridians. They might toss seed bombs into these areas and hope for the best, or they might actively weed and water. It is technically not legal in many cases, but authorities tend to turn a blind eye because it is helpful and an improvement over trash and weeds. I plant a lot of native wildflowers with seed bombs out along the roads in the countryside because I don’t want to cause an environmental problem with invasive species, but in the tree pits and other spots in town I plant more variety. Lots of stuff for pollinators, and a few vegetables and herbs to improve food access. I planted a big patch of cilantro near the park, and people are picking it to take home. It makes me really happy to see that.

  18. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Re: dinner ideas for diabetes and toddlers

    Hello all, me being a female identified person (don’t get me started) am basically responsible for 100% of meal planning and prep. Spouse was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes and would prefer to eat very low carb (mostly vegetables plus proteins, carb alternatives like almond flour and alternative noodles). We also have an almost 2 year old who has a typical toddler palate (loves waffles/pancakes/muffins, loves pasta, loves fruit, loves snacks like cereal bars, loves cheese, iffy on vegetables but will eat some like broccoli and cucumber).

    We don’t have dietary restrictions but I am tired of making dinners that involve spouse complaining about carbs or toddler refusing all food.

    As much as this falling on me is irritating, does anyone have novel ideas for toddler friendly meals that are also pre-diabetes friendly? Dinner is the worst. Other meals mostly we do our own thing.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Ugh to the gender part, but since you’re asking for advice on what to prep and your partner is pre-diabetic, my advice would be to focus on meals that are going to be healthy for them. Then to satisfy the toddler, have something like Mac and cheese as a side that can still fill them up pretty well if they try and don’t like the actual meal.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My spouse ostensibly has some medical restrictions (I say “ostensibly” because they’re largely self-imposed and only seem to come into effect when I’m cooking, like somehow a cup of regular broth instead of low-sodium is too much salt in dinner, but the half a bag of Doritos he ate as a midnight snack isn’t). So I told him that if he was going to complain about my food prep decisions, then he could take over the meal planning and I’d cook whatever he put on the menu board. But if he wasn’t going to take any responsibility for participating the food decisions, which was legitimately his call, then I wasn’t going to tolerate any complaints about it and he was just gonna have to deal and figure out how to make it work with his dietary restrictions on his own. So now he plans four dinners a week, and the other three nights if he doesn’t want what I make, he does the equivalent of making himself a sandwich. We didn’t have the toddler in the mix, but it sounds like toddler isn’t so hard to feed on their own, if you just hand them an assortment of toddler-friendly foods.

      1. Forgotten Username*

        Yes, I think this is a good compromise. You’ll plan for the small toddler and yourself and cook for everyone, but let the big toddler manage their own meal planning at minimum.

      2. Salymander*

        My husband has similar self imposed food restrictions, and they change every 6 months or so. I just stopped cooking most of his meals, except sometimes on weekends, and cook for myself and our kid. He still complains sometimes, but I told him that we eat our own way and he eats his way. Period. We handle laundry the same way because of similar complaints/nitpicking when I do laundry while he just throws everything in together. If you complain, you do it yourself.

        1. Tea and Cake*

          We have resorted to “if you care about this chore it’s your job for the house” rule. Really it was my way of getting out of dishes because I both hand wash wrong and place dishes in the dishwasher wrong and I tired of being told what I did was wrong. This did mean that I now am wholly responsible for washing laundry (not folding/putting away – as there are vastly different systems for those) and breaking down boxes for recycling. Oh and washing windows so there are no streaks!

          1. Filosofickle*

            I think how this would have mapped to my last live-in partner and…oof, I would have had to do almost everything under this rule. There was very very little that he cared about more than me :/

            1. Salymander*

              That would be very annoying and disheartening. I just refuse to do things if my husband nitpicks. He is perfectly happy to do things like laundry and cooking himself, though I do notice that he is a lot less particular if he is the one doing the job than he is if I am. He knows that nitpicking is one thing guaranteed to get me really angry, so he mostly doesn’t nitpick anymore. If he just refused to do housework at all, I think that would be a huge deal breaker. I had one live-in boyfriend years ago who went from splitting the chores with me to expecting me to do everything. I ended things with him after a very short time of that nonsense. It made me feel like I was a second class citizen in my own home. It is infuriating, isn’t it?

    3. Not A Manager*

      Make a meal that suits your partner, with one hearty side dish that suits your toddler. Tell each of them that they can eat whatever they like that’s on the table, but they can’t complain about it. If they don’t like the food, your partner now, and your toddler quite soon, can help themselves to an easy meal of whatever they are capable of putting together in the kitchen and cleaning up afterward. I made my kids remain at the table during the meal whether they chose to eat or not, and let them make a snack afterward if they chose to.

      My kids didn’t have any food or eating issues other than usual childhood preferences. I think the secret is to make meals more about conversation/socialization and not as much about whatever people are eating. Let them both eat whatever they want from the healthy choices you’ve provided.

      For toddler side dishes, many of them can be frozen uncooked or partially cooked in small portions, but I would try to avoid giving the toddler a small plate of his or her own private food. Put the toddler-friendly food in a serving dish on the table just like everyone else’s food, and let the toddler select from all the items available. Also, you might enjoy some carbs yourself.

    4. Forensic13*

      Can you do things like make ingredients that go on multiple media? Like, a stir fry to go on cauliflower rice or pasta? Nachos or salads? Sort of like chipotle or any salad bar where you sort of make the ingredients and then there are multiple options on how to put it together.

      1. Forensic13*

        Oh, and what about Indian food? That can be pretty low carb depending on the rice situation, and then kids tend to like a lot of the options like mutter paneer or anything tomatoey.

        1. WellRed*

          Indian food can be notoriously difficult for people with diabetes. It’s not as simple as setting aside the rice.

      2. Salymander*

        That is a good idea. My kid is super picky, so I do a lot of that. I prep vegetables, and then only cook half. Or I make a dish and keep the sauce on the side. Things like tacos are good because we have a lot of things to choose from. Or I make both rice and quinoa with stir fry veggies, some raw veggies put to the side before cooking, and both baked tofu and fish. My husband likes quinoa but won’t eat rice. My kid likes raw veggies, fish, tofu and rice but not quinoa or cooked veggies. The smell of quinoa and fish makes me sick, but I can eat everything else. If I prep the veggies for the week ahead of time along with cubes of tofu that marinate in the fridge, it doesn’t take much time at all. I do the same with chili, and cook the beans ahead of time without all the spices so there are plain beans for my husband to put in salads and there are no spices to aggravate his sensitive stomach. He is happy because there are lots of prepped ingredients for him to use for whatever his latest diet is, and my meal prep is easier for the food my kid and I eat. At least then my husband isn’t tempted to eat things he shouldn’t just because he is tired from work, and he feels like I am doing something kind for him even though the ingredients prep benefits me too. :)

    5. WellRed*

      Any adult that complains about another adult cooking can be shown the kitchen or starve. More kindly, I like the suggestions of giving the kid a waffle orMac and cheese in addition to main course. For low carb, tacos and stir fries are fun. Omelets.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        As the cook (and vacation planner) in my family, I second this so hard–if you put the planning and prep on someone else, then you must happily go with whatever they’re able to manage. If you want more options, you can do it yourself.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Yes! At the absolute minimum, they beed to be able to come up with 5-10 meal ideas that work for them, and ideally for the whole family. And ‘that work for the whole family’ includes not being burdensome on whoever is doing the preparation.

        1. WellRed*

          Read it again. Complaining because he doesn’t like what was prepared for him. As a person with T1d, I can confidently say, he needs to step it up.

          1. Salymander*

            Right. My husband has GERD, and there are some things that he shouldn’t eat. His food pickiness goes beyond GERD, though. He goes on a different diet 2 or 3 times a year. I am happy to work around the GERD, and make parts of meals that will be ok, but if he starts complaining and nitpicking then he can just make his food himself. I am not willing to stop eating any wheat or rice or whatever the new “bad” food is just because my husband has. I am happy to make some things for him on weekends, and I prep foods that he can use to make meals, but I’m not his personal chef and nutritionist. Everyone in my house has different food requirements and preferences. I try to make something that will work for everyone, but I’m not going to spend all day in the kitchen and I don’t want to listen to complaints, nitpicking or demands.

    6. Foila*

      I dunno friend, it sounds like you don’t really want this burden. Can you spread some of it back to your spouse?

      I mean, I could tell you about my idea of making one sauce and two kinds of pasta (one regular one high protein). But maybe this shouldn’t be all your job?

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Serious suggestion: Make up some boxed mac-n-cheese or toaster waffles to go with the meal. Your toddler can focus on those with the option to have a little of the grown-up veggies + meat. (If it helps at all, there’s a theory that kids get into bland foods at this age because it’s when you would be wandering away from mom and able to stuff a lot of poisonous stuff in your mouth–but not if you only like a specific brand of boxed mac-n-cheese!) Your husband can exhibit more maturity than the 2-year-old and not mind that something is on the table that he can’t eat–and I recommend the easy versions of these because small kids like them, adults are more meh on them, and they’re very easy to make.

      I have heard good things about Nom Nom Paleo for family friendly protein + veggie meals.

    8. Golden*

      I have celiac, and my go to pasta replacements also tend to be low carb: zucchini noodles (zoodles), spaghetti squash, and zucchini ravioli. Cauliflower fried rice is also fun and pretty easy if you use a stir fry starter bag of frozen vegetables. My kid is too young for solids so I’m not sure if those are toddler friendly though, sorry!

      1. Anonymath*

        Agree on caulirice, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash. Also sweet potato noodles. Somehow noodleizing food does make it more palatable to kids. Don’t give up on the veggies — hold the course — it’ll pay off in a few years I hope (my 4-yr-old kid announces loudly she hates vegetables and then eats roasted broccoli and carrots and onions and fennel bulb!).

        Mel Joulwan’s Well-Fed Weeknights has a lot of very customizable crowd-pleasing meals. I also got some “bowl” cookbooks from the library. Maybe Build-a-bowl, or grain bowls? Seems a bizarre suggestion if seeking low carb, but quinoa and caulirice and buckwheat groats are options.

        1. Salymander*

          Zucchini noodles worked well with my kid too. We grew the zucchini in our garden, and I let Kid help me to grow them and to spin the zucchini into noodles, so they were very interested in eating “their” noodles.

          I used to cut up cabbage into potato chip sized pieces. I called them cabbagey chips. My very picky kid thought they were fabulous, and even now at age 16 still eats cabbagey chips as an after school snack. I have a big container of them in my fridge right now.

          My kid used to like to dip fruit and veggie pieces in a dip made of warm peanut butter mixed with a tiny bit of honey and a little butter or oil to thin it out. If you warm it and stir it up well it works really well. Cabbagey chips, turnip slices, and apple slices were all favorites with peanut butter dip.

          Marinate firm tofu cubes (1″ cubes) in a little soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, a pinch of sugar, garlic and ginger. Bake for 30 minutes at 400°, turning once. Bake for longer if you want them crispy. Makes great finger food for young kids. If your kid is young enough for this to be a choking hazard, just cut up the cubes after they are baked.

    9. Swisa*

      Any kind of “build your own” situation, which has multiple components. Things like tacos/taco salad if your husband doesn’t want the tortilla, hummus bowls (budget bytes has a great recipe for homemade hummus which is soooo easy with a food processor; she also has a flexible for making the bowls. Maybe a build your own salad, with things like chicken, nuts, and veg that the toddler will eat, even if they don’t like lettuce.
      For things that are more spouse -centered, I’d always have at least one toddler friendly food on the table, something like strawberries or rice or something. That’s what I try to do with my toddler. I try to avoid separate meals. It’s also what “kids eat in color” (she’s a dietician on Instagram) advises, on introducing new foods- always having at least 1 safe one.

      1. Swisa*

        And not to be funny, but you can also adopt the same strategy with spouse. On days that the meal is more toddler friendly, have at least 1 food that the spouse likes. They can forage on their own if that’s not enough.

        I’d definitely have the larger conversation (preferably not at meal time) about how you’re making xyz accomodations for both them and toddler and that’s the best that you can offer. They’re welcome to help prepare/plan meals if that’s not sufficient, but the constant criticism without help isn’t working.

        1. Swisa*

          Also, budget bytes has a great crustless spinach, mushroom, and cheese quiche that our toddler really likes.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      One meal I end up making about once a week because everyone likes it is homemade turkey meatballs with pasta and spaghetti sauce as options plus a green veg like broccoli. But then I need ideas for the other 5-6 nights.

    11. Tib*

      The thing to keep in mind is your toddler is not pre-diabetic and shouldn’t be eating a low carb diet. I was going to suggest chickpea pasta, and that would be fine occasionally, but shouldn’t be a regular thing. I think I would identify carb toddler foods that can be bought premade and heated for your child’s side dish along with the rest of the meal.

      I recommend talking to your child’s pediatrician about how to balance your family’s food needs and think about scheduling a session or two with a licensed dietitian.

      I also recommend Ellyn Satter’s books for how to set up good boundaries around food and help your child develop a good food repertoire and normal eating habits. The things I’m thinking of specifically for you are the division of responsibility where you, as the chef, are responsible for putting balanced meals and snacks on the table at predictable times. Once that food hits the table your job is done. Everyone is responsible for eating what’s on offer and how much. It’s very freeing. I also really like the charts in the appendix of her Child of Mine book that shows how sugar, starch, protein, and fat are used by the body to provide lasting energy. I listed them in order and each ramps up as the other windows down to provide sustained energy. Child of Mine is an awesome reference that goes through the ages and stages of eating and feeding. I also like Secrets of Feeding A Healthy Family where she gives a short version of all her advice plus recipes and how to make a cycle meal plan. These books are old, but still have great advice and are my go-to baby shower gift.

      1. Poppy*

        Chickpea pasta is actually pretty carb-y for someone trying to eat low carb! But we have been enjoying shirataki noodles lately. Tons of soups are low carb. My husband’s family does a lot of “three things on a plate” – usually one protein, one veggie, one carb (ie oregano chicken, roasted broccoli, rice pilaf). I have dietary restrictions so I just then can eat some of the dishes. Your husband can skip the carb and you can make sure there’s at least one dish your toddler likes. Not everyone has to eat everything that’s for dinner every night!

    12. K-Sarah-Sarah*

      We have friends in a similar boat—but Dad is actually Type 2, so the low-carb is much more critical. Pasta substitutes are where it’s at (red lentil, chickpea, etc). They also do this fake cheese sauce that’s actually puréed carrots and onions and summer squash…works great for any kid who is a cheese fiend and needs more veggies. Finally, I really recommend the DASH Diet cookbook. Low on fats, sodium, and carbs, big on flavor. Lots of kid-friendly stuff too!

    13. RagingADHD*

      Toddlers & preschoolers are notoriously picky anyway, so I urge you for your own sanity to give up trying to please everyone for every meal. You can make a toddler’s absolute favorite dish, and they will refuse to eat it because it’s Tuesday. That way lies madness.

      Our policy has always been to provide appropriate food that includes at least 1 thing they will usually eat, and let them choose to eat or not eat, and how much.

      Parent decides what’s available when, kid decides what goes in the mouth. If they aren’t hungry for dinner, they’ll enjoy breakfast more.

      (Obviously if your kid has a health issue talk to the pediatrician, but healthy kids with no sensory issues can and do skip meals semi-regularly with no harm done, and often without really noticing).

      That doesn’t mean we ignore preferences and needs altogether! We tend toward modular meals. I plan most meals with multiple elements that can be swapped out instead of one-dish recipes.

      Our varying food requirements are different because I’m on low-sodium and one of my teens occasionally goes vegetarian for a month or so. The other teen has a lifelong (probably sensory) thing against most sauces and condiments, so most things I make are cooked relatively plain with sauce available on the side:

      Baked chicken with baked sweet potato, steamed carrots and green salad.
      Taco salad bar with tortilla chips for them, rice bowl for me. Lo salt vegetarian chili with beans, with a side of browned ground turkey for those who want it. Pasta with sauce and steamed broccoli, but a choice of plating sauce on the side instead of on top of the noodles. That kind of thing.

      If no swaps are convenient, the odd person out can have a scrambled egg or something. My kids have been able to scramble themselves an egg since they were about 8 years old. Your pre-D can, too.

      If your toddler won’t eat the almond flour or alternative noodles, maybe you could make a small portion of the locarb stuff for the pre-D and regular for yourself and kid.

      Alternatively, if your adult who is acting like a toddler hasn’t realized yet that they are the only person in charge of what they put in their own mouth, then you could make the main meal low carb and do a small portion of regular noodles (or whatever) for the toddler. Then you have leftovers for lunch the next day.

      For hiding veggies in kid-friendly food, I got a lot of mileage out of Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook. Can’t recall the name, but if you Google her it will be obvious. Not low carb, but again there are always swaps you can make.

    14. Gnome*

      I’m trying to avoid diabetes myself. We also have a kid with celiac. Try Banza pasta. It’s made with chickpeas and pretty low glycemic index for a pasta. I use it as a base for lots of things… Which I eat as sides and my kids used to eat as a main dish (they got bigger). Also, cheese is a pretty good place for a compromise as are eggs.

      There are low carb cookbooks that can get you reasonable substitutes for things like tortillas, etc. Also, anything where you can adjust ratios is good (build your own salad/tacos). You can also do things like burgers/chicken/hot dogs (esp on a grill) and have bun-optional serving.

    15. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I hope I just misunderstood or mis-read but why is the toddler eating a pre-diabetic diet? What’s stopping the partner from making or otherwise contributing to their meals?

      I can’t advise on the diabetes diet, but I think a lot of what was mentioned here is a good idea. Make the low carb meal and have something to supplement for the toddler.

    16. OtterB*

      Not quite the same issue, but I was having a problem trying to feed myself (diabetic), my husband (also diabetic but mostly diet-controlled, and also a runner), and young adult daughter (low fodmap), especially given I’m having a stamina and energy problem so really am not up to standing in kitchen a long time or cooking multiple meals. Recently started talking to a dietitian about improving my eating and she suggested ordering some prepared meals. Not the meal kits, but actual prepared meals that go in the fridge or freezer until it’s time to eat. I’m ordering from two places; one specializes in low fodmap and one has more general meals. I’m getting things delivered weekly and then I just have to pop them in the microwave when it’s time to eat. This is not intended to be a long-term strategy, but it’s relieving my stress over “what the hell are we going to eat *tonight*?” It’s more expensive than cooking at home but about equivalent to getting takeout.

      Maybe have some easy dinners like this for your husband, either a meal service or cook a larger batch of something and freeze in meal-size portions, and then you cook for you and the toddler?

      Also agree with “build your own” meals as others have suggested.

      Since this is a new diagnosis for your spouse, you are probably catching some of the fallout for disliking new restrictions. That doesn’t make it right for them to make it all your problem, but it does suggest you might get some results by framing it as a joint problem and working out a joint solution. A semi-rigid meal plan might work, e.g. Mondays are broiled chicken, Tuesdays are spaghetti sauce with choice of what to put it over, etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Seconding the limited meal plan. There is nothing wrong with repeating the same 7-14 dinners indefinitely, or as long as you can stand it.

    17. Esmeralda*

      Toddler: let the kid choose from what you are making anyway, plus always have healthy finger foods: baby carrots, broccoli “trees”, cut up fruit, etc. and dips such as hummus, yogurt, a bowl of smoothie, peanut butter . Quesadillas are extremely fast. Cheese cubes. Deli meat rolled into a tube. The toddler will not starve if they don’t want what’s on offer. I recommend not fighting about food — if they don’t want to eat what you’re serving, say ok, you can eat later. Don’t kill yourself catering to the toddler. They’ll eat when they’re hungry.

      Spouse: I’d start with a discussion, not at mealtime, about the complaining and how it makes you feel. How you are happy to do the cooking, but you’re not happy when it comes with a heaping helping of bitching. I’d put a lot of the responsibility for figuring *what* to eat on the spouse. They should make an appointment with a nutritionist, get some books on cooking for folks with diabetes, and then discuss with you foods that sound appealing to them AND are these things you’re willing to try making.

    18. Quandong*

      This sounds like a very aggravating situation. Is there a compelling reason why you can’t keep doing your own thing for dinner? This would give your spouse time to research and get professional advice re: dietary needs and to learn how to make a few meals for themselves, and negotiate their new food restrictions.

      My family member with diabetes might have had a better relationship with food had they sought some advice and support from other diabetics. It’s been a bumpy road for them, and cause of much uproar in the kitchen. Maybe it might be an option your spouse would consider, if they haven’t sought support from professionals?

    19. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I would say your spouse should cook their own meals so you can concentrate on yourself and toddler, personally. They’re old enough to be able to manage their condition; the toddler is not old enough to make their own meals.

      I say this as someone who is diabetic and very particular about what I will and will not eat.

      I just wish my mother would learn to stop cooking large meals, though. Very rarely do I want what she’s cooked, because it’s basically terrible: overcooked, too much onion and garlic, and just full of NOPE.

  19. Dainty Lady*

    I have a good friend I’m very concerned about due to their not responding to texts for several days when they would normally respond within a few hours. It’s highly unusual. I don’t have contact information for anyone local to them (serious loner). What should I do…?

        1. Observer*

          Try twice in a row. Some phones are set to do that, but will ring through if you call again immediately.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I had a similar thing happen. In November, I noticed that a friend who is occasionally on facebook had disappeared completely. She didn’t answer messages, texts, or phone calls.

      We have no friends in common. But I remembered she had a sister and found her on A’s facebook friend list. Contacted her and fortunately, she answered.

      Turned out that in August, A’s shunt into her brain (she has a congenital condition) had failed and A had collapsed and been put into a coma for two months. She was in a rehab center and the sister didn’t think A would ever leave some sort of assisted living.

      The first time I talked to her – in December – I was worried because she was not all there. But by February, she was back! Her spark was back. She is starting to stand and walk on her own and will possibly return to her own home in June.

      So. I would suggest stalking social media to see if there’s anyone there you could contact. I might – maybe? – contact your friend’s job? (That one’s a bit out there, I know.) Depending on how close I was to somebody and how sure I was, I might even call the local police to do a welfare check. I would suggest overreacting to this sort of thing rather than underreacting. You can always apologize for an overreaction but can’t undo an underreaction.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Yes. It might be a false alarm, but it might not, and then you’d be glad that you called.

      2. FDS*

        I don’t recommend sending trigger happy cops in to a situation where they could end up doing more harm to the person they are supposed to check on.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I called for a wellness check on my mother when my sister and I couldn’t get an answer when we’d called several times. The police in her town found her barely responsive and they called an ambulance immediately, and stayed with her until the paramedics had her in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Painting all police as murderous, evil jerks is neither true nor helpful.

          1. FDS*

            Umm… #notallpolice I guess IDK. I don’t know where you’re going with this. I’m sure that sometimes the police actually help people. Good grief! I was just echoing the sentiment that sometimes these things go sideways (especially if you are a person of color). You should do some research on how policing has disparate effects on people of color.

            1. AGD*

              Agree with this. A Black friend of mine survived when the police randomly barged into her house, thankfully – existing law enforcement systems are a huge threat to BIPOC folks. (I’m in Canada, but it’s not much better up here – see Robyn Maynard’s work.)

    2. Miel*

      Sounds like it’s possible their phone died – do you have any other way to contact them? Social media, email, etc.

      At the same time, see if you can find contact info for their family.

      Years ago I had a friend stop responding to texts for a while. Eventually I called their parents (which was a scary move! I found their number through extensive internet sleuthing). Turned out my friend was in the hospital for an extended time; their parents were glad I reached out. Friend is doing great now.

    3. Nopity Nope*

      I’ve been on the other end of this. Usually just procrastinating, sometimes feeling especially hermit-y. My sister will send a “please send proof of life” text, so I can just send back a thumbs-up. If you haven’t already, I would text/phone/email basically saying you’re concerned you haven’t heard from her and ask for just an “I’m okay” in response, no pressure to write a lengthy response. In other words, be explicit that you’re worried; don’t just say “hey, what’s up.”

      If you’ve done/do that with no response, though, I’d agree that you might want to call the local police/sheriff non-emergency number and ask for a welfare check.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        My mum does this with me, because I am generally not a texter (and also have a bad habit of avoiding my phone completely when I have been in a procrastination spiral and am trying to avoid particular people out of guilt or shame). It is done in a slightly jokey way, but at the heart of it I know what she means is “we’re checking you’re OK, please let us know”.

        That said, I do agree that if Dainty Lady has already done this then it might be time to call the police, presuming that these messages aren’t being sent through something like WhatsApp where you can see when the person was last online (and the friend has those settings turned on).

    4. Eff Walsingham*

      If the person lives in a remote or rugged area, the local police may do a fair number of welfare checks on people whose phones have just died, etc. But yes, demographics matter. And the reputation of the local force.

      I once called law enforcement on my mother because she lived 7 miles from the nearest settlement and disappeared under Mysterious Circumstances. (She was kind of having a senior moment with phone use and didn’t realize how it would seem at the other end. The sergeant on the phone assured me repeatedly that they love it when the missing person turns up fine and do not regard it as time wasted. We got a lot of family fun out of the fact that they characterized her normal housekeeping as “signs of a disturbance”! (She left the microwave open.)

    5. Dainty Lady*

      In the past 24 hr I’ve sent a text, an email, and left a voicemail all directly saying I am worried, please give me a “sign of life.” I’m going to wait until Monday ~noon theirtime and try again, and if I don’t get something by then I will escalate because I know Loner Friend should have been at work and at least gotten an email even if their phone died. They will hate, hate, hate it if I reach out to their parents or a local contact (I remembered one!) and will be even more upset if I call their work without extreme reason. They’re in a demographic that should not be too terribly at risk from police welfare check but they’d hate that too.

      Send good thoughts, if you kindly would. Thank you all.

      1. anonagain*

        It sounds then like there’s nothing for you to do. At least you know that someone will notice if your friend doesn’t report to work.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        All the best thoughts, and here’s hoping you reach them at work on Monday at the latest, even if they are ticked off.

        That was the worst feeling… thinking, Should I call someone? Who should I call? Am I blowing this out of proportion?

        One by one I looked up and called my mother’s friends and neighbours whose names I knew, and none of them answered. (It turned out that it was a beautiful day after a stretch of bad weather in that part of the world, so everyone was out in the garden.)

        Then I called a trusted friend halfway across the country for a gut check. “Should I call the cops on my mother on the other side of the country?” And she confirmed that it didn’t seem irrational in the circumstances.

      3. WellRed*

        I think this sounds like a good plan. 24 hours isn’t really all that long. And likely, it’s a phone issue. Sending good thoughts.

        1. Observer*

          24 hours isn’t really all that long.

          Given the possibilities here, that’s not really true, unfortunately.

    6. Cj*

      Please don’t wait until Monday, I have the police do a welfare check now. She might hate it, but how much are you going to hate yourself if something is wrong and she could be helped now but Monday it’s too late?

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yeah, my mom’s neighbor lay on the floor after a fall for three days. I had been begging my mom to set up some kind of morning notification system with her sister, who lives in the same city, and that event was what finally got her to agree.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      I’m not seeing this thought in the other comments:
      Did you have a falling out or argument? Any possibility they went no contact with you?
      Just a random thought. I hope your friend is okay.

    8. Dainty Lady*

      Update – Loner Friend did text me back yesterday (thank you for all the good thoughts!). They were just in a deep blue funk. That’s not unusual for them, sadly, but not responding to me is quite unusual indeed. I certainly don’t want to force them to talk if they don’t want to, but given Loner’s physical and emotional problems I don’t want to wonder if they’re warm and breathing. Maybe they’d be willing to send me a zip-mouth emoji for “Check with me in 72 hours.”

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Glad to hear this!

        Maybe they’d be willing to accept establishing some sort of shorthand message system for “Seriously starting to worry here” — “Nah, will get in touch later.”

        A good friend wouldn’t want you to worry, if they understood that you were actually quite upset.

  20. Courageous cat*

    Removed — was generating responses violating the rule against medical advice here.

  21. Saturday Anon*

    Just posting to see if this sounds weird or it’s okay and I’m just not used to it.

    I started with a new doctor’s office and I’m seeing the nurse practitioner for antidepressants. Something is off with my meds and the NP is slowly gathering info about my medical history and telling me to be patient. But it’s been 3 weeks and I’m really suffering! I’ve told her this and she still insists on going slowly and “be patient.”

    Does this sound like good office practice or not? I feel like I’m suffering for nothing.

    To make this situation worse, I’m not sure where I could find another office that’s taking new patients. Everyone’s booked up.

    1. Saturday Anon*

      Follow-up question:
      If this sounds wrong and I should find another practice, does anyone have tips for how to find one?
      (I fortunately have insurance but when I click on finding a doctor, it gives back hundreds of doctors.)

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        If you decide to find a new NP, you can ask if the practice is partnered with a social worker, or ask your insurance company the same. That’s how I found my current specialist, it still took trying a few but it was way easier than finding one on my own.
        The way it worked for me was that I had my GP ask the social worker to contact me. I asked to communicate by email because I’m not great on the phone, and the SW agreed. I gave the SW a list of my requirements: I need a specialist in ___, who takes my insurance, is accepting new patients, is within driving distance of my house (or willing to mostly have remote appointments), and treats adults rather than children. It took a few days, but I finally got a list back, that had been pre-screened by the social worker. They had done all the hard work of calling everyone on the insurance company’s list and making sure the list was accurate (it was NOT accurate, most of the practitioners on the list were either out of business or no longer took my plan, or didn’t actually have the specialty the insurance company said).
        Once I had the list of a few practices, I looked them up online. I looked for their website, google reviews, and various sites that let people write reviews on specific doctors. When I had decided my order of preference, I called my top choice and asked to make an appointment as a new patient. I double-checked that they met my criteria. They were able to email me the blank forms ahead of time to fill out and print (or email back), so I didn’t waste time in the office filling out paperwork. When I went in for my first appointment, I had a list of my most urgent concerns, so I could ask and take notes right there.
        I’m sorry you’re going through this, Saturday Anon, I wish you the best of luck finding the care you need.

      2. fposte*

        I think NPs are great in their place, but I might prioritize a doctor for a med-adjustment situation. There’s no easy way, but you can pick three that are most conveniently located and check for reviews on them.

    2. Swisa*

      Is the NP making any changes? Or just gathering info? And is it the kind of info that can be gathered all at once? Or something where they ask something, you observe, and then report back?

      Another option could be to see someone else in the practice, instead of going somewhere entirely new.

      1. Saturday Anon*

        N0, NP hasn’t made any changes but is planning on making changes once she’s done gathering info.
        It’s the kind of info where she’s talking to me and to my previous doctors to gather info.

        I thought of trying to talk to her supervisor but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to “go over her head” to ask for a new NP when she might be doing nothing wrong.

        1. Saturday Anon*

          It’s the 3 weeks part that’s really bothering me. I’m not surprised about needing to get a medical history but taking 3 weeks to do it and expecting me to “be patient” and suffer doesn’t seem right.

          1. Swisa*

            It’s awkward to switch practitioners, but I’ve done it, and I think it’s something they see a lot! You don’t even need to offer a reason, just say you want to try something new. I agree, the 3 weeks is a long time, though if she’s waiting on answers from other practices, that may be why. You could ask try calling the other practices to speed the information sharing.

    3. WellRed*

      Three weeks? To gather what? I’ve never heard of such thing unless it’s common for psych meds and there’s some additional info required?

    4. NeonFireworks*

      I went through something similar a few years ago for no reason. What I think I should have done was go to an urgent care clinic, because I believed the doctor who said that I just needed to give it time. I didn’t need time – I needed a medication adjustment!

    5. Courageous cat*

      It can sometimes take up to 6-8 weeks on the right dose (not just the right antidepressant) for these medications to work. Not sure what you feel is off – if the side effects are bad, definitely may be worth switching, but if it’s that it doesn’t work then that can be normal.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Looking at other comments I’m not sure if I’m understanding this right or what, ha. Depends what the three weeks are for then, I guess?

        1. Saturday Anon*

          Three weeks to gather medical history info from me and previous doctor. The NP hasn’t made any changes yet.

    6. Turtle Dove*

      I’d listen to my gut. If I were suffering, that would overrule a health practitioner’s advice to wait I wonder if she means that the medication has to be in your system for several weeks before you can determine its effectiveness. But your sense that something’s off is what I’d listen to. I used to take anti-depressants, and I felt gradually better as I started a new course — not worse in any way.

      I’ve had to speak up to my doctor more often lately. He rushed out of the exam room at my recent annual physical before I realized he wouldn’t be back, and I had a big question about changing a medication. After I got home, I thought “I’ll wait a few days to ask,” and then I thought, “No! This is important to you, so speak up and do it NOW.” I used the portal to request a medication change, and he agreed — probably in part because I said it was important to me to change it. So I encourage you to insist on a change NOW. I’ve found that’s the only way to manage an overwhelmed healthcare system: advocate for yourself, kindly but firmly, at every turn.

      1. Saturday Anon*

        The NP hasn’t changed anything yet. They’re still doing medical history.

        I’ve been trying to advocate for myself and I keep getting, “Be patient.” So I had to start wondering if this situation is normal.

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Aha. I’m sorry I misunderstood. I thought she’d changed your medication and wanted you to wait after you said you were suffering.

          I agree with others that gathering information shouldn’t take three weeks. I’d start looking for someone else while you wait. I wish I had tips for that. I’d like a new GP myself. Mine’s good but moved his office too far from me to keep seeing.

    7. Asenath*

      Three weeks seems like a long time to gather medical history – I changed medical doctors a couple of years ago when my long-time doctor, whom I admired and trusted, retired, which is a good thing for her… I’m wandering off track. It took me a while to find someone taking new patients in my area (and I may not even be in the same country as you), but I just authorized the old office to send my history over to the new office, had a meeting with the new doctor just to make sure there was nothing new or urgent, and that was it. Care continued as normal. Perhaps you could ask the nurse practitioner for a timeline as to when the review will be finished, and if its anything other than in the immediate future, ask to see the doctor for an assessment of your health since you are having problems NOW.

      And as for how I found a practice – I created a spreadsheet of all the clinics in my area, based on what I knew and looked up online, let everyone I knew, friends and co-workers (some of whom were in the medical field) that I was looking for a doctor in, let’s say, the West End, added any new leads to my list, and checked online lists of doctors who were available (not terribly useful because there weren’t many and those that did exist were too far away). And then I called every single clinic every few weeks, which I figured wasn’t so frequent as to annoy them, but was frequent enough to get up-to-date information. I asked if any of the doctors (if there was more than one) were taking new patients now or in the future, and also if the receptionist knew of any possibilities. And if there was any mention of a new doctor joining, I asked if they kept a waiting list. Eventually, I was quick enough off the mark to get in when a very conveniently located clinic, instead of closing down when the original owners retired, continued under new management with new doctors. That might sound like overkill, but I wanted a clinic which I could easily reach at all times of the year, and also live in an area in which there is a bit of a doctor shortage.

    8. fposte*

      I run more to the GI/ortho/etc. side of stuff, but I’m really confused here. It sounds like she’s off to the library and doing research, which I don’t think is a thing; generally a history is what’s taken from the patient, not “gathered.” Do you know specifically what “gathering” is going on? If this is “I can’t prescribe until I get your records from your previous provider” that’s fair enough and should be outright stated, but if it’s “I need to look up how a new medication would interact with the one you have to stay on,” that’s not something you should need to “be patient” about.

      Some people here may know better, but I believe prescribing requirements for NPs varies by state, so it’s possible this is an issue of getting a doctor to do the final signature. I also know that a lot of facilities are way overworked right now, so if this is a reflection of overload, it’s possible switching wouldn’t help.

      But my inclination would be to get a more specific explanation of the roadblock than “gathering history.”

      1. Saturday Anon*

        For info about gathering, so far it’s mostly getting history from me and then they want to talk to my previous doctor.

        It’s so slow that I wondered if it could be right. Surely three weeks is too long.

        1. fposte*

          They should be able to get history from you in one appointment. I might check with them to pin down whether they’re waiting for records from the previous doctor or planning a direct exchange with them and then contact the previous doctor’s office to get that going (or to find out if records were already sent, etc.).

        2. Dr. Anonymous*

          This seems odd. If you have a diagnosis that may require controlled substances to treat, they may need a documented diagnosis from your previous doctor, but there’s no reason they can’t say so so you can contact your doctor’s office and light a fire under them if that’s the holdup. “Just be patient” is not an explanation, so it’s reasonable for you ask what, specifically, the holdup is and specifically what information the NP needs so you can get it for them. In some states, the NP has to work under the supervision of a physician, so you may want to ask who that is and ask if they can be consulted, as well. (I’m assuming you’re in one of many, many places where it’s a long wait to get a primary care clinician and you want to avoid starting over.)

    9. Green Snickers*

      If the meds are making you worse then they need to do something. If you just aren’t feeling any different then that’s a different story. It’s common for it to take up to 12 weeks for SSRI’s to start working. When I’ve taken them, they won’t do much adjustments until I’ve hit the 12 weeks.

      If you’re really suffering, you may need a different type of med that will provide instant relief but aren’t meant to be taken long term except in extreme cases because they can be habit forming. Some doctors can be hesitant to prescribe these but it’s worth mentioning if you think it’s necessary.

      1. fposte*

        They don’t even have new meds. They’re in limbo waiting for the NP to get enough history.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I actually agree with you that it sounds like you are suffering for nothing. “Be patient” is something we say to children, not to fellow adults. So I am smelling some condescension here.

      Do you have to see this NP, can you just request an appointment with the doc? I would explain that I needed help now not months from now.

      I have a friend who is going through a similar thing. Her NP took months and months. I am not even sure if my friend has gotten an answer yet. Meanwhile she is stacking up symptoms like wood for a wood stove.

    11. RagingADHD*

      If she were adjusting meds, sure, it takes several weeks to see the result.

      But why does it take 3 weeks to “gather” a medical history? They talk to you, they request your records, done. Unless they mean the other offices are not responding?

      That might be it. Last fall it took me a month to get my kid’s vaccine records updated because our old pediatrician hadn’t updated the state database the way they were supposed to and weren’t responding to our new doc’s request. But if course nobody was suffering in that case, it was just admin hassle.

      If it’s an admin delay, they need to tell you that! They should also be more aggressive in following up and balance the risk of changing things with the risk of what you’re going through.

      You should go over their head because this is not how it should be done. Maybe this NP has too big of a caseload and can’t keep up – management needs to know that.

      I hope you feel better soon.

    12. HannahS*

      This sounds weird to me. Why would it take three weeks for them to get your prior records? The only way I could see this making sense is if they needed two appointments to assess you before deciding that they need your records. But it doesn’t sound like what happened.

    13. Doctor is In*

      Primary care MD here. Unless she is having trouble getting data on past treatments so she knows what medication has already been tried, this sounds unreasonable to me. Unless she thinks she is treating you with counseling.

    14. Alex*

      Can you get a referral to a psychiatrist? My GP is fine refilling a prescription but med adjustments for antidepressants really should be done by a psychiatrist.

    15. FACS*

      I work in health care. Three weeks just to gather information is really long, unless you have a complex history with multiple practitioners and procedures. Usually you can get hospital and office records in 5-7 business days. Many patients have their records or medication list in hand and you can go from there.

    16. Ampersand*

      This sounds atypical. Any time I’ve told a practitioner a medication wasn’t working for me, they switched my medication immediately (or had me stop it). It’s happened a few times and each time was serious enough that I can’t imagine not being taken seriously.

      I’m sorry you’re having this experience. If your NP doesn’t understand the severity of the situation, I think you need a new doctor/NP.

    17. SofiaDeo*

      I was a pharmacist before the cancer retired me. I am not going to offer any attempts at *advice*, except try a Facebook or HealthUnlocked group specific to your diagnosis, and ask people there about *their* experiences with the evaluation process, as well as side effects from the particular med or meds prescribed. I do this for my cancer/cancer meds. People on your meds, with your diagnosis, and in your region geographically, will have a much better idea of what can be commonly seen.

  22. Autumn*

    Folks watching Selling Sunset- thoughts on Mary’s management style? Yes, it’s “reality” tv but it made me think of how Allison watched an earlier season to comment. Mary is trying to manage Christine and of course, several folks she is friends with. And the boss dates employees. Ha!

    1. Swisa*

      It’s cringey. She doesn’t have a lot of concrete things to say, both in terms of things she’s observed and next steps/consequences. Waaay too many feelings in her management.

  23. Planning to get my first tattoo (Frankie Bergstein)*

    Hi AAM folks! I want to get a smallish side/rib cage tattoo this summer. I’d love your advice! I wrote some questions below that you can answer or ignore :)

    1. How did you find your artist? What made you pick them?

    2. How should I ensure that my tattoo ages well? Any advice for designs or care?

    3. How did you ensure the inks used were safe? Apparently Europe just banned colored tattoo ink (black ink is okay).

    4. Does anyone here have the experience of tattooing (either doing or getting inked) darker skin? My skin is the color of milky coffee. I’m struggling to find tattoo artists with photos of work on non-White skin in their portfolios.

    1. Adara*

      1. IME, the best way to find an artist is Instagram. Everyone in my area has an online portfolio that includes their booking info and many examples of their work/style.

      2. For longevity, follow the aftercare advice of your artist and once it’s healed, protect it from sun exposure as much as you can. Clothing, sunscreen, etc. Continue to moisturize regularly and it should last a long time!

      3. Make sure the shop/artist is licensed in the state/country it’s located and it’s valid and up to date. Check out the shop and ask about cleaning procedures, gloves, etc. If you’re not comfortable with anything, don’t book.

      4. I’m not an artist, so I don’t have experience with darker skin, but the portfolios on IG should show a wide variety of artists who do have that experience.

      Good luck!

    2. cubone*

      Can I tag into this to ask about tattoo artist etiquette and communication? I don’t really understand how to .. ask for what I want and I want to be highly respectful of their time and expertise but I don’t really know how the whole thing goes.

      The artist I like does highly stylized art and has a lot of info in their Insta stories about making sure you know they don’t really do 1-1 specific image recreations and it’s more they will design something artistic based on your source inspiration. Which is exactly what I want! I have an image from a media source I love and want them to use that as inspiration to make something in their style but I don’t really know how to communicate “this but like your idea of this” without it coming across like “do whatever you want” since there are obviously SOME pieces to it I’d like represented (eg colours, general shapes or ideas??)

      This is very rambly but hopefully makes sense lol.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Pretty much exactly like that :) “I’d like to end up with an anchor wrapped in an ivy vine with a stylized owl glyph in front of it. I was looking at these source images, and I like (blah aspects) from this one and (foo color combinations) from that one, but I came to you because I like the way you incorporate ideas into something new. Does that give you a good place to start, or do you need more input from me?”

        And then — if what they show you first isn’t quite what you want — use your words and say that, don’t just assume they know best because they’re the professional. It’s going on YOUR hide. If they get snotty about having to do a revision or two, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway.

      2. Panda (she/her)*

        When I got my major custom piece done, I had some ideas of colours and imagery that I wanted, and some samples showing styles that I liked. So I wanted a swallow, 2 butterflies, and flowers in a black line + watercolour style, and I wanted the colours pink, purple and teal in there. My artist and I discussed how these might best go together, and then she drew the design electronically. We changed a few things and then decided on scale based on where it was going. I am currently planning for a 3/4 sleeve and have an album going of inspiration.

        As far as inspiration goes, I tend to treat it as “I like the overall coverage of this one, and the colours of that one. This style of bird is really nice, but maybe with the wings up instead of down. I love the vines on this one.” So you’re not asking them to recreate anything specific, just pulling elements you like.

    3. kina lillet*

      1. I liked the artist’s other work–I looked up different shops and just went through the artists’ portfolios that were linked there

      2. Most artists will have slightly different aftercare processes. I really favor the use of Tegaderm–ask about what the artist’s aftercare instructions (often also on the website) but honestly maybe bring it if you don’t have it. Tegaderm and aquaphor in the beginning and sunscreen(!!!!!) for the rest of time, even though you have darker skin.

      3. I didn’t ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I like black-and-gray tattoos so the colored ink issue didn’t come up, but mostly I just have accepted the risk of ink sitting under my skin. I’m more concerned with the other risks of tattoos–more vulnerable skin, less visible skin cancer–so I just kinda live with all of it, it’s worth it.

      4. I’m afraid I don’t :(

    4. Jackalope*

      I found an online article from our local newspaper (which I generally trust) with the name of the top 10 tattoo artists in our city. I then went to the webpage for each and looked at their portfolios and picked the one I though was closest to the art style I wanted.

    5. MEH Squared*

      First of all, congrats! Getting your first tat is great–and it’s hard to stop with just one. I will warn not to get one on impulse, which is how I got my first. It went very badly (I’m keloid and Asian, so it scared really badly because he was a novice who didn’t understand my skin). My first tat guy who has done three of my four tats (including a cover-up one for the terrible first one) I found by luck. There was a local tattoo shop with a lot of acclaim, and I looked at his portfolio and really dug his work. All my tats have color and have lasted beautifully for decades, mostly because I don’t get much sun. other than that, I haven’t treated them differently at all.

      I’m looking to get another tattoo; he is no longer in town. My niece told me about a tattoo shop that is geared for LGBTQ+, POC, women, etc. (all the artists fall in at least one of these categories) and I’m planning to get my next tattoo from them. A good artist will have be able to answer all the questions you’ve asked and will be happy to discuss them with you.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Can you share the name of the place that’s geared towards minoritized folks? That sounds amazing.

        And thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I’m glad they got better :)

        1. MEH Squared*

          Sure! It’s called Jackalope Tattoo (just jackalope tattoo dot com) and is in Minneapolis. I’ve never had a problem with any of my tats healing and I have very sensitive skin (all my tats have color in them). Good luck finding a good tattooist!

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      1) Instagram or talking to people you know who have tattoos you like.
      2) Don’t scratch it – it will sting for a few days after you get it done whilst it heals, but if you slap or pat it firmly that helps. Use moisturiser regularly – your tattooist will recommend what’s best to use (some say Bepanthen/nappy rash cream, others shea butter, still others specific tattoo balms). Protect it from sun, particularly when it’s fresh, but also with sunscreen regularly (my ankle tattoo stays mostly covered but I put sunscreen on my wrist tattoo whenever I go outside if I’m likely to get my forearms out) and moisturiser every day.
      3) Honestly that wasn’t something I thought about (both my tattoos are black and grey, and I had one done in the US and one in the UK). For me it was about going to a shop and artist that had good hygiene practices more than anything else – I find a lot of places put this on their websites but it doesn’t hurt to ask about specific issues at the time you’re enquiring either.

      I have no advice on 4), but this is again where I would look at Instagram and/or talk to trusted friends

    7. Panda (she/her)*

      1. My artist was a recommendation from a friend. She was just starting out, but I really liked her style and she was an awesome choice. For other pieces I have just looked up reputable tattoo shops around me then browsed the Instagram photos of their artists until I found one whose style I liked.
      2. 100000% follow your artist’s aftercare instructions EXACTLY. Do not put anything on it unless instructed. Do not go in the sun or in the pool while it is healing. Do not let tight clothing rub on it (like, say a bra band). After it’s healed, SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN. High SPF, reapply often and/or keep it covered.
      3. Reputable tattoo shops will only use safe inks. Obviously getting a tattoo is not risk free, but nothing is and personally the risk is manageable (and worth it) to me. You can always Google them if you’re concerned, just beware conspiracy theorists.
      4. I am so white I glow in the dark, so no help there. But if you find the right hashtags you should be able to find photos on instagram or Pinterest.

      Good luck, and take your time. Having an amazing piece of wearable art is 100% worth the wait. I waited 10 years to get my biggest one – 5 figuring out the details of what I wanted, and another 5 finding the right artist. It was completely worth it.

  24. RagingADHD*

    You are friends. Just say what you feel.

    “I feel bad about this because you have invested so much time listening to me talk about work. I appreciate that so much! But I just can’t return the favor here. You know I’m not a fan of MLMs, but the truth is my opinions are so strong and so negative that I just can’t discuss it.

    Can we talk about something else?”

    The best way to start any hard or conflicted conversation is to acknowledge the feelings up front. “This is hard to talk about,” or “I feel awkward saying this…” or “Something has been worrying me…”

    This frames the whole conversation. When you show your vulnerability, then your honesty is less likely to come across as brusque or aggressive.

    She’s not going to like it. That’s only to be expected. But you will have done what you can to be gentle and kind about it. Sometimes you have to just tell the truth in the kindest way you can, and let them have their feelings about it.

  25. Pavement ants!*

    It’s been raining quite a bit here, so we have our usual invasion of pavement ants. I’ve put out terro baits that I cover with a small cardboard box so the ants can access the terro and hopefully the kittens can’t. And I put heavy books on the boxes. But I am open to other suggestions, as I’m not so confident my plan will keep the cats safe.

    Food bowl is on a half-sheet baking pan that’s got a moat of water, and the ants haven’t discovered the kitchen yet, so I’m hoping I got this handled early.

    If this follows the path of other years, the ants will be gone in a day or so, so maybe I just have to be vigilant for a short time. I’m definitely listening for the sound of falling books!

    1. fposte*

      You can buy Terro in little plastic containers that the ants have to crawl into. I’d use those. And if you have access to the wall outside of their favorite entry point, put those plastic traps outside to grab the ants before they even come in.

      1. Pavement ants!*

        Thank you — I really wasn’t clear, but I am using the plastic traps (under the cardboard box). It’s still raining some, and will continue it looks like, but we’ll put some bait outside, too. Terro works, but requires a little patience, and with cats, some vigilance! I tried repeatedly wiping down the ants’ pathways with soapy water, and then vinegar, to no avail. I also tried putting out cinnamon, which they just walked through. And some years back, there was some other spice I tried, with no effect.

        But the ants are really rather cute, and very interesting! They have a path from the enclosed porch, along the baseboard in the living room, and into the family room (where the kittens eat).

        1. fposte*

          I think the plastic traps are fine. Terro is boric acid, which isn’t great for cats but isn’t super-toxic, so they’re not likely to be hurt by an errant lick.

        2. Aphrodite*

          Use Dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue one) to wipe out ants’ scent trails. It works far faster and better than vinegar. I would pour it out on their entire trail and then use wet paper towels to swipe the entire mess of dead ants and soap up. Then for several times a day for several days I would wet paper towels, add the soap and wipe down various. places. It took only about three days to get rid of the last few remaining ones.

          (Where do you live where. you get this?)

    2. 00ff00Claire*

      We seem to have the same issue where at a certain temperature each year, the ants start trying to get into our house. I read somewhere that ants don’t like lavender, so I started using lavender soap to help keep them away. We also use it in conjunction with terro traps, so while it may not actually be having any effect, I have also noticed that they tend to avoid entering via routes that have been sprayed with lavender-scented solution. For example, they sometimes come into our kitchen via the window (old house, old wood-frame windows) but if they were coming in on the right side and I sprayed the right side, they changed tactics and came in on the left. So I started just spraying all along the window sill. I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille soap and dilute it based on the concentration for spraying plants for bugs, which is given on the label. Then, I spray lightly and I leave it without wiping it away. The spray does not have any effect on the material of the area I am “treating”, and once it’s been several days without any ants, I go back and clean the area to remove any residue. Since you know they are coming in at the enclosed porch, perhaps this method would work for you there? Or if you need to wipe the spray away, the scent might still linger enough for the ants to pick up on it and avoid it?

    3. A Feast of Fools*

      I don’t have anything to recommend on keeping the ants out, but I have found a food bowl platform that keeps ants from getting to pet food (or your food!) that doesn’t need water. It works so well that I use them outdoors for the TNR cats I help feed.

      Search Amazon (or the web) for “Yuwoda Ant Away Cat Dog Bowl Tray -Ant Away Tray Pet Food Dish Safe No Water Needed”.

      1. Pavement ants!*

        Thanks, This looks interesting! The cats are drinking the water from the baking tray, which isn’t a big deal, but I am dreading having to empty the tray without spilling when the time comes.

      2. L. Ron Jeremy*

        This would be great for cats that eat with their mouths; my cat like to use his paw to bring the food to his mouth and there are wet food bits on the floor every time he eats.
        We use disposable paper plate mats under his bow that are replaced daily. Still get ant attacks where the food is tracked through the house.

    4. Ali G*

      I use diatomaceous earth. It’s safe for the kitties and kills the ants pretty quickly. We have the same problem annually and this takes care of it for us. You just spread it around for a few days and then clean it up.

      1. Salymander*

        I second the recommendation of diatomaceous earth. Just be sure to wear a mask while spreading it because it can cause terrible lung problems. It does work, though, and when you are done you can just spray it away with water. It is not harmful to soil. I sprinkle it all around the outside of my house, and over any cracks in the pavement. It works really well. The ants were coming down my chimney, and I sprinkled it around the base of the chimney outside and inside the fireplace. I left it for a week, and then washed it away. No more ant problem.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is as safe as flour. You don’t want to snort lines of it, but sprinkling/dusting it inside your house won’t hurt anyone.

          The DE that *shouldn’t* be used inside your house is the kind made for pool filters. It has been heated to a high enough point to create silica, the thing that you really, really, really don’t want in your lungs (see: silicosis).

          I wouldn’t use food-grade DE outside, though, because it’s an indiscriminate killer. It’s the skeletons of microscopic sea critters (diatoms) whose “bones” are often compared to glass. They slice into the exoskeleton of insects and, because they are also very dry and porous, dessicate / dry out the insect.

          That’s also why DE doesn’t work when wet. It is already full of moisture and therefore soft (won’t slice through an exoskeleton) and can’t absorb the insect’s scant body moisture.

          Outdoors in the yard, ants can be controlled with beneficial nematodes.

          HOWEVER… the nematodes only work if you’re following an organic yard/garden program because any store-bought insecticides that you apply to your yard will kill the nematodes, too.

    5. Tea and Cake*

      We had this every year as well and traced the entry point to the heating/AC vents. We pulled the heat register covers off and caulked the outside edges between the duct and register cut out so there was no longer a small gap for them to use as a highway. Not sure if this fits for your current situation but if so, it’s really very quick and easy!

    6. Anono-me*

      Put the ant traps in the metal cages used the feed birds suet in cold weather. Use a zip tie to be extra sure it stays closed. (Please note this will not be a good idea around determined/motivated dogs with mouths big enough to squeeze the suet feeder open. )

    7. Pavement ants!*

      Update: thanks for your commiserations and suggestions! There are now a very few ants, which I take to mean I got it earlier rather than later. Terro is really amazing, and it’s good to know it’s not completely toxic for cats (or people).

  26. Sustainability challenge*

    I pack my lunch for work four days/week, and I have been increasingly concerned about the number of single-use plastic bags I am using.

    I bought a small quantity of reusable plastic bags on Amazon. I specifically went with dishwasher-safe ones, because I want to make sure they’d really get clean in between uses.

    My question is about how best to position them in the dishwasher so they don’t fill up with yucky washwater.

    So far, I’ve had moderate success with putting them upside down on the top rack, and putting a bowl or colander over them to keep them in place.

    Any other suggestions?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That’s what I do, along with making sure they’re spread open so the inside gets hit well. Mine are the Stasher silicone ones.

      1. Sustainability challenge*

        Aha! Your suggestion of making sure they’re spread open is apt. I also see that if I stretch them over multiples spikes to keep them open, it has the additional benefit of making them less likely to get dislodged by the water spray. Thank you. =)

    2. Sundial*

      You can buy clips that go over the rack tines to hold things in place. I use them for Tupperware lids. Do a search for “dishwasher no-flip clip”.

      1. fposte*

        I swear, I’ve gotten the best recommendations for products I never knew I needed on AAM. Off to buy no-flip clips.

    3. Ellen Ripley*

      To cut down on bags I use reusable containers with lids (plastic Tupperware ones or glass pyrex ones) for most everything. They do take up more room but it’s worth it to me. (Sorry I don’t have advice about your bags in the dishwasher though!)

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        Other options are jars with screw-on lids (for liquidy things like soup) and towels/cloths (to wrap produce in). Lots of this stuff can be found at thrift and second hand stores in good condition as well, so no need to buy new.

      2. the cat's ass*