weekend open thread – July 9-10, 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: Love Marriage, by Monica Ali. An engaged couple each struggle with their own demons, their families, and each other.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 979 comments… read them below }

  1. Business Narwhal*

    Does anyone have any questionable youth group stories? I always find them amusing. I think youth group leaders can make a game out of anything, it is fun though.
    One of the weirdest contest at our youth was part of a fall festival or something and they had somehow gotten a hold of a couple cherry pickers and dropped pumpkins off them in the parking lot . The game? Which group could clean up the remains of the pumpkins first. It was also several weeks past halloween so they were very rotten.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      One time they demonstrated the rejoicing in a Bible story skit by dancing to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        This prompted me to look up what “peanut butter jelly time” is, so thank you! My boss uses that emoji all the time and I was confused but assumed it was just a random Slack thing akin to Party Parrot.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          Hahahahaha bit late to the party, but you should probably know that Party Parrot’s origins are a bit more…heh…salacious…than “it’s a Slack thing.” From the Wiki page for “Sirocco (parrot):”

          Sirocco (hatched 23 March 1997) is a kākāpō, a large, flightless, nocturnal parrot, and one of the 197 remaining kākāpō in the world. He achieved individual fame following an incident on the BBC television series Last Chance to See in which he attempted to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine. Subsequent featuring of the incident on television channels around the world and on YouTube resulted in Sirocco becoming internationally known.

          On the video of the incident (I’ve seen it on YouTube under the name “shagged by a rare parrot”):
          In 2009, zoologist Mark Carwardine and television presenter Stephen Fry visited Codfish Island as part of the TV series Last Chance to See, focusing on endangered species around the world. While they were filming Sirocco, the bird hopped onto Carwardine’s head and attempted to mate with him. The scene itself and Fry’s commentary, “Sorry, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. You are being shagged by a rare parrot”, proved an instant television hit, being featured on news broadcasts around the world.

          Soooo yeah. That Party Parrot animation isn’t based on a bird dancing; it’s a bird getting a little…uhhhh…(human) head. Very literally. Sirocco is very “fond” of human heads, which is why he’s been declared unsuitable for breeding with other birds despite his species being incredibly rare.

    2. LongTimeReader*

      At a certain point, I think my youth group leader, Doug, just gave up. We watched The Breakfast Club at least a dozen times. Did it stop the cliques and elitist beliefs? Nerp.
      Then he decided to show us New Jack City. To a bunch of 13-18 year olds living in the very white and middle-class suburbs of a mid-sized Midwestern town. Not sure how it shaped the other kiddos, but I still have a crush on Ice-T. Meanwhile, I suspect that there may have been some phone calls from concerned parents. Needless to say, the movies tapered off for a while. We went back to making crafts out of pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks.

      Anyone else have the most amazingly ugly and clashing set of secondhand sofas in their youth groups?

      1. Jackalope*

        I’ve always assumed that the ancient sofas were a required part of any sort of teenager church activities.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        We don’t have that here or at least we didn’t back in the ’90s when I was a teen, but you’ve reminded me of something. In secondary school, we had a “retreat” each year, which was really just a day when your class or year group would gather in the hall and do vaguely religious/team building/mental health stuff.

        Our 2nd year one was really good actually. We ended up talking about things that made us doubt religion and whether we believed or not and that led into a talk about grief as some people said they couldn’t believe in a god after somebody they loved died.

        But it’s the 6th year one I want to talk about. 6th year is the final year of school so we were 16-18 and instead of doing anything religious, we had a number of talks, one by the Samaritans, I think, about mental health, but one about alcoholism and stuff by this guy who was a recovered addict, but… Well, firstly, he was American and basically began by saying he was sure we all wondered why anybody would move from America to Ireland. To a bunch of Irish teens. And he claimed to know a load of American celebrities, but when asked who, struggled to name any. And he said he “didn’t believe” in social drinking, like that he didn’t believe it was possible to go out for drinks with your mates occasionally without being addicted or binge drinking. Yeah, he was not popular. Our religion teacher asked us the next day what they should do differently with the following year’s 6th year’s and the general consensus was “don’t ask that guy back.”

    3. V*

      One time my youth group made us gamble with twinkys. Only one of five was safe – the remaining four had baby food shoved into them.

      Also there was some kind of contest that involved hamsters as prizes. (Naturally, I won such a hamster.)

      There was also that time my youth group leader implied my friends were lesbians. (They were sisters.)

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      I have never done much Questionable Youth stuff. But once, when I was 15, before cellphones were a thing, we worked out a plan to lie to our respective parents: including getting my quite reasonably suspicious mother of my friend to talk to my father (I was the good influence) then changing the plan… and sneaking into my mother’s empty house.

      We got drunk from the wee skerricks of alcohol we’d pilfered from our parents, and sat in the park across the road on the swings talking. For some reason we thought it would be fun to move around some ornaments at the lawn bowls club? In the morning, we saw an old man moving it all back and felt so guilty we went and offered to help. I still cringe internally a bit.

      I also always laugh at the mental image of drunk 16 yo me walking behind my friends picking up their rubbish and telling them off for being shit.

    5. AceInPlainSight*

      Youth group was always chill, but they did introduce the phrase No Purpling, which still lives with me. Boys= blue, girls= red. No purpling.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I was shocked when I got to college campus ministry, and suddenly no one cared about purpling. I was like “what do you mean we just all put our sleeping bags wherever?”

    6. Turtle Dove*

      I have limited experience with youth groups because my parents didn’t do religious education, and it was my husband who handled it with our kids. Our kids weren’t into religious ed or youth group, but they went when they had to.

      But I do have one story. When one of our kids was around 12, I received a phone call from a parent who was organizing a sleepover for the youth group. She was very excited about her plan. “We’ll come into your house Friday evening and kidnap your child! It’ll be great fun!” I was gobsmacked. On what planet is it “fun” to have strangers rush into your home, grab you, haul you away, and force you to spend a night with strangers? When you had no say in any of it? And your parents stood by, smiling and approving? How is this a good example of how to treat others? My whole being screamed “oh hell no!”

      Mind you, I had an introverted child, and I’m introverted myself. I knew my child would hate it like I would. Maybe some kids who are into youth group would enjoy it?

      I expressed my shock and told her I thought it was a terrible idea, but she was unfazed. I think she even called back to pressure me to reconsider because “all the kids were doing it.” I still don’t get it.

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        I remember back in the 2000s, a convo on another forum: “Kidnap the bride? Is this a thing?” Apparently it is in some pockets of (American? European? Asian?) society. Take the bride to, I dunno, a bar or hotel room, and keep her there until a certain amount in cash gifts/gift cards/tangible gifts has been contributed. But I have a vague memory of a bride who, along with the groom and at least one set or parents, sued her “captors” on account of she’d been confined to someplace like a barn, where a victim of a genuine kidnapping might have been held.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Yes, that’s so standard practice here (Germany) that it’s utterly expected.
          Effectively, the witnesses or other friends of the couple escort the bride from the reception to a nearby pub (or string of pubs) where they have a drink but not pay for it. The groom has to find his bride (and pay for the drinks).

      2. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        This also reminds me of a temp job I had for less than a day, shortly after 9/11, which I remember because that made charity fundraising ten times more difficult. But this particular gimmick was ridiculous under any circumstances. The idea was, participants would be at work, and someone from the charity would show up and “arrest” them. They would then be taken someplace, in this case Local Brewpub, and have to spend an hour on the phone, calling everyone they knew to “bail them out” by making charitable contributions. Also they would get a free lunch.

        Seriously. And they didn’t give me a list of people to call; they gave me a list of businesses, more than half of which seemed to be beauty salons and car-repair shops. “Why haven’t you called this place, and this and this?” [Because people who work at those places are busy all day long; they can’t leave for an hour. Or a supposed hour, because travel time would make it longer.] “And stop telling people about the menu at Local Brewpub. The lunch won’t be from them; we’re getting food brought in from a mom-and-pop caterer.” Gah. I was let go an hour early and told not to return.

        And I remember a friend’s reaction when I told him. “My grandboss would never see the ‘humor’ in someone being perp-walked out of his place of business. Seriously, handcuffs and everything? He’d probably at least suspend whoever it was, for not thinking about the optics of it.” Which is something I didn’t even think of: at least call owners and managers, not employees who will have to clear it with the boss, or deal with consequences if they don’t.

        1. Girasol*

          That brings back memories. They used to do that in my high school to raise money for the prom.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Klingon groups do that as a charity fundraiser at conventions. I used to help run a big Vampire LARP at GenCon, and our end-of-Con schtick was to take up a collection from the players to have the head storyteller “arrested” by the Klingons. They kept people in for a dollar a minute, so after the initial collection and arrest, half the game would run around yelling “Throw in for the Klingons’ charity and keep our storyteller in jail!” I think our record was collecting enough to keep him in for something like six hours. They weren’t going to make him stay that long, and he was amenable to the whole thing. In fact, one year, his then-fiancée contributed and they got married in the Klingon jail. (And that is how I and my now-ex-husband-then-boyfriend attended, as guests, my now-husband’s first wedding in a jail cell.)

            1. BubbleTea*

              I had to reread that last sentence several times to understand that you weren’t implying that it was your husband’s first time attending a wedding in a jail, but not your first time. That trumps my “how did you two meet?” story for my ex and I (in her ex’s kitchen, while the ex was away).

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Haha, it was a convoluted sentence for a convoluted situation :) but my now-husband and I met through my ex-husband like 20 years ago and were both married to (and subsequently divorced from) other people in the interim before we got together.

        2. RetailEscapee*

          The high school teacher I most disliked participated in this annually and I took great pleasure in hoping she had to actually be handcuffed somewhere all day.

      3. PostalMixup*

        At my church, the kidnapping was a very open secret, because lore had it one year it got taken too far, and one kid thought he was actually being kidnapped, and managed to call the police. Although, thinking back, this would have been before cell phones, so now I’m dubious this actually happened. But when we were freshmen, we knew ahead of time that, at some point, we were going to get “kidnapped.”

      4. Elizabeth West*

        An affluent evangelical Christian camp I went to did something like that. (My family was Roman Catholic, but I wanted to go because they had a ton of outdoor activities.) The senior boys came and kidnapped the senior girls and drew all over us with markers. I mean, what the f*ck?!?!

        Years after this, the camp made the news for—guess what? Sexual abuse of boys by a counselor. When I was there, one of the directors groped me in the dining hall. So all the later ex-vangelical (and Catholic) claims of abuse in the news did not surprise me one bit. I think these situations attract predators because they’re a captive audience of kids.

      5. Observer*

        That’s a terrible idea, even for a non-introvert kid!

        This mom is out of her mind.

        And I would be a tad bit suspicious that “all the kids” are actually doing it. But in any case, that’s the line you expect from the KIDS, not the parents! And while I don’t think “Well, if all the kids were doing X stupid thing, would you do that too?” is a helpful response the IDEA is what a reasonable parent should be trying to teach the kid. For a parent to make that “All the kids are doing it” argument is just another reason to never, ever trust her judgement. Not just about parenting.

    7. Annie Edison*

      Did anyone else play “if you love me baby”? Everyone sits in a circle and one person is “it,” like when you’re playing tag. Except instead of tagging someone, you go sit on someone else’s lap and say “if you love me baby, you’ll give me a smile” (bonus points for being as flirty as possible) and then the other person responds “I love you baby but I just can’t smile” and tries to keep a straight face. If you crack a smile, you’re now it and have to get someone else to smile.

      It was hilarious but also? This was a bunch of hormonal teenagers who are being taught not to have sex or do anything “impure” and then the adult leaders are encouraging us to sit on each other’s laps and be super flirty for the sake of a game sooo… mixed messages much?

      Teenage me was always so embarrassed but also secretly hoping the boy I liked would come sit on my lap

      1. Llama face!*

        “Honey if you love me” is what we called it here.
        The person trying to get the smile would say: “Honey, if you love me would you please, please smile?” And then they could make faces or do whatever to try and make their chosen person smile. And then the person trying not to smile would have to respond: ” Honey, you know I love you but I just can’t smile.”

        And yeah playing this game in church youth group where we were all signing True Love Waits pledges was a very odd choice, lol. (I’m asexual so it just made me feel super awkward- no hormonal surges on my end, haha)

        1. Jackalope*

          That was one of my worst youth group experiences. I had once when I was in middle school and we played that. At that point it wasn’t supposed to be flirty, just silly. But I was very shy and not charismatic, and didn’t know how to do that well. I got stuck in the middle once and went to literally every person in the group and couldn’t get any of them to laugh. Finally the very last person gave me a sympathy laugh so I could get out of the middle; I was nearly in tears by that point, having tried to do something I hated and was so clearly awful at in front of a group of my peers for what seemed like forever.

        2. Shelley*

          My kid’s drama group had the most chaste version of this. You all stand in a circle pretending to be monks/nuns and the person in the middle puts their hands in the prayer position and says “it is a sad and solemn day Sister/Brother *name*” and the person has to reply in the same manner without laughing. That seems like it would be more suitable for a church group.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            That seems like a more suitable idea in general. I would be slightly uncomfortable with asking kids to sit on one another’s laps. This may be partly just because I personally hate being touched and having to sit on somebody’s lap or have them sit on mine would not be enjoyable for me at all. But there is a very good chance there could be a kid at youth group who dislikes getting that close to others or even who is autistic or god forbid, has been abused and has issues with touch as a result. And even without that, it strikes me as somewhat…boundary violating. I know teens have a habit of climbing on top of each other anyway, but there’s a difference between choosing to do it and an adult TELLING them to do it.

            And while I know it’s a game and I probably am being ridiculous with this bit, the idea of “if you love me, give me a smile” sits a bit uncomfortably with me too, given the tendency for creepy men to tell women to “give me a smile, love.” I know this is not gendered and it’s a joke anyway, but it does seem to play into the idea that one “owes” those they love a smile.

            I much prefer the “it is a sad and solemn day” or the similarish game we had as children which was sausage (and which was more fun anyway). The person who was “it” could ask the other person any question, to which the other person had to reply “sausage” and do so without smiling. I was actually quite good at this game as I was good at switching off and answering automatically, without even listening to the question. You’d get stuff like “what’s your name?” “sausage.” “Where do you live?” “In a sausage” and so on.

      2. RosyGlasses*

        Yes!!!! In youth group with hormones and feeling awkward and weird no less. Hated it.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Wow. I didn’t initially respond because the examples I have read about are less “innocent weird fun” and more “… and fortunately a kid described what they had done to an adult who could recognize that as a fetish.”

        I attended a church youth group. Absolutely nothing of interest happened. Which, whew?

    8. Whom?*

      I’m not entirely clear on what a youth group is, to be honest. It’s some kind of club for church teens?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Basically. The teens in any given congregation often have their own pastor or leader, and they do activities together separate from the adults, often on weekends. It’s a way of keeping teens engaged. But they can be harmful too (like any church).

    9. Mephyle*

      This would be in the late 1960s, the height of the psychedelic era. The youth group had a hang-out room in what used to be the manse but no one lived there, it was just used for Sunday School space. The youth painted the walls of the their youth room black, installed black lights, and put up black light posters. What a scandal it aroused!

      I was a little younger at the time, not yet youth group age, but I do remember the tsk-tsking among the church ladies.

    10. Meddery*

      My middle school youth group went to a big conference where the main speaker put a goldfish in a blender and threatened to turn it on, and then, when the audience of literal pre-teens and early teens started freaking out, some of us sobbing, yelled at us for caring more about the life of a goldfish than we cared about our own sexual purity. It was the first night of a weeklong summer youth conference and unfortunately not the last of the emotional terrorism that was pretty typical of the 90s True-Love-Waits era youth group messaging.

    11. your friendly neighborhood zen buddhist*

      Our youth group leader had us drop raw eggs on each other’s eggs as a “trust exercise”. One person had to lay on the ground while the other dropped the egg on the other’s forehead. When I said I didn’t think it was a good idea, they asked me if I didn’t trust my fellow youth group members. I said I didn’t trust the egg.

      And yes, of course, the eggs broke! And even if they didn’t break, getting hit in the forehead with an egg dropped from several feet kinda hurts.

  2. Avid Reader*

    My favorite day of the week for Ask a Manager is Saturday so I can see Alison’s recommended book. So I log in and the book is Love Marriage, which I just started before I logged in. Got to page 17! Felt a little freaky!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I like the weekends too because of the cat photographs. They always make me smile.

      1. allathian*

        Me too. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of Alison’s book recommendations because I mostly read sci-fi, fantasy, and crime, almost no literary fiction. Sometimes I branch out into non-fiction (history and biographies), but not often.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I think I might go back to her list and read some of them eventually. But my TBR pile from the last few years is already huge.

    2. tiredlibrarian*

      100% agree. I’ve ended up liking so many that at this point I log on, see what the book is, and immediately place it on hold at my library. :D

  3. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I have been removing invasive nasties (periwinkle, creeping bellflower, goutweed, and I’ve given up for now on the creeping charlie) and eating many raspberries directly in the garden. I look forward to when things are more manageable and less work.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      First zucchini harvested and eaten! After a few false starts (tiny fruit that softened and fell off), the pumpkin vine seems to have set several squash. And the watermelon and cucumber are both finally flowering. Tomatoes are still lil green golf balls, but there are a lot of ’em. Green beans fighting the slugs.

      Anyone experience roly-polies eating plants? My Googling says they eat dead/decaying matter and sometimes new shoots, but my wife is convinced they’re leaving the holes in the lower leaves of our tomato and cauliflower plants.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        We have been drowning the roly polys in beer, because the birds weren’t doing their job by eating them off the broccoli and cauliflower.
        Get a shallow container, and bury/press it in the ground so that it’s level with the ground, so the bugs will just walk into the beer. https://growingspaces.com/get-rid-of-pill-bugs/

        I read that they will turn to organic matter if the soil is too dry? I’m not sure if that’s true – we’ve had a lot of rain here – but they’re definitely eating my cruciferous veggies.

        1. Salymander*

          If it is dry, or if they have good hiding spots and lots of food, they will be more of a problem. They love the community garden here because we have paths covered in wood chips that the city gives us from their landscape maintenance. Early in spring, I pull the wood chips aside on the edges of my paths and I pull the soil aside around the edge of my garden plot. Then, I sprinkle diatomaceous earth in a line along all the paths and the edge of my it and scrape the soil and mulch back into place. That helps a lot.

      2. JSPA*

        you certainly find them nestled in holes in young fleshy stems, but I suspect slugs do the main damage, then the pillbugs move in to tidy the edges and get some moisture, But they can indeed eat soft, damp lower leaves as well, before they’re visibly rotting.

        Link to follow for solutions.

        1. Girasol*

          That’s helpful! The only thing they go after in my garden is cantaloupes. They tunnel in the minute the melon is ripe. I’ve been parking young melons on inverted cottage cheese and yogurt carton pedestals to keep them out of reach when they get ripe. I’ll have to try the traps.

          1. Venus*

            I’ve seen where farmers wrap fruit (bananas for example) in a plastic bag very early in the growth, in order to keep it safe. Presumably there are environmental factors that keep it from rotting or other problems, but it might be something for you to try with one cantaloupe?

      3. Venus*

        Squashes have male and female flowers on the same plant, and the first round tends to be male. So a bunch of flowers that don’t set is very typical.

      4. Salymander*

        The holes could be Roly polies, or maybe earwigs or caterpillars. I used sluggo plus once earlier in the season and have had no more problems with any of them. Not the regular sluggo, because that only gets slugs and snails. It has to be Sluggo Plus. This also helped the beans, which were being eaten by cutworms and earwigs. I also sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the ground on the edges of my planting beds and under anything that is a good place for pests to hide. There were tiny flies on my eggplant and they seemed to be arising from the soil. I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around them every 4-5 days for several weeks and the flies are gone now. I sprinkle it under my zucchini, and it dries out the surface of the soil a little so there is less of a problem with mold and fungus. I don’t get it anywhere near the flowers, so the pollinators should be ok.

        If you have wood chips or similar mulch in your garden, or a nice hiding spot nearby, the earwigs and pillbugs will be way more plentiful and can overwhelm your garden. They do normally eat mostly decaying plants, but if there is a huge number of them they eat more living plants, particularly early in the year.

      5. Sparkly Librarian*

        Thanks, all, for the advice. We *also* have slugs, so I will be putting out traps for them and have done some trimming of the lower leaves that touch the soil. I love seeing roly-polies in general because they’re helping the soil and never try to come inside (and don’t bite — bonus!). May just keep transferring them to the compost pile if they’re getting too hungry.

        1. Salymander*

          I agree, the Roly polys are kinda cute. My kid used to call them all “Pipey” and thought that all the ones she saw were just the same Roly poly over and over, following her around. That makes me smile when I see one.

          Earwigs, however are another story. They creep me out more that just about anything. I lived in a tiny house for a few years after university, and it was infested with them. We couldn’t get rid of them. Waking up to see them crawling up the wall by the hundreds, or even worse on the quilt (!) was the stuff of nightmares.

          1. EW*

            I have slugs all over my little garden and a fresh new Sluggo ready to get them but I can’t bring myself to do it because my daughter loves them so much that she calls them her little pets and gives them names!

            1. Salymander*

              Aww so cute :)

              That is funny. Mine had a Tupperware container full of them and they all had names, too. Kids just crack me up.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      A stray sunflower planted itself and bloomed this week. Kinda random but I’ll take it! I don’t know how to garden at all and am intimidated by my new yard…

      1. Salymander*

        Maybe it is a welcome sunflower? Like, a message from your garden telling you that all is well?

        You are probably wise to take your time and get to know your property before planting anything anyway. Better to watch and wait than to jump in and plant a bunch of unsuitable plants in unsuitable places.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I have lots of apples on my trees. I’m hoping I have lots to pick in the fall. Unfortunately they keep getting apple scab and many drop early. The ones I can pick from the tree, I just peel them and they’re good for pies, applesauce, and apple jelly. I wish I could treat the scab, but two of the trees are huge and there’s no way to spray the whole trees unless I can find someone to come out at exactly the right time with the right equipment. The other two are young dwarf trees, so I can treat those easily. But I’m not hopeful that would work since the two huge trees would still have the scab.

      I planted some daises in my garden a couple weeks ago, which were in full bloom when I bought them. Well, some bugger came that night and ate the tops off them. At the least the remainder of the plant survived. It’s either the family of groundhogs we have, or a passing deer.

    4. GoryDetails*

      My veggie planters are doing quite well. Have had several harvests of chard and basil, with cucumbers ripening now and heirloom tomatoes setting fruit. The eggplants are a bit behind the usual schedule – flowers but no fruit yet – and the peppers are definitely lagging, though at least a couple of them might catch up.

    5. Nicosloana*

      Ugh, I’m in despair over the terrible regrowth of a big garden I put in last year. I thought I put down good enough weed control fabric and enough mulch that I might be able to stay on top of weeds so that my hostas and bushes could take over, but it’s been an absolute nightmare with grapevine and mulberry shoots – and it quickly becomes so buggy in my area that gardening in summer is very uncomfortable, so at the moment I’m giving up and waiting until the cool weather knocks the bugs down to go out there and hack out everything. But it looks like garbage. The good news is that it is still less mowing, which was my original goal. The bad news is maybe mowing is preferable to this level of weeding after all. I was thinking of carbon emissions and runoff filtration but I’ve created an eyesore.

      1. Salymander*

        Oh no! That sounds really frustrating! Grapevines are really hard to get rid of. You have to get all the roots, and they grow really deep so it is a big job. Mulberry, too. We have both and I just don’t grow much at home because of this very problem, in addition to my neighbor’s massive oak trees that shade everything. Even in the terrible drought we have here, the grapes are thriving. We chop them back and they come back right away. The person we bought the house from planted them really close to the house and fences and it can damage things if we don’t keep chopping it all down. So annoying.

        1. Nicosloanica*

          I can’t believe how fast the vines grow. Literally a week after a very heavy chop they are already springing back, so you can imagine how bad this has gotten after having let it get away from me over a whole season.

          1. Salymander*

            I can imagine. It must be a lot of very tiring and sweaty work. My husband dug one plant up, roots and all. He dug down maybe 3 feet. It was back and going strong almost immediately. The grapes aren’t even a very good variety. I think the former homeowner wanted them for looks, because we live in a winemaking region and she was really into the whole vineyard aesthetic. If they were tast grapes or at least good for wine and they weren’t anted right next to the house I might leave them be, but they are really bad. Tasteless, and full of seeds. The scrub jays like them, though. So not a total loss. Scrub jays are hilarious.

      2. Overeducated*

        Oh man, I hear you. We have a very small lawn with three shady flowerbeds. I can’t keep the weeds under control and I haven’t found the right plants for full shade so 2 of the beds are still pretty empty. (I managed some hostas and an azalea in the third, that was my only progress this year.) Plus I’ve replanted the grass in the back third of the yard twice and it keeps dying after 2 months. Like, bare dirt level. Partner thought this would be “easier than mowing a lawn.” Aaaargh.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          The weeds! Talk about a bumper crop this year. I’m trying to not have ANY space between plants, so I’m letting the violets do what they will, since it appears nothing grows between violets. My European ginger is doing really well in shady spots and is making babies, so I’m spreading those around. Someday I’ll at least be just slightly behind the weeds, I hope!

          1. Salymander*

            The violets sound lovely. It is so hot and dry where I am that violets just wither away, no matter how protected they are.

      3. Jay*

        It’s funny. The two plants I have loved the most in any landscaping I have ever had any control over have been a grape vine and a mulberry tree. The grapes and berries were just so delicious. Even to this day, I can’t imagine not being thrilled to find grape vines and mulberry shoots growing where I live.

        1. Salymander*

          I wish my mulberry produced fruit, but it is unfortunately a fruitless ornamental variety. We had silkworms that we brought home for a week one time to take care of as a favor to my kid’s teacher. They liked the leaves. Otherwise, it is just a nuisance tree because it is too shaded by the neighbor’s oaks. That and the drought here is making the tree really unhealthy. We have mulberry sap everywhere.

          I would like to plant berries, but it is too dry and shady. Plus, my husband is allergic to bees and he is worried that the berries would attract bees to our yard. Still, I fantasize about being able to go outside in the morning and pick berries for my breakfast. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

          1. Jay*

            Ah. I’m sorry to hear that. If I remember correctly, the mulberry we had did not really attract bees in any large number. And, I very fondly remember mornings where I ate literally pounds of fresh berries for breakfast. It was indeed as lovely as it sounds ;)

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’re taking the peach tree out this weekend :( it now has two diseases and an aphid infestation that has ruined most of the green fruits, plus my puppy wants to eat the fruits and the leaves and the branches and there is nothing there that is not toxic for her. So I’m giving up on it. Apparently peach trees are one of the hardest type to maintain, I had no idea because the one we had when I was growing up was just super lucky. :-P

      1. Bluebell*

        Too bad! I used to be a tenant in a house that had a healthy peach tree that had sprouted from the compost heap. We had the best peach soup all summer.

    7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      One of my aloe plants (jucunda) is fruiting! I didn’t even know they could produce fruit. I’ve had it for around 8 years and it flowers pretty prolifically all summer and suddenly there’s tiny little watermelon shaped fruit on one of the long stems. The basic internet sleuthing I did, did not mention any fruit potential but I was at the Huntington Cactus and Succulent sale last weekend and spoke to a grower with aloe jucunda for sale and he confirmed they do have fruit when pollinated. This is not edible BTW. I’m planning on seeing if I can plant the fruit seeds and grow a new plant. This aloe is such a slow grower, it doesn’t normally do well from seed.

      1. Salymander*

        That is really interesting! I have an aloe plant, but it has never flowered. I never thought about them producing fruit, but that makes sense now that I think about it. Please let us know if you manage to grow one from seed! :)

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          I have several varieties of aloes and they pretty much all have tiny flowers on a long stalk throughout the summer, but I’ve never seen fruit. I had a huge aloe vera years ago but I don’t think it ever flowered.

    8. Girasol*

      We harvested currants this week. Black ones became jam and red ones syrup for currant cocktails (half a glass soda water, half tonic water, and a splash of red currant syrup). Oh yum.

    9. Bluebell*

      It’s very dry here in New England and I’m not a diligent waterer. I have a variety of aphids, but two ladybugs showed up on my butterfly weed this week. My four o’clock seedlings are doing really well, but the baby bunny in the front yard chomped all the zinnias.

    10. Salymander*

      I made ratatouille entirely from my garden produce yesterday! Eggplant, green zucchini, yellow zucchini, red and orange bell peppers, mild green chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lots of different herbs were all from my garden! Woooohoooo! So excited. I had to do something, because the eggplant and zucchini are stacked up on my kitchen counter like piles of lumber and I’ve given away more than that to friends, neighbors, random passers by, and the food bank that sets up a drive in distribution spot in the parking lot of my community garden. Even so, my garden is having a very good year and is out producing all demand. Having gone through periods of poverty and food scarcity years ago, this abundance feels quite luxurious.

      My guerilla garden spots are doing really well. Strangers have started helping with the weeding and watering. There has been a bit of vandalism, thoughtless accidental plant destruction and outright plant theft, but it is still looking good. The edible plots next to the homeless encampment are being cared for and harvested. I planted cherry tomatoes, mint, cilantro, basil, bunching green onions, salad greens and a lot of flowers. A couple of the women who live there in their cars have been using the mint to make sun tea, and everyone eats the tomatoes and herby salad stuff. They like the flowers, too. I’m really happy that it worked so well. I was homeless for a time as a teenager, and I remember how happy I was to get any fresh vegetables.

        1. Salymander*

          I scout for plots wherever I go. Some I maintain and others I just toss some native plant seeds onto after maybe scratching at the soil and that is it. It is fun to drive by one of my wild plots and see the flowers. If you want to maintain a plot, try to have it near a water source if possible and somewhere that you can get to easily without having to hike. I started in the 3’×3′ patch of dirt around the base of a street sign. It was just a block from my house, and it was next to an apartment complex so no homeowner was there to get annoyed with me.

          Plant native plants or at least things that are not invasive and are good for pollinators. Planting wildflowers is good, and in some places edible plants will be a big hit. Cilantro is always really popular, though people will pick it to death.

          If you start a plot, you have to have a huge tolerance for failure and disappointment. Plants will die. People will destroy them or steal them. Some people will try to interfere. If you pick a spot that is waste ground on public land, you are probably going to be ok. My most successful spots are in tree pits in a parking lot at my city’s community center. Out of the three tree pits I planted, one was temporarily ruined because someone was partying in the parking lot during the covid lockdown and they spilled about a gallon of vodka in the tree pit. People have stolen plants and wrecked plants in all 3 pits. One overzealous park employee with zero knowledge of plants pulled up all the California poppies and left the bindweed. She later confessed that she didn’t know what either plant was, she just felt like she should be weeding and started pulling up plants. Still, things keep blooming.

          Guerilla gardening is technically illegal, so I am fortunate that the city I live in is happy to turn a blind eye to my gardens. Not all cities are so easygoing, so be careful and stealthy and plant on land that is not privately owned. I had a meeting with the head of our parks and recreation department, and I went on and on about invasive plants, pollinators, and such. I think they let me plant just to get me to shut up. Being a loudmouthed nuisance is almost like having magical powers.

          Good luck! :)

          1. Venus*

            I have had a “hypothetically…” conversation with a city garden expert about guerilla gardening. I was told, very unofficially and hypothetically of course, that my city wouldn’t care if I hypothetically planted provided that it wouldn’t block the view for someone driving in traffic so no big bushes on street corners. Also, I can’t complain if something disappears. Both those points seem very fair.

            1. Salymander*

              Yes, that sounds like the hypothetical conversation I had with the parks and recreation people about hypothetical gardening. There was lots of winking from them and I was of course asking for a friend. A hypothetical one. Oh, and one parks guy I spoke with did that thing where you lay your finger beside your nose like Santa Claus in The Night Before Christmas. So that was different.

    11. Cheshire Cat*

      I do not have a green thumb, unfortunately, but I bought a house last year with a beautiful flower garden and yard. Though5 I’d be able to hire someone to take care of the garden but it’s been harder than I expected. I did get someone to get some mulch and spread it around the garden areas back in the spring.

      And now my lawn & the garden are covered in sumac. I think it’s poison sumac but am not sure—everything I’ve read says the definitive way to tell is by the berries. Which show up in the fall, so not helpful right now lol.

      But I’m wondering if the mulch could have had sumac seeds in it? Last year there was no sumac in the yard at all…

      1. Missb*

        it is entirely possible it came in with the mulch. Stranger things have happened. Even when I have chips left here from tree trimmings, I sometimes get ivy starts, because some of the trees have ivy around them and it gets pulled in and chipped up. I’m just extra vigilant anytime I bring in mulch to see what pops up after a good rain.

        It’s hard to find yard people that aren’t just mow-and-blow.

    12. Missb*

      I had to hire a mole killer this week. Most of my veggie gardening is done in tall raise beds, but I do have a few plants I like to put in the ground, or I have some overflow that gets put in the ground. At any rate, the mole came in from one end of our half acre property and made a straight line to the other end. It’s mostly no big deal in terms of where it is coming up in the grass, but I do not like my new perennial bed messed with. It pushed up a large lavender plant (technician says it’s probably a big one!) and pretty much pushed up all my sunflower plants. Sigh.

      On the plus side, I have lots of raspberries right now. I’ve taught my pup to grab them from the outside of the garden. He isn’t allowed in the fenced veggie garden, but anything outside is fair game. I saw him harvesting some alpine strawberries too (those are super small!) Usually the chickens get those, but they haven’t been outside of their pen because of bird flu cases in the state. So they’re all for the pup, if he wants them.

      I pulled up a garlic bulb, just to see how it was growing. They still need a bit of time. I had some red noodle beans survive their first round of clipping by a squirrel, so I think I’ll get some of those. The black beans are going gangbusters in the various spots I’ve planted them. I grabbed some new potatoes from the potato bed last night – yummy!

      All of my tomato and pepper plants are doing well. I have to replant my cucumbers as those were all picked off by the squirrel.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Aw, I love that your pup is getting fruit treats. My 3-year-old picked her first ripe strawberry yesterday from our planters and always loves picking and eating blackberries.

    13. Seeking second childhood*

      The deer have found us. My hostas had a chance to bloom this year, but so many other things are getting eaten. From daylilies to tomatoes to raspberries to the wildflowers I’ve been encouraging in the rocky area of the lawn.

  4. Aphrodite*

    Women: Let’s talk underwear. I mean what style(s) do you prefer, what fabric, and if applicable, what brands?

    I stick to cotton only and I prefer the French cut. I am particularly fond of Jockey, though less now than before as the quality seems to have gone down. while the prices, never cheap, have gone sky high. Also, my main complaint is that they offer only very dull and uninteresting colors. Combine the colors with the prices and I am seriously looking elsewhere. Does anyone have suggestions, especially for plus-size women?

    Why don’t underwear manufacturer’s realize that if they were to offer brilliant colors and sophisticated material patterns women like me would buy them in the quantity. I’d love to get up in the morning and be able to choose to “go emerald” that day or red or royal purple or lemon yellow or electric blue or even tiger stripes? (Those may be offered in thongs and such but I am talking about more traditional pieces for women in their 30s,, 40s, 50s, 60s and even their 70s.)

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I personally prefer boy short style in cotton and get mine at Torrid and Lane Bryant. I love the selection they have and haven’t had any issues as far as their selection of fabrics goes. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen French cut underwear off the top of my head, though, but it might be worth a look.

    2. SG*

      I love the Target “$5 for $25” underwear sold out of bins (brand is Auden — also available online). But I only like cotton, and more and more of them are microfiber, though they do have lots of cotton ones still! I especially like the hipters and bikini styles with lace trim which has more give than elastic and a smoother look with no panty lines. And great colors and fun prints too! I also like their mesh underwear which has cotton lining. I just looked online, and they have plus sizes!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, I like the Auden hipster style but the specific type I wear seems to also fall into the “lack of variety” trap. They usually only have black and a sort of bluish purple. One time I found a burgundy pair which isn’t even an exciting color but I was thrilled it wasn’t the purplish lol

      2. Nicosloana*

        Why on earth are so many brands making non-cotton undies, even in their ho-hum everyday styles? I feel like everyone and their mother knows you need all cotton Down There and yet half of what I see is other materials.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          I prefer non cotton undies, but cotton blend with stretch instead.
          I like my underwear stretchy.

    3. Guava*

      Usually 100% cotton and full coverage, which no one seems to have these days (but I’m also not looking too hard). I’d be fine with all black underwear plus a few in skin tone, but jewel colors are nice.

      A friend gifted me Lululemon underwear for my bridal shower and it’s that soft buttery material. I wouldn’t mind having a few more pairs.

      For hiking I bought multiple ExOfficio and they are in my regular rotation as well.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Cacique makes attractive plus-size undies (cotton or nylon) available via Lane Bryant (and maybe elsewhere?). You can browse online if you Google “Cacique.” They come in lots of different styles (I’m a hipster gal myself), but I only saw one French Cut on the website I glanced at right now. The patterns are really cute, though, and many have a matching bra. Maybe worth trying a similar style or two, even if they don’t have much in French Cut per se?

      Also, for LGBTQ+ or LGBTQ+-friendly folks, Tomboy X has a lot of cute rainbow-y patterns in different styles.

      Good luck finding the undies of your dreams.

    5. Hrodvitnir*

      Oo, do you not find french cut goes up your butt terribly? It’s probably my favourite shape for looking nice, but terribly uncomfortable with my body shape.

      Speaking of going up your butt… my two underwear preferences are g-strings (but with flat bands, no actual strings), and “mens” style trunks. I get my trunks and some g-strings from TomboyX, and I thoroughly recommend. Unisex but without a significant pouch in the front, nice material.

      I also love Jockey (have you looked at Bonds, their sister company, for nice colours?), and my current favourite for looks and comfort are the 1935 Y-front gees. Super comfortable and pretty. Similar to your complaints, I get so frustrated that brands constantly change and you can’t get the shape when you next need underwear. WHY?? And give me all your bright colours in ALL the styles in that range, come on.

    6. Suggestions for Bitch Eating Crackers roommate situation*

      My new fav are MeUndies – they have SO many colors and styles. I love the softness too. I feel cool in them :)

      1. Dino*

        Same here for MeUndies. So comfy, great colors. They are spendy but after that I cannot go back to Hanes 8 pack underwear again.

    7. JSPA*

      Wish Jockey would bring back the cut, fabric quality, elastic quality and sewing quality of their hipster line.

      IDK if they’ve shifted back from the problematic changes they made in…must have been 2019?

      The half or 3/4 inch of fabric they’re saving by shifting the seam(s) on the double panel means I can no longer wear them comfortably while in motion. “OK for sitting at a desk or vegging” is presumably not the branding they’d want.

      I’d honestly pay double what they used to cost a decade ago (as they held prices fairly stable for most of a decade) as underwear is fairly tricky sewing, and I also want their seamstresses to make decent wages) if the quality were still there.

      They also started playing fast and loose with the sizing between their different lines, which means I no longer know, for sure, which size will fit. They used to be the single easiest thing to buy–pick the size you’re currently wearing, pick a color, done.

      Just like for the men’s shorts. Speaking of which, the men’s lines are sometimes the more foolproof option, if the pouch isn’t too pouchy, and the proportions are generous enough. If it’s not something you’re into as such, there’s a hump to get over (har har?) as far as, “what if you’re in an accident, and the EMT’s find out you’re wearing men’s undies?” But if the other choices are, “holes, stains, don’t fit, or commando,” it becomes an easier option. They also tend to be cheaper, despite containing more fabric, and more seams.

    8. KR*

      I have a bunch of Kayizu cotton hipster briefs that I LOVE. I have other underwear but I mostly wear these. They’re on Amazon.

      1. Cookie*

        Those have a not-covered elastic waistband. In my experience, elastic like that digs into my flesh and creates weird bulges. Do you notice that with this brand?

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I used to find it really easy to buy cotton underwear in midi cuts, but everything seems to be shrinking and made in artificial fabrics. Marks and Spencer were my go-to as they are the well known market leaders for knickers in the UK. They’re still better than most places but you’re in luck if they have anything moderate; three quarters of the floor are given over to bikinis and thongs in polyester, one rack is dedicated to huge plain pairs of granny pants in pale colours. Naught in between. Also, just in case we have the ears of the powers that be; put the lace on the hip panels! If you edge the bottom in lace, it’s literally aggravating.

    10. DistantAudacity*

      I prefer the boy short versions, in the no VPL models (plus some with a bit of lace). I have some in cotton, but generally not.

      Marks & Spencer is always a good starting point, and I also like to have matching knickers when I buy bras from Bravissimo (they do a number of quality brands).

    11. Kara Danvers*

      Boxer briefs. I used to buy French cut until I found a brand of boxer briefs that fit me well (TomboyX), and since then I haven’t looked back!

    12. Meh*

      I’m a woman in my 40s and I only wear thongs or go commando. Additional material chafes the junction of my inner thighs and always becomes a wedgie.

      1. Nicosloana*

        I admit that in a lot of my outfits, commando is the only way to avoid panty lines, which can sometimes be egregious. I assume everyone else is wearing thongs in these circumstances (?) but I’d prefer nothing to those.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          I used to wear thongs, but I don’t think I’ve own/wore one for at least a decade.
          I basically don’t wear clothes that require them anymore.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve only ever worn thongs under a skating dress. It’s customary to go commando to avoid any underwear lines, but I felt more comfortable having a barrier between me and two pairs of tights that often had an irritating seam in the front.

        3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          No thongs here. I either don’t wear that kind of outfit, or I just have VPL! I vote to normalize VPL.

          1. Nicosloana*

            It’s not like my outfits are revealing or provocative! It’s mostly about the materials I favor and the lines of my skirts and shorts. Some perfectly modest outfits have a cling issue.

            1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

              Totally. I didn’t assume it was necessarily all bodycon clubwear! I also have pants/skirts that show undie lines simply because of the fabric type, not because they are tight. Often I don’t buy things that show too much. But if I do buy them, I just wear the underwear and don’t care.

              The world has mostly decided bra straps are okay, and I would love to bring that to undies too. We shouldn’t have to pretend we don’t wear undergarments, or to wear stuff we don’t find comfortable to hide it. It’s ok! It’s also ok to go commando if that’s what you prefer.

        4. Helvetica*

          I loathe thongs. Instead, I wear seamless hiphugger style underwear in beige and they work great under many outfits. Mine are Calvin Klein as I like the cut and material.

        5. pancakes*

          I think there’s a lot in between those two options. Styles cut like the aerie no show cheeky, particular seamless styles, don’t leave much of a line, if any, if they fit well.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      VS string bikinis, end of. (Preferably black, but I also have some grey, dark blue and burgundy.) I haven’t found anywhere else reliable to get true string-on-the-sides bikinis that don’t fall apart in the first washing.

    14. ccr*

      I have recently found the Kindly Yours brand at Walmart, which are affordable and come in a wide range of sizes and a lot of colors and patterns–which I actually don’t want! I mean, I have some white capris and would like to be able to wear them without colors and patterns showing through. But if you’re looking for some non-bland options, take a look at these. They’re certainly comfortable.

    15. Turtle Dove*

      This is timely! A friend mentioned just two days ago that wearing only white panties is important so that dyes aren’t sitting against sensitive skin all day. I’m pretty old and had never heard that before. Is that really a thing? If you don’t get a rash, which someone mentioned, I wonder if there’s a good reason not to wear colors.

      I prefer all-cotton or mostly cotton. I tend to sweat and like how natural fibers like cotton and silk breathe, so I seek them in all of my clothes.

      Does anyone wear silk underwear? I’d love to try that.

      I love bold colors, and I prefer dark underwear under dark pants just in case a seam pops. (It’s happened.)

      I love boy shorts but gained weight and changed to an Amazon choice with stomach control (see “wirarpa Women’s Cotton Stretch Underwear”). I’ve lost weight and may try boy shorts again.

      Thanks for this thread, and thanks to everyone for their recommendations.

      1. Nicosloana*

        I realize that Ask A Manager probably reflects a Certain Clientele that is not what marketers are necessarily hoping to attract, but I find it amazing that almost every person here has expressed exactly the same preference as me – all cotton, comfortable, relaxed cuts, some colors to choose from is fine or just muted neutrals- and yet that’s exactly what’s hard to find! I like a cotton bikini cut withOUT an annoyingly wide band (side eyeing you, hanes and calvin klein) and I used to buy the balis 3-for-$5 but they stopped selling them and now I’m rolling the dice every time. I see a ton of skimpy rayon ones that I assume look great on date night but who the heck can wear those for every day?

      2. Grumpy*

        I’ve never heard of someone getting rashes from dyes in clothes either, and I’ve never heard any benefits of all white underwear.

        The underwear I buy comes in packs with maybe one white pair and the rest are solid colors or simple patterns. I don’t care much about having cool looking underwear, but I really hate white in anything. I wonder if white underwear would get discolored? (I wear all cotton undershirts to work under a dressy shirts, and the armpits always get yellow within a few weeks. I realize it’s likely from wearing deodorant, but now I associate white with stains.)

        1. Dancing Otter*

          My MIL convinced her sons and husband that white socks were better for their feet. She told me she was just tired of having to match the pairs in the laundry.
          (She also hid the jars of spaghetti sauce and claimed she made it from scratch. I found that out after my then-husband complained mine, which really was from scratch, wasn’t as good as hers.)
          I really lucked out in my MIL. Wish I could have kept her when I got rid of him.

        2. Lucy P*

          All of those lone white pairs end up in a bottom drawer, only to be used in case of an emergency. There’s just something unbecoming about plain white underwear. I must have at least 10 pair that are never used, some possibly still sitting there with that plastic band around them that keeps them rolled up.
          I think I may have raided that stash last year after the hurricane. We were without power for over a week and washing out clothes in a bucket in the backyard. Didn’t want the neighbors to see my unmentionables.

    16. Dwight Schrute*

      MeUndies are my current favorite! I have so much fun choosing my pattern or color each month and they’re so comfortable

    17. Jay*

      My faves come from Soma. I wear briefs. I think they’re one of those annoying retailers that stocks plus sizes only online – they’re part of Chicos, which definitely does that. When I wore a size 26 that pissed me off no end.

    18. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Soma has rayon made from bamboo underwear. Very comfy and comes in both neutrals and colorful prints. They are expensive at regular price but they have frequent sales. Good quality and last a long time

    19. nobadcats*

      I like Jockey briefs because they’re all cotton, and the little tag is on the outside, so I know when dressing in the dark that my undies aren’t on backwards or inside out.

    20. Russian in Texas*

      Boyshort style from Torrid, Maidenform, Lane Bryant. I basically want my entire backside and sides and belly covered. I don’t do 100% cotton, because they usually have very little stretch.
      Maidenform boyshorts have reasonably smooth seem on the bottom and tend not to show through thicker pants material.
      In whatever colors they have, usually, but I stick to black, navy, and nude mostly. For whatever reason I hate white. No frills like lace, just solid colors neutral underwear.
      I do the same with bras. About 100% of my (outside the house) bras are balconnets from Lane Bryant, without any decor, in black, nude, or mocha.
      I am boring, lol. My only requirements are they are reasonably comfortable, machine washable, and look good under clothes. What they look on their own doesn’t matter to me.
      (All my socks are black and matching, so there is that)

    21. Ampersand*

      The closest I’ve found to 100 percent cotton with actual coverage is Pact underwear (95 percent cotton, 5 percent elastane)—they’re made with organic cotton, but they run a tad bit small, and they’re not inexpensive.

      What I’ve learned from this thread is that there’s an untapped market for women’s cotton underwear—I agree; good ones are hard to find!

    22. allathian*

      Full coverage is essential for me, I don’t understand the appeal of strings/thongs at all. I also prefer microfiber to cotton, and my favorite brand is Sloggi. They’re only available in black, nude, or white. I have a few nude ones, but most of mine are black.

      1. Yay underwear question*

        I can only speak for myself but non-thong underwear just becomes a giant wedgie. YMMV

    23. Maggie*

      Pact Organic is a nice brand for cotton, though I buy bikini and a few thongs from there. (Do women in those age groups not wear thongs or low coverage cuts? Not sure that’s true – all my friends in their 30/40s as well as my 55 year old mom haha!) Anyways, I love cotton but I find there’s not enough places making cute/sexy pieces in cotton. So we have a cotton issue it seems. Oddobody is and online company that makes great cotton underwear and they have beautiful jewel ones and up to XXL. Prices are higher though at -25 a pair. Lastly check out the online brand Knickey. They have nice colors and def have full coverage. They have plus size and run large so sizing should be okay.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I was just about to recommend pact too! Pretty colors, organic cotton, and they are so soft and comfy

      2. Derivative Poster*

        Knickey is the best! I recently tried out some of no-show styles from Hanro and plan to buy more. IIRC the best style had velvet in the name, the worst was the one which was called seamless but upon arrival turned out to have obvious seams.

    24. Ewesername*

      I started sewing my own during the pandemic. Took apart a pair I liked to use as a pattern, used another pair as my model to make sure I could put then together. I’m using new cotton white knit for the gusset part and old t-shirts that I don’t wear anymore for the rest. My preference is French cut and I can usually get two or three pairs out of a shirt. (I wear a US 16, so I’m not little)

      1. Turtle Dove*

        This is so cool! Inspired by this thread, I cut out pieces from an old silk shirt to create a trial pair. It’s nice to learn that others sew their own. I was interrupted but plan to finish tomorrow.

    25. the cat's ass*

      agree-cotton all the way. I used to love Uniqlo’s boy cut undies but they were discontinued. Maybe try Tomboy X?

    26. Grumpy*

      Since I was a kid, I’ve just gotten Hanes or Fruit of the Loom cotton briefs (the kind that come in packages/bundles). They’re comfortable and cheap and last a few years even though I wash them in hot water.

    27. Artemesia*

      Been wearing cotton jockey French cut in black or grey for probably 35 years or so and the quality is definitely lower than it once was. Thinner cotton — wears out faster. But they fit really well; they have lots of styles so different body types can find the fit that works for them; cotton is just so much more pleasant to wear than any other fabric. They are not cheap but even with the lower quality they last a long time and if you buy at Jockey outlet stores they are cheaper.

      Decades ago we would make a trip every couple of years to a town in our then state that had white water rafting and such and would hit the Jockey Outlet to stock up on underwear for both of us.

      for women with aging leak issues there are now really good underwear choice in terms of appearance and fit. (Speax is particularly attractive with lots of styles) BUT the synthetics are just not as comfortable especially in hot weather as cotton.

    28. Aphrodite*

      Ewesername (below) mentioned making her own. I was so impressed I was just about to respond, asking her if she would be open to making and selling them. Then I thought of Etsy. Lo and behold, custom women’s cotton underwear: https://www.etsy.com/search?q=women%27s+cotton+underwear

      I didn’t know how well this discussion might go over but am very happy to see how many other women are as frustrated as I am. Or who have found solutions and companies I am still checking out. I really dislike the idea of going to “granny panties” but maybe I might have to. I hope not. I like the French cut ones–and for the person who asked if they ride up, or in, they should. not if you buy one size up. I find this works well as a strategy for Jockey. because the leg holes don’t get bigger but don’t know if it will work for other brands.

    29. Maryn*

      I’m an older plus-size woman and I find cotton that fits and stays put, no wedgies, doesn’t seem to be out there, at least not for my pear shape. I used to wear Jockey french cut briefs, but the quality of the style I liked most completely tanked, shrinking in the wash even though they never saw the inside of the dryer.

      These days I’m wearing non-cotton and don’t find it to be any warmer than the cotton in my drawers, but a much better fit. My three favorites:

      Warner’s No Pinching No Problems High Cut Brief. It comes in several colors, has a knit-in stripe design near the waist, and is sold in sizes to 2XL. It stays where it starts out–no wedgies ever. The waistband doesn’t cut in.

      Vanity Fair No Pinch No Show High Cut Seamless Brief, which has a cotton panel. It comes in black, navy, white, and beige, has a subtle knit-in design near the waist, and is sold in sizes to 2XL. Like the Warner’s above, it absolutely stays put and does not cut at the waist over time.

      Warner’s Breathe Freely Brief is not high cut but its fabric is woven in a pattern of perforations. I find it cooler than cotton, and it fits a lot better. Neutrals only, sizes to 2XL.

      I buy at BareNecessities and HerRoom, depending on sale prices. Stores that carry these rarely seem to have a good selection of what’s available online.

    30. pancakes*

      If by “French cut” you mean high cut leg, try ARQ (shoparq dot com). Not nearly as inexpensive though!

    31. pancakes*

      I thought of another – the Everlane cotton high rise bikini. Not a ton of colors at the moment, but for clothes they change at least some of those seasonally.

    32. Quinalla*

      I like bikini and either from Torrid or Bombas. The Bombas are not cheap, but they are really, really comfy and hold up well. Bombas socks are amazing too if you haven’t tried ’em yet.

    33. Alex*

      My fave underwear is the pricey TomboyX briefs or hipster. Oddly enough their hipster is more like a low cut brief and their brief is more like a hipster cut in other brands. I love the brand because the material is so hefty and there is a double layer in the front and my underwear always wears out there first. It caters to gendernoncomforming people, which doesn’t describe me, but I appreciate that it is available and I just love the products!

      Old Navy sometimes has some fun patterns in a high cut brief, which is I think the same as a french cut? Have some and it is not bad.

  5. Genie*

    Is there a way to find out why your comment was deleted? I’ve reviewed the rules and I’m not sure where my comment last weekend violated them, but it just disappeared.

    1. Don Joe*

      I’ve seen some comments that I wanted to reply to but then after I type it up it’s gone or the comment gets misnested. At first I would read through and search for the original comment through the threads but then I figured out she was moderating them. It was really confusing at first. Anyways, I’ve been having the same problem too.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi Genie, I only see two comments submitted from you last weekend and they are both still up (here and here). Please feel free to email me if there’s something I overlooked and I can look into it. (Any chance you were looking for them on the Saturday thread when they were actually on the July 4th thread?)

      I do remove threads that are derailing, off-topic, or break site rules, and when that’s the case generally replies to those are removed at the same time. But it doesn’t look like either of your two comments were in that category; both remain.

  6. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Help help help! a lone duck started landing in our pool several weeks ago. Needless to say, it poops in the water. I run out and chase it away when I become aware of it but I’m not home all the time and often by the time I get out there the damage has been done anyway. and chasing it out doesn’t stop it from coming back. I don’t believe in harming animals but I am ready to start throwing rocks at it to make it get gone for good.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Have you tried something like getting a pool toy or float that looks like an animal and keeping that in the water? Like a pool version of a scarecrow.

      Apparently eyeball patterned beach balls work too. According to Google, anyways.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I had to look up the beach balls. They’re terrifying but not in the way I was imagining, which was more like a many-eyed Biblical entity

        1. INFJedi*

          Same. I didn’t know what the expect, but my imagination didn’t even come close to what a “predator eye balloon” looks like.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Owls are popular here to keep pigeons away. And our pool is fenced.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Pool man suggested that. I already had a pool noodle so he said that might work. It didn’t. I plan to hit the 99 Cent Store this weekend for a couple of beach balls or playground balls.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Normal beach balls or noodles won’t scare a duck, the point is that it needs to look like a predator.

            1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              The manager just ordered one, it’s supposed to be here tomorrow.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Get a decorative lawn goose statue– like a Canadian Goose. They seem to be good deterrents around here. You may have to move it every few days in order to keep it looking like a credible problem.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I’ve seen places in the UK selling hollow plastic models of hawks/owls etc that supposedly act as a bird deterrent – something like that could work as well. Perhaps mounted on the fence around the pool (assuming OP has one).

        1. Artemesia*

          This stuff only works a short time and then the birds figure it out. Our friend with the koi pond tried it for herons. worked for about a week or two and then the pool was cleaned out by the hungry heron.

          Pool cover is the only thing that will work and is also a good safety feature BUT super expensive if you get an electric one.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I’ve had pretty good success with one of the fake owls as long as I move it every few days.

          2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            I thought of that but cost-wise it’s not really an option, darn it.

    3. Grumpy*

      What about setting up a motion activated sprinkler? My brother had a problem with birds pooping all over his porch and pool for a while, and he got one and it helped. He had to stop using it when he got dogs though (he put in a doggy door, so he couldn’t turn off the hose every time they went out).

        1. Grumpy*

          The whole point is that the animal is startled/deterred by suddenly being sprayed with a strong stream of water. It’s not like the kind of sprinkler used to water a lawn or a little fountain or something like that.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            I thought about getting one of those supersize water guns for the times i run out to chase it away. Faster and easier than trying to grab the skimmer and wave duckie away

    4. Animal worker*

      Hopefully you are being facetious with the last sentence, but in addition to harming wildlife being wrong just on the ethical end, also be aware that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and State laws protect all native waterfowl in the United States, including migratory and resident Canada geese. Glad to see that you’re also interested in the other suggestions to try to deter them. There are various deterrents that work well on unwanted wildlife that are also marketed to keep away stray cats. Hope some of these will work for you.

      1. Generic Name*

        I love this comment. I’m a biologist and my company helps businesses and governments comply with environmental laws, and the MBTA is a major one.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon*

        I’m facetious about the rocks but not about wanting to get rid of the thing. Because of covid, until recently the pool been our only recreation , not to mention relief from the horrible heat we get here.

    5. Jay*

      The building I work in had a real problem with a woodpecker a couple of years ago. They set out an owl statue and then put this little plastic box thing that made a faint “clicking” sort of sound. Apparently is simulates the sound of something the bird finds dangerous and keeps it at bay. It’s small, unobtrusive, not terribly annoying to humans, and faint enough that you have to know it’s there or be standing right next to it for it to even register. Even then, it’s one of those noises that people can tune out without any trouble.

  7. curiousLemur*

    Is the whole “WARNING – California Proposition 65” something to be scared of, or is it more of a “don’t dump this in the water”, or what? I’ve been shopping for lawn mowers, and most of them have this warning. I checked on google, but so far it wasn’t very helpful.

    1. SG*

      I live in CA, and I swear almost every single thing I order online seems to have this warning, even supplements with hardly any ingredients. I just ignore it. CA has great consumer protections in place, many of which are useful, but this one isn’t useful (at least not to me!) because it’s far too common to avoid products with this warning. So my advice would be don’t worry about it. The one caveat would be if you’re a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, then you may want to be more thoughtful about it for certain items (like things you’re consuming).

    2. curiousLemur*

      Also, any recommendations for electric lawnmowers with a battery? Something that works reasonably well with high grass and can handle a bumpy terrain if needed.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve been reasonably happy with the Ego interchangeable battery system. I have their lawnmower, string trimmer, and leaf blower. I like that I can buy additional things as “bare tools” without having to buy another battery and charger since I already have enough of those things now.

        However, I have also given up on mowing my lawn in favor of hiring a yard guy, for reasons unrelated to the lawnmower and more to do with allergen avoidance and my job always being busy in the spring so I forget that I have a lawn and it becomes a mess. It worked well with high grass, don’t have any bumpy terrain so I have no opinion about that.

      2. OhGee*

        I’ve had a Kobalt mower (I think it’s Lowes’ in house brand) for four years and really love it. I also have one of their string trimmers. I will say that dealing with long grass (5+ inches) seems to use up battery power faster and I’ve occasionally let my grass grow so long that it took multiple passes to get the job done, but that second point would probably go for a gas-powered push mower, too.

      3. Ranon*

        I’ll second the Ego- we got the one with the mulching blades and it does such a great job I never even notice grass clippings, they just disappear into the lawn. Worked great on leaves in the fall, too.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have some Ryobi tools and I am happy with them. I have not tried the lawn mower, though.

      4. LimeRoos*

        Late to the party, but third/fourthing EGO. We have the second from best (I think, forget the name) but the mulching blades are amazing – no more bags and figuring out how to get rid of yard waste. Plus the batteries last for a long time and are interchangeable with their other devices – highly recommend their snowblower as well.

    3. PollyQ*

      No, it’s a fricken travesty. They’ve started putting the warning on CHOCOLATE. Feel free to absolutely ignore it.

    4. SemiAnon*

      It’s pretty much a joke locally – I’ve seen parodies of it in email signatures. It’s so broadly applied that it’s meaningless, and tells you nothing about actual risk.

      I suspect anything with a battery in it would have the warning, as battery chemicals are not safe to eat.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Anything with gasoline or motor / engine oil too. Every parking garage has a Prop 65 warning, because exhaust fumes.

        Yeah, it’s meaningless. Unless it’s not, but you’d have to figure out the difference yourself, because the warning labels are on just about everything. Wash your hands after filling or repairing the mower, also don’t eat it, and you’ll be fine.

    5. JSPA*

      The word in the eco community back when the proposition passed was that chemical companies and large manufacturers in general floated the wording, in place of more targeted wording that actually effectively called out significantly problematic chemicals like PFAS’s, resulting in wording so broad that pretty much every item receives the warning.

      TL;DR there’s no way to tell from the warning whether you have to worry, or not.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I feel this is one of those things that was well-intentioned “If there’s stuff that causes cancer, we should warn people,” but then pretty much wherever you are, there’s some kind of carcinogenic material, so you see that warning in stores, parking garages, just about everywhere. At a certain point, it becomes meaningless. “Well, I can’t avoid all the places with the Prop 65 warning, so I guess I’m getting cancer. Shrug.”

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      Google “Proposition 65 OEHHA” and click on “About Proposition 65” if you’re looking for more details than the landing page includes. Basically, it’s a requirement for businesses to alert customers to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. I worked on Prop 65 related things very tangentially years ago. From what I recall, the reason it’s on so many items is that the threshold for ‘cause’ is very low- e.g. an extra 1 case out of a million for people exposed, compared to background rates. California was early to adopt some environmental and consumer protections, which means it went rather beyond more widespread practices adopted since.

      Personally, I think the European approach makes more sense: demonstrate a substance has a risk under a certain threshold before allowing it on the market, rather than put anything and everything into the market and have to campaign and fight to get it removed once enough members of the public have experienced the ill effects.

  8. houseStuff*

    I’m planning to buy a house with a parent contributing – it’s a duplex (unless it turns out to be a house with an additional dwelling unit), and the parent is going to live in the other unit. I’m going to be making the bulk of the payment; how do we deal with ownership, who’s on the title, etc.?

    1. Sue*

      Do this very thoughtfully and have everything in writing. Recently had neighbors who did this and then ended up in an expensive lawsuit when the relationship soured/sibling interference. Have the contributions clear and agree on ownership stake. Definitely have the deed reflect your agreement. An attorney can help in preparing all your documents.

    2. JSPA*

      IANAL nor an accountant but,

      Loans above a certain amount, even between family, are required to charge interest (based on the tax-free-gift limit) just as gifts above that amount have to be declared (they’re not taxed as income, but the tax free limits for the eventual estate change).

      The good news is, if you work backwards from various bad outcomes (any party dies, any party wants to buy the others out, anyone needs to move, anyone needs to go into care, anyone becomes insolvent, any party marries, remarries, divorces…and especially, more than one person wants more than one thing!) you can write an agreement detailing what will happen in each of those cases.

      Include things like “If Person A wants to sell, and Person B wants to keep the house, but can’t afford an immediate buyout, here’s option 1, option 2 and option 3”

      I can think of dozens of options….things like, person B getting a second mortgage for an immediate buyout; person A offering person B a personal mortgage that includes person B paying interest and both parties reporting the transaction to keep it legal; person A and person B have a springing “rent to own” contract embeded in the agreement, that will go into effect if person A wants to physically leave and wants out of the original agreement (noting that rent-to-own is complicated and it requires a separate bank account to receive the escrow money); setting up an LLC, family trust or partnership to own the house, with terms explaining how shares in the LLC or control of the trust will shift over time, or upon input of additional funds by you. This isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. (Unwinding trusts can be a headache, too.)

      1. Observer*

        Loans above a certain amount, even between family, are required to charge interest (based on the tax-free-gift limit) just as gifts above that amount have to be declared (they’re not taxed as income, but the tax free limits for the eventual estate change).

        Not true.

        Having said that, this is a perfect example of why you want to get a decent lawyer to do the job for you you. It costs a few dollars, but it can save you A LOT over time, if you wind up making some sort of mistake.

    3. Asenath*

      Get a lawyer and do it according to the laws in your area, with an agreement on what will happen to the other person if either you or your parent needs to sell their share. That way, you will both be legally protected.

    4. Neighborhood Friendly QC Supervisor*

      May be easier at this point to purchase both and have the parent rent from you for the cost they want to put towards it, if they are amenable. This will prevent issues down the line if they want to get out or if something happens to them.

  9. Double A*

    My father-in-law went into the hospital with heart problems on Wednesday and today he had to have a triple bypass. Apparently the surgery went well but he’ll be in the hospital for awhile. We can’t visit him because of covid restrictions. My husband is a wreck and is so worried.

    If you or someone you’re close with has had a similar procedure, any stories about recovery? Positive stories are great but also if things didn’t go well you can share (I won’t pass the negative stories along but I find it helpful to know the full spectrum of what possibly to expect). Also what would you have found helpful during recovery, from other people? I’m on summer break so I do have quite a bit of extra time that I could help out.

    1. Sue*

      Just had a friend go through this, he is doing well. Had restrictions on driving and activity for 3 months but is now able to get some walking in. Biggest challenge for him was just the grumpiness of being limited. But they found his blockage that could easily have killed him, so he is enormously grateful as well.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      My dad felt SO, SO much better quite shortly after his quadruple bypass — his heart was finally getting all the oxygen it needed! He was able to walk around quite soon afterwards. Overall, his procedure had a great outcome, and the bypass he had at 67 lasted him a good 24 more years until the end of his life in his early 90s. He had less angina and was able to enjoy his hobby of hiking with less anxiety and didn’t have to give up his hobby of sailing either. A miracle procedure, really.

      That said, beware of your father-in-law’s overdoing it (like, my dad wasn’t allowed to drive for a while) and kind of keep an eye on him for a bit if you can. My dad had a scary moment when he got a GI bleed shortly after the bypass. I’m not really sure why that was (blood thinners, maybe?), but he passed out bleeding on the toilet and had to be rushed to the hospital so they could find and fix the bleed. It was fine eventually, just a little scary there for a moment.

      The other issue that came up is that my dad eventually got glaucoma, and your father-in-law might want to make sure he has high-quality opthalmologists checking him out every year. My dad looked it up, and apparently, glaucoma is kind of common in people who have had bypasses. I’m not really sure it was caused BY the bypass, though. (Correlation =/= Causation!) It would stand to reason, for example, that the circulation problems that were hurting your heart were also hurting your eyes at the same time, but your eyes didn’t get a bypass to fix the problem. Anyway, my dad went to the fancy big-city glaucoma specialist, got a ton of artisanal/compounding pharmacy eye drops shipped to him every month, and mostly saved his vision. He drove until he was about 90, and when he stopped, it was because of a different issue, not his vision.

      Anyway, tell your husband to try not to freak out too much. His dad is about to feel a LOT better (knock wood), and he’ll hopefully have a long, happy, healthy, and more comfortable life after this procedure. Best of luck to you all! : )

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      More of an acquaintance than anyone I’m close to, but the father of the coach at my old CrossFit gym had had triple bypass surgery and he was so well recovered (on what timescale, I don’t know) that he regularly outperformed healthy people decades younger than him in the workouts.

    4. Invisible fish*

      Well, I’ll tell you what no one told me, that I wish they had: the drugs/anesthesia messes the patient up. (Messes is not a strong enough word, but I’m abstaining from profanity.). Now, it’s obviously going to vary from person to person, but … when they do bypass surgery, a machine handles your heart\lung functions, you’re knocked out and intubated for a few days afterward, then when they let you come out of the knock out drugs, you’re still on serious pain relievers… my mother was a **completely different person** for months after the surgery.

      While in ICU/recovery, FiL may experience a kind of psychosis: drugs + traumatic surgery + unfamiliar environment = crazy. (I’m not trying to be unkind. I was the only person who could keep her calm, so I dealt with a lot. She alternated between thinking we were about to check out of a hotel or waiting for a check so we could leave a restaurant. When she left ICU to go to a floor reserved for cardiac recovery, she slipped out of ALL her clothes and bandages and was trying to get dressed to leave because “someone” was after her. She doesn’t remember my dad and I splitting the days with her- just this past year, she spun a tale about how she was alone for all these “long, lonely nights” in the hospital. I just sat and gaped. I told her that once they took out tubes and she was awake, she NEVER spent a minute alone, and she doesn’t believe me – she just mutters how she doesn’t remember anyone being there and she was all alone.)

      Your husband and his siblings will know best how he’s likely to react to aftercare expectations- do NOT let him weasel out of or halfway do the physical therapy stuff, or recovery is harder/worse.

      Be prepared for him to be a jerk… this is a harrowing, traumatic, life changing surgery, and most of his control of the situation has been reduced to what type of fruit he wants on his hospital tray. He’s likely to remember **nothing** any medical personnel tell him- anyone with him needs to take copious notes and share with everyone who might share caregiving duties.

      1. JSPA*

        “Atypical” reactions (which are actually as common as not, taken together)

        can come from

        a) various sorts of primary anesthetic(s)

        b) the benzos they use to curb post-anesthesia nausea and generally blunt awareness, but which also cause retrograde and anterograde amnesia

        c) any knock-on vascular or inflamatory effects in the brain (compare, “chemo brain, low level vascular dementia, certain TIA’s, where the blockage is transient, but there’s a lasting effect)

        d) the intrinsically destabilizing effect of being intubated and helpless and in pain in an environment where there’s 24/7 lights, noises, strangers, motion, temperatures and air flow that you don’t control, strange foods, loss of autonomy over toileting

        Some of this can happen even with more minor surgery or non-surgical hospitalizations, though! Some people who are not as sensitive to the drugs, or who sleep like a rock regardless of circumstance, seem to come though practically fresh as a daisy; others find the same experience life-changingly traumatic on every level.

        If father in law is generally resilient, and/or has been fine with prior surgery or other procedures requiring sedation and/or historically has been in pretty good shape and/or has decent body awareness and/or the ability to push gently on limits without doing himself damage and/or is a pragmatist or stoic, all of those things can leave you with hope for a smoother recovery.

        I have the sense, both from family and self, for various post-surgical and post-injury treatments, that PT’s set the bar medium-low. Pushing to do 125% of what the PT’s suggest, is tenable; pushing to do twice as much is potentially dangerous; doing less than 80% sets you up for delayed recovery or non-recovery.

        1. Artemesia*

          Surgery as noted is VERY likely to diminish the mental capacity of older people; for my FIL he went from independent living to being in care for the rest of his life. While he was somewhat diminished before the surgery, he did not have Alzheimers and was living fine on his own. So be aware that surgery especially requiring ecmo and of course the anesthetic may cause damage and he may need additional supervision during recovery and maybe permanently.

      2. UKDancer*

        Anaesthesia can feel very weird. My father had a major op and the op went fine but the combination of anaesthesia and tramadol gave him really weird nightmares and hallucinations for about a week after. He kept believing he was being tied down and buried alive and we had to reassure him that he was free and safe. We hadn’t expected this as he’s never had a major surgery before so we didn’t know what would happen.

        It’s good to have a plan for that type of thing.

      3. Nicosloana*

        Your mother’s “memory” of being alone could have either been a very real-feeling hallucination from the drugs (perhaps when she was asleep even) or she might have had some level of consciousness while still hooked up to tubes before you were there. I realize it’s very frustrating but maybe it will help to realize it was probably true to her. I also recently read an article about older being developing senility from anesthesia, which I will try to find and post in a new comment, and which scared the crap out of me for my parents. Infuriating that this may have been happening for so long and I guess they just never did the research to know it??

          1. Artemesia*

            My father had Alzheimers and when he had surgery for a broken femur it left him significantly more impaired mentally — huge leap downwards in a process already taking place.

            My FIL did not have Alzheimers and surgery on a shoulder injury left him unable to care for himself; he spent the rest of his life in a nursing home.

            Neither of these guys had heart lung bypass or anything that dramatic. When I had to have elbow surgery I had it done with a nerve block to avoid the impact of anesthesia having seen what it did to them. I was in my 70s when I had this surgery. It was pretty unpleasant to have it done this way but I really don’t want to have general anesthesia if it can be avoided.

        1. Invisible fish*

          I read that and started grinning at the memory of everything my husband and I did to cope with her ideas on what had happened/what was happening – my mom decided she was all alone for daaaays in the cold, dark hospital, and that’s all there is to it! Attempts to point out anything based on science (people under anesthesia have wacked out memories) does NOT apply to her; anecdotes and proof (cousin x was there and aunt y was there and friend z was there) are irrelevant – she was just left there alone like a pauper in a Dickens’ novel! (My husband and I cackle about this tendency towards martyrdom – it’s not new. In fact, I’ve been ducking and dodging her guilt trips for a hot minute – I believe at one point, I told her to get off that cross because someone could use the wood. She was not pleased.)

          And I can totally accept it feels/felt real to her – her feelings are valid, of course, and I’ve told her I respect her feelings and can only imagine how she felt at such a stressful time. But part of me wants her to stop and think logically, for just a minute – do you really think I packed up and left my home for two weeks to just, what, hang out at my childhood home and watch tv all day, mom? If I wasn’t going to prioritize your care, would I have driven hours to go back to a part of the country I don’t care for? I could have stayed in my home and kept up my routine if I was content to do nothing. (When you bring up logic like this, she turns her head to the side and pretends you haven’t said anything/aren’t actually there! This is part of why I cackle: a grown adult pretending a grown adult 3 feet away is not there because … you don’t like what that person has to say?)

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            (When you bring up logic like this, she turns her head to the side and pretends you haven’t said anything/aren’t actually there! This is part of why I cackle: a grown adult pretending a grown adult 3 feet away is not there because … you don’t like what that person has to say?)

            Oh, hi, I didn’t know you also knew my mother!

      4. PhyllisB*

        Amen on the effects of anesthesia!! My stepfather had knee replacement surgery and it made him crazy. He was in a third floor room and for some reason thought he needed to make an escape through a window. He was 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, and my barely 5 foot tall 120 lbs mother was holding on to his hospital gown for dear life and screaming for help. Luckily they heard her and got a couple of orderlies in to help. (Good thing she hadn’t gone for coffee!!) Afterwards he didn’t remember any of it.

      5. pancakes*

        This is sometimes called “hospital delirium” or “hospital-induced delirium,” and older people are particularly prone to it. Look that phrase up if you want to read more about it. A lot of hospitals and health info sites have articles about it. It can be really hard on people and it’s not uncommon.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          My dad at age 90 had to be hospitalized at the beginning of the pandemic (non Covid-related). Of course I couldn’t set foot in the hospital, and when I would talk to him on the phone, he was really incoherent and telling me that the nurses were trying to kill him or not letting him eat or tying him up. It was really scary.

          1. pancakes*

            It is really scary, and sometimes leads people to get into pretty bad confrontations or fights with other patients or with staff. It’s awful.

        2. Been there, done that, don't want to do it again*

          My husband, in his 30s, had hospital-induced delirium a couple of times. It is scary! Thankfully both went away in a day or two, but once I learned it was A Thing, it was less frightening to deal with.

          Once, he thought the black magnets on the patient notes whiteboard were cameras that were spying on him. Another time, he wrote an email to the local news channel complaining about the care at our two local hospitals. (Both have saved his life at different times.) Thankfully he copied me and another relative who was able to write a nice response asking them to ignore his email.

      6. Simonkitty*

        My husband (72) had to have emergency surgery due to appendicitis during the middle of the covid lockdown. I was not able to be with him. He suffered hallucinations and had to have an aide sit with him. When I was able to finally talk to him on the phone, he insisted that the aide was trying to kill him. The care nurse and I thought that it was due to his medications being stopped. It turns out that stopping one of his medications abruptly and the opiates (norco and tramadol) caused the hallucinations and agitation. He doesn’t really remember his stay and he is less active.

      7. allathian*

        I’m 50 and I’ve survived so far without ever needing a general anesthetic. Just the idea scares the hell out of me.

    5. Kara Danvers*

      My dad underwent similar (though it was more than 3 bypasses). Recovery was rough for a few months. He lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, which was disorienting and concerning at the time.

      After a few months, he bounced back pretty quick. He has a physical job and still tends to run circles around guys a couple decades younger. (Sometimes I go with him to work sites, so I’ve seen this in person!) The surgery was now 15 years ago and he’s still going strong without issues.

      I can’t imagine dealing with this during covid restrictions. Best of luck to your family.

    6. soontoberetired*

      My father had this done when he was in his 60s. He lived another 30 years afterwards, although he did eventually have to have a pace maker put in. His health was decent before it happened, he had been a heavy smoker until age 48, was a runner at the time. The only really negative thing after the surgery was the depression that came with the recovery. I was told by someone at the time that wasn’t unusual.

    7. Sassafras*

      My father had a triple bypass about 8 years ago (it turned into a quadruple bypass while he was in surgery). He is doing great now – more energy and seems younger and perkier than before. We hadn’t really realised how much he had slowed down beforehand.
      He did have some mild hallucinations after waking up, nothing frightening and he was aware enough to know they were hallucinations, although real to him.
      Dad is a pretty stoic patient and his worst complaint in the following months was “this is no fun” while grimacing – for him that meant “recovery is rough!” He didn’t feel quite right mentally for a couple of weeks which we were told was common with anaesthesia. There was some concern about an infection of the wound on his arm where they removed a blood vessel but it turned out to be an allergy to the dressing! We made sure to keep on top of the painkiller regimen and follow all post-op and rehab instructions to the letter. He’s generally terrible about remembering medical instructions at the best of times, so mum went with him to follow up appointments, physio, dietician etc to take notes.
      Two practical things I remember he found useful – a cushion to hold against him if he need to cough, and socks with loose ankles as he had a very sensitive wound where they had taken a blood vessel from his leg to create the bypass.

      Of course it was terribly scary at the time but on the whole it was a relatively uneventful recovery.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      The good news that you can tell your husband, is that they do a much better job than they did 30 years ago. I saw everything people are saying here with my father. And I can add things.

      They let him out of the hospital, in an manner like “Okay, you’re done here. Have a great life! Bye!” No rehab, no anything. He came home and stayed in bed for six weeks. Fortunately, a family member was a nurse so she stayed with him. He def could not be alone.

      Finally he was able to walk around the house. A few more weeks went by and he went out in the yard. It took months and months for him to become half the person he once was.

      The upshot of the whole thing, he needed a redo later on (apparently this happens and they don’t tell you). He said “no more! Done!”
      It was in that moment I realized, love means putting someone else’s needs ahead of mine. The surgery beat him up pretty good and he did not want any more surgeries. I had a long chat with myself about selfishness and my desire for him to live was NOT bigger than his desire to conclude his life. I landed on sometimes the ultimate act of love is to let someone go when they can’t continue on. I had to respect his wishes regarding no more surgeries. That was hard. But then I realized that some day my turn at this might come and I would want people to understand that *I* can’t continue on.

      The docs never addressed his underlying problem that was driving the heart issues. He had a serious fluid build up because of his drinking. The docs just skated around that entirely.
      Also no one helped him with another underlying problem and that was the trauma he suffered watching my mother in her terminal illness. They call it catastrophic for a reason, there was no part of his life that went untouched by her illness. He lost most of his belongings, his home, his savings. He even had to have the dog put down. I haven’t even gotten to the part about what this did to him psychologically: he was gutted.

      His personality changed after the surgery. He went from being an angry person with temper issues to being weepy. Eh, I always say behind anger is a lot of tears. Those tears have to come out at some point. The surgery forced his hand. He cried openly about various things- but not in an annoying way. His tears were appropriate- such as misty eyes as a funeral. I never saw that before and after the surgery it was his new normal.

      What was odd here was someone asked me if I noticed personality changes. I said I did and explained. This person told me that had been her experience also she had seen this shift to a softer personality who would allow their tears to show.

      So apparently he was 12 years out from his surgery and the redo was supposed to have happened around year 7. I did not know that, of course. He made sure I did not know. Heart patients can be secretive. I concluded it’s his body and his right to decide how things play out.

      He passed at 72. His body and mind had enough. And in his passing my life and my thinking changed forever. The surgery extended his life for 12 years.

      I am concerned that you are looking for good news for your husband. I think that it’s probably wiser to come in on a lower plane and help him to see that life and all it’s events are cumulative. And these events we experience and choices we make take a toll on our bodies. The docs patch us as best they know how. My father had to make a lot of life style choices after the surgery that were not things he wanted to do.

      As far as recovery:
      Allot months and months for him to get back to any kind of normalcy. And it’s a new normal. Yard work is out of the question. Likewise with household stuff. He will need people to drive him places. Carrying groceries, laundry etc can be issues. Life slows way, way down.

      Meal planning is a Mt. Everest of its own. The docs wanted my father on a simpler diet with leaner meats and so on.

      Company and visits are exhausting. So is sitting in a chair.

      He may or may not need help handling the finances. I don’t mean give him money, no-no-no. I mean sitting down and writing his checks for him and keeping track of what insurance is paying etc. At that time, my father was racking up $2k per day in the hospital. I cannot imagine what it is now.

      I think your best angle is to encourage your husband that you two are going to roll up your sleeves and pitch in as often as possible. Then follow up later with encouraging him to pick things that are sustainable. It might be better to hire a lawn care person than mow the lawn himself (if doable). Encourage him to think about the best uses of his time. My go-to advice is to keep them physically safe (watch for hazards around the house) and keep them financially safe (watch for scams and rip offs). These two things alone can keep a person very busy.

      And your husband’s own self-care matters. Docs know that in our parents’ illnesses and eventual passing, we too, start to show signs of our own eventual illnesses. Self-care during this period is a bfd. Hydrate, eat good foods, rest.

      I have the peace of knowing my father was content with going home. It took quite a while for me to get to this peace and I saw a lot of brutality along the way. I was a person who said “LIVE! Get back to life!” and I had to step back from that as life was much lower key after the surgery.

    9. whistle*

      My dad had a quadruple bypass in January. His recovery was very smooth and he is doing great!

      It was actually a preventative measure. He was trying to donate a kidney to my mom, but he failed the stress test and was rejected as a donor. They referred him to a cardiologist, and they found a ton of blockage and scheduled him for surgery. It saved his life but my mom still needs a kidney! (I was also rejected as a donor due to low kidney function)

    10. career coach near the sea*

      My father just had a double bypass 3 months ago. Mid 70s, active guy, with a history of high bp controlled by medication. 95% blockage in each. He was home several days after surgery, which was surprising to us (had been told one week). The biggest hurdle for him has been how he tires in an instant– will go from feeling great to needing to nap thisverysecond! Pain was managed by tylenol once he was at home, did not need anything stronger. 12 weeks ago, he is looking and feeling great. Important to keep up with the cardio exercises. Stuff you can do in the meantime includes stocking the pantry, freezer and fridge with high fiber, low salt, lean protein meals. Make a plan to cover his driving needs (won’t be able to drive for probably one month) and his appointments. It’s really just logistics at first.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Based on the comments I get the sense this procedure has greatly improved from a decade ago! Thank you medical science :D

    11. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m an occuptional therapist and have worked with many people who have had bypass surgery. Even though the recovery can be a bit tough, overall they all comment on how much better they feel after the surgery, and they did not realize how much their energy had decreased before. Following surgery your FIL will have to follow sternal precautions for probably 6 weeks, which can be a little tricky. The precautions include: don’t lift your arms above your shoulders, no twisting at the waist, no reaching behind you, don’t lift anything greater than 10 pounds (about the weight of a gallon of milk), and use a pillow against your chest when moving from lying down to sitting, or when coughing. I’ll include a link to a great resource on how to incorporate these into your daily life in another post.
      You should also be aware that depression is common in individuals who have undergone heart surgery, so be on the look out for that. It is a slow and steady process!

    12. Healthcare Worker*

      Here’s a link to a great resource published by the University of Washington Medical Center on sternal precautions.
      Best of luck to him!

    13. bratschegirl*

      Coronary bypass surgery is one of the things Western medicine is really, REALLY good at. It’s going to be really hard on all of you not to be able to be there, of course. Sending best wishes for a speedy recovery and great outcome.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      My dad had a quadruple bypass in 1992 (he was only 42 at the time). The recovery was a bit tough because his leg where they took tissue from got infected and we had to do this horrible scrubbing and bandaging routine, but he was able to get back to more or less normal within a few months. He did a lot of cardiac rehab like walking around the local high school track for many years but that’s kind of fallen by the wayside these days. He’s still with us and in reasonably good health considering that he wasn’t able to quit smoking, even though that was a major contributing factor in his needing the bypass in the first place.

    15. Siege*

      If you’re on Zoom or the phone for a group call, make sure he’s included. My martyr sister and her daughter and granddaughter showed up in my hospital room after my cardiac arrest and just … monopolized the conversation the same way they always do, by talking about themselves and things that matter only to them and arguing internally about the accuracy of what they’re saying. Since most of my family was there, it was exactly like every holiday ever. (My strong preference, for some reason, is to not celebrate with my family.) I – the cardiac patient on an IV and major monitoring devices – had to go sit out in the hall to get anyone to pay attention to the fact that I was not interested in the Self-Absorption Road Show.

      I don’t know whether a bypass is a semi-conscious procedure, but if it is, be aware that can go wrong. I was more conscious than I should have been when my defibrillator was placed, and while I didn’t feel a damn thing, it was scary because the anesthesia made me not act, so I was in this terrible state of being very afraid and upset and aware and thinking I should tell them and being unable to move or do anything. I’m certain that’s for the best – it would be bad to startle the surgeon threading a wire into your heart – but it’s really quite upsetting.

      And just be patient. They had me on a different sedative that stops memories from forming but to all other intents and purposes I was awake and participating in conversation, I just kept asking the same questions. And since I was intubated, my major mode of communication became a raised middle finger, which was apparently quite relieving as it meant I was still in there in all my cranky antisocial misanthropic glory. But I’m also glad no one held any of it against me; I really was not in the driver’s seat.

    16. Lilith*

      My dad had this surgery done over 20 years ago, and it extended his life until he passed a few weeks ago – if he hadn’t had the surgery he wouldn’t have got those extra 20 years.

      I was young at the time so don’t remember much of his recovery, but what I do remember is that my mum had to buy loads of new shirts for him! He mostly wore over-the-head t-shirts and sweaters before but he couldn’t raise his arms to that level for a long time so they had to acquire enough comfortable button-up shirts and fleeces to last at least 6 months.

    17. Double A*

      Thank you all for the comments! I’m reading them all but not able to respond much, but please keep sharing. FIL has seemed to come out of the anesthesia okay. I’ve been talking to my husband about how the short/medium term is likely to be very rough but it sounds like there is a good chance of improved quality of life. We’re talking about a schedule for going to help him so he’s got someone with him every day.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Phew — so glad the recovery from the anesthesia is going well so far! One milestone passed, knock wood. : )

  10. A.N O'Nyme*

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

    I’ve had a lot more time this week so I finished the rough draft of two chapters! Pretty proud of myself.

    1. Kara Danvers*

      Does fanfiction count? :)

      I recently started writing fanfiction. I have two stories so far, each in the 8k-10k range. Now I’ve just started publishing my third. I have an outline for what I want to do with it, but now that I’m about halfway through writing it, I’m having doubts in my outline. Ugh!

      1. Nicosloana*

        I think it counts! I’m a published author but I started in fanfic (in my case the two genres have zero relation to each other, nobody who read one would recognize me in the other) but it was definitely the first step in me a) learning to think about my audience as I wrote b) receiving feedback graciously / understanding that not everybody is going to like everything, some things I thought were great would get crickets, some things I didn’t think were that great would do much better for complex reasons – all of which carries over to the trad pub world, and c) boosting my output and developing a process to advance and finish projects within reasonable timelines. Good luck with your story!!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I took a writing class in grad school from a Mark Twain scholar and I asked her a similar question (it was more about wasting time on a fanfic). She said that no time spent writing is a waste. It’s all good practice!

        Although I didn’t write any more fanfic, I think she was right. It’s still craft, and you’re thinking about character, story arcs, etc.

      3. Cendol*

        Fanfic definitely counts! I love the freedom it gives you—you can write whatever the heck you want and know that someone out there is going to read it and enjoy it.

      4. A.N O'Nyme*

        It absolutely counts! I usually have at least one fanfic project going at all times.

    2. Maryn*

      I had a bad day yesterday and spent the afternoon doing a line-by-line critique for someone online with a midnight deadline for a contest entry. It completely took me out of my own head (hurray!) and helped him enormously, so even though it wasn’t writing on my own work, I felt good about writing-related activity.

      Later, karma came around to reward me. Insomnia, with a few hours to think on my own novel, and I got two good ideas I’m eager to write.

    3. Cendol*

      Some drama: a publisher pulled the plug on a collection I was going to be in, after ghosting the collection editor. The press itself is still running, just…ignoring all of us. Very weird and (imo) unprofessional, and definitely a huge bummer, since it would have been my first pro sale.

      Out of sheer spite, I have had a very productive week, mostly writing Halloween stories.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Ugh, that sucks. Maybe your collection editor can find a better press? Hope it works out. : )

  11. 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.

    During the Steam sales I got this very silly game called “The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective game”. It’s as silly as it sounds. It’s not vey long – I finished it and got all the achievements in less than an hour – but it was quite amusing and might be a good introduction into the adventure game genre for small children.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I missed the Steam sale! I was going to get the remaining Civ 6 DLC that I didn’t have already. I tried to start up a game but I am terrible at the higher difficulty levels and didn’t get very far.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I started Monster Hunter Rise and so far it’s a lot of fun! I love the graphics

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        No, I’m playing still :) before I walked my dogs I walked my Eevee, and the dogs share walk time now.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Nope, I’ve been playing nearly every day for 6 years now! Pokemon Go is my exercise program–it gets me off the couch and out and about! I used to have a few Ask A Manager folks as my “Friends” but I think I’m down to only 1 who regularly plays, and my non-US Friends in Scotland and London stopped interacting in the game at all at some point which was sad as I always enjoyed their postcards/gifts (I enjoy them all, but it’s always fun to receive non-US stuff).

        If anyone is looking for a new friend please add me: 8596 9782 3799
        I gift daily and TRY to open all my gifts, unless I’ve hit my maximum limit (doesn’t happen a lot, but whenever there is a challenge to send X amount of gifts to friends, all of a sudden people I forgot about come out of the woodwork to send me something).

        Also, if anyone plays Pikmin Bloom (much less intense than PoGo, but dammit, I’m going to collect all of those decor Pikmin if it kills me): 5732 4959 4555

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I play Pikmin Bloom, just sent you a request! Though I’m not happy with the recent changes…

          1. Cruciatus*

            I’m torn on some of them. On one hand I like that I earn coins faster, but I wish the game had an opt-in feature where you could have the game switch to the next available flowers when planting instead of just ending the planting. It goes much too fast now and I’m never going to buy flowers in the shop so I don’t always get enough nectar to replenish my stash these days. But they did add the possibility of getting more seedlings while walking. Unfortunately I walk where it’s almost all roadside pikmin so it’s not super helpful except that at least I have pikmin I can grow and then release for petals later.

            Did you know you can get 1 extra seedling a day by adding to your daily life log? You just click on one of the days in the weekly calendar, take a photo, then at “location” you then can pick a spot within a few miles of you. But that map doesn’t give you a lot of info but I can usually pick a spot (really zoom in), especially in my town where there are lots of options–cafe, grocery, hair salons, etc. Unfortunately you won’t see the decor available like you do when you use the detector, but pick a spot, then save and “surprise” you have a new seedling in your expedition list. Sometimes you get roadside and womp womp. But sometimes I do get decor. As far as I can tell it has to be about 6 miles from where you are so you can’t get Grand Central Station if you live a state away (ask me how I know). And you only get one shot a day. So if you get a seedling from your attempt that’s it for that day. But if you don’t get one, try again, try a different spot. I don’t always get the seedling I want, but I can always get at least 1 from trying. I wasted a lot of time trying to get them in other states until I realized I think it has to be close to where I am currently.

            1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

              Hmm, thanks for the info. I tried that before but I must have done something wrong because it didn’t work. I’ll try again.

              The planting goes way too fast now. Last week I was almost entirely out of petals and nectar… if they want to encourage us to plant more, they are way off. I know they want us to spend money on it, but I think they’ve gone too far. I still enjoy the game so I’ll keep playing until I get too annoyed.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      Continuing to chug through the Yakuza series, with a break to make some progress in Stranger of Paradise before I started Kiwami 2.

      There are things I like a lot about K2 (yessss Business sideplots are back even if one of them is tower defense, which I am historically not great at). There are things I really don’t like about it (wtf happened to the animation, particularly faces? I was holding out hope that they’d just blown the whole face budget on Majima but sadly, no)

    4. MEH Squared*

      I’m switching back and forth between Dark Souls II (Scholar of the First Sin) and Elden Ring. What can I say? I’m a FromSoft fan. Am really hyped for Stray (Blue Twelve Studio) in which you can play as a stray cat with a backpack.

    5. Seeking second childhood*

      Well, I just lost my first game of Wordle. I never had a streak longer than 19, and I didn’t have a hundred percent because I had visited the website without playing the game a couple of times. But I was still silly proud to have played 146 games without a loss.
      In other better news, my old D&D gaming group has reformed with my teenager and the DM’s as well. They’re breaking us out of some old ruts with their antics and new ideas.

    6. Art3mis*

      My husband and I have a game going with another couple. We’re playing Folklore the Affliction. It’s a tabletop RPG. We’ve played before, this is an expansion though I forget which one.
      Haven’t been playing much video games lately. Forgot about the Steam sale. Two Point Campus comes out soon, probably will play that.

    7. DarthVelma*

      Been playing more ARK this week. We killed the big monkey boss on all three difficulty levels yesterday. Today we’re going to try the spider boss on the highest difficulty (we already did the other two difficulty levels last weekend).

      Next weekend, the dragon boss and we ascend. Hopefully. Yay!

    8. LimeRoos*

      I just started a new game called Chicory: A Colorful Tale. So far it’s been really interesting with a unique gameplay style. Plus you get to color everything in the world, which is super cool. I’ve gotten past the second boss and the fights are kind of difficult until you get used to using the controls.

      Quick synopsis since I think a lot of gaming commenters would enjoy it – The world you’re in loses all of its colors, and the brush wielder Chicory doesn’t want to come out of her room. So you grab the brush and start coloring and going on adventures. Your parents are adorable, as are the rest of the characters. The graphics are very cute and colorful (once you color things in of course) and the music is great – simple for exploring, intense for boss fights. Mr Roos actually watched the first one over my shoulder because the music got him so interested lol. There is a lot of exploring and revisiting areas as you learn different brush techniques and movements. Highly recommend!

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’m playing The Grand Mafia, and my god is it expensive in a nickle-and-dime sort of way to get anywhere. Don’t start it if you don’t have spare money, it gets too frustrating too fast.

  12. Suggestions for Bitch Eating Crackers roommate situation*

    Hello all! I have a friend who came to stay a few months ago while he got back on his feet, and we decided he would move on in July. He has not made any progress in finding a job or a place and seems increasingly comfortable in my house eating all my food. I have reached the Bitch Eating Crackers stage with him (he isn’t that bad actually – I just need my apartment back to myself) and it’s time for him to go. I’m going to have the discussion soon – any tips for:

    1. scripts to initiate the discussion, or points to make with him

    2. Ways to make the remaining time in a shared space more palatable?

    Thank you!

    1. Tango*

      Regarding point 2 – seems like since he’s overstaying his free welcome, it might be time to move him into the category of actual roommate rather than houseguest – tell him he’s going to need to pay for food, contribute to rent, participate in chores, etc.

      As for a script on that, I’d say something like “So, how’s it going on finding a place? We did agree that you’d move on in July, and given that you are in a better place than you were a few months ago, I’m going to need you to participate more in the running of this household. I’d like you to either buy your own food or split the grocery bill with me. I’d also like $x amount for rent. And we need to discuss and divide up the chores.” It’ll be awkward, but better some awkwardness than growing frustration that morphs into anger eventually. Also, if he’s comfortable, he might need to be made a wee bit uncomfortable.

      Assuming his personal situation is improved and he can afford a place, why would he go live somewhere else, especially with roommates, when he has a sweet, presumably rent-free, grocery-money-free place? You’ve done your part to help him out – it’s not unreasonable to expect him to do more if he’s now able to.

        1. Fulana del Tal*

          In some states if he lived there a few months already he is a tenant. The OP couldn’t just change the locks or force him to move out without a formal eviction.

          1. EmilyG*

            Hi folks! I posted a few weeks ago about finding a new TV show for me and my dad. I had to take a week off because I had a volunteer group meeting on our usual evening, but we reconvened this week. Over dinner I told him about some of the suggestions, and he said, “Bosch? Michael Connelly? I’ve read all his books!” The author figures prominently in the credits so we thought it would be a good adaptation. He liked it! With 7 seasons, this should keep us busy for quite some time. Thanks very much for all the suggestions. :)

        2. Maggie*

          In many states he already is a tenant. But yes I agree asking for rent is a horrible idea and will make him think he can stay forever when OP wants the apt back that’s not a good idea

        3. I take tea*

          Well, I wouldn’t kick out Tennant. I think he’s a dish, and seems to be a good human being too.

          Sorry, I couldn’t resist, it was such a fun typo.

    2. Bread Addict*

      Not sure on script. But before you go in be sure of the desired outcome. Its possible he may suggest contributing towards grocery bills or rent if possible. Which is good but if what you really want is just your space back thats something you should know and be clear about. And is the goal of this talk to get him out NOW. Or would you be happy saying be out by August 31st and until then contribute to bills or at least food. Whatever you decide is fine, its just whats right for you. If you don’t want him becoming a roommate you need to be prepared for that possibility to shut it down. And if you are open to it thats also good to know. Also be prepared for if he says he isnt ready to leave yet, hasnt found a job or place. You are both presumably adults and you arent responsible for him.

      Maybe something like “I know when we talked previously we had discussed you moving out in July.” You could then ask where he sees himself on that front if you dont have a hard deadline. If you do I would skip it and say “I didn’t mind helping you out these last few months but I will need you out by x date.” If he says he isnt ready, doesnt have funds, etc. Then you could give him an extension if you want, ask for money, or if you want to stick with your original date maybe something like “I have been supporting you for a few months because I care as a friend but its not feasible for me to keep doing this. I really do need you out by x.”

      But the biggest thing before you decide on a script is to be clear on your desired outcome. And how flexible with it you are. And remember that if you do chose that you just want your space back thats valid. You chose an apartment alone for a reason probably and wanting to go back to that is fair.

      1. Artemesia*

        You may need to evict him and you probably need to have a conversation with a lawyer about how to do this. You don’t need to do it unless he refuses to move, but you should know what you will have to do if he does.

        And you need to decide if you are absolutely firm about this. One possibility is to reserve a residential hotel room for August 1 and pay for a week and insist he move there on that day. Once he is out, change the locks (this can be done quickly and fairly cheaply)

        This is a totally predictable outcome of housing someone for free who is happy to mouch. Sorry it happened to you.

    3. Bagpuss*

      It’s tricky, but I think it’s sensible to be clear – e.g. “When I agreed to let you stay, we agreed that you would be moving on by July. As we are now in July I need to remind you of that, and that it won’t be possible for you to be here past the end of this month.”
      You could add “also, while I was willing to help you to get back on your feet, I never anticipated supporting you completely, and it is a financial strain. For the next couple of weeks until you move out I would like you to start paying for your own food rather than eating mine”
      If you want to and feel able, you could add anything that you are willing to offer to help him move on (eg if you are willing to offer to review applications/resume for him)

      1. BEC*

        “ while I was willing to help you to get back on your feet, I never anticipated supporting you completely”

        This is so spot on. Thank you, I needed to hear it said.

    4. JSPA*

      He may develop rights even if he’s not paying rent. I once had to pay (rather handsomely) to move someone and his stuff out of state, to his dream location, where another friend of his (read, another patsy) was willing to host him.

      If you can swing it, “what would you need, to move out by [date]” may be the most direct conversation.

    5. Jessi*

      I would just come straight out with it “hi freeloader, we talked about you moving out in July, what date are you moving? My expectations for you leaving are that you wash sheets/ clean and tidy area you have been using “

      Simply set expectations for what you expect as if OF course he will move out. Remind yourself and maybe him if required that you have housed him, and he has not paid a penny towards your increased bills, or Chiped in for food.

      You could also point out that he’s used up the last of x, and y and you would like them replaced but I think to be honest he’s not cared about eating all your food I don’t think that will change.

      I would spend as much time as possible not at home and maybe write a count down list and a list of all the things you can do once your house is yours again

    6. Probably oversimplified*

      I see the responses about possible formal eviction requirements, etc., and I am wondering: who is likely to report BEC to the authorities? Mr. “no progress”? If he does say you have to follow state eviction laws, then you have your solution; “fine, here is your formal eviction notice. be out by X date.”

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        In theory, yes. BEC simply refuses to leave, claiming right to residency, and OP has to to formally evict them. The challenge is that where laws are set up this much to protect tenants, it’s not always as simple as serving them notice and the person quietly leaves. BEC can drag it through court which can take months even years. They may simply dig in (requiring multiple rounds of court dates etc), and/or ask for a financial buyout.

        HOWEVER, the vast majority of people do not do this. It is highly highly unlikely BEC is going to make OP’s life hell in this way. Far more likely they’re just going to go slower than our OP would like, they may ask for extensions etc, and need to be nudged on. It will be frustrating but not disastrous.

        1. Artemesia*

          Which is why finding him a place and paying for a week (like in a motel room with kitchenette) may make it possible to literally pack him up and move him.
          Once he is out, it will be harder to claim tenancy. And obviously do not mention eviction or tenants rights anywhere in his hearing, but find out what you need to do if he claims them. Once out, change the locks within the hour.

    7. it happens*

      No good deed…
      Time for a little research on your part and then a sit down with roomie.
      1. Research eviction law in your municipality- since he has lived there over 30 days he is likely considered a tenant and you need to know what the formal notice period is and how to deliver it, not that you want to, but that you need this in your back pocket
      2. Once you know your legal standing, have sit down- July ends in three weeks and so does this situation. As they say at the bar at closing “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” Be understanding and kind, but forceful.
      3. If he is not out July 31, deliver the formal notice August 1. It’s the nuclear option, but protects you.
      And understand that the two of you will always have different points of view on how this went down. If you have a shared friend group, he will always make you out to be the horrible person who kicked him out. Hard to avoid, so don’t twist yourself in pretzels trying to please everyone.

      1. it happens*

        And I realize I didn’t address either of your two actual questions.
        1. Script- hey friend, July 31 is three weeks away. You’re looking awfully comfy here and I need to reiterate that you need top be out of here by July 31. I want to maintain our friendship. I do not want to be roommates. There may be lots of questions about why, or how hard, or request for justification. Stay strong, our agreement was July, July is ending, we are both people who like to keep our promises.
        2. Staying sane- mentally counting off the days and looking forward to having your space back. Plan for some kind of change to the place that will formally mark an “after they’ve left” reminder- an accent wall or piece of art, or new furniture. So you won’t always see it as, look, the couch my friend took over for way too long…
        You are kind, you will get through this

    8. WellRed*

      If he’s a good enough friend that you let him move in and eat all your food (!) then I hope he’s a good enough friend to hear you out and shape up.

    9. Been there, done that*

      I have been in your position. The one sure-fire way I have found to get someone to move out when they have it so good there’s no way they will agree to move out otherwise, is to plan to have someone else move in e.g. another friend or family member who will play along and say they’re bringing their entire family, ideally with pets and lots of luggage — so there’s no possible way that BEC can keep living with you.

      Unfortunately, someone who has not found a place or a job in months, and is happy to mooch off you, is unlikely to go willingly if there isn’t a clear deadline when a group of people will be moving into the space they’re in. Otherwise, there will be excuses of all kinds, playing on your guilt, and trying to stay any possible place they can in your home so they can continue to eat your food (e.g. “it’s okay, I can use a sleeping bag on the floor in the basement”).

      Also, you need to be in a place where you’re willing to let this friendship go. As long as you don’t want to be seen as a “bad friend”, you may be manipulated into extending the deadline for him to move out until your relationship finally breaks down completely.

      Good luck to you!

  13. Guava*

    One of my closest friends is coming to stay with me for a week. We are both in our mid 30s. They arrive early tomorrow and leave in the evening next Saturday…I’ve been beyond distracted with work and life events that I didn’t notice how long they would be here for. $/#%! I can only blame myself, but what have I gotten myself into? While I’m not a terrible host, I’m not a great one either.

    I’m in a rural not-that-far-from-the-coast city and I just looked at the weather. Rain all week. There isn’t much to do here and the outdoorsy things I was thinking of doing like going to beach or some type of fruit picking don’t look like viable options anymore.

    I’d love to hear if you’ve gone through something similar. Did everything turn out okay? Did you and your friend(s) avoid cabin fever?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Honestly the best thing I ever did was when my significant other and I visited family for a week once. Her dad had planned all these social events for us, and that sounded exhausting to me but I was willing to do it if it was important to everyone else.

      So we sat down and everyone answered the questions: ‘what are your needs’ and ‘what would meeting them look like’. I actually wrote down everyone’s answers.

      Needs are things like: solitude, peace, adventure, connection, enchantment.

      Ways to meet the needs are the specific activities you will do to feel the way you want/to get your needs met. What will you be glad you did at the end of the week? What is really important to you to get out of this week?

      It turned out in our case that NO ONE wanted the social events. Her dad had planned them because he thought we wanted them and that we would be bored otherwise, but Dad actually he was on a deadline at work and would really have welcomed time to just write in the evenings.

      We were willing to go because we thought his dad wanted to go – he did schedule them, after all! But we said that getting away to his dad’s beautiful location in the woods was exactly what we wanted and we would be happy with three walks in the woods every day, and time to drink coffee and read by the lake.

      We had a supremely relaxing trip. I bet your friend has some ideas in mind of what would and would not be relaxing (or interesting? Or energizing? Or whatever it is they are looking for) for them.

      You can look on Meetup.com or Airbnb experiences for ideas. It will become easier to choose once you’re clear on how you want to feel.

      Couple random rainy day ideas:

      You can do wine or beer tastings or pairings – make it an event to learn what drinks go well with certain meals, buy and cook those meals and try pairing a couple different wines.

      You can do themes – like if you want to learn about a new country, then put sticky notes all over your house labeling things in that language and watch TV series/read an author from that country and tell each other one fact a day about that place.

      Can you plan on going out in the rain? Get rain gear, and go to the beach on a not-terribly-downpoury semi-break in the rain and try to log a mile a day in the rain (or make some other goal so the rain becomes part of the activity).

      You can agree on solo activities, too – each morning from 8-10 is your tea and book reading time to keep you sane. Trying to entertain someone 24/7 is a great way to burn me out, so knowing ahead of time I have time to myself is really important to me.

      Good luck! This introvert feels for you!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I LOVE this solution! Wow, what a great idea. Communication really is the key.

      2. Artemesia*

        There is an old training tape called ‘the trip to Abilene’ — in which a group of friends ends up on a hot dusty crowded car trip on a hot miserable day to Abilene to get ice cream. One person listless suggested it and no one was willing to say ‘I don’t want to do that’ for fear of disappointing others and so a miserable car without AC crowded with hot miserable people drives to Abilene for something they could have gotten out of the home freezer.

        It is a useful thing to remember that when lots of people are trying to please others you may end up doing something no one wants to do. O’Henry built some stories around crossed communication like this.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like that the needs are emotions you want to feel. And there could be multiple ways to hit that emotion.

    2. Bread Addict*

      One of the best holidays I ever had was playing card games, watching nicholas cage films, and just hanging out in a cabin with some friends. We were all 30-40 in age.

      If you arent nicholas cage fans maybe brendan fraser? Just pick an actor and have a marathon of their work. Or a theme. Watch all of the sharknados, have a laugh and be amazed at how many cameos those films somehow got.

      You can pick indoor activities. If there is a cheap local craft store you could paint along to a bob ross episode.

      You could ask them what they would like to do. Tell them about the not-ideal weather. And remember bad weather happens all the time to people on holiday. Thats not your fault. They are also an adult, just because you are hosting doesnt mean that you are solely responsible for their entertainment. So check in with them. They could maybe brainstorm ideas. And probably dont want you stressing yourself out over it.

      Also they are coming to visit YOU as their friend, so dont feel like you have to fill every single day with activities. You can just sit around and chat. Cook a meal together. The goal is to catch up with someone you care about. Not to win the hostess of the year award. Relax and enjoy the time together.

      1. Nicosloana*

        I agree. I have friends I could happily sit inside chatting over a bottle of wine with for a week, but if this friend isn’t quite at that level, I’d suggest long board games and movies if you’re stuck inside. (it may even help you become one of those types of friends)! If it’s a whole week with literally nothing on the agenda it may be worth scheduling ONE mid-week outing to an indoor venue, even if it’s annoying drive you might not usually make, if there’s something like indoor minigolf or a museum or movie theater / shopping mall trip, adjusting for your tastes. It would give you something to talk about.

    3. Jen*

      Being a host doesn’t mean jam-packing each and every second with excitement, particularly if that’s not how you and your friend normally operate together anyway. I had a friend come and visit but I couldn’t take any time off work whatsoever, so he knew he was responsible for entertaining himself during the day, and we always did breakfast and dinner together. Beyond that we had our normal chats about our days and watched movies. And that was it, and we were both pleased.

    4. JSPA*

      Some fruits are OK, picked in the rain (not strawberries tho) and with good ponchos, a walk in the rain can be pretty great (avoid slippery trails). Doing something useful together is also good bonding. Maybe that’s as quirky as doing rounds scooping trash from grates so that it doesn’t end up in the ocean, or weeding the local shared garden space while the ground is finally damp enough to weed, or planting some cole crops (brussels sprouts, cauliflower etc) if you have an unused garden patch.

      If you do an outside “thing” for an hour a day, spending the rest of your free time lazing, talking, reading, cooking together etc. will feel friendly and relaxed, not trapped and forced.

      Also, find out if they have others to visit, and plan your own personal time accordingly.

    5. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Don’t feel like you two have to get up and go to bed at exactly the same time. As an introvert, when I have friends stay over, I’m happy when one of us goes to bed and gets up later than the other. It gives us each a little alone time to be peaceful in before we have together time.

    6. just another queer reader*

      I visited a friend on a rainy week last year. Highlights included visiting a few local restaurants and landmarks, movies and video games, going to the grocery store, dying our hair, and wine-and-paint (we painted little vases). It was a lovely time.

    7. Emily Elizabeth*

      My sister recently came and stayed 3 weeks (thanks to the commenters who gave me advice on hosting a while back!) and one of my favorite parts was we picked a show to binge watch together. Not sure how much TV or movies are part of your typical lives, but consuming media together gave a great non-active bonding activity that also led to lots of fun conversation. And now that she’s gone it remains something we can reference together/comment on the next season/etc and continue the connection!

    8. Colette*

      Card/board games
      Crafts (e.g. paint nite-ish painting project)
      Solving a problem you have (e.g.I once went furniture shopping with a guest because I needed furniture and she was happy to tag along)

      What would you do with her if you lived in the same area?

  14. Aphrodite*

    What state are you in as that can make a difference if he wants to fight you. You may actually have to go through an eviction process and that can be drawn out.

    If he’s gotten that comfortable, the conversation is going to have to be a hard one with specifics, which it sounds like haven’t happened before (“got back on his feet” and “no progress in finding a job” and increasingly comfortable”). You did mention a July move-out date but how was that decided? Was it mostly you saying it with him nodding agreement? Or did he make a promise?

    Make a date and time to talk, perhaps this weekend. It may be unpleasant so there’s no reason to put it off. Can you have a good friend you trust to be there too as a kind of witness?

    You need to get a hard date and I’d make it no more than 15-30 days out, job or not. (I’d go with the shortest time.). It sounds like he won’t get one until he has too so if he chooses to sleep on the street, let him. Do not allow any attachments to the move-out date, things that he could use to say he hasn’t been able to do yet such as that “job” or a “room.”

    Good luck. I truly hope it goes more easily for you than I fear it might.

    1. Suggestions for Bitch Eating Crackers roommate situation*

      Thank you! Yeah I used to be a landlord, and so I’ve got the eviction process available. I am hoping I don’t go that route, but it will help to be mentally prepared to.

      I do have someone I will make sure is there with me – thank you.

      1. Artemesia*

        If you can identify a local motel that isn’t too expensive and perhaps has weekly rates, you can help move him out with a little breathing room. Pay the first week if you can. The key is your firmness. Should have made a real fuss about it last month — but you didn’t so tomorrow is the day.

  15. Aphrodite*

    Drats; nesting fail. This was supposed to be a reply to Suggestions for Bitch Eating Crackers roommate situation.

  16. Jen*

    Can anyone else not stand having *stuff?* Maintaining it, remembering it, shifting it from one place to the next, organizing it. I feel like as I’ve gotten older my tolerance has gotten lower. I remember as a kid being vaguely unhappy because I had a lot of stuff and it never occurred to me to get rid of it, but now I’m ruthless. I make donations every single week. I know a large part of this is due to my ADHD, and if something’s out of sight for me it might as well not exist. I’m also a natural clutter-bug and pile-leaver, so the fewer things that I have the fewer things there are to make my house look untidy.

    1. Flowers (potatoes)*

      So – ADHD here as well. Having “stuff” around and seeing it calms my anxiety to a degree. I love having choices and options, and I love seeing a full pantry/fridge/freezer. I do try really hard to keep my space neat and at least organize the piles. Yet I also purge and give away alot of things. And yeah, out of sight and out of mind as well….which isn’t great for groceries…

      While I’ve made peace with the fact that I will *never* be a minimalist and I actually hate seeing bare spaces, I DO still get annoyed with myself for needing to have so.much.stuff ALL the time. For example, I keep a tube of Aquaphor and hand lotion in the bedroom, living room, my car, and each purse (diaper bag, going out bag, work bag). I mentally begin packing months before a trip. In fact I’ve made a list of all the (little) things that I’ll be carrying with me to work and I’m stressing out like WHY do I need so many damn things?!

      If there’s a way to balance it I’m all ears.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I also get anxious when I don’t have access to the things I perceive that I might need. This includes certain foodstuffs/kitchen supplies, medications, grooming items etc. In order to keep them from getting out of control at home, I keep a physical or mental list of those items and check on them before I go to the store. That way I don’t see an “essential item” at the store and buy it “in case I’m running low” when in fact I have 20 of them at home. Basically, I want to avoid prematurely turning into my elderly relatives. Also, I’m aware that Amazon is deeply evil, but knowing that IF I do run short on some Very Important Item I can basically get it within 24 hours is great for reducing my anxiety and my tendency to hoard.

        In terms of taking Key Items with me when I leave the house, I do two things. First, I have two small pill boxes that have a few essential meds in them. That way I don’t need to carry a bunch of little OTC bottles. (For pill boxes I use the tiny Altoids tins that you get at checkout at certain grocery stores – they close well and stay closed better than most so-called pill boxes. I don’t mind if my OTC meds are jumbled up together because I can distinguish them visually.) The second way I manage my Key Items is to keep all of them in a clear zip lock baggie. That way I can easily transfer them when I change purses or if I’m riding my bike or hiking. That avoids having duplicates for every bag, and it also makes it less likely that I’ll leave something behind. The bonus is that they no longer get individually lost in the bottom of my purse.

    2. KS*

      Ugh, yes, unnecessary stuff, can’t stand it! It’s probably due to the fact that I spent large chunks of my life since early childhood travelling, so I’m very used to being happy with just basic material posessions, but the mere thought unnecessary stuff makes me exhausted and on edge. (like my friend finds it hilarious that I don’t paint my nails just because there is too much paraphernalia involved and just no.) Having a baby soon, and the amount of useless crap that people are trying to convince me I need makes me suspect we’re not from the same universe! I don’t find it difficult as the only thing I hate more than owning unnecessary stuff is buying it so there isn’t much to accumulate, but it probably helps that I’m from a European country that has much more of a mend-and-make-do mentality than is usual in the States, and we tend to express affection by feeding each other rather than giving gifts. Every time I feel the pull to buy something that I don’t absolutely need I take a moment to stop and think – do I really want it, or am I just tired/grumpy/hungry/looking for distractions? 95% of the time it turns out I don’t want it :)

      1. Jen*

        I was the exact same way with my nails. You need a nail file, trimmers, cuticle remover, nail polish remover, top and bottom coats, UV light…I can’t handle it.

        1. KS*

          I see the standard of at-home manicures has risen dramatically since I was last painting my nails in high school, I thought cuticle removers, UV lights and top coats were firmly in professional nail salon territory! :) I was already annoyed by the multiple nail colors + remover + pads combo…

    3. Kara Danvers*

      I’ve gone through phases before. I used to be quite maximalist – wanted all the new things, gadgets, etc. Then a moved a bunch of times in a very short amount of time, and got sick of it. So I went on a minimalist streak for a few years, massively paring down my belongings.

      I think I’ve hit a good medium now. Neither massively consumerist, nor unhealthily obsessive. It took time. I’m glad I went through the extreme minimalism phase, because it taught me a lot about what is and isn’t important to me (and what buying mistakes I tend to make). But at the same time, it was exhausting.

    4. Grumpy*

      I’m struggling with my mom’s stuff (I live with her). The house isn’t as bad as the hoarders you might see on TV, but there’s huge piles of stuff that hasn’t been touched in years/decades everywhere, and storage spaces (closets, cabinets, under the bed, etc.) are all crammed with stuff. The attic and one spare room were packed with stuff (mostly from my and my siblings’ childhoods) and I spent two years slowly trashing/rehoming/selling/donating things. It got to the point where the attic was 2/3 empty and the spare room was completely empty (the spare room is half full again now ): ). I burned out after that and haven’t done any decluttering since, but I just started making tiny decluttering goals again for the remaining childhood stuff.

      I hate all the piles of stuff everywhere, and my mom finds it overwhelming too, but she’d rather keep buying stuff, and buying containers to “organize” the stuff than get rid of anything. I’ve pointed out that if she downsizes one day, it’s going to be a problem. Or, if she died, and I had to empty the house by myself, I’d have to hire junk removers and most of it would end up in dumpsters, but she’s not motivated to get rid of anything.

      One disturbing conversation I had with her…When I was decluttering the attic, I came across a box of large teddy bear statues she had painted for me as a kid, and I wanted to donate them. She didn’t want to because she painted them and she wants me to have them. I told her I’m not into teddy bears anymore and absolutely am not taking them with me when I move out someday. She said she’ll keep them for me and if she dies I can do what I want with them then. So apparently she’s saving a house full of stuff for me to get rid of after she dies?

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Ugh. My folks were not hoarders and lived relatively tidily but still had way too much stuff when they died. It took me over a year to donate everything easily donatable and an estate sale to get rid of the rest. My extended family doesn’t understand why I kept almost nothing of theirs, but it makes me happy not to have to deal with all that crap and to know that I’m not going to be this much of a pain to someone else.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Are you me? This is my mom’s house exactly. It’s not hoardy and there aren’t really piles (except on her desk), but every space is carefully decorated and there is literally NOWHERE to put anything new. Not that my house was much better—for a while, everything was everywhere all at once. I purged here and there over time, but there was still a lot by the time I put the house up for sale.

        She says it calms her to have her things around her, but I find it extremely anxiety inducing. I’ve told her a few times that when I moved, it took every bit of the six months before my house sold to go through everything and pare it down to as little as I could (and even then, when I find a place, I’m probably going to have to toss more stuff). She hasn’t even begun to go through it. My brother said they threw out literal TONS of crap from my dad’s house.

        We’re a pack-ratty family, I guess.

      3. Damn it, Hardison!*

        My mother in law has literally said that she doesn’t want to deal with her stuff, and my husband and I will just have to do it after she’s dead. She is otherwise a lovely person.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Yep that is what she’s doing – saving it for you to get rid of later. She doesn’t want to do the emotional work of parting with it.

        My father told me to “take your stuff”. So I did. He was shocked, absolutely shocked, to find out I gave a lot away.
        Other things that he held on to just assuming I would use them, I told him I did not want them or could not use those things. I am sure he felt a gap the size of the Grand Canyon between us. I actually felt bad about that. But not bad enough to take those things anyway.

        There was another family member who actually broke down crying because her kids did not want her things when she downsized. The items were either seriously out of style and/or severely worn. But she just could not understand.

        There’s lots of emotions tied to stuff for some people. My parents came from families that did not have a lot. So they remembered their own struggles all too well. From my perspective, I find it odd what people DO get attached to. I can see me wanting to get rid of all those bears myself. And then I’d probably pick out an old and well used blanket and decide I wanted that instead. That’s how these stories go.

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          That seems to be very common: folks who were wanting in their past, or just needed to be extremely frugal, tend to cling to stuff even when they’re in a more comfortable situation. And it can be inherited! My grandparents grew up on very tight budgets, hand-me-downs, and repairs. Now they won’t get rid of ANYTHING, even broken things, because “we might need that someday!” All of their kids are the same, they learned it from their parents and never thought to question it. So it’s forever complaints of the house being messy, due to no storage space, due to too much stuff.
          From what I’ve seen, the grandkids (including me) are much better at it, to the point where my mom now asks me if it’s ok to throw something out! (I always say yes, it seems like she just needs reassurance that it’s ok.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            smh. I am more like your mom than I want to admit. I have changed it into a math problem. I need three hammers, one in each of three locations. I do not need ten hammers. I only need two sets of sheets and towels. I do not need ten sets. And so on. I still have and use Cannon towels from the 70s. Just can’t kill those towels.

            But you are correct this worry can be instilled in subsequent generations. I think what my parents forgot is that if you cannot find the item that is the same as not having it because you have to go out and buy a replacement for it if you need that item.

      5. Aphrodite*

        My father died in 2012 and my mother continued to live in the same large house. It was always neat and clean but full. We found out just how full when she died in late May of 2020. Covid was terrifying the country so m. idea of holding a massive garage sale didn’t take place. Instead, my brother and sister rented one or two dumpsters and dumped everything that was still there after I made a rushed one-day visit. I. got very little but I got everything I wanted except for a craft-made small Christmas treehat my mom made years ago t I forgot about until it was gone. I still miss that and I resent its loss. And so many of the things from would have been welcomed by abused shelter services that it killed me I couldn’t make them see that. (There was and still is a lot of rigidity and “we’re gonna do what WE want” attitudes that now that both my parents are gone and I don’t have to see them doesn’t bother me any more.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have almost no kid stuff of my own left, but I figure it will be in the Realm when I get there. My comics, my toys, etc. Along with anything I forgot to get from my parents.

          The only things I took from Dad’s were some clothes, including his trucking company million-mile jacket, an owl from his owl knickknack collection, and a small treasure chest he kept his cufflinks in, plus my favorite pair of those. And a jar full of marbles he picked up somewhere. Random, but I like marbles.

      6. Just a name*

        My in-laws are pack rats. My MIL still hasn’t cleaned out her parent’s house ( both gone for more than 10 years now). They build a new out building (shed, garage, barn , cabin) whenever they run out of room. He retired and moved his office to the house, and the basement is full of files. And mouse droppings. The main house is completely useable, but cluttered. God knows what is in the basement that I’ve never seen in 30+ years. My FIL once remarked how my husband and I would have to clear it up after they passed, and I, admittedly after a few drinks, said, “I have a match.” I am no longer permitted to say anything about it. I won’t let my husband go through it alone, but it will be a disgusting mess.

      7. Ali + Nino*

        Not to be a downer but…it’s WHEN she dies, not if. We all have to face it sooner or later.

      8. Cat Lover*

        This is me with my grandmother. She is 83 and I dread when she passes.. my mom and I will have to deal with her house. She lived there for 30 years and some stuff hasn’t been touched. I helped her clean a little last year and she has these old box TVs and the batteries in the remotes were literally corroded. Like.. very unsafe.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I really envied what some retired relatives did–bought a nice, normal size house in a great location, moved in just what they thought they needed, and then got rid of the rest. This is now my goal.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had an aunt who did this with her new condo. It looked so great. The condo people used pictures of her place to promote their other condos.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is what I tried to do when I sold my house. I don’t know how much space I’ll have when I finally get my own place again, but I wanted to reduce the overall amount of stuff so I don’t have to put anything in storage.

        The hardest thing to part with was books. Those went to the library for its book sales. I still have quite a few boxes left.

    6. Can't think of a funny name*

      Ugh, yes. I have a coworker that orders stuff from amazon it seems like everyday and I’m always wondering where she puts it all!

    7. Elle Woods*

      I didn’t used to be that way. However, helping my mother clean out my grandparent’s house really changed me. I knew they had a lot of stuff but I never realized just how much they had until I helped her clean out their space. Part of it was that they grew up in the Great Depression, so they held on to a lot of things because they might be useful “some day.” Another part of it was that they had some mobility issues, so it they couldn’t see it or reach it, it was like it didn’t exist. It was mentally and physically exhausting to clean out everything and I vowed that I would live differently.

      Since then, the way I look at things like home decor, kitchen utensils, and odds & ends has shifted dramatically. I no longer want seasonal decorative fingertip towels for my bathroom, enough Christmas decor to rival Macy’s, a collection of shot glasses from my travels, matchbooks from random restaurants, and the like. I lean pretty heavy toward minimalism but I’m not a bare bones, stark minimalist. I realized that clutter ratchets up my anxiety, so I do what I can to keep it very manageable for me.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Yes, I have gotten to be the same way. I’m not sure what my metric is, but I think it has something to do with how long it takes me to tidy up whatever it is. I’m naturally messy, and easily distracted. I don’t want to take three hours to clean and organize my pantry, or two days to do my closet. Right now all of my foodstuffs can be tidied and organized in 20 minutes. That seems like a good use of my time – I invest 20 minutes, things look neat, and I can find whatever I want. Three hours is not a good investment.

      My spouse does not share my joy in less stuff, so this will always involve some compromise. Right now we are in the process of a big move, so we’re in a small temporary apartment. I love it and would live here forever, but at least our next place will be smaller than our last one and there will be a limit on what we can shoehorn in.

      1. Jen*

        I think that was part of what really got me in gear. I realized that the less I had, the less I cleaned.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          God yes. Not only that, but cleaning EVERYTHING is so much easier. My house looked so much better when I got everything de-cluttered and packed that I actually wondered, “Now, why am I leaving again?”

    9. Girasol*

      Me, and my spouse is the opposite. I’ve been ruthlessly scrapping lately. I hate dusting under memorabilia doodads, pawing through drawers of things that aren’t getting worn to find the thing I want, or scrounging through unused kitchen tools to find the spatula. But his workroom is full of empty boxes saved in case the thing that came in them needs to go back, even though it’s been years and the thing is broken in pieces that are also saved because maybe they could be handy someday. We have our own areas of the house lest there be battles over cleaning habits.

    10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I love my stuff. Most of what I have is accumulated over the years and for pretty specific reasons, or belonged to family members. I love having a lifetime of things around me – plus other people’s lifetimes of things. I’m going through letters and papers of my great-great-grandparents this year and it’s turned them into real people (some not very likeable!) instead of just names. I look at cluttery things on top of my bookcases and remember vacations where I bought them, like the Appalachian craft museum where I bought a wonderfully smooth carved wooden owl, or another trip where I bought a canvas print that looks like my grandparents’ farmhouse, or the stained glass items my uncle made. I love being able to reach out from where I’m sitting and touch the past, or distant places.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I can see this. I enjoy living with objects that spark memories for me. I’m less keen on living with my husband’s things, because I have no emotional connection to them. He feels pretty much the same way about my stuff. Obviously we have some things that we’ve acquired while living together that both of us have a connection to. But for me, the idea of decluttering is difficult, because I’d want to get rid of his junk and keep my treasures. So as a compromise, we haven’t decluttered…

        A few years ago my MIL downsized, and gave a lot of her old stuff to us. My husband’s not been great at turning it down, and we do have a big attic where most of it is stored. But I’m already exhausted by the idea of having to go through all the clutter when it’s time for us to downsize at some point. And I don’t want to leave all of it for our son to deal with when we’re no longer capable.

    11. Cendol*

      Me! And, surprise surprise, I was diagnosed with ADHD recently. Having stuff makes me anxious because it entails a) having to remember where the stuff is and b) being *responsible* for the stuff, the horror. There’s a kind of romance for me around the thought of having just one of everything or of being able to chuck all my worldly possessions into one suitcase and run, if I had to. But that desire was at odds with my desire to put down roots. (Also, I had to admit it was unrealistic. I own, and enjoy owning, a metric ton of books.)

      Plus, my spouse enjoys clutter. Our compromise is that my office gets the minimalist treatment and theirs gets the tchotchkes.

    12. Katiekins*

      “Can anyone else not stand having *stuff?* Maintaining it, remembering it, shifting it from one place to the next, organizing it. I feel like as I’ve gotten older my tolerance has gotten lower.”

      Dana K. White from a Slob Comes Clean calls this the “clutter threshold.” I think my tolerance has gotten lower as I age, too. Too much visual clutter stresses me out.

    13. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Yes! Your last sentence in particular resonates so much. Where I live now, there is enough storage for small to medium items but nothing we can put bulky things in, and so we have corners of the living room and study that are just places where we have to dump stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere (ladder, outdoor broom, garden parasol, clothes airer, you name it). Trying to minimise the amount of it doesn’t work… it’s all stuff we need for the house to function the way we want, i.e. prevent worse kinds of untidiness. Plus, my partner is a natural pile-leaver that doesn’t see why it’s such a big deal, so every time things get overwhelming I have to have the “why are you so upset over something this small” conversation too. And it’s definitely a tolerance threshold that lowered with age!

    14. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Isn’t this why Marie Kondo’s method is so famous and popular? Because she helps so many people in this position?

      1. Jen*

        No, not really. Marie Kondo’s method in a nutshell is that you should pile up all of a certain item that you have (like all your shirts, all your charging cables, all your pens, etc.) and go through them in a particular order. You pick up each item and ask yourself the question “Does this spark joy?” and you decide what to keep rather than what to declutter, and at the end you take all the things that don’t spark joy and donate or throw them away.

        The problem with her method comes in when everything “sparks joy” and you have constraints like a neurodivergency or just limited space. No matter how many clothes “spark joy,” I have a teeny-tiny closet, and if I keep more than a certain amount I have to store those items under my bed. But with my ADHD, I’ve found that I can’t do that because I will literally forget those items exist, yet they’re still causing a pain in my backside when I have to vacuum around them or move them. Marie Kondo isn’t a minimalist and she explicitly says she isn’t, so if you’re looking to do a more ruthless declutter or whatever reason, she isn’t going to be able to help you.

        What I will say is that she’s very good at helping you calibrate your “joy meter,” and most of us are holding onto things that we don’t actually like and wouldn’t rebuy for a variety of reasons.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had to do that too, because I just had too much and nowhere to put it. After I watched her TV show on Netflix, I just used the storage techniques from her method, like folding clothes, and re-using boxes I already had to put stuff in. I did find that part helpful.

    15. The OG Sleepless*

      OMG, totally me. I almost certainly have ADD (inattentive type), and cluttered spaces make me really anxious. Minimalist spaces are calming. I love being in AirBnBs that have some decorative stuff and basic equipment, but the closets and cupboards are relatively empty.

      In the past 5 years I’ve had to deal with: my mother moving into a smaller home and getting rid of 30 years worth of stuff; my pack rat husband ending the lease on his office and running his business from our home office; and my MIL (a pack rat) and my cousin (a true pathological hoarder) passing. Each of these events were dumpster-rental levels of decluttering. My cousin’s house was particularly traumatizing. I’m now ten times more avoidant of superfluous stuff than I was before.

      I do a house-wide decluttering at the beginning of the calendar year, and this year was the most ruthless one I’ve done in a decade. Most notably, I secretly packed up the formal china I got as wedding gifts 30 years ago and took it to Goodwill. Not a single family member knows about it, and I bet they’ll never figure it out.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      Check out The Minimal Mom on the Tube of You. She’s got things down to, wait for it, the bare minimum, and it is SO inspiring and freeing!

  17. The Prettiest Curse*

    How about some non-work related mortification stories to keep Thursday’s theme going?

    I recently went round to my sister’s house – I’d only been there a few times since she moved. She lives in an area where most of the houses look similar.

    It was just before the platinum jubilee, and as we approached a house covered in flags and bunting, I said something like “Wow, the neighbours are really going over the top for the jubilee, aren’t they?” Her response: “That’s our house!” Oops.
    I knew she was way more into the monarchy than me (I would gladly abolish the whole thing), but I didn’t think she’d decorate so much!

    1. Jen*

      I once ordered Panda Express and got a notification from Uber that my food was close by, so I walked outside and a man who looked like my courier was walking inside at the same time carrying a Panda Express bag. I rhetorically said “Is that for me? Thanks…” and grabbed the bag, at which point the man got a little alarmed jerked it back before running away. So I almost stole an old man’s dinner, on accident, and now I have to avoid him every time I see him in the hall. -.-

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, that reminds me, I once tried to get into a Lyft car in the pick-up/drop-off area outside a station. The car was a similar make and colour to what they said to expect. It was NOT a Lyft car, and I startled an unfortunate random woman who (understandably) then yelled at me.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I did that once as well. It was a guy chilling in his car in front of my house who was so startled he was speechless. I quickly realized my mistake, apologized, and got out of his car as fast as I could.

          1. Jackalope*

            One time my spouse and I were at the grocery store. We’d just gotten in the car and were getting ready to leave, when some guy walked up, opened the car door to the back seat, and got in. I had a brief moment of panic – were we being carjacked? – and then he noticed our faces, muttered an embarrassed apology, got back out and got into the back seat of the car next to ours. It was a bit frightening for a moment and then hilarious.

            1. Pieismyreligion*

              Once my husband and I unloaded our groceries, got in the car to leave and realized it wasn’t our car. Hurridly got out, grabbed everything and scrambled to our actual car hoping the owner didn’t see us.

        2. UKDancer*

          I was on the receiving end of this when waiting to pick someone up at a tube station. I just laughed and said “I think you’re looking for a different car.” The poor woman looked mortified and apologised and got hastily out.

        3. Marion Ravenwood*

          I did something this once too! My then-partner and I were getting an Uber somewhere and this car that matched the description pulled up outside his building, so we got in. The driver said a name that wasn’t mine and I realised we had the wrong car. Cue scrambling to get all our stuff out of the boot before the person who it was for showed up!

          What made it worse (or perhaps better) was that I’m pretty sure the car was actually for a well known UK TV presenter, as the driver said her name and I’d seen packages with her (fairly unusual) full name on in the lobby of our building. Which I’m not gonna lie, it seemed a bit surprising that she’d be living in a random block of flats in zone 3, but still….

        4. MissCoco*

          My mom once picked me up a bit late from school. I had gotten in and was getting buckled when a very annoyed 8th grader yanked the back door open and said (in the most exasperated tone) “ugggh Mom, why can’t you ever be on time for once?”

          I got my just desserts for cracking up with my mother once he was out of the car a few years later when another family on the swim team had the exact same mini van as my parents. Luckily I had learned my lesson so the [several] times I got into the Kings’ van it was only painfully awkward, not mortifying.

        5. The OG Sleepless*

          I was walking toward my car at the grocery store and I hit the remote button to open my trunk. Nothing. Huh, the battery must be dead. Walked up to the car and reached for the door handle, and an elderly lady’s voice said, “Honey, you’re at the wrong car.” Looked across the aisle at my car, the identical model and color, with the trunk obediently sitting open.

      2. Formerly in HR*

        AirBnB, years ago – I was in the elevator and was supposed to get off on 15th floor. Door opened and someone got in. Somehow this made my brain think it’s my floor, so I got out and headed to the door of the apartment I was staying (think second door on the left). I tried the key and it didn’t work. I tried it again and still didn’t work. Called the owner to tell them the key didn’t work – didn’t pick, had to leave a message. Tried the key again, then noticed an enveloped halfway under the door. Pulled it out and while I was looking at it I realised the name was not that of the owner and the floor was different. Looked around, flund the floor # above elevator door and almost fainted realising I have been trying out the door of someone else’s apartment in a foreign country. Tucked back the envelope and took the stairs to the right floor, where key worked in the right door :-).
        Hotel, comeing back from breakfast – tried the key and the door didn’t open. Looked at the key, looked at the door, tried again. Heard noise inside the room, so I started thinking robbery was in place. Considered walking to reception. As I started moving, I noticed the room # sign by the door – it was ##n, I was staying in ##n+1. Ducked into my own room at light speed.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      When I was a teenager, a couple friends and I met some of their guy friends at a restaurant. When we were walking back to our cars afterwards, I saw a car I thought was ugly. It looked something like an El Camino with a cap on the back. It looked like new, but I went on about how ugly it is, why would someone want to drive someting like that, much spend any amount of money to own one, etc. Well, of course the guys walked to that car and got in. And it wasn’t a parent’s car–one of them owned it. I was so embarrassed I just pretended not to notice. didn’t say a word, and got in my friend’s car.

    3. anonagain*

      I do so many embarrassing things that I can never remember them when the topic comes up. One of my favorite moments in this vein was when I was in college and walking down a fairly empty street at night with two friends, Tom and Clara. They were … not sober. Tom was joking about how the wind in his hair was like in a commercial. He dramatically said, “Ah, look at that magnificent head of hair!”

      He said this just as the only other person on the street passed us — a bald man, who turned in shock and quickly walked away.

      Tom didn’t notice the man at all so he was confused about why Clara and I were laughing. Clara caught her breath and explained, her voice rising with excitement (remember, she wasn’t sober either). She exclaimed that the man was, “TOTALLY BALD” just in time for another bald man to turn in shock and hurry away.

    4. WellRed*

      I was a few pennies short of what I needed for my coffee at a Dunkin. So, without thinking I … reached into the staff tip jar! For the extra. I spent the rest of the week putting tips in the jar when I went in.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Last year I was having trouble with my locker at the gym – they’re the kind where you set your own 4 digit combo each time. But they do jam sometimes. I had the attendant come unlock it and…it was empty. Mine was the one next to it.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      When my husband and his cousin were teens, they argued about whether a Trans Am had a hood decal or if the emblem was painted on. They saw a Trans Am parked somewhere, went up to it and picked at the hood, only to look up and see someone was in the car glaring at them!

    7. Annie Edison*

      College age me was visiting some friends from school during summer break- it was me and two guys, who I shall call Greg and John. Greg was super outgoing and loud, John was pretty quiet and also someone I had a bit of a crush on off and on. Also of note is that all of us were deeply religious at that point in time, so sex/bodies were not really discussed in mixed gender groups.
      Anyway, I was settling into the guest room to finally get some sleep after hanging out late into the night, when I discover that my period has arrived unexpectedly, and I’m completely unprepared for it. I check all the cabinets in the bathroom but… nothing. This is in the pre-smart phone days, so there was no looking up a local drugstore on my phone and slipping out unnoticed.
      I finally summon up my courage and knock on the door of the room where Greg and John are getting ready to sleep and ask Greg if I can talk to him for a moment in the hall. I whisper quietly that I’m getting my period and does he know where his mom keeps supplies?
      He’s totally unphased, to his credit, but also apparently doesn’t pick up on how embarrassed I am because he then knocks on his parents bedroom door and yells “MOM, ANNIE EDISON NEEDS A PAD FOR HER PERIOD!” in full voice, loud enough for John to hear as well.
      I honestly don’t remember anything after that as I was too busy trying to sink into the floor and die from embarrassment that my period has now been announced TO THE ENTIRE HOUSE

    8. Anon for this 'cause I'm still embarrassed*

      I (female) made a new friend (male) at an outdoor event abroad and we took the same public transport back to our respective areas from said event. On the way to the bus stop (walking), we ducked into a pub to use the facilities. Well, he was familiar with this pub and I, not being from the town or even the country, was not. I assumed the toilets were next to each other as they are in most American establishments.

      Alas, they were not. I absentmindedly followed him to the back of the pub and almost into the men’s room before I noticed what I was doing. Then I had to go back to the front and ask the barman where the women’s room was (it was also located up front). Cue me dying of humiliation.

      To be fair, my friend SHOULD have told me, but he did not!

  18. WoodswomanWrites*

    It’s time for a bird thread.

    Through a list of local bird sightings, I saw a post that nearly 200 white pelicans were hanging out on a pond not far from where I live. The person who posted it said it was the largest flock they’d ever seen. I saw the post a couple days and asked the observer if they were still there. He’s a total stranger but he drove over there to see and write me back. he said there were still more than 100, so I went to check them out. They were just chilling, but they are always cool to see.

    1. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

      There have been SO MANY pelicans up and down Ocean Beach the past few weeks, far more than I’ve seen in the 25+ years I’ve lived here. I saw a flock of about 100 landed at the water’s edge one day, like snowy plovers. Easily 200+ in the sky at once that day, too. There has been a massive anchovy run right off the beach, which has meant 20+ fishing boats right off the Cliff House/north end of the beach and all the pelicans. So fun to see!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, I’ve noticed how many there are too, the brown pelicans that are ocean residents as opposed to the inland white pelicans that are only hear seasonally. Apparently it’s such a banner year for anchovies that they’re being found all over trails when the pelicans scoop up so many that they drop them when harried by gulls. There was a news article about fish raining from the sky. I’ve posted the link in a comment below.

        Thanks for the tip about Ocean Beach. I’m hoping to get photos of the huge number of brown pelicans this year, and they were too far away at another spot I tried. The best place to see them up close is crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, a spot where they’re nearly at eye level, but then there’s that pesky issue that I’m driving, so…

    2. Jora Malli*

      I live in a neighborhood that has a lot of man-made lakes, which means I live in a neighborhood with hundreds of geese. I’m in a hot part of the country, so usually they would have flown north by now, but they haven’t. They’re all still here, crossing the street in groups of 10-20 and making it impossible for me to get my car out of the neighborhood so I can get to work on time.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I need a bird guide for my new neighborhood! It borders on a huge nature area so lots of critters though not particularly exotic (except for the wild peacocks I can hear crying out lol). I’d like to know what to call the little bug-eating hoppers in my yard (bushtits maybe?) or the aggressive light brown ones that work in pairs to attack squirrels and bigger birds — and sometimes each other. This is all super mundane, but it’s my little world.

    4. Girasol*

      This is a bird non-sighting. I keep looking in an area of willow scrub along the wildlife reserve lake for my favorite colony of yellow headed blackbirds but haven’t seen a one. Hoping they’re okay somewhere.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        It’s disconcerting when a colony disappears. Two much-loved groups of birds I used to see are no longer there due to human disturbance.

        One was an isolated population of burrowing owls that were right next to a rural road and you could watch them from the car from 20 feet away, and I have lots of photos of them. Although they are protected as a declining species, the local farmer decided to plow all the way up to the road and destroyed their habitat. I hope the babies had already fledged.

        Another was a group of hundreds of night herons that roosted for decades next to the auto tour route in a wildlife refuge. During the pandemic, people ignored the signs about staying in your cars and approached them for photos. The herons went elsewhere at the refuge and might never come back.

        The herons I’m sure are fine wherever they went. The burrowing owls’ habitat is already so limited. I have a lot of photos of them but sometimes looking at them makes me sad.

    5. Seeking second childhood*

      The bluebird house I put up didn’t get chosen by bluebirds but instead by wrens. So cute, so tiny, and so busy!

        1. Seeking second childhood*

          I just had the fun of watching a titmouse fledgling learning to fly, going back and forth between my gutter and the crabapple tree. There might be two, it’s hard to tell with all the leaves on the tree.

    6. Might Be Spam*

      I just had a hummingbird check out my balcony. I’m the only one with plants on my balcony, so I hope it comes back.

  19. Flowers (potatoes)*

    Hope this is OK to ask — how to treat a dry/tickly cough at home?

    I tested + for COVID last week; I did end up going to the ER b/c the coughing was causing really sharp stabbing pains in my chest. Anyhow, I was examined and treated and sent home with instructions to just treat symptoms at home; a quick google search said pretty much the same thing. I’m 95% better but I still get the occasional tickle in my throat and it’s getting kind of annoying to deal with. All cough syrups I see in the stores are for congestion or severe colds, but I don’t have any of those symptoms.

    1. Workerbee*

      Lozenges, or tea with honey, or just get the cough syrup anyway, is what I’d do.

    2. Lilo*

      Lemon honey tea. My Dad is a pediatrician and always recommends it for sore throats. Cough syrup doesn’t really have anything specifically for sore throats. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen might help a little with swelling or pain but not the dry scratchy feeling.

      I always found the sprays off putting but you could try those (topical analgesic so they kind of numb the back of your throat).

      1. Flowers (potatoes)*

        Thankfully there’s no pain really but the dry scratchy feeling is annoying. I’ll look for the throat sprays. I went through like 4 bottles of cough syrup over the last 2 weeks (some before testing +).

    3. Sassafras*

      I had the annoying persistent dry cough as well – I treated it with lots of hot showers, hot tea, and sitting in front of a steaming bowl of hot water with a spoonful of Vicks vaporub stirred into it (Vicks is quite waxy so let it cool and strain it off before tipping the water down the sink). Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen) seemed to help a little.

      1. Sassafras*

        A spoonful of honey seemed to help a little as well but it could have been the placebo effect!

        1. Ampersand*

          This has been my go-to as well. I don’t even think it’s placebo—it works! Thankfully. I was sick with a non-covid cold/virus a couple of months ago and the lingering cough and tickle in my throat were persistent and most helped by honey.

        2. Anon for this 'cause I'm still embarrassed*

          This is what I do when I have a dry cough. It seems to be how every cold I’ve ever had ends (weeks later).

      2. Pippa K*

        If you have a rosemary plant, some roughly-chopped rosemary in the steaming water is a nice alternative to Vicks. It’s slightly antiseptic and some people find that it’s a mild expectorant, helping to clear congestion. Plus, it just smells nice.

    4. Invisible today*

      Suck on dried whole cloves. They are mildly antibacterial and mild antalgesics, roughly the same effectiveness as a cough drop but witbout the sticky sweetness.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I would just use whatever you normally use when you get a cold and have the dry tickle afterwards. That’s what I did after I had COVID a couple months ago. Stocked up on lozenges and drank a lot of water.

    6. Run mad; don't faint*

      I do wish companies hadn’t gone so strongly to multi-symptom medications. It’s very frustrating to not be able to get just the one thing you need. I have always found ginger ale to be pretty good at quelling the tickle. It’s very temporary of course, but it does help me get rid of that sensation at the moment. I’m curious to hear what works for others.

      1. Flowers (potatoes)*

        I found one medicine called Linctus that’s specifically for a dry/tickly cough, but it’s $30!!!!!!!

      2. Seeking second childhood*

        A Chinese friend introduced me to candied ginger, which I like better than the menthol cough drops my mom used.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Hard candy: red Jolly Ranchers and root beer barrels are my lozenges of choice. Just straight normal candy with no weird medicine taste.

      Tea with a bunch of honey.

    8. Elle Woods*

      I usually do hot tea with honey. Or, if it’s a weekend, a swig of Kahlua or macadamia nut liqueur.

    9. Jay*

      Honey, however you prefer to ingest in – in tea, straight, on toast, whatever works. Dark chocolate (the really dark stuff) is a very effective cough suppressant – really! There’s a study! It was a small study but who cares? Chocolate!

      With that dry tickly cough that comes after a virus, hydration is helpful – both drinking and breathing. So I always have a cold drink at hand and I sit in the bathroom and breath steam and if it’s really bad I haul the old vaporizer out of the closet and set it up. Don’t usually need to do that in summer – even with the AC on, it’s pretty humid in the house – but in winter with forced-air heat it can be a godsend.

      1. Flowers (potatoes)*

        You had me at chocolate! I’ve had a cool mist humidifier going on in my room for a few weeks now since my toddler was sick a few weeks back and that was recommended. Once I go back to sleeping in the room hopefully that might help! Not a fan of honey but I can suck it up….

    10. Morning reader*

      Whisky. A not full shot glass or tablespoon. Alcohol suppresses the coughing impulse.

      1. Flowers (potatoes)*

        That’s interesting! I’ve drank straight vodka for fun, not sure how my tolerance is now!

      2. RagingADHD*

        Whiskey+ honey is easier to get down and you get double benefit.

        The old -fashioned cough drops seem to work best for us – Ricola or Hall’s. The Hall’s lemon and honey is my favorite.

    11. HamlindigoBlue*

      I really like the throat soother tea.”s for this. The Walmart brand is good (great value organic throat soother). There are a lot of brands out there, but the last time I needed it, I could only find the Walmart store brand. It has licorice root, marshmallow root, and mint.

    12. Not A Manager*

      Try hot water. Just the temperature you’d use for a cup of tea, but you don’t have to put anything in it unless you want to. For me, just sipping on the warm water really helps deal with the tickling/cough sensation.

    13. pancakes*

      Glad you’re doing better. Vitacost has a pretty good selection of lozenges. (Better than chain drug stores, which tend to have candy-like or medicinal ones). We like the zinc ones and various herbal ones, but the zinc ones are mostly one per day. Herbal ones or honey ones you can have more often. Lots of hot tea also seems to help, with comfort at least.

    14. Chaordic One*

      In addition to the many excellent suggestions that have been made, two more things you might try are Jello (or some other brand of gelatin dessert) and Dr. Pepper that you’ve warmed in the microwave.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        A friend swears by pineapple juice, weird but helps for me for regular cold coughs. Hope you feel better soon.

    15. Susan*

      You need a product that has dextromethorphan in it. It’s the only over the counter cough suppressant there is. And make sure it has ONLY dextromethorphan in it, no decongestants or antihistamines or expectorants.
      In the US there is Delsym 12 hour. So it’s good to help you sleep. There is Robitussin DM too. It only works for 4 – 6 hours though.
      Ask your pharmacist about these.

    16. Flowers (potatoes)*

      A lot of great suggestions, thanks all!

      I’m curious to know – I loathe hot drinks. I just can’t do them. I can only do cold drinks or lukewarm at the most. I’ve heard many times over the years that cold drinks are damaging and can make cold/flu symptoms worse. I have no idea how based in reality that is

    17. Seeking second childhood*

      I’m glad you’re feling better so soon. When you run your errands, please wear your mask for those of us whose loved ones are immune supressed.
      (Also a PSA: The newest variant has shown to reinfect within weeks.)

    18. Observer*

      Sometimes you get this kind of symptom from post-nasal drip. Sometime anti-histamines work for that. For me, something like Sudafed PE works, because it stops the drip that’s making your throat irritated.

  20. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    Any tips on how to get over driving anxiety?

    I had lessons a few years ago…and then just kind of petered out and gave up on learning. I don’t especially feel a desire to drive, but concede that it would be useful and make life easier if I could.

    I’m aware the answer might just be “suck it up and get in a car” but I’m hoping people might have advice to share about what worked for them.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I was an extremely nervous driver – it took well over a year of lessons before I took my test and even after that I was scared (particularly of roundabouts which, given where I live in the UK, was a big problem).

      What helped: finding a teacher who specialises in nervous students. He promised to never shout, be angry, lose his temper and held to that promise. He would talk me down calmly and very soothing when I made a mistake.

      Also, and this sounds dreadful, but getting the first ding on my car (backed it into a tree two days after passing my driving test) actually helped too. Because I’d made a mistake and it wasn’t the end of the world.

      Then, practise. About 4 years ago I was in a major accident that wasn’t my fault and the only reason I’m okay driving now is the sessions I had with the institute of advanced motorists designed to help people after such occurrences.

    2. Blomma*

      In part, working through my anxiety was a “suck it up and get in a car” kind of thing. However, I was also in a situation where relying on family and occasionally a coworker/family friend for rides all the time (terrible public transit here) was just not healthy for me mentally/emotionally. Basically, my want and need to get my license (and therefore more independence) surpassed my anxiety.
      I spent about a year regularly meeting up with my dad and driving around in various parking lots in order to get comfortable behind the wheel. Once I felt ready to drive on the road, I contacted a driving school and arranged to have private lessons in the driver’s ed car 2x per week for a month. The teacher knew I was anxious and was awesome about calming me down. I was going to sign up for more lessons but he told me that he saw no reason why I couldn’t take the test.
      I still get anxious when driving. I don’t drive on the freeway. I don’t drive in the nearest large city. I tend to choose routes that don’t involve lane changes. When driving my ‘usual routes’ things are mostly ok and I’m super proud of myself for overcoming enough of my anxiety to get my license and buy a car.
      Good luck!

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thanks for responding. It’s nice to hear from others who have found driving to be challenging. Most drivers I know seemed to take to it pretty easily, which is great for them, but doesn’t make it any less daunting for me, and hard for them to give me pointers on how to work through it.

        My need for a license is lower than my anxiety. I’m trying to give myself a push to get started with lessons again.

        Congratulations on getting your license! You should be really proud of yourself for your achievement. Hopefully I can manage to follow in your footsteps.

        1. Luffi*

          I know how you feel – I live in a city with great public transit so I’ve never needed a car, but would like to learn so I have the option to drive if needed.

          For me it’s less about anxiety than laziness, plus the cost. I think it helps to practice w friends/family first in low risk situations like a parking lot, for what that’s worth

        2. Blomma*

          Thank you! And you’re got this whenever you are ready! I got my license at 25 or 26. I had done driver’s ed class at age 18 and had the highest written test score in the class but the actual driving part had to wait until I was ready.

    3. Lilo*

      Unfortunately that’s just what worked for me. I got over driving anxiety by having to drive every day for my job.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I did suspect that the only way to get over it is by doing it. I’m glad to hear that you did manage to get over your driving anxiety. Hopefully I might be able to do the same.

    4. Laura Petrie*

      I’m in my late 30s and am only just learning to drive. I’ve never wanted to do it and was terrified of being in control of a car. I’m only doing it as I’m retraining, due to graduate next summer, and a lot of roles in my new profession require a driving licence.

      I’m in the UK and I think things are a bit different here, but I spoke to my instructor and told her about my fears. We’re taking things very slowly and although financially that’s tough, it’s the right thing for me. I have my test booked for September and I think I should be ready.

      Basically I’ve got over most of my worries as I’ve had more lessons and have driven on busier and more difficult roads. I know I’m taking way longer than is usual to get test ready, but I’m going at a pace I’m happy with.

      Good luck

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I’m actually also late 30s and in the UK, so not quite so different! It’s nice to hear from someone facing a similar challenge. I’m glad to hear that it’s been getting easier for you with more experience.

        Good luck with your test in September, I’ll be rooting for you.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          Ha ha I just assumed you were in the US for some reason.

          It’s actually really difficult to find an instructor at the moment due to Covid backlogs. That could give you some extra time to decide what you want to do, or spur you on to get on a waiting list.

          I genuinely had no idea what to expect from my lessons but I discussed it with my OH, who has been driving a few years. I also talked to my instructor about what we’d be doing. Remember they also have control of the vehicle and they won’t take you out onto roads with traffic till you’re ready. I’ve now been on roads my OH avoids as they’re ‘scary’ and have driven our own car into the nearest city in the dark.

          For me, it came down to needing to do it, as I never wanted to. You could also consider learning in an automatic if you don’t want to deal with gears, or in a car with an electric parking break, which I’m doing.

          You’ll do what’s right for you.

          1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

            That’s not an unreasonable assumption, whilst AAM has an international readership, it’s still US-centric. :)

            Your comment about the instructor also having control of vehicle made me think. The cars I’ve driven before have actually not had dual controls. It might ease my anxiety somewhat if I actually drive in one that does…

            Ideally, I’d like to be able to drive a manual so that my OH and I can share a car, but thank you for reminding me that automatic is an option if I simply can’t get comfortable with it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I’ve found it helpful.

            1. Laura Petrie*

              In the early days of my lessons, my instructor used her brake a lot! It was definitely reassuring to me when I was trying to get used to everything that someone else could also take control. I found it so hard to remember everything I needed to do and notice all the hazards too.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I learned in a training car with a second brake on the passenger’s side for the instructor.

              Decades later I helped friend with her license and there was a hand brake between the seats. I explained I would give one or two warnings and then after that I would be using the hand brake if necessary. I never even reached for it.

              A part of driving is willingness to listen. If your passenger is saying, stop, stop, stop. It’s probably a safe bet you should stop. Dual controls are nice on paper, but just listening and following instructions is more to the point. I honestly felt that if i used the hand brake more than once, I was probably not going to be that helpful to my friend.

              I was a nervous learner myself. An automatic was enough for me. After I met my husband he explained how to drive a standard. I still like the idea that I did not try to learn to drive AND learn a stick at the same time. I was too nervous to catch all the parts necessary for driving a standard.

              1. Laura Petrie*

                Dual controls are normal in the UK for driving instructor cars. You’re not permitted to drive on a motorway as a learner in a single control car.

                It’s also usual in the UK to learn with an instructor then go out with family if they’re willing to supervise and insure the car

              2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

                I hear your point about willingness to listen and follow instructions, and I would do my best to try and avoid having the instructor intervene. However, the fact that someone else had the ability to take control if absolutely necessary might help ease some of my anxiousness as it would provide an extra safety net/

              3. allathian*

                I learned on a standard in my early 30s, but I’ve only driven automatics since then. I’ve found that I need my left foot as an anchor, and not having to bother with the clutch means that I can focus better on the road and traffic.

                I’m in Finland, and if you learn on an automatic, you aren’t allowed to drive a standard. Or you are, but you need to pass a driving test on a standard to do so.

                1. Isobel*

                  Yes this is the same in the UK. Automatics are becoming more common (especially with more electric cars about) but I’ve only ever driven a manual.

    5. UKDancer*

      I found I learnt when I needed to learn. My father had a health scare and it worried me that I might need to drive. I’d never needed to before (as it’s not really necessary in London). So I told the instructor I was nervous and he was really nice. I also booked a residential course in Wales where we focused on learning how to drive on A roads and handle driving at speed.

      It took a couple of goes but I passed the test and got a car. I didn’t drive it a huge amount (especially due to Covid) but it’s a useful skill to have. I don’t ever really enjoy it, especially in the London suburb I live in, but I know I can do it.

      I think the only way to get over anxiety is to do it and get a good instructor who will understand why you’re nervous and be supportive. I found they’re a lot more supportive and understanding than they were when I was trying to learn as a teenager.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I spent over 10 years either living in London or commuting to it for work, so driving really wasn’t necessary. I think a days parking in Central would probably have wiped out the majority of my days wages and so wouldn’t have been worth it even if I had been able to.

        It’s encouraging to hear from people who have successfully made it through and passed, thank you. Most people I know seem to have either taken to it easily or just have zero interest in trying.

    6. SaltedChocolateChip*

      I ended up learning in phases (early twenties, didn’t get license and didn’t drive for several years, then practiced for a few months and got my license, then got a car a few years later and really became a driver) so I don’t recall the initial “learning” stage as well as I do the “relearning” stages. But I found that taking a few lessons with an instructor really helped, especially for learning parallel parking and 3-point-turns.

      I had been learning from family members and one in particular put out a lot of anxiety (think “watch out!” and other unhelpful distracting behavior) and that had lessened my enjoyment of driving so much. I knew I could do the mechanics but I never got why people enjoyed it (or honestly felt at ease at it) till after I had my license and later my own car and started driving long distances on my own.

      All this to say this is still in the “suck it up” vein, but I didn’t suck it up and get my license until I saw a window where I would have the time to learn, and I didn’t suck it up and get a car till I needed one (and that’s when I actually became a driver who enjoys driving). I still think it’s scary and I can’t think too much about how dangerous it actually is. I also don’t love having other people with me because I find them distracting and sometimes judgmental. But I do now really enjoy long pretty drives with music on and the flexibility to go where I want to (especially with COVID), and anyone who has known me for a long time would tell you no one would’ve guessed I’d ever get there! So if you can see yourself wanting that flexibility and enjoying that solo time, know that you can get there, it’s just on the other side of the learning, like with anything else. And the fear will never go fully away but you may find like me that music helps you focus (or maybe you need complete silence — everyone is different) and you’ll get to a better place. Good luck!

      1. Nicosloana*

        I had a lot of anxiety when I was first learning (that honestly is pretty reasonable – driving is objectively pretty dangerous, and I have inattentive type ADHD so it was particularly hard for me to do safely) and I think my suggestion is to try in stages. Right now you’re limited by not driving at all, but you could learn enough to do a few key routes (and those routes could be modified to avoid situations you find particularly taxing – it doesn’t matter if it takes you twice the length of time if that’s what works for you). Just do those until the point where you feel fairly comfortable most of the time, and learn the tricks that help you do best – music or not music, passenger or no, GPS navigation talking you through it, whatever it is. Then you might graduate to only those routes plus easy highway drives that you’ve planned out on google maps before you go. You don’t have to jump immediately into like, snarled city streets and major interstate lane changes, or in fact you may decide never to do that driving and still be better off than you are now.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          This sounds like my mom’s strategy! She was a city girl and didn’t learn to drive till she and my dad moved out to the suburbs. She never really got comfortable on the highway, but she did eventually learn how to get most places she wanted locally by the less-crowded and slower back roads pretty confidently.

      2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you for sharing your experience, I appreciate it.

        The flexibility of not being reliant on lifts and public transport is appealing, and it’s the thing that’s making me consider gritting my teeth and trying to get to the other side. I also have a fear of failing, but I keep trying to remind myself that plenty of people take multiple attempts before passing.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I found myself anxious during the driving test, and it took three times to pass. Although it might sound daunting, it actually worked out well, because the first two times gave me practice and confidence for the third time. I look back on it now as must an extension of my practicing driving.

        2. SarahKay*

          Very late commenting, but just in case you come back and check, I had similar problems, and for me the only way to become less anxious was to make myself do more driving.

          I actually learnt to drive when I was 17 (lived in the countryside; driving lessons was the standard gift for 17 year olds) and passed my test on the second try, but then went off to uni to a city with excellent public transport. I occasionally drove in a hire car, and then moved down to the south of England – lots of big multi-lane roundabouts, dual carriageways, motorways etc, and came to grief in a hire van when moving house, purely because I didn’t know enough about multi-lane roundabouts. Luckily no-one was hurt, and the person whose car door I destroyed was in a company car due to be replaced the next day.

          Still, I totally lost my nerve and didn’t drive again for nearly 15 years.

          I live within walking distance of work and town, so I only started again when I got divorced and didn’t have my husband to do the driving anywhere not public-transport-friendly. I took lessons, in a dual-control car, with a very calm instructor who was very good at explaining the why of things, not just the what, which was ideal for me.

          I don’t own a car (still walk to work) but hire one fairly regularly, especially to visit my parents who live about 100 miles away. I still don’t really like driving, but I have found that the more I do of it the easier it gets, and conversely, the less I do the harder it becomes. Be kind to yourself, and just push gently – when I was first getting back into driving I’d time my journeys for really early or really late to avoid traffic, or use park’n’rides to avoid town driving.

          I also found that a satnav was absolutely my best friend – if I’m driving in busy traffic and realise I’m in the wrong lane for my turning and can’t easily correct, I go with the flow and let the satnav figure out how to get me back on course. I’ve seen a number of industrial estates that way (and circled a number of roundabouts), but for me that’s far less stressful than trying to get into the right lane in a hurry, which was the error that caused my original crash. Plus, the satnav never judges me! It just calmly says ‘recalculating’ and then gives a new route.

          Good luck!

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      This may not work for you, but I find it easier to drive on roads that I’m familiar with (I have pretty bad driving anxiety also). I tend to bike a lot, so if I need to drive, I will often try to go on a route that I’m familiar with by bike. That way I don’t have to deal with as many variables at once and I just need to get used to the car itself. It would probably also work if you choose a small area you’re comfortable with and drive around there a lot to get used to it, then gradually expand it.

    8. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Sooo, I am in a rather similar position, as I’m only now learning to drive and am quite anxious about the whole thing. Just like you, I don’t have a particular desire to drive but it would be useful and make life easier.
      Now, probably different to your situation is that where I’m living you have to get enrolled in an actual driving school, and it costs quite a lot of money (one of the reasons I didn’t learn before now) – which is a very good incentive to stick to the whole process and actually obtain my licence xD
      The school I chose offers (and even as part of the whole process requires) you to take a number of lessons in a driving simulator. That, for me, has been a godsend, as it affords me training without any actual risks. Maybe something like that is available somewhere around where you live?
      The school also encourages me to practice how I would react to all the different situations in traffic whilst being a passenger and to pay special attention to things like traffic signs, the layout of junctions, other driver’s (non)adherence to traffic regulations, etc. Especially around the place where I live (or routes I would regularly take once I have my driving licence) as that should give me experience and routine, and thus soothe my anxiety when actually driving.
      Last but not least, they encouraged me to try and practise in a large empty car park as if I was on actual roads with junctions, roundabouts, (school) bus stops, and the like – to get the hang of turning (and using the indicator), breaking, starting the car up, parking,… All of this to get routine in the actual handling of the car so that you do those things basically automatically and can concentrate on everything that comes up in traffic whilst driving (and not on how to move the car around).

      Maybe some of this can be of help to you, too, and hopefully both of us will have our licence in the foreseeable future!

      1. Jackalope*

        I was less stressed than you were about this, OP, but the last bit was very helpful for me. Find an empty space where you can drive (in my case it was the parking lot for a local school on a weekend so literally no one else was there), and then practice driving around that for a while. You can learn what the pedals feel like, how responsive the steering wheel is, how much room you have to turn, and so on, all in a space that’s pretty safe. That helps build the reflexes so you can have an easier time when actually on the road.

    9. Grumpy*

      I have driving anxiety and have never gotten over it. I just try to drive as little as possible. One element of driving that gives me anxiety is other cars/people on the road while I’m driving, so I run errands and do my shopping early on weekend mornings when there’s less traffic as much as possible.

      I have much more anxiety driving to places I don’t go often or have never been to than places I’m familiar driving to, so when I need to go somewhere new, I study Google maps, draw a map and write myself instructions, and practice driving there early on a weekend morning when there’s no traffic. It helps to feel like I know where I’m going when I then need to drive there during normal traffic hours.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        When I got my license I dealt with highways by starting early. It’s a whole different thing when there is no one on the road. Summer is ideal because it gets light early and you can really see around you. On the highway alone, I found that I could follow the signs and find ramps and such. These are skills necessary to drive in traffic on the highways. I had to see myself doing some of the basics in order to understand that I could do it.

        Older me has regressed somewhat. If I don’t have to take a highway. then I don’t, period.

    10. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      I was about 30 when I finally passed my test, and ten years later still not a very relaxed driver – my Garmin usually gives me a stress alert when I get in the drivers seat… I have had to do long drives for work in the past and hated it, hopefully that’s behind me! One thing that took a chunk of the anxiety out for me when I was learning was to learn in an automatic. It restricts your license, but do many cars are automatic these days (and will be when they’ll all electric) and not gaging you think about the clutch makes things easier. But I do fret the day before when I know I have a new journey coming up :-/

    11. Tib*

      I agree with the big parking lot recommendations. Most have accurate street-like elements. An additional benefit is that you can be careful and repetitive without encountering other people. You can make figure 8s or squares around barriers to practice right and left turns and you can repeat it so many times you feel like you’re getting dizzy. You can park in 10 different spots in a row. You can check your position by getting out of the car and then spend time in that spot memorizing how being in the right place on the road looks from your vantage point in the driver’s seat.

      I’m teaching my son to drive right now and we also build an extra 5 minutes into a driving trip for him to circle the block a few times as a warm-up.

    12. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Even if the driving anxiety is only really helped by driving, look for ways to mitigate all other anxiety so that you go in and out of driving as comforted as possible. Consider the time of day, who you are with, what you’re wearing, something you do beforehand (music, meditation), a particular beverage or ritual, exercise, what you bring with you. Whatever will help you feel grounded and at your best entering the car. Whatever will help calm you if you start to spin.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Shoes matter, they should be flexible and definitely not clunky. My friend was trying to learn to drive in a shoe that had a 2 inch thick sole. She couldn’t feel the pedal and could not feel what she was doing. She got some sneakers and that fixed that problem.

    13. Girasol*

      This spring, what with covid and a back problem that kept me from even sitting in a car, I went months without being in a car at all. I used to commute two hours a day and drive all day to visit parents once a month and never felt the least concern, so I was quite surprised to find myself a bit nervous about driving to the store. It went away when I had to go places again, whether I felt like it or not, and I got used to driving again. Driving seems to take a lot of muscle memory that can get rusty fast without regular practice.

    14. Virtual Light*

      Honestly, having music on that I could sing along to really loudly helped take some part of my consciousness away from the reality of scary driving.

      Also doing the scary parts when I knew there would be less traffic helped. You can do this!!

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      I completely relate to your situation. In my case, I was phobic and my anxiety was severe. I was about to move to a rural area and it was no longer an option to avoid it. I was 40 when I finally got my license.

      What worked for me was a combination of therapy and going to a driving school that specialized in working with adults. The therapy methodology was EMDR. I had never used that technique before, and a single session with a therapist worked for me, which felt miraculous. (Look up EMDR if you’re interested, it’s designed to work quickly although it might take a few sessions for many people.) I started driving lessons immediately afterward.

      The whole thing was so effective that I now actually enjoy long solo road trips, and I can navigate rush hour in crowded cities. I forget I was every phobic at all, which a therapist friend tells me is the true sign of having gotten past it.

      Good luck, I know how stressful the situation is.

    16. Cendol*

      Truthfully? Stimulants. But I suspect this only works for folks with ADHD, so ymmv (pun slightly intended).

      I used to get so overwhelmed in the car because I couldn’t tune out the lights and colors and movement. I have always cranked my anxiety to 11 to help me focus, but after a while the anxiety took on a life of its own. I was so afraid I was going to get distracted by, say, a squirrel in a tree on the side of the road, and cause an accident. I tried all kinds of things, including visualizing my routes via Google Maps, playing music, taking anxiety meds, and “sucking it up.” I would still arrive at every destination shaking and clammy with sweat. The only thing that actually made it better for me was getting medicated for my ADHD. Now driving is unpleasant but not impossible.

    17. EvilQueenRegina*

      If at all possible, get a recommendation for an instructor from someone you know. I initially went for a big school in my area but ended up feeling a lot happier with an independent guy my coworker recommended.

    18. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I was always a nervous driver, but I had to anyway, so for years I would just drive to school/work with a tight chest and sick feeling in my stomach. No amount of practice made it go away, but when I finally got treatment for my general anxiety disorder, suddenly driving was no problem.
      The other thing that helped was I got a vehicle I like better. I do much better in a taller vehicle (like a van) because I can see further up the road over the person in front of me.

    19. Bibliovore*

      I was a late to learn driver (56) and my husband was a traveling sales rep and did all of the driving when we were together even when I got my license due to my driving anxiety.
      He even joked with me when he realized I was over 50 before I had ever been in a moving vehicle alone.
      I know this sound nuts- what really helped me was a new car.
      I traded in his 2011 Camry and my 2012 Suburu Forester for a brand new 2022 Outback.
      I LOVE all the warning beeps and flashing lights. I have stopped worrying about changing lanes on a highway or having enough room between cars or am I centered in the lane or the blind spot.
      All of these things are no longer and issue and I find I am no longer gripping the steering wheel for dear life.

  21. Teapot Translator*

    I’m a Microsoft/Android user rather than Apple, but I read recently that Apple is much better at supporting older models than Samsung with regards to phones. Is it the same for tablets? I’m pondering getting a tablet, but they’re as expensive as laptops! Any advice on this?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      When you say “supporting,” are you talking about how many years they offer security updates for these devices?

    2. Jora Malli*

      I’ve had my iPad for about 5 years, and it’s still going strong. I still get regular software updates and any time I’ve needed to contact Apple support for something, they’ve been really helpful and got my issues resolved. It still does everything I want it to do, and the $20 bluetooth keyboard I bought for it makes it a really versatile tool. I don’t anticipate needing to replace it anytime soon.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      My iPad is about 7 years old, I can’t remember if it’s an Air or Air 2, and it is no longer accepting iOS updates which means many apps don’t update either. It also has a big crack across the screen and the home button is barely working but those are my son’s fault, not Apple. I’m considering getting a refurbished one since I’d like to save a bit of money on what’s going to be a child entertainment device, but I don’t want to find myself in the same planned obsolescence spot again too soon….

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Well, I’d heard quite the opposite (TBF I had heard and observed Apple to be terrible, vs Android in general – I believe Apple Macs *used* to be much better than Microsoft), and that Apple specifically got in trouble for planned obsolescence, so I Googled it.

      Turned out both Apple AND Samsung got in trouble for it in 2018. Sigh.

      Can’t really give any recommendations, I used to love Nokias but don’t really have any brand loyalty beyond no-Apple (they’re so good at designing their products to be incredibly easy and intuitive to use together but absolutely awful cross platform, above and beyond other brands. No.)

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        My much-dropped aged relic is a Samsung S5 (which I got long after its release date 2014)– Samsung still supports it with updates, but apps don’t always. (My bank, some store ordering apps)
        For what it’s worth, I have less brand loyalty than functionality loyalty. I want user-replaceable batteries…and last time I checked, that still meant “not Apple”.

        1. Observer*

          What brands do you know of that do user replaceable batteries? Most of the high(er) end phones I know of don’t do them, because it’s so hard to get good water and dust resistance in those kinds of units.

          1. Seeking second childhood*

            Not sure, which is why I still have the the same phone I bought in 2016!

    5. Observer*

      Samsung is not the only game in town.

      Samsung has a mixed record here, but these days they have gotten pretty good with their higher end phones – 5 years of updates is their current promise and they seem to be sticking with it.

      They do some EXCELLENT tablets, so if you are already in that space, I’d look very seriously at their stuff. See what they are promising, and check the reviews.

  22. Upside Down*

    A few years ago, I accidentally led my friends into an unsafe situation. We live near DC and I scheduled an outing to a haunted house in the city. We had to travel by Metro to get there. It wasn’t an area I had ever been to before but having traveled to DC several times, I didn’t think much of it. Looking back now, I realized I thought that because the only places I had traveled to were very busy places near the Smithsonian, the national mall, and the convention center. Long story short, our metro dropped us off in a not so great neighborhood. Nothing happened, but we got a few intimidating comments from locals we walked past about looking out of place and not being in the right part of town. We hurried to the haunted house location, and told the staff that we were too shaken up to actually do the haunted house; we sat in the lobby and called an Uber to drive us all the way out of the city and back to my car at the metro station.

    Since then, I’ve had a real fear about going into a big city in an area I don’t know. Now an event has popped up in New York City that I would really like to attend, but this worry is preventing me from actually committing to organizing a group. I don’t want to put my friends in that kind of situation again. Has anyone else experienced this worry? And thoughts on how I could conquer it or just how to plan a safer trip?

    This event is at the Duggal Greenhouse if anyone has any personal experience with that area.

    1. Upside Down*

      Adding this, I don’t have an issue with traveling in general. I do trips to local beach towns and small towns out in the country. I guess the small towns don’t bother me, but it’s the big cities that make me nervous and second-guess whether I am going to be in a safe area or not.

      1. EmilyG*

        I don’t know if you will find this viscerally persuasive or not, but many large cities are exceptionally safe, and NYC is one of them. There are really not any places in NYC that a tourist could find their way to that would be unsafe at any hour of the day. I lived there for many years and am in the habit of walking all over, alone, and never had any trouble. The statistics would bear this out. Consider that many news programs gain engagement and make money by playing different groups off each other and scaring you so that you have to keep watching their program to know what is safe. I would guess that the people you encountered in DC were not unsafe, but messing with you. For me, unexpected interactions with other people can range from annoying to delightful, but mostly delightful, and that is why I live in a city.

        That said, I looked up Duggal Greenhouse and it’s someplace awfully inconvenient, because it’s a huge warehouse. It’s sort of near a subway stop and you could walk through a neighborhood of $1-4 million homes and then the Wegman’s parking lot (??) to get there, but that seems like a pain in the butt. I’m not a big Uber user but I’d probably take an Uber to this location to save precious vacation time.

        1. Lore*

          Having gone to that event…I live walking distance and it was still challenging and confusing to get there on foot or by subway. Not at all dangerous but if being lost stresses you, then I recommend taxi. Or ferry, depending on where you’re staying—it’s quite close to the Navy Yard ferry stop and I think they’ve marked the route from the ferry. (They have marked a pedestrian route from the street as well but unfortunately we entered the navy yards from a different entrance and wandered around for a while.)

    2. Dreaming of daffodils*

      Could “walking” the route or through the neighborhood on Google maps help you get a sense of the area and decide if you might feel safe going there?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I use street view when I have to go to a new area. That is super helpful because once I get there IRL I see things that I saw on the street view which helps me keep my bearings.

    3. Lilo*

      I looked up the location you listed and that doesn’t look like a bad area at all. It’s next to a Wegmans.

      Having lived and worked in DC, Chicago, and Miami, including working in one of the worst areas of Miami, it’s just a matter of walking confidently and ignoring people. People can make creepy remarks anywhere, you just ignore them and move on.

      1. pancakes*

        “Next to a Wegmans” in an NYC context sometimes means in a fairly remote area, because the places big box stores end up are often not super-residential. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in sketchy areas; it’s more that it doesn’t necessarily mean a happily walkable area good to travel to on foot. This one is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard area, where people do live, but not every address there is necessarily going to be a quick or easy walk from the subway stop for a day visitor. Google Maps or CityMapper are super useful for this type of thing.

      2. Grits McGee*

        I read too fast and got *super* excited that there was a Wegmans that was DC Metro-accessible….

    4. SaltedChocolateChip*

      Someone with more recent knowledge may pop on but while I don’t know that venue you are very close to DUMBO and as someone said, Wegmans. I haven’t been in that area in several years but I would think during the day you’d be fine. I could see it feeling a little quiet at night for people not familiar with the area because there’s not a lot right near that venue and that can feel a little creepy. You could always take an Uber to and from the subway stop if you were concerned. I also would bet that attraction is popular enough other people would be coming and going.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Seconding the comment to just ignore the remarks and act like you belong. I lived in DC for 5 years and am now very curious about the haunted house you went to!

      1. Upside Down*

        It was a one-off haunted house, don’t think it ever came back, but the area was Anacostia. When I mentioned to an older person I work with the incident a week later, she said that was a bad area and our group of young women definitely should not have gone there.

        1. Lilo*

          If it makes you feel better that’s pretty much the only area of DC you’d have a problem in. Anacostia is getting better but… yeah.

        2. dc*

          Anacostia does have a higher crime rate than the rest of the city but not to the point that you should be that shaken up walking through it. Consider that a lot of what people consider unsafe is about race.

          1. Anon for this*

            What an interesting choice of conversation to force racial justice in to. Nothing here indicates this is a race issue. The group went in to a part of DC that has a demonstrably higher crime rate than the remainder of the city and the local residents intimidated the group. That’s the part that stands out to me, not the alleged racial make up of the area or the group OP was in. I don’t think the fight for racial justice should include invalidating the feelings of women regarding their safety. When it starts to, it’s time to pick a new front.

            1. dc*

              cool, so let’s ignore all the data showing that people’s perceptions of what neighborhoods are safe and unsafe are heavily influenced by race. it’s useful for people to be aware of that. knowing it has changed my own reactions at times.

              I live in dc.

              1. Maggie*

                Reminds me of when I have family visit in Chicago. They’ll be like oh is this turning into a bad neighborhood? And I’m like no… you just saw more than one group of black people…. That being said if OPs group was uncomfortable due to street harassment I get that. But I don’t think OP should feel guilty for “leading them somewhere unsafe”

          2. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Indeed! Next time someone makes a comment as you walk by, you can pleasantly say “Hey, how’re you doing?” and just keep walking. Almost all of the time, you’re pretty safe. I have been the white person living in a majority BIPOC neighborhood, and most people are quite lovely and just being friendly, though maybe in a way you’re not used to yet. It kind of depends on what your previous experience has been. If the sight of a majority BIPOC neighborhood is what makes you feel unsafe, the people you’re walking by may be picking up on that and feel insulted. Try to go with a positive attitude.

            I live in and love NYC, and I will just give you a heads up that we New Yorkers are very interactive people. I was glancing at the menu on a food truck the other day, and a lady standing nearby told me it was good and gave me a run-down of all her favorite menu items. That’s normal. That’s just us being friendly. Same thing if someone looks at your outfit and says, “Love your hat!” It’s just what we do here. Personally, I adore these little interactions, and I missed them terribly when I lived in Boston, a cold city where no one !@#$@#ing talks to you. Oh yeah, also, New Yorkers can swear a lot, but we don’t really mean anything by it. It’s just our way, and again, not necessarily hostile at all.

            1. Anon for this*

              I’m pretty sure it’s the intimidating comments from the local residents that made the OP feel *checks notes* intimidated. It doesn’t help either that crime is higher in that area. If it was me that went in to an area with high crime and the residents started to say intimidating things and I feel intimidated as a result, it’s not going to be because there happens to be BIPOC people around.

              1. Grumpy*

                Yeah, there’s a big difference between friendly “This food truck is great!” or “Love your hat!” type comments and “you look like you don’t belong here” or “you’re not in the right part of town” type comments. I took public transportation into a big city with a high crime rate during college, and most people left me alone or were friendly, but my experiences with a few creepy/harassing/scary people convinced me to never get a job there because I felt unsafe. It has nothing to do with race.

            2. Lilo*

              I’m a DC resident myself and I acknowledge that the poster here massively overreacted, but I also do acknowledge it’s a bit of an unusual area in DC and may feel a bit more run down. But I also ran into a tourist who claimed you were unsafe if you went north of the Mall, which yeah sure, so unsafe at the fancy law firms and tapas restaurants.

              1. Allanon*

                You don’t get to decide if a woman is overreacting when it comes to their safety. Women face an outsized risk when out in public.

                1. Lilo*

                  I mean, I’m a woman who lives in DC. And the person who told me that DC was unsafe two blocks north of the Mall was a man. And it’s objectively ridiculous.

                2. pancakes*

                  Those of us who live in big cities are not unfamiliar with that fact, and some of us are women. It doesn’t follow that every reaction a woman has is appropriate and proportionate, on account of her being a woman.

                3. Allanon*

                  “It doesn’t follow that every reaction a woman has is appropriate and proportionate, on account of her being a woman.”

                  That’s the mindset that lets people rationalize away legitimate safety concerns a woman may encounter. You might as well tell women they’re being “hysterical” at this point.

                4. pancakes*

                  I’m not “people,” I’m one woman, and no, I am not responsible for other people’s behavior or thoughts! My goodness, you should really reconsider this approach.

                5. Lilo*

                  I’m pushing back on this because a lot of the people who called the police on POC just for existing were women, usually white woman. Feeling “unsafe” doesn’t mean you are unsafe or anyone had done anything wrong. Particularly in a black neighborhood like Anacostia it is very very important to examine those prejudices. Especially since that fear is used against those communities.

              2. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I live pretty close to Anacostia and I wouldn’t necessarily send tourists there, but I agree, it’s just not as… shiny as some other parts of the city, but it’s not inherently unsafe. It’s residential. Shoot, you can see the Capitol from my roof but I also live next to two housing projects. Cities gonna city. I used to live in Harlem and I got the weirdest reactions to that– it was just as safe as anywhere else in Manhattan.

                My rules for getting around unfamiliar areas that seem unsafe: walk with purpose, make eye contact with people at stores, don’t act like Peggy’s mom in Hairspray. Just act like you know where you’re going.

                Oh, and Gallery Place makes me way more nervous than Anacostia, probably because of all the weed. :-)

        3. saf*

          People think Anacostia is a lot less safe than it is. Bad things can happen – bad things can happen anywhere!

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Seriously — my aunt got mugged on Park Avenue in broad daylight. Rich-people neighborhood =/= safe.

            1. Squirrel Nutkin*

              And I will also say that when I was in an extremely minor car accident at night in a neighborhood that had its share of police activity in Oakland, CA, a TON of people came out of their houses and ran up to make sure that we were all okay. They were good, kind people who cared about strangers’ safety and well-being. Poor neighborhood, even with some police activity in it, does not necessarily =/= unsafe.

                1. Squirrel Nutkin*

                  Also once stopped and got directions from the guys hanging out in front of what I later learned was a mafia social club in Providence, RI. I was polite to them, and they were very courteous to me.

            2. pancakes*

              That’s true, Squirrel Nutkin, but for the purposes of the original question I want to point out that Park Ave runs from Astor Place to the Bronx and covers a lot of different neighborhoods. Certainly not all of them are rich. The iconically rich part is in midtown in the 50s through the 80s or so, which is a relatively small chunk of it.

          2. Lilo*

            I used to work in one of the worst parts of Miami and the worst thing that ever happened to me was a homeless guy exposing himself. Which, while not great, wasn’t that bad.

            You’re much more likely to encounter things like pick pockets in touristy areas because people who want to commit that kind of crime will be where the tourists are.

    6. Mia*

      My brother lives pretty close to the Navy Yard. It’s pretty quiet over there but not super close to a train stop, but you could get a cab/Lyft from train. Also, if it’s a large event you won’t be the only people heading to/from. As a native New Yorker, I feel safest when there are other folks on the street. And agree with others who have noted that NY isn’t a crime ridden hell hole that news outlets make it out to be, and even in neighborhoods with higher crime rates, most of the people there are just living their lives, not out running afoul of the law.

    7. Double A*

      I accidentally ended up walking several miles through skid row in LA. I didn’t really feel unsafe, though, as I realized everyone around me was in a much more unsafe situation than I was. Honestly driving home in a car was probably the most risky thing you did that evening.

    8. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I had to read this a few times. Nothing happened! What “situation” are you talking about? You could get rude comments from Billy Bob at the gas station in Podunkville, population 253, but would you write about it like it was some horrible event from which you needed to recover?

      1. Lilo*

        Yes, as a city dweller I will say the absolute scariest I have ever been was when someone made a racially slur to my cousin. We were in a “nice” town.

      2. Indigo Five Alpha*

        This reads a bit harsh to OP. But I am really curious as to why the haunted house didn’t happen – I feel like something is missing?

      3. pancakes*

        Yes, true. My experience as a NYC dweller for the past 25 years is that locals here generally remain the people I’d rather hear from vs. visitors, and vs. people elsewhere in the US. I’ve had people in other, less urban places I’ve visited say wacky stuff they wouldn’t be able to get away with here for long. That’s not to say this city is a fairytale land of good vibes, but for the most part there are so many people out and about at all hours (in my neighborhood, at least) that I feel quite safe.

    9. pancakes*

      In terms of how to conquer this, get familiar with areas of cities you plan to travel in or spend time in? In general and specifically the areas you’re planning to visit. I’d never heard of this greenhouse but I went to a map and it’s in the Brooklyn Navy Yard area. It’s not far from downtown Brooklyn but I don’t know which stop you’re planning to get off at. Spending some time poking around a decent map app and/or transit planning app like Google Maps or Citymapper should help you avoid any surprises.

  23. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Anyone done cosplay? And if so any advice for disabled characters/characters who’s attire doesn’t require working legs?

    I’ve done SCP Foundation scientists and a character from Hellsing Ultimate Abridged in the past.

    1. allathian*

      I haven’t done any cosplay, but many disabled people do cosplay able-bodied characters while sitting in a wheelchair, for example.

    2. YNWA*

      This is pretty specific cosplay but I have a friend who is in a wheelchair who loves to Mad Max cosplay and attend the various events in our area. She has built her wheelchair into a battle tank and then concentrates on her costume and makeup. She equips her chair with special burly wheels for navigating terrain and has crazy LED lights built into it. Like I said, this is a very specific cosplay and she goes all out and has various techniques for handling restrooms (her tank has a door but she uses less conventional methods).

      Other than that, at Steampunk events I’ve seen people decked out in their neo-Victorian gear in wheelchairs that they’ve similarly tricked out.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If I used a wheelchair it would be a battle tank ALL the time, because that is AWESOME.

        People who cosplay at that level are impressive; I could never do it that well. In fact, I’ve only done it once, as Donna Noble. Everyone knew who I was supposed to be, so I guess it was successful.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Her tank has a door but she uses less conventional methods.

        I love that this sentence exists in my day.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh I’m suddenly very interested in doing mad max stuff now! I can swing that with my walking aids.

    3. Seeking second childhood*

      Harriet Kingsolver, if you’re game to go with a character from a lesser known writer’s lesser known short stories. “Winging It” and “Fighting words” are available in “The Collected Kagan”. (Heads up that some of the stories are extremely dark and a couple are NSFW.)
      If you want something instantly recognizable, what about a Dalek? Scale the casing to fit it over whatever accessibility devices you use.
      If you can get away with one cane, what about John Hammond from Jurassic Park?

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I know a lot of the people who dress up as mermaids use wheelchairs to get around conventions, although that’s not a specific character but rather a separate kind of costuming.

      Other than that, it kind of comes down to whether you want the chair itself as part of the character presentation, or if you prefer to go the “parade float” route where you decorate the chair as something else to be part of the costume.

      If you use a different assistive device, I suppose the same general idea applies: decide if your presentation of that character will use that assistive device (which is fine whether or not that character does in whatever media you’re drawing from) or if you’re going to decorate/present it as something else.

      (Not what you asked, but if you’re going to a large convention with lots of walking/standing compared to your usual, you may also want to consider using a different assistive device than usual. I know multiple people who started enjoying conventions again once they started renting mobility scooters rather than just using their usual walkers/canes/etc. even though those devices work well for their non-convention mobility supports because their regular life involves less walking and standing than they would need to do to experience the convention without skipping a lot of events and taking a lot of breaks. It’s not “cheating” to use a different mobility support depending on your plan for the day just because if you made a different plan you could get by without it.)

    5. Did ye aye?*

      There’s the obviously iconic Oracle (Batman) then Dr. Scott (Rocky Horror), Professor X (X-Men), Korra (Legend of Korra), Johnny Joestar (JJBA), Beldarut (Witch Hat Atelier) (this guy’s “wheelchair” is so fucking cool fr), Silhouette (Marvel), Aughra (Dark Crystal), Madame Giry (Phantom) and that fucking troll from Homestuck.

      You could also look at characters that use staffs or canes not so much for mobility like Maleficent, Gandalf, Saruman, The Riddler, Willy Wonka, The Baron (Whisper of the Hearts/The Cat Returns) or Elias (Ancient Magus Bride).

  24. Meh*

    I’m providing support for a group 100 mile bike ride and I’m looking for snack/refuel recipes. It’s just a casual event my partner is hosting so not a structured race.

    I’m an avid baker/cook and I want to make things but I’ll also have store bought items. Do you have any recipe or snack suggestions?
    These need to be calorie dense and I’m assuming carb loaded but should I make
    Keto options like fat bombs? I’m thinking to have vegan and gluten-free options as well.

    1. Berlin Berlin*

      Definitely think high fat isn’t the way to go – it takes more blood to the stomach and away from the muscles! I have yet to meet a cyclist who’s concerned about eating carbs when they’re exercising.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        I know several cyclists who really like flapjack – easy to make, sugar kick, oats in there to keep you going

        1. Meh*

          Flapjacks, like pancakes? With oats? Is there a particular recipe because I’ve never heard of that.

          1. Jackalope*

            The best snack I ever had on an organized long bike ride was a steamed potato with salt on it. I don’t know that I would adore such a thing under normal circumstances, but it had everything I needed – carbs and salt – and it was simple and wonderful.

          2. Pippa K*

            More likely flapjacks in the English meaning, I’m guessing – oat bars to Americans, maybe?

            I recently made Nigella’s breakfast bars, which are delicious and really simple and seem like they’d suit the purpose here. Link in reply.

          3. Someone else*

            I’m assuming this is British flapjack which is more similar to an oaty granola bar.

      2. Meh*

        Arg! The last support person made them so I just guessed they would be OK. Sigh. I have zero clue and my partner isn’t helpful so that’s why I need you lovely people.

    2. Golden*

      I know nothing about cycling, but had a friend who swore by baguettes for her rides. Not sure if it was a joke, but she said they fit nicely in the drink holder pockets of a backpack for a portable snack.

      Also, nice of you to think of dietary restrictions. Are the gluten free riders on that diet for medical reasons or a preference? If it’s for medical reasons, probably best to go with individually wrapped, store bought items regardless of what it is!

      1. Jackalope*

        So… yes and no. If there are people who have severe allergies/celiac/etc then it may be helpful to have some stuff that’s packaged and kept separately from everything else. But it’s often easier to make sure something is compliant for an allergy or dietary need when you make it and can ensure that the ingredients are all safe. Companies often throw the most random stuff into their recipes and if you aren’t in the know it’s really easy to miss something. And honestly, as someone who’s done a number of these rides, so often all they have to offer are prepackaged sweet stuff (store-bought cookies and sugary muffins and such), and eating that much sugar can be bad on my digestive system (which is bad news on a long bike ride), so I would encourage more of a variety of options. I hate showing up to the snack stop only to see that there’s nothing I can eat.

    3. CyclingGal*

      Most of the stuff a cyclist carries is sweet, so salty things are great. If it is early in the event, granola bars, bananas, Coke, gatorade, water, chips or pretzels. If you are later in the event, be sure to have bananas and pb and jelly for sandwiches — these are must haves for later in the event, in addition to the above list. Turkey cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, pickles would be luxuries, tasty luxuries. Never hurts to have a supply of oatmeal creme pies. Baggies of chocolate chip cookies are good for putting in your pocket as you continue riding. Fat bombs would not be wanted. Cyclist want salt, carbs, protein at your stop and some sugary something to take with them, think granola bars or cookies that will fit in their pocket.

      Each rider is different. I prefer chips and coke and a turkey sammie. My spouse likes hotdogs or pbj, and gatorade. My friend likes chips, pickles, oatmeal creme pies, turkey sammies, coke and gatorade.

      I have done a rest stop at mile 140 and every one wanted at least 1 sammie. Things that will make you a star at your rest stop: wet wipes, trash bag for emptying their pockets, sunscreen.

      Thanks for sypporting cyclists. Volunteers are so important!

    4. Buni*

      My standard high-cal / easy pack (and easy no-bake) is coconut ice. Obviously you’ve got to like coconut, but apart from the coconut it’s 50/50 sugar & condensed milk.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      For energy snacks, I generally try to have all four categories of calorie sources, since they all take different times to digest and you get quick, medium and long term energy. No idea if this idea is scientific, but I read it on the internet somewhere so it must be true. :) So your snacks should provide simple carbs, complex carbs, protein, and fat. Probably salt also, to replace sweat. And then as portable, easy and yummy as possible.

    6. Just a name*

      My husband did the Seagull Century some time ago, and he spoke highly of the pie and ice cream around mile 85. Apparently it is a tradition at that ride.

    7. Angstrom*

      Look up “rice cakes” or “rice bars”. In this context, they’re sticky rice + whatever appeals, so can be savory or sweet. Savory examples: https://www.triathlete.com/nutrition/recipes/feed-zone-portables-masala-chicken-rice-cakes/ or https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19528316/fuel-up-with-cashew-bacon-rice-bars/
      I’ve made them with egg & cheese, dried fruit, and a “Pad Thai-ish” cooking the rice with minced ginger and garlic, then adding natural peanut butter and lime juice.
      Another easy option is to make balls of dried fruit and nuts: Put dried dates, figs, apricots, etc. in a food processor with nuts, pinch of salt, maybe dark chocolate or cocoa powder, season to taste. Whiz, add a bit of water if needed, form into balls. Can roll in oat flour to make them easier to handle.
      Baked goods for consumption during exercise should be moist. Trying to eat something dry and crumbly when you’re breathing hard doesn’t go well.

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    Advice on buying a first men’s suit? My general impression is to buy a “basic” suit from somewhere not hideously expensive and then to get it tailored to fit, but no one in my immediate family has tackled this before. It this Pennys? Lord and Taylor? Somewhere else? Should the tailoring be separate?

    My son graduates next year. I thought a suit for job interviews, weddings, and funerals would be useful; also figure he is now likely to remain the same size for the next decade or so. He is 6′, thin, athlete; going into computer science so I assume he would wear a suit or its parts only on rare dress up occasions, not every day. (So far he has gotten through funerals and weddings with slacks and an oxford shirt.) He is not the sort to plan a month ahead with Rent The Runway (meet my daughter for that) so I think having something hanging in his closet that works for these rare occasions would be helpful.

    My husband got all his suits and sport coats via inheriting them from his much older same-build brother, or occasionally their dad.

    1. Meh*

      Men’s Warehouse and Burlington Coat Factor are good places for starter suits and both offer alterations. Banana Republic also has ok off the rack suits and they offer alterations (I don’t think the factory store offers alterations but you could take it to a local tailor).

    2. SpellingBee*

      Basic tailoring (hemming the pants, adjusting sleeve length, even adjusting fit at the waist) is almost always included at no extra charge when you buy a man’s suit. Jos. A. Banks has decent mid-priced stuff, or at least it used to. If there isn’t one of those near you, then a department store would be a good choice also.

    3. Reba*

      My brother has had good success with Joseph A Banks (wait for a sale) and Banana Republic. BR Factory also does suiting, so since we are talking about a basic first suit that might be the place to start at a lower price point!

      If Son is actually into fashion, my spouse is happy with his suit from Suit Supply, and that actually was a fun shopping experience.

      1. Just a name*

        My husband was very fond of Jos. A . Banks. I The sales were great. Even had one where you could bring in an old suit and they’d give you a big discount. They would do the tailoring as well. Most of his suits were donated last year when he retired, btw.

    4. Anono-me*

      Macy’s has nice men’s suits also.

      A nice medium weight*, medium gray 3 piece suit, single breasted, with medium width single lapels will be the most versatile option in my opinion.

      Medium weight can be worn in all but the most extreme climate conditions. (If you live somewhere hot most of the time go with a light weight suit. )

      Medium gray color is very versatile, you can wear it to weddings and not look to somber, funerals and not look to festive, and still look professional at job interviews. Medium gray color also appears to change shades depending on the color of the shirt and tie worn with it.

      The color variation along with the optional vest will make it less likely that people will notice that your son is wearing the same suit to all suit appropriate situations. (People’s attitudes towards men’s clothing will also help. )

      Single breasted, with medium width single lapels is a style that has looked nice, but not necessarily fashion forward for many and I expect it will for many more.

      The pants leg length should be just long enough to have a little bit of a wrinkle or break where they rest on the top of his shoes in front. But the pants should
      not cover the entire heel in back. (Look at a picture of George Clooney in a nice suit for a good example. )

      Tailoring can make or break a suit.
      Wherever you buy your suit; please find a salesperson with a nicely tailored suit and ask them who did their alterations as that is the tailor to request.

      I would also suggest asking the tailor to leave as much length in the hems as is possible, just in case your son hasone more growth period left. (You know your son’s situation , but sometimes a last little growth spurt happens in men in their early 20s.)

      Good luck in finding the right suit and with this next big step in your son’s and your family’s life.

      1. Anono-me*

        Argh! I used “to” not “too” two times, which is two times too many. And “years” is missing from the paragraph on suit styles that age well. My apologies.

    5. whistle*

      My husband has bought most of suits, including the one he got married in, at Men’s Warehouse. He used to be in banquet management and wore a suit daily. They take measurements and get it tailored for you.

    6. fruit salad*

      also, don’t forget to clip the thread that holds the flap/vent shut and the pockets. With fewer people buying suits often, that piece of knowledge isn’t getting passed down.

      1. pancakes*

        Omg, yes, good call. I’ve seen guys out and about with those intact, and women with them in skirt vents or jacket vents too.

    7. Morning reader*

      My only hesitation here would be: will he really be the same size for long? Looking back on all the men I knew in college, most of them were not done growing at 22. Out if not up. Lots of broadening seems to happen. Curious if this matches men’s experience here or maybe all my friends ran to muscle and/or fat in their 20s.

      It may not matter much depending on how long you expect this suit to last. But you might want to wait til 25 or 30 if it’s based on “he’s done growing.”

      1. fruit salad*

        yeah, my hubby continued to “grow out” as you say through his 20’s. 30’s was mostly stable, but 40’s is finding him “growing out” again.

    8. pancakes*

      J. Crew, Uniqlo or Topman are probably more wearable for a recent grad than something from Pennys or Lord & Taylor.

      1. pancakes*

        I should add, Uniqlo is likely a better buy of those three, on account of fabric quality.

    9. Swisa*

      I’ve heard really good things about indochino. Kinda a younger vibe. I think they’re built to your measurements.

  26. RMNPgirl*

    I’m getting my first IUD this coming week (in my 30s, no kids). I’ve heard that insertion can be painful and then afterwards it can be crampy and painful for a while. Any tips or tricks for dealing with this while my body settles?

    1. Meh*

      If you are offered numbing, take it. Call ahead and ask if it’s offered. I’ve had 3 (1 was a failed insertion and it, uh, really hurt). After cramping was like a bad period for me and you can treat it accordingly. It only lasted the day and after that i was fine. Best of luck!

      1. Russian in Texas*

        I only had one, and it was a failed insertion and OMG it hurt SO MUCH.
        To the point I had some extra bad period cramps for few months afterwards in spots I haven’t had them prior and had to get prescription painkillers for.
        Apparently I am really not a candidate.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve had two: the first one insertion was quick and fine and the second it took a bit to get inserted and was very painful. I almost passed out and was very nauseous. If they offer numbing, absolutely take it. After I had some pretty bad cramping for a few days

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Had my first IUD at 24, never had any kids and had them replaced/renewed twice.

      Firstly: numbing gel. They should use this. I had an insert done with no numbing at all and it was really bad.

      Secondly: breathing. Yeah, sounds corny, but taking long deep breaths when the cramping hits helped me at least.

      And it took me on. Average 3 days after insertion before the bleeding/pain stopped but I have endometriosis and other issues so YMMV. I found lying flat on my front helped best with a heat pack on my lower back (counterintuitive but again, I’m weird) and not doing any heavy lifting/squat movements for a day or so.

    4. Reba*

      In addition to requesting numbing, get someone experienced and skilled to do the insertion. I recommend not have the string trimmed.

      Have someone drive you home, if possible. And congrats! I hope it works well for you.

    5. WellRed*

      It’s not the most pleasant experience but for me it wasn’t any worse than any other gyn appt. Quick cramp and done. No issues, no need for body to settle. I was 45, no kids. I have to make an appt now for removal and am nervous about it.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        If it helps, I’m on my 4th IUD and in my experience the removal is only a small fraction of the discomfort of insertion.

        1. Jackalope*

          I agree. My insertion was truly awful, so I was dreading the removal. And then the ob/gyn just told me to breathe out while she pulled. I didn’t even know she was pulling, thought the breathing was to calm me down. She was already done and I don’t think I’d even realized that she was starting.

    6. Jackalope*

      Take the rest of the day off and be ready to take the next day off as well. You don’t have to take day 2 off if you don’t need it, but be ready so it’s okay if you do so.

    7. PostalMixup*

      Take two Advil an hour before your appointment. I failed to do this for my first, and it was a much less comfortable experience than my second. But even though the process itself was painful for my first, I was pretty much fine within about an hour. My second was almost completely painless. Both of these were 6-8 weeks postpartum, though, so that probably helped.

    8. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Not what you asked, but I have another piece of “what to expect” advice: I had virtually no pain, but then spotted daily for at least 6 weeks. That made me freak out, hoping I hadn’t just made a terrible mistake. But it stopped and now I haven’t bled in years so yay.

    9. small town*

      A little ibuprofen before can help. They can also prescribe a medication to soften up the cervix. Also wait a few minutes after to let things settle out before you hop up. Some folk a get little woozy.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I’ve heard you should ask for softening medicine (unfortunately I wonder if that’s harder to get these days due to Reasons) – they may not offer it because, ya know.

      2. Reba*

        I had the cervix dilating med for my first (it’s misoprostol) and apparently science says the results are ambiguous — might make insertion easier, but not necessarily more comfortable, and may have other side effects — so many dr’s don’t regularly use it for this.

        Both my insertions were not *that* painful per se, but were kind of shocking to my body. I was light headed and nauseous for a little while after, plus cramping that I think was similar to the bad cramps I had as a teenager.

    10. Swisa*

      It depends on the type – I had mirena and insertion was painful (I took maybe a double dose of ibuprofen in advance). I don’t recall it being painful at all after the first day.

      I have heard that with paragard cramping can last for months or more sometimes. I know it makes periods super heavy too.

    11. Pieismyreligion*

      I’m on my third Mirena IUD. First one I don’t remember pain, I was given misoprostol which opens the cervix slightly, just awkwardness about the procedure. Second with no pre-medication, I experienced short stabbing pain with insertion and a day of cramping after that ibuprofen helped. The third, like two months ago, I was offered a valium, there was awkwardness, duller pain and no cramping afterward.
      I also have a high pain tolerance and am pretty stoic so ymmv.

    12. LizB*

      Ask your doctor about taking both ibuprofen and acetaminophen – in most cases they’re not dangerous to take together, so you can take staggered doses to keep your pain in better control (e.g. your advil dose is wearing off but you can’t take the next one for another hour, so you take a tylenol so you stay comfortable). Do not plan on driving yourself home afterwards, and have a heating pad, pillows, and the comfiest clothes you own all ready and waiting for you. Insertion is different for everyone, but for me it was VERY painful and I was in pain for most of a day. Very worth it for 5+ years of super reliable birth control, and I’ll probably get one again in the future when I’m done having kids, but YEOWCH that first insertion was rough.

    13. EventingForChickens*

      The insertion is painful, but the part that hurts the worst is counted in seconds (maybe 1 minute-ish? They do the sound up through your cervix followed immediately by the actual IUD and the sound was worse). The rest was uncomfortable pain/pressure from the speculum and then cramping after. The copper one is worse for cramping. Mirena/hormonal ones were less bad.

      I partially expelled one copper and a Mirena before a second Mirena stayed put. That one was replaced on schedule and no issues with the latest Mirena.

      The removal is practically nothing compared to insertion. The cervix-softening medication beforehand is ambiguous in the literature (last I checked) as to whether or not it makes it easier; my pharmacist SIL recommends naproxen ahead of time.

  27. Dog Updates?*

    Anyone want to share a doggy challenge or accomplishment this week? A while ago I posted about my big rescue’s leash reactivity and several people encouraged me to work with a trainer. It was the kick I needed and it has made a big difference (less in his behavior, honestly, than in my ability to react to it).

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      One of my dogs is away at a show this weekend with her breeder and we’re hoping she can finish her championship! She’s only a few points away but wish us luck!

      I’ve also been working more with my adolescent dog who has ocd and making sure he gets the proper type and amount of exercise he needs and he seems to be doing a little better.

      Glad you’re doing better working with a trainer!

      1. Blythe*

        GOOD LUCK!! I am dreaming of the day my boy (a standard poodle) will be finished so we can get rid of all the extra flooooof. (I love the floof, but boy-howdy, is it time-consuming!)

    2. Generic Name*

      My very sweet Aussie mix hates getting bathed and brushed. But this week she actually let me brush her the day after her bath. She gets knots behind her ears we have to snip out, and Igor the biggest one this morning.

      1. Dog Updates*

        My big boy also has terrible mats behind his ear right now – I was googling how to address this and discovered they’re referred to as “ear pillows” – and he is nooooot good about letting anyone handle his ears at all so I’m in a pickle about it. I have ordered sharper hair cutting scissors before I try again because I want to make sure I can snip snip really quickly and get at them, not risk my kitchen scissors jamming on the tough hairs and running out his patience.

        1. crookedglasses*

          YMMV but smearing peanut butter or spray cheese onto the floor worked wonders for helping my old dog with being handled at the vet. It kept her attention well enough that she was much better at tolerating handling than when we would just give her hand-fed treats. Good luck!

    3. Nicosloanica*

      I have been wrestling with the need for routines since I adopted my dog. It’s been really tough. He would prefer a strict routine of meals and walks at almost the same time every day, I think. The literature says that dogs (like little kids) are generally very routine driven and it makes them calmer and happier because they know what to expect. I know they say routines are good for everyone, including people, but I haaaate the feeling that I’m reliving the same day over and over. It gives me this weird fatalistic feeling like I’m just running out the clock of my life. If my dog had his way, the first hour of my day and the last hour would be the. exact. same. and it’s hard for me.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My older dog, I swear, she can tell time. At 8am, she starts fussing for breakfast. Walks at 9:30, 2:30 and 4:30. Supper at 6pm. Like clockwork. She does not appreciate my meeting schedule interfering.

        1. Dog Updates*

          It’s amazing how they let you know what they expect! For animals that can’t talk they certainly do manage to communicate.

          1. crookedglasses*

            I posted last week about the foster dog I had just brought home from the shelter. He’s doing great! It’s really gratifying to see his personality coming out as his frantic high-energy stress dissipates. We’ve been working on loose leash walking and he’s really starting to get the hang of it. I think this morning’s walk was the least pully yet, and there were quite a few stretches where he was leaving considerable slack in the leash. I’m so proud of him!

            Question for other who foster dogs – what strategies have you found work best for getting dogs adopted out directly from foster care? I started an Instagram for him (and future dogs I foster), spent a couple hours hanging out in the adoption center lobby this morning, and am taking him out and about with his bright yellow “adopt me” vest. Any other things to try?

        2. RosyGlasses*

          Ours too! She lays by her bowl at her mealtimes and gives such a soulful look of “why are you starving me” if we aren’t on time. She also is starting to want to go to bed on time as she is getting older and will start flopping in the hall if we aren’t headed to bed by 10:30!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Oh yes! 9:30, she goes up and sits at the top of the stairs in front of my bedroom door, and if I am not quick enough behind her, then I can hear her SIGHING DRAMATICALLY from the living room, haha.

      2. Deanna Troi*

        Yes, dogs need routine or many of them will have issues with anxiety. They should eat and go out at approximately the same time. I say this kindly, but if you’re not able to provide the stability that dogs need, perhaps having a dog is not compatible with your lifestyle.

        1. Nicosloanica*

          What an unkind comment. I’ll be sure to tell this senior dog whose flourishing under my care that a stranger on the internet thinks I should dump him back in the pound just because I admitted I was struggling with something. I think I’m done commenting for the day.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            I apologize that my comment came off as unkind – I truly didn’t intend it that way. I didn’t see anywhere in your letter that your dog is flourishing and was concerned for him. Thank you for rescuing him and giving him such a good life!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My puppy Abigail is now 4.5 months old and pushing 50 pounds. (She’s a Dane.) Her total inability to keep track of where her giant gorilla paws are going cracks me up. Also, her eyes are still blue, which I love.

      My challenges right now:
      1) She’s the same size as my 7yo dog, but still in that puppy teething stage of “everything must go in my mouth” (which, to boot, my 7yo dog never actually went through, she was never a chewer), so the puppy-proofing has been complicated as heck because there is no such thing as out of reach :P
      2) She’s developed a habit of bonking people (and the cat) with the giant gorilla paws when she wants attention. She packs a punch :P so we’re trying to break that habit.

      1. Dog Updates*

        Oh man, it’s so much harder to dog-proof for a big dog :( My adult boy is 80 pounds but long legged and can reach the top of my counters, any tabletop, inside the sink – anywhere I can reach easily, basically. And because he’s pretty powerful it’s hard to keep him out of stuff like garbage bins or cabinets or use baby gates – he could plow through them if he really wanted to. I can’t imagine the same size but also the brain of a puppy!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Mostly I’m trying to handle it by keeping an eye on her at all times, either mine or a designated puppy-sitter, rather than trying to proof it all – but I also don’t want her to end up with separation anxiety, so it’s a balancing act. She went to a day training program for two weeks in June, but then she got a garden variety upper respiratory infection (I think right after she got a round of puppy vaccines, so her immune system was out of whack) that was completely asymptomatic until it turned into double pneumonia so she was in the doggy hospital for most of a week. She’s back to 100% now, cleared by the vet, and will be doing two more weeks of day training starting a week from Monday. Between the training program and the week in the hospital, and then I was gone for a week so she was home with just my husband, and none of that has fazed her in the slightest, so at this point the separation anxiety is less of a concern than it was initially, knock wood.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Bonking people. It’s funny what works.
        My previous dog, Mr. Sincerity, got totally confused when we turned sideways. He had no idea where to put his paws on us and he’d drop back to the floor just giving up.

        My current dog, The Contrarian, finally learned after I decided to teach him to do high tens. One day he figured out that he was obeying me by giving me a high ten and that was unacceptable. He has to be contrary. His only solution was to stop jumping on me.

        Strange stuff works.

        1. Seeking second childhood*

          When I was a five year old we adopted a cockapoo that turned out to be half American standard poodle –ie the big working dog size. He loved to ‘dance’ with his feet on my shoulders. To teach him to stop doing this, I was talked to lift my knee to meet him. Not hit him with my knee, just disrupt where he thought he was putting his paws. It worked for me but not the more timid members of the family so mom rehomed him and I can’t tell you if the lesson lasted. (Our next dog was adopted as a young adult so there were no size surprises.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yeah, we’re working on the jumping too with a combination of knee intervention and full body turning, but when I say bonking, I mean like, she sits down and reaches out with a paw and just starts banging her paw on my leg or on the cat or whatever she can reach. Very “HEY. *bonk* HEY. *bonk* HEEEEEEEEY. *bonk*” Like, can you please muster three teaspoons of chill, you goofball? :)

  28. marvin the paranoid android*

    So, this is kind of embarrassing, but I’ve always been afraid of dancing. I don’t even dance around my house, definitely have never danced in public. Now that I’m getting over the body image issues that led to this, I would like to … try dancing? But I have no idea how to get started. Has anyone else taught themselves how to dance in a basic way at too late an age? I don’t want to learn anything super formal and I’d like to start out at home. Any advice would be very appreciated!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      YouTube was made for this–search under something like “simple dance instruction” and figure out which ones resonate.

    2. UKDancer*

      Ok I think the first thing to do is think about what sort of music you like. Put a song on that you really like and think how it makes you feel. Is it slow, fast, fun, sensual. Move the way your body feels like to the song you’re listening to and see what feels good. Get comfortable moving your body the way it wants to go until you’re comfortable moving.

      Then think about what sort of dance you want to do. Some are easier to do than others. Do you want to dance alone, with a partner, to classical or rock music? When you envisage yourself dancing, what sort of dance are you doing? Some are easier to learn than others, some you can learn the basics for from Youtube and some you really need to take a class in. Google the basics for whatever form it is and see if you think that you’d like it.

      A lot of studios are taking their classes online nowadays. In the UK the Pineapple studio is doing all their classes online on zoom. Other schools are also realising there’s a fairly large market of people from the pandemic who want to do online classes. Look at the menu for somewhere like Pineapple and see if there’s a particular class you’d like to try and you can always do it with the camera off. So you see the instructor but nobody sees you.

      I would say if you want to do ballet you need probably to take a class with a teacher who can see you, to mitigate the risk of doing yourself an injury. Obviously if you want to do a partnered dance form you need to find a class with partners (or bring your own).

      Otherwise I’d start with finding the dance that feels good to you and then looking at Youtube or zoom classes to begin with. Then see where it goes.

      1. Jora Malli*

        This is a really good idea! The studio I go to did online classes during the pandemic, and the owner will still sell those classes to people who aren’t comfortable attending in person, so that may be a good place to start.

        Also, check your local library’s DVD/streaming video collection. There are a lot of dance-based workout videos you can do at home while you’re still learning to be comfortable with your body, and there’s usually a wide variety of dance types so you can find out what kind of dance you prefer.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I agree with this. I’ve hard years of dance training (when I was a kid), but my favorite thing is to put on some music and just dance. These days, I do it with one of my Taiji weapons in hand–which is so much fun.

        If you’re looking for something informal, I’d just put on a song that really moves you and, well, start moving. Do it with no one around so you don’t have to feel any pressure at all. You can even do some couch-dancing, which I like to do as well. I’m really into Lizzo right now (great dance music).

        If you want something more formal, then I agree to look for classes/YouTube videos. But anyone can dance just by moving to music.

      3. marvin the paranoid android*

        Thank you for the advice! I think part of my issue is that moving my body to music does not feel good to me? And I really have no idea how to do it. This might sound weird, but it’s the result of many years of heavy-duty repression. Maybe it would be easier if I started with something more formal so that there is a structure, but really all I want is to get to that point where I can hear a sound and move in a way that I feel okay about. I wonder if there is such a thing as remedial dance.

        1. Emma2*

          Not weird – you are certainly not the only one to feel this way. You might find some help on YouTube. I searched and found a channel called “Get Dance”. It seems to be aimed at the level of someone who just wants to be able to spend a bit of time on the dance floor at a wedding without feeling super uncomfortable. There are videos like “How to dance with Rhythm if you can’t hear the beat” and “What to do with arms when dancing”. She also seems to have some videos of success stories from people who learned to dance at her dance school later in life (she has one video with a man in his 60s).

        2. Suprisingly ADHD*

          It might be helpful to put on headphones with music you like while you’re just doing chores around the house. You can walk to the beat, nod along while doing dishes, sway a little while wiping or dusting, just little things while you’re already moving. That way it’s not so much “I need to make my body move” and more “a little extra rhythm while I’m doing stuff.” And the headphones help me because I don’t like other people hearing my music, it feels embarrassing and it’s easier to just keep it to myself.

    3. Merle Grey*

      What kind of music/styles of dance are you drawn to? My son wanted to learn the basics of a dance before prom, and we found a lot of simple lessons on youtube. It took a little figuring out, but we learned a few very basic moves and then I relearned them backwards so we could try dancing together. It was fun.

    4. Rara Avis*

      I had some negative experiences with dance as a teenager and taking dance-based exercise classes helped. Now I’m a regular Zumba attendee, and I dance in the faculty number in my school’s annual dance show.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      One thing that can help is accepting that moving your body to music in any way is dancing. You don’t have to learn specific steps unless you’re trying to learn a particular style. Although I’ve done international circle folkdancing, square dancing, contra dancing, Morris dancing, and waltzing, my main dancing these days is just freeform to Motown and other favorites.

      If there’s music you enjoy listening to, you can let yourself move to the rhythms at home alone and see how that feels. I like another commenter’s suggestion of YouTube, and wondering if there are videos there that are about being comfortable just moving to music.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        So much this!

        I feel a lot of organised classes, even ones marked as “basic”, are based on moves that test your flexibility and coordination. I’ve also needed to recover from body image issues before experimenting with movement, and on top of that I’m just not very athletic or quick. Classes with fun music still end up making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, because I can’t lift my leg high enough to get the stretch, or can’t keep up with all the moves in the sequence, and so on. I haven’t tried a “proper” dance class because I fear it will be even more of that.

        A friend, a long time ago, countered my argument that I can’t dance with “just move your body to the music the way you feel comfortable”, and that’s what I go by. I do it mostly when I’m home alone and it relaxes me lots. More recently, I’ve noticed myself breaking into small moves when music is playing at gatherings with friends. Sometimes people notice it, and I’m trying to shift my mindset from “they must think I look ridiculous” to “they’re noticing that it shows that I’m having fun”. Mostly working so far!

    6. Angstrom*

      If you’d like to get comfortable moving to music with other people, you might look for a contradance. If you can walk and tell your right from left most of the time, you can do this. Most dances start with simple figures and the caller adds more as the evening progresses. You progress down the line to dance with a new couple each time through the music, and standard etiquette is to change partners after every dance. It’s been described as “…a carnival ride we build for ourselves.”
      A joyful example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1cPyJWm-g4

  29. how to therapy?*

    This feels like it falls into the category of “simple question I should just be able to Google”, but I keep getting overwhelmed and confused, so I thought I’d try asking here. How does one find a therapist for the first time?

    I’m in my late 20s, and I’ve been idly considering going to therapy for a few years. Nothing too serious, but the tl;dr version is I’ve felt increasingly overwhelmed by Life Stuff after getting my first job after college and living on my own. On the surface, everything is fine– professionally I’m doing good, I love having my own apartment, I adopted two cats who I adore– but, I keep feeling like I’m in over my head when it comes to “being an adult”. I can’t keep my apartment clean; I constantly forget to do basic things like opening mail or cleaning my car; feeding myself is a nightmare because grocery shopping/meal planning seems overwhelmingly complicated; work is usually fine… until something inevitably slips and I’m scrambling to catch up. Etc!

    The point is, I know it would help to have an “outside source” to talk through these issues and develop strategies. But any time I try to research local therapists, I get so overwhelmed that I can’t make a decision. How do you, logistically, schedule an appointment with a therapist? In the US, do you have to go through your primary care physician? (I don’t have one…yet another thing I’ve been too overwhelmed to figure out.) Or do you just call/email a therapist and ask for an appointment? How do you sort through the giant list of therapists and choose one? I feel like this should be so much easier than I’m making it out to be. I think maybe I need someone give me a “how to get a therapist for dummies” guide? Lol. Thank you for anyone who may have any advice!!

    1. Reba*

      It’s not easy! You do more or less just call/email and ask for an appointment. Some will have an online form you can fill. You *can* ask for names from your PCP but it is not a requirement to get a referral (check your own insurance policy). And given how strapped for providers many regions are, three or four names from your doc would not be likely to cut it anyhow. :/

      You can get a list of names from your insurance website if you have insurance coverage for this. Then I’d recommend checking them out online, either through Psychology Today database or giving them a quick google. See if they list specialties that resonate with your situation. On Psychology Today many people also list if they are accepting new clients, or have a waitlist, which is helpful.

      You kind of just have to go through them. Maybe making one contact a day, or three contacts a day, could be workable? If your job has an EAP this is usually something they can help with to some extent.

      Good luck!

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Yes, this! The order is: 1) see who your insurance covers via their website 2) vet the options briefly to make sure they fit your needs 3) call around and ask if they’re taking new patients. Sadly, I found that at least half the people on my insurer’s list either didn’t seem to actually exist or weren’t taking new patients. If you go outside of insurance there’s suddenly a whole world of options but paying out of pocket is steep. The good thing is if you’re not urgently in need, you may be satisfied booking an appointment several months from now, which can be how it goes (which has been really frustrating for friends who have reached a breaking point and realized they NEEDED therapy, only to find that it’s really hard to get in right away unless you’re literally ready for a psychiatric hold).

      2. Katiekins*

        KC Davis on the Struggle Care website has a good resource (under “resources”) for finding a therapist.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      a) If you are paying for it, you can just look for therapists in your area and call and see if they are taking new patients. If insurance is paying, or might, you should start by calling them and asking for the specific steps to take; they can also give you a list of local therapists in network and suited to your needs.

      b) Referrals are helpful to pare down the sea of options: EAP at work is a good starting point, if you have one. Asking your primary care when you have one–it could be one of the things you brought up in a first checkup. (For that, I recommend writing a short post-it so you remember the things you meant to ask about.)

      c) It helps to set things up so that the easy thing also leads to the desired outcome. I used to pay bills as soon as I came in the door from work carrying the mail. This worked up until I had my first kid, and then the mail piled up and I missed some payments until I worked out a new system–anything I should open and think about goes in the box, and then every Monday, or the 5th/15th/25th, or whatever timeline kept me on top of bills, I would open all the mail at once and deal with it in one session.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Absolutely follow the tips below. Also, if you *are* in an area that’s strapped for providers, since the pandemic began many therapists have been offering telehealth appointments, so you can search for therapists several hours away (just check your insurance policy; you often still have to be in the same state as the therapist).

      In terms of putting together a list of numbers to start calling, there are a few things to consider:
      -is there a particular *type* of therapy that you think would be most helpful to you? For example, when I started therapy, I knew off the bat that I wanted pragmatic strategies to help manage my anxiety, rather than just a chance to talk through things, so I looked for providers who mentioned cognitive behavioral therapy approaches on their websites, rather than more talk therapy/psychoanalytic approaches. But other people prefer the opposite!
      -is there any part of your identity/background/reasons for seeking therapy that would make you feel more comfortable with a therapist who has worked with particular communities before? The issues you describe in your post sound fairly generic, but if there is more personal stuff that would be helpful to talk through with someone who “gets it,” you can use that as a way to narrow your search.

      Finally, it’s also completely fine to start with one therapist, decide things aren’t working, and switch to a new one! You aren’t tied to the first person you start seeing for therapy if you don’t like their approach.

      1. eeeek*

        Seconding the idea of going into the search with some sense of who you are, what your therapy goals are, and if you know it, your problem solving style. For my last therapist search, I was able to read their statements on the Coop’s website (my insurance company is a member-owned co-op), and after that I could reach out to the scheduler to ask if they were taking on new patients, and if so, if there was anyone I could talk with to see if one or another of them was a good fit. I chatted with the clinic nurse, who asked some pointed questions about my general approach to problem solving, what I wanted to get out of therapy, etc., and made a recommendation of two people who might work, and that turned out well.
        Though I should say I have walked away from other therapists who were not great fits for my rational, science-based style and curiosity about effective problem solving (Cognitive Behavior Therapy for the win, there). It may take a few sessions to settle in, but only a few, I think.

        Wishing you all the best.

    4. cat socks*

      I contacted my company’s EAP to start and they sent a list of therapists in my area. I believe they also had a search option on their site. With the EAP referral, i got 8 free sessions. I haven’t actually found a therapist, but I started to narrow down the list by looking at their website. I am interested in doing online meetings, so that eliminated some providers.

      Before contacting EAP, I also looked on the Psychology Today website. They have several filter options and I believe it showed which ones were taking new clients.

    5. Grumpy*

      I know nothing about therapists, but as far as primary care physicians go, can you ask friends/family for recommendations? (Basically let them choose for you, lol!) I have a good dentist, eye doctor, primary care doctor, etc. and am always happy to recommend them (or give warnings about specific ones to avoid that I’ve had bad experiences with). Recommendations from people I know are easier than reading reviews.

      Do you know anyone who sees a therapist who might be able to give a recommendations? (I realize that might be more awkward than asking about a doctor, but if you’re comfortable with it that might make choosing one easier.)

    6. Jay*

      If your employer has an EAP, that’s a good place to start. They usually offer short-term therapy and can help you get connected to someone in the community.

      Otherwise check your insurance company website for providers that accept your plan. Psychology Today also has listings with some information. Don’t worry too much about the “type” of therapy – you’ll figure out if the therapist is a good fit based on the relationship more than anything else.

      Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for working your way down the list and Emailing or calling each practice individually to see if they are taking new patients and when appointments are available. If you had a primary care doc, that would be a good place to start…

    7. just another queer reader*

      It is really hard!

      I’ve been supporting my partner (who has ADHD and a hard time making phone calls) with this process.

      I’ve had a lot of luck searching our local Queer Exchange group on FB for therapist recommendations. If you have any sort of similar community, that might be a place to ask!

      Your EAP might be able to hook you up, too. They seem to have a shorter wait time, at least in my experience.

      Otherwise, honestly just email like four places, see if they get back to you, and choose one! Good luck!

    8. small town*

      The “find a therapist” in psychology today can help. You change search by the area you want and read brief bios about the therapist.

      1. merp*

        and can filter by the insurance, if you’re using it! this is what I’ve used before, it helped me make a list of people to call. some of them weren’t accepting new patients but it was good to have a place to start from.

        1. anonymongoose dog*

          Psychology Today is a good starting place, it tells you what insurance they take, areas of specialty and brief bio info. For example, it was helpful to me that some therapists list if they are religious. As someone who has religion related trauma, that would be a disaster for me and let me know who to avoid.

    9. Katiekins*

      KC Davis and her stugglecare.com resources may help. She has info on how to find a good therapist. Link to come in next comment.

    10. mreasy*

      I recommend looking on the psychology today and zoc doc lists for your area. Usually you need to call or email to confirm they are accepting new patients and take your insurance. It can be quite a process, but worth it when you find someone who helps. I just kept a google spreadsheet w name, phone number, and response to keep track of the dozen or so folks I ended up calling.

    11. North Wind*

      Google “Find A Therapist” and check out that website for therapists in your area.

      There are profiles of therapists where they write a paragraph about themselves and maybe their approach, and then a list of sections to show their specialties, modalities used, age-group focus, accepted insurance, types of payment they take, licenses, education, etc. I used this some years ago and talked to maybe 3-4 folks before deciding who to go with. They all had an initial phone conversation with me to chat about my reason for seeking therapy, answer my questions, and generally to let us both suss out if we felt we’d be a good fit.

    12. Esmeralda*

      Get a recommendation from a friend, family member, or doc. That’s how I’ve found therapists for myself and for family members.

  30. Grumpy*

    Looking for book recommendations!

    I enjoy historical non-fiction that reads like an engaging narrative/story instead of like a history textbook or research paper. Stuff like Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series or Radium Girls. Does anyone have any suggestions on books or authors I could look into?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Erik Larson has written some great historical non-fiction; among my favorites, ISAAC’S STORM – about the devastating 1900 hurricane that destroyed much of Galveston Texas, with lots of history about weather predictions in general and hurricane tracking in particular; and DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which covers the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exhibition – and the crimes of serial killer H. H. Holmes.

      1. Jay*

        Also “Splendid and the Vile” about Churchill’s first years as PM and “In the Garden of Beasts” about the American ambassador to Germany in the 1930s and his family.

        In addition to Larson, I enjoy Doris Kearns Goodwin. I recently read “Home Front” about FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt during the war. Further back in US history, I like Joseph Ellis a lot. I really enjoyed his book “Revolutionary Summer” which covers both the Continental Congress and the Revolutionary Way during the spring and summer of 1776. And I liked his book on the framers of the Constitution (can’t remember the title off the top of my head).

        1. RosyGlasses*

          Second Splendid and the Vile – I read that this year in preparation for our Historical Society’s lecture series (the author was one of the speakers) and I found it really engaging.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Also, Sarah Vowell – she mixes humor and history very well indeed. My favorite is ASSASSINATION VACATION, where she visits the sites of Presidential assassinations – sounds grim but features some fascinating historical connections, and I really loved it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Assassination Vacation is probably my favorite nonfiction book. Traveling to locales relevant to our three presidential assassinations.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time is close to this–the framing is her series detective lying in a hospital bed with a broken leg, and he gets intrigued by the murders of Richard III and treats it as a cold case.

      Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927 captures an inflection point at the start of The American Century.

      1. river*

        Thank you for this recommendation. I just went and got the Daughter of Time from the digital library and it looks good!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler, Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey, and Brotopia by Emily Chang.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m waiting on The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler from the library.

        I’ve been recommending The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan to lots of people.

    5. Kittee*

      Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand! I don’t give a fig about horses or horse racing, yet this is one of the best books I have ever read. It’s about horses but not really about horses — it’s about character. Really great book.

    6. Lore*

      Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing is fairly recent history (IRA/The Troubles) and brilliant. Also Tiya Miles’s All That She Carried.

    7. Russian in Texas*

      I just finished Under The Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer, that the recent TV series was based on. The book is very different from the series, not fictionalized/not as centered on the murder case, and full of the history of the Mormon church, that I had no idea about. It was fascinating and engrossing, and I was sad it ended.

    8. Pocket Mouse*

      The Professor and the Madman comes to mind. It’s about development of the Oxford English Dictionary.

    9. Grumpy*

      Thank you for all the responses! I’m going to look up each book this evening and make a list to check out at the library. I’m excited! :)

    10. GoryDetails*

      One more from me: I just started reading THE INDIFFERENT STARS ABOVE by Daniel James Brown (author of the excellent BOYS IN THE BOAT). His new book’s about the tragic Donner Party, but focusing on one of the lesser-known families in that party, and the book includes all manner of fascinating background information – very good indeed.

  31. EmilyG*

    Hi folks! I posted a few weeks ago about finding a new TV show for me and my dad. I had to take a week off because I had a volunteer group meeting on our usual evening, but we reconvened this week. Over dinner I told him about some of the suggestions, and he said, “Bosch? Michael Connelly? I’ve read all his books!” The author figures prominently in the credits so we thought it would be a good adaptation. He liked it! With 7 seasons, this should keep us busy for quite some time. Thanks very much for all the suggestions. :)

    1. Kiwiapple*

      There is also the continuation of Bosch, called Bosch Legacy and the Lincoln Lawyer series on Netflix (also by the same author).

      Bosch is excellent btw.

    2. WellRed*

      Yay! I was one of the ones who suggested Bosch. I just finished Bosch Legacy this week and now have to find something else.

  32. Ali G*

    Hi All,
    I am looking for recommendations on a nanny cam type thing for monitoring my dog. Quick back story: Old Man Dog was diagnosed with cancer back in April after a trip to the e-vet because he was super lethargic and not eating. At the time we thought he would hang on for a couple of weeks and that would be it. But he apparently has other plans, as he’s bounced back and pretty stable. The problems we are havine are, since he eats and drinks spradically he can’t really be left for more than a few hours because he tends to have emergency bathroom needs. Also, his coordination on the back end is lacking and he tends to get stuck on the hardwood floors and can’t get back up without our help. Since he came home from the e-vet one of us has been sleeping on the couch to be here in case he gets stuck or needs to go out (I let him out at 3 am this morning).
    I am supposed to be at the beach this weekend with my husband and a bunch of his friends for his friend’s 50th birthday. But I had to stay behind because we felt it wasn’t fair to hire a sitter that can’t really leave the house and has to sleep on the couch. Problem is that my brother is getting married in September and we can’t take the dog with us, so if he is still around, we need to figure out how we can have a sitter here. Also I’d like to sleep in the same bed as my husband again!!
    So I was thinking maybe a nanny cam might be able to help us know when he needs us without having to sleep on the first floor. I am wondering how they are with sound, especially. We are usually alerted to him needing something but him either pacing around, or hearing him struggling to get up.
    I’m open to other suggestions, but wanted to see if this was a good idea worth looking into.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      No suggestions on a good nanny cam, but an air mattress might be better than the couch. More comfortable and room for two. My parents used one with a sick animal and it seemed to work well for them.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      While I can’t help on the nanny cam, my mother-in-law went to Home Depot and got a bunch of rug samples, cheap runners, etc, which she used to make walkways for her very aged dog who struggled on the hardwood.

      1. Ali G*

        Oh yes! We do have tons of rugs on the floors. The problem is he wakes up in the night and doesn’t see very well so he gets stuck in places he should be, like behind a chair, or under the kitchen table, and then freaks out.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve had good luck with Nest cams. Pretty good on sound and video quality.

    4. LuckySophia*

      Sorry, no nanny cam advice, but…Boyfriend’s dog had similar issues with back-end coordination/struggles with trying to stand up on hardwood floors. BF brought inexpensive, short-pile area rugs and placed them where dog liked to sleep, eat, lounge. The rugs gave the dog “traction” to get up unassisted.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      We use Wyze panorama cams for our dogs and they’re great! Affordable, good quality pic, and a good range for movement

    6. Dog Updates?*

      Ooh I’ll be following because I’m paranoid that my big dog is barking a lot while I’m gone, based on a neighbor’s recent comment. I haaaate video surveillance and don’t want it in my house so this would be something cheap and temporary that I could use and check a few times and then completely disassemble, as I’m paranoid about a previous stalker hacking video feeds (is it realistic? Maybe not, but it will be 100% on my mind if I have cameras around the house).

      1. WellRed*

        If a neighbor made a comment then your pooch probably is barking a lot. I had to have that convo with my lovely neighbors once because their beagle would howl nonstop like he was pained to his very soul when left alone. Is there such a thing as a sound activated recorder instead of a video?

        1. Dog Updates*

          Well, it’s hard to know, because he DOES bark like mad when I come home. So is that what she’s referring to? Or is he also barking while I’m gone? I am working on ways to adjust his barking when I get home – I find if I park up the street and sneak in the back door, I can usually “beat” him before he starts barking. It’s when he sees the car pull in and watches me walk across the front sidewalk to the door that he is howling his head off (why?? Why dog, why??). But if that’s the only thing my neighbor is mentioning, I’m not super pressed about it, because it’s of a short duration once a day or less, and only during controlled times that aren’t too early or late at night. She didn’t exactly complain she just mentioned that she hears it. I’m concerned because she’s actually up the street a ways!! Stupid mutt.

          1. WellRed*

            Oh yeah, if that’s all then Annoying but not exactly a quality of life ruined.

          2. pancakes*

            Why not just ask her? You could go back to her and say that you’re working on training the dog to bark less when you get home (and then put some energy into doing that, rather than trying to sneak up on him), and ask whether she hears barking throughout the day as well. That seems a lot easier than setting up surveillance. If you don’t want to say the first part you could still go back to her and just say you’re working on the problem and need some clarification.

            I’m sure there’s some sort of sound-activated non-video option, if it does come to that, but maybe it doesn’t need to come to that.

        2. Morning reader*

          The wyze camera I have can be set to motion or sound detected alerts. Probably others can too. I would be worried about noticing notifications while asleep but maybe there is a way to make the sound something that wakes you.

      1. WellRed*

        As far as hiring a sitter, they are paid to do what you hire them to do, even if it means staying in all weekend. But pay generously.

        1. Ali G*

          Yeah that was the problem. We had used her before, and she’s great, but she’s cheap because she is in school and has another job, so she can’t be here a lot. I am willing to pay a lot, but we didn’t have time to get that set up for this trip. I wanted to at least be able to let the sitter sleep in the guest room, rather than the living room, hence the cam idea.
          We can’t board him really anywhere. He freaks out and gets super stressed, so he needs to stay home. He also can’t be around other dogs. He’s pretty special ;)

          1. Dog Updates*

            This was my experience when I paid a college student to sit for my dog on Rover. She was lovely but it wasn’t the right fit for his anxiety. I think Rover-type sitters expect to come check on the dog, take it for a walk, play with it, maybe even spend the night – but also be able to go to class or out with their friends during the time they are sitting – which is totally reasonable and I understand!! That probably works well for many dogs. My dog is too high strung for that. I take him to a boarding place that has a doggy daycare attached so he can play all day. Fortunately he is fine off leash with other dogs. Some vets will also let you board dogs there and then you know he’s getting his medical needs taken care of, but I don’t think it’s as pleasant an experience for the dog (they will probably be kenneled).

          2. Nicosloanica*

            One thing that might be an option is to hire more than one in-home sitter and ask them to coordinate schedules so the dog won’t be left for longer than you’re comfortable with. You could also do a day one and a night one, so each is being less burdened. It’s obviously double the expense but may be an option for a short period.

    7. cat socks*

      We have Arlo indoor cameras to keep an eye on our cats when we’re gone. Got them at Best Buy several years ago. They’re easy to install and you can create a schedule for when they need to be armed. Or they can be armed all the time. I believe ours record both video and audio.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Our dog couldn’t do stairs at the end but he was small and we carried him. Anyway. Another option is diapers or pee pads overnight.

    8. Sandra dee*

      I have a Furbo camera, which has an app, in which I can see what is going on, get alerts if she is barking, and can toss her treats. I received this as a gift, that I never knew I needed. It has good night vision as well. It works well for my needs, my dog is a 2 yr old cocker spaniel, born blind, and we are currently in an apartment. I try not to be the dog owner that lets their dog park, but sometimes it happens. Good luck finding a solution that works for you.

  33. A new kitchen for old me*

    We are doing a kitchen re-do! Hubby and I want to age out in our house, so as fund/supply chain/economy allows, we will be doing a major-ish project a year to make that possible. Here is the conundrum. The son of a work and hobby friend is a contractor who gave an estimate. It was high. We didn’t say anything at the time, but have found another who came in with quite a bit less. If it matters, work wouldn’t start until fall, so #1 can rebook his time and not lose income.
    Question for you wise folks, HOW do I tell #1 we won’t be going with him and preserve the friendship? I’m leaning with ‘#1, thanks for the estimate, but some things that have changes for us, we won’t be able to go forward with your estimate.’ I want to shut down any comebacks. Or is what I’m trying maybe impossible? BTW, no contract, no deposit, and our area has had heavy storm damage and contractors are scrambling to keep up with demand.

    1. Ali G*

      Not really answering your question, but we just finished a kitchen remodel (full gut job and rebuild) and stuff is really expensive right now. Before you just choose the cheapest option I would make real sure your contractor’s estimates are reasonable. For example, we purchased our appliances in June of last year, and then in July prices rose by like 25%. Also quality is a big difference. Are there differences between the products in the two estimates? Solid wood cabinets v just wood door and drawer panels.
      Basically I am suggesting to really dig into the estimates. You might end up going with the cheaper option and find the contractor can’t deliver on their estimate.

      1. Grumpy*

        I was thinking about the quality of the workers. Like if friend’s son is more expensive, but does better work. My dad worked with and heard about various people/groups over the years when he was a carpenter, and some of them are really sloppy/careless and the home owners had issues afterwards. My main concern would be hearing from people the contractors did work for before making a decision.

        But if OP has already done all their research, I think keeping their story as short as possible is best. “We really appreciate you taking the time to put together an estimate for us, but we wanted to let you know we decided to go with another contractor. If we need help with a future project, we will make sure to reach out!” Then if they’re like “BUT WHY?” don’t give them any details to argue with. Just “We decided the other contractors were a better fit for us at this time. Thanks!”

        1. Nicosloanica*

          I realized my comment below was a bit of a derail and didn’t answer OP’s question! I agree with you Grumpy. Contractors are in demand right now and he may have set a high price knowing he can command that rate elsewhere. He should be used to making bids and being selected or not, and it shouldn’t be as personal to him as it might feel to you. He’ll probably understand.

      2. Nicosloanica*

        I will say I got three bids and choose the cheapest one by several thousand dollars, but then there were several “unanticipated” add-ons that occurred over the course of the job, and I just sat down with the final numbers and realized it was basically the same price at the end of the day as the bids I declined. So that sucks. I don’t like to reward companies that bid unrealistically. At the same time, it’s possible the other jobs would have had add-ons too and ended up even higher, and a few of them p*ssed me off by having a minimum job bid that seemed high to me considering they hadn’t even seen my tiny kitchen. The whole process was exhausting and expensive – it took longer than it should have, was more inconvenient than it could have been, and the extra bill at the end was the cherry on top. I won’t be doing any other work on the house for a looooooong time.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Minimum job bids are a thing – a bit like telling a prospective employer your salary expectations early in the process so nobody wastes time and effort if you’re too far apart.

      1. A new kitchen for old me*

        I should have added that we bought all cabinets, appliances, flooring, and materials ourselves. Quality will be even, actually the lower may be a bit better. The difference comes from #2 does not speak English and is building a client base; we personally know several people and commercial projects #2 has done.

    2. Bluebell*

      I’ve had two experiences w contractors in the past 5 years, and my advice is to check several references before choosing. I chose the midrange contractor for a kitchen remodel and was very happy. For a porch rebuild I selected the cheaper option, and he added on more costs and ghosted on the final phase of work. Still, if contractors are so in demand, and you are giving ample advance notice, I’m guessing your #1 won’t mind when you tell him. Maybe don’t say anything re business v personal- who knows if you might want to come back to him if the other option doesn’t work out.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I wasn’t very satisfied with my contractor even though I think they’re generally good *because* my job was smaller – I think they sort of fit it in around other jobs that were more lucrative. They kept coming over to do literally one day of work each week, and that was all they would accomplish for that seven day span. They eventually did finish and it looks nice and all, but I wish I’d gotten a discount since it clearly wasn’t their highest priority.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Could you simply say that you appreciated him quoting but his quote takes it out of your planned budget, and as of course you wouldn’t expect him to offer you special treatment you have decided to go with a different option?
      It’s honest and he may well be relieved that you aren’t asking for ‘mates rates’

  34. houseStuff*

    When buying a house and selling another, I know it’s safer to have a contingency about being able to sell my old house. I don’t know if lenders insist on it.

    1. Ali G*

      Lenders do not insist on it, at least in my experience, but if you won’t have 20% to put down on your mortgage without selling your current home, your loan will be more expensive. It’s actually more attractive to buyers to not have that contingency because you can probably close quicker.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I don’t understand how this is supposed to work for people. Who owns their home *and* has enough cash for *another* 20% down payment? Nobody wants to waste even more money moving twice. Are you supposed to sell your house but have a long vacate period and buy quickly in that window?

        1. Clisby*

          Some people sell the current house; move out to a rental; and then start pursuing the new house. I would never go the contingency route – I’d never get any sleep from the anxiety.

          1. Nicosloanica*

            That still seems so expensive – to pay movers twice, possibly pay for storage, and sign a lease and start paying rent somewhere else! Especially at a time where you need all your money for a major purchase! And the mortgage people are pretty finicky about things like your current address and how long you’ve been there. I’m confused because this must be something almost all homeowners more than once in their lives, and yet it seems so murky.

          1. LimeRoos*

            Yep! We had a bridge loan secured to buy our new house in case the old one didn’t sell in time. Luckily we didn’t have to use it, since we got a phenomenal offer on day 2. But the peace of mind with the bridge loan instead of contingent on old house selling was really really worth it.

    2. Liminality*

      I was recently working on that possibility in a housing market that makes an offer with contingencies unacceptable to sellers. My lenders basically said, “we’ll give you another mortgage for this second place without contingencies, but we have to do the math under the assumption that your first place will never sell.” So I couldn’t technically qualify for enough in that second loan to get the type of place I was looking for.
      I am lucky and grateful to have family that have room for me so I was able to sell my first place and now I can take my time looking for a new home without worrying about contingencies. I’m working toward being healthy/capable enough to consider living independently again.

  35. Jackalope*

    Book thread! What is everyone reading this week? All types of books and all reading formats welcome.

    I’m about 2/3 of the way through Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper. I wasn’t sure at first if I would like it, but I’ve gotten into it. It’s a light fantasy romance, and I’m enjoying the characters a lot.

    1. Grumpy*

      Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things

      (It’s based on a podcast by the same name. Haven’t listened to it since I can’t even pay attention to audio books, but it might be a good option for other people.)

      Only read the first chapter so far (on the history of facial hair), which was actually pretty interesting even though I didn’t think the topic would be.

    2. CTT*

      I have been reading “Last Train to Memphis,” the first book in Peter Guralnick’s two-volume Elvis biography (because, in the words of Liz Phair, “everybody’s talking ’bout Elvis” and I like to theme my reading), but I’m pausing that because I just got Patrick Radden Keefe’s essay collection “Rogues” from the library; I love his New Yorker writing and some of these I have definitely read before, but it’s fun to read the older pieces.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you’re in Indianapolis, hurry up and finish “Last Train” and give it back to the library because I’m next on the list for it ;) Guralnick’s bio of Sam Phillips (which I read while I was waiting) was really good.

        1. CTT*

          Haha, not me! Although I did get it out of the library, realize there was no way I would finish it in 21 days, and bought a copy off of Thirftbooks instead. Thanks for the heads’ up on the Sam Phillips bio! I’ll have to check that out.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I went and saw the Baz Luhrman Elvis movie, and left going “That was pretty good but now I want to read a good doorstop of a biography.” And of course the library had book 2 available but a long list for book 1. I suppose I could read them out of order, but that sets my teeth on edge :)

            1. Bluebell*

              I eventually want to see the Elvis movie, but what I really want is a kickass biopic of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I originally envisioned Queen Latifah taking it on. What did you think of Yola portraying Sister Rosetta?

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I’ll be honest, didn’t really stand out to me one way or t’other – at least in this movie, she wasn’t super prominent. It was primarily focused on the relationship between Elvis and the Colonel, very little attention to most anyone else.

                But I would def go see Queen Latifah in a biopic.

    3. M&M Mom*

      I’m reading the invisible life of Addie Larue. It’s ok, but I thought I would like it more than I do.

      1. Grumpy*

        I was super excited to read this when it first came out (I’m a fan of Victoria Schwab), but haven’t been able to get it yet because the library waiting lists are so long. After reading some reviews that said it’s slow, I’m a bit less enthused. :(

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          As a counter, I really loved it? There’s a theme of staring down the devil and refusing to let him win that really resonated with me at the point I read it.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        That’s how I felt about it too. It’s pretty good but I expected to LOVE it.

    4. Jamie Starr*

      I just finished “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII” by Iris Chang. Definitely not easy reading (and some really disturbing photos). I had a basic knowledge of Japan’s imperialism during the 20th century but don’t remember ever learning about Nanking. Wow, humans are terrible. Having just read it helped add some context to what I read in Shinzo Abe’s obituary.

      I think I’ll read some light fiction next!

    5. cat socks*

      Currently reading Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy. I was a bit nervous about reading it because I don’t like when animals are in harm, but so far it’s good.

      I recently finished The Lies I Tell from Julie Clark. That was a quick, easy read and was entertaining. It would be a good beach read.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I just finished Nancy Tucker’s “The First Day of Spring,” which is excellent, but…to warn people, it includes child murder, abuse and neglect, so may not be everybody’s cup of tea.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I just finished “The Night Tiger” which I’m pretty sure someone recommended here awhile back. It was good, kind of magical realism, but there were aspects that fell flat for me. Now I’m starting “Mexican Gothic”!

    8. Rara Avis*

      A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes. The Trojan War and its aftermath from the perspective of the women.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Re books: several in progress as usual, including:

      ANSWERS IN THE PAGES by David Levithan, a middle-school book about parent-driven censorship – there’s a popular new magic-adventures book that the kids love and that some of the parents are wary of, given how close the two male characters are. (The protagonist is a pre-teen who has no idea what all the fuss is about, but is uncomfortably aware that his mother is really upset about *something*.)

      FAMOUS DEAD CANADIANS by Joanne Stanbridge, a humorous-history book that I’m enjoying very much – good blend of facts and snark.

      HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD by Ryan North: sometimes funny, sometimes very unsettling, this is North’s look at how one might realistically (more or less) conduct supervillain-style takeovers – and, yes, some of the Really Bad Things have already been done by people who weren’t even trying to become supervillains. Good mix of science, politics, psychology, and humor.

      And I’m re-reading JANE EYRE for an upcoming book group – I always find it interesting that I pick up on entirely new and different aspects of classic novels when I re-read them after an interval of years. (Will be enjoying the soundtrack of the stage musical as I read; as literary adaptations go it’s a good one.)

      And on audiobook, DARK RISE by C. S. Pacat, which I chose largely because it’s narrated by Christian Coulson, who’s rapidly becoming my new favorite narrator. It’s the first of a fantasy series set in a 19th-century London with warring magical forces at play. A bit predictable in the setup, what with the conveniently-overhearing-major-plot-points and all, but not bad so far.

    10. NoLongerFencer*

      The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. A young woman down on her luck finds out she inherited substantial property but there’s a family mystery, her only grandparents died 20 years ago but the inheritance is from a grandmother who died recently.

    11. Chaordic One*

      A chance finding of a book review led to my picking up “Nevada” by Imogen Binnie at my local bookstore. I’m not quite sure what to think about it and am sort of letting it sink in.

      1. pancakes*

        Sorry, I replied with a link I meant to add separately. I haven’t read that yet but there was an interesting article about it in the New Yorker a couple weeks ago.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Rereading after many years – possibly 20 years – Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon.

      It’s sci fi about a elderly woman who remains on an alien planet when the colony she’s lived in for 40 years. She wanted to stay behind and looks forward to living out her life in solitude and not being told what to do. Then something unexpected happens.

      Elizabeth Moon made her money with IMO formulaic naval/military sci series, but she written a few so wonderful stand alone, unique sci fi stories. I was alerted to as one of the few sci fi books with an older female protagonist. Now that I’m 20 years older I wondered how it would hit me. I still have another 20 years to reach her age, but this particular colony seems to have a somewhat sexist heteronormative environment so I’m still not really super identifying with her. But it remains an enjoyable page turner.

      1. Jackalope*

        Have you read her fantasy books? Deed of Paksenarrion is one of my favorite (that’s the name of the trilogy), and I really enjoyed the follow-up series; Paladin’s Legacy, I think it’s called.

          1. Mephyle*

            Possibly Deed of Paksennarion would appeal to a reader who isn’t interested in fantasy but would enjoy a detailed historical biographical novel about a soldier’s life in a Dark Ages to early Medieval period.

          2. Jackalope*

            Fair enough. I love fantasy and am lukewarm about sci-fi, so I loved her fantasy and really enjoyed Remnant Population, but wasn’t crazy about some of her other sci-fi stuff. I felt like the quality was good, but it wasn’t my thing.

    13. Margali*

      Just finished listening to the audiobook of The Rose Code by Kate Quinn, about British women codebreakers during WWII. So far my favorite book of 2022!! The audiobook narrator was amazing.

    14. Forgotten username*

      I’ve just found out about the Miss Fortune series by Jana DeLeon and I’m enjoying them greatly. Sort of like a cozy mystery series, but with less suspension of disbelief required other than accepting that this small town is averaging a murder a week.

    15. I take tea*

      I unearthed a box full of Biggles books and have been reading them lately. I like the humour and the friendships, but the rasism is pretty jarring. I didn’t like it as a kid either, but now it is really hard to ignore. It tells a lot about the time and world where they were written.

    16. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve finished The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch and I enjoyed it. Made me want to drink a lot of tea. Now I’m in a reading slump. I know if I just pick one of the books I borrowed at the library, I’ll be hooked and get out of this slump, but the nature of the slump makes it impossible.

    17. Angstrom*

      Just reread “The Last Traverse” by Ty Gage, a true account of a winter hiking rescue in the White Mountains. Was moved to read it again by a recent hiker death in the same area.
      “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” by Esther Perel. Trying to gain some perspective to help a friend who may be dealing with that issue…
      “This Is Going To Hurt” by Adam Kay. Read about the new series, knew I wouldn’t watch it so I got the book it was based on. A look at the working life of a new doctor in the UK. Brutal.

    18. Bluebell*

      Just finished These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany. It had some problematic aspects, especially w the male characters, but the central trio of women was good, and she had some lovely passages. I started Foreverland, Heather Havrilesky’s memoir on marriage, but am not compelled to finish it. The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John is next on my list.

  36. Lizy*

    Watering for you garden / yard… what’s your secret tip? I have soaker hoses for the veggie garden, but I also have a berry patch, a row of plum trees, and a cluster of apples. I’d like to get a system set up that doesn’t necessarily rely on sprinklers (less efficient), but that’s something we can easily mow around. Thoughts?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The only thing I can think of would be an in-ground system, with pipes coming to the surface that went to soaker hoses. This might take a minute to design. Here you’d have to make sure those pipes are below the frost line.

      You might want to think about rain barrels that could be placed in or next to the beds/trees and hooked to soakers.

      Unless you live in a very dry area, I would think the fruit trees would become self-sufficient once established. You could check out well-known apple orchards in your area and ask them what they are doing. In a similar vein you could check out local strawberry growers to see what they are doing. The one time I had strawberries I mulched them heavily to help with water retention and weeds.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      My garden was close enough to my house that I attached a soaker hose extension to the downspout. When it rained, the water spread out to the whole garden instead of wearing a hole right under the downspout. It didn’t extend into the lawn, but I’ve seen some that roll up and only unreel when water comes down the gutter, so it could. Of course, that assumes you get sufficient rain.
      For supplemental watering, I highly recommend a hose reel to store the hose when not in use, rather than leaving it out to be stepped on or mowed over. The ones with wheels are easy to move to different locations, and it’s not hard to roll up the hose with the cranking handle.

    3. Red Sky*

      We use a dripper system (Rain Bird maybe? I regularly get parts and accessories for it at Lowes and Home Depot) that’s easily customizable based on how much water you want where. You could configure it to bury the main tubing line(s) that runs to each patch where you want water, and then have the smaller tubing and fittings above ground at the plants.

  37. M&M Mom*

    Financial question: I had to move my parent to a memory care facility rather quickly this past spring. I have power of attorney. They own a home, And there is a trust. But I need some financial advice on next steps. And I’m not sure what kind of person to ask? Financial advisor? Estate planner? Estate attorney? And I’m not sure if Medicare pays for anything? I feel so overwhelmed sometimes about all of these questions that I’m just paralyzed and don’t do anything. Thanks for your help!

    1. YNWA*

      My parents are in a similar situation and they started with their financial advisor who then was able to guide them to an estate planner.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Ask the memory care facility if they have any recommendations, specifically if they have a social worker who would specialize in laying out pathways. When we had to quickly (in a week!) find an assisted living to move my mom from rehab, the rehab center had social workers who put us in touch with a local agency who does only this–find assisted living that matches your needs. I would never have guessed they existed or known to look for them without the rehab’s guidance.

    3. CatPerson*

      The memory facility might have a social worker that can help with a lot of your questions. An estate planning attorney might have social workers on staff to assist with other things as well. If there is no LTC insurance, Medicare might not kick in for expenses unless hospice care is needed but if your mother is enrolled in medicare it would be primary for medical expenses. There are tax deductions for living expenses. The memory facility contract might have stipulations about what happens if the money runs out. This is just a laundry list of things I encountered when my Mom was in a similar situation, but since there is a house and trust involved I would think that a financial planner with expertise with end-of-life planning/care would be a good place to start. Was the trust set up to protect those assets from being used for medicaid eligibility? Or, an estate planning attorney–maybe you could get a free initial consultation with one who could give you some direction. Ask your friends/co-workers for referrals to attorneys they or family members may have used.

      It is a LOT and it’s understandable you’re overwhelmed. Just starting somewhere is a start. Good luck,

    4. Bluebell*

      I might start with an elder care attorney. Did one set up the trust? They could refer you to a financial advisor with expertise in this area.

    5. Turtle Dove*

      My mom’s trust was drawn up by an estate attorney. I contacted him after she died to give me an overview and to answer questions. I wanted to be absolutely sure I did things correctly and legally, and he was very helpful. He charged the estate about $700 for his time and expertise; it was worth it. I contacted two other people my mom had worked with: a financial planner, who guided me on selling and dividing assets in the trust, and an accountant, who warned me about tax gotchas and filed my mom’s final individual tax return and the estate tax return. You may need people like that involved too, but I’d find out who drew up the trust and start there. I hope you get most of your questions answered up front by that person. Good luck. It can feel overwhelming, I know all too well. I hope “one step at a time” gets you there like it did for me.

    6. RPLBFG*

      With power of attorney, you can do anything your parent could do, assuming it’s broad in scope. Medicare won’t cover memory care, just necessary medical care. Medicaid might eventually be needed if your parent’s assets run out, including any proceeds from selling their home. The social worker suggestion is a good one. Best of luck. This is a difficult situation.

    7. M&M Mom*

      Thanks everyone these are really helpful suggestions that I truly appreciate and I will start making a plan.

    8. Just a name*

      Talk to an elder law attorney. Mine did a consult that really clarified issues for a reasonable cost. My situation was different in that my father didn’t own a house, and we didn’t know how long he would be in care, but there were still considerations about his assets (few) and disposing of them in case he needed to qualify for Medicare later. I paid for his stay in Assisted Living (in part, in part using his SS pay) for about 14 months, took over his bank account, bills, sold his car, etc….but it was an awful time. His health was going, his mind was going faster…it was so stressful, and you have my sympathies. Hard decisions ahead, but they need to be made. Be thankful that you are strong enough to do that.

  38. VPN trouble*

    Does anyone have any experience with VPNs and changing countries? I’ve just purchased NordVPN but I can’t seem to get it to work on Amazon and Amazon Prime. I just want to watch Doctor Who and the old Batman 1966 series and I will gladly pay for it if only it would let me!

    1. Helvetica*

      I haven’t tried it on Amazon but if you’re talking about payment then sites like Amazon (definitely Netflix and Disney+) will not allow you to purchase unless you can provide a credit card from the same country as your VPN is giving as your location.

      1. VPN trouble*

        Yeah, that’s the problem I ran into. But it won’t even let me stream it. Probably because of the same reason: credit card locked to the account doesn’t match the location. Sigh.

    2. Geek*

      Many big content providers block the IP numbers used by VPNs. It’s sort of an arms race between the VPNs changing the IP#s and the sites adding to their block lists, often in deceptive ways such as claiming to be temporarily down. About six to 12 months ago the content providers started getting a lot better at it and it’s spreading to other types of sites, alas.

    3. I take tea*

      I really can’t understand why it is so impossible to pay to watch something. I’d really like to watch Doctor Who as well, and a lot of other BBC things, but I’ve had to wait for the DVD’s and buy them, and that limits me to where and when I can watch it. My partner has been trying to buy Battlestar Galactica in electronic format for years now, but it is impossible too. Very frustrating.

    4. Clisby*

      I have done this to watch a Canadian TV show. VPN is CyberGhost, and I’m using a PC running Windows 10. My husband used to do this on his Linux laptop, but after his most recent Linux update he hasn’t been able to get it to work.

      Note: I could not get this method to work to see Peaky Blinders on BBC – the BBC software recognized I was using a VPN and told me to get lost. I have not tried it with Amazon Prime.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t know about that one, but sometimes Prime lets you buy or rent a series by the season, or see it as part of an add-on channel, which may or may not have a free trial period. The site JustWatch is useful for finding out which shows and movies are streaming where. IMDB is sometimes useful for that too.

        BBC shows are subject to a license fee in the UK but they do make various streaming arrangements for other places. Some show are on Britbox. The last David Attenborough show, the one about dinosaurs, was on Apple TV.

    5. StreamingLady*

      If you have NordVPN, there’s no need to go through Netflix or Amazon to what all seasons of Doctor Who.
      Just watch it on BBC’s IPlayer, which is the BBC’s streaming service. I have NordVPN and that’s how I watch a lot of British TV shows, including those that never make it to American streaming services.

      To open an Iplayer account (which is free BTW), you’ll need to give them a British postcode. You can Google those and just pick one. Make up a fake name and British address (again, use Google), and you’ll be good to go. You can do the same to watch Channel 4, Channel 4 and ITVHub, all British streaming services.

      Note: When you click to view an Iplayer show, it’ll ask you if you have a TV license. Just click “yes.” They don’t ask you for a license number.

      I’d gladly pay a couple hundred bucks for a BBC tv license, but that’s not possible for an American to do. So I use Nord. I’ve been using it for a year with no issues. They’ve got TONS of virtual servers in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as Dublin. NOTE: Be sure to clear your cookies before you log into any of the British streamers, just as a precaution. Hope this helps.

  39. Girasol*

    We moved into a new house as our forever home and had a floor squeak fixed on the builder’s warrantee. It’s even worse now five years later. I’m not a crawl space crawler but I’m reluctant to let just anybody down there for fear they’ll fix the squeak but kick loose a heat duct or water pipe in the process. How do you find a handyman who’s a careful crawler?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ask around for referrals. Once you find that person ask them to tell you something about their experiences with tight places.

      Here’s the thing I found. In my area because of the clay soil EVERYONE has tight crawl spaces. In turn most people who do this work are used to crawling around and being careful. So you might get a chuckle and hear, “in my field of work, it’s unavoidable!”

      One good learning experience I have had about referrals is to ask people who situation is similar to mine. So ask friends and neighbors who have tight crawl spaces what they do. If you have a neighborhood forum you can ask there also.

      FWIW, the crawl space here goes down to 14 inches at the back of the house. Yeah, like a coffin. [shudder] No one has broken anything yet. They know their reputation requires this integrity.

  40. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I promise you, I like people, I am not anti-social, I don’t have social anxiety, yet, I feel completely burnt out from social events recently.

    I feel like events are either a o or a 100 on the scale of commitment needed. The past few years, I’ve been invited to more “come to my house at noon for a ten our party” type invites. I just can’t do these anymore. My neighborhood is getting more community oriented but everyone seems to want these type of loosely structured events. These are torture for me. Especially with out culture of not discussing work, money, politics, health etc. It feels like torture trying to come up with light small talk with people I don’t have a huge amount in common with!

    It pains me to say this, becuase I like the idea of a cohesive community. I hate how some people don’t even say hi to their neighbors. But I am realizing I’m OK with “only” making small talk in the streets with neighbors. I’d prefer a biannual town hall type meeting over an eight hour barbeque.

    It’s also having me thinking about speeding up my move to somewhere more rural. My kitchen looks out on one neighbors’ yard, the other room to my other neighbor’s hard. There have been times where people ask me why I’m home and not participating in so and so event, if they see me outside. And as stupid as I feel saying this, the last time there was something I didn’t want to participate in, I just stayed home and pretended not to be there! Felt a little trapped.

    I don’t know, I feel bogged down with every nice weekend having a forced event that usually involves overeating and sitting around making small talk for hours. Yet I do indeed like people. We just need to get more creative with how we engage with eachother!

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Let me ask, how do you do this? I think I overthink everything. I feel weird leaving when I don’t have a specific place to go. Do you give an elaborate explanation?

        1. WellRed*

          No, no elaborate explanation, that’s overthinking it. Thank the host and slip out or honestly, if it’s a really loose event with a ton of people, just fade out. I promise, no one will even notice.

          1. Still*

            Really, really, this!

            Show up, be nice and friendly for half an hour, and then say something along the lines of “I’m gonna head back in / I’m gonna head out, thank you so much for today, it’s always so fun to come out and see everyone”, and leave!

            If anybody sees you out and asks why you’re not participating, just give a breezy “oh, I’ve just been there earlier today / last week, isn’t it so nice for everyone to get together like this? Have fun and let’s catch up next time”.

            Or “thanks so much of thinking of me, I hope I’ll catch you at the next one!” Just any mix of “isn’t it nice” + “I have positive feelings towards you as a person” + “thanks for wanting to include me”.

            If anyone is insisting on getting a reason for why you’re not participating in the whole entire event, they’re the ones being really weird about it. I think most people just want you to feel invited and included, they don’t care if you’re there the entire time.

            If it makes you feel better, you can always blame chores and errands. “Oh, I have some chores to get done but I might come by later to say hi!”

            But as WellRed said, as long as you show your face for a little bit, nobody is likely to notice or think much of it when you leave.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Thirding. Go for an hour at whatever time is good for you, then go home. Fade out if it’s really loose; thank the hosts for doing this and head out if you feel that’s more appropriate.

              One reason to do these long loose gatherings is to hit the Smiths before Joey’s soccer, the Carters after the baby’s nap, the Browns when they get back from the golf course–unless everyone had to drive a huge amount I would not expect most people to stay the whole time.

        2. BRR*

          Literally the opposite. “I’ve got to head out.” Where are you going? “I’ve got someplace I need to be/something I’ve got to do. Thanks for having me!”

          1. pancakes*

            Or, “it was good to see you! bye!” with a big smile, as you’re on your way towards the exit.

            Don’t stress; any of these that people have suggested will work.

        3. Jora Malli*

          I’m a big proponent of the Introvert Exit. When I’ve talked to everyone at the party that I have an interest in talking to, or I’m just small talked out, I excuse myself from whatever conversation I’m in at the moment (you don’t need any kind of explanation or excuse, I usually just say “it was so nice talking with you, I’ll see you later!”) and then I go home.

          With the kind of party you’re describing where there are a lot of people there for hours and hours, the odds that anyone will even notice that you’ve stepped away are VERY low.

        4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          A script will help you leave for now, but I suspect ultimately what you need is to give yourself permission not to stay period. And I echo the posters saying no one expects any one neighbor to stay for the whole thing, they are just drop-in events for people to come and go.

          I overthink a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. “I have a ton to do around the house today so I can’t stay long but I really wanted to come by for a bit and see all of you! Isn’t this dip delicious?” Now coming is a compliment to the neighborhood, not a diss. (And, like Alison often says about ducking out of work social events or OT — they don’t have to know that “stuff around the house” is simply being in your house alone doing nothing. Doesn’t matter.) You don’t have to be elaborate and you definitely don’t have to apologize. And, pro tip, the more you elaborate get the weirder it will be. Stay light.

        5. RagingADHD*

          As with most types of social Jiu-Jitsu, put the focus on the other person instead of yourself. No explanation, just do a running speech about how lovely they are as you move toward the door:

          “Well, this certainly has been nice. Thank you so much! I need to head out, but I sure appreciate you having me. (Topical reference to something that happened at the party, and/or a compliment on the food, and/or some upcoming neighborhood happening where you might see them soon).

          Thanks again! Bye!”

          And you’re gone.

      2. WellRed*

        Oh and I find these exhausting too! Feel free to keep opting out. As long as you go once in awhile and are otherwise a friendly neighbor, I don’t think others will think less of you ; ) small talk topics; admire their garden, summer vacation plans, the food.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I agree with WellRead. Have a solid reason why you have to leave at a set time (if you’re just going home, it could be a phone call) and show up about an hour before that time, especially if it’s a nearby neighborhood thing you can stroll over to. Make the rounds, eat a hot dog, say hi to everyone, and then make your exit without apologies. And if you actually find yourself having fun it’s unlikely anyone would catch you out if you ended up staying longer. I agree that I prefer to be on the nod-and-say-hi-but-don’t-get-caught-up-talking level with my neighbors, and I’m a bit embarrassed of this instinct but I assume it’s a cultural thing from how I was raised.

    2. pancakes*

      “But I am realizing I’m OK with ‘only’ making small talk in the streets with neighbors.”

      That’s totally fine! Some of the nicest people to run into around the neighborhood are people I later realize I only know the name of their dog. (I know I’m not the only one to do this; other people in the area will also say things like “Beatrice’s mom” if they come up for some reason, haha!). That sort of thing makes a community as well, not just extended socializing. If you want to take a break from events, take a break, for as long as you need. When you want to venture back, plan to just pop in and say hi, maybe have one drink.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think I’m bad with names, but apparently I can learn the names of all the dogs and kids. Their parents are “Spot’s mom” and “Chloe’s dad” forever.

    3. Bluebell*

      Usually when someone hosts a long unstructured party, it’s because they want to see lots of friends, and not spend intense long amounts of time with them. Drop by, have a nosh, compliment something and then sunnily explain you need to be on your way. I’m sure it will be fine.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you will find that not many people stay the 8 hours.

      Zoom can be your friend. “Oh, I have a zoom call with my sister/bff/cousin/lost friend from high school.”

      If you have pets they can be an excuse also. “Doggie/kitty got sick this morning, and I promised her I would be back soon to check on her and help her.”

      If you garden that can help you. “Today is my only day that I can get out there to work on the veggies. I really have to do that.”

      I can almost promise you that a good number of people feel the same as you.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        These sound obvious but for some reason aren’t to me, so thanks. I don’t know why, I am smart and am a book worm but my brain goes numb in social situations!

      2. Clisby*

        I’ve been to a lot of drop-in type parties that last several hours, but the host/s definitely aren’t *expecting* everybody to stay for the whole time. I guess some people might, but it’s more common to show up, stay for an hour or so, and leave.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      The hosts of these really long events generally aren’t even expecting most people to stay the entire 10 hours; it’s possible they will think it a little odd if anybody actually does. They’re really supposed to be a “come by sometime in that time frame and socialize for whatever time you feel like” thing.

    6. Alex*

      Perfectly valid excuse:
      “I have some things I need to get done, I’ll catch you next week!” Not a lie. The things you need to get done are to decompress in your house. I use this excuse all the time.

      Also, are there things you WOULD like to do? Organize them yourself! If you don’t like 10 hour parties, what about asking a few people whose company you enjoy to go on a hike with you, or some other activity that has fewer hours and more activity (such that you don’t have to sit and brainstorm conversation topics).

  41. curiousLemur*

    Any suggestions for reading about growing up with a parent who was the golden child?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Can you share the impact their being a Golden Child has had on you? That might help us figure out what to suggest. Narcissistic? Entitled? Lazy?

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Jeanne Safer is a clinical psychologist who has some books about sibling strife that might help, though the only one I’ve read is ‘Cain’s Legacy’, and it’s pretty Freudian-inspired so that might or might not be of interest.

  42. Kuddel Daddeldu*

    Anyone willing to share a good Chili recipe? I love Chili con Carne and usually cook up a big pot, letting it simmer for 3-4 hours, then freeze in portions so I don’t have to cook every day when working from home. I can’t find medium or hot fresh chilies, like Habaneros, so I need to beef up the mild ones I can get with a ground-up dried Thai chili (very hot). I also experimented with vegan ground beef substitute with medium success.

    1. WellRed*

      Oh I have one. Pound ground meat of your choice, large can whole tomatoes, small can tomato paste, chopped red and green peppers, chopped whole onion, 2 15 oz cans beans (I use kidney but your choice), I also add jalapeño. Ton of chipotle chili powder. I add a cup of corner kernels at the end. You can also get canned chiplotes and their sauce to add a smoky heat to any chili.

      1. WellRed*

        Sauté veggies in olive oil and garlic, add meat and tomatoes and tomato sauce, breaking up meat and tomatoes. Add in chili powder bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer for an hour.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Thank you, that sounds delicious! I’ll try to find the sauce; I may have to experiment-and get a can the next time I’m in the US (probably in September).
        I like some cinnamon in my chili, never tried chocolate, though.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Skillet Turkey Chili from Smitten Kitchen. I highly recommend including the pickled red onions as a topper.

      This is one of those simple, filling, you probably have most of the stuff in your pantry recipes. Great as a one-dish meal or with a salad. I fed it to my son’s visiting sports team with great success.

    3. Seeking second childhood*

      Two unexpected ingredients a friend suggested trying: cinnamon, and a can of American beer (like bud or coors).

  43. Recipe to share*

    I leveled up my chili recipe recently. My recipe now is: one pound ground protein (I use 80/20 hamburger meat or ground pork or a combination of each.) i brown it in a cast iron pan along with a thinly sliced yellow onion, a spice mix of cumin/garlic powder/diamond salt/black pepper and a smoked chipotle pepper in adobe sauce and about a tablespoon of the sauce. (It comes in a can found in the Latin American food section). While that is cooking, I open one large can of crushed tomatoes, 2 cans of original Rotel tomatoes and add all to my stockpot. Next, I add in 3 cans of beans (drained and rinsed). (I know Texas red doesn’t have beans but my family likes it this way. Feel free to omit.). I also add a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste. The same spice mix gets added as well, about a tablespoon of the mix. I also had a scant teaspoon of cinnamon at and a little chopped dark chocolate (about a teaspoon) at this point. I then put the stockpot on the heat and let it come to a low boil before reducing the heat and leaving it to simmer. When the meat is well browned, I used a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and onions to the stockpot and bring back to a low boil before returning the heat to simmer. I cover it and leave it on the back burner for as little as an hour or up to 4 hours depending on the needs of the day. It is good the first day, and gains depth of flavor after a night in the fridge. It is thick and meaty and a along with a salad is a whole meal. It also well for Frito pies, chili cheese fries or chili cheese burgers.

    1. beentheredonethat*

      Wow sounds great. I love cinnamon and dark chocolate in chili. I am tempted to try it with cardamon also

  44. beentheredonethat*

    Olives issues. I noramlly buy small bottles of good olives. I decided to get a large bottle at Costco. I do not like these olives they are sorta flabby(?). I hate throwing food away. Suggestions to use up this bottle. (I have been cutting them tiny and throwing in salads etc.)

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re the not-that-great olives: look up some recipes for tapenade and see if that appeals. (That’s only if it’s the texture rather than the taste that’s disappointing; if they don’t taste that great either, I’d go ahead and compost them!)

      1. Girasol*

        Life is too short for suboptimal olives: I want that on a T-shirt. That said, I might put mushy olives in spaghetti sauce just to avoid the waste.

      2. Chaordic One*

        It would be a good user name for a commentator here. It has to rank up there with “Inappropriate Vegetables.”

      1. beentheredonethat*

        Suboptimal olives — I am trying to think how many different ways I could use this.

      2. Meh