weekend open thread – August 20-21, 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: The Startup Wife, by Tahmima Anam. A newlywed coder and her husband develops a wildly popular app with her husband, who soon becomes a messiah-like figure to users (the app creates customized spiritual experiences for the non-religious). Things go sideways.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,522 comments… read them below }

  1. Constance Lloyd*

    Fiber arts*: any fun new projects you’re starting or or techniques you’re exploring?

    *knitting, crocheting, weaving, embroidery, etc etc etc

    1. Liminality*

      I have been working on a petit point embroidery of a scene from Yosemite National Park since January and I have a little over a quarter finished so far. The only other needlepoint project I’ve completed is a cross stitch of a Thomas Kinkade Disney’s Cinderella themed painting. Petit point is so much tinier! It’s the same type of diagonal stitch as cross stitch, but only going in the one direction rather than both.

      At this rate it’ll take me 2-ish years to finish this thing, and my sister who commissioned the project plans to frame and display it in her home. :)

    2. Lemon*

      I am so excited to see a fiber arts thread! (pun not intended but welcomed haha)

      Made an embroidered earring, experimenting with stumpwork techniques. Next on my list is a landscape embroidery, this is a stretch project for me because of the size (my biggest project so far). I intend to get it framed when I’m done. Wish me luck – I’m both excited and intimidated by it!

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I have not had much time to work on my very basic crochet washcloth, but I hope to get a lot further while on the vacation I’m leaving for today!

    4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I am knitting thriftysocks (super simple toe-up socks in plain stocking stitch with random stripes, using up small bits of leftover yarn). Any suggestions for making the colour patterns more interesting than horizontal stripes (with contrast toe & heel) would be welcome – I’m a decent knitter but avoid colour work because my superpower is that any yarn in my presence becomes instantly & irremediably tangled).

      I am trying to learn an embroidery technique called “thread painting” – like satin stitch but with lots of shading & such – like this! so beautiful! https://i.etsystatic.com/27041558/r/il/b7075f/2825841283/il_1140xN.2825841283_lenq.jpg – but I like to embroider by following a pattern, with blocks of colour, and I think I might need, like, ACTUAL painting skills in order to do thread painting. Like I might have to just impressionistically/ intuitively blend colours as I go to make it look right, and I can’t do that. Any thread painters with advice for me?

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        How do you feel about simple stranded color work? You could use that technique to add bands of vertical stripes or little dots or contrasting color. It’s not so bad if the yarn gets tangled, because after a short bit of knitting you’ll cut the strands and move on to the next.
        I recently learned mosaic color work knitting, which lets you add pops of color without adding bulk to the fabric and you only have to hold one strand of yarn at a time.
        Otherwise you could play with texture, adding stripes of seed stitch or moss stitch.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I have not tried simple stranded colour work but both that & mosaic sound like they might be within my capabilities – thank you! I will check them out.

          Seed & moss stitch could also work (maybe in vertical bands against the horizontal colour striping)

        2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

          I second the recommendation for mosaic colour work. As you only work with one colour at a time it reduces the likelihood of tangles.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        For the thread painting, I think it might help to copy something you like. A Bob Ross tutorial maybe? Or an impressionistic painting? That way you can see the colors.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Ooh, that’s smart – thank you. Then I don’t have to figure out how to do the colour blending myself, which is the bit I can’t do (I just realised I basically treat embroidery like colouring-in – I like to colour between the lines!)

          1. Very Social*

            I also feel like embroidery is very much like coloring–they both fill the same soothing niche in my brain!

      3. Blue Balloon*

        Ooh, seconding the slipped-stitch suggestion for colorwork without holding two colors. Constance Lloyd suggested mosaic knitting but there are many slipped-st patterns that might be interesting.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          And now I’m off to look into other slipped stitch color work! I seem to convince myself that every new technique is wildly complicated and beyond my abilities, and then I finally grit my teeth and try it and what do you know? Not impossible!

      4. Lady Knittington*

        The only suggestion I can think of is to do a k1 p1 row (or k1 slip 1) every time you come to a colour change, so you get a bit of variation but without it being massively complicated

    5. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      (I think my comment is stuck in moderation – in the meantime, any advice for someone trying out “thread painting” [embroidery technique] would be welcomed!)

    6. Lifelong student*

      In the last few weeks I have crocheted two RBG dissent collars. Then I was given a pattern for a knitted one and pulled my old knitting skill out from my memory and did that one. First time knitting on circular needles and learned some new stitches! Now I am working on scarves for donation using up yarn from my stash that I don’t particularly like so that it doesn’t go to waste or take up space.

    7. Llellayena*

      Today I get to make 3 pincushions to sell at my quilt guild’s quilt show. They’re adorable and look like birds!

    8. Ninja Prof*

      I’m about halfway through crocheting an ottoman cover to use up some chunky yarn in my stash. Which I did, and now have to buy more chunky yarn to finish the project. The original yarn was discontinued, so its been a fun challenge trying to find suitable substitutes!

      I’m also working on a “safe space” cross stitch for a friend’s office that I hope to finish by the end of the month.

    9. KofSharp*

      I’m finishing up my Renaissance Festival costume and figuring out how to make pants next!

    10. Adventurous Alpaca*

      I was a knitter for years but this spring decided to teach myself to crochet.

      I started with a washcloth, then made a bag, and now am making dinosaur hats for my sisters kids. I’m finding that now that I have the hang of crochet, I enjoy it much more than knitting and its much easier to make things in different shapes. I’d done some amigurumi knitting but am excited about the possibilities in crochet.

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        I too was a knitter first, then learned crochet and felt the same way! No dropping stitches off the needle, so easy to do circular things, works up so fast too!

        At this point in my life I’ve realized there is a place for each. Knitting IMHO makes a nicer fabric, so it’s definitely my go to for sweaters. I refuse to knit a stuffed animal though, crochet is made for those kinds of projects!

        Your dinosaur hats sound cute!

    11. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m far away from my sewing machines at the moment, but prior to leaving I was able to finish some baby pants for a friend.

    12. Pickwick Papers*

      I just started crocheting the “Moorlands” blanket by Attic24. They suggest a yarn pack and the striped colors of the blanket were inspired by the Yorkshire moorland. I was so excited I bought the yarn for two other blankets by the same designer!

    13. Not A Manager*

      I am still working on the Neverending Afghan for my son, but I’ve taken a break to crochet a scarf for my friend’s upcoming birthday.

    14. Constance Lloyd*

      I just finished my first cable knit project, a hat for an old friend I haven’t seen in ages. I spent years avoiding cables because they seemed so complicated, but they’re surprisingly simple, just like everyone always said! Now I’m finding ways to incorporate them into non-cabled sweater patterns I already have.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        One caution: if the cables weren’t in the original design, check your gauge cabled as well as flat. They pull in, sometimes quite a lot. You don’t want to put all that work into a sweater that doesn’t fit.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Oh yes, absolutely! I don’t plan on doing full cables, either. I’m thinking more along the lines of adding a small accent cable down the center of a basic boxy raglan.

    15. Sundial*

      I have a stack of sweaters that are too shabby to wear, and I’m trying to find a place to donate them for the yarn. Suggestions welcome!

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        Unless they’re hand-knitted sweaters, they won’t necessarily be easy to unravel for yarn. Some mass-produced sweaters are cut out and seen together from knit fabric instead of knitted with shaping stitches and then seamed. If that’s the case, when unraveled, you just end up with a bunch of short strands of yarn. If the sweaters are wool (or alpaca or other feltable fibers), you could start by trying to find someone who likes sewing/crafting with felt — it might be easier than trying to find someone with the patience to try and unravel the sweaters. Have you tried just posting them on etsy as, like, Lot of Bulk Sweaters for Crafting, and just set the price to whatever will cover your shipping costs?

    16. Dancing Otter*

      KNITTING
      I frogged four unfinished knitting projects this week.
      One cowl of lace weight yarn too close to my skin color, plus different stitch patterns at widely varied gauges that I could never, ever, have blocked equal.
      Three sweaters, two almost completely finished, that I need a smaller size after losing at least seventy pounds since starting (can’t remember exactly when I started them, at what weight). These were not styles that would look good with an extra eight inches of ease. Also, one had not been stored properly, and either moths or cats had done some damage.

      I discarded numerous partial skeins, some quite unidentifiable, and have been working on a basic seed stitch blanket to use up a large leftover skein. It was supposed to be a cat blanket. I cast on as many stitches as would fit on a 10” needle. Turns out 75 stitches on a size 11 needle in mohair bouclé is pretty wide. I’m a bit over halfway through the skein.

    17. happybat*

      Have responded to an upcoming month of intense work by casting on a shawl – pattern Dover Castle, yarn leftover Malabrigo. So far, very charming!

    18. germank106*

      I finished my Charlotte’s Universe blanket https://i.imgur.com/Ixr8FIo.jpg a while ago and now I’m back to knitting. No particular pattern, just a basic top-down raglan cardigan. Might take me a while, I broke my elbow a few weeks ago and typing is still a chore.

    19. Madame Arcati*

      I’m just beginning a medallion quilt in Liberty fabrics. It is for me I am going to keep it myself. It is also going to take aaaaaaaaaaages…

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Oh man, I just finished a throw blanket and my first thought was never again! I’m so impatient haha

        1. Madame Arcati*

          This one will be nice to do because of the variety; a medallion quilt (at least in patchwork) has a central motif surrounding by several different borders. So this one starts with an eight point star made up of little diamonds, then borders include squares on point, plain with little EPP hexagon flowers appliquéd on, triangles, squares and flying geese…

        2. germank106*

          But it’s so satisfying when you’re finally done. I usually work on one large project (blanket, shawl, cardigan, sweater, etc.) and also have a little project going. I’m currently obsessed with the tiny window cat pattern on Ravelry https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tiny-window-cat. It’s great for using up leftovers and I plan on making a bunch to use as stocking stuffers and gifts. Socks are a second favorite. Everyone needs socks….

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            I think this is the trick, the one I finished was just garter stitch and I got so bored, so I’m considering playing with texture a bit (maybe a broken garter stitch) or using intarsia to imitate an oversized classic quilting pattern, like a sawtooth star. I’m the first knitter in a long line of very good quilters (including an aunt who quilts professionally) so quilting motifs could be a fun way to learn a new knitting technique while also giving a nod to the craft I come from, so to speak.

    20. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      I finished my beta knit Woolly Wormhead hat…and then promptly cast on for another one of their designs that I’ve been meaning to make for a while. I’m currently playing a game of yarn chicken and hopeful that I’ll win. I do like working with my own handspun yarn, but it does mean that I can’t run out and buy another skein if I end up short.

    21. definitely anon for this*

      Many things! I just bought a book about geometric knitting and want to start playing around with pi blankets. In the meantime, knitting two non-circular blankets and sewing a dress.

    22. Random Biter*

      SO into counted cross stitching right now. Keeps my hands busy and out of the fridge. I keep several projects going at once so I don’t get bored (yeah, probably somewhere on the ADHD spectrum)

      1. Halloween carousel horse
      2. Halloween mini portraits of different Halloween monsters
      3. Halloween poster created by a FB friend (seeing a pattern here?)
      4. 4th of July carousel horse (this one will go to one of the rescues I volunteer for to use as a raffle item as will the Halloween horse)
      5. “Tempest in a Tea Cup” mini dragon in a tea cup
      6. 12 Days of Christmas done as mini Christmas ornaments

      All ready for those cold, stuck in the house months!

    23. Sh*tshow Master, PMP*

      Ooh! I’m late to the party but this is exactly the off-topic thread I am here for! I’ve been a crocheter for many years/decades and finally came over to knitting this year. I have a Weekender Light on the needles and just picked up yarn for an Alpenglow on Saturday! Very excited to try my hand at stranded colorwork – I’ll enjoy wearing the plainer reverse stockinette in my Weekender, but after all those years of varied stitches and multicolored patterns with a crochet hook, my brain is craving a more challenging knit.

  2. Anonymous for today*

    My parents have indicated they would like to give some money to my son for later use (schooling, something else?) We are not living in the US at the moment, but would want to keep it in the US for simplicity of tax stuff…Help? I have no idea about investing and such! I know enough to say that putting it in an account is not a good use of it as the value will decrease over time, but beyond that I don’t know what would be best or where to start researching. Ideally I’d like to park it somewhere, but not have to think about it much. Thank you for any ideas!

      1. Anon in IL*

        Will they gift more than $16,000 in a single year? If so, there may be IRS reporting obligations.

        The annual gift exclusion is $16,000. It is Ok to gift more in a single year and most likely no gift tax will be due but they would file IRS Form 709 to report gifts over $16,000.

        There is a special rule for 529 plans. They can fund five years at once ($16,000 x 5 = $80,000) but again must file Form 709 to elect this special treatment.

        “Gift splitting” for married couples can double these amounts.

        1. JSPA*

          that’s per person (to and from) such that two parents can give 2 x that gift tax limit, without reporting. And if 4 GP want to give, plus two aunts and one family friend, then multiply by (counts on fingers) $16K x 7. And if they want to do that for multiple recipients? Also fine. So far (with variations in the limit, per year) it’s been fine, for decades, to do this every year.

      2. Bluebell*

        But if your child attends college outside of the U.S., that wouldn’t be as useful. Or if they don’t take the college route. Spouse and I are helping out our niece and nephew because our child decided that college wasn’t for them.

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      529 is good if you are pretty sure he will need the money for school or if you’re ok with a penalty for using it for other purposes.
      Otherwise, look into a Roth IRA. The original contribution can be withdrawn after 5 years with no penalty (earnings on top of that cannot be until age 59.5 with some exceptions like college or buying a first home). Or they can stay there and supercharge his retirement since he’d be getting such an early start. There’s an annual contribution limit so depending on the size of the gift you may need to contribute over multiple years.
      And IBonds are an attractive option right now since they’re indexed to inflation.

      1. Expat*

        A Roth IRA only makes sense if the son has a actual income source and is paying US taxes on that income. (If OP/OP’s son is not in the US and the income earned is excluded from US taxes using the foreign income exclusion method, OP or OP’s son can’t contribute to a Roth IRA) Depending on which country they are in and how the tax burden compares to the US, they could file a tax return and use the foreign tax credit instead, but if their tax burden is lower than it would be in the US, they will likely owe money to Uncle Sam.

        1. fposte*

          Right, you can only contribute to a Roth up to your earned income. So if the son made and reported $1000 of babysitting income this year and that’s it, $1000 is the max he can put in a Roth.

    2. Lorraine*

      I anti rec 529s. My parents did this for my kid who is now in college and it’s just a pain. She’s not going to school in the state where they live, she’s got scholarships for tuition so she has to send all this documentation every semester that her tuition is actually covered among other issues.

      1. WellRed*

        MY understanding is there are state specific and non specific options. Hopefully someone better versed in these than me can clarify.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          I set up my kids in a non-state specific account. We are using it at an out of state private school and have no issues. You can use it for room and board even if your kid is renting an apartment and not staying in the dorms

        2. Double A*

          There are state run options for 529s, but you can use them for anywhere.

          There are some prepaid tuition options that are state or school specific if that’s what you were thinking about. Like, I could prepay tuition for University of California for my kid now, but then of course they’d need to go to UC.

        3. Lorraine*

          This 529 was set up 20 years ago by my parents and it looks like they are easier to use now. What the other commenters say is true: my kid can use hers out of state and for living expenses. It’s just a lot of hoops to jump through every semester that I find tedious. If that’s not an issue for newly opened ones, then it wouldn’t be as big a deal.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As a teen, child inherited money from a relative and opted to put it in an index fund. (We recommended this.) The money is in my name so that if he wanted to use it before 18 (buy a car, travel, etc) we could still access it–if you want to set it aside until 18 then just putting it in child’s name is likely easier. If you won’t need the money for several years and can be flexible about when you sell (standard advice is about 2 years before you need the money start watching the market–if you really need it for a tuition payment next month then you might be stuck selling in the depths of a bear market). If the most likely use is something like “stick money somewhere for at least 10-15 years” then these tend to have the best return on investment. But it is the market–you could enter just before a crash and take quite a while to restore the value, which is likely but not guaranteed in the way say bonds are.

    4. KatEnigma*

      An index fund.

      It’s what Warren Buffett has set up for his wife when he dies- slow growth over time instead of aggressive investing, but it’s meant to set up and then leave alone.

      1. fposte*

        Though you can put it in an index fund in a tax-advantaged program like a 529, in taxable, or in whatever other options the OP’s relevant state, etc., allows.

        1. KatEnigma*

          And if he never gets secondary education in the US the money is lost. Taxes on the interest earned aren’t at all high (the reason the rich earn all their money that way) and the whole thing is way less complicated and restricted than a 529.

          1. fposte*

            It’s not the interest (there won’t be any in a fund, just dividends), it’s the capital gains that’ll be an issue. The rich also use every tax-advantaged account they have access to. How restrictive a 529 will be will depend on the state the OP is in. But mostly I was making the point that an index fund is a vehicle and it can go in any financial garage–taxable, IRA, 529, 401k, etc.

            1. Beth*

              “an index fund is a vehicle and it can go in any financial garage”

              I am absolutely stealing that. Brilliant way of putting it!

          2. JSPA*

            Not lost, but the bite for the taxes that would have come due is larger, retroactively. I mean, it’s their money; if they want to put it in an instrument that will encourage the kids to follow a traditional college path, and to do so in the USA, it’s not like that’s a loss to your kids…and the US is likewise allowed to offer tax breaks for a set up that encourages kids to do traditional higher ed, and to do so in the USA. If they go to school somewhere, where school isn’t prohibitively expensive, they’re still not losing out on a good education and a good life, and some money from what was set aside, when the GP’s were focused on a different life-strategy.

      2. Generic Name*

        I agree with this. My granny gifted me a small amount of money in 1996 and she put it in a mutual fund (actually, we met with a stock broker and he helped me pick something). That little pot of money has grown a lot over the years, and since it’s not tied to a retirement account, I can take money out whenever I want. It’s been really useful for unexpected expenses.

      3. Splendid Colors*

        I lost my retirement savings TWICE in index funds. Each time the economy crashed, the value of my account dropped below the minimum to maintain an account and they cashed me out automatically instead of retaining my funds for when the market recovered.

    5. Double A*

      If you think your kids will do some kind of post secondary training/education, 529s are great, but they do have some limits. If they’d like to leave just some money with no strings attached, I suggest looking into I bonds. They’re government issued bonds that are pegged to inflation, so the amount you put in will grow at the same rate as inflation so it will basically retains value (and interest is never less than zero). You can buy up to $10k per person per year. You can’t cash it out before 1 year, and if you’re cash it out before 5 years there’s a small penalty (3 months interest). You can buy them directly from the US Treasury. I’ll link to the website and a good podcast about the bonds in another reply.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      I didn’t go with the 529. I set our kids’ college funds up as custodial accounts so that the money could be used for other purposes, especially since I strongly suspected that my son in particular would not follow the traditional college path. You can set them up through an investment firm. The financial advisor can walk you through what kind of funds/bonds you want to invest the money in.

    7. allathian*

      How old is your son and how much money are we talking about? The longer the time until you need the money, the higher the risk you’ll be able to take with it in the hope of a better return.

    8. Observer*

      A 529 plan has some advantages, but if your kid doesn’t go to college it’s going to be a pain. Also, the tax advantages may not be all that useful to you.

      Something that’s simple and straightforward is an index fund in a custodial account. All the big fund companies can help you set one up. So, you would be the custodian, and therefore able to access it, bu it would automatically revert to kid at age 18 or 21.

  3. the other one*

    This week I: a) accidentally sexted my cousin instead of my husband and b) flashed a group of women when I was trying on clothes and my dressing room door swung open while I was standing there in underwear, no bra. Currently digging a hole so I can live the rest of my life many feet underground. Please tell me your own moments of embarrassment so I am less alone.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      Most of mine have been buried underground but here are two:

      When I was in fifth grade I was giving a presentation and sort of went into autopilot and ended my talk by saying “In Jesus Name, Amen”. (I was raised evangelical)

      When I was dating my ex husband, I woke up after peeing the bed (yes, his bed). I had not done such a thing since I was a child and was not drunk. I have no idea why it happened and it never happened again.

      1. North Wind*

        I was raised evangelical as well (no longer of that persuasion). When I was a kid the landline telephone rang and I picked up and instead of “Hello” I said “Dear Heavenly Father” lololol.

    2. PsychNurse*

      I attended an outdoor wedding on a very bright sunny day. I had chosen to wear an adorable vintage dress. I had bought it in a very chic second-hand shop in Japan which was (this is important) dimly lit. The morning of the wedding, I got dressed in a (sigh) dimly lit hotel room. I looked amazing. I was strutting. I arrived at the wedding and made allll the rounds, greeting everyone and living it up. Hours into the event, someone pulled out a Polaroid to take pictures. When the pic came out I realized my dress was see-through. Like an x-ray. The people attending the wedding were all casual acquaintances and colleagues— not friends who would have said “Girl I can see your underwear!” Everyone ignored it. I was absolutely mortified.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        My partner does not understand why I need all the mirrors, and why no light source is good enough because it’s either too dim or casts shadows. This is why I need all the mirrors and all the lights.

    3. Maybe*

      I was new to a dating site and still figuring out which buttons did what. I accidentally “super liked” a man but didn’t know how to undo it.

      When I next logged on I saw the start of a message from him: “I think we are…”

      I didn’t want to open it and read the rest, assuming he would see that I read it and expect a response.

      Being new to the dating world after a long relationship had ended, I wasn’t yet sure how to deal with a man writing something like “I think we are soulmates” or “I think we are meant to be together” or something similar, like I imagined he had written — thanks to the rom coms I’d been binge watching.

      About a week later I finally screwed up the courage to open up the message from the guy I had super liked:

      “I think we are cousins!”

      Yup, we are. I hadn’t recognized the photo or name at first but he is indeed a first cousin!

    4. Sloanicota*

      Aww at one point I was cleaning up the yard in a light sundress and my neighbor came over to tell me I was flashing everybody. It was a flowy dress and my erm fanny etc was visible when I bent down. Sigh.

      1. JSPA*

        I had a large scarf worn as a sort of sarong come untied last week, when the cat shot out the door between my feet, and I reflexively bent down to grab him and boost him back inside.

        I was otherwise 100% commando.

        Luckily it was late dusk, the lights inside were likewise low, and if any of the 5 neighbors who have sightlines on the back door saw the show (front then back, bent over, with a chonky cat doing a “bill the cat” pose), they have said nothing.

      2. Laura Petrie*

        Depending on if you’re in the UK or US you could be showing very different things to your neighbours!

        1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

          Thanks for the reminder that there are different meanings to the word! I read it as the UK definition which would definitely be rather a show for the neighbours.

    5. Katefish*

      This just happened within the past month: I have a hands free pumping bra at work and can pump doing almost anything. I was in the zone responding to email whining one day when IT knocked on my door to install a program. Without thinking, I reflexively said, “Come in.” Only after the IT director sat down at my computer did I realize I was pumping and very much not covered up!

    6. Aaaargh*

      Well, this one isn’t mine, but it might make you feel better. Was out water skiing with a group, and when the other woman climbed back in the boat after her turn, one of her boobs had popped completely out of her swimsuit. The only other people in the boat besides me were all male. Awkward…

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and the first time I went swimming I discovered that I no longer have enough sensation to realize when this happens to me lol. I now make very sure that all my swimsuits are reasonably modest and know how to stay put!

    7. Sundial*

      I was online taking a remote class for my Masters. This was several years preCovid, so people as a whole were not attuned to “Zoom fails” the way they are now.

      My husband was being a selfish jerk and refused to turn off his show while I was in my lecture class. He was blasting Always Sunny at top volume, the episode “Frank’s Pretty Woman” in particular. (If you’re not familiar, Danny Devito’s character proposes to a prostitute, who stumbles through the episode cursing a blue streak while chugging from a flask and smoking crack.)

      My polite requests to turn the show off escalated into frustrated shrieks, and somehow I unmuted myself in time for the class to hear me yell “Turn that shit off!” at the same time one of the characters was saying “There’s a dead wh*re in my apartment? That doesn’t look good.”

      The professor stopped lecturing and said “Uh…we can hear you?” I slammed the laptop closed and skipped the rest of the class. I immediately jumped into the shower because the stress sweat was pouring off me like a waterfall.

    8. North Wind*

      When I was… I don’t know maybe 8-10 years old, I was at my grandma’s house with my cousin and sisters. We were in the next door neighbor’s yard (with permission) playing on their swing set.

      We decided to do a flip around the top bar of the set – so you’d climb the frame, scooch over with your belly right on the top bar, do like a somersault around it, hang down from your arms, then hop to the ground.

      We were wearing shorts, and when it was my turn, I did the flip, and mid-somersault my shorts caught on one of the bolts holding the swings up. My shorts ripped, but my underwear was also caught and it held. So I’m hanging there by underwear just completely stuck. I yelled for help, but everyone was literally on the ground screaming with laughter, until my underwear finally ripped and I fell in an ungainly heap (no injuries).

      It doesn’t seem bad as an adult, but it is NOT OK to be hanging in the sky by your underwear at that age. I heard about it forever.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        I am now having flashbacks to a girl guide/scout song to the tune of John Brown’s Body – “glory glory what a hell of a way to die, suspended by your braces when you don’t know how to fly” (braces being the uk sort which men used to hold their trousers up). At least they didn’t have to scrape you off the tarmac like a pound of strawberry jam!

        1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          Content warning: graphic.

          OMG, my middle school English teacher, an ex-Marine with a big ol’ pirate hook, taught us a Marines version of that:

          There was blood upon the risers;
          there were brains upon the chute;
          his intestines were a-dangling from his paratrooper’s boots.
          They picked him up and poured him from his chute into his boots,
          and he ain’t gonna jump no more.

          Gory, gory what a hell of a way to die.
          Gory, gory what a hell of a way to die.
          Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die,
          and he ain’t gonna jump no more.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

            The 70s were wild, man. I don’t think you could teach kids that today. . . .

        2. North Wind*

          Hahaha, it’s fortunate my brother and male cousin (two different people ;)) weren’t there as they were fond of making up songs. Surely something in this vein would have been created.

      2. Just Another Cog*

        I remember my playground wardrobe mishap!! I attended Catholic school as a kid and we wore wool skirt jumpers. After recess, my Mom appeared at the door to my classroom and handed the nun a paper bag. The nun whispered that I needed to go to the girl’s room and “put on these underwear”. I was mortified that I had been flashing my classmates. Apparently, the Sister on playground duty saw it, too, and had someone call my Mom. First graders are so blissfully unaware.

    9. FACS*

      I was doing surgery while pregnant. Scrubs have a string tie and it can be hard to gauge it. My pants fell down halfway through a case and did not want anyone to pull up my pants for me, so I just finished. Cue me taking off my gown at the end of the case with the nurses and anesthesiologist in the room. While wearing Wonder Woman underpants. I was mortified and was jokingly called “Diana” for a while after.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        OMG, I love that you have Wonder Woman underpants! Be proud! : )

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I also have a sending the wrong thing to a cousin story! I’d made an “atheist joke about Christianity” meme based on a conversation with a specific friend (not rude or offensive, just kind of weird and intentionally poorly designed) and somehow ended up sending it to a cousin whose current beliefs I don’t know but she was definitely raised more religious than I was. She did not respond or ever acknowledge it

    11. Madame Arcati*

      I was once at a party, standing around with wine in hand, when my silk satin waist-tie skirt FELL CLEAN OFF. Straight to the floor in a split second, do not pass go do not collect £200. The gods be praised I was wearing respectable bottom-covering knickers!

    12. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I’ve shared these before, but

      A) Sat on the birthday cake when the lights were off for a surprise party.
      B) Got my period (very obvious in white karate uniform) during a belt test attended by a lot of (other people’s) relatives, and most of my classmates were little kids.

      And this is a new one:
      C) Accidentally sent a snarky text about someone in a group chat TO the group chat. Ugh. That was difficult to apologize for, since I couldn’t really say, “Oops, I meant to be rude behind your back instead of to your face.” I just had to apologize for being rude and grouchy.

    13. Analyst Editor*

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think most women would care about being flashed? You’re all women in the women’s dressing room, you know what they have and they know what you have and some dressing rooms don’t even have stalls, just a single room.

    14. Manders*

      I fell off a treadmill in spectacular fashion in front of a cute guy. (Please, please learn from my mistake and wear that cord that will cut the power if you come off of the belt).

      I was in my tiny apartment workout room, and cute guy came in. I could tell he wanted to use the treadmill so I took out my earbuds to tell him that I would be 20 more minutes. I had to repeat myself because he then had to take out his ear buds to hear me. So while I had my head turned to the right to talk to him briefly, my body drifted to the left of the treadmill. I ended up on the side of the treadmill on the left, off the belt. But instead of stopping the treadmill first, I just… tried to get back on while it was moving.

      My feet fly out behind me, but I’m able to catch the bar to hold on. I can’t get my feet to move fast enough to stand myself up again (I mean, obviously). Then somehow I manage to turn myself all the way over, so now my upper body is facing the ceiling, and my feet are still moving in a running motion, but toward the wall behind me, completely uncoordinated. And then somehow again I’m twisted back to being face-down. All I can think is “should I push the STOP button, or should I pull the cord I should have been wearing?”. It turns out it doesn’t matter – as soon as I remove my right hand from the rail I go flying off the back of the treadmill and end up crumpled against the wall with by rear in the air.

      Did I get up (with the help of cute guy, who somehow did not laugh at me at all) and continue my workout? Yes I did. Did I then go home, clean up the blood on my knees, and never ever again get on a treadmill? Yes to that too.

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        This was the most amazing description, I cannot stop laughing, but also I’m so sorry this happened to you! I literally would’ve moved to Jupiter!

    15. An extra layer of anon*

      In high school, I was in the marching band. I did “auxiliary” which includes flag, batons, etc. One year we had a set of wooden backdrops and the aux. Folks had an outfit chant between numbers. We had one skirt under another longer one, so we pulled the one off, kind of thing. Something went wrong and I managed to pull both off (they stuck together? I don’t recall the details) but while I was hidden from the folks in the stands, it was a competition…. There was a whole other band BEHIND the field who could see me. I basically showed an entire marching band my underpants.

    16. Irish Teacher*

      I once told a student, “there’s no need to shout. None of us is deaf,” before remembering that actually…there was a kid in the class who was hard of hearing.

    17. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      About a decade ago, I went with my long-term BF (at the time) to his grandfather’s funeral. It was a complicated trip, in that we were going first to the UK to collect his parents, and then all 4 taking an overnight ferry to Germany to get to the actual service. It was my first time meeting his folks. So we’re all jammed into this tiny cabin together. There are, as I’ve mentioned already, 4 people on this trip, the room is the size of a largish closet, and there are exactly 4 bunks. If you are inside the room, and you can’t see one of the other 4 people, it means that either they have left the room entirely, or else they are occupying the size-of-a-refrigerator bathroom. To this day, I do not know how I managed not to realize that my BF’s mom was in the bathroom until I strongly, confidently flung the door open (WHY didn’t the latch hold???) on her. My vision actually shut down out of pure distress so I didn’t see anything, but try explaining that to someone in a way that actually makes anyone feel better about it! And she was so obviously embarrassed but also so NICE about it which just made it worse! Uggggghhhhhhhhhhh, I still want to go live on the bottom of the ocean when I think about it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I have heard black cats are particularly hard to get good photos of – good job on this one!!

      1. MEH Squared*

        I have a black cat and have such a hard time getting a good pic of him. I’m envious of Alison’s ability to take a terrific shot like this.

    2. Kittee*

      Alison, you need to do one of those one-a-day tear-off calendars. Each day would have one of your kitty photos, and an AAM-related quote or note. Such as: “I Quit in Cod!” “I Read AAM and All I Got Was a Fabulous Job!” (Actually that would make a good t-shirt.) “Cheap-ass rolls rock.” Etc.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Love this idea! Or even one a wall one with twelve pictures of the cats where I could write appointments in it. I’d buy either.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I’d love one of these.

          We took a lot of photos of my parents’ two cats for as long as they lived, and we selected photos and got wall calendars made every year as a Christmas present, starting when they were kittens (my maternal aunt found a feral kitten and gave her a home, then she got into heat and ran away from home for long enough to get pregnant just as my aunt thought it was time to get her spayed, and my parents adopted two out of five kittens).

  4. RosyGlasses*

    Ideas for reframing your mental perspectives on movement and nourishing food choices?

    I’m having a really hard time. A few years past 40 and definitely peri menopause (I only have ovaries left after surgery a couple years ago) and the weight will.not.budge. I love food and sugars.

    I’m lifting weights for about 30 min 4-5 days a week with a YouTube program and walking 3 miles 3-4 times a week (will do more when it’s not so unbearably hot). I know logistically that muscle weighs more than fat and I can’t undo 20 years of mostly sedentary living in a month but my brain keeps telling me to give up.

    I’m trying to focus on the fact that I feel better and stronger – but any tips for tricking your brain into focusing on those positives instead of being discouraged? It’s hard knowing logically all the things but still drifting towards my couch and Netflix/ books instead of taking time to move and feed my body with non processed junk food.

    1. Harriet Jacobs*

      Be proud of everything your body can do – walk, lift weights, get you through your day. Stay off social media! Watch shows like Rutherford Falls that show non-skinny women who have active love lives.
      And I know that this is not what you are asking for, but consider talking with an endocrinologist. First, she confirmed that my muscle mass was higher than average and she praised me for that.
      Secondly, after years of being unable to lose weight the endocrinologist put me on an appetite suppressant and it has changed my life! Last November I was able to walk past all the post-Halloween sale candy.
      Good luck in your journey.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Thank you! Yes I think I need to have a daily mantra about appreciating what my body can do. I do think I’m due for annual blood work to see what is happening with mineral, hormone levels and to rule out there isn’t anything else lurking.

        1. TPS reporter*

          I just got a blood test and found I have iron and b12 deficiencies that are making me feeling tired and unmotivated. I already have more pep and drive to work out and eat better after getting some supplements

      2. MassChick*

        May I ask how she gauged that? Was it a visual inspection or some sort of test/measurement ?

        1. JSPA*

          I’ve had it done with bioimpedence for a study. Not very accurate, frankly, but they just needed a cutoff value to ensure the study was safe for all participants (and it was a study where hydrophobic tissue behaves differently in response to the treatment than aqueous tissues do, both in terms of blood supply and diffusion).

    2. Melody Pond*

      Personally, I’d stop using a scale altogether. Isn’t it measuring the wrong thing? Could you have a doctor (or whatever is the appropriate professional) measure more meaningful metrics like your cardiovascular health, blood sugar levels, and body fat percentage? I know it would probably mean getting that feedback less frequently, but that still seems more useful than relying on a deceptive and oversimplified metric like weight.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep, I don’t weigh myself ever, but I have a general sense of how I’m doing by how my clothes fit. That’s my only standard since in my experience you can’t even see the difference in a few pounds in the mirror. I think if you’re trying to do a “lifetstyle change” where you eat more healthy foods and exercise – which you are! Which is great! – then tracking each pound is counterproductive.

    3. NeutralJanet*

      I made a lot of changes when I started focusing on eating good healthy foods that I like, rather than focusing on all the foods that I was trying to cut back on. It’s a very small change, but putting a positive spin feels better for me. I also trick myself into exercising by having TV shows that I only allow to watch while I’m on the treadmill. I usually don’t run particularly fast, I’ll do about four miles in an hour, but I’m able to get myself to do it consistently with the lure of the next episode.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        That’s a good idea – reframing toward looking forward to the healthy stuff I really enjoy instead of grumping about what I should avoid. I do have a podcast I like to listen to when I walk – again it’s focusing on that positive thing! Thank you.

        1. mreasy*

          Having a podcast or audiobook that’s “only for walks” has also been a motivator for me for sure.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah!! I don’t believe in diet culture or viewing bodies critically, but I *do* know I need to eat better foods and get more exercise, so I focus on resolutions like “eat a whole fruit every afternoon” or “make a vegetarian meal three nights a week” – NOT on what I can’t eat.

    4. AZ*

      Set some fitness goals! Do you want to do a 10k? A triathlon? Run a mile in X minutes?Deadlift or squat a certain weight? Complete X number of pushups? Pullups?

      Setting goals kept me working out until working out became a treasured habit. I started with Couch to 5k and progressed to a half marathon.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Yeah for now it’s just focusing on wanting to be able to walk long distances without being sore or tired (think future trips to Europe or random hikes we might do) but nothing super solid. I think I’m worried if I set a specific goal then when it’s over I’ll be more inclined to go back to my old habits?

        1. JSPA*

          “feeling free to do whatever the heck I feel like, without worrying whether I can do it” is open ended

    5. kina lillet*

      I’m sorry you’re having a hard time!

      I’ll note a few things that have really helped me:

      -Lost the scale. Don’t know how much I weigh
      -My clothes fit me as I am
      -On social media followed some blogs etc that post gorgeous photos of fat people—it can sometimes help to exert your well wishes outward if you don’t feel ready to exert them inward
      -Found a movement I actually enjoy. I did youtube videos a lot but realized I really hated them—I actually love yoga and powerlifting. Those probably aren’t yours but something may be out there for you even if it doesn’t feel like exercise
      -The most important one was to enjoy the sensuality of my body—not sex though that’s nice. But the sensual joy of eating when you’re hungry, until you’re full; feet feeling the cracks in the sidewalk & road paint when your soles are thin; flexing my arms for myself in the mirror; with my hand, feeling my oblique muscles keep me steady as I hold a plank.

      Tangent alert, but Marie Howe’s beautiful poem What The Living Do ends with a few lines where the narrator catches a glimpse of her reflection in a window, and says, “I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep / for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless.” The poem is certainly more about grief than about self love, and not really intended here to be inspirational I suppose, but that care and love I’ve always aspired to. And it’s my favorite poem :)

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I love all of this! Yes I love finding new social accounts that are more representative of my shape (Caralyn Mirand is one) and weightlifting is my jam mostly (Caroline Girvan) for YouTube but you’re right- a lot of this is just finding a new perspective.

      2. mreasy*

        The enjoyable movement thing is SUCH a good point. I was so tired of running but I love yoga, climbing, and walking, so I focus on those. It makes getting out of bed early to work our way easier, even if it isn’t like the “optimized” workout.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      I like focusing on what I can add instead of what I have to restrict. For example, I always aim to eat at least half a plate of vegetables at the beginning of every meal. I still eat junk pretty often, but starting with veggies helps me eat less junk food and still feel full and enjoy my food. I also try to incorporate protein and fat every time I eat – even if it’s something super easy like Greek yogurt or turkey jerky. I’ve eaten some weird meals/snacks with this method but it seems to work.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Yes! The protein/fat/carb balance each meal helps me too. I agree – looking at the positive spin vs the negative is really what I need to do.

    7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I don’t lift, but is 4-5 times an appropriate number of times in a week, especially for a beginner? I was under the impression that weights were one of the skills where good rest for your muscles to grow was important. (Totally ignore me if you are working different muscle group on different days.)

      What motivates you, generally? I find unbroken streaks pretty compelling myself-I’ve been hiking every single week since October (minus one for Covid), and it’s gotten me out the door when I really don’t wanna.

      I also find time sensitive goals compelling. When I had a vacation where I was going to do a lot of hiking, I took a lot of long walks. When the vacation was over, *poof*, walks stopped. No goal meant there was no reason I couldn’t just walk tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes. Can you sign up for a run/walk or something of that nature?

      Does data make you happy? I have a nice log of my mileage since January and I like being able to write in a new record, or even a 5th best.

      Is there another form of exercise that you enjoy more? Hiking, dancing, swimming? Canoeing, yoga, rock climbing, aerial silks? Do you have a friend or a dog to go with you?

      Nice weather really does make outdoor exercise more pleasant, BTW, if you can keep going that long. And it’s even more glorious after pushing though. The first warm day this spring was so GLORIOUS. Also, you really do acclimate. Believe me, I sweat a whole lot less now than the first hot day, even though the temperature is warmer.

      And yeah, it really does take months. I thought I was in pretty good shape long about January, and I wasn’t bad, but I have seen consistent improvement in how long I can go, how fast I can push, and how good I feel afterwards in the months since. Plan on being much better around Christmas, and plan on being really impressed with yourself around this time next year.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Also, I hesitate to say this because it’s sort of discouraging, but also sort of encouraging in a weird way. And also it’s something I just realized it this year but it seems completely obvious in retrospect.

        Athletic excellence requires the ability to endure pain.

        The marathoner going into the last mile trying for a personal best? He’s hurting. His legs are burning and he has a wicked stitch in his side and sweat is getting in his eyes. Same with the high school track runner, same with the 5k biker, same with the Olympic swimmer. (Ok, she doesn’t have sweat in her eyes, But her googles have probably filled with water.)

        Our bodies tell us “Stop! You’re pushing too hard! We can’t do this!” way, way before we hit our physical limits. Think of the most tired you’ve ever been. How fast could you run if an angry bear showed up? Maybe not as fast as if you were fresh, but I bet you’d find an amazing burst of speed. Our minds slow us down way before our physical capacity is used up. If you want to excel, you have to push past that.

        Now, I frankly don’t care that much about excelling, and it sound like you don’t either. I like to enjoy my hikes, and stop to enjoy a lovely view and I don’t really like feeling my legs burn. But I also find it weirdly freeing to realize that discomfort isn’t something going wrong, it’s just pushing my limits.

        Book rec for a fascinating book about pushing human limits, both the people who do it and the science that studies it: Endure by Alex Hutchinson.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          I’ll have to check the book out! Thank you for your thoughts – all good things to consider. I’m not a beginner at weights – just lapsed – but I’m following a program so we’re all good on that front. It’s about the only activity outside of walking and yoga that I enjoy :)

          1. Lady Alys*

            What program do you use? I’ve been going to a gym for a year but can’t justify the cost given all the weights I have in the garage so I need to start up again. Was using Stronglifts 5×5 back in the day, do you have a recommendation for a program you’ve had success with?

            1. RosyGlasses*

              I really like Caroline Girvan so far. I’ve done her beginner EPIC to get me back in the swing of things and am working my way thru Fuel. You only really need dumbbells and maybe a stretch band, the rest is body weight movement and she doesn’t talk during the course which is nice (I hate peppy workout talk). I’ve also used the Sweat app in the past but I prefer free this time around :)

              1. Silence is golden*

                Thank you for the Girvan rec. I too hate peppy workout talk. I just did a Girvan video and it was wonderful to hear no banter. I love Mady Morrison’s stretching vids for this same reason.

        2. allathian*

          “Athletic excellence requires the ability to endure pain.” So true, and the reason why I’ll never excel at anything athletic, I have a very low pain threshold.

      2. RosyGlasses*

        Also – thank you for the encouragement — thinking about how good I will feel at the end of the year and seeing that as a win no matter what the scale or measuring tape says will be a good way to look forward to something.

    8. Ne'mousse*

      A couple thoughts which may or may not work for you.

      First – it is amazing how much our bodies react to sugar/processed foods – its like crack. My advice is to get as much of this out of the house as possible and find a few meals that are easy, low calorie, natural and filling, that you enjoy. For me that looks like overnight oats in the morning, salads with tons of veggies/avocado/hard boiled egg/legumes/beans for lunch &/or dinner, and something like grilled fish & veggies to mix it up (maybe cooked with just a little bit of olive oil & spices but healthy). Get natural things you really like as snacks – fresh dates, summer fruits, iced coffee, lime water, whatever you enjoy.

      Second – you say it is hot – do you have a pool? A pool where you can say, listen to music, view some bird activity, or read outside? I find this is a great way to do something better than other choices even if I resort to doing laps on a floatie. If you don’t have a pool – what activity can be swapped for Netflix & mac y queso? If I have a to-do list I’m less likely to resort to the sofa.

      Third – find out what works well for your body. I can do mini floor workouts daily, swim for hours or take pilates classes up the wazoo – but until I do some clean me up off the floor level workouts I won’t lose an ounce. It gets old sometimes, and it is nice to know I’m strong and healthy with the low impact stuff, but if I find I can’t fit into my pants anymore I know what it is going to take to get back there. Be okay with what your body tells you – sometimes its rest and food.

      Finally – allow yourself “cheats” or things you enjoy, and if you can make your “cheats” healthy all the better. A small glass of wine with dinner, a day where you slack on your workout or your workout turns into watching whatever the lizards are up to, an incredible cheese board (with lots of good veggies – you won’t even miss the carbs! okay so I snuck a few baguette slices). The more you stick with your healthy choices the more they become the baseline you crave instead of inactivity or processed food.

      Oh – a P.S. – have you considered a skinny shot? It is basically a once a week shot that is supposed to improve metabolism, reduce appetite & give energy. All natural, has a bunch of vitamins and 4 weeks is usually around $75. I can’t say if mine actually helped (I did feel like I wasn’t as tired as before), but I figured for $75 if it motivates me great, worst case I just bought a bunch of vitamins which I probably needed anyway. We all have our motivation, finding yours is the key. Keep at it – rooting for you!

      Good luck!!

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Oh I’ll check out the skinny shot – if nothing else to infuse with some good vitamins. Good recommendations – especially the realization that I actually have to sweat to see progress and that just needs to be the thing I know to do instead of trying to find ways around it. Thank you!

    9. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Did you show up and do something exercisey? if so, YAY! It was a game changer for me to reframe any sort of exercise as numbers of times I showed up rather than any other sort of metric. I was getting really frustrated with my variation in capabilities from one day or week to another–because I slept badly or was stressed or couldn’t push myself that day as much as the day before. So, instead, I rewarded myself for showing up.

      I set goals for how many times I do something exercisey in a week, or how many weeks I make it through or how many months. You’ve been consistent for a month! How great! Keep going! Soon you’ll have TWO months! That is way more exercise than the months before, you’re automatically healthier by doing more than you did.

      The show-up method also made it easier for me to get back on the bandwagon when I would fall off. Because of course I did. So, last week I didn’t do anything, I bet I can beat that this week! And so on. Good luck!

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I love that – not beating myself up if I don’t do a prescribed “idea” of what an exercise should be.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Yes! And it helped, too, if I had to change the exercise: if I had an injury that prevented me from doing exercise X, it didn’t matter because I would do a something else. Or even physical therapy exercises, if need be.

        2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          Yeah, remember — anything can be exercise. Walking to do an errand or around the store, housework, etc!

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I love this! Thank you! And thank you Rosy for starting this thread – I’m 47, between menopause & working from home since 2020 I am both rounder & less fit than I would like, am trying to make changes in exactly the way you (& commenters on this thread) are outlining. So helpful & smart <3

    10. Goose*

      I struggle with this myself. I have been working on “body neutrality” as opposed to “body positively” as many days that seems like a reach and I don’t feel like I need to love my body. Sometimes it’s annoying! And it can only do so much! It holds my organs pretty well.

      I have had to reframe “working out” and “eating healthy” under the guise of “what if I do everything right and my body still looms exactly the same?” And if so, can you be okay with that?

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Yeah this is probably where I’m at too – I may never lose this extra weight I’ve packed on over the years but as long as my body is healthy and strong within that context that is better than thin and sickly due to habits.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Think about investing in a bank account of heart health, mobility, brain health, and bone density. Your day to day “operating expenses” are going to increase in the next few years, and will go up faster and faster over time.

      The more you invest now, the more you can afford those inevitable withdrawals later on. You can live richly in ten or fifteen years, or you can feel depleted and see your choices becoming limited sooner than they need to be.

      Every time you move, drink water, and sleep, and everytime you choose nutritional density over caloric density, that’s another deposit in your “retirement account “

      1. RosyGlasses*

        This is a great analogy – I think I’m going to journal this whole thread for future reference when I’m feeling down.

      2. Kay*

        Oh so much this.

        I’m in need of losing a few, got out of shape and its soooo much harder to get back there (I’ve resigned to the possibility I may never be able to)! I keep telling myself I can’t ever let this slide again – it has been eye opening spending time in physical therapy watching all the people who are there. I don’t want to be these people a few years down the road! They are struggling to move while I know I want to be able to go hiking, kayaking or heck – just jog up the stairs.

        I so regret not keeping up with my health, but one way to think about staying on track is to think about all the things you want to be able to do in years to come. Now is always a great time to do some investing in your future self.

    12. A.N O’Nyme*

      I agree with getting rid of the scale or maybe getting one that also measure your percentage of fat and muscle. I did the test ones: weighed myself before and after a few weeks of very physical work. My weight remained roughly the same (I lost maybe 200 grams or so) but I did exchange 20% fat for 10% muscle.

      Also you probably already know this but ignore BMI. It was intended for populations, not individual people, and moreover is based on measurements of 19th century young French men who were just entering university. The women’s BMI scale was created without measuring a single woman. According to BMI people like Chris Hemsworth would be obese.

      Also, allow yourself to take it slow. It’s not a race, and doing this too fast can also be unhealthy. Figure out a routine that you can keep up.

      Don’t fall into the trap of “well I ate one chocolate muffin so the entire day is ruined anyway I’ll take a cheat day”. One chocolate muffin isn’t going to ruin anything. If you feel like having one, have one (or maybe use it as a reward) and don’t get the light version unless that is what you crave – it’s unlikely you’ll find that fulfilling so you’ll be more tempted to have two. As long as you’re eating healthy according to the needs of your body (not everyone has the same nutritional needs), having an unhealthy treat every once in a while isn’t going to ruin anything as long as you can keep it as a treat and not slip back into unhealthy habits.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Thank you for that! Yes – that has been a hard reframing (grrr diet culture) that if I have a “bad” food then I have tanked the day. Really trying hard to focus on small choices over time – but instant gratification culture is hard to push thru sometimes.

        1. Westsidestory*

          Getting all that stuff out of the house is the only thing that works for me. When Mr Westside brings home Philly soft pretzels, cookies and snack cakes, I have him put it in a bag and tuck it somewhere where I can’t see or reach it.

          1. Westsidestory*

            And I try to pretend the sweets of the outside world are imaginary, not real. (Yes we have to trick the mind). Some sweets now and then which are on my current eating plan;
            – diet orange soda in skim milk
            – sugar free instant chocolate pudding
            – fat free yogurt with fruit, some honey and almonds

    13. MassChick*

      I have an autoimmune condition and am the caregiver for my mother (obese, crippled by arthritis and also has dementia) and I want my later life to be better than hers health-wise. That is the long term motivation.
      Having short term or even daily goals that you can check off is helpful. Halving, then quartering the sugar in beverages, daily movement goals, weekly exercise goals. Appreciate the improvements in your body and use these as measures rather than the scales – more weight lifted, more reps, longer or faster walks, etc.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This was the clincher for me.

        As soon as I took it off how I looked and how “fat I was” and refocused on how my body feels today, doors flew open.
        Reality is that even at my skinniest I will never qualify for Miss America. I am an average looking person, period. I had to stop hoping for something better. I had to realize that there are advantages to being average looking. I blend well, I don’t get a lot of unwanted attention based on how I look. And other positive points came to mind, I made peace with the idea that this is me.

        Next step. A food can stay in our system for days. I noticed how crappy I felt after having a Diet Coke. And I felt crappy for days after. It became so much easier to just stop drinking it. I did walk down from it- every other day, then every few days then once a week, then once a month. At the once a month stage I was more aware of how crappy I felt and less aware of how much I enjoyed the diet Coke. And that habit was gone in that moment.

        I stopped having headaches. I stopped having mood swings. I liked me better. I often wonder how many people blame their weight when there is so much else going on but some how weight becomes the magic bullet that will solve everything. I noticed some foods made me tired, irritable, I was not doing my fullest each day. (Thanks, milk allergy.)

        I so agree that thinking about what my future will look like helped me to make changes now. I want to remain independent and living on my own for as long as I can in old age. So now is the time to change course.

        I keep seeing that what we eat is 80% of health. I now understand why that could be. I still make some unwise food choices, but no where near what I was doing. And I do tell myself that after I eat a regular meal I can get a cookie or whatever- but I found over the years I tell myself that less and less. And that is because I am full. A body with good nutrition is satisfied and the brain does not think of cookies as much.

        Last thing. Watermelons are still good this time of year. When I started this, I always had a watermelon in the house for when I wanted something sweet. (Over time, this need for watermelon also passed, but it helped to get me launched.)

        1. RosyGlasses*

          Watermelon! I do need to bring the gorgeous summer fruit into my world. I think I’ve done so many eating plans over the years that poo-poo fruit but it is such a great way to get that sweet fix and still be eating non-processed foods. Plus hydrating in the drying months :D

          1. allathian*

            Yes, and there’s also some fiber in fruit (plant cell walls), even if it isn’t specifically advertised as rich in fiber.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I have a book about Eastern diet. Their recommendation is to eat fruit away from meals. So perfect- it’s a snack when you want something sweet anyway.

            Yes, watermelon does keep the body “working”. Which is also a benefit.

    14. Elf*

      I see a lot of advice to lose the scale and focus entirely on other things, and that might well be the best advice for you. However, one thing you could also try is doing a bunch of body measurements weekly (circumference of upper and lower arms and legs, waist hips, lower abdomen, bra band, bust) because you are very likely to see more/steadier change in those than in your weight. You might see your arms get bigger as you build muscle or you might see them get smaller as you tone and lose fat, but you will probably see change and trends and it might help you.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Thank you – yes I need to focus more on that measurement than the scale because it’s more indicative of tone. I think we are just so conditioned to look at weight as an indicator of progress that it’s hard to shift that mindset.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I lost 3 sizes. Fortunately the doc explained this before hand otherwise I would have been confused- I had only lost 4 pounds. Muscle weighs more. The company nurse made me jump on the scale- because I had lost so much weight. She was baffled to find I weighed just over 150 pounds. “Where is it?”, she said. I started laughing.

          1. ThatGirl*

            This is me being a little pedantic, but no, muscle doesn’t “weigh more” – a pound is a pound, whether it’s muscle or fat. Muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space. And yes, I know “muscle weighs more” is shorthand for that idea but it bugs me. Sorry, rant over,

            1. Bob-White of the Glen*

              A square inch of muscle weighs more than a square inch of fat. The saying is correct, people are just looking at different measurements (i.e. weight instead of density.)

        2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          And maybe in conjunction with that, go clothes shopping and get something that looks great on you now and then? Don’t focus on the size too much, but you may well see that you are a smaller size every so often.

    15. Gravity*

      Move over, I’m in the same boat! For exercise, I do best when I have a partner. I’ll arrange with a friend for us to meet up at yoga, or I’ll walk around the neighborhood with my spouse.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        yeah – my partner has a fairly physical job (and is also not at a healthy proportion for his body needs) so it’s hard to get him involved; but I do have a friend that we try to text each other regularly to encourage movement. I need to lean into that more and stop trying to do everything myself. Thank you!

    16. mreasy*

      It’s so tough, I’m the same age and have always been relatively slim but the 15 lbs I’ve acquired over the past few years really don’t seem interested in going anywhere. Thanks for asking this question, I can definitely use the advice too! (And I’m right there with you in that peri life, argh!)

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I think the trigger for me is I’ve been carrying an extra 20 lbs for the past 10 years, and all of a sudden the last 4-6 months I’ve spiked up 10 lbs to the heaviest I’ve ever been. Definitely will be looking into ruling out medical reasons, but there is that underlying frustration of “I’m doing the right things, why does the scale keep going up!”).

    17. TPS reporter*

      I highly recommend the Maintenance Phase podcast for those long walks. It makes you see how much b.s. is out there in the diet/fitness world and how ultimately there is no magic bullet. Releasing yourself from shame around fat (yes that sounds impossible but you can chip away) is such a game changer.

      1. Nicosloanican*

        Yeah this is weird but – we are way too hard on people with bodies that are bigger than we want and we mostly just use “health” as a weird way to target those people. I’m from a thin family and am naturally slim (so far) but I really struggle to eat well – I’m addicted to sweets and some days barely eat anything high quality – and although I used to get some cardio workouts I’m mainly down to walking now. This is not healthy. My weight has at times dipped too low because I don’t eat much and drink too much. I have friends in the same boat who are bad smokers. But literally nobody every gives me crap about it, and if I ever say anything about “trying to eat better” people think I’m nuts and actively try to give me cookies – just because I happen to be thin and our society likes thin bodies. If you eat healthy veggies and work out, don’t smoke, and limit your drinking, you are definitely healthier than me even if you feel like that extra 15 pounds from menopause makes you too large.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          This. I ate badly for years but got only compliments about how skinny I was. If it were about health (rather than fatphobia), I would have received that awful disapproval and abuse. I got none of it.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Exactly this. I eat terribly. Most of my diet is milkshakes. But I’m also underweight due to an autoimmune disease which is destroying my intestines, so no one cares. When I do get comments, it’s (drumroll) dire warnings that I will get fat.

          2. AGD*

            Me too. My health improved radically after I started eating better, but it was all compliments before and all compliments after. People ask me how I stay thin, and I say that actually I have a complicated endocrinological disorder that usually makes people overweight but in my case I randomly beat the odds. I say this very brightly and make people a bit uncomfortable, which is fine with me.

      2. AnonAcademic*

        Yes! This podcast is so much fun to listen to. I often save it up as a “reward” to listen to during chores!

    18. Ochre*

      I’m early 40s and swore I wouldn’t go to a gym. But then I got older and more things were hurting and then I got really de-conditoned after having covid…and I could see that I needed to get moving or it wasn’t going to get better.

      Overall, my mantras have been “keep moving” and “something is better than nothing.” I also enjoy that the gym I go to has people everywhere on the spectrum: serious lifters, lots of retirees, college-age athletes in team gear, people who pound out miles on the treadmill and others who slowly walk half a mile. We’re all just trying to keep moving! I’ve actually gained a little weight (muscle, I hope), but my real goal is maximizing my chances of remaining comfortable and independent for as long as possible.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Very important point here that is so easy to forget. It’s not an all or nothing thing. Some attempt gives us some benefit. More attempt gives more benefit. We can take the idea of doing everything perfectly all the time and toss it in the garbage can where it belongs.

        Just as we can’t have a perfectly clean house or a perfect yard, we also can’t have perfect health routines. And less than perfect for any of those things is okay, it still gives us benefits.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          So hard for a perfectionist to hear!! But yes – I agree; getting into the something is better than nothing. If I complete my stand circle and get halfway on movement circle on my watch – it’s better than nothing… even tho my brain wants to beat me up for not completing all three :)

    19. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      One thing to remember is that we aren’t supposed to remain at our teenage/young adult weight forever. Weight changes over time.

    20. Tib*

      I’d focus on what you can do as a result of your work. After I’d been doing squats a while, I tried out one of those butterfly camp chairs that are very low to the ground. I was able to lower myself into the chair AND stand up without assistance because of my exercise. It was so gratifying. It’s been years and it’s still one of those moments I remember.

      I’d also give yourself permission to do the things you’re trying to avoid, like Netflix and junk food. Maybe schedule a regular treat time. You can plan for it, shop for it, anticipate it and revel in it when the day arrives. Treat these things like special occasions instead of just Tuesday.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Oh yes! I noticed I’m able to stand up from the floor without leaning to the side and using my hands – so good win! Squats are gold LOL.

        Also love the idea of leaning in to my “rest” time as a special treat instead of “ugh I’m so lazy”.

    21. slowlyaging*

      I did 2 things. I only weighed myself once a week. I also kept a spreadsheet …(complete with charts)… of what I ate and how many miles I hiked. I allowed all veg and fruit, 3 servings of meat, 1 serving of bread, 2 chocolates a day, no soda or junk food, one splurge meal a week. I also meal prepped on the weekend and discovered spices, lots of spices. The goal was the hiking and the healthy eating. The weight would go up and down.
      Find the positive thing like doing the reps well, the food(non junk) that makes you happy.
      If I can do it, you can totally do it. I have faith in you.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Thank you – yeah I am documenting things if only because I have a terrible sense of time (I can eat cake today, I have been SOO good for Soooo long — spoiler alert; it’s been only four days :-) ). I think I need to focus back on adding in how I feel after eating whole foods and focusing on feeling good vs icky and balancing that in the eating department. Slow and steady I suppose!

    22. Despachito*

      First of all – what is it exactly you want to achieve?

      I understand it is to lose weight, and if so, I’d say 80% of it is food, and only 20 % exercise. I lost approximately 18 kgs in 6 months mostly by changing my diet because I was pretty sedentary then. So I think if you want to lose weight you must look into what you consume.

      Second – it is great you exercise! You are building muscle, and muscle basically “eats” more calories than fat.

      The key for the whole thing is – whatever you do exercise- or food-wise must be a pleasant experience for you, because you are aiming for a lifelong change, not a transitory thing you will give up with relief after you achieve your desired aim . I do not exercise much but I found out I like taking long walks and cycling, so that became my version of exercise. Do you really like lifting weights/walking? You sound not so sure about that, so is there any other physical activity you would enjoy more?

      Re food: you can positively “unlearn” eating sugars, and if you do, you will probably find things like fruit sweet enough, and dried fruit almost too sweet. But it takes some time. I was told that if you introduce a change in you life and endure it for 25 days it is likely to stick. And it should be one little step in time rather than a huge change, because it is much more easier.

      Other useful things I learned during my weight loss (with our local chapter of an organization similar to Weightwatchers:

      – it is helpful to write down everything you put in your mouth, and introduce it into some program which will count your calories for you
      – you do not have to give up your little pleasures, just be careful of the amount and calculate it into your eating programme
      – if you exceed your plan, it is not the end of it, the worst thing (which I used to do frequently before I knew better) is to think “now I ate the muffin, so I ruined everything, I am going to stuff my face with anything I see and start over tomorrow/on Monday. This was basically why I ended up weighing 100 kgs. The right thing is “OK, I am going to eat the muffin and enjoy it to the fullest, and nothing happens because I will either include it in my food for that day (meaning e.g. I will have it instead of one meal rather than on top of it), or consider it a part of the 80/20 rule (i.e. if you are “behaving” 80% of the time, you can permit yourself to exceed your limits 20% of the time and still stay on track)
      – if you are losing weight, it helps to increase the proportion of proteins in your food and be careful about the right combination of proteins/carbs/fats in each meal (if you eat just carbs (e.g. bread) you will be hungry much sooner than if you eat carbs combined with proteins.
      – you must find versions of “healthy” food you will look forward to and would be able to eat permanently, not just as a “diet”

      The above are not meant as medical advice as I am not a professional, and if you have the possibility, it would help to consult it with one. It is just some tips that worked for me.

    23. Girasol*

      Unless your doctor says (and maybe even if he does) weight is not necessarily a bad thing. When I broke a foot bone the doc said it was because I don’t weigh much. When I get a bone density scan the radiologist says my bones aren’t normally dense because I don’t weigh much. Well I do so weigh much! I was overweight, often dieting my way back to high-normal only to have my weight balloon again. So I decided a few years back, around your age, that I would celebrate how the weight I’d been trying to lose was saving my bones. I thought about how I was heading toward the age of weight peak when gaining stops being a problem and losing too much becomes a risk. Once I got over the weight guilt habit, my yo-yoing weight stabilized (as measured by how the same jeans have fit well for years now), my eating habits improved, sugar no longer holds as much attraction, and I do fun exercise because it feels good. It was that “You’re not thin enough!” guilt that had been messing with my health habits for years, pushing me to miserable dieting, painful exercise levels, and sugar laden rebounds. You’re at a good age to try accepting your weight for awhile to see what happens.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Thank you! Yes – I have been working on that accepting focus. I think what has spiked my anxiety is I’ve packed on another 10 lbs above where I’ve been for the past 10-15 and I no longer fit in my clothes, I feel “blegh” and my joints hurt from the added weight. But I think one thing that has stuck out from this thread is continuing to focus on how strong I’m becoming through my exercise and focusing on those longer term goals of just being able to move when I’m 70 or 80 without issues.

    24. SofiaDeo*

      I read somewhere that it takes a solid 4 weeks before you taste buds acclimate to new foods. For me, it was more like 4 months. I just resigned myself to “eating because it was time to put nourishment inside” and tried to find other things for “enjoyment” besides food. And putting exercise equipment in the TV room plus making myself get on it during commercials was a somewhat easy start. I gradually got to pedaling while the show was on/jumping off to do part of a chore (laundry, tidying kitchen or bath, etc) during commercials. At some point the endorphin rush from exercise will kick in very quickly, and you will look forward to exercising. But until then, this might help a bit.

    25. Susan banana cake*

      First time commenter specifically for this (recovered eating disorder).

      Your body is beautiful and perfect exactly as it is. Anything that allows you to measure or weigh it – chuck it out.

      Your body is a tool that allows you to do amazing stuff. I run marathons and do triathlons now. I’ll never think about how much I weigh or if I wobble again, because my body is the machine that gets me to the end of the course. Love that you lift weights. Suggest you target an amount to deadlift or bench and focus on that. Enter events, join a community of cross fitters and focus on what you can use your body to do, not what it looks like.

      Love and peace to you x

      1. Westsidestory*

        Agree on walking. Briskly. After about 20 minutes the endorphins kick in. When I had the time to walk one mile every morning I was in the best shape of my life, and this was after the menaupause.

        My struggle now is I don’t have a really nice walk close to where I live now. I have to weave through some pretty scary city blocks so this isn’t the joy it once was…

    26. Dancing Otter*

      You already know muscle is denser than fat. So, as you burn fat and build muscle, the scale won’t show that. Have you measured yourself? XXX pounds of lean mass almost HAS to measure smaller than the same weight of flab, right? What does your mirror tell you? Do you have a “before” picture to compare?

      I’ve plateau’ed lately, myself, only losing five pounds in six weeks, so I can’t offer a magic “fix.” One thing that is *not* motivating, though, is wearing last year’s clothes a size or two bigger than I need. For fall, I intend to buy new, just a little snug instead of baggy. (One size, not anything crazy.) Then, when I feel my waistband digging in, it’s going to be a lot easier to reach for the celery or an apple, instead of the bread or crackers. And all my 3X summer dresses are getting packed off to a thrift shop.

    27. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I’m glad you asked this question, I’m really enjoying reading the answers! I’m late 30s and trying to ‘come back’ to something healthier after years of no exercise and junk food.

    28. kiki*

      For me, what helped me most was making movement the first thing I do in the morning, every morning, as soon as I wake up. Now it’s a second-nature habit instead of something I need to think about and can discourage myself from. It also means I am free for book binges and other more sedentary activities in the evening if I want to do them. But sometimes I feel like moving early in the day jumpstarts my motivation to move in the evening, so I find myself excited to move purely for pleasure (biking, walking, yoga) after dinner.

    29. NewGrad*

      Going to sound a little like an ad but the Noom app has worked wonders for me. It’s focused on being able to eat everything in moderation and learning other ways to help lose weight outside of the main calorie restriction.

    30. HalloQueen*

      In Dec 2020, my doc called with my annual bloodwork and said my body was in trouble. Like, wanted to prescribe lots of new meds, including injectibles, trouble, and I needed to lose weight to try to help everything. I found a book called “Eat Fat, Get Thin” by Dr Mark Hyman – he founded the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, so I figured he had to know a little something. The short version is, the processed junk, carbs, and sugar are addictive and make us fat and sick, but we struggle to give them up because they’re engineered to be addictive. Humans actually evolved to use fat as fuel, and figuring I didn’t have anything to lose (literally), I gave his method a try. I lost 65 pounds in 10 months, my doc was thrilled, my bloodwork was excellent, and I’ve kept the weight off for almost a year now (give/take 5 pounds back and forth). I used to hate veggies, but once I stopped eating the junk, I actually started liking them (it also doesn’t hurt that you start the eating plan by drowning everything in delicious butter, coconut oil, etc). I still love food, but it’s different now, and it’s SO freeing to know I can have a few bites of real ice cream and be able to stop, because my whole body has changed. If you want more info, feel free to reach out – it just takes a little dedication to stick to it until you see results, and I love to pay it forward!

  5. Harriet Jacobs*

    Cat folk – any advice for stopping a cat from continually licking his paw until it bleeds? Our 5 year old cat cut his paw over a year ago and every time a scab forms he licks it off. At the moment our bedspead is covered in bloody paw prints.
    The vet has recommended “soaking” his foot in Epsom salts but we haven’t seen any improvement. We’ve switched litter to lessen the chance that something will get caught in his paw and get infected.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      It’s unpleasant for the cat, but I would get an ecollar. There are softer ones, like the Comfy Cone and a blue one with white edging, although the latter might be too flexible and allow for paw licking. I’ve had the Comfy Cone on cats for at least a month and they adapted. I have tried other options, treating with creams and something that doesn’t taste good, but none worked effectively.

    2. StellaBella*

      I was able to travel safely to see friends I had not seen in years, and to see the White Cliffs of Dover, the Isle of Wight, and the vampire bunny grotesque (like a gargoyle) of Newcastle (look it up on Atlas Obscura) plus some other cool things. I had not had a real vacation in over 4 years either so a week off to literally not think about work was amazing.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Oh poor kitty :( I know for other compulsive over-licking you can put clothes on the cat, so at least they’re not damaging their skin. Would it work to put a baby sock over his paw until he heals? I mean, he’ll probably throw a fit, but maybe he’ll get used to it, especially if he’s used to you soaking his paw. I’m a little sus of the Epsom salts— that’s for debridement and doesn’t actually speed up healing. For wound care you’d want Vaseline. Is there another vet you could go to?

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Agreed with the comment that warm salt soaks are to address potential infection. Vaseline is good for covering wounds, but can be messy and track all over the home when on a paw and will also be groomed off pretty quickly, and if a lot of it coats the food then it prevents nutrient absorption.

        I’ve tried socks and bandages on paws and tails, without success, but maybe your cat will be more cooperative.

      2. mreasy*

        I think the sock will not stay on the cat. But it seems like the vet could shave the arm & bandage firmly until the scab heals and he stops licking? And some spare bandages for you to have at home in case kitty manages to remove it…which of course he will.

      3. the cat's ass*

        I had a cat who was a compulsive licker, to the point that she was bald in a few spots, despite lots of vet appointments (do you know there are veteranary allergists? For this cat, i found out). We put her in cute little preemie sweaters and she became sweater kitty! Covering the spot/making it difficult to get to all helped. I think the baby sock over the area is a great idea. (Ultimately we discovered she was allergic to redwood pollen and we live in the middle of a redwood grove. The vet tech fell in love with her and i think it was mutual, so when the tech went to vet school in a non-redwoody part of the world sweater kitty went with her and never licked again!)

      4. Purlesque*

        Manuka honey is great for healing wounds including on cats. The veterinary surgeon who operated on my dog recommended it for his wound care after he was bitten by another dog. You can buy it in a tube for medical use. It promotes healing as well as fights infection, including some MRSAs.

        I say get an ecollar or some other way to keep the cat from getting to the wound, apply Manuka honey and wrap with one of the self-adhering bandages someone else mentioned to cut down on sticky messiness. Don’t let the cat have licking access to until it is completely healed. Once it is healed, you can start taking the ecollar off while you are there to supervise and make sure the behavior isn’t continuing. Hopefully getting the wound healed takes care if it. If not, find another vet who is more willing to work with you on this.

    4. TPS reporter*

      My vet gave us some butter spray for a hot spot. When my cat licked it, it tasted horrible so she stayed away. Also a really cute soft collar isn’t too bad for awhile

    5. Cormorannt*

      I would try vet wrap over a sterile gauze pad and a kitty e-collar to keep kitty from chewing it off. Vet wrap is a kind of stretchy self-adhesive bandage. You can buy it on Chewy and probably brick-and-mortar places too.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      I rarely post to these pet medical advice questions, but I would kindly suggest you get a second opinion from a new vet. Epsom salts are something I used to use as an add-on for infections between the toes in dogs, in addition to the medication that was really working. There’s a missing piece of the puzzle here.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re going to have to physically prevent him from licking it. Cone of shame, bandages, etc. Paws are tough. I hope it heals up quickly once you can get him to leave it alone.

    8. Ellen Ripley*

      Ooo yeah I also recommend seeing a new vet. There is likely an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Vets have strong and weak areas of knowledge and this just might be something your current vet doesn’t know a lot about, but a different vet probably will understand better. Best of luck for your kitty, that sounds difficult to deal with :(

    9. JSPA*

      I used wormwood tea (incredibly bitter) on one cat who was licking his upper back leg raw; it worked too well, and he hasn’t even cleaned his own butt since that day. (I give him a sympathy wipe daily, or more often as needed, and chalk up the occasional kitty skid mark as being my own darn fault.)

      There’s disagreement about wormwood being truly safe for cats, plus I imagine you don’t want your cat to swear off of paw cleaning forevermore–so this is a cautionary tale about bittering agents, more than a suggestion.

      But yeah, it’s really bitter.

    10. Atomic Tangerine*

      I’m sorry, this sounds terribly frustrating. Have you had a conversation with the vet about whether this could be chronic pain? History of an injury and continuing to lick that same spot to the point of self-trauma sounds like there is still something going on in there.

  6. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had a lovely lunch with a friend on Monday. And the plot bunnies are kinda breeding.

    Please share your joys, big or small.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      I went on a hike with my husband on Monday up on the mountain and we had a date night to see a comedian on Wednesday. After such a busy work year it was nice to have those some times together.

    2. Star Strucm*

      Took kids to national park at night. Showed them the milky way for the first time. They had never before seen a truly dark night sky (we hail from NY Metro area).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I still remember sitting outside our inn in Oregon and discovering the Milky Way overhead.

        Latching onto this for anyone who finds themselves in the Flagstaff AZ area: The Lowell Observatory offers night tours with star gazing, which I highly recommend. They have multiple telescopes set up aimed at whatever is currently visible–ours had the full moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. Just as the Grand Canyon defies pictures of it, seeing the rings of Saturn, the Jovian moons, or our Moon’s craters “for real” rather than in a photograph is incredible.

      2. Overeducated*

        Wonderful. I can’t wait to do this in the fall, before it’s too cold, but when the sun sets early enough I can take the kids out to see the stars.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I pinned down my vacation dates in September and I’m looking forward to my solo camping retreat in the old-growth redwoods.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I’ve done it before and it’s incredible to visit Redwood State and National Parks in an unlogged forest with trees that are up to 2,000 years old. The fall is the elk mating season and watching the bulls strutting and challenging each other is fascinating. The campground has an open meadow which is beautiful at night for looking up at the night sky, watching wildlife that moves in, listening to the owls. It is a truly magical place.

    4. Kiki is the Most*

      Love that you asked this.
      Headed to a gals beach weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
      Anticipating much ridiculousness

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I discovered that a small tree I bought on end-of-season clearance a couple years ago is actually a peach tree. Out of the trees that were left at the store, this one was supposed to grow tall enough to block a house behind us so we bought it and planted it next to the barn. Well, apparently it’s a peach tree. I’m sure I knew that at the time and just didn’t care what kind of tree it was, but had forgotten. My husband went outside the other day to look at the tree because the branches aren’t spreading, they’re growing straight up for some reason. While checking the branches, he found a lone peach. Although I hate peaches, I’m happy to have another fruit tree in the yard (I have four apple trees). Once it starts bearing more fruit in the coming years, I’ll just give it away.

    6. CTT*

      This is a big joy: I had a great annual review and closed two huge deals this week. After one of the deals closed, the client called to tell me how much they loved working with us.

    7. UKDancer*

      Lovely ballet class this morning. My teacher has been on holiday for a fortnight so I’m glad he’s back so classes can resume. I always feel so good afterwards.

      Also I had a hair cut yesterday which feels glorious because my hair is now tidy and lighter.

    8. Katie*

      My 7 year old daughter is disabled. Doesn’t walk or talk. She goes to school but in a class for special needs kids. However she goes to the after school program.
      One of the teachers told me that one of the boys has taken a liking to my daughter. He asked her name then ‘Why is she so pretty?’. I picked her up the other day and he ran up and said bye to her and stroked her face.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      **SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 6 of The Sandman on Netflix**
      (this won’t spoil the main storyline though)

      This episode followed two characters through a period of centuries, meeting every 100 years in the same British pub (I don’t know if it was real or just a set). On the next to last meeting, only one showed up, and the barkeep told him that the establishment was being torn down for a block of flats so he and his friend would have to find a new place. At the end, the other character was shown standing outside a different pub.

      IT WAS OUR PUB. The one my auntie and her best friend go to, the one she takes us to whenever we visit. I recognized it immediately! Then he went inside and sure enough, same curtains, bar, fireplace, everything. <3 I took a screenshot and blasted it all over social media like "No freakin waaaaaaay," lol.

      Also, just The Sandman in general. I haven't read it, but I loved the show.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Very cool about spotting your pub! My sister used to live in a Hudson Valley town that was very popular as a film-making location, and I’d often get updates as to which movies would flash a scene from their main street, park, school, etc.

    10. WellRed*

      I sat on the beach with coffee early this morning to get a nature hit before the day even starts.

    11. PsychNurse*

      I live in New England. It is freezing ass cold for most of the year, and then we have 95° days in summer. But this week was perfect, and the reason people vacation up here in the summer. It was in the low 80s with a gentle breeze.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re New England weather: same here. I remember when I first got my house (um, 40 years ago…) I’d only have to put on the air conditioning for a couple of weeks each summer, but in recent years the summers have been much hotter, and this year there have only been a couple of weeks when I *didn’t* have the A/C on…

    12. the cat's ass*

      Kid started 11th grade and it seems to be going okay!
      Crisis at work is slowly resolving in a good way!
      Got a pile of the last beefsteak tomatoes at the farmers market and they were stupendous!

    13. Girasol*

      Grapes! The ones on the Thompson Seedless vine are getting pink. (I know Thompsons are green in the store but mine prefer to be pink.) So I got out the homemade raisin dryer to start a batch, ate a bunch, gave a bunch to the neighbor, and am waiting to see how much the rest on the vine will pink up before the robins decide that the old CDs hung flashing in the arbor will not deter them. Until then it’s a delight to sit on the bench under the vines with all the grapes hanging down.

    14. Books and Cooks*

      The dreadful heat FINALLY broke!! And it’s early this year–the last few years we’ve had temps over 100 into late September at least. It’s kind of hilarious that we’re all walking around talking about how cool it is when it’s 93F, but still. I can step outside and not be bathed in sweat in under two minutes. (It’s been 104 – 109 here through June and July.) AND we’ve even gotten some rain, and are due for more!

      Also, every week when I put clean sheets on my bed, it is a delight. I love getting into a bed well made with fresh, clean sheets.

    15. small town*

      sounds odd but we finally involved Hospice for my mother. The help is going to keep my elderly father from keeling over and he now knows who to talk to to help. We are still there every day but the array of services is so useful and everyone is so kind.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Hospice makes such a difference. I’m glad you have this help. I wish you and your family the best on this journey.

    16. Llama face!*

      My government finally opened up second COVID boosters- just in time for my birthday! It was quick and easy and all I had side-effect-wise was a sore arm for a day and a half.

      Also, I was able to give plant cuttings to another houseplant lover which were from a plant (and that plant’s descendants) that I had grown from free cuttings a few years ago. It was a nice feeling to be able to pass along the gift.

    17. Firebird*

      When we transplanted my mom’s clematis plant into a pot, it dried out and turned brown. I just stuck it under the balcony bench and forgot about it. Lo and behold, there are two shoots coming up!

    18. Fulana del Tal*

      Won the Hamilton lottery and was seated orchestra row A. I’ve tried years to win and it was amazing.

    19. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I went through my canned goods collection and I only had 5 expired cans! And I just used up two of them already.

    20. allathian*

      We picked our two blackcurrant bushes clean on Saturday, and today we’re going to make blackcurrant juice concentrate and freeze it (no added sugar). This is going to be great for the winter months.

      My son’s started 7th grade and seems to be enjoying his new school so far.

    21. Madame Arcati*

      I went to a small local music festival yesterday. I saw Scouting for Girls (most popular in the UK in the noughties) who were just such fun, Billy Ocean who aged 72 has still got it, and between them probably my favourite of the night, Cast – a respected UK indie band (for Americans – think similar to Oasis which I think got to US shores? But without the drama and infighting) who were amazing, I was transported back to my late teens and sang along with gusto!
      I also saw many flower crowns, glitter face decoration, mad hats, and more sequins than in Strictly Ballroom! Also a woman (later spotted on stage) with a dreadlocked hairdo bedecked with flowers and actual antlers like a deer! So nice to see everyone having fun.

    22. Atomic Tangerine*

      I live next to a military airfield and the Blue Angels came last week for a show. They literally did the “sneak pass” maneuver right over my neighborhood. It brought out the kid in me!

    23. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I finally went thru the 3 boxes of random crap sitting next to my bed for the past 2 months. It’s been stressing me out & making my bedroom an unenjoyable place to be. Now, I can actually get to the bathroom in the middle of the night without smashing my toes on something or tripping on the 6 pairs of shoes I just kicked off without putting them away. It’s small but, very satisfying!

    24. Chaordic One*

      I found a new-to-me sitcom on TV called “Ghosts”. (I don’t usually watch much on mainstream TV and it is rare that I ever find anything I like.) It’s a sitcom based on an English show of the same title about a young couple who inherit a haunted mansion and, following a near-death experience, the wife can see the ghosts. It reminds me of “Desperate Housewives” and “Devious Maids”. I suspect it has some of the same writers and/or producers from those shows. Absurd and charming. An amusing distraction. I’ve been binge-watching from the CBS website. It’s been renewed for a second season. I might try to see if I can track down the English version.

    25. Irish Teacher*

      Just spent an afternoon at the grounds of a historic house, with a friend. Good fun.

      And my plot bunnies are fighting each other. It’s quite annoying. I just START getting an idea and before I can put it together, another is like “no, no, write me instead.”

    26. Overeducated*

      It’s been a pretty awful week, but walking one of my kids to school on his first day and taking photos was joyful. Also, this morning we went to check out a park on the edge of the city because I heard the playground was recently replaced, and it was great!

    27. AGD*

      I have a new favorite running route through an obscure park and it’s full of interesting things to look at, which makes the running a lot more worthwhile.

    28. karenmf*

      I found the perfect house to buy and depending on tomorrow’s inspection it will be mine very soon!!

  7. Kuhoro*

    I have a friend, Zoe, who has been on hard times even before Covid but the pandemic made it worse. Her job in live events was eliminated and she’s been struggling, moving back in with her parents and relying on them a lot for transport because her car is on its last legs. Because of the spot she’s in, I don’t mind helping her when we’re going to friend gatherings. We’re 20 min away from each other so not a terrible drive. I’ll either come get her or She’ll drive/get a ride to my house and I’ll drive us from there.

    My problem is that she always seems to make the travel way more complicated than it needs to be. Tomorrow a group of us are going to a museum event and want to be there at 3PM. Zoe has something happening in the morning away from her house that a different friend was going to pick her since it’s close to her. Great! Except she was relying on a ride from her mother to get to her morning thing and her mom suddenly can’t take her. So she asked me if she could drive to my house and stay over to get to nearby public transport. Fine by me. Except she then wanted me to wake up extra early to drive her to the Publix transport so she wouldn’t have to pay for parking.

    Even before Covid, she did similar things. We were once going to an event where Zoe was flying in from her college town to mine. I said that I didn’t mind picking her up from Airport A ten minutes from me the morning before the multi day event. Without asking me, Zoe booked a flight to Airport B, an hour away from me, at like 6AM on the second day of the event, because the flight was cheaper. She did it without offering me any gas money or checking if I was fine with this change. Thankfully another friend agreed to get her because I definitely wasn’t doing it.

    Basically it’s a trend with Zoe that she’ll change travel plans on me when I’m already going out of my way to help her. I love her, she’s one of my dearest friends and I know I could count on her even for an alibi to any crime I commit, but she makes these travel plans such a hassle. And it’s even harder to establish boundaries because I know she’s in a crappy place right now. How can I proceed with Zoe that I can still help her get to friend events but not drive myself crazy while I’m driving us around?

    1. Fikly*

      Give her a firm boundary of what you can and cannot deal with. For example: you have to stick to the first plan for transport/help to an event. Or, plans cannot be changed less than 24 hours before the event. Or whatever will work for you. I would suggest a universal boundary, rather than one that changes based on the type of thing, because it’s easier to stick to. If it changes, it leaves space for arguments for exceptions.

      Then stick to that boundary, even when it sucks.

      1. Jessica*

        Btw, a helpful thing I heard this week is “boundaries describe actions you will take and do not require the cooperation of anyone else.” So a boundary might sound less like “plans won’t be changed without 24 hours notice” and more like “if she calls day-of with new plans, I’ll tell her they won’t work without explaining further.” It’s a small perspective shift, but this phrase has helped me thinking of boundaries more like prepping my own response, rather than making declarations and hoping for the best.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ooh this is good, and I have not heard it put quite like that before. I have always imagined Boundaries to be an announcement the person makes, and never quite seen how that would work.

      2. JSPA*

        This. I’ve received the message and given it, without too much offense, as “don’t go getting creative on me.”

        “I can do tuesday between 7 and 10 AM, if you can find a flight going to Airport A, but I can’t do other days and times, so don’t get too creative, or you may be dialing for another driver.”

        “What options are you considering? I’ll tell you which ones work for me, but if it’s not on the list and approved, I can’t commit, so don’t go getting all creative after that point.”

        “I’m fully available for 1 hour round trip, either between 7 and 10 am, or between 6 and 11 PM. But other than that, I expect to be slammed, so don’t get too creative with the planning.”

    2. RagingADHD*

      Say yes to the things you don’t mind doing. Say no to the things you would mind doing.

      She’s a grown woman. She knows the difference between asking a favor and imposing. She can work it out if she has to.

      You don’t need to make any announcements or do anything overtly. Just respond to the situation as it presents itself.

      She will either sort herself out, or she won’t. Either way, it’s not your problem to solve.

      1. Sloanicota*

        See, I think in this case, I would want to make some sort of bigger-picture statement to indicate that things have changed, because my observation is that most people don’t recognize their own patterns, and it’s really the pattern here that annoys OP more than a single one-time inconvenient plan. “Friend, I love you, but I’m not going to be able to accommodate complicated plans in the future – my energy level has really changed in the pandemic (or whatever) so I’m only going to be able to X and not Y this time.” (I statements, own your own experience, don’t say things about her and what she always does). And then next time you can reference this switch and reinforce you can only do a reasonable thing, not an unreasonable thing. If you just say, “can’t drive you tomorrow sorry” I’m not sure it will reach her.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I mean, you can try if you want to.

          OP indicated that they wanted to keep the friendship. They also sound like they have trouble with feeling guilty and giving in.

          Overtly calling it out is going to lead to denial, arguing, tears and tension. It won’t make the friend change, but it creates more opportunities for OP to stress about it and back down. Or, if the denial is deep enough, blow up the friendship.

          Maybe it’s worth it. But I’m trying to be guided by what OP seems to want. I think the quiet approach will be less stressful and more effective under the circumstances.

          1. Nicosloanican*

            Yeah I think OP will have to decide what works best for her style. To me, telling someone “no” as a standalone, and then telling them “no” again the next time they ask, and they doing it again (because this friend sounds a little oblivious to me) while hoping she will pick up that I mean “no forever” would be a source of stress, and probably I’d fail to keep my resolution on the second ask, so now I’m doing intermittent reinforcement of the asking behavior haha, whereas if I can express that I need a permanent shift in this habit, that will hopefully be more of a one-time conversation. Making it about me and my needs is supposed to keep the friend from crying and feeling bad because nobody is saying “you’re a mooch, you need to stop doing this” etc etc.

            1. RagingADHD*

              There’s also the fact that OP *is* okay with doing some of the favors, under certain circumstances.

              It’s the chaos and extra difficulty that’s the problem. I don’t expect the friend to ever be able to figure out what is or is not okay to ask. Because there isn’t a bright line between “too much” and “not too much”.

              So in that situation, OP has to exercise their own freedom to go with their gut. I think it might help with OP’s sense of ownership if they give themselves permission to say “no” whenever they want, without having to have a permanent commitment to saying “no” all the time.

        2. Filosofickle*

          While it might not always be the right approach, I agree that it can be helpful to make a big picture statement. If after years of a particular dynamic, it’s confusing when it changes and the other person doesn’t know why! They can misinterpret it and get a very different message. I’ve lost friends that way, and I believe it’s because they took my new behavior as me stepping back from the relationship because I didn’t put any context to it. In this case, it may be enough to be really clear each time about why.

    3. ResearchalatorLady*

      I would drop by the archives of Captain Awkward, for one, and unlike RagingADHD I would call it out — “Time is money too, you know,” and then I would say that while I was happy to have her stay over, she was basically hiring me to wake up early at $X – cost of parking – which wasn’t something I had agreed to or was happy with.

      1. ResearchalatorLady*

        The analogy doesn’t quite follow because of course you’re not being paid, but she is, essentially, saving money with your time (sleepy time!)

        1. Sloanicota*

          She is literally saving money because the alternative is to pay for car transport at an inconvenient hour or pay for parking herself. So she is saving money at the expense of OP’s convenience.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Can you start communications (text or phone?) with “Hi, X event will be such fun. Here’s what will work for me …” and then just tell her “you need to be at my house at [whatever time] and we’ll go directly to X event. Looking forward to it!” If she tries last-minute changes, just say, “Oh, sorry, luv, I can’t do that!” without getting bogged down into why or why not. She may be having a bad spell career-wise, but it doesn’t give her special privileges on everything.

    5. Radical honesty*

      She sounds like a mooch and needs to do more to get her act together. Can’t continue to enable bad behavior.

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah, really. Maybe Zoe misses out on certain gatherings. Maybe she takes an Uber. No one owes her on demand transportation.

      2. Pool Lounger*

        Maybe she thinks everyone is ok with her behavior because no one has ever talked to her about it.

        1. Despachito*

          This.

          I’d assume (and hope) that if I ask a good friend to do me a favor and they consent, that means that they are OK with it, because if they weren’t, they would tell me. And – and this is important – there is no bitterness because both of us are positive that the other one is doing only what they are truly willing to do.

          If the friendship indeed is as firm as OP states, it should definitely survive a refusal.

      3. Kuhoro*

        I don’t think Zoe is a deliberate mooch; I think she doesn’t think things through and doesn’t realize how much of a hassle she makes situations for others.

        At an event a few years ago when Zoe, myself, and a friend with her boyfriend were sharing a hotel room, we decided to bring our own food rather than eat out the whole weekend. I brought PBJ supplies, the friend brought pasta salad, the boyfriend brought donut and pastries for breakfast. Zoe volunteered to get ramen. I thought she’d get the instant ramen that comes in a cup so you just pour hot water inside and wait a few minutes, then you can eat. Easy for a hotel room where we could get hot water from the coffee maker. She brought the bricks of ramen that you need to boil in a pot of hot water. When we pointed out we couldn’t make that in the hotel room and why didn’t she get ramen cups, she said she didn’t think it through.

        It’s something she does kinda frequently with other things but it’s really the driving thing that’s so frustrating, especially with gas prices up so high. It’s not deliberate, she just doesn’t seem to think things to their conclusion.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “she’s one of my dearest friends and I know I could count on her even for an alibi to any crime I commit,”

      I think you mean this in jest and just to show that this person has your back.

      Only I am not so sure this person has your back. The constant change of plans would not work for most people. Personally, I don’t do well with this type of thing. And I can be very accommodating. What does me in is when it’s seems to go mostly one way- in favor of the other person.

      I suggest you tell her that you now realize that your time/energy is compacted more and more by other things. (Don’t expand on what these other things are.) Tell her you need to her to come up with ONE plan, not TEN. Tell her to think carefully and pick a plan she will stick with, you are no longer able to help with changed plans. Whatever plan she lays out initially is the one you will do. Tell her and then stick to it.

      I would not be surprised if you started seeing less of your friend. You can be as kind as can be but I fear when you start saying No, she’s going to find other people.

      I understand you feel for her because of her current problems. But check it out- she’s not asking you to help job hunt or find some pick up work or help her in helping her parents somehow. It sounds like the things she is asking for do not change her core problem of employment/lack of cash. I am mentioning this because I do have friends who are in a bad spot financially and they are diligent about reducing expenses and finding a way out of the spot they are in. Okay- maybe not diligent maybe more like religion- they are all over it like bees on honey. It’s okay to watch how much energy people put into their problems and only match that level of energy. If this means you can only help her once a month then so be it.

      Last thought. If you know something is going to get annoying, the time to speak up about it is before you lose your cool and deliver your message poorly in the moment.

      1. Squidhead*

        “I know I could count on her even for an alibi to any crime I commit”

        I also assume this was in jest, but OP do not ask her for an alibi since you said Zoe couldn’t even think out the logistics of making Ramen in a hotel room! She may be dear to you but she is a birdbrain. Her heart may be in the right place but if she’s terrible at logistics then she probably literally doesn’t realize that one pickup time is not equivalent to the other or that you weren’t planning to get up that early. For your sake, favors you do for her need to be on your terms. If slowing down on favors means the friendship slows down, then you’ll learn something important and sad about Zoe.

        For reference, I think it’s also normal that people’s idea of what’s okay as a favor changes over time. In college, it was kinda fun to drive to the airport that was 2 hours away. It was a bit of a rite of passage, the same as sleeping on the floor of a dorm-friend when your roommate’s SO visited. Now (20 years later), I’m not picking up anyone but family from that far away, unless it was truly an emergency, and I’m not sleeping on any floors!
        So, if you’re feeling bad because you used to do these things and technically could still do them, don’t let that feeling guilt you into doing things you don’t want to do & have very little benefit to you.

    7. Not A Manager*

      “Hey, Zoe, I’m happy to do this thing we just agreed to. Quick heads up, though, that I can’t commit to anything different from this unless we talk about it in advance. If you need to change airports or arrival times or anything, you might be on your own.”

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

      I don’t think you’ll get her to change, but when/if you agree to do any favors, absolutely specify that the details matter…you are agreeing to pick her up at x time from x location and take her x place and that’s it. If she changes details, the agreement is void, and stick to that boundary.

    9. Janeric*

      I think you could say “oh no, that plan doesn’t work for me! I won’t be able to get up before/drive after/drive more than…” And then work to find a solution. Treat it like she planned to take the bus and didn’t know that buses stop running at ten. Of COURSE she knows that no one wants to get up early to save someone parking fees, she’s just not aware of your schedule.*

      *this may or may not be true but assuming good intentions will probably smooth things over a lot.

  8. AZ*

    As I was working on a crossword puzzle this week, it struck me that I’ve been doing them well over 20 years now. And they still can feel as fresh and challenging as the first one I finished at 14. It’s such a joy to know I have a lifelong hobby and to have brought others (my mom and my spouse) into the fold.

    What is your oldest hobby that continues to bring you joy to this day?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Embroidery – my mom taught me to sew and cross stitch as a kid. Now I mostly do other types of needlework but it was fun to come back to as an adult!

      Hiking and reading too

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I learned to crochet and cross stitch when I was 5 and I’m 41 now :)

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Ballet. Tried it at ages 6-8, them again for a while as a teenager and at university. Took it up again in 2020 (I’m now in my 40s) and enjoy it enough that I’ll keep going till my knees give out.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Crosswords are probably it for me too. I remember being so happy, as a child, when my mother allowed me to fill in the easy games from the magazines she played with on summer holidays. Then, as a teenager, I got good enough that I could fill entire larger grids, and we’d split who did what, or rely on each other to fill blanks. My early 20s was when I started cracking the difficult games in the magazine that is most popular in my home country (blank grids, clues in random order), and now I can do most of them, which used to seem impossible.

      These days, I only do large grids or difficult ones, and leave the easier puzzles (or any games involving numbers) to my partner. I see my mother in person twice a year, and she always has a stack of blank magazines she starts buying in the weeks before my visit. I have a huge backlog that will last me years at my speed, but I’ve come to recognise it as a gesture of love. Alsi the only way I can keep up my hobby, since UK and US puzzles follow completely different clue-setting logics I have a hard time with (cryptic crosswords, no thanks!).

    5. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Knitting. My mum taught me when I was 7 and I love that I can turn balls of wool into anything! I think Ravelry is the greatest thing the internet has ever produced.

      1. small town*

        So agree! My grandmother taught me when I was 6 and I’m mid 50s now. Ravelry is amazing!

    6. ResearchalatorLady*

      Logic puzzles! “The person in the blue house doesn’t drink tea on Tuesdays” sort of thing.

        1. London Calling*

          I’d forgotten all about them until reading this. I could do with a brain workout so off to buy some.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I love these too! My gf and I have a subscription to a UK paper magazine that is a ridiculous but delightful indulgence (they will post to us in Australia but it’s not cheap). We do them separately every evening.

    7. Kate*

      The last time I did pottery, I was 9 years old. I’m 38 now and I picked it back up this summer while my kid was at camp. It has been even more joyous a reunion than I had expected! It’s so cathartic and satisfying.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I just reached my 20-year anniversary of BookCrossing! (People register their books on the site, label the books with unique IDs and the site information, and then pass them along: give them to friends, donate them to charity shops, put them on book-swap shelves or in Little Free Libraries, leave them on park benches or near interesting sculptures, historical markers, scenic spots…) I’ve loved to read all my life, and had often left books behind in hotel rooms or on airplanes, and I found the idea of possibly hearing back from future readers quite entrancing. Over the years, only about 1 in 10 of the books I’ve released have checked in, but the responses from the finders are often charming, whether it’s about the books themselves or the circumstances under which they found them.

      I also got into geocaching (finding hidden containers via GPS locations), and have sometimes combined the hobbies, leaving books inside geocaches or at trailheads. Helps get me out and about, and has led me to some marvelous “hidden” spots.

      1. Random Biter*

        Hellooooo, Book Crossing neighbor! I really need to get back in the habit, but I definitely don’t buy as many books as I used to since my library system now can get me books from many different libraries in my part of the state. None of my books have every been found that I know of, and I did discover from one of the cleaning crew that books left on benches at the Mall end up in the trash. THE TRASH!!

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      Gardening. My mom has a picture of 6 month old me “helping” in the garden (I was sitting on a blanket trying to stuff a handful of grass into my mouth while she was trying to pry my little fist away from my face). I don’t remember a time that I didn’t find peace playing around in the dirt!

    10. Irish Teacher*

      Reading. At the age of four, I was very anxious to start school, so I could learn to read. Still love books nearly 40 years later. And writing stories, though I haven’t been doing much of that this last couple of years.

      1. London Calling*

        I can’t actually remember learning to read, but I’m pretty certain my mother taught me before I went to school. Reading has been a constant solace for over 60 years. And like you, I need to get back to the writing.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I tried nagging my mother to teach me to read but she was afraid I’d be bored at school.

    11. Mimmy*

      I’d say jigsaw puzzles. I did them off and on when I was younger but then went many years without doing them. I started doing them again maybe 3-4 years ago. I think my husband would prefer I space them out, but I can’t help it – they’re kind of addictive!

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Decorative planning. I’ve always loved office supplies, stationery, and stickers, but I never really knew what to do with it all until I started planning, and then discovered the decorative planning aspect. I never got into scrapbooking, but decorative planning originated from scrap-bookers. What I like about it is there is the practical aspect of keeping my life and thoughts in order, but there’s also the lighthearted frivolity of buying or creating all the supplies to make it pretty

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      Singing. I was fortunate to grow up in a musical household. Sometimes I sing to myself, accompanied by an instrument I picked up in college, and I enjoy singing harmonies to recordings or the radio. I don’t currently have another singer to hang out with but look forward to when I do. Vocal harmonies make me happy.

    14. Dont be a dork*

      Crosswords and stamp collecting. As I approach retirement I find I’m pulling out the old collection and messing with it more. My mother started my collection when I was oh, three or four, and we “worked” on it together through early elementary. After that, I could do it myself (except that she bought me lots of stamps until I could earn my own money). I know now that she did it so she could work on her own collection in relative peace, but I’ve had my stamp collection really as long as I can remember, and even in the dry times (when I didn’t bother to actually do much with it) I still purchased stamps for the collection.

    15. allathian*

      Reading. All my other hobbies have come and gone, but reading for pleasure’s the one thing that’s always been with me, except for when I was studying for my Master’s degree. Even then, I insisted on reading something that had nothing to do with my studies for at least 10 minutes before switching off the light. Reading has always been my way to relax before bed.

      Oh, the relief when I was finally able to find the time and energy to read for pleasure for several hours at a stretch again was fabulous.

    16. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Choir singing. Been doing it for over 25 years now – with about 3 accumulated years of breaks in between because of moving and having to find a new choir, which can take quite some time.
      It’s a very social activity without having to interact on your own a lot of the time ( – perfect for this introvert). And I’d just been singing since I was a small kid, anyway, so I’m sure my mother was glad to find an outlet for me, away from home ;D

  9. Aphrodite*

    Alison’s answer to her favorite soup led me to think that the AAM community must have a lot of favorite soups.
    Here is my favorite of all time. It started out as an award-winner printed in a newspaper but I have made so many adjustments to it over twenty years it is more of a summer vegetable soup then a true gazpacho. I don’t have stale bread in it but you could add some to take it closer to its roots. I wish I could live solely on this during hot weather. It is amazing how much I go through.

    Gazpacho
    2 bottles of Trader Joe’s Vegetable Juice
    Salt (at least 2 teaspoons, maybe up to 1/8 cup depending on taste preference; see note)
    1 teaspoon lemon juice + zest to taste
    3+ tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    2 tablespoon dark fruity olive oil
    2 large cloves of garlic
    2 pounds of tomatoes, cored and quartered
    2 Anaheim chilis, seeded and chopped (ripened to red if possible)
    2 yellow chilis, seeded and chopped (ripened to red if possible)”
    Jalapenos or habaneros to taste, if desired
    1 cup seeded, skinned, chopped cucumber
    3/4 cup chopped green onions
    2 ribs chopped celery
    3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1/2 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
    1 cup chopped carrots
    2-4 ripe Haas avocados
    1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
    1/2 cup firmly packed fresh dill
    20+ large basil leaves (depending on taste preferences)
    Combine all ingredients. Whirl in batches in blender until well blended; there will be and should be some coarseness. Chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight. Serve in chilled bowls or cups and sprinkle each with fresh ground pepper.
    Note: I don’t bother to skin my tomatoes or peppers since it’s too hot to bother and I like the bits of skin in with all the other chunky vegetables. But you can.
    Note: TJ’s has stopped carrying its regular vegetable juice and now has only the low-sodium variety. I use that (which I consider much better than V-8 but poorer than the original) but have increased the salt amount by a noticeable amount to make up for it. You don’t have to follow this recipe since I don’t—I eyeball the ingredients–adjust everything to your taste.

    1. Bluebell*

      I love making gazpacho in the summer because it reminds me of my mom’s longtime companion, who has since passed away. He used a similar recipe, but I’m more improvisational, and don’t use vegetable juice. In the winter, my favorite soups are black bean and Tuscan chickpea. The Tuscan chickpea recipe is from cooking light magazine and is very much a pantry soup, plus some fresh rosemary.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My mom’s white bean chicken soup. The beans thicken the broth and it’s just a perfect comfort food.

      1 lb white beans, presoaked
      small package boneless skin chicken thighs
      4 or 5 carrots, chopped
      2-3 stalks celery, chopped
      some potatoes if you like, chopped
      a big onion, sauteed
      2-3 cloves garlic, sauteed with onion.

      put it all in a big pot, cover with water, add a couple of big spoonfuls of good bouillon paste. Simmer for an hour or two, or just let it go all afternoon. Season generously with thyme (near the end if fresh, at the beginning if dried).

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        That sounds amazing! I’ve started adding parsnip to my chicken soup but I never thought of white beans!

    3. Atheist Nun*

      My favorite soup is the New York Times’ curried sweet potato soup. You can find the recipe freely on Joy the Baker’s web site. The soup can be made vegan if you use a vegan broth or water. If you like Indian spices, you will love this soup. I like making it in the fall and winter. I tweak the spices to add lots more cardamom, using fresh seeds (from the pod) that I grind in a mortar for extra flavor.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This is more a stew/porridge than a soup. We all really like it and it’s simple and makes leftovers. A variation on Christine Ha’s Chao Ga, chicken and rice porridge:

      1 small onion, chopped fine
      1-2″ piece fresh ginger, minced
      3 chicken breasts
      (optional 1 cup chicken broth)
      2 T fish sauce
      roughly 1 cup jasmine rice
      (optional scallions, cilantro, and lime for serving)

      Put the onion, ginger, and chicken in a pot and cover with water. Add broth if using. Add fish sauce. Cover with water. (I find a little broth deepens the flavor, but I would not use all stock.) Bring to a boil, simmer until chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat; remove chicken and set on plate until cool enough to handle, then shred. Return chicken to pot.

      About 20-30 minutes before you want to eat, return pot to simmer and add rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is cooked through.

      Can eat as is or add lime, scallion, cilantro, or anything else you like on a savory soup.

    5. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Mine is lemon chicken stew from the Foodiecrush food blog. We cheat a little and just add rotisserie chicken instead of cooking up chicken thighs as part of the recipe, but it’s so comforting, and one of the recipes I can pretty much make off the top of my head at this point.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I cheat more than you. Instead of cooking chicken thighs I will add canned chicken breast, sometimes one can, sometimes two.

    6. Russian in Texas*

      I love gazpacho! Mine’s a bit simpler, but it’s a perfect summer lunch – just add a toast with cheese.
      My other favorites:
      Okroshka: Russian cold soup based on kvass (fermented bread drink, tart and slightly sweet and fizzy, homemade, store bought kvass is basically soda). Some people use kefir instead, but I don’t like kefir much. The ingredients are basically boiled and chopped potatoes, chopped cucumbers, radishes, scallions, dill, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and some kind of chopped cooked meat if you do desire – ham, sausage, beef, etc.
      Borscht. Sorrell soup. Russian fish soup called ukha. Solyanka – soup with pickles. Barley and mushroom. Russian cuisine is very heavily soup based.
      But I think my absolutely favorite soups are Tom Yum and pho.

    7. fposte*

      That’s like asking me to name a favorite child. My meal planning is anchored on made-ahead soups, and I have a small chest freezer whose primary purpose is to hold them.

      I try always to have in the freezer:
      a basic chicken noodle soup
      the ATK Simple Beef Chili
      a curried coconut chicken soup from a Mark Bittmann book
      some variant on cannellini with spinach and maybe pork

      I love legumes so there are usually several different legume soups going on in addition to this.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I discovered homemade tomato soup when I was growing heirloom tomatoes in pots on my patio. Just google Best Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe (You’ll Never Go Back to Canned)—it’s the one on the An Oregon Cottage website.

      You can use canned tomatoes for it. I made it with Golden Jubilee tomatoes once. It produced this gorgeous yellow soup.

    9. Redhaired runner*

      French onion lentil soup! It’s not a real recipe, you just start like you are making French onion soup, but then you two cups of dried lentils and enough water to keep them covered. It usually ends up as about 7ish cups of soup. It’s amazingly savory and filling, the perfect lunch soup.

    10. Girasol*

      Campfire stew. The way it was made in Brownie camp ages ago was to brown some ground beef in a pot on the fire, pour an industrial-sized can of condensed alphabet soup on top, stir, and call the kids to bring their bowls. Nowadays I chop garden veggies small, make my own tomato sauce, add a good slug of burgundy, and pour all that over the browned beef, and then wish I had some s’mores for after.

    11. Esmeralda*

      I just made watermelon gazpacho! Half a small watermelon (scoop out the fruit), couple pounds tomatoes (peeled — they were frozen and defrosted so peeling was easy), minced garlic, minced onion, chopped peeled cuke, couple of roasted red peppers from a jar, fresh basil, glug of olive oil, couple glugs of red wine vinegar., salt, pepper. Blend it (I have an immersion blender). Taste for salt, pepper, vinegar.

      Put in a carafe, refrigerate. To serve: Garnish w avocado cubes, basil chiffonade, tiny cubes of cuke, or what you will.

    12. Chaordic One*

      We call my favorite soup, “Butterballs,” which is the mail ingredient. Known by a variety of names, the one I see most often is “German Butterball and Noodle Chicken Soup.” We always make the rich spicy butterballs from scratch and sometimes we will make the noodles from scratch, also. I just love the rich spicy butterballs. It is special treat that my family prepares for holidays such as Christmas Eve and Easter.

    13. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      This is my new favorite soup. It’s from a wonderful little book called Accidentally Vegan Italian Soups by Giovanni Caruso. It’s extremely simple to make, relatively inexpensive, filling, and delicious. (I’m sorry that it’s not a gazpacho; gazpacho is one of the handful of foods that I absolutely hate.)

      Barley and Legume Soup (makes about 5 good-size servings)

      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 onion
      1 carrot
      1 celery stalk (I cheat and use pre-cut mirepoix for the onion/carrot/celery)
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
      Minced garlic
      7 cups vegetable stock (I like a thicker soup, so I use a bit less liquid — I’ve been using one 32-oz container of Kitchen Basics vegetable stock plus 2 cups water)
      2 15-oz cans of low-sodium white beans (cannellini, Navy, or just plain “white beans” all work well)
      1 15-oz can of low-sodium black beans
      Salt and pepper to taste

      Fry the onion, carrot, celery, sage, garlic and a pinch of salt in the olive oil on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
      Add the vegetable stock, beans, and pearled barley. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender.
      Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. That’s it!

    14. Paddy O'Furniture*

      Sometimes, when I’m in the right mood, I love vichyssoise. Especially on a hot summer evening.

    15. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Nothing quicker or easier when you’re too tired and hungry to think straight than miso. Whisk a big lump of it into boiling water, add veg and protein (seaweed and tofu are traditional, of course, but if you don’t have those on hand, kale and cracking an egg into the broth to poach will definitely do the trick), and for extra sumptuousness, slice/scoop an avocado into your bowl as garnish.

  10. So_Muchly_Anon*

    I’m upset and my partner can’t see my side. Can y’all help me articulate my position better?

    My husband and I wanted to buy a cat (not actually a cat, I just don’t want to open a debate about the actual purchase) and we agreed on a price and a style of cat. That was four years ago and cats got hard to come by for awhile. We stopped talking about buying a cat.
    Yesterday my husband told me he bought a cat last week. I was surprised and asked why he hadn’t mentioned it. He said that he thought I’d become more of a dog person and he was worried about how I’d react to a cat so he bought it without discussing it with me.
    I’m trying to explain that I do NOT care he spent the money, but that he quietly bought a cat because he thought I’d object. He’s saying I buy things all the time without mentioning it. We’re not properly hearing each other.
    I’d love to have people weigh in because I am terrible at explaining myself when I’m upset.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Well, if the purchase is actually a pet or other thing that carries a lifestyle change or responsibility/commitment, that’s a big decision and definitely needs to be made jointly.

      “I didn’t consult you because I didn’t want to be told no” is an extra egregious reason. It’s really disrespectful! Are the things you buy unilaterally also shared items that you’ve discussed and planned together? Assuming you can afford it, you really don’t need to run things like hobbies, clothes, and other personal purchases by your partner first. It sounds like you’re upset that he moved forward alone on what was meant to be a joint purchase, and that he forced you into a purchase specifically because he believed it was something you didn’t want.

      1. So_Muchly_Anon*

        We never run purchases by each other unless it’s like ‘new roof for the house’ big. We both make roughly the same and we pool money. We’re solidly upper middle class. I mention purchases to him out of habit but if I spend $250 on my hair, it’s not a big deal. If I didn’t mention it and he wouldn’t care.
        The purchase doesn’t change our lifestyle in any way.
        It was a joint purchase until it wasn’t, if that make sense.

      2. mreasy*

        It sounds like this is something like a piece of furniture, a vehicle. or an appliance that you’d expect everyone to agree on. Your husband is absolutely in the wrong. My spouse and I bank separately and we don’t have any sort of rule about telling each other above a certain amount (though we usually do just in conversation), but neither of us would think it okay to make this kind of decision unilaterally without consulting the other. A pet would bring along even more expectation of discussing – and choosing together! – but whatever it is, I hope you can get him to realize why it’s important that he doesn’t do this again in the future.

      3. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I think the cat example here is throwing me. It’s egregious to bring something like an animal into a household without everyone’s enthusiastic consent because everyone will have to work together and be on the same page for a successful new family member to join. If it’s like, a gym membership that he will do most of the effort with, I don’t have as much of an issue, although I do understand that with a shared budget all choices affect everybody.

        1. So_Muchly_Anon*

          Hey y’all. It wasn’t an animal. It was a shotg*n.
          I wanted to keep that out of it but my (what I thought was a BRILLIANT swap) analogy caused a bunch more confusion.
          Anyways. He thought my opinion had changed regarding g*n ownership. It hasn’t. The true item (and why he hid it from me) is probably not going to go over well. But. We went for a walk today and I used some of the excellent AAM advice and he really got it. I swear. He’s apologetic and he understands 100% why I have lost trust in him. We’re going to go to counseling and thanks to my stellar EAP, it’ll be free.
          Thanks to this community. Y’all are great.

          1. acmx*

            I think it was a pretty good swap! And yes, I can imagine his actions caused you to lose trust in him. I hope the EAP works out wonderfully!

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, I think that falls under the same category as a cat in that it is something I really don’t think somebody should buy unless they are sure everybody in the house is OK with it. As allathian said, attitudes to guns in the US are very different to here, so it might not be SUCH a big deal, but…it also seems to be a political issue over there and if he thought for example that recent school shootings had turned you against guns, then buying a gun without discussing that with you is really not on.

            I realise he was wrong, but from his point of view, it sounds like he was buying something he thought you had a moral objection to having in the house.

            I’m really glad he got it and apologised. Maybe it was just a one off slip, but I do think he needs to explore both why he assumed your opinions had changed and why, if they had, he would think it OK to go completely behind your back and bring something into the house that you might have serious objections to. I guess that will be explored in the counselling though, so I’m glad that’s free.

            And I can totally see why you wouldn’t want to name it as so many people have strong opinions one way or the other and it is such a culturally based issue.

          3. mreasy*

            Oh wow I’m glad he’s listening. Yeah this absolutely the type of thing you must discuss. And cat WAS a good analogy. I could not have firearms in my house and this is absolutely a one no means no situation, like a pet!

          4. Jay*

            Good for you. To me, the communication issue and the assumption was at the core of the problem so it didn’t matter what it was (although it makes much more sense that your opinion might have changed now that I know what it is!). And yay! EAP benefits.

    2. RagingADHD*

      IDK if this is how you feel, but to me the problem isn’t about *buying stuff* at all.

      It’s the idea that he was guessing at the way you think or feel, and making decisions based on the guess, rather than talking about it. To me, that would be a scary prospect. I would wonder what else he is presuming about me instead of talking about.

      And why?

      It would worry me that we might be having a major communication breakdown, and I didn’t even know. I would want to understand why he felt unable or unwilling to discuss it, when we had discussed it in the past.

      Of course, if it were a major financial hit or lifestyle change, I would also have a problem with that being one sided. But to me, the more urgent problem would be this big change in the way we communicate (or don’t).

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        “he was guessing at the way you think or feel, and making decisions based on the guess” – and his decision was specifically the opposite of what he assumed Muchly’s would be!

      2. PX*

        This for me. I cannot cannot cannot CANNOT stand people making assumptions about how I feel or think about something. If you’re unsure, ask. If you think I’ve changed my mind, ask. I will basically never get angry at someone asking again or checking in to confirm something. But just assuming? Surefire way to get me in a bad mood.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Are there any specific reasons you can put a finger on? Staying with your cat example: you’d have wanted to arrange the space a certain way in preparation for a cat, or there were other items you wanted to buy first, or even, more simply, you were hoping to go see cats together before you took one home?

      If so, can you try bringing those up to make it clearer why “it was a joint purchase until it wasn’t” is a big deal to you? If this was me and my partner, that’s what would have the most chances of getting my point across, because he’d look at the situation with less emotion than me (funnily, our closest example IS getting a cat, and he knows very well by now that we’ll be choosing one together, because I find the idea of him surprising me with a kitten blindsiding rather than cute).

    4. Despachito*

      I think that the problem is “I will do this behind your back because I am afraid you’d object.” Apart from illogical (does he think you will not find out and not object then?), it is disrespectful, and I’d be livid as well.

      If you had not mentioned his reasoning, I’d be inclined to think it is an misunderstanding (you basically agreed you want a cat and its parameters years ago, cats are in short supply, then they appear again and he buys a cat thinking that it has been pre-arranged with you).

      However, as he reasoned as he did, I’d 1) express my disappointment that he did it like that, 2) open a debate with him why he thought he had to do it (is there a problem in communication between us that needs to be resolved)?

      It would be important to me to express that I am definitely NOT OK with things being done that way, and at the same time give him some space to express his own concerns, if any, and ideally, you should work TOGETHER on this.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This — “I did the thing because I thought you’d say no if I asked you first” is amazingly disrespectful of someone who’s supposed to be a life partner. There’s any number of other reasons to do a thing that may not involve checking with me and that’s not necessarily a big deal, but when your official reason to do the thing is because you thought I wouldn’t be okay with it and you wanted to remove my option to say that, that’s a shitty thing to do.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I would want to work out with the partner (ideally, in a positive way, assuming you want to work this out) – what exactly did they imagine you would do if they told you about this? Did they think you would stress about it and make it a big stressful deal for a few days (my problem with a former partner) and they wanted to avoid the drama? Did they fall for this specific cat and think you would cause an argument and not let them get the cat they wanted because you would want a different one? Those are both issues to discuss, whereas if they knew you literally wouldn’t want a cat but would have a hard time making them get rid of it, that’s more on the disrespectful side to me.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I should add these conversations can be very painful. It’s terrible to find out that your partner finds you controlling or is tired of your dramatics or whatever, but it’s important to understand and to get there you have to be open and not shut down the discussion when it hurts your feelings. If it’s actually just about him really wanting this cat and being selfish/greedy about it, that’s actually easier to take.

      2. eeeek*

        If I were in this situation, OP, the issue Despachito names is where I would land – it’s not the cat, it’s not the money, it’s not the timing, it’s not acting on a decision that had been indefinitely deferred…it’s knowing, for certain, that my partner saw a need to out-maneuver me and took an action that was manipulative. That pushes all of my Trust Issues buttons, and I wonder what other issues they are unilaterally acting on because they don’t want to deal with my objections or even with talking about it.

        I get that some partnerships do fine allowing partners to make decisions that would distress the other – but those aren’t initially unilateral decisions. My own relationship has countless tiny little things that we each do because we’ve negotiated those issues and navigated that territory over time. One big rule we’ve learned that we have to discuss all “I want this even though I think you don’t” issues – and in the handful of cases where issues haven’t been discussed, the fait accompli is presented with copious apologies and a back-out plan if it’s really not going to work.

        If this rings true to you, maybe this is an inflexion point for your partnership to have that meta-discussion: how will you handle respectful consultation on important topics?

        Also, Fait Accompli would be a great name for a Thai cat. I’m putting that on my “future names” list for the next sassycat.

    5. Jen Erik*

      Happened to me in an imaginary sense:
      My daughter remarked that she and her dad had a plan when (very actual and seemingly immortal) dog died, that they would sneak out and buy another one, knowing that I’d be furious, but that I also would get over it after a couple of weeks.
      I know (for sure) this won’t happen, and was just a silly discussion – but it was really hurtful – partly because they got my probable reaction bang on.
      It’s something about not having the opportunity to say your piece – and them choosing to avoid the difficult discussion in order to get the outcome they want. It’s not fair, it – even in this entirely imaginary scenario – made me angry and upset, and it’s maybe even a bit scary to feel someone who loves you would choose to force your hand like that.
      I don’t have a good script for you to use with your husband, but I just wanted to say I understand how you feel.

    6. Gravity*

      It may be helpful to reframe it as “being heard” rather than “explaining”. The latter could be seen as trying to convince him of the validity of your argument, when it’s often not about right or wrong. One approach is the Gottman method: you would share your view on what happened, he would reflect it back so you know he heard you. You share how the situation made you feel; he would validate those feelings. You state a positive need for the future (I need to be included in future cat purchases.) And then you would listen, reflect, and validate back.

      This method takes work but is very effective for refocusing conversations on what is good for the relationship, and moving away from power struggles. Good luck!

      1. So_Muchly_Anon*

        Gravity, this comment helped me so so much. I had an excellent conversation with hubby, we’re heading for counseling, and I appreciate your input. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to comment. It really helped an random internet stranger. :)

    7. Ann Ominous*

      Him saying you buy things all the time without mentioning it is a red herring and unrelated to the flow of the discussion.

      You explained why it bothered you. Actually, HE explained it himself pretty well. It bothers you because he bought it without discussion ON PURPOSE because he thought he wouldn’t like your reaction if you knew about it.

      You don’t get an expensive hair cut AT him. It sounds like he got a car AT you, or maybe DESPITE you. He thought you’d have an issue so he hid it and did it anyway, instead of making you a partner in it like you had been at the beginning. It bothers you because it was deceitful and he needs to own it.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, presumably, the things Muchly bought without consulting her partner on, she bought with the assumption he would either approve or wouldn’t care. If she was wrong, it was a mistake. However, in this case, he made it clear he bought this without asking her, not because he assumed her agreement but because he assumed she WOULD raise objections and he didn’t want to have to compromise. That is a very different situation.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, I think what he did was wrong. He got something he thought you wouldn’t want and did it behind your back to ensure you didn’t have the chance to disagree.

      How wrong he is does depend, in my opinion, on what it was. Something like a pet or furniture or an appliance for the house would be really problematic. If it’s something just for him, it’s less of a big deal, though I’d still think it a red flag that he didn’t tell you. If it is something like “I got a new laptop and didn’t tell you because I thought you preferred tablets,” that’s…kinda weird. And if it IS something it would be reasonable for you to object to, then it’s more problematic.

      I think the issue here is the reasoning behind his not telling you rather than his not telling you in and of itself. I assume that when you buy things without telling him, it’s because you think he wouldn’t be interested or because they are an impulse purchase or just because the subject doesn’t come up, not because you think he’d disagree and want to ensure he doesn’t get a say. That’s a very different proposition.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        It also seems a little like he’s almost trying to argue both ways. On the one hand, he is saying he HAD to do it secretly because he thought you would object and on the other, he is acting like he can’t understand why you are objecting now and potentially making you feel like you are overreacting.

        He isn’t misunderstanding you. He was expecting you to be annoyed. He did it knowing that your annoyance was likely to be the consequence.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      It’s a very bad policy to pull a fait accompli on your partner, because you care more about getting your way than you do your partner’s feelings. I’m not sure if this purchase actually is irreversible (the dishonesty of going behind your back and then coming clean once it’s bought suggests it is, though) but if “he was worried about how I’d react to a cat” then the last thing in the world he should be buying is a “cat” UNTIL it’s been talked out.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The best advice I can give you is you need marriage counseling. It’s not a matter of articulating your position better – its that your partner isn’t willing to listen or care about your feelings. The purchase of a cat is a symptom of a bigger relationship issue.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I can’t tell from here if this is Muchly’s situation at all, but I have been in relationships where I have to say “The cat thing bothers me because x, y and z” and those three things have to be watertight reasoning because the person has an inherent investment in proving me wrong and making sure my feelings are disbelieved or invalidated. I have also been in relationships where I can just say “The cat thing bothers me” and I am completely listened to and they knock it off immediately and undo the thing as far as possible, because they just really want to know what bothers me so they can avoid doing it.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’ve known people who react like that too, people who feel that I should have to PROVE myself to them before they will respond to me. Interestingly enough, those people never seem to feel that I should be able to evaluate THEIR feelings and would be the first to tell me, “you have NO right whatsoever to tell me how I should feel” or “are you the expert on MY feelings now?” I also don’t know if this is Muchly’s situation, but it is one in which it’s very hard to win because the other person has set themselves up as the arbitrator of the dispute and of course they are going to rule in their own favour.

        2. tangerineRose*

          “those three things have to be watertight reasoning because the person has an inherent investment in proving me wrong and making sure my feelings are disbelieved or invalidated.” This type of person sounds like someone I wouldn’t want to be with long-term.

          1. allathian*

            You said it. I honestly wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them in the short term either. People like that are exhausting. I have too high an opinion of myself to put up with that shit from anyone.

    11. Nancy*

      Did you want to have a say it? Is it something you would use? The example is confusing me, because bringing a pet without the other person’s ok is wrong.

    12. Jay*

      The specific item isn’t the issue. The money isn’t the issue. The problem is that your husband is dismissing your feelings. If you haven’t already, you could try “When we were talking about the cat purchase, I felt like you didn’t care about how I felt.” Because that’s the real problem here if you have the money (which it sounds like you do).

      Is this a one-off or are there other times when you feel dismissed, or when he makes assumptions about how you’ll react to something? This was a real problem in my marriage for a long time. My husband was terrified of upsetting me, so he would go behind my back and do things, which then of course made me upset. He reacted exactly as you describe your husband reacting – defensiveness and justification – and it took some time in couples counseling to really shift the pattern.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I felt like the partner not only didn’t care how she felt, he thought she’d be annoyed and did it anyway before she could object. That’s not OK.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      It may be that he will never understand the point because he has decided not to understand.

      I am not clear here but it would be good to know for purposes of clarity: Is it true are you now more of a dog person? Have you lost interest in the cat?

      This started out as a joint purchase. This isn’t about money- it’s a couples thing to go together and select something. As relationships mature bonding moments happen in different ways. Couples can see purchase decisions made as a team as a small confirmation of their on-going coupledom. Some couples can even make a mini-date out of it by going out to lunch after the purchase. It works into a thing.

      To me this is the key part here: BECAUSE you were discussing the purchase as a couple you assumed you would continue discussing the purchase as a couple before the purchase was made. First fail. He could have said he wanted to get it.
      Surprise! Not only did he make the purchase without you, he randomly decided that you no longer wanted a cat. It never once occurred to him that you could have said, “I really don’t want a cat but I am MOST willing to get one because it’s something YOU like.” Second fail. He could have asked you about the cat instead of assuming you were so narrow that you could not see his enjoyment about the cat.

      Some how he got it home and kept it from you for a WEEK. This means he spent a lot of time thinking about this. He could have come home and said, “I hope your not mad at me, but I bought a cat today and without you, I am sorry. This is something that I really wanted.” Hmm. He felt he could not say “this is something I really want” to you? WHY? Third fail. Why does he believe what he wants is secondary.

      His counter point that you bring home things without mentioning it to him: Sorry, I was the primary shopper in this household. I got hit with “you’re always buying things” and my reply was, “You can go do the weekly shopping with me. And you can help write the weekly list!” So this stuff does not fly with me. To his credit, he stepped up to the task. And we never revisited that discussion. I did use more words such as “I have to guess what you want this week and it’s better for you if you decide along with me so you get what you actually want.”

      But mainly here, it’s a poor tactic for a discussion as he is going from specific to general. When people do this, go from specific to generalities, they are throwing up hurdles on what they know is a losing battle for them. You were talking about the cat then he jumped to “all the time”. NO. You both were discussing the cat. What you personally do all the time is a separate discussion.

      In pre-martial counseling couples spend time deciding how they will make decisions as a team. Who decides what. When do decisions get made jointly. How do couples signal each other that they want to have say in the decision or want the other one to have say?

      It’s striking to me because I always told my husband I wanted him to have things he liked and I did not always “have to” like them also. I also let him know that I would always be happy to see him happy about something. I don’t have to be overjoyed about the new air compressor, but I can enjoy seeing him happy about the purchase.

      Purchases decisions can also be done in barter. My husband wanted to get his bike rebuilt. It was 2k, which would be closer to 10k in today’s dollars. I supported that with enthusiasm even. But, I said, I want my slice of the pie. I’d like a nice sewing machine. He was happy about the sewing machine for me. We got the machine a couple years later.
      Ironically here we did get an actual cat for him and a dog for me later on in life.

      I think sitting down and talking things through is the best bet for you both. You guys can let this go into a bigger and bigger issue OR you can decide that you are together for a reason and what is happening right now is small and your couplehood is BIG.
      In sum:
      You both deserve to have the right to buy things that you feel good or happy about. You are equal in this regard.
      There are times when a purchase may not seem that appealing to the non-buying partner, but seeing each other in joy or feeling good about things is important.
      Secrets don’t fly. They cause a lot of stress for one thing. And they also erode a marriage/friendship/any relationship if done routinely. It’s more important to keep things open than anything else.
      Assumptions also kill relationships. Ask each other. Do not assume. Spouses change as they age. The longer we are with someone the more we see that. I saw my husband who was anti-debt take out three car loans in our years together. And visa versa, my husband saw me change my mind about stuff. Compromises must be made continuously for the relationship to survive.
      Promise each other that you won’t let life stuff get bigger than your marriage and each other. Promise each other to find a path through things by using open communication and a willingness to compromise.

      All relationships are a long series of trade offs. I want a dog. I don’t want to get up at 2 am because he has to go out. But I do get up at 2 am when he has to go out because (back to) I want a dog. It’s all trade offs, all along the way.

    14. More information needed*

      It’s hard to know how to react without knowing what the actual purchase was. If you’re going to buy something without consulting your spouse, it’s very different if the thing is a refrigerator vs. a car vs. a hamster vs. a heated towel rack.

      If it’s something that you’ll inevitably have to use, or that cost a lot of money, yes, it’s a big deal that he did it without consulting you. “I didn’t think you’d like this new couch I wanted so I bought it without asking you, enjoy sitting on it I guess” is not a good look in a marriage.

      If it’s not something that’s a big deal for you guys financially, and that you’re not going to need to use, I don’t think it’s a big deal. “I didn’t talk to you before I bought a PS5 because I didn’t think you were interested in owning one any more, so I just got it to play after work while you’re at the gym” is totally fine, in my opinion, as long as the cost of the item isn’t going to have a significant impact on your finances.

      If the issue is that he thought you’d be mad and he’d rather have you be mad AND have the thing than have you be mad at the suggestion and therefore not get the thing, then you guys have a real communication problem and it might be time for couples counselling.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        Yes, I agree with all of this.

        And is it possible he misspoke? I know a few times my husband has questioned something I did, or I’ve questioned something he did, and the first thing we throw out there isn’t necessarily what we really mean, it’s just that we felt put on the spot, and sometimes minds and mouths work funny when we feel that way.

        In other words, maybe he did think, “I won’t tell her so she won’t be mad,” or maybe he thought, “Do I need to call her? No, she won’t care,” and then when he realized you did, he immediately thought, “If I’d told her she wouldn’t be mad,” and phrased it as, “I thought if I told you, you’d be mad,” when that wasn’t /really/ what he thought or meant. Or he bought it thinking, “She won’t care,” and then when he got it home he realized he should have said something and started feeling guilty, and has been feeling guilty all week, and that’s why he phrased it that way.

        But I also think that if this is something like a PS5, and you guys can afford it, don’t make it a huge deal. You can say to him, “It hurts me that you thought I would be mad about this, and that you decided to keep it from me because of that. Please don’t do that again,” and have that be the end of it, you know? Not everything is a huge deal; sometimes our spouses or partners mess up, and we ask them not to do it again, and they don’t. I’ve been married for over twenty years–very happily–and that’s one thing I’ve/we’ve learned: not everything has to be a big issue or fight, and you don’t always have to “win.” Sometimes it’s best to just let things go, especially if your husband is generally a good, loving, open husband. Everyone makes a mistake once in a while. No one is perfect. And marriage is a learning process.

        It also might be worth moving on, and not coming back to the “It hurt me specifically because you thought I would be mad about it, and hid it so as not to anger me,” until next weekend or whatever. Something else I have learned: my husband and I don’t fight often (maybe once a year, if that), but when we do, it can turn into a real slide down an ugly rabbit hole, and at some point one of us has to just say, “This is done, we’re going to stop this fight, return to neutral corners, and move on with our day, unless we want to start packing bags.” When we revisit the topic of the fight hours later or a day or two later, it’s nearly always easily resolved by a “I’m sorry I phrased it that way, I didn’t mean to,” “That’s okay, I don’t know why I took it so badly, I guess I was in a mood already,” and it’s done. Right now, you are “so upset” that you’re having a hard time articulating, and I’m betting he is somewhat the same and feels attacked for making the purchase. If you can both just chill for a few days and not bring it up, maybe do some physical things married couples do to bring some closeness and warm feelings back, then I bet when you discuss it again, you will both be calm and rational and can have a good, less-emotional talk about it, and it will be much easier to articulate your side and see his.

        Of course, if he regularly hides things from you, that’s different, but it sounds to me more like this is a one-time thing, and he maybe explained himself badly to begin with.

      2. allathian*

        Muchly posted later what it was, a shotgun. A lethal weapon. I know that people have varying opinions about gun ownership, but I think this discussion would’ve been a bit different without trying to muddy the waters by not saying what it was.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I can understand why the poster might not want to mention it as people’s opinions on gun ownership might affect their answers when that isn’t really the issue here.

        2. More information needed*

          I can understand not wanting to open up a debate about gun ownership on a site primarily frequented by Americans, sure, but the fact that it’s a gun is ABSOLUTELY relevant. Guns are in the same “two yes, one no” category as kids and pets. You don’t acquire one without everyone in the house wanting to have one in the house.

          I see from the update that you’re going to counselling, OP, which I think is the right call. Hope the counsellor can give you and your partner some good strategies for communication and rebuilding trust.

    15. Ampersand*

      I don’t think you need to explain yourself better. He knows what you’re saying and doesn’t want to admit he’s in the wrong, or apologize, so he’s placing the blame on you. If you have said this to him: “I do NOT care he spent the money, but that he quietly bought a cat because he thought I’d object,” then you’ve been clear. If you want to elaborate you could follow up with: And I’m disappointed/hurt/angry/annoyed/frustrated (whatever you’re feeling).

      This would be a red flag for me after having been in a relationship with someone who behaved similarly–so I would ask myself: does he usually behave this way? Or was this a one-time judgment lapse? I’d be more willing to forgive the latter. If it’s the former then it’s time for some reflection and a serious conversation. No one is perfect, but it’s not a sign of a healthy relationship if your partner doesn’t apologize when you find out they purposefully hid something from you that they really shouldn’t have.

    16. JSPA*

      “I buy things that are for me, and that you’ve never expressed interest in. I expect you to do the same for you. But having you decide for me that I’m now a dog person, despite our in-depth cat discussions 4 years ago, makes me feel railroaded, misunderstood, edited out of the dialogue, and generally treated like chopped liver, and like you thought all my input years ago was incidental to the process, or window dressing for something that mattered only to you.”

      “Our relationship has two main characters, not a main character and a supporting character. Nobody likes being treated like a sidekick, let alone an extra, in their own life, and that’s how I’m feeling now.”

  11. Anonymous Cat*

    Do you remember how when covid lockdowns started and people were trying to find ways to have human contact that there were some websites for conversation? (Regular conversations, not sex chats. )

    People could go online and find people to just talk to.

    Do those still exist? I was looking for them recently but all I could find were sites to practice foreign language skills.

    1. Tib*

      There’s one that’s called something like lunch. I’ll look it up when I’m at my computer, but this might spark someone else’s memory. I think there’s also a coffee chat one, but it might just be part of a professional association.

  12. Take 2*

    Six years ago I got a breast reduction. It was great! But I didn’t go as small as I wanted because I was afraid to speak up. I went from HH to DD. Still a big difference! But now I am unhappy again. I am wearing more unisex/mens style clothing and not happy with the way they are fitting even with a sports bra or binder. I only own a single bra with cups. I want to have a smaller chest. But last time I had a very hard recovery and stayed with my parents for two weeks post surgery. That is not possible this time around. Not to mention the cost. I also worry it won’t actually make me happy—I can’t decide if I want top surgery or just another reduction (I identify as genderqueer—also new as of 6 years ago). Has anyone else been here? Any wisdom to share?

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Can you identify the aspects of your recovery last time that were “very hard”? Would those things apply this time as well? If so, are there different things you could do, with your knowledge, that would make the recovery easier? How much does it matter to you to if you have another “very hard” recovery, if you then have the shape you want – is it a price worth paying?
      I am imagining, could be wrong!, that the first reduction was at least partly to alleviate back and shoulder pain etc – and I am assuming that this reduction would be classified as more cosmetic than medical, how does that affect its availability and cost, do you have to convince your surgeon that you need this psychologically etc.
      Seems like talking to a counsellor about all this is in your future – are there “top surgery” counsellors available to you, or online information that you can access? Support groups for people who have had top surgery? Whatever your decision, I think it will be reassuring and helpful down the track for you to know that you did a lot of research beforehand, I hope you will find supportive people to talk to! Best wishes, Lizzie

      1. JSPA*

        Gender confirmation surgery is, per the AMA, essential, specifically if it’s needed to deal with gender dysphoria (which can, after all, itself be extreme enough to be fatal). google, AMA How gender affirming surgeries have been impacted by the pandemic for a recent overview. Furthermore, I’ve recently seen stats that well over half US insurers are (therefore) now on board with it being essential surgery, in that context.

    2. WS*

      Are the factors that made the last recovery bad ones that are likely to happen again?

      Definitely sort out in your head if you would be okay to still have breasts, just smaller ones, because the pathways to getting breast reduction surgery are not the same as top surgery. Do you feel better in yourself wearing a binder?

    3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      If you get top surgery, I know that there’s at least one place in Florida that serves as a rehab for people getting top surgery, where you get to stay with other folks going through the same thing and the staff are also part of the community. It costs, but maybe it could work?

    4. NotARacoonKeeper*

      My reduction was a couple of decades ago, and I was 17, so not as educated about the procedure as I would be now, but my understanding from mine and friends’ surgeries is that there isn’t a lot of leeway in your post-surgery size. I’ve heard it as basically you get to choose if you want to be on the bigger side or the smaller side of the reduction range, but not much else, because of the nature of the construction of the internal tissues. (I chose smaller, but it was likewise still not small enough for me! I had been thinking about another reduction from my D/DDs, but will not be doing that for unrelated medical reasons). So, I’m not sure if there’s another reduction possible (unless you’ve grown since your previous one, and it would be a return to that smaller size?).

      I wonder if getting your clothes tailored might be middle step to explore for now? DDs are hard to fit in a lot of styles of clothes, so maybe getting the clothes you like to fit you better will help you explore where the dissatisfaction is for you.

      (I also occasionally fantasize about a double masectomy. I identify as a woman but pretty agnostically so…just imagine not carrying those things around! Dreamy)

    5. Jane but with ADHD*

      It was about 20 years before my 2nd reduction, and I am so glad I did it! I didn’t have gender-related issues to grapple with. Boobs weren’t HUGE like the 1st time, of course, and I was good with my original results. But I finally knew what I wanted with my body. I have a few thoughts based on my experience (which is obviously different from yours, and YMMV).

      1. The recovery was MUCH easier for me this time (though I still stayed with family for about 5 or 6 days) because:
      a. The surgery itself required smaller incisions comparatively.
      b. I set my physical environment up better ahead of time. (No heavy briefcase or backpack for work, left heavy things out in the kitchen so I didn’t have to lift them out of cabinets, etc.)

      2. It’s expensive between the surgery, a couple of days off work, and new clothes. But I paid the doctor in full up-front to get a discount.

      3. For years I didn’t think I’d be able to fit the recovery in my life, but suddenly I found I had the right combination of life- and work-responsibilities. It might not be something you can do right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the near future.

      4. I recommend some (online?) therapy in the meantime and meditation! I worked for years to be happy with myself and my life without tying that to how I felt about parts of my body. Then I was surprised by how much I LOVED the surgical results. I think it’s because I decoupled my body from my self esteem.

      5. I agree with the other comment about tailoring clothes until you decide on surgery. That can be expensive and not everyone can afford it. Maybe start by replacing current “soothing” or “coping” spending with tailor costs in your budget.

      6. I hope you find peace and the chest you want! Body issues, gender stuff, finances – none of that is easy! If you feel overwhelmed, that’s totally understandable, and that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you! Anyone would struggle with this. I’m sending you support and encouragement!

    6. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Hi! I also identify as genderqueer-shading-into-transmasc-curious. I can’t speak to personal experience with surgery, but a few years back a friend of mine did it and basically beforehand just made a google doc schedule and asked, like, everyone he knew to sign up for shifts to help care for him during his recovery (make food, do laundry, etc). It worked out pretty well, in that people could pick what sorts of tasks/time commitment they felt comfortable with. It is definitely a strategy that requires a large group of friends and acquaintances, not to mention the chutzpah to make such a big, specific ask– and I realize not everyone has those resources. Also, this was a pre-covid era, so that may affect your comfort level with lots of people coming around to your place every day.

      Aside from all that, I’ve definitely found twitter has been an incredibly helpful resource as just a place for learning more about how other nb/gq/gnc folks are navigating *gestures vaguely at body* everything.

  13. Not A Manager*

    My very dear relative will be undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She wants comfy tops for post surgery and during radiation. Any recommendations for very soft, thin tops during recovery?

    1. RagingADHD*

      How does she like to look? Does she have any preferences on type of top? What size range does she wear? How old is she?

      1. Not A Manager*

        I don’t think she cares much about appearance. It’s not for work or anything. She wants a comfortable long or short sleeved tee shirt. I think she’s looking for soft and smooth.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I did that four years ago. I just wore a comfy old stretchy bra and whatever top was handy, sweatshirt or sweater (it was late fall). Once my skin started getting a little dry, I started wearing cheap men’s white tank undershirts under my bra to keep the heavy-duty moisturizer off my clothes. A small person could do it without a bra. I never burned enough to have to wear anything more accommodating. I’d show up for my early morning appointment each weekday, they’d call my name a few minutes later, I’d hit the changing cubicle to switch to a nice heavy cotton wrap robe, head to the zap chamber, they’d line me up, zap zap zap, change tops again, and I’d be out in about five minutes. Oh, some places use dot tattoos and others use sharpies with tape over them for alignment mapping, so she needs to be prepared for small stains – another reason to use the cheap tank tees. I don’t think any radiation place would get her wear her own top during the zaps.

      1. Ins mom*

        Highly recommend the mens tank top undershirts. The radiation techs recommended to me many years ago

    3. Asenath*

      My rad onc said blithely that I didn’t have to wear a bra, no one would care – so I stopped wearing my bras (and I am not a small-breasted woman) and wore loose, 100% cotton tops everywhere, even at work. I’ve always sworn by 100% cotton for comfort, and I think loose fit is more important than style or thinness, especially under the circumstances. I bought T-shirts from Woman Within (online, a part of FullBeauty) – they have several styles called “Perfect” in a very wide range of sizes, colours, and sometimes patterns. I also followed her (the rad onc) very simple recommendations for cream during radiation, and it all worked great in avoiding discomfort.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I bought 3 LL Bean camp shirts, as I normally wear pullover tops and raising my arms over my head was not going to work. (So I wore them immediately post surgery, and then on days with medical appointments, and they now hang in my closet as a talisman.) I don’t see the exact style on their website, but it’s a light button front shirt.

      Related rec: The radiation center gave me a heart shaped pillow (clearly sewn by a volunteer) to tuck under my arm when the burn started, and I pretty much kept it constantly in place once the burn came in. It really helped to not be brushing the burned area with my arm.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Thanks for these tips! Can you tell me the approximate dimensions of the small pillow? That sounds both useful and loving. I’d like to make one for her.

        I’m assuming that it’s quite small, like about a rolled washcloth? Just to keep the arm from brushing the breast?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Pillow: Shaped like a standard heart, but the dip in the top is more hollowed out to leave more space for your arm.

          Mine is about 11 inches wide, 3 inches thick, bottom point to middle distance is 8″, bottom point to top of each upper curve is 11″. It is very squishy, not firm. So a little closer to a rolled up hand towel in size, but much softer. In place tucked under my arm, my elbow is just above the bottom point, which I imagine is behind the dimensions.

          Googling “heart-shaped pillow breast cancer radiation” brings up several that look similar to mine, so you can probably find a pattern online. It’s a very simple design.

      1. Global Cat Herder*

        Niece also had a hard time with waistband chafing. She wore loose cotton sundresses with flannel shirts over them.

    5. RosyGlasses*

      I don’t have personal experience with this brand but when I was looking for items for a friend in the same space I stumbled on eileenandeva dot com. They are a brand of clothing wear that are specific to breast cancer patients.

    6. JSPA*

      High spandex bike tank shirt, maybe? If there’s visual heathering or other effects, or if they just look adequately sporty, they can be worn without a bra, and provide extra gentle support. Probably less supportive, but Calida makes a tank top, too.

      I give high marks for more built in pockets (chemo brain is real) and for something seamless enough to fall asleep in it after (exhaustion is the default).

    7. Observer*

      LandsEnd used to have really soft and smooth cotton tops. I generally don’t wear tee-shirts or polos, so I don’t know if they’ve kept up on the quality, but I think it would be worth looking at. They are not cheap, but the sale items can be quite reasonable.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Cotton undershirts and flannel shirts got me through mastect0my recovery. Shirts that button in front are a must if your relative is restricted in arm movement. I prefer button-fronts for all my appointments. Due to the post-surgery numbness, I don’t recommend anything that binds or rubs. It’s too easy to damage the skin and not know it until you look in a mirror.
      Note: if she’s having radiation, find something to cover the arms as they can become cold during treatment. Some women wear cut-off wooly tights on their arms for this.
      These days I wear loud-pattern shirts in public so I don’t have to wear anything underneath. Hey, it’s summer!

    9. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Hmmm, I was originally told to wear a sports bra after lumpectomy for some compression, but there are other options too. If you google “bra after lumpectomy,” (or “bra after mastectomy”), you can see a bunch of comfy options. I did like bras that opened in the front after the lumpectomy.

      Seconding the advice to have some soft but cheap tops that you don’t mind getting moisturizer all over. They had me using this thick Cerave moisturizer during radiation.

    10. Random Biter*

      Be absolutely sure she’s not using underwire bras. It was a hassle as being a big breasted gal for awhile the only ones I could find that could wrangle the girls were sports bra which usually shoved me into a kind of uni-breast situation. Yeah, not a good look. But there are some good, soft wireless bras out there, the only down thing I found was that usually the straps are a kind of stretchy material with no structure or adjustment gizmos. Those straps had a tendency to curl and stretch out.

      Oh! And no aluminum containing anti-perspirant/deoderants!

      Target had some super soft men’s tshirts in a lot of different colors that I bought scads of (of course I can’t remember the brand name.)

  14. Internet Commenter*

    How do you react when somebody does something so out of line that it leaves you speechless, and continues pushing it farther and farther albeit you already cringe at the beginning of it?

    Recent example: there is an open internet forum whose members sometimes organize an informal meeting in person. One of the long-term participants, Ann, has spotted in one discussion that Brenda is organizing a meeting in a pub in her area (which is at about 100 km distance of Ann’s), tagged as “the meeting of City B. and its friends”. Ann then opens another discussion basically reprimanding Brenda for not announcing the meeting publicly and for leaving her, Ann, out of it. Brenda then counters that: she did mention the meeting in an open discussion and it was not her intention to leave anyone out but assumed that due to the distance the meeting would be interesting mainly to locals, but that of course if Ann or anyone else wants to come, please send Brenda a mail and Brenda will send back the time and place of the meeting, as she does not want to publish it freely for security reasons. Brenda does this in a normal, non-confrontational way.

    Ann insists that it was awful from Brenda to not announce the event publicly, that she, Ann, does not really mean to come (!) but that she feels slighted that she was left out, and starts mocking Brenda’s security reasons. Then Claire chimes in also reprimanding Brenda, stating she feels “slighted” and announces a date of her own meeting.

    Brenda stays calm and offers Ann, Claire and everyone else that if they want, they can send her a mail and she will send them back the instructions.

    I know that it is JUST internet and that it is possible (and probably the best thing) to stay completely out of it, but it bugs me that in my opinion, Ann and Claire are acting enormously and stupidly entitled, and almost no one seems to call them out for it (in such a case they become aggressive and it is difficult to call them out and remain calm) . And then they come back and comment on a different topic and people discuss with them as if nothing happened.

    They and their behaviour are the reason why I am not an active member of this forum years ago, because if I spotted such behaviour I always tried to call it out, but ended in endless absurd “below-belt” discussions and I found it very difficult to remain fair and not do anything that could be rightfully seen as “below belt”.

    What was most difficult to handle for me was that after many scenarios of that nature Ann and Claire still seem respected members of the forum – if I did a tenth of what they are doing I’d be crawling under a stone, but people keep interacting with them as if nothing happened, so in my eyes, they are getting away with it.

    My solution was to leave the forum as I considered the atmosphere toxic and I was unable to let certain behaviour go, but then I was seen as the troublemaker rather than what was in my eyes the real troublemaking.

    Do you think there is a different solution to deal with such people, or that the only possibility is to run?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Yes, there is a different way to deal with people like that, which is the way Brenda is handling it. She is doing her own thing, being polite, and ignoring their nonsense.

      You are 100 percent correct that Ann and Claire are acting entitled and stupid. And if you are fed up with them to the point that the forum isn’t fun or helpful, it is sensible to stop visiting, either for a break or permanently.

      I’m not sure how you would be a “troublemaker” for not visiting a forum, unless you made some kind of big dramatic flounce announcement. I hope not because that’s Ann & Claire type behavior.

      Forums with folks like Ann & Claire tend to dwindle over time or spiral in on themselves and implode. The sensible people find somewhere else to hang out, and eventually only the people who like Ann & Claire (or like arguing with them) are left. If the Brendas have their own space, they can keep it going for a while, but eventually they split off and take their crowd with them because it’s too much work dealing with Ann & Claire and their buddies.

      1. Internet Commenter*

        “Troublemaker” in the sense I call out their bad behaviour by naming it as such.

        And I must confess that were I Brenda, I would be most willing to send the direction to anyone including Ann and Claire, but BEFORE this stupid entitled conversation took place. Then I would have no interest to meet them, which would possibly create some drama too. I think the most gracious thing would be what Brenda did (kept offering to invite them anyway), but I confess that I do not have her patience. I would feel that bad behaviour was rewarded (I was always polite to them and there were no repercussions although my blood would be boiling), and good behaviour punished (I would have to deal with stupid accusations and apparently they do not even realize what they are doing wrong).

        If they wanted to participate after that debate, I’d be prone to extricate myself from it, stop organizing it and not attend because I would not be able to act around them as if nothing happened (as I know them they would not only not apologize, but try to make “fun” of my manner of organizing it).

        1. RagingADHD*

          Wow. Okay, do you see what you’re doing? Now you’re getting hot over stuff that *would* happen in an imaginary scenario.

          And framing this as some kind of cosmic “good is punished and evil rewarded!!!!” scenario.

          It ain’t that deep. A couple of strangers are being dumb on the internet. The other folks who see them being dumb don’t care.

          Let them. If you hate it this much, put a site blocker on your phone and stop reading it.

          Go outside and touch grass.

          1. fposte*

            I heartily agree. This is XKCD’s “someone is wrong on the internet.” Someone will always be wrong on the internet–sometimes it will be you, or me, or Brenda, as well as Ann and Claire. The advantage to pushing back the keyboard and doing something else is it helps shrink the drama to an appropriate level rather than feeling like you’re in the middle of a shouting match. Because you’re not. It’s a teeny piece of life; don’t let it take up more mental space than it deserves.

        2. Russian in Texas*

          I think you are getting way over involved in the drama that doesn’t not even personally involve you, and with the people who are not your actual friends.
          It’s just internet. People being stupid on internet is normal.
          I advise you step back, and maybe just leave the forum all together.

          1. Internet Commenter*

            You are right – I probably became much more invested than it was healthy for me.

            My reasoning was – if someone acts hurtfully I should somehow interfere otherwise I am sort of participating in it. If there is someone on the forum bullying me and everybody else acts as if nothing is happening (or even reprimand ME if I push back), it is not pleasant although it is just internet and not real life, and I did not want to be the indifferent one if others were bullied.

            The forum has a moderator but by far not efficient as Alison here, who would immediately stop any bullying behaviour even before asked.

            1. RagingADHD*

              The other participants on that site also have agency and are there by choice. Presumably they are all adults.

              They don’t need you to monitor their digital lives and protect them. They could log off, too. Or get real help in real life if they are suffering emotionally.

    2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I know this is the non-work thread but for me, since moving into a management role 2 years ago, my life has been a continuous process of learning that you *cannot change other people*. Every week something happens that makes me want to STOP person X from DOING THAT EGREGIOUS THING and I have to take a step back and remind myself that I can’t make anyone do anything. It’s become a useful catch for me – as soon as I find myself thinking “How can I make Cecil [stop/start] doing that thing?” I repeat to myself: You can’t make anyone do anything.

      Reading that back I sound annoyingly Zen and I am not like that at all. In your place I would probably deal with Ann and Claire by talking the ears off any uninvolved friends who were willing to listen to me and/or ranting at them in my head, but I would also try to distance myself from it and let it go by reminding myself I cannot stop their bad behaviour. I just can’t.

      Good luck! It sound exhausting.

      1. Internet Commenter*

        Thank you, this is helpful. I understand that in a management role this is different because it can sometimes be within your responsibilities to make Cecil stop, but in peer positions you are right that there is often really not much you can do.

        I can hear the petty voice in the back of my head saying: how is it possible that someone gets away with like 20 times of what I possibly will get away with? Possibly I am like the Pharisee to Ann and Claire’s tax collectors from the Bible :-)

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I really think this is a “pick your battles” issue. Yeah, Ann and Claire are being stupid and entitled and annoying, but…I do think Brenda is handling it really well and to me, it seems like the kind of issue that is best dealt with by giving it as little attention as possible. “OK, if you want to come, I’ll send you the details…next topic”.

      I really doubt they are respected members of the forum. I’d imagine you are far from the only one who rolls their eyes when they see them post and wonders “oh, heck, are they going to start more drama now?” but I think that usually replying to each topic separately is the right thing to do. I’ve been on a lot of forums where there is somebody I think annoying or dramatic or difficult but…when they post something reasonable, I reply to that reasonably. It doesn’t mean I respect them, just that each topic is different and being wrong 9 times out of 10 doesn’t mean I shouldn’t listen on that one time in ten when they DO say something worth listening to.

      I think some possibilities other than to run (which isn’t a bad one either, especially if Ann and Claire are dominating the forum) are to remain away from it for a couple of days until this blows over and then return or to avoid threads that Ann and Claire start monopolising and just interact with the forum members you get on with.

      Some people trive on drama and on portraying themselves as a “victim” and sometimes by arguing with them, you are just giving them what they want (I know it’s hard to stand back and see them essentially bullying somebody without saying something though. I think sometimes you can do something like commenting to thank Brenda for all the work she has done arranging this or something, to let her know she is valued and make up a little for the hassle she has had to deal with, without putting all the focus on them.)

      Personally, I wouldn’t worry about them getting away with it. They are adults. It’s not my job to teach them how to behave.

      I’m not saying you should never speak up or call people out on poor behaviour, but I’d say it’s generally something best kept for serious things and it seems like Brenda has a pretty good handle on this and the issue is dealt with. I think most people don’t speak up EVERY time they think somebody has behaved badly, only when they either thing it is something very serious (ongoing targetting somebody, racist or sexist behaviour, threatening behaviour, etc) or when it affects them personally or when it seems like the person it’s directed at is upset and needs some support. So I wouldn’t assume that because others aren’t speaking up, they respect Ann and Claire. It’s more likely they just think their behaviour doesn’t reach that level and is more on the “roll eyes and scroll past their nonsense” level.

      1. Hostabilities*

        As someone who used to work on online forums as a moderator, I suggest reaching out to the moderator/organizer if there is one, and outlining how disruptive and unpleasant this behavior is and how it is the sort of thing that makes you want to leave the forum.

        Moderators usually are there to make participants work well together and *want* to increase the reach of the forum so they have a reason to step in. There are lots of things they can do if they want: they can talk to the Broken Stair people privately, they can create rule(s) around meetups, or they can validate Ann and Claire. And if they choose to validate Ann and Claire you know that leaving may be your best choice.

        As Allison would say: you may not know what, if anything, they do since they will need to be discreet and will probably do things behind the scenes. But if enough people comment that X behavior is killing their community (as Allison would say: if enough of you comment as a group, or in this case comment on the same behavior) they will need to act, or accept that Ann and Claire are running the show.

        Good luck, I hope things can work out so the online community can be enjoyable for everyone.

        1. Internet Commenter*

          Thank you both for your kind comments.

          You are right that my problem in this was that I did not pick my battles – I interfered whenever I felt Ann and Claire were acting stupid, and although I think they really were it was possibly too much.

          As I mentioned, the forum has a moderator but a fairly impredictable one – sometimes she reacts immediately, sometimes she ignores a problem for weeks.

          I think I took addressing Ann and Claire on the forum as a sort of training for real life – I have met only a few people like them in reality, but they always left deep unpleasant traces and I had no clue how to deal with them, and I must confess I still don’t. I felt their behaviour as a deep injustice and did not understand how people could interact with them above the bare necessary minimum. The only thing I was able to do to counter that was to avoid them overall (both in real life and now also in the Internet), and I am wondering whether it was indeed the only solution or if there is some other secret of dealing with Annes and Claires of this life.

          1. fposte*

            I’d say the main secret is that you’re not usually in a position to change Anne and Claire and that making it your mission to do so is going to cause more issues for other people in a group. It will also depend on the situation, the rules, etc.–an in-person family reunion is a different calculus than Facebook, and so on.

            In general, I lean toward a weigh in rather than a wade in. A “Wow, that was kind of mean” can be dropped and then you can hide the thread, walk away, whatever, because what you want to avoid is an ongoing public discussion about how That Person Is Totally Wrong/They Are Not. Lean on forum and venue protocols, IOW report to the mod where necessary and appropriate, or make suggestions or requests for discussion guidelines.

            But also be aware that what you might feel like you wanted–several other people chiming in to tell somebody they’re a problem–usually doesn’t end up being good for a group. That revs up everybody’s heart rate and leads to more arguing, and the people who just wanted to have peaceful get-togethers will hit the exit. I support Brenda’s way–she’s doing what she wants, she’s not feeling obliged to respond to or placate ridiculous objections, and she’s therefore not spending time arguing with unreasonable people.

            1. Internet Commenter*

              You are probably right, and I am probably repeating myself but it is difficult for me to see behaviour I hate and do nothing.

              1. fposte*

                I understand that. Maybe you can work on reframing “do nothing” as “prioritize your energy” or something similar? Because usually you’re not changing the behavior you hate, you’re just adding to the negativity for other people and yourself. If you want to take action, you’ll likely have a greater effect by actively engaging in good, community minded behavior in response. So maybe every time you see somebody behaving in a way you don’t like, you say something sincerely (not passive-aggressively) kind to somebody else, or you donate to charity.

                And a bit of a cautionary note. A friend’s elderly mother gets fixated on this kind of thing, and it eats up her life (“But they’ve got to *learn*!”), to the point where her desire to rebuke people a glitch due to her own error fed her into scammers’ hands. (And of course she has subsequently sent the scammers a sternly worded complaint, which is sort of beautiful.)

                1. Despachito*

                  And the reframing is probably what I need, because rationally I know that it is eating me much more than it deserves, but I must resolve it on the emotional level to get rid of it.

      2. Internet Commenter*

        The fun thing is that I virtually never do this (i.e. call out what I perceive as bad behaviour) in real life. Sometimes because I do not really care, sometimes because I am frightened to do so.

    4. Asenath*

      I’d just let it go. Brenda seems to be handling it just fine, and I wouldn’t see it as my place to correct Ann and Claire unless they directed their actions towards me. I’ve walked away from many an internet forum over the years, but things like that just don’t bother me as much as they obviously do you. Sorry, that probably isn’t all that helpful.

    5. KatEnigma*

      Team choose your battles here. Call out discrimination, racism, etc. Issues of importance. Ignore this middle school drama. It’s not your circus…

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I think some of the things you want here are impossible. It’s not possible to change two people’s ways and personalities via internet comments. You imply that there’s a possibility of influencing them: you use words like “reward” and “respect” which are certainly reasons to be reasonable….. for people like you. You suggest that if people “call it out” they’ll avoid their behaviours, because you would… but you know from experience that they will simply escalate and flock to the drama buffet. They don’t see being called out as a reason to stop. That’s because reasons are for reasonable people! Ann and Claire are gonna Ann and Claire no matter what responses they get. People are ignoring the possibility of influencing them, because it’s not possible! You can put down the annotated handbook of how to influence the behaviour of others, because it won’t work here. That means it’s officially not your job. What that leaves you with is a decision of whether the space is well moderated enough for your blood pressure. Possibly it’s fine if you take breaks or mute annoying people. If you leave, just leave quietly without any announcements designed to change people or cause regret. Put your energies into something happy instead.

      1. Internet Commenter*

        This is basically what I did – I left the forum two years ago, that is, I stopped actively contributing but I continue reading it, and I have successfully resisted contributing. When I left, I was tempted to say “I am leaving because of Ann and Claire” but did not do it as it felt somewhat lame to me.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah, I do myself always feel the itch to say something; I consider whether it can get through if I craft it well enough; saying something very brief, unassailably polite and yet assertive. However people like this live for the oxygen of being noticed, even briefly and politely, so I always bail on the idea too.

        2. Julia*

          Oh, I thought all of this happened recently! If it happened two years ago and you’re still carrying it around to the degree of being able to write detailed accounts of what happened in what order, it definitely seems like it’s past time to walk away and stop lurking there. It’s making you angry.

          1. Internet Commenter*

            No, the two years relate to the time when I stopped actively contributing to the forum.

            However, I continue reading it, and the episode I am describing happened the same day I wrote about it, so it is brand new.

    7. Internet Commenter*

      I find the comments of you all very helpful – I see where I was overdoing it, and the large and positive difference for me is that the comments acknowledge I was right in thinking that Ann and Claire were acting stupid – it sugars the pill that I was acting stupid in some way, too :-)

    8. Shiara*

      One thing that can sometimes help with the “must do something” itch is to privately reach out to the person you think is behaving well and graciously, not the people you think are being ridiculous. So a “hey, I just wanted to say how awesome it is you’ve put this meet together and let people know about it while being safety conscious” to Brenda in a private message can help someone feel supported, without actually involving yourself in and potentially escalating the drama.

      Note that I wouldn’t say anything about Anne or Claire at all. It’s quite possible this isn’t affecting Brenda at all the way it would you, and so trying to commiserate, etc could be very out of place.

      Sometimes it can be so easy to want to call out the bad behavior that we neglect to support and encourage the behavior we want to see more of.

  15. A.N O’Nyme*

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

    Not much for me these past two weeks, though I did successfully brainstorm myself out of a jam so that’s good.

    1. Maryn*

      Brainstorming yourself out of a jam is more than simply good–it’s great!

      I realized I’m past the halfway mark of this novel. I have the beginning and the end, but knitting them together with a great middle is si difficult. Every. Single. Time.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I decided to try to go to the library to write. I can’t seem to get my head in gear in this house. It’s usually difficult for me to write in public spaces, but this work has got to get done. I need to pick up a prescription today so I’ll probably pop over there and check out the space. I already called to see if they have free internet and they do.

      It’s right next to the gym and I’m really tempted to go back in to walk on the track, COVID be damned. I HATE not being able to exercise the way I want to. GRRRRR. That actually may be part of the problem.

      1. Cendol*

        I wanted to thank you for your replies on self-publishing in the past two work threads! Thanks for taking the time and giving such detailed responses. I’ve bookmarked your blog and some of the other recommendations.

      2. MBAir*

        Didn’t you go to the movie theaters to see the latest Spiderman when it debuted? (God knows that new Spiderman movies are never debuting to empty seats). And went to a convention?

        A half hour or hour on a treadmill at a gym (that may be sparsely populated and has the high probability that you won’t be next to people) seems like a way lower COVID risk compared to 3 hours in a full movie theater or 2 days at a crowded convention.

        1. No pineapple on pizza*

          Taking a walk outside is an even lower Covid risk, and has the bonus of being completely free.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Walking outside in this neighborhood isn’t great. The street is too short to get up to speed and there are hills going in and out that are actually painful. I prefer outside, but I need something flat because my knees are f*cked.

            I did find my Pilates DVD, though—I thought it was gone forever. Yay!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          *sigh*

          1. I stopped going to the gym during the big waves of COVID and before I was vaccinated. I used the track, not treadmills. Don’t really like that gym, tbh.

          2. I go to the movies during the day when barely anyone is there. If I’m working, I do it on Sunday mornings when everyone’s in church and wait a few days to a week for blockbusters. I have been doing this for years, way before COVID.

          3. Took my chances at the convention because professional development and networking. Caseloads in the area were fortunately low and I did not get sick. It was worth it. If they’d spiked again, I wouldn’t have gone.

    3. Cendol*

      On the professional front things are going surprisingly well! But I’ve made no progress whatsoever on a) my novella, b) my novel, c) these two fanfics I want to finish. I’m being pulled in a dozen different directions with new short story ideas too. I feel like I’m staring at a box of chocolates, unable to pick the one I want to eat first…haha.

    4. Bibliovore*

      I have not written in months. It is actually shocking to write that. I have no excuses except but have been prioritizing work/work when I know blocking out an hour a day for personal writing is the way to go.

    5. My heart is a fish*

      Pretty rough. I’ve got a plot point that hinges on the miserable failure of a relationship conversation, and I’m having the world’s worst time getting the whole scene to flow naturally. Trying to write a character whose personality and conversational style are far off from mine is a real challenge.

  16. The Prettiest Curse*

    Tell me some of your favourite headlines! (Newspaper article, blog post, advice column etc.) Headline writing is a much under-rated art, so I love seeing it done well.

    A few of my favourites:
    Any AAM headline which contains the words “and now there is drama”, because that’s a sign that the letter will be entertaining to read.

    Boris Johnson has been a terrible Prime Minister, but has inspired some great headlines in the tabloids, most recently:
    PM TURNS UP FOR MEETING (this was a shocker because he’s barely making an effort during his last month on the job.)
    Also:
    BLOW FOR BOJO AS BRO JO GO GOES
    (Boris’s brother, Jo – who was a minister in his government – had just resigned.)

    And one Trump-related headline, from the Ayrshire Daily News (Scotland) after the 2020 election:
    SOUTH AYRSHIRE GOLF CLUB OWNER LOSES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      ‘BEES ARE GOOD,’ OBAMA SAYS AS CHILDREN SCREAM

      It’s a Politico article from 2015 about bees interrupting a read-aloud at the White House and I have it bookmarked because I absolutely SOBBED from laughter the first time I saw it.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      The Scottish papers have a good line in them – there’s the famous back page ‘SUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS’, and the Daily Record front page which some of the PhD students in my old job had on their door: I KICKED BLAZING TERRORIST IN BALLS

      1. Feline outerwear catalog*

        I’m reminded of the newseum website has a feature called “Today’s Front Pages” where they show newspaper headlines from different places. I used to go there and compare headlines for the same story. It’s fun to see which ones are more full of hyperbole etc.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      Basically any article about Uranus, you just know the author has been waiting their whole life to write that headline.

    4. Nitpicker*

      I have several:
      From the New York Times: WHEN AN EEL CLIMBS A RAMP TO EAT SQUID FROM A SLAMP, THAT’S A MORAY
      From the 1948 U.S. Presidential Election: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. He didn’t and there’s a wonderful photo of Truman, grinning from ear to ear, holding up the paper.
      From the New York Daily News during the 1975 New York City financial crisis when President Ford said he would not support a bail out: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD
      And, possibly apocryphal, from the New York Post: HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Re your last example: Not apocryphal! See this National Public Radio story: ‘Headless Body In Topless Bar’ Headline Writer Dies, June 9, 2015. Link to follow.

        That headline writer sounded like a real mentsch (Yiddish for “good person”).

    5. WellRed*

      Fun! From an old Woodstock article. “Hippies mired in mud.” From a Boston Hearld article about a big misstep bu unpopular Gov. Jane swift. “Jane erred.”

    6. fposte*

      I very much enjoyed a student newspaper’s headline about education: “Tenure protects teachers despite competence.” Dammit, if you can’t fire a teacher for being competent, what is the world coming to?

    7. ThatGirl*

      I used to be a newspaper copy editor and page designer. Back in the day one night the news came through that Tony Blair was facing a vote of no confidence, so I ran the story simply so I could write the headline “Labour’s love lost”.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I once reworked someone else’s sentence to remove “male member.” Context was a discussion of men and women on staff in a particular business–nothing more, ahem, exciting.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That’s awesome! I love headlines that play on titles, song lyrics or something else well-known, as several other commenters have also posted in this thread.

    8. Kittee*

      Oh thank you for this thread! Here’s one of my favorites of all time, from The Guardian a few months ago:
      “Ordure! Ordure! Canadian MP sorry for logging on to session from toilet stall”

    9. Double A*

      “Petite Fly from a Bright Guy,” an Economist article about a tiny drone. Economist headlines are 80% dad jokes but that was one of my favorites. But of course people writing for the Economist are elder millennials who grew up on 90s rock (the headline is a play on “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”).

    10. Other Duties as Assigned*

      My favorite from the Green Bay Press Gazette in 1991 in a story about how Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was about to set a record for the number of line-item vetoes he was going to use on the state budget. The headline on page one was “Thompson’s pen is a sword.” The space between “pen” and “is” was standard, but it could still be hilariously misread. It’s still famous in journalism lore (it shows up in Google images).

      A few months later, a state official presented the Governor with a sword. In the 30-inch scabbard was a sword with the blade cut down to two and a half inches. The Gov got the joke immediately.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        So it is just funny because they ID’d a famous rugby player by a small seasonal job in fast food, or did anyone else also read it as calling him an ex-fish, who fries chips only for a living? Because either way would be funny!

    11. beach read*

      My all-time favorite headline was on the cover of the Philadelphia Daily News, October 22, 1980. 2 giant words long.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        For those who don’t know, it was “WE WIN!”.

        Context: The Philadelphia Phillies had just won the World Series.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Thanks for clearing this up. I was lost!

          Disclaimer: I live in the midwest, and I don’t follow sports.

      1. allathian*

        Ha! Way to put George Clooney in his place.

        I’m a fan of Richard Lederer’s Anguished English and its sequels. The funny headlines are guaranteed to make you laugh.

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

      My favorite is from tabloid-ish news channel Crónica TV
      “Conductor borracho casi causa una tragedia – Batman, único testigo” which translates to “Drunk driver almost causes a tragedy – Batman, sole witness”.

    13. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      “Amphibious Pitcher Makes Debut”
      cracks me up every time.

      I love a good old-school well-crafted headline, but I don’t have any committed to memory (other than “Headless Body…”). I admire all of you who have these great headlines at the ready!

    14. Irish Teacher*

      Saw a somewhat interesting one today, along the lines of “Many who fought against Collins now advocate his ideals.”

      Collins was killed 100 years ago this weekend, which is the reason for the articles about him. Nobody who fought against him is likely to still be alive. I kinda get what they mean, that most people today would support certain views that were controversial at the time and honestly, by 1930, some of those who fought against him were advocating at least some of what he had (because the Civil War was completely stupid and the difference between the two sides negligible), but…

    15. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      A friend shared one recently that read “Elephant kills woman in India — then returns to trample her corpse at her funeral”.

    16. ecnaseener*

      If you don’t mind some examples from academic papers, there are some fun titles collected on the tumblr blog wtf-scientific-papers.
      “The effect of having Christmas dinner with in-laws on gut microbiota composition”
      “Defibrillate you later, alligator; Q10 scaling and refractoriness keeps alligators from fibrillation”
      “Why don’t zebras have machine guns? Adaptation, selection, and constraints in evolutionary theory”
      “The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Little””

  17. 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 board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying vaguely remembered games.

    I’m almost done with the Saladin campaign in Age of Empires 2, only have one mission to go before moving on to the next one.

    1. Jackalope*

      I managed to finish The Forgotten City and have been playing Fire Emblem Warriors – 3 Hopes. For the first I managed to get two separate endings, including the “canon” ending. For the second, I’m almost halfway through Scarlet Blaze. It’s kind of crazy and not a style of game I’m used to, but I’m still enjoying it.

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        I was and am obsessed with FE3H and am gradually warming up to the idea of Hopes. How does the gameplay compare? I haven’t done musuo (sp?) style games, although I am getting decent at Genshin’s realtime so there may be hope for me.

        1. Jackalope*

          The game play has some definite overlaps, although the style is different. Apparently the Warriors gaming style is killing a ridiculous number of enemies over and over again (hundreds each round, all at once it seems like). It does have a set-up that relates to the first one – the same classes for the most part, for example – but a bit simplified. (I found the simplification to be helpful actually since it laid out exactly how everything progresses in ways that work more easily than in the original.)

          I will say that FEW3H is definitely fan service for those who like FE3H. It’s got most of the same characters (as well as a few new ones; Monica is playable in this one for example), same voice actors, etc. The plot has some similar threads, but it’s something of a “what if” scenario: what if Byleth hadn’t gone to the monastery and things had gone differently? I’m personally enjoying it a lot, but I don’t know that I’d like it if I hadn’t played the first one. If you like the first one I’m guessing you’ll like this one too.

    2. Golden French Fry*

      Just finished Elden Ring last night. So bittersweet, it was my last hurrah before having a baby and thus reducing my gaming time for the foreseeable future. It was the greatest game I’ve ever played, so it was a good sendoff!

      What is everyone’s top 5 (or so) lifetime favorite games? Not necessarily the best from a critical standpoint, but ones important to you for whatever life reason. I think I’d rank Elden Ring, Skyrim, League of Legends, Dwarf Fortress, and Pokemon Sapphire.

      1. Jackalope*

        My top two would definitely be Fire Emblem Three Houses (which I’ve played more than any other game in my life since I love it so much) and Final Fantasy 2/4 (I originally knew it as 2 but somehow it’s also numbered as 4?). Beyond that there isn’t anything else that’s close to those two, but I’d also say Skyrim, Secret of Mana, and, oddly enough, Tetris.

        Just noticed that you said “games” and not “video games”, so a list of non-video games I love too. Pinochle would be at the top (we play it at every family get-together going back generations; I’ve heard stories of family members I never even met because they died before I was born and their playing styles), and now D&D (which I just started playing in the last few years), Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, Taboo… Can’t think of a fifth one off the top of my head that is head and shoulders above the rest so I’ll leave it at that.

      2. Roland*

        Fun question! I’d say – Diablo 2, Sims 2, Jade Empire, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Fable. Other than Sims 2 they’re not necessarily the games I’ve spent the most hours on, but they represent are all some of kind of First or Best or Favorite.

      3. MEH Squared*

        Elden Ring is an amazing game! It’s my second-favorite FromSoft game, which means it’s my second-favorite game of all. Dark Souls III (FromSoft) is my favorite game ever. Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall) is my favorite non-From game with Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus Games) not far behind. Rounding out my top five is Dark Souls, the original. Elden Ring is my GOTY, and it’s not even close.

      4. DarthVelma*

        I have to divide my faves into two eras – I’m an OG gamer from the days of arcades: My old school faves are Galaga, Gorf, Tron, Tempest, and Gyrus. :-)

        For console games: Diablo III and Toejam and Earl spring immediately to mind.

        On PC: Elder Scrolls, Destiny 2, Wolf Among Us, and Tales From the Borderlands. I also really loved Fortnite back before it got too big and they added bots and all the other bullshit.

      5. Finny*

        Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (for DS systems and Switch)
        Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (DS and soon for Switch)
        Okami-den (DS)
        Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch)
        Asha in Monster World (Switch)

    3. Kara Danvers*

      Really excited for Splatoon 3 to come out soon!

      I’ve been playing a lot of Fall Guys :)

    4. LimeRoos*

      Cozy Grove!!! I needed something to hit that Animal Crossing fix without the time suck. It is perfect and wonderful and magical. I really enjoy the pacing of the game, nothing feels urgent which is nice. I love art style and amount of customization for everything, even if it’s just buying a new wig there are hundreds of options (which of course you only see like 10 a day, but they at least exist). The bears’ stories are adorable and I can tell this is going to tug at the heart strings later on. Plus they’re all so weird in the best of ways.

      And of course Diablo still, cuz D2R is awesome.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Cozy Grove is a fantastic game. I got so engrossed in all the stories, and Spry Fox kept adding content. They’re making a sequel, and I could not be more excited for it!

    5. Lucien Nova*

      If you have an iOS device or a Mac, either subscribe to Apple Arcade or have a free trial of it available, and enjoy RPGs, I’m going to recommend Fantasian. I happened to pick this up a couple months back and it is honestly the best mobile game I’ve ever played – bar none – and even better than the great majority of console games I’ve played. It pairs beautifully with a controller too, if you don’t care for touch controls; I’ve synced my PS4 controller to my phone and both control schemes seem utterly flawless.

      (I may be recommending this game to everyone. :D I just love it That Much.)

    6. Alex (they/them)*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Spiritfarer later! It’s very cute and will make you cry.

  18. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! What is everyone reading? Any recommendations for books, or recommendation requests?

    I’m still making my way through The House of the Spirits. It was a tricky week and so I didn’t have as much time and mental space for reading, but I’m enjoying it so far.

    1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      I’ve been reading a lot on the kindle recently, but popped into a charity shop last week to pick up done physical books for holiday. We leave on Saturday (next week) – I have almost finished one of the three books!

      It’s ‘the Illusionists’ by Rosie Thomas (I think) and I’m really enjoying it. Set in a theatre in London in the 1800s. Going to look out for more of hers.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I haven’t had the headspace to progress with any of the books in my comment last week, so naturally, I bought another book – Free by Lea Ypi, about growing up in communist Albania. I heard good things about it, and when I saw it in a charity shop window for only £3, I took it as a sign (also, I needed to reward myself after a mildly upsetting doctor visit which was the reason I haven’t focused much on reading this week).

      Looking forward to your final take on The House of the Spirits when you reach the end!

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading the next book in Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series, The King of Shadows. I love the series, but there’s often three years in between each book being published, which makes it hard to remember what happened in the last book.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I read two from Alison’s recs.

      The Golden Couple, about two people and the counselor they see to try and repair their marriage after infidelity. Schemes and secrets and plots wiggling in all directions, and figuring out what’s a threat, what’s a coincidence, what’s something else, was really fun. Like Dava Shastri’s Last Day, not my usual thing but I enjoyed it.

      Hench in which a data entry henchperson takes on the world of superheroes. If anyone’s watched The Boys, very similar vibe. Or, if it bugs you when the hero is too “noble” to shoot the villain, but mowed through 200 mooks and bystanders to reach the villain, this could be for you.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I really enjoyed Hench (though it definitely has its grim parts). I hear there’s a sequel coming out, and will definitely be getting that!

        1. Ampersand*

          So happy to hear there’s a sequel in the works! I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

      2. PhyllisB*

        This isn’t about reading per say, but does anybody else hate that book titles aren’t copyrighted? Using example in the above comment, I read a book titled The Golden Couple a number of years ago, but it’s not the one mentioned in this comment. (I don’t know the author of the one mentioned here, but the one I read is by Elin Hildebrand. If you like women’s fiction, it’s really good!!) Last year I saw three books titled Dashing Through the Snow. All entirely different styles of books. If I didn’t have my Goodreads lists to refer back to, I would miss books I want to read, thinking I’d read them already.

        1. Roland*

          I get the annoyance over authors choosing names that aren’t unique but I am SO glad they are able to do so because the alternative is even MORE copyright over totally everyday things and we have enough stupid copyrights already. Like, “dashing through the snow” is a line from Jingle Bells, I definitely don’t want some author to legally monopolize it. If authors lose readers because readers can’t tell them apart from the Christmas romances, so be it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My sequel is titled Confluence, which is the name of several books and a PM software. It actually has meaning related to the book—two rivers, two worlds, and two [no spoilies]. Titles are tough for me; I don’t want to change it and I don’t want to pay a royalty fee to use a common word.

            It’s not a good idea anyway. Look at Monster Cable. They sued everyone who wanted to use the word “monster” for anything and now they appear to be out of business.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I’m pretty sure if all books had to have unique titles, we’d have to resort to absolute gibberish or paragraph length titles. There are a lot of new books every year.

          But yeah, you really have to include the author for some book recs.

    5. WellRed*

      Having recently watched fictional series about both Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes, I’m eye interested in Alison’s recommendation. Otherwise, I’ve struggled lately to find anything absorbing.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress, as usual, including:

      EVERFAIR by Nisi Shawl, a multi-viewpoint look at an alternate-history/steampunk version of the settlement of the Congo during the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium. The real-world history of that period featured appalling cruelty, some of which appears in the novel, but in the book there’s a much more hopeful community that winds up with the technology to fight back.

      CLASSIC MONSTERS UNLEASHED, a horror anthology themed on the classic monsters of film, with some intriguing re-imaginings of characters from the Wolfman to Dracula to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Some are deliciously nightmarish, and some are extremely funny – good mix here! (One story examines the wolfman story from the viewpoint of the ancient and wise Maleva – with a very dark twist…)

      HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK by Sequoia Nagamatsu, a science-fiction tale told from different viewpoints and over a long stretch of time, dealing with the effects of a global plague that originated from the thawing permafrost and a 30,000-year-old burial. It’s an often-heartwrenching tale, as most of the victims are children early on, and the effects are so horrifying that people take near-unthinkable steps – terrifying yet sympathetic. The story also includes massive technological struggles, to keep the victims alive, to find a cure – and to send spaceships out into the galaxy in hopes of finding habitable planets, in case the plague can’t be stopped.

    7. Paris Geller*

      I’m currently reading One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose. A group of four women who are definitely “frenemies” in a very rich neighbor deal with backstabbing, etc. (and I assume someone is killed based on the title, but the blurb doesn’t say and I’m not that far in it yet). So far I’m enjoying it!

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m reading “Mexican Gothic” and it’s great! I brought it camping and reading all these descriptions of creepy mushrooms while out in the woods made it extra spooky lol

      1. Bluebell*

        I loved Mexican Gothic, though for about a week or two afterwards, I thought twice when I cooked mushroom dishes!

    9. Jay*

      Just finished Lauren Groff’s “Matrix” and found it deeply absorbing and affecting, although I’m not at all sure I really understood it.

      Now trying to decide what to start next and leaning towards “The Kaiju Preservation Society” by John Scalzi because I’m isolating with COVID and while I’m not particularly ill, I’m also not in the mood for Serious Reading.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Kaiju is very light and easy reading. I think I finished it in a day and was actually a little disappointed at how easy a read it was (which is hilarious because I also wanted something that was easy on the brain.)

      2. slowlyaging*

        Jana Deleon just added a new book to her series Miss Fortune. I know if I read it, I will probably go back and read all the other 22 books. At least, this is what I do almost every single time, I read a new book from a series.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I have Kaiju but I haven’t started it yet. Let us know what you think. And feel better soon.

      4. Cpt Morgan*

        I LOVED Kaiju Preservation Society. It’s exactly what you’d think it’d be from the title of the movie: there are giant monsters, and explosions, and science, and snark! It’s not a literary great, but it’s also not trying to be. I think of it like my favorite superhero movie. Deadpool’s not winning an Academy Award, but hell if I don’t love it all the same.

    10. I take tea*

      I reread some Anne of Green Gables and tried to find The Blythes Are Quoted online. I didn’t succeed (except Kindle, which doesn’t always work where I live), but I found a new collection of L. M. Montgomery’s short stories on Scribd. It’s called After Many Years, and they are relatively newly discovered, which means they are not in the collections on Gutenberg.org, which I have read several times. To find new stories from an author I thought I had read almost everything by was a treat. The themes are familiar, of course, but she always have new twists on them.

    11. Bluebell*

      I finished Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow this week and thought it was great, even though I never play video games. Several months ago I tried to read The Start Up Wife but lost interest. I’m about halfway through Nate Anderson’s In Case of Emergency, Break Glass, which is nonfiction and deals with how to apply Nietzsche’s philosophy today. It’s good!

    12. RosyGlasses*

      I’m partway through “Rebel with a Clause” – a grammar nerd’s delightful journey across the U.S. putting out a Grammar Table and meeting lots of interesting people with grammar questions. The author has studied 25 languages FOR FUN. Plus, I’m learning fun things about grammar rules that I didn’t know before.

      Just started “The Ministry for the Future” which is nonfiction science fiction. On Barack Obama’s must-read list, and making me depressed about the state of our climate crisis. But engaging writing style so far.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Sooooooo I went to pick up a prescription and check out the library (see writing thread above) and I caved and got a card and checked out Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song (super rabies rage virus epidemic apocalyptic fiction) pursuant to my resolve to read more and I can’t put it down. Rabies and pneumonic plague scare me way more than stupid COVID. I’ve been wanting to check out Tremblay’s work and this is a fun one.

      I didn’t want to get a card here, but I figured if I went ahead and did it, the universe would open a path out of the area and then the card would be useless, because that’s usually the way things go, lol.

      Still working my way through Elie Mystal’s and Malcolm Nance’s books. I usually have more than one going.

    14. Ampersand*

      I’m reading Dean Koontz’s new book The Big Dark Sky. I haven’t read any of his other books and chose this one on a whim. I like the story but some of his writing is driving.me.bonkers. He writes the longest sentences–he’s rivaling Dickens at times! Overall, I find his sentence structures somewhat questionable, and it’s distracting me from the story in places. Since this is his only book I’ve read I don’t know if this is typical of his writing or not. If anyone has opinions on Koontz’s writing please feel free to share!

    15. Rara Avis*

      A YA fantasy called An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir) … and counting the hours until Laurie King’s new book, Back to the Gatden, is released (9/6).

    16. Josie*

      I just finished “The Boys”, which Alison recommended last weekend. Wow. It was surprising and good. It was all she promised.

    17. Searching*

      I just finished The Sharp End of Life by Dierdre Wolownick. She is the mother of Alex Honnold, the climber featured in the documentary Free Solo. In that film, he talked some about his family and how he never learned to hug as a kid, and alluded to some other family things that seemed odd to me. Reading Dierdre’s book, I learned more about the dysfunctional family dynamics in her own family growing up, as well as in the family she and her husband created (in which Alex and his sister grew up). Reading that gave me a little more insight into how Alex turned out the way he did. Interwoven in that story is Dierdre’s evolution and personal development later in life, in her 50s. I could relate to it at some level, because like her, I started running and climbing in my 50s. Of course she took it to much higher levels (literally and figuratively) than I did. But a lot of the experiences and feelings she described were very relatable. Really enjoyed Dierdre’s auto-biography!

      As an aside, I finally feel like I’ve fully emerged from the politics- and pandemic-induced mental fog of several years where I couldn’t really concentrate on books. I’m now back to actually reading & finishing many books again, and it feels great!

    18. OxfordBlue*

      One of my favourite writers on Kindle released a new book a couple of days ago so I’ve been completely immersed in that. It’s Dance of Redemption by Sarah Waldock which is the latest in a series she writes which are based in 17th century Poland and Ukraine. Definitely worth reading especially if you have Kindle Unlimited as all her books are included in that package too.

  19. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Baking thread:

    What’s everyone making this weekend? I’m thinking of doing Paul Hollywood’s whole wheat sandwich loaf and Nigella Lawson’s chocolate olive oil cake with homemade whip cream.

    1. mreasy*

      Not this weekend but soon – just saw Max Miller make bierocks on Tasting History and I want to invent a veg version with mushrooms.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I only recently discovered Tasting History and I’m enjoying it very much. I especially enjoyed his insights from being cruise staff into the Titanic experience.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love Max Miller! His video on Victoria sandwiches made me want to whip up some of those.

    2. CTT*

      I risked it and bought bananas this week, and of course they over-ripened immediately with the heat, so banana bread muffins ahoy!

    3. Meh*

      Biscuit (American) recipe recs?
      My go-to is BA’s Best Buttermillk biscuits but I remember a long ago discussion that there were some other contenders. My requirements are fluffy and buttery :)

      1. PhyllisB*

        My favorite for years was Mary B’s Buttermilk Biscuits, but I saw a biscuit tasting on Facebook, and the winner of that one was Pillsbury’s Grands Buttermilk. The ones in the bag, not the tube. I tried them, and have to admit they were better.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Sorry, after I hit send I realized that you were asking for recipes, not prepared products. Sorry. Oh well,if you want a good biscuit without making from scratch,you have two good choices to try. :-)

          1. tessa*

            Not directed at me, but thanks for your post about the Pillsbury biscuits in a bag, PhyllisB; will check them out!

      2. merp*

        this is going to sound unlikely but the 2-ingredient never-fail biscuits from king arthur are honestly amazing, and take no work. equal weights self-rising flour and heavy cream, cut edges to help them rise, brush cream on the top. bake for (I think?) 10-15 mins at 375? might want to look that part up to make sure. but they are salty and buttery and fluffy and delicious.

      3. Books and Cooks*

        The recipe on the White Lily flour bag is pretty good, and I’ve got a good one I can write out if you’re interested. Both call for shortening, but you can use butter instead to make them more buttery. (I use a mixture of butter and lard, and sometimes throw in a little bacon fat, too.)

        Fluffiness is to a good degree dependent on handling. If you overknead or mix or handle them too much, they tend to be less fluffy, IME anyway. And they ride better (and are thus fluffier) if you set them on the baking sheet with their sides just barely touching. (It also helps to sift the ingredients together rather than stir.)

      4. Vanellope*

        I had a coworker send me the “Ridiculously easy buttermilk biscuits” recipe from the Cafe Sucre Farine blog, and I haven’t looked back. They do a sort of reverse butter mix method – you melt the butter and mix it into cold buttermilk, rather than cutting cold butter into flour. SO much easier, and they come out fantastic!

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      It’s August, so zucchini bread! My dear husband thought our zucchini plant looked lonely this past spring, so he popped in a few extras. We are now up to our eyeballs in zucchini! Thankfully, zucchini bread, cookies, fritters, soup, casseroles, etc all freeze well!

    5. PhyllisB*

      I made a banana cream pie yesterday for my son’s birthday. (My family generally asks for pies or cheesecake instead of cake.) It turned out really well. In fact, I think it’s the best one I’ve made in years.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve dived back into my gluten free books and yesterday made corn and gf flour soft taco tortillas. They were tricky to handle and a bugger to roll out but they were super tasty and quick. The rolling out issues meant they were disappointingly small and although flexible (which is a huge deal for gf wraps), the size meant they were not great for wrapping. The recipe really called for masa harina corn, which I didn’t have, I only had medium ground corn flour (the yellow flour not the white cornflour starch) but the blogger said she’d successfully subbed the masa harina with ground corn so I went ahead with it. The other tortilla recipes in the book are for all corn tortillas (just masa harina) or for tortillas made with gf flour and extra tapioca starch. So I may go ahead and buy the mass harina and tapioca and try again.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just made Maida Heatter’s sour cherry chocolate torte. It’s from her book of Great Chocolate Desserts. I’ve never had a fail from that book
      YUM

    8. Books and Cooks*

      The new (slightly) cooler weather is putting me in a Fall Baking mood, so I made a batch of chocolate orange cupcakes yesterday, and put black-and-orange sprinkles on top.

      Next week I might make a batch of pumpkin muffins. From this point on, it’s all “I make these every year” baking, leading up to the big December Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

    9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I made a gravel cake. It’s adapted from a pie recipe I found in a Mennonite cookbook several years ago. It’s basically all streusel, held together with sour cream, not too sweet. I layered it with apples and currants, and made a vanilla sauce to serve over it. I am so ready for fall foods!

    10. GoryDetails*

      A friend of mine told me she’s signed up for a multi-day baking course at King Arthur Flour’s Norwich VT location – she’s been a customer of their products for years (and got me hooked on them as well) and when she heard about the course she dropped everything else to sign up. (And promised to share samples when she gets home!)

    11. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      Sultana cake! Made it yesterday after meaning to get around to it all week, and it’s delicious!

      I find my flour gets weevils really quickly so I might also do some cupcakes with what’s left.

      1. Engineer Gal*

        Try putting your flour in the freezer for 24-48 hrs when you bring it home-started doing this when we had meal moths years ago and have never had any since

    12. Lucien Nova*

      I made a chocolate and coffee flavoured cake with dark chocolate frosting for my parents’ 40th anniversary/taking to church fellowship today.

      It’s already over half gone. :)

    13. Random Biter*

      My boss was saying last week that he wanted to order a tres leches cake. Kind of surprised me because at my house tres leches is a not-a-big-deal-to-make cake. So I may do one this week and act like it was a huge big deal to bake :))

  20. Red Sky*

    Ugh, menopause, specifically hot flashes. How do you deal with them? Some days I’m getting them about every 2 hrs, which literally feels like I’m in hell when it’s 105 F. I’ve got a dr appt with my gynecologist, but it’s 2 months out and I just can’t anymore. Anyone take medication/hrt for them and how has it helped?

    Also, did you see an endocrinologist or ob/gyn? I feel like my ob/gyn is mostly focused on babies, nothing wrong with that, just not where I’m at, and maybe seeing an endo would make more sense?

      1. Red Sky*

        Thanks! And unfortuantely it looks like my PC is also booked all the way out to Nov. I’m assuming covid burnout and staffing issues is the reason because it wasn’t like this until 2022

    1. KatEnigma*

      Try to find an ob/gyn who specializes in not delivering babies.

      In the meantime, my mom refused all prescriptions and tried the whole plant estrogen route – aka she ate a lot of tofu.

      1. Red Sky*

        That’s so interesting, has she said if it helped? I do already eat a lot of soy due to dietary restrictions

        1. KatEnigma*

          It must have helped enough that she never did move to hormone replacement. Things like that I always figure at least won’t harm you and might give you some relief until you can get in to a doctor.

          Another thought is will either of your doctors see you via telehealth sooner? Hormone replacement isn’t one of those drugs where it would be dangerous to prescribe without seeing you in person.

          1. Red Sky*

            Unfortunately, in-person vs video appt doesn’t make a difference in appt availability. I am on the waiting list if anyone cancels tho

    2. I'm Done*

      You should be able to get an HRT prescription from your general practitioner, at least for the interim. I’ve been on HRT for the last six years and love it. Not a hot flash in sight. Also really helped with my irritability. I use an estrogen patch and take progesterone.

    3. fposte*

      I think I got my HRT initially through an OB/GYN. I agree that somebody less obstetrically focused is preferable but they may be hard to come by. It worked great; I had no issues with anything but hot flashes about every 20 minutes and it took care of them.

      There’s a risk/reward metric with HRT dependent on a few different things, like age of onset, duration of therapy, etc. I went off it a couple of years ago after maybe 7 years. My symptoms have definitely decreased since the onset of menopause. I regret to say that they are hugely dietarily influenced by things I really enjoy. Caffeine, sugars (I used maple syrup on oatmeal for a week’s breakfast this spring and that was enough to kick symptoms up again), etc. affect it a lot for me. I’m okay with making a tradeoff at this point, since the symptoms are milder, but it may be a direction you want to explore if you have to wait a while for an appointment.

      (Can you message your PCP or OB/GYN and ask about an HRT script if they already know you’re menopausal? My PCP will do some prescriptions for me sight unseen because I’m already on the docket for the future and she’s seen me in the past.)

      1. tomato*

        can you say more about the dietary influence: sugars, etc? I’m off HRT after 5 years (that’s the recommendation where I live). I wake up nearly every night at 4 am very warm, and can’t manage to get back to sleep till 6. Very disruptive. I know about the phytoestrogens in tofu, but am interested in the sugar connection. I think I was being helped as much by the progesterone as the estrogen.

        1. fposte*

          I have no idea what the science behind it is, and I love sugar so this isn’t coming from somebody particularly kale-centric. But I noticed whenever I had a Crohn’s or SIBO flare and couldn’t eat sweet stuff (sob) my flashes would start to die down, and they’d stay that way until I resumed my more enjoyable diet. Complex carbs may factor in there a little but not nearly as much, since I eat a lot of pasta and bagels when the gut is acting up. For me it takes at least a week to see the effects from swerving the stuff. You could experiment and see whether it does anything for you.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sugars did it for me, too. Cane sugar is the worst for me. But too much natural sugar can also bring some problems. And it’s not just hot flashes, it’s also other discomforts, such as headaches and body aches.
          When I gave up synthetic sugars I got rid of most of my panic attacks. Getting rid of gluten helped with vertigo and in turn also took away more panic attacks that came with the vertigo.

          I am sure google will help you find some long winded explanation. But at that time, I needed help right away and did not have bandwidth to research it. Once I saw it was working, I really felt I had no need to research it. So that’s my excuse for not having a good explanation.

          1. Imtheone*

            I don’t consume any sugar and few carbs. Still have hot flashes, but fewer since being on HRT.

            A cool pillow helps. And a fan. When I was staying in a no AC apartment, I opened the freezer to help. They say cooling your head helps a lot.

            Summers are much worse than winters.

      2. OBMD*

        Please do not call your OB/Gyn and ask for a prescription for HRT. There are several different prescription options for menopausal symptoms (both hormonal and non-hormonal). Each has its own risks, benefits, and side effects. Which is best for you would depend on your age, symptoms, current medical problems, and current medications. I would never give a prescription without a discussion with my patient and a review of their chart. Good luck to you.

        1. fposte*

          I understand what you’re saying about wanting to counsel a patient in person. But I’ll also say YMMV. My long-term OB/GYN and PCP are perfectly capable of saying that’s something they need to see me in person for if they want, and there are lots of things they’re okay with doing without making me wait the 6-8 months for an appointment. So I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask and hear what they say.

      3. Red Sky*

        Thanks for the insight, I wouldn’t have thought about diet being a factor. I’m on a pretty restricted diet already due to various food intolerances. No dairy, gluten, palm products (which is in everything) and a few others. I mostly eat rice, beans, eggs, and veg. Sugar is def my weakness and one of the few treats I can still have. I’ll have to pay more attention to see if treat days show an increase in flashes.

    4. WellRed*

      Do hot flashes really come on like a flash, like us it really obvious? I’m sure it varies by woman but I’m curious. I’ve had night sweats (which I’ve had on and off since early 30s) but no other symptoms that I’m aware of so following this thread.

      1. Tib*

        My first hot flash was a full experience and I could feel it moving through my body; almost like water moves through a wicking paper. After that, yes, one minute I’m fine and the next I’m sweating or just very hot. Some of mine are tied to anxiety but others are random.

      2. Red Sky*

        Yes, hot flashes feel like a wave of lava washing over you, almost like you have a super heated core that’s spreading outward and very different from night sweats (I’ve had both). My hot flashes seem to be concentrated in my face/head and chest area but really my whole body gets hot. They last a few minutes so it’s not that bad if you only have 1 a day (like my mil) but every hour, or so, is driving me crazy.

      3. Quandong*

        Yes, for me they were instantaneous and I could feel the temperature change moving as it happened. It was so fast I couldn’t change clothing fast enough.

        I never had night sweats though so it really varies by person.

      4. anonForThis*

        Yes. It’s like everything is fine, and then I was way too hot and needed to throw off blankets and so on. It almost felt like I was going to die if I didn’t get cooler quickly (this turned out not to be true). I was fortunate because it usually only happened when I was sitting with my legs horizontal on the couch or when I was in bed, so during the work day, etc., I was OK. When it started, I thought I had a fever.

      5. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, I started with night sweats in my 30s also. Once I got my diet changed that slowed waay down and once my cycle stopped the night sweats stopped.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      I got the FeelGood sleepwear from vermont country store, and I’m delighted with them. Now if they just made similar for bedsheets and regular wear…

    6. Jackalope*

      Have you read The Menopause Manifesto by Jennifer Gunter? She’s an ob/gyn who wrote an entire book about menopause, and I found it super helpful. I’m not quite there yet so I don’t remember all of the specifics, but she talked about the overall picture of what’s going on with menopause in general, and then broke it down into common symptoms and solutions. Obviously that’s not the same as seeing your doctor, but I remember that she did have nonmedical solutions for various symptoms and she talked about hot flashes a lot. If nothing else maybe it would give you some things to try while you’re waiting for an appointment.

      1. Red Sky*

        Thanks for reminding me, I actually have this in my ereader! Totally forgot all about it (another lovely symptom) since I picked it up on sale early this year

      2. CrankyIsta*

        One thing Dr Gunter mentions is that the actual length of time a heat flash takes isn’t that long–maybe two minutes. I can’t do HRT, but knowing there’s an end to each one and it’s not unending, does help me mentally. (Plus having a fan at my desk and at home and wearing layers!)

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Have you tried raspberry leaf tea? A cup or two a day really brought all my symptoms way down. I usually had it iced, for obvious reasons!

      1. I take tea*

        Interesting. A friend of mine swears by sage tea. She says that she got through menopause on that. Worth a try, I think. At least it shouldn’t do any harm.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I love sage tea too. The thing to know about sage is that it is very strong medicinally and can interact with other medications and herbs. So please be careful with sage!

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      Any OBGYN really ought to be able to manage menopause. It’s a basic part of their practice and they won’t forget how to do it even if they were out all night on call catching babies. If you can get in to your OBGYN more quickly than your PCP, go for it. Hot flashes suck.

      1. Red Sky*

        Thanks, your totally right. I think my anxiety surrounding my other health issues has bled over into this new menopause thing and I’m approaching it like it’s some mystery and will take a bunch of frustrating visits to various doctors and specialists to figure out (if they even can) like all my other health problems. When in reality, that’s not at all what’s going on right now with this particular situation. Is medical related ptsd a thing? Thanks for the reality check lol

    9. Formerly in HR*

      If you are willing to, please also consider seeing an acupuncturist. I managed to keep my symptoms in control for about 7 years now this way, with 4-6 weeks tune-up sessions. Got rid of the night sweats and the full body read heat. I cannstill feel heat in the face some times, for me I was able to correlate thenflares more with stress and anger, the replies made me think I should also look at food intake.

    10. Girasol*

      Try chugging an icy drink in tiny, non-stop gulps until you get brain freeze. A fan blowing right on you at night helps. Some folks recommend a Chillow: a water filled pillow that serves as a night time heat sink for your head.

    11. Recomenopause*

      Once you are able to talk to a doc, ask about Gabapentin. It has worked very well for me for several years.

  21. Red Sky*

    I’m trying to be more mindful about food waste, what are your tips for cutting down on kitchen/food waste?

    I freeze any small amounts of leftover sauces in an ice cube tray then store in ziploc bag in the freezer. They make great flavor bombs for soups; leftover enchilada sauce turns plain chicken broth into a great base for Mexican tortilla soup, spaghetti and pesto sauce gets added to minestrone, stir-fry sauce gets added to miso or broth for ramen base.

    1. I take tea*

      You can eat the cauliflower leaves as well as the stem. Just remove the hardest outer part. Same with broccoli. So wasteful to throw it all away. Red beet leaves are delicious, if you happen upon them.

      Make bread pudding of old bread, or just soak it in broth. Freeze brown banana and bake with it or mix with frozen strawberries.

      A lot of leftovers can become warm sandwiches. Put a tasty cheese on top and bake until crispy.