weekend open thread – October 29-30, 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: Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton. That friend everyone has in their 20s who’s always slightly tipsy and a complete mess with men, but enormous fun? That is this book.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,133 comments… read them below }

  1. Movies!*

    Movie post! What have you watched recently?

    I type this while watching Angel Heart, at my sister’s insistence (“I haven’t seen it since 1987, but I loved it. I mostly remember a lot of overhead fans”). It’s…not great, but 1980s Mickey Rourke was very attractive.

    1. Lizzo*

      The Back to the Future trilogy was on TV the other day!!!!! Still holds up as one of the best trilogies of all time, IMHO.

    2. time for cocoa*

      I am working my way through terrible natural disaster movies on Roku. Just finished Space Twister, it was delightful trash. Also highly recommend Fire Twister, which was similarly ridiculous crap.

    3. Appletini*

      _Legend_, the one starring Tom Hardy as the Kray Brothers. It was surprisingly decent, Tom Hardy was pretty dang good playing against himself, and I and my SO couldn’t help saying “Dinsdale?” every so often.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        That’s one of the most beautiful movies ever made. There were so many great historical and literary films made in the 1960.

    4. Mitchell Hundred*

      I recently watched “Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched”, a documentary about the history of folk horror. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I love folklore and social history, so this was like catnip to me.

      Although if anyone else decides to watch it, be aware that it’s a little over three hours long. I didn’t mind, I’m just saying it’s a commitment.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          In my case it was on Kanopy (a streaming service that I get access to through my library), but if you don’t have that it looks like you can see it on Shudder or AMC+, or rent it on Youtube Movies.

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            I’ll have to see if my library has Kanopy, thanks! I really haven’t fully explored their services yet.

    5. Bluebell*

      In the category of total fluff, I watched Love in the Villa on Netflix. Nice to hear Tom Hopper with his English accent and without his padded costume from Umbrella Academy. Some pretty scenery too. But not the best Netflix has to offer for romcoms. (Always be my Maybe & Set it Up are great)

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I watch two films a weekend. Last weekend it was Host, a horror film set entirely on Zoom that may put you off video meetings for life and The Quiet Girl, a beautiful Irish-language film about a girl who’s sent to live with relatives for the summer.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I was intrigued by that one. I’ll probably watch it one day this week while the kiddo is in school.

    7. Bookgarden*

      Scary movies here with my partner, a mix of ones I’ve seen before and new ones for me. So far it’s been The Wicker Man (original), In the Mouth of Madness, and 1408. Tomorrow I plan on watching The Ring and hopefully Coherence or The Lighthouse.

      After Halloween I plan on watching Point Break and I promised my partner a Top Gun marathon as thanks for all of the scary movies since I’ve never seen the original before.

      1. fposte*

        The original Wicker Man soundtrack has turned up on my in-car rotation recently (everything I ever owned is on there somewhere). I was pleased to find it’s still a great soundtrack. It also drove me to look more into the making and discover that there had been more subsequent related media than I had realized–a sequel, a “spiritual successor,” and a few more things.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Speaking of scary movies, my mother and I used to love Alfred Hitchcock movies. Which I guess could be classified suspenseful rather than scary. She decided she wanted to go see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now you think that title would be enough to tell you if you don’t like gore, this isn’t for you. She insisted it wouldn’t be “that bad.” Well, to the surprise of no one it was. We had to leave. We swore off scary movies that day.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yeah… I CAN watch Hitchcock. But the only “scary” movies I’ve ever watched was as a teen and due to peer pressure. LOL

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          Ugh, I have a fairly unpleasant memory of watching TCM with a friend’s “other” friend group in high school. I was already feeling uncomfortable hanging out with this somewhat unsavory bunch, and then they popped this into the VCR and I was stuck. If I’d had my own car I’d have been out of there.

    8. StellaBella*

      In the past 8 weeks I have had to fly a lot (not fo fun, for that other place).
      I watched The Breakfast Club several times, Black Panther twice, the LOTR trilogy, Bullet Train, Notting Hill, Captain Phillips, and all the Thor movies. Made the long flights fun.
      I loved Angel Heart – but I also really like stories like this where people try to get one over on the perceived higher powers (angels, including that fallen one, etc.) and I love NOLA particularly.

      1. KatEnigma*

        My husband and I were browsing our many streaming options last night, and nothing was interesting to us both. He finally said “Just put on Beetlejuice and we’ll both be happy.” LOL

    9. sagewhiz*

      Oooh, utterly LOL hilarious French film titled Flashback, on prime. Story of a woman lawyer who believes in nothing but herself and winning at any cost, until she finally wakes up—as in literally. Slips in devices from both Scrooged and Groundhog Day for extra fun. So good I watched it twice.

      Careful though, as there’s another by that title, very dark, dystopian, depressing (altho that may be some’s cup of tea). Look for the *poster* with a blonde woman in a blue 1800s style gown.

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

      I watched a couple of old Charles Bronson movies — *The Mechanic* and *Mr. Majestyk*. I enjoyed them — I’d never seen any of his films before and was pleasantly surprised that *Mr. Majestyk* was squarely on the side of the migrant laborers portrayed in it.

    11. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I have been watching loads lately- the biggest treat was seeing an old movie filmed in my hometown and spotting a beloved former teacher of mine in a scene!

      Very much recommend Tomka and His Friends, an Albanian film which is a little Spirit of the Beehive, and is on YouTube; Decision to Leave – swooning, yearning, subtle noir; and Fast and Feel Love, a hilarious Thai film which riffs off action movies to talk about emotional labour and house work.

    12. Smol Book Wizard*

      Dad showed us The Lion in Winter this week while we were at home for old-house cleaning. The dialogue was absolutely masterful and the lady lead actor had amazing emotional range. Also I really want to know who managed the dogs wandering the set – there was a moment with a despairing king monologuing on a staircase where this lovely little yellow greyhound was standing in the background and just staring and then did a little ear twitch at the ideal conversational moment.

      1. fposte*

        The Lion in Winter was my favorite movie for a very long time. Reportedly it was also Aaron Sorkin’s; it makes sense if you think about Sorkin’s work.

        I also love the music to that. John Barry was fantastic.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Katharine Hepburn won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Lion in Winter, in a tie with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. I haven’t watched that movie since around high school-ish time, so I appreciate the reminder to check it out again. Not only am I a huge fan of Hepburn, but the film features the incredible Peter O’Toole. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    13. PhyllisB*

      Don’t watch TV much (I should watch the movie channel but I forget to. Get too caught up im whatever book I’m reading) but I do love to go to the movies occasionally. The last two I saw were The Elvis Movie. If you are an Elvis fan you really need to check it out. The young man who played Elvis is extremely talented. I was impressed when I realized he did all the singing. The other one was Death on the Nile. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and loved all the costumes.

      1. Bluebell*

        Your comment really reminds me that I really want there to be a Sister Rosetta Tharp movie! The woman musician character in the recent Death on the Nile remake was based on Sister Rosetta. (And Yola plays her in the movie) There are so many talented actress/musicians out there who could do a great job in this role, and it’s a story that would be an awesome movie.

          1. sagewhiz*

            There IS a Sister Rosetta Tharpe movie! A documentary on YouTube. Haven’t watched it yet but my bff raved about it recently, says it’s an absolute must-see.

            1. Bluebell*

              Yes- I saw the documentary and read a biography. But I think it would make an awesome biopic. Queen Latifah could pull it off, or maybe Cynthia Erivo.

        1. Tybalt's Cat*

          I loved the Elvis movie and it’s inspired me to go through and watch all of his movies. Viva Las Vegas has been my favorite by far. King Creole is pretty good too (and was Elvis’s favorite).

          I really want to see Baz Luhrmann do a Little Richard movie now. The actor who played him was phenomenal!

    14. the cat's ass*

      “Everything Everywhere All At Once”with the matchless Michelle Yeoh. Jamie Lee Curtis is amazing in it too.

      1. Love for EEAAO*

        EEAAO is amazing, one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, so inventive and hopeful.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, this was a really fun film, it was great to see Michelle Yeoh getting a lead role where she could really kick sone arse.

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        I saw it in the theater with my college age daughter, at her request. I don’t think I’d have ever watched it otherwise. We loved it.

    15. Russian in Texas*

      The List City which was ridiculous but a lot more fun than expected.
      The Good Nurse on Netflix that was kind of boring, despite all the talent.

    16. Lilo*

      I watched The School for Good and Evil because of the cast and, boy, is that movie all over the place. I tried to enjoy it as campy fun but it really goes off the rails about 75% of the way through and the end is just kind of incoherent.

    17. tessa*

      “Burnt Offerings” and “The Changeling.” Will be watching the original “It” later today. Tim Curry is masterful.

      1. Citra*

        The original, George C. Scott “Changeling?” One of the scariest spooky-horror movies ever made, great for Halloween! I’ve seen it a number of times and it still scares me.

      2. Random Biter*

        George C. Scott’s “The Changeling” is quite possibly my favorite scary movie of all time. All the chills with a bare fraction of gore.

    18. Clisby*

      For a Chinese Studies class I’m auditing, I just rewatched The Last Emperor (1987). I loved it the 2nd time around, too.

    19. TheraputicSarcasm*

      I finally got around to watching District 9, and it was even better than I thought it would be. The documentary style is perfect, it’s entertaining, it’s touching, and it’s even more timely after 13 years.

      1. Love for EEAAO*

        District 9 is so good and it makes me a bit sad that Blomkamp’s subsequent work was a bit hit-or-miss. (Elysium was forgettable, and I liked Chappie, though it doesn’t get the highest reviews.)

        1. Russian in Texas*

          Elysium made me literally sick to my stomach. I’ve been avoiding any movie with “shaky camera” feature since then, I wish they had a warning!

          1. allathian*

            Oon, I haven’t seen that one, but the Bourne movies had the same effect on me. I don’t really want to watch them on anything larger than a 32 in screen…

        2. TheraputicSarcasm*

          I avoided Elysium because I have allergic reactions to Matt Damon. Don’t ask me why.

      2. I take tea*

        We just watched this as well. Too much shooting for my taste (I do horror much better than violence), but interesting.

    20. Clisby*

      Also, last night, I rewatched Carny, with Robbie Robertson, Gary Busey, and Jodie Foster. This is a weird and wonderful movie.

    21. Margali*

      Streaming TV, not a movie, but my husband and son and I are completely entranced with Mythic Quest — comedy that takes place at a gaming company. (Yes, my son occasionally has to explain some of the jokes to us.) Season 1 Episode 10 takes place and was filmed during the quarantine time of this epidemic, and it was so funny and so sweet that I am still thinking about it days after watching it. We just finished Season 1, are about to start Season 2, and then Season 3 drops this November.

    22. Fellow Traveller*

      I just saw a movie in a theatre for the first time in a while. Went to see Tar, the new Cate Blanchett movie, and I thought it was very good. Not at all what I expected from watching the trailer. I work in the performing arts so it was kind of neat to see my world up on the big screen.
      I have the WWI movie Testament of Youth borrowed from the library to watch this weekend.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I saw Tar this weekend, too, and agree that it is very good. I was in my school’s orchestra when I was growing up but haven’t kept playing as an adult so I understood maybe 1/3 of the namedropping of various symphonies, conductors, and players. Very cool to get a peek behind the curtain of the professional performing arts world!

    23. RT*

      The Banshees of Inisherin. About a guy who’s friend-dumped by his drinking buddy and tries to repair the relationship. Started off funny and kind of sweet, then got more and more insane as the movie went on. Still funny though.

      Would recommend.

    24. The OG Sleepless*

      We somehow ended up watching The Running Man the other night. To my surprise, my young adult son had never seen it. We had to explain a couple of cultural references, like the casting of Richard Dawson as the host. He likes horror short stories, so I urged him to read the Stephen King/Richard Bachman novella.

    25. marvin the paranoid android*

      I really liked The Last of Sheila! It’s a murder mystery from the 70s written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, and it’s a lot of fun. Even the title of the movie is a clue :)

    26. Don'tbeadork*

      Saturday Fathom Events showed two classic horror movies in theaters, so DH and I went to watch The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Phantom of the Opera (Claude Rains as the Phantom, Nelson Eddy as some baritone, Edgar Barry as Daubert).

      For scientists, the crew of Creature were pretty illogical pretty much every step of the way. I was rooting hard for the gill-man by the end.

    27. Random Biter*

      Scary movie marathon! Some good, some crappy, but all alot of fun with pj’s, popcorn, and puppy. Christine, Count Yorga, Vampire (cringingly bad from the 70’s but I had to keep watching and I love Svengoolie’s dive into the cast of his movies), Thirteen Ghosts (got awful reviews but I like it), Poltergeist, Halloween Kills (not a fan of slasher movies but you get what you get), various Freddy and Jason movies (refer to slasher comment), and various and sundry paranormal and ghost programming (most of it laughable, but still entertaining). Happy Halloween!

  2. Liminality*

    I have a burgandy pleather/vinyl chair that got a pretty deep scratch on the chair arm. It’s about two inches long and at two points along the scratch it seems to go all the way through. (The two points are 16th of an inch at most. )
    Any ideas on how to repair the scratch? Ideally in a color-match, but at least to prevent the scratch from becoming a further issue? I’d prefer to aoid gluing a patch over the scratch unless it’s as a very last resort.
    Thanks! :)

    1. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      I actually like the idea of a patch. You could choose a funky looking patch that aligns with your interst. Like a favourite band maybe? If the lack of balance bothers you, you could also put a patch in the same spot on the other arm.

    2. Emma2*

      So, a Google search suggests you can purchase leather/pleather crack filler solutions that also come with coloured dyes so you can match the colour of the original item. I would probably purchase something like that. Before trying it on the chair arm, I would turn my chair over, and do a test on the bottom to make sure I was happy with how it looks (assuming some of the pleather wraps around onto the bottom – if not, I would at least find a discrete place, eg on the lower back part of the chair to test my colour match).
      One issue with repairs is that it is very, very difficult to do an invisible chair on most things. You will ultimately need to decide what you can live with. Some people prefer to do something like a patch because if their repair is not going to be invisible, they would prefer it look intentional. The thing is, if you use something like a filler, and later decide you would prefer a patch, there is no reason you can’t put a patch over it (that is less true in the other direction – it would be very hard to “reverse” a patch and switch to a filler).

      1. Solidarity*

        Yes, I have bought something like vinyl/leather repair stuff – it’s kind of plasticy and comes in a tube, I think? You can pick colors. It may not be a perfect match. I would be able to live with it, others might not.

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

      There was some product hawked on television in the 1970s-80s-90s that was a liquid you could dab on to fix exactly this sort of problem. It came with various dyes that you could combine to get a close match. I googled trying to find it and found an article on bestcommercialtools dot com reviewing various other vinyl repair kits. Some of the brands they reviewed were 3M, Seisso, Magicfly, Coconix.

    4. RagingADHD*

      The filler stuff takes a good bit of expertise to get a good result, more that one is likely to get repairing one scratch. I’m pretty artsy-craftsy, and I’ve never gotten a really pleasing result.

      I agree with Emma that you might try the filler and then cover it with a patch if you don’t like how it turns out.

      Google “invisible mending” and “visible mending.” There are groups that share photos and tips on all different materials and techniques.

  3. Sunflower*

    Where does one find resources and information for how to decide when/if to buy a house? How do I decide when is a good time to buy a house if I don’t intend to live in it right away?

    I am planning to move back to Philadelphia (currently living in NYC) in the next few years but I’d love to buy a home sometime soon so I can start building equity. I would like to buy a 1-2 bedroom in Center City for between 200-350k. Right now I have 50k to put down but I’ll have closer to 100k if I wait another year. I am really concerned about the interest rates now but also, have no idea how to read if the market is good or not. I also know nothing about how to rent out a home when I’m not local (property management company)? I am pretty confident at analyzing information and making a decision/crunching numbers but I previously never intended to be a homeowner so I don’t even know where to start looking for this info to analyze. Any ideas?

    (FWIW My job is about 80% remote so I feel confident about staying in it when I do move back as it’s quite easy to commute a few times a year and on the fly.)

    1. Liminality*

      First step is to speak to the lenders you’d be possibly getting a mortgage through. Find out how much ‘house’ you can afford. (Don’t fall for the bank’s offered loan limit, they’ll usually offer much more of a loan than can be comfortably managed.) Once you have an idea of feasible monthly loan payments, get a clear idea of the other requirements, utilities, insurance, etc…
      Then, get a good realtor, be VERY clear in your budget and needs and be open to considering places that meet most of the Must Haves.
      Of course, the realtor might end up giving you a reality check of availability in your price range, but they can also give you tips on improving your odds of putting in successful offers.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      Honestly, I don’t think I would do it. And I’m saying that as someone who bought my first house this year and doesn’t regret it.

      First, being a landlord is a pain, especially if you don’t live near the property. I’ve got several friends in this situation, for various reasons, and when we get together there’s a good chance they will have to step away to deal with something. It’s basically a part-time job, even if you have a property management company to help.

      Second, this is a weird time to buy a house. People can’t afford to buy at early-2022 prices once you factor in the interest rate, but owners don’t care about the interest rate, they want “what the house is worth” (or was worth earlier this year).

      I bought in April, near the peak of the market. I suspected that interest rates would not be back in the 4%’s for many years, and in the meantime I needed somewhere to live. Doesn’t entirely matter what the market value of the house is; I can afford the payments, and I’m not moving. But if I was still looking? At this point, I’d just wait for things to shake out.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Agreed. We bought exactly a year ago, halfway through the school year (Preschool, so no real reason to give me the side eye) BECAUSE we saw which way the wind was blowing. Our interest rate is 2.75%. It went over 7%!!! this week. Luckily, we’re not under water, and the market seems to indicate, here, that we even have some equity, but… The interest rate was unusually low for 20 years- let the housing prices adjust BEFORE you buy.

        And I know people with investment properties, and we rented a lot. No. Just no. People are pigs when they don’t own the house, and it’s really a headache if you aren’t there to monitor the situation. And getting them out if things go bad is soooo hard.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with all of this, especially the rental part. One of the biggest mistakes of my life was renting out our old house when we bought a new house about 45 minutes away. It was the most stressful six years of our lives.

    3. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Don’t worry about living in it right away. It took us nearly a year to find the right house for us each time. You could also do a short term rental agreement with the sellers if they don’t have a place to go right away.

      There are mortgage estimators online that can help you get an idea of how large a payment you can handle. Zillow’s “Affirdability Calculator” is one. In the end, we decided to keep our monthly payment as close as possible to the payment we already had.

    4. JSPA*

      In my painful experience, a house you’re not living in needs more, not less maintenance, and it needs it at the least opportune times, when it is hardest to find someone to deal with the problems (weather happens to everyone in a city, at the same time).

      And the unexpected one-offs are worse. Sure, you could small-claims it, but…you still have the headache.

      The housesitter not noticing a pest problem in the built-ins of an unused room, to the point where the urine and feces had soaked into and warped the built-ins and the floor…that was a particularly expensive one. But the caretaker who left for a convention in Georgia and let the pipes freeze was pretty bad, too. Carbon monoxide detectors that have been unplugged, always scary.

      Unless you’re in a particularly forgiving climate (no freeze, no flooding, modest heating and cooling needs, minimal pest problems) these sorts of risks are a given, and any one of them will more than wipe out a couple-three-four years of “equity building.” (And IMO, taking an adjustable-rate mortgage in the name of building equity is a form of roulette, not a form of investment.)

      Philly isn’t that tough a place to buy; it’s not like if you don’t buy now, you’ll be priced out forever. I’d save / build the money in some other, more diversified way.

      1. KatEnigma*

        We moved in January and didn’t get out from under our albatross of a house in ND until April. Just about everything that could go wrong, did- including a storm that blew away the downspouts -our realtor never did find the one- and led to water in the basement 3 days before closing! Our snow removal people quit abruptly in February (for no reason, other than it snowed too much last year- we paid them as soon as they generated a bill and weren’t even there to complain about them being late, etc!) and it keeps snowing in ND until April… And that was with our Realtor checking since she had skin in the game!

      2. Solidarity*

        I do think the market is correcting a bit and interest rates may (?) go down at some point. I don’t think I’d buy right now if I didn’t need a place to home, with prices still weirdly inflated *and* crappy mortgage options.

    5. Morning reader*

      I discovered when considering buying a house to rent to a friend that both taxes and insurance are 2x or 3x higher when the house is not your primary residence. (Friend ended up getting a mortgage of her own and I helped a bit.) Figure these extra costs into your calculation.
      As for information, the library has a whole section of real estate books. Even looking a chapter headings will give you some idea of all the elements to consider.
      You might need a financial adviser to consult about whether this is a good investment. Seems like you could park your savings elsewhere and grow them more than trying to build equity in a rental, but who knows?

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Everything I’ve ever read about being a landlord sounds awful. It’s why I didn’t rent out my house when I was living elsewhere but just used it as a sort of vacation home. I wouldn’t buy a house in another city until I’m actually looking to move there, personally.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve known people who did it when they moved out and didn’t want to/ couldn’t sell their place.

        It has the potential for disaster renters to destroy the place on purpose. Renters who just don’t know how to care for a house. As a landlord unlike a home owner you have to fix problems right away that as a homeowner you could work around or DIY.

        I would definitely use a property manager, but they cost money. You need to be monetarily prepared for you not to have renters for a month or two or more (perhaps while paying to fix things or professional cleaners) and still pay your mortgage.

    7. Venus*

      I rented out my place for years while I lived elsewhere for work and it went really well. A friend recommended their friend, and he was reliable for many years until I moved back. It’s an apartment so the HOA took care of all the outside parts. I gave him the option of a property management company or saving a bit of money and doing maintenance himself. If you can find someone through friends and family whom you trust then that helps a lot with the renting.

      I agree with waiting a year to buy. You will have more money and the effects of the increased interest rate will hopefully be more obvious with lower prices. It’s also best to buy in winter and prices peak in spring.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I see about building equity. Assuming little or no down payment and a 30 year mortgage then at the 15 year mark you will have 25% equity. You might do better just getting with a financial advisor and making some investments.

      You are asking how to decide.
      1st, I’d use one of those online mortgage calculators. Put in how much you can comfortably pay per month, the length of the loan, and estimate the loan rate but go a bit on the higher side so you can see worst case scenario. Solve for loan amount. You will probably get a more realistic number than what any loan company might show you.

      2nd. Rental property. I recommend reviewing the landlord tenant laws in PA. Here in NY the laws are deliberately written in favor of the tenants, this is because decades ago tenants really got messed with. The laws have not been updated for the way society has changed. If you want to evict someone it takes a long time.

      3rd. Empty building. Having dealt with unoccupied buildings (thanks, family members) this is NOT fun. I got lucky with the house that was the most remote because the family member had friends who cared enough to check the house. I would not have gotten through that without the extra help. But there was still “fun” stuff to deal with: rodents, pests, water…..

      If you decide to push ahead with this idea, barebones get a contractor (someone you pay) to walk through the house with you to let you know where the problems are. My last word of caution, if you buy a house now and leave it empty for several years, then it can become a house you would never have bought at the get-go.

      Now if you said, “I plan to zip over to the house on weekends and live there on weekends.” That might soften my answer a little, but not that much.

      And last tidbit. Do not spend your entire allotment on the down payment. Set money aside so when you get into the house you can fix whatever surprises you find and/or do things to customize the house to suit you. You will need yard equipment or a yard care service. We threw away money on garbage cans, ladders and other stuff that we just did not own because of renting. It got kind of dicey for us, because we spent our last bucks on a modest tractor to mow and remove snow. I was rolling pennies to get the other things we needed. If you can prevent this short sight you will have done a very good deed for yourself.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Very much that last bit. Houses are EXPENSIVE. Ours was in good shape and the previous owners had done a lot of the fixer-upping, but even so, we spent at least $50K in our first month here – tent fumigation, new electrical box, new furnace and A/C unit, earthquake retrofit. We’ll be replacing the roof, windows, and patio doors soon, which is likely to cost even more than that. The small things add up too. New furniture, trips to the hardware store, etc. But we bought way less house than the bank would’ve approved, and only put 20% down (leaving enough cash on hand to write those checks!) so it wasn’t a hardship.

    9. Kate*

      I’ve rented out my house long term three times now while I lived away for work. It’s been a good experience each time.

      A few considerations:

      -choose the neighbourhood wisely and price accordingly. It’ll be a balancing act between not wanting the place to sit empty and actually getting enough rent to cover your mortgage, property taxes, management fees, insurance, etc.

      – I tended to price too low, and in one case, I found that a lot of prospective tenants were suspicious of the low rent. In the other case, I wound up renting to a couple of frat boys who were very nice but also utterly filthy
      . In retrospect, I should have aimed higher and “let” them negotiate me down.

      -this is not the time to be buying a fixer upper. That can come later when you are resident in the property. Choose something that is either on the newish (but not new!) end, or something that has had the major areas (roof, furnace, etc.) done in the last ten years. A condo also works well because then you only need to insure and do repairs on the inside of your apartment, and the rest is handled by the condo corp.

      -get a property manager. Ours cost 75$/month or 5% of the rent. That’s way less than most people’s HOA fees, and definitely worth it! They found me tenants, did their credit checks, were the ones on call if the toilet leaked (only once in six years, woo!), etc.

      -look for a mortgage that lets you prepay X amount each year (I think mine is 10%). That way you can buy the place now and put any additional “down payment” money on the mortgage in subsequent years (usually it goes directly on to the principal at that point, but check the fine print). I do this because it lets me hold that money in reserve for emergencies, and if I don’t need it by the end of the year, I put it lump sum on the remaining mortgage as a prepayment.

      I hope this helps!

    10. Epsilon Delta*

      It caught my eye that you have a $50k downpayment now, but could have $100k downpayment in a few years. I would strongly suggest playing around with those numbers in a mortgage calculator to see how much that impacts the monthly payment on a given house, or conversely how much more you would be able to spend while holding the monthly payment constant.
      We ended up buying a house for $220k, much lower than what the banks were telling us we could afford. They wanted us in $300k houses because then they would earn more interest on us and the real estate agents would make more commission, and were very sincere in telling us we “could afford” those houses. Best decision we ever made was buying the cheap house, because it has given us financial breathing room.
      Final data point: in the first two years, our interest rate was 4.6% and we built just $8k in equity (and that’s with paying an extra $100 towards principle each month). Which isn’t nothing, but to me it wouldn’t be worth the hassle of trying to rent the place out from a distance. I personally would wait until you are ready to live in the house to buy it. 3 years ago, Covid wasn’t on our radar. Look how much changed in that short period of time.

    11. Newbie*

      Being a landlord is a PITA, and the financing requirements to purchase a house you don’t plan to live in are considerably more stringent. Taxes and insurance are much more as well.
      Wait until you are ready to move, then buy a place you want to live in. There are no guarantees of building equity, getting good tenants or anything else. Houses are illiquid and very expensive to buy and sell (commissions). They are not great investments for the average person when you factor in all the costs of ownership. Unless you are a bit lucky in terms of location, you’ll break even at best.

    12. River Song*

      Pay attention to interest rates! That is thousands of dollars you are paying on top of your principal payment every year. It’s the least exciting part of the process but it’s super important. Check to see how much of your monthly payment goes to principal, shop around for interest rates especially online. And with interest rates Insanely high right now, consider keeping back some cash to refinance when they drop. I initially bought with a 3.8 interest rate but when rates were crazy low last year refinanced to lock in at 1.9. It is saving me thousands upon thousands of dollars as I will now be able to pay off my home years sooner. Ultimately don’t get caught in the glitzy overspendy world of realtors, keep a foot in financial planning land.

    13. Llellayena*

      The website Motley Fool had quite a few step by step process articles about house buying that I read when I was looking. It probably won’t give you the “should I do this and when” advice but it can probably give you the steps so you know what to research to help make the decision.

    14. Pellegrino*

      One important thing to consider is that most mortgages (ie for primary residences) require you to live in the house for a year before being able to rent it out; otherwise, you need to get a mortgage for the house as an investment property, which typically have higher interest rates.

  4. Mo Money Mo Problems*

    I am hoping to start a local meetup/group for women interested in personal finance and am wondering if I need to set any ground rules. I’m in a decent amount of online groups for these interests. I notice they can attract pushy business owners/salespeople, often times presenting opportunities that aren’t what they seem or in excess of what folks need. Part of my ambition of this group is to help educate and increase financial literacy – and these people are usually preying on those with little finance knowledge. I’m really torn here because it would seem natural to allow folks to network and look for job opportunities but I feel pretty strongly about people not feeling pressured or being presented with bait and switch type opportunities. I don’t necessarily want to disclude anyone but I also want it to be a safe space for those who are just starting their financial savvy journey. Any ideas or guidance?

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      “We speak generally about ideas, concepts and best practices in this group. Promoting or sharing specific products, opportunities, franchises or employment is strictly prohibited.
      Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, or too certain, it probably is misleading. Be VERY cautious about members of the group approaching you outside the group to get you to buy or sell with them.
      If any member of the group makes you feel uncomfortable or pressures you to invest, join a program, etc. please report it to the group leaders.”

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        As someone who founded a Meetup group, I think this language is excellent. Putting important guidelines right up front in the About section avoids potential problems and keeps things going smoothly.

        For the group I organize, new members are required to agree to a few prompts when they sign up. For this group, your prompt(s) could include something along the lines of “I understand that the group’s purpose is for financial understanding and agree not to pitch or sell anything.” That extra step for signing up minimizes the odds of someone coming in with a financial motive.

        All of the events my co-leaders and I organize for our group list a caveat at the bottom of the announcement about what might get them removed from the group. It’s polite and non-threatening and at the same time clarifies expectations. For ours, it’s multiple no-shows. For yours, it could be something like “Efforts to sell or pitch a specific product or financial strategy will result in your being removed from the group.” Including that on every announcement reinforces the message, and also makes the people who genuinely want to join feel more welcome.

        The other thing that helped for my group was switching from a public group to a private one. Anyone can still join, and the group purpose is still visible, but activities and members aren’t. This greatly reduced the number of scammers who joined. When mine was public in its first couple months, there were a number of fake accounts that popped up, and I got a few complaints from members who had been contacted. Since marking the group as private years ago, I’ve had just a couple fake accounts.

      2. fposte*

        I like this a lot. It’s also more explanatory than straight up saying “No crypto, no MLMs,” which may not translate in people’s minds to what’s in front of them.

        I don’t know how language around these groups works–do you think you’d need to add “and will result in banning from the group” after “is strictly prohibited” in order to give yourself the authority to do that?

        1. Lilo*

          I’d definitely worry about MLMs targeting personal fiance groups. The whole gimmick is they try to push financial freedom and go after those with difficult financial situations.

        2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          Yes, you probably need to reserve the right to ban anyone for any reason. Otherwise you will have “rules lawyer” types to try to get around the guidelines. I don’t think MLM’s will ever admit that’s what they are, so they will claim “no MLMs” doesn’t apply to them. Like the people who ignore my “no soliciting” signs because they are “not actually selling solar panels; they pay for themselves you know….”.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      The best group I’m part of required a short, informal interview with the organizer before it started — she could strain out overtalkers, folks who were pushy, or not quite bought into the mission of the group.

    3. PX*

      The language Ginger Pet Lady has proposed is great and something I see a lot of in online spaces and to a certain extent in person. I’d definitely use it as a starting point.

      The other thing I’d say is get very clear in your head what is and isnt allowed – and then stick to it clearly and communicate it CONSISTENTLY. So is it that people are allowed to pitch as long as they state it is a pitch and communicate who they work for upfront? Fine. Is it that absolutely no pitching is allowed? Also fine. But whatever line you draw (and it can change over time) – make sure you are consistent with it and enforce it ruthlessly. Get comfortable being the bad guy/having difficult conversations with people who try to cross it or kicking them out of the group if needed.

    4. Red Sky*

      As someone who grew up pre-internet, government-cheese poor and had very little financial education, I love that you’re doing this, thank you! In addition to prohibiting selling etc I hope you’ll also educate on how to identify those too-good-to-be-true opportunities and scams, the number of MLMs is too damn high.

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Curious if you already have friends that want to be members. Along with what other people are suggesting, if you have a friend or two who you know would be considerate and valuable to the group as a member, you might be able to “stack the deck” with strong members at the start.

  5. Aphrodite*

    Cats and their crazy antics.

    Today I had my handyman out to put lightweight plastic panels on the undersides of my sofas. My three cats, now between 1.25 and 3 years old, went nuts when I first got them about a year ago and found it enormous fun to lie on their sides, reach their paws under the sofas and beds and rip the black covering, then pull out as much stuff as they could. It enraged me at night to listen to them do it to my bed but they could not be deterred. I wasn’t able to save the bed–though it is still good enough to use–but I ended up taking the legs off the sofas and let them sit directly on the floor so the cats couldn’t get to the undersides. But it made the sofas pretty short and when I tried a couple off months ago to put the legs on again it was as if I had opened up a room full of kitty cocaine. Eyes widened. Nostrils flared. They pounced and pulled. I promptly removed the legs again.

    But I never stopped thinking about it, and when I came up with the idea of maybe having plastic panels attached to the frame’s underside I decided to do it. The panels are inexpensive lightweight opaque plastic that came in 4×8 feet pieces. The handyman picked up them up today and came right over. He said it was the perfect solution and so it proved. I have three kitties contentedly napping now–and two sofas unbothered and back to their original height.

    So … what have you had to alter in your home or your life with your cats? Bonus points for creative solutions.

    1. Happily Retired*

      I use – bear with me here, and read the whole post – mouse traps to keep cats off of kitchen counters and dining tables. (I love cats to death, but I think it’s absolutely gross to let them walk over food prep and serving surfaces, darling little litter-box users that they are. Also, this can be a huge safety issue for cats, see below.)

      The recipe: lay out open, unbaited mouse traps every 3′ feet or so on the surface where you don’t want them to be. Lay out (carefully!) five sheets or so of newspaper over the traps. Test one with your finger by touching the trap through the paper, setting off the trap, to ensure that the trap doesn’t cut through the paper, reaching the cat’s paws. Add another sheet or two if needed (newsprint varies in thickness.)

      Go to bed. Listen contentedly to the sound of the muffled mouse trap going off, followed a millisecond later by the sound of the cat hitting the floor. If you have particularly stubborn cats, repeat nightly for another 2-3 nights until you find un-trapped traps in the morning.

      Follow up occasionally by sprinkling some flour on the counter/ tabletop and looking for paw prints. Repeat as necessary.

      For those who aren’t bothered by cats on kitchen counters, consider what would happen if a cat jumped up on a recently-used gas or electric range top. Protect your fur buddies from calamity.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Have you tried the cat scarers that attach to a can of compressed air? We use ours to keep the cats from scratching at the bedroom door all night long, but they’re meant for use on counters and such. They detect infrared heat signatures and release a hiss of air at the offending cat. Ours are Ssscat brand. Pro tip: you don’t have to use their expensive air refills, you can just use the standard cans intended for use as keyboard cleaners. You can find brands that don’t have anti-huffing additives, which is an odd thing to look for, but that’s what we use and it works fine.

        1. Happily Retired*

          Well, that’s interesting! I’ve never heard of that. So far the mousetraps are getting the job done, but I will definitely keep this in mind if I have to broaden my approach. (I have always hissed at my cats to get them to stop doing something, but the current cat actually hisses back. She’s got lots of Gumption.)

          Love your username, by the way. One of my former churches had a massive Cedar of Lebanon that was inhabited every Sunday by multiple kids on the massive, horizontal limbs.

      2. Mousetraps & cats*

        I’ve heard about
        1) setting the mousetraps upside down (with a couple of newspaper sheets on top) so they snap up into the air (but not too high because of the newspaper) but are less likely to catch a paw
        2) setting up a trip light like they have in gas station stores, but rig it up to a loud horn
        3) putting contact paper sticky- side up on kitchen counters, when you’re sleeping or gone

        I also think cats on kitchen counters is completely gross although I seem to be in a minority

        1. Happily Retired*

          1) That’s a nice modification of the mousetrap thing. I might give that a try. (If for no other reason than that we don’t subscribe to a paper paper (there should be a better way of phrasing that, but it’s not coming to mind) these days. Newsprint is in short supply!

          I don’t think that I want to be 2) awakened by an air horn, or 3) by a panicked cat wrapping itself up in contact paper, but I can definitely see how those would also work.

        2. Becky S.*

          I agree! Cats on counters and tables are gross. I have a couple friends with cats who are intelligent, sensible people and their cats jomp on the table while we’re eating. yuk!!!!! :-{

          1. mreasy*

            Lol, I am like your friends. It doesn’t bother me but I don’t allow it when we have guests!! Thankfully my guys aren’t interested in our kitchen counters.

        3. Aphrodite*

          I do too but unfortunately, I cannot keep them off. So, since I know they get up there I solve that by a two-part cleaning process: an undiluted white vinegar wash followed by a Dawn-and-hot-water wash and rinse. They only get up on the counters when I am not in there cooking so I routinely do it every time. As for the stove, they stay away from the stovetop, sensing the heat. Thankfully, I don’t worry about that.

      3. Jackalope*

        When I first got my two oldest cats they HAD to get to the top of the fridge. It was like the thrill of Mt. Everest to them. And the only way to get up there was by jumping on the stove and then to the fridge. I tried very hard to keep them off but there was only so much I could do.

        So one day I had just been cooking and the cats decided they had to be on the fridge. I had stepped into the next room and saw them but was too far away to stop them. They jumped up… and then jumped right on down! (No burns form what I could tell though; they were too quick.) My tom learned not to jump on the stove. My Queen learned not to jump on the stove… when it was hot.* She’s always been the cleverer of the two.

        *She realized that me standing at the stove, putting pots and pans up there, stirring, etc meant the stove would be hot. So she would jump up and down freely until I started cooking, and then left it alone for an hour or two. Thankfully the fridge fascination Steve didn’t last too long.

        1. Happily Retired*

          This is so awesome –I am lost in the awesomeness! When my son was a toddler, he also wanted to Conquer the Fridge, and I periodically had to pull him back down. Fortunately, he just used the drawer handles to climb up to counter level.

        2. I take tea*

          Cats can learn quite well, if need be. One of my old cats wanted to explore everything when she came into the house. She managed to jump straight into a sink full of soapy water and dishes in soak. She never, ever, jumped on a counter after that.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            Reminds me of a trip to the vet, where I took my hands and eyes off the cat in order to sign the paperwork for his shots. The cat decided to hide in the sink. It had one of those faucets that turns on automatically – and it was a big industrial-grade faucet that power-washed the poor cat before he could react. The vet came back in to find the patient and exam room quite soaked, and an owner weeping with laughter while attempting to clean it up. Then kitty got his shots anyhow. Not his best day…but he never went near a sink again.

      4. JSPA*

        Mine are too old to get on counters anymore.

        But they were very quickly able to learn the difference between counter (where I fed one of them) and stove (where if they jumped up, I shrieked at the top of my lungs, and jumped as high as I could in the air, and came down with my hardest “thud.”)

        Pre-warn the neighbors…and do not do this in an appartment. But it works.

        As for couches, the reason there are not plastic sheets already bolted to the undersides of couches is that in many climates, couches need air circulation, to not develop mildew from your perspiration. If your climate (or your heating-conditioning) leaves the house always dry, this isn’t much risk, but if you’re someplace damper, consider using a perforated or breathable covering. (Plywood with cut-outs works well.)

        Though come to think of it, the only time my cats really went nuts getting into a couch…that’s how I found out about the mice.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I thought about that but I live in Santa Barbara, the southern central coastal part of California so our weather is not not particularly damp. (I’m near the foothills rather than the ocean.) But I could have him come back and probably put some holes in the plastic in the middle–where their claws can’t reach–to ensure there is some air circulation. Thanks for the reminder!

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Our kitchen has no door, and also a pass-through. Fortunately these 2 are almost 100% prepared to let food come to them.

        1. Manders*

          My cat Bruce just looked at me when I was applying foil to the kitchen island as if it were a personal challenge. He won. I haven’t found anything that deters him.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      We’ve got a bunch of stuff underneath our sofa for precisely the same reason. Mostly extra shelves for storage units we aren’t using, but might need someday – they’re large and flat and have to go somewhere, so.

      We also have shelves under the fridge and dresser to prevent cat toys from disappearing under them. They’re the metal kind, so they don’t block air circulation for the fridge.

      I have a series of “cat traps” in my work space – places for cats to sit that are more appealing than my keyboard. Their favorite spot is on top of the bookshelf, where there’s a nice blanket for them to sit on, held in place by a metal shelf that’s been screwed on upside down to the top of the bookshelf. (It’s actually been there longer than I’ve had cats – I got the bookshelf as a starving student in San Francisco, living in a tiny apartment where I wasn’t allowed to attach anything to the wall, even for earthquake safety purposes. The upside-down shelf also has two shelf poles attached, braced up against the ceiling, such that if the bookshelf rocks forward the poles will hit the ceiling and prevent the bookshelf from falling over.)

    3. SparklingBlue*

      Worried about holiday heirlooms becoming history at kitty’s paw? Non-breakable ornaments, and aluminum foil rubbed with orange peel keeps kitty away.

      Depending on your kitty, you may still find some stray ornaments on occasion.

      1. Lissajous*

        Oh my goodness the Christmas tree. It’s three week long process at my place!
        – First: put up the tree. Leave it for about a week with no ornaments so the novelty wears off.
        – Second: put on the Sacrificial Ornaments. The ones that you don’t mind if the cat goes for them, and also they won’t do any damage to the cat, and also they are pretty reparable. Best acquired in post Christmas sales. Wait a week for the novelty to wear off.
        – Third: put on most of the rest of the ornaments. The bottom third of the tree is purely cat-robust items. Wait a week, etc.
        – Fourth: just before Christmas Day, put on any truly precious, fragile ornaments.
        – Never: put on lights, tinsel, or anything with feathers
        – Boxing Day: immediately remove the truly precious and fragile items.

        (One of my cats will chew anything that is string or string like. He also loves playing with toys that dangle, and toy mice are a consumable item in this household. You can see why putting up the tree is just a whole lot of opportunities!)

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          We installed lag bolts in the walls so we could attach the tree. We used wire cables so that when the cats climbed the tree it stayed put. We also had it very sparsely decorated with cat friendly ornaments.
          We currently have no cats, as Best Good Dog is not a cat person, but the bolts remain in our living room wall.

        2. KatEnigma*

          I had to do the opposite. When Christopher was a kitten, I had these stuffed Winnie the Pooh ornaments, plus some mice and other stuffed cloth ornaments my grandmother had made. He would steal EVERY SINGLE ONE.

          So my strategy was a garland made entirely of bells that were strung especially on the bottom of the tree and various Bell ornaments that were on the edge of branches at the bottom of the tree. That was my alert that he was going after something. And then just plain colored ball ornaments, even if they were breakable, that he completely left alone. The non breakable ornaments were the ones I had to put up high! I still have those ornaments, and Piglet’s chewed ear is there in memory of that silly cat.

    4. Double A*

      These aren’t really changes but expenditures…. I bought a nearly $200 microchip feeder so the young fat cat wouldn’t starve the old cats by snarfing all the food down. Yep, a $200 cat bowl.

      Oh and we spent like $3000 on black market remdesivir to hopefully cure said young cat of FIP. It worked but it definitely is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done for my cats.

      In terms of modifications, we have a door that closes off the stairway to the upstairs, and we like to keep it closed but want the cats to be able to move freely. So we cut off the corner of the door to make an entry for them. And I have seriously contemplated doing that to most of our internal doors. Specifically I’d like to make tiny cat doors that one can open and shut as needed. I figure in the long run it will be an appealing feature for the right buyer.

      This isn’t exactly cat caused, but we had to move the cat food into our master bath because my toddler loves to eat it.

        1. Double A*

          I’m like…one of my cats is 18 years old so what she eats is probably fine for a child? Maybe even good? Seems effective for her.

              1. Happily Retired*

                OK, even worse. IT WAS SUPPPOSED TO BE (pant pant) two of the upper case things above the comma key plus the word hugs plus two of the upper case things above the period key.

                This is on a laptop. Lord only knows what it is on mobile.

          1. JSPA*

            In the US, cat food has to be human food grade. The kid is fine, except for whatever they’re catching from the cat saliva (which they could equally catch directly from the cat).

        2. Clisby*

          Same at my house. We found the cat eating stray Cheerios and our son eating Meow Mix. Everybody survived.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        One of my uncles used to eat dog food as a kid. My grandmother, having dealt with an undiagnosed ADHD child and an undiagnosed autistic child while being autistic herself, just gave up by that point and let him do it.

    5. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Our cat hacks are mostly because of the dogs. We put up baby gates to keep the dogs out of the litterbox and cat food. (We put the food on top of the chest freezer in the pantry, but our latest dog turned out to be a counter surfer.)

      The freezer is getting a little too tall or slippery for the cats as they have aged, so we got what is basically a carpet-covered 5 gallon bucket for them to use as a step stool. The lid of the freezer is now covered with a rubber shelf liner/mat as the metal has rusted a little over the years from being wiped down so much. We can just change out the liner when it gets too gross.

      One cat loves to eat my houseplants. I found cheap or free aquariums and large birdcages to use to protect the plants from grazing. This same cat loves to gnaw on shoes and laces. They are now hidden in the storage bench by the door.

      1. KatEnigma*

        We have a cat that can’t jump (I think a result of the Felv that affected her right eye as a tiny rescue kitten) so she can’t even get to the top of the freezer and never could. The baby gate with the cat door in it wasn’t small enough to keep out the cockalier… So it was a constant fight. Thankfully, our new house has a closet under the stairs that we put one of those cat-shaped openings to. And the litter robot that’s worth its weight in gold (it’s PRICEY, but it actually works to keep out any litter smell! And picky people going through our last house that complained about dog smell NEVER smelled the cat) so she doesn’t mind that her litter and food are in the same space. Also luckily it’s a large closet, and we put a small cat tree in there, to separate them.

          1. KatEnigma*

            Second or Third Gen, that they no longer make or sell. I think we only paid $300 for it. We actually had a 1st Gen one that we got rid of because our really big cat wouldn’t use it, and we were down to just her at the time we were moving cross country- we sold it for almost what we’d paid for it new. We replaced it several years later in a different location with a different cat right before the slick redesign and price hike. When the motor stopped this summer, my husband was able to just replace the motor (from a robot supply place?) thankfully. Because we can’t do without it!

          2. Cedrus Libani*

            FWIW, I’ve used a 1st gen (in a four-cat house-share) and now own a 3rd gen (with my own two cats), and it might be the best “frivolous” purchase I’ve ever made. You do have to be a little bit handy; it’s a robot after all, but it gives informative error messages, and it’s mostly “take me apart and clean X”.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          I’m jealous. I have wanted to get a litter robot for a long time. The robot vacuum won.

          Come to think of it, that is another household change we made for the cats. I read somewhere that you should vacuum once per week for each pet you have in the house to keep hair, dander, and odors at bay. We wore out our first robot vacuum after 2 years of daily cleaning (I shed a lot so I figure I’m worth 2 pets, lol.)

          1. KatEnigma*

            If you can ever justify the cost, they work. They REALLY work. Better than the robot vacuum works, to be honest. Not that we can do without that either (1 cat, 3 dogs. We replaced all the carpet with engineered hardwood before we moved in) We got a roborock because you can map zones, because our large first floor was defeating it- plus we wanted to be able to tell it not to go places. And we still have to rescue it at least once a day. The litter robot just WORKS most of the time.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m allergic to furry creatures but like them, and a big reason I come to the weekend thread is to read people’s pet stories. I love it. Keep ’em coming!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband’s cat is too lazy to go to a no-dog zone to use the litterbox, to the point where she ruined a half dozen dog beds peeing on those instead. So there is a quarter-bath with a private balcony and a view (read “plywood enclosure”) that my husband built to put a box in the dog zone but keep the dogs out of it.

      I also don’t have a Christmas tree anymore – the same cat routinely stole all my soft ornaments and then drowned them in the water bowl for the grievous offense of “not containing drugs” – we’re pretty sure she thought they were catnip toys. So instead we installed hooks around the living room about a foot below the ceiling and at Christmas time drape a lighted garland around, and I hang the ornaments from that. I really like it – no need to rearrange the furniture to find room for the tree, much less storage needed, and it looks really nice. The heavy or fragile ones get hung on the actual wall hooks, lighter ones go on the swags in between, and nothing is out of sight in the back or whatnot.

      1. Mousetraps & cats*

        Maybe, MAYBE your cat isn’t lazy & is peeing on the dog beds as a “This dog item simply cannot be here,” protest. I mean, sure the cat could be both. :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          She thinks she is a dog, haha. My grumpy old dog is her best friend, they play together pretty regularly, and once we put the box on the dog level (dogs aren’t allowed in the basement at all, cat-only zone, and only in the upstairs when supervised, they only get free roam of the main floor of the house) the peeing on dog beds stopped :)

    8. Fish*

      Cat One is a little claustrophobic and gets very upset if part of the apartment is closed off, so we leave our bedroom door open pretty much all the time. (Fortunately she doesn’t care about the bathroom.)

      Cats One and Three will drink from any cup with water in it, so we only have water in cups with lids.

      Last year, Cat Two figured out that she could poke the bottom corner of a window screen out and make a big enough hole to get outside, so we can’t open any of our windows wider than the width of her head.

      We also had to childproof the cabinet under the sink because Cat Two was smart enough to figure out how to get into the cabinet, but not smart enough to get back out. (None of the cabinets have handles, so all she’d have to do is push on it to get out.)

      Cats Two and Three like to hang out on top of the big bookshelves, so both of them have old pillows up there for them to sleep on.

      Both of us have definitely gone to pick up a blanket or something off the floor, realized one of the cats was sleeping on it, and just left it there for a week or so until the cats moved on to another weird nap spot.

      1. JSPA*

        Re-screening window screens is within the bounds of fairly simple and cheap DIY, and they make pet-proof screens. Worth a try? They also make plastic cat guards for windows (sliding, double hung and tip-open-to-inside, hinged-at-bottom; don’t know about awning).

        1. KatEnigma*

          I can attest to rescreening being easy and absolutely works. (Pro tip, just buy the tool for putting the seal back in) The first time we replaced the screen, not 30 seconds (not even an exaggeration!) after we’d stepped back from the replaced screen, our very large cat saw a squirrel out that window and leapt onto it, holding on with all of her claws. ONE square was slightly out of shape. We have always replaced screens since then- they aren’t as transparent as normal screens so it does make the room a little darker.

      2. Jackalope*

        Some of our cats love “screen time”: we put them up on a window sill with the window open (only at the screened windows, hence the name) and they can look outside and enjoy the scents and sights. One of the windows is pretty high up so we decided to put some shelves on the wall for the cats to jump up and down to the window so they could have screen time without having to wait for a human to pick them up. Well, apparently being picked up by a human is part of The Experience, since they have ignored the shelves and stood at the base of the window calling for a human to pick them up and give them their screen time.

    9. StellaBella*

      my cat tried that with the mattress too under the frame of the ikea bed…. I moved the mattress, stapled down plastic bin liner bags, replaced the mattress. she never did it after that obv. good job on the panels!

    10. Catherine*

      When I lived with cats, they broke all the wineglasses. Thank goodness for adult sippy cups! Even if they were jumped on, the spillage was minimal. Now I still use the grownup sippies because they’re convenient.

    11. cat socks*

      This isn’t really an alteration to my home, but at any given time I have 3-4 cardboard boxes laying around. I get canned food from Chewy and made the mistake of putting the cardboard trays on the entryway bench. They’re not even real boxes, but two of my cats immune claimed them. I’ll find them sleeping in them during the day.

      I also bought a “fancy” box from Amazon. It’s got a decorative pattern on the outside and that gets a lot of use as well. With the holiday season coming up, I’m thinking of wrapping some empty boxes in wrapping paper so I can get se cute pics for cards.

    12. Eff Walsingham*

      You know how a lot of cats are deterred from scratching by tin foil? Well, I used to rent (ultimately for 9 years) in a wonderful heritage building done up with vintage wallpaper… I’m sure all the cat people can see where this is going.

      For the first few years, he left it alone, used his scratching post. Then he started scratching one spot in the foyer, by the living room door. I painstakingly glued the scratched bits back together and covered the area with tin foil.

      He moved over. I moved over. He stretched up. I covered. Eventually the entire foyer (maybe 4×8 feet long?) was covered in foil, up to waist height, including all the door frames. My landlord had to come in occasionally to check or fix things, and I figure there’s a strong chance that he thought I suffer from some form of non-destructive mental health condition. And was fine with that, because we’d had some issues in the building with tenants of a more destructive type.

      I don’t miss renting. I don’t think I ever asked for, let alone received, my damage deposit back. My O.G. cat, when I started living on my own, was really into property crimes. Now that we live in the vanilla sky box, no one ever goes after the built-in elements. But we’re looking at buying an old house soon, so all bets are off. I wonder if some vintage wallpaper paste was made of fish innards??

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        You’re joking, but isinglass is made from the swim bladders of fish and was used to make glue. Probably not wallpaper glue, but still an amusing fact.

      2. KatEnigma*

        It doesn’t help that rentals use THE cheapest miniblinds known to peoplekind…

        When you rent a house instead of an apartment, you can usually get away with replacing the screens with pet screen. ;) We never got a penny back from apartments, but we managed to get full deposits back from 2 out of 3 rental houses. The last one didn’t have blinds at all and the first one had antique wood real venetian blinds that the cats couldn’t destroy. LOL

    13. Animal worker*

      I have a cat, and three parrots. When I’m not home the cat is upstairs, parrots in their cages downstairs.

      I’ve basically had to construct a ‘stair fortress’ to keep the cat where I want her when I’m out of the house. Started with an extra tall pet gate at the bottom of the stairs – check. Then she started jumping onto the post at the stair landing so secured a knickknack on top of it to keep her off – check. Then she stuck her head through the bars below the stair railing so cable-tied on plastic fencing to stop that – check. Next she jumped on top of the railing itself so added a curtain hanging from the wall above and attached to the railing to block that – check. This all worked for about six months or so then the little darling figured out it was safe to jump over the pet gate, so had to add a curtain hanging from the wall above that that – check. And finally, over time I had to start securing that curtain to the pet gate with chip clips because she was going under the curtain and over the gate. This latest (and last?) stair fortress has now been successful for almost two years so fingers crossed it’s the final iteration.

      1. KatEnigma*

        When I was a kid, my parents got me a parakeet (Whom I named Peter Pan) and for some stupid reason hung his cage behind the wooden rocking chair… That cat used to use the rocking chair as his springboard to leap at the cage and hang from it with his claws. For some strange reason, that bird died of a heart attack.

        1. I take tea*

          In Dovey Tovey’s Cats in the Belfry, that I mentioned some time ago as a really fun feelgood book, there is a parrot that regurlarly gets his cage knocked down. The learn to put a big chair under it. They also have to secure the windows by tying them shut and other things. I need to reread that one, I think.

    14. fposte*

      What’s funny to me about your story, Aphrodite, is that I have a Prius and they’re subject to theft of the catalytic converter because of the value of the metals in it. So I bought something that welds to the underside of my car to cover the converter, much as you’re protecting your sofa. And the name of this device is a Cat Shield. So I’d say we both installed Cat Shields.

      (A friend’s cat loved to crawl up into those holes and sleep inside the sofa.)

    15. KatEnigma*

      That was a great idea. Our then puppy destroyed the undersides of a pair of chairs like that- but wing chairs where we couldn’t just put it on the ground to be a little lower. I don’t know what was in that fabric, but it was like cocaine!

      We had this cat- Christopher. He’s been gone for 10 years now, but he lives on in family history. He was THE sweetest cat. And also the dumbest. We had to put plywood over our fireplace because he would push in and the pure white cat would be pure black, and spread it everywhere (in a RENTAL) In that apartment, we also had to rig up something for behind the washer because he’d jump up onto the washer, go behind it, and then couldn’t jump back up. So he’s yowl for rescue. But if I went to rescue him, he would move away from my hand, where I could just barely reach to begin with, and the way the units were wedged into a closet, I couldn’t move them on my own to get to him.

    16. Dancing Otter*

      No solutions, but cat antics:
      As a child, I had a cat that liked to go inside the electric organ through the opening for the volume pedal. Short of pulling it out from the wall (that thing was very heavy, being made back in the vacuum tube era) to take off the back panel, the only way to get her out was to turn it on, tip the pedal flat, and hit a bass note. Which was kind of mean, looking back, but better than having something short out from loose fur and zap her. I don’t think it takes a lot of voltage to kill a 7-pound cat. We couldn’t block her out and still be able to play the organ.
      She also liked to lie on top of the hot water heater or furnace and baste herself (wash). The utility room always smelled of wet cat and catfood. (One of her nicknames was Tunabreath.) There was no way to stop her – she just patted anything off, usually to the back to maximize difficulty in retrieving it.

    17. Derivative Poster*

      We have 10-lb. magnets to keep the cabinets closed. Occasionally the cat manages to get into them anyway.

    18. Kiwi*

      I had to stuff all my houseplants into the spare room because my new cat will munch anything green and I have some established plants that are not kitty-safe. I had one new snake plant in an off-limit bathroom to quarantine for pests, and my kitty got in there and sat directly in it and smashed the crap out of it!

    19. Anon-E-Mouse*

      We’ve installed cat flaps on a number of internal doors so that the cats can let themselves in and out – on the doors to our ensuite bathroom for our bedroom and the general bathroom, the guest bedroom and our offices.

  6. Help Me Rhonda*

    How does one talk to doctors about triaging of care and needs? I finally have better health insurance and hit my deductible this year so I decided to take care of seeing 2 doctors about some ongoing issues (nothing major, mostly just small nagging things) plus addressing non-painful dental issues. I was under the impression I’d go to the doctor, get assessed and given a plan and maybe need to come back if I was having issues. However, these doctors have put me on ‘treatment’ plans and I will need to come in regularly for check ups and possibly take tests. With dental care, my dentist (who I really like and has been great treating my pain related issues) is talking about capping teeth that don’t seem to have any issues. Unfortunately, living in the US, the healthcare system sucks and is extremely expensive- I just can’t afford to go to the doctors more than a few times a year.

    I need to talk to the doctors about this but I don’t know how. It seems like they just assume I have the funds to get all the tests and come to unlimited appointments. I am healthy and have a good quality of life- I need an understanding of how necessary their recommendations are (what is urgent/needed, what is a good to have, etc) and what the potential risks or consequences are of skipping tests, spacing out appointments more, etc. I understand doctors are just trying to do their jobs as well but there’s needs to be a middle ground and I’m not sure how to get there.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think laying it out to them like you did here is good – you have limited time and money and would like to know what is urgent and what is a “maybe someday” – I also think you can decide some of that for yourself in terms of what’s bothering you or chronic or easy to remedy.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I’ve had similar frustrations! I always feel like doctors don’t have a CLUE about costs. Either that or they don’t care.
      I once had a doctor try to switch one of my meds from one that was generic to a brand spanking new – and very expensive – one. He told me it was because the new one had a lower risk of side effects and the same level of effectiveness. Which sounds great, but…I had been on the med for 2 years with no side effects and switching would mean I would struggle to make my mortgage payment every month! He was pretty persistent, and I was pretty blunt about what the difference in cost would mean for me, and eventually he relented.
      Another friend once told her doctor “look. I cannot afford what you’re suggesting. I just can’t. What else could we try?”
      It’s just so screwed up. For profit health care means cost simply HAS to be a factor in thinking about treatment plans. And people often say “just get a second or third opinion!” as if A) those second opinion visits will be covered by insurance. They won’t. And each visit – especially if they run labs – will cost hundreds! and B) You can get in to see a doctor who isn’t your regular doctor within a reasonable amount of time. (You probably can’t)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        “Doctors don’t have a CLUE about costs.”

        This is in fact bang on the nose, especially in larger facilities. A tiny one-doc practice, they’re probably a little more familiar with pricing, but in a big hospital system, they almost certainly have absolutely zero clue about pricing, billing, any of it. One of my biggest work bugaboos is when docs start making up answers to patient questions about costs, even though we have a whole flipping department that their entire focus is to work with patients on financial questions and they can connect the patient with that department 24/7.

      2. Russian in Texas*

        Friend ran in to a ridiculous situation with the insurance/cost recently.
        He was recommended colonoscopy, by the nature of his age. He was also recommended to pick between the Colorguard and the standard. Whichever he picked would be billed as “screening” and therefore covered. He picked the Colorguard as the gentler option. Unfortunately there were some findings and now he has to do the standard one.
        What no one told him, since he already used up his “screening”, the standard colonoscopy is now a “procedure”, and he has to pay the $2000 copay.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          I put off a colonoscopy for years, because under the insurance I had then, it was essentially covered only if they didn’t find anything. If there was a polyp they could easily snip and be done with it — oops, it’s not a diagnostic test, it’s a procedure!
          A relative DIED of colon cancer. Even knowing her father had had it, she put off testing because of the cost. Trust me, Blue Cross paid a LOT more to treat stage 4 cancer than covering a colonoscopy.

      3. JustEm*

        I am a doctor, and out of pocket costs for patients vary WILDLY depending on their insurance. What’s cheaper for one patient may be more expensive for another. I tell people to let me know if pharmacy tells them something is a lot of money and I can try alternatives. I’ve learned certain things like that one of my commonly prescribed meds is 10x more money if I order tablet instead of capsules even though both forms are generic, and that if I order a vitamin D test I need to put the reason as vitamin D deficiency instead of the symptoms of vitamin d deficiency. But there’s always more to learn, and weird idiosyncrasies.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The whole vitamin D test diagnosis thing specifically is one of our current medical necessity focus issues at my hospital system – the symptoms don’t get the test covered as medically necessary, just the diagnosis. (No, it totally doesn’t make sense, and it drives us coders bonkers too.)

    3. JSPA*

      “I expect to have reasonable medical access for six more weeks, and then likely not, for another 2 or 3 years; please lay out what can be done in that time frame, starting with the most pressing issues.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is how and why I got into eating whole foods and proper hydration. Given my givens, I was probably going to have a career just of going to the doctor. Make sure that you’ve got the basics in place. Water is a big deal, our bodies absolutely have to have water every day and in similar amounts each day. Veggies and fruits are a big deal, we get vitamins and minerals from these foods that help our bodies to keep humming along. This becomes even more important as the decades roll by.

      I know I seem not to be answering you, but a good plan for diet and water intake can cover a lot of problems by preventing or easing future problems.

        1. JSPA*

          “Diet” as in, “change how you interact with food and modification of body shape and weight” is heavy stuff…and super-different from, “it’s easy to be short of micronutrients if you don’t or can’t eat and metabolize a range of fruit and veg.” This basically says, “eat what you want, but be mindful of nutrition.” That’s not “diet talk” in any standard, perjorative sense of the term.

          1. I take tea*

            I agree, I think that “nutrition and hydration can help generally” is helpful advice. I did not read it as diet talk.

            1. Brushandfloss*

              Saying drink more water and eat more fruits/vegetables is diet talk especially when it’s being touted as some type of cure-all.
              This poster gives this advice regardless what being asked all the time.

          2. Former Hominid*

            absolutely everything you’ve mentioned is diet advice, and not only that, completely orthogonal to the OP’s stated question of “how can I get a doctor to tell me what can be accomplished for my health via doctoring, low cost and within a 4 week timeframe”

      1. Ann Ominous*

        I found the same thing is true for me. I did an elimination diet and found I was having severe joint pain, sinus issues, and emotional issues!! (Anxiety and depression) in response to my fav foods.

        Now I can make more deliberate choices around the foods I eat and the effects I choose to take on. Co-worker’s stale donuts? Nah, I’ll pass. Amazing Italian restaurant that makes its own pasta? Yes please!

        The rest of the time I just frontload the ‘daily dozen’ foods and find my cravings are pretty low or nonexistent, and I do allow myself to indulge if I truly want something so I don’t feel deprived through restriction (and inclined to binge).

      2. Help Me Rhonda*

        Umm…what? You have been dispensing odd, unrelated and unsolicited advice for the past few weeks now (as far as I’ve noticed). Please stop. This is unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst.

    5. I'm Done*

      I hear you. I’m having the same issue. Had to have a bunch of medical tests and medication adjustments and after nothing serious was found, I canceled all remaining follow up appointments except for my endocrinologist. Next year, unless something comes up all I’m doing is my annual free check ups and one endo visit.
      And let’s not even get started on dental. I don’t understand why we don’t have better dental coverage in this country. Even with insurance, the out of pocket dental bills for more than a filling can run into the thousands.

    6. fposte*

      Might be worth getting a second opinion on the caps. You’re also free to say “We’re only dealing with immediate problems right now and that’s out of budget.”

      With other doctors, they may be limited on what they can do for things like medications if you don’t come back or get retested. But you can absolutely ask for what you want: “I can only afford limited medical appointments–could we just check in through the online chart system after my labs?” And it’s absolutely possible, especially with a specialist, to say “I feel like this information is enough to put me on top of this. I don’t think I need a return visit at this point.” I’m very fortunate on the insurance front but there are plenty of doctors (usually because of travel distance) to whom I’ve said “I won’t be able to manage more than a once a year appointment” or “I don’t think we need a followup appointment–I feel like I’ve gotten to where I need to be.”

      1. Girasol*

        Yes on that second opinion! When I needed $14K worth of multiple dental procedures I went for a check with another dentist. That was a tough decision, because my dentist had explained how my condition was quite dire, and visiting another dentist would just add even more to the daunting amount that I already had to spend, wouldn’t it? But the new dentist didn’t see that any work was needed. Ten years later, after nothing but regular cleanings, my teeth are still doing just fine. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m much better these days at observing whether doctors are pressing for unnecessary return checkups, tests, and treatments, and seeking a new doctor when I see that.

      2. Gnome*

        Getting to the doctor’s office adds a lot of burden to me, and now many are happy to do follow ups via telecom. This saves me time, and sometimes money.

    7. Vanellope*

      I agree, lay it out for your doctor. They literally don’t have any idea what the bottom line is to you – on my insurance summaries it shows what the office charges, the adjustment to get it to the contracted rate, the % my insurance pays, and then the part I’m responsible for. And that’s all for one line item for one insurance company – without taking deductibles into account! Our system is a mess. The doctors lay out a best case scenario and I’m sure will work with you on the parts that don’t work – maybe switching some visits to tele health visits to save time, dropping tests that aren’t absolutely necessary, etc. Its worth it to talk to them and see what they can do.

      In my own experience with this, I had two OB appointments a week at the end of my first pregnancy (I was high risk). One was completely covered by insurance and included an ultrasound, the other was much less involved and was costing me $150 each time! I told my doctor I could not do a $150 visit weekly for the next three months and they ended up doing two of the more involved visits each week that were covered by insurance. So I got extra ultrasounds and paid a lot less! None of it makes any sort of logical sense! But I’m sure whatever your conflicts are your doctor has heard it before. Good luck getting things figured out.

    8. KatEnigma*

      You just have to be firm. Honest and firm. Tell them what’s not going to work for you ask them how to fit things into your needs and budget. If they won’t work with you, find doctors that will.

    9. Dr. Anonymous*

      If you open with, “I have a high deductible plan,” that gives a great context to work with and to have a frank conversation about what’s essential and to set priorities. I personally feel it’s very important to see patients with high blood pressure or on birth control pills at least once a year and well controlled diabetes patients at least twice a year, for example, because I have to lay a stethoscope on them, and certain labs are really important to monitor kidneys and medication safety, but I do my best to meet my patients where they are in the real world.

      I absolutely don’t know how much many things cost in my office because every insurance plan, much less company, is different, but I keep an eye out for the cheaper meds and the cheaper pharmacies and I never let pharmaceutical reps in my office because I know I can get the perspective that Fancy Med will do something magic. That being said, some of the best diabetes meds right now in terms of heart and kidney protection are expensive and I do offer them unless my patients give me a hard no.

      There is a limit to how much most clinicians will monitor you over online messaging, both for safety and liability reasons and honestly for financial reasons. Messaging can eat up half your time and in a fee-for-service medical world you don’t get paid for that work and you still have to pay to run your practice, but again, most people want you to get care and will do all they can to make that happen. I hope this helps!

      I know it sucks.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This. Entirely this. Haven’t met with a pharma rep or taken anything purchased with drug company money since 1987 (residency) and yes, that includes food. And every.single insurance plan is different including the ones from the same company since different employers buy different packages and then different employees choose different plans. It’s NUTS.

        My favorite (and by “favorite” I mean “the one that made me want to pull out all my hair”) was the time before the ACA when I had two patients on the same January day who needed mammograms. One needed a screening mammogram. The other found a lump and needed a diagnostic mammogram. Two days later I had messages from both patients. Patient 1: “Dr. Jay, my insurance says screening mammograms are subject to my deductible and diagnostic mammograms aren’t. Can you change the order?” Patient 2: “Dr. Jay, my insurance says diagnostic mammograms are subject to the deductible and screening aren’t. Can you change the order?” The answer to both was, of course, “no” which meant that neither patient got the test done in a timely manner.


    10. JustEm*

      I think you can just tell them what you put here and they can prioritize. I’m a doctor, and would be happy to do that if someone was in your shoes.

      1. HoundMom*

        Doctors are in the business to make money. How do they make money? They have encourage people to visit often. The doctor is doing what is best for her and it may, or may not, truly be needed for you. You need to critically look at their recommendations and decide what works best for you.

    11. Gnome*

      I’m just honest and ask for what I want or need.
      Can we do this as a call rather than a visit? I’ve got a lot of expenses so I’m trying to prioritize things – what is necessary and what is nice to have? Heck, I’ve said things like: last time I had a sinus infection it didn’t fully clear after ten days of antibiotics and I had to come back in – does it make sense to start with a longer course?

  7. Heating accessories*

    I’m looking to replace an ancient pilly scratchy wool heating blanket with something more pleasant. I also keep hearing about heated mattress pads, but wonder about the poke factor of the wires. What do you own in the genre of “fabric you can plug in” that you’d recommend?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I had a heated mattress pad as a teen and it didn’t poke at all. That was like 25 years ago so i’m sure technology has improved since then even :)

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I’m in the UK and adore – simply adore – my two plush heated throws. Not poky at all, mine are from Dreamland but if you look them up I’m sure you can find dupes.

    3. Four of ten*

      We had bad luck with electric blankets; they would quit working for some reason after a year or two. We then tried a heated mattress pad that lasted for over 20 years. No pokes. I think we replaced it but not because it quit working. Instead the fabric just kind of wore out. We’ve been using our second for quite a few years also. I am very satisfied with electric mattress pads.

    4. Eff Walsingham*

      I am going to be that annoying person here who tells about the time my Mum got up to get her book or something, and when she came back (within 5 minutes) her ESA-approved electric blanket had set the bed on fire!

      Yes, I know, it doesn’t happen often. And we’d had that blanket for a few years. But… the care instructions were followed, and it was a top brand, so from then on we had strict rules in our house. NO heating pad or electric blanket to be used while you were out of the room OR while you were asleep. Only to warm up the sheets for a few minutes before you got in.

      The burned part of the bed was up by the pillows, right where Mum’s hair would have been if she was in bed when it started. To this day, I just use a hot water bottle, so all I have to worry about is liquid malfunctions.

    5. KatEnigma*

      No poking at all.

      We lived on the Pacific side of San Francisco in an old workman’s cottage built in 1906. The wall heater in the wall 2 rooms away didn’t even begin to warm the room and it was COLD in that house year round. The heated mattress pad is the only thing that made sleeping doable- and this is from someone who loves a cool bedroom! It was also a sunbeam.

    6. Banana*

      I have a heated mattress pad from Sunbeam and I love it. The wires are not noticeable – when I am making the bed, I can feel where they are, but when I’m lying in bed I don’t notice them unless I am looking for them, except if I’m in the bed when it’s first heating up I can detect warmer and cooler spots for a very short while that tell me where the wires are.

      My bed is a queen, and the mattress pad has two zones with separate controls, which work perfectly for me because I run colder than my partner and we also have different sleeping schedules, so half the bed can be off or at a different temperature setting and it works like a dream. Easily one of my top 5 Christmas gifts ever.

    7. Girasol*

      My husband is as sensitive as the princess and the pea. He does feel the wires. But he asked if we couldn’t put the old quilted mattress pad over the heated one. That solved the problem. He loves the heated mattress pad.

      That said, does anyone know if you can use one safely on a metal-framed daybed?

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Just don’t run the cord between the mattress and the frame. Either run it between the frame and the floor, or turn the pad around so the cord is attached at the end closest to the outlet. The point is not to pinch the cord and risk a short.

    8. NotARacoonKeeper*

      I find heated mattress pads are more effective, and more comfortable. Blankets are meant to warm up, but mattresses (at least mine) is designed to stay cool, so I find it’s what takes longer to warm up on a cold night. I also find the wires less noticeable than on blankets (though the ones I’ve used are all probably 10yrs+ old).

      The exception is if you are using a memory foam mattress/topper, because the pad will prevent the foam from contouring as it’s designed to.

    9. JSPA*

      I’ve found memory foam toppers to be (unpleasantly) heat- capturing, to the point that they feel as warm as any heating pad. (Not merely perceptual- – the skin that’s been against the foam is much hotter to the touch.) Especially if you have or might get pets, or otherwise be at risk of damaging wires, it might be a safer alternative?

    10. MenolyYoga*

      I used a waterbed for about 20 years until my then husband and I separated. (We even took it with us when we moved to Germany for my job. It wasn’t too difficult to buy a 220v heater for it in the 1990s.) Eight years ago, when I stopped renting and bought a house for myself, I replaced it.
      The ability to set the temperature where I want it was well worth the hassle of spending hours online searching waterbed sellers. No in-town stores carry them anymore.
      There is a risk if you have cats, because obviously claws can make small holes in the mattress. The cats learned that they would get tossed off to the side if I woke up with cat fur in my face. (Note that the bedroom wall wasn’t far away due to the size of the bed.)

    11. Silence*

      I have a heated throw rug that goes over instead of under you which makes the wires less of an issue

  8. Spooky Sally*

    It feels like a fine line between being petty and setting boundaries, and I’m having trouble telling the difference. My father and I have some tension in our relationship these past few years. He’s the kind of dad that I could call in the middle of the night and say ‘I’m in trouble and the only way out of it is $1000 cash delivered to an unmarked car at midnight’ and he would do it without asking… but he won’t call me to check on me when I’ve been in a cast for four weeks for a broken bone. He’s good at taking direction, just not good at figuring out stuff on his own.

    I’ve asked him bluntly to please initiate some phone calls, rather than waiting for me to do it and then complaining that I’ve taken so long to call him. Also we live two hours apart and he insists that I always be the one to drive to him, visit and spend the night, which takes a full weekend to do. I’ve been pushing lately to meet halfway between us (a town with several restaurant options) and told him I could see him more often if he comprised a bit because then we could meet on weeknights for dinner. He’s done it once a year ago and hasn’t done it since.

    At this point, I’ve personally decided that I will not call him but wait for him to call me, and I’m going to stand firm on meeting in-between us, that I will keep being busy on weekends (not a hard ruse, my weekends book up fast) until he can meet me on a weeknight in the middle. Here’s where I might be petty. In a few weeks, I’m taking an overnight weekend trip to a location that’s an hour past his house. The timing of the trip would actually leave me able to drive to his house after work on Friday, spend the night, hang out Saturday morning, and then drive to my hotel and event Saturday afternoon. But I don’t want to give into his constant pleas for me to visit when he won’t compromise with me. So which side of the firm boundaries/total pettiness line am I on?

    1. YMMV*

      I totally get your frustration. My dad won’t initiate calls either, even though it’s very evident he loves to talk to me. I have finally had to give up and initiate the calls. In fact he even told me he wants me to, rather than make the calls himself. He has some reasons, none of which make sense to me but do fit into his personality/experiences. Do I think it’s fair? Nope. Does it bug me? Yes. But several recent incidents (with him and others) have reminded me that life is short and unpredictable. So at least on this, I’m doing it his way. It’s that or never talk to him, and we are both old enough now that that isn’t acceptable to me — I don’t know how much longer I’ll have him. YMMV.

      1. PhyllisB*

        On the phone calls, I understand his hesitation. I have three grown children and I tell them I would rather they initiate the calls because I never know what’s going on with them at any given time. The girls tell me if it’s not a good time, they will tell me or just not answer, but still…my compromise is to text ever so often. That way they can respond when it’s convenient. My son is not much of a chatter, so I send him texts with dumb jokes, puns, and odd trivia. He occasionally jokingly threatens to block me, but he admits he gets a chuckle out of them.
        I told you all this to say do you think you could get him to text you occasionally?
        On whether to stop and visit, if you enjoy spending time with your dad, I think you should. Life is too uncertain to stand on ceremony. I understand your frustration, but sometimes we have to accept people as they are.

        1. Squeakrad*

          Yes if he doesn’t want to call would he be willing to text?

          I myself am older but I have friends who are even older than I am. And they never call their kids. There’s something about the kids should check in with the parents that’s almost unconscious for them. But they admit that that’s the way it is and their adult children are willing to stay in touch as much as they need to. So I think everyone’s different.

          For the question you asked I think yes that would be kind of petty to deny him a visit when it’s really convenient for you. And you can frame it that” hey this thing came up that’s really convenient for me to come see you but that’s not always the case. Do you think we could compromise for future visit?”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Boundaries. You’re not obligated to spend time with him just because you’re passing through his town.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I definitely understand the feeling that one side consistently puts in more effort than another side in a friendship/relationship. This has happened to me with a few people in my life. In the end, I decided that I wanted their company and I wanted them in my life enough where I didn’t mind being the person who reached out more/invited more/put forth more energy to organizing our get-togethers. Because in the end, I got to spend time with a person I valued, so the bean-counting wasn’t worth it. (I am not saying that’s what you are doing, I am simply offering a different approach that might be worthwhile.) I never want to have regrets about not spending enough time with the people I value most.

    4. My name is Tim Kono*

      Yeah my dad is pretty much the same as yours and my brother even more so.

      How I get over it? Well, life is short, and sometimes I think about if my dad keeled over and died how would I feel about being petty then? Sometimes it’s just worth picking up the phone instead of waiting for him to initiate or in your case, you are driving right by his house (although I’m sure you don’t need to stay the night unless you wanted to depending on your travel plans).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Our family definitely has this “the busy person calls the less busy person” norm. My daughter usually calls me when she is walking to the gym, for example.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Does Dad make driving trips of similar or longer duration, compared to the distance to OP or the central diner? Because not being up for driving far, or for driving after dark, could explain a lot of this.

    5. Double A*

      I think your overall boundaries are good. I think if the only reason you wouldn’t see him on this specific trip is to prove a point but when you were less annoyed with him you’d happily fit it in, then this instance is falling on the petty side of things. Basically, you want to see him on your terms (which are a reasonable compromise), and it sounds like this trip would be, because you’ll be deciding if you want to do it. You don’t have to, but if it’s easy to do it and you do value seeing your dad when you do see him, why not see him on a trip when there wasn’t friction about the logistics of how it happened?

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      You would like your dad to be better at taking initiative. Barring a personality transplant, it doesn’t sound like that’s happening. Your choice is whether you want the guy in your life, exactly as he is – and it sounds like you do, and I won’t argue. That means you’re doing the work of keeping in touch. Not ideal, but doable.

      You can do as much of the work as you feel like doing. If he complains, you can remind him that phones work both ways, as do roads, and if he’d like more of you then he can do some of the work himself. Seeing him less than you actually want to see him won’t help either of you, and won’t change him either – he is what he is.

      1. blue giraffe*

        Everything in this answer. Do you want him in your life or not?

        The other question I’d ask is: your parameters to visit your dad require him to drive some distance – the town halfway between you – at night. Is he ok with this? Does he drive that much at night? As people get older, it gets harder to drive, especially at night. He may not have the consciousness for understanding that (he may just not “like” to drive at night, where the “like” means he’s uncomfortable, and may not fully understand why, let alone have the words to express it). So, this may not be the case (yet) but it’s something to consider. It’s often hard to see the limitations in our parents.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Great response, Blue Giraffe!! I got in the weeds on the phone calls and forgot to address the driving issue. I’m 71, and I don’t really like to drive at night anymore, especially in an unfamiliar area. Also hearing problems. It’s harder for me to hear in a noisy environment like a restaurant, and when I talk on my phone I usually put it on speaker because it’s easier for me to hear. So all these things could be an issue and he just doesn’t want to admit it.

        2. ShinyPenny*

          This. Driving at night was something I absolutely took for granted as a younger person. It was not even on my radar as “a thing.”
          Eventually, it becomes a thing! It’s pretty shocking and unexpected when it happens to you.
          Also, I notice that people often feel some shame about it when they first start realizing they prefer to avoid driving after dark. Of the people I know well enough that we talk about “personal failings” and “feelings” (lol) every person has mentioned struggling with (misplaced!) feeling of shame about it.
          So, I don’t know your Dad, but I’m guessing that if this is in play he’s really unlikely to be able to verbalize it to you.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I don’t think there’s a wrong answer to the visit issue. In general, you want the rule to be “I don’t want to be the only one experiencing any inconvenience regarding visits.” In this case, you wouldn’t be unreasonably inconvenienced, so making time to see your father makes sense. But… if the visit would be poisoned by your resentment, it’s not worth it. So I think you should go if the issue is only that you’ve set this internal rule, but you shouldn’t go if the issue is that you will feel misused if you do go.

      In the future, I think it’s reasonable to visit him when it’s truly convenient for you (like this time), and to suggest meeting half-way otherwise. When he says he wants to see you, say “sure, let’s meet at Half-Way Town on Wednesday.” If he says he can’t or won’t do that, cheerfully respond, “that’s too bad, maybe another time!”

      My advice for phone calls is to text him a prompt. “I’m free now, give me a call.” If he doesn’t, then too bad.

      I also think that this is worth one more serious conversation if you haven’t already had it. If you do see him in person, can you tell him how much it hurts you and makes you feel unloved that he doesn’t reciprocate these things? Not, “you don’t do the same labor as me and that’s unfair,” but “when you don’t reach out to me I feel [emotions] and it’s really harming our relationship.”

    8. JSPA*

      Oooh, I’d really bend on most of this, except frequency of visits.

      None of it is overstepping or harmful on your parent’s part; it’s you trying to tell them what sort of parent (and what sort of person) they ought to be, and that strikes me as over-reach.

      Above all– with age, night vision and safe driving are not a given. And it’s tough for a parent to admit to a kid that they no longer feel entirely safe, driving home in the dark.

      Additionally, as hearing gets worse, in person meetings are much more enjoyable than phone calls, but again, people are not quick to say, “I’m not hearing as well as I used to.”

      If you want to be treated as an adult, and I presume you do, that means you need to be as solicitious for your parent, as they are for you…and then with time, it morphs entirely to you being in the caring role. Demanding that they treat you as more fragile and needy is a step backwards, not a step forwards, in the evolution of your relative roles.

      And more generally…if you want to talk to someone, call them; if you don’t, then don’t.

      You can ask a parent to call, even if they’re not feeling the need to talk.

      You can promise a parent that you will not feel it to be an intrusion, if they call.

      But to incrementally demote your parent from full parent status because they don’t anticipate your need to be called…that is something that you’re highly likely to regret, when they’re no longer around.

      And, well, it’s destabilizing to realize that age comes for all of us, and that we’re going to end up as the carer, not the cared-for; but that’s not something your parent is doing to you. That’s just life.

      Mind you, if you don’t have time, visit less! But make the bulk of the effort, when you do visit; having that pattern in place will help when the time comes that you’re scared silly, at the idea of your parent driving after dark (or driving at all).

        1. Clisby*

          +100. I don’t know how old this father is, but I’m 69 and no way would I drive an hour anywhere at night. It’s not safe. An hour in the middle of the day? Sure – but that pretty much means on a weekend.

      1. allathian*

        I guess it’s a family & cultural issue. I take it for granted that as the person who is in the middle of the sandwich that I and my sister make the most effort to keep in touch with parents and in-laws. 9 times out of 10 I’m the one who calls my mom. My mom doesn’t drive anymore and my dad no longer wants to drive at night. This means that they’ll happily host us, especially if we help with food prep and do the washing-up afterwards. Of course it helps that they live 20 minutes away…

      2. HannahS*

        This is somewhere I land, too. I don’t think it’s helpful to expect symmetry. My relationship with my parents was highly asymmetrical until I moved out-they gave, I received. Someday, that will be almost fully inverted. Right now, I reach out more and visit more, but they provide occasional childcare. The give-and-take fluctuates over the lifespan.

      3. WellRed*

        Yes! Thank you! I’m 52. I’m unable to see well at night anymore and frankly, I’m tired. It happens.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I’m 50 and I’ve noticed that my night vision isn’t as good as it was. So I don’t blame my dad for not wanting to drive at night, when I don’t…

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          I’m 55 and I don’t love driving at night any more either, especially on interstates. I feel like my vision is fine, but something just doesn’t feel right. Plus, I’ve never been a night person, but suddenly it’s exhausting for me to be out much past 9:30.

          1. allathian*

            Oh, me too. We haven’t celebrated NYE since 2019, and the relief is indescribable. I usually go to bed by 10.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I think you might be at BEC stage because you’ve sacrificed more weekends traveling than you were actually happy to do. Is it possible you were more tolerant of his faults/strength lists before you had been so personally put out? I think you’re right to avoid doing any and all behaviours which puts you into resentment mode. I don’t think the trip which you could easily manage counts, and there’s really no point in trying to train people. If you could do the trip gladly, do it gladly and remain holding out on boundaries of what is/isn’t too much for you going forward. You’ll feel helpless and angry if you try to control other people’s expectations and habits; simply take charge of your own. In short if you can go and get something out of it, you’re not backing down. If you can’t get something out of it, then that’s okay too.

    10. PsychNurse*

      I think this is a situation where you can’t get someone to change— so your options are accept them as they are, or be done. Now, I know you don’t want to “be done” with your father! So you have to just make peace with who he is. And the fact that he responds so loyally when you ASK him is not to be overlooked— that is a really fortunate thing to have in a parent. Try not to refuse the visit out of spite.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my. How many times I had to remind myself that there are no perfect parents. And yet, our parents have tremendous power to cut/wound us. Just because we know they aren’t perfect, does not make it hurt LESS.

      I don’t disagree with what others have written here because this is about finding your own path. Each of us chooses something slightly different from others.

      Guilt is not a good decision maker for me. I end up angry and resentful. So what I did was I decided that I would GIFT my father with accommodations that I was not willing to give other family members. And that was because of his rank as “father”. Once it became a gift to him (in my mind) the anger/frustration subsided and the caring stepped in.

      Yes, I deliberately decided that there was no one else in my life (except my husband) that I would break my back for the way I did him.

      Additionally, I chose to focus on what he was good at. He was super smart. If I had a real puzzling dilemma I could count on him to break it into manageable pieces. He had a remarkable way of thinking about things and looking at things.
      I was also interested in hearing family stories or stories from his life. I had become aware that my opportunity to hear these things was narrowing down.
      I am an average cook. But he would fuss and tell me many times how good dinner was. I enjoyed that, even if I am not so sure the meal deserved it.
      Take a minute to figure out what he is good at.

      My suggestion to you, is go visit him when it is reasonable and tell yourself it’s your gift to him. He is probably not going to change at this stage. But that does not mean you have to knock yourself out. You have considerations that are just as weighty as his. Gas costs money.
      Time is limited for you because of work and other things. If he is so interested in seeing you he *could* move closer to you.

      Last. And warning this is a sad one. I told myself, “I will do this for a while, then I will never do it again.” So instead of focusing on guilt, my focus became, “I tried very hard in the ways that I could.” And, not a surprise, but I wasn’t a perfect daughter, either. So it goes.

    12. I'm Done*

      How old is your dad and how is his health? If he’s fairly young and in good health I might stick to my guns. That being said, it might bother you more than him. If he’s older, he might not feel comfortable driving longer distances or driving in the dark but doesn’t like to admit it. Have you ever outright asked him why he won’t come out to see you or why he doesn’t call you? And what will happen if you continue to boycott him and nothing changes?

    13. fposte*

      I would be annoyed in your situation too. This isn’t fair. But I also think your plan seems less like boundaries and more an attempt to teach him a lesson, and I don’t know that compromise is a reasonable hill to choose to die on at the expense of a relationship you actually seem to value. Assume he’s not going to learn the lesson. How often do you want to see him and what are you prepared to do to achieve that? Are you genuinely never going to talk to your dad again if he doesn’t drive to see you? That’s your right, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re really going for.

      I can see the use of a cooling off period where you take a while not to initiate and just let the irritation settle a little, and I would absolutely head off any complaining about how you never call immediately: “Phones work both ways, Dad. So how’s the pickleball/yard/grandkids?” But I think if you want him in your life, it will be with you initiating. So given that framework, what do you want to do? I like regularity for stuff like that because I don’t have to think about it, so I’d pick a regular day and rough time where I’d call him. And seeing your dad less is okay, especially if you have a lot going on; you definitely don’t have to spend the night whether he insists or not.

      What he probably wants, like many parents, is to see you every day, so anything short of that will make him miss you. Given that, there’s no point in giving more trying to please him, since it probably won’t, and it definitely doesn’t please you. The benefit of being the initiator is you have full control over the time of phone calls and visits.

    14. KatEnigma*

      Umm.. both?

      I think you need to accept the father you have, not the one you wished you had. He’s never going to be great about calling you first. You have to decide what you can live with.

      And do you want to “win” (win what?) or do you want to see your dad? Which is more important to you- honestly.

      And then I want you to consider your dad’s age, and perhaps that he doesn’t feel safe driving 2 hours, or driving an hour after dark, and doesn’t want to admit that. My FIL made us so incredibly mad because they’d fly into and stay on the N side of Chicago when we lived on the South side of Milwaukee (an hour door to door) and we’d invite them for dinner, etc. and he always had 1000 excuses to turn us down and why WE had to drive to THEM (including a HUGE lie once, about my husband’s grandfather being on death’s door- we walked in to him eating ice cream, perfectly healthy) Even after we’d had a discussion with them and they’d agreed to come to us at least half the time. So we had a big blow out one visit about it, and then my FIL finally yelled at us that we were AH’s because he can’t see to drive at night and apparently that should have been obvious to us, or we shouldn’t have made him admit it, or something. And he hadn’t even told my MIL and hated to let her drive. He finally had cataract surgery this spring (7 years later…) as we now live an hour from them and my SIL lives 40 minutes from them and we were objecting to his plans to eat “dinner” at 3pm so he could get back before dark…

      1. allathian*

        So, how did it work out? Are you driving more often? That’s toxic masculinity for you, it’s almost always men who have trouble admitting their frailty as they age. And what’s the deal about not wanting his wife to drive? More toxic masculinity crap, or was he worried about her ability to drive safely at night? (Granted, in women that fear of aging often shows up in concerns about their looks instead.)

        1. KatEnigma*

          And not that it’s any of your business, but you are so wrong about my FIL that it’s ridiculous. No that wasn’t his finest moment, but he’s human and aging is hard.

          He provided at least 80% of the child care on their 4 kids, because my MIL is an OB/GYN. His cleaning isn’t up to her generational OCD standards, so he hired a cleaning person to do that part. On top of working full time jobs as a computer engineer as he followed my MIL around the country. In the 1970’s and 80’s! As he aged and it became impossible to be hired as a 50+ computer engineer especially in the small remote towns she was drawn to later in her career, he took jobs as diverse as school bus driver and Walmart greeter to still cover a share of bills. All while providing free tech support to her practice. In the early 90’s, again for free, he used his building skills to build a Rape Crisis Center in a Major Metro Area that my MIL and her partner ran for many years. He is literally a card carrying member of NOW and is probably THE most liberal person I know, and one who puts his money and his actions where his mouth is.

          He is a side seat driver, and neither my MIL nor my HUSBAND like to drive with him in the car. My SIL actually does best- she tells him off. Which he respects. He’s not perfect. He’s human. I could tell you stories about my MIL trying to cover up and deny her aging too. They are both 70 or nearing 70.

          But to declare him toxic based on one anecdote and use it as an excuse to go on and on in misandry? That shows way more about you than about him.

    15. Ann Ominous*

      You’re totally in the firm boundaries side. This is a lot of emotional labor for you to be doing and you’re right to do what brings you peace. Would it be helpful for you to have words to verbalize to him why this bothers you (to present a ‘legit enough’ reason) or no?

      I tried doing what you described, making him do his part of the emotional labor of keeping a relationship going, and my dad literally just never reached out. When I do see him, he’s genuinely overjoyed to spend time with me and truly loves all his kids – he just doesn’t have some mental switch, or something. It’s hurtful to me and I feel sad about it. I’ve told him about it and he’s genuinely horrified but still doesn’t change. I am turning a corner and just accepting him as he is because I do want a relationship with him.

      If yours is a dad that responds well to direct guidance, one option would be for you to have the convo with him (to whatever degree of detail you feel like, which could be minimal) and tell him “on x days/with x frequency you will call me/ you will come over to me/you will make restaurant reservations at x place, and on y days I will come over to you” and just make it automatic? Do you have a sense that would work?

    16. Cacofonix*

      Your solution, while understandable, is borne by frustration which won’t serve you well. You’ve told him your needs. He will not change. If it were me, I would examine what *I* need to maintain a relationship with my dad. For me, that might mean a phone call each week and visiting when it works for you, such as your upcoming trip. My goal would be the relationship itself and to make sure he’s safe, because I care about that. In return, I’d tell him that’s what I’m doing and that he can change frequency of calls and visits anytime if he does the calling/visiting. Meantime, I’d be clear that complaints about it will end the visit or call. By that I mean literally leave his house, or say my goodbyes and hang up, calmly, firmly, immediately. I’ve done this in my life and it works for me.

      No use in not calling or visiting if it also pains you.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Unless your dad is saying and doing hurtful things that caused the tension, you are all the way 100 percent on the petty side.

      If you would be perfectly fine never seeing your dad again, this is the way to do it. The whole game of not calling to force him to call first is some seriously passive-aggressive nonsense.

      You’re an adult. The journey of a healthy parent-child relationship is from them taking care of your physical and emotional needs, to more of a 50-50 balance, and then to a point where you take care of them.

      That last switch is just as difficult and fraught a transition as launching from home and becoming an equal was. But it is inevitable, and the emotional side happens before the physical side.

      We all have to come to terms at some point with the fact that our parents are limited human beings who are not going to meet our expectations of what the relationship “should” be like. For some, that failure is severe and pervasive. For others, it is more contained but still very real.

      Talk to your dad. Set up a schedule of calling and visiting that may not be as much as he’d like, but is regular so he knows when to expect it.

      And if you are literally driving past his house, tell him so and go see him.

      Again, the caveat here is *if you are not trying to cut him off.*

      If you want to go low/ no contact and are just nibbling around the edges, maybe it’s time to admit it.

    18. Love for EEAAO*

      This would frustrate me too –– totally get where you’re coming from.

      That said, I’ve been where you are, tried what you want to, and it didn’t work out for me. Years ago, I went through a period with one of my best friends (S) where I’d always be the one calling her, she’d never be the one calling me. And (like you with your dad) it hurt. So I stopped calling, to see how long it would take her to reach me, and that was the end of our friendship.

      I’ve regretted that decision since. I’ve come to better understand the stresses that were on S at that point in our lives, now that I’m experiencing some similar stresses, and in any case, S and I had seen each other through a lot.

      All that to say. It’s possible that there are things on your dad’s plate that make initiating phone calls harder than you think, but even if they’re not, if you choose not to call, you should be prepared for your relationship to change in ways that you can’t predict right now.

    19. Eff Walsingham*

      IMO the line between boundaries and pettiness is: would you *enjoy* the time spent with him on your trip? If you would, then it would be petty to deny both of you the chance to visit. But if the visit would be a drag, then in your place I’d be inclined to avoid it also.

      My FIL wants his offspring to call. He will text “call me”. He will complain to one kid if he feels neglected by another. We must call, we must visit (when possible), we must make a show of deferring to him, ‘Godfather’ style. Because he’s the Daddy, the Granddaddy, the Big Man. It is not his most attractive trait. But we love him. And he’s a great storyteller. And he’s the last parent either of us have. So we make an effort to accommodate his whims, when we can, because we don’t want to hurt his feelings and because we’ll probably outlive him.

      I would suggest that you decide how you value your time, what’s important to you personally, and how you think the probable outcomes will affect you in the long run. This is not something where I think other people’s experiences are helpful in choosing what to do.

    20. Aphrodite*

      I would and do expect a more even keel if we are talking about friends’ efforts to stay in touch. Even siblings who are not much older need to put forth more or less even effort. But … parents are different. They are older, they may have physical concerns over driving distances, or they may just be more tired or feel they put forth so much effort when they were younger and the family was young that they feel they have done “their” part.

      I encourage you to not take his stance personally. I believe you should be the one putting forth more effort, though not at the cost of a lot of your weekends, just some. If you can, think ahead to when he will be gone. I can’t predict the future but I can tell you that I am now very glad I drove down to see my parents, who lived an hour-and-a -quarter south of me, on a regular basis even when I didn’t feel much like it.

      Put forth some effort. I think you will be glad you did.

    21. Ann Ominous*

      Someone made a good point. Could he be uncomfortable about driving but not want to admit it?

    22. MeepMeep123*

      How old is he? How’s his health? Old men have a lot of aches and pains and minor and major problems that they won’t tell their children about (ask me how I know that one), and it may in fact be physically hard for him to drive to where you are, and emotionally hard to admit to weakness. He may be an uncertain driver by now, which he will never admit to you. He may have back pains if he drives for too long. He’ll never tell you that either. If he is generally a loving father and if he’s there for you when you need him, it’s worth cutting him some slack.

      My father is 83, and exactly the same sort of person. I love him to pieces, and I know he loves me and would do anything he could to help me when I need it. And I know that he’s got physical and cognitive limitations by now, and I definitely for sure know that he literally can’t drive for very long. When we go on road trips with my parents, I let him drive for 30 minutes to save face, and then he takes a nap for the rest of the trip while I drive because it tires him out so much. His vision is not too great either – he’s got macular degeneration, so he really shouldn’t be driving at night. When my parents lived in another state, I did all the visiting – they pretty much never came to visit us. I was annoyed by that, especially when I had a toddler to wrangle, but I also understood. I’m glad I did not press the issue.

    23. Unum Hoc Scio*

      How about a weekly phone call to catch up? You could plan to visit once a month or once every two months depending on how busy you are. Boundary set, accommodations made.

    24. Dancing Otter*

      When my parents were alive, the out-of-town offspring were on a schedule for phone calls. (Some of them, anyway.) Dad *planned* around that schedule. If something conflicted, like a concert or congregational dinner, the call was *always* rescheduled in advance. He didn’t place the calls, but this was when his land line would have charged long distance fees whereas their cell plans didn’t. So it wasn’t one-sided, just sensible. No guilt-ing or resentment about who called whom or how often.
      Given that I drove an hour each way for Sunday dinners almost every week for years, I have nothing to add to the visiting topic. At least, is it possible he isn’t as good a driver as he used to be? Or isn’t comfortable driving after dark? Or maybe being far from a bathroom on a long drive? There may be Reasons.

    25. The Other Dawn*

      I feel you’re being petty and treating the relationship as transactional, and not just in the last paragraph where you mention the overnight trip.

      I’m of the mind that once we move out and are living on our own, it’s up to us to check in on our parents.

      My parents had me when they were 36 and 40, so when I moved out on my own (and they moved out of state), they were 55 and 59. Not old, but not 36/40 anymore. It was mostly me (and my four siblings) doing the calling, though my mom would call here and there to fill in the gaps. My dad would never call simply because he didn’t care to sit on the phone and chat, though we’d talk for a few minutes when I called and then he’d say, “Want to talk to your mother?” My siblings and I did probably 75% of the visiting since it was a three-hour drive. And this was fine. When my mom died, it was then 100% on all us to do the calling since my dad wasn’t one to initiate calls, although he enjoyed talking when someone called him. Really the only time he called me was when he had a computer question (that was always fun…LOL) or if he needed to ask or tell me something about holiday arrangements. We all did nearly all of the visiting, unless he drove down with my sister who was living with him, since he was getting older and we were getting nervous about his driving abilities, declinging eyesight, and other issues. But again, this was fine.

      You don’t mention your dad’s age or the state of his health. Is he hard of hearing or forgetful? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t call. Or maybe he’s just not a phone person, like my dad. Is his eyesight declining or does he have chronic pain or other physical issues that would affect his ability to drive what sounds to be maybe 50-60 miles, potentially in the dark?

      As someone PhyllisB said, “Life is too uncertain to stand on ceremony.”

    26. BookMom*

      You’re not alone. My mom puts all the heavy lifting of calling and visiting on me, and it’s so exhausting. And frankly we don’t see each other or talk nearly as often as we would if she reciprocated even a little. But, after a lot of hurt feelings, especially when my kids were little and she wouldn’t come for their birthdays or baptism/first communion, etc, I realized she was not going to change. It’s rotten. I have the same thoughts you do. But whatever real or perceived barriers she has, they are what they are, and I try to just enjoy the time I do see or talk to her. *Virtual hugs from one sandwich generation person to another*

    27. Don'tbeadork*

      If this trip is doable, then do it. You don’t want to regret wasting an opportunity just to prove a point — that’s petty. You can still hold to your boundaries at other times.

    28. Irish Teacher*

      My question would be what are you aiming for in all this? If you are aiming to make your father change and contact you more often…well, that’s something you have limited control over. What you are doing may work and it may not. How would you feel if it didn’t change his behaviour any and just meant you saw him less? Would that be a source of relief to you? (Less travelling, etc.) Or would it be a source of disappointment?

      I was actually just saying to somebody this morning in a separate conversation that the difference between boundaries and being argumentative is in the intent. Boundaries are about protecting yourself, not about hurting the other person. Now obviously, being argumentative/cruel/mean doesn’t come in here. You clearly aren’t trying to hurt your father just for the sake of it. This was a separate discussion I was having and not all of it is relevant, but I think the point about boundaries being about protecting yourself is relevant.

      Aside from how your father responds at all, because that is something outside your control, are these decisions ones you need to make to reduce your own stress/because the travelling is too much for you/because you need a break/any other reason I haven’t thought about or is it just to make a point? I don’t think the latter is necessarily wrong but I do think it’s not really about boundaries at that point. Boundaries are more “I am not able to/choose not to do this and it’s up to you what you do on your side” and less “I’m not going to do this in the hopes it will get you to do…” Boundaries are focussed on you; they aren’t about trying to encourage another person to change their behaviour.

      I’m not saying you are wrong to make the decisions you have made, just that I think you should maybe take the focus off what he is doing or not doing and think about whether these choices are the right ones for you as they stand. I mean, work on the assumption that nothing he does will change and that this will simply mean you see him less or not at all, is that what you want?

      And also, this may not be at all true of your relationship with your father but sometimes, different people bring different things to a relationship. I have a friend who regularly complains about minor issues in her life, then completely brushes me off whenever I have a difficulty, which sounds very unfair and unequal, but on the other hand, she has gone out of her way to drive me an hour home on occasion and has gone with me to events she would have no interest in but came just because I did.

      Now, none of this may be relevant to your situation. I think only you can decide what is the right thing to do here. You know the full situation and the rest of us don’t. These are just some thoughts I had.

    29. happy*

      Oh boy, this hits home! I felt the same way… let dad call ME for once. Only he didn’t. Then I decided to accept him the way he is and started to initiate all calls/visits. Come to find out, he was in the early stages of dementia and had serious memory lapses. Dad passed away 2 weeks ago and I’m so glad I spent the last few years reaching out. I would have missed all that. My advice is to go call your dad and tell him you love him!

  9. Not The Mama*

    Is there anything I can do to comfort a friend who is a new mom and is so anxious about her baby getting sick? I have a friend who now has a six month old, her first child. Between Covid, breast-feeding issues that caused a trip to urgent care, and allergies to formula, my friend is understandably a bit anxious when it comes to her babies health aside from normal new mom stuff. The baby started daycare a few weeks ago and has been sick twice cents. My take on it, seeing other members of my family and coworkers send their kids to daycare and immediately come home with everything because now they’re being exposed to more babies, and babies catch everything, is that this is normal to be sick so frequently. But my friend is so upset and worried, and also bummed because so many of their plans with friends and family keep getting canceled because of the sick little one. Is there anything I can do or say to show her that this is normal? I know I can erase the worry completely, but she seems to think that all this is out of the ordinary when it seems fairly standard to me. Is it normal or do I have the wrong point of view?

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I think by normal you mean common.
      They’re not quite the same, though.
      And it is not okay for you to blow off her concerns.
      Maybe she is really concerned because RSV has hit hard, fast and early this year and children’s hospitals are swamped. She doesn’t want that to be her kid.
      Maybe she’s struggling with postpartum anxiety.
      Maybe she’s simply overwhelmed.
      Maybe it really IS out of the ordinary and you’re just dismissive because it’s happening to her and not you.
      No matter what it is, you need to immediate STOP trying to tell her how she should feel about what’s happening in her life.
      Do you want to be a comfort to her or do you just want her to shut up? Because it sounds to me like you want the latter.
      If you really do want to comfort her, listen. Don’t think about what you can tell her, or convince her, or help her see your take on it. Just listen and validate her very real struggles.
      Or maybe DO something to help her. Take in food. Watch the baby for a bit so she can nap or shower. Offer to bring groceries. Anything to help lift the load.

      1. JSPA*

        This. The level of sickness is higher (RSV is resurgent; people are spacing out on needing flu shots as much as ever; Covid is in the mix; children’s hospitals are already pretty slammed). The level of outside support is lower (ditto the staffing at clinics and hospitals). The risks of entering the medical system are higher. Thus the talk of the incipient “tridemic.”

        And there are still formula shortages, questionable formula, and general shortages, that make stocking up on needs for a kid with allergies, tougher.

        If you think that infection after infection is no big deal, you can offer to sit for her sick baby, to give her a break (knowing that you’ll be catching whatever-it-is).

        Is it 20% rougher / riskier, 50% rougher / riskier, double-bad? Who knows. But it’s (by the numbers) worse than usual, and usual was already rough.

        1. KatEnigma*

          My 5 yr old has his second ever fever this morning- 101. He didn’t even have a fever when he was positive for Covid! His school’s first grade class had to shut down yesterday because so many kids and the teacher have the flu. It’s a shame that he’s having to miss Halloween weekend stuff, but we’re hoping he’s over it enough to trick or treat on Monday. (which, being outdoors, we don’t have to worry about his spreading it to others)

    2. bratschegirl*

      FWIW, grandkid just recently started preschool (toddler class, too young for masks) and has been sick at least one day every week since then. Colds, double ear infection, croup, yadda yadda. It’s totally expected when kids first expand their germ-sharing circle, and totally terrifying in these times of Covid and RSV. I don’t think I’d be capable of taking it in stride as a new parent right now.

    3. Double A*

      My kids have literally been sick every 2 weeks since the start of the school year. I don’t feel like they even fully recover; they just have constant runny noses that ebb and flow into full blown colds. It is both the way it is and also deeply frustrating. Also to transition from being afraid of illness all the time to suddenly being sick all the time and you just literally don’t even know if you should care anymore is…rough. what even is risk. Will I ever sleep again. Oh also I’m constantly fighting off some bug or another probably that doesn’t outright become an illness but saps like 20% of my energy. Also that feels like depression or maybe it just is depression. We’re finally making plans again but it’s literally 50/50 if we’ll be able to do the plans. We always mask because we’re always probably contagious. Ugh I’m tired.

      Anyway sorry, what was the question again?

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Just want to say we’re right there with you. My eight month old has had daycare crud since he started in August, and twice it’s gotten to “can’t go for a week” levels of sickness (first bacterial sinusitis and now RSV). It is *rough* out there. It’s a huge bummer to have to cancel plans regularly. It’s challenging getting mildly sick (at minimum) as an adult all the time, too.

        By nature my wife and I are pretty chill parents, and we aren’t overworriers about illness. But like, you can’t do much to help a sick baby who isn’t at hospitalization levels of illness. Antibiotics if it’s bacterial, tylenol/Motrin for pain, lots of liquids, humidifier, rest and cuddles. That’s it, pretty much. There’s no baby cough medicine or cold medicine or anything like that. It’s awful.

        1. Double A*

          Yes, for the OP that last point is so important. Even when it’s normal, or what everyone is dealing with…it still super sucks when you’re in the middle of it. Being sick sucks, being sick constantly sucks even more. And then having nothing you can do but wait…ugh.

          Honestly OP since there is literally nothing to be done to improve the situation, just being a patient listener and affirming that illness sucks and offering to pick up stuff from the store is the best you can do.

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

        Wow, I feel for you, and I don’t even have kids. Yeah, the mental/emotional toll of truly being in a very dangerous health situation all the time and never really knowing if you might be giving something deadly to others so that you’re constantly cancelling things and wearing masks forever . . . . It’s a lot.

        My @#$%#$%ing doctor told me in the middle of a half-hour appointment Thursday that she was only five days post covid. Now, I don’t feel comfortable going in to teach and potentially exposing my students, so on to Zoom we go AGAIN for a bit until it’s been long enough that I can get an accurate PCR. It’s exhausting.

      3. KatEnigma*

        We haven’t made it to church two weeks in a row (and the trend continues!) since school started.

        1. Double A*

          Yeah we have dance class on Saturdays and I believe we make it exactly half of the time. Didn’t make it today because the sniffles bloomed back into a cold!

          1. KatEnigma*

            I was mistaken. 5 yr old was sufficiently recovered by bedtime last night (slept for basically 2 days, was running around before bedtime) that he and my husband went to church this morning so he could go to trunk or treat after, while I stayed home with the bug. He coughed in my face on Friday while I was trying to take his temperature… LOL

            But he missed his regular gymnastics class yesterday and then the big party at the gym last night. He would have missed the fall festival at school on Friday afternoon, but thunderstorms postponed it until tomorrow.

    4. Washi*

      Soo I’m wondering if what’s really going on is your friend is wearing you out with her constant baby anxiety. I have a friend like this who just goes in circles with her kid anxiety and just seems to want to dump it on me to an extent that it doesn’t really feel like a conversation anymore.

      I have a 5 month old with some feeding and sleeping issues we’re still working on and I am pretty anxious about him all the time. But I have to be conscious of ruminating over it with friends and honestly, especially with friends who don’t have kids. Just like I talk about my hobbies differently with someone who shares them.

      I’ve had to limit conversations with my super anxious friend and change the topic when I notice I’m getting really frustrated. You’re not going to convince her to not be anxious about something that is legitimately pretty stressful, but you don’t have to talk about it constantly if you’re not up for it.

      1. PsychNurse*

        Yes this is what I was going to say. If you (the OP) think that it feels excessive, it likely is. Many, many new moms struggle with anxiety and OCD-type symptoms. If she is struggling with obsessive fears (obsessive meaning ones that go round-and-round with no resolution), it is absolutely not helpful to be told “Yes you’re right to worry about that, it’s reasonable!” if it isn’t. Neither is reassurance helpful: “Oh don’t worry, your baby will be fine.” The thing that actually would be helpful would be to see a therapist who is trained in anxiety— and postpartum anxiety would be even better.

        When my son was born, I (who already had sort of latent mild OCD) flipped in to fully obsessive thoughts. Mine weren’t about illness but they were definitely circular and obsessive. I would sometimes bring them up at mommy group, and the response was basically “Yeah it’s a scary world out there!” and it was clear the other moms weren’t experiencing what I was. I never saw a therapist, but I did find a great deal of self-help and supportive info online and was able to get on top of the problem pretty quickly.

    5. allathian*

      This happens, it’s just life with a baby right now. I guess I’m glad that things were better when my son went to daycare. He was sick every other week, but he was also 2 years old when he started in daycare, and there are many more treatment options for kids that age.

    6. Nack*

      It seems like you want to make your friend stop worrying/just get on with it and… I don’t think that’s a realistic goal at all. You can’t change how she feels. It also sounds like you don’t have kids, which limits how much you can probably influence her opinions on this. Telling her that all the babies you know (and spend limited time with) also get sick will not be the comfort you think it will, even if it’s accurate.

      As a mom who struggled with undiagnosed postpartum anxiety (didn’t even know that was a thing, though I heard plenty about PPD), having someone tell me my baby was sick would have not made me feel comforted; it would have made me think that friend was clueless and insensitive. My worries would have gone far beyond “will my baby survive this common cold.” It’s likely your friend is also worrying about how SHE will survive more sleepless nights, fussy days, missed work, missed pay, keeping up with the household, loneliness and isolation due to canceled plans, etc while possibly being under the weather herself.

      As a new mom with a sick baby, if I had a friend that wanted to support me, I wouldn’t want to hear that it was normal. I’d want someone to offer to bring over a meal, run a couple errands, chat on the phone, or even watch the baby so I could nap/shower/ etc.

      I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh. After I had my first kid, my husband and I both realized how totally clueless we were about life with babies and how totally unhelpful we had been to our friends who had kids before we did! But we didn’t know what we didn’t know :)

      1. allathian*

        Oh boy, what you said rings so true. I wasn’t particularly anxious about my baby once his pediatrician and pediatric nurses persuaded me that he was basically healthy (I was anxious for a few months after birth because he spent his first two days in NICU with hypoglycemia). He had his first cold when he was 6 months, but other than that, he only had his regular pediatric checkups until he went to daycare when he was 2.

        But the first year in daycare, oh boy, I was so glad he had insurance so that we could visit a private clinic on the same day he got sick without waiting in the ER for who knows how long. In US terms, it was ridiculously cheap, about 1,000 euros per year, and with a copay of only 100 euros for the first visit of the year, after that, no copays at all.
        It was without a doubt the best investment we ever made. He was prone to ear infections, and just the surgeries to insert the ear ventilation tubes cost more than a year’s insurance, never mind all the other appointments. We rarely took him to any post-illness checkups, because he usually got sick again before that.

        I was more anxious about him when he was a toddler than I had been when he was a baby, at least after the end of the newborn baby period, sometimes jokingly called the fourth trimester. And you’re right, the well-meaning comments people made about our life with him being completely normal didn’t help much when either I or my husband was off work every other week, and I was on leave more often than he was. Thankfully we have pretty much unlimited sick leave, and paid care leave for sick kids under 10, but my then-boss still gave me grief about all the work I was missing, and my then-coworker wasn’t exactly happy about having to cover for me all that time, either.

        At the time, I had a desktop PC at work, and WFH wasn’t an option. But as everyone who has attempted it no doubt knows, WFH with a sick toddler in the house is hard if not impossible, so it was just as well…

    7. River Song*

      I am that mother. I have an 8 week old and have to go back to work and I’m fairly distraught over it. Between RSV and Covid, it is a really dangerous world for babies and in the US, the crappy only developed country without paid parental leave, you’re just screwed no matter what- from our workforce norms not giving the pto as needed for when kids are sick all the time, to healthcare costs and timeframes, to cultural selfishness not caring about the immunocompromised. What are preventable infant deaths compared to some millionaire’s bottom line? It may be the way things are but it shouldn’t be. It isn’t this way in many other countries. It is appalling that this is considered acceptable here.

    8. J.B.*

      I broke down crying a time or two when my first kid was going through that. She wasn’t seriously I’ll despite 103 fevers over and over just has a high thermostat. And it sucked. I would recommend saying yeah that sucks. And if you can do something low key once in a while like bring takeout I’m sure your friend would feel cherished.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You say, “Oh, I know. It’s so hard. We’ve all been there. Can I bring you anything from the store?”

    10. MeepMeep123*

      No, it’s not normal. We have normalized this sort of thing in our society, but that does not make it normal or healthy. It really is not normal to be sick that often. A lot of the viruses that children catch in institutional settings have long-term effects that are still unstudied and little understood, especially when combined with each other. For example, we just now are learning about the link between Epstein-Barr Virus (which causes mono) and multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue – none of which you’d want to get. We still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID in children. The fact that a perfectly realistic and normal level of worry about infectious disease is being reframed as “irrational anxiety” drives me up the wall.

      Your friend will eventually learn to keep her worries to herself because the world is singularly unsympathetic to those of us who want to avoid illness in themselves or their children. I’m learning to shut up and be quiet and just keep my mask on. My best friend just harangued me for a good 10 minutes because I mentioned that my kid got her COVID booster and flu shot – apparently that means I am “living in fear”.

      1. BadCultureFIt*

        Huh?! Yes, it is indeed perfectly normal for babies/kids to get multiple, frequent, minor colds once they start daycare/school.

        “A lot of the viruses that children catch in institutional settings have long-term effects that are still unstudied and little understood” — WTAF are you talking about here?!!

        This is a terrible comment.

        1. Ann Ominous*

          I wonder if they mean something like counterparts to long COVID. There is an increasing body of theory around whether chronic fatigue syndrome and other lingering unknown symptoms are results of other viruses (even other coronaviruses like the common cold), such as we are seeing in long COVID.

          And the comment about institutions just made me think about kids being exposed to each other in large groups in areas that aren’t well-ventilated (which is pretty much anywhere that’s indoors in many parts of the world).

          1. MeepMeep123*

            Yup. I even gave an example – Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mild cold-like symptoms in the kids that get it at school, and then causes chronic fatigue if you’re unlucky enough to combine it with COVID, or causes multiple sclerosis if you’re one of the unlucky 0.5% of the people who get it. There are many other viruses like this, and the science of postviral syndromes is extremely under-studied and little understood.

            I’m not at all sure that it’s normal or healthy for kids to be sick this often, and I wish schools and daycares paid more attention to this rather than assuming that it’s normal. But as long as parents get stigmatized for even raising this as a concern, nothing will change. You gave me a great example of the kind of stigma that I’ve seen throughout my kid’s life when I raised it as a concern. Thank you for providing it.

            1. allathian*

              I think that more research is definitely needed. My son was in 6th grade last year, and he wore a mask on public transit and in class, washed hands constantly and were encouraged to use sanitizer frequently, and he didn’t have any sick days at all. Now they aren’t wearing masks, and he’s already missed two weeks of school this year, a week with Covid and another with a “common cold”.

              That said, the opposite phenomenon is also true. We live in too sterile environments, and that’s one reason why so many more kids have allergies today than ever before. If the immune system doesn’t have real enemies to fight, it’ll start fighting the host body instead. In the 1990s there was an interesting research project in Carelia, in a genetically pretty uniform population. On the Russian side of the border, people were still living pretty much as they had in the early 20th century, with hygiene standards to match. On the Finnish side of the border, they had a modern lifestyle. Allergies, infantile asthma, and some autoimmune diseases were far more common in Finland than they were in Russia. To be fair, the average expected lifespan was decades longer in Finland.

              Viruses are a problem, but kids need exposure to benign bacteria to develop their immune systems. That’s partly why there’s less hayfever in families with pets than without.

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod. Our scientists are learning a lot about post viral illness now but I would be nervous about my ( imaginary) kid having a high fever and me missing work.

        2. JSPA*

          Something can be common, and also unhealthy. I remember when smoking was common, and people smoked everywhere. It was 100% normal to grow up breathing your parents’ cigarette smoke (and having sinus problems, asthma exacerbation, stinging eyes, clothes that smelled of cigarettes, headaches at school that were probably nicotine withdrawal, bronchitis).

          We can argue whether childhood infections are escapable. We can argue whether they’re worse, if first encountered later in life (many are). We can argue whether mono belongs on the list of standard childhood diseases. But the (reputable) studies suggesting an EBV-MS link have been thoroughly covered in the news. MeepMeep123 isn’t making that up.

      2. BadCultureFIt*

        Also your “best friend” sounds like a terrible person. But it doesn’t negate the wackiness of what you’re spewing here.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      You’re sort of half-right? Getting sick multiple times as soon as a kid starts daycare is absolutely common and should be expected. However, whether the anxiety is reasonable is separate. Any kid with allergies is going to make a new parent extra worried. The current situation with flu and RSV and covid, and most children’s hospitals being stuffed to the gills is genuinely concerning. I do not want my kid to get sick and end up in CH. Being worried about that is reasonable. If friend’s baby has had anything with simiar symptoms to those three, being worried is reasonable, even if it turned out to be something less serious and not severe. There’s an emotional toll.
      Being upset about cancelled plans cuz sick baby, I am slightly less sympathetic. Kid starts daycare, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll get sick frequently and plans will be cancelled. This shouldn’t be surprising. It can still be frustrating, but it’s expected. Also if the concerns about baby getting sick were that bad, they wouldn’t have weekend plans to cancel in the first place.
      So I’m thinking your friend is likely overreacting to some stuff and reasonably reacting to others, and you’re probably reasonably reacting to some stuff and underreacting to others.

    12. Flowers*

      Oh gosh – wish I had read this before I posted later on. Dealing with the same issues right now – except my husband is more anxiety prone than I am but I’m getting frustrated with everything going on as well.

  10. Mitchell Hundred*

    I’m almost done reading a book of academic essays about obscenity in the ancient Greek and Roman world. My favourite part was the table of graffiti from Pompeii, with translations. Apparently “Cacator cave malum” was the most popular phrase.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      In the museum in Naples, where they have all the stuff taken out of Pompeii, they have a highly entertaining section in the back with all the erotic art.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I found the signpost for the bordello in Volubulis – some ruins in Morocco – to be remarkably – umm – descriptive. And optimistic.

    3. Random Bystander*

      I still remember when I was in high school (almost 40 years ago, so that tells you how well this stuck in my head), I took Latin. First two years were very typical Latin class. Third year (my last, because I graduated early), we studied … Pompeiian graffiti. And also translated things *into* Latin. Still remember being in the school cafeteria with classmates. “I ****” (Latin form of verb) “You ****” etc.

      When called on that by teachers monitoring said cafeteria, with all wide-eyed pseudo-innocence: “we’re studying our Latin conjugation.”

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Ancient Obscenities, edited by Dorota Dutsch and Ann Suter. I found it after I read a short article about anasyrma, and was curious to see if my library had any material on the subject.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      Somebody in one of my Facebook groups posted a photo from her tour of the Pompeii ruins. First up: a brothel. With a menu along the top of the wall. With some very descriptive drawings.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yes, that’s quite famous.
        I’ve been to Pompeii twice and once to Herculaneum (the lesser known but equally interesting site). Visiting Pompeii with two teenaged nephews was fun :-)

  11. Calamity Janine*

    though this is technically work related it’s a bad enough idea that i decided to post it here:

    to celebrate spooky stories and the times a-changing on twitter, i would like to propose Alison do a special podcast episode where she reads through and gives commentary on some of the legends of bad workplace behavior as described on twitter. it ends when Alison finally finds one that makes her completely corpse. just pure laughter interspersed with the occasional “ohhhh my gooddd ohhhh nnnnNNOOOOOoooOOO” in mixed horror and hilarity.

    i think the dril tweet about working at the betsy ross museum is one logical terminus but fictional accounts are halfway to cheating. so i would like to nominate twitter user shockproofbeats’s thread about the day in their youth where they ended up alone with their boss and the president of Ireland while very very high on ketamine. because sometimes humor is other people suffering in ways they describe entertainingly!

    please entertain us with what terrible tales from the lives of others that you would nominate to torture Alison with until she breaks down laughing, this is a concept too late for halloween but could be magnificent for April Fool’s (note: magnificent here may also mean utterly abominable and Alison’s hand is hovering over the “IP ban user Calamity Janine from orbit for extreme impertenance” button)

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      That thread is one of my favourite things on Twitter of all time. For similar humour, I highly recommend the author’s memoir “Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?”. Even though it’s fundamentally about grief, it’s also very very funny and hits big truths about family bonds.

      Surprisingly, my partner, who is Very Online, had never heard of the thread. So after a few days of me laughing out loud while reading the book, he asked how I’d heard of it. Replying “oh, it’s from the guy who tweeted about serving the President of Ireland while on ketamine” was priceless.

      As for your original question: also on Twitter, the comedian Sooz Kempner has two threads that are absolute gold. One is about her stint as a Christina Aguilera impersonator in Ayia Napa (Cyprus), and the other is about the time she got hired for a New Year’s Eve music show by a freemasons’ lodge. I don’t have Twitter access on my phone, but should have dropped enough keywords here for anyone to find them via the search function.

    2. fposte*

      Can we turn this into “internet threads people might enjoy”? Because Ask Historians just had a celebration of getting 1.5 million subscribers by humorously offering to give away 1.5 million facts just for asking. The result is a thread full of historical tidbits, almost all by established historians or historical specialists, about all manner of things from fish to religion in all inhabited places. A couple of my favorites are that the Abenaki refused to allow Giovanni di Verazzano’s ships to land and traded with them by rope, and when the trades were completed they dropped trou and mooned the Europeans; another is that medieval nun Agnes Blannbekin claimed to have tasted Christ’s foreskin. (A followup notes that, as many of us were thinking, Agnes must have struggled to find the foreskin of a circumcised man.)

      Link in followup.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        On the history note, for threads people might enjoy, I always highlight recommend John Bull’s threads on undiscovered aspects of history/pop culture – everything from the Emu War in Australia to how Tesco (British supermarket) invented the loyalty card.

  12. Come On Eileen*

    I recently spent a few days at an AirBNB, and the host made the bed with Costco’s 800 thread count Hotel Signature sheets. I absolutely LOVED sleeping on these sheets! They were soft yet substantial. It looks like the Costco website is out of stock (I keep checking) and I’ve been told they are no longer available to purchase in their warehouses. Does anyone have an equivalent substitution that I should look into? I slept on these sheets a month ago and am still thinking about them.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      If I remember correctly, Costco doesn’t carry the same bedding products throughout the year. So they may not be available now, but they may be available again in late winter or spring. (I had the same issue with some sheets that I wanted, although they weren’t these.)

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Ahh okay, that’s helpful to know. I have a Costco trip planned soon so will keep an eye out even if they might not be there now.

    2. WellRed*

      I think Hotel is a large brand. I’ve seen it at bed bath and beyond, for example. Unless they also do branded lines for other retailers like Costco?

    3. KatEnigma*

      Not at that price. I love love LOVE the Vera Wang sheets that Kohl’s carries, but they are twice that price.

    4. Random Bystander*

      How about checking out thecompanystore (dot) com? I like bamboo sheets, myself, but they seem to have an amazing variety of sheets (colors, fabrics).

    5. Llama Llama*

      They are my go to for sheet buying. I will be really sad if I can’t buy them anymore. But yes, they have been out of stock before and are there later.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you for sharing that! Good to know they will possibly/probably come back. I still plan to look for them at the warehouse when I go this week, but will keep an eye on the website as well.

  13. Jackalope*

    Reading post: what are you reading right now? Any type of reading welcome. Also please share recommendations or rec requests.

    I’m reading “Wicked As You Wish” by Rin Chupeco at the moment. It’s a fun book and I’m enjoying the fantasy and fairy tale elements she’s woven into it. It deals with some serious stuff but is also light-hearted.

    1. Double A*

      I just finished “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” a novel about making video games and I enjoyed it.

      Now I’m reading “The Bright Ages” which is a history of the Middle Ages because I find reading ancient history to be kind of comforting. It’s not quite as compelling as some others I’ve read, but is a nice coda to the history of Rome I read this year (SPQR).

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m reading “Till We Have Faces” because I know I’ve read it before but I don’t remember it at all, even what I thought of it!

      Also subscribed to Dracula Daily when someone mentioned it here as it was starting (they send you the novel chronologically as it happens). But I’m almost a full month behind so it’s more like Delayed Dracula Weekly at this point.

    3. Bluebell*

      I finished Confidence by Denise Mina, and really enjoyed it once it got going. Also read The Lost Ticket, because Alison recommended it – very sweet. The Bucket List by Georgia Clark was a quirky mix of chick lit + mastectomy + a few shades of gray. It was pretty different than her book It Had to be You, which I liked a lot more.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.
      Both are based on Russian/Slavic folklore and feature a lot of winter. I feel like I’m preparing for winter. Brr.

      The books aren’t perfect, but they’re good. Do you have any recommendations for books based on folklore?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Not as recognizably based on folklore as Spinning Silver, but with a similar Eastern European winter feel: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I’ve read that book! I was confused by it. (As in, it didn’t satisfy me as a murder mystery nor as a folklorish novel).

      2. Russian in Texas*

        The Bear and the Nightingale, also based on the Russian folklore and real events.
        The trilogy is called The Winternight trilogy.
        I also think Uprooted is a better Naomi Novik book.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          The Girl in the Tower that you read is actually the second (I think) book in the Winternight trilogy.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Yes, it is. I read The Bear and the Nightingale first and I’m going through the trilogy. Naomi Novik is the stronger writer, but there were still some things I didn’t like about Uprooted. YMMV.

      3. Lilo*

        Novik’s fairy tale stuff does remind me a lot of Robin McKinley.

        I’m tossing this in with a big ol pinch of salt but Enchantment by Orson Scott Card does have a similar focus in eastern European folklore. But the author is problematic and some of the content is problematic.

        1. Jackalope*

          Question for you: what aspects of Enchantment were problematic for you? I say this as someone who read it a few times when I was much younger, liked it a lot at the time, came back to it in the last year or two and the shine had rubbed off for me. Since I was busy feeling disappointed at rereading a book I’d previously enjoyed, and also because I was only rereading bits of it, I didn’t give it a more in-depth look. I’m curious what other people think about it.

          1. Lilo*

            There’s a bit of a male gaze problem. They also over emphasize virginity. Some of the violence is a bit gruesome.

            I struggle with Card because I can’t reconcile how the guy who wrote Speaker for the Dead could also be so virulently anti-gay.

            1. Love for EEAAO*

              Whew, this. There’s this passage in Xenocide, I think: “the difference between raman and varelse is not in the creature judged but in the creature judging. When we declare an alien species to be raman [i.e. sentient/human], it does not mean that they have passed a threshold of moral maturity. It means that we have.”

              Absolutely transformative for me as late teen / young adult, coming out of a fairly closed upbringing and encountering people different than me for the first time. Shaped a lot of my early commitment to equity. Does not align with Card’s personal stance, and it’s very confusing.

          2. HannahS*

            What I remember of reading it in my late teens is that it was a certain kind of male fantasy. There was this undercurrent of how the female lead was shrewish and her character arc was about her sweetening up and demanding less, while the male character’s arc was that he was a nerd who got buff, and then they got married. It pissed me off at the time, to the bafflement of the man who recommended it to me.

      4. Dark Macadamia*

        I read “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey around the same time as that Katherine Arden trilogy and it has a different tone but is also an excellent wintery folklore adaptation.

      5. Jessica*

        I loved the Arden books, but if anyone else is interested, be aware that The Girl in the Tower is the middle book of a trilogy. Starts with The Bear And the Nightingale.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Written as the old folk tales that might exist in her fantasy universe. They felt like real old stories I had never encountered before. Some references to other classic tales, such as the faithful tin soldier or little mermaid. I really liked this one, along with her Six of Crows duology.

        1. Jessica*

          Yeah, this was great. I really liked the story that’s kind of a Beauty and the Beast/Scheherezade situation, but the girl keeps telling stories that subvert the conventionally expected ending.
          The illustration in this book is also magnificent. Sara Kipin’s illustrations are on every page, around the edges, and they develop along with the plot, so when you turn the page the picture is often similar but different, like a little bit more has happened in it.

      7. Alyn*

        It’s been quite a few years since I read them, but I enjoyed Dennis L McKiernan’s “Faery Series” – expanded/retold fairy tales. The first one is Once Upon a Winter’s Night, based on “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”.

      8. HannahS*

        East is YA, but I re-read it as an adult and liked it a lot. Based on “East of Sun, West of the Moon.”

      9. HannahS*

        East is YA, but I re-read it as an adult and liked it a lot. Based on “East of Sun, West of the Moon.”

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      On a Somerset Maugham binge – aside from the occasional use of slurs from the era, I think Cakes and Ale is pretty much perfect. Also been reading Raymond Queneau, who I loved back in my 20s. I’m slightly more immune to his charms now, but it’s distracting me from the work-related books I should be reading!

    6. Texan In Exile*

      “Freedom at Midnight” by Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins, about India’s independence. It reads like a novel and I can’t put it down, not just because the story is so compelling but also because I am so appalled that I never learned about any of this in school.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I think they also wrote “is Paris Burning?” about how the Nazis got talked out of destroying Paris during WW2

    7. Smol Book Wizard*

      I picked up the translation of Chinese writer MXTX’s delightful tale Heaven Official’s Blessing at a secondhand shop on a whim (that is, I saw it, was like “I feel like I’ve heard of that,” and asked my fandom discord for additional info). I read it last weekend and it was a joy… The plot wasn’t thick exactly but the character interactions were adorable and fun and occasionally feels-y. I think I’m going to have to find the next volume.

    8. Angstrom*

      For the season, an audiobook short story that has become a household tradition: Look up “The Cat that Went to Trinity” by Robertson Davies, as read by Charles Keating.

    9. Lilo*

      I read 84 Charing Cross Road, which I’d highly recommend. It’s a series of letters between a writer in New York and the employees of a book shop in London. I haven’t been able to chase down exactly whether it’s a recreation, fictionalization or actual copies of her letters but the people in the letters and events are real.

      I just got Hamnet off a rec from the same YouTuber and haven’t started it yet.

      1. Lilo*

        Oh I’m about to bail on Upgrade by Blake Crouch. I’m about 50% of the way through and I’m just not enjoying it. I liked his other books okay.

      2. Isobel*

        The film of 84 Charing Cross Rd, with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, is also delightful (and sad at the end).

    10. the cat's ass*

      Just finished “The Accomplice.” by Lisa Lutz. Dark with unlikeable characters but strangely compelling.

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

      Willa Cather’s *Death Comes for the Archbishop* — I’m not sure I’m really getting all of it, like there’s a lot of religious symbolism that is probably going over my head, but I like it well enough.

    12. VegetarianRaccoon*

      Really enjoying Cemetery Boys, as I think I would regardless, but it’s also such a perfectly seasonal read right now that I get ‘bonus enjoyment’ out of it!

    13. OtterB*

      The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal. Inventor and heiress Tesla Crane is on a luxury high society space liner cruise from Earth to Mars, incognito for her honeymoon with former detective Shal. There are cocktails. And her service dog. And a murder her husband is accused of. I am not far into it but it’s going to be fun.

    14. IzzyTheCat*

      This week I read “Noor” by Nnedi Okorafor. Although I enjoy SF this is my first Okorafor book and I must say that I am a new fan of hers! It was a quick read, very fast-paced, yet with a lot of thought-provoking ideas (what makes someone human?, surveillance capitalism, etc). Okorafor is the author who basically has defined the genre of Africanfuturism and her back catalog is swiftly being optioned for tv – I wanted to see what the hype is about and “Noor” did not disappoint. On to the “Akata Witch” series next…

    15. Ann Ominous*

      I just discovered the author Connie Willis! I read two of her books so far – To Say Nothing of the Dog was different and fun, and Passage was surprising and had me in tears by the end (and I’m not normally a crier).

      Someone also recommended the Last Kingdom series about how the English defeat the Vikings and it sounds really good (was apparently made into a movie and a Netflix series too).

      1. ShortySpice*

        Doomsday Book is one of my favourite reads ever. Strongly recommend Blackout/All Clear too.

        If you like her you might also like Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series. More time traveling historians.

  14. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what games you’re playing and what’s tickling your fancy right now. As always, all kinds of games are welcome.

    Some of my spouse’s friends have invited me to their annual Halloween spooky game which this year is Call of Cthulhu. I’m kind of excited and kind of nervous; I have a low horror tolerance and am not sure how that will go. But it’s a once a year tradition and I’m looking forward to joining in. (I will also add that I’ve never read Lovecraft which makes it worse because I have no idea what I’m getting into.)

    1. Sue*

      Google: Call of Cthulu pdf
      and you can read it now. It’s a short story of 24 pages. It’s Lovecraft’s first piece of fiction about Cthulu. It’s not very scary I think. Nothing as frightening as Stephen King. (Who wrote his own short story about Cthulu.)
      Reading it may help.

    2. Melanie Cavill*

      Lovecraft’s writing is unenjoyably dense and full up on racism. Give it a pass. But Call of Cthulhu is a lot of fun! Reminded me of Dishonored. I hope you like it.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I can handle the density, but it just makes the racism so much more overt and obvious. I remember someone had… it was a “Lovecraft Abridged” youtube video or something where he untangles the racism from the stories and several of the stories have nothing if you pull the racism out.

    3. Smol Book Wizard*

      Still Genshin. No change, haha. Getting a new laptop though because I accidentally fried the battery on the last one with overcharging… Maybe increased graphics capabilities will make Inazuma less infuriating to play.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I love “Call of Cthulhu” – the story *and* the game. There’s usually some element of solve-the-mystery, with characters ranging from detectives to academics (LOTS of found-document themes, including some that are perilous to read – fun times!), with a character type of “dilettante” for added fun. Hope you have a great time!

    5. Bookgarden*

      I started RE: Village and have been running around in the Castle but haven’t really gotten into it. The game reminds me of rides at Universal Studios where you watch a mix of different action segments while being thrown around in a vehicle. I guess I was expecting something more like RE 2 or even 4, but realize the series has gone in a different direction. I heard a section later in the game hits those creepy notes though so I’m making my way through to it.

      I also found out that the Silent Hill HD collection is available digitally on Xbox systems, so I’ve been revisiting 2 & 3 to get those slow, atmospheric scares instead. So good!

    6. Nicki Name*

      Lovecraft is cosmic horror rather than gory or shock horror, if that helps you be less nervous. The game has a mechanic where being exposed to the truths of the universe has a chance of driving your characters insane– if they manage to understand what they’re faced with. If they don’t understand it, that saves their sanity.

    7. Jackalope*

      We just finished, and I can report that it went fairly well. No one died OR went insane. It was a bit of an easy mode adventure because we were all newbies, but we managed to win (or at least get to a point where the GM decided we could call it a win and go to bed). My character actually missed a number of the early sanity checks because she grabbed a dance partner and went out on the dance floor and missed the action her teammates got into.

  15. DunnoWhatToDo*

    Any advice on how to stop feeling like I “failed” at life?

    Sorry, this might just be a rant. I turned 36 a few weeks ago. Still single with no kids or pets. Probably will continue to stay single for a long time.

    Lately, I find myself comparing my life a lot with others (mostly friends). I know social media doesn’t portray everything but I can’t stop looking at it. Recently, a close friend of mine that I’ve known for 20+ years got promoted as an executive in their company. Their social media has been a constant flood of positive, “inspirational” messages like, “hard work pays off” or “sometimes sacrifices must be made”, etc.

    Just to note, I am happy for them and I’m sure they worked really hard for it.

    But then I start looking at myself and feel…sort of defeated. What am I doing? What have I not been doing? I am a cashier now and not saying cashier work is bad but here I am in a job that anyone can do while my friend is at a point where they will see even more success. We’re both the same age. We both started working around the same time. We both graduated with a liberal arts degree. Where did we split ways? Why couldn’t I follow the same route as my friend? If I want to change, where do I start? Is it too late?

    It’s not just about this friend. Earlier, I saw a post made by a friend currently enjoying their two week vacation in Europe. Whereas I haven’t had a vacation in maybe 15 years since I just can’t afford it. I feel embarrassed whenever I run into a friend or former classmate and all I can say is “I work as a cashier” when we talk about our lives. It’s even more embarrassing when someone asked whether I’m at least in a managerial role. Nope. I’m just a regular employee.

    I know I shouldn’t compare. I know that every decision that I have made for myself is what got me here and I want to say I don’t regret it. But sometimes I feel like I “failed” at life miserably and wish things would have been different.

    1. Bluebell*

      Years ago, someone told me “everyone is happy on Facebook.” It’s a pretty good general rule for all social media, especially for those out of the teen years. Most folks don’t post boring days, setbacks, frustrations, etc. For every “woo hoo I’m loving vacation “ post, there are many days where people aren’t posting “work is annoying today.” I hope things get better for you, and maybe consider a social media fast for a certain number of weeks, and see how you feel.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – the phrase I’ve heard is “don’t compare everyone else’s highlight video to your own blooper reel.”

      2. allathian*

        It’s not too late to change, but you will need to work at it. How do you define success? What do you want out of life?
        Maybe a sosial media fast might help?

      3. Person from the Resume*

        An an example, pretty much all my bike rides get posted on FB and people are convinced I’m always riding my bike whereas I actually play softball and go to CrossFit much more often than biking but neither of these are conducive to photos so they don’t get posted, and people who know me mostly FB think I’m riding all the time.

        You know all the bad in your life, but I bet you’re not posting on FB. Similarly most people are not posting the bad on their FB so you’re only seeing the good, fun stuff, the stuff that makes pretty photos.

    2. ELS*

      Honestly speaking, you might want to consider therapy. I know therapy is hard for a lot of people for a lot reasons, but if it’s something that is feasible for you, just talking through this stuff with a licensed professional might really help change your mindset.

      Also, I used to be a huge Twitter and Instagram person. I ended up deleting social media a few years ago, and it transformed my life. I no longer know who from high school had a baby and who’s a stepmom and which of my friends were at a concert the night they told me they were sick – seriously, there’s something to ignorance is bliss. Just not knowing helped me focus more on myself and care more about myself, and that made a lot of difference in my own happiness with who I am. Of course, I still compare myself with others too, and that’s something I’m trying to work on, but the social media fueled it in a way I couldn’t manage.

      Finally, I wonder what it looks like when you envision yourself as a “success?” Is it something abstract, like “more money” or “better job?” Does it look like the path of your friends? If you can really think come to an idea of what success would look like for you – not abstract and not something that a friend has gone through, but a vision of what matches your skills, your abilities, your talents, and your desires…well, maybe you could come up with a to-do list of actions that you can go through to get yourself there. Maybe take a few classes, or apply for a different job, or join a club, or volunteer, etc. Sometimes just working towards something can help negate the feeling of helplessness – like when you talk to someone, you can say “I’m volunteering at an animal shelter on the weekends and after work” rather than “I’m a cashier.”

      For what it’s worth – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a job as a cashier! I truly believe that our worth and value is not defined by the jobs we do.

      I hope this helps a little, but like I said, if therapy is an option, I think that would be the best way to go.

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      Every decision you made got you here–what are your values? What led you to those decisions? I wonder if it will help you to really think about the things that matter most to you and look at your life in that context.

      And think about if you DO want to change, where would you want to go? What could a first step look like? Lots of careers can begin a little later in life, if you know where you want to go and why you want to go there and you can make a good plan how to get there.

      1. Solidarity*

        Right! Rather than fighting yourself and feeling bad about feeling bad, OP, I wonder if these thoughts are a sign that you want to dig deep and decide what’s important to you in the next stage of your life. I went through a similar phase, and instead of ignoring it, I ended up moving to a new city that I thought would suit me better. Other friends have shifted the direction of their career, gone back to online dating, or gotten a pet as a result of the “quarter life crisis.” It’s not a bad thing to take time to step back and reevaluate what you’re doing and why!

    4. Not A Manager*

      Can you try to untangle what you want for yourself and miss in your life, from the benchmarks you’re setting based on your Facebook feed? I do think a social media fast might be helpful, but maybe also some way of calibrating your own contents and desires. This could be journaling, or online quizzes, or self-help books. I don’t think the medium matters, so long as you find a way to tap into your own genuine feelings.

      Once you’re a bit more clear on what you want for yourself as opposed to what other people are curating on their pages, you can make a big plan if you want but you can also take baby steps. If you want a pet, why don’t you have a pet? (There might be some insurmountable reason, but otherwise, there are some fun, low-maintenance pets available.) Or maybe you want to be more intentional about inviting a friend over at least once a week, or whatever.

      If you do decide to make big changes, I don’t think 36 is too old for that. Make a five-year plan, and start taking the steps now toward your goals, even if they are small steps. Do you want to be a manager at your store, or are you happy in your role? Have you spoken to your bosses about a path to promotion?

      As an aside, I think the “inspirational” stuff your friend is posting sounds asinine and self-congratulatory.

      1. Solidarity*

        This. I sometimes feel weird about not being married or having kids, but to be honest, I don’t actually want and never have wanted those things, I just want, like, the approval of society and the sense of checking off boxes. Meanwhile home ownership was something I genuinely wanted for myself, so I pursued that, while I see friends who feel the way about buying a house that I do about kids – they feel they “should” want it, but in reality they’re not that excited about it. Social media is just misleading you here.

        1. Girasol*

          Society insists on marriage and kids, painting all marriages as supportive and loving and all kids as adorable and brag-worthy. So many women who achieve the wife and mother goals end up divorced and wishing they never had kids. Sounds like you’re only failing at reaching someone else’s goal that’s often just a fantasy anyway. It takes guts to chart your own course. Sounds like you’ve been quite successful that way.

        2. tessa*

          I’ve never been married and don’t have children, and couldn’t be happier. It’s just who I am. Plus, I know so many people who have checked those boxes but walk around in a “What now?” daze, it seems, and I wonder if they’d have been happier just married, or just kids, or neither.

          Maybe it’s a self-confidence thing. I used to be a doormat, and grew out of it, fortunately. I credit my college education. It feels so good to do what makes me happy, especially because it doesn’t hurt anyone else unless they allow it to. I have enough money to live on and save, and have learned to just hitch a ride to conversation, or stop and study insects on a bush, etc.

          Do what makes you happy and go from there; let the chips fall where they may, day by day if that’s what it takes.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          I’m am so grateful I don’t have kids. I assumed I would because “everyone” gets married and has kids. I ended up married without kids and I have no regrets because I’ve realized I don’t actually want children. Zero regrets!

          DunnoWhatToDo should be introspective about what she wants and figure out what’s important to her and figure out if it makes sense to go for it. Or if it makes sense to make peace with not achieving that goal thus choosing another one.

          36 is still young for many things except having biological kids. There’s still years of life to do other things.

    5. matcha123*

      I’m a few years older than you and I get what you mean, aside from the kid stuff. For me, having kids would constitute the ultimate failure on my part because I’d be caving to societal expectations rather than living a life for myself. But, I digress.

      I am very much behind a lot, most, of my friends because my 20s were spent taking any job to financially support my family. Unlike my peers who were supported by their family network.
      I have to remind myself that I can’t compare my life to theirs because they were raised with things I wasn’t. I had to make decisions that made sense for me at that time.

      Does being super successful boss lady sound appealing? Somewhat. But do I have the type of personality to make that happen? No. Do I want to be that type of person? Not really.

      After some 15 years of meh jobs including a few where I experienced harassment and bullying by coworkers and managers, I finally landed a job where I’m allowed to be human and dust off skills that have gone rusty, and AND people treat me like I am a competent person.

      Really, if you want something, it should be for you and not for Facebook.

      1. Solidarity*

        Right! I do not want to be a boss, nor do I think I’d be particularly good at it. This took me a long time to realize because that’s what we’re all supposed to be working for, getting promoted and being in charge. I want more money but I don’t want to have to make work my life. These were values that I had to come around to.

    6. TeaFiend*

      First of all: very relatable OP. You’re definitely not alone there.
      Keep in mind, if the average retirement age is over 60, you have at least a good 24 years ahead of you! That is definitely enough time to change things/try something new/build a different career, if that’s what you want to do. You have the added benefit of being single and kid-free; the world is your oyster!
      I’d suggest looking into some self-help content to get you boosted and inspired.

      Disgusting and very rude of people to ask if you’re at least in management. Says a lot about them.

      Comparison is the absolute death of joy and there are a billion ways to live a valuable life. Life isn’t something you can ‘fail’ anyway. It’s just living. We all die anyway.

    7. TeaFiend*

      First of all: very relatable OP. You’re definitely not alone there.
      Keep in mind, if the average retirement age is over 60, you have at least a good 24 years ahead of you! That is definitely enough time to change things/try something new/build a different career, if that’s what you want to do. You have the added benefit of being single and kid-free; the world is your oyster!
      I’d suggest looking into some self-help content to get you boosted and inspired.

      Disgusting and very rude of people to ask if you’re at least in management. Says a lot about them.

      Finally, comparison is the absolute death of joy and there are a billion ways to live a valuable life. Life isn’t something you can ‘fail’ anyway. It’s just living. We all die anyway.

    8. JSPA*

      a) time your time spent on social media per day


      b) set aside two days a week where the time that would otherwise go into the internet, goes into some sort of a certification… looking at other job options… considering what sort of side hustle you’d do, if you had a side-hustle?

      If you also watch media, do the same with that. But also devote two of those hours to getting outside and doing something that makes you feel physically active and mentally engaged.

      Maybe it is only 4 hours a week; that’s still something. Maybe you realize you’ve freed up an entire 16 hours a week, and it’s amazing what you can do with an extra 16 hours.

      Feeling the pull of the web and the box? Sit with the pull, name the pull (as an addictive or compulsive type of reaction), visualize yourself as the rat in the skinner box, then…go outside.

    9. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’m 47 and crashing hard in similar ways, trying to figure out what I want my life to be like & how I feel about where I am now. I think it’s good (if painful) to do this kind of big audit while there’s still time to reset your course if you want to – and you got there 10 years before me!

      Everyone has lots of good advice, especially about separating out the self-reflection piece from the comparison piece (though that’s hard to do). I’d add that for me, giving myself permission to grieve the lives I won’t get to lead has been really important (though also hard and painful). And I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs & listening to podcasts about “ordinary” people figuring their lives out, which is better company than Facebook perhaps.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        That line about grieving the lives you didn’t lead is so true. I’m 42 and feel similarly sometimes, but I reflect on the growth I’ve done that can’t be measured or shown externally.

      2. No Longer Looking*

        I was 45 when I decided to go back to school for my Accounting Bachelors (I had an associates that transferred, and I had a few years of A/R Clerk experience). I was 47 when I finished my degree, and a month older when I was laid off, and 48 when I became an accountant with a much nicer salary and my own office. It’s only too late if you let it be.

    10. NeonFireworks*

      Ugh, the people who most believe in a meritocracy are almost always the people who have benefited from an utterly unmeritocratic system. I don’t mean that your executive friend doesn’t deserve success – just that people who have a lot of privilege and no clue about inequality come up with that useless motivational speaker talk so easily.

      I am the same age as you and someone others see as a runaway success (I work ina competitive field – think AI and audio production – and have climbed the ladder with terrifying speed). I’ve had a lot of privilege and a lot of luck. Enough of my opportunities have been chance/flukes/unplanned good timing on my part that I know there are 6,294,028 parallel universes where I made all the best choices for me and didn’t progress in my career at all. Even my entry point kind of involved the stars aligning.

      I also work much too hard and do not take enough time off. I don’t have much of a choice if I want to retain my position and my reputation. If I cut back, I become so much less visible that I fall off everyone else’s radar. Free evenings, concerts, pastimes, volunteering, getting lunch with friends, long walks in the park – those are for normal people, and have been for my entire life. Very occasionally I’ve wondered whether I might be happier overall if I walked away and got a normal people job, because the spare time is something that I haven’t had in many years. Here I am awake before seven in the morning on a Saturday almost ready to deal with the leftover work from Friday night, by which I mean Friday at 10:30 PM. Anyway, I feel for you and I know that my life looks flashy and impressive on paper, but I think the thing I’d want aforementioned supposedly normal people to know os that while I theoretically enjoy the work, and am grateful for all my opportunities, most of the people who didn’t get these chances did not do anything wrong…and I’m not sure this was a super straightforward path to living my best life, either.

      1. Susie*

        “the people who most believe in a meritocracy are almost always the people who have benefited from an utterly unmeritocratic system.”


    11. allathian*

      It’s not too late to change, but you will need to work at it. How do you define success? What do you want out of life?
      Maybe a sosial media fast might help?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I was thinking a parallel thought. Where’s your life plan? Given your givens, what do you think is doable over the next 5-10 years? What steps can you take now to start to make these doable things happen???

        Use their success to push your own self forward. Right now you are beating yourself down. Go a different way. Picture yourself 10 years out, what remarkable thing would you like to be telling others about your life?

        1. Solidarity*

          Right, or, if you never make any changes, it’s reasonable to think in 5 years you’re going to be around the same place you are now. How do you feel about that OP? Not how should you feel, but what is your own literal gut reaction to that? If it’s good – great! Get off social media. But if there’s something you don’t like in that picture, dig down into which pieces you’d feel are missing, and what you can change now to shift those things.

    12. Squidhead*

      “I know that every decision that I have made for myself is what got me here and I want to say I don’t regret it.”

      Look, it’s okay to have regrets. It’s okay to say “I made X choice for reasons that were important to me at the time, but I wish I had made a different choice.” You don’t have to sunshine ret-con your life. But if you do have regrets, it’s worth figuring out (maybe with a therapist):
      -why you made a choice then, to avoid the same trap in the future (I made this choice because I was afraid of failing. I made this choice because that guy was really cute but a total dope. I made this choice because I opened my mail really late and had missed the deadline.)
      -what you think you’re missing now (I would have a better career if…I would have already had a pet if…)
      -what you want to try to do about it (Maybe I can apply for the next semester…I can volunteer at the cat shelter…Pick up some extra shifts this winter and then take a mini-vacation in the spring).

      I don’t think it’s productive to just self-flagellate over regrets, but you don’t have to pretend they don’t exist if they do.

    13. Sorry*

      I had a college friend whose response to complaints was “at least you aren’t in debt”. You never know what is going on in the background.

      1. Solidarity*

        Ooh great point! Sometimes I feel like married people with kids have it sooooo much easier than me because they have two incomes, and here I am struggling with my small salary on my own – but the reality when I really talk to my friends is that they are often in huge debt that I’m not factoring in. Childcare, mortgage, two student loans, credit card bills out the wazoo, and a lot of them are doing private school and trying to save for college. Nobody knows what anybody else is going through.

    14. TheraputicSarcasm*

      Same here. I got an advanced degree a few years ago and haven’t done anything with it because one fairly major roadblock sent me into a really deep depression. Now I have the same questions you do: how to get back on track, how to explain not ‘being someone’ by now. I was going to write in to Allison, but the thread last week convinced me that’s a horrible idea.

    15. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry that you feel defeated. I think that social media can be really good at making us feel bad. i got kicked off Twitter a few months ago for calling a certain political critter a bimbo and it’s been a real silver lining! Maybe take a little break and treat yourself well? Maybe some therapy?

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

      Are you a good, kind person? Then you are absolutely NOT a failure at life, regardless of your material and social circumstances.

      Maybe you’re just a late bloomer career-wise? I didn’t even get my first full-time job with benefits until I was a little older than you are, so I spent a lot of my 20s and early 30s feeling like a big old failure on that front until things picked up as I got older.

      You never know what is around the corner for you. Maybe if there is something you’ve always been curious about doing, you could take a step or two in that direction and see what happens?

      If nothing else, see if you can keep saving for the future while you work as a cashier — putting a little money every paycheck towards a 401K if one is offered to you or towards a Roth IRA you can set up at your local credit union or bank can help you build a retirement nest egg that will take care of you later in life. You don’t have to start with a lot of money each paycheck — just start.

      I really feel for you on the no partner, no kids, no pets situation — same boat, and I am a lot older than you are. I am more accepting of that situation now. Since there isn’t much of a defined role in life for me, I’m now trying to see my role in life as being a fairy godmother, doing little good things for people having a hard time. There are a lot of people out there who could use a kind word when they’re down, some food or a phone call when they’re sick, a graduation present that their absent parent won’t get them, etc. I know it’s not the same as having a partner and kids, but maybe you can be a fairy godparent too and pour some of that love you have in you into bringing a little joy and care into other people’s lives?

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I got my first not temporary job when I was 35. Until then I worked a number of temp or temporary for me retail and call center jobs. Nothing wrong with those, and all of my FT jobs at least paid a living wage, but they weren’t what I went to college for.

        I felt like a failure for much of my 20s and early 30s. The failure of my first serious relationship sent me into a depression that meant that I took 8 years to graduate from college with a master’s degree (tuition is free here up to that level, and I got accepted directly into the master program, never got a bachelor’s degree). When I finally graduated I was perpetually single and working odd jobs while my friends were starting their careers, earning decent money, coupling up, and having kids.

        I’m content now because I’m living the life I always wanted. I met my husband when I was 33, now I’m happily married and we have a teenager. I have a good job that I enjoy, and together with my husband, we can pay for all the essentials and some of the luxuries that make life more enjoyable, and we’re also saving for retirement.

        You still have lots of time to build the life you want for yourself, once you know what that is. Some of it is a matter of luck, like finding the right partner, but there are things you can do to make the lucky breaks more likely.

        But the most important thing is to figure out what *you* want. Are you failing to meet your own expectations or someone else’s?

    17. marvin the paranoid android*

      It might be helpful to try to examine your own feelings a bit more closely. If you’re feeling defeated, that may be a sign that you need to work toward some kind of change, but comparing yourself to others might not tell you much about what you actually want. Chasing other people’s approval also isn’t likely to be fulfilling in the long term. It can actually be really freeing to learn to trust yourself enough that you’re comfortable making decisions that you know most people wouldn’t make or approve of.

      1. HoundMom*

        Lots of good stuff here…just two thoughts. Cashiers are part of daily interactions with many people. COVID lockdown showed how much value there is to those interactions and how big of a loss it was. You have the power to touch many peoples’ lives positively.

        Second thought.. you will find many liberal arts majors in careers that are not taught at college. For me I landed in health care insurance. Licensing is pretty easy to get and brokerages and carriers are open to mid career people.

    18. DunnoWhatToDo*

      OP here. Wasn’t sure how to edit my original post so will be posting my reply here.

      Thank you all for your helpful replies. They were all insightful and encouraging, that I can’t stay in this “defeated” attitude if I want to feel better. I’ll definite have to give a long thought on what I really want for my future, defining what my values are or what I consider a success. For me, I am staying in this cashier job because, while the pay could definitely be better, I am relieved from any work stress once I clock out. I don’t have to worry about bring work home or doing overtime. Once I am done with my shift, then I am free to do what I want. I guess that’s what I value, a really good work life balance for my mental health.

      Therapy may not be an immediate option but something I will look into for the future. As others have mentioned, social media fasting is something that I can start working on first.

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

        Ooh, since you mentioned wanting a job where you can really clock out and not worry about work . . . . Do you think you might enjoy being a librarian or something like that? I had a stint of working as a reference librarian, and I LOOOOOOVED IT! I was busy all day helping people, but then when I was off the clock, I was truly off the clock. The most I ever thought about work off the clock was occasionally wondering, “Hmmm, I wonder if that book could be there? I’ll check tomorrow.” There were very few long-term projects I had to deal with — it was more short bursts of interesting work all day.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Glad to hear. Many people are probably rooting for you and if not you’re rooting for yourself

    19. HannahS*

      I haven’t read the other comments, so sorry if I’m repeating anything.

      It sounds like the issue here is not that you’re comparing yourself with others, but that your life isn’t what you thought it would be. If that’s the case, your problem isn’t jealousy. It’s grief.

      Having regrets is a normal part of life; having regrets doesn’t mean you failed. You can mourn the life you thought you’d have AND engage in problem-solving to identify what life you want and how to achieve what you want.

    20. Irish Teacher*

      I’m only a couple of years older than you, but “when I was your age” (which yeah, sounds like I’m an old lady, but I literally mean when I was 36 and a couple of weeks), I still hadn’t achieved a “permanent and pensionable job,” I was subbing which basically meant constantly applying for jobs and sometimes being unemployed if no school was looking for a sub. I am also single and childless, though that is largely by choice.

      Then about 10 days before my 37th birthday, two things happened in quick succession. My sister informed us she was pregnant and two days after that, I was offered a job that was originally supposed to be three weeks covering for a teacher doing a course but with the chance of hours for the rest of the year if things worked out. Well, they did work out and then the following July, I got a surprise phonecall, saying there were hours for the following year and then a year or two later, the SENCO left to take a job as deputy principal elsewhere, leaving an opening in the learning support department..

      My point is that 36 is young. You have most of your life ahead of you. There is plenty of time to make whatever changes to your life that you want.

      And luck plays a huge part in things. I am doing really nothing different now when I have colleagues complimenting my teaching and adamant they need to keep me than I was when I was only getting short-term substitution. The only difference is luck.

      You haven’t failed at life. Heck, some of those who seem to have so much more success in life may well have far bigger problems than you know about. The person with the seemingly perfect marriage could be cheating or have a cheating partner or worst case scenario, be being abused. The person in the glamourous job might hate it or might have a bullying boss. You just don’t know.

      What do YOU want from life? Do you want a partner? Do you want kids? Do you want to change jobs?

    21. SofiaDeo*

      I think people who are self aware, will occasionally look at their life and decisions and think about what might have gone differently. Social media IMO makes us question some of our life choices even more, if we’re not currently in a great place, because as others have noted, it’s mostly the successes and other positive appearing facades that others want us to see. It’s never too late to change your life. Remember, Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 78. And as far as your current job…I have worked as a cashier, and IMO it’s not something that “anyone can do” well. With inflation concerns, too, I can see why you might want a better paid position, though. Perhaps look into some aptitude testing, to see where your strengths lie, and what careers associated with those strengths might be. And remember, very few of us have a life without “downsides”. I am sorry to hear you are going through one now, and hope it passes soon.

  16. Overwhelmed with Receipts*

    What do you do with printed receipts from stores? Keep, file, toss, shred? I’m overwhelmed with boxes of them because I always think I should go something with them, but I never do, and now they’re just unsightly piles.

    1. Maggie*

      Throw them away unless they’re got a big ticket item with a return policy. What would you possibly do with them? Not to be rude but just throw them away

      1. Solidarity*

        Swear to God, my mother takes her (printed) credit card statement every month, cross-references it to all her neatly saved receipts, then bundles them up and files them in her filing cabinet. She claims she’s found discrepancies before and trained me to do this too, which I did faithfully for like one month in college before I realized I didn’t care enough and now I throw all my receipts away and barely check my credit card statement unless the balance seems hinky (so, not good either).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Mad respect to your mom. Anyone who can do this has my blessing to save all their receipts.

      2. NACSACJACK*

        This is where I miss having Quicken on an iMac. This is when I miss having an iMac. When Quicken worked on a iMac many years ago, I tried to enter all my receipts. (Note this was in the days prior to social media and streaming services. I’ve kept them hoping to find a program like Quicken for a PC, but not Quicken since a PC can be so easily hacked. Nope, never found a like program. And now Quicken once again works on a iMac.

        For those that don’t know, many years ago, Apple switched off AMD chips (IIRC) and Inuit only promised support for 2 years, then they went through an upgrade and no longer supported Quicken. Just stopped working. Now I see Quicken is a web product. I am not handing my personal financial info to someone else’s server.

    2. anon24*

      I have a receipt box that I put them all in along with paper copies of bills, and then at the end of the year (usually around the time I do my taxes) I sort through them all, keep any for large purchases such as expensive electronics, anything with a warranty, or anything related to doctors appointments/important healthcare and toss the rest. The few ones I want to keep I move to a filing folder where they are sorted by year.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I keep them until I see the transaction on credit card/bank statement then throw them out, except for big ticket items (where I normally staple the receipt to the instruction book and keep it in my instructions file) and a small number of receipts that are potentially relevant for my tax return which I keep until the return is done just in case they are needed. (They never are, but still!)

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yes to stapling the warranty entitlement into the manual!
        Now, I scan receipts that I may need (for warranty or taxes) and toss/shred them. I do my best to go paperless; I also download the PDF manuals right after purchase. If they are not avalable online, it’s usually a tiny oirce of paper with even tinier script so I have to scan it anyway to read it (my eyes don’t come with built-in microscopes!)

    4. Cheerios*

      I keep all receipts in a folder in my desk and clean out the folder a few times a year (I throw out any receipts for things that I’ve already made a credit card payment for and that I definitely won’t be returning).

    5. Chapeau*

      Are they still legible? I bought something for that place we don’t discuss a couple of weeks ago and just realized yesterday that the receipt is fading quickly. No, it’s not in my car or similar, it’s just cheap ink on cheap paper.
      And I had someone recently who had to prove they had paid sales tax on something they bought several years ago. They had stapled the receipt to the manual and the certificate of origin, and you can only read 2 of the 4 numbers in the sales tax amount. The state is treating the sales tax paid as the 2 visible numbers. (I think the math says the tax was 16.74. You can read 1x.x4, so the state says they owe 16.60 because they only paid 14 cents.)
      The IRS accepts pdfs of receipts now, so I scan immediately if I might need it and pitch the ones from the groceries, etc. A gas station I have a loyalty card for now emails the receipt, which I dump into a folder and compare to credit card bill, then delete monthly.

    6. Retired Accountant*

      They rarely make it out if the store. I can’t think of a time that I’ve wished I had a receipt that I had thrown away.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I love that I can choose no receipt with relative ease these days. For something big like a tv, I’ll get the receipt and attach it to the instructions manual.

      2. Solidarity*

        My only exception is that I freelance so I am supposed to have receipts for taxes, and sometimes I can’t find one and it drives me nuts. But my understanding is that most people don’t itemize.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I just save the big ticket items or the items that I am not sure they will work out and I might return within the month.

      For the big ticket items, I copy the receipt because that shiny paper fades.

      Usually I put the receipt with the owner’s information. This avoids that daunting pile of receipts.

      Food, gas and other weekly consumables I discard those receipts. If the place has a members card they have a record of my transaction because of my store card. (This is where they offer reward points.)

      For monthly bills I save fuel, cable, electric bills for one year then I chuck them. Do remember to keep something with your account number, though.

      I keep a small file in my kitchen, where I can put receipts that I only want to keep for a few months. And I clean that file out several times a year. It’s not a big deal because there’s not much in there. For example, I’d save a receipt for a gallon of paint. But once i use the paint, the receipt can go.

      In thinking about this, you mind find an inroad by asking yourself, “how often have I needed receipts for this item?”. This is what enabled me to toss my electric bill and other stuff.

      If you aren’t holding the receipts next to your credit card statement then you really, really don’t need them. You aren’t looking at them as a normal practice.

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      Unless it’s for a big ticket item or something I think I might need to return or exchange, I automatically toss. I can’t remember the last time I needed a paper receipt for something and didn’t have it.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      It took me a long time to convince Mr T to toss what I called his Leaning Tower of Visa receipts. I keep mine until I get the credit card bill. Once I have paid the bill, I toss the receipt, with the exception that I keep receipts for anything big I might need to return or repair, like a furnace. So – almost nothing, as most furnaces come with invoices that get filed in the “home repair” folder anyhow.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I keep receipts only until the window has closed to act on them, or until I have an electronic record of the transaction: Grocery receipts – a few days, to be sure that (a) all of my items made it into the bag and (b) nothing is spoiled. Store receipts – until I’m past the return window, unless I also have an emailed receipt. Return receipts – until I’m sure the credit has posted. Mailing receipts – until I’m sure the item has fully entered the system (usually I or the recipient will get an email notification).

      The only exception is important financial transactions. I’ll keep those records forever, even if I also have electronic confirmation.

    11. Generic Name*

      I normally keep them in my wallet for a few weeks and then toss them when it’s too overstuffed. If it’s for a big ticket item, like an appliance, I keep those in a file folder in a file drawer. If it’s a clothing item, I’ll try to remember to keep the receipt until I’ve worn the item and know I won’t want to return it.

    12. blue giraffe*

      I keep, until I can no longer return the item (or claim it for waranty) and it gets checked off the credit card bill, if I used a credit card. If I used debit/cash: keep till I can no longer return, then throw the receipt out.

    13. Girasol*

      Toss any that are for stuff I’m very unlikely to take back, like gas or groceries. Throw the slip on the counter for something that needs a check, like the new electric blanket. When I see that it works, toss the slip. For the few things with short warranties, magnet the slips to the fridge side until they’re out of date. If the stack gets so deep that the magnet falls off, it needs to be checked for ones no longer needed. For an appliance with a years-long warranty, clip it to its owners manual and put it in the house-and-appliances document box. When I’m looking for something in that box and see the packet for the fridge or the mower that’s long gone, toss it out. I’m trying not to emulate my grandfolks who had check stubs and mortgage slips saved from before my parents were born.

    14. the cat's ass*

      I have a decorative box near my entryway, and they go in there with annotations if i can get to it. I riffle through the box about once a month and toss most of them but keep the relevant ones for my taxes.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      I save them in a pile for a month or two and then toss. That’s long enough for me to know if I’m going to return anything and thereby need a receipt.

      Basically when the pile gets tall I toss them.

    16. Courageous cat*

      If you’re not ever using them, why bother to keep them? Definitely throw them away. Unless it’s for something you think you might return, just toss it when you leave the store.

    17. grocery store pootler*

      I have a couple of comb-bound books I picked up somewhere which have pockets for every month of the year (they were sold as monthly bill organizers). Assorted receipts that don’t have any other home go in there once a month, into the pocket of the month of the purchase. Every January I discard all the receipts in the older book and relabel it for the new year. I wouldn’t say that I refer to them often or anything, but it has sometimes been handy to be able to easily put my hands on a receipt from the last year or so. I have never wished that I kept them longer; for piddly daily-purchase receipts this year and last year seems to be plenty. Quite possibly more than needed, but it works for me.

      1. BookMom*

        I have two such files, for odd and even years. On a snow day in January I’ll clean out the previous year’s file. It doesn’t feel like such a never ending task if I do a big clean out once a year.

    18. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I throw out paper receipts except for very expensive items and car repairs. My important paperwork is in a hanging file basket, and I keep a folder for important manuals and receipts ( computer equipment, certain furniture, jewelry), and another for car receipts (repairs and inspections,insurance is its own thing).

      My mom keeps all paper receipts, in date order, and compares them to her credit card statements when she balances her checkbook. She has each month’s receipts in its own envelope and keeps them for 1 year. When she deals with this month’s stuff, she adds that envelope to the file and throws out the oldest one.

      My brother discards all paper receipts, but all important purchases are made online so he gets e-receipts in his email.

      Unless you would actually benefit from keeping paper receipts as records, you’re probably better off discarding them. If you have boxes and piles of them, they’re not going to help you AND they’re cluttering your house. It sounds like you’re free to let go of the guilt, and the paper! You can burn them if you have a firepit, put them in the paper/newsprint recycling if it’s available in your area, or simply throw them out, there really isn’t any personal information to worry about on them.

    19. Overwhelmed with Receipts*

      Thanks to everyone for your kind and helpful responses to this overthinker. Have begun the discarding process already and am looking forward to reclaiming this space in my house.

  17. Biff Chippington*

    I recently moved to a new city and rented a house- and I absolutely hate it. The house itself is fine, but there are off leash dogs in the neighborhood, making me really uncomfortable to walk mine. One neighbor has yappy dogs and late night parties. I am seriously thinking about breaking my lease, because two of my favorite activities- walking my dog and sleeping- are really hard to do here. Has anyone broken a lease for “superficial” reasons, and how did it turn out?

    1. germank106*

      I lived in a very nice Apartment, great neighborhood, short commute. Everything was perfect except my upstairs neighbor. They had two very young children and their schedule was so very different from mine. I was working two jobs at the time and seldom got more than four hours of sleep. With all the stomping, screaming and toddlers trying to learn how to walk at around midnight, I got even less than that. I did drop a bug into the landlords ear a few times, but nothing ever changed. I broke my lease about halfway through. The landlord didn’t want to return my deposit and wanted me to pay out my remaining lease. I confronted him with the times I had complained and that there was a clause in my lease about quiet time being between 10pm and 6am. Something the upstairs neighbors clearly violated. I told him to take me to court. About a month later I received a check for the amount of my deposit and I never heard a thing about the remaining lease.

    2. Not A Manager*

      From what you’ve described, it might be hard to get out of your financial obligations. The behavior of the neighbors isn’t within the control of your landlord and doesn’t sound outside of the norms of city living.

      I believe the general rule if you break the lease without a good cause is that you are responsible for the full rent during your rental period *unless* the landlord is able to find a new tenant during that time. The landlord has an obligation to try to find someone, but of course it’s tricky to prove that they didn’t. Many jurisdictions have replaced this general rule with standard liquidated damages – where I am it’s 3 months rent. I believe that this is owed even if the landlord does rent the property immediately.

      So legally you might be on the hook for up to the full remainder of your lease. Practically, though, you have some options. I’d start by being the obnoxious tenant. Complain repeatedly (but politely – don’t be the rude aggressive tenant) about every quasi-legit defect in the house itself. Also, if any representations were made to you about the neighborhood being quiet or dog-friendly, really lean into how that’s not true.

      When you do break your lease, don’t be obnoxious. Politely explain that you simply can’t live in the house with its minor defects. Some landlords, especially in a hot rental market, will be happy to see the back of you. Be prepared not to get any deposits back, but they might let you walk away from future rent. Other landlords will be more aggressive. I’d be prepared to negotiate and offer concessions – see if you can get away with a few month’s rent but not the rest of the lease term, etc. Your biggest negotiating strength is that it’s a huge pain for the landlord to sue you and recover the rent due, so if your more gentle negotiating isn’t going anywhere, tell him to take the offer or he’ll have to sue you.

      The flip side of all this is that you might get a serious ding on your credit score, and you might have trouble establishing yourself as a good tenant in future rental applications. The other flip side, to be honest, is that your complaints aren’t a very strong reason to break a lease. This is a contract that you signed, and if certain things about the neighborhood were important to you, it was up to you to do some inquiring about them. They aren’t your landlord’s responsibility. So if it matters to you not to be someone who quibbles about technicalities to get something you’re not really entitled to, you might want to find ways to walk your dog elsewhere or make sleeping easier where you are.

      Another option in-between breaking the lease or putting up with it, would be to talk to your landlord about your unhappiness and tell them that you really would like to move on, you know you’ve signed a lease, and can they work with you. Again, if the rental market is hot they might be fine with that. If they’re not, you’ve made it harder to go with the “complaining tenant” route, but you’re no worse off than if you’d just decided to stick it out anyway.

    3. fposte*

      I haven’t but I support your doing so. But mostly, holy hell you were fast on that username! Biff just came into existence on Thursday!

        1. fposte*

          It was a reference to Thursday’s Taskmaster episode. Comedians made a short funny video that was ostensibly opening TV episode credits, and one character in it was named Biff Chippington, played by the fictional actor Chip Biffington.

      1. PX*

        Ahaha I just watched the episode yesterday then came back today and was like, wait. I know that name! :’D

    4. kina lillet*

      I’ve broken a lease because when I got into the apartment, it was in significantly worse repair than I had thought. It was just a junky apartment but had seemed much better when there was furniture etc in it. Had to pay rent for about four more months until a new tenant came in.

      Then broke a lease because I bought a condo and moved out. Had to pay an additional half-month’s rent–much better apartment and much tighter rental market.

      It’s possible–if you’re polite and you understand that you’ll be paying some money, the landlords might not try to screw you.

    5. Extra anon*

      Years ago we broke our lease. It was pretty bad though. We went about 12 hours (maybe 18? I don’t recall, but it was overnight) without a toilet, the heat stopped working, the mailbox cluster in the lobby broke and we had to go to the post office to get our mail, and apparently they weren’t paying the trash removal (we had two dumpsters for the building) and the trash company was trying to bill the tenants.

      We went to the office, and they had vacated. We couldn’t get ahold of anyone. We had a miserable winter and the just… Left. Took most of our stuff. Probably have a couple old bicycles still well-locked to a pile in the basement. We didn’t get our deposits back, nor our pet deposits, but we didn’t pay any more rent either.

    6. just another queer reader*

      My roommates and I broke our lease when COVID hit. It was definitely the right decision for us, and I haven’t had any negative repercussions; I was able to rent another apartment later.

      I strongly recommend checking your lease to see what it says about breaking the lease. In my city, it’s common to have to give 2 months notice to break the lease (or pay for the next two months, if you’re leaving earlier).

      You can also reach out to a local renter’s legal aid organization for help.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      Why not find out if there are leash laws, and noise restrictions, that might need to be enforced? It’s a pain when neighbors break rules/laws, but if they are there, you have that option. Not saying it’s easy.

      There are laws related to breaking leases, and yours might have a clause about how to go about it. Check out those first. Last rental we were in, you could break it with 3 months rent up front. And FWIW, we got an extremely noisy neighbor, and *they* ended up getting the boot since they repeatedly broke the noise restrictions. Off leash dogs are more of a problem, but maybe carry pepper spray. Once the dogs have been sprayed a few times, they will learn avoid you. The US Postal Service uses it.

  18. The Prettiest Curse*

    Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s mortifying moment? I sometimes think about the time I was minding my own business at the swimming pool (pre-Covid) and was told that the excessive amount of scented products I was wearing was extremely annoying. I informed the guy that not only was I not wearing any scented products, I couldn’t do so even if I wanted to because I have very sensitive skin.

    He was mortified, and we jointly concluded that the likely source of the scent was one of the women attending the aqua aerobics class also taking place in the pool. And the weird thing is that I couldn’t smell anything at all, even though I’m usually quite sensitive to people wearing a lot of perfume. So strange.

    1. PsychNurse*

      That doesn’t sound mortifying to anyone. He asked you to stop wearing so much perfume and you weren’t wearing any? That was a simple misunderstanding.

    2. Morning reader*

      I’m having trouble thinking of one, but it might be that we are more sensitive to our own embarrassment than others’. Most embarrassing moments among friends are ones I’ve been told about later. The period stain, the skirt left tucked into pantyhose when leaving the bathroom, etc. I’m mostly amazed at this story that anyone can smell anything other than chlorine at a pool.
      Oh I thought of one! Out to dinner with a friend and my early adolescent child who insisted she had great “gaydar” and always knew when someone was gay. Friend laughed and told her he was gay. (I knew that but she didn’t as it had never come up.) I think maybe I was more embarrassed than she was, but it was a good teaching moment. She later was active in her college gay/straight alliance group and is still a good ally, I think.

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        As a very gay person, it always amuses me when straight people think they are great at being able to tell whether someone is gay. This is … pretty much never accurate, in my experience. It’s a lot more charming coming from a kid though.

    3. Eff Walsingham*

      I can think of a lot more occasions when I thought, “How is that person NOT mortified??” by the effects of their words / actions in public, and yet they show no signs of being so!

      Agree that many things that are mortifying to the person involved are barely a blip to bystanders. Like skirts tucked up showing their entire panties while waiting for the bus. Does anyone else remember back in the 90s, when lots of women wore short flowy floral dresses, yet did not realize that the addition of a heavy backpack would cause them to ride up while walking? I bet I have told a hundred strangers over the years that I could see their slip, underpants, or bottom due to wardrobe malfunctions. Some don’t care or are surly, but the grateful ones make up for it. I only hope that someone would do the same for me if I was walking around like that.

    4. Solidarity*

      I have a friend who favors a certain neckline on her dresses, and she is chesty, and I have witnessed (more than once!!) her, ya know, boob come out or nipple or whatever. Like, in conversation with a group of people she just met. I. Would. Die. But she just kinda rolls with it and carries on and hasn’t changed her wardrobe so I assume she accepts it as something that happens, like sometimes my bra strap or the edge of my bra is showing.

  19. PX*

    I like to keep abreast of news from across the world, but alas, I only really speak English. Does anyone have any good links or ideally Instagram accounts of local-ish news sources from South America, South East Asia and maybe even Eastern Europe that post in English?

    I’m really looking for something from a more local/regional perspective rather than eg the BBC/CNN local reporter. So for example, I follow/read the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong based) and its really interesting to see how they report on a story compared to (for example) BBC.

    My recommendation in this space is DW (German state broadcaster?). They have an English version app and the style and content of their reporting can be so refreshing!

    1. Bagpuss*

      Al Jazeera English might be worth looking at. It’s Qatari owned so Middle East rather than SE Asia but has worldwide coverage and I think employs a lot of local reporters.

      ChannelNewsAsia is Singapore-based

      EuroNews is another option. I think it’s Portuguese-owned.

      Balkan Insight focuses on (you guessed it!) the Balkans although I think they primarily cover local stories rather than giving a different perspective on international ones.

    2. StellaBella*

      GlobalNews . CA
      VOA web has TV and radio
      The Economist
      DW is great too like you say

    3. Emma2*

      This is not a perspective from a different location, but you may find that Democracy Now provides a different perspective on many news stories. They are an American news organisation that has a daily headlines news show and several daily in-depth stories on weekdays (you can find them on YouTube, and I believe also on certain broadcast channels in the US?).
      I find that they will provide in-depth coverage of stories that others are not focusing on, and also are pretty good about bringing in people with a deep understanding of an issue to talk about it (eg a discussion about the current protests with Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, or a discussion of the Tigray crisis with Ethiopian journalist Tsedale Lemma). Their segments are often a bit longer than what you might see on other news shows (eg 18 minutes on the Tigray crisis) and they have discussions that go beyond the types of soundbites you hear on many larger news shows. Democracy Now has a progressive perspective, and that does come through in a number of their stories.

      1. Sparkle llama*

        I once had a commute timed such that I listened to the news on NPR in one direction and Democracy Now in the other. The difference in coverage on some issues was astonishing.

    4. Virtual Light*

      NHK World does some interesting stories around Asia. NHK also does fair number of English-language shows about Japanese food, culture, and travel. I watch on my PBS station (which actually shows a variety of news shows by non-American broadcasters during the afternoon/ early morning) but it’s all online as well. Great question!

    5. Soosoo*

      For opposition news from Russia, look at Meduza. They have an English version or you can put it through Google translate.
      Also Radio Free Europe
      Al Jazeera

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I have no recommendations but just wanted to say I recently came across DW and they are awesome.

    7. Overbooked*

      Try World-Newspapers.com, free online, or your library might provide access to PressReader, a ProQuest product.

  20. Fish*

    The scented shampoo letter and update earlier this month got me thinking- what’s the worst scent mistake you’ve ever made?

    Last year I bought a hand lotion that was supposed to smell like pumpkin spice. About a day and half after I used it, I noticed that my hands smelled strongly of maple syrup. I could still smell it after repeated hand washings, and I remembered hearing about some genetic disorder that made you smell like maple syrup, so I kind of freaked out and spent the next two days googling “hands smell like maple syrup” and “maple syrup smell disease”. (Turns out that’s Maple Syrup Urine Disease, which shows up in infants so I definitely did not spontaneously develop it as an adult).

    Three days later, hands still smelling like a pancake breakfast, it finally occurs to me that I used a new hand lotion and maybe the smell faded into something weird. I did a little patch test on my arm and sure enough, one the top note of pumpkin spiceish smell wore off, the bottom note was straight maple syrup. The tube went straight in the trash after that!

    1. Invisible fish*

      Well, given how much I like maple syrup … I don’t suppose you recall the brand? (I’m serious. That sounds awesome.)

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        If you want to smell a bit maple-ish, I recommend fenugreek. I’ve used it in homemade hair masks and it leaves a lovely maple scent without being overly strong or cloying like seasonal soaps and lotions often are. If you have an Indian grocer they’ll likely have it in bulk, maybe labeled “methi”.

          1. Russian in Texas*

            Off topic, but Phoenicia is the BEST store, and I absolutely blow my budget every time I go there.

        1. Clisby*

          I took fenugreek when I was breastfeeding, and had heard it would make your skin smell like maple syrup. It smelled nothing like maple syrup to me, but my husband sniffed my arm once and said, “Mmmmm. You smell like an Indian restaurant.”

    2. anon24*

      Jergins makes scented body lotions that I like to use after a shower. I tried the lavender, eucalyptus, citrus, and sandalwood, and loved them all. They also have a rose scented one of the same exact type, and I love rose scented products, so I got one. In the tube? Smells great. On my skin? Smells like urine. I’ve no idea why. I tried it 3 different times and every time I almost got back in the shower because it smelled like I urinated myself. I ended up giving it to my husband to use because he liked it and it smelled fine on him. It was so weird.

      1. allathian*

        All scents change on your skin. There’s something that doesn’t work with your body chemistry. Pine and cedar scents make me smell like pee..

        1. Phryne*

          Jup! For ages I could not find a perfume that worked for me, my skin made them all smell way too sweet somehow. In the end I went for a scent consult at a boutique perfumery and they found me one that worked for me and did not make me smell like a candy store.
          It has some ingredients that are more commonly used for male-oriented scents, like leather, but that seems to work with my skin. Funnily enough, it also has tube-rose in it, a scent I thought I did not like, but I guess it works differently if combined with scents that ground it rather than enhance the sweetness.

    3. Goose*

      There’s also a spice common in Indian foods that makes you smell like maple syrup. I had the same Google adventure until I found that.

    4. Eff Walsingham*

      Any cologne or perfume with citrus notes smells like rot on me.

      There used to be a piece of advice floating around that if you’re a sucker for a particular men’s cologne you should just buy a little bit for yourself. That’s how I learned that my favourite men’s cologne needs a man under it, or at least to be sprayed on something neutral and kept away from my skin! Otherwise I smell like a truckload of rotting grapefruit.

    5. WellRed*

      An acquaintance did one of those online MLM “ fundraisers” for a good friend who’d had an unexpected serious illness. Readers, it was Scentsy and I didn’t really want anything. I bought a car air freshener and some laundry beads. I hung the air freshener in my unsuspecting car and then didn’t use the car for a few days. Until I did. Picture me starting to back carefully out of driveway, coming to a sudden lurching stop and immediately pulling back into parking spot, frantically rolling down the window, flinging out the air freshener, all the while gagging, eyes watering. I tossed the laundry stuff without even opening it. I spent $30 on this sht and the I’ll friend got like $4.

    6. Jackalope*

      Two things, one my story and one not. I knew someone who’d had some peach-scented lotion she’d really liked. She found some more (from a different company, I think) a few years after having gone without for awhile, and was excited. Then she used some and found that this brand out of the bottle just smelled like a bunch of chemicals on her skin.

      I had just started dating my now-husband who has scent allergies and wasn’t used to thinking about buying stuff that wouldn’t make him sick (and we weren’t yet spending enough time together that I couldn’t just use something between dates and have it be okay). I got some body wash that was argan-scented and when I opened it for him to sniff it about knocked both of us over with the heavy handed smell. I ended up giving that bottle to my sis.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I seem to be under an accidental scented product curse this month. I accidentally purchased scented kitchen garbage bags and scented dog scoop bags. (Both boxes marked in small letters, and it just did not occur to me to look because why would you spray perfume on these?)

      I then bought epsom salts. Target was out of my preferred generic (“Epsom salts! Which are just… epsom salts!”) so I chose the pink Himalyan sea salt ones, expecting it to be normal epsom salts but pink. Massive perfume dose. Nothing on the front of the package about it, so it’s not even like they view it as a selling point. The back of the package does mention a “light, pleasing scent” which may be believable if you use a teaspoon at a time, but my 2 cup baths make the whole upstairs smell of artificial rose.

    8. Longtime Lurker*

      The deodorant that had me asking everyone I talked to “are you wearing bug spray? Do you smell bug spray? Why does it smell like bug spray?”, until I figured it was me and my underarms….

  21. WoodswomanWrites*

    It’s time for a thread about birds.

    I saw my first wintering waterbirds of the season, a group of about 20 wigeons. I’m so excited that they’re back. This year I’m psyched to use new tools for birding. I have a spotting scope that’s small and light enough to put in a daypack, and I got a car window adapter thing to attach it to. I need to make time to figure that out. I also got a newish used car that’s taller, so I’ll be able to see more birds in the wetlands and less vegetation in the way.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      It’s spring here & the noisy, repetitive, annoying mating call of the koel is constant! SHUT UP KOELS.

      Other than that the birds are a constant joy – I was in a friend’s back garden today watching the wrens nesting.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Wild turkeys everywhere! I’ve seen turkeys on people’s lawns, and just yesterday had to stop on a busy road to let a flock of them amble across the street.

    3. Girasol*

      At this season all I hear is the questioning “Tweee?” of the goldfinches as they seek seeds from the last of the sunflowers.

    4. NotARacoonKeeper*

      Our bushtits are back for winter, and I couldn’t be happier to see their tiny floofy round bodies, and the way they frenetically fly around in their family groups like 5 year olds chasing a soccer ball. My heart!

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We were walking back to our car yesterday after lunch and saw a redtail hawk. Not surprising, but always fun to watch, so we stood and watching it circling – and then realized there was a bald eagle up a bit higher in the sky. We see bald eagles a couple of times a year and it always makes me deeply happy.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      We’ve had huge migrating flocks of grackles in the yard. Also mixed flocks of juncos, nuthatches and some bird I can’t see that has a super high pitched call like “seeeeeeeeeee”

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      We have two squirrel-proof sunflower seed feeders (hanging off the dogwood outside the dining room, which is by some pines and burning bush) and they have been wildly popular. Apparently I need to buy more birdseed.

    1. germank106*

      Years ago my Company contracted for a medical supply company. I had to go into nursing homes and other care facilities to set up the equipment and provide several days worth of training. On one of those visits a nurse asked me if I had lunch yet. I didn’t and she offered to share hers. It was a delicious (and spicy) gumbo. I complimented her cooking skills and she said her brother had cooked it. Another Nurse jokingly said “hey, we have to set you up with that brother”…..and they did. Twenty five years later we are still happily married. We have survived five children, their spouses, and will welcome grandchild number eleven in December.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband and I just had our fifth anniversary last month. We’d been friends for years before we started dating – I was at his first wedding with my then-fiance, he and his then-wife were invited to my previous wedding but didn’t make it. After I got divorced (mostly because of my being ace), I adopted his dog because they were moving overseas. They ended up splitting and he moved back, I told him he couldn’t have my dog back but he could crash on me and my roomie’s couch for a while until he figured out what his next steps were. He never left, and we joke that he married me to get the dog back. (She passed right before our fourth anniversary last year, so now the joke is, he stays with me because of the other two dogs.) I was not expecting when he proposed; last I knew we were both on team “we don’t need to get married again,” so my first three answers were some variant of “um, are you sure you want to do that?” Heh.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Your story makes me so happy! Each of my dogs has been fantastic. It makes absolute sense to me that mutual love for a dog could be the basis of a happy partnership :)

    3. MissCoco*

      I’m allosexual(ish), but my partner is on the ace spectrum. We just got married last month, so I feel like even as an allosexual I can call that an ace dating success story. We’ve talked about his exact identity, but he doesn’t care to apply a specific ace label to himself, aside from feeling that some flavor of ace describes him, but not always the same one.

      We met though a friend, and he was basically all in from the jump. I worked through a lot of anxieties with my therapist (not that he was throwing up any red flags, it was hard for me to accept someone feeling so confident in me as a relationship partner). Early in our relationship we did have some sexual intimacy, and we’ve always had a lot of non-sexual physical intimacy like snuggling and holding hands. Our relationship has always been a partnership, and that’s what marriage means to us as well.

  22. Ellis Bell*

    Wondering if anyone has ever come across the following customs following a death, as I’m trying to track down their origin before they disappear. I suppose you would call them wakes, but we don’t refer to them as such, it’s just the time between death and the funeral. I grew up in a small town outside a major port. The people in the town were rehoused from the dockland tenements and were pretty much all descended from various cultures as immigrants. Not everyone in the town follows these rituals. I used to think it was just a Catholic thing, but not every Catholic here does this. Then I thought the traditions must originate from Ireland (the majority of the community heritage here) but I don’t think they line up with Irish traditions exactly; we don’t stop clocks and we make sure windows are closed rather than open. First the deceased is washed and dressed (traditionally at home but now undertakers do this elsewhere before bringing them back home). The area where the deceased will be visited is very closed off. This always involves closed and curtained windows and the walls are lined with fabric known as “funeral sheets”. When my grandfather died it was actual sheets used, which had been embroidered with a satin crucifix. For my dad it had moved on to pintucked voile curtains which completely covered all the walls. The ladies who did this (family friends) asked my mother if she wanted the mirror covering with the fabric too. When my mother asked why they said it was just a tradition and superstition. Lights in this area are important – lots of candles or lamps and these cannot go out. The deceased is sat with all day and night, for a few days. Visitors come and go to help with this, so the nearest relatives can rest, and everyone brings food. The rosary is said on the penultimate evening and the coffin leaves for the funeral the next day. The same ladies who dressed the room stay back to make sure the room is undressed and that all the windows are uncurtained and flung open for when the family return.

    1. curly sue*

      The mirror covers, and the community group sitting with the body are traditions found in Judaism – look up ‘chevra kadisha’ for more there. I’m not sure about the rest of it.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        same with having someone sit with the body around the clock between the death and the funeral.

        That said, hanging sheets on the wall, the rosary, having many days between the death and the funeral, lots of people visiting the body, etc., are not.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I had no idea there were so many similarities aside from the covered mirrors – thank you both. Deeply interesting.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      You might really enjoy Caitlin Doughty’s book From Here to Eternity which talks about death customs around the world. The types of traditions you’re talking about sound somewhat Victorian to me (and agree about the Jewish angle). Hope you figure it out!

    3. Formerly in HR*

      In Romanian Orthodox traditions some of these are also present – dead person is cleaned and dressed (by old women), the set for wake in a room where mirrors and windows are covered with black fabric (I think it’s supposed to prevent Death from taking more souls, or make the soul of the dead person not see their reflection and thus linger on Earth), black fabric is draped above all doors and gates (as a sign that the household is in mourning), candles must be always burning until the body is interred, old women or relatives lament loudly about the dead, relatives and neighbours and pretty much anyone can come and pay respects and sit/wake with the dead so they are not alone (stories are told to reminesce), wine/drinks and candy/snacks are served. When the dead leaves the house, a mug is broken when the threshold is passed (I think its shards are supposed to prevent the soul of the dead from re-entering and tormenting the remaining living family). Some old women or relatives are left home when eeveryones leaves for the cemetery and they are supposed to remove the leftovers and signs of the wake, including the black fabric.

  23. So exhausted helpppp*

    My MIL is still bitter from her decades ago divorce and has no friends or siblings willing to help her. As a result, she calls on my SO to do tasks that would require a roofer, electrician, mover, shopper. Basically grooming into the spouse she never had, which takes SO away from me and new baby (while baby’s sick or screaming post-vaccine). SO’s fed up with her as she recently called the cops thinking crooks were trying to break into her roof. She constantly cries wolf and my own marriage to SO is worn bc of it because MIL cites the newest calamity saying her life’s on the line, bombards SO with texts to help now, SO leaves me with baby for hours alone.

    SO’s reached a limit and notices MIL’s mental health spiraling but not enough to get committed. She tries to move out of her large messy house but there’s too much junk. I reached out to property attorneys but what else can we do? She got fired by her own therapist. SO’s therapist went AWOL during the pandemic and is searching for therapists now. Therapists are hard to come by!

    What resources are there to help a retired woman mentally functional but mentally unwell on the inside? She threatens SO she’d harm herself if he didn’t help out. She has another adult kid who lives out of state with a newborn. Just 2 family members in the world. But she’s the worst energy vampire ever and insisted on SO helping her with her furnace thermostat even though SO was sick with a fever and our baby was screaming after getting a vaccine. She wants more and more, brags about all the fresh fruit she has and never offers us any while demanding he help her always. SO has no idea what to do and MIL stomps on boundaries. And SO knows he’s the only one that shows up for her selfish self. We considered moving to the opposite end of the country, but that means leaving my parents who’ve offered free childcare from time to time. SO can’t live with himself if a true emergency happened to MIL and he wasn’t there. I say let him step aside and bring in the best help…but we don’t know what that even looks like.

    Any phone numbers we can call? Organizations? Attorneys? Help! (Thanks)

    1. KatEnigma*

      Call your local center on aging, etc.

      It sounds like dementia to me. You’re going to have to fight to get medical POA and get her placed into a memory care unit, once you get her to a doctor and she gets diagnosed.

      1. Bluebell*

        Seconding this – when my SIL’s dementia was becoming an issue, I called the center on aging/ senior services in my town and hers, and both places were very helpful.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Even if she’s willing to sign a POA (You might sell it as making it easier for SO to help her.), it may not hold up if she isn’t compos mentis when she signs it. Though someone would have to object for that to become an issue, I think.
        Seconding @Bluebell’s recommendation for local agency for the aging/elderly.
        Local bar association may be able to recommend an attorney with experience in elder law: even family law attorneys don’t all have that specific expertise.

    2. Venus*

      I have no organizations to suggest, but Captain Awkward might be helpful. I’ll post a link in the reply to Alice.

    3. Double A*

      There are adult protective services; contacting them and talking about your options could be a start.

    4. Anon for this one*

      Lots of experience with this (aging parents with dementia) in the past 5 years in California. Before I get to that part though, I would recommend sitting down with your spouse and just communicating together, calmly. You say your spouse is equally frustrated with the situation (and probably grappling with very complex emotions), so please reassure each other you are a team, and acknowledge these are tough times. In my experience, aging parent drama is one of the biggest marital strain, and communication helps a LOT. Maybe one of the pieces that could help you is regular childcare help, like just have a babysitter come over every Saturday morning (or whatever), so you get some immediate relief. I promise you, this will be a long haul.
      Now onto the parent. I am not as convinced as other commenters that “this is dementia”. [Both my inlaws were diagnosed with dementia, one Alz and one Lewy Body.] Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. The first step is for spouse to start documenting what they observe of her condition at each interaction. This will help track deterioration or changes. Next, spouse can attempt a serious conversation with parent about medical needs, and try to get the medical power of attorney in place (you can probably obtain this form from the doctor’s office) – basically what you want is for her docs to be able to communicate with spouse about her condition. Next, schedule a full competency workup with her main medical provider (or they might refer you to someone else like a geriatric care provider). That will be the baseline. Since spouse is local, it will be easier for them to manage this than the distant sibling – just agree as a couple that it will take some amount of time weekly for “Mom Management” [and maybe this is the same amount of time you book a babysitter for]. I would definitely advise looping in the distant sibling, because obviously you don’t want them parachuting in later and derailing everything. [Ask me how I know…] Spouse should get on mom’s checking account so they can pay for things using her own money – really try not to subsidize anything because that creates expectations and muddies the financial waters. Take away mom’s car keys by any means necessary. From there, see what the baseline says, and proceed accordingly.
      Typically you wouldn’t need an attorney by this point unless spouse or sibling are litigious. Nothing you’ve described is at all close to what would qualify for a conservatorship.
      Protective services is very geared to immediate threats, not the medium stage planning you are at.
      There are senior housing consultants who can help guide spouse to an appropriate nursing home/board and care for mom. Do NOT put her in a memory care facility without the appropriate dementia diagnosis – they are way more expensive and way more regulated (in a bad way). A normal supportive senior complex might be just fine at this stage.
      Good luck, and honestly my best advice is to stay connected to spouse, talk to each other about your feelings and how you can support each other. Don’t let this situation (on top of the stress of having an infant) tear you apart.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I think the help needed is for you and your partner. Particularly your SO, if they’ve been parentified and made to feel responsible from a young age. Maintaining boundaries and caring for a newborn is tough, particularly when you’re under emotional duress from a parent. Is it possible that your MiL mental health is truly spiralling and she’s truly suicidal? Yep. But there’s no way that simply riding along with any and all demands could possibly help with that. Is it also possible that your MiL has upped her demands on her child because they feel they will lose their last source of support to a new baby? Also yes. Although this is aimed at romantic relationships, this link might prove helpful for dealing with suicide threats in triage mode: https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/what-to-do-if-your-partner-threatens-suicide/

    6. Missb*

      I’m going to echo the aging/family services. Even during the pandemic, they’ve been fantastic. I’ve called them to open a case on a neighbor that was clearly in mental decline and they responded within a day, sending out a caseworker to work with her. She continued to decline until she was moved to memory care. I’m still not convinced she ended up with the funds from the sale of her house but I’m also not privy to what the social worker found out.

      Similarly, I called the equivalent service in my mother’s state when she was recovering from Covid (her husband died at the hospital of Covid at the same time but she stuck it out at home, refusing basic care). They assigned a caseworker and got her at least food and some visits, which was all she would take at that point.

      So basically, call in the Calvary.

    7. Phoebe*

      Something super helpful for us was couples counseling. REALLY helped on setting boundaries with in laws and getting on the same page together. I reached out to tons of therapists and it helped massively. Just a different approach for the therapy angle!

    8. Chapeau*

      Is there something like 211 in your area? It’s a clearinghouse run by the United Way (I think) that connects people with a variety of social services. You call them, and work your way through the phone tree.
      There may also be both non-profit and for-profit organizations that can handle some of all of MIL’s needs, but they tend to be area-specific, AFAIK. 211 may be able to connect you with them, or you might have to ask friends, family, people at church, etc for recommendations. And you definitely want recommendations, as there are both good and not-so-good ones.

    9. Emma*

      My mother in law has schizophrenia. The only way is boundaries. We’ve looked at legal options (and talked to an attorney about guardianship), and they’re expensive and not great (like $10k plus to try to take her rights, a la Britney Spears, and then still few options if she refuses her meds).

      So boundaries are where it’s at. My mother in law would have my husband over there every weekend if he was willing. She’d also definitely want to stay in our house. But giving into her doesn’t do anything for her, really. The cycle just keeps going. It just drains us.

      So, we have a hard line of not having her stay with us, and my husband will help will odd jobs when he can, but our family comes first. She can hire a handy person if she really needs one.

      Protect your energy. No one else will!

      Since your husband is having such a hard time with boundaries, what about counseling for him, or couples counseling for you both, since it affects your marriage. Way cheaper than divorce! We found a great counselor on the psychology today website, who was covered by insurance, and did everything virtually.

  24. Cat Quest*

    Hey All, I am planning on adding a kitten or young cat or two to my household next week. It’s been years since I’ve had a young cat, and I think this is an opportunity to raise them without (some) bad habits. What are some things that you’ve experienced cats doing that you’d rather they not? Also, any tips for discouraging those behaviors? And vice versa, what positive behaviors can be encouraged? (First on my list, wearing a collar or harness.)
    One of my late cats had a bad habit of scratching the frame around the front door. That’s an obvious one but I’m curious about others. What would you teach a kitten, if you could?
    (Inspired by the cats on counters thread.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Personally I don’t let cats in my bedroom because I don’t need to hear about the half inch of empty space at the bottom of the food bowl at 2am or be woken up by rampaging nonsense running over my head. But I also would be super hardcore at getting a kitten used to a food schedule from the get-go rather than free feeding.

      1. Cat Quest*

        Hm, I think I will keep younger cats separated from my Grumpy Old Cat at first, until they get used to each other. Would it be mean to let Old Cat sleep with me but keep the kittens out?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Mean, no, but I’m actually getting a version of this with my dogs – my grumpy old dog sleeps on my bed and has done since she was a year old, my 8 month old puppy is a Great Dane and currently pushing 85 pounds with another probably 40 yet to come so she sleeps in her giant crate in the bedroom because she won’t FIT on the bed, and she’s started recognizing the Great Injustice and making her objections known at bedtime when the crate door closes. So it might not be a popular decision since you can’t exactly explain the logic to them. :)

        2. SuprisinglyADHD*

          I just dealt with that issue, we found a stray kitten less than a month old, and already had an older cat for years. We were able to borrow a cat tent, I think its designed to let the cat sit outside safely. The kitten stayed in the tent in the living room unless someone was directly supervising her. She had everything she needs in there, food, water, litter, toys, blankets, and a cardboard box that she decided is her “den”. At night, the older cat still went to sleep in mom’s room, and the kitten stayed in the tent. Once she was big enough to navigate the house safely, we introduced her to the bedroom and brought her litter and “den” in there. Big cat is still a little grumpy about it but the biggest issue was the litter boxes. His is in the bathroom, but neither of them likes having hers in there too. So now hers is on a puppy pee pad next to the hallway door, as far away from his as they can be and still share the bedroom at night. That calmed everything down.

          As long as each cat has their own spaces, for litter, food, and various sleeping spots, they’ll most likely be just fine.

    2. Solidarity*

      Do not feed your cat when you first wake up. You don’t want the association between you getting up and them getting fed, because they are just smart enough to figure that means if they *wake* you up (at dawn) they will get food, or God forbid you ever oversleep. I have told hundreds of people this (I foster cats) and most people don’t listen to me and then come back later and sheepishly tell me I was right. If you can, get the kitten used to free-feeding without gorging (will not work for all cats but I’ve had good luck) or if you have to feed in the AM before you leave for work, do it last thing before you leave, or get an auto-feeder that goes off in another room.

      1. Jackalope*

        We did it a bit differently. We do special food at night (wet food, for example), and free feeding all day. We top up kibble right before bed and right after getting up, but since the cats go from having kibble to having… slightly more kibble, they don’t get pushy in the morning.

    3. Double A*

      We have one rule in our house: no cats on the table or counter. The only cat who doesn’t respect this rule is the one we got as a kitten. He just doesn’t have that jumpiness that most cats have so trying to having him associate the table with unpleasantness…doesn’t work. Possibly because he was a bottle baby so he just thinks he’s people.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      One thing to keep in mind: do not encourage behaviors that you don’t want an adult cat to have. For instance, chewing on your fingers is cute for a kitten but not an adult cat. Climbing up your pant leg is adorable when it weighs a pound, less so when it’s 6 pounds. It’s way easier not to let the habit develop than it is to break it.

      Whenever possible, instead of punishing the cat, re-direct it’s attention. If it’s stealing your pens, keep decoy toys on the desk to hand over. If it’s scratching the furniture, bring it to the scratching post, even scratch the post yourself as an example (this worked very well with our older cat). We’ve been training the kitten to lick instead of giving love bites, it’s really cute and something we won’t be upset about when she’s an adult.

    5. 1LFTW*

      I’m a bit late to this but:

      Handle your kitten, a lot! Pick up your kitten. Hold your kitten. Play with its paws.

      Do this for a few seconds at a time, and stop *before* the kitten gets squirmy, so it doesn’t develop negative associations with being handled. You can start at 3 seconds (young kittens are very VERY squirmy) and if the kitten tolerates that well, go up to five seconds after a day or two, etc. Once the kitten is reasonably well-acclimated to having its paws handled, start acclimating it to having its nails trimmed.

      I say this as someone whose current iteration of cats were both adopted as adults, and nail trims are… more difficult than I (or they, honestly) would like them to be.

    1. Going anon for this one*

      Any good memoirs/documentaries/podcasts on ED people can recommend? Particularly interested in stories of atypical seeming people (so not Jeanette McCurdy, as powerful as her story is, as a young thin white woman).

    2. sagewhiz*

      The Secret Life of a Weight-Obsessed Woman: Wisdom to live the life you crave. Iris Ruth Pastor’s memoir of recovery from bulimia, after keeping it secret for 40-some years.

    3. Virtual Light*

      The NYT just ran an article about people who don’t fit the stereotype that society has about eating disorders; there might be further paths to follow from that. Search “you don’t look anorexic” NYT and it should come up.

    4. Marge*

      The Weight and Healthcare newsletter is a great resource on weight loss broadly from a HAES angle with some eating disorder topics: https://weightandhealthcare.substack.com/about?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email.

      Maintenance Phase also discussed systemic issues with diets and disordered eating in their BMI episode, and one of the co-hosts is fat and frequently discusses her experiences living in a larger body and being encouraged to engage in disordered eating to lose weight.

      Virginia Sole-Smith’s Burnt Toast newsletter also often discusses diet culture and eating disorders: https://virginiasolesmith.substack.com/. It often has a parenting angle FYI and a range of topics, but I enjoy the creativity.

      The Black.Nutritionist is a good resource on specifically how westernized so much health and diet advice is: https://instagram.com/black.nutritionist?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=. FYI she does often discuss weight loss so your mileage may vary.

      Hope these help!

  25. Anon in IL*

    Sorry if a duplicate comment. First one did not post.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a desk chair:

    1. For shorter people, 15 to 17 inches from seat to floor
    2. No wheels or swivel base
    3. Arm rests
    4. Lightly padded seat ok but firm (no “easy chair” style)
    This is for my elderly mother who needs a chair she can rise from easily. Proving very difficult to find. For safety reasons using a footstool is not an option.

    1. allathian*

      Good luck, it could be difficult because chairs for people with mobility issues tend to be higher, so that you can drop on your feet when you stand up. Would a higher chair work if it had a built in footrest?

      1. Anon in IL*

        Probably not but thanks for the suggestion. She needs to plant her feet firmly in the floor and then “push off” with the arm rests. The chair she has now is the right height but on wheels so it rolls when she “pushes off”. I don’t think the Physical Therapist knew how hard this would be to find.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        A wicker chair might work. I have two white ones in my home office; I thi k the, were from Ikea 15 years ago.
        It would be easy to saw off an inch or two if they should be too high. They have armrests and are very light so movable but they stay put when getting up.
        I use them for visitors but also for sime gaming (flight simulation requires rudder pedals so my swiveling office chair does not work).

      1. Oysters and gender freedom*

        Ooh yes, I did this for my dad. You can buy feet to replace the wheels. It takes a firm pull to get the wheels out but no tools.

    2. LuckySophia*

      If you google or go on Amazon for “Carex Upeasy Seat Assist Plus Chair Lift” or “Carex Uplift Premium Seat assist” you’ll see a device that can be added to a regular, non-wheeled chair to help someone stand up. I realize this doesn’t answer your question about finding a suitable desk chair itself, but if she has difficulty rising from a seated position in general, this might also help if she’s having difficulty getting up from a sofa or easy chair.

    3. Trawna*

      I had this issue (chairs being too high, and giving me sciatica). I buy teen sized chairs, and have had good luck with Pottery Barn Teen.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      For my grandma, we got furniture coasters/rubber feet to put the wheels in. The chair couldn’t roll away anymore, and she got to keep using her favorite kitchen chairs.

      For something smaller, you may have success with well-made wooden children’s furniture. They tend to be sturdy and stable for safety reasons (little kids climb and stand on anything flat).

  26. allathian*

    Little joys thread, what brought you joy this week? I had my flu shot yesterday, yay! I must admit that I’m sore today, but it will pass. I also had my first shingles shot, I had varicella as a kid so I’d be at risk.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My puppy got spayed and gastropexy-ed on Monday, so she’s been meandering around the house since I picked her up on Thursday night in bright red post-op pajamas rather than the cone. Very stylin’ and cheerful looking :)

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      I went to a walking tour of my city, and everyone else there was from here! We all wanted to see our city from a different perspective – how cool!

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      On vacation this weekend. I met up with a former coworker that I miss working with for a coffee at a cafe near the beach and it was just lovely. He’s a sweetheart and it was great catching up. I also got to see the Pacific Ocean and the weather here is beautiful.

      I’m also have a huge studio Airbnb for myself so I’m happy as can be.

    4. fposte*

      I officially have signed up for recorder lessons.

      allathian, how did you fare with the shingles shot? That was the biggest reaction I ever had to a shot and I had it to both doses. Nothing evil, and it was over within 24 hours almost exactly, but it was definitely a level of symptoms that would have made me think “Whoa, I’m really sick” if it hadn’t been from a shot.

      1. WellRed*

        I had my shingles shot this year. No issues but my tetanus booster stole two days of my life. I’ve had the same bad reaction previously and have decided never again unless I actually get exposed to tetanus.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s funny, I’ve never had issues with that one. It is amazing how varied responses can be.

        2. Pippa K*

          For what it’s worth, I had an unpleasant (but not dangerous) reaction to a tetanus booster some years ago, which made me approach my recent booster with some trepidation. But it was fine – sore arm for a couple of days, but nothing worse. Bit of a relief, as I want to stay current on it.

      2. allathian*

        I got sick from the shingles shot, it felt like I had Covid all over again. My arm was very sore. I had the appointment at 10.30 and started to feel worse about 5 hours after that. I’m glad I scheduled it for a Friday because I wouldn’t have been fit to work the next day. I took two 1 hour naps and got a full night’s sleep, too. That said, I usually get sick after the flu shot… But I’ll definitely schedule the booster for Friday as well!

        1. allathian*

          Now almost 48 hours later I’m finally pretty much back to normal, although my arm is still sore.

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        I didn’t have the least reaction to my first shingles shot. Stay tuned for how the second one goes. On a related note, one of my biggest little joys this week was that I got my flu shot and had NO reaction whatsoever! The flu shot usually makes me sick as a dog for a day or two.

    5. CharlieBrown*

      I’m starting a new photography project and needed neutral background. So I went to the hardware store and found a cheap piece of decent pine board and milk paint. The color is called “Eclipse” and it came out in a beautiful shade of very dark, very matte gray. I can’t stop looking at it, it’s so beautiful!

    6. WellRed*

      I just wrapped a busy conference week out of town after a busy month that included a wedding, a concert ( both out of town), weekend camp adventure with old friends, and mom visit. I…don’t have to do a damn thing this weekend but may hit up target.

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

      2020 brought my industry to total shutdown, so splurging ended and some important things were put on hold. 2022 came back strong and I was able to replace my driveway this week. It’s a silly joy, but it feels good not to have to throw chunks of asphalt in the trash every week.

    8. Laura H.*

      Seeing others post this when I’m late is always a joy.

      I’m excited for our block party tomorrow as it’s the first one in three years!

    9. the cat's ass*

      I had dinner with one of my favorite people last night!

      I got my flu shot yesterday (and don’t feel great today, but oh well)!

      My sweet demented kitty loves his new compounded liquid chicken flavored BP medicine-no more chopping a tiny little pill into fourths!

    10. Girasol*

      Went out on a volunteer day with Fish and Game. It rained the whole time except when it hailed or snowed. But that’s okay because there’s nothing like the feeling of coming home soaked, muddy, and cold to wash off in a hot shower, climb into dry fluffy clothes, and relax.

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

      Yay! So glad you’re taking good care of yourself!

      I got some more work done on my endless late taxes. Baby steps . . . .

    12. Missb*

      I finally did some canning this week. We tore out our kitchen in January and it’s back to mostly being usable.

      Since it is pear season, I canned some pear drizzle. It’s basically a cooked pear jam with some scrapped vanilla bean. It’s awesome over some goat cheese (on crackers).

      Felt good to actually can something. I missed jam and pickle season and even applesauce.

    13. Vanellope*

      I took my middle school daughter to volleyball practice and they ended up drafting parents to have a daughter/parent scrimmage. I played in high school but haven’t been on the court in years! It felt good. But I still can’t serve overhand though. :)

    14. Eff Walsingham*

      Sold an object on face book market place! First time ever. The object was heavy and awkward and potentially useful for the right person, but we don’t drive so we couldn’t take it anywhere to donate or recycle it.

      I’d tried a local Buy Nothing group and a buy/sell/trade group for similar objects, but no one took it. So I was forced (!) to accept $20 from a nice stranger with a nice car who has driven off into the sunset with it! (I “let” him bargain me down from $25 so we could both feel victorious.)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I’ve had to get rid of a bunch of very large things the last several years (closed an office and had a few family members pass away) and I’ve had great luck with FB Marketplace! Amazing how something you need to get rid of is just what somebody a couple of miles away needs.

    15. ShinyPenny*

      I finally had the bandwidth to reach out to an old friend. It was her turn to call me, but she just wasn’t calling! I was a bit concerned–Was she ill? Was she mad? Had I done something wrong? (Brain weasles!)
      So I remembered this morning during the right time window, and she answered! We had a really nice chat.
      Turns out she’d miss-remembered my phone number, and “had been a bit worried because you never answered your phone.” Lol.
      So many great reminders: Brain weasles are tricky devils. And, phones become become an increasing challenge as people age– a technological tool that once was thoughtlessly easy, can gradually become prohibitively befuddling.
      I think it’s time for me to be the one who reaches out, now.

    16. Turtle Dove*

      I ordered an Etsy seller’s smell-alike perfume oil that’s nearly identical to Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo (remember the green bottle?), which I adored in the 70s. It makes me happy to smell it again. I rarely wear fragrances, but I’ve been applying this perfume oil to my wrists twice a day. Can’t get enough of it!

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      I went to an organic bakery that makes my favorite chocolate chip cookies on the planet and bought some for my four neighbors in my building and left them by their doors. It’s fun to surprise them and make them happy. And of course I got an extra one for me to enjoy tomorrow.

    18. Rara+Avis*

      School play weekend. Enjoyed my kid’s 15 seconds of fame as a G-man in “You Can’t Take it with You.”

    19. Random tuesday*

      New baby fish appeared in my tank! It’s very cute with disproportionately large fins compared to the adults.

    20. The Other Dawn*

      I visited a friend yesterday and she wanted fresh apples, so she asked if I’d go with her to a local orchard that has a shop outfront. I’d never been there and OMG they have the best apple cinnamon scones! I’ve never in my life encountered a scone that wasn’t dry, so I avoid them; however, they looked as though they might be moist, as they weren’t as thick as the scones I usually see in stores and bakeries. I’m so glad I bought some. They were incredibly moist, and filled with lots of apples and cinnamon. Needless to say, the two scones I bought disappeared on the drive home (she lives 45 minutes away). I also bought some snickerdoodle cookies (divine!), apple cider donuts, apple caramel loaf cake, and kettlecorn. Their apple cider donuts are the best I’ve ever had–they actually smell and taste like apples, unlike the ones I’ve bought at the store.

    21. VegetarianRaccoon*

      We had a special Halloween event at the school I work for this week, it was great to see the kids have fun and cut loose a little (it’s generally a very strict and serious program most of the time).

    22. Irish Teacher*

      My students may THE most awesome Halloween video. Now, they did make so much noise doing it (chucking chairs across the room to make it appear like there was a poltergeist) that it brought the deputy principal out of his office, thinking there was a riot or something going on! But it was really well done and they planned it all themselves, with no input from me beyond “there’s editing software here, so ye can make whatever changes ye want.”

      And we are now on mid-term break for a week so a week to relax.

    23. GoryDetails*

      An unexpected delight: this year’s “Treehouse of Horrors” on “The Simpsons” includes an anime-style segment called “Death Tome,” based on the “Death Note” manga/anime – and it’s hilarious! Seeing the Simpsons characters in anime style is entertaining in itself, and having Lisa take on Light’s role as wielder of the Death Tome is pretty cool.

    24. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      A book translation from Russian that I did some five years ago — and about which I’d heard nothing from the publisher since submitting it — came out on Thursday, and I found out serendipitously on Facebook the day after. The one I’m currently working on proofreading comes out in late December, which brings the total number of books I’ve translated in my life up to four (two from Swedish, two from Russian).

  27. Tired Accountant No More*

    Suggestions for getting hard water stains off quartz countertops? We have some stubborn ones around the sink that I haven’t been able to get off with our regular cleaner. I’ve been trying to be extra proactive with wiping up water, and usually have a towel up around the faucet which doing dishes, so it hasn’t gotten worse, but I’d really like to get the stubborn spots up.

    1. Newbie*

      Soak a rag or paper towel in vinegar and let it sit on the spots for a while, then wipe/scrub off.

      1. Emma2*

        I am not sure that vinegar is safe on quartz, I think it can damage it (I agree that vinegar can remove hard water stains on some surfaces, but I would look this up first as it may cause more problems on the quartz).

    2. Solidarity*

      Man, I need all these tips. I was so excited to get granite countertops (not sure if that’s the same reaction as quartz) and then the guy mentioned as he was leaving that bleaching would discolor them, and not to put hot things on them (!?!) and *then* my mom mentioned that water will discolor them. What the hell?? I would not have gotten them if I knew how easy they were to mess up, and you can’t even bleach them clean? My kitchen counter gets USED, people!!!

        1. Solidarity*

          I don’t want to hijack OP’s thread if the care is different, but is there like, a sealant I should have bought, or something? I’m really annoyed, the guy who installed them barely told me a thing about the care and maintenance (it was a subcontractor of the kitchen reno people) and now I have no idea what I’m doing with these stupid things. I wish I had asked for a different material now, as there’s no way I’m going to be able to keep these nice.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yes, it can be sealed and that will help. It needs to be repeated occasionally, how often depends on the sealant. Google “sealing granite”, there’s a helpful Bob Vila article out there.

    3. Missb*

      Check the kitchen forum at Houzz. Apparently sometimes it is the adhesive they used during install. The experts there will chime in and tell you if it can be fixed or if it’s just going to keep happening. And you can post photos there. Seriously helpful folks!

      (I chose soapstone. Nothing soaks into it, I can set a hot pan on it, cleans up with water… sorry, but if you’re doing a kitchen please consider soapstone!)

  28. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Soup! With the weather getting colder (or at least supposed to be getting colder), what is your favorite soup?

    I’ll put my favorite recipe in the comments.

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      This is mine:

      Lentil Soup with Lemon & Cilantro (can’t remember where I got it from, but if by chance you’re reading this and this is your recipe, thank you!!)

      2 tbsp olive oil
      1 onion
      2 tbsp tomato paste
      2 tsp ground cumin
      1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
      1/2 tsp black pepper
      1/4 tsp chili powder (plus more to season at the end if you wish)
      4 cups (32 oz carton) chicken or vegetable stock
      4 cups water
      2 cups lentils
      2 potatoes, diced
      2 tbsp lemon juice
      6 tbsp fresh cilantro

      Heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat.
      Stir in the onion. Cook until the onion has turned golden brown, about 5 minutes.
      Stir in the potatoes, tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Cook and stir 2 minutes more until the spices are fragrant.
      Stir in the chicken/vegetable broth, water, and lentils.
      Bring to a boil, the reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and potatoes are salt, about 30 minutes.
      Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, then season to taste with salt.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Thank you for this! This has some of my favorite things in it and it sounds amazing!

        (I’ve gotten so many good recipes ideas from the Saturday threads, that I finally started copying and pasting them into a Google Doc. This one makes in 23 pages. I have no idea when I’ll have time to try all these.)

        1. Retired Accountant*

          I love this soup and have made it for many people who think they won’t like lentil soup and they also love it.

        2. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

          That might actually be the original recipe I posted here. (I substituted potatoes for the carrots, not because I have anything against carrots, but because I really like lentil soup with potatoes). Thank you!

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

      People tell me that my classic chicken soup is outstanding. Of course I love it.

      My secret recipe is using chicken legs, a couple of chicken backs and chicken gizzards, then letting is simmer for 6 hours ( yes, lots of veggies).

      When it cools there is an obnoxious amount of chicken schmaltz, which is scraped off the top and used sparingly for other recipes.

    3. KatEnigma*

      Split pea soup! That requires the eating of a bone-in ham before hand, with lots of meat left on it and extra ham for the soup itself.

      One generously left ham bone
      large carrots cut into chunks or whatever looks good of baby carrots
      1 large onion
      2 celery stalks
      1 bag of split peas (I prefer green, but yellow is fine)
      at LEAST a gallon of water. More than the recipe on the back of peas calls for, as it needs to be enough to really cook down.

      Let simmer for 4 hours, remove the ham bone, putting meat that still clings to it back into soup. Let simmer an hour more, or however long you want. I like it thick. DO NOT SALT the soup until it’s cooked down. Some hams are saltier than others and usually I don’t add salt at all. My mother likes to add a TBS of peppercorns. I hate biting into peppercorns, so I don’t.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        I use smoked pork neck bones instead of ham. I put 3-4 pounds of the neck bones in the slow cooker overnight on high to start the stock.

        In the morning, I pick out the bones and meat, strain the stock, and let everything cool in the fridge. Then I skim the fat off the stock and reheat it while I carefully separate the meat from the bones into a glass or metal bowl. (Any small bone chips will clink against the glass.)

        This is how I start my ham and bean soup, too.

      2. allathian*

        This is very like the traditional Finnish split pea soup. Ham is a traditional Christmas main course, and my MIL’s husband makes a great soup for 12th night.

        Except that we tend to add raw onion and mustard to the soup in the bowl, just before eating it. Our recipe also doesn’t include celery, just as well because it’s the one flavor I hate more than even cilantro/soap…

    4. Girasol*

      Campfire stew. In brownie scout day camp it was made over the fire by browning ground beef and dumping an industrial-sized can of alphabet soup over it. At home I make it with bone broth, ground beef, homemade tomato sauce, finely chopped veggies, and a few drops of liquid smoke. Ah, comfort food.

    5. Maryn*

      I make a mean Butternut Squash Soup that everyone likes–including people who say they don’t like any kind of squash.

      Butternut Squash Soup
      4 servings
      Takes about an hour, most of it inactive

      2 tablespoons butter or margarine
      1 small onion, chopped
      1 stalk celery, chopped
      1 medium carrot, chopped (or 2c. mire poix in place of onion, celery, and carrot)
      2 medium thin-skinned potatoes, cubed (or 1 potato, 1 apple)
      1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 16 oz. after prep)*
      1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock
      salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (close to 1T salt)

      Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

      Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

      * If your grocery store doesn’t offer pre-cut squash pieces, so you need to buy a whole one, microwave it for 2-3 minutes. It becomes easier to peel, to cut, and to seed.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        This is going to be the soup I give the first shot to. It sounds delicious. Thank you!
        Thanks, everyone, for all of the suggestions!

    6. Teapot Translator*

      I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite soup but last weekend I made a Sausage and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons. The Parmesan croutons were the best part. Oh my.
      Also, why is it soups are usually better the following? Often times, I will try a soup recipe and think, “Eh”, and then the following day, it’s much better!

    7. WellRed*

      If anyone has a recipe or brand recommendation for roasted red pepper soup you’d make my day. Note: red pepper, NOT tomato and red pepper.

          1. Missb*

            Yay! The link I have store no longer works so I’ll type it here:

            1 onion, chopped
            6 carrots, thinly sliced
            2 cups water or vegetable stock
            2 red bell peppers
            2 cups soy milk (or milk of choice)
            2 tsp lemon juice
            2 tsp balsamic vinegar
            1/2 tsp salt
            1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

            Simmer onion and carrots in water or stock in covered pot until carrots are easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

            Roast bell peppers under broiler until skin is black. Place in bowl, cover and let sit for 15 mins. Slip skins off, slice in half and pull the seeds out (or cut those peppers and take seeds out prior to roasting.

            Blend roasted peppers and carrot/onion mixture in blender (or use immersion blender), adding some milk along the way. You might not need all the milk.

            Add lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper and warm through. Heat until steamy.

      1. Emma2*

        There is a very nice chilled red pepper soup with sumac in the book Sunday Supper at Lucques. I am not pasting the recipe in to avoid violating copyright, but if you google red pepper and sumac soup and lucques, you will find it (some recipes refer to “with lemon yogurt” or reference chillies, that should be the same one).

      2. Moog-Moog, Space Barber*

        I’ve got a good one too! It tastes similar to the Zuppa Toscana you can get at Olive Garden.

        1 lb. ground Italian sausage (I use the hot variety)
        1 half white onion, peeled and chopped
        4 c. chicken stock
        2 large roasted red peppers, chopped
        1 bunch kale, chopped
        2-3 large potatoes, chopped (the original recipe used gnocchi, but I adapted it to be gluten-free)
        1 half c. heavy cream
        salt and pepper to taste
        Parmesan cheese for garnish

        Saute onion and sausage in a medium pot, drain fat afterward. Add chicken stock and peppers, simmer for a few minutes to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in kale and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are done. Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with Parmesan and enjoy.

    8. Random Bystander*

      As it happens, tonight we got McAlisters, and I am a huge fan of their potato soup. Well, I do like potato soup in general, but theirs is like a loaded potato soup with green onions, bacon, and cheese in it.

      I also adore tomato soup (though I think that by law, grilled cheese sandwiches are a required accompaniment).

      You know, answering this question makes me think I could live on soup (especially if you would let chili fall under that heading, too).

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Chicken and rice porridge, adapted from a recipe by Christine Ha. Hers uses leftover chicken and leftover rice, which I don’t tend to have. I found that all chicken broth was too much and nothing but water will work fine–I have become a fan of “just water” in a lot of cooking applications–but if I have stock on hand a little makes a pleasant boost.

      Chicken and Rice Porridge, Vietnamese Style

      1 small onion, diced
      1 3″ knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
      2-3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
      1 cup chicken broth (optional)
      2-3 T fish sauce
      3/4-1 cup jasmine rice

      Optional for serving: lime juice, cilantro, green onion

      Combine onion, ginger, and chicken in pot. Add broth and water to cover well by an inch or so. Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, simmer until chicken is done.
      Turn off heat. Remove chicken to plate. When cool enough to handle, tear into pieces and return to pot. Add fish sauce. Sample broth and add salt if needed.
      Half an hour before you want it to be ready, return to boil and add rinsed rice.

      Depending on the proportions, this can be a hearty soup or a porridge; I prefer it toward the porridge end. This was my first soup that didn’t brown stuff in fat to start and I really liked the different flavor profile. It’s good in cool weather to people in perfect health, but also become a mainstay if someone might be feeling a bit off.

    10. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      This isn’t a real recipe but I like to make a classic chicken soup but use tortellini instead of noodles and add zucchini and tomatoes
      It’s also great using leftover turkey and turkey stock after Thanksgiving

  29. Grits McGee*

    Does anyone have recommendations for dressier shoes that you could walk 5-10 miles in a city environment in? When I’m walking around DC, I’ll usually wear my Teva sandals in the summer and Kodiak hiking boots when it’s cold, but I’d like something that I could wear with a skirt/dress and would be less obviously outdoorsy. I’m also not a fan of big, noticeable soles, which complicates things…

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      They’re not cheap, but I’ve done entire 13+ mile days at Disneyworld in Rothy’s flats several times. The only time I ever had trouble was when there was a rainstorm and the shoes got soaked – I ended up with a wee blister from the WET shoes rubbing on my pinky toe – but never had any trouble as long as the shoes didn’t get sodden. (A little damp was fine, I’m talking I walked through a four-inch-deep puddle because Epcot has absolutely terrible drainage :P )

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Oh my, I cannot even last an hour in Rothys and still be comfortable. Unfortunately I also don’t have any other recommendations, except for perhaps a more subtle design of Allbirds?

    2. Nitpicker*

      New Yorker here and plenty of women are walking around wearing sneakers/running shoes with skirts/dresses. If you wear socks, just wear the low ones that don’t show.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, this became a common thing in NY during the 1980 transit strike, when everyone would walk over the bridge to work and carry their heels to change at the office.

        Hence Cybill Shepherd’s power-suit-with-sneakers look in Moonlighting.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I also recall a designer–I think it was Donna Karan?–who walked a few miles home on 9/11 and concluded “Welp, it’s flats from now on.”

      2. londonedit*

        White trainers (sneakers – like Adidas Stan Smiths or Veja) with a midi/maxi dress has been an absolute staple of London women’s fashion for a good few years now too, and I can’t see the look going anywhere anytime soon! Mainly for women 30+ but it’s a look you see all over the place here.

    3. Lore*

      My Born ankle boots with a bit of a chunky heel were the best for this—saw me through multiple 10-mile-day trips in various countries for 6 or 7 years. I did add new insoles at one point (and got them reheeled regularly). I finally had to toss them last year when the soles cracked across in three places and it did not seem smart to pay 2x the original cost to refurbish boots that old. I’m not crazy about any of their current styles but as soon as they have another pair I like, I’m in.

    4. Bluebell*

      JBU/Jambu shoes have good arch support and are comfortable. I have a black pair I got online from Sierra —not super fashionable, but they are a step up from sneakers. I do have some Born ankle boots I like, but nowadays I’m avoiding heels.

    5. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      I don’t have a car so I walk around my city A Lot. I recently bought some Aerosoles since I’m in a new job where I’m standing and walking about 6 hrs every couple days. I got a pair of loafers and some ballet flats as part of a sale and am thrilled with the cushioning. My feet are kinda an odd size so sometimes other brands the arch support falls in a weird place, and I’m not having this trouble nor the blisters on my heel.

    6. Solidarity*

      Sketchers makes some sneaker-lite versions that would look okay with a skirt IMO – look for the ones that are all one color and a little dressier. I have done okay with perfectly fitted Tom’s style shoes too. And some similar knockoffs of each.

    7. Russian in Texas*

      You can were “dressier” sneakers with skirts and dresses, not the obviously athletic ones, and with the no-show socks.

    8. Sister George Michael*

      I have a lot of trouble finding shoes that don’t hurt my feet, but I can walk really far in Clark’s flats.

    9. the cat's ass*

      They may be too big/clunky for you, but I walked 70+ miles in Japan over a 2 week period wearing Danskos. My feet were the only body part that didn’t hurt!

      1. Wink the Book*

        + Danskos. Their heeled boots are the only darn heels I have ever walked 5-6 miles in and just been TIRED and not in severe pain. I’ve also easily done 10+ miles in their broken-in clogs.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I found I’m partial to Elten Officer safety shoes. They look like (sturdy) wingtips but are equipped with composite toe caps and a kevlar insole. I have to wear safety gear on some jobs and these are so comfortable I bought a second pair. I can even fly in
        them as they don’t trigger metal detectors. They make them in ladies’ and gent’s sizes. Not sure if they are available in the US though.

    10. Playswithbeads*

      I am a huge fan of Alegria shoes and clogs — I have at least 15 pairs (clogs, shoes and dressy sandals). They are super comfortable with great arch support in tons of colors and styles. Definitely made for people who walk all day! Sold in stores and online.
      Jambu used to make a nice ballet flat but I doubt they are good for city walking.

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

      SAS shoes are pretty easy on the feet, and they have some nice styles.

    12. Maryn*

      There are so many people with this issue that an entire industry tries to meet our needs: Comfort Shoes. Some still design like Eleanor Roosevelt was going to buy them (clunky and vaguely orthopedic), but there are lots of better, reasonably fashionable flats that go nicely with dresses, skirts, and dress pants.

      The most important feature for urban walking is that it buckles, laces, or has a strap so you can’t step out of it, and that the heel be so low your whole foot takes the weight, not the ball of your foot.

      Look at Clark’s (Ashland Spin is one I have), Dasko (Franny clog, a favorite!), Rockport Cobb Hill (Pearl maryjane), Naot (Matai), Trotters (Lizzie Herringbone basketweave oxford). If you opt for black and there’s a black rubber sole, your aversion to the big, obvious sole is greatly reduced because it’s not especially visible.

      Are they expensive? Uh-huh. But you will get literally years of wear out of any of them. I’m on my third year with Franny, my second with Pearl, and they’re both extremely comfortable and look like new.

      1. Observer*

        The most important feature for urban walking is that it buckles, laces, or has a strap so you can’t step out of it,

        Disagree on this. Slip ons can work well too.

        The key is that you have the right cut, which for walking usually means a fairly high cut. Ballet flats are rarely going to work well, but stuff that covers a good part of the top of your foot generally will, assuming good fit.

    13. Random Bystander*

      I like Hotter’s shoes. I mainly started getting shoes from there because my feet are so hard to fit (size 5.5 women’s but double-wide), and they have a better than average range of sizes.

    14. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Cowboy-style boots! I got a pair of Ariats 6+ years ago and I wear them everywhere. They were expensive but after 6 years of nearly daily use, I haven’t even needed a repair! One note: definitely go somewhere you can try them on. The sizes were weird, and heavily dependent on the style of boot, I would not have been able to pick it out of a catalogue or website. Some people need a boot jack to get them off, but I don’t.

      Also, sneakers are always an option. Saucony is my go-to brand, but anything that’s not designed as a running shoe will be comfortable. White, gray, brown, or dark blue sneakers work fine with a dress!

  30. NervousGmailPatient*

    My medical lab recently emailed me that test results were available in my online account. I logged in but no results were listed. I informed the lab via an online form. A day later, they emailed me the test results in a non-encrypted file, plus the email text contained my birth date. I was horrified.

    What’s the best way to handle this? I’ll instruct them to never share confidential information via email but are there additional steps I should take?

    BTW their email contains this warning:
    “This e-mail and any attachments may contain CONFIDENTIAL information, including PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION, and is meant to be viewed solely by the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, any use or disclosure of this information is STRICTLY PROHIBITED; you are requested to delete this e-mail and any attachments and notify the sender immediately.” Like that’s going to stop potential identity thieves.

    1. Morning reader*

      I’m not sure I understand the problem. Is your email not secure enough for your own birthdate?
      I recall my health care provides have a form at checkin, perhaps I see it annually, indicating your preferences for communications. Whether they can leave a message on your voicemail or email you, if there is someone else authorized to have your info or take a message for you. Is it possible you consented to email?
      The verbiage at the end sounds like a legal CYA disclaimer, probably composed by a lawyer. Sure, clarify how you want to get your info. If they didn’t ask permission to do it this way, they probably shouldn’t.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Unencrypted email is pretty easy to get into, so yes, it IS a problem that they emailed both her birth date AND private health information. It’s likely a HIPAA violation to send that PHI through unencrypted email. That’s why most health care facilities will put the information into a most secure app or web site and just let you know to log in and look at it.

      2. NervousGmailPatient*

        I’ll check my account settings but email communications from other providers consist of “check your account for a new message”, or words to that effect. They’ve never included my birth date and certainly not my test results.
        Thank you for your reply.

        1. NervousGmailPatient*

          @Ginger Pet Lady,
          Sorry the response above was meant for Morning Reader.
          Anyway, thank you too for your reply.

      3. Observer*

        Is your email not secure enough for your own birthdate?

        Nope. The problem is that email (especially in transmission) can be quite easily hacked.

        What the practice did is almost certainly a legal breach.

        Consent to email does not necessarily mean consent to UNENCRYPTED email. And that’s the key problem here.

    2. time for cocoa*

      I’m an early Gmail adopter with a common name. I get other people’s medical charts, mortgage documents, hotel and car rental reservations, children’s school psychologist forms, it’s endless. My favorite was the orientation info for a gov clearance job; I was convinced I was going to end up at a black site.

      My point is, this is an unpleasant surprise because it’s new to you. The reality is that sloppy PII maintenance has been a constant for decades. You can try to request new procedures if it makes you feel better, but nothing will change. Fines for breaches are a slap on the wrist.

      1. Observer*

        Sloppy PHI is definitely not a new thing. That’s not a good reason to be so blase about it.

        Fines are NOT necessarily a slap on the wrist any more. Also pushing back and making your concerns known – and not only to the lab but the practice that ordered the work can absolutely make a difference.

    3. Observer*

      “This e-mail and any attachments may contain CONFIDENTIAL information, including PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION, and is meant to be viewed solely by the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, any use or disclosure of this information is STRICTLY PROHIBITED; you are requested to delete this e-mail and any attachments and notify the sender immediately.”

      We handle some fairly sensitive information (not HIPPA or or FERPA, but still) and we had a major discussion about adding a rider like this. We wound up not doing it because it’s just useless.

      We use encryption…

      Please let the practice who ordered the tests know about this.

  31. ThatGirl*

    Have any of you bought a car and used outside financing eg your bank or credit union? I put a deposit down for a factory order and it will be about 3-6 months so I have some time to investigate. But I don’t know how it works if I don’t use the dealer financing – do they just send you the funds so you can pay “in cash” and then pay the bank back?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      We bought our car through our credit union. They arranged the car purchased and the car delivery. They also financed the loan.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Usually they send the funds directly to the dealer — the bank/CU should be pretty familiar with the process!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ah, good to know, thanks :) I have no idea if the bank will be a better option but I figure it’s worth checking out since interest rates are higher.

    3. mreasy*

      I bought with Carvana but didn’t use my bank or their financing – I used BofA as it had the lowest rate. It was really easy, just an application and some phone calls confirming the fund availability with the bank.

      1. Solidarity*

        Wow, I really learned something today, I thought “car loans” always came from the dealer, and I bet there’s so many better options out there. I haven’t bought a car in ten years so I don’t know. This is the same process for used cars right?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’ve only ever used the dealer, but interest rates are back up, so I thought it would be worth seeing if I could save a bit elsewhere. And yes, process is the same for used cars from a dealer.

    4. Russian in Texas*

      I bought a car in January via the dealership financing but refinanced with my credit union immediately. Not quite the same, but it was super easy. Saved me good $60/month.

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

      Usually I’ve gone to my bank or credit union to get pre-approved for x amount before car shopping. The money isn’t given to me…the credit line is just waiting for me to purchase a car (sort of like a credit card) so if I’m approved for $30,000 but the car/tax/registration etc. all total $28,000 (for example) then I only use that amount of the loan. The lender will be added as a lien holder on the title at the time of purchase and that will be recorded by the DMV when the title transfers from the dealer to me.

    6. M*

      I have bought in the past using my bank and once using capital one’s auto finance program. In both of those cases, they gave me a “check” to take to the dealer that said something along the lines of ‘valid up to $45,000” and a phone number for the dealer to call- the dealer did all of the work once I picked the car. Otherwise the process was the same as when I’ve used dealer financing. Also last year bought a car using carvana and their financing. Not sitting at the dealer for hours on end was a nice change.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      We’ve done it with a certified check from the bank, made out to the dealer. I imagine there are ways to do it by EBT today.

    8. Hatchet*

      You’ve already received great advice above, but I’ll add my two cents – if you have accounts/membership to more than one bank or credit union, shop among them. (It’s worth the call to see what each can do.) My credit union will also lower the interest rate on the loan (usually 1/4 of a percent) if I set up auto-pay on the loan payments with them, so that’s worth asking about.
      Be prepared that the dealership will try to get you to finance through them – that’s cool, it’s part of their business. The last time we engaged in that polite discussion and asked about the interest rate we would qualify for, the dealer told us point blank that he wouldn’t be able to beat the deal that the credit union gave us. (We had the pre-approval that Pay No Attention… referred to.)
      Good luck!

    9. Alyn*

      It depends. Lightstream, for example, will send the funds to your account, and you then buy the car with those funds. I like using Lightstream because in addition to having decent rates, they don’t require you to put them on the title of the car as the financier the way a lender arranged through the dealership would.

  32. Bibliovore*

    I have hit a wall on feeding myself.
    I have been pretty much living on eggs, kimchi, and rice for breakfast. Apples and cheese for lunch. Cheerios for dinner. The occasional takeout from the Chinese restaurant, sushi from the grocery store, chicken wings from the Korean takeout.
    Content warning: My husband died a year and half ago and I find I just cannot cook. I buy stuff at the farmers market and I either give it away or it rots in the fridge.

    Winter is coming and it’s getting cold. I am thinking maybe soup or stew in the instant pot but I can’t face making any of our old favorites.

    Any suggestions for pantry or frozen items for tossing together a meal?
    I eat anything except for beets and goat cheese.
    An instant pot recipe that is your go-to?

    1. CharlieBrown*

      There’s an Instant Pot “lasagna” that I love and is so much easier than putting it together and cooking it in the oven. I’ll see if I can find the link and then post it in another comment.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Hi Bibliovore, I think of you often.

      It sounds like the biggest barrier here isn’t a lack of recipes, it’s that you “just cannot cook.” I’ve had times in my life when this was the case. My advice is to think about two things – first, is there a time or circumstance when you *can* cook? I’m better in the morning than late afternoon, and I’m better with company. So for me, when I’m in a “cannot cook” situation, I’m much better doing meal prep as a chore that’s not related to actually being hungry and needing to eat the meal. It’s just another household chore. I also tend to break up the steps of cooking into small bits, so I don’t “make soup,” I “prep the ingredients,” take a break, “saute the veggies,” take a break, and then come back to add the other items. Can you think about when and how cooking is more possible for you, and plan your meals around that?

      Second, if all of that is a non-starter, what about looking at the kinds of meals you’re having now and just expanding that type of thing? An expanded breakfast repertoire might include different egg preparations, cereal for breakfast instead of dinner, cheese and toast, subbing convenience breakfast meats (microwavable) for the side of rice, grits as a side, etc. An expanded lunch might include different fruits with your cheese, canned soup and a sandwich, salad greens with protein on them. (I’ve discovered that if you buy tuna packed in oil instead of water, you don’t really need to do much with it besides drain it and squeeze some lemon on it.) Dinner options could be additional cold cereals, quick cooking hot cereals, preparations based on canned beans (drained chickpeas sautéed in a little olive oil and salt is quick and delicious). The idea isn’t to “do more cooking,” the idea is to do the same amount of cooking that you are doing now, just with some additional items.

      I know other people will post recipes for you, but I’ll also think about my easy one-person go-to recipes and post those if they haven’t been covered. Thanks for popping in here sometimes, I’m always glad to see your posts.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Here are two things I find easy to make for myself.

        Broiled salmon: Marinate a skin-on salmon fillet in soy sauce for about 30 minutes. If you put the fish in a zip loc bag, you can use a smaller amount of soy and squeeze the air out of the bag to cover the fish. Turn the fish once as it marinates if you remember to. Spray a broiler pan with non-stick spray. (I use a quarter-sheet pan with a quarter-sheet cooling rack inside it.) Broil the fish skin-side up until the skin turns brown, about 4 minutes. Flip the fish over and spread a thin layer of smooth dijon mustard over the top. Continue broiling until the mustard just starts to brown at the edges and the fish is cooked to medium-well inside. This is good hot, warm, or cold. If you have it cold or room temperature, it’s quite good with a little sauce made from mayo, smooth dijon, and some lemon juice. Add some whole-grain mustard for texture if you have any.

        Flexible chicken-broth based soup with vegetables, mostly sourceable from Trader Joe’s or your grocery store:

        1 medium container (I think it’s a pint) of mixed chopped onion, celery and carrot
        1 small bundle of parsley (I prefer Italian parsley, but TJ’s only has curly parsley which is also fine) – wash and chop this, you want about 1/2 cup

        Saute the above in olive oil or whatever oil you like until it starts to soften. Season with salt and pepper, about 1-2 tsp. of any dried herb you like (Italian herbs, herbs de Provence, thyme, oregano, tarragon. If you use tarragon or oregano, use the smaller amount). Add a bay leaf if you have one, and some crushed red pepper if you like a little heat.

        This and some low-sodium boxed chicken broth is the base of the soup. I generally like to add a small can of diced tomatoes, but you can use a spoonful of tomato paste instead or just omit the tomatoes.

        I usually take this in one of two directions, bean-heavy soup or chicken vegetable soup. For bean-heavy soup, once you’ve sautéed and seasoned the veggies and added your tomatoes, rinse a couple of cans of beans, add a turkey or pork kielbasa, and cover with a box of chicken broth. If you have a parmesan rind, add that as well. Simmer until the veggies are tender. If you like a beans-n-greens soup, add some chopped kale, escarole, chard, spinach or arugula near the end of the cook time. This soup freezes well. Omit the greens until you have thawed the soup and you’re reheating it.

        For a chicken and veggie soup, once you’ve sautéed and seasoned the veggies and added your tomatoes (if any), pop in whatever kind of chicken you like. I prefer bone-in, skin-on thighs for flavor, but you can use boneless breasts if you like. Adjust the cooking time accordingly. Cover with a box of chicken broth and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. If you’re using thighs, you can leave them in the pot when you add the veggies. If you’re using white meat, remove it once it’s cooked so it doesn’t get tough. Add veggies such as trimmed green beans, diced zucchini, mushrooms (I like shiitake), etc. I really like this soup with frozen chopped okra and frozen baby lima beans, but your mileage may vary. I also like to add canned or frozen corn and some kind of green as in the variation above. This is good served with noodles or rice, or crusty bread. I also like picking out the cooked chicken thighs and using them in a different meal. If you have a brand of prepared meatball that you like, you can use that along with or instead of the chicken.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Thank you so much. I have actually been craving ‘bean heavy soup’ and I think this is possible. The dog has been sick and I made chicken broth in the instant pot and realized that I CAN do this for myself.
          Strangely, I can cook anything my husband hated hence the kimchi overload and Japanese foods.

      2. Not A Manager*

        I like eggs for breakfast a lot. One thing I do is pop some poached eggs on top of something else. One favorite is to chop up a few Brussels sprouts and steam them, covered, in the microwave with a very small amount of water and a big sprinkle of salt. It takes about 2 minutes in my microwave to get them al dente, so they can cook while you poach the eggs and make your toast. My other favorite is smoked salmon. I pull it out of the fridge and warm up a small portion in the oven while my eggs poach, so that it doesn’t cool down my eggs too much. But if you have any leftovers from dinner, ask yourself if they would be good with an egg on top. Most simple meat preparations are great with eggs.

        Also in my suggestions above I forgot to mention avocado. You can add that to almost anything, including chicken vegetable soup, for some added nutrients and good fats. I like to buy the smaller ones because I can never finish a big one before it spoils.

        1. My dog owns me!*

          I second the ‘steam it in the microwave’ thought! If I don’t want to cook I grab a frozen fish fillet and some frozen peas, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, and steam at medium heat for about 10 -15 minutes. The time surely depends on the microwave. Then I prepare some mashed potatoes from the box in a small bowl. It’s so tasty.

          1. My dog owns me!*

            For breakfast, it’s nice to have some overnight porridge: put milk, oats and sugar in a glass, mix it and leave it in the fridge overnight. Add frozen berries if you want to treat yourself! And nuts!

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Suggestions, in the tossing things out vein:

        Would a new cooking for one cookbook offer up some inspiration, since it wouldn’t be reminding you of things you made in the past?

        Hello Fresh type service–daughter used this whenever quarantining, and it helps to get stuff scaled to 1 person rather than try to use up a whole bunch of cilantro or dill.

        When my husband is gone for a while I often find planning and cooking more effort than I want to take on, and will do takeout with the plan to spread it out over several days. Night 1: Appetizer. Night 2: Soup. Night 3: Half of entree. Night 4: Second half of entree. Broken up like that, I’m only getting takeout a couple of nights a week, so it’s less expensive and less effort than ordering every night.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Honestly, it took me about three years to start cooking again after my husband died. I have a friend whose husband died about a decade ago and she’s never really rebounded cooking wise. No advice except to throw money at it if it’s reasonable to continue doing so. My friend shops out of the deli section of her store, makes omelettes and a few things like that, and has carved out a path that works for her.

      1. Solidarity*

        I notice that when my dad is out of town, my mother also never cooks. She eats popcorn and orders a veggie pizza. This makes me feel better about not really cooking as someone who lives alone. Some people love to cook and they love to eat delicious fancy foods! I do not. I have an air popper.

      2. Bibliovore*

        Thank you for sharing. I can throw money at the problem. My lack of drive is more of the issue. I used to get pissed because my husband never thought about dinner until 5:00. It didn’t take long for me to understand if there was going to be dinner, I’m the one who better plan it, shop for it, cook it and serve it or dinner would be Dominoes pizza at 7:00.

    4. fposte*

      Are you game to heat? Delis, including supermarket delis, often have very nice soups, quiche, lasagna, etc. that you can just microwave to your desired temperature.

      For tossing together, any pasta with any veg (and frozen is fine), drizzle olive oil and shave nice Parmesan (I really like the taste and price point of Sarvecchio Parmesan from Wisconsin) on it and go to town. Rigatoni and peas, asparagus spears and linguini–all fine.

      I’m also a huge fan of cooking soup in advance and freezing it in serving sizes, so I would agree with your instant pot instincts. Not sure which shared favorites need to be avoided, but I love just about anything you can do with cannellini beans and some form of pork and greens. I’ve used pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon for the pork; I’ve used anything from kale to baby spinach, obviously with less cooking time for the spinach, for the greens. I also love a lightly curried coconut milk chicken soup; I’ve lost track of where I found it so have no idea what’s a deviation or not, but I usually get a meal off of a rotisserie chicken and then use the rest of it for the soup, split the liquid between chicken broth and coconut milk, and throw in baby spinach and rice noodles.

      1. Solidarity*

        Good point on the deli soups! When I really couldn’t cook make myself cook soup for myself (formerly a go-to, but at some point I lost enthusiasm) I just spent more buying organic healthy soups pre-prepared, with an eye towards the sodium content, and you know what? It was still a good way to get vegetables and a quick, tasty, satisfying meal even though I hadn’t done all the shopping and prep myself. Most regular canned soups from the store are probably not the healthiest option but there are good choices out there! I felt bad not making it myself but, Don’t “should” all over yourself, OP (my therapist says that to me).

    5. Solidarity*

      To be fair, I live alone and I don’t actually prepare full meals for myself. I blame it maybe on low-lying, lingering depression and also a general lack of appetite. It feels like too much to make a whole mess that I’ll have to deal with (dirty pots etc) and I often don’t end up eating much of the food I do manage to cook – what am I, sitting down at a big table full of food by myself? But you know what, snacking is fine. Give yourself a break. My focus is on *healthy* snacks that I will eat willingly, not on what I *should* be doing. A hard boiled egg for breakfast, fruit and crackers and cheese for lunch, maybe a yogurt for dinner with a side of something vegetable. I wasn’t raised in the US and I’ve always wondered if three full meals every day is really necessary for me, a small woman in a sedentary job. I feel like maybe that was more the standard when we were working hard in the fields all day.

      1. Solidarity*

        I just reread this comment and realize I should have said, supplement this with takeout foods that you are happy to eat; it wouldn’t be at all good to eat like this only, all day every day. You don’t have to cook but you should make sure to eat sufficient calories.

    6. North Wind*

      I do a lot of low-maintenance semi-cooking.

      Once every week or two I buy a whole rotisserie-cooked chicken. As soon as I get it, I pull off all the meat into bite-sized chunks and put it in a container in the fridge. You can then use this in lots of ways. Snack on a few pieces for a quick bit of protein, have a bit on crackers with cheese, make instant mac-and-cheese and throw some in to make it more of a meal, put some over tortilla chips with any other dressings (I only did this once, didn’t like it that much).

      Recently, I’ve been buying a container or two of Whole Foods “Homemade” chicken and rice soup. I don’t enjoy drinking a lot of broth with a meal, so I drain all the excess broth from the container and put it in the refrigerator, heat the food portion of the soup and maybe add a bit more chicken to it. Then another day, I’ll boil some brown rice in the broth I’ve saved, then maybe heat some chicken in a skillet with ginger and a bit of lemon juice, and have a different version of chicken and rice.

      So a bit of cooking, but more along the lines of just boiling pasta or rice and heating things up.

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      Trader Joe’s has a fair number and variety of single-serving frozen meals. They—and increasingly other stores—also have shelf-stable packets of prepped foods (such as Indian curries) that you can just heat and plop over rice.

      It seems like you may not have a lot of produce in your diet at the moment, so maybe adding simple things to simple dishes, like adding dried mushrooms to a pot of pasta (bonus for adding zucchini and a sauce). Or simple roasts, like a butternut or acorn squash, which can take but really don’t need much flavoring added. Also, don’t underestimate home tapas! Try to think of ways to work more fresh items in at the same level of your go-to apples and cheese. Maybe carrot sticks and hummus? Add berries to the Cheerios? Just a bucket of cherry tomatoes where you grab a couple as you pass by? I’ve had many a meal composed of multiple mostly healthy snack-type items. It doesn’t have to look cohesive to deliver nutrients.

      Wishing you the best in all this.

      1. Solidarity*

        Yes! Trader Joes is good for this, I think Whole Foods as well! If OP is experiencing what might be considered Disordered Eating, one thing I remind myself of a LOT is that it’s okay to eat some ‘unhealthy’ options if it means you’re getting enough calories. I used to try not to order pizza or get takeout or fast food – too processed, so unhealthy! – but I wasn’t cooking and honestly not getting enough protein or sheer calories in a day is ALSO UNHEALTHY. So get that pizza just to backstop your eating, and then you can try to do your other healthy habits on top of, ya know, actually getting enough food in a day.

    8. WellRed*

      I’m a fan of bags of frozen stir fry or fajita veggies. Add sauce and protein of your choice. 10 minutes, tops. Done! Hope you are doing ok.

      1. WellRed*

        Oh and like North Wind above, totally buy precooked meat (I love shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Target also has some good ones from their good & gather brand).

    9. WellRed*

      I want to add: if you were my friend, I’d want to know so I could make something for you, or with you. Is that a possibility?

      1. Ann Ominous*

        I was thinking this exact thing. Would it feel more accessible to cook with a friend (meal prep together) or for a friend (alternate weeks of meal prep for both of you and you drop their soup/whatever off for them)? That reframing sometimes helps me (and sometimes not).

        My husband was deployed twice, for 2.5 out of the last 4 years, and I couldn’t do all the things he did for us – he is the cook in our house. Not that our situations are the same, I knew he was more than likely coming back, so I cannot even imagine how terrible this feels for you. I had to sign up for meal delivery (yay all the extra pay from combat zone tax exemption) and trade meals with neighbors.

        Once a friend drove over from 10 mins away to take my trash cans to the curb and then left, she texted me that she understood it’s sometimes easier to drive 20 mins than to walk downstairs. So if you have people in your life who get it – grief isn’t just over just because others move on, this is the person you were going to spend your entire life with – I would encourage you to reach out to them and ask for support.

    10. Cacofonix*

      No recipes. I’m sorry for your enduring loss. My husband is the cook for us, and I can’t imagine being any different in your shoes. I would consider a meal prep service at least once or twice a week. Not affordable for everyone. I’d pick no cook varieties like salads or things I’d just need to heat up.

    11. Trixie B*

      I am in the season of not cooking. My friend suggested Freshly. It is a delivery meal service that you heat and eat. The food is homemade and not overly salted. You may want to try it.

      1. MenolyYoga*

        Living alone, I tried Nutrisystem during Covid, not to lose weight but to have plenty meal choices available. I always added frozen vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, cauliflower) to the frozen meals for added nutrition.

    12. Piano Girl*

      My mom (89, widowed, lives alone with family nearby) has a set couple of meals. She rotates frozen fish filets, shrimp, and chicken patties. She supplements these with salad and in-season vegetables. While I was visiting her, we cookies up some frozen fried rice, added a chopped zucchini, and some chicken pieces. Very tasty.

    13. Bibliovore*

      Thank you everyone. These are great suggestions . I like the idea of divorcing prep from meal times. I will give that a try. Also having some protein that is ready made. The local bodega just started having soup that looks tasty- a vegetable barley so I got that today . I wouldn’t even have looked into that case if it wasn’t for these suggestions.

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

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It is completely understandable that you’re feeling overwhelmed.

      Some carb ideas:

      Pop a potato or sweet potato on a tray in the toaster oven and heat at 350 for an hour. Top with sour cream or anything else that appeals.

      For an easy comforting side dish that is flexible, maybe get Jiffy corn muffin mix? You can just dump the batter in a 9×9 pan or a loaf pan — you don’t really need a muffin tin. You can also ignore the advice about greasing the pan if that feels like too much — you’ll still be able to get some corn bread out whether you grease it or not. You can use water instead of milk if you’re out of milk, and you can use one of those little individual applesauces instead of an egg if you’re out of eggs. If you feel fancy and you have some frozen berries, you could dump those in the batter.

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

        Also, for more veggies, maybe bagged pre-rinsed salads and (as was suggested above) some cherry tomatoes along with your favorite dressing? When I’m feeling low, I can’t face a lot of veggie prep, but I can usually manage to run a handful of cherry tomatoes under some water to rinse them and dump out half a bag of salad into a big bowl or onto a plate.

      2. Single Noun*

        I was just about to suggest baked potato/sweet potato, although I do them in the microwave so it only takes 6-10 minutes instead of an hour. If you keep shredded cheese in the fridge, maybe bacon bits, and frozen broccoli if you’re feeling ambitious, that’s 3 food groups and it still feels more like ‘assembling’ than ‘cooking’. (And as an aside, I have just discovered steam-in-bag veggies and I adore them- no dishes!)

    15. Jackalope*

      A few ideas that might help:

      We have a breakfast sandwich that we often eat for dinner. Toast an English muffin with a slice of cheese (I do this in the toaster oven but a regular oven could work in a pinch). Meanwhile fry an egg and slice up an avocado. Make the sandwich with the cheesy muffin, egg, avocado, and some salsa or pico de gallo. The whole process takes less than 10 min to make and sounds like it wouldn’t be too far off from your usual cooking habits.

      I like crock pot “refried” beans. Take a pound of pinto beans, 4 cups of chicken or turkey broth, 2 cups of water, a diced onion or two (depending on how much you like onions), and a spoonful or two of minced garlic. Add a bit of cumin and whatever other spices you might like (cayenne pepper, chili powder, etc.). Cook them for a few hours until the beans are soft. Add some salt (only at the end or the beans will get tough) and blend with an immersion blender. Then you can use them to make bean burritos, bean and cheese quesadillas, etc., etc. It takes very little actual work. And obviously you can reduce the recipe as needed.

      Others have mentioned this, but the bagged salads can be great. Get the ones with multiple ingredients and stir them all together, add a handful of rotisserie chicken or whatever if you want, and you’re good to go!

    16. slowingaging*

      I only cook every few days. I do a sheet pan of veg and chicken and sausage. I am sorry this is so hard. To make it different try different spices. Or buy a bottle of marinade. Can you make it different from the food you ate with your husband?

    17. MJ*

      At one point I got Hello Fresh deliveries. The meals “for 2” gave me enough for 3 servings. So a box of 3 recipes provided me with 9 meals. I didn’t get a box every week, but once or twice a month.

      I had the delivery on Saturday then spent several hours on Sunday cooking all the meals. They then went into single serving containers in the fridge / freezer to heat up during the week.

      What I loved was they were all pretty quick (usually 30-50 min) and I could try new flavours without having to buy lots of spices I might never use again.

      What really helped me was the reduction in decision making! I could look at a couple months’ options online in advance and select the recipes that sounded tasty, or skip the week if nothing appealed. (Or just let them deliver the 3 default options if I didn’t have the energy to choose.) I then didn’t have to think about it again until the box showed up. And the box contained all the ingredients needed to make the dish. I didn’t have to think about what to make with the stuff in my fridge, or decide if I had the energy to run to the store if I was out of an ingredient, I just unpacked the “grocery bag” and follow the recipe card. Bliss.

    18. Alex*

      I’ve recently been really stretched thin and even though in the past was a competent meal planner and cooker, I found I just couldn’t. I decided to throw money at the problem and order some of those heat-and-eat meal subscriptions. I find they are much more satisfying/healthful feeling than frozen meals, and they are super easy and tasty. I get 8 meals delivered each week that take less than three minutes to heat and eat. It’s really taken a load off and stopped me from eating less healthy stuff.

    19. Mary S*

      My go to “I can’t cook today” meal is a bagel + a serving of Greek yogurt. I switch it up with lots of flavors. For example, the other day I had an everything bagel + veggie cream cheese and a small bowl of Greek yogurt with honey, almond slices, and a sliced banana.

      Otherwise I’ll have a continental breakfast with a bakery item + deli turkey/ham rolls + fruit.

      For pantry and frozen items I keep on hand, that’s pasta and beans mainly. Canned baked beans or frozen lima beans and corn to make succotash. Pasta + canned white beans + frozen spinach.

      Wishing you the best.

    20. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I’m pretty bad about cooking for a variety of reasons, and I live alone. A lot of people have already made good suggestions but I’ll throw in mine:

      When I don’t know what else to do, I’ll microwave steam-in-bag peas. Then immediately stir in either spaghetti sauce or plain nonfat greek yogurt depending on my mood. The ‘sauce’ gets heated by the peas and the peas cool down enough to eat. Stir in parmesan to taste. I add garlic powder and black pepper to the creamy version. Done, and to me it tastes like a real meal and is pretty nutritious.

      If I’m peckish but don’t need a meal, it’s about 5 pitted dates with a little natural nut butter stuffed inside. Fun and easy to eat, tastes like an elevated PB & J, also nutritious. I can choose between peanut and almond butter depending on my mood :)

      Of course both of these are nice for not making a lot of dirty dishes, either.

    21. Wink the Book*

      My go tos for times when I just CANNOT are packets of instant miso soup, Persian cucumbers and hummus, veggie nuggets in the freezer section, and coleslaw mix with sesame ginger dressing instead of mayo-based dressing.

    22. Esmeralda*

      Frozen tortellini or ravioli. Buitoni is a good brand. Takes 8 minutes to cook (no need to thaw). Toss w purchased pesto, jarred sauce, jarred tapenade, etc.

    23. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have never enjoyed cooking, so I do the bare minimum. Others have suggested some of what I do, with prepared foods from the deli, frozen meals, etc. My regular breakfast is soft-boiled eggs followed by quick oats with a banana and sweetener (stevia or sugar). I have a ceramic bowl that keeps food hot. I put in five handfuls of oats, slice the banana into it, toss in the stevia, then pour boiling water over it and put a lid over the bowl. After 10 minutes on the counter, it’s ready.

      I recently got a Costco membership. I didn’t think it would pay off for just me alone since most of their quantities are huge, but it’s actually been great. If you have one in your area, you can buy large quantities of items for the freezer. I’ve bought bags of individually wrapped filets of salmon. I add a little butter and water to a frying pan, steam each side for about three minutes, and it’s done with tossing a little salt on it.

      It’s always good to hear from you, and I wish you well.

    24. Gnome*

      I just don’t enjoy cooking. I’ve been known to caramelize onions in a crock pot (adds flavor to anything. Also, my favorite not-cooking recipe is:
      slice one onion (optional), in a disposable aluminum tray, add white rice, chicken tenders, and baby carrots(optional). Add seasoning to taste (I add minced garlic, onion powder, turmeric, salt pepper, and oregano). Add water appropriate to the quantity of rice. Cover tightly in aluminum foil and bake at 400-425 for a while. Usually an hour? I dunno, it extremely forgiving. I don’t measure anything. I usually make about 3-5 servings, but it’s pretty adaptable.

    25. Cyanotype*

      You might not be up for this yet, but I wonder whether trying out a new cookbook with recipes that don’t have your own personal memories attached would be helpful. Something like Korean American by Eric Kim might build on the flavours that you’re having less trouble with right now.

      1. Cyanotype*

        Also, if you’re still looking for drama-free television, I would recommend Victorian Farm and Escape to the Country (equally about charming UK country real estate and local crafts/cookery traditions. Unlike American real estate shows, there’s no drama and no destruction. Usually features couples looking for a house, if that’s a problem. There are many, many seasons).

    26. Emma*

      What about a catering service? We researched this for a sick family member. Some caterers will prepare heat and eat meals that you can pick up weekly. They often have a rotating menu, and you select the ones that appeal that week. May be nice, for filling in the holes. We found multiple who offered single serving meals. May be worth a google. Hugs.

    27. No Longer Looking*

      This stuffed-pepper soup fills the six-qt instant pot. Also I have had more luck browning the meat in a separate skillet instead of in the IP, as if you brown in the post you have to be VERY sure to thoroughly deglaze or this recipe will trigger the burn warning. It makes a lot and you can easily store and freeze leftovers.

      This is basically Chicken Tortilla Soup, I double the batch and add tostitos tortilla strips when serving. It is a favorite at our house, but note that you do tend to be playing Jalepeno Roulette with the spice level.

  33. CharlieBrown*

    Where do you all get your art supplies from?

    We used to have a good drafting/art supply store locally, but they closed down a few years ago. The only place I can get them locally now is either Michael’s (whose range is very limited) or Hobby Lobby (I refuse to shop there) or the local university book store (which again, limited range and high prices).

    I know I could get them from Amazon (yay, “free” shipping with prime) but I have no idea about the source/quality, and I’m giving Even Eviller Lex Luthor even more money.

    Are there any online companies that are reliable, don’t have huge minimums for free shipping, and carry good products that you rely on?

    1. Ranon*

      If you change your thinking around “free” shipping Blick is a reliable source- I’ve found in getting away from Amazon it’s simpler to decide that paying shipping is just part of the cost, so I hit the customer service page to figure out what I’m looking at for shipping costs and then just mentally factor it into my price.

      If you’re in a larger city and don’t need things in new condition you might also look look around for a creative reuse store- there are some incredible deals in the stores I’ve been to.

    2. Oysters and gender freedom*

      My go tos are Jerry’s Artarama or Dick Blick. Free shipping sometimes comes on special, with a lower amount than usual.

      1. Blomma*

        I also recommend these two companies.

        Amazon delivered the wrong color paint to me twice because they messed up and put the wrong sticker on the box. I try to avoid them for art supplies now.

      2. Stinky kitty*

        I didnt know Jerry’s had more than one store. We have one locally and I always though it was just someone named Jerry that had a store. They have the largest selection of painty stuff my wife goes for and I was surprised they had drafting supplies.

        1. Ampersand*

          Ha! I thought the same, and assumed the Jerry’s in my city was just some dude named Jerry who sold art supplies. Locally. :)

          Apparently they were founded in Long Island (by Jerry) and are headquartered in NC. I learned something today!

          They’re reasonably priced with a good selection from what I recall, so I would recommend them.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Block, Cheap Joe’s (despite name, excellent quality and I can get stuff there that’s hard to find elsewhere), Artopia.

      Of those, Cheap Joe’s is my favorite.

      I’m also fortunate to have access to a really good local art supply store but again, they don’t carry everything. They do have a lovely selection of children’s/beginner supplies so my kids get the good stuff for very reasonable prices

    4. osmoglossum*

      Utrecht Art supplies is a good source, they have a $69 minimum for free shipping — I used to shop at their store in NYC. You can also check Blick Art Supplies.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      University book store when I can, because I get the student discount and they’re desperate for us to buy from them instead of Amazon.

    6. Healthcare Worker*

      Try Dick Blick online. We get all of our supplies there. Very helpful staff if you call, too.

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

      I usually know what manufacturer that I’m interested in…daniel smith watercolors for example…and look up the manufacturer’s website; sometimes I can buy directly from the source and sometimes they have a list of stores that sell their products so you might be able to buy local.

      If you really don’t have a preference on manufacturer, or just want general art/craft supplies, you might try outside the “art store” box for less expensive stuff…the hardware store, or a store for teachers, like CM School Supply.

  34. PhyllisB*

    Well, I survived my hip replacement!! I was going to check in last week but didn’t really feel up to writing a lengthy post. I’ve done amazingly well, very little pain. I only had to take my pain meds the first two days. Well, I took a half dose at night for two more days but probably didn’t really need to do that. Now I just use Tylenol. Didn’t even have to touch the super duper pain killer.
    Finished up my home therapy yesterday and go back to doctor Monday so I guess I’ll start some outpatient therapy then. Appreciate all the good thoughts and well wishes.
    To Edgar, I hope your recovery goes as smoothly as mine has. I will tell you, if you live alone you really need someone with you for the first few days because you will have a bit of trouble getting up and down and will need assistance with that and putting your leg up on the bed.
    Other than that, I will say listen to your therapist and do your exercises. My doctor told me to download the My Mobility app. It gives you reminders three times a day to do a set of exercises. None of them are very difficult (except the leg lift. I just got to where I could do it on my own the last couple of days.) The whole set takes maybe 15 minutes to do, but take some pain medication or Tylenol so you don’t get too sore. You will get a bit sore, especially late in the day when you’re doing that third set but as the saying goes YMMV. Everyone told me I would be so glad I had done it, and I agree. Even though I have some pain, it’s not near like what it was, and I don’t limp anymore!! Hope your recovery goes as well as mine has, and if you have questions, I will be glad to answer

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      That’s wonderful to hear! And good for you for doing your physical therapy regularly, which is the key to full recovery.

  35. What Should Your Neighbor Do When You Sell?*

    This is my first house and I feel like my norms may be slightly twisted on this one: what is the role of neighbors when someone is trying to sell their house? I totally remember asking neighbors for their thoughts before I bought, but I also worry the appearance of my house should be tippy-top when my neighbor is selling, particularly while they’re showing it to buyers – and I’m paranoid my big dog will bark at potential buyers and put them off, so I keep pulling him inside. Am I overthinking this? Selling a house seems really high-stakes to me and I don’t to screw it up and cost someone literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    1. fposte*

      I’d go with yes, you’re overthinking it. To put it another way, whoever moves in will have to live with the real you, and if tippy-top isn’t your norm (heaven knows it’s not mine) there’s no reason to pretend it is for the moment. If your dog is a big fence barker at neighbors, I think it’s polite to bring him in if you know there are people wandering around, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t–a dog-phobic isn’t going to want to live next to how things normally are. Don’t just think of the impact on your current neighbors, think of the neighbors-to-be.

      1. tangerineRose*

        “To put it another way, whoever moves in will have to live with the real you, and if tippy-top isn’t your norm (heaven knows it’s not mine) there’s no reason to pretend it is for the moment.” This!

    2. Sorry*

      Definitely overthinking this. In nearly 40 years not a single neighbor has ever made any changes to their properties or live styles because a house was for sale.

      1. JSPA*

        I’ve been asked to de-clutter the porch a bit for neighbors to take photos, because we’re a row of cute, quirky, similarly-styled houses, so having a shot showing the neighbors was a potential selling point. But absent that sort of specific request (which came with the offer of a helping hand!) there’s no reason to spontaneously start sprucing up, unless you’re doing it for your own happiness or your own sense of neighborliness.

        Mind you, knowing that people will be casting a judgemental eye can be a great prompt to fix and tidy the things you’ve been meaning to get to, anyway. So, do some of those, and don’t sweat the rest of it.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Wouldn’t you want a new neighbor to know generally what to expect if they’re going to live next to you, so that they don’t move in and then feel cheated or scammed in some way because there is a dog that barks, or sometimes the neighbor’s grass gets long?

      Definitely overthinking it, hope you can reframe *how* you’re thinking of it. There’s no way what you’re describing will “cost” someone hundreds of thousands of dollars. They’ll find a buyer sooner or later, and none of it is your responsibility outside of general maintenance you’d presumably do anyway.

      1. Solidarity*

        If you were a buyer, how much would you care about the state of a neighbor’s house or the behavior of their dog? I feel like I would care a lot. Selling seems so arbitrary to me – the price can change by 10K in the blink of an eye depending on the day – I just don’t want to mess this up for my neighbor.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Reread my first sentence above. If there was an aspect of my neighbor’s property/lifestyle that would affect anything about my decision to purchase a house next to them, I would really want to have a realistic picture before buying the house, rather than learning about it after.

          Unless your neighbor is moving purely to get away from you, I would think you’d want an incoming neighbor to have a similar perspective on living next to you that this one does. They exist! Your current neighbor is proof that they exist! Your current neighbor can choose to sell to someone who is like them in this regard (which would not mean losing money), or take less money if the buyer is not (and note that they would be handing *you* a potentially unpleasant neighbor if they did so). You can’t care more about the selling price point than your neighbor does, but you must care about how you will get along with your future neighbor.

          1. Observer*

            You can’t care more about the selling price point than your neighbor does, but you must care about how you will get along with your future neighbor.


        2. Ann Ominous*

          “ If you were a buyer, how much would you care about the state of a neighbor’s house or the behavior of their dog?”

          If they care a lot, then knowing exactly how the dog acts will really matter! And if they care a lot but don’t know because it’s actively hidden from them, that can result in strained relationships when they are the new neighbors.

          If they don’t care, then it won’t matter either way.

          This isn’t on the LW to mitigate and I would argue does a disservice to potential buyers who would make a different choice if they had the option for informed consent.

        3. Russian in Texas*

          I would care a lot, but I would want to see the real picture, not what someone make lol like for the one day.

        4. JSPA*

          I’d potentially avoid any dog, due to allergies; my sister would buy the house, at a premium, just to commune with your romping, digging, howling, easily-spooked, difficult dog. Slight exaggeration, maybe… but point is, they should sell the house to the person who will love living there, and will pay handsomely for the actual house and actual situation.

          Hiding a serious problem can come back to bite the seller, after the fact.

          If your dog is downright, “will rip your face off if I can break through this fence” aggressive, you have a bigger problem.

          But, “my dog is more doggy than many people like” is like “my neighbors cook with huge amounts of garlic” or “you can smell the sativa” or “their holiday display involves 20 animatronic life-sized creatures.” Let people who think that’s great, self-select.

          Everyone wins.

        5. Observer*

          If you were a buyer, how much would you care about the state of a neighbor’s house or the behavior of their dog? I feel like I would care a lot.

          As a neighbor, I would have even less incentive to “dress up” for someone like that. Because what happens once the house is sold, and you don’t like how my house looks? People are not going to get rid of their pets, make an outside pet suddenly become and inside pet, redo the front of their house or fundamentally change the way they use their porch / front yard driveway because the new neighbor doesn’t like it.

          1. tessa*

            …which is too bad. A relative lives next door to a seriously junky house and is having trouble selling her own house because of it. Clean up your junk, people!

            1. Observer*

              Well, the neighbor should clean up their junk. Of course.

              But not because it’s making it hard for the neighbor to sell. As I said, what’s going to happen once the house is sold?