weekend open thread – July 16-17, 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: I’d Like to Play Alone, Please, by Tom Segura. I love his stand-up comedy and he’s just as funny in book form.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,043 comments… read them below }

  1. Raptor Tamer*

    Any ideas for how much to get more notice for a charity, not for donations, but applications of people to help?

    I’m part of a charity that makes handcrafted items for children with long-term/life-threatening illnesses (I’m being vague because I know we’re not allowed to share charity links in the open thread). We don’t need donation funds as everyone who makes things covers the costs of shipping, but lately we’ve had few to no new applications of children to gift our items to. We know there is no lack of children to help but we can’t find them. We all share posts and links on social media but I’m not sure if anyone what else we can do, short of leaving flyers in local hospitals, which I doubt would be allowed. Normally we get new applications by families who receive our items showing them to families with children in similar circumstances but it’s not been happening recently.

    If anyone has any thoughts, would be glad to hear them. Thanks!

    1. 3lla*

      Have you called any children’s hospital social work or support coordinators? The children’s hospital near me has full time employees focused on connecting families to what they need, from transit to meals to whatever.

    2. SG*

      I agree with 3lla’s suggestion, and I also wouldn’t assume you can’t share flyers. In fact, children’s hospitals might even be willing to place flyers in resource folders that are usually given out to patients and their parents.
      If social workers at children’s hospitals cannot help directly, they will at least have suggestions.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Can you contact shelters for domestic violence survivors? Or homeless shelters that focus on families? I also think that maybe churches in economically depressed or financially difficult situations might have a lot of families who would love your items.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Love this idea! Lots of kids are in situations where they need a little extra TLC.

    4. Bookgarden*

      If you live in a larger city (or even if you don’t, really) you could contact your local library’s youth services department. Many have staff dedicated especially to outreach for early childhood services. In the library world, we often partner with all kinds of organizations and would likely have quite a few leads.

    5. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      I work in community engagement for charities. The work often involves working with partner organisations who have regular personal contact with the people we would like to reach. In other words, we reach our hoped-for clients through the people at these partner orgs. (I note that’s how your work has succeeded in the past, through personal recommendations.) I think this may be what you’re missing at the moment?
      “Partner” sounds fancy but all it means is look for organisations and people who work directly with your hoped-for clients and then you contact them and say, ” We do [x]. Could your clients benefit?” Some organisations will not be interested but some will.

      1. MapleHill*

        This is what I was thinking. You need to partner with organizations that work with your target audience and maybe also extend the type of children you work with to expand your reach…in the health realm, what about burn victims and children dealing with amputations or other life-altering medical issues?

        –Instead of leaving flyers at hospitals, try to find the volunteer coordinator and they’ll help you become part of the system, rather than relying on individuals dealing with trauma to reach out.
        –Also programs that work with children in CPS/Foster care
        –group home type places…near me there’s one where parents dealing with drug addiction turn their children of all ages over to this group home where they have a safe place to live while the parent hopefully deals with their addiction- they also have volunteers that can come onsite to teach classes, like maybe you could have a craft class
        someone mentioned programs that work with domestic abuse victims
        –other non profits that work directly with children in these situations.
        –maybe non profits that work with children abroad dealing with illness or even in war zones

    6. Cloudy Day*

      Could you try posting about it in forums or subreddits related to the illnesses the kids are dealing with (or even just popular message boards children might go on)? I’ve had a chronic illness since I was a kid, and I spent a ton of time on the internet on forums (and would have been on Reddit if it had existed back then) when I was first diagnosed because I was too sick to do much else but wanted to “socialize.”

    7. JSPA*

      Provided it isn’t limited to a certain demographic or serving as a gateway contact to a particular religion, I’m unsure why you’d presume that hospitals would be unwilling to have a card or flyer in the relevant department? I’ve certainly seen flyers for (unaffiliated) support groups…

      1. Hibiscus*

        I work in a hospital and we have really cut down on flyers, magazines, etc being out in the open due to COVID and infection prevention.

        1. JSPA*

          I was thinking “posted under glass”? And at some point, unless one of the variants turns out to have considerably more surface contact risk, I’m guessing cards will crop up again.

    8. CDclgirl*

      What helped me was to realize how little time some chores take. The thought of doing it looms large but the actual time not so much

      For example I try to empty the dishwasher before my toast is ready. I make a game if it. I will also set a timer and say I will clean for 20 minutes. It is amazing how much I can get done in 29 minutes (at least some times)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Church groups, rescue squads. All they need is a copy of your app. They can hand that out where they think it’s appropriate. If this is daunting because you have a large city then you can start by just getting the larger organizations in these two groups.

      Social service offices. Food stamp, heat aid, weatherization. These folks know who is struggling in the community.

      Municipal offices. Town, village and even county. If you can find the right person at the county level they might be able to help broadcast your service. We have some really great town and village clerks here, they make it a point to find out who is doing what so they can connect people.

      Libraries might be willing to help. Here there is a movement in the library systems to be a connection for the community. Libraries might be willing to display some applications for you.

      Neighborhood forums. I just heard someone say that they would post something on their neighborhood forum before some of the big name forums. This is because of the accountability factor- people actually know each other. In your post you can ask people to pass your message to relevant groups or individuals.

      Last. Look around for who you can hitch your wagon to. Is there another group serving a similar group of people? Can your group and the other group help each other find folks? Again, this can be as simple as they agree to keep your application on hand (you keep theirs, too) and both groups point people to the other group.

    10. Cindy*

      Project Linus donates blankets to children in hospitals.
      I’d also recommend that you get in touch with groups such as a local Altrusa or Rotary to see if they have any contacts to share.

    11. Might Be Spam*

      You can also check with your fire and police departments. My daughter was given a stuffed animal when she was transported by ambulance after an accident. She still has “Bob” 20 years later.

    12. Maverick Jo*

      Most hospitals with pediatric departments or children’s hospitals have “Child Life Specialists”. You can find those titles on most hospital websites. They are skilled at matching needs with donors.

    13. Merle Grey*

      There are organizations that provide help for families with kids while they are in hospitals (temporary lodging, social support etc). Locally there is a non-profit that provides low-cost housing in a former hotel for families of patients in the teaching hospital, since some of the patients come from other areas of the state. Surely there are similar orgs elsewhere, and they might be receptive to providing information about your charity.

    14. Danielle*

      Hi! I’m a volunteer for a small non-profit that supports children (including my own daughter) with a rare, chronic and life threatening form of epilepsy. There are so many small non-profits for rare disorders out there. Most of them are almost 100% volunteer (parent/caregiver) run. I feel pretty confident that if you reached out to ours the ED or another volunteer would likely be willing to post in our private support group letting families know of the resource. I’m not sure if you only support children with a certain type of disease, but if you search for rare pediatric disorder nonprofits you will find tons of small underfunded groups that are likely to respond.

      I would also search for Social workers that work at Children’s hospitals. They are usually open to sharing resources and pediatric palliative care organizations. Our hospital social worker and palliative care nurse both provided me with literature that included both government resources and non-profits that support families like ours.

      1. Danielle*

        Also seconding the above commenters who mentioned child life services at the Children’s hospitals. We have received books and toys from them before that were donated by non-profits.

        My daughter received a beautiful blanket while in the NICU during Covid (so the hospital was still willing to accept it and be the go-between) and it is something I will always treasure.

  2. I'm Not Martha*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to enjoy doing housework? I really, really hate doing it but I am getting tired of living in a dirty house. I finally moved to a nice house that I really love and I want to keep it nice. I say I don’t have time, but the truth is that I would rather watch tv and knit or crochet than clean up after myself. I live alone so I can’t get anyone else to do it and I can’t afford to hire someone.

    1. 3lla*

      I have a friend who washes my dishes when he comes over & I sweep and mop his floors. I wonder if it would help you to trade, too?

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        I set a timer for 15 minutes for a task, and stop when the timer goes off. I tell myself I can do anything for that long! I also try to “clean as I go” as others have noted above, that keeps the house from falling into deep disrepair which takes much more energy to overcome. I do enjoy a clean house, so I tolerate cleaning!

    2. Missb*


      I don’t know. I have a pretty low bar. I do run my roombas often. (Two story home, two roombas). I have a fabulous furnace that deals well with keeping the dust down (electrostatic precipitator).

      I have light colored floors. Furniture in living room is leather (modern) or wood. Couple of soft chairs but nothing with heavy upholstery.

      Dining room has tables with wood chairs – no soft seats.

      Rugs are ruggable.

      I look for easy cleaning tips like steam cleaning the tile shower and glass doors. Stuff like that.

      1. JSPA*

        I keep a “dirty feet” bucket outside the door in summer, and squeegee the glass and tile after (as part of) every shower or bath, wipe the sink after / as part of handwashing and toothbrushing, and hang towels outside the bathroom. Before a towel goes in the laundry, I use it to wipe the floor, then shake it out, outside.

        With no water droplets nor mildew, the only reason to clean the bathroom (other than the toilet) is if i want the taps to shine, and that’s 2 minutes with the microfiber cloth.

        It helps that the household default is, “sit to pee, or clean it instantly.” And we all use very little “product,” so there is minimum glop and scum.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Maybe do some tasks while watching TV? Like folding clothes. Also, listen to the radio or podcasts while doing stuff you can’t do in front of the TV. Otherwise, Unf*uck Your Habitat on Twitter (maybe she’s on some other social networks) has some advice. Roughly summarized: a little at a time instead of cleaning marathons.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is the only trick I’ve ever managed to use – watch a weekly show while doing the dishes (trying to create a routine), listen to certain “special” music playlists while cleaning. I tell myself even working through one song is progress. Sometimes I can get myself to pick up just while the coffee perks or the sink drains or whatever. There’s also a weird technique I use where I can suddenly do chores I don’t like if I’m avoiding something I *really* don’t want to do …

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Hah, that’s happened to me.
          I also watch TV or listen to a podcast while cooking, but that wasn’t the original question.

          1. Seeking second childhood*

            But it is an answer to that question — a lot of us never truly enjoy housework. We just learn to enjoy something else while we do it so it gets done.

        2. Resolutely Rach*

          Yes, me too. I listen to really interesting/gripping podcasts or music that will make me boogie about and sing along as I clean – basically distracting me from the task I am carrying out.
          I also chunk chores together eg put laundry on – and then while the cycle is running (there’s a handy timer on the front), I do what I’ve set out as essential weekly tasks eg cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom. Then when the laundry is done and hung out – I am free!

          Last thing, like others have said – I suggest working out the ‘level’ and frequency of cleaning you think is needed/feasible for you. In my bathroom I picked very light grout/caulk around the tiles (bad idea) and find an infrequent deep clean of those with a cleaning tool (like a battery operated toothbrush but bigger brush head) sets me up so I then only need to do a quick weekly wipe down.

        3. nobadcats*

          Music playlists really help. I dance whilst using my crosswave from room to room.

          My office is my dining room, which is just off the galley kitchen, so I set an alarm: 15 minutes for washing dishes, swiffering the floor, and putting dry dishes away. This is accomapanied by teevee shows I like to watch, but not have to pay attention to visually.

        4. A313*

          My home was never cleaner than when a paper was due or a test to study for . . . Oh, look, there must be ick under the refrigerator so I must pull it out and check right NOW.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, been there many times. A looming deadline is also good motivation to cook something elaborate!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Is there a podcast you’ve been meaning to get into? “The podcast while cleaning” can be a good way to build in 20 minute spurts of cleaning.

        I recommend Terrible Lizards, about dinosaurs and their cousins.

        1. Golden*

          This is kind of what I do! I designated 2-3 of my favorite youtube channels that I won’t allow myself to listen to unless it’s during housecleaning, so I have to clean to stay current on them.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            That’s my exercising strategy! I’m not allowed to listen to podcasts unless I am working out.

            1. Jay*

              That’s how I watched The West Wing, which I missed when it was first broadcast. I only allowed myself to watch it when I was walking on the treadmill.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This is the only way I can deal with cleaning. I hate it too, so I save political podcasts to listen to while scrubbing the tub and cleaning the floors, etc. If I get mad, the activity helps me blow off steam.

          1. Bookgarden*

            That’s brilliant, I get so ticked off when listening to political podcasts but also need to be busy when mad and frustrated with things be beyond my control. This is a great way to combine the two constructively.

            “They did WHAT now??” Scrubscrubscrub

      3. Ali + Nino*

        Yes to watching TV – anything you enjoy but I find a 15″ excerpt of hoarders particularly motivating…

    4. Sarah in CA*

      I did a room a day so it’s not such a big job at one time. If you can afford it, pay someone once a month to do a deep clean.

    5. Anon for this*

      I wish I had an easy trick. I hate housework, but love a clean house. I also love an organized space and really struggle with that!

      I do different tasks on different days. Vacuuming one day. Mopping with a swifter another. Stovetop cleaning, pans scrubbed & kitchen floor swept while food cooks. Laundry day involves washing, folding & putting away. I’ve got podcasts or TV show on in the background.

      And finally, I started hiring someone once a month, 3 months ago to clean. I can afford it but I felt guilty for doing it. Somehow knowing they’re coming and need the place straightens keeps me on top of putting stuff away.

      For organization, well, I still suck at it. My mother and sister have helped me many times. I help them with other things.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        This is what I do also. I made a schedule with different tasks on different days so I can stay on top of it. A dance playlist helps too. When I really lack motivation I set a 10 minute timer and just do what I can in those minutes. Often I like to see the job done and then finish up.

    6. Squidhead*

      Putting stuff on a schedule works better for me than waiting until it “needs” to be done. I work every other weekend so on my weekends off, the house gets cleaned. The garbage goes out on Tuesday, so the cat litter gets changed every Tuesday, even if it looks like it could go another day or two. The schedule holds me to it so I can’t weasel out and it also takes away some of the decision-fatigue that comes with life tasks. I don’t have to analyze whether it’s time to do the cat litter, it just needs to get done.

      And yes to trading tasks with a friend if you can- I do this at work a lot! (Or even if I don’t trade, doing an annoying task for someone else feels like a nice favor but doing it for my own workload feels like a tedious chore. Brains are funny.)

    7. A A*

      I think it’s fun to be creative with it. For example, learning different ways to fold clothes. Also, I like to challenge myself: to try to get stains out of things, make things smooth to the touch, etc. I also love learning to hack things that I used to dread (vacuum crumbs instead of trying to get every last speck into a dustpan, soak things in steaming hot water for a few seconds instead of scrubbing for 30 minutes, etc.)

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I despise vacuuming, so I bought a battery-powered vacuum and tell myself I just have to get the worst spots, and I can stop when there’s only one bar left on the battery display. If I do this often enough, there are different “worst spots” every time, and I don’t feel obligated to vacuum the entire house each time just because I got out the vacuum. (I have a mixture of hardwood floors, linoleum, and tile, and mostly buy small, washable rugs and runners, so thorough vacuuming isn’t as required as with wall-to-wall carpets, just a supplement to sweeping and mopping.)

      I mostly solved dishes by buying a nice, new dishwasher that can do most of it for me, because I am terrible at doing dishes. I just only buy things that can go in the dishwasher and solve the problem that way. This was one of my very few “optional” upgrades after I bought a house, and it was worth every penny. (The house came with an ancient dishwasher that was more of a “dish wetter”.)

      Definitely looking for other tips, since I could also improve in this area.

    9. M*

      I do it with headphones and music on. Also dirty dishes go directly in the dishwasher in our house.

    10. Aphrodite*

      Become a writer. Have a deadline. There is nothing like a deadline to make chores extremely attractive.

      1. Dreaming of Italy*

        Or a teacher. Grading deadlines inspire me to do all kinds of dreaded tasks.

    11. No name for this*

      Right there with you. I’d blush to confess how old I was before I even started to get a handle on housework, and I still have lapses, but I don’t feel doomed or panicky about it anymore. What helped:
      1) The Apartment Therapy site has good ideas, like here: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/weekday-cleaning-routine-36653879
      2) Get good equipment and containers. Things like turntables and bins for cupboards, attractive baskets or bowls for places you drop things, good laundry and shoe storage, cleaning products that smell nice.
      3) Lots of folks struggle with this, and there’s a lot of advice out there. I trained myself to look for and skim info on housework; much of it isn’t for me, but there are tips and gems (the simpler the better, for me) that have stuck, like “ABC: Always Be Carrying”, meaning that every time I leave a room I pick up items that belong elsewhere and put them away. Radical! Other borrowed ideas: try decluttering either by going roughly clockwise around a room, or by category – papers, books, clothes, dishes, etc. See what feels most natural to you.
      4) Do ONE thing that’s bothering you. Pile of papers? Grubby bathtub? Porch needs sweeping? Removing the bother is a gift to yourself and a mood booster.
      5) It all counts! The great is the enemy of the adequate. I gave myself permission to do quick wipe-downs of the bathroom and kitchen floors with a disinfectant wipe most of the time, and only really scrub and wax, etc. once a year or so. It’s fine.
      6) There’s no one perfect way to do housework. Try different things, and when you find a product, technique, or routine that seems to work for you, have patience with yourself! It takes time to set new habits.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similar to ABC: If it will take less than a minute, just do it now and get it out of the way. Current!You may find it easier to leave your spaghetti dish on the counter instead of rinsing it and putting it in the dishwasher, but Future!You will not appreciate that that results in being reminded repeatedly by your wife to clean up after yourself, and by the time Future!You gets around to doing it, it requires either soaking or scrubbing to get the tomato sauce off before it can go in the dishwasher, so now the 20 second chore has become a five minute bone of contention. Just get it out of the way. (And by “You” I totally mean “my husband” who as far as I can tell hates his future self and wants to make future self’s life as difficult as possible :P )

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Are we married to the same guy? I try to just.f***ing.do.it.as.I.go. Clearing the table? Right into the dishwasher. Laundry in the dryer, just fold it and put it away. But him? Clean laundry on the chair in the bedroom until we don’t know if it’s clean or dirty anymore. Etc
          I abhor cleaning but love a clean house, so I’m reading all the advice here intently! Most of my friends have completely immaculate houses ALL THE TIME and they say they don’t clean all the time, but I don’t believe them…
          I love your concept of Future!You. I use it if I go away. I’ll really scrub the house and change the sheets etc so Future!Me comes home to a clean house. I’m going to try to apply it more frequently

      2. pancakes*

        Big yes to cleaning products that smell nice. I don’t polish wood furniture often at all, but buying a nice scented salve to use makes me not mind doing it. Likewise things like rosemary-scented dish soap. I still hate doing dishes but it does help.

    12. Despachito*

      How many things do you have?

      I hate cleaning, and during the years I found out that a lot of problems comes out of a situation when you are swamped with things. The ideal situation is that every thing has its place, and if it is something you use frequently, you do not have to remove other things to put it there.

      When we were remodeling the kitchen, it was full of kitchen utensils to the brim. We put in boxes, and only put back like a third of them. We left the boxes sitting around for some time to see whether we need what was in them, and if we didn’t need a thing for two months, we concluded that we didn’t need it altogether, and get rid of it.

      So my solution would be – if you are like me, get rid of the stuff you do not use, and it would be easier to keep the house tidy.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        I got this advice from my mother & well-meaning friends & Flylady & from various commentariats & Marie Kondo & Dana K. White… and it was Dana White who gave me a reliable way to work it into my life: when putting stuff away, if there are too many of one thing to fit in its container/drawer/closet, get rid of the one I like least. (Yes “pitch it” can include the donation station.)

        1. MJ*

          I love Dana; her blog “A Slob Comes Clean” transformed my approach to managing my stuff. The idea that I couldn’t clean because there was too much clutter was a revelation. And having to fit things into the available “container” worked (helped, no doubt, by decluttering for an overseas move).

    13. mimi*

      Clean My Space on YouTube just posted this video this morning: “10 Cleaning Hacks for People Who HATE to Clean”, though I haven’t seen it yet.
      (Link in next comment)

    14. Sue*

      Two suggestions:
      I listen to audio books from the library on my phone. Stick it in my pocket and use earbuds outdoors or when vacuuming or washing dishes. It makes the cleaning jobs so much more enjoyable when I’m distracted by a good book.
      One of the books I recently finished was Atomic Habits and I’m incorporating some of his suggestions to good effect. Especially helpful for me is thinking about how to make the task more routine. I might designate a specific time to each task, make a detailed list and have the tools out visible the night before. I’m much more likely to sweep if the broom is in my immediate line of sight. I plan for the next day and have a sense of accomplishment when I cross each item off my list.

    15. Cloudy Day*

      I think listening to (and, honestly, singing along to) my favorite music can make the time spent doing chores go faster. Sometimes I reward myself in between doing chores. Like, if I clean the dishes I get to read a book for 30 minutes. If I vacuum three rooms, I can take a break and browse through Reddit for 10 minutes.

    16. Barnacle Sally*

      I don’t enjoy housework, but I feel better in general living in a clean-ish environment. I have discovered it’s a heck of a lot easier to pick up after myself as I go instead of leaving it all for miserable day of cleaning. (For example putting dirty clothes in the hamper right away) I abhor doing dishes(don’t have a dishwasher) so every morning when I’m waiting for my coffee to brew I do dishes. As soon as that coffee maker is done I stopped doing dishes whether they’re all done or not lol. I guess I’m saying I don’t enjoy cleaning but I’d rather spend 10 to 15 minutes a day doing it than letting it all pile up for huge miserable day of cleaning

    17. JSPA*

      Expecting instantaneous enjoyment from every moment of life isn’t a reasonable expectation. I’d investigate that, first, frankly! If you’re the kid who can’t pass up the marshmallow now for the promise of two marshmallows in 5 minutes, there’s only so much “gamification” of tasks will win you.

      Captain awkward had a good process, if it’s more about avoidance or depression or feeling overwhelmed, but I’m not hearing that this is relevant here?

      There are apps to gamify ckeaning, if that appeals; for me, that’s a whole new distraction and time’suck.

      One option is to tie certain sorts of cleaning and tidying to certain projects. Another is to do it vigorously enough to qualify as exercise. (Hand wash, dry, hard paste-wax and vigorously hand buff a wood floor, and there will be few muscles you don’t feel, the next two days.)

      Loud tunes and some dancing while vacuuming, mopping, sponging, is an option.

      If slow moving is your thing, and exercise is odious… if it’s actually painful, that may be something to look into. If it’s just, “I prefer light movement,” then remember that you can sit down while cleaning! Sit on the floor; draw up a stool to wipe shelves, counters.

      If you are a tactile and craft-y person, clean favorite objects mindfully, and regroup / arrange as you go, so there’s a creative aspect.

      Just as you likely shower or bathe regularly, and also wash your hands as needed, don’t feel that every “as needed” task must launch the cleaning equivalent of a long bath.

      If you like getting wet, and your floors and walls are designed and built to handle excess water (many can’t!! Check first, where it will run to!!) it can be refreshing to get naked or wear a bathingsuit and mop / sponge walls and counters with just a little soap (or simple green or murphys wood soap, as appropriate) in lots and lots of extra water on a hot day. (This is great for garages with drains, or well-sealed, well-ventilated tiled areas. Not for click flooring or even most real wood floors or vinyl tiles or tiles with cracked or unsealed grout.)

      But really, much of life involves taking satisfaction (rather than pleasure per se) in having done something that needed doing.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I think this is a curious take! It’s far easier to go five minutes without a marshmallow than it is to enjoy cleaning! Although, some people claim that they do enjoy cleaning. By “enjoy”, most of us mean “satisfying enough to feel like tackling it”. I never, ever do… although I am better at diminishing and preventing the tasks that build up than I used to be. I think the main reasons cleaning is unsatisfying is that it’s such a huge job that it’s never “done”, you feel like you’re always chipping away at it. I think the other thing that makes it unsatisfying is that things look fine, until they don’t and that everything crosses that line at once, which is overwhelming and makes the goal of “done” seem unlikely. There are ways to mitigate this and make cleaning more satisfying, but it’s not inherently easy.

        1. JSPA*

          You have my argument reversed, I belive.

          If someone can only bring themselves to do tasks that are actively enjoyable in the instant, it’s extra hard to deal with cleaning.

          You can test yourself for being someone who needs / expects maximum instant pleasure by some version of the marshmallow test.

          If “happiness of future you” never wins over “happiness of the moment,” that’s a different issue than “ugh, I hate cleaning and it’s sweaty and dirty and gross.”

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Well, no, you can’t really because the marshmallow test is for children aged about six. So, if you misused it on an adult, the adult would almost certainly pass it and mistakenly think this meant something, or if they failed it would highlight a gratification need way more significant than needing some motivation to clean.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. And it also really depends on the kid. Sure, some of it is related to the individual kid’s ability to postpone gratification, but you can’t expect the same thing from a kid who gets candy every holiday, every weekend, or even every day (horrors!) and a kid who doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from and goes to sleep hungry more often than not. By and large, these studies show that kids who grew up poor aren’t as good at postponing gratification as kids who weren’t deprived of material things.

              But yeah, the ability to just stop procrastinating and do that unpleasant cleaning task is a necessary life skill for every adult who can’t afford to pay others to do what they don’t want to do.

    18. Kate*

      I am the opposite of a lot of the commenters here. The idea of setting a regular cleaning schedule and cleaning on my days off is enough to make my skin crawl.

      In my case, what works best is having cleaner accessible in every room I need to clean, and doing quick cleans in that room when I am doing something else. The easiest example is my bathroom— I keep sink and countertop cleaner in a non-description container, and do a wipe down every time I am standing there brushing my teeth. Or I empty/load the dishwasher while I am in the kitchen waiting for my coffee to brew.

      I’ve also been known to motivate myself by making a deal with myself to do it in tiny chunks. The whole bedroom doesn’t need to be cleaned at once, I’ll just pick up as much stuff as I can over the course of one song on Spotify. Half the time, I get into a groove and just do one more song, one more song, but if I don’t, I am at least 4 minutes closer to clean and tidy.

      1. Lasslisa*

        Yeah, this is more like what works for me – when it’s bothering me, in the moment it’s bothering me, I deal with it. If the floor isn’t dirty enough to annoy me, why the hell am I scheduling my Saturdays to mop? Who is my home for, anyway?

        The grout is dark gray all the time and it’s not hurting anything. The top of the baseboards gets a wet paper towel on it a couple times a year when I’m annoyed by the dust pattern on it, and that doesn’t feel like a chore at all because it’s satisfying to fix an annoyance.

        If you live with other people, there are compromises and modifications, and if your home is unhealthy or causing you health issues you need to address that like you would want other critical chore, like going to the dentist or getting exercise or fasting before a blood draw. But if your floor gets some scratches because you don’t wax it, well, as long as it’s not going to cave in…

        1. Lasslisa*

          That said, I understand OP said she’s tired of living in a dirty house! I’ve had a similar change and e.g. bought a good vacuum so I can just pull out the vacuum and have all the floors clean in 15-20 minutes. (I don’t move the furniture and stuff, but it makes such a huge difference to just get up the cat hair…) I bought a ten pack of microfiber cloths and stuck a couple under each sink so I can wipe down mirrors or faucet or countertop whenever. That all makes it much easier to see the way what I’m doing is directly fixing what I care about.

        2. Kate*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean for my comment to read as “get comfortable with dirty!”

          Just that all those little cleans do add up to pretty darn clean eventually!

    19. Not So NewReader*

      Some thoughts:

      1) Decide that you will never enjoy housework but you do enjoy a clean home. And/or decide that your own standards are very high and not sustainable.

      2) Declutter. Watch how much time you spend double and triple handling things. I have a friend who sets her recycling down half way between the room it came from and the bin where it should be. Either move the bin closer or decide not to set things down only to pick them up later. I try not to walk around the house empty handed.

      3) I am much happier doing little bits every day than doing one big push at the end of the week. Laundry is a good example. I have 2-3 loads a week. I used to do them all in one day. I now do them every couple days. Stuff dries quicker (I hang it up to dry). I run the laundry while I am preparing a meal or feeding the dog. Doubling up different tasks feels like, “I am here anyway, so I can get this done as long as I am on my feet.” So my new rule became do something with dishes and clothes every day- because we generate dirty dishes and laundry every day. It doesn’t take that long.

      4) Reward system. If I clean the bathroom then I get to do X which I enjoy. It’s amazing how much faster I move along when I know I am going toward something I enjoy.

      5) This one is a odd one. Watch how much rest you are getting. I too enjoyed handcrafting in front of the tv. It took a bit but I figured out that I was staying up well past the time I needed to go to bed. Ya know, when we are not rested mundane, repetitive tasks seem to take longer and be harder. Once I prioritized sleep over everything- stuff changed for me.

    20. PhyllisB*

      CD Girl has the right idea. For instance, three chores I used to dislike: making my bed, vacuuming, and folding the laundry. I decided one day to see just how long these chores took. Making my bed took about three minutes, folding the laundry maybe 5, and vacuuming about 10. It took longer because I had to retrieve the vacuum and pick up some stuff from the floor. Most chores are like this, once you start, it goes quickly. Most of us spend more time dreading a task than it actually takes.
      You will feel much better once you get on with it and get it done. Also, build some rewards for yourself. My pleasure is reading. I would say, “okay, as soon as I do the dishes, dust the living room, and sweep the floor, I can read two chapters in my book.” If you like music you can listen while you work. Some folks like audio books for this, but I tend to get so wrapped up in the story I forget to work. You can also watch TV and fold laundry, or unload the dishwasher during a commercial. It’s worth it to find ways to motivate yourself, It’s nice to come home to a neat semi-clean house. You don’t have to make it look like Better Homes and Garden, just good enough to not have the health department at your door!! :-)

    21. Jim Bob*

      This may sound weird, but a tip I heard several years ago is to use it as sort of a meditative/Tai Chi opportunity. Focusing in detail on the physical movements and sensations somehow snaps me out of “I’m cleaning and this sucks” mode.

      May not work for everyone, but I find it helpful.

      1. allathian*

        I have to try that. My tai chi instructor decided to quit completely in March 2020 and I haven’t been able to find another yet, but tai chi is the only form of meditation I’ve tried that doesn’t give me anxiety.

    22. Lady Alys*

      I will “n”th the podcasts – I can do just about anything if I have something interesting to listen to.
      I also use an app on my phone called Tody, which lets me set tasks in each room and set a schedule for how often I want to do them, e.g. change bathroom towels every 4 days, replace toothbrush every 3 months. That way, when I have 8 minutes while I’m waiting for my coffee to brew, I can look at the list, pick one or two things, and know that I’m at least keeping up. Otherwise, I pick a weekday afternoon (a luxury allowed by mostly WFH part-time job) and do some of the bigger things that recur weekly on the list, so I don’t have to “waste” the weekends doing housework.

    23. Choggy*

      Something I try to do is clean as I go, if I use something for cooking, I make sure not to leave anything in the sink or on the stove unwashed. I have different laundry baskets which are easy for me to carry in my closet for dark/light washes, and another one for my bathing suits if I go swimming. I try to make sure to have small trash cans in every room so I am not tempted to leave napkins, wrappers, etc. around. Not sure if you have a multi-level house but I make sure to have cleaning supplies on each floor so I’m not wasting time finding something to clean with. I use a small vacuum on my vinyl floors before I use a Swiffer to clean them. I even have small vacuums on each floor and lighter heavy duty vacuum for larger rooms. I guess what I’m trying to say is make cleaning less of a chore by planning for it, and you may find you feel more inclined to do it. I also either listen to music or the tv while I’m doing it to take my mind off the chore at hand. I also go through my fridge and throw out expired or old items every week, and try to condense bringing out the trash to one trip after I gather all the trash from each floor. I am also the person you see bringing in all their bags from shopping at one trip because I need to be economical about my trips. Finally, I also have a husband, who is retired, and has taken over a lot of the chores, so you might want to find one of those types of partners! :)

    24. Russian in Texas*

      Break chores up so you don’t have the one big insurmountable day of cleaning? Vacuum one day. Dust another day. And so on.
      Smaller tasks are a lot easier to do mentally.

    25. Generic Name*

      No suggestions on how to *enjoy* doing it, it I do have a suggestion on how to do less of it without paying a cleaner. Just have kids! In 10 or so years time, they’ll do a mildly satisfactory job at cleaning and complain about it the whole time!! ;) Obviously I’m joking. There’s nothing wrong with not enjoying cleaning; it is called a “chore” after all. I focus on the end result, which is a clean house. Cleaning is less painful if you can do a little bit every day rather than spending an entire day off work scrubbing the whole house. And when I say “a little bit” I mean like one day clean a single toilet. The next day, vacuum a room. Clean the kitchen immediately after cooking. Music helps.

    26. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Groovy music or radio/podcast while you work? Long phone call with that chatty friend who can be on the phone for hours while you work? I’m not much of a housekeeper either, but I find that having something else going on while I try to clean up a bit makes it go down easier.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        P.S. If something is physically uncomfortable to do, like bending over the tub to clean it, I have been experimenting with weird but more comfy options. Like, I am taking a scrubber sponge in with me when I take a bath, and I scrub away at the tub a bit. (Obvs don’t do this with toxic cleaners.) Or I am moving my ottoman to be closer to where I need to pick stuff up from the floor so I can do that without too much bending or kneeling.

    27. mreasy*

      The only thing that motivates me is podcasts or audiobooks that I ONLY listen do during housework. And still I sometimes can’t make myself do it.

    28. Person from the Resume*

      Just do it when it needs to be done.

      And in my house the fishes have to been done before I go to bed. I do have a dishwasher but unfortunately I have some things that can’t go in the dishwasher. I do the dishes at least every night, and although it feels like an imposition to my relaxing, I am often surprised when I realize it took me only 5 minutes. I work from home so if things are slow I’ll do dishes right after breakfast and/or lunch so only the dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher for one person is super fast. Don’t pile things in the sink. Put them on the counter so you can see how much you have. Also I have to do dishes when I don’t have enough counter space to put together a meal.

      I don’t keep a schedule, but I note if something needs to be cleaned. And then shortly after I go it. Like if the toilet needs cleaning, I do it and again that takes 5 minutes. Rather than the idea that I need to clean the whole bathroom which will take much longer and seems like such an ordeal.

      Then I use the idea that I will clean for only 15 minutes and then can go back to the fun things.

      Making something a habit is hard, but it’s so mentally helpful. Like doing the dishes at night isn’t fun but I no longer really feel like it’s an option to skip. Like the same with folding laundry. I just don’t even consider not doing it within hours of it coming out of the dryer. And a load of your own laundry for one is again a quick job even if you wait until you run out of clothes like I do. One batch at a time is fairly quick.

    29. pancakes*

      Many years ago I worked on a temp project with a group of three people who were roommates, and they had a Saturday afternoon routine of sharing a six-pack while cleaning the house and listening to music. I always thought it was a nice idea, and sometimes do something similar with a certain plant that happens to be legal here. Obviously this isn’t going to work for everyone, but the strain Jack Herer in particular is good for house cleaning because it’s energizing. I have a suspicion Martha herself might approve, if she doesn’t already have her own line out with Snoop Dog.

      I agree with the people saying listen to podcasts as well. I find it hard to catch up on the ones I want to listen to otherwise because sitting still and listening generally doesn’t suit me.

    30. LusciousLemon*

      Audio books, Spotify, and ear buds have been a game changer for me. I would never sit to listen to an audio book/soundtrack but I will find something to do (cleaning) to be entertained by those things. Also folding laundry while watching tv – our mothers did it, not sure why it took me so long to do it too.

    31. Unkempt Flatware*

      In total seriousness—and I realize this seems counterintuitive—but marijuana helps make everything more fun. I clean a few times a week with no complaint because weed.

    32. Jackalope*

      I like timing myself. Like with doing dishes, I’ll set a timer on the stove for, say, 10 minutes, then stop at the end of that if I want. This is also a good way to get chores done if you’re really busy and don’t want to be late – set a timer and stop right when it goes off. (Or if you’re not great at stopping then, set a timer and then allow yourself about 2 min after that to finish up the bit you’re working on, so make sure you set it early.) I like to do things like say I’m going to work on clearing out a pile, or scrubbing sinks, or whatever, for X amt of time, and then stopping that day. Obviously this doesn’t work for all chores, but for me that makes it feel like a race which makes it more fun.

    33. Lifeandlimb*

      This is going to sound stupid, but read or watch something that really infuriates you, or talk to someone who frustrates you a lot, and then right away start cleaning something in the house. I personally love scrubbing the bathtub because it’s very physical and gets all my anger out. I dislike housework but find cleaning feels the most cathartic when I’m a little upset! So, take it with a grain of salt, but it could work.

    34. just another queer reader*

      I’m in a similar situation!

      1) arrange your house to work for you. My housemate recently put a trash can near the front door bc we kept having garbage pile up there. Smart!

      2) small changes, one at a time. Recently, my housemate and I decided that Dirty-Dish-Pocalypse had got to end. We made a new agreement with each other: we’d each wash our own dishes before bed each night. The guilt is working for me.

      3) I like talking with friends/ family on the phone, and cleaning keeps my hands busy.

    35. Expelliarmus*

      I find that I enjoy it more when I’m listening to YouTube, a podcast, or some music at the same time.

    36. Dust Bunny*


      Nobody likes housework (or, at least, we all have something we’d rather do, even if we don’t hate it). I just hate it less than I hate a dirty house and a un-completed chore list.

      Which leads me to suggest that if thinking your have to like it is part of the hurdle, then don’t. Just look forward to the feeling of having g it done and reward yourself with the rest of the evening off.

      1. Jasmine Tea*

        I agree with the music suggestion! Something with a beat that makes you want to move!
        You didn’t mention if you live alone or with a partner and kids but no matter if you are one or many everyone should pick up behind themselves as they go. I did house cleaning when I was in my early twenties and the best way not to get a dirty house is not to have it overcrowded with a lot of clutter. If everything is in its place even if it’s the day before cleaning day it doesn’t look awful. Break up the jobs to do a little each day maybe just before you shower so you don’t have a big cleaning that takes all day on Saturday. When your house smells nice and looks nice you will feel good about yourself! And when people come by and say, “How do you do it?” You will feel very proud of yourself!

  3. Teapot Translator*

    Anyone here have hypermobility? How has it affected your life? What’s worked for you to manage the condition?

    I’m feeling a bit down. I discovered recently that I’m hypermobile and this may be the reason I keep getting hurt when I try to be active. This week, I decided to try a gentle pilates class and my shoulder hurts (I took some ibuprofen and put some ice on it). It’s kind of discouraging.

    I guess I’m wondering if it gets better.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have a friend who has this condition. She has had terrific results from physical therapy and exercises she learned in that process that she can do on her own.

      1. Firefly*

        Echoing this! I was diagnosed at 9, when I sublaxed (partially dislocated) my shoulder washing the floor. Worked with physiotherapists over the years as my body has aged and my life has changed (e.g., pregnancy and early child rearing). Strong muscles built in supportive ways around joints are key. My husband and I were also shown how to properly ‘reduce’ or get back into place the joints so they were not out for as long, which has led to less pain in the long run. I have successfully been an avid rock climber, 10k runner, long distance hiker carrying full packs, ultimate frisbee player and now kayaker – physical activity is possible! Finding a sport physiotherapist (we go to our local university clinic in the summer when they aren’t busy) is really helpful. They can explain to you on detail how your joints work and give you exercises to protect them. When I was taking up kayaking, for example, I went a few months ahead of time and got some exercises to tart my shoulders, wrists, and hips. Also – inflammation and pain can be your friend – if you can handle the pain the swelling will protect you from further injury in the moment. Good luck!

    2. Casper Lives*

      Honestly, it’s not great for me. I started having pain issues in early-mid 20s. Doctors were convinced it was isolated injuries, I was convinced it was systemic, and unfortunately we were both right – EDS made me prone to these injuries.

      I’ve found excellent results with using physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joints. It’s lessened the laxity, working preventatively to stop the partial dislocations and resulting arthritis I get. It’s not perfect but I wish I’d known my condition and started earlier to reduce the chances of my worst injuries.

      NSAIDs are most helpful for pain reduction for me. But also, cause gastro issues, so discuss amounts with your doctor.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I got diagnosed late in life (in my 40s). I wasn’t very active as a child/teenager/young adult; then in my 30s, I decided to get active. It’s been injury after injury since then. :-/
        Regarding NSAID, I’ve come to realize that Tylenol does nothing for me (cramps and injuries). I always try it first, but I always end up taking ibuprofen. So, to avoid taking too much, I suffer a bit until I can’t stand it anymore.

    3. Weegie*

      You have to try to stay as fit as possible while not overdoing it. Strengthening muscles, as Casper says, is key. But also knowing which activities make things worse, and avoiding or minimising them. I find Pilates and Tai Chi both extremely beneficial, but yoga is a no-no. Anything high-impact ditto. Ibuprofen for pain – which is definitely worsening as I age, and is mostly related to a childhood injury.
      This all sounds a bit gloomy, and honestly it isn’t! I’m more active than most people I know, and I hate to think how much worse things would be if I weren’t so fit. I’m certainly not going bungee-jumping any time soon, but I do lots of other stuff. Find out what works for you, and know your limits.

      1. anonagain*

        What Weegie said. I walk 2-6 miles per day most days. It’s essential for me. Swimming is good when I can find a place to do it. Trying to stay active in general.

        In the beginning of my process, I worked with my PT to find good ways to support my joints. I wore ankle braces until I got strong enough to go without, for example. I strongly recommend working with a PT on this because bracing can make you weaker or cause problems up/down the chain.

        Good luck.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Thanks! I do have an appointment with a PT for a knee injury. I’ll talk to them and see if they’re knowledgeable about hypermobility.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! I think part of my doom and gloom is giving up on this idea that if I became active, I could do ALL THE SPORTS. But no, there are sports that are a no-no for me.
        I’m OK with yoga (but the teacher is NOT into performance and promotes respecting our bodies, so it helps) and I haven’t been able to find Tai Chi classes that go with my schedule. I wanted to take up a martial sport, but gave up on that when I realized that I would have to hit people and be hit. Ish.

        1. Pennyworth*

          I think I am a bit hyper-mobile (is that a thing?) – some years ago I tore the rotator cuffs in my shoulders doing really simple things like reaching back to pick something up. For a while I could hardly lift my hands above my shoulders. Luckily I lived near a hydrotherapy pool and started spending hours a week doing exercises specifically to strengthen the muscles supporting my shoulders, as my doctor advised against surgery to repair the tears, because it is often unsuccessful. I now have strong shoulders and can do as much heavy gardening as I want. So I guess you can sometimes develop muscle strength to compensate for hyper mobility.

    4. NotARegularMomACoolMom*

      I have hyper mobile joints. I benefited greatly from PT! After breaking my left foot – TWICE! – I spent a lot of time in PT learning how to stand, walk, and climb stairs correctly. Resolved all my knee pain.

      I’m super careful about how I stand and walk, to make sure I don’t lock my knees back because it’s murder after a while. But it’s also my “natural” way of standing/walking so I have to consciously NOT do that. I also swim as much as I can. I still do gentle yoga because I find it relaxing, but I use modifications to prevent my joints from going every which way.

      My PT once told me that many people with hyper mobile joints often become cheerleaders or gymnasts. I never did either of those, so I like to imagine myself in the Multiverse as an Olympic Champion in Gymnastics!

      Good luck! And see if PT can help!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Ah ha ha, I did ballet as a child and was praised for my flexibility, but I didn’t like ballet so I stopped (it was my mom living her dreams through me more than anything else).
        I’m glad I didn’t try to be a cheerleader or a gymnast. A massage therapist who has gymnasts as client tells me that it’s very difficult for them once they put an end to their career. They can never stop exercising or they would have all sorts of joint problems. :-/
        So, what I’m hearing is there’s a lot of PT in my future. Ok, then. I shall try and come to terms with it.

    5. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Check out kathryn bruni-young. She’s a yoga teacher who has developed a mindful strength method. It’s great for hypermobility because she has it herself and she talks about how to move so you build up muscles around your joints – and don’t just hang out in them – in a way designed to click for people with hypermobility,

    6. Lilo*

      My mom has this. Working with a personal trainer who understood the issue and doing yoga helped her a lot.

    7. PX*

      Same as everyone else. I’m on the milder end and basically just a bit more flexible than your average person, but after a few injuries- advice from the physio pointed out that my flexibility means it’s easy to overload joints and all the associated ligaments/tendons etc.

      Getting stronger overall, strengthening adjoining muscles and working with someone to make sure you really learn about good form for whatever exercises you choose to do is key. But you can definitely still be active and do a whole range of sports! You might just have to be extra mindful about it.

    8. HannahS*

      I have hypermobility, and had partial dislocations. The effect on my life is chronic, daily pain. I’ve been on nerve pain medication and anti inflammatories over the years, as well as PT. Now I find I can manage with occasional anti inflammatories and really should be doing PT but between a baby and a crazy work schedule it’s not happening.

      The overall impact on my life is that life is harder and I endure considerable physical pain regularly, but it doesn’t stop me from doing much. I work a demanding job (resident physician) and have a baby. I can’t do many forms of exercise (I can walk and swim) and my pregnancy was hard (I could barely walk at times due to further joint laxity). I would not have been able to be a surgeon, but since I didn’t want to anyway, it wasn’t a problem! Sometimes I have to limit my hobbies, because sewing and knitting can be hard on my joints.

      Basically, I have a full, satisfying, meaningful, fulfilling life. I have chosen to have a career that is hard on my body, and the price of that is pain, which I calmly accept (and try not to complain about too much.)

    9. peter b*

      I found out I was hypermobile when I partially dislocated my knee fencing; I didn’t understand what that meant until I realized simultaneously that in trying to recover I’d learned to love running and also it was too high impact on my joints. I had to quit my restaurant job because it was too much on my body, but I have a job where as long as I don’t sit on my ankles it’s a non issue.

      Having lots of hypermobile friends who also use mobility aids and braces regularly helped – honestly, putting on a knee brace on days I thought might go bad or wrapping my ankle if I’d turned it but not severely makes a difference. Finding out what kinds of adaptations to your life are possible and having confirmation it’s a good thing that expands your life to do them rather than shrinking it helps me cope with some of the grief about what I can’t do.

      Physically swimming and yoga have been helpful even if I’m not regular about it. You have to be really kind to your own body’s particulars, but it is possible. It’s been helpful to find classes or videos that emphasize a range of modified positions or exercises and learning how to pay attention to my body. For me, being extra flexible as a kid meant I didn’t have a good metric for when to stop stretching and I’d hurt myself, because I didn’t have good examples for my kind of joints. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to relearn those and err on the side of caution but slowly building up.

    10. Pikachu*

      After my shoulder surgery, I found a book called Bulletproof Your Shoulder by Jim Johnson PT to be really helpful. Lots of good talk about shoulder anatomy, which movements help create more stability, and how to do them properly. I never knew the “rotator cuff” was actually four individual muscles that all have different jobs and need to be strengthened with different movements until I read it.

      You can find used copies pretty cheap around the web. It won’t solve everything but it’s been a great tool for me.

    11. Millie's mom*

      I’ve taken yoga teacher training with Libby Hinsley, who is a PT & is also hypermobile. Quick answer, she recommends weight training. She’s also written a book on yoga & hypermobility that may be worth checking out.

    12. smeep248*

      I made an appointment with a sports medicine doctor because my hip just hurts ALL THE TIME and he walked into the room and was like “you’re hypermobile, that’s your problem”. I think because I am fat people didn’t really realize my pain was related to an actual thing and not just my weight…. either way, PT helped tremendously and just knowing that there is a *thing* that I need to account for has helped me to really feel like I have choices in what I do and how I do it. It was pretty empowering when I framed it like that. Good luck!

  4. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I have a big pile of raspberries and the tomato plants are starting to do well. The weather is perfect, with some rain and not too hot.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m slowly but surely installing the garden beds around my new house. The asparagus lived, or at least 11/12 did, despite going in very late. They are awkward little ferny things. The mildly acidic bed with a dwarf blackberry (and a gardenia) is done too. Of course, it’ll be ages before either becomes food, but it’s now in progress.

      The only annual veggie I planted was cucumber. They’re blooming their little hearts out.

      For an experiment, I bought some Caucasian mountain spinach. It’s a big stretch for my climate, but it’s a shade tolerant vine and that’s what I can grow. The seeds are planted and hanging out in my fridge, where they will hopefully sprout.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I have an insane infestation of harlequin bugs and I have no idea what to do about it! They’ve been living in the leaf litter of a deciduous tree, and now that it’s finally done dropping its leaves and we’re getting on top of the mess they are EVERYWHERE and spreading. I’ve tried pyrethrum but apparently pesticides don’t work on them. Most of the advice I’ve read is to shake them into a bucket of soapy water, but we’re talking hundreds if not thousands, and they’re on the ground in the mulch so it’s not like I can shake them into a bucket.

      I think the resident water dragons used to keep them in check but we haven’t seen them since the floods. If anyone has advice between “await return of dragons” and “set fire to yard” I’d be very happy to hear it!

      1. nobadcats*

        Diatomaceous earth. It will cut those little jerks up. But it might also bash some bugs we like. It’s best used for when you’re getting ready to send your garden to sleep for winter.

        Additionally, I think it’s okay to splash soapy water over your garden. My roomie used to macerate full heads of garlic, soak in water, and then sieve it into a big watering pitcher with more water. She’d treat all our plants with the mixture, especially in spring, it deterred rabbits too, bees didn’t care at all. She said she learned that method from her mom.

          1. nobadcats*

            Sadly, I had to learn about it from when our apartment got bedbugs.

            We also used it on the cracks in the sidewalk out front and in the gangway. It was clear there was a MASSIVE ant colony under the sidewalk and probably under the porch. Every year we’d put down heavy lines of DC.

            I wonder if the new landlords have discovered their neighbors. hehehe

    3. Resolutely Rach*

      The tomato plants are coming along – all budding tomatoes still very green though.

      This morning before it got too hot I cut down some bamboo that is taking over and chopped it all up.

      Still plenty more that can be done, but it looks a lot better!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My son gave me daisies for my birthday, so now we have nice flashes of white filling in some empty spots. Lots of day lilies, mostly orange, and the blue rose of sharon are just getting going.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Raspberries are just starting to ripen, and it’s definitely zucchini season. It’s been dry (US Northeast) so I’ve been struggling to water everything enough to keep the plants healthy while keeping the water bill reasonable.

    6. GoryDetails*

      My veggie planters are in full flush now. The chard is burgeoning – I harvested another two full bunches yesterday, and made a delicious “mess of greens” (braised them with bacon, onion, and garlic, with a zesty dressing). Have harvested half a dozen cucumbers as well. The peppers are lagging a bit but I have a jalapeno or two starting to ripen. The eggplants and tomatoes have set fruit as well, and I’m just waiting impatiently for them to be ripe.

      Lots of herbs as well – basil in one of the planters, and the hardier ones – sage, rosemary, bay – in the ground.

    7. Lilo*

      My apple tree was doing great and the squirrels then came by and took every single apple. Not one left. They were looking so promising too. :(

      1. Girasol*

        I just found my old backup CDs at the bottom of a drawer, scratched them to destroy the ancient data and hung them like Christmas decorations in the nectarine tree in hope that they’ll scare off the birds. They make wonderful rainbow flashes. The robins tend to take one peck from every fruit if I can’t keep them away.

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        For birds, I’ve had luck with the inflatable beach ball type devices with reflective eye patterns (bought mine on Amazon, they’re inexpensive). Also bird netting, but that’s a royal pain. Neither work on squirrels. If you’re not willing to kill them, you have to physically block them. Tin foil works, as does mesh fabric (like the bags you might see party favors in, but those are pretty chewable, so use multiple bags per fruit).

    8. Pam*

      We are eating a ton of tomatoes- go, Momotaros!- bruschetta, mozzarella salads, sliced as sandwiches, and out of hand. The heat wave in June didn’t help, so we are planting a few more for oate Summer and Fall. (Southern California)

    9. Veronica Marx*

      Just harvested my first yellow squash and have a small bounty of zucchini from the last few days. And my acorn squashes are starting to look like actual acorn squashes, although they have a while to go. A few (cherry) tomatoes have finally come in, very tiny and green.

      My nasturtiums show no sign of blooming. Lots of leaves but no buds in sight. I read that that’s probably because my soil is too good, and to add some sand, but they are in containers and I’m not sure how to do that (first time gardener). So I may just have to be content with my prolific marigolds and not worry about flowering nasturtiums for the year.

    10. Might Be Spam*

      Last fall I took slices of heirloom tomatoes and put them in seed starter mix. This spring I started watering them and I think they are ALL coming up. I yanked out a bunch a few days ago to thin them out. Well, I stuck the discards in a pot just for the heck of it and THEY are ALL doing great, not even drooping.

      On the other hand, my heirloom pepper plants didn’t germinate at all and the one that I managed to overwinter, is covered in tiny black bugs.

    11. Sparkly Librarian*

      I got a cauliflower! Planted two starts I got from a coworker unexpectedly, and harvested one giant snowball this week. The other may be ready next week, and after that I’m hoping the tomatoes will be ripe. I made linguini with ricotta, tossed with sauteed cauliflower and zucchini, and garnished with some basil from the backyard as well. Five little pumpkins growing on the first vine (I’ll plant some more next month to have jack-o-lanterns at Halloween), and teeny tiny marbles of watermelons are visible. Plus the first two Persian cucumbers harvested this morning — my 3-year-old spied them on the counter and crunched right in. Yum! I love this season of the garden.

      I have one small unplanted patch next to a fence, so I asked around for some leftover sunflower seeds. I got so many, in half a dozen varieties, that I’ll have to share them out! And maybe under over) plant the nasturtiums that like shade, and some containers, and…

    12. Accidental Florist*

      I got one of those waxed amaryllis flowers over Christmas. They’re sold like seasonal flower arrangements, and I guess people just throw them away after the first bloom… but I got to thinking, this is a bulb! Why would it not grow again? So I thought I’d do an experiment.

      Supposedly, something they do to the bulb before waxing it usually makes it ungrowable, but some unsung hero who created my waxed amaryllis wrapped the bulb in cellophane before waxing it so it was in great shape, even though the roots had been cut off.

      I replanted it in soil anyway and (to my surprise) got another round of blooms on a stalk twice (!!) as tall as the first one about a month later, in January.

      Those blooms are long gone, so I’m in this waiting period until when I’m supposed to force the bulb into dormancy in the fall. The plant now consists only of Three. Giant. Leaves. That’s it. It had four, but one cracked when I moved the plant so I cut it off at the base before it started dying. That was maybe 2 months ago.

      Everywhere I’ve looked, no websites actually talk about growing leaves during this spring-summer period. Does anyone grow amaryllis? These leaves, from bulb to tip, have barely grown since the last bloom but they are 25-30 inches tall. They’re healthy and very strong so I guess they’re just hardcore photosynthesizing, but is it supposed to be making new leaves regularly like a normal plant? or are the Three Leafsketeers all I’m going to get? Will it get leafier if it survives to Bloom Round 3?

      It was never supposed to go this far. LOL

      1. Venus*

        Try to find a Master Gardener group. They know so much more than we do. I hope it continues to grow!

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        I took home a department’s worth of plants after the COVID shutdowns in 2020, including a co-worker’s amaryllis. It was a few leaves in a pot, as it had been for several years. Supposedly if you let it go dormant in winter, it will bloom in spring. Tried leaving it outside, un-watered and under the eaves (Zone 10, almost gets to freezing but not quite), two winters in a row. While it did re-grow when taken back indoors in spring, it merely retuned to its previous state of a few leaves in a pot. It might just be old and out of steam, alas – but other people seem to make it work, so might be worth a try.

      3. This Old House*

        I’m not totally sure, because I mostly just ignore my amaryllis when it’s done blooming (it goes outside in the spring, gets watered when my other plants do, and otherwise requires no attention), but I don’t think it makes new leaves throughout the season. Yours sounds fine to me.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      The phlox are in and look gorgeous, but it’s very early for them here. Bonus: saw a hummingbird moth on them this afternoon! I’ve been having to water a LOT since it is so terribly dry here. I forgot about some creeping sedum I had under a tree and I really hope it’s only dormant, not fired into oblivion. I watered it today and said a little prayer for it! The vegetable garden is loving this heat and I do water it almost every day, so things are moving along well there.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Laurie is the best! I love big fluffy black cats the most (though of course I love all cats). I love how all those toys are carefully placed on him.

  5. Jena*

    Is anyone still using their period tracker apps in light of the current legal landscape? I know they have made some changes with privacy policies and some are based out of reach of U.S. laws. I’m just wondering eve with this how comfortable everyone is with keeping them. I’ve seen a bunch of news articles and talked to a lot of women that are concerned about the data being used against women in the future by law enforcement. It sounds mildly plausible but almost alarmist at the same time. I’m just not sure what to make of everything.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I am working on a book with someone who is researching all the ways that marketers sell our personal data and use neurohacking to manipulate us for profit. As a result, I’d be a lot more worried about corporations current ability to track my hormones and moods than about hypothetical government use.

      For government privacy issues, I’d worry more about location services.

    2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’m still using mine, but I’ve had the privilege of a tubal and no one could possibly prove anything based on my wildly irregular cycles anyway. Regardless, Clue has pledged not to reveal user data and isn’t based in the US so wouldn’t be vulnerable to our regressive laws. Not being solely aimed at tracking fertility or obnoxiously pink and flowery is just a bonus.

    3. Not A Manager*

      It would be super low on my list of things to worry about in that regard. I’d be much more concerned with tracking, subpoenas of text messages, Uber/cab info, and transaction receipts.

    4. Ewing46*

      I stopped using mine a couple years ago before all this, when I realized the app was selling my data to advertisers. I guess I should have known, but I felt so violated that companies were using my menstrual data (!!!) to market to me. I switched to tracking on paper and have never looked back. I suppose that still poses legal risks, but I no longer get bombarded with tampon and pregnancy test ads a certain time of the month.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        This! Several years ago I accidentally forgot to input my period into the tracker app and suddenly all my internet ads switched from being about birth control to being about baby cribs/toys/food/etc. It freaked me out so much I switched back to a paper calendar.

        I feel like the bigger risk is the general state of surveillance: your search history, text messages, location data, etc. are also up for grabs. I don’t think a prosecutor would randomly trawl through millions’ of women’s period trackers on the off chance that one had a gap of a couple months; I do think that someone whose “friend”/abusive partner/etc. snitched on them to the government might have their app data subpoena-ed as evidence, along with, say, their phone’s location data showing they had recently traveled to a blue state and the credit card record showing the purchase of a pregnancy test.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Omg, what a f–king gross and creepy overstep! I’ve always stuck to my manual (digital) calendar method because I felt weird about putting it in an app. I thought maybe I was being overly conservative about that but now I’m very glad I did!

        1. Jena*

          Selling your data just takes it a step too far. What on earth would they even use that for.

    5. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      have. Where we live (Southern US), abortion is now illegal after 6 weeks and you will be prosecuted for murder if they have evidence you obtained one. So, not at all alarmist for our family, unfortunately.

      1. Observer*

        It’s alarmist because the likelihood of them being able to get anything from these apps is so low.

        The good thing here is that it’s forcing the apps to start doing something about the privacy of the data they hold, and making people more conscious of what data apps hold and what they do with it.

        If you are concerned about this, there are more serious problems. As noted, the single biggest problem is location services. But also, there is a lot of other data that data brokers can get at that can be at least as incriminating, and at the moment governments apparently can just buy that data without the need for a warrant.

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

      I’ve always used Clue, but the free tier (because my country severly restricts online purchases in foreign currency). Not only they let me export my data (which is super useful when you switch phones), but since they’re located in Germany, they have to comply with GDPR.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I always just used a paper calendar in the bathroom. Shark Week looked like this: xXXXxx.

      It came in handy for marking my haircuts and highlights too; I could just glance at it to see when I last went to the salon. The location worked because I usually only thought about those things when I was in the bathroom. Also, you can’t hack paper, and no one could see it unless they were physically in my house.

    8. Russian in Texas*

      Yes, although mine is the very basic one.
      I am in my mid-40s and mostly using it so I can show my doctor how all over the board my period have gotten due to the onset of the perimenopause.

    9. pancakes*

      I haven’t used one because I’ve been on meds that stopped my periods for the past ten years. I’m just about to come off them this month, a long awaited time, and . . . what luck. I’m in NY so theoretically relatively safe here, but I wouldn’t start using one now.

      Semi-relatedly, I saw a really funny comic about them this morning, catching up on all this woman’s work after I encountered her most recent one:


    10. Anonymous Internet Lawyer*

      It’s more than just apps on your phone. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, your cell phone provider, your home internet/cable provider, and any number of other services and websites (likely including the service behind this website, too) will also respond to a subpoena from law enforcement. The more you talk about your health on the internet, the more you’re putting yourself at risk.

      As well, keep in mind the laws that criminalize assistance, such as rides or lodging or money, as “aiding and abetting”. Prosecutions will happen. Maybe they’ll get thrown out of court, or maybe the charges will stick. In any event, do you want to be a test case? Do not post about this stuff on the internet, and do not give money via an app that will respond to a subpoena.

      1. Jena*

        That’s a good point too. Some people think that I might be making a big deal out of this but even if they can’t use this to convict someone, prosecutors still pretty much have an unlimited ability to make your life miserable. Dispositions, lawyer fees, missed work, reputations being scrutinized, etc… not cool.

      2. Observer*

        It’s more than just apps on your phone. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, your cell phone provider, your home internet/cable provider, and any number of other services and websites (likely including the service behind this website, too) will also respond to a subpoena from law enforcement. The more you talk about your health on the internet, the more you’re putting yourself at risk.

        True. There are a lot of things you can do to reduce that risk, but a really good starting point is simply being careful of what you say in public spaces on the internet, and using non-encypted communications.

        WhatsApp will respond to a subpoena, but if they don’t have the contents of your conversation, they don’t have it. So if you’re talking to your cousin about your health on Facebook, they have the contents and can hand it over. If you are having that conversation over WhatsApp, they will hand over the fact that you were talking to each other, but that’s it.

        I used WhatsApp as an example, because of how common it is, but I think that I’d probably switch to Signal as much as possible, as I believe (although I could be wrong) that Signal doesn’t keep a history of the calls you make, and in general it does collect less data about you than WhatsApp does.

      3. Anonymous Internet Lawyer*

        To follow up, CNN has an analysis piece with a non-anonymous internet lawyer discussing how it’s more than just your apps. Link in reply.

    11. curly sue*

      I’ve always used Clue and they’re based out of Germany, iirc, and so not subject to US data disclosure laws of any kind. I think it’s probably okay to keep using that one. (I’m in Canada so that’s not a huge issue for me right now at the moment, but I did look into Clue’s data privacy disclosures before using it.)

    12. Lil bit anonner*

      I still using it. I am nearly 50 year old lesbian on the pill in order to regulate my period. Before I returned to using the pill my period length varied greatly but was getting ridiculously shorter and I had really bad cramps that were getting worse. Cramps are better now too.

      Basically, though, I cannot get pregnant accidentally. I have the privilege and money to go to a state where it’s legal if I find myself pregnant through rape. It’s awful I have to think about it.

      In my earlier years, I would start my period the day after I finished the 3rd week pills. Now it takes 5-7 days to start. I find it helpful to watch that as I eagerly await the start of menopause. I’m pretty sure I’m in peri-menopause and I’m ready for this to be over.

      1. anonymous hemmorage*

        If you have android you can get open source apps with no ads through fdroid.

    13. Anonny*

      I am avoiding using them, and am also tracking on paper. I’ve also switched to using private browsers for most things, Duck Duck Go and Brave, because if I ever need to search for something related, I don’t want there to be a record.

    14. JustEm*

      I still use my app, but:
      1. I live in a state with very strong abortion protections
      2. We have (male factor) infertility and am tracking in preparation for next embryo transfer — I would be utterly delighted to get pregnant and when I do it will be exceptionally well documented whether or not I use the app (extremely early blood tests, ultrasounds, etc).
      3. I am in the position that I would only get abortion if there was a life-threatening issue like an ectopic pregnancy

      If I were young and single in an anti -choice state I might make different choices…

    15. Daisy blue*

      I’m comfortable using Clue still, in addition to moving out of the US next week. F this noise.

  6. Clover*

    Had an interesting discussion with a friend about a new Netflix show called How To Build A Sex Room. The show is exactly what the title says: an adorable older British woman who designs high end sex rooms for her clients. They’re not Remy dark dungeons, they are very nicely furnished and constructed. I recommended it to my friend, who is definitely not a prude, thinking she’s like it but she had the opposite reaction I expected. She said it was clear these were rich couples with cash to burn and didn’t cater to a non-rich viewer.

    Yes, clearly if you want a fully furnished sex room, then you are not lacking for cash. But I think anyone who brings in a full designer to look at their house, but especially to furnish assigned room for one particular very specific purpose, no matter the purpose, would fall under that category. She said it was different from all the other design shows because it was a sex room but she couldn’t elaborate on why It bugged her.

    I think it’s an amazing show With a very diverse cast of clients in the most fun and adorable home designer I’ve ever seen call me with some really cool and beautiful rooms. Highly recommend it for anyone looking for something light and fun.

    1. I will see you anon*

      I think to some people any sex related purchases are a luxury. It seems to connect with the concept that it should just come naturally and something is wrong if you need to work at it. Sometimes it’s also frustration about apparently needing lots of money of they’re ever to have a hope of fixing their sex life. I mean, that’s not true if you’re creative about it but it could be their take away.
      I liked the concept, I love home makeover shows and I think it is cool they picked an older woman to present. She and the couples just get so enthousiastic and I’m there for it. Older women tend to be presented as sexless and invisible so it’s a nice subversion of that trope. I do think she could model consent better here and there. And maybe be more sensitive to what people communicate indirectly or non-verbally. I was appalled about her pushing handcuffs on someone consistently hinting they had unhappy handcuff related experiences. But I do like the concept and it’s a fun watch in general.

      1. Anon for this*

        Agreed. I think sex related purchases are much more likely to be seen as a luxury than other hobby related purchases like craft or exercise supplies. So someone gets an interior designer to design their home gym? That’s fine, but getting a sex room designed and especially putting it on TV is more ostentatious, even if the outlay is the same and they both require needing the space to set aside a single room for a single purpose.

        I also agree with your review of the show. There were some things I didn’t like (the way they tried to introduce femdom to a couple in one of the later episodes by going with a very tradition dominatrix style that clearly didn’t work for either of them from the start instead of exploring a variety of styles, for example) but I did like the variety in the designs.

        I did like the presenter and liked the subversion of the “sexless older woman” trope, but she did seem a bit unequipped to deal with some of the kinkier stuff. It’s like she knew the words but didn’t really understand the community, I guess, and I felt like that’s where some of the consent modelling issues came in. Overall it was a decent show and a fun watch but there was room for improvement.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I liked it but am going through a breakup and was sad to realize I wouldn’t have been able to trust my ex to respect my boundaries. It was affirming to know he was wrong for me.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I just started watching a few episodes, and I have to say the cash-splashiness of it really struck me too. On the one hand, I get that anyone who can afford an interior designer is doing pretty well financially so that makes total sense. On the other though, there’s an element of “sex therapist” in the approach of the interior designer (or at least how it’s portrayed in the production) so it’s hard to get away from the impression that great sex, or “fixing” bad /non existent sex, is something that only an expensive room makeover can solve.

      I find the client stories interesting and the designer/presenter incredibly endearing and moreish, but I’m meh on her actual work so far. The interior designs seem pretty basic, formulaic and throw-cushion centric (spew). Plus I loathe that over-produced, loud music reality TV thing that cheapens otherwise potentially interesting shows (but that’s a me thing).

    4. Generic Name*

      I saw this advertised on Netflix, and it doesn’t appeal to me. I just don’t want to know all that much about other people’s sex lives, so maybe I’m a prude?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I wish Netflix would stop wasting money on vast quantities of TLC-type shows and actually invest in making quality shows and films. Maybe that would fix their problem of hemorrhaging subscribers. It’s like they’re trying to be cable all by themselves.

        1. Generic Name*

          My take is these kinds of shows are very cheap to produce, especially when compare to shows like stranger things.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Well they’d have more money if they concentrated on good quality shows. I don’t mind paying a little more if I’m actually getting good stuff. A sudden plethora of reality shows is the death knell for a network. It killed Discovery, it killed TLC, and now it’s going to kill Netflix. :(

            1. ThatGirl*

              I understand your frustration but unfortunately that’s not the tactic Netflix is taking; they have just about maximized their US subscriber base so next it’s keeping them engaged (a few high profile shows combined with fluff to keep people watching).

              1. Been There*

                Agreed. They need more content, not necessarily high-quality content, to keep subscribers.

              2. Patty Mayonnaise*

                They are also trying to get new subscribers in non-US countries because those are the only markets where they can have growth. Squid Game and other international horror/thriller content has performed well in foreign/developing markets for them. I’m not sure if the sex room show is part of that strategy but it could be – sex sells!

        2. A.N O'Nyme*

          I mean, apparently when cable was first introduced it was intended to not have ads as it was a paying service. We all know how that went. And we all know where Netflix and friends are going. So I’m genuinely not surprised they also do the same producing cheap mindless programs to keep people watching.

        3. Expelliarmus*

          Yeah I was really upset when they cancelled Julie and the Phantoms! That too after a year of fans wondering if there would be another season given the cliffhanger at the end of Season 1.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        This was exactly my response! It made me glad that Netflix is not set up like traditional TV and that I won’t accidentally chanel surf on to it; so I’m provisionally okay with it if I can keep out of its orbit. I’m also glad if other people can get something out of it. However for me… I love sex, but I don’t want to know details about strangers’ sex lives; it gives me a full body ick.

      3. Anon4This*

        I saw it advertised today and thought ‘This must be satire right? They couldn’t have really made a show about building sex rooms?!’ But they did. That’s just nasty.

    5. pancakes*

      I haven’t seen it yet or seen a trailer yet, but I don’t agree with your friend, and will probably check it out. We watch Grand Designs and will likely never be in a position to build a house on that scale, and that has little to nothing to do with what makes it interesting to watch – the ideas people come up with, the problems they run into, seeing how it turns out are all more of a pull than trying to emulate what’s shown. That said my boyfriend thinks Kevin McCloud sometimes enjoys digging into people’s money troubles a bit too much, haha! I think he’s not alone in that, if you look at the posts people gravitate to on the Grand Designs Without Context account. It does make for amusing viewing at times.

    6. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I don’t get the need for a special room or facilities for sex, so I wouldn’t be interested in it, any more than I’m interested in cooking shows (I don’t cook, don’t care about kitchens). And yeah it does sound like a “watch rich people throw money around in weird ways” show which I know are of interest to some. I sometimes like those if it’s a whole house and I’m thinking “yeah, I could live there / I’d want one just like that” but the focus here is too narrow to seem interesting.
      I don’t have Netflix so it’s moot anyway. But interesting to know that such a thing exists!

      1. pancakes*

        I suspect even the people building them would concede the idea is more luxury than need.

  7. Anon for this*

    Any cat fosters out there? How do I stop worrying about them?? 4 kittens (8 weeks old) and their mother, almost fully weaned. warning: grossness

    Well, with them and their mother having mucous-filled diarrhea out of no where. The only place they’ve been is the shelter for 4th vaccine booster, and bam, 1 starts being sick three days later. The shelter vet was reassuring but the first treatment is probiotics (and subq fluids for the worst hit little guy; my efforts to encourage water drinking still had him borderline dehydrated).

    However. my last fosters were 2 brothers with severe diarrhea of unknown origin, negative tests for the usual suspects. Same age of 8 weeks as mine now. Despite my best efforts, and 2 days of 24 hour vet care at the end, one didn’t make it. I took a break after that. Now I’m really anxious even though this isn’t nearly as bad. How do I stop?

    1. BugHuntress*

      Have you checked out the Kitten Lady’s videos on kitten first aid? She has some good ones!

      1. Casper Lives*

        Yes they are good :) I’m the OP, forgot to change my name back

        Sum of my question: how do I stop worrying overly much about my foster kittens dying, when my last one did and it’s common to lose 15-30% of kittens before 12 weeks? How do people handle this?

        1. Sloanicota*

          If it makes you feel better, it’s random – it’s the luck of the draw. I’ve had maybe twelve or thirteen kittens come through, some of which have gotten very sick, but none have died. It’s not because I’m a great foster mom (and I tend to get them a little older. That statistic includes stillbirths / deaths right after birth, I believe). So the odds are in your favor. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    2. JSPA*

      Focus on what you can control.

      Are they wandering further, getting at (say) a pyrethrin-treated rug, or some plant(s)? I’m assuming you are not using the same bag(s) or cans of food as with the priors (as food poisoning in pet foods is not as well tracked or reported on, as in people)? Not encountering new and different cleaning products or deodorizers? Cats have hugely different safe levels for camphor, phenol, various essential oils, permethrin, many herbs, bouquet flowers, garden plants.

      Some are also (lethally) sensitive to standard flea collars (and it is genetic, so generations of strays from the same colony could share that sensitivity in their acetylcholinesterase pathway).

      The vet exposure would then be a red herring / something that overlapped with another relevant change in where they get to, how they act, or what’s happening around them.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I appreciate your comment. It’s always good to double check!

        The kittens & mama are kept on the same room I’ve kept them in since I picked them up at 2 days old. (Different than prior fosters, though I did steam sanitize that room & my personal cats have never shown illness). My cats are indoor & vaccinated but I keep them separate. All fosters are inside only. The flea treatment was flea baths, no collars. No fleas present. No plants or essential oils in my house. I use unscented cleaning products because I’m allergic to some fragrances.

        I’ve kept them on the same wet & dry food. I’ve been buying it due to difficulty of getting food at the shelter.

        Now, I’ve identified two possible places of exposure. I went on vacation for a week and they went to an experienced temp foster. She kept them in a cat friendly room, separated from her cat, and fed them food I provided. Her resident cat isn’t sick. I admit I didn’t ask what litter she used, but otherwise, she’s experienced enough not to have plants etc. in there. The fosters were also normal when I got them back.

        I took the kittens to shelter 3 days after temp foster ended. Mama cat didn’t go. Then 3 days later, 1 kitten starts having terrible symptoms, then his mama a day later (he’s a mama’s boy to the max, unsurprising to me he’d get her ill if that’s what happened). Then another kitten 2 days later. I’m watching the last 2 kittens as close as I can but I fear a spreading illness.

      2. Casper Lives*

        I forgot to add that I got the 2 prior fosters as medical fosters! They were sick at the shelter and a foster home was supposed to give them more care. I knew it was a possibility they wouldn’t make it. But it hurt more to see them start getting better, then 1 hit a plateau and went downhill, and the cause was never determined. It happens but u had to take a break from fostering.

      3. pancakes*

        Would the vet exposure be a red herring? My thinking is that since they went for vaccines, they weren’t yet fully vaccinated when they visited. I know there’s no way around that but it does seem like a risk, since vets are visited by animals that haven’t been diagnosed with illnesses yet either. I’ve never looked after kittens but would be calling the vet about whether they might need something more in terms of meds or supplements.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Sorry to get gross, but mucous and liquid? Does it have a stench to knock your socks off?

      With pets, these problems are:
      – gut flora or IBS, fixed with gastro food and/or probiotics
      – worms, fixed with dewormer (tapeworm isn’t killed by Strongid, it needs panacur)
      – giardia or coccidia, fixed with panacur (fenbendazole) and baycox respectively

      Mucous and liquid is typically associated with the last point and can be deadly. The protozoa aren’t killed by regular dewormer. They arrived with mama, and her body was coping with them okay because she’s an adult. She gave immunity to her kittens through milk. Now that they are starting to wean, their stomachs aren’t able to deal with the bugs and those are now out of control. Mama is cleaning the kittens, ingesting more bugs than her body can cope with, and getting sick too. It isn’t your fault and you didn’t expose them to anything, this is what happens about a week after mama’s immunity wears off.

      If I’m right, then they need panacur or baycox. If my first line sounds familiar, with mucous, liquid, and a nasty stench, then coccidia (needs baycox) is most likely. I think more than half of outdoor cats have coccidia, so it is prevalent, and it can kill young kittens through dehydration.

      I would tell the shelter about the mucous and any other problems, and get them to start a treatment for one of those.

      1. Casper Lives*

        The stench is worse than normal yes. I’m struggling because I took him to the vet at the shelter, described the symptoms, and they handed me probiotics without any testing. Since it’s the first time I brought him in for diarrhea (even though it’s very mucous, I was clear on this), they said it’s their protocol. I don’t know what to do.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I would contact them and say that the probiotics aren’t working and you need to go to the next step in the protocol. I was frustrated a few years ago by an IT problem and on phonecall 3 the tech said that problems get escalated after phonecall 5 so I should call in every day and in 2 more days I would get help. I hate that type of thing, but if they have a protocol then push the limits of it!

          You can ask if they can look at a stool sample, although even then it’s not reliable because often they don’t find anything. But it would be worth trying. And emphasize the mucous and stench. If you get meds and they aren’t feeling better within a few days then ask for a different med (although I just used panacur on kittens with liquid poop and they suddenly improved on day 4 of 5 so don’t stop any treatment). For giardia it is 5 days of fenbendazole at 0.5ml / kg, and for baycox it is 0.4ml / kg (I can’t remember for how long because we very rarely use it). But if they aren’t improving after 2 days then ask for a vet appointment for day 3 and ask for new meds. Diarrhea kills kittens so quickly! Our little rescue has the meds and we treat all with panacur on intake because we focus on outdoor cats and kittens, and gut problems are so prevalent.

          1. Casper Lives*

            Yep it’s coccidia. I really had to push for a vet visit today. Apparently they missed giving the kittens pyrantel! The whole time! And didn’t deworm mama multiple times! I’m still shocked. That’s standard protocol.

            Thanks to their procrastination by not even attempting to treat on Thursday at the shelter vet, it cost the county an emergency vet visit. I’m waiting on an explanation of what happened.

            1. JSPA*

              Thank goodness you got them there! Thank you, for doggedness. Thank Cat and dog fosterer for adding diagnostic options, symptoms, relevant treatments and the push…and all without “diagnosing online” per se.

              1. Cat and dog fosterer*

                It’s online diagnosis, but I don’t think AAM has the same concern about cat poop arm-chair diagnosis ;)
                Plus she has a big soft spot for cat fosters!

                1. Cat and dog fosterer*

                  It also occurs to me that the rule came up because people were asking here instead of going to a doctor. In this case it was to help advocate for creatures that can’t speak for themselves on the next trip to the vet. I feel like it’s more within the spirit of things. And shelters are so overwhelmed this time of year that it’s good to help diagnose quickly where we can.

            2. Cat and dog fosterer*

              What can I say… I know my kitten poop! I’m sorry you had to go through that, but now you know the coccidia smell and can let them know next time. And even if mama has been dewormed before giving birth then I’ve heard that the kittens can get infected from eggs.

              Good for you for pushing! It is the worst feeling in the world to watch them waste away and not have anything to fix them. Sometimes when we foster we host easy cats and it’s an easy time. Other fosters are hard and stressful, but with those ones we know that we truly made the difference between life and death. They owe you their lives, and will never understand that concept, but I do and thank you for advocating for them. I’ll give mine an extra cuddle in honor of you!

        2. Lorine*

          Have they been de-wormed? One of my current cats had awful poops when she was a kitten and had to be de-wormed twice and take a probiotic (fun times). Worst case scenario you could bring a sample from the litter box to the vet and have them determine what it is.

          1. Casper Lives*

            Yes, they’ve been dewormed several times, though not for tapeworm. That’s more expensive so they don’t do it unless you see tapeworms.

            A lot of shelter things are balancing best treatment with cost to help the large number of animals. Money has to stretch. It gets quite frustrating

            1. Sloanicota*

              I will say, as a cat foster for our city shelter, the shelter vet staff is … well, they’re doing their best. They’re overloaded and underpaid. A lot of the fosters know more than they do about what’s going on with our cats. We double check meds and diagnoses. As an example of the quality of care, a recent foster kitten I adopted out – AFTER SNEUTER – was not the gender the shelter had listed them as.

  8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I’m struggling with if it’s just time to find a new hobby because things are just not going to get to place where my old one makes sense again.

    Pre-pandemic, one of my main hobbies involved singing in person with other people, usually in hotel function rooms after traveling to be there. In addition to a local group, I’d travel to multiple conventions a year to do this, which was also the main way I picked vacations to go on.

    This is, of course, basically the worst possible idea in terms of covid.

    A lot of these events have moved online, but that’s just not the same for me, mostly because my day job has me in a ton of video meetings during the week and the last thing I want to do is spend my weekends and vacation time on a computer in my home office in more meetings, even “fun” ones.

    So…when do I just give up and find a new hobby? I’ve been deeply involved in this hobby for over a decade, and I’m just kind of at a loss for finding Something Else to Do, especially since group singing of various kinds has been a big part of my life since childhood even before I found this particular niche. The main hobbies I had prior to getting deeply involved in this one were also group indoor things that probably aren’t a great idea to do in-person right now, and I am really not interested in things that are computer-based so I don’t want to pursue the online versions.

    Do I attempt to take up an outdoor sport or something? I last played soccer regularly at age 8, and I suspect that my over-40 body would not take kindly to me starting it up again. I feel like I just don’t have enough going on in my life to look forward to in terms of future leisure plans and group social activities.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve found birdwatching an excellent middle-aged hobby. It can be done on your own or in a group, at home or on vacation, involves gentle exercise, is outdoors, can be started with a minimal investment ($100 for a pair of binoculars) and there are a ton of resources and community groups, and I’ve found birders in general to be friendly. If you get into it, you can get *really* into it if you want, at which point a lot of volunteer opportunities open up.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Second the birding! I have several hummingbird feeders and bird baths out so I can watch from my porch plus going on walks when birds are active. Seeing the Pilated woodpecker on a walk was awesome and made me realize that it wasn’t a small bird like a cardinal.

        1. Clisby*

          I’ve seen a pileated woodpecker only once (in my mother’s back yard) and I know what you mean. My mother and I were sitting at her kitchen table, facing a picture window, when all of sudden – whoosh! – one landed in the back yard. I was like, what the HELL is that? When I walked over to the window, I realized what it was – I’ve never seen one since.

    2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I’m also a group singing person, and I’ve noticed that I’m able to use a proper FFP2 (american N95?) mask when singing. Many models don’t fit properly when singing, but after trying many I’ve managed to find a model that works for me. Others in my group don’t use one but the way I’ve been raised is to do the right and reasonable thing and not just copy others :) So I don’t mind. I’m definitely covid cautious but I still think 95% protection is good enough, and getting that missing 5% would mean losing the things I love in life, which in my risk calculation wouldn’t be a good trade-off. I understand the issues with travelling, but maybe a more local choir could be possible this way?

      1. Jay*

        Yup. I’m on the board of a community choir and by default the medical advice committee (I’m an MD). We returned from hiatus in January with a vaccination/booster mandate and a mask mandate. The Board voted over my objections to make masks optional for the concert and then when numbers spiked and a few of them had friends or family with COVID they reversed themselves. We also started rehearsing in a bigger, better ventilated room and spaced out the chairs.

        We haven’t discussed September yet. I suspect there will be a push to drop the mask mandate. Sigh.

    3. Seeking second childhood*

      Have you looked at folk music festivals and fairs? Little local ones can be very spread out. I’m hoping to go to one later this year that uses a portion of a town fairgrounds. 90% is outdoors. There are group music lessons at various levels on various instruments, and jam sessions, and since it’s on a fairground, even the “indoor” activities are huge barn spaces with giant doors swung open for airflow.

    4. Jersey Driver*

      I’m a little confused why you can’t have more than one hobby at a time. You don’t have to give up the singing hobby, you can just put it on hold and do something else until the singing groups have in person events again. You don’t have to completely give it up to have a second hobby. You can just be more passive in this one and keep an eye on it for a when an in person event is offered. One of my many hobbies involves making and dressing up in costumes at live events. That obviously hasn’t been happening the past few years, but I’m actually going to go to one in two weeks, we will still be masked under our costumes and must be vaccinated. It didn’t mean I had to give up the hobby, I just did other things to pass the time. So I don’t understand why you say you have to give up on singing, you’re making it sound a bit more pessimistic than it is to just have multiple hobbies going on.

    5. JSPA*

      I wonder if you could find like-minded individuals to sing, say, sea chanteys in the park, at a safe distance, maybe even for their original purpose of helping to coordinate shared work (like at waterway, park, or neighborhood cleanups)?

      “Live work music” would motivate me more than “free donuts” (though both together would be excellent).

      A) still music, just simpler
      B) not requiring extended practice together
      C) thoroughly outdoors
      D) possibly self- recruiting (as workers chime in)
      E) socially beneficial
      F) offline and social

      1. fposte*

        I was just thinking this–you could post on a local Nextdoor, Facebook, etc. and connect with any existing music groups. There was a sea chantey group in my town for years pre-pandemic–they met in a bar, but that would easily relocate to a park. You might also consider reaching out to schools and senior living facilities–I bet there are a lot of people at the latter who’d enjoy some music and prefer to be in an open space.

      2. Angstrom*

        Locally we have a couple of instrumental music groups who are meeting outside as long as the weather permits. Maybe try learning an instrument? One you can accompany yourself on? Playing with other folks is very satisfying.

    6. Choggy*

      Do you have the space for a garden, even a container garden? This is the first year my husband and I have actually done anything in our small garden (condo living) and in containers on our patio and I’m really loving it. We actually grew Zinnias from seed this year, and are really enjoying the fruits of our labor. We have tried to make our garden pollinator and hummingbird friendly, have seen two hummingbirds (for about two seconds) but feel very successful. We have purchased dwarf versions of butterfly and lilac bushes, got a couple of clematis which are blooming nicely, added a bleeding heart, some astilbe and hostas as well. We try to stick with perennials in the actual garden and bright-colored annuals for the containers. They really dress up the place, and it’s made our space that much more enjoyable when we come home and sit out on the deck.

      1. JSPA*

        My Miss Kim “dwarf” lilac got 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide within a decade. In containers they may be more self limiting, or you may have gotten a newer version from a better source than I did (the “orange” home store). But if not, be prepared to take a semi-bonsai attitude towards pruning it.

        1. Choggy*

          Yes, that’s exactly what we have, a Miss Kim and it’s planted in the ground next to our deck, so it has some space to grow. We’ll keep an eye on it and prune it as needed but right now it’s pretty small. We actually got ours from one of the big box stores so I guess we’ll see what happens!

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’ve also given up on group singing for the foreseeable, but whether you can figure out other ways to sing with others or not, I think you can try out other activities without committing to spending a decade planning your life around them. Maybe it would help to create a list of outdoor activities that you’re mildly interested in give each one a certain amount of time to win you over. In my area, there are a lot of organizations like gardening groups, birdwatching groups, hiking and paddling groups, for pretty much any kind of interest you might have.

    8. Rara Avis*

      My aunt’s choir has in-person or virtual rehearsal options, and when they get together to perform, the performances are outside.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Adult sports leagues often have less competitive sports than soccer. Kickball and dodgeball are not sports that people have played in high school or college. Maybe pickle ball which seems to be growing in popularity. Similar to tennis a bit less athletic so for older folks.

      Personally I’ve only played soccer once or twice (I don’t really understand the rules) and it seems like a lot of running although I think the adult sports league around here plays on a smaller field. I played softball through high school and play now. It’s actually not a sport with a lot of running (only briefly), but it helps to have the basic skills down. The main social sports league in my town doesn’t teach the skills. However there is another league in town (a gay league although Allies are welcome) that does some instruction and practices to help people get into the sport. I guess if you think about it some gay kids/boys or trans kids didn’t feel welcome in school. If you want to get into that kind of sport look for something that supports beginners.

      I love it and the gay softball league has tournaments all over the country so people make going to a weekend tournament their vacation.

      1. Imtheone*

        My friend took up shuffleboard! Her wife is a great basketball player, and when they travel to the senior games, she decided she needed a sport of her own, and one where the folks who were not athletes as teens would gather.

        1. pancakes*

          There’s a shuffleboard bar in Brooklyn called Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. No teens on account of the bar, though.

    10. Girasol*

      What is it about group singing that you like: the people you sing with, the audience, the technical challenge, the sound? If you can figure out what craving it satisfies, that might lead you to figure out what sort of activity you’d like to try next.

    11. Sloanicota*

      I wonder if you could maintain a duo or trio to sing with while you look for other activities that involve travel (I really don’t know what’s okay in terms of travel anymore, it seems like a real free for all at this point). I sing with two band members – we used to meet in someone’s sheltered patio during surges, or we just do rapid tests before we get together now. It’s still decreasing the bubble greatly in terms of risk over a full chorale, and I know we all have a similar risk tolerance.

  9. Themself vs themselves*

    OK, in the last year I’ve seen people using the term “themself” as a singular “themselves.” This drives me up the wall. I Googled it and it is being used but it’s “disputed.” I don’t really understand why it needs to happen. If we can use they/them as a singular pronoun, why can’t we use themselves? I have heard themselves used in the singular already. I hate the sound of themself, it’s so clunky. I always think that the person using the word is unintelligent. Even though I know that’s really unfair of me. Is anyone else bothered by the use of this disputed word?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Oh, I have all kinds of minor pet peeves about the changing usage of words, but that’s not one that irks me in particular.

      Language evolves by its nature. Shakespeare invented words out of whole cloth. I’m sure there were folks in his day who tore their hair out over the liberties he took.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        When I use literally it means literally, damn it. Even if some dictionaries now allow its use as ‘literally, by which I mean figuratively.’

        But yeah, I understand that I am ranting on my own little molehill here and humans are going to keep saying “I literally broke the sound barrier getting here” and they will not change to protect my delicate sensibilities.

        1. EmilyG*

          A lot of our intensifier words originally had other meanings! Consider “very” which was first used to mean “in actual fact” (MW’s example of this sense: “the very best store in town”) or “really” as in “in reality” (MW: “things as they really are”) or “truly.” We are so accustomed to all of these as intensifiers that their original, strengthening senses are sort of lost, so when we REALLY want to intensify something, we turn to a newer, stronger-seeming word like “literally.”

        2. RagingADHD*

          I mean, I don’t generally use it. If I’m writing something that would be confusing because it refers to both a singular and plural “they,” I look for ways to recast it. That would be hard to read whether you used “themself” or not.

          But it doesn’t make me itchy if other people use it.

          If we started giving singular they singular verbs: “they is” instead of “they are,” now that would make me itchy. But since singular “you” still has “you are,” I don’t think it’s likely.

          What I am interested in watching is the evolution of honorifics or aristocratic titles, to include NB identity. We don’t have any official protocol for referring to government officials, peers, heads of state, or day to day authority figures that aren’t Sir and Ma’am, Lord and Lady, etc.

          I don’t have any suggestions, but it’s going to be cool to see what the possibilities are and what winds up getting codified. Having words for things governs the way we think, and it is going to make a big difference socially when we have a way to acknowledge NB people as elders, authorities, and superiors.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Themself sounds better in a sentence when referring to a single person. You wouldn’t say “keep your hands to yourselves” to an individual or “she took all the cookies for herselves” so why wouldn’t you follow the same pattern with singular they?

      1. Vio*

        pretty much that. “they” has always been a bit awkward as a singular word but in a language lacking a non-gendered alternative it’s often been the better option than “he/she” or “the individual”
        especially now that we tend to be more conscious of the gender bias in using “he” as a default assumption and with it being more common for people to openly prefer to be identified as “they/them” it makes sense for “themself” to be a valid word. it’ll take time to get used to, but that’s true with most evolutions of language

        it always bugs me a little when I see a sign saying something like “happy hour – 5-9” instead of “happy hourS” or when people say “[one person] is good people” instead of “a good person” and when I started using the internet it took me a long time to get used to the differences in American spelling and word usage but all these language quirks exist for a reason

      2. Girasol*

        It seems a little awkward because “they” is used as if it were plural even for an individual. You don’t say of a person who prefers a non-gendered pronoun “they is working alone” but “they are working alone,” in plural, as if they had a buddy. So if you wanted to keep it singular, it could be “they is working by themself” instead of the plural “they are working by themselves,” both of which are as awkward as the mixed “they are working by themself.” It’s unfortunate that there’s no singular gender-free pronoun in English other than “it,” but “it is working by itself,” while it makes grammatical sense with matching singular words to refer to a single person, doesn’t quite meet the need either.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Well, no, you say “they are” whether it’s singular or plural the same way you do with “you are.” Both phrases are correct for singular AND plural usage, and have been for a loooong time. It’s honestly not confusing and I guarantee we’ve all used singular they for someone whose gender we don’t know (they left a note, they delivered a package). Literally the only difference between that and an NB person using “they” is that in the latter case you KNOW it’s correct, so it’s a matter of respect rather than ambiguity. Acting like it suddenly becomes confusing when you have MORE information is ridiculous.

    3. IrishEm*

      I’m nonbinary, have an English BA and 2 Master’s degrees and use themself and themselves interchangeably. Just saying.

      1. Themself vs themselves*

        interesting. thank you for your unique perspective. you are more qualified than most of us in this thread to speak on this. if i play out certain made-up conversations in my head, “themselves” sounds natural to me while “themself” doesn’t. ‍♀️

        “Is Sam going to the party with you?”
        “No they said they’re driving themselves there.”

        “Is Sam working tomorrow?”
        “No they’re giving themselves the day off.”

        1. Themself vs themselves*

          ugh that symbol was the worst one that could’ve popped in. it was meant to be a shrugging emoji but it didn’t translate. I guess I should’ve just done ” *shrugs* “

    4. Flowing Fields*

      Themselves sounds clunky and wrong to me for a singular individual. Themself sounds and feels much better, and works well in forming a consistent pattern with other usage (yourself, herself, himself, themself).

      I’d say you just need to get over yourselves.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This exactly. The reason to use “themself” is that it follows a consistent pattern where -self is singular and -selves is plural. The reason to use “themselves” is that it’s a real word, which actually just means it’s an older word because ALL words are made up.

      2. Themself vs themselves*

        So just so I fully understand your perspective, in this example, “themself” sounds better than “themselves” to you?

        “Is Sam going to the party with you?”
        “No they said they’re driving themselves there.”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I don’t know how Flowing Fields feels, obviously, but I would think “themself” sounds better there. I mean I wouldn’t be bothered by “themselves” if somebody used that, but “they said they’re driving themself there” sounds more natural to me and “themselves,” while correct, does sound very slightly awkward in that sentence.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          “They” should follow the same rules as “you” which is also both singular and plural depending on context.

          Sam and Alex, are you driving yourselves? Sam and Alex are driving themselves.

          Sam, are you driving yourself? Sam is driving themself.

          “Themself” is a newer, less established word, but every word was once new and strange-sounding! I think it’s cool to see language use adapting itself to reality.

        3. Observer*


          It is more logical in this context and while it may not be officially correct, it is a very reasonable and non-confusing evolution of the language.

    5. Enby's mom*

      Singular anonymous “them” was used by English writers from Shakespeare to Jane Austen & beyond. 19th century Victorian grammarians tried to push pure Latin rules onto the English language and declared that “them” should only be used for the plural. That is an artificially imposed change to the language — and I see no reason not to change it in the other direction, to use it as a genderless singular instead. But This is already getting worse than the battles over using the Oxford comma or not.
      Taking this chance to share a charming related phrase I read on C.L. Polk’s twitter: “Ladies and gentlethem” :)
      My kid & I love it.

      1. RetailEscapee*

        I think grammar nerds need to take a breath and really think about how digging their heels in and saying it’s about language hurts actual human beings by disregarding their identity and concept of personhood. I do not care if you (singular or plural) find the usage of the word annoying, if it helps a marginalized person feel seen and affirmed.

      2. Raboot*

        They’re not saying they’re against singular “them”. They’re annoyed specifically by “themself” and not “themselves”. Regardless of whether one agrees it’s unfair to cast this as OP being against people who use they/them.

        1. Themself vs themselves*

          thank you. i am far from a transphobe. i am happy to use they/them, using someone preferred pronouns whatever they may be. it was specifically “themself” that irks me and i see that i’m in the minority, i accept that.

        2. Observer*

          I get that. But the problem here is that while they they are not being transphobic, this kind of hangup tends to hurt people. And really, over what?

          Someone mentioned the use of literally – and that’s one where there are some actual comprehension reasons to object. But even so, I would be very hesitant to push back, much less label someone who uses it as “unintelligent”.

          In this case, where there is actually a very logical reason for the usage and no one can make the argument that it could be confusing, pushing back on this usage can easily sound like “I’m not xxx but I just don’t understaaaand. But GRAMMAR!” That’s a hurtful thing to imply, even when you don’t mean it that way AT ALL. This is a prefect case where “impact matters more than intent”. Especially since the poster is actually labeling people for the usage. That’s a really strong reaction.

          And I do believe that the OP isn’t transphobic. But they still do need to get over themself!

          1. RetailEscapee*

            Thank you, That was my point. And most people who make these arguments do not do so in good faith so while OP may not be actively transphobic it does cause harm.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      Themselves sounds way more clunky than themself to me. I think this is something you just have to let go and deal with.

    7. JSPA*

      Nah, it makes perfect sense.
      You (singular) -> yourself
      You (plural) ->yourselves
      Them (plural)->themselves
      Them (singular)->themself.

      One person, one self.
      Mulitple people (or royalty), multiple selves.

      1. My heart is a fish*


        Especially given how many quietly transphobic grammar nerds are losing their absolute marbles over the “confusion” of singular they, I would think that having a reflexive that disambiguates plural and singular would be welcome.

    8. fueled by coffee*

      There are so many structural issues facing non-binary people that I just can’t imagine pet peeves about “themself” ranking anywhere near the top of the list of things I care about.

      I don’t think “themself” sounds unintelligent; it’s just parallelism with “himself” and “herself.” Transphobes disguised as “grammar nerds” have spent years angsting about how singular they is confusing because “they” should be plural and now they’re decrying some speakers’ attempts to fit singular they into the singular 3rd person pronoun English template in reflexives.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Yup. Lots of “grammar nerd” over this kind of thing springs from a place of discomfort and/or transphobia. It’s almost never actually about the grammar, but they don’t want to think about where else it is coming from.

        1. Pippa K*

          True, but I think there are also people at the other end of that spectrum, taking the view that *of course* trans and NB people need to be spoken of in ways that reflect who they are, so let’s think about how well current terminology is working. As people have pointed out, language is malleable and adaptable, so discussing the language itself – do we all understand terms the same way? Am I using this right? Is there a better way to say this? – is a legitimate thing to do. (With, again, the caveat that we’re coming from a place of wanting language to serve us all well, not disparaging or rejecting people’s identities).

          1. Rara Avis*

            Parent of a non-binary child who uses they/them, and I am finding my use of “they” is leading to confusion. (For example — “Thanks for arranging a ride for M. They don’t need it next week, though.” My interlocutor thought I was speaking for all the children involved.). Is the only solution to use the proper name every time to avoid confusion? (I’ve also had this conversation multiple times in the past few weeks : “My kid is 14. They start high school next year.” “Oh, you have twins?”)

        2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          I don’t understand the grammar nerd thing about they/them. I have studied English as a foreign language in school. I remember that our high school English teacher mentioned the possibility to use they to refer to one person whose gender isn’t known. This was about 15 years ago when probably just few people had ever heard about being nonbinary. My teacher had lived in the US for some years so she knew how native speakers use the language in real life, plus had formal training in being a foreign language teacher. For me this is sufficient evidence that singular they is a thing, and was a thing before mainstream media started talking about other genders than men and women.

      2. Themself vs themselves*

        i’m far from a transphobe. i said in my initial message i was happy with using they/them as a singular pronoun. it was just “themself” that irks me for some reason. i see that i’m the only one. i accept that.

        1. pancakes*

          You’re probably not the only one, since people find all sorts of things irksome for all sorts of reasons, but to feel so strongly about a word “for some reason” will occasionally move people to wonder what the reason is.

          You also said you think people less intelligent for using it, which moved me to wonder whether it is in fact considered incorrect usage. Not all dictionaries seem to agree with you. Collins is possibly closest, and says “Some people consider this use to be incorrect,” but they aren’t saying it is incorrect.

          1. RagingADHD*

            FWIW, the Chicago Manual of Style (the one I use for work) lists both themself and singular themselves as valid/correct and says it’s a matter of preference. That update came out in 2017 or -18.

          2. RetailEscapee*

            Yes stating one thinks it sounds unintelligent smacks of classism as well- if the intent of the usage is clear by context there’s no need to split hairs about someone’s word choice.

        2. Katiekins*

          Maybe think of it as them is a singular pronoun, and self is also singular, and therefore it’s actually parallel to say themself as a singular reflexive pronoun? And do whatever it takes to get used to it, the way you got used to them as a singular pronoun.

    9. marvin the paranoid android*

      I think you might find it more rewarding to celebrate the creativity and joy in language rather than seeing it as a system of strict rules we must strive to conform to. When people in marginalized communities find a way to communicate that is meaningful to us and helps us bond with each other, people in power are always keen to tell us that we’re speaking incorrectly, that our language use shows that we are ignorant and don’t belong in mainstream society (while at the same time borrowing our language for their own entertainment). Often the reason why we have to use our own language is that the dominant forms of language do not recognize us and our needs. Human cultures are diverse, our gender identities and other personal identities are diverse, and our language is diverse too, and I think that’s a wonderful thing.

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Professional grammar cop here. I let issues like these go. I feel it’s more important to have our non-binary friends, colleagues, family members, etc. refer to themselves however they want than to police that expression, even if it may seem “incorrect” to us at first. I feel like teaching grammar is like being a host — my number one responsibility is to make people feel welcome and comfortable and not to grammar shame, even if I may point out some disputed “rules” that some people follow in certain situations.

      At most, if this issue came up in my job, I might point out that some people evince a preference for “themselves” over “themself” and that if it’s a teacher or boss doing so, students might make a choice to accommodate that preference, but that doing so is indeed a choice. I’d treat it like the disputed “rules” about not ending a sentence with a preposition or not splitting an infinitive.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      This is one of those situations where it’s better to be a descriptivist than a prescriptivist. Prescriptivism is seen as old fashioned in linguistics, but it certainly has it’s place. It’s just not always important though. People feel like they need this word “themself”, and we should notice the need more than the word, and describe that need to ourselves more than trying to prescribe a rule for it, and for everyone. It’s like when I started teaching English, some people wanted me to correct the kids’ dialectical grammar ALL the time, even during breaks when they were being social. However, I grew up here speaking this way too and I still use the wrong rules for the right reasons; identity.

    12. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I’m not bothered by it at all, it’s what I’d use. “Terry told me they thought that up that project themself.”
      “Themselves” here is what sounds clunky to me.

    13. Esmeralda*

      English is awesome. Capacious. Flexible.

      That’s the word people are using. If enough people use it often enough , it will become standard.

      Delightful YA book on just this topic: Frindle

    14. GlowCloud*

      No, language and grammar rules change all the time, depending on the communities in which they’re spoken.

      It started to irk me when every customer service rep I spoke to was suddenly using “yourself” instead of “you”, as if it were some kind of formal term of address, or an honorific.
      But since we don’t have the German grammatical Du/Sie distinction, I can see the semantic niche that You/Yourself is filling in English.

      Why bother getting het up about it?

      The only grammar thing that really hacks me off is faux-Elizabethan Ren-faire speak-eth. As a Brit from a region where some people still use ‘Thee’ in common parlance, this pastiche flaunting really simple declension rules is aggravating to say the least.

  10. Jackalope*

    New book thread: what is everyone reading? Any good recommendations, or requests for recommendations?

    I just finished From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper. It’s a delightful fantasy romance book, which I’m discovering as a new genre cross that I really enjoy. This particular book is the second book in a new series, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Real life super sucks right now (for reasons like COVID and politics, not anything terrible in my own life), and so it’s fun to have a series where nothing really horrid happens, and even the minor bad things that do happen are resolved by the end. I believe this might be a series one could refer to as “cozy”, although the main character in this one comes from a family of necromancers and there’s a huge goth creepy feeling to it, just in case that’s not your style. (I personally don’t enjoy horror and I thought it was fun, if that helps, but everyone has lines in different places.)

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Ooo this sounds fun, I’ll check it out!
      I’ve been sort of hate reading I. T. Lucas’ Children of the Gods series. They’re short romances, in a series, and I want to find out what happens next. But man is she sexist. I love a romance but hate the stereotype of women being submissive and men being naturally dominant, and although she does try to vary that a bit, ultimately by only saying a character is assertive and stands up for herself but having her then capitulate to the guy is annoying. Anyway. I’m also reading T. S. Joyce’s Wolves of Promise Falls series and Zoe Chant’s Fire Shifter Rescue series so I am just waiting for the next books to come along in those.

    2. Enby's mom*

      Just rereading CL Polk’s books Witchmark & Stormsong because the library finally got the final book Soulstar. If you like mysteries set in fantasy & science fiction universes give it a try.

    3. Ewing46*

      I just finished “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. I’ve read several of her books and loved them, but I didn’t like this one.

      1. Dreaming of Italy*

        Is that the one in Alaska? I thought the setting was fascinating but none of the characters came to life for me.

    4. StellaBella*

      just ordered last 3 Sookie Stackhouse stories from Charlaine Harris, and also ordered a new one, Steampunk (Steampunk Anthologies, Band 1).

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve been reading Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. Enjoying it–I like stories that delve into what stories mean to us, or why certain tropes resonate so hard.

      The next Donna Andrews comes out in two weeks, in which we close the circle with a big family wedding. Really looking forward to that one.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Details on the first: Sometimes children come upon doors. In this series, they come upon doors which take them to lands perfectly suited to who they truly are, where they are truly seen, and are the heroes of grand adventures. Then they fall out somehow through another door, and seek to go back. An old woman who can’t get back to her magical world founds a school for similar children trying to work out how to get back through their doors, or adapt to life on the outside. There’s a No Quests rule, but it’s being broken with increasing frequency.

        Details on the second: Cozy mystery series. The heroine, Meg, is a blacksmith and a paragon of organization. I really enjoy the sense of building a community across many connections.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love the Wayward Children books! Am currently reading WHERE THE DROWNED GIRLS GO, which picks up with Cora, who’d visited a world where she was a mermaid. But she joined some of the other students on a quest into the dark and dangerous Moor country and attracted some nasty eldritch-horror-like attention, and now is fleeing to the “other” school in hopes of some respite. (The “other school” is the one for kids who’ve come back through magic doorways and who do NOT want to return to their magical lands; indeed, they want to forget all about them and make their way back to a normal life. Or at least that’s the theory…)

        I also enjoy Donna Andrews’ books, though they’re much more on the light-and-often-silly side!

    6. GoryDetails*

      My reading includes:

      A recent re-read of JANE EYRE, which I enjoyed mightily – and, as usual when re-reading classics, I discovered lots of aspects that I’d overlooked the previous times I read it. (Jane was more of a snarker and less of a dormouse than I’d remembered!)

      WHAT MOVES THE DEAD by T. Kingfisher – her newest modern-day-retelling-of-classic-horror novel, this one inspired by Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”.

      HOW TO BE EATEN by Maria Adelmann, in which a modern-day support group includes women who have survived such fairy-tale fates as being attacked by a wolf or being held captive in a candy house. The concept reminded me of Grady Hendrix’ “Final Girl Support Group”; will see how this compares.

      A new-to-me manga series: RUN ON YOUR NEW LEGS, featuring a soccer player who’s lost a leg and is trying to learn how to live with a prosthetic.

      Oh, and on audiobook: DARK RISE by C. S. Pacat, a fantasy novel that I chose because I love the narrator (Christian Coulson). And… the story’s OK, but it has a *lot* of overused tropes, starting with the whole dark-vs-light thing. (Also, the author has a strange fetish for high cheekbones; I’ve lost count of the characters whose cheekbones have been called out!)

    7. Jamie Starr*

      I just finished The House in the Pines (Ana Reyes). It was a very quick read for me. Overall I liked it but there was something about it that felt simple/basic. The parallels between different story lines were super obvious. It’s billed as a psychological thriller, but there were only maybe two parts where I was thrilled. When I finished it and read the author’s acknowledgements, she had thanked someone for supporting her idea to turn her MFA thesis in a novel (The House in the Pines) and the feeling I had about it being simple made sense.

      Currently about 1/3 of the way into Best of Friends (Kamila Shamsie), which I’m liking so far.

    8. Pam*

      Fight Like Hell by Kim Kelly, about the history of American labor.

      For cozy/charming, I highly recommend Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree.

      1. Jackalope*

        Totally agree on Legends and Lattes. It’s a fun, quick fantasy read about an orc who decides to retire from the adventuring life to open a coffee shop, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      2. pancakes*

        Kim Kelly is a good follow on Twitter. She’s also into tea, which makes me want to get more into tea.

    9. Russian in Texas*

      I just finished Isaac’s Storm (recommended here last week!) about the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
      The book legit gave me nightmares and anxiety. Of course I live on the Gulf coast and been thorough few of these things, and its a hurricane season now.
      Now I am reading “A History of the World in Six Glasses”, about beverages that changed the world – beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, soda.

      1. Blomma*

        I really like Erik Larson, but didn’t enjoy Isaac’s Storm. It was just too devastating and dread/anxiety inducing for me.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      I just finished Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, which is about a haunted Ikea (I mean, a store called Orsk). Definitely a creepy read, but also fun.

      I’ve started Artemis by Andy Weir. I’m only a few pages, but so far it’s centered on a porter who lives in a city on the moon. I really enjoyed The Martian, so I’ve been wanting to check out the author’s other books for awhile.

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m listening to Personal Effects, by Robert A. Jenson, about what is done with bodies and possessions after a mass tragedy, by someone who does it for a living. Like, the guy helped clean up Katrina AND 9/11 AND the big tsunami AND the Haiti earthquake and tons more. Fascinating, slightly morbid, sometimes heartbreaking.

    12. Rara Avis*

      I’m reading Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science by Carol Kaesuk Yoon. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction because it seems more like work than relaxation, but I’m enjoying this one.

    13. My heart is a fish*

      Just picked up What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher and I’m enjoying it immensely — I’ve yet to read one of hers that I really disliked, although there are some I’m kind of neutral about.

      It’s lower on the wordplay and wit than her other books, but it kind of has to be, given that it’s a more somber atmosphere.

    14. Anon4This*

      On audiobook- Eyes of the Void which is book 2 of The Final Architecture series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Book 1 was excellent and book 2 is really good so far too.

      In print, just started book 8 of the Iron Druid series.

    15. Bluebell*

      I finished Katherine St John’s The Lion’s Den, which I liked, though I thought The Siren was better. Now I’m reading The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary. It’s good, but The Flat Share was definitely funnier. Eventually I’ll put a nonfiction book in my queue, but not just yet.

    16. Veronica Marx*

      Just finished Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club, a YA lesbian romance set in 1950s Chinatown. Great weaving of historical information about the Red Scare and how fear of Communism tied into racism towards Chinese immigrants, as well as a history of queer culture in San Francisco. Really, really enjoyed it.
      Also listening to Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage after loving her newer book of essays, These Precious Days. This one is really good, too. She is just a really good writer.
      My book club is reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver and I’m somewhat enjoying it so far, but not 100% sold. It’s one where I’m reserving judgement and will be curious how I feel at the end.

    17. Free Meerkats*

      Did I hear Fluffy Fantasy Romance?

      Saint of Steel series by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon.)

    18. Aneurin*

      I’m currently reading my way through Robin Stevens’ “Murder Most Unladylike” series (basically a cozy murder mystery/boarding school stories/Golden Age of Detective Fiction mashup – two girls at a 1930s boarding school solve crimes) as quickly as I can get the e-books from the library. One of the girls (Hazel Wong) is Chinese, the other (The Honourable Daisy Wells) is (as becomes clear over the course of the series) gay, so there’s typical-of-the-period racism and homophobia, but they’re children’s books so nothing too heavy. Extremely fun and escapist (in the best way!).

      I also just finished Raynor Winn’s “The Salt Path” and “The Wild Silence”, memoirs of Raynor and her husband Moth’s experience of losing their home and setting out on a long-distance walk, wild camping because they can’t afford anything else. Beautiful nature writing, and will make you want to get out on a walk as soon as possible. A third installment, “Landlines”, is out in September 2022.

      And finally, I read Claire Wilcox’s “Patch Work: A Life Amongst Clothes”. Wilcox is a curator of fashion at the V&A (art & design museum), and the book is a story of a life in objects. The chapters are tiny vignettes (most only 2-3 pages long) focused on an item of clothing or an object with a specific memory or meaning to the author attached to it. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and I’m not sure I enjoyed it all that much, but I don’t *not* recommend it, if that makes sense?

  11. StellaBella*

    People who live in a real tropical location – do you have a word or phrase for how the air smells so lovely? Kind of a smell of warm, damp, dark, soil heaviness and forest scents combined? Some days here (I live in middle of EU nowhere near an ocean but with lakes) it smells lightly like Louisiana or Florida or Hawaii from my US memories and I love it but cannot really describe it well. Also we are hitting 102F most days in this next week so similar heat too!

    1. mimi*

      Petrichor? The smell of dirt after rain as the water releases oils and chemicals from the plants. Caveat: I don’t live in a tropical climate, I’ve just watched Doctor Who.

      1. StellaBella*

        Oh that is a good one! I looked it up and this is it I think – an after rain smell on earth. Very interesting: “Petrichor is the smell caused by rainfall on very dry soil.
        Petrichor is often described as a pleasant or earthy scent. Because petrichor has a very specific meaning, you are only likely to see it used by people talking about the smells following a rainstorm.”

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I remember that smell from when I lived in the Panama Canal Zone!

      Now the smell I recognize is what Mr T and I call “The Wisconsin Summer Smell,” which is also a combination of humidity and green and warm and it’s so delicious I think someone should bottle it.

      1. nobadcats*

        It is bottled! The first brand I can think of is Demeter Fragrance’s “Petrichor.”

    3. Meh*

      From Hawaii. And at certain times of the year it just smell like rotting vegetation. Like when you’ve forgotten about that bag of spinach and it’s gone liquid in the back of the fridge. So for me, it’s called jungle rot (not the infection, just literally (groan for the above discussion) the jungle rotting.

  12. A.N O'Nyme*

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

    Not much for me this week other than fitting some loose scenes into a larger work and rewriting some that were originally part of another project but that fit better here.

    1. Maryn*

      Middle-of-the-night heartburn turns out to be the writer’s friend! While trying to sleep sitting up, I got a better idea for the ending of my WIP than what I’d drafted. I did not sleep well, as you can imagine, so I had a few hours of thinking time identifying things I’d have to change to make this work, and I’ve begun the fixes.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I wrote a very detailed world compendium to solidify my alternate universe in my head. For some reason I keep revisiting it, tweaking it, messing with it. I think I’m nervous about charging full-on into this world, since once I put it out there, I can’t really change it.

      I just need to tell my brain to shut up and finish the book.

    3. Video Game Fanfic Author*

      My fanfic is now 23,000+ words. And I still haven’t written any of the, shall we say, spicy bits. Work on it had slowed down due to other stuff going on, both personal and professional, but now I have COVID. I’m on day 4 of isolation, so 6 more days to go, which gives me plenty of time to work on my fic. It’s probably the only silver lining to getting sick.

      1. Maryn*

        I’m so sorry this is the reason you have writing time! But the spicy bits are always the most fun to write.

        1. Video Game Fanfic Author*

          Thanks! I’m lucky that it’s a pretty mild case.

          I have to say, I’m both excited to write the spicy bits, but also a bit intimidated. I’ve read plenty of spicy stuff (both good and bad), and I have the scenes outlined in my head, but I’ve never actually written that sort of thing before.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I wrote a blog post about writing spicy bits a long time ago that I later deleted (deservedly so, as it had major flaws in the writing, ugh). The advice was good, though. I offer some of it:

            Things that ruin a sex scene in books/stories:

            1. A change in the character’s internal point-of-view. It’s distracting when the writer suddenly switches from, say, a hard-bitten POV to a softer focus within the same character.

            2. Too much detail when the rest of the narrative is rather sparse. When the reader gets to the naughty part, all of a sudden EVERY LITTLE DETAIL is magnified. Then it goes back to spare or terse prose. The change in style can be jarring.

            3. Forgetting that the participants are (usually) people with genuine emotions. In a story with well-rounded characters, you don’t want it to end up being like, as Robin Williams once described p*rn, “an industrial film covered in fur.” The scene will have more power if the reader can feel what the characters are feeling for each other and is not just getting titillated. Unless, of course, that’s the only purpose of your story, in which case you can ignore what I just said.

            It’s the same as writing any other scene; it needs to fit into the narrative as a whole.

            Someone asked me one time if I enjoyed writing the spicy bits. Yeah, maybe at first, but by the time you finish editing it, you might as well be writing about cleaning the garage!

            1. Henry Division*

              This is some great advice. Currently also writing a fanfic here that has some spicy bits (my fourth one, I can’t be stopped). I’ve gone back and deleted or expanded some of them depending on how the rest of the narrative is going, because sometimes one sentence cuts it, and sometimes you need to dig into the intimacy to get some interpersonal character development.

              I think a lot about Neil Gaiman, who has written some very ODD sex scenes for his books. He said that when he was writing them, he would write a few sentences at a time and then put it away, embarrassed, and then come back to it a few days later. I find they go way more slowly for me than other scenes, and that’s okay. They’re hard! Sometimes it’s fun to write them and sometimes it feels like a chore.

          2. Maryn*

            I’m a published erotica author. My tips for people unused to writing the spicy parts:

            Figure out what happens in what order.

            Make a mental movie of it using your point of view character’s eyes as the only camera and her ears as the only mic. What does she see and hear? Use her other senses to round out her experience, and don’t forget that while she is experiencing, she is also thinking or remembering or hoping.

            Write down a fast and sloppy summary of your mental movie.

            Now expand your summary into nicer text. Decide early on what words you’re going to use for naughty bits, or use medical terms for place holders until you do.

            (I moderate the erotica board at a writers’ website.)

    4. curly sue*

      I just won a nice grant to help with publication costs for my dissertation monograph, and I have most of the information I need to apply for the grant to hire a photographer to retake some of the artifact images, so now I have to actually… edit the text. I have a reasonable amount of rewriting to do on one chapter, and I’ve been avoiding it entirely by focusing on collecting final image files and grant applications.

      I did finish and submitted a paper based on my post-doc research to the leading journal in my subfield, so at least it’s off my desk for a while. I’m hoping it doesn’t get a desk rejection, because if it goes to peer review that’s at least another six months where I don’t have to think about it again.

      On the other side of ‘productive procrastination,’ I also finally finished a short story – the first fiction I’ve completed in over a year and a half. It’s only 6.5 k, but it’s still a finished story. I’ve submitted it to an anthology, and hopefully will hear back sometime in August. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it if they don’t want it – it was written specifically for their story call – but I’ll cross that bridge if it becomes necessary.

      And I’m strongly considering junking the setting of my next novel and rewriting what I do have – I’m only 11k in and got serious writers’ block; I think it’s because I have too many moving pieces in mind and need to shrink the setting and cast down to something more wrangle-able. I’m starting to feel like maybe I do have fiction words in me again, so here’s hoping I can keep the streak going.

    5. Henry Division*

      I’m at last making major progress in my fanfic, it feels great.

      I like writing casefics, and sometimes they come together immediately and sometimes it takes a very long time. Been mulling on this one for months, writing around the investigation scenes because I wasn’t sure where they were going. Finally this week, something clicked into place and I actually have an outline for the remaining chapters and how everything connects.

      I wrote almost 80k in a two months, now if only I could be motivated to write an original novel like this.

  13. 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.

    I’ve not played much this week, but I’m curious to hear what you all have been up to!

    1. Bookgarden*

      After almost a year I finally finished up the main story quests for Final Fantasy XIV. This was probably my favorite Final Fantasy storyline ever, which is saying a lot having been a big fan of the series for over 30 years. The characters are so fun and richly created.

      On Tuesday, Stray is being released for all of us who ever needed a game where we can meow, knock items off of ledges, and purr to our heart’s content. I can’t wait!

        1. Bookgarden*

          I know for sure it’s coming out on PlayStation. Just looked it up and it will also be out for Windows. It’s a timed PS exclusive title so chances are it’ll be out for XBOX later. Not sure about Switch and if they’ll port it there :(

    2. DarthVelma*

      Welp, the plan for today and tomorrow is to level up some Therizinosaurs and go fight the big dragon boss in ARK. We’ve beaten the giant spider boss and the giant monkey boss. If we beat the dragon, we can ascend. Yay!

      1. DarthVelma*

        We beat the dragon boss on the lowest level this morning. But I lost poor Becky the Yutyrannus in the process. :-(

        We’re definitely going to have to up our game and work on strategy before tackling the next level of that boss. And I am SO not ready to ascend just yet.

    3. Meh*

      I played Eldritch Horror and learned that I am not a fan of meandering, cooperative games. I need a linear progression and have a clear path to winning using skill, reasoning, or deduction, and not lucky dice rolls. 100% a perfectionist/achievement praise based me problem. Gosh. I sound awful.

      1. DarthVelma*

        My partner and I play Eldritch Horror and can see where it can be a love it or hate it thing.

        We play pretty much all of the Arkham games. If you didn’t like the Eldritch Horror game play but like the mythos, there are a lot of options out there.

    4. Jackalope*

      So I wonder if other gaming people might have a thought here about my dilemma. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve recently started running a D&D campaign, my first time ever DM-ing. My players were on a quest to find the soul shards of an NPC friend (who drew a Void card from the Deck of Many Things) before the villain did. Last week the villain managed to get a hold of the shards first and escape (which was not necessarily what I wanted, but I couldn’t see a way given the situation and the way things played out that they wouldn’t). The villain is currently too powerful for the players to fight (my story is loosely based on a series of one-shots that have this villain as someone that reappears every now and then until players deal with them at the very end; we’re closer to the beginning). Now I’ve got to come up with an idea for how the players can help their friend not be lost forever. Any thoughts or ideas?

      1. Rosie*

        Sounds like something needs to happen to seriously stall the villain – perhaps they mess up somehow, or another character comes in to disrupt things. Could even be another low-level villain who has beef with the main villain, who your party could fight first and defeat or team up with?

        1. Jackalope*

          That’s a good idea. This villain is actually second in command to the “mainest” main villain, so maybe I can work out a fight between those two.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I just got the news that KeyForge is coming back! I’ve gotten out my favorite decks and I’m trying to regain my playing skills but I have no one to practice with.

    6. MEH Squared*

      I’m playing Tunic, an indie game by Andrew Shouldice. It’s an action-adventure game featuring a fox with a sword. It has touches of Dark Souls and Zelda, with puzzle solving to boot. The graphics are great as is the soundtrack. It should be right up my alley, but I’m just not gelling with it for some reason. Dunno why. I’ll give it a bit more time to see if my feelings change.

    7. SparklingBlue*

      Been poking around MS Mahjong (which is more like mahjong solitaire than real mahjong–which I can play real mahjong to a point with Japanese rules.) and trying to keep up with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet rumors.

    8. Henry Division*

      Finished Death’s Door and am continuing with the major grind that is Neo: World Ends With You. I don’t play a lot of JRPGs and so the fact that this game is actually like 50 hours in storyline alone is really difficult. It’s also not terribly different from the first game.

      The fighting is fun, but I don’t really feel like I’m using my brain at all.

    9. LimeRoos*

      I finished the story line of Chicory and it was completely lovely. I’m only at 90.19% complete, so have some time to spend completing all the side quests now. Highly recommend – it has adorable characters with different personalities, the colors are wonderful and eventually customizable, the puzzles and platforming are engaging and difficult, and the music is awesome. I’m excited to finish it and replay it again.

      Also still playing Diablo 2 on the Switch. Assassin is at level 80 and is amazeballs.

  14. Listener*

    How do you steer your encounters with friends suffering from depression? And for those who suffer from it, what you want them to look like?

    I have a friend who is a long-time sufferer from manic-depression. She is medicated and relatively stabilized, but I perceive that when we speak she (understandably) tends to focus on negative things. Which do happen objectively in her life – she has a lot of other physical problems as well. Typically, when we talk, she describes me at length to which doctors she had been, what they told her, and describes problems happening to people around her… I on the one hand, understand that she needs to ventilate, and of course I am willing to lend my ear to her, but at the same time constant negativity has an impact on me. She does try to say positive things as well but the negative ones prevail.

    She is a sweet and nice person, and the friendship is absolutely worth it, I understand that the negativity comes with the disease, but it is sometimes overwhelming for me and I fight with the right measure of me listening to her negative experiences and chiming in to talk about something more positive (small things, like what flowers grow on her balcony, or what success her kids had).

    Any ideas as to the right balance of this?

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      Captain Awkward was made for this! Check out “Question 143: I lent an ear to a friend, how do I get it back?”

      She also has other excellent articles and scripts you may find useful as you assess how much you feel comfortable doing for/with this friend and where you want to draw your boundaries.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      As the child of someone very much like that, balance in conversation is tough to find. When my mother gets going, there is no stopping or distracting her, which still surprises me because growing up I remember her being an absolute, rational, pragmatic rock. In the same breath, she will admit she needs to relax and reframe, and then list all the reasons why she can’t. Some are entirely self-imposed restrictions, and they’re exhausting to hear over and over, with no amount of ever getting through I love my mother, and have come to realise she will never be happy, but also it isn’t my job to solve that (therapy would help, if she was open to that, which she’s not). All I can do is manage how and how often we communicate so that it works for me, too. Captain Awkward has lots of great advice about that in several posts.

      I also am the depressed person in my long-term relationship, and in that context, I do better at finding balance when my partner demonstrates that he’s invested in enjoying our spare time together. When I’m in a good frame of mind, I love finding us things to do and places to go, and making the plans (admittedly, the various lockdowns that prevented that for months had an impact on my mental health). When I’m not, I find myself hoping for someone else to come up with plans to spend time together, once in a while, because the only option my brain sees is sitting on my ass and playing crap thoughts in a loop. Then I happily follow along, and having fun and company takes my mind off the negative stuff I’d be stewing in otherwise.

      Everyone’s experience is different, so your friend may not be like me in that sense. I think what I’m trying to say is: what are the ways she appreciates being shown other people care? Is it just the talking and listening, that you’re already offering, or is there something else she values that could also redirect her energy in more positive direction for some of the time?

    3. JSPA*

      I gave one friend a stuffed animal with a worried look, “for when she needed to clear her mind for real human interaction by unloading the percolating misery.” She’s the sort of person who will do that. Others might find it very rude, but it helped her for quite a while.

    4. matcha123*

      Hmm…on the one hand, what you’ve written doesn’t sound negative to me. It sounds matter-of-fact.
      On the other hand, *how* people say these things matters a lot, another with other details you may have left out for brevity’s sake.

      Taking advice I’ve seen on this site, it might be helpful to you and her to ask her if she’s looking to vent (with no additional advice from you) or if she’s looking for your help/support.

      I admit I’m a bit sensitive to being called a “complainer” by a former friend when I would briefly tell her about my life after listening to her talk for over two hours about how much she dislikes her coworkers, family members, newest boyfriend, etc.
      I’d like to offer a reminder that if someone has a crappy life, and they are asked about their life, and they talk about their life…that’s not being negative…it’s life! It might also be helpful to ask yourself what “negative” represents to you.

      For me, “negative” would be like, “*sigh* I just turned 30 and I feel my age. I am so old. No one will ever love me and I am going to die alone. *heavier sigh*”

      Not negative, but maybe not sunshine and flowers, would be, “I twisted my ankle the other day so I can’t go on that walk tonight.”

      1. Listener*

        Hmm… this is a very interesting angle and is making me think.

        There definitely are crappy things in her life (her several health issues, the recent death of a close family member), and I understand venting about those, and am of course willing to lend my ear.

        I also acknowledge she is doing her best in NOT venting in the way you described in your last paragraph but one.

        I do not know whether I will be able to express what I mean – she focuses rather on all negative things that happen in her life. In 9 cases of 10, when she feels the need to call or text me, it is about some bad news – health-wise or otherwise. All those ARE real problems, and as such closer to your “I twisted my ankle”, but it would not be “I twisted my ankle and it hurts like hell so I can’t go on that walk tonight.”, but rather “I twisted my ankle and went to doctor X and he did this to my foot and said that I should not step on it for 4 weeks… oh and my father had health problem Y and went to see his doctor and he said X, and my mother had health problem Z and went to see her doctor and the nice lady from the flat above me came to me devastated because she found out her son has disease AB..”

        Each one of those in isolation would be OK, we all need this from time to time, but sometimes it seems to me that unless I change the subject most of our conversation would be about bad things happening in her life or in the lives of people around her.

        Perhaps a part of my problem is that I have been fighting with a tendency to have a sort of catastrophic thinking all my life, and my strategy is not to linger too much in negative things and to concentrate rather on the positive ones, and these dialogues pull me back to my own negativity, and I do not want this.

        1. matcha123*

          I have a few friends who do get into a hole of Let Me Tell You Every Crap Thing That Has Happened Today.
          One is pretty bad, but will realize it at a point. Another, I’ve just had to pull back on communication and responding to her texts.

          If you feel comfortable with it, it might be helpful to tell her that you may be able to offer her some advice if she’d like, but it’s hard (uncomfortable?) to listen to all the bad things that happen to not only her, but to other people.
          If she’s somewhat introspective, I feel like she would at least make some effort to rein in the All of My Friends are Dead-type talk.

          It may also help to share your last sentence with her and maybe give some examples of what counts as “positive” for you.

          I’ve come to understand that people who vent/complain in the same way can get along well. But if you’ve got one person who is just a flood of unfiltered thoughts and another who thinks before they speak, that’s a recipe for frustration.

          1. Listener*

            “Let Me Tell You Every Crap Thing That Has Happened Today.” – oh, this is spot on.

            I understand a part of this is because of her illness, and I cut her much more slack than I would do for an ordinary person. I also do not want to look like I am not interested in her or her family, and she recently had really crap things in her life, so I think the solution for me would be to bite the bullet and hear SOME crap things but then redirect the conversation to something more positive.

        2. JSPA*

          “When there are so many problems, it’s worth taking time to recognize, smile at, latch into and revel in the stuff that’s still working, the little magic moments. Or even the stillness between crises. I had one today, seeing a particularly orange butterfly on the neighbors’ darkest butterfly bush, while enveloped by the smell of the bush and the after- rain smell from the street cleaning truck. I saved the moment to share with you.”

          Do that a few times, then start prompting her to respond in kind. The goal isn’t, “pretend life isn’t mostly crap, if it’s mostly crap” but “flowers also grow in crap.”

          I’m thinking that if you hear some willingness to search for the positive, your tolerance for the litany of woes will be higher.

          It’s also possible that your friend is getting enjoyment from the telling, in a “vay iz mir,” sad comic, “trials of a schlimazl” sort of way. If so, it may help to think of it as performance, i.e. spinning misery into a rich vein of inspiration. This is absolutely an appreciated thing in some groups / cultures; if you don’t get enjoyment from it, it’s potentially not at all damaging to your friend to tell them so.

    5. LusciousLemon*

      I’d give her a few minutes to do her thing, and then pivot the conversation with ‘Oh gosh, I know how hard it’s been for you to deal with X. Are there any things you are looking forward to soon?’ You can absolutely gently redirect the conversation by asking for positives or things she’s looking forward to or simply dominate the conversation with happier chatter. This is her mode of operation but there’s nothing to say that you can’t nudge your interactions in a different direction.

      1. Listener*

        I think this is doable, and it is close to my nature to concentrate on the positives. And if it is still about her (are there any things YOU are looking forward to soon)?

        I think I would appreciate if someone did this to me (deviate the conversation towards something more positive while it still being about me and things I like).

    6. AnonForThis*

      Can relate. I have a beloved relative with bi-polar disorder, and it’s a Wall Of Negative All The Time.
      Like, every single thing they they find worthy of commenting on is sad, bad, or awful. Made up example: “They just discovered a new type of dinosaurs, where the parents ate most of their babies. No surprise. That’s just what parents are like.” Like, my relative would even find a negative take on dinosaurs! They have zero ability to see any good thing in the world, so they are talking negatively about all the “standard” life things, and also *every single* new/random topic. It’s really so difficult to interact with, for my own mental wellbeing, but I want to be supportive…
      I’ve found the Polar Warriors you-tube channel really helpful. Maybe it could offer you some useful info about your situation, too.

    7. Koala dreams*

      Sometimes it’s helpful to be more direct with what you want. “I’m not up for venting today, let’s focus on positive things.” “I’m not the right audience for medical things, they stress me out, let’s talk about something else. How are your flowers doing?”

      Another strategy is to plan things where you don’t need to talk a lot. Playing games (in person or online), sending cat pictures, doing something practical.

  15. Lady Whistledown*

    Buying a home! What favorite feature do you have in your house and what’s on your wishlist (Ex. Love your backyard fire pit or cozy reading nook)

    We know we’re overpaying BUT we did get the exact town, neighborhood, and favorite features we were hoping for and that’s been priceless. Once we make a couple repairs, I’m itching to start making the space “ours” and trying to think of what will make the space feel like home.

    1. Ewing46*

      The outdoor space! The past couple years we’ve made huge investments outside- a new patio out front and a new deck in the back. Now that it’s summer, we practically live outside and it’s worth every penny.

      1. Hanani*

        Screened-in porch if you live in an area that deals with annoying bugs – I spend tons of time on mine, and it’s so pleasant to be able to do so even when the mosquitos are marshaling for war.

        1. Kathenus*

          Yes! First thing I did when I bought my house was screen in the existing front porch and building a screened back porch – I built the costs for these into the money I needed to buy the house because they are very important to me for myself and my pets.

        2. Jay*

          This. We put in a screened porch in 2019 and boy, howdy, am I glad we did. Love it love it love it,

          What I want and don’t have: a mudroom, or someplace else for out-of-sight storage for boots, shoes, and bags. When my kid was in HS her dance bag and/or backpack landed in the corner of the dining room, and now my sneakers and work bag tend to end up there. Plus our floors are messy in the wintertime no matter what we do.

      2. Lady Whistledown*

        Yes to outdoor space! There’s a front porch I’d love to screen in. Hoping to add lights to the backyard area too.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We had a bespoke bookshelf + storage unit installed in the living room, with space in the middle to hang the TV. No off the shelf media units would have worked, because the wall on that side was divided into alcoves of different awkward sizes, that needed filling up to create an even surface. I was worried it would take up a lot of space and make the room look smaller, but in fact, quite the opposite. It’s very functional and the space looks clean, modern and stylish. I love it so much and it never fails to impress visitors.

      On my wishlist would be a garden that looks just as modern and stylish, but alas, that’s not on the cards. Cleaning it up from invasive vegetation took most of the budget, so instead of the sleek retiling I was hoping for, we’ll try our hand at jet washing old grubby paving, and have experimented with planting grass and laying a makeshift pebble border ourselves. It still needs a bespoke shed (again, very awkwardly shaped space to fill) and that’s the real wishlist item now, which will be expensive no matter what we go for. Even in the state it’s now, it’s cosy and a joy to spend time in this season.

      All the best for your new home, hope you’ll love it!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Versions of window seats. I’ve seen lovely built in ones with bookcases to both sides, but a padded bench in front of the window can do the job.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This is so easy both to do and to not-do, but — paint! My kitchen was a weird motley mix of various neutrals on the walls and cabinetry that didn’t really go well together, but when I redid it with bright white cabinets, I painted the walls BRIGHT-ASS TURQUOISE (because so much of the wall is covered with cabinets that it’s more of an accent color so it’s not as overwhelming as it could be) and it makes my kitchen feel so much bigger. The smallest bedroom was (god knows why) painted dark charcoal grey with dark wood trim, and it felt like a closet. I painted it a nice spring green and swapped out the trim for white wood trim, and again, the room felt like it tripled in size. And especially if you’ve been renting, it’s so nice to get away from the Landlord Taupe Special on every wall!

    5. fposte*

      I am very much a nook person, and my house is what realtors call a Cape Cod (to which actual Cape Cod says, “Huh?”): the second floor is a smaller footprint than the first, because the roof begins to slant at its base. In the back there’s a shed dormer and my bed is in the nook it creates, with the roof sloping down overhead and the window to the backyard at its head. It’s especially nice in winter to turn a bedside light on and let it bounce off the ceiling to make a glow in the space.

      I fully support the windowseat Falling Diphthong mentions as well; my childhood home had inglenook windowseats with built in bookshelves, and it was a magical space to spend time. As they say, it’s something you can mock up with a padded bench, perhaps enclosed by bookshelves on the sides.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had a large backyard in comparison to my neighbors, fenced. If I ever buy another house, I’d prefer a fenced yard, especially if I get a dog. Also, no fricking sweetgum trees ever again. That’s 100% a deal breaker.

      If I were to stay in this part of the country (omg please NO), I would also definitely want a basement or a tornado shelter. And definitely a garage I can actually fit my car in no matter where I am, to avoid hail and messy trees.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I don’t allow sweetgum trees on my property at all! I paid my son a bounty of $5 a tree once to cut down any saplings he could find.

        On that subject, no poplar trees next to the driveway again as long as I live. They’re nice trees at a distance, but directly underneath them is a different story. I swear stuff falls out of them 365 days a year.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Mine came with the house; they were already 40 feet tall when I bought it. I never had the money to remove them, so I just had to suck it up and rake up all the balls. Which do not compost, btw. They lost a TON of very large limbs during the 2007 ice storm. The pile was bigger than my car. I thought the trees might actually die, but no, not so lucky.

          When the neighbor next door went into assisted living, the new lady asked me if she could pay to cut down the one closest to her driveway because her husband used a wheelchair and the balls were a hazard. I said sure, go for it.

          1. pancakes*

            I looked these up because I don’t think we have them here. Wiki says “The distinctive compound fruit is hard, dry, and globose” and “The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust.” This does not sound like a plant with a lot of charming attributes, haha.

    7. Bibliovore*

      Three things that we did.
      Got rid of the built in desk in the kitchen and replaced it with a window seat.

      Replaced the wood burning fireplace with a gas one ( I have asthma )

      Built a screened in porch. I live there.

    8. My heart is a fish*

      Buying a house is a very long-term savings goal for me — I’ve got some other things I’ve got to take care of first before I really start putting money away for a down payment — but the one thing I really, deeply, intensely want when I eventually do ditch the apartment life is a large, deep, lounging-suitable bathtub. I lived with some relatives for a while who had one, and I’ve missed it deeply ever since. I’m sure it will cost $$$ to get a place that either has one or has large enough bathrooms that one could realistically be installed, but it’s a dream.

      1. Bibliovore*

        someday. the contractor has Covid. The designer is moving across the country. and the window is delayed. looks like the bathroom construction Might happen in August.

    9. Kathenus*

      My house had new paint, grey, which isn’t my favorite for a neutral. But I couldn’t see paying for new paint. Instead I invested in full wall nature murals for one wall in two different rooms, including the main bedroom – worth every penny to gaze upon a forest or waterfall every day.

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Lifelong renter here, but one of my favorite features in an old place was a windowed sunroom with French doors leading into it.

      1. pancakes*

        Same, and we have them between the living room and the room that would be a dining room if we weren’t using it as an office. We almost never close them but I like having them there.

        Agree with everyone about a screened-in porch. Ideally a big pantry as well.

        I know wood-burning fireplaces are terrible but I love those too.

    11. Chaordic One*

      The favorite features in my old house, and that I miss terribly, were the built-in cabinets and bookshelves, as well as the linen closets. You can never have too much storage. On my wish-list is radiant heat flooring. I also really like have garages all of the cars. No parking outside. And power garage doors.

    12. Not A Manager*

      Things I’ve had in various houses or vacation rentals, that we’ve liked depending on the climate and need for it:

      -Deep soaking tub (I don’t need jacuzzi jets)
      -Steam shower (my spouse once had this in a previous home and loved it)
      -Screen porch (in the midwest – bugs)
      -Patio with seating and a dining table
      -Good gas grill and a prep table to keep food/tools on while you cook. We’ve never had an outdoor sink or a full kitchen, but we love to be able to cook outside, especially when it’s super hot.
      -Fountain or water feature in the yard. These can be really cheesy, but it’s so soothing to watch the water and to hear it.
      -Some kind of overflow storage space that you can get to easily (basement, garage, attic, spare room, whatever so long as you are not crawling around in the eaves or under the front porch to get your stockpot)
      -A simple closet buildout (doesn’t have to be expensive designer stuff, but you can keep things a lot tidier if you have a system that’s not just a closet rod and one chest of drawers)
      -I’ve used Murphy beds in several rooms. They are not ideal because you still need to organize your furniture so that you can open them when necessary, but they provide a good compromise between “dedicated guest room” and “air mattress.”
      -A “Costco closet” for dry goods and bulky household stuff
      -Good kitchen storage. I don’t care if it’s fancy built-ins, but enough space to be able to organize and retrieve your stuff.

      Congratulations on your new house!

      1. jtr*

        Ooh, I’ve been thinking that I would like to go smaller on our next/hopefully last house, and get one with two bedrooms, both good sized rather than 9×9, and put in one of the Murphy beds with a desk on the “other” side of it. That way, I can usually use the room for an office (which, after I’ve retired, hopefully will just be bill-paying/doing the taxes that kind of stuff), and a guest bedroom (which we currently use, MAYBE 3 or 4 times a year). How easy are they to open/close? (e.g., can an older person with painful joints do it?)

        1. Not A Manager*

          Yes, I have two from different companies and they are counterweighted to pull open quite easily. You do still need to be able to pull strongly enough to start the downward swing, though. But if you’re providing a bed for your guests, maybe they could pull it down before they use it?

    13. The OG Sleepless*

      My next house will have a mud room accessible from both the garage and the back yard, with a floor level “dog wash” with tiled walls and a pull-out faucet head, for washing off pets, hiking boots, or whatever else is too dirty to come straight into the house. Also near the garage will be a large walk-in pantry, so there can be ONE big area where my husband can dump all that ridiculous stuff he buys at Costco instead of having to schlep pieces of it all over the house.

      I love my shaded deck. An absolute requirement for anywhere I live is a pretty area to sit outside and read: a balcony, porch, deck, whatever.

      1. eeeek*

        Oh, I am so pleased that we have a mudroom/airlock in our house as a transition from garage to the rest of the home – our laundry setup is there, with a slop sink. Lots of storage, shelves, and space to hang coats or freshly washed clothes. It’s also the dog’s safe space. If there were one change I could make, it would be to remodel it to include a dog wash area just like you describe. Maybe someday…

    14. A Becky*

      Things we’re planning: French doors from the living room to the garden, having a little wood-framed roofed eating area in the garden (it’s there now but in poor repair).

      Something we did, and I’m *loving*, is really thoughtfully designing the kitchen. It’s got a high oven, six ring induction hob, two pantry cupboards and a breakfast nook. When we moved in we basically had a water pipe and the walls, so we had to, but it’s *so* nice.

      Another thing I’d thoroughly recommend is think “what domestic chores do I hate and how can I avoid them?” I HATE vacuuming. Detest it. Horrible job. So we’re not having any carpets, it’ll eventually all be tile or wood though there’s still vinyl for now.

    15. Girasol*

      Lots of light with windows on all sides for a cross breeze, and sturdy construction with good insulation. But beyond those practical items, I wanted a yard that I could landscape with veggies and fruits and flowers.

      1. Kathenus*

        On the cross breeze – my front and backdoors line up so I get a really nice breeze through the house when I have them both open at times. It can really make a difference.

    16. Dancing Otter*

      I’m sure you had the place inspected (right?) for electrical *safety*, but not having enough or convenient placement of outlets and switches is easier to fix before you move in all your furniture.
      An outlet where one can plug in the vacuum cleaner to reach the whole place, without stopping to unplug and move to a different outlet – it sounds so minor, but how many times will you vacuum over your tenure in that house? So, so, so worth spending the money at the start!
      Lighting and switches! My parents had a long hallway between the living/dining/kitchen area and the bedrooms, with the master bedroom at the far end. There were light switches at both ends, and never they had to stumble in the dark or leave the light on overnight.
      I make a point, if there isn’t an overhead light in a room, of always having one lamp on a switched outlet, so I can turn it on from the doorway. Crossing a dark room to get to a light is just asking for bruises and stubbed toes.
      Locks, etc. – it’s worth spending a bit to have an extra remote for an electric garage door opener, or a switch to operate it from inside the house. I found that out the hard way. Also, make sure you can open the garage even in a power outage.
      Similarly, consider keypad entry for at least one door. If you absentmindedly give the repair shop your whole keychain, not just the car keys, you’ll still be able to get inside, where you left the spare set. Ask me how I know.

    17. JSPA*

      Rinse off space outside, close enough to be convenient, far enough that the water doesn’t get under the house (or other rottable structures).
      Doesn’t have to be plumbed as a shower. Hose with holder or sun shower bag will do.

      Mini splits, if that’s in the budget.

      Dedicated car charging circuit, if ecar or plug-in hybrid is in your plans.

      Potting table and/or cold frame (for winter herbs or veg) depending on climate, if you’re a garden person.

      I always rush to plant some fruiting shrubs or trees, on the theory that not all will make it, but at least some will be producing in a year or two (which would not be the case if I first waited a year or two before planting, to find the perfect spot).

      Hammock chairs. Indoors and out. Very roomba friendly, if you mount from a beam indoors (though not very adjustable, unless you add multiple hanging points). Beanbag chairs.

    18. Manders*

      This is a little thing, but my primary bedroom has sconces installed on either side of the bed, so I don’t need a bedside lamp, and the angle of light is perfect for reading. I’ve lived here since 2008 and it really is one of my absolute favorite things.

    19. The OG Sleepless*

      Something I’ve seen in several short term rentals: can lights in each corner of the bedroom, or in the living room if it’s the right shape. It makes just the right level and direction of light.

      I’m going to be the dissenting voice re screened in porches. I live in bug central and I swear the mosquitoes can get right through the screen, and they’re hard to clean.

    20. Chauncy Gardener*

      I know it’s not glamorous or anything, but a really decent mudroom and a place for the trash cans. And where can you keep all your lawn/garden paraphernalia? To me, these are true quality of life issues! (first world, obviously)

    21. Raia*

      I love my house, I really lucked out on getting my offer thru on it with perfect suburbia location, small yard, 2 story, huge living room. My favorite thing about it is the space wall in the guest bedroom, that will never be painted over. There’s also plenty of kitchen/living room cabinet space, lighting is good, and the standing desk I got for the office was well worth the splurge. I’m also surprisingly getting into gardening with my tiny front patio gardening.

      Least favorite thing is that I went for 2 bedroom instead of 3, and that the small yard can’t have a screened in porch due to an HOA. Plus no fence in the yard so I feel like I would need to move to feel okay owning a dog, which I’ve been looking forward to my entire life.

    22. LimeRoos*

      We just did this too! Moved this Spring into a new house and it’s been amazing. It’s still slightly dated – not a ton of updates since the early 90’s – but we love the screened in porch, kitchen, stupid amount of closets, the flow on the first floor (not open concept, but large doorways and taller ceilings), the laundry/mudroom/dog time out spot w/ attached garage), and the yard & fence (so does the pupper). The house fit most of our wish list, and the rest we can do with time since we plan to be here a long time. We’re missing updated bathrooms and a bar, and the water doesn’t taste as good as old house, but that’s pretty much it (we also can’t remember our wish list anymore because new house is too good, you know?). But really, totally feel the same, we have the perfect location for us, everything is completely usable, and putting our ideas into the space has been amazing.

      Side note – we got a table set for the screened in porch the first week we were in here, and have eaten probably 95% of our meals in it since. It’s nuts.

  16. Seeking second childhood*

    What have you learned as an adult that most people learn as a kid? This is inspired by the commenter here who has learned to ride a bicycle recently (apologies for my 5am blanking on your name!)
    And by my teenager who has been self-motivated to learn this summer, coasting down the hill to learn balance and walking back up. I’m so incredibly hopeful that they’ll open up their world, and that they’re knowingly working past the childhood scariness of broken sidewalks pitching them off training wheels.

    1. Jellyfish*

      Not sure that most people learn as kids, but my parents tried to include me in their hobbies of crochet and gardening when I was young, and I hated both.
      Now in my thirties, I’ve voluntarily picked up gardening and crochet, and I’m really enjoying them! My parents are amused.

      1. anon for this*

        My parents used to drag me with them to look at antiques and old cars when I was a kiddo, and I could hardly think of anything more boring at the time. Decades later, parents got the last laugh, as I am addicted to “Antiques Roadshow” and going antiquing myself.

        1. A Becky*

          Ah, this reminds me of the most boring thing I could think of as a child – looking at light fittings*. Now I spend days on end researching to find the perfect one…

          *I became sure of this after my grandparents declared they were taking my cousins and I “somewhere very very boring” (in a masterful piece of expectation management) and I spent the whole drive working out what would be the most boring thing. Turns out it was a wetland/wildfowl park and was pretty rad :)

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I guess sometimes people just need to mature a bit to enjoy the same things their parents enjoyed.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I didn’t learn it yet, but I’ve signed up to start piano lessons in the fall. I’ve always wanted to learn, but when I was growing up it simply wasn’t in the budget. My son is musically inclined and as part of his curriculum he’s taking a number of courses on music theory, production, and performance. One of his required courses was piano, so we’ve acquired a decent used one. I figured since it’s in my living room, I might as well learn to play it!

    3. Texan In Exile*

      This is tangential – but I didn’t learn until two years ago, when I read Anthony Abraham Jack’s “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students,” what office hours are.

      When I was in college, I thought office hours were the hours the professors worked: You know – the hours they were in the office. I wondered how I could get a job where I worked only a few hours a week like that.

      I had no idea that’s when students can drop by to ask for help. I didn’t even know it was OK to ask a prof for help. I thought that if I couldn’t figure it out on my own, that was my problem.

      A friend who teaches at a small private school with a lot of first-gen students was complaining how the students who were not doing well in class wouldn’t come to her office hours for help. I asked if her students knew what office hours were. OF COURSE! she said.

      I told her my story and her jaw dropped. It had never occurred to her that someone might not know what “office hours” really meant.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        This is so important! I’m currently in grad school (and teach undergrads) and have taken to calling office hours “student drop-in hours” instead for this reason.

          1. fueled by coffee*

            I can’t take credit for the idea — saw someone else post about it online — but it’s such an easy switch and makes the purpose of office hours seem a lot less opaque.

        1. Fit Farmer*

          In college I knew what office hours were but I assumed it had a remedial connotation that was to be avoided, so I never talked with profs outside of class. That was probably a lost opportunity. I would have been much more likely to go if they had been called “drop-in hours.”

          1. Gnome*

            This. I knew what they were but avoided them unless there was something administrative (like I’m going to a funeral and can I take the test early)

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Great point! At this point, I make some appointments with me and/or our Writing Center mandatory so that no one feels singled out and everyone gets some help and an idea of what resources are available to them.

      3. Wink the Book*

        I actually did research on this because it turned up as an issue for students looking to transfer from community colleges to 4-year institutions. Some of this is weighted in how we assume a level of knowledge from students that often doesn’t exist, but there is also a grounding (for cc students) in not having the time/interest in following up on something outside of class hours.

        Do not feel alone in this!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Figure skating. Most skaters start as children, although USFS has an entire program geared to adults. I always wanted to do it as a kid but we’d moved from a city with rinks to a small town with nothing. I didn’t get to try until OldCity actually built one. On opening day, I was the first person to sign up for lessons—they didn’t even have a pen on the table yet. :)

      For a long time, I was the only adult skater in our rink’s ice shows who was over 25. A lot of people tried it at the beginning because it was new and exciting, but they gradually dropped out. Now there are more. When I left, they were shifting the focus more toward competitive skaters, which pretty much shafted recreational skaters.

      I quit in 2016 due to injuries and burnout. Would I ever go back? Maybe someday. As long as it’s physically safe, there’s no reason why I can’t skate until I’m old AF. I kept my best dresses just in case. And I found that my practice gear came in handy for power walking outside in colder weather.

    5. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I really, really want to learn to ride a bike! Im super nervous about it, though. I’m 46, clumsy, and arthritic, and I hate being terrible at things, because I always had to be perfect, right out of the gate, as a kid. Maybe I’ll ask a couple of friends who know me well to help me.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        If you know any kids they would probably be delighted to help. One summer we lived in a rental house while our own home was being renovated after a house fire. The lady next door was in her sixties and had never learned to ride a bicycle. She watched us ride our bikes up and down the dirt road in front of her house and said that she wished she could learn to ride. All four of us helped and encouraged her, and we and she were all equally delighted when she rode by herself for the first time. We cheered for her, and we felt really proud of her and ourselves — and she was very pleased with herself and us.

    6. Generic Name*

      This might sound really dumb, but I remember training myself to respond appropriately to “how are you?” as a greeting when I was in my 20s. I come from a part of the country where folks are friendly and chatty, and maybe I’m just a bit neurodivergent, but until then, I tended to answer the greeting literally and I struggled to answer in a way that was brief and not oversharing but also honest. You know, because “honesty is the best policy”. Sigh. It finally clicked that “how are you” is just another way to say hello. So for a time, when I was walking the halls during graduate school, I repeated in my head, “fine, how are you?” over and over. So to other socially awkward folks out there, you totally can learn new social skills! And with enough practice it stops feeling awkward.

    7. Pippa K*

      My husband learned to ride horses in his late 40s. He initially tried it only because it’s something I love and he was game to share the experience, so he took some lessons and, because he’s a good sport, didn’t even mind occasionally ending up in group lessons with children. And it turns out he’s a natural. He once said slightly wistfully, “I wish someone had told me about this when I was a kid!” I think he could have been competitive in our discipline, but there’s been so much value in taking it up in middle age – the pleasure of being around horses, learning new things, a lot of exercise, and having a shared hobby.

      I’m a big fan of trying new things as an adult too, and the bonus is that I’m not as nervous about being “good at it” or looking silly as I would have been as a kid.

    8. Sundial*

      I am trying to figure out how to learn to drive stick without spending a fortune. My husband prefers them, and I hate not being able to swap cars.

      I can’t learn on his because it’s abnormally difficult/not meant for beginners (long throw retro Wrangler) but with the price of used cars through the roof, I’m not having much luck. This would have been so much easier if I’d learned as a teen, but I an exactly the age where having automatics became super-popular when I was in high school.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Not sure about availablity in your geography, but could you rent a stick car?

    9. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I haven’t pursued these yet, but maybe surfing or skateboarding if I get the nerve up to try? Both things I wanted to do when I was younger.

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      I took up playing the banjo as an adult. I learned a few basic chords and the clawhammer playing style based on a friend showing me once. That was good enough to muddle along and accompany my voice for singing with kids as part of my previous career. I never progressed beyond that basic stage and when I changed careers, the banjo sat in its case under the bed for many years. During the pandemic I gave that clunky banjo away, got a better one, and took a class online, my first real lessons. Now I’m excited to find a local teacher who can work with me one on one to become a real banjo player.

    11. Guava*

      Fifteen years ago I took ballet classes for the first time when I was 20-21. It was challenging :) I didn’t stick with it, but would try again if I had the chance.

    12. Henry Division*

      Bike also! I learned when I was 27, when I started dating someone who biked a lot and wanted to ideally go on bike trips together. What’s funny is that I now bike way more than he does, it’s my primary transportation. We finally went on a bike trip together 5 years later, and it was awesome.

      Best advice I got when learning to ride a bike was to just accept that you will eat it. You WILL fall down, a lot, and it will be okay.

  17. Seeking second childhood*

    Alison thanks for that photo! Cats are so elegant that when they get caught being silly it is pure mirth.

  18. Ewing46*

    Any early childhood educators or parents of preschoolers out there? My daughter is 3, turning 4 in September. She’s been going to the same daycare full time since she was a baby, and we’ve been very happy with them. Good childcare is hard to find and we feel very lucky. However, the older she gets, the more I worry about how much “school” vs “play” time she’s getting. At 3, she can right her first and last name, count to 100, and can do basic addition and subtraction, and is starting to learn fractions. Which sounds great, but she’s three- and because of her birthday she won’t start kindergarten until she’s almost 6.
    Her teachers think she should start school early (our district allows you to pay a small fee and take a readiness exam), which we are loathe to do. I want to embrace the stage that she’s in, and focus on play, there’s plenty of time for academics. The daycare director (and most teachers) are Southeast Asian, and they are laser focused on “school”. Any advice?

    1. giraffe of daisies*

      It sounds like your values and the school’s values differ. You can’t change them. I’d look for a new day care. And enjoy the stage your kid is at. Every stage goes by so fast.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      As parents to a fall baby, we decided to wait. It turned out that a lot of other families must have been in similar circumstances, because our son had plenty of “almost 6” friends. That little extra bit of maturity really helped him have confidence in himself and be able to focus on learning when he needed to. He’s been a good student all his life, enjoys learning, and has a great group of friends. If he had started school early, I don’t think he would have adjusted as well in the beginning.
      Now he’s a senior in high school, honor student, athlete, musician, and by all appearances he’s got his act together FAR more than I did at that age!
      You know your child best, so if you have a feeling one way or the other, you should go with your instinct.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Oh, and also…play IS learning, so don’t discount the value of that. I fully credit Lego for my son’s skills in math, logic (a needs to be assembled before b) and creative thinking. Also storytelling, as there were often epic adventures where Lego people would find themselves traveling effortlessly between space, medieval castles, quirky custom builds, and pirate ships.

      2. Decidedly Me*

        This sounds like my friend’s kid, who they made the opposite choice for (starting kindergarten at almost 5, rather than almost 6). I think that really goes to show it’s more about the kid than the choice itself.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      My question would be how does your child feel? I’m not an early childhood educator or a parent, but one thing I’m not sure about from your question is how your child feels about all this. Is she enthusiastic? Does she want to start school? I started school just before I turned 5 – my birthday was in October – and honestly, it would probably have been slightly better if I were born a bit later so I could start a bit younger. I was very anxious to “learn to read.” My sister’s birthday was in the summer so she could have started at 4 or 5 and she didn’t go until she was 5 and 2 months. My mother always said if it were me, she’d have sent me at 4, but my sister at 4 still wouldn’t go more than a couple of feet from my mother.

      Is your kid really enthusiastic about what she is learning or do you feel she is being pushed? It sounds like she is very bright as I doubt most three year olds could do all that, regardless of teaching. However, it also sounds like the preschool might be encouraging a certain direction.

      I know I would have been really annoyed if I hadn’t been able to start school until nearly six. But I also know that for a lot of kids, waiting until then would be a good thing. I do know the general consensus is that if you have any doubts about your child’s readiness, it’s better to wait for the later date as the worst that will do is cause some frustration or boredom whereas sending them too soon can mean they struggle and can also cause issues down the line, for example a 14 year old in a class of 16 year olds and wanting to go to discos and so on with them or a 16 year old going to college and moving out of home before they might be ready.

    4. Donna Noble*

      The nationality of the daycare director and teachers is an irrelevant stereotype and bordering on racist. Of course teachers want to help their students learn things; that’s what teachers do.

      1. Kate*

        Er… in some cases I would agree with you, but not in this case.

        National/cultural standards wrt children’s development are SUPER different. Different doesn’t mean bad. My own initial reaction, having grown up in North America and raised my kids in Europe is that Scandinavia/Belgium and maybe Netherlands/Switzerland don’t actually TRY to teach the kids to read until they are six years old. It’s very much a North American push to get kids “reading” younger and younger.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          National standards are different, of course, but it absolutely felt like a completely irrelevant detail that has zero impact on the advice they’re going to get.

          You say it’s a real North American push to do the school thing but I don’t think we would have seen OP flag it if this scenario was exactly the same but the teachers were white.

          To clarify, I don’t think the OP meant anything nefarious by including the detail but there’s a real benefit to calling out this kind of thing when we see it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Unrelated to the subject of the thread: I have never seen a discussion improved by adding “calling out” to it. Never seen the response “Oh, you called me out, I have definitely seen that you are correct and will now change my ways.” It’s usually the equivalent of setting a bridge on fire–there are circumstances where it’s appropriate, but that’s not all or even most circumstances. Scaring off everyone not exactly like you from participating is usually not a great goal for a large group.

            If the model is a dinner party where different topics are introduced, and sometimes not with the exact phrasing you would use, there are approaches other than “Ha!!! I call you out!!!!” to get your point across. For example you can not adopt the phrasing you don’t like and use other phrasing, relying on how we shift to fit into perceived norms to change people’s perception of the norm.

            As with calling out spelling or grammatical errors, which I don’t think most of us look back on fondly even in the rare case that the person driving the derailment was Right.

            1. Swisa*

              Eh, disagree. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to have something that you said flagged as problematic. But I still think there’s value in it. I’ve had people tell me they had an issue with something I did or said, and while it’s SO uncomfortable in the moment, it’s made me think/change my long term behavior, which is the point.

              When we know better, we can do better.

            2. Velociraptor Attack*

              If you prefer to not flag potentially unintentional language that can be racist and harmful and is completely irrelevant to a conversation, that’s your choice.

              Honestly though, I’m also not sure how your comment does anything except…. call me out which is exactly what you were complaining about me doing

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My kids are in college, for framing.

      Kids can thrive in a lot of different environments–if she’s been happy there and you’re happy with them, I would really be inclined to stick with this school. It’s also been my experience that people can learn all sorts of things from all sorts of venues, and you don’t always know what’s going to really stick with them. (I credit my son’s learning to hold a pencil to the fact that a) he was buddies with Kyle b) Kyle’s mom expected Kyle to do the craft c) so my son would also do the craft, thereby practicing holding pencil/glue stick/etc. Something my crafty inclined older one did with no special effort from me, and then I got a kid who just climbs things.)

      Anecdotes about starting school a grade early or late:
      My youngest was just before the cut-off, so going to be the youngest in his class and a lot of people hold sons back. I didn’t hold him back because I was more worried about him being bored, and he thrived academically and socially, after a few months adjusting.
      I have talked to a parent who had the reverse–older son struggled in school; younger she held back a year and he thrived; she really wished she’d done that with the older.
      A close friend of my daughter’s did the private K and start early while being younger than the rest of her class by a few months to a year plus. She did absolutely great socially and academically, plenty of friends and heaps of academic awards. Now in medical school (girls got to be good friends in 2nd grade). So this can work out fine. I think you want to aim for the chance to socially fit in with her peers, and to have some success academically to build confidence but not so much that she decides school is boring, and to not be frustrated because she’s in an environment that socially/academically is too advanced for her. Kids develop different skills at different rates and there can be a lot of different correct answers.

      1. waffles*

        I agree with all this. I work with young children and my own kids are 23, 20, and 17, so I have seen how this plays out – it’s unpredictable! Some kids do fine all the way through school if they start early, and some struggle, especially during the teen years when maturity and physical changes happen rapidly.

        It sounds like you know what you want for your child – go with your gut! EVERYONE will have an opinion regarding what you should do , you have to ignore that and make the decision based on your own values. Play is an excellent activity and there’s no reason to end her early childhood early if you don’t think it benefits her.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I started kindergarten at 4 and did fine academically, but not great socially. (That said, I’m a ND huge introvert, so I’m pretty sure my social awkwardness is more that than the fact that I was the youngest in my classes all the way through school.)

      Like someone else said, I’d focus on – is she enjoying what she’s learning or is she feeling pushed/stressed out by it?

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Yes to this – some kids are very happy to write and do math at a very early age.

      2. Meh*

        I started kindergarten at 4 too. I was always top of my class academically but never first socially. I was always uncomfortable. I don’t think I’m ND, just more introverted and shy. I think waiting a year would have helped me socially but my mind was ready to learn.

      3. matcha123*

        I also started kindergarten at age 4. I don’t remember much in the form of academics at that time. Maybe things have changed drastically from the late 80s.
        But I remember a mix of “play time” and learning about fun things and creating stuff.
        Circle time, show and tell, recess, etc. Of course we had 100s day, writing and a bit of reading, but nothing crazy (imo).

        Maybe OP needs to check out kindergartens in her area? Like take her daughter for a day, if that’s allowed, to see what it’s like.

        Socially, I was fine. I think most of the other kids were older 4s or early 5s.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, I started kindergarten early and did fine academically, but there was no amount of focusing on non-academics that would’ve improved my social skills, so it wouldn’t have helped to start me earlier or later. What I needed (and got) was focused social skills therapy.

    7. RagingADHD*

      My main concern would be that she is getting sufficient physical play and unstructured, self-directed time to develop her executive functions sufficiently.

      If she is naturally an early reader and picks up math quickly, that will continue to be true whether she is in an acdemic-focused environment or not. She can learn those things from daily life – measuring, pouring, cooking, building things, going to the store, etc. If she’s just a born bookworm, she will use self-directed time to read. But having the choice is a big deal for her brain.

      Executive function is a matter of brain development in these years, and you don’t develop it by sitting a chair doing worksheets or flashcards or “school” type activities.

      If it were a half-day or 3 day a week situation I wouldn’t worry. But in my opinion full days of academics are not good for littles. They need to play a lot more than they need to study.

      If the daycare is already trying to push her out and into school, it’s a natural time to move on anyway.

    8. Lilo*

      She sounds like she’s doing great. My Dad is a pediatrician and is a little hesitant to push a kid ahead a grade because an academically gifted kid may not be socially ahead and stats show that kids who skip grades can actually end up dropping out because of this. He instead focuses on having the kids do specific accelerated classes (like I took accelerated math at the community college). So instead of pushing her into kindergarten early, can you find specific classes to stimulate her?

    9. Redhaired runner*

      Talk to your daughter. I straight up told my mom I wasn’t ready yet after doing some sort of readiness test/ meet and greet at the elementary school.

    10. matcha123*

      As a kid who started first grade at age five (fall birthday) and then turned six, the problems I encountered in school had less to do with my age and more to do with other, outside factors that I wouldn’t have been able to control.

      Young kids want to please their parents, so your daughter may (on the surface) happily go along with whatever you say because she knows it makes you happy.
      But then again, I come from a background where priority was placed on academics.

    11. HBJ*

      This sounds like too much to me. Fair, my just-turned five year old doesn’t even write her last name yet (granted, she probably could if I tried to teach her it), counts to about 30, and certainly doesn’t do any math yet. Some of it, she probably could do if I tried, but I’m definitely a later is better person. And fwiw, my 1st grade teacher friend, back when my daughter was still four, was impressed that she could already spell her name. She said that’s not usually taught until around 5 or 6 or so.

    12. Rara Avis*

      Focus on play. Find a play-based preschool. There’s plenty of time for academics later. (Speaking as the Child of a preschool teacher with a Masters in Early Childhood Education.). We had a choice to put our 4yo in preschool or pre-k at their daycare. We chose preschool. A friend chose pre-k for his son. Both our kids are now entering 9th grade and mine is not behind.

    13. WS*

      This is a huge YMMV situation. I started school a year early – I was ready for it, enjoyed it, and was bored at home. Even so, I was somewhat bored at school for a while because I could already read and write and had to be given extra work! My youngest brother started school late, because he was in the opposite situation.

      Does your daughter play with other kids? Does she have appropriate social skills? Does she have appropriate physical skill levels (not just physical activity, but being able to take herself to the toilet, unpack and eat her own lunch etc.)? Could she last through a school day? These are all relevant to starting more formal education.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Not an early childhood specialist, just a mom and once a kid.

      Please let her play. The more play, the better. You can incorporate learning letters, colors, reading, writing, thinking skills etc into play.

      A good daycare or preschool will do the same.

    15. Swisa*

      My kid is almost 4 and can’t do any of those things! I guess our daycare is more play based, though they do things like have units of frogs, and sing the abcs. Their birthday falls close to when your kid’s does, but we’ll be starting kindergarten next year just after they turn 5 because our school entry deadline is the end of September (ie must be 5 by end of September). I’m a little concerned because my kid will be one of the youngest, but I think they can handle it.
      If you’re concerned, I’d switch to a more play based option.

    16. Anon due to talking about my kids*

      Speaking from personal experience with two “gifted” kiddos and having been one myself (quotes because I hate the term and think it’s gross but it’s what we’ve got). First, your kid is definitely gifted (as in “academically precocious”) based on what you have described*. Second, you are likely to be dealing with a delicate balance between what your child needs in terms of mental stimulation and what your child needs (and is capable of) socially. This can be particularly difficult for girls from what I’ve seen, but it comes down to your child and the other children in the environment. Some kids do not care how different they are, and others are VERY much aware of it, starting at ages you wouldn’t believe.

      My recommendation is to not worry about “school” and learning except that wherever your child is, make sure they aren’t bored out of their minds. This isn’t about when you start kindergarten, it’s about Every Single Year. If KG is focused on learning the letters, yes, that will be boring, but if that’s 15 minutes of the day and the rest is play-based or there’s books available or whatever, it won’t matter. The goal is that they have something engaging most of the time – whether that’s art, more advanced reading, pull-out classes, or whatever.

      Perhaps the more important thing is the social aspect. Kids who think like your daughter are often socially awkward – not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because their interests diverge very quickly (or your kid finds a book more enchanting than whatever the other kids are doing). They also tend to grasp certain things very early (like poverty, death, etc.) before they have the emotional bandwidth to deal with them and can become very sensitive. They tend to be more black & white, and if a classmate gets angry with them on Monday, won’t understand that the classmate probably forgot about it by Tuesday morning (but, your kid probably will NOT forget it). So, I strongly encourage you to consider what will be best for your child from a social standpoint – who is in the class? what are their interests? how does the class/school/teacher support social learning?

      My 12 and 15yo kids are dealing with the repercussions of a lot of this sort of thing. If I had to do it again, I’d start my eldest early (late summer birthday) and my youngest (mid fall) late. Not because of academics, but because of their social maturity, those in their age cohorts locally, and their temperaments.

      *Obviously “gifted” is not a diagnosis, but I’m making my statement based on that your kid is trending a bit ahead of where mine were at that age. We’re talking SIGNIFICANTLY ahead of typical development, based on my kiddo’s full neuropsych eval.

    17. Invisible today*

      Your child is probably on the gifted spectrum. Having had two preschoolers (one of whom picked up those skills at a similar age and one who couldnt / wouldnt), it’s kinda impossible to make that level of understanding without the childs interest / involvement. 3 years is old enough to ask her how she feels about what shes doing at school (ask a few times cause the answers may be unreliable)

      If shes getting all that at school (sounds very montessori style to me) make your time at home all about fun and games and unstructured time (mess making if you/ your home can handle it), etc.

  19. Irish Teacher*

    What’s the weather like where you are? In Ireland, there is talk that it could get so hot, it breaks all records. The record is 33.3 degrees Celsius or about 92 Fahrenheit, recorded way back in the late 19th century. To be honest, at the moment, it’s more like 26 Celsius or high 70s Fahrenheit, which is hot, but not record breaking. Just “warmest part of summer weather.” I’ve my doubts we’ll get over 30; not where I live anyway, maybe up in Dublin, which is all the national media cares about.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      HOT. I live in Georgia in the US and lately it’s been humid and hot and you feel like you’re suffocating walking outside. It’s been in the 90s F and then the real feel has been in the 100s F lately

      1. Clisby*

        I’m in SC and it’s similar. Not just this summer – June – September in Charleston SC is a hellscape, and I just stay inside with my best friend, the AC, as much as possible. I see photos of people on the beaches around here, and I see tourists strolling around downtown Charleston, and I have to assume they are out-and-out crazy. It’s only in the high 80s right now, but will get up into the 90s in a few days – and when the humidity is hanging in there close to 80% it can easily feel like 100F. Every summer I bless the memory of Willis Carrier, and cannot figure out why he hasn’t been made a saint.

      2. Loopy*

        Can confirm anyone strolling around downtown Charleston is insane – signed a local also hiding inside.

        And I LOVE being outside, as much as possible. I go stir crazy miserable being inside when it’s sunny outside but even I have been driven insid, soaked and literally dripping with sweat and feeling ill by the heat here- even when just taking a stroll around the neighborhood. I have had to admit defeat, summer in SC is not time for fun outdoor activities :(

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      New England has lovely summer weather–80s rather than 90s, not ludicrously humid, the garden is doing well with no extra watering.

      1. Elizabeth West*


        The high today is supposed to be 100. Storms are in the forecast, but they tend to just make it more humid. >_<

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Even 80s is HOT by Irish standards. Our normal summer temperatures would be kind of 60-80. It probably goes over 80 maybe once every two years? For a couple of days? When it gets to that point, the newspapers start reporting on it and I think something like 5 days over 80 counts as a heatwave.

        It’s just rained here. Only a tiny bit of drizzle, but STILL.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      Florida…like Georgia comment…hot and humid. Real feel has been over 100F lately. This weekend looks better though. Last night when I was looking at the weather forecast to decide when I can run today I actually said, “Oh good, it’s only getting up to 90 tomorrow, I can run whenever.” hahaha

    4. PhyllisB*

      Mississippi here, and we refer to this time of the year as “Hell’s Front Porch.” I told my grandson the other day we were now in the living room, and if we get to the kitchen, there’s no hope for us.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Central Indiana – our high today is about 90, I think. I was in Florida over the Fourth of July and my husband (who stayed here because he melts when the temperature hits about 65) texted me going “I should’ve gone with you, it’s hotter here than it is there.” I told him that if he came with me he’d be out actually in it rather than being at home in the a/c :P

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      The California San Francisco Bay area is projected to be 80゚today. It was 73゚yesterday where I live in Fremont, which across the bay and a bit South of San Francisco.

      The bay keeps it from being too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. A bit like the mediterranean.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m also in the SF Bay Area at the perfect spot for moderate temperatures near the coast and the Golden Gate Bridge. In summer the temperature only 12 miles away can get up to the 90s F/32-37 C but where I am it’s typically cooler by 20 F or 5 C. Even though I grew up in Michigan where summer is hot and humid, I am really sensitive to heat to the point of being unable to do any kind of exercise at all. I’m happy in my bubble.

        That said, I really miss the dramatic thunderstorms from the Midwest. A few years ago I was driving in Badlands National Park when the sky opened up with rain so hard I couldn’t see. I pulled over and enjoyed just listening to the thunder and watching the downpour and the lightning every few seconds. I had so missed it.

    7. fposte*

      We’ve had a bit of a break in Illinois (meaning 80s rather than 90s to 100) and have finally had some rain. But something like 3/4 of the US is technically in drought, and yards here have looked like August since June. We’re ag country so that’s a big concern here.

    8. Of Irish Descent*

      Side remark: I’ve been re-watching the Ballykissangel BBC Ireland series from the 90s and was wondering if you could tell me and the rest of us what the name of the mountain is that’s in the background and some of the shots filmed from Brian Quigley‘s patio specifically from the hot tub?

      1. fposte*

        It was shot in Wicklow so it’s probably one of the Wicklow Mountains. It was filmed largely in Avoca, if that helps.

    9. Kathenus*

      Summer from hell here in the US midwest. My 10 day forecast has six days 95+F. It’s been brutal.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      As I drove east toward Lake Michigan yesterday, I saw at least three people wearing winter coats. Last week, at Summerfest, which is right on the lake, people were wearing light winter coats or down vests or sweatshirts.

    11. LGC*

      …that sounds pleasant.

      Across the pond (just outside of New York), I’m looking forward to the high today being in the low 80’s F (or high 20’s C – I think it’s supposed to “only” be 82F/28C and overcast today). In July, we’re usually mid-high 80’s (low 30’s), and regularly get into the 90’s (mid-high 30’s). I think our record high temperature in this area is the low-mid 100’s (so around 40).

      (To wit – the forecast for my area is that we hit 92 every day next week, with lows around 70.)

      That said – how do you guys cope with the heat? Obviously, it doesn’t get as hot…which also means that it’s not something you need to prepare for as often.

      1. londonedit*

        The short answer is, we don’t cope with the heat. I’m speaking from a British point of view, but we are a damp and chilly little island most of the time and the vast majority of our houses are designed to keep the heat in. In cities in particular, an awful lot of the housing stock will be Victorian/Edwardian terraces or 1960s/70s houses that just aren’t designed for extremes of temperature. It’s extremely rare for any of our living accommodation to have air conditioning (because who is going to go to that expense for a few days a year?) That said these sorts of weather events are getting more and more frequent – I saw on the TV last night that record temperatures were broken two or three times in the last century, and we’re not even a quarter of the way through this century and already we’ve seen record temperatures three or four times, with the fifth and sixth likely to be today and tomorrow.

        We also don’t deal well on the other end of the spectrum, certainly not in the south of England where significant snow and cold temperatures are also a rarity. So in the summer everyone will be screaming about why don’t we have air conditioning like other countries, and in the winter everyone will be screaming about why don’t we have proper winter equipment like other countries. But the fact is the vast majority of the time we’re in the middle and we don’t need any of the stuff to deal with extreme conditions, which means that when the extreme conditions come along, yes, things do grind to a halt.

    12. cat socks*

      Here in Ohio it is a cozy, rainy day. I woke up to the sound of rain and I love it. We were in Key West this past week where the heat index was in the 100s (38 Celsius) so this is a welcome change.

    13. Elle Woods*

      I’m in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) area and, uffda, it’s going to be warm & humid here the next few days. 86F today, 91 tomorrow, 98 on Monday, 96 Tuesday.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I am also in the Twin Cities and am not pleased with the weather at all. I’m very much a freezing temps kind of person. At least I have AC and a fan.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I used to live in the TC and man I just hated summers there. The temperature swings were so massive between summer and winter. I think it was the summer of 2012 where we just hunkered down through most of July because it was triple digits and humid. The tomatillos I planted that year really loved the weather though!

    14. londonedit*

      It’s currently 29 degrees in London and there’s talk of 38-40 on Monday and Tuesday next week which is utterly insane. I’m not sure what the overall record is but late 30s is certainly up there and we’ve had some temperatures recently that have broken the record for that specific date. I am not impressed (I don’t deal well with anything over about 25C!)

      1. Been There*

        Same here in Belgium, supposed to hit 39C/100F on Tuesday which would break our heat record.
        I am happy these temps in the thirties are only lasting a couple of days. I don’t do well in such heat.

    15. Red Sky*

      Central Texas here, we’ve been breaking heat records since May and just came out of our hottest 7 day stretch in recorded history with 110 F last Sunday, then 109 – 108 for the next 3 days. We’re getting a little break today at 99 F, which doesn’t sound like much of a cool down, but honestly, it’s a big relief. It’s back up to triple digits tomorrow with 104 predicted to be the high this week. Can we come visit y’all in Ireland..

      1. Irish Teacher*

        We were really cold for summer up to about a week ago. Like…up to maybe two weeks ago, we were around 13/14 degrees Celsius (mid 50s Fahrenheit). For comparison, we’ve had 10 or 12 (low 50s) on Christmas day in the past.

        And yeah, we don’t get extremes of temperature very often in Ireland. Generally winter would be 40-55 and summer 60-70. We’d maybe get a couple of weeks in winter that might go lower and a couple in summer that go higher, but they wouldn’t be the norm.

        1. Red Sky*

          I don’t do well with long periods of cold (<60) and gloom, but, man, that sounds like heaven right about now

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, we’re below 60 most of the year. Generally, we spend most of the year in the 50s.

            1. pancakes*

              That’s why you’ve got those nice Aran sweaters! I think it would suit me. Not a fan of the hottest parts of summer. I like the summer weather in Penobscot Bay and San Francisco.

    16. Girasol*

      Southern Idaho is running 100F / 38C or so for at least another week, but that’s not unusual here. It’s a dry heat and many homes are air conditioned for days like this. Our friends in Seattle complain about 85F / 30C days being horribly hot, but it’s humid there and such days are so rare for them that air conditioning isn’t the norm, so that must feel much hotter than our weather.

    17. Llama face!*

      In Canada (prairies) and it’s about 35°C but feels like 37. We have a heatwave happening over this next week. This is about the third year in a row that we have had this kind of heatwave and in my city there are now some emergency measures in place to help prevent people getting heat stroke or dying (especially homeless folks).
      It’s also been a plentiful tornado year so far. Lots of them along with impresssive thunderstorms.

    18. Square Root of Minus One*

      France, somewhere in the south-east quarter, currently peaking at 33°C (91°F). Which is strangely not that much. Nowhere near a local record (40.5°C / 105°F), and 100°F is starting to becoming common.
      However, other parts of the country further south than me are literally burning down, and records are in the rearview mirror, and even northern areas of France are starting to worry about forest fires, which is new.
      It’s getting bad.

  20. Art/craft thread*

    Art/craft thread – what have you been working on this week?

    I tried to use fabric paint on an embroidery piece and it did not go well :( I had to do a bit of damage control. It looks like it’ll be okay, but not really what I was aiming for. I think I’m gonna take a break from painting on fabric hahah

    1. Lifelong student*

      Tried something new for me- lace crochet. I did two RBG collars!! Next week I am going to try knitting with a circular needle for an RBG collar. Never did circular needles before.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve been in a creative rut lately but I came across a cross stitch pattern the other day that says “I don’t care what the founding fathers wanted” and just had to make it (designed by The Peach Fuzz dot co). Cranked it out in just a couple days! I’m hoping to use my momentum to make progress on a couple other projects I started months ago.

    3. Maryn*

      I am nearly done sewing a Cashmerette dress. If it fits, or assuming I see how to make it fit, it’ll be extremely versatile, and a dress I can make many times, every one of them different. But can I find the elastic I bought to do the final step? No, I cannot. It’s somewhere, dammit!

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m putting together a pants muslin and later today taking a Zoom class from the designer of the pattern. Pants that fit–it’s a fantasy!

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m working on a knit cardigan (cotton/merino blend) for cooler summer nights (Staring at Stars pattern). I also always have a portable project, knit socks.

    6. Wilde*

      I have been slowly mending ripped knees in my jeans with a floral patch and some embroidery thread. It’s coming out so pretty!

      I also managed to snag a brand new sewing machine on marketplace this week! If anyone has recommendations for beginner resources, please let me know. I’m mostly hoping to sew our own clothes as an alternative to fast fashion.

  21. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    I posted a question about how to overcome driving anxiety in last weekends open thread. I didn’t get chance to reply to everyone that responded to my question, so I just wanted to say thank you all for sharing your experiences and advice, and for offering empathy and encouragement. It was really helpful to read.

    I’ve tentatively reached out to a local instructor that has been recommended by several people I know. I’m still waiting to hear back as to his availability, and I’m fully expecting that I might be on his waiting list for a while as he’s quite popular, but it’s the first baby step at least.

    1. Cloudy Day*

      Getting started is sometimes the hardest part when you’re anxious about something, so that’s awesome that you took the first baby step. :) Working with a driving instructor that has gotten good recommendations sounds like a great plan.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my first lesson isn’t too stressful.

        1. Peter*

          Brilliant. Given your (understandable) worries, consider asking the instructor when booking the first lesson if there’s a good day/time to go somewhere quiet and safe because you’re nervous.
          Way back when I had my first lesson the instructor drove me to the car park of a Premier League Football club (not on a match day!) which was great because when I did my first attempts I had hundreds of metres of space before I could damage anything or anyone – that gave me the confidence to try getting the car moving.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Congratulations on getting started with a good step in the right direction! : )

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      That is fantastic to hear! And I’m a big fan of baby steps. For me, it was all about going at a pace that was comfortable instead of holding myself to an imaginary standard of “shoulds” about how quickly I ought to progress. A good driving instructor is worth the wait. Mine understood my anxiety and never pushed me beyond my comfort zone. And because of that, my comfort zone just grew broader naturally with more experience.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you, what you describe is the outcome I’m hoping for. I’m not setting a deadline to try and pass by. I’m just going to see how I go and hopefully build some confidence in my own time.

  22. Unemployesd in Greenland.*

    I am excited, because I grew sunflowers for the first time this year. They are doing fantastically! The bees love them, and now little finches are coming around to eat all of the seeds. (And that’s fine with me, because I’m not harvesting them for any reason.)

    Anyway! It’s way too late in the season to be transplanting things, but … I’m going to try to put in some parsley and Thai basil tomorrow. I got the plants on sale at a shop a few days ago. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    1. Unemployesd in Greenland.*

      Oops, reply fail. This was meant to be a response to the gardening thread!

    2. fposte*

      My neighbor grew a bunch of sunflowers in front of some tall grasses in front of her house. It is just delightful to see them in passing. I may try that next year.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sunflowers are so much fun.
      I learned not to grow them next to a building with white siding. Instead of facing the sun, they faced the white building and I did not get to see the flowers’ “faces”. lol.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      A sunflower planted itself in my yard (well, with the help of a bird) and it makes me smile :)

    5. pancakes*

      I tried to grow dwarf ones on the fire escape again this year but it was a mistake to direct sow rather than start them indoors and procrastinate about transplanting them like I did last summer, because the birds ate the seedlings. All of the seedlings. I think they must be a delicacy because they would be doing so well for only about an hour early in the morning!

  23. RMNPgirl*

    Thank you everyone last week for the responses about my getting an IUD. Unfortunately, my OB/GYN was unable to get it placed. There was too much resistance and she was concerned about perforation. We are going to attempt again with ultrasound guided, but I couldn’t get back in for a couple months for that one. Fingers crossed that will work!
    She also wants me to have Cytotec first, so I’m hoping the pharmacy will fill it with no issues (I’m in a red state, but not one that has outlawed anything yet).

      1. RMNPgirl*

        I’m trying to stay away from systemic hormones with my age and everything I’ve read about them recently. I have done the pill in the past, but if I do hormonal I’d rather go with the localized IUD. My OB confirmed that it doesn’t become systemic and just stays within the uterus/ovaries.

    1. Coenobita*

      Ugh, what a bummer!! In case this helps in any way, here is my success story. I’m on my second Mirena IUD and when I got the first one placed (as a 30ish cis woman who had never given birth), the doctor: couldn’t get it placed, called in reinforcements from other doctors, they couldn’t get it placed either after a LOT of trying, they sent me home with a misoprostol prescription, I came back the next day, and it worked. There was also an ultrasound involved at some point, but I forget if that was with my first one or second one. I know the evidence on misoprostol for IUD placement is a bit mixed, let alone the challenges with getting that Rx filled right now, but it really did seem to make a difference for me.

      I hope the next time works for you! I know everyone has different experiences, but for me, I think getting the IUD is among the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I actually don’t even need it for birth control at this point, but it nearly eliminated period bleeding for me in a way that seriously changed my whole life for the better.

  24. Moving abroad, how to manage family visits?*

    Hi all. I’m looking to move out of the US within a few years, perhaps to a European country. I’m wanting to get some tips from folks who live far away from family but still travel home enough to visit them.

    I’m close with mine but don’t live in the same city, probably visit them 4-5 times a year, which would not be possible living in Europe (possible meaning I wouldn’t want to fly home that often).

    For folks living far from family that would be a 8-10 hour plane ride, what do you do? How often do you go home? Do you feel guilty with aging parents?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I’d never move away from my parents. I’m somewhat an abnormal American, in which that I plan to take care of them in their old age, just like they did for me when I was young.

      I think this is much better approach for my family, but everyone is unique and many live away from their families.

      This is my plan fo not feel guilty about my aging parents.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Not helpful and also… my dad moved away from me. Because he’s an adult with agency.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I live in the US, my daughter is in Europe. (Fulfilling a goal she made several years ago and worked to make happen.) I will assure you that I sure as heck hope she does not feel guilty about leaving me behind. Go! Fly! Be free! Do cool stuff and send me photos! I put all this effort into raising you in the hope and expectation that you would do so much with your life that you wanted.

      Things that constrain trips in either direction to visit:
      • Money
      • Time off
      • Health
      • Other demands on your time off, like if you have loved ones in multiple locations who all want to see you

      My advice is to figure out how much each of those constrain each of you, and what if anything you can do about them. For example if parents are retired, having them come to visit the working young people with limited time off can make a lot of sense and really up the number of visits. We cover the cost of any trip of kids to visit us (so long as this remains economically feasible for us, it’s understood) so saving up to come home isn’t a factor. I’m usually a fan of visiting off holiday when the weather is good, but if trying to see far-flung folk is an issue then making ’24 the Christmas in Iowa year can help coordinate who visits whom when.

      1. Amey*

        I just want to say how much I appreciate this comment, the flip side of my comment below! You’re absolutely right of course, and an attitude like yours on the part of the parents makes a huge difference. My parents have always been the same about supporting our need for adventure and not blaming or resenting me for moving so far away. They’re no longer in a financial position to pay for visits, however, although they do pay to visit us when they can, so that’s an important point.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I appreciate your comment as well! : ) My folks encouraged me to live anywhere I wanted when I was an adult, and I took advantage of that to explore living and going to school far away. And then, when they were getting significantly older and more frail and needed me more, I made the decision to move closer to home so that I could be there for them. It doesn’t have to be always either/or. I truly appreciated the time I had to follow my own star. It made it much easier for me to give things up to take care of them without resentment after they had graciously given me my own time to follow my own star.

      3. Moving abroad OP*

        Thank you for this! I know my parents wouldn’t hold me back, but my mom is also quite passive-aggressive and she would be petty and say things like “no one came to visit on Mother’s Day.” (she already does it now, and I’m 3 hours driving distance :P)

        1. Jay*

          So she’ll say it no matter what, and if you lived next door and visited on Mother’s Day she’d probably say you didn’t stay long enough or brought the wrong flowers.

          She’s sending you a ticket to a guilt trip. You don’t have to get on the train.

    3. Amey*

      My family is all in the US and I have lived abroad since I was 18 (mid-thirties now.) I am very close to my family but we’ve been quite spread out geographically, even within the US, for years. I’m about a 9 hour flight away I visit every 1-2 years if I can – but I haven’t been back since 2019 due to the pandemic. It has always been extremely expensive. We’re now just about at the point where we could afford to visit once a year but with children’s school and work commitments, we have to travel during the busiest and most costly time of year and it means we can’t have any other form of vacation. Don’t underestimate the cost, particularly if you end up with your own children.

      I do have other friends who manage to visit once a year although they often feel conflicted about it. There’s often huge expectations on both sides of that precious visit and it’s not always a break.

      I love my life in the country I live in and now have my husband and my children who were born here. I wouldn’t change it and I wouldn’t move back to the US – culturally this feels like my natural home. But I always feel the sacrifice of the physical distance between me and my family and the milestones we both miss. If my siblings have children (likely), my kids won’t grow up friends with their cousins, as they are with their cousins here, they have a very special relationship with their American grandparents but it’s very different from the one with their European grandparents whom they see weekly.

      I feel like this sounds quite negative and I don’t mean it to! I’ve always lived quite independently from my immediate family and all of them have too so it works okay for us and we have long long long Zoom 1:1 calls on a regular basis. But it’s still heart-wrenching at times, and I know a number of people who have lived abroad and moved back to be closer to their parents again, particularly when they have kids. I also have 3 siblings so I know my parents aren’t on their own as they get older – there would be no immigration route suitable to bring them to live with me, and they would not like to move anyway. It would be extremely difficult to uproot my husband and children and move them to another country so I could look after my parents, I don’t think this is something we will do. I’m aware that isn’t a role I’m likely to be able to play and that is hard to think about sometimes. I’ve made peace with this but I worry a little about what you describe because it’s not easy.

      Is it possible to make the move on a temporary basis to try it out before committing? I came to the country I live in as a student and then stayed when I loved it here (and fell in love).

      1. Moving abroad OP*

        Thank you for the honest answer! My situation will be quite different as hubs and I don’t plan on having children, but you’re right, it would definitely make things harder. I’m 34 now and he’s 40, so I don’t think our decision will change.

        I think I’d be able to make a trip home perhaps twice a year, once over summer and once over the holidays. I know my parents would never guilt trip me, although my mom can be quite passive aggressive and she would be hurt. She gets like that even with me only living 3-hour driving distance away though :) I’ve accepted that she is how she is.

        1. Amey*

          Honestly, I also find the distance quite helpful in my relationships with my family! I can give and seek advice and we can talk about each others’ lives but we can’t actually get actively involved in them and while that can be sad (I missed my sister’s wedding in August 2021 due to the pandemic), it’s also quite freeing for our relationships. I don’t feel the impact of decisions I don’t agree with in the same way, for example, and am much more able to accept that they are how they are and won’t change without feeling that that fact affects me.

          My mom and I have a weekly Zoom call at the same time every week that we started during the first lockdowns and that’s been wonderful for us – we now talk more than we have in years :)

        2. ---*

          OP, I’ve lived abroad, away from my family home base essentially all my adult life (about 25 years now). And I do mean far away — no closer than a 15-hour flight, currently much more than that. Here are my thoughts, if they help.

          First, as Falling Dipthong says in her lovely comment, it really helps if your parents understand your move as part of you growing, evolving, and just plain living your life. Traveling and living abroad was sewn through the fabric of my mother’s family, so while she misses us, she never blinked an eye when her children moved to other continents.

          I say this because that framing offers a way to reframe leaving away from guilt and into a positive achievement – the culmination of the way your parents raised you, an independent, adventurous person who would take on this move. If that’s a message you can convey to your parents and yourself, maybe you can loosen the grip guilt has on you.

          As for visits and ageing parents — yes, both are a factor. My parent is seriously ill, and I go when I can (about once a year, for a longer period — say six weeks). It’s hard of course, but it all flows from their desire that I live my life, as described above. Parents will age wherever you are — unless you are ready to be a part- or full-time carer, there is always a part of parental care that we as children abdicate. For me, I’m lucky that I’ve been able to support them from a distance, help in lots of indirect ways, and put in place the structures that help them.

          In your position, I would not attempt twice yearly visits — that’s a lot, logistically and financially. But once a year, for longer stretches if you can, could work. Other options include your parents coming over, or you getting together in a third country, maybe halfway geographically. It also changes the dynamic, and that’s important.

          One last point about guilt and your mother’s passive-aggressive comments: if she makes them when you’re only three hours away, what do you have to lose by moving farther? ;) I don’t mean to be glib – I’m just saying that you can’t control that part. So let it go. Instead, you can do things like set up a weekly Zoom session, or other habits to connect and maintain contact.

          Good luck!

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I fly home once a year for a longish visit (two to three weeks), or at least that’s how it usually worked pre-COVID. Since my child was born, my parents come to visit me once or twice a year. At some point that may be too much for them, since they aren’t getting any younger.

      One thing to keep in mind is that plane tickets are expensive, so you’ll have to factor that into your budget. European salaries vary drastically from place to place, so that may be more of your yearly budget than you think. It will also eat in to your vacation time, which in Europe is generally more generous than in the US. Still, that’s pretty much it for me for big travel for any given year.

      I do have some guilt. One parent is excited and supportive of me living where I do, one has laid on the guilt trips pretty thick, though mostly indirectly. That is not an usual combination in my family, though, so I knew what I was getting into. The move was still overwhelmingly the right choice for me, so I guess I didn’t spend much time waffling, just feeling the grief that comes with saying goodbye to a place.

      One thing that is on my mind recently is what to do when they are ailing. I have siblings in the states, but I’d still like to be present and supportive. Some countries have provisions for bringing a parent over more permanently, if they need care and support. That’s complicated, though, and has disadvantages, so you’d probably need to consult a lawyer and may need to have a minimum amount of money to support them. YMMV.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ive lived abroad from family for almost 10 years now, and this country is not my partner’s either. Its about a 10 hour trip to my parents, and, unbelievably considering its only a 2.5 hour flight, almost a 6 hour trip to his parents. How often do we go home? Maybe once a year, if we are lucky.

      You THINK you will do the travel shuffle twice a year but over time you decide to maybe go somewhere else rather than see family, at least once in the year. Then the holiday trip gets pushed to Easter, or just doesn’t happen because by then you are in to summer. Or the cost of a US trip is prohibitive based on the exchange rate or you need the cash for an unexpected event. Parents, family and friends always SAY they are going to visit, but they just never do. You can get upset about it or go with the flow. Part of the benefit of living in Europe is to go see and do other things!

      What we’ve taken to doing is flying out of the city we live in, to the city closest to partner’s parents, get off the plane for five days, travel out to see them, get back on the plane and then fly long haul to my parents for 10 days or so, then return home via his country. Usually we can get a cheaper flight to the US from there than our home city. So we see everyone in one go, usually late summer, and avoid the winter darkness or holiday stress. We have never gone home, either one, for Christmas – I can’t deal with the travel hordes, the costs are insane, and its too much pressure on everyone for the ‘perfect Christmas’ since you’ve traveled so far. Much better to travel after to somewhere we really want to go, usually in the sun, for half the price.

      My parents are aging and I have a health issue so that has become something to worry about now, so we are heavily considering moving home to the US next year. If I didn’t have my concern perhaps we would stay a few more years, especially as my sister lives near parents. There certainly comes an inflection point for every expat of the stay or go variety, just depends how much of your life you left behind in the US or how much you feel part of your new country.

    6. Nack*

      My husband and I (both American) lived in Scotland for 7 years. We were both in our 20s so aging parents wasn’t really a concern, so I can’t speak to that. We generally visited the US once a year.

      One thing we relied heavily on was airline points, largely donated from family :) (for context, we were volunteers for a charity and we raised our own funds, and never made more than $35k combined in a year… so international travel was not in the budget really.)

      My parents had an airline credit card which accumulated points very quickly. We also had other relatives donate. You could obviously get one yourself too. (Also I realize not everyone has a family with money to spare so this was definitely a privilege!!)

      Some things my husband and I discussed (these could be things you discuss with your parents):
      – how often we would visit
      -what we would do if a parent had a major medical event
      – what we would do in the case of a family member’s death (essentially, whose funeral we would go to and whose we wouldn’t. Morbid but helpful.)
      -how often you will communicate via FaceTime etc. my parents were very relaxed and I think we once went 3 months without video chat but my MIL fully expected 1-2 hours on Skype (back in the day :)) every weekend. When she got an iPhone with FaceTime it ramped up to her calling sometimes multiple times a day. That was a fun one to navigate ;)

      Another thing to consider is when to visit. Often we traveled around the holidays but it definitely had pros and cons.
      Pros: Christmas traditions upheld!
      -family gatherings can make it easy to see a lot of people at once

      -it can be hard to see friends/have quality time since people are so busy
      -once we had kids, we got SO MUCH stuff that we would end up buying multiple new suitcases and paying for extra checked bags which is not an insignificant cost!

    7. KR*

      Hello! I currently live outside the continental US with at least a 12 hr plane ride to my family. It does stink at times, mostly because if you want to go home for anything you need to take more time off work than normal. And it’s expensive. We were just on the other side of the continent before we moved OCONUS. We tend to go home for a long visit about once every 2 years or so, mostly because when you’re home everyone wants to see us and we spend more time driving to see people than we do enjoying our time at home. My husband and I basically agree that going home is rarely a vacation which sucks because it takes up a large chunk of my annual PTO when we do go. It’s more like a chore. If you’re already good at keeping in touch with aging relatives via phone/Skype/cards than living off continent won’t be too bad. But be prepared that when you do come home everyone will want to see you and it can take over your whole trip home if you aren’t careful. My husband and I went home most recently for a little over a week and got about a day and a half to ourselves total to enjoy what we love about our home state, and just about every time we go home we have regrets because it’s so easy for other people to monopolize your time with “just a quick visit” that turns into an all day thing.

      1. Nack*

        Oh yes this is so true. My husband and I are from different states as well so that adds to the travel considerably! (It would be A Thing if we visited one state and not the other I think.) We have also experienced that people have ideas for you while you’re visiting – eg his parents will always take time off work and plan a day for us to do together but it has rarely been something we want to do. We have also had relatives who feel the need to throw an impromptu family reunion every time we visit which can also be weird. I haven’t talked to that 3rd cousin in 4 years! But it’s so important I do it right now on my limited vacation at home! Haha. Yes a trip home for us was rarely restful and always uses up so many vacation days that we would have enjoyed elsewhere. It’s a hard balance to find.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Ha – so much this and I was just coming back to add to my comment above. Its never a vacation if its under two weeks, its always about checking in with the fringes of the family and doing more obligatory things than you think. At partner’s family there is always the long coffee visit (well managed by his mother) with an elderly gentleman. The visit with his nephew and his sister and her boneheaded boyfriend, and the inevitable grousing about the boyfriend after by his father. On my side we have to see my last elderly relative, someone always wants to do a brat fry, and helping parents with tech issues. Every day is always planned before we even get there!

        1. Might Be Spam*

          When my son comes to visit, it almost seems like a custody fight with a dozen parents. In between visits to other relatives, he vegetates at my house. We binge watch television shows together and read silently in the same room. We are both introverts, so it works for us and he knows that I’m not offended that he doesn’t want to do anything “Special.” We Skype in between visits, so there’s less pressure for “Meaningful Interactions” when he gets here.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Another thing to consider is that the flight is only (one) part of the puzzle. Do your parents live near an international airport? Though if not, not much you can do about that. Would you be living near an international airport in Europe and one that has direct flights to your parents’? A 6 hour transcontinental flight can turn into a lot longer if it’s a 2 hour train ride to the airport, then a connection in London, then an hour drive back to your folks’ place on the other end. If visiting is important and the destination is flexible, you could look into what’s near-ish to an airport with direct flights.

      Another consideration is phone calls can be tough because of the time change – it’s going to be at least 6 hours ahead in continental Europe if your folks are East Coast. So hopefully your parents are retired and aren’t expecting you to call at (your) midnight.

      1. Moving abroad OP*

        Great points, yes my parents live minutes away from an international airport, and I would only live in a city that had one (Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon for example). They are retired :)

    9. DataGirl*

      when I lived in Europe I went home once every two-three years. My mom came to visit me inbetween those visits (dad won’t fly). I did not feel guilty at all, my parents are capable of taking care of themselves, even as they get older.

      As someone with adult kids now, I would be thrilled for them to move far away and experience life and all the world has to offer.

    10. The Person from the Resume*

      I was in the military. I was single. When I lived in the US I went home several times a year. Christmas always and other times.

      When I was stationed in Europe I went home for my brother’s wedding not long after I moved. And one Christmas. I had a long distance bf that loved Europe and he visited one Christmas and we traveled to Rome, I think. My parents visited once. I wanted them to make a longer trip if they were going to fly that far but they came for only 6-7 days. My dad was working and probably felt like he couldn’t leave work that long (he was the manager), but if it’s going to take a day to fly and several days to get over jet lag, I personally recommend closer to 2 weeks for a trip.

      This was before the days of everyone having a cell phone (much less free zoom calls) so called them every weekend for about an hour maybe. Commit to regular calls/zooms/FaceTimes.

      I think you should evaluate what your budget and PTO will afford and make a plan far in advance. If you travel to one place in the US, Will other American family members come see you? How would that work with places to sleep.

      Will you have s place for guests to sleep if they come stay with you? When my parents visited me in Europe we travelled to touristy places and did get a few hotel rooms. But I’ve always had a guest bedroom except my first place right out of college.

  25. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone been through the whole public service loan forgiveness process? Any tips for someone trying to navigate it?

    1. Jamie Starr*

      I have. But I’m not sure how helpful I can be. I had about a year of payments left last fall when that HEROES exception thing happened. I’d actually worked for a nonprofit for 4 years before I found out about PSLF so previously, those payments didn’t count until the HEROES thing. They reexamined my account automatically and my loans were forgiven last fall, and I got a refund of roughly 6 months of payments. So I didn’t actually have to fill out the forgiveness paperwork.

      You could check out this website: freestudentloanadvice dot org, which I found helpful when trying to understand if I needed to do anything for the HEROES exception.

    2. Lilo*

      My sister went through the process and also got a refund as well. I’m about a year and a half away myself and I’ve been dutifully sending in the certification forms every year.

      1. academia expat*

        they loosened the restrictions through October so if you didn’t qualify you might temporarily.

        I’m in that group and started but you need the tax ID number. One of the schools I worked at didn’t respond so I need to bug them again or dig out old tax returns.

    3. Grits McGee*

      I didn’t do it personally, but from what I’ve heard from other people at my government agency, it’s super important to review your paperwork each year. At least for federal agencies, your employer has to submit the paperwork on your behalf, and if they make a mistake or the loan holder makes a mistake, with the paperwork, your payment may not count towards forgiveness. I had a couple people I work with think they were a year or two away from finishing their payments, only to find out our agency or Fedloan had made a typo and they hadn’t been making qualifying payments for *years*.

  26. Never too much vacay*

    I’m doing a solo trip to New Orleans next week. I’m looking forward to live music, great food and learning more about the history. Any restaurant, lounge, neighborhood, museum or tour recommendations?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Bourbon St is in the French Quarter, although it’s certainly not the only part :)

    1. Texan In Exile*

      The Mint Museum is really interesting. I think that’s where I saw the chart of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia that shows how many of his soldiers died in the process.

    2. cat socks*

      Not sure if you drink, but if so these are some bars I’ve enjoyed visiting for a good cocktail:

      Latitude 29 (rum and Tiki drinks)
      Sazerac Bar inside the Roosevelt Hotel
      Cane & Table (I believe they also serve food)
      Arnaud’s French 75 (classy bar right off the craziness of Bourbon Street)
      Carousel Bar

      These are some food places:

      Daisy Dukes
      Jimmy J’s Cafe
      Compare Lapin
      Ruby Slipper Cafe

      We have stayed in the Marriott on Canal Street, which is on the edge of the French Quarter. It’s fun to walk around that area during the day.

      If you’re there for the first time, I would check out a bit of Bourbon Street just to see what you think. It is touristy, but there are other places to explore in the French Quarter.

      Also, check out Joy the Baker. She lives there and has lots of recommendations on her site.

      Enjoy! It’s a unique and fun city.

    3. Seal*

      The World War II museum is excellent. Make sure to ride the streetcars. The St. Charles line will take you through the Garden District, which is lovely. I’ve not been to the historic cemeteries, but it’s on my list for my next visit. Make sure you there go on a tour, though; it’s apparently very dangerous to go on your own.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I really enjoyed the WWII museum! The art museum, too. Eat all the beignets.
        I went to cemeteries by myself, don’t know what was supposed to be unsafe about that? Maybe I chose the close-in ones.

    4. Bluebell*

      A friend and I went about a year before covid and had a great time. We really enjoyed NOMA, plus its sculpture garden and the Morning Call in City Park. Commanders Palace is a fabulous eating experience, pretty sure you’d need a reservation, and then you can tour the cemetery across the street. For pure frivolity, Southern Swings Nails does pedicures while you sit on a porch swing. We walked on Frenchman Street to hear music – a little less wild/touristy than Bourbon St.

    5. Llellayena*

      The Mardi Gras museum with a tour of where they build/store the floats was awesome! I also recommend a walking food tour, mmm. There’s a glassblowing workshop with an attached store/gallery that’s gorgeous. Preservation Hall was awesome when I went, but that was pre-Covid so I don’t know how they’re working it now (they used to cram more people than fire code really allowed in a small room…). But some of the jazz clubs along Frenchmen St would probably be great.

      1. Clisby*

        I second the Mardi Gras museum – is it still in Algiers? (I haven’t been to NOLA since before Katrina). The Voodoo Museum also is interesting.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          Mardi Gras World in now in New Orleans. It’s on the Mississippi on the other side of the convention center from the FQ. Also near the cruise ship terminal to help you find it on a map.

    6. Red Sky*

      If you’re into stately, historic homes, grounds and cemetaries, take a Garden District tour. We didn’t have time when we were visiting for the Jazz Festival and I’m still kicking myself for not fitting it in.

    7. Yeah summer!*

      I love grabbing a to-go cocktail and riding the street car. It loops from downtown through the garden district. Also rock n bowl was really fun. Rebirth brass band is great if they are playing while you are there. Have fun. It’s a great place.

    8. gsa*

      Go to the Davenport Lounge, if you want to hear good Jazz. It’s located in the Ritz Carlton.

      I went to HS with Band Leader.

  27. Loves libraries*

    I know there are a lot of book readers who love this site so I’m assuming someone can relate. When I’ve been reading a good book, or sometimes when watching a film or TV show I find myself caught between reality and whatever fictional world I was consuming. The sense that my “real world” is also somehow fictional can last from a few minutes to an hour. Do other people experience this too? I find it quite a useful coping mechanism – if something has distressed/angered/upset me in my life I usually feel much better about it after escaping into a book. I feel this is a relatively healthy coping mechanism, do you agree? Also, this evening when I surfaced from watching TV I had the feeling that my two children (who I love with my whole soul) didn’t really matter much and that my even having children was just a story I’d told myself. I haven’t felt that way about my kids before so it surprised me! Does this sound familiar to others of you? If so, do you see it as normal or something to actively counter?

    1. fposte*

      Not quite like that, but often in a conversation where people are sharing experiences I have to catch myself before I offer up a fictional event as an equivalent.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      We have lots of ways of escaping and we don’t even realize. It varies person by person, but I know people who escape by shopping. Others escape by buying lots of lottery tickets. Snacking while not hungry was an escape for me.

      I can get lost in a tv show, movie or book. I saw it as something to actively counter. Others may not, however. I do think that part of my escaping was due to poor sleep habits. No matter which way this one goes for you, try to do a double check to see if you are, what I call, “sleeping with your eyes open”. Sometimes the need to do an automatic activity can actually help us avoid proper rest which in turn ramps up the need to do the automatic activity- whatever that activity may be. Since we are doing a low key activity we can con ourselves into believe that we are relaxing/resting. The truth is there is no substitute for real sleep.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If it goes away in an hour or so and leaves you feeling good I think it’s fine. That’s immersion. I wouldn’t describe my experiences exactly like that, but it sounds familiar.

      If it persists or makes you upset, talk to your doctor about it. The bit about the children sounds like something that would distress me greatly, but I may be imagining it wrong.

    4. My heart is a fish*

      I’ve definitely experienced this. Unfortunately, it tends to hit the hardest for me when I’m reading distressing books — natural disaster and horror particularly. As a kid, I messed myself up real good a few times reading something frightening and then going around perceiving the world as this paper-thin wrapper stretched over a yawning horror. Anymore, I try to be careful how lost I’m getting in any story that isn’t primarily upbeat.

    5. Nack*

      I don’t know if this is exactly what you’ve experienced but i have definitely felt myself emotionally impacted by a characteristic story and it carrying over into my real life. Eg: reading a book where a woman is facing up to the fact that she married an irresponsible and unfaithful man and feeling the despair of knowing she’s stuck with him. And then I start noticing all my husband’s faults and feeling stuck with him. Not helpful, because he is really great and we are happily married!

      I’ve just finished a book where the main character decides to make a major life change at the end and take a hard but hopefully rewarding path and it’s definitely got me thinking about my life and making changes to pursue the things I really want!

    6. Mephyle*

      Agree with Raging that it’s not worrisome if it dissipates relatively soon. It would be concerning if it didn’t wear off or made you behave differently.

      For me, if a book has a markedly distinctive style or viewpoint or narrative voice, I notice my internal narrator narrating my activities in the style of the book for a little while until it wears off.

    7. allathian*

      I can lose myself in a book to the point that I lose track of time and place. It’s an odd state of altered consciousness, very similar to the flow that I can occasionally reach when I work on something that’s a bit of a challenge but not frustratingly difficult. It happened a lot more often when I was a teenager, these days it’s hard to find hours of uninterrupted time. Now that I’m on vacation, I sometimes read long into the night. When I’m working, I’m usually in bed by 10 pm, but the other day I stopped reading at 2 am…

  28. Ali G*

    I want to thank everyone who tried to help me figure out how I can accommodate a sitter in my house for my Old Man Dog when we go to my brother’s wedding in September. After reading all your responses, thinking about it and talking to my husband, we have decided we aren’t going to let it go that long. I didn’t mention that the type of cancer my dog has travels in the blood and weakens the vessels. He also likely has other tumors that what is on his liver. The vet we saw back in April said that this type of cancer can cause hemorrhaging and it can be sudden and is fatal. We decided we don’t want to let it get that far, so we set a date a few weeks out to let him go. I am hoping by giving us an end date we will be better prepared and head of a traumatic event for all of us.
    While I think this is the right decision, I am obviously wracked with guilt. I feel like I am doing this for my own comfort, rather than his. I know others here have been here with your pets. Any advice? I always thought I would “know” it was time, but this limbo we’ve been in for almost 3 months is just too much.

    1. Gyne*

      It’s an amazing gift to have the ability to end another creature’s suffering and give it to them. They don’t have the capacity to understand the “whys” of their pain. Try to reframe. You can easily get caught up into “heroic” measures to artificially extend your dog’s life for your own comfort because it’s going to be hard to wake up the next day and look at the empty spot where his bed was yesterday. This really is a choice you’re making because it’s the best thing for him, not you. It’s not for your comfort at all!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This! I’m so sorry you’re having to make this decision, but please know it’s for the best for your Old Man Dog. IMHO, it’s an actual gift we give our pets that I so so wish we could give ourselves and other loved ones. You are doing it for HIS own comfort, not yours.
        I’ve been through this many times. Internet hugs from a stranger if you’d like them.
        Please keep us posted.
        My thoughts are with you

    2. Deschain*

      I went through this with my beloved Labrador last September. Here’s the advice that convinced me to schedule a date so that my sweet boy could go on his terms rather than in an emergency situation: “I’m often asked about my personal opinion on euthanasia. I’ve found it helpful to read other people’s viewpoints, so perhaps my opinion may provide some food for thought. I’d rather let my pet go peacefully and with dignity… and if at all possible, I would rather let them go a little early than even an hour too late. I don’t want them to die feeling scared, stressed, or feeling extreme pain, or during an emergency or a crisis. Ideally, given the choice, I want their passing to be “just a normal day” — with some extra treats, loving, playtime, or adventure — where they feel safe, happy, and loved.” https://www.scamperingpaws.com/seniors/when-to-euthanize.shtml

      For Duke’s day, we took his favorite blanket, a bag of popcorn, and played music (Imagine Dragons “Born to Be Yours” was his song!!). And our vet had given us the opportunity to select the box his ashes would be in, what it would say, etc. a couple of days before.

      I hope this helps! I miss my love every day. But I know we made the best decision. His last day was a good day rather than scary one, and that’s one of the best things you can ask for.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      You are doing the right thing. My brother faced the same thing with his dog. He didn’t want Penny to die scared, possibly alone, and in pain, so he had her put to sleep. It broke his heart, but it was the absolutely right thing to do for Penny.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think that this is one of those situations where no matter what a person decides they can find reasons to beat themselves up over the decision. Let yourself up for air.

      There is a fine line between prolonging life and prolonging death. I have seen a LOT of the latter with people.
      My father was in CCU. His condition was dire. The nurse was crying. She said, “We don’t prolong people’s lives, we prolong their deaths.” I agreed with her 100%, I could see that just as his visitor (I wasn’t there 24/7)

      Extend this out to our pets, who are another family member. What is the pet going toward? More misery? We have the capacity to extend life but is it meaningful, beneficial to that being?

      I was overwrought over my last dog. He was The Dog of my life. The responsibility weighs so heavy in these instances. It appears that they can’t tell you what they want.

      But they CAN. And they DO.

      Something was very wrong that morning when I called a friend to come and help by driving us to the vet’s. Was I making the right decision? I put the phone down. With that he laid down and slipped into a little coma. He remained that way. We got to the vet’s and I stayed with him. Damn. This was hard. His passing went unbelievably easy. Which made it easier for me to see it was his time and he understood that. I call it his last gift to me- letting me know it is okay with him.

      Looking back on it, he showed me that he knew I was taking care of him as best as possible. So right along he had been telling me that he understood and he knew. He was pretty matter of fact, he accepted his aging and he accepted his new limits in abilities.

      There is no good time for them to leave. EVER. I was late for work that day. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t think straight. And I thought to myself, was I selfish?

      Here’s the thing, TRULY selfish people NEVER ask this question. They never do a self-check to see what their motives are. That is because they are selfish. For the amount of time and energy and conversation you have put in on this question of what to do, I sincerely doubt you are selfish. Selfish people don’t do all that you have worked through here.

      This is a setting where there is a choice A and choice B and both choices suck, but for different reasons, that’s all.

      1. Melon*

        NSNR, I am not the OP of this question but I have to say I always love to read your kind and thoughtful responses on here, and not just to my questions. Thank you!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I agree. Not So NewReader’s responses in general are a highlight of this site for me as well–kind, helpful, insightful, and articulate.

      2. the cat's ass*

        Thank you for writing this, you are so thoughtful, unselfish, and eloquent. The Cat Of My Life went a tiny bit too long in her old age because i found it so hard to let go. Thrity years on, I swore i’d be better with her following feline sisters, and I have. It’s always going to suck for US, the loyal and loving pet owners/attendants/staff, but it can certainly suck less for our beautiful loyal and loving companions.

    5. Velociraptor Attack*

      You’re doing the right thing. One of our dogs, an 11 year old mastiff, ended up with cancer in late 2018. We did surgery on her, knowing it might help and might not, because selfishly we weren’t ready and she did get better but then it came back about 7 months later.

      When it came back, it came back hard and we made the same really difficult choice to let her go. It was hard. It still hurts. We both have in the last few months cried when something reminded us of her but as