weekend open thread – September 3-4, 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: Peter Darling, by Austin Chant. A transgender re-telling of Peter Pan, in which Peter returns to Neverland as an adult and forges a surprising connection with Hook.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,014 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      More fun than the vet — he went on a trip to my mom’s for the afternoon! He did not enjoy the car ride. But once we got home, he became obsessed with the carrier and hung out in it for the next several days.

      1. Doctor is In*

        We had a cat like that. Once a friend had to take him to the vet while we were away. She was worried how to get him in the carrier. Forgot to tell her you just set it down and he runs right in.

        1. Anonosaurus*

          i wish my cat took this approach. it is always painful for both of us when she has to go to the vet. I leave the carrier out all the time and she will nap in it but when she realises mummy wants her to go into it – no chance!!

          1. Kittee*

            Pill pockets. That’s how we got our cat into the carrier. Also, this picture reminds me of when I house sat a couple of cats. They had never met me before and were very leery of me for a day or so. At the end of the visit, though, they were sitting in my suitcase, refusing to let me pack.

          2. Hotdog not dog*

            This was my cat. Nothing going on, carrier is a cozy hangout. Vet appointment scheduled? Not touching it with a ten foot pole!

            1. Clisby*

              My son figured out how to get our cat into the carrier by covering his eyes. The cat’s eyes, not my son’s eyes. I guess it disoriented him enough that he didn’t resist until it was too late.

          3. Becky S.*

            I got lucky ONE TIME, helping a friend with her cat – I put her in backwards (the cat, not the friend). She didn’t see what was coming and was quite surprised. After that, she hid when I came in the house. :-}

          4. Random Bystander*

            I have one cat who will just walk right in when she sees the carrier.

            Two of them, I have to burrito in a towel and use an assistant to drop the cat into the carrier (I have to have it vertical and put them in tail-end first).

            The others are somewhere in between. Occasionally, I can catch them napping, and sneak get them into the carrier before they fully wake. The first five go in January/early February, then there are two who go in the fall.

            In January, I take two cats for annual visits one week, and two cats the next week, and then again the next week after that. (Weeks 2 and 3, there is one cat who goes back each time, he has to get his shots separated by time to prevent a really distressing reaction). Week 1 is the week I take the two most difficult cats. One year, I had taken the first two with only a small loss of blood, as the cats manage to turn into all pointy bits. The next week, I get the carriers out and difficult cat #1 was sleeping on my desk and difficult cat #2 was on my couch–they both woke up, saw the carriers, and ran off to hide under beds. You could almost hear them saying “Nope!” as they ran.

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I had a cat who loved his carrier so much that he would pull at a closed carrier door until I opened it to let him in. It helped that he often got treats in a carrier when he was young in order to get him used to them.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Someone I used to know fed her cats snacks in it so they got used to thinking of it as a reason for a treat. Funniest way to beg!!

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I live in a very cycling-friendly city. Last time I took my dog to the vet, I saw someone load their Persian cat into a cat carrier backpack, put the backpack on, get on their bike and leave. The cat didn’t look entirely thrilled with the situation, but that may just have been Persian resting cranky-face…

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I once saw a shirtless man riding a bike down the street with a cat draped casually over his shoulders!!! Really did a double take – at first I thought it was a scarf or something but no, it was a real live cat who seemed perfectly content with the situation.

      1. Happily Retired*

        There’s a guy in my neighborhood who takes his cat for walks on a leash. Bonus is that the guy wears a kilt while doing so. (We’re not in Scotland.)

        I love my hundred-year-old city neighborhood!

  1. northern kale*

    That book sounds great! Intriguing premise.

    I wanted to ask: do you give tours of your house when guests visit you for the first time? I don’t mean people who are staying overnight with you (obviously they need to know where everything is) but just people coming over for dinner or an evening. When my husband and I bought our first house we were excited and gave tours when friends and family visited us because everyone wanted to see the place we bought. It’s been about 18 months…..it’s weird to still be giving these tours, right? My husband and I were debating this, he thinks it’s polite to show people around when they come over for the first time. I think it can read like we’re showing off (the house is big) and no one needs to see all the bedrooms or all the bathrooms and we should stop doing it. Is this regional?

    1. House Tour Junkie*

      It’s easier to find a balance if it’s not a one-story house. My friends had an unusual and large house. They would show the living room (which was amazing) and other “public” rooms on the first floor, but not offer tours of the second floor, where the bedrooms were.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I often do, but I take a lot of pride in decorating plus have often lived in smaller places where a everything is close. I think an abbreviated house tour works well — just recently I showed my friend the main living areas, pointed out where the guest bathroom was, and vaguely waved at “and some bedrooms down that way” but didn’t walk them back. I think it’s a good compromise. I enjoy seeing people’s houses, but I don’t need to see people’s bedrooms. That’s personal.

      There isn’t a simple answer. I would never ask for a tour of someone’s house if they don’t offer, so you could have a guest who is dying for a tour but won’t ask. And yet I also don’t assume everyone wants to see my house so offering doesn’t feel always like the right answer either. I try to read the person case-by-case.

    3. Jackalope*

      I don’t necessarily give tours (although I enjoy giving them!), but I’m always happy to if I think people want one. And this may be just me, but I love seeing the inside of people’s houses. It’s so much fun for me to see all of the nooks and crannies and how people use their space in different ways. When we were in the process of buying a house I hated much of the process but loved getting to go through different houses and see what they were like inside. So count me as a vote for offering a full tour.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If it’s a new house, or they are family, then yes.
      I think your instincts are telling you the new has worn off.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, I think this is it. For friends I actually love, I want to see their whole house with them the first time they buy it. But I’ve kind of been on the journey with them the entire time – open houses, declined offers, etc (and in some cases I’ve toured houses they’re interested in with them! Not sure how common that is but I’m a millennial in a tight friend group). So of course I’m interested in every detail. If I’m just visiting someone I don’t know super well for dinner, I wouldn’t expect or be particularly interested in a general tour.

    5. Madame Arcati*

      I currently give tours for first time guests but I bought this house less than a year ago, so it’s still “my new house that I upgraded from a flat look I have a back garden and a utility room now it is so exciting!” After a year or so since purchase, I’ll stop. This also is only for people who I know are interested in such things and who have come to visit, at least in part, to see my new palace!

    6. Sasha*

      It’s definitely regional – not really a thing where I live, but I know other people elsewhere in the country who 100% expect a full tour like they are considering buying the place.

      A middle ground might be to point out the living room, kitchen and guest bathroom, but more in a “you’ll need to know this” way, rather than a “welcome to my beautiful home” way. Then people who want to see can see, and you avoid the impression of showing off.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True, keep in mind someone can always *ask* for a tour if they’re super interested (which I would dread because unless I’m having house guests, I probably didn’t manage to get every area showroom-clean!!)

        1. Jackalope*

          That’s fine in theory, but I would have a really hard time asking for a full tour like that. It would be really easy to make the person the home belongs to feel like they had to even if they didn’t want to. For the most part I would prefer that it be an offer from the person whose house it is rather than a request from me.

          1. Sloanicota*

            It’s kinda the same thing in reverse from the guest’s side … if the host says “do you want a tour?” it seems awkward to say no even though I’m probably not very interested.

            1. Banana*

              You can express interest in a specific public area and kind of deflect the whole-house tour that way. Like “I’ve heard a lot about your kitchen and I’m dying to see it, show me the way!” Or “I’m most interested in the direction of your bathroom, I shouldn’t have brought that much iced tea for the ride over!”

      2. Middle Aged Lady*

        Where I am from, you show public rooms to first-time guests you don’t know well. People who are good friends get the full house tour, down to the closets, which we called ‘the cook’s tour’ for some reason.

    7. KeinName*

      I‘m in Europe so this is not useful for you – but I give everyone the tour who visits my flat for the first time, even random hook-ups :) I have a flat where you can see every room from the hallway, but I take them through anyway. I think it makes people comfortable.

    8. Asenath*

      This might be regional. I’d never heard of it for a private home (as opposed to an historic building) until fairly recently. Obviously, you’d point out where the toilet was, especially if asked, and pointed to the kitchen (which is where much of the party would take place anyway) as well as the living/dining areas. Bedrooms were strictly private, although sometime used for coat storage that overflowed the entry – and even then, some hosts would say “Let me take your coat” and vanish with it. Now, if there was something special – say, a major renovation had taken place, or a new house purchased, the guests might ask about and be shown some of the features, but even then the whole house wouldn’t be toured. I remember once being shown a lovely new kitchen/dining/ living area – but much of the reno was passed off with a mere mention along the lines of “We re-did the basement and put the spare bedrooms and X’s office down there, but we moved our master bedroom to the main floor.”

    9. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I love getting house tours, and love giving them even in my dinky 1 bed flat. I’m from NZ, FWIW.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m less interested in the house and more interested in the stuff in it, if that makes sense? As long as I know where the bathroom is I don’t care how it’s decorated or whatever, but that curio cabinet in the corner of the living room with your favorite knickknacks on display, I want you to excitedly tell me more about those, and if you happen to glance into my office at my house and want to know about the droids or the wall hangings or why do I have eight Sorcerer Mickey pops over there on that shelf, I will happily tell you about my stuff until your eyes glaze over and you ask me to stop. Because I’ve got some cool stuff. :)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Our “new” neighbors recently invited us over for the first time (they moved in the summer of 2020, so all our socializing was previously outdoors). We were very familiar with the house itself as we’ve lived here almost 30 years and at one point that house was owned by one of my husband’s relatives, but their adult daughter is a very talented artist and her work is proudly displayed all over their house. If they hadn’t offered a tour, I’d have begged for one!

      2. Clumsy Ninja*

        Red Reader the Adulting Fairy – I can’t see your home office, but I’d love to hear about the droids. And what are the wall hangings? And while I know what Sorcerer Mickey is, I’m not sure what the “pops” are – and why eight?

        I’m the nerd who is excited when people want to tell me about that kind of stuff.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I built the three droids at Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyworld. My first one is a white R2 with red, orange and teal panels, because that’s my favorite color combination. I built a red BB unit when I was there for Christmas, and its designation is H0-L1. This last March when I was there for my husband’s birthday, I built a red and blue R2 unit that looks Sorcerer Mickey themed, and my plan is to put a sorcerer hat on it :) Sorcerer Mickey is best Mickey, which is why I have a gazillion little figure of him, most of which are Funko Pop figures :) quite a few of the shelves in my office are lined with wee figures.

          I have a quilt hanging that my mom made for me with owls and a tree, and that’s been hanging on the wall in my home office as long as I’ve worked from home. (Going on 8 years now.) I also have a timeline map of the different worlds in the Dark Tower series, which is one of my favorite book series ever. :)

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      In my experience, house tours are a thing if: you just moved in; it’s an unusual or historic house; or if the guest comments on something specific. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be interested in a tour of my very normal suburban house that I’ve lived in for awhile, unless we had been talking about finished basements or deck renovations and they seemed interested in ours.

    12. Grate*

      I’m in the northeast US. In my friends circle, we expect to give tours when it’s a new apartment or house and the friend is visiting for the first time. But even then I only do it if the guest asks for a tour. IMO offering to give a tour (“would you like a tour?”) sounds a bit like showing off.

    13. GoryDetails*

      When my house was new to me I did offer to show people around – not that there was much to show, as it’s a small 3-bedroom ranch, but I was pleased with my decor, especially the library. At this point I’ve been here for decades and it’s rare to have someone in the house who hasn’t been here dozens of times before, but if I have any fun new books/ornaments/cats I may offer to show those.

      And as my procrastination re decluttering means that the house varies from “piles of books all over the floor/cluttered kitchen counters/empty boxes everywhere” to “more or less livable by normal people”, so if friends have last seen it in its messier aspect I may invite them by to revel in a newly-tidied up version. [And, of course, having people come to stay can motivate me to do the decluttering in the first place!]

    14. eeeek*

      When we were new to our new home (upper midwest USA), we were VERY excited about it and gave tours. We were too excited about our private spaces (large walk in closets! wheelchair/walker accessible bathrooms!) At one point, I was standing in the owner bathroom chatting about the joys of a low-threshhold walk in shower as one of the things that will help my husband and me “age well” in our home, when a senior colleague’s wife noted that it would now be very strange for her always to imagine me having a catastrophic bathroom fall when we meet up.
      We no longer offer comprehensive tours.

    15. Also cute and fluffy!*

      Two years ago we moved from a 1 bedroom cabin to a 3 bedroom house with lots of extras. We still give a little tour to first-time guests if it seems like they would like one. There are lots of friends and family that thought that we could have and should have moved out of the cabin a long time ago and are relieved that we have a nicer house.

    16. Jackalope*

      In a response to many people saying it only makes sense of the house is new, I feel like it can be more nuanced than that. I’m more along the lines of if the person visiting hasn’t been there before. Perhaps this is because we bought a house during the pandemic, so not even my real estate agent has been in the house. I have a number of friends and family that I normally would have welcomed over that I haven’t been able to because of the pandemic and associated issues. Plus I have a friend who may be coming to visit from another country who might want to see it who’s never even been to the region where I live, etc. I can understand that if someone has been living in a house for decades that might feel weird, but I still want to leave an opening for those who couldn’t see the house to tour if they want to.

      1. ReallyBadPerson*

        I think it also depends on the house itself. If it’s unusual (famous architect, interesting design, historic, etc.), lots of people enjoy giving and receiving a tour. We’ve got an early 19th century house with a hinged wall that was once pulled up and hung on hooks from the ceiling to create a ballroom. People love looking at it.

    17. Rara Avis*

      We asked for a tour of a friend’s new house this summer. It included the bedrooms mainly to look at their mini-split air conditioners, which my parents were contemplating for their house. (Never thought I’d see the day …). But these are friends who are pretty much family … now into the 4th generation of friendship.

    18. Chickaletta*

      When the house is new for the family I’ve seen it done several times and I enjoy house tours – especially if it’s a really nice house, I’m always curious what the other rooms look like. I only know of one person who’s been put off by being offered a tour of a nice home, she thought they were showing off, but I don’t care for that person for other reasons so I didn’t take her opinion too seriously LOL – I think it was more of a “her” issue (jealousy, assuming the hosts wanted to rub their wealth in her face rather than just trying to be friendly, etc).

      That said, the difference may be if there’s a large income disparity and using tact. You wouldn’t invite over someone who lives in section 8 housing and show them your second laundry room saying “thank HEAVENS our maid doesn’t need to traipse downstairs to launder the linens, could you imagine, Mipsy?”

    19. Koala dreams*

      It doesn’t make sense to stop doing it just because it’s not new for you, what matters if it’s new for the guests. A lot of people like being showed the house, but I guess most people aren’t so enthusiastic about it that they would ask, the way people ask to see your pet or something. It’s weird to stop doing it after 18 months, though. The idea is that it’s fun for guests to see how you live, get an idea of the layout and to feel welcomed into your home, not that you should show off your new purchase.

      When I show people my place I usually keep the bedroom door shut and show the rest. I prefer for people to show me if I’m there for the first time but it’s fine if you don’t want to. You can make guests feel welcome in other ways!

  2. Aphrodite*

    Only one more month until I can unpack and put out my autumn decorations! How I love the last three months of the year! I have autumn decorations out from October 1 through Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. (That day I re-pack them and bring out the Christmas decorations, which stay out until some time in late December or early January.). I loathe Halloween so have almost nothing for that, but I do love pumpkins, both faux and real as well as a wreath, some flowers and other decor items. These months are the only time of the year I have more than my usual somewhat minimal decor so it’s always an exciting time for me. And I am happy to see them go back into storage after the two “seasons” end as well.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I just moved into a house and I’m so excited to update my autumn decor! The past few years I’ve been gradually adding things – I have several of the little seasonal birds from Target, made a small (non-Halloween) pumpkin door hanger, etc. Last year I bought a bunch of pumpkin shaped candle holders. I’m thinking I want to make a full sized wreath this year, mainly leaves but maybe with some little pumpkins or animals :)

      I usually start decorating at the beginning of September, I don’t care if it’s technically still summer!

      1. E. Chauvelin*

        That reminds me, I do put the generic “fall” stuff out earlier than the Halloween stuff sometimes, I could start doing that this weekend. Yeah it’s still summer in terms of the equinoxes but there is the U.S. convention of Labor Day weekend as the civic end of summer, I’m justified.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah, this is how I do it. General fall stuff in September, Halloween stuff in October, then put the Halloween away and leave the rest until I switch to Christmas decor after Thanksgiving

    2. KatEnigma*

      I have scarecrows that will go out this weekend – then add pumpkins and Halloween in Obtivey, swap out candy corn for a turkey for November, then the whole Christmas nine yards from after Thanksgiving until the first week of January. Our HOA gives us 30 days before and 14 after a Holiday to decorate with complaining.

    3. WellRed*

      I was debating whether I can get some mums this weekend for the porch (the weather finally dropped the humidity overcoat this week) but maybe I’ll wait another week or 2.

    4. RMNPgirl*

      I love fall and winter decorations! I am actually putting away my spring/summer ones this weekend and putting out my fall and Halloween decorations.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For me it’s “how to fit the tender perennials inside” season… we now have 2 largish trees and 4 smallish ones. (Fig, citrus, bay laurel.) So fall decor here is grow lights!

    6. Random Biter*

      Halloween is *my* holiday! LOL I even have a Jack Skellington banner on the front door that says “Every Day is Halloween.” My collection of Halloween stuff never gets put away and I host the annual Buffy Night get together of potluck, wine, chocolate and our favorite eps of Buffy. Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year.

  3. birdperson*

    I’ve never contributed to an open thread before but I just have to share: I have bipolar disorder and a horrible problem with procrastination and anxiety which causes me to basically shut down and go catatonic when I have a deadline that’s stressing me out. Which has resulted in being fired from two jobs, almost fired from a third, burning bridges with multiple professors and two very prestigious mentors in my field, nearly failing out of college, and most recently having to take incompletes in my graduate school coursework last semester. (Despite all that I still ended up with a 4.0 at a top 10 grad school in my field, which goes to show how perfectionism is a big piece of this problem – when I’m on I’m on, and when I’m off I’m f***ing dead.)

    Well, I just finished two of the four assignments I’ve been putting off since last semester. It’s a small victory, I know, but it feels like a huge weight off. I’ve been struggling with this problem for so long and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m honestly not sure I’m worth anything or that I can ever make anything of my life. The anxiety has been crushing me for so many years and everything feels so hopeless. I’ve realized that I’ll never be one of the superstars in my field because of this problem, but I’m still working on accepting that. Accomplishing this bit of work helps lift that feeling a little bit, at least for a while.

    1. birdperson*

      Whoops, I just re-read the rules for weekend posts and realized that this comment doesn’t exactly adhere to them. Alison, if you’d like to delete it, feel free.

      Otherwise, to make this more advice-oriented – if anyone else has dealt with the kind of life-derailing procrastination/anxiety that doesn’t respond to the pomodoro technique, I’d love to share tactics.

      1. AGD*

        Academic and general undergraduate advisor-y person here. When I see this in a student, I really feel for them, because it makes college just awful! Normally my advice for a student reporting this type of thing is for them to go have a set of evaluations at the Disability Services office, because (I definitely can’t diagnose anyone) it’s often a combination of anxiety and ADHD, and even when not, targeted accommodations/therapy tend to help a lot.

        1. birdperson*

          Thank you! I’m loving reading everyone’s comments. This community is so lovely and supportive.

          Just to clarify since this has come up a few times: I’ve been in therapy and on medication for a decade or so, and have set up accommodations with my school’s accessibility office.

          Bipolar type II is tough because it can feel like therapy and medication are Really Working This Time, and everything is better and I’m turning my life around – and then I plunge back into depression and it feels like everything is erased. I’ve been through that cycle over the last decade more times than I can count – I’m always somewhere in that cycle. True progress seems elusive. I go through years when I have strong faith in therapy and meds and feel like they saved my life, and then other years where my faith flags.

          1. AGD*

            I should apologize – I didn’t read your post as carefully as I should have, then basically treated it like an email to another faculty member asking for recommendations. My bad. Glad there have been others who’ve said more-helpful things. :)

      2. Janet Pinkerton*

        I have been in your shoes! Therapy (took me three tries to find someone I clicked with) and meds (second try worked) are what worked for me. Once I had that foundation, exercise was a big help too.

      3. marvin*

        I’ve also had the kind of procrastination that fully takes over my life. I’m also a perfectionist so my unhealthy coping mechanism is to drop everything else in life and just stress and procrastinate 24/7.

        The main things I’ve learned to make this more manageable are 1) to accept my own limitations and not sign myself up to be in environments where I know this will become all-consuming for me, and 2) to be comfortable doing things in the way that works for me even if it goes against common wisdom. Both of these are kind of obvious but took me ages to actually start doing and have made a big difference for my quality of life. Basically I’ve become more aware of my own needs and less invested in others’ expectations.

        1. birdperson*

          I would love to hear more details if you’re comfortable sharing. What sorts of environments do you avoid, and what unorthodox ways do you find of doing things?

          1. marvin*

            The main things I decided against doing for my mental health were pursuing a graduate degree and continuing in a moderately glamorous but demanding career. These were both pretty tough choices because I had a lot invested in my academic and career success but ultimately choosing a much less demanding job has been way better for my mental health.

            One of the main unorthodox productivity methods that I’ve found extremely helpful is accepting that for some tasks I really need some extra stimulation or my brain just totally shuts down. I am often half listening to a podcast at work because it makes it much easier for me to switch between tasks and start new tasks, both of which used to be major procrastination triggers. Again I realize this isn’t that unusual but it took me a long time to accept that I function a lot better this way instead of trying to power through a workday without it. I think I had absorbed a lot of messages about what success and productivity are supposed to look like and it took a lot of time and frustration to unlearn them.

              1. marvin*

                I hope you’re also able to find some tactics that will make this more manageable! Having such a high level of procrastination and anxiety is really exhausting to live with.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Congratulations on completing your two assignments!

      You don’t have to be a superstar to make a serious and valuable contribution to this world. History is loaded with Jane/Joe Doe’s who did so much, yet not many know their names. I’ve changed to the point where I think being that unknown contributor has it advantages.

    3. YNWA*

      It’s not hopeless. I have bipolar and earned a PhD and now work in higher ed where there’s stress, but not the same kind of stressors as regular jobs.

      If you’re not treated, please get treated. I know there’s a lot of hesitancy about medications but as bipolars, we need them. The cycles are too difficult to manage just by bootstrapping. Plus the anxiety that comes along with bipolar is exhausting. And universities are so much more equipped to handle and help students than when I was diagnosed in the early 00’s.

      Drop the perfectionism and rock star bullsh*t. Only internet corners are obsessed with that. For the rest of the world functioning and being successful is far more important than being a superstar or rock star. For a bipolar being stable and functioning is the best accomplishment. You’re on the right path.

      1. anonymous squirrel wrangler*

        Please share more tips! I am (treated) but just started a new opportunity we don’t talk about that is more complex than my last one. Treatment helps but isn’t 100%

        1. J.B.*

          There are ADHD or executive function coaches. Sort of like therapy but more focused on practical aspects of life. I’d recommend seeking that out, and ADHDers also tend to share what works for them on Twitter. trial and error for you will be key

    4. J.B.*

      Congratulations on accomplishing those tasks. I know it’s really hard to get therapy these days but I hope you will if you don’t already. I am finally being evaluated for my brain stuff in detail because when it’s too much it’s too much.

    5. Double A*

      That is huge! You are obviously very bright and capable and have very specific ways you can work.

      My husband has bipolar bipolar type 2 which mostly manifests as crippling depression. To be honest, he can’t work a traditional job because he absolutely needs flexibility. He kind of stumbled into a family business job, but he is basically in charge. The actual work is not great but he gets it done and he can’t be fired for things like working an unusual schedule or taking days off unexpectedly. This actually helps a lot with having kids because that flexibility can extend to them (although his bpd makes some things about having kids more challenging than average).

      I think with a disorder like this, when you think about what you want to do, structure has to come first. What kinds of environments and schedules can you work in? And then the specific jobs have to follow from there. To be honest I think we’d all be better off thinking a bit more about work environment as we choose our jobs and careers.

      1. birdperson*

        Yes, exactly this! I’ve recently come to understand that I just can’t work in the kind of high-pressure, moderately unstructured job that is the stereotypical “pinnacle” of accomplishment for my field, so I need to find another option. A job where I’m not handed an assignment to go off and work on solo would be ideal, but I’m not sure that exists. Would you say your husband is fulfilled doing what he does?

        1. Double A*

          Unfortunately, no, he hates the actual work (it’s not at all what he trained or thought he would do). It’s very boring manufacturing work. However, he just stumbled into it (he is not one to be super deliberate about life planning stuff). I think if you’re thinking about this and planning for it, you can find a job with a good environment and more or less enjoyable work itself.

      2. Mimmy*

        A big AMEN to your last sentence! I don’t have bipolar, but I do experience anxiety, sensory overload, and a little bit of procrastination. It’s really made me rethink what environments I would do well in. I’m working on a career pivot as we speak and I’m really trying to be careful.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Same for me: no bipolar, anxiety, sensory overload, and procrastination. My family think I have ADD (just from reading the symptoms and how I seem to display a lot of them). I couldn’t function in a high-pressure productivity environment, but I also wouldn’t do well with open-ended flexibility.

          My current job seems like it’s going to be perfect for me: there are specific guidelines for turnaround times on tasks, but it’s not high pressure. The standard is that we have to start the task within 48 hours of receiving it in the team inbox, and if everything we need is included in the initial request, we can finish it pretty much immediately. If we have to email the person back and ask for missing elements, that starts the 48-hour clock over again (we have to pick the task back up within 48 hours of them supplying the needed item).

          I find it helpful to have a good amount of structure, but to have some wiggle room for operating within that structure. In jobs without much structure, I spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with different theories for a good work structure and spend more time trying to implement them than I do on my actual job. I love that my current job comes with a structure that we all work within, so I don’t have to get bogged down cos-playing different structures to the detriment of my work.

          1. Mimmy*

            Yeah, I’d say we’re very similar. Which is why I’m questioning my sanity because the field I’m trying to enter can be fast paced, especially at peak times (postsecondary education). I definitely want to continue this conversation so I’m going to head over to the Labor Day thread.

    6. dusty*

      Highly recommend the NAMI – National Alliance for Mental Illness – 8- week, free, Peer to Peer course. The teacher and all who participate are dealing with mental illness. Can’t say enough good things…

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I also want to recommend NAMI for anyone experiencing or with a loved one experiencing any mental health challenges. We did the family course and it was amazing.

        Congrats on getting the work done for the 2 courses!!

        I love the suggestions about thinking about the work environment and agree we should all think about that! I learned a lot from this blog about that and this seems like a question that is perfect for information interviews.

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

      Love all the responses you’re getting! As an academic with crappy executive function (undiagnosed ADHD?) and procrastination issues–case in point, I’m on Ask a Manager when I should be doing my syllabi and finding tax paperwork right now–here’s my experience:

      I kept it together by doing the stay-up-all-night method for most papers during undergrad and grad school, but even when I stopped working and had unlimited free time, I couldn’t seem to do the final push to get my dissertation done, even though I had done a lot of work for it. I wound up hiring an awesome dissertation coach who mostly dealt with my executive function issues. She was big on setting up systems that worked with what *I* needed, not what anyone else thought was typical.

      So, we made a plan that I would sleep until 11AM or Noon, walk to lunch at a restaurant, and then go to a cafe with my dissertation and write for an hour or two every day. She suggested having a cut-off time past which I would not work so that I didn’t exhaust myself and so that I would be fresh for the next day.

      She was big on printing out new versions of what I had so far and putting them in a 3-ring binder so that I could see the dissertation growing and becoming a book. If I didn’t have anything new that inspired me on a particular day, I used the cafe time to read over what I had written, make corrections on the printed copy, type in the changes, and then print out again.

      Just putting those systems in place got me to finish up the darned thing between February and the end of August. Finally.

      Anyway, I agree with the ideas above about finding systems that work for you, without worrying whether they work for anyone else, and about trying to tamp down that perfectionism and make compromises. I am never going to be a renowned scholar (but hey, I did get my dissertation turned into a book!), and that is okay. I also agree with the commenter who talked about choosing career goals that are right for you. I did FINALLY get an academic job, and it finally got made tenure track, and I finally got tenure, but if I had to do it all over again, I would spend the rest of my life as a reference librarian. I did that for a while without a degree, and I !##@$#ing loved it — being a professor is way the heck more stressful.

      Don’t chase the prestige — chase happiness!

      Best of luck to you.

      1. birdperson*

        Thank you so much. The coach idea is fantastic – you’ve inspired me to reach out to some professional coaches!

    8. anonagain*

      Awesome job getting those assignments done!

      There’s a book … get it done when you’re depressed, or something like that. I used to play a game where I’d open the book at random and I had to implement the suggestion on that page/chapter (the chapters are like 2-3 pages long). Then I could be done for the day.

      I am also really big on waking up super early and working then. I am not even remotely a morning person. It’s mostly the smug sense of superiority of working while everyone else is sleeping that makes this effective. WHO’S THE LAZY ONE NOW?!

      (Oh, were you looking for healthy suggestions from well-adjusted people?)

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        The book is called getting it done when you are depressed and it looks great and I like your trick to open it and do that thing!

        I just ordered it.

    9. i forget my handle here*

      I don’t know if you or anyone else will end up seeing this, but I found this youtube video helpful. Putting spaces in the URL so it doesn’t go to moderation.
      www. youtube. com /watch?v=A2sS00egAzg “You’re Not Lazy: How to Live a Chaotically Organised Life”

      I was recently diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I’ve struggled forever with typical productivity advice, and I really think that the way people get things done is not one size fits all, because everyone’s brains are wired differently. Just seeing someone frame up a different way of getting things done in life that is not based in consistency and habits was really affirming to me, maybe it will be you or someone else as well

    10. Bart*

      The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns has a chapter on procrastination that I have found so helpful. There are worksheets that get you to identify what thoughts you have about the task you are procrastinating about and then helps you address those thoughts. I have shared it with others and we all agree it can really help! I should pull it out again, come to think of it! Here is a link to the worksheet. https://feelinggood.com/tag/anti-procrastination-sheet/

    11. Anon for this- good luck birdperson!*

      Hello fellow biopolar II person! I’m about 10 years out from my diagnosis and spent several years trying to figure out how to deal with all of the issues you identified. I worked with a CBT-focused therapist who helped me with trying out different tools and, this is what has worked for me:

      1. To-do lists or task tracking lists broken down into small, easily cross off-able subtasks. (For both work, home, and school) Then, figure out a reasonable number of tasks you can accomplish in a day, and create am and pm task list.
      2. I keep a small paper journal where I hand write everything I do that day, and at work I have a color-coded spreadsheet where I track what I’ve worked on during the day and for how long. Knowing that I’m going to have to write down what I’ve done keeps me on track.
      3. I’m very careful about over-committing to work/friends/volunteering, since being over-stretched causes major mood issues. So, no on-call positions or jobs with a lot of overtime, keeping most weekends and evenings free, and lots of solo activities so that I can bail if I need to without feeling guilty.
      4. Being able to control and feel ownership of my home environment made it much easier to deal with stressors elsewhere. So, no room mates, and I rent an apartment where there is minimal interaction with the landlord.
      5. Having a roughly similar routine for waking up, eating, and going to sleep whether it’s a workday or the weekend.
      6. Lots of busy hands, empty mind hobbies- easy to follow crochet patterns, chopping vegetables for big batch soups, picking up litter, etc.
      7. Learning how to recognize and break myself out of a thought spiral was a game changer.

      Basically, for me the typical self-care advice (be kind to yourself, mindfulness, gratitude journaling) was counter productive, and what was helpful was regimentation, activity, and routine. The most important thing is to keep trying different techniques until you figure out what works for you as a unique individual (instead of getting hung up on what should work).

  4. Jackalope*

    Book thread! Please share any books that you’re reading, and give or request recommendations.

    My favorite current read is The Oleander Sword by Tasha Siri. It’s the 2nd book in what I think is supposed to be a trilogy, and just came out. I’m not too far in yet but I’m enjoying it a lot so far. And I’m almost done with The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende. It’s been a bit slow going but I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends.

    1. Gatomon*

      Just started reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve got that “just found a new author I love and I need to consume ALL the books” feeling. It’s a good one.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Just remembered she has a newer series (newer as in 2009 for book 1) called The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy Book 1) — just added it to my Kindle. She is an amazing author!!

    2. Princess Deviant*

      I’m on the 3rd book of the The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I put off reading them because I just thought they were a Twilight rip off (I know, I know, that’s ignorant), which I really didn’t enjoy. But I was so wrong.
      Clare’s writing is so good it makes me want to weep with envy. I’m very much enjoying the story too.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I love Clare’s writing! The Infernal Devices series is also excellent. I think there are only 2 books left of hers that I haven’t read. Fair warning, the Mortal Instruments was made into a tv show on Freeform and while enjoyable in the YA sense, it definitely didn’t do the books justice (in my opinion).

        1. Princess Deviant*

          I got into the books because I watched that show…it was kind of enjoyable but all the reviews I read said the books were better (they usually are!) so I bought them and I’m hooked! Can’t really to read all the others too. The books are just so much funnier, and more complex, and the characters are more rounded.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Recently Read:
      Be the Serpent, the newest October Daye book by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy, very good, not for newcomers to the series, and I have to wait and entire YEAR to get the cliffhanger resolved. Also, my guess of the plot twist was correct, but there were nuances I hadn’t anticipated). A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows (straight up fantasy world romance). The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood (interesting fantasy adventure novel with portals to other worlds, an extinct empire and mysterious and creepy gods)

      Eagerly Anticipated: The sequel to The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard, called At the Feet of the Sun, will be out November 1, which I am very excited about. It’s not listed on the big websites yet, but is up for pre-order on the author’s site.

      1. ccr*

        I am so excited for At the Feet of the Sun! I pre-ordered it and have blocked off the evening of Nov first for reading.

      2. Tris Prior*

        I just finished Be the Serpent, and, OMG. I knew there was to be a Big Reveal and I half expected what it was as there are some fan theories that have been going around for some time. But the execution of it was a surprise to me. And WTF was going on at the end…

    4. Vio*

      I’m reading the second book in the Brightest Shadow series by Sarah Lin. It’s a fascinating read, it twists the generic fantasy premise by having a prophesised hero who’s supposed to wipe out the invading ‘Deathspawn’ and save the world. The snag is that the invaders aren’t as evil as they initially seem and the hero shows up just in time to disrupt peace negotiations… and kill innocent civilians and any humans who show any kind of empathy to the ‘Deathspawn’. That’s just the basics, there’s some interesting characters on all sides and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Just read Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau, fun frothy read, and I loved Unmask Alice about the truth behind Go Ask Alice- a book I devoured at 13 and thought was 100% legit at the time. The truth is way more bonkers.

      My book of the year is still The Constant Gardener, followed by The Disaster Tourist, but I’m hoping to get some proper reading time in now that it’s headed towards cosy season.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        OOOOH I didn’t know there was a book about Go Ask Alice! I must read it! Thanks for the rec – I read my big sister’s copy of GAA when I was eight and it was intense, so like many 70s/80s kids it was an iconic book for me.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m following along with Ilona Andrews’ newest Innkeeper book which is released serially. That series is such comfort-reading for me!

    7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Just finished I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins – a pretty gonzo read, sprawling and associative and impossible to second-guess, about a woman who goes on the run from post-partum depression (or possibly from motherhood, or just from her husband and baby) back to the snall town near Vegas where she grew up. Bonkers and breathtaking and brilliant but definitely NOT a comfort read – in fact I’ve moved on to Rumer Godden’s China Court (a super-cosy novel from 1960 about five generations in a big country house in Cornwall, lots of lush descriptions of clothes and decor and household objects) to recover!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Rumer Godden – my favorite work of hers is IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE, in which a very successful businesswoman takes the veil as a cloistered nun; there are a lot of fascinating elements and intriguing characters, and it remains one of my favorite novels. (The TV adaptation starring Diana Rigg was also quite good, though I still prefer the book.)

        1. Clisby*

          I have never read a Rumer Godden book I disliked.

          She has another one about someone who becomes a nun after coming out of prison: Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy.

          I think my favorite is Peacock Spring.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve got a bunch of new books coming in the next couple of months; posted downthread.

      I just read The Hawthorne Legacy, book 2 in a series in which a 17 year old (dead mom, deadbeat dad, older sister cares for her) struggling to get by is named in a billionaire’s will and her life upended. Tons of secret passages and puzzles, characters are likeable but I wish they were drawn with a lot more depth. Fast paced and fun.

      Returned then to Murderbot, a series where I take something new away each time.

    9. Sundae funday*

      I’m reading THE CHANGE by Kirsten Miller. Three woman in their late 40s-early 50s discover menopause has given them special powers, which they use to solve a crime. It’s very down-with-patriarchy and I’m loving it.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      A Lincoln Child novel called Chrysalis. I usually buy all Preston and Child’s books when they come out since I re-read them, but the library book will do for now. I’ll collect any I don’t have later in paperback.

      So far Chrysalis is lots of fun. I enjoy a good techno-thriller.

        1. Loredena*

          I think it’s less about the library and more about liking to own/reread. I used to use the library all the time. But I also reread frequently which is much easier when owning. Especially now that I mostly buy and read ebooks

          1. Forgotten username*

            It makes sense to buy a book if you’re going to reread it often, but “the library book will do for now” did sound kind of condescending to me also, as if a library book was “less than” owning. And the topic was not on owning vs borrowing – the OP could have recommended the book without putting down the library, or even just said she liked the book so much that she was going to buy it to reread later.

            As someone whose library card has helped me through some tough times, I do find the OP’s repeated reminders about how she won’t get a library card, then she finally “broke down” and got a library card as if it were some kind of massive achievement but one she somehow feels ashamed of, uses the library card but will someday not need to use it as if that’s something to strive for, quite unnecessary. I love public libraries and think they provide vital services and I will always use my local library even if I ever became so rich I could buy every book in the world, twice.

            I get that not everyone loves the library like I do, and that’s fine. But boy, it really brings me down to keep reading over and over how much Elizabeth West finds getting a library card to somehow be losing in life, when that’s almost the only thing in the last few years that makes me feel like I’m winning at something.

            1. Chilipepper Attitude*

              If you are noticing a bit of disdain and anti-library elitism, there is also a lot of library support here!

              I got my library card the first day we moved here and I’m super proud I’ve had the same physical card for 28 years. One whole corner is cracked off and it’s a pretty brittle and delicate plastic that I have to handle with care.

              The library has sustained me many times and in many cities and I now can afford to buy all the books I want but I use the library bc 1. I want to support it and every check out matters. 2. I don’t want to avoid conspicuous consumption. And most importantly, 3. Supporting the library makes it available to people who need it!

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I DON’T HATE LIBRARIES FFS

              I did not want to get a library card HERE because I don’t want to stay here. A library card implies permanence because you have to be a resident of the county to get (a free) one. That is ALL it is.

              As for Preston and Child, I’m a fan and buy all their books (usually in hardback) but that is too expensive for me right now because they crank out books like crazy and I’m behind. Therefore, I read the library book but will probably buy a paperback later when I’m able to catch up.

              If you want to know the reason for something, ASK, and please stop projecting judgmental fanfiction on me.

          2. Chilipepper Attitude*

            I reread frequently and find it much easier to do from the library via ebooks.

            I mean, I feel much less need to purchase ebooks since they are so easy to get from the library.

            1. S*

              Any recommendations for library apps with good selections? I really enjoy being able to check out ebooks and especially audiobooks on my phone, but sometimes I find the selection to be lacking- for example, I just searched for a couple books from this thread that looked good but wasn’t able to find them. I currently have Libby and Hoopla registered with a library card from my hometown library. Not sure if it’s an issue with my local library’s selection, or just that some books aren’t made available to check out as ebooks/audiobooks, or what…?

    11. ccr*

      I just read The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna and loved it! Somehow both light and fun but also deep, with found family and magic and a hot grumpy guy… very much recommend it.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Lots in progress as usual, including:

      HOW TO FOSSILISE YOUR HAMSTER, a collection of “New Scientist” magazine’s fun-science-experiment columns, vastly entertaining and informative. And the book has a flip-book element in the margin – you can see the hamster parachuting into a volcano!

      THE POISON THREAD by Laura Purcell – set in Victorian England and told from two viewpoints: a wealthy and independent-minded young woman with a penchant for phrenology, and the convicted murderess Ruth, a teenager whose traumatic past might explain – and perhaps even excuse – the crime she was convicted of, but who believes that she was somehow influencing people’s health, suffering, and eventual fate via her own emotions expressed as she sewed delicate items for wealthy strangers. Nicely twisty story, highlighting some truly mind-bending societal abuses – think Dickens’ bleakest stories only more so.

      COSMOGRAMMA by Courttia Newland – finished this one and enjoyed it very much; an intriguing collection of speculative fiction, some very real-world-based and some quite surreal.

      Oh, and in audiobook news: John Scalzi just announced that there’s a third installment in his “Dispatcher” series, TRAVEL BY BULLET, available on Audible.com! I love that series despite/because of its very weird premise – murder victims will dematerialize and revive, wounds healed, in their safest place, leading to all manner of societal changes that take advantage of this tweak in reality…

    13. Texan In Exile*

      Jeff Abbott’s newest Sam Capra book, Traitor’s Dance. It works well as a standalone, but it’s even better if you have been reading the series. (After staying up late to finish, I am now frustrated that I have to wait a year before I find out what happens next, though.)

    14. shaw of dorset*

      I’m currently reading The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan and it’s fantastic. I’m learning a lot of history I knew very little about before.

    15. Bluebell*

      I devoured Cover Story by Susan Rigetti this week. A wild read and very fun, reminiscent of Inventing Anna. Now I’m in the middle of Abbi Waxman’s Other People’s Houses, and enjoying it.

    16. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I’d like to recommend “All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault” by James Alan Gardner. It’s one of those “superheroes exist” sort of things, and how do they deal with the fact of being supers.

    17. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Also, for those who are fascinated by the space program, I just ordered Fred Haise’s memoir, “Never Panic Early”. As anyone who watched “Apollo 13” knows, Fred was on that ill-fated mission. Also, if you’re are into the space program, I highly recommend Michael Collin’s “Carrying the Fire”, widely recognized as the best of the astronaut bios.

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m reading Maeve Binchey’s “Quintin’s”. And realised there is a character who is asexual. He doesn’t use that term because he is an older man in the 70s or 80s, so probably grew up in the early 20th century, but he says he never really took to dating. The other awesome thing is that he’s an elderly Brother (for non-Catholics, who may not be familiar with the term, it’s sort of like a monk) but wen he says he never had any interest in dating women and is asked if he would have rathered date men, he has no problem at all with the question, but replies he never had any interest in either gender.

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

        It’s so cool to find LGBTQIA+ characters in older literature, isn’t it? I was reading along in the unabridged Three Musketeers in French, and they start describing this one character, and I’m thinking that she sounds like a lesbian, but naahhh, I must’ve misunderstood. Nope, TOTALLY a lesbian. I was psyched.

    19. Pool Lounger*

      Just finished Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s a true story of a murder that took place during the Troubles, and through that gives a chilling, unbiased history of the Troubles. The horrors committed by all sides are confronted, and I was amazed at how these issues still affect Northern Ireland to this day. The book is so absorbing I read it in three days.

      1. Reader2*

        Pool lounger. If you liked Say Nothing, try the Sean Duffy series by Adrian McGinty. Sean is a Catholic Police Officer in North Ireland during The Troubles. They are Fiction but the author grew up in Belfast so it was a great account,

    20. Brandon Sanderson is also a good bet*

      This is a slightly different approach, but here’s a sample of books (in no particular order) from a variety of genres that I’d recommend to anyone. Many of these are well known and frequently recommended; most have been around for a while. But if you haven’t read all of them, go for the missing ones!

      The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
      A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
      The Martian – Andy Weir
      All Systems Red (and the other Murderbot stories) – Martha Wells
      Educated – Tara Westover
      Ender’s Game / Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card
      Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
      The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

      I’m always looking for new books and would love any recommendations in the “if you liked this, you’d probably like that” vein.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        It’s always so much fun to see another reader that has similar interests! I’ve read pretty much everything on your list except for two (Wells and Ariely).

        Have you read the Pathfinder trilogy by Orson Scott Card? So well done and engaging (also a bit mind-bendy with the time travel explanations, which is fun).

        Another really great fantasy series that I don’t see recommended often but I thought was easy to drop into the world and engage with it was the Pellinor Series (4 books) by Allison Croggan.

        1. Brandon Sanderson is also a good bet*

          Haven’t read the Pathfinder series, I’ll take a look! Pellinor I read the first one and then must have lost track of it — I tend to use library holds and end up reading 3 or 4 series at the same time as they become available; sometimes I lose track of one. Thanks for the reminder!

          Definitely read the Murderbot series, even if you don’t normally do a bunch of sci-fi. Ariely is a non-fiction one I find really interesting too although I think some of the science has since been questioned

          1. RosyGlasses*

            I like sci fi quite a bit and have seen Murderbot recommended here sooo many times I just may try it!

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

      Reading *The Last Love of Arsene Lupin* by Maurice LeBlanc to practice my French. Content warning — it’s kind of rape-y — but it is ridiculously fast-moving and has a ton of plot twists, and I am enjoying it. I see why this was a popular series!

    22. grumpycat*

      Just finished Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun and Fevered Star. They both felt so fresh and really kept me wondering what would happen next. I listened to audiobooks for both and the voice actors were amazing.

    23. Not that other person you didn't like*

      I just finished The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and it was so good I’m sharing it everywhere.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        His other book The Humans is delightful as well – but I agree with you – the Midnight Library is wonderful and everyone should read it!

    24. Liane*

      I recently finished 2 books:
      1. Overdue: Reckoning with the Public Library by Amanda Oliver.
      It’s part autobiography, part history of US public libraries and librarians, and part a look at the inequities and other challenges facing librarians and patrons.
      I’m sure the contents will be familiar to the librarians here, but much of it was eye-opening to me, even after hearing from librarians on this site.
      2. Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs. The latest installment in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series. As usual Mercy takes on supernatural threats even though she is way out of their league. Pretty good.

    25. David*

      I’ve been really enjoying the Dragon Blood series by Lindsay Buroker. It’s basically a fantasy epic with elements of steampunk and romance thrown in here and there, but the characters are a lot more relatable (and entertaining) than most other fantasy novels I’ve read. Plus, it doesn’t have the “older is always better” vibe that I get from some of the fantasy classics.

      For a while (years) prior to this I had been on a run of books that were good but not exciting, and I kind of lost my enthusiasm for reading for a while. This series has got me excited about reading again :-)

    26. Clumsy Ninja*

      I love the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. They’re murder mysteries featuring two strong women – a Boston homicide detective and a medical examiner. I just read the newest one, Listen to Me. It was great.

      Now I’m waiting for Dave Grohl’s book The Storyteller to come in at my library.

    27. Random Biter*

      I love historical whodunnits. I’m reading Lindsey Davis’ newest Flavia Albia novel, “Desperate Undertakings.” I miss the Marco Didius Falco novels, but his adopted daughter is a quite satisfying substitute.

  5. Annie Edison*

    Please share your best binge-able show or podcast recommendations? I have access to Netflix, prime, and Disney plus but not Hulu or hbo.

    I’m recovering from a minor surgery this weekend and am looking for things that aren’t too serious, but have enough going on to keep my brain distracted from discomfort. I tend to enjoy fiction more than non-fiction for this type of thing, but open to both. Nothing scary! Currently half way through Partner Track on Netflix and while I wouldn’t call it great tv, it’s fitting the bill

    1. RobbinsWriting*

      We’re really enjoying Sprung on Freevee (via Prime)—STELLAR cast, and it’s a Greg Garcia show, so similar quirky humor as his others (Raising Hope, The Guest Book, My Name is Earl). Happy convalescing!

    2. Aphrodite*

      It’s nonfiction but Lucy Worsley’s videos (found on YouTube) are as fascinating as they are entertaining. I can watch them for hours on end.

    3. Madame Arcati*

      I don’t know what the channel would be in the US but I have just rediscovered ER (on All4 for any brits) and I haven’t seen it since whenever it originally stopped airing (2005?), possibly before then because I tailed off watching and I was never that regular (remember when if you missed an episode of anything, you just missed it?!). It is still really excellent drama and stands the test of time pretty well – a medical professional might see outdated things but it’s still really exciting.

    4. No pineapple on pizza*

      I’d recommend the British comedy show Taskmaster: several series are available on YouTube. Five comedians have to complete challenges (things like “do the most creative stunt using a wheelbarrow”, “write a song for a stranger”, “hide as much pineapple as you can about your person”), but what counts isn’t so much succeeding at the tasks as how they approach them. It’s definitely my favourite go-to comfort show!

      1. fposte*

        I’m so obsessed with Taskmaster. None of my friends are more than “It’s okay, I guess,” so thank God for the internet where I can dissect it endlessly.

        1. North Wind*

          Same – also, Taskmaster is available on Prime! And another Finnish season just dropped on the Taskmaster SuperMax+ channel (channel is available on Prime), but I have to wait to watch it until I can properly watch it because I have to read the subtitles.

          I love the international ones because you often see a new group of people engaging with a task you’ve already seen before.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve really loved Kongen Befaler and Stormester; I’m hearing good things about the Portuguese version, and of course New Zealand’s is amazing.

            1. North Wind*

              Ooooh, check out Bast i Test (Swedish version). This is my fav of the international ones so far. I thought I would be livid to come across any format changes, and this one mixes it up just a bit, but it absolutely works.

              1. fposte*

                I liked the first series okay, but it wasn’t up to the others for me. But that’s just one series, so I may like future ones better. And I just love the idea that there are so many versions I can still freshly watch.

        1. Despachito*

          Can you please give me an example? I think I am extremely sensitive to sexism so I would notice but the only thing I saw so far was that one participant said he was going “to lose himself in Allyson’s lovely eyes” (and sounded a bit weird) but then he said he is going to lose himself in Penn’s lovely eyes, so I’d think this does not count as sexism.

    5. slashgirl*

      I’m in Canada so some of the stuff on Prime/Netflix may vary.

      On Prime: Leverage–if you haven’t watched it, you should. It’s awesome. There’s a recent reboot (most of the same characters/actors) Leverage: Redemption, which I don’t have on Prime, but it might be on US Prime. Also, Bosch & Bosch Legacy, Goliath, The Boys (violent & graphic)

      Netflix : S.W.A.T. (reboot with Shemar Moore); In the Line of Duty (UK cop show), Prodigal Son (be warned–ends on a cliffhanger and was cancelled *grr*), The IT Crowd (UK comedy).

      1. UKDancer*

        Line of Duty is brilliant, incredibly well written. I also love SWAT, which has, of course, nothing to do with the fact that Shemar Moore is absolutely gorgeous.

        On youtube I love Lost in Adaptation with Dominic Noble because he’s got some interesting insights into how films are adapted. I also like Lucy Worsley and Reading the Past for history stuff.

      2. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Regretfully, Prodigal Son is streaming on HBOMax in the States. It can be bought on other services though…which I will be doing later tonight.

      3. David*

        +1 for Leverage, that might be my favorite show *ever*. (Or, it’s one of three contenders for my favorite, but I keep going back and forth between them depending on how I’m feeling – the others are Psych and Murdoch Mysteries, in case anyone reading this wanted to know.)

        And The IT Crowd is great not only because it’s funny, but it also captures so much of what life as an actual IT support person is like. (I’m not one but I know a bunch of people who are, so I hear the stories.) Plus it has what I would consider the funniest thing to ever appear on television, the internet-in-a-box scene.

    6. KatEnigma*

      Have you tried Uncoupled? I love NPH, but not always his work. I found it “not stupid” which is rare for a modern show and me.

      1. Still*

        Does Sandman get better after the diner episode? We loved it up till then but that episode was waaay too much.

        1. I Left My Heart...*

          Oh my gosh, that episode was horrible. Yes, it’s better after that. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it yet just skip the diner episode.

        2. Neil gaiman fan*

          Oh, the next episode after the diner episode is the best of the series. Would 100% recommend watching that one.

          1. YNWA*

            The Hob storyline was way too long for me. I realize he gets an entire issue but so does Death. Some of the changes they’ve made from the comics has left me a little disappointed.

          2. Still*

            We’ve just watched it and loved it! Thank you, I don’t know if we’d have gotten around to doing it if not for your recommendation.

    7. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      The Lincoln Lawyer series on Netflix is good. Only one season so far, though.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s hard to top Leverage for lying around enjoying a zippy story, on Amazon/imdb with commercials.

      Netflix: Dark Matter, in which six people wake up on a space ship with no memory of who they are and how they got there. Put this in the “disparate people tossed into a crisis become a team” pile.

    9. ecnaseener*

      The new A League of Their Own miniseries on prime was great! 8 episodes so it won’t fill your entire weekend but it’ll take up a chunk.

    10. Zephy*

      You’re getting a lot of TV recommendations, so here are some podcasts!

      Fiction:
      The Strange Case of Starship Iris – kind of like if Firefly had queer POC who treated each other like people instead of communicating entirely in sarcastic quips. Small backlog, currently on indefinite hiatus, I hope Jessica Best comes back to this project eventually.

      The Adventure Zone – bills itself as a TTRPG podcast but it’s more of a comedy/fiction podcast using a TTRPG system as a framing device for the story. Huge backlog, very bingeable and very funny, if you’re already familiar with the McElroy Family and their many podcasts….well, you probably already listen to TAZ in that case, but if you’ve been putting that off, now’s a great time to get into it.

      Non-fiction:
      Ridiculous Crime – did you know there are crimes besides murder and SA, and sometimes they are very silly? True-crime podcast that focuses on those other felonies and the wacky folx that commit them. “99% murder-free and 100% ridiculous” is the tagline. The hosts are delightful. The first episode is about the teenager who stole Guy Fieri’s car.

      Ridiculous Romance – produced by the same good people who bring you Ridiculous Crime (but different hosts), all about interesting people and their interpersonal relationships. Did you know anything about Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine? You will after you listen to their episode. Mature language (meaning: they say “fuck” and talk about sex), but if that’s OK with you it’s a lot of fun to listen.

      I’m generally more of a fan of a “host presenting a report about a topic” format of podcast as opposed to “friends chatting about whatever” format, but I think both of these blend those formats nicely. The hosts have a “friends chatting” dynamic while they present a report to you, the listener.

    11. Pippa K*

      Best thing I’ve seen in quite a while was The Outlaws, available in the US on Prime. British, amazing cast (including Christopher Walken and Stephen Merchant) and both funny and dramatic in about equal proportions. We loved it!

      1. I take tea*

        Thirding The Good Place. I think we have watched it four times now. It’s both fun and feel good, and discusses serious things like what is a good person and what is the moral way to live.

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      When I had Covid in February, I binged “Inventing Anna” on Netflix. It was great for recovery TV – not too taxing on the mind and the characters were compelling.

    13. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Gentified, Working Moms, Kim’s Convenience, & Sex Education are all fabulous comedies. I also really enjoyed Stateless & Dead to Me.

    14. Stephanie*

      I highly recommend “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Prime. It’s delightful and funny, and the clothes are to die for. There’s also a movie on Prime called “Brittany Runs a Marathon” that’s sweet and doesn’t ask too much of the viewer, but is worth your time.

      1. Rara Avis*

        My 14yo is watching Bluey as comfort food/ de stressing from starting high school. If it keeps the attention of a cynical teen it has to be good.

    15. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      For SF types, if you haven’t watched it, I highly, HIGHLY recommend “The Orville” (on Hulu and Disney+). Season 3 is incredible, and ranks up there with the best of Star Trek.

    16. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Another fun series on HBO Max is “Harley Quinn”. WARNING: This series may be animated, but it is very NSFW.

    17. Kittee*

      Dog School! It’s on prime with ads. It’s one of the most charming things I’ve ever seen. Also All Creatures Great and Small, can probably find it on PBS if you are in the states. And of course the Great British Baking Show. I resisted watching that for years — how interesting could it be to someone who doesn’t bake? But oh, it’s wonderful.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        For those who just want mindless cuteness (and who doesn’t every now and then), There’s “Too Cute” on Animal Planet. Baby pups and kittens!

    18. RosyGlasses*

      If you haven’t watched the Wheel of Time on Prime – they did a pretty decent job adapting from the books. I thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy series!

    19. RosyGlasses*

      I also really enjoyed the frivolous series “Selling Sunset” and “Selling the OC” – if you like random drama centered around bosom-y real estate agents who show houses on 7-inch heels. I always wonder what would happen if they had an HR department which is kind of fun, but definitely escape tv.

      For podcasts, lately I’ve been listening to “SmartLess” on Wondery/Amazon Music. I have a subscription to listen to the whole episode without ads, but it’s Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett hosting other folks, learning a few things, being wacky, and talking way too much about Arrested Development. But I like listening to them and its something I can tune out if I want and not worry about missing things.

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

      You can sign up for Peacock TV for free right now and see Columbo! I am working my way through them. They are not scary — just very enjoyable in a slower-paced 1970s-1990s kind of crime show way. The acting, set design, and costumes are generally superb.

      Good luck as you recover! Feel better soon!

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

        I don’t know if it is still available on Netflix, but I LOVED Chewing Gum with the very talented Michaela Coel starring as a young woman from a deeply religious family navigating her sexuality. She actually created and wrote the whole series, wrote the music for the series, and produced half of it. She is super talented.

            1. (Another) Squirrel Nutkin*

              I didn’t realize there was someone posting with this name on these boards — I’ll change mine. Sorry!

    21. David*

      Unless you absolutely despise science fiction, I would absolutely recommend The Orville, which is available on Disney Plus (as well as Hulu for those who have it). It’s probably my favorite TV show of the last 5+ years. I like to think of it as “Star Trek with real people”: it’s the same kind of spaceship-based episodic science fiction as Star Trek, but the characters are less serious. They joke around with each other, complain about each other, form friendships and relationships, and sometimes they step back and just marvel at how bizarre of a universe they live in. But despite all the comedy, the show also tackles some serious themes like gender discrimination, online bullying, disinformation, etc. and I have to say they do a pretty good job of incorporating them in a way that feels natural. (I mean, it doesn’t always make total sense, but that’s the nature of a Star Trek-like show, things don’t really make sense if you think about them hard enough, so you just have to not think too hard.)

      It currently has three seasons, and I believe Disney is deciding whether to renew it for a fourth depending on how many people watch it on Disney Plus.

      If you do watch it and get that far, be aware that there’s a big shift in tone; it gets more serious and much less comedic at the beginning of the third season, although by the end of the third season they’re back to having some funny moments.

    22. Natalie*

      Podcast recommendation: Double Love

      If you grew up reading the Sweet Valley High books, even if you kind of hate them a little, this podcast is super fun. It’s these two Irish women going through the books and kind of love/hate retelling and making fun of them. It’s totally frivolous, and genuinely funny.

    23. Esmeralda*

      Netflix, Taco Chronicles. In which we learn that tacos are life and culture, and also that tacos can be filled with almost anything

  6. Gatomon*

    I’m on an organization/decluttering kick and my kitchen needs help. I only have a few drawers and the one that traditionally holds pot holders, measuring cups and random utensils (like whisk or ice cream scoop or can opener, these are all key things) is exploding. How do I organize this stuff??

    I don’t really want to leave it sit out as I have limited countertop space and the small island is already a kind of dumping ground. Maybe a basket or something in a cabinet? I still have some space there. My pantry is full too, but maybe I need to do some organization in there?

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I am also lacking in drawer space so I hung my measuring cups and spoons on the door of an upper cabinet using 3m hooks. It works really well – they more accessible than in a drawer

        1. eeeek*

          Agree. I was surprised by how much space I found on the inside of my cupboard doors – I used 3M stickies (extras from removable hooks) to install thin sheets of steel, then glued button magnets I salvaged to measuring cups and spoons so I could hang them up. Very handy.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          I have an over-the-door organizer that I slung over the door of a large cabinet, and it holds measuring cups, spatulas / tongs / etc, and other cooking essentials. Using stick on hooks for something like that would be even better – obviously a cabinet door is thinner than the room door the organizer was designed for, so it’s a bit unstable.

      2. Emotional support capybara*

        In my previous apartment where the walk-in closet was bigger than the kitchen, I hung the critical utensils on Command hooks stuck on the fridge.

    1. Inkhorn*

      I feel your pain. I only moved into my apartment three weeks ago and my utensil drawer is already chaos. My current plan (unless this thread throws out any better ones) is a patchwork of open containers to group items of similar type or size. Might not cure the chaos but at least it will be broken down into manageable pieces.

      If any of your shelves have a bit of space immediately below them, could you attach a basket underneath? IKEA sell ones that hook onto the front of the shelf and sit beneath it, and there’s probably other retailers with something similar.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      I have pot holders and an oven glove on hooks on the end of a base unit. I could see hooks also being useful for measuring cups and spoons; they usually have a hole in the handle end so you could make a couple of groups of them, and put them on loops of wire or string or whatever, rather than cramming loads of them onto one hook.
      For things like the ice cream scoop, whisk, can opener, I would go for a basket in a cabinet if no drawer space, but rather than an actual basket made of wicker or whatever (annoying for cleanliness) get one in solid plastic* or wood or whatever, easier to wipe clean. A shallowish one like a small drawer, so you don’t have to dig around. Or if you have more shallow oven dishes than you use, I’m thinking like a lasagna dish, that would be good.
      *yes I know plastic but it isn’t single use

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have an antique crock holding my utensils because I also lack drawer space. I chose to keep the pot holders and other cloth items in a drawer because I don’t want them laying around to get messed up. The antique crock came into play when I thought about what I have on hand that I could use and avoid buying more things. You might have a decorative flower pot or something else on hand that you are not really using that much.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          Yes, I have the half-dozen most often used utensils (fish slice, slotted spoon, that sort of thing) standing up in a cylindrical container on the counter top right next to the hob.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Yes, I actually thought utensil crocks were standard practice! That explains why I had such a hard time finding a cute one.

            I only have a smidge of counter space too, but having the wooden spoon right next to the stove top is worth it. And it really doesn’t take up that much room.

            You could also stick the whole thing in a cabinet and it’d still be a useful way of storing all those weirdly shaped utensils vertically.

            1. Pippa K*

              I use cheap, colorful glass vases for utensils. They’re easy to find in various sizes at charity shops, can serve another purpose if I get tired of them on the counter, and if one gets broken it’s no great loss.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            This. We often put the most often used cooking utensils in cylindrical holders so they are upright and available instead of buried in the scrambled tool drawer.

    3. Despachito*

      When we remodeled our kitchen it was overflowing with stuff accumulated over the previous years.

      Here is what we did: We put in the new drawers things we knew we positively used. We put the rest (things we did not use for a long time, or things we had a multiple amount of) in a box outside the kitchen, let it sit there for a month or two to see whether we miss them. If we did, we added them to the kitchen, if not, we got rid of them afterwards.

      Because there was no way in hell we could have put back ALL the stuff, it was just too much.

      Perhaps you could try to completely empty your drawers and try this method?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have a high shelf- accessible by step-stool only. I put stuff up there that does not get much use. Every so often, I work through that and get rid of it all, then I put the next group up on the shelf.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Gifts, impulse purchases, FOMO… there are just so many reasons. We buy when we are happy. We buy when we are sad. Then there’s boredom and fatigue-more buying opportunities. Wait, we haven’t gotten to loneliness or compulsion….

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I have these little wire mini shelves kn my cabinet which allow me to stack things easier. Vertical storage is often the trick here.

    5. WellRed*

      Magnetic hook holders for potholders to stick on stove or side of fridge. I’d also put, space permitting, things I used regularly like a bottle opener, in the regular silverware drawer but that depends how big it is.

      1. Jay*

        Our bottle opener has a magnet and is on the fridge, which I really like (it’s also shaped like a trilobite because I’m married to a geologist. YMMV).

        I put dividers into my “gadget” drawer which made it easier to find things even though we don’t really sort them. It’s easier to see them than when they were in one random pile. I have a separate drawer for measuring spoons and cups because we have a ridiculous number of both, and I put dividers in there so I have a section for the spoons and then sections for each set of measuring cups. Makes it much easier to figure out that all the 1/4 cup measures are in the dishwasher….

      2. Despachito*

        We have a magnetic knife strip on our kitchen wall – takes up no space, knives are at hand and do not become blunt as they probably would if thrown in the drawer.

        In our previous kitchen we had a rail with hooks running below the cabinets, and that was where we hanged a lot of utensils and even kitchen scales. It was useful but a bit messy. The carpenter who designed our new kitchen told us we would not need them, and we don’t.

        I think the key thing for us was to get rid of stuff.

    6. NerdyPrettyThings*

      I have two long farmhouse shelves in my kitchen. Best thing ever. They hold soooo much stuff! They are only about eight inches deep, so they pretty much only use wall space.

    7. Not A Manager*

      You don’t mention cabinet space or closet space. I create more drawers by getting any kind of stackable drawer sets that fit into the available cubic area.

      Put as large drawers as will fit into a cabinet, closet or even an open corner. Depending on where these new drawers are and how accessible they are, you will need to re-organize your kitchen. Put often-used items into accessible places and less-used items into less accessible places. While you do that, you can also purge things that you just don’t need.

    8. Stephanie*

      If at least some of your random stuff is metal, you can use one of those magnetic knife holders above your counter–or on the side of a cabinet, or any open wall space–to hold it. We have two: one for knives, and one for other things. It gets things out of the drawers, and keeps them close at hand without taking up any counter space. Alternately, if things you need to store aren’t magnetic, I’ve seen rails hung above the counter and small plastic containers hung on hooks from the rail. IKEA has those, and lots of other options for storage, if you have one near you.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      My kitchen is really tiny. I have a magnetic strip on my wall, which hold all my prep knives. I also bought long, straight drawer handles and attached them to the sides of my cabinets. I added hooks and I hang my most often used utensils there, like spatulas, tongs, measuring cups and spoons, etc. I did the same thing for the pot holders. Note: drawer handles only work if you can access the other side of wherever you’re hanging them, like a cabinet side or cabinet door. If you’re hanging things on a wall, you’ll need rails. Go to the IKEA website and search for Kungsfors of Hultarp rails (or another style).

    10. the cat's ass*

      I have a pot hanger suspended from the ceiling and that takes care of most of my pots and pans; the rest live in the oven and broiler. I also hung a pegboard a’la Julia Child on one wall and hang a lot of stuff on there. Last, I have an old crock for utensils next to the stove.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I bought a bunch of cheap hooks with magnetic backs from my local dollar store and I use them to hang my pot holders from my fridge and the front of my oven. I also bought some cheap claspy things (sort of like clothes pins) with magnetic backs that I use to hold things on my fridge. The hooks and clasps get things off the counter and out of the drawers, up and out of the way, but where I can still see them if I need them.

    12. Firebird*

      Hardware stores can have some great organizing items. I found a red magnetic strip in a hardware store for an insanely low price. It has mounting hardware so it can be mounted on the wall or just stuck to the fridge.

    13. Suprisingly ADHD*

      For odd-shaped utensils and limited drawer/counter space, I recommend a tall jar against the counter wall! Whisks, ladles, pasta scoops, and our favorite large wooden and plastic serving/cooking spoons are easily accessible, and stuff that we use less or doesn’t stand in the jar (like the can opener and pizza wheel) have space in the drawers. Flat stuff like rubber spatulas and skewers fit better in the drawer than ladles.

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

      As much as possible, I like to deescalate my misc drawer by putting things near where I will most likely use them, so I have like a punch tool I use to make holes in cans of condensed milk when I’m making coffee/tea, and I store it on the shelf where I keep my teas and tea mugs. I keep my can opener on the shelf where I keep catfood. I keep all my cooking utensils (wooden spoons, ladles, spatulas) in an upright container on the counter by the stove, with overflow (because sometimes you can never have too many heat-proof rubber spatulas) tucked into the drawer of potholders/tea towels that’s right next to the stove. Like others have mentioned, I hang whatever is hangable, and have specifically hung my measuring cups/spoons from the cabinet where I keep my spices, which is also near the counter where I keep my stand mixer. So, basically, whatever you can do to think of the parts of your kitchen as different zones, like, “here’s where I make hot beverages, here’s where I do chopping/prep, here’s where I do stovetop cooking, here’s where I do baking…” And then parcel the related utensils out to those zones as much as possible.

    15. Gatomon*

      Thank you all for your suggestions! I will look into getting a utensil cup and some hooks for the cabinet doors. I don’t think a knife rail will be much use as I don’t really have knives – I just slice myself open because I’m hopeless in the kitchen when it comes to cutting/chopping. That could be part of the clutter as I have things like a melon baller and potato peeler instead of something more multipurpose like a paring knife. I do also have double of things I use frequently that I hate realizing are dirty when I need them, like spatulas and measuring cups from when I was more apt to let dishes pile up (I worked on that really hard the last few years to try and break the habit), so maybe I can donate some of these items.

      Potholders could possibly just live in a stack next to the stove. They were hand-sewn by my late great-grandma and she didn’t put hooks on them like store-bought ones.

      I have a trip planned to a city with an IKEA next month, so I will be putting their kitchen organization section on my list! And a re-evaluation of what all I have stashed in the kitchen. There are definitely items left over from when I didn’t have a dishwasher and didn’t care if things were dishwasher-safe that I now avoid using because they have to be handwashed.

  7. Princess Deviant*

    Hi do any of you have any recommendations for books that give the basics of Judaism for a non-Jew?
    Thanks.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      This is probably less helpful than others to follow me but – I had questions about Judaism arsing from spending a couple of days (with work) in an area of a uk city heavily populated by Orthodox Jewish people (but not interacting). In those days, no internet at home, I did the old fashioned thing and went to get a book out of the library. What I ended up with was a children’s book and it was just the thing because I wanted to know about customs and cultural things and daily life for observant Jews, and the thinking/ origins behind that. Not for if you want more thoughtful doctrinal info perhaps, but putting it out there.

    2. HannahS*

      Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin, and/or Biblical Literacy from the same author. Both are huge tomes but divided into eminently readable chapters, each it’s own fully contained content. Both are excellent.

      1. Jay*

        Opened this thread to make the same recommendation. Also agree with myjewishlearning.com One problem with the Internet on this subject (f0r me, anyway) is the preponderance of Orthodox and Chasidic sites that come up with a basic search. They have a tremendous amount of info from one fairly narrow perspective, and if that’s all you read, you won’t get an accurate picture of the rich variety of Jewish understanding and practice.

        So Telushkin if you want historical info and background and myjewishlearning for a quick and more entertaining approach.

      2. FashionablyEvil*

        Jewish Literacy is pretty encyclopedic, coming in at nearly 800 pages. It’s not designed as a primer, but pretty much all topics related to Judaism are covered.

    3. Mia*

      This isn’t specifically for non-Jews but I really liked Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz, a former speech writer for Michelle Obama. As someone raised more culturally Jewish, I learned a lot about Judaism from it and it was an easy read.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The Jewish Book of Why is pretty interesting, although it’s a bit more of a reference book than a primer; I was raised Jewish and went to a few years of Hebrew school decades ago, and I found it interesting. But it does cover a lot of the basics.

    5. curly sue*

      Thirding the recommendation for myjewishlearning – and adding the caveat that even that won’t cover the wide, wide range of practice and culture out there.

      Every community will have its own minhag – its own particular spin on how Jewish law and custom work – and it can be very tiring to hear “but aren’t you Jewish? I thought Jews did / didn’t do xyz…” from folks who’ve talked to someone or done some reading from a source from a different tradition.

      (There’s also a saying – ‘two Jews, three opinions’ – and in my experience that definitely holds true. So read with the understanding that a single source will only ever give you a very small slice of the basics.)

      1. A Becky*

        Huh – I always heard “three Jews, seven opinions” (me, you, her, me and you, you and her, me and her, none of us. All of us? Don’t be daft!)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Ha! I think of “two Jews, three opinions” as shorthand for “this is a religion & culture that really values the asking of questions.”

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        TL;DR: No kidding about “two Jews, three opinions!” The follow-up folk expression might be “…and hundreds of thousands of written words, paintings, music, theater, dance, folk art, high-level crafts, stand-up comedy, cartoons, movies, and documentaries.” It’s enough to overwhelm anybody. I say this as somebody who loves being Jewish.

        Details:
        Your friend/acquaintance might find it helpful to check out several books on the Jewish holiday year or life cycle events–especially from branches of Judaism beyond Orthodox or the various subsets of Hasidism (Chabad, etc.): Reform, Reconstructionism, or Conservative (aka Masorti / Traditional in Israel). There are also Humanist Jewish congregations and lots of folks who define themselves by their work for social justice rather than belief in an all-powerful deity or continuation of traditional rituals.

        For contemporary discussions of the holidays, see “Seasons of Our Joy” by Arthur Waskow and “Gates of the Seasons” by Peter Knobel. The latter was published by CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis), the professional group for Reform Jewish rabbis. Yes, both books discuss rituals. Or try a cookbook. Most Jewish cookbooks will share holiday recipes from different historical eras and geographic areas.

        “The Jewish Catalog” (eventually followed by second and third volumes) was groundbreaking when published fifty years ago (1970s are 50 years ago?!) by grandchildren wanting to reclaim and revitalize traditions cast off by previous generations as they moved into mainstream American life.

        Certainly there’s way more to Jewish life, American or otherwise, than bagels, chicken soup, matzoh balls, and a few pithy Yiddish expressions brought from the Old Country by people similar to those portrayed in “Fiddler on the Roof.” But that said, Irving Howe wrote a wonderful history of Eastern European Jews coming to the U.S. in “World of Our Fathers.”

        A partial list of books or authors I’ve encountered. Apologies for any and all omissions!
        – Michael Twitty is a culinary historian, author of “The Cooking Gene,” “Kosher Soul,”
        and the blog “Afroculinaria.”
        – Carolivia Herron wrote “Always an Olivia” about the centuries-long thread of Sephardic Jewish life in her family.
        – For glimpses of Jewish life in the American south (mostly but not entirely rural and small-town) see “Mat­zoh Ball Gum­bo: Culi­nary Tales of the Jew­ish South” by Mar­cie Cohen Ferris or “The Jew Store” by Stella Suberman.

        For other resources on the the Jewish experience, check out books and websites about synagogue architecture and Jewish museums. The Jewish Publication Society and Jewish Book Council both maintain websites that include book reviews and lists of award-winning titles. And of course there’s always one’s local bookstore, library (public, private, and even in some synagogues and temples)…

        Okay, I’ll stop now.

    6. Overbooked*

      I liked The Great Courses’ “Introduction to Judaism.” I got the DVD set from the library. It’s also available streaming on Kanopy, which my library provides too.

    7. Observer*

      chabad.org and aish.com

      Yes, they only cover Orthodox Judaism and Jewish history, but if you actually want to know about Judaism, this is a big piece of the mix.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you, I’ve been finding the descriptions of the holidays very helpful from chabad.org.

  8. Whataburger*

    I’m currently in the fog of adjusting to life with newborn and I’m not sure what to think of the following.

    As mentioned, I just had a baby (yay!) and I was lucky to have my mom here with me for the first 6 weeks. We’ve known for several months that my husband would be away for 2 months on a military op days after our child was born, so it was especially helpful that my mom was here. We’re stationed completely across the country from all family (think CA with all fam in NY) and my MIL also offered to come and “cover” the remaining time until husband came back.

    My mom left and MIL arrived a few hours later. Upon her arrival she tells me that BIL is getting married (i.e. a courthouse ceremony) while she’s out here and she is sad to be missing it. In a nutshell, it’s very short notice and there is major drama with future SIL insisting that it be on X date (I’m even wondering if she is insisting on this date so that my MIL conveniently won’t be there, which would be so f’d up but I digress). Almost none of BILs family can attend due to the short notice but all of f-SIL’s family is able to fly in. This has weighed heavily on my MIL and I know she wants to be at the ceremony.

    BIL asks if MIL can fly back for the day, but realistically she would fly out the day before and come back the day after therefore being gone for 3 days. She asked me what I thought and I said I was neither here nor there about it and I know she’s between a rock and a hard place. She started looking up flights and is deciding what to do.

    Now I’m sitting here thinking WTF, you made a commitment to me and my husband (your other son) months ago to be here for two weeks to help me and so I wouldn’t be alone. Note, I am too chicken to actually say this to her at the moment. I don’t want her to miss her son’s wedding either but your grandchild and I are SOL? I was already nervous with COVID/general germ exposure on her flight out here (no direct flights unfortunately). If she leaves and comes back again it’s starting the exposure clock all over and I’m thinking of telling her, if you leave don’t come back.

    While thinking out loud she did offer to fly us out with her (I don’t feel comfortable with air travel, baby is too young) and threw it out there that we could drive (it would take 4-5 days and we’d have to leave tomorrow, but I also don’t think that is great for baby).

    So yeah, that’s where we are at the moment. WWYD if you were my MIL?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it sounds challenging for her to go since it’s short notice and requires last minute travel, which entails both expense and Covid risk… but also that’s her kid getting married. I would be devastated to miss my childrens’ weddings and would go to huge lengths to be there no matter how difficult the timing was, what other commitments I’d made, or how their partners seemed to feel about me.

      Obviously YOU should not fly/drive across the country and back 6 weeks post partum, with an infant, during a pandemic. But you can handle being alone for 3 days or the remaining week between when she leaves and when your husband gets home! Plenty of new moms get less than 8 weeks of this level of support and our families turn out fine.

    2. Xyz*

      She should go. It’s her sons wedding, it’s a once in a life time event. It’s extremely selfish of you to think she should miss it, she had no idea that it was going to happen when she agreed to help, and his wedding is so much more important. People take care of babies by themselves all the time, you should be able to handle 3 days.

      1. Melody Pond*

        This seems needlessly harsh and judgmental. And why is a wedding more important than taking care of a newborn? They’re both important, both “once in a lifetime” events, and OP’s questions are valid.

        Also, have you ever had to keep a newborn alive on your own?

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          Agreed that it’s needlessly harsh and judgmental. But attending your child’s wedding is more important than caring for a six week old. You can hire a night nurse to help care for the baby; you can’t hire backup to be at a wedding.

          Also, baby is six weeks. In my experience, OP is past the hardest initial part. It’s not like it’s week one or two. (I’m nursing my six month old as I type so the memory is fresh.)

        2. KatEnigma*

          I have kept a baby alive all by myself, yes. Many women do. I wouldn’t have been that strident, but it doesn’t get easier. Especially if you don’t do it by yourself.

        3. Gyne*

          It didn’t read as harsh to me at all. As someone who is raising two children, six weeks is not at an age where you need “help” with a baby. Most women are (unfortunately) back to work at this point and I can see if MIL had agreed to come provide childcare while OP works until the OP’s husband is back to take over SAHD duties, the timing of the wedding is inconvenient, but it’s something I’d advise OP to talk to her manager about to arrange for those days off. I think the MelodyPond’s snarky comment is uncalled for.

          I also don’t see “existence of a six week old” as a “once in a lifetime” event in the same scale as a wedding. Technically each day of this child’s life is a once in a lifetime event.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I’m not a parent, but 3 months maternity leave is fairly standard – six weeks would be very short! (I realize however that for some lower wage workers that may in fact be the option.)

            1. S*

              A lot of places don’t offer maternity leave, so you’re left with fmla if that even applies, maybe state disability if you’re lucky, and how long you personally can survive unpaid.

              1. Gyne*

                Yes, this. Using FMLA is fairly common, but very few people are in the position to take a full 12 weeks unpaid. For short-term disability, 6 weeks is standard for vaginal delivery, 8 weeks for c-section. The disability payments are very rarely in the vicinity of replacing a person’s salary during that time.

                I can rant about the state of parental leave in this country for a long time, but that’s for another thread on another forum… :)

              2. ThatGirl*

                What I usually see is a combination of a few weeks of paid leave and short term disability/fmla that adds up to about 3 months. I know it’s not perfect and not everyone can do that, but it’s been common for my friends and coworkers.

        4. BubbleTea*

          The wedding wasn’t an act of nature, someone chose that date. They had plenty of notice that the baby was coming and it sounds like they deliberately booked it to overlap. That whole family sounds like a huge heap of drama.

          OP, I am a single parent and my mum was with me for the first three weeks of my baby’s life and then went home. I was a bit panicked about the idea but I found it was actually good to settle into my own routine. She came back again when baby was 3 months old, and it was striking how different things felt – there were so many more things I was just not needing any help with.

          You can’t decide what MIL will do, you can only decide what you are comfortable with. If the options that you’re okay with are: MIL stays and doesn’t go to the wedding, or MIL goes to the wedding and doesn’t come back, those are perfectly valid. Tell her that you’d prefer her to choose one of those options due to the infection risk, and let her decide. Your boundaries are about you, not her.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OP may have other factors that we don’t know. A tamer factor to consider is maybe OP is trying to do this with a broken arm. OP should not have to explain extenuating circumstances. Additionally, it’s perfectly okay to want someone there with us when something new is going on. I bought a new house, I wanted my father to come see it ASAP.
        This is pretty normal stuff, actually.

        OP, it’s very hard to be unselfish when we have our own needs as a high priority. I commend you for telling your MIL she can go. And I also understand how it sucks to be saying that. Don’t let the conflicting emotions wear you down- it’s okay to have two different emotions at the same time.

        Can you find someone else who would come and stay?
        Are there people close by you who would be willing to do daily check-ins?
        Can MIL Skype into the wedding?
        Can she go to the wedding and remain in contact with you by Zoom or other means?

        In an ideal world, you’d tell her to go and she would decide to stay. But that is not always how these stories play out. Worse yet there is no winning answer- each answer has a downside. I think your best bet it to look around and see what resources you can tap IF she decides to go. Your solution could look like, “No, it’s okay MIL, Sally and Jane are going to take turns staying with me.” In other words your solution might be like putting jigsaw puzzle pieces together.

      3. Sloanicota*

        There were about a millions ways to make this same point that weren’t hurtful to a struggling new mom.

        1. Ellie*

          I know, yikes. One minute it’s “having a new baby is hard. Be kind to yourself, ask for help, and understand it’s a very challenging time” and the next it’s “it’s only a six-week old baby, you’ll do just fine. Plenty of other people do it all by themselves, suck it up.” I’m baffled by the insensitivity. Yes she can do it by herself. It’s also okay to say it will be very hard! (For my first that would have meant I probably don’t sleep, shower, or eat a nice meal for however the length of time I’m alone with the baby.”

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think that on top of what other folks have pointed out already, telling her to not come back would throw a big ugly bomb into your relationship with your in-laws, and your husband probably doesn’t need you being nasty to his mom while he’s deployed. It’s three days, she’s already doing you a huge favor by coming to help out, you can deal for a couple days while she goes to her son’s wedding. And while you’re at it, quit making up reasons to make your future SIL the bad guy, that won’t help your family relations either. The brother agreed to the wedding date too.

      1. Despachito*

        It depends HOW you tell her to not come back.

        My take is:

        – she should go, it is her child’s wedding and it is understandable she wants to be there
        – you are fully entitled to be afraid of Covid exposure, and in such case I would tell her that but less harshly.

        As one who was very grateful for my Aunt coming during the entire postpartum period to help me, I feel you, but I think you will be fine and if you are generous here, it will pay back in the future.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I think that part was a Covid risk concern of being on a plane twice and attending an event, not like a spiteful “if you leave now don’t even bother coming back!” Personally if I were in this situation I would tell her not to come back just because doing another cross-country flight for a couple extra days of babysitting is ridiculous

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I do think that her child marrying on short notice is an acceptable reason to leave you for a couple of days. It’s not something she could have predicted, and it is a once in a lifetime thing. I’d think of it as being in the same category as falling ill, or having her flight cancelled, rather than being cavalier about the commitment.

      I can definitely understand not wanting to fly with a newborn, and driving for 10 days total with a new born is absolutely not something you should do. You’re not supposed to have a baby in a carseat for more than two hours at a stretch (strictly speaking, the recommendation is two hours in a 24 hour period), and you can’t feed or change or burp the kid in a car, so if 4-5 days is regular driving, you could easily be looking at twice that with a baby, if not more.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I moved from Illinois to Arizona in a car with a two-month-old, it was so miserable and took much longer. Lots of crying, lots of breastfeeding in random farm driveways in Kansas, and did you know a lot of gas stations don’t have changing tables? Highly disrecommended lol

      2. HBJ*

        Eh. Sure, I probably wouldn’t want to do this long of a road trip with a baby that age, but it can be done. We did a six-hour road trip with our 1.5-week-old. She slept the whole way with one stop in the middle for a feed.

        And you certainly can feed, change and burp a baby in a car. While driving, no, but pulled over on the side, yes. The stops we made (both going and coming) were just pulled over in parking lots. Laid the baby out on the seat for changes. Sat in my seat to nurse.

        And for the record, this was my first, so I wasn’t experienced at all. It was no big deal. Tbh, I think traveling with a newborn or any baby under 1ish is way easier than with any other young child, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I say this as a mom who went through the fog of newborn time twice.

      It’s going to be fine. The baby is six weeks old. You will be okay for three days. And being in your own home with the baby is going to be a heckova lot easier than being in a car for 4 days.

      There is a panicky feeling about being left alone with the baby, I know. I’ve been there. It’s normal to feel that way. But you will be fine. You have already been able to postpone that moment longer than many people can.

      It’s really going to be okay. It’s a lot of work, but you can do it. If you need practical help, there are usually networks of military wives who live on / near base who would be happy to help out.

      Don’t lean on your MIL or give her a hard time. She isn’t abandoning you or blowing you off. This is a huge deal for her. Your BIL is her kid.

      All that is the long way of saying that if I were in your MIL’s position, I’d go.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Full agree! One possible option is also hiring a night nurse while MIL is gone, for nighttime assistance.

      2. Ella*

        This is a kind response!

        Whataberger, you deserve a lot of grace. I had a pandemic baby too, and I remember the fear of COVID. My baby was born just before vaccines were available and I wanted and needed help so much, but was also terrified of others bringing in COVID, so I get it! You are allowed to feel what you feel. No feelings are bad, they just are. So feel mad, feel scared – write to the internet like you did, vent to your friends, write in your journal! Validate. But you aren’t “too chicken” to tell your MIL all this – deep down, beneath the hormones and fear, you haven’t said that because you know you’d regret it. There’s still a lot your MIL can do to support you – she can leave you stocked with meals and clean laundry before she goes, and help catch up when she comes home. It will be hard, but you got this!

        I totally get the fear and anger. Your instincts and hormones and everything is primed to put your baby first right now and have some fear and panic when your plans are disrupted. Feel your feels and let her go. You got this!

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, this feels like the right response. And OP should never feel bad about how they feel. How you feel just – is. But you can choose to be gracious about this unexpected interruption to your plans and you can ask your MIL to wear a high quality mask in as many circumstances as possible and do rapid testing every twelve hours after the exposure.

    6. Fiunnea*

      If I was her, I’d go to the wedding. It’s her kid’s wedding! She has no idea it would be an issue when she offered to help you out, and it would be unreasonable and unkind to hold her to that offer in the face of this change in circumstances. Plus, she didn’t just announce she was doing it, she has been thoughtful and asked for your opinion – if you didn’t want her to go, you should have said so then. You chose not to, so now you have to deal with the consequences of that choice. And if you really cannot cope alone, you have to speak up.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I agree. I know Whataburger has baby brain and exhaustion brain, but MIL asked and you said you didn’t care. It’s a bit ridiculous to be upset about someone doing something that you didn’t object to when asked.

        I do think a son’s unexpected wedding is a good reason to interrupt a planned commitment to help someone.

        I understand where Whataburger is coming from but single parents can and do handle newborns on their own.

        Flying with a baby is a terrible idea. I think it’s best for Whataburger to stay home alone with baby. It’s up to the new mom but I understand (and I think MIL would understand her) telling MIL with COVID concerns to just stay home and not return. That’s reasonable.

    7. Cordelia*

      what would I do if I was your MIL? I’d go to my son’s wedding. I’d spend the time before leaving trying to help you feel more confident about taking care of the baby by yourself. I’d let you know that I recognised how anxious you were about being left alone with the baby, and I’d help you work out what specifically the anxiety is about, so we can address that together. I’d show you how to do things but make sure I wasn’t doing everything for you, and I’d help you to find some local supports for while I was gone.. Perhaps I’d book you a cleaner or similar, if taking care of the house is difficult. And then I’d go and enjoy the wedding.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair I’d also pre-make a bunch of meals ahead, make sure there’s clean laundry put away, and arrange a covid-safe friend to come spend an afternoon while I was gone so the new mom can nap.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I think the resentment and disappointment of her missing her son’s wedding would be too great, she really has to go. Honestly if this were my son and he were mostly going to be with his in laws on his wedding day AND his future wife seemed a tad controlling it would only redouble my efforts to be there for him. Not to tell him what to do, but just to be there for him. I think your MiL feels bad about the situation and I think the fact she asked your opinion shows she’s conflicted and might even stay if you were overly struggling. However, I don’t think you can ask her to, and you need to remember this situation isn’t of her making, it’s of your future sister in laws’.

    9. Kiwiapple*

      You mention no family where you are but do you have any friends that could drop in? Are you still under post- birth healthcare visits?

      I don’t think it’s a case of you and your new baby being SOL because unless you tell your MIL, she will come back and help for the duration after the wedding. Newborns aren’t going to change that much in 3 days whereas a wedding is something different altogether.

      I hope with some time you can see that your MIL isn’t abandoning you and the baby and be happy for your new SIL.

    10. Asenath*

      I wouldn’t go myself, especially with a new baby, but I’d try to be sympathetic for the MIL if she decided to go. If’ I were the MIL, well, in theory I don’t do drama, but I’d probably add to it by simply saying to my son and future DIL ” I wanted so much to be at your wedding, but I just can’t do it on such short notice. I’m across the country helping out with your new niece/nephew!! (I’d try very hard not to add “As you very well know!”).”

      But I’d understand, or really try to, if MIL simply couldn’t bring herself to miss the wedding, and I certainly wouldn’t tell her not to come back. That would add excessively to the existing drama and just make MIL’s position, which is not after all her fault, even more difficult.

    11. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      It’s a shame she found out the date so late. If I were your MIL I would have postponed visiting you by a few days until after the wedding rather than fly twice. Was that not an option?

    12. Morning reader*

      If I were your MIL, I’d go to the wedding and gracefully accept that I not come back right away, due to the possible covid exposure.

      This depends somewhat on your needs right now. Is there something wrong with the baby that you need extra support?is there something wrong with you? (Example: I had a c-section and couldn’t drive or even pick up the baby for a week or two. Can’t recall how long that restriction lasted but I definitely needed someone else there that first week, to hand me the baby at least.) you are “stationed” somewhere; can you get support from your military network? Usually those places have strong spouse networks, other parents with deployed spouses in similar situations.

      Also, do you even like having your MIL there? I was a single mother, so being alone with my baby seemed very normal to me. Among the married parents I know, I can’t think of one who would be happy with their mother-in-law having an extended visit with them, without their spouse there. Ranging from uncomfortable to horrific. I’ve visited my daughter without her husband but I can’t imagine visiting my SIL alone. Maybe if he were trying to take care of a new baby alone I would but that’s only because I would worry whether he’d be competent to take care of a new baby alone. Does your MIL think that about you?

      In short: why do you need help to take care of a six-week old? If you don’t, really, let her go. If you do, start building your parental network now. This actually seems like a great opportunity to get her out of your house. (Seriously, why is she there? Why do you want her there? I’m hoping you are good friends bucking these stereotypes and that’s why you want her to stay.)

    13. KatEnigma*

      You take care of your kid and let her take care of hers. You are going to have to take care of the baby by yourself at some point, right? It only gets harder- the baby can’t even roll over yet.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was gonna say – isn’t this one of the optimal times to be soloing it, if there is ever such a thing? A six week old baby is almost guaranteed to not be getting into stuff if you set them in a carrier or Moses basket next to you for a couple minutes while you go to the bathroom, change clothes, throw a snack on a plate, whatever. Once they become even a little mobile, that’s all out the window.

        1. KatEnigma*

          My son must been around 2 months the first time my husband left overnight (final job interview out of State) By far, it’s the easiest it ever was. I didn’t live near anyone, either – only lived near family since January and my son is 5. My parents came for a week,- that was it. I didn’t grow up with the kind of privilege where people who come take care of new mothers and babies for weeks. Thankfully, babies aren’t that fragile and new mothers aren’t dumb.

    14. Star Struck*

      Let her go. I know it seems scary (terrifying even) to be alone with your baby. You didnt mention whether you had any medical or other issues that prevent you from taking care of your baby. If there aren’t, let her go, and dont worry about the house, or laundry, or anything else. Just keep you and your baby alive until she gets back.

      Seems like a jerk move on your SIL’s part to schedule it this way tho. Its a courthouse wedding – im sure they could have found a different date.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      WWYD if you were my MIL?
      As gently as possible: I would ask you for your input, and if you said that you really needed the baby help and wouldn’t be comfortable adding in more flights around a newborn then that would be that.

      But her asking provides an opportunity for you to say “Go! A couple of days on our own will be good practice for me, and then you’ll be back to give me a break Sunday” or “Hey no problem, I realize it’s a last minute and irreplaceable thing and my friend Susie can fill in” or “I realize how hard this is, but I really wanted you here for this time in the baby’s life and the thought of managing on my own makes me weepy: please stay and help us.”

      Your MIL is trying to figure out the thing where both of her children feel valued and like she came through and showed up for them at these specific important times, but without a time travel method where she can do both.

      I’ll also gently float that if the future SIL is figuring out how to isolate him from his family (by demanding the wedding be when your husband and MIL are committed elsewhere) she might be especially motivated to try and keep open that bridge.

      1. Gyne*

        This is a good suggestion. I’d add to the OP, though, if you do insist MIL stays, I would recommend you prepare mentally for it to be the thing that may permanently fracture your relationship with your husband’s side of the family.

    16. Jay*

      Of course you’re upset. I would have been furious. And I would have told her to go because I would not to want to be responsible for missing her son’s wedding.

      In your MILs place, I would go. I would leave at the last possible minute and use the time to do all the laundry, cook ahead so you had meals ready to go and to do whatever I could to help you feel better about being alone with the baby.

      As far as COVID risk goes, that depends to some degree on whether rapid PCR tests are available in your area (they are not in mine). If they are (and assuming she’s fully vaxxed and boosted), I would be comfortable having her come back, mask around me and baby for a few days, and then get a rapid PCR. Even masked and not providing direct baby care she can (again) do laundry, go shopping, cook, and otherwise help out.

      Be gentle with yourself. It helps me to remember that feelings are not facts, and that is especially true when my emotions are already in a muddle, which yours undoubtedly are. You are six-weeks post-partum and “fog” was absolutely the right word for me. The way you feel is of course entirely legitimate – and your feelings are not facts about other people’s intentions, motives, or thoughts. For me that’s the difference between “I’m completely annoyed that my husband forgot we had dinner reservations” and “my husband doesn’t love me because he forgot we had dinner reservations.” Breathe. You will get through this.

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        Agreed with this. I would feel overwhelmed if I had counted on her being there, only to find out on short notice that she has to leave.
        Her son and future dil are putting her and you into a really difficult position. As others have said, could she perhaps help make sure that you have everything you need, do an extra grocery run, laundry, and the like, to make it easier for you to settle in with the baby by yourself? I expect she would regret not going to her son’s wedding.
        Do you have other contacts in the area that could come help out for an afternoon here and there? If a friend or acquaintance reached out to me for help because they were in a bind I would gladly help, and I suspect many people in your network would too.

        1. Jane of all Trades*

          I forgot to mention – if it were me, I would be wary of her coming back after attending a wedding and being on multiple airplanes. When I had Covid it took several days to show up on PCR tests, and anecdotally it seems that happens quite a lot, so you may risk her passing on Covid before she knows that she has it.

    17. Katie*

      I say this with kindness, you can handle being alone with your baby for 3 days. I remember panicking with the thought of having to do it on my own. Honestly, it may be extremely helpful for you to be on your own for these 3 days. It will help you realize that you do have this.

      1. Katie*

        I also want to note I came up with a simple rule early in with my kids. Are they alive at the end of the day? If the answer is yes, then you won for the day.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I was in the hospital for several days after my first baby was born (emergency C section after long labor) so I remember getting home finally and having this immediate “they just let me walk out of there with a whole person? ME?” when I realized I wouldn’t have nurses right there to help and answer questions anymore. But everyone will be alone with their baby at some point and for most of us it happens way sooner than 8 weeks!

    18. Whataburger*

      Hi all, thanks for your comments. I didn’t want to make an already long post even longer with specific details as to why the moms came out here to help, but I meant to include that I don’t think I’m helpless or anything – I can handle it and obviously many people do so every day in better or worse conditions. I absolutely wouldn’t harshly tell her not to come back. MIL is wonderful, it’s a “hey, it’s a lot of back and forth for you to travel cross country and cases are high right now so it might be a better for everyone if you came back another time.” Baby has already been readmitted to the hospital once.

      I do think she should go, I don’t think that was clear in my post. The timing with everything is just unfortunate.

      1. Anono-me*

        First congratulations on baby!

        I think your fine for feeling disappointed and frustrated and a little worried right now. But I also think you were right not to express those feelings to your mother in law and support her going.

        1. Since baby has had health issues, maybe MIL should quarantine before returning or mask 100% upon return. Maybe talk to your baby’s doctor for advice.

        2. You mention your husband is away on military duty. There are usually quite a bit of resources both formal and informal available to military spouses, even if you aren’t near a base. You may want to reach out to whomever is the official contact.

        3. Since it sounds like there are health
        concerns, there is a wearable baby monitor built into a sock that will alert and wake you if anything reads funny.
        It is pricey but since people are buying plane tickets, I am hoping there is some financial cushion. (Target carried it one point. )

        4 Is there someone else who could come for a bit, a friend, your dad or another relative, would your mom be able to return? (If possible could you swing the airfare for someone who might not to able to come otherwise?)

        I think the timing of the wedding is a separate issue of concern about your brother in law. Yes there are many very good reasons to hold a wedding quickly. However, I would expect an effort to be made to include the immediate family of the groom and if not possible, then for the groom to share the reason for the exclusionary timing. This isn’t a big red flag on the groom’s relationship, but I do think it is something to think about in context of what you know about this particular relationship and possibly a signal to be vigilant for red flags and if you see them to be proactive in making sure your brother in law isn’t isolated from his family and friends and other independent resources.

    19. Not A Manager*

      Hi, OP. I’m really sympathetic because I remember how overwhelming a new baby was for me. Nonetheless, I think your MIL should go to the wedding. Unless you or the child have some condition that puts you at unusual risk, you’ll be able to care for the baby just fine on your own for a few days.

      In terms of your MIL coming back, I think that’s up to you and your risk tolerance. Are you and she fully vaccinated? Is the baby full-term and healthy? By the time she returns, you should have a very good sense of whether the baby contracted COVID from her *first* visit, so her return really isn’t adding more risk as much as it is resetting the original risk back to where it was the first time she arrived.

      I can’t quite follow your timetable but it looks like there’s only about three weeks coverage that you need from your mom’s departure to your husband’s arrival, and I’m not sure where you are in that in terms of your MIL’s stay. If her second visit would only cover a few days and it would make you anxious, then probably it’s not worth the extra help. On the other hand, you seem to really want the help (and maybe the adult company), so if you think the risk isn’t too high, you could ask her to come back and maybe even stay on a bit to enjoy her son’s return home.

      But however you decide, don’t tell her not to return because you’re angry that she wants to go to her other son’s wedding. That’s not fair, and it will very much damage your relationship.

    20. Sunshine*

      As a military family I assume you are near base. Can you reach out to family/counseling. Services. They usually have a new parents program. That person should be able to connect you to supports in the community. Also reach out to husbands units ombudsman. Get connected to other spouses. Military life is hard. There are good ways to connect.

    21. Macaroni Penguin*

      If I was the MIL, I’d flyout to the wedding and then come back to see my grandkid. Probably I’d also extend my grandbaby coverage trip on the back end. So, the support time would be shifted a bit but not lost overall. Is that a possibility for your family?
      But yeah, that’s a tough spot to be in. It’s understandable that you’re annoyed. Having a newborn is a big deal and a lot of work! (I have a nine month old). I would have loved weeks of family support.

    22. the cat's ass*

      Whew, dang. That is A LOT, for everybody. MIL should go to the wedding, and after you have made your COVID concerns known, she can return/test/isolate?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It sounds like the isolation period after she returns would be the remainder of her stay? MIL was only coming for two weeks total?

    23. HBJ*

      Let her go. And I say this as someone who has been left alone when my husband had a work trip a week and a half postpartum PLUS having 2 other children under four. I know that she committed to staying with you, but this is her child’s wedding. That’s a big deal. There’s no way I would hold someone to a commitment like this if it gets challenging or them, even for things much less major than a child’s wedding.

      I’ll also say I don’t think the baby is too young to fly. I know many people who’ve flown with babies less than a month old. In some cases, less than two weeks old.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Can confirm – I took my first flight cross-country at 8 days old, when smoking was still allowed on planes even, and survived the encounter.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Mine was 3 weeks- after his birth to a surrogate in Kyiv.

        Hands down, the was the easiest travel with him we ever had. He slept solid between the gate in Kyiv to Frankfurt and most of the war from FRA to ORD. We had one of the attachable bassinets that hook on the bulkhead wall so we could change him there instead of waiting in the neverending international line for as often as a newborn needs to be changed. He didn’t need to be entertained!

    24. fhqwhgads*

      I would stay put and help with the newborn, but I am also biased because I only stopped feeling like a complete zombie when my kid was 6 months old. And that happened very very very recently. It is very important that the adults in a house outnumber the baby at this point. Too-bad short-notice wedding people. Baby wins. They could’ve chosen a different date. They didn’t. Other commitments already exist. That’s what happens when you go short notice.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Sorry, no, it’s not essential that adults in the house outnumber the baby, really at any point but certainly not at six weeks. Many, many moms are alone with baby during the day and even overnight at that point. Even when I had newborn twins, my husband was back to work in a couple weeks, I had my MIL with me for a week after that, and then I was on my own with them all day. I’m not saying it’s not scary or difficult, but it’s certainly okay. And as a mom of three now older kids (one a young adult) I would never, never miss one of their weddings barring some kind of emergency that could not be overcome. This is an inconvenience but not an emergency.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I think we may just fundamentally value being at weddings differently. I mean, the MIL is gonna do what the MIL wants. The MIL isn’t asking the question. OP asked what we’d do if we were the MIL. If I were the MIL, I would A) not want to do the flying back and forth again due to COVID and B) want to keep the plans I’d already made. (and C, which you’ve already disagreed with: I think the person alone with the newborn needs my presence, rather than merely wanting it). I’d probably also be somewhat annoyed at my Short Notice Offspring for making me choose/wanting to me to come back in the middle of a trip for a non-emergency. In a vacuum I’d want to say I’d never miss my kid’s wedding, but if I’ve just left for a two week trip and my kid calls me up and says “come back I’m getting married before your trip is over” I’d be perplexed, and probably suspect they didn’t actually want me to come.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        It’s about the MIL wanting to be at her child’s wedding, not some baby vs. groom smackdown

      3. Pistachio*

        “It is very important that the adults in a house outnumber the baby at this point”
        What?
        That’s a really privileged perspective.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Ah yes, my priviledged perspective of having just lived through 4 hours of sleep a night for months and believing that for large chunks of the day, if my partner hadn’t been present it would not have been safe for me to do much.

          1. Pistachio*

            Yeah, you’re not the only one, you know. I have three kids and one of them still doesn’t sleep through the night on any regular basis and he’s almost 10. I had 1 day where my husband was home with me for the entire day after each birth. One day. We don’t have family to stay up and do our jobs as parents for weeks on end, just like millions of other parents on this planet.
            To claim “it is very important that the adults in a house outnumber the baby at this point” to the point where you Expect someone to miss their own child’s wedding is just outrageous.

    25. Maggie*

      It is her child’s wedding… so I think she should go and going is understandable. Can you invite close friends to check in with you on those days? I’d be happy to spend an afternoon helping a friend with a new baby, even if they were just like “can you do my laundry and get me some food” or whatever. Or just embrace that DoorDash life for a couple days and let the house get messy. It’s tough situation, but this is her kids wedding. And you were aware your husband would be gone these days, so she could have not volunteered at all if she didn’t want to. I’d recommend leaning on friends and delivery service to bridge the gap. Maybe something weird is going on with future SIL, maybe not, we may never know.

    26. marvin*

      This sounds like a really tough situation. I think your concerns about covid are totally valid!

      If I were you, I think I would avoid trying to push your MIL in either direction but if she does decide to go, see if you can collaborate on some ideas to make it easier to be on your own (especially if there is anyone else who could fill in). I would also reflect on what your covid boundaries are and try to communicate them as respectfully as you can.

      I think it would be understandable if she wants to go, but she should communicate with you and try to make the absence as easy on you as possible.

      1. marvin*

        Meant to add, I’m currently recovering from surgery so I understand the uncomfortable feeling of relying on someone and simultaneously being appreciative for the help and frustrated when they can’t always fulfill your needs. Solidarity!

    27. S*

      I think your feelings are valid, in the sense that postpartum is a trip and I didn’t feel like a competent, reasonable person until like 9 months in, and you are doing this thing by yourself.

      But. Helping you vs a wedding are on 2 different scales. And most importantly, she asked you and you didn’t say what you needed.so while it’s not wrong to feel upset because you had planned on this and now it’s changing, I do think it’s time to take a deep breath, make alternate plans, and wish your MIL and BIL well.

    28. Koala dreams*

      Your mother in law did only know about the wedding on short notice. After she knew she checked with you if it was okay for her to go. If you need her to stay with you, you need to say that. If you are unsure, why not have that discussion with your mother in law?

    29. Washi*

      This is a really tough situation! My son is 3 months now and I would absolutely be privately panicking in this situation, not so much because if the 3 days alone, but because my ability to gracefully handle the unexpected at that stage was practically nil. A lot of people are saying 6 weeks is an easy age but for me 4-6 weeks were the hardest! At that age my son was still only sleeping for 2 hours at a time at night but would fuss and fuss from 2pm – 10pm then often some bonus fussing from 2am-4am. I was constantly popping painkillers from the back pain of bouncing him for hours- he even needed to eat while bouncing. Yes I could put him down and he wouldn’t go anywhere, but he would scream his head off the whole time.

      I agree with the others that your MIL should go and you and baby will make it through this rough time, but wanted to just add a ton of validation about how hard this can be. For us things got better at 8 weeks, then dramatically better at 10 weeks. (Also I gave up on the nursing part of triple feeding around 8 weeks, not sure if feeding issues are something you are dealing with). Hang in there! You’ve probably already survived more than you thought you could handle, and you can handle this too.

      1. Ann Non*

        Absolutely this! Dealing with the unexpected when sleep-deprived is so hard!
        Also, if this is your first, who knows if there is some unexpected post partum anxiety in the mix to make everything seem worse.
        I would try to throw money at the problem. See if you can get a postpartum doula or mother’s helper if you don’t have friends in the area who can hold the baby while you shower…

    30. Esmeralda*

      You will survive for three days alone with your baby. You will. You can have her mask up and test several times once she gets back.

      Let your mil go to her SON’S wedding. And please be kind and supportive about it.

      I totally understand your feelings. But you are not in fact SOL. You’re capable of taking care of baby for a few days.

    31. Bumblebeee*

      Yikes. There’s a lot of unkind and dismissive replies here. If I were MIL I would go to the wedding, but that same point can be made without minimizing the stress and anxiety that come along with having an infant. I hope you can ignore the “it’s only a six week old baby!” comments because yes, even at that stage of babyhood it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. It takes awhile (ie frequently longer than 6w) to recover physically and emotionally from pregnancy and childbirth. At six weeks you’re still very much getting used to being a parent, even if you’re a second, third, etc time parent. You’re sleep deprived and trying to keep alive a non verbal human who frequently cries for no reason for long periods of time.

      Plus you were counting on MIL being available this whole time, and I totally get why the sudden change of plans would be disappointing. All of us – including self righteous internet commenters – are wired to act and think and feel in our own best interests. Of course it’s understandable you feel resentful.

      You’re allowed to feel angry, annoyed, irritated, inconvenienced, whatever. To encourage your MIL to leave without guilt despite these feelings show you are a considerate DIL. Good luck.

    32. Gnome*

      This is gonna suck for you, but I think she should go. Yes, it would be nice to have help (and company), but it’s just not always possible.
      Maybe she can do a big batch of cooking and stock up the fridge before she goes so you don’t have to worry about that (or whatever else would be helpful).

      I say this with love, but I have been there and done that, and you will be ok. Look at your little one and imagine missing a milestone in their life, and send MIL on with love. Then arrange to talk/Zoom with friends or family on something of a schedule so you don’t feel isolated, plan to go on a daily walk to get out of the house, and just do the best you can. It will be an extra week or two, but you have birth so you know you can handle it!

      Good luck, and may the night sleep schedule get sorted out quickly!

    33. Choggy*

      If possible, try to put yourself in your MILs shoes, she is, as you write, between a rock and a hard place. If she will only be away for three days, and will have to do some quarantining when she’s back, so be it. Do you have any friends in the area, mommy groups, etc. that you can lean on for support in the interim? If your husband is in the military, won’t he be away other times in the future where you will be alone? Might be a good time for you to bond alone with your baby too.

  9. Melanie Cavill*

    Any advice on getting over… a crush? interest? what’s the appropriate adult word here?… on a very unavailable friend?

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Time, tbh.
      Or:
      Not idealising them if you can (think of that annoying thing they do, there will be one, and reminding yourself you’d never be able to live with that!).
      Do you have a sensible other friend who can give you a talking-to? “Melanie, it’s never going to happen, now repeat after me…NEXT PLEASE!”
      Revisiting a favourite film, tv or book with a crushable character, and indulge in a little daydreaming. A delightful little fantasy where Jason Momoa* bumps into you on the street and apologises, then looks into your eyes… Gosh even fanfic if that floats your boat.
      *other hot people are available you can think about anyone you like

    2. Despachito*

      Avoid them, at least situations one-in-one.

      Let yourself fantasize a bit if this helps you, find other things to be occupied with.

      It will fade away.

    3. Asenath*

      Avoid them, and find some distraction (or distracting thought) every time they float into your mind in a romantic context. The interest will fade slowly for lack of nourishment.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Full up your days. Get a project going on that ties up most of your thinking. You could even do a project with a friend (volunteer work, friend’s project) and just let the friend pull you through this time with their exuberance about the project you two are doing. You don’t have to tell the friend the reason why you need something to do. You can just say that you decided you’d like to do different things right now.

    5. Anonosaurus*

      I’m suffering from this just now too, and the way I’m coping is by reminding myself that the pants feelings won’t last but I want our friendship to continue, so I don’t want the relationship we’re not having to screw up the one we’re not having. how this works in practice is I have boundaries about what I tell him and expect from him, I don’t allow myself to daydream about Us Being Together and I keep looking for an available partner (the crush helps with this actually because I can say to myself that “X’s quality is something I am looking for”.

      but all in all ya just gotta outlast it really

    6. aubrey*

      Cultivate a different crush, maybe on a celebrity or character. And avoid the friend when you can to let the crush die down. Don’t dwell on it or try to force it to go away, just starve it and/or replace it!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      That happened to me once, and it resolved itself rather abruptly when I saw him pick his nose, inspect the result, and then casually wipe it on his pants. Ew!

    8. marvin*

      I’m going to go against the grain here and suggest that you just try to enjoy the crush if you can. If you are able to accept that nothing will come of it, a crush can be fun and remind you of the qualities you most like about your friend. It will eventually fade on its own.

      1. the cat's ass*

        came here to say the same! I really enjoyed my pointless crush. It gave me a cheerful little bubble to float around in at work when things in my personal life were really stressful, so it was a nice distraction. And it ultimately faded, as these things do. i still think about Mr. Crush every no and again with affection; no one ever knew, except you, dear readers!

      2. Melanie Cavill*

        That’s a really sweet way of looking at it! It is definitely fun having a schoolgirl crush despite not being much of a schoolgirl anymore. Knowing the friend exists fills me with joy and there’s nothing wrong with a bit more joy in the world.

    9. Liz in the Midwest*

      I’d suggest not worrying about it overly much. The more it is A Thing in your head, the bigger and bigger it becomes. But if you’re just like, eh, crushes are normal, sure, I have a crush on this person, no big deal or reason to freak out, it might be easier to manage.

    10. Also cute and fluffy!*

      I like what Captain Awkward had to say in the post “Golden Retriever/Kwisatz Haderach of Love.”

      “…[it’s really] frustrating to try to talk yourself out of having a feeling or beat yourself up for having a feeling at the same time you’re having the feeling. So just have the feeling. Just be the Golden Retriever of Love… You just feel what you feel, and you’ll feel until one day you stop, and you can’t decide when that is, so don’t even try.”

      And in the meantime, enjoy the energy or the good things you get out of the crush. You might find the energy to solve a lingering problem in your life, try out new things with your appearance, or take up a fun hobby or activity.

    11. Sundial*

      What will work best will depend on your personality. For me, it was fixating on the guy’s flaws until I had basically reprogrammed my brain. I excel at obsessing, so really digging my teeth into a few minor issues he had was enough to change my feelings.

    12. Angstrom*

      What helped me was thinking about the infinite parallel universe theory of crushes: If there is an infinity of parallel universes, that means that somewhere in a different universe we are together and having a good time. Here and now? Not going to happen.

      Sounds weird, but I can enjoy the thought of other-me being happy while real-me gets on with doing the right thing.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        Oh, I like that a lot! It’s more solid than daydreaming about any impossibilities here and now.

    13. Gnome*

      Look for things they do that would be super annoying to live with. Just drop a big ol dose of reality on your brain.

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

      I don’t have real good advice on the getting over part except that in my experience just telling the person and being rejected works WONDERS for making the interest go away. But I know if it’s a friendship you don’t want to make weird, that’s not as much of an option.

      So if you’re stuck with an unrequited crush, my advice is just milk it for what it’s worth for introspection. Journal the heck out of what you like about them and why that’s important to you. Maybe they’re really kind, ok, so why do you need that kindness in your life, and how are you going to try and get it? Maybe they’re really bold, ok, so does part of you wish YOU could be that bold? How can you work towards that? I feel like so many crushes I’ve had are not just straightforward sexual attraction, but are all tangled up with my broader desires and goals for my life when I really stop and examine the specific cravings.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        They’re my friend’s ex-husband, unfortunately, so confessing as a method of moving on is definitely out of the question. It isn’t just that they’re in a relationship, there are many situational reasons why they are unavailable to me specifically.

        I do like the journaling/introspection idea, though! Thank you.

  10. Scot Librarian*

    It’s tough, but the only way is to resolutely turn your mind away from thinking about them every time you catch yourself. Make sure that any time you spend with them is not something you’d do on a date (eg going to the cinema or a meal just the 2 of you). It’s really hard and painful, but imagine you are trainjng your mind like you’d train a muscle. So you have a thought about them and you immediately think ‘no, inappropriate’ and then force yourself to think about something totally different. Good luck

  11. Scot Librarian*

    I have noticed that Keymaster of Gozer has not posted for a while, hope they are doing okay. I really enjoyed their comments

      1. the cat's ass*

        Keymaster is awesome and i was relieved to see them this week after a bit of a gap.

        This is a really great community-thank you all!

      2. Cj*

        I have also been worried about them, because the last time I remember them posting before this week they were in the hospital after surgery.

        I did miss their posts this week, so I’m glad to hear they are back.

  12. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    I stumbled across the AAM column where the bosses were making their staff cough up $40 a week for lunches that everybody had to sit down and eat. Someone in the comments mentioned a burrito cart that used to be located at 15th & K Streets NW in Washington DC, and that brought back a flood of memories.

    From around 1999 to 2003* I used to [do the thing we can’t talk about on the weekend] in the Southern Railway building at 15th & K and would get a burrito from that cart every Friday. They were hands down the best burritos I’d ever eaten! The original owner had gone to a highly-ranked cooking school and it showed. Then an illness in the family forced him to sell it and the guy who bought him out just couldn’t match the quality. I stopped going after that.

    Then we got relocated to a different part of town and that was that. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years… I miss those damned things.

    *The Southern Railway building is about a block and a half from the White House and yes, I was at [the place we can’t talk about on weekends] on 9/11. Missed the crash at the Pentagon by five or ten minutes — I lived in Arlington at the time and would switch from the bus to the Metro at the station there.

    1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      And for anyone else who remembers the cart, he apparently is now running the Salsa Cafe in Wheeling, WV. Might be worth a day trip!

    2. Madame Arcati*

      Ah, weekday lunch nostalgia. [Voice of old lady in Titanic -] it’s been five years…. I used to frequent a little food market in Pimlico, London, where half a dozen stall holders would cook/prepare and serve a couple of dishes each and they were all delicious. The pad Thai was probably the most popular but I loved the chicken with sumac from the Jordanian stall, the chicken katsu curry from the Japanese stall, the felafel wrap with halloumi*, the shish kebabs….
      *no autocorrect I did not like gallium on my felafel…

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Boca Grande burritos in Cambridge MA. So good, and they were our toddler’s favorite food when we lived in Somerville. I’ve never matched those.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I’m totally flashing on the memory of blundering through the underlit, spooky and leaky underground tunnels beneath the Longwood medical area to pop up at the falafel joint on Ave Louis Pasteur. They were open till 3 am and many a night shifter was very grateful to have an amazing meal that far into the night.

  13. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Summer is icumen tf outta here and I am looking forward to starting to exercise again- I find it so much harder in hot weather. As the AAM forums as my witness, I’m going to go for an 1hr+ walk at least every second day, and pick my weights up again. Not aiming to go from zero to a hundred- one or two sessions in a month will be enough to start momentum.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Now you are making want to write an obscene filk version. “Lhude sing cuccu” lends its itself to the treatment.

      1. fposte*

        I bet there were obscene filk versions in the day. But there’s also Ezra Pound’s “Winter is icumen in, lhude sing goddamn.”

    2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’m trying to start weights again too! (Though I’m in the southern hemisphere so summer is icumen here.) Good luck!

    3. ccr*

      I keep telling myself, anything I do exercise-wise is better than nothing. Is 20 minutes of water aerobics a lot? No. But it’s 20 minutes more than if I don’t do any, and then I can work my way up. I can do it, you can do it!

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Go you!!! I’d gotten into a solid habit of walking at least 1 mile every evening and then I went on vacation and got Covid in July, started a new job and moved in August, so yesterday was my first walk in a long time. It felt good to get out again and I hope I can reestablish the routine quickly.

      1. Bart*

        I just got serious about walking after two years of nothing. I read an article about the benefits of a brief walk after meals and started trying to take a 15 minute walk after lunch at work and then a longer walk at home after dinner. I am one month in and I feel so good! Good luck to you!

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      Oh, I feel you there! I need to get back into it but we had our hottest weather on record here this summer, so exercising then was a nope.

  14. Aviane DuMer*

    Tips for getting ready (and getting motivated) for a big home move? My moving date has been pushed out and out, largely at my own direction as I’m nursing a bad hip since a car accident a few months ago that makes bending/lifting very difficult, but I am conscious I need someone to kick me in the bottom and get started. I am surrounded by stuff. Furniture I know isn’t coming with me, clothes that haven’t fit me since 80lbs ago and enough kitchen gadgets to open a diner. I get overwhelmed just looking at it. I tried Kondo and she just didn’t hit the mark for me. If you have tips/recommendations, including YouTube and podcasts, I’m all ears.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have emptied 4 houses that were not mine. (Long story) My first step was to remove the things that I did not want, were broken, were out dated or did not work like they were supposed to (disappointing items). Just get rid of that much and see what the next layer is. You may want to hire a company to make a one time large pick up of trash.

      Maybe a lawn sale is in your future?
      If you prefer to just donate stuff, some groups will come pick it up for you.
      Maybe you have friends who would be happy to have some items.
      If someone in your area had a house fire you might be able to get rid of stuff that way- but only the good stuff that you don’t want.
      Here I can put stuff on my front lawn with a free sign and it’s gone within 24 hours.

      I just read a cool thing- someone said have 3 goals every day for a month. At the end of the month your setting will change. I like that one a lot. I think this can help here.

      Back to emptying houses. My next layer was the stuff that I was definitely going to keep but did not immediately need. This could be xmas ornaments, mementos, decorative items. etc.
      Clear out a corner some where and start boxing and stacking. You can get free boxes at almost any retail place- but some places are better than others. I get boxes at liquor stores and paint stores. Their shipping boxes are strong but they are not huge in size. I can lift the box once I pack it. Label EVERY box. Get plenty of black markers. When I did one house I even went as far as numbering the boxes so I knew they all arrived at the next destination.

      My next layer was I realized I wanted to get rid of more. At this point, I just started donating because I needed the process to move along. If you have a neighborhood/town forum you can advertise the items.

      This is daunting on many levels. It’s not just the physical energy, it’s also a lot of emotional stuff. Ask friends/family to help for a few hours here and there. Pick something like packing up the good china or a bunch of items to donate and ask a friend to help for a couple hours. It’s amazing how lighter things get when even just one person is helping.

      I did find that the process is like a dam breaking. I kept going and going. It felt like I was spinning my wheels. Shortly after that feeling of defeat really set in, the dam broke and I was down to just a few items. I got rid of those things and I was done. So sometimes gaining ground does not feel like it. Just keep pushing along doing something each day. Be sure to rest, hydrate and eat real meals.

      1. Pippa K*

        “ I have emptied 4 houses that were not mine.”

        In my imagination, this is a statement made in court in connection with a plea agreement, and I’m now imagining you as a burglar at the end of a prolific career.

        (…or is it the end?? Cue music and film titles, and it’s the start of a retired-criminals-caper movie.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          LOL. Our parents had four houses all total.

          “Judge, believe me when I say, I am so Done with emptying houses.”

          1. eeeek*

            UGH. My partner and I are still dealing with the contents of two houses and two apartments (most of which were dumped into storage lockers in 3 different US states). I have had to hold the line that moving stuff into our basement is not the way to empty houses. And I fantasize about walking away from the storage lockers and someday seeing the 20 place setting family china (custom-made! many serving pieces!) appear in a Storage Wars episode…
            SO DONE.

      2. Inkhorn*

        +1 for numbering the boxes. I did that when I moved recently, and kept a notebook with a brief inventory of each box’s contents. Made it SO much easier to find the things I needed at the other end.

    2. Ranon*

      Dana K White has some great books and a podcast on decluttering without exploding your whole living space in the process, might be helpful.

      In the meantime, first step is throw away the trash. This may mean a dumpster or some other kind of junk haul off service.

      Then if there’s any sort of charity near you that does pickup of donations, call them, get on the schedule, and start figuring out what you’re giving them. Maybe schedule two trips a few weeks apart, sounds like one and done is not likely to be the case- and that’s fine, it’s a process! Everything that leaves your house is one thing that’s not in your house.

      If you’re in an area with an active Buy Nothing group, those can be useful- ours has traveling bins of clothes that folks started basically by saying “bin of clothes in x size, take what you want and pass it on”. Ours have also been good for getting rid of random pantry items and toiletries and all kinds of stuff

      Most important, every single thing that leaves your house or gets packed or what have you is one step closer to you moving. This isn’t an instantaneous process, you just have to do one thing at a time until you’re through, or at least far enough along you can finish your move and deal with the rest at the other end

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Agreed with Buy Nothing on Facebook. It’s not for everyone, because some people don’t have facebook and some places don’t have an active group, but mine is active and I have rehomed so many things. Everyone is delighted to pick it up from me, so it makes me feel good.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          There is also an APP which I was delighted to learn about (Here on AAM!) because I gave up Facebook last December. It works a little different than FB groups, but is easy to use.

      2. One of many Sarahs*

        I *just* moved a week ago (still in transit cross-country to my new home, with some stops along the way), and what really helped me was having a friend come over to help get me started packing. And then a few friends came over to help out for a couple hours here and there. But for getting started, it was key to helping with the motivation factor!
        Also, if you are not partnered, and assuming you are hiring professional movers, I highly recommend having a friend over the day of the move to help with logistics — it made a big difference for me!

    3. Ellis Bell*

      If you’re overwhelmed by looking at all the stuff you don’t want, maybe start by collating all the stuff you do want? As you put clothes away, hang them all on the left so you can see a big grouping of all your commonly worn stuff. When it’s time to pack them, just do the garbage bag trick by bagging the collection from the bottom and tying the hangers together. Try to choose one cupboard or set of cupboards for your “must have” kitchen implements. This is where you will go to, to box up stuff for your car, for that first box that you will open so you can have a cup a tea, make a sandwich and fry something quick for dinner. Thinking about what essentials you’d want for your personal suitcase etc. Before I moved into my house, I knew I was going to be in an interim place for quite a while, so one of my big tricks was using things like drawer organizer boxes. I knew in both moves I’d want my underwear drawer easy to hand, so I just used a roll of sturdy plastic wrap to cover up my box of underwear or favorite sweaters. When I got to the new place I just unwrapped it and placed the undisturbed box in a drawer. It was the same with my bathroom. I had tons of stuff in there that I didn’t necessarily want to toss, but it was really easy to identify the stuff I’d want to pack first. Once you’ve got all your essentials in designated zones which are easy to pack, only then start looking at the rest of it. Then put the rest of it in boxes. You can either do “toss, donate, keep” boxes or just box it up with listed items on the outside to be decided when you’re done. It can help to think “My mover will charge me x per box, is it worth moving this box at that charge or is it better to just donate it”.

    4. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      Bob Villa has a good 13 step moving guide. There is a printable moving checklist from U-Pack and UnF*Your Habitat has advice plus motivation. I’ve also found Hoarders to be motivating.
      I have 9 days until we close on the sale of our house. Just returned from 2 weeks of house hunting in another state (Found one! Yay!), so I know I have to really push to have everything out and clean and I’m procrastinating by reading AAM because sometimes I just need a minute to re-center myself. Be kind to yourself. Be cautious not to reinjure yourself. You’ve got this!

    5. Katie*

      I have issues of getting started a lot. For me getting started is the problem. Once I start, I get keep going. Start one closest at a time purging. Box up the stuff you are not going to use now.

    6. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Was in a similar spot a few years back. I hired a college student for 20 hours a week to do the physical stuff while I made decisions. It made a world of difference. She was the daughter of a family friend and I also enjoyed getting to know her better, learning to appreciate her music (and I think she learned to enjoy some of mine, too!)
      It also helped tremendously to know “Anna will be here from 2-6 today” so I couldn’t procrastinate and skip that day. I had to have a plan for what we would do together.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      This book looks both helpful and compassionate: “Keep the memories, lose the stuff: Declutter, downsize, and move forward with your life” by Matt Paxton. Published in 2022. Rather than just telling the reader to get rid of it already, he probes into and guides the reader through the emotional overlayers of sorting and purging.

      Also waiting for me at the local library is: “Let it go: Downsizing your way to a richer, happier life” by Peter Walsh. Published in 2019.

      The Institute for Challenging Disorganization has a list of books by some of its member professionals at https://www.challengingdisorganization.org/icd-authors

      There’s an enormous body of literature and other information about decluttering, downsizing, and organizing. You can browse at your library or look online for websites and/or other resource lists.

      Good luck! It’s a worthwhile but difficult challenge.

  15. Richard Hershberger*

    Just emailed my manuscript to my editor two weeks ago: working title The Rise of Baseball: 1744-1871. University presses operate at a stately pace. Release likely will not be until spring of 2024.

    1. sagewhiz*

      Congrats, Richard! It’s been so interesting to see your periodic posts mentioning the book.

      Now come the hard parts, as you know: the waiting (another 6 mo. before my novel is out, sigh) and developing the marketing plan (ugh).

      I wish images could be posted here so you could share the cover when it’s ready!

    2. bratschegirl*

      Mazel tov! Our SIL is a serious baseball devotee and would love this book. Please let us know when it’s out!

  16. Thank you gifts*

    Suggestions requested! I had to have some work done in my apartment and that turned out to be more complicated than expected so a neighbor agreed to take my cats for the duration (it’ll probably be 2 weeks total when this is all done). I want to thank them for really going above and beyond but I am not totally sure what I can give them. A fancy box of chocolates seems insufficient. I thought about a large gift certificate to their favorite store but that seems a bit like giving cash so not ideal. Any ideas?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I actually think specialty food is good, especially if you know them well enough to avoid obvious pitfalls (liquor to nondrinkers, sweets to diabetics). Something that they wouldn’t buy for themselves usually–not because they can’t afford the price tag, but because they think “$40 for a box of chocolates… no, too indulgent.”

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I like flowers (or voucher for florist) for the same reason – feels indulgent to get them for yourself, a real treat to get as a gift.

      2. Clisby*

        It’s good if you know the recipient likes the thing you’re buying. I’m not diabetic, but I don’t like most sweet food. An expensive box of chocolates would be a complete waste of money and would just end up in the trash if I couldn’t find someone to give it to. I would love a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’m a fan of getting the gift card for their favorite store and sign it from you and the cats. Put it in a thank you card. Tell Neighbor what it meant to you to have a trustworthy friend help out.

    3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      The gift card is actually a very good idea. Maybe combine that with a restaurant gift card, too (one that has a takeout option). Giving cash or gift cards is much better than trying to buy an object for someone. You can also offer to watch their pets next time they are out of town.

    4. A Becky*

      I had success with handmade Very Fiddly Cookies. A local friend stood interpreter at the bank so we could get our mortgage, and answered a lot of questions for us so I made her a big batch of German cookies that are essentially sugar cookie wrapped around a hazelnut creme core. Yes I also made the hazelnut creme.

    5. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Maybe an overnight stay at a resort an hour or two away from them? As young marrieds we moved into my aunt and uncle’s place for two weeks and supervised their teens while they went to Europe for their 25th anniversary. They paid us for it, but also gifted us a night stay at a place like this and it was really appreciated!

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Team gift certificate. I’ve done favors for people, and I agree that cash can feel a bit odd but the gift certificate worked very well. Maybe a couple little chocolates to go with the gift certificate if you really want to have something in a box.

    7. MJ*

      After a particularly crazy first year in my job (a charity I joined just before the pandemic hit) the board of directors gifted me a food hamper as thanks for all the extra work. It was full of Italian themed foods (pasta, bruschetta topping, olive oil, bread sticks, sun dried tomatoes, olives, +++) of a better quality than I would buy for myself. I didn’t like everything in there, but was able to share with family & friends.

  17. Seeking San Francisco Recommendations*

    I am in the Bay Area for a work offsite in October, and I am staying an extra day to hang out in San Francisco. I am looking for recommendations for places to stay, eat, and go. Is there a good area to stay in that is somewhat central (I’ve been looking near the Ferry Building)? I have been to SF before, but only for a couple of days and it was years ago. If the weather is nice I’d like to be outside, so I was thinking about the botanical garden or maybe a boat tour (I love the water). I visited Alcatraz on my last visit, which I loved, much to my surprise. Any thing I must see/do?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Recommended:
      • Take a ferry to Angel Island to hike. Really lovely views all around. If you dislike crowds (my spouse) a nice break from them that doesn’t need a car or a lot of travel time.
      • The botanical garden, Japanese garden, and DeYoung museum, all close to each other. I hit the third just based on proximity and was delighted to discover that it was full of art by living artists, or who were living when the work was purchased–I wound up enjoying this one a lot more than the SF Museum of Modern Art.

      The best restaurants I ate in on a trip on the eve of the pandemic were Mourad (Moroccan) and Kin Khao (Asian fusion). Both Michelin starred; the latter had a prix fixe menu that was only two digits and really good.

    2. I Left My Heart...*

      There is a phenomenal exhibit at the Legion of Honor museum right now. Do a search for “Guo Pei” and you’ll see. A Google search will show you much more than just looking at the museum website. But the pictures don’t do it justice. They are officially “dresses,” but as my husband said, they are really works of art. Many are designed to look like buildings, eggs, china plates, all sorts of things, with astounding design and workmanship. Well worth seeing. Bonus: the view from the Legion of Honor can’t be beat, and there are wonderful places to walk or hike up there. In addition to the permanent collection you mentioned at the de Young museum, they currently have an exhibit of ancient Egyptian items from the reign of Ramses. That one you would definitely need to buy timed tickets for in advance (recommended for Guo Pei too, but possibly not as necessary). As for a “centrally located” place to stay, not sure what you mean. Downtown used to be the place people wanted to stay but unless you need to be near the high-end shopping, there’s no reason really to stay there and it’s become, I’m sorry to say, pretty squalid. Be very careful about booking anything that says it’s “one block from Union Square.” There are nice hotels there but there are also places one block from Union Square that are in one of the worst neighborhoods. Highly recommend reading online reviews before you book anything, no matter the neighborhood. I second your instinct to visit the Botanical Garden, it’s wonderful, as is the Conservatory of Flowers (also in Golden Gate Park) if you don’t mind going inside. Have a wonderful visit!

      1. I Left My Heart...*

        Oops, someone else (not the OP) recommended the de Young permanent collection and the Botanical Garden. But they’re right! :-)

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I recommend De Young over Legion if there’s only a day — Legion is a long trek on the bus. DY is still a hike from, say, Embarcadero, but it’s more central and in GG park so two birds and all that.

        1. I Left My Heart...*

          You are totally right about public transportation to the Legion of Honor — it’s a real haul, and I wouldn’t probably recommend it. But if the OP is taking Lyft or something similar, not an issue other than expense.

    3. CatCat*

      Go to the cable car museum. It’s free and fascinating! They actually operated the cables from the building and you can learn all about the history and how the system works. You can walk through Chinatown to get there and will go off the beaten/touristy path. Stop at The Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant for lunch along the way. Be sure to ride a cable car if you’ve never done it. Super fun!

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I love taking the bus to the Sutro Baths and walking around that area.
      Riding the streetcar- catch it in Chinatown to avoid the crowds.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed the Sutro Baths area too. (I noticed that the Cliff House has apparently closed, as of 2021; there would still be plenty to look at in the area, but I thought I’d mention it.)

        One of my favorite non-scenery elements there was the Camera Obscura, situated near the Cliff House and designed to look like a big camera. (The exterior strikes me as rather cheesy, but the actual camera effects inside are stunning – though if you’re there on a foggy day it might be less spectacular.)

    5. the cat's ass*

      The weather is always strange, so packing layers is a good idea. The Academy of Science in GG park is great, as is MOCA. Having dim sum at Yank Sing is always a highlight tho it’s an expensive treat. And Japantown is always fun with lots of funky little places to eat. If you had a bit more time, I’d say BART over to Berkeley and have lunch upstairs at Chez Panizze and hit the Berkeley Art Museum, right across from Cal. I hope you have a terrific time!

      1. Kathleen Hei*

        If you want to go out whale watching, ignore the big ships and SF Bay. Monterrey Bay is 90ish minutes south, but Sanctuary Cruises is THE best- smaller ship, biodiesel fuel, which absolutely wards off seasickness, run by actual marine biologists, and if you are local and don’t see at least dolphins, they will give you credit for another cruise. They are THE best.

        Otherwise in SF, the Oceanside is always cold, regardless of the time of year. October is usually nice for Bayside, but can be dicey. Always pack a windbreakers. A warm one out on the water!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I’m a Bay Area local who hasn’t been whale-watching, nor to Monterey, in forever. I’m making a note of this tip for a weekend visit to treat myself.

    6. zyx*

      SF’s nicest weather happens in September and October, so I hope you’ll get to enjoy some of it! I love walking and museums, so here are some recommendations that combine the two:

      – SFMOMA is the closest big museum if you’re staying downtown, and it’s right across from Yerba Buena Gardens, which has regular free concerts and other events. My friend who works at SFMOMA recommends the Grove for a nearby meal.
      – Golden Gate Park is lovely, and the Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, de Young, and California Academy of Sciences are close to each other. GGP is huge—you could easily spend all day walking around it—and there is lots of good food near Irving St. south of the park.
      – The Legion of Honor museum has an amazing special exhibit of Guo Pei’s work. I’m not usually into fashion, but I loved it. You can pair a museum visit with a walk/hike along the Land’s End trail nearby and eat along Clement St. on your way there or back. I recommend Burma Superstar for a meal—if the wait there is too long, Burma Star is their second location on the same street.
      – Angel Island has nice trails and gorgeous views on a clear day. It also has a small but beautifully put-together museum about the island’s history as an immigration center and the people who came through. You can take a ferry there. There is a cafe on the island that I found just okay, but maybe non-vegetarians would like it better than I did.

      I hope you enjoy your visit!

    7. EJ*

      Muir Woods! If you have the time, take the ferry to Sausalito and the shuttle to Muir woods to see the giant redwoods. So beautiful! We loved walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. The library offers free walking tours of all sorts of cool things, we did a “gold rush city” walking tour and it was awesome. Book ahead and plan to donate some for the program.

    8. Seeking San Francisco Recommendations*

      Thank you for all the recommendations! Assuming the weather is nice, I will spend it at Golden Gate Park – there is so much to do there!

  18. Falling Diphthong*

    Fall books are coming out! I have ordered the following:

    Sep 13: What If? 2 by Randall Munroe. The xkcd author answers questions it had not occurred to you to ask.
    Sep 20: The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman, third in the Thursday Murder Club series. A group living in a retirement community solve murders with with and style.
    Sep 27: The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, conclusion of the Scholomance series. My most anticipated, it examines living in a magical high school full of things that want to kill you like that was actually horribly stressful rather than good fun.
    Oct 11: Dashing Through the Snowbirds by Donna Andrews, the next Meg Langslow Christmas mystery.
    Nov 1: The World We Make by N.K. Jemisen, second in the Cities duology.

    And as a bonus, coming sometime next week, a discounted version of the third book in the Inheritance Games trilogy by JL Barnes, after I slurped down the second in a couple of days and then got a look at the length of the waiting list. This is a primacy-of-plot YA, in which puzzles are produced and stuff happens at a rapid clip. I wish the characterization were a lot deeper, though the characters are likeable–I expect that I will read this in a day or two and then give it to the library book sale, where the other stuff on my list I expect to get a lot of rereads out of.

    In movies and TV, I am really excited for Wakanda Forever.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Oh, I hadn’t heard about the Scholomance series! I LOVED the Temeraire series but really didn’t like… ugh can’t remember the title, the Polish folktale retelling, and I must have been so disappointed that I missed the new series. Realistic magical schools are EXTREMELY my bag so I will xheck it out.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is one of my favorite series of all time and I highly recommend it. I couldn’t get into the fairy tale retellings–admired the craft but didn’t fall into the story.

      2. marvin*

        I wasn’t a fan of Uprooted either, so I was surprised that I liked the Scholomance series as much as I did. Now would be a great time to get into it when you won’t have to wait long for the final one to come out. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while.

      3. Forensic13*

        See that’s funny, because I love the fairy tale retellings but didn’t like the dragon ones. They are VERY different books.

        LOVE Scholomance. I preordered the new one because you get a little extra booklet for doing so from stores and I’m a huge nerd for this series and want all the extra goodies.

      4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I also highly recommend the Scholomance series, but don’t start it until the 3rd comes out! The author indulged in some very cliffhanging cliffhangers. Both books, but particularly the 2nd.

        I re-read the first two recently in anticipation of the new release. It was a mistake.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Hmm. I found the endings of the first two very satisfying. It wound up the arcs of those books and finished at the end of the academic year. I really wanted to find out what happened next, but I’d consider the closing lines more good set-up for the next books.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Nonfiction, but I’m eagerly awaiting On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Sept 13!

      2. RosyGlasses*

        I believe in a few weeks another of the Dresden Files will release. I’ve read them all and while I can tell the author is getting to the end of his creativity and spark – they have all been hilarious and enjoyable. Thanks for posting this – I had somewhat forgotten to take a peek at what was coming out soon!

    2. AY*

      I am eagerly anticipating Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel, the Marriage Portrait, which should be out next week! I also have already reserved Barbara Kingsolver’s retelling of David Copperfield and the new Cormac McCarthy book (never read him–seemed like a good opportunity to try!) at my library.

      Really enjoyed the first Thursday Murder Club book and plan to pick up book 2 sometime in the winter when I need a mood lifter!

    3. Jay*

      Can’t wait for the Meg Langslow book! Love that series! And my husband just bought the first in the Cities duology, so that’s on my list as well.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m excited for the final season of HBO’s His Dark Materials. I can’t imagine how they’re going to do the mulefa and I really hope it’s handled well! I’m going to be so sad if they’re terribly CGI’d or have their role significantly reduced, they were my favorite part of the third book.

  19. HannahS*

    A child’s first birthday party! Advice wanted. We’re thinking lunch in a park with friends and family. Likely a short baby-naming ceremony led by a family member who is a rabbi. We were very, very cautious through covid and did not have a baby-naming earlier. There won’t actually be many (or any) other children there, as we’re the first of our local friends and family to have a baby.

    What are the nicest things you’ve seen at a 1st birthday party?
    What are things that people tried that fell flat, in your opinion?
    If you’ve attended/had Jewish baby namings, what did you like/wish for?
    What does your culture do to celebrate new arrivals?

    1. HannahS*

      Oh and thank you SO MUCH to everyone who offered suggestions of gifts for a 1 year-old. One relative already sent me pictures of second-hand mega blocks, another sourced some ride-on toys, and my grandma is getting us a little table.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you are going to do a smash cake, try a vegan recipe. They crumble MAGNIFICENTLY, or at least the one I used did. Baby ended up with a pile of crumbs and green icing up to his eyebrows.

    3. Jay*

      We sponsored an oneg at a family shabbat service for our kid’s first birthday and we served cupcakes. She could actually eat and enjoy a cupcake – she’s 22 so “smashcakes” weren’t a thing and I had no interest in having her any more covered in goo than she normally managed.

      My favorite thing about baby namings is hearing the story of the name that was chosen and what it means to the family. I’ve also seen people hand the baby down the generations starting with the oldest generation present – so great-grandma to grandma to parents, if you’re lucky enough to have your own grandparents there. That would be more difficult with a one-year-old than with a smaller baby!

      My least favorite thing about kid birthday parties at any age is opening gifts in public. We did not do that at any of her parties. I think it’s overstimulating and chaotic and confusing to really little kids. We put the gifts aside with profuse thanks and she opened them afterwards – when she was really little we doled them out a few at a time. That allowed us to respond to the gifts appropriately without insulting the givers. My parents, in particular, were not receptive to guidance and had a tendency to give her presents that we did not want her to have. And there were often duplicates that we would donate, regift, or return.

      1. Sloanicota*

        See this is interesting – my sister did this one year when her kids were maybe four or five, setting aside a lot of the Christmas gifts and saving them to be opened a few at a time over I think the next month or so. I’m sure the kids do get overstimulated and that is wrong too, but I also wondered if they thought I had forgotten them at Christmas and why someone had stored up a random January gift! It was fine but I’d rather she’d asked for no gifts and had people just send food, or something, somehow.

        1. Nack*

          As a mom to a five year old, I can say that in my experience, my kid has never really grasped exactly which day is Christmas, or who has given him which gift. We tend to got lots of presents in the mail from far away family and so we open them as they come, and draw it out after Christmas as well. We have a pretty large family and it is simply overwhelming for him to open 25 gifts in one day (almost all toys of course!)

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Opening them over the course of a month is… interesting. I see where the idea came from: when my son was that age and younger, it took all day/multiple days to unwrap presents because he wanted to play with each toy as he unwrapped it. Plus one year my husband’s uncle sent 6-7 inexpensive and unwrapped gifts for my son’s birthday, which was a bit much on top of his other gifts, and we held some until the next major gift-giving holiday. But opening them over the course of a month feels a bit… odd, for some reason!

        3. Jay*

          My kid’s birthday is at the end of January. We are Jewish. My husband’s family is not. So our holiday season started with Chanukah – sometimes in the first week of December – and felt like it lasted for two months. We doled out the presents a few at a time for weeks. I guarantee you she never thought someone had forgotten her. And each gift got more attention than it would have if there had been an avalanche all in one day.

    4. A Becky*

      We did a digital “Brit shalom” for ours, and I really liked washing the baby’s feet as a sign of welcome :)

    5. Elle*

      We did ours in a park and it was lovely. Not formal, good food from a middle eastern place, beer for the grown ups. Very relaxed and meaningful. It was a similar crowd where there were a handful of babies.

    6. Nack*

      I can only think of 1 first birthday party I’ve been to, and it was nice. Since there were few/no other children there, the parents framed it as a party to thank their friends for helping them survive their first year. The little girl did not open presents at the party (like the suggestion above). But there was still plenty of gushing over how adorable she was/how big she’d grown/ etc. And since it was all adults the food was a little more grown up and mimosas were served.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My baby’s first birthday party did have a handful of children there, but I invited people specifically because they’d been crucial to my survival of the first year of parenting. We had a picnic in a park and chatted while the babies threw falafel at each other and babbled. I asked for no gifts as we were moving house literally a few days later, and still got quite a lot of books but honestly no complaints, they’re all lovely books! And a couple of beautiful toys.

    7. Perpetual hobbyist*

      One of the things I thought was fun to do for my kids first birthdays was to print off pictures from each month of their life (so a picture from when they were 1 month, 2 month, etc with a total of 12 pictures). Then I assigned each one a letter randomly, displayed the pictures all mixed up, and had our guests see if they could write down the correct order of the pictures. It was fun to see how they had grown over the year!

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I haven’t seen this personally, but one thing I read of somebody doing was getting everybody to give a letter, note, present, whatever, to be kept for the child to open at 18 – memories, etc. They said that by the time the child was 18, some of the people had died, moved away, etc and it was very moving for their child to read all the messages they had for her.

      In Ireland, christenings tend to be the big thing – this is likely to change as Ireland becomes more multi-cultural and less Catholic.

    9. Gnome*

      I know a family that rented out an entire gymnasium at the local athletic center. It was kinda ridiculous in my opinion, but they had a large local family with lots of older cousins. We just had cake and took pictures (no local family) and invited a couple friends from the tot lot. Do what works for you. The kid won’t remember it and unless it’s at nap time or too loud or something, they won’t actually care and might not notice.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    I have been negotiating with Destructobot about lying on my keyboard–“Be still! I shall make the keyboard fluffy, like me!”–and finally realized I hadn’t checked the dry food situation, as the first one up.

    They still had dry food, but it is important that a human check in the morning.

    1. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      If there is any part of the dish visible between bits of kibble, the dish is empty according to Sweeneycat.

        1. Sloanicota*

          What IS this, seriously? What is the kitty psychology? We’re talking about a cat who has NEVER run out of food in her life, so why is she upset if the food gets stirred around and she can see the bottom? There’s still like half a cup left!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Drives me nuts because she never wants to eat those last bits of kibble! If I pour new kibble on top, that kibble at the bottom is getting older and older! We’re not made of money, Sloanicat, I need you to eat all the nice food I buy you!

        1. Asenath*

          I cheat – I get a clean bowl, put the appropriate-sized scoops of kibble in it, and sprinkle the scraps from yesterday on top. Picky cat will probably ignore it, but Not-Picky cat will eat it at some time during the day.

          1. Dancing Otter*

            That sounds like a really clever idea!
            Sometimes I’m tempted to sweep up all the kibble Winston throws on the floor back into the bowl. But ANTS! I probably throw out the equivalent of an entire sack of Science Diet every year.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Yeah don’t get me started on the food she spills everywhere. I would feel bad putting dirty food back in the bowl but also c’mon kitty you’re killing me this food is made of gold

          2. My Cat's Humsn*

            Yep, same here – yesterday’s leftovers go on top. :) I got a kids water-coloring tray (about 10″×20″x1.5″, meant for corralling potential spills, from Michael’s or Container store), lined it with a paper towel, and put the food/water bowls on it. Now even pieces she flings/drops onto the paper towel get put back in the bowl.

        2. rr*

          Once a week, I give one of the cats an entirely new dish of food and throw away everything that is still in the dish that morning. She loves it and eats more of it on that day. Once a week I feel like I can indulge her (she also gets a new place mat). I do think part of the reason she likes it though is that the food gets gross the way she eats (dipping her paw in the water dish, then the food dish, then actually eating the food). She used to drool too before she had her teeth fixed, so the bottom of the food was always somewhat sticky and wet.

        3. Random Bystander*

          My colony (the outdoor cats) are very lucky–once a day, they get whatever scraps are left over from my indoor cats. The outdoor colony will eat anything (the rest of their diet being made up of the kibble the neighbor leaves out plus whatever they manage to catch from local wildlife). I’ve spayed the females of the colony, but haven’t started on neutering the males of it yet.

      2. Asenath*

        So it’s not only my own cats that need the bottom of the dry food bowl covered for some weird reason of their own? They also get canned food, and it is oh so obvious that the kibble is something you nibble when you have to, but the canned food (unless it’s a new and expensive brand I decided to try out) is the food of the gods. Unlike some cats who can apparently tell time, mine have decided that “canned food time” is not when I wake up for the day, which is pretty much the same time every day, but any time I emerge from bed after having gone there for the night. There cannot possibly be any reason for me to get up in the night except to open a new can of cat food – even if the kibble is covering the bottom of the bowl, because I checked its level before going to bed.

  21. What’s Up Doc?*

    This is not about a medical diagnosis, it’s about etiquette and what would you do, so I hope this is allowed.

    My mom has been seeing a specialist (not her general practitioner) for a specific problem that is not life threatening but is painful. The specialist said she needs surgery and referred her to a specialist surgeon who he sang extremely high praises of with his own private practice. My mom met with the surgeon, liked him, and has the surgery set to go in November. Recently she was visiting with a friend whose neighbor wandered over to hang out. The surgery came up in conversation and it turned out the neighbor’s wife had the exact same surgery with this same surgeon and it was horrible.

    Three months after her surgery, She hadn’t healed and the original pain was still there but the surgeon was dismissive of her concerns. She went to Johns Hopkins (the best hospital in our area) who said that he’d done her surgery terribly and to get her surgeon to fix it. The surgeon was dismissive of the doctor at Johns Hopkins, saying those young doctors don’t know anything (surgeon is in his 60s, the JH doc his 40s) and that hospital is terrible. The neighbor’s wife got the JH doc to do the surgery (a 2 hour procedure that went 4 hours while they undid what the surgeon had done) and she recovered without issue a month later.

    So my mom doesn’t know what to do. Does she listen to these two people she doesn’t know (her friend trusts them, says they do not make up wild stories, and their details about the surgeon show that this is the same surgeon) and find a new surgeon, even though it means having to do all the preop stuff she’s already started over again? Does she stay with the surgeon who has rave reviews from her specialist and online? And if she does leave, what does she say to her specialist doctor, who she does like and trust and will need to see again after this, but could take it personally if she doesn’t see the surgeon that he enthusiastically recommended? She’s going to talk with her general practitioner next week but I wanted thoughts with others that I could share with her; she was already feeling anxious about the surgery and having this wrench thrown into her plans has upset her.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think to hell with etiquette when health is involved. Your mother is entitled to do what feels best and safest to her. If this story has raised question marks to her then her specialist doctor should understand that. Has she considered speaking to the JH doctor to confirm the story and get a second opinion?

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Sounds like she should get a second opinion on the surgery—if any of her docs questions question that, that’s definitely a red flag, but getting a second opinion is pretty standard.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes discuss with her doctor, get a second opinion or even third. Your mom shouldn’t cancel because of one person’s experience (filtered through their own lens ).

      2. Imtheone*

        Getting a second opinion is reasonable and normal. Good doctors respect the patient’s right to get a second opinion.

        The preop testing info belongs to your mother. She probably wouldn’t need to repeat all of the tests.

    3. kina lillet*

      My take is, get an appointment with the JH doc. Two reasons: one, I’ve never had luck with online reviews to find providers, only actual in-person recommendations. And two, while it’s very possible indeed to have bad experiences at prestigious medical institutions, there is still a huge difference in quality between a for-real hospital like Hopkins interested in maintaining its prestige and a smaller office/private practice.

      1. Green Beans*

        It’s not just interest in maintaining prestige – doctors at places like JH have opportunities to sub-sub-specialize, see rare cases and diseases frequently, collaborate and/or learn from leaders in the field, and just overall have way more resources.

        For example, let’s say a new treatment just came on the market but a doctor is hesitant to recommend it. If you’re at a major medical center, you’re probably only 2 or 3 degrees away from a person that worked on the trial who would be happy to speak with you directly about your concerns or you may even have seen an academic presentation on the data and heard what your peers thought during the Q&A or you have a colleague in research who has read all of the relevant publications as they’ve been published (different from a presentation from the pharma company rep, which is likely what would be available to your GP.)

        That level of expertise and resources can easily become overkill – like if you’re comfy with your GP and you have common conditions they can easily treat/manage, that’s a good place to be in! But if you have a rare or complex thing going on, that level of expertise and resources can be life-changing.

        1. kina lillet*

          Absolutely agreed. I think I’m wary of sounding snobby about this but there are really material, significant differences between hospitals in quality of care.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      How random is that? A person she does not know tells your mom of their experience. In my life for me, this would be a sign.
      Honestly, I’d go to the surgeon who corrected this person’s problem.

      Your mom has two discomforts to choose from.
      A) This discomfort of changing docs
      B) The discomfort of worry and a possible botched surgery.

      I would not worry about etiquette here. Of course be polite in delivering the message but I would simply say, “I have decided to go with someone else.” And then offer NO explanation.
      It’s her body, it’s her right to pick who she wants.

      Did she google this other guy? If no, she should to see what people are saying.

    5. Observer*

      oes she listen to these two people she doesn’t know (her friend trusts them, says they do not make up wild stories, and their details about the surgeon show that this is the same surgeon) and find a new surgeon, even though it means having to do all the preop stuff she’s already started over again? Does she stay with the surgeon who has rave reviews from her specialist and online?

      Has she had a second opinion on the issue of surgery? If not, that’s actually a good first step.

      If she’s been through that, and it’s a matter of which doctor to choose, I’d be worried. How does the specialist who referred her treat her? Does he take her concerns seriously? Would he be willing to go to bat for her with the surgeon if necessary? That could make a real difference in dealing with any issues that might come up.

      Otherwise, do some more research. If she had a solid relationship with her PCP, she should talk to him as well.

      Don’t worry about what to tell the surgeon. You don’t need to explain. But you do need to let the practice know as soon as possible if you decide to make a switch.

    6. Observer*

      d if she does leave, what does she say to her specialist doctor, who she does like and trust and will need to see again after this, but could take it personally if she doesn’t see the surgeon that he enthusiastically recommended?

      I forgot to note this: If her specialist doctor is going to “take it personally” and let that affect his treatment, she needs a new doctor!

    7. Star Struck*

      Run. Pick a different doc.l ! Get multiple opinions from different practices. Remember that a doc with nice bedside manners may or may not be a doc who is the most technically skilled. And if someone is cutting you open, you want them to have skilled hands. If you have any nurses who are friends, ask them. Nurses know who is good.

  22. Littorally*

    I enjoyed Peter Darling quite a lot, but I have to say — it jumped out at me several times that the author and editor apparently both forgot that Hook has… well, a hook! As in not two hands.

    1. marvin*

      I was excited to learn about this book today and bought it immediately (thanks Alison!) This makes me feel like I’m not the only trans person to have had a fascination with Peter Pan when I was younger. Might have had something to do with all the cross-dressing in the stage versions. Will try not to get too distracted by hook inconsistencies.

    2. Tired of Working*

      I always wondered if he was called Captain Hook because he had a hook, or if his last name was Hook, making the whole thing a big coincidence.

  23. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread but you’re welcome to post this on next Friday’s work open thread.

    1. Hatchet*

      Nature’s Bakery Fig bars (which come in raspberry, blueberry, apple, etc) are my go-to work snack and you can find them in most grocery stores or Walmart. (They’re pretty filling but they are high in sugar.)

  24. It's Bamboo O'Clock, Tick-Tock*

    I will be moving to an adjoining state. I don’t want to buy a roof rack, but I do want to put stuff on top of my car. I’m thinking of using a tarp to support a futon mattress on my roof rails- is this a terrible idea?

    1. Squidhead*

      We made a cheap roof rack out of 3 or 4 2x4s. Each was longer than the width of the rails. We drilled a hole in each end of each one and then tied them down with good knots. We could then put stuff across them and tie down to the 2x4s or to the rails. Caveat: we are good at knots. Caveat 2: we didn’t usually use this at highway speeds, just around town. I think your futon mattress will overhang the rack and make it hard to tie anything else down securely.

    2. fposte*

      I think this could be reasonable, depending on size, weight, and car. I’d make sure it was independently rolled, with the roll fastened closed on its own without being attached to the roof rack, and the roll attached to the roof rack to prevent moving forward and backward as well as side by side. (You really don’t want a futon sliding down your windshield at a sudden stop.) You may want a hand when it comes to putting it on top of the car, since those things are unwieldy as well as heavy.

    3. ShinyPenny*

      Sounds like you have never done this before– I think this fact alone is the deal-breaker, because it’s a fairly awkward proposition.
      Highway speeds increase the risk of system failure, so it’s not really where you want to start learning this skill– because system failure here would really endanger innocent bystanders. So, deal-breaker #2.
      The length of the trip is also not Beginner Friendly. Weather is a possible last minute deal-breaker as well: rain or wind would be a lot worse.
      Also, I’m not sure exactly what you mean, but no tarp will be strong enough to “support” a futon. Futons are heavy!
      Selling it and buying another that’s local to your new abode would be a much safer option– for you, and for all the other people sharing the road with you :)

      1. WellRed*

        I also vote for buying a new one in your new location. Not sure how a tarp would secure a futon and if you have any highway driving, we’ll, I don’t think it’s great safety wise, having been behind a pickup that lost a big sheet of plywood or a table going through Boston at lower speeds.

    4. lissajous*

      The purpose of a roof rack is that it takes the load and distributes it to the walls of the car, which are better designed to take a vertical load (the roof is not, it’s just a flat sheet of metal). A tarp won’t help with that at all.

      Also, aside from the roof rack question: if you are going to transport a mattress of any sort on the roof of a car, please tie it down very securely both across and down the length of the car. At freeway speeds the mattress can very easily turn into an unintentional sail if there’s any room for the wind to get under it!

    5. Firebird*

      My husband worked for a large furniture store that got sued when a mattress fell off of a customer’s car and killed a woman in the car behind.

      It would be safer to just get a new mattress.

    6. Kay*

      Please please please do not be that person going down the freeway with an amateur load on the verge of flying off – oh wait – it just flew off causing a multiple car pileup. It is extremely difficult to properly tie down / properly secure any load. Once you have the force of freeway speeds bearing down on you – for a trip to another state no less! – it is amazing how quick and how much things loosen up.

      Lets just say I’m in an area where people do this far too often, there is far too much road debris, there are soooo many accidents caused because of this, and trust me – you don’t want to be the person who is trying to figure out how to get off the road quick enough to keep from killing people. It is a horrible idea and please do not do it.

      1. Imtheone*

        I moved several times with my full-sized futon rolled up in the back of my little hatchback. One trip with the futon, one trip with the boxes.

  25. Writing retreat?*

    I have the amazing good fortune of receiving a 3 month Sabbatical for Feb through May 2023.
    I live in the upper midwest therefore wish to go somewhere to write that is warm.
    Money is not an issue right now. (been saving for years)
    Issues to consider
    – I am at high risk for COVID so need to go somewhere fairly safe where people aren’t thinking “this is all over”
    Due to physical limitations, not good long distances in a car.
    I am thinking a writing retreat.
    Anyone ever done something like this?
    Any recommendations?

    1. Maryn*

      It’s a challenge reaching a warm-weather area from the upper Midwest when you’re not good with lots of hours in the car. Are you able to fly? Take the train? Short days in the car, taking your time reaching a destination?

      What I’d seek is a house or condo rental in an area where you can either get groceries delivered or have contact-free pick-up. That means the isolated cottage or cabin we imagine for our writing retreats won’t work, but a vacation- or tourism-area rental will.

      Pick a destination city or area you can get to by whatever means of travel works for you. (Flights to Orlando and Las Vegas are often bargains compared to other areas with similar weather.) Then search “vacation rental CityName” and see what’s what.

    2. fposte*

      On the COVID thing: it’s going to be really hard to predict how a place will be responding in February (and higher responses may mean higher COVID levels, too). I also think it might help you to identify what COVID protocols are important to you. I don’t think there’s anyplace in the US, for instance, where masking predominates inside now (very willing to admit I’m wrong if I am!). You also have a fair bit of control over exposure once you’re at a destination. If you’re looking at an organized writing retreat there may be colony/retreat protocols that you could work with, but otherwise I’d say stock up on the KN-95s, make sure you can do delivery for food, and then focus on other considerations.

      1. zyx*

        Lots of people are still masking in my part of San Francisco! Not everyone, but about 75% of the people in my grocery store are masked when I do my shopping. Same on my daily commute via transit (where technically masks are still required, but nobody enforces it).

        That said, San Francisco is probably too far from the Midwest, and it’s although it’s never cold here by Midwest standards, it’s also not warm. And like you said, fposte, it’s hard to predict what folks will be doing COVID-wise in February.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, good information! I was thinking California might be one of the more careful states, at least in the cities, but I wasn’t sure.

    3. Sloanicota*

      If you’re able to fly (unclear from your post – but I do think it can be pretty safe if you fly direct, when it’s not crowded in the airport & you can stay at least 6 feet from everybody, and wear a KN95 without ever taking it off the whole flight – ideally on an airline that either mandates masks or at least doesn’t attract anti-maskers) – New Orleans or Key West are my recommendations. New Orleans was very covid-conscious because they had a bad early wave, Key West is distinct from the rest of Florida – but mostly because they have a strong indoor-outdoor dining culture, so it’s easy to find restaurants that have, if not pleasant patios, at least huge open windows. I have done writing retreats in both cities and found them very inspiring.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Should have said, wear the mask the whole *time* not flight – as I suspect the airport and boarding is worse than the plane ride for spreading it. People would keep sitting next to me in the terminal and taking off masks to eat and cough last time I flew, sigh.

      2. WellRed*

        One drawback. The timeframe is smack dab in the middle of everything from school vacation to spring break to Mardi Gras.

    4. Writing retreat?*

      My fantasy is a direct flight to Palm Desert /Springs and two weeks in a rental near a hot springs with a rental car.

    5. HaveFun!*

      I’m in Mexico (Oaxaca) right now and everyone takes Covid really seriously. Masks outside and hand sanitizer everywhere. Plus plenty of places to eat outside. Aeromexico still requires masks on flights, if it connects anywhere near you? Not sure about the writing retreat part in a non-English speaking country but it’s lovely here

  26. Demsthebreaks*

    So I recently got gel nails in different pastel colors (I’ll post a link to an example below) and I’m going to attend a “black tie optional” wedding tomorrow. Are my multicolored nails inappropriate for the level of formality of this wedding? Do I need to get the gel removed? I’ll be wearing a full-length black gown. Also, the tails are slightly grown out (I’ll see if I can find a example pic I can link to). Is that a big no-no at a very formal occasion like this?

    1. cat socks*

      I’ve never really attended a very formal event, but I think it’s fine. I think chipped polish or broken nails would be less polished than just the exposed nail bed.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the pastel nails look fine.

      The standard advice for work looks in a conservative environment is only one “fun” thing at a time. (So if your shoes are bright yellow, everything else is sedate.) You’re already wearing a black dress* and if your hair and jewelry are simple the nails can be the one popping piece.

      (For the grown out aspect–I rarely wear fingernail polish and would remove it before it got to that level even if sitting at home where only I saw it. But that’s me.)

      *Assume this is not Rene Russo’s black dress from The Thomas Crown Affair; if it is, I predict most people won’t notice your nail polish. So also an approach!

    3. RagingADHD*

      If the colors were dark like the sample picture, having them grown out to that extent would be a deal breaker for me, personally, to be comfortable wearing them with a formal dress.

      But the pastels aren’t going to be that high contrast, so I’d probably keep them.

    4. ecnaseener*

      You’ve probably already left for the wedding, but just chiming in to say this is part of what the “optional” part of “black-tie optional” is for, it means you can skew towards cocktail attire!

  27. Richard Hershberger*

    In addition to my earlier post about turning in my manuscript, I was just interviewed for the podcast Professor Buzzkill on the real origin of baseball. I am told that it will be posted on Tuesday, for anyone who wants to hear me give incisive insights and/or drone on endlessly.

    1. sagewhiz*

      Absolutely give us the link next weekend! AND be sure to ask permission to use the audio on the book website, even tho it’s so far in the future.

      (‘Nother idea: put Mike Barnicle on the list of people to receive an ARC, he’s hugely into baseball.)

  28. WellRed*

    So I asked last week about tipping for housecleaning. They did the most awesome job but there were a few hiccups (communication error? I dunno). They were an hour late (sounds like they ran into an issue, it happens) and though they told me when on the way, I wish they would have indicated where they were driving from. The mgr estimated two hours for the job ( team of three). it took 3.5 so they didn’t finish till six. And then wanted to charge $450! I checked. That’s very high in this area. We negotiated $25o which was fair but I was bothered by worrying they thought I was underpaying. I would have paid the $450 if I were wealthy but this was already a splurge. I wanted to support a small, newish immigrant owned biz but I wish I’d asked around more for a direct recommendation but it was a last minute idea on my part.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugh this is hard, because you said they did do an awesome job and they could have left sooner by cutting corners (unless they were claiming it was $450 because of the length of time? In which case I retract my statement). I don’t know about going rates but I’d probably try someone else next time. But a LOT of people have told me they aren’t satisfied with the level of cleaning after the first visit, which is really the whole point for me (I’ve been asking around about this too, as I really need the help right now).

      1. WellRed*

        They did a bit more than I asked ( I had three specific rooms) like mopping dining room which I didn’t need but my grubby kitchen sink looks brand new, they even cleaned toaster oven, shined tea pot and put my kitchen trash out,

    2. fposte*

      How did they quote their rates to you when you first arranged with them? In my experience it’s usually either an hourly rate or a flat rate (in practice an hourly rate often evolves into a flat rate, based on “your place generally takes one hour” rather than fussing about times they finish early or late), and this sounds like it might have been neither. $450 does sound high to me, but I’m in a fairly LCOL area. I currently pay $85 for a roughly hour-long service, usually with three people descending on my place and speedily working their way through it; the first time was probably more, because that’s pretty common.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I’ve heard a lot of services do a great job the first visit but quality may slide over time. Understandably, perhaps, but still annoying.

    3. North Wind*

      Urgh, I feel you on that dilemma, but they should have communicated with you rather than just doing all the work and charging you nearly double; that’s not cool! They could’ve said when they arrived or after they started cleaning, we didn’t realize the scope of the work – can you go higher on the price or what would you like us to focus on that can be done in x amount of time for $250? They really handled this unethically, IMO.

      I know some cleaning services chains want to come to your home and see it to offer a quote, and the last person I hired (from Thumbtack) asked to either come and see or for me to send pictures of each room before offering a quote. Maybe if you do this again, see if the person has some basis for the quote they’re offering rather than just a flat rate for 2 bed/2 bath or whatever? I say that to try to help :), but I do think (unless you go with a national chain that has some sort of guarantee) that hiring someone from TaskRabbit or Thumbtack is a bit of a crapshoot and that you’re a bit at the mercy of the reviews.

    4. Jim Bob*

      $450 is excessive for even 3.5 hrs. We have a biweekly clean that costs around $100 for 1200 sq ft (local, single proprietor, not a chain; I frankly don’t trust the big chains where you get someone different every time). I think it takes about 2 hrs, but I don’t really care as long as the house is clean.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        However lots of companies say the first visit will cost more because there’s more to clean. They are working on things that may not have been cleaned/deep cleaned in a long while.

        This was a team of 3 for 3.5 hours.

        OTOH why didn’t WellRed know what to expect in time and price.

      1. acmx*

        That’s, what, $23/hour? Fposte’s rate is about $28/person.

        It’s location dependent. The place I use charges a 2 hour minimum for $90 for 1 person.

      2. Anono-me*

        The way that I am reading this is not so much that Wellred thinks $250 for three people for 3.5 hours is fair, so much as Wellread decided to hire a small business to send 3 people to clean for 2 hours and to clean 3 rooms as well as possible within those 2 hours. Then the workers massively exceed that agreed time frame.

        I do think it it is possible that there was a miscommunication at the time of the agreement. Maybe the company saw it as Wellread hired the company to send 3 people to clean 3 rooms as best as possible (with a guess that it would take 2 hours) but that it would take as long as it took.

        Part of what I think makes this feel weird is that this is a housekeeping service and that Wellread shared that they deliberately tried to support a small immigrant business . Both are situations where historically the interactions between the customer and the employees have been more like an interaction between a direct employer and employee and thus more vulnerable to abuse. (I also think it is why some people might be looking at it as Wellread paying people a wage of $23 instead of $38, when it is the company that pays employees. )

        In this situation, I think the big question is, “Was Wellread or another responsible person home during the cleaning?”; because if someone responsible was home and nothing was said when the team wasn’t done or even close to finishing at the 2 1/4 hours mark then that feels like taking advantage. Otherwise I think an honest mistake occurred, which I think ultimately is the company’s to take responsibility for.

        Going forward, when have something done without a fixed price, I find it helpful to say something like “Please go ahead and do anything up to $X; but for anything more than $X, you need to call me for approval.”

  29. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Fall is beginning and so is festival season. What is your favorite food truck food at a fall festival. Do you have a favorite fall festival that you would try not to miss no matter what?

    Mine was always the “Chinatown Night Market” in Philadelphia, but there is no mention if they are going to revive it this year.

    1. Girasol*

      State fair is nearly an autumn festival here. I do love a good state fair corn dog but my first favorite is the Idaho ice cream potato: a lump of vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa so it looks like a jacket potato, split in half and slathered with whipped cream and some chocolate sauce.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Not a food truck, but our local end of summer funfair is coming to a close next week, and my favourite stall is the Creperie Bretonne with delicious savoury buckwheat galettes and sweet crepes.

    2. Rara Avis*

      Renn Faire — in our area it’s a fall thing — 6 weekends in September/October. Haven’t gone since Covid but it’s all outside, so maybe this year?

    3. Bluebell*

      Not especially food truck, but once it’s Sept, it’s obligatory to enjoy apple cider and cider doughnuts in New England.

  30. Fishsticks*

    hello!
    so I used to know how to sew and still know the basics of how a machine works. I really want to get into making my own clothes but am having trouble figuring out where to buy fabric from and am generally looking for good tutorials/fun patterns for beginners. thanks in advance!

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Fabric stores like Joann are where my daughter who sews gets her stuff. I only know of one other fabric store in my area, but they are quilt specialists so I don’t know if you could get fabric for anything else there.
      As for patterns, They have books at Joann you can look through, and also Etsy. I know I’ve seen her use both.
      Check YouTube for sewing tutorials.

      1. Clisby*

        Joann also sometimes offers sewing classes. My grad-school daughter just took an introductory one that basically was How to Use a Sewing Machine 101. Her cat apparently approves of the pillow she made. (I don’t think she particularly wants to make clothes; more likely curtains or slipcovers or that sort of thing.)

    2. Reba*

      Many indie/small pattern designers publish sew alongs, so I would look for those as a starting point. Closet Core, Chalk and Notch come to mind but there are lots out there! Sewaholic has very technical & detailed posts which are a great reference.

      For online fabric orders, I’ve used Mood and Hart’s with good results. Hart’s will pick matching thread for you, which is a neat little service. Mood will do swatches.

      1. eeeek*

        Yes, this!
        I think that some indie/small pattern designers make a point of writing instructions that are clear, stepwise, well-illustrated, and annotated with glossary items and references to resources. (I re-entered garment sewing – and sewing with knits – via the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan, and I sewed my first pair of jeans with Closet Core’s tutorials, sew-alongs, and great instructions.) Even larger operations, like Seamwork, focus on welcoming new sewists. And seamwork has a strong community element.

        Another resource for patterns is sewingpatternreviewcom . It’s nice to read reviews of a LOT of patterns, often with photos, that really focus on the nuts and bolts of the pattern. And there’s a community there, too – I’ve avoided some issues with my makes by checking out the community boards to see if a problem I was trying to solve had been solved before.

        For fabric, I try to shop locally if I can, and we have alternatives to Joann’s in my town. My favorite online shop is emmaonesock, but I also like Mood.
        The best advice I’ve gotten for learning about fabric came from browsing our used book stores and libraries to get a sense of names and properties of different types of fabric…and then going to Joann to look at and feel examples and get swatches of what I liked best. It takes practice (I was suckered by many remnants) but there’s a lot of help out there.

        1. eeeek*

          I should clarify that browsing bookstores and libraries for books about fabric, not the fabric itself. There are a number of “encyclopedia of fabric” type books out there, and I have found that one book is more comprehensive than many websites. (Sadly, I can’t find the name of the random book I checked out of the library many years ago, or I’d recommend it.)

    3. migrating coconuts*

      Not sure where you are located, but around here we have Joann’s fabrics and crafts store. There are lots of pattern books to look at, and there is a whole section of easy patterns to choose from. Those are usually good to start with. They offer sewing classes too.

    4. merp*

      on fabrics-store.com, which primarily sells linen, there are also both tutorial blog posts and free patterns! you kind of have to filter down to find the patterns that are just available for download, but they come with great instructions and can be printed at home. I’ll post a link to the actual pattern page as a reply.

    5. HBJ*

      I buy my fabric from either Joann’s or I thrift it. You can Google to find if you have any local fabric shops, but there likely won’t be any unless you live in a fairly large urban area or there will only be quilt shops. Quilt fabric is not garment fabric. Some people do make garments out of quilting cottons, but it’s generally not recommended because the drape and weave and such doesn’t really lend itself to garments. Joanns and other chain fabric stores (Hobby Lobby, Walmart’s fabric section, Spotlight in Australia) tend to get a bad rap in the sewing community for being poor quality, but I’ve found that if I shop carefully and am picky, I can find some quite good fabrics. You can also shop online, but I personally don’t like to because I can’t see it, feel it or assess the thickness/opacity and pillability (is that a word?).

      For patterns, there are smaller indie companies, pattern magazines like Burda, pattern books that include a dozen or so patterns and instructions, and the “Big 4,” which is McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity plus New Look (and people sometimes bundle Burda envelope patterns into there, too). Browse around and see what styles you like. The Big 4 is what you can get at Joanns or Walmart or similar. Indie patterns are almost exclusively sold online. Also, do some research because not all patterns are well drafted. Pattern Review is a great community. There’s also r/sewing and r/craftsnark on Reddit.

      Last, I recommend buying a good reference book so you can look up more detailed info on particular techniques. I’ve found that no matter what pattern you use, even ones touted as having “detailed instructions for beginners” will have spots that make you stop and scratch your head and think.

    6. Rara Avis*

      I’m in a similar situation, and my kid wanted to make a very fitted dress for a Halloween costume. The challenge was that all of their measurements put them into different sizes. So we had to do some pretty serious patterning which was definitely not in my skill set. Making a mock-up helped.

    7. Tea and Sympathy*

      I like to quilt and have found Facebook quilting groups really helpful. A lot of members of those groups order fabric online. Two of the most popular sites are fabricdotcom and hancocks-paducahdotcom. And there are really good sewing tutorials on YouTube.

  31. BlueWolf*

    My partner and I are seriously considering adopting a dog. We both grew up with dogs, but have not had a dog as adults because we wanted to wait until we felt financially secure enough. We have a good idea of the type of dog we want, so now it’s just a matter of finding a suitable match at a local shelter/rescue. I know it could take some time since it’s about finding the right fit for us and the dog. Any tips about the adoption process, bringing the new dog home, etc? I’ve done some research obviously, but some more first hand advice would be nice. As a note, we own our home, so don’t have to worry about things like landlord permission or anything like that.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Fellow new dog owner here! Haven’t had a dog since I was a child, as this is the first time conditions have really lined up (working from home, own my home with a good fenced yard, have some disposable income (note – not enough!!) and traveling less due to pandemic. I assume you know that 3/3/3 rule? My big adult male hit the first two metrics well but took a LOT longer on that last three months – it’s almost been a year and I can still see him relaxing a bit more month over month. I assume a puppy with a less complex history would be quicker to adjust. A lot of people panic in the beginning and want to return the dog then but try to manage your expectations a bit and it may work out. I had to learn how to be a bit more flexible in my plans and work with his schedule a bit more. We compromise on timing (he would like everything at the exact. same. time. every day, I need a little bit more wiggle room).

      1. BlueWolf*

        Thanks! Yes, I am familiar with the 3-3-3 rule, but that’s a good point that it’s really more of a guideline than a rule so I’ll keep that in mind. I am in a similar situation where we finally own our own home and are both working from home.

    2. migrating coconuts*

      If you want a specific breed, or a mix that includes a specific breed, look for reputable rescue groups. Name a breed, they are out there. Facebook is actually a good place to start for the groups. I follow a lot of scottie rescue groups, and they are usually very good about getting to know you and your situation, and take their time to find for the best fit for the dog. You could also try fostering first, see how that goes. We adopted our last rescue about 3 years ago. Patience and not leaving them home alone for hours in the beginning is usually the best way to go. And lots of love when they are ready. Good luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think the strategy for getting the dogs is interesting. I do not know the best approach; I have found that breed-specific rescues have the luxury of being quite picky – many that I checked said “you must have prior experience with this exact breed” and some also said “you must already have a dog of this breed in your home.” I ended up walking into our local shelter and finding a good dog for me, but I also know competition is fiercer for young or smaller dogs without health or behavioral issues (my dog is old, big, and has both! Wouldn’t trade him though). Sadly, several of my friends who wanted a specific healthy puppy of a specific breed ended up going through breeders, which in my personal opinion is unfortunate – but opinions vary widely. If you go this route I think at least really do your homework on the breeder and maybe donate something extra to the shelter that year.

      2. BlueWolf*

        Thanks! I thought about breed specific groups, but we also have a ton of general reduce groups and shelters in our area so I am kind of looking at all options. Luckily, we both work from home full time so leaving them home for long periods won’t be an issue.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Something you’ll want to do if y’all WFH is put extra care and training into making sure that the dog is comfortable being alone sometimes, you don’t want to get into separation anxiety to a point where you can’t both go out for dinner or shopping or whatever without a doggy panic attack.

    3. Blomma*

      If you’re in the USA, you should check that your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t have any breed restrictions or coverage restrictions related to dogs.

      1. BlueWolf*

        We’re looking specifically for a small dog, probably a chihuahua mix, so I don’t think that should be an issue. It’s good to note though. I think having any dog can affect home insurance coverage too, so probably good to look into. Our county also has a pit bull ban (which I don’t agree with), so any pit bull type dog would be ruled out anyways.

        1. 00ff00Claire*

          If you are looking for a chihuahua mix, check if you are in a region where there is a Chihuahua Rescue and Transport group. We adopted our dog through them and had a good experience. Mostly I think the process was pretty typical for a rescue group, but there were a few things that we thought were very helpful for the adoption process. We had a home visit and had to provide references, and I think that’s pretty common with rescues. The process was more involved than if we had gone to our shelter, so I would be a little wary if a rescue has a very easy adoption process. With CRT, we got to meet a lot of dogs and I think that is important. We went to a meet & greet, and they also allowed us to visit some dogs at their foster home. This was all pre-Covid, so I don’t know about visiting the foster homes, but our regional CRT does meet & greets again, and I would guess other rescues do too.

          Another thing that they did which was really good was that when we decided on a dog, they let us bring her home on a trial basis, originally for 2 weeks but extended to 3 due to her health at the time. This was very helpful because she was so nervous, shell-shocked, and sick that we couldn’t really get to know her well. While I know that 3-3-3 rule is more of a guideline, having her on a trial basis helped us sort out whether some of the issues we were seeing were due to us being a bad fit or just a part of the adjustment process. If a rescue does this, to me that’s a good indicator they care more about finding the right home for the dog than just getting dogs to any home.

          I would also say that if you can find out as much about a specific dog’s temperament, that is important. Some rescues will have guidelines about whether small dogs can be adopted to homes with children, partly due to the temperament of a lot of small dogs and partly due to their fragility. While you don’t mention children, it would be good to keep in mind whether there are any children in your life now or potentially in the future who would be around the dog regularly. Some small dogs are great with children, like my childhood chihuahua, some are not, and some are really fragile. Similarly, if you have friends / family with a dog that your dog would come into frequent contact with it would be good to take that into consideration when deciding on a specific dog.

    4. Sunshine*

      If you are looking for a specific breed check petfinder. It lists pets at all rescues based on distance you select.

    5. Cat and dog fosterer*

      If this is your first dog then please get one from a foster-based rescue. So many dogs behave differently in a shelter than a home, and you are more likely to get a better match to your lifestyle if you get a dog that has been living in a home. I foster a lot of dogs that come from shelters, and after a week of relaxing into a home situation they can often start to have problematic behaviors. This doesn’t happen every time, but it happens a lot more than I expected. There are all-breed foster-based rescues in most cities.

      Agreed with RRtAF about giving the dog a quiet space on their own for an hour or two every day to avoid separation anxiety. I do this with my fosters and it helps a lot.

    6. Anono-me*

      Have a full exam vet appointment soon after adopting. Many adoption organizations run bare bones on dedication and love using volunteer labor and things can get missed or not prioritized.

    7. Smol Book Wizard*

      Two things – feel free to take or leave them as preferred!
      A lot of small dogs, especially those who haven’t been cared for as well as they ought, may have some pretty expensive dental issues. Make sure that you get their mouths checked and/or ask the rescue for information on their last checkup!
      Second, if you find that rescue is not working out for you for whatever reason, and you’re not ethically opposed to it, try contacting local breeders of the general type of dog you want and asking if they have retired breeding dogs or show prospect dropouts who need homes. They don’t always advertise these friends, but I’ve gotten two lovely dogs that way. They can be a little eccentric (both the dogs and the breeders, haha) but if you’re anticipating getting a rescue, I think it will not be too much of a difference. And it is a great way to find a dog who, while they may have some quirks, is at least not a chaotic baby still.
      Best wishes!

  32. Firebird*

    A hummingbird has been coming to visit my balcony. Usually it just hovers outside the railing next to a large plant.
    Will a hummingbird feeder attract wasps? Do you have any ideas for encouraging its visits?

    1. SpellingBee*

      Well, yes, a feeder may attract wasps because it’s sugar water. That said, if you’re careful about the kind you buy you can lessen the attraction. Humzinger feeders are made so that it’s harder for the bees/wasps to get to the nectar, and the hummingbirds like them too. You still may have a few wasps buzzing around them of course, but I find they give up when they can’t get in easily. I have 5 feeders at various spots, and really enjoy watching the hummingbirds at them. They’re fascinating little creatures.

      To attract the hummingbirds, just put up a feeder! They’ll find it quickly. You don’t need to buy nectar, just make a solution of sugar water – 1/4 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 cup water. Don’t add food coloring, it’s not necessary and isn’t good for the birds. Change out the nectar every 2 or 3 days when it’s hot, as it will start to mold.

      1. BirdFren*

        Also, use only regular white sugar. Using honey, brown sugars, or sugar alternatives can kill them – they are unable to retract their tongues.

    2. eeeek*

      Awwww! I’m watching our hummingbirds while browsing AAM. I love them so much!
      – yep, you’ll get wasps/hornets/ants. An ant moat will take care of critters that crawl down to the feeder, and some feeders come with cages over the ports to discourage hornets/wasps. I use feeders that have really tiny holes, which also seems to help. But I still get hornets. When I see a lot of them, I know I probably have a new nest under the deck or in the eaves, and I have to remove it.
      – fresh food matters, but the schedule for changing the food depends on how hot it is. Change more frequently when it’s hot (above 85F, change daily), less when it’s cooler (every three days), never let the food get cloudy/moldy. I used to boil the sugar water, but it’s sufficient to use water hot enough to dissolve the sugar. (And of course, there’s no need to use red food coloring and never use anything other than white granulated sugar for the mix.) There’s also a lot of advice about adjusting the recipe depending on whether it’s hot (a little more water to help hydration) or they’re migrating (a little more sugar to fuel the trip). Check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for useful information (US-based) – https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/feeding-hummingbirds/
      – My hummers prefer the large feeders with lots of ports – but I never fill the feeders to full! I only ever fill them with 4-6 oz, and the birds go through about 2/3 of that in 3 days.
      – I live near a lot of open fields and farmland, so I think my feeders are backups for when different flowering plants are not blooming, so I also have lots of hummingbird-friendly plants around the yard and on the deck. Having a lot of food sources seems to reduce fighting over the feeder – and these birds are very protective of their feeders! It’s alarming and fascinating to see them buzz around chasing other birds away…which is why I now have several feeders on different sides of the house.
      Yep, I’m a pushover for these li’l critters. Apologies for yammering on.

    3. GoryDetails*

      You can get small hummingbird feeders with ports narrow enough to deter most insects – I like the Aspects Mini-Humblossom style. It takes about half a cup of liquid and is easy to clean. In hotter weather I change the nectar every 2 or 3 days; in cooler weather it can go 3 or 4, but in general it’s better to err on the side of clean-and-fresh. I don’t use commercial hummingbird-nectar products, so I can’t comment on them; I just simmer a mix of 1-part sugar to 4-parts water for 5 minutes or so. (There are little ant-moat gadgets that you can hang in between the hanger and the feeder; the water keeps ants out, and I find that some small birds love to sip that water as if it’s a personal-sized drinking fountain, which is adorable but does mean I have to top off the water more often!)

      There are feeders that adhere to glass, if you would prefer to mount them that way, but I’ve had less success with those myself.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Bees and wasps are smart enough that if they figure out that you are the refiller of the sugar water, they will generally leave you alone (at least for long enough that you can refill the sugar water). The downside is that they might decide to live right next to the hummingbird feeder.

      Honestly, if you’re concerned about wasps taking advantage of the feeder, you might want to consider making a mantis-hospitable zone. Praying mantises are great for keeping the wasp population down.

    5. Bluebell*

      I learned from my town gardening list that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. I finally had one show up this year and think it was because I had a lot of red four o clocks. The feeder should work though. I think you have to take migration patterns into account too – I know they should be leaving the Northeast US soon.

    6. Kay*

      You can also put a flowering plant on your balcony – they like flowers shaped like tubes, and if they are native to your area all the better.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Coral honeysuckle! It’s native to the southeastern states, is a fetching shade of red, tube-shaped, and the hummingbirds love it.

  33. migrating coconuts*

    Hello all,
    Making a camping trip and spending 4 days in Vermont, first week of October. Do you think it will be good leaf-peeping time? Too early, too late? Also, we have a few things we want to do, but looking for any must see’s or must do’s while there. Thanks!

    1. GoryDetails*

      The foliage dates do vary quite a bit; not sure how this long hot summer will affect it. You should have some splashes of color at that time of year in any case.

      Depending on where you’re going to be, I’d recommend a bounce across the border to New Hampshire for the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site in Cornish NH; it includes the sculptor’s one-time home and studio, replicas of many of his most celebrated works, grounds with hiking trails, and more. It’s across the Connecticut River from Windsor, VT – and to get there you can take the historic Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, and Quechee Gorge, Vermont, is in the same general area – another lovely spot.

        And those who love baking may want to travel a bit farther north to Norwich, to the home of King Arthur Flour {wry grin}. It, too, has hiking trails, fwiw!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          When my parents were alive and lived in NH, my mom and I went to King Arthur several times a year so I could stock up on their cocoa powder and some other things. I loved going there.

        2. M*

          Second both of these if you are going to be in the area. Woodstock and quechee are amazing. We have gone to Saint Gaudens twice this summer, once with our kids. It really has something for everyone and is absolutely gorgeous.

          If you are going to be further north, Jay Peak is really fun in fall and the town of Montgomery Center is tiny and wonderful.

          And most importantly, if you are going to be in the Burlington area, the Shelburne Museum (not the same thing as Shelburne Farm) is my favorite museum in the entire world and everyone should get there at least once!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am across from lower to mid VT but in NY. The leaves are already changing here- not a lot but some outer leaves, just not the whole tree.

      You might be okay. What I would do is call the chamber of commerce for the area you plan on visiting, they probably can make a good guess.

    3. Angstrom*

      Vermont has more miles of dirt roads than paved ones, and most are great for cycling. Look for a company in your area that offers backroads e-bike tours.

      Where are you going to be camping?

  34. NotMyUsualUN*

    Hello wonderful commentariat. I am having a bit of a crisis of faith and I’m not sure what to do with it.

    My family attends a wonderful mainstream liberal church. Their values coincide with mine &#