weekend open thread – July 15-16, 2023

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Guest, by Emma Cline. A young woman with few resources relies on men’s interest in her to survive — while making bad decision after bad decision. It’s riveting — I read it almost all in one night — but also disturbing enough that I wanted to shower afterwards.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,202 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. The Messy Crafter*

    Please give me your best tips for keeping crafting contained! I tend to be a messy person. A few years ago I did an analysis of my greatest sources of mess, and it was clear that craft projects were a big culprit. I tended to have multiple half-finished projects with the parts scattered everywhere, and they never seem to get done. Since then, I honestly sort of … stopped crafting. Which has worked for the mess, but I used to really love it! I don’t have enough space for a designated “crafts room” in my apartment, so these projects are always in my living room. “Only do one at a time, and put each one away before starting another” is fairly obvious, if somehow harder than it should be. Does anyone have any more tips for me to balance messy art projects and a clean apartment?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This might be kind of obvious, but – containers. Shoeboxes, baskets, totes. I have a bunch of metal buckets that I keep current projects in. (Some were souvenir popcorn buckets from movie theaters, others were just bought as decorative storage.) If your containers are similar they look like a set of something. If you have a half dozen little Rubbermaid shoebox sized totes, you can maybe stack them up under an end table or something.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The Container Store. A set of shelves with baskets or whatever makes sense to literally contain the different types of crafts.

      2. AGD*

        I buy all sorts of containers from thrift shops. The only requirements aside from my liking them are: big enough, lidded and stackable, durable, easy to clean, and not made out of wicker or something else that might try to eat the yarn.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      You need to establish a habit of completion.

      First half of the month — start new things.

      Second half of the month — finish old things.

      Or adjust the timing as necessary, i.e., first week, last three weeks, etc.

      1. English Rose*

        Oh I like this idea. I’m also guilty of not finishing, but this structure may help, thank you.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I still have a backlog, but this kind of scheduling does help me get more done now than I ever have before.

    3. HannahS*

      Hello, yes, I am also a messy crafter in a small apartment. I carry bad news. There really isn’t a solution other than “learn to put things away.” It doesn’t mean doing only one at a time or having Pinterest-level organization. I suggest having a bin with a lid or even just a laundry basket where all in-process projects go. Shove everything for one project into a grocery bag and put it in the bin at the end of a craft session.

      What forced me to make it work was that I had a baby (now toddler) and my craft materials are either sharp or choking hazards (or sharp choking hazards!) so I really do have to put everything away.

    4. Corinne*

      I’m not sure if this applies to your type of craft, but containers are key. In sewing/quilting (my jam) it’s super helpful to be able to pack up WIP with confidence in being able to start up close to where you left off. ArtBin makes SO MANY different types of storage containers. My favorites are the big flat ones (maybe a third the size of a typical under bed tote?) that let me put in cut fabric, extra fabric, thread, pattern. Browsing their stuff may help inspire. Craft on!

    5. Kalongdia*

      I don’t know if this would work with your types of craft, but I knit/crochet, so I just got a large cardboard box, put it in a closet, and tossed all of my materials in the box. Was it still messy? Absolutely, but the mess was contained to a box that no one but me would see

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I got one of those 3-tiered roller carts and have one in-progress project per bin. It doesn’t reduce the mess completely but it keeps all the supplies for a given project together in one place without getting mixed up in a bigger pile with the other ones, and it keeps them visible so I’m more likely to be reminded to work on them. Then you can also make a rule that you can’t start a new project until one of the bins is available (I do not do this, lol)

        1. Held*

          Yes, these are great. Note that you can often find them quite a bit cheaper than this. I got all metal ones on EBay and Walmart respectively for $20. If you can drive to pick up at a store, (IOW, not NYC) you can definitely get them cheaper.

      1. zaracat*

        Yes, making the containers easy to tidy away is important. If the containers are too large or heavy you will either not put them away, or avoid using them and still have the same problem with mess.

    7. Professor Plum*

      Ruthlessly evaluate the current UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Do you still want to make it? If not, get rid of it—thrift store or other give away, or simply toss it. Then when you’ve got those out of the way, you may find your way back to the ones you really like.

      Let us know next week how it’s going!

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        I second this suggestion. Ask why you like to start but not finish. There is usually a lag after something is half done because it’s not as much fun anymore, or you’re afraid it won’t be perfect, or you get to a hard part you don’t want to tackle (zippers are My bete noire!) Focus on the joy of completion!
        And don’t shop for more while there are
        Several unfinished projects. In addition to the suggestions of containers, a label maker is your friend. Good luck! Creative projects just take up room and have lots of little parts. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Advertising is designed to make us buy, and optimism makes us think we can do it all.

        1. Rainy*

          Oh man, I have a project that needs a zip and I will definitely finish it this fall, but I’m so scared of putting in zips.

          1. Engineer Gal*

            If you find a good alterations person-you can have them just put in the zipper. I feel a little guilty but I know I suck at zippers and it’s maybe $20

    8. JSPA*

      clear-top (or entirely clear) bins, if you can stomach using that much plastic. Or well-labeled boxes.

      example: I have at the moment a plastic bin with modeling clay bags at the bottom, another box with non-rusting tools on one side above that, and metal tools in a padded mailer inside a ziplock on top of those, and a towel and layer of bubble wrap with current projects nestled into it. The front and side of the box have a labeled diagram, so I’ll remember what’s where (and what’s fragile).

      or check yard sales for classic organizers.
      example: the classic “fix clothes, don’t discard them” sewing box (with spool holders, cubby for pincushion, cubby for darning egg, cubby for bag-of-buttons, section for needles and pins still in cards, section for thimbles, section for a few darning hooks, section for iron-on patches, and space for a small bag of assorted yarns and elastic and basting tape). Or the pressboard / cardboard style tied portfolio, which can be slipped inside a trashbag as a dust cover, tagged with a duct-tape label (that sticks up or out like a labeled file), and slipped between the wall and a sideboard or dresser.

      I also keep a master notebook or phone list with parts needed (checked off as bought) and a small bin for incoming home repair and craft supplies that are not yet shelved (but when the bin is full, stuff must be used or put away, before more is bought).

      There’s also “plumbing related” box, “electric related” drawer, a peg board in the garage for tools that don’t mind some dust (with each tool outlined!), box with little bags of stainless steel screws and fittings, box with little bags of non-stainless screws and fittings.

      I don’t worry about sorting by gauge or length or head type or purpose–I can eyeball for what I want. Same thing for colors (for me). Deciding that I didn’t need to categorize to completeness, but just so I could put my hands on what I needed, made organizing things a lot easier.

    9. NotBatman*

      Tackle boxes! I keep all my craft supplies in two tackle boxes – one big one with an attached fish cooler for my knitting supplies, one small one with compartments for lures for my jewelry and miniatures. They’re the best storage solution I’ve found, with a million tiny compartments apiece and highly versatile carrying cases.

    10. Natalie*

      Echoing what other people have said about containers!
      I don’t know how limited your space in your living room is, but what’s worked for me is one of those cubic shelves (mine is 3 by 3) with little canvas bins.
      I have nine little bins. Three of them hold supplies, and so I’ve decided that I’m not ‘allowed’ to have more than 6 projects ongoing.
      It’s really helped, because now if I have a little time and want to work on something, everything that I need is all in the one bin, so I can just pull it out, do as much of that project as I have time/interest, and then put the entire thing away pretty easily.
      Might not work for your situation, but I’m wishing you luck! <3

      1. Sloanicota*

        Keeping the project in the bin is definitely step two of my problem. I like to have the craft allll spread out so I can see all the pieces, and then it gets stuck sitting out forever. I think weirdly trays work a bit better for me than bins at keeping the crap together, but with something like acrylic painting it would have to be a really big tray.

      2. Bruce*

        This is more of a decluttering comment: My basement + garage was very cluttered and it was hard for me to find specific tools in all the mess, recently I saw a sale at a tool store on one of those big standing tool chests and decided to go for it. It seems to have catalyzed a lot of progress: Most of my tools are now in the chest, when I find a box with more tools I can add them to the chest and pick which duplicates go into the box for charity/disposal. Some tool kits are neatly stacked in bins so I can find them, and I’ve freed up enough shelf space that I have room to rearrange, sort and winnow. I now have 20 years worth of accumulated fasteners in 4 bins that are reasonably easy to find things in. It also helps that I’ve realized that some marginally useful things can simply be junked if I’ve tried to give them away and I don’t get any takers… Just in the past week I’ve made as much progress clearing the basement clutter as I did in the 2 years since we moved in, hoping to keep momentum so that my kids and step-kids don’t have to clean it up someday :-)

    11. Qwerty*

      In my living room, I have one of those cubes that fits in ikea shelves (like Kallax) where I store my in progress yarn crafts. I am not allowed to exceed that box, which helps limit me on the number of in-progress items, keeps it contained/neat but also accessible when I’m watching TV

      Similar smaller container for cross stitch/embrodiary that fits inside the end table (the giant cross stitch stand just sits in a corner because it doesn’t collapse easily)

      In my bedroom I have a giant rubbermaid tub for all of my non-yarn supplies and then an underbed container for all the yarn.

      What I try to do is have only one project of each type, so currently my in progress are
      Crochet – small amigurumi
      Knit – baby blanket
      Big Cross-stitch
      Travel sized cross-stitch (that I take on vacation)
      Sewing – I think a dress? haven’t opened that container in a while
      Quilting – baby blanket

    12. Kt*

      I have this struggle and no easy answers. mer a last yesterday who does collage and she keeps everything for s single project in a bag. paper scraps, glue stick, etc, all in one zippered pouch that she can grab and go with. I like this idea! the big paradigm shift for me, that I’m thinking of for myself, is that organization by project not by tool. I currently have all paper one place, all fabric another place, etc, and so I need to go five places to put away the materials for a given project, so I just leave it out….

      1. Sloanicota*

        This exactly! I have a box of brushes, a crate full of quilting supplies, a drawer of various needles and crochet hooks … so the result is that when I pull things out to do a project, I’ve created a new mess that’s going to be intensive to put away. I need to move to a project binning system instead.

    13. Thurley*

      Definitely containers. I sew and quilt and have my own crafting space, but it’s also my office so I need to keep it semi-tidy. I have open bins from IKEA that I use for a project in process. I’ve trained myself to keep everything for that project in the bin as I’m working, so scraps, thread, patterns, parts, etc. if I’m not actively working with it it goes in the bin. I also have a bin for general tools I’ll need. I’ve also tried trays but that didn’t work as well for me. For you, I’d recommend open bins that stack for easier storage. Target has some in their “dollar” area right now. I also use clear Sterilite boxes with clip on lids to store projects supplies and future/past projects. You could use boxes like that instead of open bins and just set the lid aside when you’re working. They’re contained and stack and they have several different sizes that work together.

    14. MissCoco*

      I agree with everyone else that having things by projects so I can get one thing out and then put ONE thing up when I’m done is much better than keeping things all together in containers that involve opening/getting out 5 containers to get started.

      I also let myself keep things out if I am currently working on them, as long as they look neat and are quick to pick up if we are having people over or I just want the house to look nice. I do a mini-pickup every evening (putting my yarn back in my open project bin next to the couch or storing my paints in a small box I leave on the table), but if I am currently working on a project it only has to “hide” if we are having guests over. That helps me keep up my crafting momentum, but also keeps my husband from feeling like our one bedroom apartment is littered in craft supplies. I also find that having one space to do a project helps prevent the craft sprawl. I have one project I crochet in bed, another I work on at the couch. They each have their little place to be set aside.

      There are also some crafts I’ve given up on because they are too hard to put up or look too messy when they are out. I love collage, but it takes me too long to re-sort and neatly store my supplies between sessions. I have also been moving away from lots of color work in my crochet, because it’s harder to work on a project that involves 12 balls of yarn than one that involves 3.

      I’ve also gotten faster to “give up” on projects if they aren’t working for me at a specific time.

    15. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Clear plastic storage bins! They come in sizes from shoebox to crate, and there’s almost always SOMEPLACE with them on sale. I have one or two for each project, and I store multiples for a project together. I have various crafts tucked all over my shelves, rather than a dedicated craft shelf. The clear bins mean I can still see what’s in it and go ooh, I wanna do that right now, and it’s way easier to put a craft away if all I have to do is chuck it back in the box and slide it back into the spot.

      Transparency is the most important part in my case, “out of sight, out of mind” is literally true for me.

      (I actually do this with a lot of my stuff, if it doesn’t stand/stack on it’s own it’s probably in a box or tupperware. It made all my organizing less of a nightmare.)

    16. Callie*

      Also messy person, but I’ve worked hard to get my crafting under control. I knit, sew, and paint. I also have various crafting materials that aren’t specifically related to them, but still needed.

      For knitting:
      I have have 6 pending projects right now. For the small projects, I have one to two in a knitting bag. All the yarn for the projects is stored in a box under a bench in my living room. Large projects are stored in a bag that zips up (because my dog likes wool)
      For my tools, I have one set of interchangeable circular needles, one roll up filled with various straight needles, and one small pencil case with place markers, cable needle, crochet hook, and a needle. All of these items are from cocoknits so they are magnetic and attach to a magnet bracelet. I used to have a huge stash of knitting tools–lots of family members/friends/neighbors who have given up knitting saw me as an easy mark for off loading their stuff.
      For the most part, all the bins fit on a shelf on my bookshelf and under a bench in my living room.

      watercolor paper, brushes in a bamboo roll, and travel paint set are in a bag next to a bookshelf for easy access

      various craft supplies:
      grouped in very general categories–ie glue, tape, paper, stickers. These are also stored on a bookshelf.

      To stay on top of the various projects, I’m pretty obsessive about using a Bullet Journal and OneNote to plan and organize. In OneNote and my bullet journal, I keep a list of my current projects. I largely use the bullet journal to plan and make notes on patterns, like gauge and notes on adjustments. In OneNote, I have a page for each project. On that page, I have a check list of all the steps, yarn, needles, pattern and various other notes. Since I have so many pending projects right now, I also have post it notes with the same checklists in my bullet journal. This helps me see the projects closer to finish than others or ones that have an easy step to complete so I can prioritize a project when I have a few spare minutes or a longer time to work.

      I guess the tl;dr is:
      1. think about what tools are needed across projects and store in a central location, get rid of ones you don’t use or have duplicates
      2. categorize and store projects/materials for easy access
      3. make lists to assess project progress

      I use the IKEA SMALA boxes. They stack easily even when you have multiple sizes. They are clear so it’s easy to see what’s inside.

      Hope this helps!

    17. Ginger Cat Lady*

      For me, what (sort of) worked was switching from trying to be organized by tools/supplies and instead organize by project. So I bought bins for each project. When I’m done working for the day, everything goes back in there. I didn’t need to put the tools in 3 different spots and the paper over here and the glue over there etc. SO much easier to plunk it all in the bin, which meant I was more likely to actually DO that.
      It did (eventually) mean I bought multiples of a few small tools but the system was otherwise working so I did it.
      It also had the unexpected benefit of making it easier to get started because everything was already all together. So I find I craft MORE.

    18. ampersand*

      What everyone else said: containers. I struggle with this, too, in a home with a kid who uses lots of crafts stuff, in addition to my own items. I put our crafts items in clear, plastic bins and labeled them. So I can both see and read what’s in each. Then I store those in an ottoman (within easy reach for the kid) and a closet (for stuff we use less frequently).

      I think any kind of container would work–definitely recommend labeling, though, for easy identification. I’m not naturally organized, and I don’t always finish projects…you’re not alone with this–it’s a struggle!

    19. Dancing Otter*

      I use two different types of containers, mostly, depending on the stage of the project. Not only does this make it easier to put things away, but it also keeps the materials and tools together and easier to find the next time I want to work on something.
      1) Cupcake carriers from snapware (or similar)work well for quilt blocks. They stack well, have handles, have a divider so two small projects can share one container without getting intermingled, and are translucent enough to see colors. I also use them for scraps, sorted by color or style (batik, solids, whatever). I can stash the current project out of the way quickly.
      2) For larger amounts of fabric, or when a quilt-top outgrows the cupcake carrier, I use jumbo zipper bags. For example, I bought all the fabric for quilt design ABC; I fold it neatly with the pattern into a ziplock until I’m ready to start. Or I have a top put together ready to layer, and I want to keep the backing fabric with it, so I don’t use it for something else: ziplock.

      Both of these seal out silverfish and the like. Say what you will about plastic, I can reuse them almost indefinitely; and throwing away multiple sweater quantities of yarn due to moths isn’t “green” either.

      1. Bruce*

        My Mom was a quilter… when we cleared her house we collected 50 boxes full of material that we gave to her quilting friends!

    20. Pajamas on Bananas*

      Search clutterbug bee. Cas from clutterbug has great organizing tips. There’s a quiz to identify the organization style, but I really think you’re a bee. Here’s an excerpt:

      A Bee is a visual person who often has a project on the go! Bees are very organized people, but they also prefer to “see” their important and frequently used items, rather than store them away in closets or containers. Bees also like to keep their tools, papers and other supplies out until they are finished the job, often piling them until they have a chance to put them away “properly”.
      Bees almost always come with a lot of stuff. Whether it be exercise equipment, scrapbooking supplies, photographs, art supplies, books, cooking and baking utensils, woodworking materials, home improvement tools or any other supplies you use during your hobby, it can quickly take over your space.

  3. Not Ready For Retirement*

    Okay, I think I need a gut check. My parents, early 70s, are coming to visit me this week in my seaside town. They have said they want to check out “retirement communities” in my area while they’re here. For some reason, I’m having trouble absorbing this – they are still young and vibrant! I’m not ready for them to be thinking about end of life! And suddenly dealing with this seems Very Real – like, are they definitely sure they want to live close to me and not my brother, who has their grandkids (he lives across the country – I’m single, no kids). I was thinking I might move home to be closer to them if and when they need help, but I haven’t exactly promised I would. It just seems like we are suddenly talking about deciding this Today, Forever, although I know that’s not true. Who else has gone through this, and how did you manage to be kind and helpful to your parents?

    1. WellRed*

      The best time to talk about this and explore options is now while they are still vibrant. It’s difficult to communicate and create upheaval once the aging really hits and that can happen shockingly fast. Sorry. Just have them come visit and really listen to them. They probably don’t know what they want either.

      1. MassChick*

        Haven’t read the other comments yet, but I agree with this so much. I am caring for a parent who was in severe decline before I (and she!) realized it. So the fact that your parents are planning ahead is great.

        And they are checking out not deciding. Maybe they also plan to check such communities near your sibling? Start the conversation and explore the possibilities.

        1. Louisiana girl*

          I guess I am one of the lucky ones. Both parents had wills and prepaid funeral plans. They believed in facing reality. So my siblings and I had very little to do except grieve. I have friends whose parents don’t believe they are mortal! And they will not discuss any end of life plans.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        +1 on doing this when still sharp and energetic. It’s much harder after something wallops that.

        They probably don’t know what they want either.
        I really respect their approach here. Look at possible new homes near various family. Talk to your kids about options.

      3. RussianInTexas*

        Yes. My father went from young an vibrant to the full on dementia in a year, last year, at the age of 69. You want to make plans and arrangements now, while you can.
        It’s a lot more difficult to do when there is no cooperation from one of them.

        1. Bruce*

          My Mom developed CJD at age 70, so “been there”… she was good friends with her attorney, and confided in them when she started to feel something was wrong. The attorney was our hero for convincing Mom to sign a POA and medical directive, we knew what she wanted but it was best to have it in writing since she did not want life extending treatment after a certain point. Hang in there!

      4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        I completely agree. My mother was a nurse and so we discussed her end-of-life care long before it was needed, and thank god because when the time came, I was way too emotional to discuss it then. When people and young and healthy is the time to talk about these things. It gets so much harder when the reality of illness comes.

      5. RedinSC*

        I completely agree. My parents are in decline, heart attack, dementia, etc, and now I’m talking about a place where they could get help, or at least in home help and they’re not up for it. My sister and I cannot continue to support them with everything they need.

        This is the perfect time for the parents to put a plan into place.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m kind of in the other boat – I would like my parents to move closer to me, but they currently live in my hometown and both my siblings are near to them, and they aren’t ever willing to talk about end of life planning, even though both of them have been through drama when their own parents died without sufficient planning in place. (And I don’t trust my brother, or more accurately his wife, to not foment drama over my parents’ end of life, like swoop in before anything is officially sorted and swan out with armloads of valuable or sentimental stuff to give to her god-awful trash family members.)

    3. Chaordic One*

      You are so lucky that your parents are doing this now, while they are still able to. This is such a blessing. Go with it.

      1. NotBatman*

        This. Atul Gawande (Being Mortal) talks about how a majority of middle-aged Americans are in bad fights with their beloved parents over older adults’ resistance to retirement communities. If you can avoid this particular family struggle, then it’s a considerable blessing even if it comes with some understandable shock and discomfort.

        1. Frieda*

          My brother, a military vet and established professional in his 50s, was sobbing on the phone to me this week about our parents’ total unwillingness to have a much overdue talk about some of their retirement choices.

          He’s now not taking their calls and on GOD if they don’t have some mutually respectful conversations before the end inevitably comes I’m forgiving no one.

          It has led me to make some promises to my own children, I tell you what.

        2. Chaordic One*

          My sisters and I have had a terrible time with my parents in getting them to discuss this and how to prepare for their futures. When we brought it up they accused us of wanting to push them into their graves before they were ready. Of course this wasn’t true, but we did want to them to have some plans made ahead of time and to know what their wishes are when the time inevitably comes. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it was painful and I’m sure it will be a mess when they do finally pass.

          1. RedinSC*

            I am kinda relieved to see so many people in the same boat as me and my sister.

            It’s a terrible place to be, but I’m not alone, I see that. Doesn’t help much, but knowing you’re alone in this is something

      2. Emma*

        100%!!! Way, way better than when someone unexpectedly breaks a hip or something and the decision has to be made immediately. What a great gift your parents are giving your family, of sorting this out now.

      3. Callie*

        Yes, it is a gift that they are being proactive, even though it is hard to see now.

        Now that my dad has passed, my mom is living on her own. My dad needed substantial care at the end of his life to maintain any sort of quality of life. After seeing that, I don’t know how to provide that to my mom from across the country.

        She lives a 4 hour flight away from me. One sibling is a 10 hour drive and the other lives out of the country. My husband and I tried to get her to move closer to us, but she doesn’t want to.
        She doesn’t want to leave her friends. To be honest, I think she is also holding out hope the sibling who is living out of the country moves back to her city.
        To be honest, I don’t want her living closer, but I have no idea how support any health need that arises as she ages.

    4. California Dreamin'*

      I will tell you that my mom (now 82) put off and was stubborn about thinking about changing her living arrangements, and anytime I would suggest that she might like to move closer to me and my family (I’m an only child), she would say something like well, maybe SOME day I’ll think about that. And then some cognitive decline started, and finally we reached a point where we had to basically insist that she can no longer live alone, and it’s been super stressful for me and by extension for my husband. The process of going through this with my mom has made me realize that I DO NOT want to put my kids through that and that my husband and I should plan for our later years before it gets to the point that we can’t think clearly about it and have to be prodded. Maybe your parents are thinking along those lines. And there are some really vibrant retirement communities that really only take you when you’re relatively “young” and healthy.

      1. Bluebell*

        I’m in a somewhat similar situation with an 88 year old mother who is starting to have a hard time physically doing certain things, and is refusing even a 2 hour a week shift of someone to help with grocery shopping or other tasks. And she lives in a state that is 2, 4 or 5 hours away from me and my 2 sibs. She is starting to slip a little cognitively, but it’s not too much. Mostly we just keep our fingers crossed, because she is very independent and is still waiting for a rich Prince Charming to help support her. It would have been terrific if she was willing to think about moving after her long term partner passed away 12 years ago.

      2. AGD*

        This happened with someone in my family years ago. She was in her mid-nineties and had never left her house. I don’t blame her – it was a great old house and she had a ton of stuff from about seven decades – but her mobility was declining to the point that the upper one and a half floors were becoming inaccessible/dangerous. Throughout a period of hospitalization, she kept insisting on being sent home at the end, but unfortunately things got worse and she passed away suddenly. It took a year and a half of emptying the house and renovating it before it was ready to sell, and most of that work was both physically laborious and emotionally painful. She had a will but it covered very few objects, and in a couple of those cases it was difficult to match the item named with what we found as we emptied the house. She also had a knack for putting things in hiding spots, which meant opening every box, every jar, every envelope – most were empty, but about 10% contained things she found special. There were a few bright moments in the effort but it was mostly thankless.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Honestly, she may have become overwhelmed by the amount of work and prefer for her heirs to have to go through it all rather than doing it herself! But that’s not the legacy I’d hope to leave my family, either. I should really start downsizing now …

    5. DannyG*

      Retirement Community does not equal assisted living/nursing home. Check out The Villages in Florida or go to Peggy Rowe’s Facebook posts to read about the place she and her husband of 60+ years live. My father, my oldest brother and his wife, and a couple we are friends with all love The Villages. Dad played golf almost every day, as did my brother. The golf cart friendly design allowed him to get around on his own until he was 90. It’s not for everyone, but lots of people love it. There are other communities with different vibes, but the opportunity to be active in a community that is designed for seniors can be very attractive.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Came here to say the same thing! Think of it as moving into a 55+ community. I’m 62 and dear hubby is 73 and we have no desire to handle grounds—be it mowing or snow removal—or repairs or even basic maintenance (roofs, gutters, hvac, etc). We’d rather be planning trips, taking courses—or just dealing with work.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Danny, I should have read your message before posting, I see we are thinking alike. I would love to live in a community like you’re describing, but finances don’t allow. Plus my husband wouldn’t even thinkabout it. But you’re right, there’s some great places to consider.

    6. Viette*

      Early 70’s young and vibrant is a great age and state of health to move into a retirement community. If they’re inspired to do it, certainly they will do as they like but also I would welcome that — it’s now or later and now is probably going to be easier.

      If part of the fear is that once they move close to you, they’ll take over your life: one reason now is easier is that they’ll have the energy and mental flexibility to find and make new friends in their community who aren’t you. Encourage them to find someplace that fulfills them in ways you can’t, be it interest groups or sports clubs.

      They’re thinking about end of life planning, which can be upsetting as the kid but is often comforting to consider as the parent. They may want to live close to you for various reasons, like the climate or the tax laws. Hopefully they’ll have another ten or even twenty years, but they’ve internalized that they’ll decline in that time period and they want to be well set up when they do. Thankfully you have years to deal with this emotionally; it just feels like a lot when you think you’ve got to process it all at once. But they’re still them now! It’s probably easier and less scary to them to start dealing with it now.

    7. Old Plant Woman*

      Relax. Don’t think nursing home. Think retirement community. Ask them what they want. Then be a resource. Find options and drive them for tours, if they want. I’m pretty sure you are thinking of the time when you will need to take care of them. That’s very hard. Right now they just want an easy, fun place to live

    8. ThatGirl*

      My paternal grandparents were very deliberate about their planning. They moved into a 55 plus community, then later independent living that stepped up into assisted and nursing care as needed. It made things so much easier for my dad. Now my parents are in their 70s (and divorced/bother remarried) and I wish they were doing that level of planning! My dad had a massive heart attack at 65, he recovered but his health is clearly not what it used to be, and my stepmom is developing neurological issues.

      The tl;dr is to consider this a gift – if your parents are planning ahead now, it will make things so much easier for you later.

    9. PhyllisB*

      Retirement communities don’t necessarily mean end of life, or nursing homes. There are a lot communities that cater to the ovr 55 crowd that have beautiful living quarters, top notch food service and lots of fun activities. If you live in a coastal area, that’s probably what they’re thinking of. In fact some of them are groups of houses/apartments that are closed communities (meaning they only accept over 55) that are basically neighborhoods, not assisted living at all. Why don’t you take some tours with them and see what they’re looking at? You may be pleasantly surprised.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes this is pretty much the kind of thing my mother has now, and it’s great. OP, go and have a look at one. It’s nothing like what I was expecting, I had the same feelings as you but it has been the best possible thing for her

    10. Not A Manager*

      I’ve watched a lot of family members stay put for far too long. When they finally moved – because they had to – they were too old and too impaired physically or mentally to make new friends and find a new community. Basically they were just waiting to die.

      People I know who moved into a 55+ community or any other “age in place” kind of situation were able to participate in activities, make friends, learn to live independently in their new setting, etc. My strong preference for myself is to move long before I *have* to move.

    11. Maggie*

      Well I don’t think looking at retirement means “preparing for end of life”. Maybe they just wanna be around other people their age who they have things in common with and it’s less upkeep. If anything it seems like a way for them to stay vibrant and social, because they’ll be around peers they share things with.

    12. Gatomon*

      You’re never ready for your parents to die, I think. Enjoy the time you have together. My dad died at age 69 and my mom at 63, both very suddenly. They were both essentially gone before the ambulance arrived. Neither of them had any real planning in place – my dad’s will was from when I was 2, and my mom didn’t have one at all, despite being the second one to pass (dad was a decade older than her). So it was kind of a mess, and my mom shut me out of dealing with my dad’s estate, so I had zero clue what to do when she left. The upside was that she’d moved closer to me before she died, so it was a lot easier to deal with things being in town, and I got to hold her hand as she passed instead of being stuck on a plane trying to get across the country.

      I guess my point is, it’s going to happen and you don’t know when and you’re probably not going to be ready for it no matter what. But don’t run from the conversation or from the time you might have with them. And if you think you might need to set some boundaries if they do move nearby, now is the time to have that conversation, before they actually move.

    13. JSPA*

      retirement communities can be like club med for getting older–you shed the tasks that have become onerous, and go someplace where other people also have free time and want to chat, relax, play and kick back.

      Forming community while you’re up for making friends and experiencing new things can be a great choice.

    14. Anon for this*

      I get this. my mom has just closed on an apartment in a retirement community. she is in her late seventies but still spry and compos mentis. I’m actually relieved as her current housing is unsuitable and has worried the heck out of me for years but she wouldn’t consider moving. I have friends whose parents won’t consider making any changes although they are clearly deteriorating and it will end with my friend and his siblings having to cope with the inevitable crisis. your parents are giving you the gift of having made their own choices in time for them to be their choices. but I do understand how it feels like the grim reaper came by just to check in and say hi.

    15. Cordelia*

      Retirement communities are not the same as end of life care! I’d suggest you go and look at some places with them, because I think you are envisioning something totally different. My late-seventies mother moved into a retirement community last year and it has given her a whole new lease of life, she is extremely socially active now, doing voluntary work and exercising, much happier now she no longer has to worry about running a whole house. I am quite envious, and plan to do the same as soon as I can!

    16. Ellis Bell*

      Retirement is a vibrant stage of life for those who have the privilege. It’s not “end of life” at all. That will be a completely different set of arrangements. I found myself in this position with my mother – being weirded out that she wanted to give up her house and her life and everything that I associated with her identity, so she could move in with my sister and brother-in-law. Fortunately I had the perspective of losing my dad in his sixties, a completely vibrant and energetic man, to a heart attack unexpectedly. It could be a lot worse than everyone having a plan to spend more time together.

    17. Madame Arcati*

      This is a positive thing. My mum is in her seventies and in great health (we still go skiing and she’s just driven her self to her french cottage (a journey requiring two overnight stops) to spend the summer. But she has poked about on the internet looking at retirement flats etc nearer me, saying when she is a bit more needy and less mobile, it would be better if she was within a short drive from me rather than a long one so she’s not a burden (this is all within British standards for acceptable driving journeys which are a lot less than USA ones so she’s thinking less than an hour as opposed to four).
      And honestly I welcome it; things change and it’s much better to start putting an existing plan or ideas into action than it is to be, oh good grief something has happened to change my health/mobility circs and what the heck am I going to do? Much more difficult to start sorting a big life change from scratch when you are under time pressure, stressed etc.

    18. Subtext*

      It’s great that they’re planning for coming years. That’s a blessing. What do you want for YOUR coming years? Do you want to stay put in your seaside town, or are there other cities/countries you might one day like to call home? Are there subtle (or not so subtle) expectations that you’d be taking on certain responsibilities for them as they age near you? Are you okay with that? What expectations do they have of your brother? You’re part of this equation, too, with a lot of life presumably ahead of you. I would want to have some heartfelt conversations about what works best for everyone.

      1. Not Ready For Retirement*

        “What do you want for YOUR coming years? ” – this is definitely part of my issue … I’m not really sure – I like to keep my options open. But of course if my parents move here then that’s it, I’ll be committed to staying for the rest of their lives, I guess. That’s a lot to think about too. Also I just don’t want to think about them declining or expecting to decline I guess. I know it’s a blessing that they’re doing the work, and I just keep reminding myself that no decisions are being made right now, but it feels like … a lot. Thanks everyone for such good advice!!

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          You are absolutely not committed to staying for the rest of their lives. You don’t know if they expect that – and even if they do that doesn’t obligate you. You have to talk to them. This is a difficult and absolutely necessary conversation and yes it does mean thinking about what it would look like if they decline. I’m a retired hospice doc and now help people work through this – and I went through it with my parents who refused to move out of their house.

          I absolutely don’t mean to dismiss your feelings. It’s terrifying to realize things are changing and that our parents are not always going to be healthy and will someday not be there at all. Take care of yourself. Try to enjoy the visit and don’t try to tackle All The Conversations at once.

          1. Not Ready For Retirement*

            I’m not sure why having them move to my coastal town and me being maybe-obliged to stay here (a place I chose! And really like! And have been for nine years!) feels more dramatic than me offering to move to their midwest town with them in/as needed … I can recognize that this seems nonsensical, and yet somehow I do feel that way. I suppose because their move is being framed as potentially Now and my move is Someday.

            1. Subtext*

              It’s not nonsensical at all. Maybe you like having some physical distance between your parents. A lot of people really love their parents and ALSO are much happier when they have their own space. Their own turf. Moving back to the Midwest is different, because you’d be in charge of the decision, could set whatever boundaries (or not) feel right for you, and you can probably already foresee what living there in close proximity would ‘look’ like.

            2. Middle Aged Lady*

              Maybe in the back of your mind you had the idea that they would stay closer to your brother and you would move back, and it would feel ‘safer’ because the community/family network would be there and it wouldn’t all be on you.
              There is a lot to consider. Here’s a quick guide for questions to ask before moving. And there are many others. Good luck. It’s sobering but as others said, their thinking ahead is a huge gift. https://ascendplanning.com/financial-planning/seven-factors-to-consider-if-you-want-to-move-when-you-retire/

            3. Bruce*

              Those are good things to consider, your feelings can be complicated. I’ll add that if they find a place that is safe and comfortable they may thrive for longer than if they stay put. That is what my wife and I are hoping for with our last move, we hope to age in place a short walk from downtown in a pleasant climate (most of the time :-))

        2. Subtext*

          It is a lot, all at once, and about the heaviest of stuff. They might’ve been thinking about this for a while, but it’s all new to you. It would be okay to ask for a “pause” to let you catch up and process things. You can also be honest about your own needs and fears. Like, as an example, that you might not want to stay in your seaside town indefinitely. Would they still move there if you might not always be there, too? Stuff like this will help them make the best decision for them. Big decisions and deep feelings deserve heartfelt and honest conversations.

        3. Don'tbeadork*

          You’re not committed to staying if they move where you are. If you don’t think this is where you will stay for the next 20 or so years, tell them that. Let them factor that into their other decisions.

          Please don’t word it as “if you move here I’m stuck”. Please talk about your travel plans or whatever you’re hoping to do when you retire/get older. If you’ve been thinking “When I retire I’m going to move to X city” then you still get to do that, even if your parents move to your current city. This is particularly true if they move into one of the retirement villages that will allow for stepping up into assisted living and then full-on care.

          I wish my in-laws had been willing to do this before FIL died. MIL is now living with my BIL, and it’s hard for everyone. He’s just recently retired and would like to enjoy his grandchild and do the things he planned to do for retirement, but she needs a lot more care than BIL and SIL can give and still have time for their own grands. And we live too far away to do more than relatively brief visits to give them a break because no one wants to talk about respite care or putting a 96 YO into assisted living.

          1. Mad Hatter*

            We moved my 95-year-old dad into a nice assisted living facility close to me and he really enjoyed it until he passed away in May just short of 100. He was resistant to the idea for a good while but it ended up being a good move once he made up his mind to go.

          2. Yikes Stripes*

            You might want to suggest that they look into having a home based caregiver come out for a few hours a week, just to lighten the load for them.

        4. JSPA*

          they can love you, and love your area, and still have no expectations that you will, of course, remain there.

          you may also have a reaction to losing your foothold in their area, or feeling old certainties about “who / what / where” coming unglued. Intellectually, you know they’re not required to stay there, anymore than you were… nor tban you now are. But we often release the touchstones of our youth grudgingly!

    19. SpellingBee*

      Chiming in to agree with everyone else that this is a hugely positive thing! End of life comes to all of us, and planning ahead of time is essential. It doesn’t mean that you think you’re going to pass away immediately, but that you have a plan in place to deal with the inevitable decline. They’re removing an enormous burden from you by thinking about it and dealing with it now, while they’re capable of doing it themselves, rather than leaving it to you and your brother to handle when it becomes an emergency.

      My mother moved into a continuum of care senior community when she was in her early 80s, after my dad died. She’s now in the skilled nursing wing (she has severe dementia), but she enjoyed years in independent living, partaking of the many activities the community offers. It was (and is) a blessing for her to be able to progress to increasing levels of care while still in a familiar place, with friends around her. Mr. Bee and I plan to do the same when we tire of keeping up the house and yard, and do it early enough so we can take advantage of what the community has to offer while we’re still young enough to enjoy it fully.

      Encourage them to talk about their plans and their ideas for the next phase of their lives. Go with them to visit communities, if you can. And I also recommend reading Atul Gawande’s book that someone else mentioned, Being Mortal. Not a “fun” read, but insightful and thought provoking.

    20. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      We tried to do this with the older set of in-laws several years ago, when they were elderly but still really vibrant. We asked them to let us take them to just check some places out so they know what’s out there. Nope.

      So we tried again after Dad passed and Mom started to get sick. Mom is taking care of our adult special needs sister who is pretty independent but can’t live alone or drive. Sister doesn’t do well with change, and pushed back hard on the idea of having to learn a new address. We asked Mom to move her and Sister now, before things got bad, because it’s much easier for Sister to have to get used to one series of changes (new place to live) rather than trying to do that in an emergency while Sister is also dealing with Mom’s health and potential death. Nope. Next year.

      We asked Mom to reinvigorate the search, perhaps get on a (very long) waiting list for one of the graduated living facilities. Nope. She’ll do it next year. We pushed – nope.

      Now octogenarian Mom is getting treated for cancer and broken bones and was recently hospitalized with strange terrifying symptoms. Needs lots of care and can’t manage the stairs.

      It doesn’t rise to the level of needing to be reported, as they’re getting a lot of people dropping in to the house to provide care, and they’re comfortable financially.

      Not sure what else to do except wait till something happens and then move Sister in to wherever she wants to go – with another sibling or to a graduated care facility.

    21. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      This is difficult, but it really is a gift. The absolute most important thing to remember here is that you WANT to have these conversations, even (especially?) if they’re difficult. You want to have them early, when your parents are still vibrantly well, and you want to check in frequently as they age and things change.
      A few hard-learned tips from my own situation (dad passed from dementia at 72, mom was declared incapacitated at 75 and given a guardian, so that heavily colors my advice):
      – Ask about why they’re considering this now, particularly if you found it surprising. Are they just being proactive? Do they have health (or finance) concerns? Is the house just getting to be too much? Do they want to see you more often?
      – Ask about what’s important to them right now. Are they looking for a full social calendar? More free time? The security of being able to get staff immediately if they need them? Just downsizing to something more manageable?
      – Ask about what they want to happen as their needs change, and check that the communities they’re looking at can support that. They will probably need housekeeping and transportation at some point. They may need help managing their prescriptions. They may eventually need skilled nursing or memory care; is that available at the same community, or would they need to move? What if one parent needs more support than the other?
      – If the community offers memory care, see if you can tour what they’re offering. We saw some absolutely lovely independent living setups with nice nursing facilities and then absolutely shocking memory care wings. But we also saw plenty of retirement communities where you just have to move if you ever required any significant care.
      – Ask about their expectations for your involvement. My mom had apparently always expected me to be her full-time caregiver, which didn’t come up as an actual expectation until I was the sole breadwinner for a family of three in a job where I was frequently traveling. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen.
      – Check in with your sibling(s) to make sure they’re getting the same information you are. If possible, get them involved in the discussion early on.
      – Talk about actual end of life decisions, and maybe get it down in writing. You don’t want to be arguing about whether life should be extended by any means necessary or if dad always had a fear of being on life support while you’re in crisis. That goes for funeral arrangements, as well – if there’s anything they definitely do or don’t want, talk about it now. Get it in writing and make sure there’s a copy for you, your sibling(s), both of your parents, and anyone else who might need it.
      – Ask your parents to give their doctors authorization to talk to you (and ideally your sibling(s)). Ask about it now, before there’s a problem, and request it for their current doctors as well in case they don’t end up moving near you. This is separate from a power of attorney, which you might also need.
      – Ask about finances. It’s really awkward, since at least in my family we didn’t really ever talk about money, but the reality is that retirement care is expensive, medical care is outrageously expensive, and most folks aren’t well prepared for it. And sometimes there are real surprises once you start talking it over.
      – Do they have wills? Long term care insurance? Would you be able to find their paperwork in an emergency?
      – Talk with them about how you’ll all know when their needs are changing, and how they want you to handle that. Cognitive changes in particular are really difficult, because usually people aren’t aware of the impairment like they would be for something physical. Hearing “yes, of course I’d expect you to step in” now can be a salve for future expressions of paranoia and betrayal, if they happen.
      – Take care of yourself. This part of life can be really intense, and I found for me it brought up a lot of feelings around family and religion and obligation and gender roles and mortality in general. Take a deep breath, have your soothing beverage of choice, give yourself some space to process those feelings, and then make plans to do something fun where you won’t ruminate too hard.

    22. Qwerty*

      Aging goes best an elderly person can continue their daily routines and are in a place that feels safe / like home. So your parents are probably trying to make plans while they are still spry enough to establish new routines and build a community.

      Some retirement communities have multi-tiered levels like Independent, Assisted, and Memory Care. People move in and build their community while they are Independent and then move to more intensive help when they need it.

      Tell your parents that you are suprised! Ask what their thoughts are. Talk about whether all of you would be happier near your hometown or in your current city. Figure out what you would do if tomorrow someone had a fall and assisted living became an immediate need.

    23. Generic Name*

      My parents are the opposite. They are in their mid 70s and reasonably healthy, but my mom has some mobility issues. They live in a historic 3 story house. My mom has trouble lifting up her leg and recently sprained her toe on the stairs. And she has osteoporosis, I just learned literally last week. Mom plans to age in place and refuses to discuss what if she physically can’t. “We’ll just install a chair lift on [both sets?] the stairs” I’d be delighted if they’d take the initiative on the next steps, honestly.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Side tangent (since I 100% agree with your struggle so have nothing to add there) – I’m watching this around me to and it’s had me thinking a lot about what we term the housing crisis (even though IMO it’s very self-inflicted so I dislike the “crisis” term, as if it’s something that just happened) and the need to revert to destigmatize multi-generational housing. I’m from an area that’s gotten more upper middle class since I grew up and there are so many houses getting under-utilitized. Older couple using the first floor, most of the house unused, yard basically unused and seem as a nuisance instead of a pleasure. Then I notice 70+ people go through a weird phase where they view plants and trees as a nuisance and start cutting down trees “in case they fall” (even if they are not at risk of falling and not heavy enough to cause real damage) and overpruning, and you then have a series of underutilized barren yards. But on the other hand, senior housing is too compact, way overpriced, and no one is building mid-sized ranch houses.

        1. juneybug*

          Our county is just now talking about allowing “mother in law” houses to be built. They were saying it’s a septic issue (never mind that we already have to pump every three years with an authorized waste removal company or pay fines due to being in violation of county code!). All of the surrounding counties allow it. Big sigh….

    24. NeedRain*

      Your public library or favorite online bookstore will definitely have some resources about having these type of conversations, if you would be interested in doing some reading on the topic. I think it would also help validate that all the things you’re thinking and feeling are normal, as well as help you and your parents know what questions to ask.

    25. Thurley*

      This is a good thing! It works so much better when people move towards the next stage rather than be forced into it. They have time to have conversations, be choosy, get on waiting lists, declutter, adjust to the idea, and make careful decisions. Don’t think of this as a nursing home. Your parents are probably just using the language they’re familiar with, but aging care has changed so much with so many more options. Most likely they’ll be looking at independent and assisted living places that cater to seniors and their needs. It makes sense for them to choose a place that will allow them to age in place with a community and services on hand. My 80-year-old parents are in a 55+ condo and they’re still very active. The community is a mix of ages, meals are provided for those who want, and they can bring in other services when they need.

    26. carcinization*

      My husband is barely into his 50s and we’re already totally psyched about retirement communities and feeling sad that I’m a decade younger so we can’t look at them yet! So 70s seems late for that for me!

    27. Taly*

      The other thing I will add is that if they are in a bigger house now with stairs and some yard to maintain, downsizing to a single floor apartment/condo/whatever that has handrails in the bathrooms and all that will actually make it less likely that they will have a fall on the stairs or outside and all the health problems that can spiral out from that one incident. So making this kind of change might actually ensure they stay vibrant for longer.

      It’s also so much easier if they are excited about this and looking for places that fit what they want — and can run the selling of old home/purchasing new place / sorting through and downsizing their stuff — than it is for you to have to do it in an urgent situation when they might be resistant and also dealing with pain/grief/etc.

    28. Dancing Otter*

      There are retirement communities that take a tiered approach.
      First, great independence but resources available. Still driving and cooking, but rides and meals available as needed or desired. Possibly with a small garden, but no shoveling or mowing, for example. The buildings are generally more handicapped accessible than regular houses/apartments.
      Level two might include more support but not actual nursing care.
      Another level for some medical support, and so forth. There’s frequently a “memory care” section, and people who are experienced in identifying when it becomes necessary.

      By getting in at the first level, they already have the placement when they need more help.
      Additionally, they get to make friends while still active.

      It can take a long time to find the right place. Kudos to your folks for starting to look well before the matter is urgent.

    29. Squidhead*

      Tons of good advice and perspectives here already but just adding one more thought: I had older relatives who “bought in” to a progressive care arrangement. This was back in the mid-90s so it might not even exist today but for a fixed fee (250K apiece, I think) they got lifetime access to all the services provided by the facility. They both lived in an “independent” apartment (with pre-paid access to a table-service dining room) but each of them needed care in the nursing wing occasionally and at the end of her life (2014) one of them had an aide in the apartment with her. The way they described it, their buy-in pretty much covered all of this (I think including the rent on the apartment itself??) and they bought-in when they were in their early 70s, very active, still traveling, etc. They both lived into their 90s, so it was money well spent! (Of course, they could have passed away at 78 and I don’t think their estates would have gotten a rebate.) So, if this type of arrangement still exists, it makes sense to pick a suitable retirement community as early as possible to get the most value, especially if they’re thinking they don’t want to move again, or deal with the lawn, etc. My relatives picked one that worked for them but wasn’t actually all that close to any of their families (adult children & grands from previous marriages, so already spread out).

    30. Quinalla*

      My parents aren’t here yet, but they just downsized – sold their house that I grew up in that we were all so used to visiting together, etc. – and remodeled and moved into a house my brother stayed in when he went back to college and they were renting out. They didn’t really need our support on it, but we helped where we could and cheered them on even though I had some mixed emotions about it to be sure. As far as more EOL thinking, my Mom is adamant they will NOT live with any of us when they are older, she doesn’t want to burden us like her grandmother burdened her mom. I don’t think they have a place picked out yet, but they are thinking about it already for the future.

      And yeah, it’s ok to have a lot of feelings about it, I would do your best to discuss with your friends and other support people about those and do your best to send encouragement, joy, etc. to your parents.

    31. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      I haven’t read all the other comments but I agree with those that echo the: it is best to do when able.

      The other thing I would say is that retirement communities are often vibrant places to live! Finding the right one could allow your parents to downsize, move closer to you, and potentially be able to shift to an assisted living care situation in the future if needed. That is a benefit of home of these communities.

    32. Bruce*

      Ummm… seaside town? Sign me up! (We moved to a river town near the sea, not the actual beach… but I have a boat in the marina! ). Maybe they like your area better than your brother’s :-) I was on the spot as the only child near my Mom when she declined, but my sisters did come to visit a lot. Definitely talk to your parents and your brother about what they are looking for and expecting…

  4. sswj*

    Is there such a thing as a pet-centric designer? I really need ideas for a nice looking space that can withstand a houseful of animals.
    Crazy Cat Lady Interiors?? Pet Palace Living? Classic Canine Creations??
    I have 10 indoor cats, (several are former ferals)and 2 dogs. And a not particularly house-proud husband.
    The struggle is real, folks.

    1. Liminality*

      Aw, man, I hope there is! I’ll be watching this thread cause I want to know too. :)

    2. Sloanicota*

      I don’t know but I’m now exploring the world of linoleum rugs thanks to my giant, hairy, not-quite-solidly continent old man dog. I am hoping wood floors + wipedown rugs = success.

      1. Liminality*

        Ruggable is a brand of rugs that work in two parts, the rubbery part that keeps it from crawling along the floor and the pretty fabric rug part that is designed to be machine washable.
        My mom and my sister like them.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I love my Ruggables and they do well under 165 pounds of slobberpotamus rampaging around. I’ve not tried to machine wash the big ones just because they don’t fit in my washer but they spot-clean really well with my Bissell Green Machine or with a pet-cleanup spray, and the small ones do great in the wash. The smaller ones (or at least mine) tend to curl up at the very edges a bit, but not too bad.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Haha, mine is in two parts (115+50) but they play tug on my ruggables twelve times a day, with dragging (both ways!) and scrabbling and ruckus :)

        2. Cairo*

          We have 3 cats and 1 dog and a large ruggable. I LOVE it. We have washed it 4 times in the washing machine and air dried it and it looks like new. I have also spot cleaned it with a Bissel machine and that worked great. I’ll ALWAYS shop this brand when looking for rugs.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You can also put either washable pee pads (marketed for puppies) or bed pads (if you’re going to get disposable ones, get the ones marketed as bed pads for humans, because the ones for dogs tend to be scented to encourage them to pee in that specific spot) in strategic areas if he has certain places where he tends to hang out and let things fly, as it were. We used to park our elderly back-legs-are-a-bit-iffy basset girl on a disposable bed pad on her hard-to-move-around days, with a comfy-but-washable rug under it.

        If it’s specifically pee, you can also get boy-dog-diapers for just that opening that are pretty easy to put on since you don’t have to thread them around legs or the tail. They look kind of like cummerbunds. No idea if your dog would tolerate wearing such a thing, though.

    3. Babushka*

      who designs cat cafes? maybe something to look into. the one I went to was designed around the cats with lots of ledges for them to lay on and places for them to hide

      1. sswj*

        Yes! I’d love to see wall treatments, flooring, baseboards, fabric choices for furniture, even curtains/window treatments. There’s gotta be a way, and I am not decorator material, alas.

    4. Anono-me*

      Quite a few years ago I watched a TV story about a woman who had created a new career in durable furniture design due to her (jerky) husband and sons being absolutely horrible to to the regular furniture. Super reinforced solid wood frames and sunbrella fabrics etc. Maybe you can find something similar. (I couldn’t find the story. ) Although hopefully you only need the sunbrella upholstery.

  5. Liminality*

    Good news! :) and thank yous!
    Posted under a cut because reference to medical stuff, but nothing explicit.

    1. Liminality*

      So a few weeks ago I asked for ideas on how to support someone after a hysterectomy. I just wanted to give y’all the good news.
      The surgery went great! She’s recovering well, and Best Of All: her most recent test results came back with a 0 for the marker they’ve been using to track her cancer!!
      Obviously she still has a bit of a road to travel, but we’re all So Happy!!
      Also, she definitely made use of the grabber stick, and she practically lived off the honey baked ham/cheezy potatoes we brought over the day she came home from surgery. :) thanks again for all of your kindness and support!

  6. Just across the way*

    Does anyone have experience with a *very* short distance move? I am going to be moving to a different apartment within the same building and have to take stuff out one door, across to another door a few hundred feet away, then up a flight of stairs. I’m planning to carry most things (furniture, hanging clothes on hangers, drawers with contents still in them, etc.) to the new place and don’t see the need to buy/source a lot of boxes – maybe a few for books and pantry items? Or just throw them in a laundry basket? Has anyone done this before?

    1. Kara*

      I have, and what you described is pretty much exactly what i did. I recommend moving over a single category at a time; such as kitchen cabinets, bathroom, or closet; and save your cleaning supply cache for last. That way you only have one mess at a time and it’s easier to manage if, say, the bathroom cabinets aren’t exactly the same size in the two apartments and you need to rearrange.

    2. Mabel Pines*

      when I made the same type of move the big blue Ikea bags were invaluable to me. I could load them up with the little things that would have taken forever to box up. I treated it like a series of grocery runs and unpacked the blue bags immediately to make the next run. It saved time and helped me get in the mindset of quickly unpacking and organizing a lot of stuff that probably would have sat in boxes for a few weeks.

    3. Miss Thymia*

      I did this my last year of college, only no stairs were involved so made it super easy to just stack stuff on a dolly and roll from one end of a long hall to the other. My roommate and I just made do with whatever we already had: drawers, laundry baskets, tote bags, etc.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you have an able-bodied friend who can help – you can get for a set of straps for two-person carrying that hook over your shoulders or forearms that make carrying bulky or heavy items SO MUCH EASIER, especially on uneven ground or stairs. The straps go under the load, and you and your friend can then do most of the lifting with your core bodies rather that trying to find finger holds that won’t slip. My husband and his brother mostly use them for furniture but they might also work with a stack of three or four boxes. I think mine were about twenty bucks on Amazon – search term “moving straps” should work.

    5. Anthology*

      I moved across the street and up four houses. I just strolled up the sidewalk with paper ream boxes full of my stuff, emptying the boxes at the new place and returning home to refill them.

      1. Don'tbeadork*

        We did something similar when we moved from our apartment complex to a rented house down the block. We did use dollies to shift the furniture, and bribed a bunch of friends and colleagues to help so no one was making tons of trips back and forth.

    6. Viette*

      I’ve moved within the same apartment complex twice — two different complexes, once each, in different US states — and yeah, you really don’t need to pack like normal. My only tip is, it’s definitely a “many hands make light work” experience in that you have to make a lot of trips but very little is all that heavy or difficult to carry. If it’s just you, boy does it get old, but if you have people nobody has to work that hard.

      Boxes for books, yes. Heavy duty/grocery store paper bags for pantry items, even. Station at least one person in the destination apartment to just put things away, or you end up with the entire contents of your house in a big messy pile.

    7. PhyllisB*

      Many years ago I moved apartments from the upstairs to the downstairs and to me it was almost as bad as moving from another town. Luckily these were furnished apartments so I didn’t have to deal with furniture, so that. made it easier.

    8. Old Plant Woman*

      Have done that 50 years ago. Your plan sounds perfect. It’s a lot of work, but you knew that. Do you have friends that work for good food and drinks?

    9. Just here for the scripts*

      We moved literally to thecartment next to us—think 12b to 12c. Hired a moving company for the furniture—lots of not-old-enough to be called antiques, but/and I didn’t want to hurt myself (or hubby) straining to handle 6 foot plus sofas, queen size bed, boxspring and frame, art deco dressers with attached mirrors, or 48 round mission dining tables. Also boxes of books— but that was mostly so they could stay in the boxes until we had time to unpack them later.

      Hubby and I thought we could move the kitchens, bath and closets ourselves Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday— and we did—but it took way longer than we thought it should (or we had planned for), and by 10 o’clock on Sunday night we were both sitting in the hallway between the apartments, saying, “should we just throw the remaining stuff out?”

      The big learning for us was that after living in 12b for 12 years, we had really really really stuffed stuff into our closets and drawers — some things we really hadn’t even seen for years and didn’t remember we owned. On the plus side using the movers to move the bed on Friday during the day, I could make the bed after they left—and we could sleep in 12c that night easy peasy.

    10. Jackalope*

      I’ve done a similar move – moved a floor up and over a bit – and importantly I had access to the second apt for awhile (2 weeks or so?), which it sounds like that might also be the case for you. That being said, I did find it helpful to have boxes and such; I reused a lot of the same boxes, but at some point I was too tired to keep moving everything by myself and had some friends over for the final push, and they did use boxes. One person, for example, worked on packing up my kitchen while another friend unpacked it, put things in cupboards, and then send the now empty boxes back downstairs. Having actual boxes was nice because they’re meant to carry stuff and be reasonably maneuverable, so they were easier than, say, reusable shopping bags (which don’t hold a ton).

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      I have done this very thing. Behold my wisdom!

      Purge as though you were moving to Antarctica. This is your chance–do not pack those sweatshirts you never wear, that set of sheets you always hated, the book series you got bored with. Haul all old electronics away (or hire a service to do it.) Buy new pots and pans and put them directly into the new place and get rid of that cheap set you got in college. PURGE. Get everything you don’t want or need gone before you take a single thing to the new spot.

      Buy or source at least twelve or so good, sturdy boxes for stuff like pictures, DVDs, books–whatever you have a lot of. Because if you only have two or three, you have to fill them, haul them over and up the stairs, empty them, and then go back and do it again. It triples the time taken over packing up all of X and taking it in one set of trips.

      When you’ve gotten all your stuff into your new place, set up and make your bed. I mean put on sheets, blankets and comforter or whatever you use. Set out fresh, clean nightgear. Next, unpack your bathroom stuff and put out towels, shampoo, soap and toiletries, and hang your shower curtain. Put down your bath mat. When you’ve gotten to Exhaustion Point, you can shower, get into your PJs and climb into your fresh, clean bed. It will make all the difference in the world the next day.

      Don’t waste time cleaning the old place until you are completely finished moving and out of there. Set aside an entire day to do it (even if it doesn’t end up taking that long.) Keep a couple boxes or other containers handy for any random stuff you forgot like ice trays or rags.

      Triple check with any places you get mail from that they have your new apartment unit number.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh! And if you’re getting any new furniture, wait on it until you can have it delivered to the new place, but before you start moving stuff in. You don’t want your new couch being maneuvered between piles of random stuff.

      2. Zephy*

        Box tip: Liquor bottles ship in VERY sturdy boxes, and if you ask nicely, your local liquor store almost assuredly has a few empties out back they could give you.

    12. Madame Arcati*

      When I moved once I put all the cleaning products and other household stuff in the laundry basket and moved it like that. Very handy to put away at the other end!

    13. DependsOnTiming*

      I had to move from one apartment to another in the same building and I mostly had to pack as if I were moving across country. I had limited overlap time between apartments and I had to use movers for most things (moved a few things myself). I was able to put some stuff into suitcases or backpacks instead of boxes, could leave TVs unboxed, and take a few other shortcuts but not many.

      If you have the time, ability, and access to fo it yourself then I think it’s really up to what you think you can handle in the window that you have access to both places. Packing stuff ahead of time makes it a lot faster during the actual move. If that’s not a factor then bringing stuff down in bags, laundry baskets, and whatever else you can carry makes sense. It’s basically packing, moving, and unpacking in real time instead of splitting the three tasks into separate efforts/time windows.

    14. TX_trucker*

      If you can afford it, I would pay someone to help you. The stairs will get tiresome after a while. If you are in the USA, there are temp agencies that provide moving “help” that aren’t actually moving companies. Try doing a search for moving labor by the hour. Your local U-haul and pod companies probably also have a list of folks who do this type of work.

    15. Qwerty*

      I moved within the same building! I had an elevator, so it was a lot of loading up the luggage cart.

      Get some sturdy boxes, preferably with handles – you’ll need them for moving fragile stuff like dishes. But what I love about short distance moves is to pack a few boxes, transport, then immediately unpack! Obviously this only works if you have enough overlap time on leases to do a leisurely move.

    16. NeedRain*

      Do you have more than one day to accomplish this? If yes, all these suggestions will work! If you have to do it in one day it might be hard to get everything moved and unloaded from bins etc.

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

      go to the supermarket and collect a number of “banana boxes”. They are good size, stack, have tops and handles. Even with books, you cannot make them too heavy and they are strong.

    18. Knighthope*

      I moved from the upstairs apartment to the downstairs apartment in a house. I used boxes, bags, and laundry baskets. and hired someone who “likes small jobs in between big moves” for the heaviest furniture.

    19. mreasy*

      I moved 5 doors down once, and basically boxed up loose things and moved everything with a dolly. It was easy to carry clothes in stacks on hangers… I had a helper and it only took a few hours.

    20. Kathenus*

      I moved next door. I moved all the smaller stuff myself, and hired movers for the minimum time which was two people/two hours to move the furniture since it involved stairs on both ends. My only regret is that I hadn’t left enough for the movers to fill the whole two hours that I had to pay for, and wished in hindsight I had left more heavy or bulky stuff for them before doing it myself. I moved some stuff in boxes, bags, or just armfuls. You’ll figure out what’s best for you – but sometimes getting a couple of multi-packs of the file type boxes from an office store are worth the investment since they are easy to carry/stack and even for longer term storage if desired.

    21. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I have.
      I did need sturdy boxes for kitchen cupboard contents and many more for books (very pre-Kindle). I emptied the boxes and then reused them to transport shoes and umpteen other miscellaneous items.

      My burly coworkers moved all the heavy furniture while I carried clothes on hangers over my arm and dealt with the boxes.
      It was by far my cheapest, easiest & quickest move.

      Now I wouldn’t need any boxes for books, but from another move I have several huge foldup zip bags with massive capacity for my zillion sneakers, t-shorts, shorts and other clothes that don’t go on hangers but don’t really belong in boxes.

      I’d also know in the future to sort out and dispose of all unwanted items BEFORE moving

  7. SofiaDeo*

    Who has sen the “cat pervert” clip on Twitter? The short video posted by “Detect Clips (double heart emoji)”?

      1. Corinne*

        Omg there is 13 minutes of that?!?! Those men are insufferable. Poor kitty. He just wants some rational humans.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      My friend accidentally stole a cat. She was told by her new neighbors that they believed the previous owner had left the cat. She fed it and let it in her house for an over a year while it remained an outdoor cat. When she moved she struggled mightily to get the ginger cat into crate to move it to her new place. Then she was contacted about a missing cat. She returned him scoping out the owner for neglect. Nope. The cat walked into that house and settled down. He was just two timing owners for over a year (for double the meals), and SHE WAS THE OTHER WOMAN!

      It’s a funny story, but she was actually heartbroken about losing a cat she loved.

  8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Anybody have any experience with doggy vaccine reactions? I am now two for two on “Get the Great Dane her canine flu vaccination and then she will have pneumonia within a week,” which is not exactly the score I’m looking for. Last year at 4 months old she spent almost a week in the doggy hospital – this year she’s doing much better, they gave her antibiotics and sent her home and she’s already perked up after the first dose.

    I asked my vet if this was a common reaction and she hadn’t heard of it, but was going to research. My other dog hasn’t had this vax because she doesn’t go to doggy daycare or a groomer or anything (her groomer comes to us) but the younger one’s doggy daycare requires it. (I may ask if they have medical exemption paperwork :-P ) Neither of them has had any issues with any other vaccinations previously. So I have no idea if this is actually related or just a wild coincidence.

    1. Kara*

      No, never. Is the vaccine live virus or dead? If live, is there a dead variant you might be able to try? I wouldn’t think a dead vaccine would be causing pneumonia, though I’m hardly a vet!

      That said, one thing to weigh if you do decide to go the medical exemption route is that currently you also don’t know if your pupper might be extra sensitive to the actual flu as well.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was mostly kidding about the vaccine exemption, but if this happens again next year, third time is the charm and the vet and I will actually be having the “lesser of two evils” discussion. That said, the benefit of herd immunity is that all the other dogs at the daycare will be vaccinated at least! But yeah, we’ll see what the vet’s research turns up. I just wondered if anyone else had wacky reactions in their pups too!

    2. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I have heard of an allergic reaction within a few hours but pneumonia is new for me! Sorry to hear it.

    3. Bucket Pup*

      Not exactly answering your question, but I wonder if your vet offered to do a titer test (that shows the amount of antibodies in the blood) instead of a vaccine? If they are low, you would still need to do vaccine but perhaps not as often?

      We also did canine vaccine herbal support before and after the vaccine (I think it was herbal drops, our local business pet store carried those).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        She didn’t, but I can ask about that for next year! Good thought!

  9. 165 pounds of slobberpotamus*

    Is it weird to ask Alison how the foster kitties are doing? Did I miss an update? There were two she was trying to find homes for I think.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We still have them! Norma (formally known as Nermal) was diagnosed with FIP, which comes with an intense 84-day treatment, so they won’t be adoptable until she’s recovered (so mid-September at the earliest). She’s doing a lot better now though. She was actually playing wildly a few minutes ago.

      But in sad cat news, we found out this week that our cat Hank (not one of the fosters; he is pictured above with Sophie), who is only 5 and the most gentle cat in the world, has cancer. We can hold it at bay for a while with radiation but it’s inoperable and we were told 10 months is the best case scenario with radiation. So it’s been a hard time around here :(

      1. 165 pounds of slobberpotamus*

        Aww I’m so sorry. I’m sure you have given them all the best possible lives.

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

        So sorry to hear about Hank. I can tell you give your cats very good lives, and I’m sure you’ll give him the very best next months possible.

      3. Feather Boa*

        Oh Alison, your family has had such a hard few years. So sorry to hear about Hank. I know you will love him through this as much as possible — as it’s always been obvious you already do. Warm thoughts to you and your husband, and Hank, and the other kitties.

      4. MEH Squared*

        I’m so sorry, Alison. Hank looks like such a gentle soul, and I know you have give your cats the best life possible. Thinking of you and your family, and I know you’ll lovingly guide Hank during this difficult journey.

      5. Aphrodite*

        OMG, I am so sorry, Alison. I know you will ensure Hank has the best months ever but I also it will break your heart. I wish I could say something more comforting but know my. best thoughts are with everyone at your home.

      6. Aphrodite*

        I went and found what you said about him from the February speed round:

        Believed to be 5-ish. Deeply sensitive and full of love. My husband, who is his soul mate, says, “His eyes reflect depths of emotion beyond human ken, and has a plaintive meow that approaches supersonic. Has Jon Snow level brooding if he feels affronted (exactly what affronts him is still being studied and collated). At all times desires either affection or a heavy blanket to doze under (has a cozy snore). Loves a warm hand on his belly.” Bonded to Sophie.

      7. Holly the spa pro*

        so sorry about Hank. he seems like such a sweet boy. my dog also has inoperable cancer, we were told 12-18 months with radiation, we are at 18 months now and he is still going strong so I hope the same for your Hank. honestly, once the radiation burns healed, my boy started getting a lot of energy back and was visibly feeling better so the treatment, even if palliative, is totally worth it. Hank couldn’t be in better hands but my heart breaks for you. wishing you all the best.

      8. the cat's ass*

        Oh dang, happy to hear about Norma and bummed about Hank. You’re an awesome cat mom!

      9. Double A*

        Oh no, I’m so sorry. It’s so hard when they have to leave us sooner than expected. Sending you all lots of love.

      10. tangerineRose*

        Sorry about Hank. He’s such a beautiful cat, and he sounds so sweet and friendly.

      11. allathian*

        So sorry to hear about Hank, but glad to hear that Norma/Nermal’s doing better now.

  10. Kara*

    Decided to put this here instead of in the Friday Good News thread because it’s somewhat off that topic. What are you all’s thoughts on commenting rule #5: don’t armchair diagnose others? LW #1 from FGN now has an ADHD diagnosis because of what they read in still earlier comments about a different LW. I myself have my diagnosis because i stumbled across a blog article and it sounded so much like me that i walked into a clinic and asked to be evaluated. And this may be confirmation bias, but it seems like I’ve heard variations on this story over and over. The reasons Alison gave are good ones and I’m not sure how to balance not overdoing it should that rule ever change; but it still remains that it is surprisingly hard to realize from the inside that there actually is something different in your brain and not you just ‘not trying hard enough’. Armchair diagnoses have negatives, but they can also be life-changing in the good way. Is there a middle ground; or any way around the problems?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think there is a huge difference between “this sounds like ADHD” and “this is ADHD” and “my friend is in a similar situation because they have ADHD and this is what works for them”.

      Again, the reason this rule exists is because we just can’t diagnose other people over the internet. We don’t know them and many (most?) of us simple aren’t diagnosticians.

      So yes, it helps to see what people in similar situations have experienced and tried. But to say “this is obviously condition X; you simply must do treatment Y” is something different. A lot of very different conditions have very similar symptoms. It’s one thing to talk about symptoms; it’s another thing entirely to talk about the actual underlying condition. If something you read leads you to ask your medical professional a question, that is one thing. If something you read leads you to demand a certain treatment because you are convinced (despite the lack of actual testing) that you have a certain condition, that is another thing entirely.

      As I have said in many of my comments, we are in a position to describe the “what” and the “how”. But the “why”…that is simply beyond us. We’re all strangers on the internet. We can share our experiences, but that’s about it. We need to leave diagnoses up to the professionals who know us in real life, have access to our medical history, and have actually been trained to diagnose things.

      1. NotBatman*

        Not only that, but people over-estimate their own expertise on both mental illnesses and on strangers’ lives. I have training in psychology, and I see 10 misuses of BPD and DID for every one correct use in everyday conversation. Watching movies and reading Wikipedia articles does not give you a deep or accurate understanding of PTSD or schizophrenia.

        There’s also the issue of othering and dismissing people who actually have these conditions. I have a dear friend with PTSD who can’t sleep without medical aids and who has screaming attacks if suddenly touched from behind, and I’ve also seen someone tell her, “yeah I have PTSD too, one time I got hit in the head with a baseball and now I flinch every time someone throws one to me.” Nausea before public speaking is not the same thing as Social Anxiety Disorder, and it’s wildly unfair to people dealing with real phobias to suggest otherwise.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          My brother once decided I had PTSD because I was worried when a doctor said I should have a colonoscopy to rule out colon cancer, less than two years after I had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer (the lead up to which was also treated as “oh, it’s probably nothing, but we have to rule it out”).

          When I pointed out that I had no actual symptoms of PTSD or an anxiety disorder, he replied “so you don’t have any of the physical symptoms? That’s interesting.” Yeah…’cause I don’t have either of these conditions. But he knows nothing about mental health (he is one of the people who thinks stuff like that if teachers were strict, kids would be able to control ADHD symptoms) and equated “anxious about health” = some kind of anxiety disorder.

          And this wasn’t just conversation. He actually tried to get me to “get the doctor to give me something for my anxiety.” And he had a lot more information on the full situation than most of us here have on anybody posting.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also in most of these cases, diagnosing the LW’s coworker (which is where most of the armchair diagnosing goes – blaming coworkers’ bad behavior on various conditions) doesn’t make a difference. It’s not suddenly okay for them to scream and curse at a LW whether it’s because they had a bad day or they have Tourette’s or they’re autistic or bipolar or whatever. The diagnosis isn’t relevant to the LW’s situation in terms of the behavior they have to put up with or how they should address it. In summary, I don’t care why you’re standing on my foot, just get the eff off my foot. The why doesn’t matter.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And its cousin “Oh, it sounds like Penelope has ADHD! People with that are unable to prevent themselves from defenestrating irritating coworkers” at which a bunch of people with ADHD weigh in with “Uh, hello, no, that is not a normal ADHD thing, and telling people that’s how all ADHD people roll and they can’t help it is not helping us.”

        1. 165 pounds of slobberpotamus*

          Super common in autism too. “Oh, your creepy coworker is trying to corner you and follow you home? You say they have poor social skills? Well, have you considered they definitely have autism so it’s not their fault and you just have to live with it?” and meanwhile anyone with autism, or who has a loved one with autism, is on the sidelines because like “please don’t conflate this condition with criminality!”

    3. Miss Thymia*

      The rule seems to refer mainly to diagnosing other people in the story more than the letter writer. Potential diagnoses could be helpful to the person seeking advice (if done well), whereas speculating on their boss/co-worker/etc doesn’t offer much of anything. I’d still be cautious, but that’s how I interpreted it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think there’s a big difference between suggesting something that sounds similar that might be looked into, and telling someone they have a condition. Even with something like “you sound like you might be struggling with executive function” is an observation that could be attributed to a lot of different things. Anything from neurodivergence to depression to sleep deprivation affects executive function.

      It’s like telling someone they should have a doctor look at a weird mole. It’s not a diagnosis, it’s advice.

      1. 165 pounds of slobberpotamus*

        I agree. The most useful version of this comment is, “it sounds like you might be struggling with executive function. Something that really worked for me is X or Y.”

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, the middle ground is saying something like “I experienced a similar situation and it turned out to be X, and I did Y and it helped”. That’s totally different from saying to LW “sounds like diagnosis X to me, therefore you should…”
      The former is sharing a relevant experience. The latter is armchair diagnosing.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I think the rule is a good one because it would be very hard to allow people with actually some knowledge of various diagnoses to make suggestions without also allowing those who have no idea what they are talking about to do so.

      I would say 90% of people really have no idea what things like ADHD and autism really are. For example, another teacher, who had been teaching a number of years, mentioned a particular student to me. I asked if he were autistic, as what she was describing sounded like autism and she said, “oh no. He has asperger’s syndrome. Kid with autism are quiet and withdrawn while kids with asperger’s have behavioural problems. And that was a teacher and a teacher who was teaching students with autism.

      I would be concerned that allowing free discussion would lead to a lot of “oh, your employee is rude. He’s probably autistic” or “your employee is always late and misses appointments? He probably has ADHD. I had an employee once with ADHD and he had poor timekeeping; therefore, I’m assuming all people with ADHD have poor timekeeping” or “your boss punches walls and yells at people. Oh, he probably has *insert poorly understood mental health issue that people mistakenly associate with violence due to media portrayal*”

      I do think it can be helpful to hear from people who actually have whatever it is themselves but in my experience, Alison doesn’t tend to delete comments that say things like “I had similar difficulties and in my case, it turned out to be autism/ADHD/depression/a thyroid issues. What helped me was…”

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yup. I actually work for the SEN department, and in one of our meetings we were discussing that a daydreamy, low energy kid was on an ADHD diagnosis pathway and one member of staff (specifically an SEN member of staff), said “but he’s the opposite!”. Yeah….he’d never even heard of ADHD inattentive type.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      A useful distinction–which Alison has endorsed–is that it can be helpful to say, “OP, what you’re describing for yourself sure sounds like me/my spouse right before we got a diagnosis of X.” That is, it’s the OP and not a third party, and your experience is immediate and personal rather than a thing you read this one time.

      Much less helpful is the “From your 1 paragraph description of Frustrating Coworker Griselda, I’ll bet she has bipolar.” It’s scant information, and Griselda probably (rightly!) doesn’t care about the opinions gathered by her coworker from the internet.

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a doctor and I will not diagnose people over the internet. It’s not because I’m worried about being sued (although my malpractice carrier definitely would have an opinion about that). It’s because I don’t have all the information and I can’t get the info I would need without stepping over a whole host of boundaries.

      We can all share our own experiences – “that sounds familiar! When I was struggling with that, I tried putting all the llamas in alphabetical order and it helped a lot” is perfectly reasonable and could be helpful to a lot of people even if they don’t have The Diagnosis. AFAIK I am NT and I use a lot of the time management/task organization ideas suggested for people with ADHD because they also work for me.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think there’s a rule about this for professional therapists too! I recall it came up with Tr*mp.

    9. ampersand*

      It tends to detract from the issue at hand–like sure, the problem could stem from X diagnosis that we’re totally guessing this person we don’t know could have, but how does that help the LW? It often seems like it isn’t helpful when the LW has written in about someone else.

    10. Observer*

      but it still remains that it is surprisingly hard to realize from the inside that there actually is something different in your brain and not you just ‘not trying hard enough’. Armchair diagnoses have negatives, but they can also be life-changing in the good way. Is there a middle ground; or any way around the problems?

      The thing is that the armchair diagnosing actually seems to make is LESS likely that someone will realize that there is something different.

      On the other hand when someone says something like “Hey, that sounds a lot like my experience with ADD / GAD / Whatever Else and this is how it played out for us” it’s a lot easier to make the connection to whatever it is that’s going on in your head and / or life.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      I’m against armchair diagnosing even though I’m all for neurospicy awareness; there’re still too many easy accommodations we could integrate into people’s daily lives, but we don’t because we still have the assumption that most people are neurotypical and only a miniscule and exotic number of weirdos are not. You’re also right that it’s hard to overcome this bias in yourself and recognise that you’re actually masking and exhausting yourself into the default assumption of being a nuerotypical person. My issue with armchair diagnosing is that it’s actually contrary to getting proper information and awareness out there to people. Even when people are trying to help, and speaking from their own experience, it can be really easy to perpetuate stereotypes if they try to extrapolate one trait, or one incident, into an entire diagnosis. As far as letters to this blog are concerned, people are usually giving one very small, secondhand snapshot and they’re usually not dispassionate or disinterested enough to give a unbiased view. This is fine for giving the emotive context to a problem which needs a solution, but it doesn’t give the best groundwork for a clinical diagnosis. The other issue with a lot of armchair diagnosing is that it’s anti solution. With a real diagnosis the whole point of it is so the person can access more solutions and function at a high level, certainly that they will meet typical expectations. Whereas there’s a common idea in society that “labelling” people is the same thing as writing them off and deciding that we can’t expect much from them; this is because they personally can’t imagine a nuerospicy person having any impact or worth. So, the most objectionable type of armchair diagnosis follows an equation that goes something like this: “X trait is only a failing of people with Y condition, therefore you should just lessen your expectations and put up with it”. Something that’s more helpful is saying: “X trait is something that I struggle with too, and although it can be a feature of Y condition – a lot of neurotypicals struggle with it too. They often find the solutions and information on the Y information website helpful regardless of diagnosis (because a diagnosis is bigger than one trait). Another helpful thing is when you’re advising on a general workplace practices which will affect a large number of people. Whenever you’re talking about numbers, some of those people will definitely be nuerospicy so making sure to share accessible practices that will work for both neurotypicals and neurospicy people is going to do a lot more good than diagnosing individuals.

  11. Shandra*

    If time travel were a reality, what is a non-history book event you’d like to go back and witness?

    I’d like to be in the recording studio when the London Symphony Orchestra played the Main Theme from Superman for the first time. Imagine being one of the first to hear what until then, had existed only in John Williams’ head.

    1. Evergreen*

      So many concerts you could go to that way! Or plays!

      It would be fascinating to see a Shakespeare play in its original setting with the sociological context of it

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I don’t want to even go very far back in time. I want to go to Paris in November 2007 and see Daft Punk perform the concert that became Alive 2007.

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

      I really like both the music and the play ideas above! Movie premieres too.

      I might want to travel back to 1970s Fire Island. I saw an exhibit of photographs of the pre-AIDS (well, before the world knew about AIDS, anyway) gay party scene there, and everyone in the pictures just looked so joyful. I’m not a gay man (I’m a bi woman) but the atmosphere looked like SO much fun. I’d be curious to travel back to Studio 54 at least once too, just to check it out.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Ooh, I’d like to go back and see the premiere of The Rite of Spring to see if it really did make the audience riot, or if that’s been exaggerated.

    4. RLC*

      1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition: spend a few days seeing the best examples of the best designs US manufacturing had to offer at the peak of the Victorian era. I love the aesthetics of the Centennial era, Victorian design at its most wonderfully extreme. To see the work of the premier metal smiths, cabinetmakers, and such of the period presented in full color 3-dimensional tableaux would be a delight.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        And Alexander Graham Bell demonstrating the telephone, and Joseph Lister trying to convince American doctors to wash their hands….

    5. Cat*

      I’d love to see the area I live before logging. It’s rolling farmland for days now but was once 80% forested.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Ooh I think I’d want to go back and explore the Hetch Hetchy basin before they built the dam

        1. Sloanicota*

          But would you, or would it be too depressing, knowing it would all be gone soon? I can’t decide.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I live in a congested suburb that was small towns and farmland 50 years ago. I’d love to see it the way it looked back then. For that matter, the area of my neighborhood was near an important outpost of the Shawnee tribe, and I’ve always wondered what it was like in pre-Colonial days.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I want to hang out with my grandmas (separately I think) and my mom when we were all in our early 20s.

    7. Forrest Rhodes*

      Definitely not history-book material, but it’s significant to me:

      I’d like to be in a specific restaurant in southern Arizona on a specific day in late 1943 to see their mutual friends introducing my mom (engaged to someone else at the time) to my dad (in the military, waiting for his orders to ship out). They were married six weeks later—okay, it was wartime—and enjoyed a great marriage that produced my brothers and me and ended 60 years later only because of my dad’s death.

      I don’t want to participate in that introduction, and definitely don’t want to change it (one of the basic rules of time travel: you do not mess with history), but maybe I could just be sitting at a nearby table?

    8. Chaordic One*

      I’d like to go back in time and just hang out and walk around various cities around the world. Paris, London, New York, San Francisco back in the early 1900s, the 1950s or the 1960s. I’d like to witness the grand opening of Disneyland in 1955 or visit the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

    9. UKDancer*

      I’d love to have seen Alicia Markova premier some of the Ashton work she championed. I gather she was amazing.

      I’d also love to have seen the Doyly Carte company premiere of The Mikado with Richard Temple and Durward Lely.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Ooooh, I’d like to do a real luxury tour, like on an old fashioned ocean liner or in first class in a double decker airliner. Just really revel in the “golden” age of travel (and since it’s my fantasy trip, everything is ethically sourced and my riches go in the main to generous tips to all workers who are all well treated.)

    11. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Oxford, swinging London years. At the University, Crick and Watson working on DNA, others working on polymer chemistry, while the rest of London seethed with music and film. Had to be amazing.

    12. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I would like to be a fly on the wall at all of Nora Ephron’s dinner parties.

      I am also curious what Emily Post was like as a person.

    13. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Also any newsroom just before and while they are breaking a major story.

      A day in Pompeii before the volcano. I read somewhere that people cooked limited things at home and relied on takeout for quite a bit of their daily diet. Any city hundreds or thousands of years ago, just the feel of the urban pattern. What the plants smelled like.

    14. Not Australian*

      I’d like to go back and see the RSC’s 1986 production of ‘The White Devil’ at the Swan in Stratford just once more…

    15. allathian*

      I’d love to go back in time as a young woman to see Elvis in concert in his prime. My parents were/are fans of his music, and I grew up listening to his records as a kid. He’s probably the first performing artist whose name I recognized. I was 5 years old when he died, and seeing his open coffin with so many colorful flowers is the first news report I remember seeing.

    16. Don'tbeadork*

      Are we assuming we’d be safe, no matter what happens? Because where I’d like to go and what I’d like to see would vary a lot on that.

      If we’d be safe and couldn’t interact with/be interacted with anything I’d adore to go back and observe some dinosaurs.

      If we can interact/be interacted with, I’d love to be at the opening of the Met in its new building, to see Leontyne Price as Cleopatra.

    17. Llama Llama*

      I want to go to Oak Island to whenever they buried treasure there to see what it is and who did it (I have planned so far as to have items to barter with them to let me watch and see the stuff).

    18. Held*

      OMG, all I want out of life is to have been there when the Patterson-Gilmlin footage was filmed.

  12. Potatoes gonna potate*

    party etiquette question. Is writing “no boxed gifts” on invitations still considered tacky? I have never done that for my daughter’s birthday parties, but we have a small home and just don’t have a lot of extra space for more clothes and toys. I come from a culture where ppl exchanged cash on occasions, so it was always understood that you give cash and not gifts but I have read lots of discussions that explicitly stating “no boxed gifts” is considered a faux pas. Ultimately, I do love and appreciate any thought people will give to my child, in any format and even hinting at saying “I want cash” doesn’t feel great to me. I’m just curious how parents navigate gifts in that way, esp if they have small spaces.  

    1. California Dreamin’*

      I’m not sure where you’re located, but in my area that’s not a thing and I honestly would have no idea what you meant by “boxed gifts.” If it’s a child’s birthday party, people give gifts, not cash. (Sometimes people might do a gift card but this tells me they didn’t get around to shopping.) This shifts as a kid gets older, like a teen might be more likely to get gift cards or money. If you don’t want tangible gifts, you probably need to just say “no gifts, please,” not ask people to only give cash as that would read as a bit tacky in some communities.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I would have been wondering why you cared if the gifts were in a box or a gift bag, yeah.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            to be fair, the first two years baby potato vastly preferred to play with the bags and tissue paper and wrapping paper.

        1. Clisby*

          Same here. I’d have thought you were saying you didn’t want to have to go through the kid-opening-the-gifts rigmarole. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that you wanted cash.

          I did take my daughter to a birthday party for a 3-year-old friend, whose parents asked that in lieu of other gifts, we give her son a picture of the guest, or a drawing by the guest.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            That is a wonderful idea! I’ve also heard of parents asking for donations in lieu of gifts or books.
            Personally, I love greeting cards with thoughtful messages – I love to give those and I would love for my daughter to receive them.

      2. Forgotten Username*

        I come from a culture that typically gives money as gifts rather than items, and I would still have no idea what “no boxed gifts” means. I’m with California Dreamin’ – I think you can either say “no gifts please” or resign yourself to receiving gifts and possibly donating them after.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I would have assumed “no boxed gifts” meant “small gifts only, nothing that would require a box,” so I would assume it meant give things like colouring books, books, small pieces of jewellery, etc and not large toys that would require storage. I wouldn’t read it as wanting cash or gift cards.

      4. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Okay, that’s so interesting that “no boxed gifts” isn’t a thing everywhere…my bad for assuming. I do feel like asking for cash is universally tacky in most communities, but it could be different..hence asking here haha.

        I think next year I will go for “no gifts please.” I did have someone ask me directly but I didn’t feel comfortable answering. We had our party today and we received a a lot of fun and thoughtful gifts that I think kiddo will love

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ooh, I would raise an eyebrow a this. It seems to me that either you are open to receiving gifts according to the preference and ability of the giver, or you are asking for “no gifts” – somehow asking for only certain gifts doesn’t sit quite right with me. You could say “no gifts” but let your friends and family know the cash wouldn’t go amiss? Since presumably the etiquette is different with close members of the inner-circle. Or, I guess just accept that some gifts are going to be donated if you don’t have space for them.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I am 99% open to receiving gifts according to their preference and ability, but from a practicality standpoint, 1% of me is like.. “ehhh cash is the best” lol. It’s not a big deal at all, just something I was curious about.

        I mean, we had about 6-7 bags that we were opening, and what’s my 3yo doing? laying on the floor playing with a gigantic smoothie straw and electrical tape. Go figure LOL

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The norm in my particular corner of New England was something like:

          For small kids the presents go in a corner and are opened after the party, since 3 year olds have trouble sitting and focusing on the opening for the time needed, and are not really on board with “This Buzz Lightyear is a gift to JoJo! So JoJo gets to keep it.” (The transition to adult logic at age 4 is important here.)

          Around 4-6 it transitions to having a present opening time, though this is easier with a small guest list and there are variations like “Mary is shy and so we’ll open her gifts after the party.”

    3. RagingADHD*

      “No gifts please” is fine. It would be pretty wierd to give cash to a preschooler, so the boxed gift thing strikes me as out of place in this context.

      IME, gift cards and money don’t start being a regular thing for little kid gifts until they’re about 6 or 7.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, if I was going to give cash to a preschooler and wanted to please the preschooler and not her parents, I’d give her two rolls worth of pennies. 100 pennies is worth a lot more to a little kid than a single $20 bill.

        And I would also be one of the clueless about what “box gifts” even are.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (As someone who has to code at least three coin-removal-from-esophagus ED encounters a day, I wouldn’t suggest giving kids coins to play with.)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Maybe we just grow ‘em goofy in Indiana? My system also has 15 EDs that I code for, not just one :) but yeah, all the time. The other day I got one where someone gave the kid a quarter for a gumball machine and the kid swallowed the quarter – I couldn’t help thinking, if your kid can’t tell the difference between a gumball and a quarter you probably shouldn’t give them either. But hey.

              Trivia: the diagnosis list that automatically qualifies as emergency treatment includes foreign bodies in the mouth, stomach, intestines or rectum, but NOT the esophagus (unless it’s impacting the trachea as well). Blows my mind every time.

              1. The OG Sleepless*

                In a veterinarians’ forum this week, human foreign objects came up in discussion, and somebody linked to an article about a guy who had a CT scan done for chronic coughing and they found a mass. It turned out to be a granuloma around a toy (it was a tiny traffic cone from a Playskool set from the 70s) that he remembered swallowing. He had actually inhaled it, and it sat in his lung for over 40 years.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            oh my god that is so heartbreaking.
            yeah, my daughter loves playing with coins but we have to watch her like a hawk when she does. She does this little “trick” where she brings it near her mouth and when I look over she quickly puts it down – she does it frequently enough that I think she’s just messing with me.
            But yeah, no pennies/coins.

    4. Alex*

      Strict etiquette says that you shouldn’t mention gifts at all on an invitation. Writing “no (X kind of) gifts, though, is I think going to be seen as rude by a lot of people.

      A lot of people do go with “No gifts” at all, but the problem with that is that some people don’t listen, and then you have some people bringing gifts and some not, and then those who followed the rules feel like they should have brought a gift anyway, and it goes on…

      I think keeping the party small and manageable, and then picking some stuff to donate (either the new gifts, or other stuff to make room for the new gifts) is the best way to go.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, when I was a child every gift occasion was preceded by a toy purge to go to a local community center.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Look, I’m a parent who HATES clutter and has fought a losing battle against excessive stuff since I first got pregnant, but the point of a gift for a child is that it’s fun for the child to receive. You can’t ask a kid’s friends to bring cash instead of toys, it’s tacky and not fun for anyone. Just request no gifts period and be gracious about people who bring something anyway.

      1. NotBatman*

        Yes, exactly. Saying “no gifts” is probably fine, and telling other parents “we’d love [small item]” is probably also fine. Requesting cash or gift cards (which just aren’t as fun for kids) feels like a request to have some of the gifts for yourself.

        1. Green Tea*

          Completely agree with this. My husband’s family tends to go cash instead of gifts, which we followed – until our nieces said their parents just keep the cash for themselves to subsidize the cost of the birthday party (they are very well-off and don’t need to do this). Now we exclusively do tangible gifts to ensure our nieces actually get to keep and use what we get them. I’d side-eye any invitation that I understood was implying that only cash gifts are welcome, although something as vague as ‘no boxed gifts’ would have gone directly over my head.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            eeeeh I’m side-eying that. It’s just a personal opinion but if we couldn’t afford to throw the party…..we just wouldn’t. I would never expect guests to subsidize the cost of the party.. and I see this discussion frequently when it comes to weddings as well.

    6. Old Plant Woman*

      I don’t do cash grabs. What if you say Felix likes chapter books with a strong boy lead character. And science toys that teach basic physics? And you have a small house. Like I do.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Sorry. Reread the post. Should have said Fila, not Felix. Anyway I always ask parents for details about what gifts will actually work. Saves space and money.

    7. Maggie*

      I wouldn’t know what that meant without the explanation. If someone wrote that I would just not bring a gift at all because I would think it meant no gifts. It sounds like it’s a euphemism for “please bring cash” which I personally would consider tacky, but I realize I may not totally be with the times. A gift is something freely given and to me saying you only want cash is ungracious. I am from the USA lived in a few midwestern areas to give cultural reference.

    8. Cordelia*

      I wouldn’t understand what that meant – do you have something against boxes? are gifts in a bag ok? But reading the other comments, it seems to mean “cash only” and I would find that quite rude, rather than tacky. You can always donate the unwanted gifts afterwards, or keep the new toys and donate old ones. You can maybe talk to your child about how they have lots of toys and so can give some of them to children who don’t have so many.

    9. Morning reader*

      I am curious if folks here have seen a note like this on an invitation. I don’t think I have although maybe I’ve seen “no gifts, please.” If anything, I’ve seen or heard suggested types of gifts for a theme party. Books for a baby shower, or a (for example) legos for a kid really into that. Invitation would reflect the theme.
      So often I’ve read etiquette advice that says mentioning gifts at all in an invitation is tacky. Miss Manners even disdains wedding registries. But I’ve never seen it done so I’m wondering, is this a common thing to put on a written invitation? Despite MM, if everyone does it, then etiquette has effectively changed about that.
      I’m not part of this cash-gift culture but I can see how it makes it easier to give to adults. But for a kid’s birthday party? I’ve never heard of this so I’m curious where it is. And how it works? (Assuming you’re not handing cash to a one-year-old who would likely just eat it.) Do you give it to the parents? Put it on a gift table? Put it in a card and envelope?
      It’s fascinating to hear about how different cultures handle these things. I read about kid’s parties in the US being out of control with expectations but I haven’t observed it being out of the loop on kids stuff these days.
      P.S. not sure I know what “boxed gift” is either. My mind immediately went to the SNL skit “dick in a box,” which was very funny but also not appropriate for a kid birthday!

      1. Gyne*

        I have seen it from South Asian friends (it’s normal/expected on wedding invitations there, from what I understand) and it means “give us cash.”

        I think it’d be weird to receive from someone not from that culture because outside that context, lots of people don’t understand it’s a request for cash (as evidenced here) and it would also be eyebrow raising to be asked for cash for a child’s birthday. A child doesn’t *want* cash, the parent’s do. I get the traditional opposition to mentioning gifts at all on an invitation, but I think in the US that has evolved to be acceptable to mention “no gifts please.”

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, there are various cultures and events where cash would be the norm and you wouldn’t have to spell it out, because everyone understands the norm. Like whether someone refusing your offer of a drink means you drop it, ask one more time, or ask two more times. (Back when I got married I remember that it seemed really normal for older relatives to give us cash, but felt weird from friends our age–apparently my cultural context is that it’s normal for older-settled generation helping just-starting-out generation in a variety of life events.)

          If in the US I think asking straight out that everyone give you cash is considered rude, for most gift-giving occasions.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Yes, there are various cultures and events where cash would be the norm and you wouldn’t have to spell it out, because everyone understands the norm.
            Yessss exactly!

          1. Morning reader*

            Thanks for the extra explanation. I love learning about variations in customs like this. Glad to hear the party went well. Three is a big milestone!

      2. RagingADHD*

        I have seen it for like, a 1 or 2 year old where they don’t even know what a “birthday” is and their friends could not really participate in choosing a gift. A baby that age is just excited about decorations and treats, so it’s really just grownups giving stuff to the parents. Besides, the little guests don’t understand giving presents either, and are likely to want to take stuff.

        Somewhere between 3-4, the assumption / polite fiction is that the little friend picked out the present and is giving it. But I wouldn’t be really solid on expecting the guests to understand that the presents are for the birthday child and not melt down until 4+.

        1. kt*

          When we invited “every kid in Child’s class” to birthday parties, we did say “no gifts please” or a few times we said “no gifts, or dried sliced mango” because the Child really loved sliced mango and it doesn’t take up a lot of space and everyone’s happy :) But we too live in a small house and just have trouble with the influx of 25+ presents for a small person.

          1. RagingADHD*

            My favorite was the parents who actually let their 4 or 5 year old pick a present, and it would be something like a cool looking rock they found.

            The best!

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              My daughter got a handwritten card from my friend’s daughters, they drew a maze and wrote a message. It’s the most adorable thing ever. I love these ideas for kiddo, and I’ll be sure to use them for the future when she’ll be invited to kids’ parties

          2. Potatoes gonna potate*

            That’s actually such an awesome idea (I LOVE mango! haha)…potato-ling likes oreos but I’m pretty sure dad won’t be thrilled with a house full of Oreos LOL

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, I’ve seen invitations with “no gifts, please” as well as those with “your presence is sufficient gift, but if you insist on bringing something, book only, please” or something like that.
        But basically, it’s asking people to not give a gift at all or only give a book. In the US something that boils down to “cash only” isn’t a thing, so if the reasoning is you don’t want Stuff, the not-tacky (using OP’s word) approach is to ask for no gifts at all.

      4. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’m LOL-ing at the SNL skit. That’s hilarious!!!!

        So cash/gift cards for a young child are handed to the parent sometimes in an envelope or inside of a greeting card. I’ve known parents use the cash for the kids day-to-day expenses (diapers, food, clothes etc). We’ve been putting her money into a savings account since we’re able to manage the regular expenses. The people I know will make a note of who gave how much and give the same amount/value when it’s the other person’s turn

        1. Groffy*

          You all keep track of amounts and return the same, so no one ends up actually benefitting? Why even bother giving the gifts at all if everyone ends up with exactly the same amount? That sounds weirdly transactional and not in the spirit of gift giving at all. No gift is actually recieved, just an debt to be repaid.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            That’s an interpretation. just explaining how I’ve seen it handled in my culture.
            Personally, we keep track of how much because it’s cash that’s going in to a bank account so we need to know how much gets deposited. When it’s time to give a gift, we give what we feel is appropriate/affordable. (ex/ one family in particular is very generous, and we couldn’t afford what they afford, so we expend effort in other ways).

    10. InLieuOfGifts*

      I would have no idea what to do with this. No gifts please is a thing, although some folks will bring one anyway. I’ve seen Please donate to X in lieu of gifts but only infrequently for kids. I’ve also seen things like “please share a recipe suitable for X in lieu of gifts” or “please share your favorite Y story in lieu of gifts” and then they were compiled into a booklet given to attendees which was cool (again, more likely for older folks and things like wedding showers).

    11. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      I’ve come across the request for “no boxed gifts” in invitations from a particular culture. It’s something quite recent, I think. Although I come from a culture where cash gifts are customary, I find such requests incredibly off-putting, because it’s no different from saying, “give us cash.” Either simply state no gifts, or ask for a children’s book or maybe a small toy to donate to a toy bank.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think that would fall under excess gumption.

        Who cares? As seen in this thread, many people, especially in the US, find direct requests for cash gifts off-putting in some contexts, including this one. They will care that someone made the request, and may then be more awkward or chilly when interacting in future.

        And OP cares about not damaging these relationships–with your friends, with the people who control access to your child’s playmates, with the people who you can call on for emergency child-tending. I’ll take a Buzz Lightyear and a parent who is happy to pick up my child when I need to go to a funeral.

        On a more minor note, OP would care if this request led to a bunch of toys presented in gift bags rather than boxes, as that’s how some people would interpret “no box gifts.”

        Context would include: geographic location and its norms; whether gift is peer to peer (cash from Grandma might be totally normal); whether gift is something people enjoy shopping for (cash is more common to teens); whether it feels like someone derailing gifts intended for party A to enrich themselves, which is easier with cash; whether the desire for cash is spelled out preemptively or in answer to “So what would little Boo like?”

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      This question is so dependent on your community. Is there someone in your community/social circle whom you can ask about this question? My son’s childminder was great at answering questions like this for me. (FWIW, in my son’s school community, it was very common to get invites that said something like “5 euro is plenty” and most people then just gave the 5 euro. Writing “No gift” or “your presence is present enough” often results in 5 euro instead.)

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Honestly this is something I probably would have asked my mom were she here. But when parents/elders aren’t there to guide, thats’ where outsourcing opinions from the internet comes in :)

        I think the best answer is just writing “no gifts please” if I’m going to be strict about not having enough space. Hypothetically, in the future if my kid is 1 of an entire class invited, I’d go with a gift card as a default (unless there’s instructions like sliced mango, or books etc) and put more thought if it’s a close friend/family member.

    13. *daha**

      There’s a huge difference between “no gifts, please” and “no boxed gifts”. I would consider “no boxed gifts” tacky at best.

    14. ampersand*

      It’s normal where I am to say “no gifts, please” for kids’ birthday parties–no one looks down on it. Sometimes people will then suggest a donation (kids’ items that families are done using, for example) that can be donated to an organization instead.

      I request no gifts for my daughter’s parties but we end up with gifts anyway because some people really like giving. That’s fine with me–it still cuts down on how much stuff we end up with, the people who really feel strongly about giving gifts can go ahead and do so, and no one feels pressure to give a gift if they’re not in a position to do so.

    15. Punk*

      I second all of the comments about saying “books only please” instead, if only because it’s adaptable as your kid grows; if gift-giving is lost on her and her schoolmates now, fine, she’ll be upset to not receive any presents when she turns 7. Personally, I was always thrilled to open packs of 2-3 Babysitters Club or Nancy Drew books when I was a kid, which looking back, was clearly a directive my mom gave to all the parents.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        oh my god I LOVED BSC books!!!!!! I hope my kid will enjoy reading when she’s older. Right now she likes the picture books but hasn’t really been into the whole reading-out-loud thing.

    16. Nancy*

      The parents I know either say ‘no gifts, please’ or just accept the gifts and donate any extra, especially when the kid is too young to care about what they get.

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Hey all, thanks for weighing in! It’s just something that was floating around in my head and it looks like the consensus that yes it is still considered tacky/ungracious to ask for cash in whatever wording. We had the party today (kiddos’ 3!) and all the guests were my family members and friends (and their family members), so about 30 people. We got some really nice gifts. “Cash only” is not something I would ever ask for and I did get a lot of good ideas for the future.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I’m glad the party went well, and congratulations on successfully parenting a small person for (more than) three years now! In case this is helpful for the future, when I was pregnant a bunch of people asked us what we needed or otherwise indicated that they wanted to give us things, even without us having a shower. We said that we had all the big things covered but would love books and/or clothes. Books because we were excited to read with our kid, and we invited people to leave a little note for him in the book so that when he was old enough we could read the notes together and he would know that people were loving him before he even showed up. And clothes because he’d always be wearing something so we would have constant opportunities to feel the love of the people who gave us those things. (We also said that it would be especially helpful to have clothes for older kids because, we didn’t phrase it this way, but there are only so many outfits a newborn can wear and the need to wear clothes persists beyond three months.) This isn’t quite the same as a birthday party but we were intentional about what we asked for and explained those intentions to people who wanted to give stuff, and for us that led to a meaningful experience.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Thank you so much!

          IME I don’t think anyone really asked me what I needed BUT I’m also the “last” one of my group to have a child, so all the experienced parents either gave us gift cards or things off my registry that they knew I would use. It also did help to bounce registry questions off recent mom friends. Before kids I would just give gift cards and write a thoughtful note in a greeting card; I haven’t had many opportunities post kiddo, but if I do, that’s a good tactic I think.

    18. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Oh! Figured I’d write this here instead of a new thread since it’s just a small update and (kind of) related to a previous post about birthday outing.
      So kiddo turned 3 this week. Instead of going to the water park (again thanks everyone for pointing out things I had no idea about!) I sent cupcakes to her daycare and they sang happy birthday to her, and we took her to the mall afterwards. There’s a carousel there and she had the time of her life riding it… 12 times. We cut a small cake later that evening, and she actually blew out the candle!
      Her therapists had said that she had no interest in the cupcakes but she was very into the cake – I think it’s because her name was written which to me seems like she recognizes her name. She’s made so much progress these past few months makes my heart happy

    19. cyanotype*

      Just going to weigh in regarding cash. My kid was invited to a fifth birthday party, and the invitation said that it was a “fiver” party with a requested gift of $5 (and the detail that the kid was saving up for a specific toy). Since the suggested amount was so reasonable and the request was so easy, I loved it!

    20. beep beep*

      Unsure how old the kiddo is, because you sorta have to have their buy-in for this kind of thing, but one year when I was… around ten? I asked for no gifts for me- people should bring things I could donate to the local animal shelter. Food, toys, beds, etc. You could do something like that if the kid is a big animal lover, or likes feeding people (food for a food pantry), or whatever else. Like I said, the kid has to be into it for it to be fun for them, but it’s a good way for people to give gifts that don’t clutter the house forever.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I agree on asking for their opinion when they’re old enough to form one. I honestly don’t remember what I did when I was a kid. I never had any big parties, just family get togethers and so gifts were always in cash (or something cute/inexpensive from someone my age). My girl is 3 now, so she’s too young to have an opinion (on any of this really!) but when she’s older, I’ll definitely want her to take the lead. and this goes for everything, throwing parties, events, etc.

    21. Waffles*

      I am Indian American and would understand what you meant by the phrase, but I don’t think the expression is clear outside of cultures where gift giving is often cash. As a fellow parent, I feel your pain on accumulating stuff without space. If your kid is too young to understand gift giving, I would say no gifts please. If your kid is old enough to understand and want gifts, I think you would be better off culling the older toys.

    22. Clere*

      Yes. Mentioning gifts at all is tacky. You are not supposed to expect gifts, even for a birthday. Every gift is a lovely surprise to people with nice manners. If you get things you don’t need, donate them. “No gifts, please” is tacky. “No boxed gifts”, as code for “money or gift cards, please”, is really, really bad. I’m not trying to be rude. That is truly appallingly bad.

      1. zaracat*

        I disagree. I would hate to put thought and money into buying a gift only for it to be immediately given away, especially if finances were tight for me. I would rather know upfront.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          @zaracat, I think this is where having these kind of conversations/discussions are helpful. If finances were tight and I really cared if my gift would be appreciated, I’d ask the kid/parent/someone close and absent everything else – gift cards are always appreciated.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Not rude at all – I’m inclined to agree with you. Personally I expect nothing. I had a few guests who didn’t give anything, and it doesn’t change how I feel about them or my opinion of them.

    23. Margaret*

      For our three-year-old’s last birthday party, we went with, “Your presence but no presents, please,” and it went over pretty well.

  13. Junebug*

    Birthday gift ideas for a 3 year old nephew? Preferably last minute that can be picked up at Target :)

    1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Books are always a winner. Non fiction on a topic he is interested in like dinosaurs, space, robots etc., or a nicely illustrated story.

    2. Vanessa*

      A sketch pad, ultra washable crayola markers( not washable- ultrawashable), crayola washable paint, brushes.

    3. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Toys that come in their own container, like cars in a sorting box, animals in a carrying case. This one is still a favorite in our house three years later:

      1. Junebug*

        Very much appreciate the specific link, thank you! I went with this one and it is waiting for the birthday boy to unwrap it later. There was a suggestion in the reviews to use Beanie Babies for additional animals which my Boomer mom has plenty of, so this is perfect :)

    4. Generic Name*

      Both my son and nephew loved toys I’ve gotten them from Fisher Price’s Imaginext line when they were that age. Very creative toys. My son had a space set and o got my nephew a pirate ship with a shark at the front. Nephew loved it, and my now teenage son and husband desperately wanted to play with it before I gave it to nephew. Lol

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Art supplies
      Water bottle, especially ones with their favorite character on it.
      Trucks always trucks.
      Stomp rocket
      Bubble machine

    6. londonedit*

      My nephew is 4 but he’s been obsessed with Hot Wheels for at least two years! Hot Wheels, books and simple board games and jigsaws are his favourites (he can do a 100-piece jigsaw without too much help now).

    7. Qwertyuiop*

      There are toys that are designed to screw apart and reassemble (safe oversized screws) Great fun for both boys and girls at that age. Some come “power” screw drivers

    8. Jay*

      There are many Classic (capital “C” intended) books meant either for very young children to read by, or to be read TO young children.
      Dr. Seuss, for instance, comes to mind. I bought my little nieces and nephew (he’s taller than me now, there ought to be some kinda’ law against that) sets of classics for all of their first birthdays and Christmases. They absolutely adored them and read them to literal pieces.

  14. little e*

    I recently got the old book “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” for my dad and he told me he liked it (which is rare)! He said he wanted books with the same “gestalt” so I thought I’d ask here for anyone’s similar recommendations. I got it for him because he’s the family investor but I think he also liked it because of the historical element. He has previously gotten very into Laura Ingalls Wilder and usually reads nonfiction. Thanks!

    1. Pippa K*

      Don’t know if this fits the bill, but David McCullough’s “Path Between the Seas” is about the building of the Panama Canal. I got it for my dad, who is fairly knowledgeable about the canal, and he seemed to like both the narrative and the history. (I think I’ve recommended it here before.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Most of that author’s books are in a similar vein, and very readable. The Brooklyn Bridge one was excellent as well.

      2. the cat's ass*

        I was thinking of Simon Winchester’s books(Krakatoa,et al) for the same reason. Also Erik Larson’s work (Dead Wake, Devil in the White City, et al).

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Anything by Eric Larson. History with a very strong narrative element.

      If he likes Laura Ingalls Wilder, has he read “Prairie Fires?” It’s a biography of Wilder with a lot of relevant American history thrown in. Very well-written.

      1. Imtheone*

        The Pioneer Girls, by LIW, annotated with lots of facts about her life, the weather, the economy, court records, etc.

    3. Aneurin*

      More engineering than finance, but I really enjoyed “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea” by Gary Kinder – it’s about the shipwreck of a Gold Rush era ship & the attempts in the 1980s to find the wreck site (and the gold that went down with the ship). The audiobook is also excellent!

    4. LibrarianScientist*

      Devil Take the Hindmost by Edward Chancellor and American Rascal by Jay Gould are good readalikes for that title. Also if he might like something funnier and has enjoyed any Michael Lewis (Moneyball, Blindside, The Big Short) in the past, Liar’s Poker is a good one about his time as a bond trader in the 1980s. If you are a library user and have access to NovelistPlus, it’s super helpful for trying to nail down titles for other people/in areas you don’t read yourself.

    5. EdgarAllenCat*

      The billion dollar spy by David Hoffman. True story about Cold War and a person who provided Soviet secrets to the US.

    6. Armchair Analyst*

      I think it is Michael Dash or Mike Dash who wrote 2 books focusing on Dutch history “Tulipmania” of course explores the history and legacy of the tulip bulb bubble in 1600s Holland – really interesting, goes into exploring, role of Protestantism, and of course capitalism & wealth & so so interesting and readable. “Batavia’s Graveyard” is about a shipwreck of the same era and the sailors and merchant men who caused it and survived and how and why, with similar exploration into the culture. Sounds obscure and it is but also super compelling and wow! blew my mind. must’ve read it 10 or 15 years ago and i still think about it (and bought it and re-read it…)

  15. Lcsa99*

    Can anyone who has had a ceiling fan installed and/or replaced give me an idea of what to expect? We currently have a ceiling fan in our bedroom that needs to be replaced. Ideally we would also like to have the dimmer switch removed as we never use it and think that’s part of the reason why it needs to be replaced (my MIL uses it when she comes to take care of the kitties when we’re away and I think that somehow threw off the balance). We’re under the impression that we can just go to a lighting store, pick out a new one and their people can remove the current one and install the new one in its place. Is it more complicated than that?

    At the same time, I am hoping that we can have a fan installed in our living room, which currently does NOT have a fan. I know that would entail a lot more work, but can you give me an idea of how much more? Do we need to get permits, or actual contractors or anything like that? We’re in a co-op if that makes a difference. Would the hypothetical lighting store employees be able to do that as well? Our living room currently has recessed lighting with a big open spot right where we’d love to have the fan installed, so I am assuming that they can just tap into the existing wiring but would greatly appreciate any information we can get on just how much work we’re talking; and if we’d need to talk to more people than we’re hoping.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Changing / installing an average sized ceiling fan isn’t significantly different than swapping out any other light fixture, as long as it’s close enough to a joist to support the weight (which ceiling fixtures usually are).

      You don’t need a contractor, just a handyman. But you should ask the co-op’s maintenance people about the rules, because IIRC when I was in a co-op, I owned everything inside the living space but the building was in charge of the wiring and plumbing.

      They may be able to do it for you.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Replacing an existing fixture is pretty simple. Just a swap out. You may want to make sure the store has installation services, but a handyman can do it.

      For the living room, if you have wiring in the ceiling that definitely makes it easier, but it will require a brace and take a bit longer.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      My dad put up fans in my house about years ago. New house had normal light fixtures, but no fans (in Florida! That was the builder being a cheapskate!). I bought the fans and we installed them ourselves. You should not need permits, but I think the lighting fixtures’ electrical must have already been wired for fans in all the fixtures because we didn’t have to change the switches or anything.

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      For what it’s worth, we have ceiling fans on stunners and have never had a balance issue—but then we don’t do the hurricane speed (high speed/no dimmer)

      1. Angstrom*

        If the existing ceiling box is not fan-rated(heavier construction, properly anchored) it may have to be replaced to meet code. If there’s already a fan that shouldn’t be an issue.
        For the new installation, if you want to tap into wiring that powers/controls other lights, you’ll probably need a fan with a remote instead of hardwired wall-mounted controls.

    5. Squidhead*

      Some of this depends on your city and state: in mine, you’d need to hire a licensed electrician for an installation like this (especially adding a fixture where there wasn’t one before). My city’s code enforcement office is the source of info for what’s required here. Enforcement of this where I live is patchy (how’s the city inspector gonna know what I do in my own house?) but your co-op rules also might require this and your co-op neighbors might be likely to notice if you’re having work done.

      You also might need a generalist/handyperson to patch/sand/paint whatever holes were left after running the wire to the new location.

      Two technical points to consider: 1) For the dimmer switch, consider leaving the dimmer switch and asking to have it only control the light kit of the new fan. The idea is that the fan always has power and is activated by the pull-chain (hi/med/low/off), and the light can be turned on/off/dimmed by the switch. The wiring needs to be in a certain configuration to allow this to happen but if it’s already laid out that way I find it very nice to use a wall dimmer for the lights. 2) For the hypothetical new fan you may have the reverse problem: if you just plop it in the middle of an existing chain of lights, then the switch that controls those lights will control the fan. You won’t be able to run the fan unless the lights are on. Again, there’s a certain configuration of wiring that would require this, but it doesn’t seem ideal to me. Solving these problems would be a reason to hire an electrician, even if it’s not required where you live.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      For your first project, we just did this. We had an electrician we knew and trusted and had him do it. Bought the fixture. He came, confirmed from above that the previous fan was installed on a fan-rated box (it was) and installed the new one. Took 20 minutes. I’ve never been to a lighting store that offered installation. Not saying they don’t exist, but can’t comment on that at all.
      If you’re not certain the existing fan is actually installed properly, you should probably find out before having someone come install it. The thing is cheap, maybe $20 but you don’t want to have to go get it or have the installer go get it and come back in the middle of the job.

      Putting in a fan where there isn’t one should not require a permit. If you were replacing a regular light with a fan, it’d be similar to the above except you definitely want them installing the fan-rated box. Since your project is “there’s nothing there”, I would strongly recommend going with an electrician, not a lighting-store-person or a contractor. Have the electrician come and go in your attic and give you an estimate in advance based on what they see. Then they’ll know what actually needs to be done in to install it in that specific spot. I’d be shocked if it took more than a couple hours, unless the access is really awkward/tight.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      My appartment has ceiling fans each with a powerful light in the middle. Handy to just have 1 remote control for light and fan levels.

      The janitor installed them very quickly, using the wiring for the previous ceiling lights.

    8. ronda*

      I had a handy-man install my ceiling fans in place of existing light fixtures and he did one of them wrong. (I had bought them at the Home Depot type store– I think 5 of them)
      had an electrician out to fix that one and he did it right.

      for the one that would be a new location for a fixture I would definitely go with an electrician.

    9. gsa*

      Best comment:

      “Some of this depends on your city and state: in mine, you’d need to hire a licensed electrician for an installation like this (especially adding a fixture where there wasn’t one before).”

      There’s a reason to hire a licensed electrician. Do it right cool, do it wrong, burn on your house.

      I have been working in the construction industry since around 1990, and I’m handy. I don’t mess with electrical.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      With ceiling fans, the toughest thing sometimes is making sure you have the correct type of box. The fan has to be appropriately secured which means different box than a standard light fixture. So, in replacing an existing fan, as long as you have the correct box it’s a simple swap. In adding a new fan, then the challenge becomes do you have/can you get the right box in.

      As for it going out of balance, cheap fans are more prone to issues, running them on super high speed can cause/worsen it. The dimmer itself doesn’t matter from a mechanical perspective, but removing it might help from the behavioral perspective.

    11. Schrodinger's Cat*

      If you still like the existing fan, you can use weights to rebalance the blades (most new fans come with a few, or you can buy them separately.)

  16. Jae*

    Has anyone gone to SMART recovery meetings for friends and family (meaning, friends and family of someone with an addiction)? If so, what are they like and did you find them helpful?

    I’m really struggling with a friend with an addiction (actually more than one), among other mental health problems. The situation is awful and while I really care about her, I’m totally at an “I have no idea what to do anymore” point and it feels like I have no good choices. For now I have told her that I need a break due to her addiction, which she didn’t take very well.

    I’m totally at a loss and while I have a therapist, she hasn’t really had a ton of constructive advice to share, as addiction isn’t her specialty. I’ve looked up these meetings and tried to find what they are about but haven’t found all that much info. On the one hand, I realize that she is “just a friend” and not a close family member, so I’m not sure if I would be out of place at a meeting like this. On the other, I’m really looking for resources to figure out how to deal with this situation.

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

        Seconding a recommendation to try Al-Anon.

        I realize Al-Anon may not feel 100% right for everyone — as an atheist/agnostic, sometimes the God language rubs me the wrong way too — but I shopped around until I found a really nice Al-Anon group that had wording in their meeting script that specifically welcomed people of no religious belief.

        Please do not worry that you’d be out of place at a recovery meeting just because the person you’re worried about isn’t a family member — the recovery meeting is not about the other person but about YOU and how you can take care of yourself when you feel like controlling something that is uncontrollable, in this case, another person’s addiction.

        Al-Anon isn’t just about your dealing with someone else’s addiction, though. It can also be helpful in dealing with ANY uncontrollable situation (and there are a lot that we have to face in life).

        I too struggled from a bit of “imposter syndrome” when I first went to Al-Anon because although I have some friends who are recovering addicts, I really was there because my Dad was very sick, and I couldn’t control his medical treatment or outcomes, and I was just losing it. The folks at my Al-Anon meeting were so nice and kind, and the things I gradually learned from the program have been helpful for years since, even though the crisis that brought me to it is long past.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        SMART has a friends and family portion, same as AA. While there are similarities, there are also distinct differences. Neither is good or bad. It’s good to have different options, because the goal is to get people the help they need.

        Jae, try both if you can. You won’t be out of place, you’re a person struggling due to someone else’s addiction.

    1. Happy Dad*

      Good for you to be seeking help to support your friends struggling with addiction and to take care of yourself at the same time. Addiction is hard for the person struggling and those who love them. It’s also very complicated with a no one-size-fits-all approach for the person or their family. Self-care is important. When our child was struggling, I went to Nar-anon and Al-anon meetings. I found the Nar-anon meeting so helpful that I started one in my community. It was just what I needed for the first year, but then I wanted more. I wanted a meeting where I could engage with other parents and loved ones, not just listen to stories. There is no crosstalk at Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meetings. There is just listening, which is very helpful, too. I’m not discounting that at all. But, I needed more. To get what I needed at that point, I trained to become a SMART Recovery facilitator and started a SMART Recovery family and friends meeting in my area. I enjoyed having tools I could use to help my child and myself, and working through problems with other parents as a group. The program uses cognitive behavior therapy and other techniques to help parents and loved ones deal with the complicated (and heartbreaking) issues that addiction brings to our lives. The thing with SMART Recovery is there are not as many in-person meeting options as the other programs, so you may have to attend online meetings. Good luck to you. My child is now eight years in recovery. I hope that gives you some hope.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        My husband works in the field, leads SMART recovery groups, and seconded everything in this comment.

    2. Firebird*

      Take advantage of any after-meeting get-togethers if you want crosstalk. I get just as much from the after-meetings as I do during the official meeting. I’ve done after-meetings online and in-person.

      As a newcomer, it works well to just ask if anybody gets together after the meeting. Often, in the groups I’ve been in, there’s an announcement that anybody who wants to stay afterwards can meet by the stairs or at a particular cafe.

      If you are looking for personal feedback, you can ask if anybody can meet afterwards to discuss the issue.

  17. Anthology*

    Cooking/baking thread, anyone?

    This week I made Food52’s New York Cheesecake With Sour Cherry Topping and I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s the first time I didn’t crack it (and I always use a bain marie)! It uses a brown sugar shortbread crust instead of a graham cracker crust, which it turns out we greatly prefer. It’s the tiniest bit salty, which contrasts so much better than sick-sweet graham crackers. (Also, my hands are still a scary brownish-red from making the cherry sauce from scratch, how the heck long until this wears off?)

    1. anon24*

      That sounds amazing! I would like a piece shipped to me please :)

      I decided to be a child and make dirt desert minus the whipped cream, so chocolate pudding, gummy worms, and crushed dark chocolate oreos. I haven’t had or even thought about it in years and it tasted amazing.

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

      Martha Stewart’s roast cauliflower recipe. She gives some good tips about not stinting on the oil and salt and roasting it on a high enough temperature until it’s really turning brown. Delicious. I wound up eating an entire bag of frozen cauliflower this way, and I don’t like cauliflower very much usually.

    3. Pippa K*

      I started making a Bakewell tart, the same one I always make, and for some unknown reason the crust rebelled completely. It looks like it was put in the tin by a frenzied squirrel. And then when I started to make the filling, I discovered that my butter stash in the freezer had been completely depleted (maybe the frenzied squirrel got it) so now I have a baked but empty and deformed crust and no filling. This is going great.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Eventually you will admit defeat and put the crust out for the frenzied squirrels. They have mapped this out.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We got an ice cream maker, and can’t wait to try making our own gelato! If anyone has go-to recipes, do share, especially if they are for more elaborate / unusual flavours.

      Of course, we bought it with high expectations for a lovely summer, and the miserable, rainy, windy weather that started last week seems to be here to stay. So, no gelato this weekend, most likely.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Not necessarily gelato but my husband has a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream recipe book and the peanut butter ice cream recipe is EXCELLENT.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Not gelato because my husband can’t eat dairy but we ABSOLUTELY LOVE the NYT strawberry sorbet recipe. You put a whole lemon – peel and all – into the blender with the strawberries and it is HEAVEN.

      3. PhyllisB*

        Years ago my mother used to make a sherbet recipe that only used Buttermilk and crushed pineapple. Folks went crazy for it. I submitted it to an ice cream cook-off we had at church and everyone loved it. I used juice packed pineapple so our diabetic members could partake.
        When I was asked what was in it, several folks thought I was crazy, but they’re used to me bringing offbeat food offerings. I don’t have a recipe, and it’s been years since I did it, so I don’t remember proportions.
        It won third place, but my cooked vanilla custard ice cream won first. (In fact, it won three years in a row. After that, they asked me not to enter it again so others would have a shot. But still bring the ice cream.)

      4. Jay*

        I know it sounds a little crazy, but try mixing vanilla, lime, and chili powder. It’s fantastic. I first started doing this with home made banana cream (that is, a frozen dessert made with blended bananas instead of cream) and it soon became the favorite for myself, and my friends.

      5. Cookie Monster*

        Ooh, I do! Make the basil gelato from Saveur (it should still be on their website) ASAP. It’s AMAZING.

    5. Snell*

      I missed out on pandemic lockdown baking as I was not shut in at home but out in the world at work (essential service), so mostly I was looking wistfully on at other people having a swell time discovering sourdough. However, I recently picked up some snazzy equipment and got to baking this week, instead of buying bread during the grocery run. I am definitely not brave enough for sourdough (yet), but I did whip up a so-so pain de mie. Even though my first loaf was pretty mediocre:

      1. I made a loaf of bread. I now have a loaf of bread.
      2. A 13″ loaf divided into half-inch slices should yield 26 slices. I, being a beginner and not yet devoted to any method, sliced the loaf freehand, estimating half-inch slices by eye. Once I counted them up: 26 slices. They even look uniform. It feels weird (good-weird!) to realize that I’m more coordinated than I expected.
      3. I am not deterred. I do have some notion of where I may have gone wrong. Once this loaf is eaten, I will make another, with revisions informed by experience.

      The whole episode was good fun. In the end, I have a sense of accomplishment for successfully doing something for the first time, and also sliced bread.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nice!! If you have a mixer, do you want to try making your own butter to go on your bread? It’s super easy and tastes great! (Plus you can use the resulting buttermilk to experiment with making soda bread too.)

        Butter: put your mixer bowl (assuming a metal one) and whip in the fridge or freezer for an hour, get it nice and cold. Pour in a quart of heavy cream or whipping cream (never figured out the difference) and turn the mixer on fairly high and let it go for a while. (Like 15 minutes or more.) At some point you’ll have whipped cream. Keep going, but keep an eye on it – it’ll break super fast. In the blink of an eye you’ll go from mixing a sort of sludge to mixing a giant lump of butter and splashing the buttermilk around, when it wasn’t splashing before. Pour the whole mess through a strainer and save the buttermilk – set it aside. Then cold water rinse and sort of wring out the butter until you get as much extra liquid out of it as you can, but don’t try to save any of the extra after the initial pour-off. I get about 12 ounces of butter and 15-16 ounces of buttermilk out of a quart. You can season/salt the butter, and freeze it if you think you need to. It’ll keep in the fridge for a couple weeks too.

        For the soda bread I use Paul Hollywood’s recipe, easily googled and like 4 ingredients. The homemade buttermilk is not sour like commercially purchased buttermilk, so it might misbehave in some recipes, but it does really well in this particular recipe at least.

        1. Crackerjack*

          I would LOVE to try this making my own butter!
          Do you use a beater in the mixer (I would call it a K beater but that might be Kenwood specific) or the whisk attachment?
          and how do you add salt?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Whisk attachment!

            To salt it, after you do the rinsing and squeezing, just sprinkle some salt on and mix it in – I use a rubber spatula to avoid handling it any more with my hands and heating it up, but you could use your hands or a fork or whatever :) entirely to taste, so I don’t have any measurements to suggest. I often season mine with a salt-garlic-powder-dried-scallions blend with a dash of Italian seasoning for a garlic herb butter as well, and I’ve done cinnamon honey butter too. The honey is fiddly because you don’t want it to end up too liquid, so definitely start small with that one.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Sure! (Sorry, I just realized I said whip instead of whisk – my bad!)

          2. PhyllisB*

            This reminds me of when my kids were in school. One year they made a Pilgrim feast and one of the things they did was make homemade butter. What they did was put heavy cream in a jar and shake the fool out of it, with everyone taking a turn with the shaking. Son came home wanting us to do the same thing , so we did. After that we made homemade butter every year until they were adults.

            1. My Brain is Exploding*

              We did this, too…but we put a few marbles in the jar. And it even works with whole milk, though obviously you don’t get as much.

            2. Clisby*

              My kids did this in preschool – and then everybody got a little taste of butter on a cracker or something.

      2. Aealias*

        Awesome job! My commercial yeast breads are bleh. But sourdough is so much easier than I feared! I strongly encourage you to start prepping a starter (it takes a couple of weeks to get up to a useable strength) and give it a try. King Arthur flour has a great traditional sourdough recipe for beginners.

        I feel freer to mess up with sourdough. Every region’s yeast and bacteria are different, so my sourdough tastes different from the San Francisco that they make at the store, and that’s correct! The inside texture can be holey, airy, or consistently tight-grained, and the real measure of success is my own preference. It’s delightfully low-pressure.

        1. Snell*

          You don’t have to convince me one bit RE: King Arthur :D Pre-COVID, I was a casual regular customer of theirs for their more specialized goods, and when they got a publicity/business boost during lockdown, I was like “Oh, I recognize them! So happy for them!” but also really wishing I was at home baking. I’m definitely going to get to sourdough eventually; the main barrier right now is my confidence. Have been reading through and re-reading KA recipes and blog posts to fix that.

    6. Bluebell*

      I had volunteered to make dinner for a friend after surgery but it was way too hot to make the roasted mushrooms with polenta I was planning. Luckily I ran across a fantastic recipe for farro with beets, their greens, pine nuts and pecorino. Steaming and peeling beets was a bit of a pain, but it looked beautiful and tasted great too.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      For July 4th I adapted our favorite cornbread recipe to be gluten-free since we were going to a BBQ hosted by someone with celiac. I bought King Arthur 1:1 Gluten Free flour and I would not have been able to tell the difference between that and the “real” stuff. So good (the NYT Brown Butter Cornbread recipe if anyone wants to look for it).

      The kid (who is now 23 but still my kid) is coming home tomorrow! So this week will be a parade of her favorite foods – chicken shawarma tomorrow, Dad’s grilled chicken when the weather allows, Sloppy Joes, and Dad’s Mac’n’Cheese (hubs did most of the cooking when she was growing up). She’ll get the mac’n’cheese on Monday because it’s my birthday and I want a lobster feast and she won’t eat lobster. Everyone wins!

    8. Imtheone*

      I wear food grade gloves when pitting raw cherries or peeling eggplant. It takes a few days for the stain to disappear otherwise. Washing my hair helps it go away faster, too.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        toothpaste on my hands works for most kitchen smells like garlic. I wonder if it would work on kitchen stains too, or something like makeup remover? or maybe soap used by textile dyers or other artists?

    9. PhyllisB*

      I made a pie recipe I found on Facebook; 10 minute Lime Cracker Pie. It uses Ritz crackers instead of Graham crackers for the crust. Sounds odd (that’s why it appealed to me!!) But it was delicious!! I made it for a church dinner and when folks asked me what it was, I got some odd looks, but they’re an adventurous bunch, so…not only did I bring home an empty dish, I got three requests for the recipe. If I make it again, I’m going to put it in a smaller dish, like a 9 inch square pan so I can put three layers instead of two, and I might add a drop of green food coloring so it looks more appealing.
      If you are interested in trying it Google 10 minute Lime Pie.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Sorry, that was supposed to say 10 minute Lime Cracker Pie. Need to learn to proofread before I hit send.

    10. My Brain is Exploding*

      I made some taco seasoning which didn’t turn out to be that great. Also a wonderful bar recipe that had peanut butter in it and it was WAY TOO GOOD.

    11. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I’m about to try Lemon Zucchini Muffins from TheKitchn. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while and decided today was the day, so we’ll see how it goes!

    12. Elle Woods*

      The cheesecake sounds amazing and I love the idea of using a shortbread crust instead of graham crackers.

      As for me, I made How Sweet Eats’ Bruschetta Pasta salad this week and paired it with grilled chicken. Even better was that I got to use up some basil and tomatoes from our garden.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      I made buttercrunch with cashews, macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Be still my heart!
      Plus picked a lot of wild blueberries and made blueberry pancakes for lunch. SO good.

    14. Jay*

      I’ve begun experimenting with various things that can be put in a “sushi” roll.
      Right now, I’m absolutely loving one made with Portuguese tinned spicy mackerel, sesame seeds and pickled ginger.
      I realize that I would get, at the minimum, the death penalty in Japan or Portugal for this abomination. But, by gosh it is tasty!

  18. I am in Japan!*

    Thank you every one who offered suggestions for my trip. The jet lag has been a bear. I am not only tired but mentally challenged. People have been very understanding. Eating a lot of my favorite cold soba noodles because the shop is a few feet from my hotel AND it is easy to order.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My two bits of advice re jet lag:
      As much time in the sun as you can manage.
      Your stomach gives your brain cues about what time it is, so eating what you “should eat now” local time can help get your body in sync.

  19. Person from the Resume*

    Following up to the calorie tracking / diet tracking app discussion from May 27-28 open thread.

    I use the app to track calories and macros (protein, carbs, fat), and I recommended MyPlate which was discontinued at the beginning of July. I am still super bummed.

    I settled on Lose It! app as a replacement and ended up paying $20 for a year subscription for extras. $20 per year is pretty inexpensive compared to others. I am happy with it once I found the way to change the daily calorie goal from what the app thought I needed to reach my goal weight.

    I didn’t really even test out my fitness pal because you needed to pay to get the bar code scanner to input food into the diary.

    I did test out Cronometer app for a few days but it wasn’t as user friendly and didn’t breakout the foo do entries by meals.


    1. WellRed*

      I’ll be curious for an update to how well this works for you as well as it’s stick-to-it-ness. That’s always my problem.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’ll try to remember to update in a few months, but I am very much a creature of habit.

        I started using MyPlate in January for a specific group fitness challenge / nutrition coaching that lasted only 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, I just keep using it to track food; although, without the challenge I wasn’t trying as hard to hit the mark and I eventually even upped my calorie goal in the app so the visual was more in line with my reality. It’s less about the goal now and more just seeing if I go off track or what food is really throwing me far off my goals. Honestly having to track sometimes keeps me from snacking when I’m not hungry.

        I usually eat at home and a lot of the same foods (“add yesterday’s breakfast” is a useful , time-saving feature for me), but I rarely try to track a meal out unless it’s at a restaurant that has the calories on the menu/website.

        In those ways, tracking supports a healthy eating lifestyle and not a dieting lifestyle for me.

        ** Also probably would not have kept this up without an app with database and barcode scanner. I remember the old days where I would write things down on an actual piece of paper and add up the numbers. Compared to that, these apps make it easy and that’s something I tell myself.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve been using Lose It on and off for a few years now – the falling off the wagon (as they say) has always been me, not the app :)

    2. Bethlam*

      I posted that question as I was trying to find an alternative to the Fitbit calorie tracker. I tried several with varying results. I was looking for a free one, but ended up with Nutracheck, which was $40 for a year.

      Nutracheck let me do a completely free 7 day trial without requiring a credit card up front for a ‘free one month premium upgrade’ which you then have to cancel.

      So I tried the free trial and about every day found something else I liked about it. Ended up subscribing and am very, very satisfied.

      One thing they could improve – packaged foods (meaning not fruits, veggies) are mostly alphabetized by brand, rather than product. So if I want to add my salad dressing, I actually have to go to the Ws for Wishbone. And can’t edit the list.

      But small price to pay for finding something I’m very happy with otherwise.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That’s great! I’m glad you found one that works for you with only. Minor complaint.

        It is so disappointing when something you like and use regularly is discontinued.

  20. ThatGirl*

    We’re going to Cedar Point (amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio) next week. Any recs on local restaurants, breweries, activities? We’ll be there Mon eve to Friday morning, two days at the park, staying on property.

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

      I bought one daily food pass for my son and I. I used it every 90 minutes and we ate snacks all day long. Take strong shoes, the park is huge and I ended up walking 30,000+ steps. Go to the back and make your way to the front. The fast pass is pricey, but worth it if the park is crowded. My son had a blast at the park.

      We spent 2 full days and one partial and went home exhausted.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We’ve done Disney World multiple times so it can’t be worse than that, but I do expect to be tired. How was the food, quality wise? I have been there before but not since high school.

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

          for theme park food, it is pretty decent. for real food, it’s theme park food.

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

            one of the restaurants has brisket. although tasty, it is very, very, very fatty. Although I wanted to, I never got to try the huge corn dog or fried cheese. The steak from the place near the mining roller coaster was very good.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Animal Kingdom is way bigger, but the point is, we’re used to lots of walking and heat.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I worked there for two summers after high school. No suggestions, just nostalgia :)

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      There are lockers near the front gate to store extra stuff (ie change of clothes if you get soaked.) Food isn’t great but there is a restaurant at the marina if you want a break. The beach at the resort is nice. They (at least used to, I haven’t been there in a while) give you cups of water for free.

      Things to do in the area: visit Put in Bay on South Bass island. Ferries available. Vermilion is a cute town nearby. Cleveland has great museums and the RocknRoll Hall of Fame and is about 1 1/2 hours away. Many good restaurants in Cleveland as well.

  21. Dark Macadamia*

    Watching Guardians of the Galaxy and thinking about how the Rocket/Groot dynamic is such a great humor format. The only other duo like this I can think of right now is C3PO/R2D2. What are other character pairs where you get the gist of what one is saying based on how the other reacts?

    1. Gatomon*

      Avatar TLA and Legend of Korra are full of them, though they’re more minor as it’s humans and animal companions (Aang/Appa, Korra/Naga, Aang/Momo).

    2. GlowCloud*

      Children’s BBC programming is full of these. Sooty & friends, The Clangers, Wallace & Gromit and Teletubbies all have this dynamic to a certain extent, though not necessarily as distinct character pairings.

      Ash Ketchum & Pikachu (or all pokemon and their trainers, really).
      Johnny and Plank from Ed, Edd & Eddy?

      Or for a darker (definitely not for children) version, Ivan Dobsky, aka the Meat-Safe Murderer, and Mr Hoppy, from Monkey Dust.

  22. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Please share what you’ve been reading and give or request recommendations. All reading welcome!

    I just finished Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. It was a bit dry in places but very entertaining in others, and a topic I’m interested in so I enjoyed it a lot. Would recommend. It’s about gender and the brain, and the ways we learn and live out gender.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        I live down the street from an H Mart and periodically see customers reading that in the little cafe/snack tables area. Quite the immersive experience!

        I enjoyed it. ‘Intense’ is a good word.

      2. Annie Edison*

        Whoops I posted about this down thread and didn’t see your comment- I’m reading the same thing and finding it incredibly cathartic

      3. word nerd*

        Just went to an author talk with her this week! She said she’s planning to move to Seoul next year to learn Korean and write about her experiences in Korea for her second book. I’m interested to check it out when it comes out!

    1. English Rose*

      The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw. Unusual paranormal novella about a freelance necromancer haunted by a dead pilot and tasked with discovering what’s happened to a missing plane. Witty, great characters and underlying mystery. Reminds me of Hench a little bit in terms of style.

      Warning: do not read if you’re afraid of flying. (Or offended by liberal use of the f word.)

      1. ampersand*

        This sounds great–added to my list. I appreciate you all for the suggestions each weekend!

    2. NotBatman*

      Babel by R.F. Kuang. It’s been promoted out the wazoo by bookstores, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s not overrated! I laughed, I cried, I repeatedly put off sleep and work just to read one more chapter.

    3. Pucci*

      The Unselected Journals of Emma M Lion by Beth Bower. Six short volumes so far. Quite funny with a charming heroine.

    4. Bluebell*

      I’ve been bouncing around a few books but hadn’t totally gotten into them – American Mermaid by Julia Langbein, which is promising but I’m still in the beginning, Home Fires by Kamila Shamsie, which is intense but great character development, and The Historian, much loved here but I’m not sucked in at the 50 page mark. Then I picked up the nonfiction Our Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, and am enjoying the diversity of stories. Also, because of the numerous raves on these threads, I bought Kaiju Preservation Society, mostly because I wanted my husband to have it for vacation. Started it last night, and yes, it is super funny. So thanks to those of you who adored it!

      1. Rara Avis*

        Home Fires is one of my kid’s books for English next year. Along with Frankenstein and Macbeth.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      I am reading Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, which I never read when it came out in 1973 (I was a kid), or when the 15th anniversary edition came out with her wonderful foreword. For a very explicit book, it’s rather smart. Jong is a serious and literary writer, but this was a breakout book for the time. I am appreciating seeing it through a 21st century lens of political change. Like another book mentioned here, there is liberal use of the ‘f’word, but overall it’s a pretty fascinating snapshot of women’s rights and sensibilities, and of how men were viewed and treated in that era.

      1. carcinization*

        I read that a few years back and enjoyed it for sure. It was funny to think about it being autobiographical though.

    6. AGD*

      LOVED Delusions of Gender, but then I’m a cognitive scientist with a keen interest in gender/sexuality, so it was up my alley.

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

      Yunte Huang’s *Searching for Charlie Chan*. The Hawaiian police officer, Chang Apana, who may have loosely inspired the literary character (and who very definitely became associated with the character as the books became famous), was a really cool and interesting person in his own right. I feel like I learned a lot about the social and political history of Hawaii that I had not known before from this book.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        You might like some of Joan Didion’s stuff on Hawaii, and Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The Library Book, by Susan Orlean. It’s mostly about the Los Angeles Public Library, anchored by a very destructive fire in 1986, including the arguments about how to rebuild afterwards, and the search for an arsonist, and part memoir.

        I picked this for the “a book about books or libraries” square of the Boston Public Library summer reading bingo.

        I’m enjoying the summer reading bingo, except for having realized that to complete a row, column, or diagonal, I need to fill another of the boxes like “read aloud” or “explore your neighborhood.” It would be cheating to read a bit of my book club to one of the cats, right?

        1. Millie's Mom*

          I think “read aloud” just means you have to read something out loud – not even TO anyone! But I’m sure others would disagree. However, you asked, and that’s my 2 cents!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I liked that book! Especially when she’s contemplating burning a book and having a crisis about the ethics of it.

        3. the cat's ass*

          I ADORE Susan Orlean. I read “The Orchid Thief” on BART many years ago making my tedious commute much less so, and folks moved away from me because i was laughing so hard. That would be a fun read-aloud-er! Her book “On Animals’ and her recent articles on Obits are the bomb too.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I really enjoyed her Six of Crows duology, which is all elaborate capers.

        I also enjoyed the small point where the hero has spent a long time plotting his revenge, where it’s very important to him that the revengee understand who did this and why, and he realizes that the act that shaped his life was for the perpetrator a typical Tuesday, and years later he doesn’t remember it.

      3. Jackalope*

        I had similar thoughts. I spent years checking the internet regularly to see when the sequel to The Ninth House was coming out, got super excited when I got it, and then…. It just didn’t work as well for me. I think part of it is that I have a hard time enjoying books when I don’t like the protagonist and in the second book she was becoming less likable. And the morality kept getting murkier and murkier; it seemed like there was almost no one that was a decent human being. Not sure if that related to why you liked it less, but those were my feelings.

    8. Annie Edison*

      I’m reading Crying in H Mart this week- a memoir of a woman in her 20s who lost her mom to cancer. It also explores issues of identity as a bi-racial Korean American, what it feels like to move back to the small town you grew up in, and describes all sorts of amazing sounding Korean foods

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, set primarily in 1940s San Francisco and centering on a group of women who are struggling to cope with the draconian laws against LGBTQ people. There are strong friendships and budding romances, talented artists and musicians – and even a touch of magic…

    10. Elle*

      I’m enjoying Killers of the Flower Moon. It’s narrative non fiction so it reads like a fiction book. Very interesting and well done. It’ll be a great movie.

    11. Jamie Starr*

      I just started Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. It my first time reading Atwood and so far, I very much like the writing style.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ohhh, I like Atwood. Her nonfiction collection In Other Worlds, about the history of science fiction, is fascinating and I’ve reread it a few times.

        1. Jamie Starr*

          I actually *hate* science fiction/fantasy. (Which means most of the time the reading threads here are full of recommendations that are not my cup of tea.)

          Even though I’m only about 60 pages in, I really love how direct the writing style is, and her precise use of words. I’m already getting the undercurrent of a critique(?) of patriarchy, which I like. I hope it doesn’t end up being science fiction-y. Based on the summaries I read it doesn’t seem like it.

    12. carcinization*

      Reading a thriller called Always the First to Die for a book club at the local library since I’d like to be in a book club again. This book club seems to be a mostly speculative fiction one and it just so happened that the first month where I could easily make the meeting had the least appealing book. But it doesn’t seem as annoying as some of the stuff I had to deal with in the last book club I participated in (Christian romances/Christian international espionage stuff would be examples).

    13. Sparkly Librarian*

      The Maid, by Nita Prose — A hotel maid (socially awkward, routine-loving, coded autistic although I don’t believe the word is used) is suspected of murdering the high-profile guest she discovers dead in his suite. A few twists, kind of a sweet found-family tale by the end.

      The Foundling, by Ann Leary — A fictional study of one of the unfortunately real workhouse/asylums “for women of childbearing age” with “moral weakness” and “mental unfitness” often committed by their husbands or parents who did not approve of their rebellious behavior. A white female protagonist starts out supporting the director of the asylum who is doing so much to change these women’s lives for the better, but learns new perspectives; the story is mostly about mostly about the 1920s eugenics movement but touches on a few related issues (antisemitism, disapproval of an interracial couple, forced adoption, political corruption, Prohibition) but didn’t get deep enough into character relationships to satisfy me. A quick read.

      The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell — I’m in the middle of this one, and it’s unfolding layer by layer to be more intense and involved and potentially very weird. Science fiction? Philosophy? So far it’s about a priest who is the sole survivor of a space mission to contact aliens in Alpha Centauri. Something went terribly wrong in the mission, but you don’t know what at the beginning — he’s just in really bad shape mentally and physically, and plagued by reporters and a global reputation for being a horrible human, while he’s trying to recover in Jesuit seclusion. The timeline jumps around to 20 years before his return when the alien signal was received by SETI (2019-ish) and introduces the other members of the mission team gradually, explaining how they all came together. I’m really liking it! And it requires focus, so right now it’s slow going.

      1. carcinization*

        The Sparrow was quite something (I like sort of space-anthropology books), but when I read about what the sequel entailed, I was like, “I’m not reading that!”

        1. Jackalope*

          I loved The Sparrow, then read the sequel. The author made a choice that threw me completely out of the book. At the time I hadn’t realized that I didn’t have to finish every book I started, so I read the rest of it, but I was so utterly over it by halfway through. I can see that some people could enjoy it, but she was too much of a jerk to her protagonist and I couldn’t deal.

    14. I don’t post often*

      Financial Feminist by Tori Dunlap. I am a woman working in the financial industry and she said some things about women and investing I’ve never considered. Once you get past the first part of the book- more facts and intro about women, minorities, and money- the financial advice is sound. (Note: lots of four letter words used.)
      I also recently read All My Knotted Up Life by Beth Moore. Beth Moore is a Christian Bible study author in the news a few years ago and this is her biography. I found it a good read, but I am also someone that lives a similar kind of life, so her thinking on current events resounded with me.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      Right now I’m in the middle of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, which is a version of that story focused on the doctor’s prize project, his daughter Carlota. It’s an interesting take because instead of being mysteriously rich on an isolated island, Moreau has a patron who’s getting impatient with his slow pace in creating cheap labor (yeah) and money is a huge topic.

      Also started Benighted, which is the novel that really kicked off the Old Dark House trope in movies (James Whale directed the movie version of the book, called–natch–The Old Dark House. Which stars Charles Laughton who played Moreau in Island of Lost Souls. It’s all the circle of life!)

    16. PastorJen*

      I’m reading The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand. I’ve never read any of her books before, but it’s definitely a good summer beach read. I’m also re-reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez with a group. I’m the only person in the group who actually likes it, but I’m enjoying the magical realism.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Just finished (and loved) Five Star Weekend. She’s writing only one more book and then retiring. I’m heartbroken; I love her books. If you like her and want to read something by her that’s a touch different, try Golden Girl. I’m not going to take up space giving a synopsis, but trust me, it’s good.

    17. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Generations by Jean Twenge. Really interesting breakdowns and comparisons of the different generations in the U.S.

    18. I take tea*

      I really liked Delusions on Gender. It was quite fascinating to read her analysis of certain research, as in “fourteen of fifteen female therapists do this” and then the sample is just fifteen female therapists…

    19. I take tea*

      I’m always reading several books at on e, but at the moment I’m really enjoying a piece of fluffy feel good in Jenny Colgan’s The Little Shop of Happy Ever After, where a timid ex-librarian moves to Scotland and opens a bookshop in a van. Good descriptions of food and nature, and of course of books. But I’m a smidge annoyed that at least one book that seem very central is made up. The concept sounded so intriguing.

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Reading through Sherwood Smith’s books. Some are re-reads, others are new, but I got them in chronological order and am reading in order. (Except the current one, which clearly was backwards on my shelf). I am missing some as well, but so far it’s not a problem.

    21. chocolate muffins*

      Just coming here to say that I really appreciate this sub-thread. I’ve been reading here for years without commenting, but I have gotten many wonderful suggestions from you all, so thank you!

      I am currently reading The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction by Mark Wahlgreen Summers. It is very well-written and is teaching me a lot that I did not know. Also I have been reading it for … a year, maybe? And will probably be reading it for several months more at least, because time for reading is limited right now.

  23. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recommendations. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’m still plugging away at Stardew Valley; I’m about halfway through my second winter and am advancing well.

    1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      I’ve gone old school, having recently dug out my SNES mini, and been playing Super Mario World. Apparently my skills haven’t improved since childhood and I still seem to spend most of my time falling off platforms and down pits.

    2. Generic Name*

      Wizards of the coast just came out with lord of the rings themed magic cards, and I’m obsessed. Each card is perfect. Gandalf is a legendary creature. So is Frodo. If you get tempted by the Ring, each character reacts differently. It’s amazing.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        I’ve slowly been picking up copies of the LotR cards (including stuff from the EDH precons). My local shops haven’t cracked much, so I am waiting for prices to dip before getting bigger-ticket stuff.

        Ever since Modern Horizons 1 pushed the envelope and MH2 set the envelope on fire, I’ve been left holding the bag when it comes to Modern as a format. I will never give up burn as long as I am slinging spells, but I liked building some weird decks that sometimes could spike a 3-0 or 4-0 at a local event (skred, 8rack, GW value, 4c Kiki-chord), but they’ve been either been pushed out of the format or I have to drop another $2-300 into them to keep them competitive, and I just can’t justify it.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I get why they keep coming out with new gameplay formats (to sell more cards), but I definitely don’t do all of them. I’m a new player, so I try to keep it simple. We’ve been doing commander style when we play with others mostly, but at home we do “classic” or whatever the old school format is called. My husband has been playing since the 90s.

  24. Anonymous cat*

    Hi! I have a question about tipping. (In the U.S.)

    I always thought a regular wage would be better than tips because it protected servers from people who skipped out on the bill or tipped only 1 or 2 % on large parties. And while that would prevent the times someone tipped really big, that was balanced out by not being undertipped other times.

    But I read something saying servers preferred the tips because they were making enough on the occasional big tippers to make it worth dealing with undertippers.

    So, AAM-ers who have been servers in the U.S., do you prefer wages or tips?

    1. Solokid*

      I worked at a coffee shop in a larger store where tips were not allowed, and I appreciated knowing how much I would make from the hours I was scheduled. (this also meant I was not paid a “tipped wage”).

      the stability meant more to me than having to hope for a good night in tips and not get any slow shifts.

      1. NotBatman*

        Same! Coffee shops and ice cream stands are sort of the best of both worlds, because you get a real wage and up to 15% extra from tips.

        One angle I’ve seen recently on tips: they force servers to be beholden to customers in a way that forces female servers especially to put up with sexist comments and sexual harassment, because telling creeps off will result in those creeps not leaving a tip. A steady wage allows all employees the right to put up boundaries and avoid pervy customers.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Been a while since I worked as a waitress, but tipped is better. MUCH more money, especially since waiting tables would be a badly paid job if the restaurant was paying everything. There were a few lousy tippers, but the vast majority were normal, and a few were generous.

      BTW, don’t think it was the big tippers who filled my pocket. I never had any wild big tippers, just people who rounded up generously or gave 25% instead of 20%. My most extravagant tip was $20, from a darling old couple who always tipped $20 no matter what they ate. Sometimes that meant they tipped more than 100%. But the vast majority of my income came from the people who tipped what they were supposed and were neither generous nor stingy.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Back when I waited tables back in the 80s I don’t know that I would have cared much, but now that studies have proven that tips are heavily weighted towards social acceptability and attractiveness, I think the practice absolutely needs to be done away with. Many stories on the tipped minimum wage are biased, and those who stay as waitstaff would tend to be those who get better tips (attractive, white, female). It also makes the income of some people for whom every dollar counts quite variable and subject to the whims of their customers, which is just wrong.

      1. CityMouse*

        Exactly this. I did okay as a tipped employee, but I was a young white woman at the time. And there was definitely an incentive to ignore creepy behavior for a tip.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My daughter’s roommate is a tall willowy blonde who once, in all seriousness, said “I was a lousy waitress. I never understood why I got such good tips.”

        Oh, honey.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        Absolutely this. Beautiful, young, white, women get tipped better than others.

        Tipping also creates a dynamic where male customers feel the the female waitress owes them attention and flirting in order to earn a big tip. And many a waitress plays into this dynamic because they are working for tips and they’ve got to play the game.

      4. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I think the main problem with this system is that it’s extremely inequitable. Sure, there are going to be some people who make out like bandits, but that doesn’t mean those people should win out in terms of the system being fairer for everybody.

    4. Sloanicota*

      In my city (DC) this was a huge debate so we got to hear both sides. The truth seemed to be that high-end places made dependably amazing tips, and the staff at those places fiercely defended “no living wage” propositions (heavily juiced on by their employers who told them they would close the business if the proposition passed). They also don’t report all those tips so they’re making tax-free money which is better than salary that is taxed. But low-end restaurants (like Waffle House type places, although we don’t have a WH I’m aware of) are brutal; paying $2.50 an hour with servers afraid if they report not making minimum wage, they’ll be canned. We did pass the proposition but there was a loooot of pushback and many restaurants added a “proposition tax” at the end of the bill separate from tip; most people still end up tipping 20% on the higher bill.

      1. Sloanicota*

        My roommate at the time was a high end bartender (who went to culinary school) at hot restaurants and defeating this proposition became his life. He probably brought home about 40% of his salary in cash tips and his employer told him they’d pay him a much more moderate consistent salary amount and/or close. It was hard to watch because he believed it but I never did.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I didn’t work low end, but I worked in a Mexican restaurant in the midwest, which are cheap eats. Tipped was definitely still better than they would have paid us otherwise.

        1. Sloanicota*

          But if they had guaranteed you a regular minimum wage, rather than the inhuman “tipped wage” you almost certainly would have still received tips on top of that, and also had a guaranteed minimum income, right? The restaurant might have had to raise prices, which you would have just taken more tips on, but you personally would certainly have come out ahead?

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I would not assume that. Americans tip because of the system which makes tipping “mandatory” for waitstaffs pay. At least that’s why I tip.

            If I go to a restaurant that says “we pay our staff a living wage; tips not required but appreciated” there’s a good chance I won’t tip. Especially if the food price has quite the jump in order to pay the staff more.

            This has happened at a restaurant in town. It was always hybrid (order at the counter, bring a number to your table) and prices have noticeably increased and I’m very likely not to stuff the cash in a jar because the price of that restaurant meal is already on the high side before I add a tip.

            1. Anonymous cat*

              I tip servers because I know if they don’t get tips, they don’t get paid. (And that the IRS bills them even if they don’t make the estimated tip money.)
              If they had a regular wage, I wouldn’t tip just like I don’t tip sales clerks or receptionists.

              (Though I do ask really helpful sales staff if I should give their name at checkout in case the store is keeping track.)

            2. amoeba*

              Huh, interesting discussion! I’m in Europe and people definitely still tip, even though waitstaff do get a living (although not great) wage. In general, it’s not as standard as in the US, but from what I’ve heard from friends who worked in hospitality, still very normal to get additional salary from tipping.

              It’s more of a “if the service is bad, it’s ok to not tip” and 5-10% thing though. But I’d still say not tipping at all is unusual and considered rude – or a statement that you were unhappy with your experience.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            Once you get past X amount, people are VERY reluctant to tip. I’ve taken plenty of orders for one or two pies with 20% tips, and then somebody gets like, fifteen pies and tips five bucks.

            Add in the surcharges like the delivery fee (which is not a tip, but what we need to charge to pay our drivers) and the tips keep going down. And then we lose our best drivers because they aren’t getting the tips they used to. It’s a vicious cycle.

      3. saf*

        “They also don’t report all those tips so they’re making tax-free money which is better than salary that is taxed.”

        That’s a big assumption. Many folks do report their tips – audit risk is REAL, especially in these days of most tips being on credit cards.

    5. Anthology*

      I prefer wages. Tips can be messed with in so many ways (I had mine stolen by customers and bussers, and there are plenty of restaurants that play games like pooling tips but never discipling slackers), and certain demographics never tip well (relax, I’m talking about things like lunch vs dinner crowds, or international customers when I served at an airport).

      Leaving a shift with a pocket stuffed with cash was always nerve-wracking, too. We would always wait for someone else at the end of a shift, and shuttle each other to the more distant car. So stressful.

      Also, taxes were a nightmare and I always owed a ton. When you’re making $2.50 an hour, they can only take so much out of the check until it hits zero, so the difference has to get made up in April.

    6. Observer*

      But I read something saying servers preferred the tips because they were making enough on the occasional big tippers to make it worth dealing with undertippers.

      All the studies I’ve seen indicate that this works for places where the base wage is not the *minimum* tipped wage but something not totally atrocious, and the prices in the place were pretty high. If you’re average meal is $100 and the average tip is 17% (to allow for the folks who “under-tip”) and each waiter gets 20 people a night, you’re looking at ~$350 a night. Nudge that up just a bit, and you could be looking very good money. But it you nudge it down a bit, and you’re also dealing with the *minimum* tipped wage, you could be looking at people who really can’t make ends meet.

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        Just an observation: 17% *is* undertipping. The polite minimum was at 18% when I was waiting tables between 2004 and 2013, and anything under 20% at this point is rude.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, my point was that if most people tip 20% and some don’t tip or tip 10-15%, you’ll average out in the range of 17%.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          I think that’s what they were saying. Most tip the “normal” 20%, but some people undertip, so average it out to 17% for the purposes of that example.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      A million years ago when I was waiting tables = TIPS all the way. I used to make a lot of money and that was just with normal folks tipping 15-25%. It was in a high volume restaurant, so it really added up

  25. Obscure adulting question*

    Do matches go “stale”?

    I have a hand-me-down box, probably between 20 and 30 years old, two striking surfaces on the outside which are worn but not evenly worn, but I can’t get any matches to light on any part of the strikers.

    They were all working fine before the pandemic broke out but, as I said, they’re pretty darn old; but there’s quite a few matches left and I’d hate to waste them if it’s just worn strikers.

    1. The One parameter*

      take a new matchbox and use the old matches against the new box’s strikers. If three matches in a row light up, your matches are fine.

    2. Obscure adulting question*

      Looks like it was just worn strikers. I now own a lifetime supply of matches, but I certainly don’t need to worry about emergency lights in all these thunderstorms anymore. Thanks!

  26. Camp Life Potluck*

    Best no fuss no mess potluck idea.

    Context: The gathering will be in a campground about 9 hours drive away. I will be driving in the day before, hopefully arriving in the late evening. Potluck is next day around lunch. I will hopefully have access to a mini fridge and microwave (hopefully because accomodations aren’t booked yet due to a severe storm between me and the gathering). Even if I have access to a grill, I do not have the supplies to utilize one. Main courses (aka meats) are handled.

    I’m thinking a broccoli salad made with broccoli slaw and Greek yogurt. I can pick most of it up on the way and pack the few things I can’t. But open to suggestions!

        1. Jackalope*

          Tell us more about this. Was the rice Krispy treat used instead of the marshmallow? Did it use chocolate and graham crackers, or were those switched around too?

          As a related side note, a few years ago I was at a retreat where someone got us fancy chocolate, including fancy peanut butter cups, for s’mores. I loved the fancy peanut butter cups (everything else was the same), and would highly recommend this substitution.

          1. Meh*

            yes the rice Krispy treat is the marshmallow replacement – or you could just toast that and eat it instead of smoring it. if you use the pre-made they hold up better.

            And absolutely the Reeces thins are heaven!! I’ve been doing peanut butter cups for at least a decade but the thins are so much better.

    1. NotBatman*

      A platter of fresh berries with a yogurt dip is my go-to for summer potlucks. Uncut fruit (cherries, blueberries, etc.) will keep for 9 hours in the car, and has been popular at every event I’ve brought it to.

      1. Knighthope*

        My signature potluck contribution is mixed fruit – green grapes, raspberries, canned mandarin oranges (or fresh orange chunks), and blueberries. Or whatever else is seasonal. Mixed or layered in a glass bowl, it’s pretty and serves as salad or dessert.

    2. Emma*

      Broccoli salad is delicious, but 9 hours is a really long time for unrefrigerated yogurt. I would worry about food poisoning (if you’re not worried for yourself, please worry for others – I wouldn’t be comfortable eating this if I knew this situation!), unless you have a cooler, and are able to refresh ice.

      If you’re not, then something that doesn’t require refrigeration would be best, like cookies or bread or a whole watermelon that you cut later. Or shelf stable sausages with crackers.

      1. Bluebell*

        Even if I had a cooler, I’d try to find a broccoli salad recipe with a non dairy, non egg dressing. A simple vinaigrette or a tahini dressing could work.

      2. carcinization*

        They said they were picking the yogurt up on the way, so it wouldn’t be unrefrigerated for 9 hours. One can also buy freezable packs to go in coolers that don’t melt away to nothing the way that ice does. But I agree that tahini dressing is very nice!

    3. Emma*

      I think my original comment is in purgatory, but I originally was skeptical of broccoli salad because of refrigeration, but just reread and see that you’re planning to get some ingredients there. As long as it’s food safe, broccoli salad sounds delicious! :)

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s Endive with Oranges and Almonds.

      No heat needed. People like this because it’s easy to eat with your hands and provides some lightness and vegetables.

      1. Bluebell*

        That sounds wonderful. I was going to suggest her poolside slaw- lots of crunchy veggies, easily adaptable and the nuts add salt and protein.

    5. Harriet J*

      “Cold nacho dip” – mix a can of kernel corn, a can of black beans, and a jar of salsa (mango salsa adds a nice flair). Then top with shredded cheese. Then eat with tortilla chips.

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

      Perfection salad — drained can of mandarin oranges, drained can of chunked pineapple, sour cream, and mini-marshmallows. Mix.

      You can mix in coconut shavings to make the ambrosia version.

      You can top with crumbled oreos to make the dirt salad version.

    7. Llellayena*

      Roasted veggies! No mayo or other ingredients likely to go bad in the heat and they taste great at any temp. Easy to keep cool overnight in a cooler with a couple ice packs in case you don’t get that fridge access.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      I just went camping and I brought a sesame noodle salad and it transported well in a cooler.
      I made a sesame tahini dressing, cooked the soba noodles, chopped cucumber and peppers, sliced five spice tofu, and chopped cilantro and scallions. Everything packaged separately and mixed on site when were were ready to eat.
      If you have a cooler, one tip is to freeze water in large chunks (i use a 9×13 cake pan) and it stays frozen longer.

      1. Pieforbreakfast*

        I do this with a peanut sauce dressing and mix up the veggies to what I have on hand (shredded carrots, cabbage, bell pepper are the usual ones) and bring it camping. Tastes amazing cold or room temp.

    9. LibrarianScientist*

      If you make fresh guacamole people lose their minds. You can smush your avocados there or ahead of time and make a pico de gallo ahead of time that would travel fine in a cooler. Can also skip the avocados and just do that pico if you want to make it even easier to make ahead of time.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d love the recipe for that broccoli slaw! Sounds divine and I have some yogurt to use up!

  27. Replacement Product Question*

    Similar product recommendations question, specifically sanitary napkins.

    I had been using the U by Kotex all nighter’s with comfort flex and that was working better for me than anything I’ve tried previously. Unfortunately, they seem to have discontinued this line and I don’t care for their replacement. Does anyone know of a similar product? I’m looking for something that’s flexible, intended for overnight use, and doesn’t contain additives like fragrance or charcoal.
    (Note that I’m specifically asking about pads and am not interested in recommendations for other menstrual products.)

    1. Gatomon*

      I’ve been out of the disposable pad game for a while, but Always were what I went with when Kotex was out of stock. They didn’t feel as soft as the Kotex and I don’t recall the wings being as good, but they got the job done. It looks like their overnights line might have some options for you? That’s where I’d start, I guess.

      I hope you can find something that works for you. I HATE it when companies discontinue or ruin a perfectly good product that didn’t need any changes.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, I’m in much the same place you are. I found the Always overnight ones excellent and my daughter tells me that it works well for her too.

      2. Replacement Product Question*

        Thanks for the sympathy and advice. It’s really nice to have my feelings of frustration validated.

    2. Emma*

      I Always Infinity Flexfoam. They’re really really thin and light, but really absorbent. They have an overnight version. I like them better than other types of Always pads that I’ve tried, though I haven’t tried Always cotton pads.

      1. Generic Name*

        Thirded. So much better than the diaper-like pads from the 90s. As a smaller person, I appreciate that they have a smaller sized pad that is still plenty absorbent.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Thirding the Always flexfoam, as long as you don’t accidentally buy the scented ones (why?!).

        Thin, very comfortable, stays in place even though I’m a restless sleeper, genuinely wicks the moisture away, even on sweaty summer days. I use the 27 cm for day, and the 34 cm at night.

      3. Aealias*

        Fourth. Very flexible, very comfortable, and hold up to all but my very worst fibroid-insanity days.

      4. Bookgarden*

        I’m not the OP, but I’m going to have to try these after so many recommendations here! I don’t typically use pads but these sound great for when I do.

      5. Replacement Product Question*

        Wow. Lots of good words for this one. I’ve had better luck with Kotex than Always in the past, but it sounds like I should give them another try.

    3. MissCoco*

      I don’t use pads, but I want to extend my sympathies as someone whose favorite brand of period products was briefly impossible to find. It is such an irritation! good luck with your search

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’ve noticed that U by Kotex (and all the kotex stuff) changes the labeling and packaging often enough to be annoying. Every time they do I have to stand in the aisle and examine all the packs to see what they’re calling the long thin wingless type now (for example, changed three times already) or the heavier overnight ones. It’s possible that they’ve simply changed the branding on the ones you use. Very irritating.

      1. Squidhead*

        Yes! I’ve preferred Kotex vs Always my whole life, but it seems like Kotex changes the packaging every 12 months! Hopefully I have fewer than 10 years of this left… OP if it helps I like the U “clean and secure” line of ultra thin pads; I prefer the “heavy” versus “regular” for the first couple of days mostly because they are longer. These were previously branded as the “security” line. Possibly this is what you’ve already tried, though? I do recall a thick “overnight” variety that wasn’t comfortable for me but was much thicker and even longer than the than the “heavy” ultra-thin type; this might be the one they discontinued.

        1. Replacement Product Question*

          Thank you! I hadn’t realized that they’re making the clean and secure line in the thin style. All they had in my grocery store was the maxi-pads which I’ve noticed don’t flex as well. But if they’re making the thin kind, they may be the closest still-manufactured Kotex equivilant.

          1. Squidhead*

            I get them at Target usually but I think my very large grocery store has them too. The packages I have on my shelf right now are labeled the way I described with a little “previously known as” photo in the corner (maybe they are learning how annoying this is?!). But I probably bought them 3 months ago so they might have taken that photo away. And they *have* actually changed the product (not just the wrapper) over the years, too, mostly for the better I find but someone else might disagree!

      2. Bookgarden*

        I use the U tampons and as many times as they change the packaging, they still haven’t color-coded the sizes of the tampons as of the last few boxes I bought about two months ago. UGH.

      3. Replacement Product Question*

        It’s so confusing when the packaging changes for sure. Initially I thought that it was just a packaging and name change, but then I realized that what I believed to be my usual kind wasn’t. Definitely worth taking another look though.

      4. gsa*

        Changes in packaging gets me every time when I’m shopping for a product I don’t use… :/

  28. Anon for this*

    I’m on day four of some virus that has basically given me a raw, sore throat and now an upper wet chest cough (tickly not deep in the lungs) but basically nothing else, although I do feel a bit tired. No fever, and covid test is negative (I’m a little sceptical of that, so am isolating anyway – I live alone and WFH so nbd).

    I usually throw these things off quickly but this is setting in. Any advice? I’m already planning a day on the couch with the cat even though I really want to go to the gym :(

    1. Anon for this*

      pS when I say advice I mean home remedies, things I should do, herbal teas or whatever not medical advice which obviously wouldn’t be appropriate.

    2. Snell*

      I just made Maangchi’s jatjuk today for someone I know who is also sickened. It’s not herbal tea, but I’ve found it’s good “sick” food. Her recipe has few ingredients, and cooks quickly because the rice is ground up, not whole. If you’re feeling up to it, maybe try that? I cooked it myself today because I figured that person might be feeling to unwell to do even that much, but would still need nourishment. If there’s someone who can help you out with this, that’d be better, since even though it is a quick, simple recipe, it’s still more effort than dropping dried tea in hot water.

      1. Snell*

        Also, cooking tip for this recipe: start stirring once you turn on the heat! If you wait for the whole pot to heat, the larger granules that have settled on the bottom of the pot will get cooked together in a large lump. Immediate stirring will make it easier to get a smooth porridge.

        1. Anon for this*

          thank you! I have never heard of this but just spent an enjoyable half hour in a Korean food rabbit hole ;)

          I don’t have sushi rice but I’m considering giving it a go with arborio (the only white rice I have in my pantry).

          thanks for the suggestion:)

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

          That was my Dad’s go-to when sick. He’d put a little alcohol into his hot warm drink and then go to bed to try to sleep the illness off.

        2. Generic Name*

          I like to put honey and lemon juice into bengal spice tea with a splash of whiskey before bedtime when I’m sick. Tasty, soothing, and relaxing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The last time I got hit with a raw throat I realized that the tea part of tea-with-honey didn’t matter, and started just making cups of hot water with some honey stirred in.

        Hard candies are also good for gently coating the throat; I like Jolly Ranchers.

    3. AnonyDay*

      Gargling with salt water can genuinely be beneficial for a sore throat – it doesn’t taste lovely, but it generally makes my throat feel better (a doctor has told me this can actually help kill bacteria and help with other symptoms of a sore throat).

      1. Anon for this*

        that’s a good idea. I’d forgotten about a salt gargle. off to find the box of rock salt at the back of the cupboard!

    4. NotBatman*

      If your utilities bill can afford it: sit in the bathroom with the windows/doors closed and the shower running. The “home sauna” did wonders for me when I had croup, and was the only way I could comfortably get work done.

          1. Honeylicious*

            I heard oregano is good for respiratory issues so if you have some herbs you could add them to boiling water to breathe in (or let it sit on the stove to diffuse in your place), or make an herbal ‘tea’ and drink it :)
            (Essential oil will work for the inhaling, too)

            Otherwise I second the honey lemon and clove/cinnamon suggestion!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You can also add a bunch of water to a crockpot, rice cooker, or electric veggie steamer and plug it in in your bathroom, ideally with a small fan blowing across the top of it to spread the humidity around a bit. Then you can keep up steam/humidity in your bathroom without running the shower constantly. (This is what my vet told me to do when my dog had bad kennel cough right after I adopted him. Dog and I spent a bunch of time shut in the bathroom together with the rice cooker steaming up the place.)

    5. Required name*

      Is your throat really sore? Like sore enough that you’re having trouble sleeping? If so, and especially if it’s not getting any better, I’d go to urgent care and get a strep test. There’s been a ton of strep circulating in my area this year. I haven’t had strep since I was a child (and I’m a parent of a school aged child, so I’m exposed to everything), but I had it this spring. No fever, just a very, very sore throat.

      1. Llellayena*

        I had a ridiculous sore throat and went in to be tested for strep and it turned out to be Covid! Home test were negative so I was surprised. Tea with honey (or just spoonfuls of honey), pudding, mashed potatoes, all the soft, squishy foods. Cough suppressant!

      2. Snax*

        I’d also recommend going and getting swabbed. I had similar symptoms recently and went to urgent care thinking it could be strep — turned out to be flu, even in the summer!

      3. Anon for this*

        Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn’t thought of that. My throat isn’t all that bad now (it’s more my cough and streaming nose) but I will consider a strep test from the pharmacy tomorrow if still sore.

        Lateral flow test still negative. I don’t have access to PCR testing except privately. I haven’t been out since Monday (day before symptom onset). I’ll be really annoyed if it’s Covid as I’ve never had it and still masking etc! but it feels increasingly inevitable, if not now then eventually.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      When I had a wicked sore throat from actual Covid, I lived on mini ice cream bars for a couple of days. So cold and soothing, so easy to grab from the freezer. Regular ice cream bars or tubbed ice cream would work too if you are up for them, but I didn’t have enough energy for either.

      1. Kara*

        Quiches are excellent, too. When i had strep i grabbed a quiche from the local grocery store, popped it in the oven, and then just took tiny bite after tiny bite. It’s soft enough to go down easy but enough nutrition to keep you going

      2. Anon for this*

        yes! I have a box of ice lollies filled with ice cream in my freezer and I have had a few this week! calorie counting is on hold for now.

    7. ThatGirl*

      If you have one, neti pot can help clear sinus congestion and reduce the post nasal drip.

      Agree with hot water with honey and lemon, bourbon is not a bad addition :)

    8. RagingADHD*

      If you have access to fresh ginger root, a strong decoction of it is very helpful for symptoms and very slightly antiviral. Cut about an inch or inch & a half of it, leave the peel on, rough chop and simmer it in 3-4 cups of water for 10-15 minutes.

      Drink the tea warm with honey and / or lemon.

      Also make sure you’re taking an expectorant and NSAIDs to keep that gunk moving, and get it out.

      A tisane of fresh mint and thyme steeped in boiling water like ordinary tea is soothing on the throat and helps loosen mucous. Tastes nice with honey, too.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Hot tea or herb tea with lemon and honey or sugar, or hot lemonade, will probably be soothing for your sore throat. It’s also useful for not getting dehydrated, if you’re at the stage where you don’t want to eat much.

    10. carcinization*

      You might try googling “Forrest Nui Cobalt’s Flu Shot” or just “Nui’s Flu Shot”… when I do so the first result is still for the recipe for this herbal drink rather than the pre-made packets she also sells.

    11. Indolent Libertine*

      Kiddo and their family went through similar a couple of weeks ago. Vicious sore throat. Kiddo ended up with a positive strep test and was given steroids, which reduced the swelling almost immediately and that made a huge difference in pain and ability to swallow, in addition to antibiotics. Hoping you feel better soon!

  29. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    I just wanted to stop in briefly to give a big thank you to the AAM community. :)

    I posted almost exactly a year ago to ask for advice on how to overcome driving anxiety and obtain my licence. I received a lot of encouraging advice and reassuring comments that it was possible from people who had been through it. I’m thrilled to say that even though I was a bundle of nerves I passed my test (first time even!) two days ago. It hasn’t quite sunk in fully yet as I still need to sort out insurance before venturing out on my own.

    1. Kiki*

      CONGRATULATIONS!!! I just got my learner’s permit at the age of 30 and this gives me a lot of hope. Do you happen to easily have a link to the post with the comments? I would love to read them. Passing on the first try!!!! So awesome.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you! And good for you for taking the first step and getting your learner’s permit. :)

        I’ll go find the link and post it for you in another comment. Hopefully you’ll also find it useful! I really wasn’t expecting to pass on my first try as I was so nervous, but thrilled that I managed it. I was chatting with my driving instructor before my test and said “I’ll try my best to pass, but I couldn’t legally drive by myself yesterday, so if I fail it really makes no difference and it’s not the end of the world”. He laughed and agreed that it was a good way to look at things and it helped take some of the pressure out of the situation.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Wonderful!!! Congrats to you! The roads are yours now – enjoy claiming them and go explore.

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

      *confetti cannon, confetti cannon, balloons falling from the ceiling*

  30. Device recommendations.*

    Does anyone has device recommendations for a smart watch or safety device for a tech literate person who lives alone? Preferable one that does not require Wi-Fi or a cellphone to make emergency calls. My friend in her 60s left her cellphone at my house and I had no way to contact her. She uses her cellphone for a hotspot. She’s been talking about getting something for a while since she’s had vertigo spells and I’d love to offer her suggestions. A smart watch would probably be ideal because she always wears a watch. The only thing that comes to minds are the kid ones that she can program to be able to call her daughters. So suggestions for those or anything else would be appreciated. We are in Australia but a lot of the brands seem to be the same as in the USA.

    1. MedicalAlert*

      Would a medical alert device be more appropriate? They have more limited functionality but some models are designed to call for help anywhere without access to wifi/cellphone/landline/etc.

      Most (all?) commercias l smart watches I’ve seen do expect connectivity with a phone

      1. Observer*

        That’s not the case anymore. The base models don’t have cell connectivity, but at least the Pixel and Samsung watches have an option for LTE.

    2. Generic Name*

      When I’m traveling, my iPhone alerts me when it’s a certain distance from my iPad (basically anytime I leave my hotel room). If she has an iPhone, maybe an Apple Watch would do the same. So if she leaves her phone behind, her watch will tell her she left her phone behind.

    3. MadDog*

      You can get versions of the Apple Watch that have their own cell service, independent of the cell phone. I have one and it worked pretty well, though I’ve since turned off the cell feature because I just wasn’t using it (because my actual cell phone is pretty much always nearby).

      The only downside is that (at least in America) you have to add the watch to your cell phone service for the cell feature to work. The way it worked over here was that there was a relatively small monthly charge to add it to the phone service, I think it was $10 a month. The Apple Watch then shared the same phone number as the phone (as far as I recall), so that calls will come into both devices.

      Note, my phone is an iPhone, so I don’t know much about how that service would work with an Android phone. I’d like to assume it would work the same, but you never know. The watch itself is also not particularly cheap new, but I do believe you can get older refurbished models for a lot less money, or at least you can in the US. Good luck!

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You can get Apple watches that have their own cellular service and that you can call and text from without your phone present. Where I live (USA) it costs less than a regular phone does when you add one to an existing plan, but it is an extra monthly charge to have the cellular part work. I have no idea about android-ecosystem watches and if any of them have cellular.

    5. Observer*

      I’d look at the Pixel watch – it’s decent looking unit, not wildly expensive and has fall detection.

  31. June*

    (Yes, this is actually literally about hobby writing, which is possibly why I’m taking it so personally. No one here is aiming towards pro publication, it’s all just for fun. It’s not actually about mythological animals, though.)

    Situation that comes up weirdly often: I’m talking about how excited I am for the Writing About Dragons Fest, and how much fun it was last year, and someone else jumps in and starts talking about how all stories about dragons are boring and dragons are overdone, or anyone who writes about dragons is a bad person, or stuff like that. Is it rude to explicitly point out that I obviously write stories about dragons and I don’t like being spoken about that way? I’m 99% sure the people saying these things just don’t connect the dots unless forced, and don’t intend to be insulting, so snapping back at them that hard seems mean. But it’s also no fun hearing about how they think my writing (or my personality) sucks because I don’t write about werewolves or banshees like they do. Or is there some other, better way to handle this?

    1. Invisible fish*

      “Whew! Guess it’s a relief for you to learn I’m the one you can attach all those negative adjectives to instead of yourself, since you picked the far superior mythological creature as the focus of your writing!” Say something like this – hopefully with a less convoluted sentence pattern! – while flashing a dazzling smile.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Something one of my colleagues did when somebody made a dig about a group she belonged to, not thinking, was to casually say, “well, I can hardly criticise about that.” They got the message and immediately said, “oh, I didn’t mean it as a criticism.”

    3. WellRed*

      I do think you are taking this too personally. Sure, they’re being a bit rude but they aren’t saying there’s something wrong with your personality. Is this a writing group? If so, maybe it’s the wrong one or the group needs to revisit the group rules and purpose. If it’s random people, stop talking about it so much ( because people talking a lot about hobbies is generally not fun for others, not just you). Finally, as other have suggested? A clever retort.

    4. Morning reader*

      I have not experienced this re dragons, but it can happen on other topics. Example: fat talking. A good friend tends to go on about some fat people, e.g, a sister-in-law that she had to discourage from sitting in their regular chairs, an old acquaintance who’s had sudden weight gain. In a voice of concern, usually, that maybe she thinks disguises her attitude. In that case, I did pull her aside to say, when you talk about X, even though I know you don’t mean me, I feel Y because I am obviously one of those X people. She is more careful about it now. It helps me to remember it’s more about her problem (history with eating disorders, critical mother) than about me.
      Other example: reading or viewing tastes. It’s easy to think people who watch Wheel of Fortune, or football, or sitcoms, or who read Shades of Grey, or Twilight, that those people are idiots. (I will admit, I kinda think so too.) But then when you find your best friends reading Twilight, or watching golf, you have to adjust your attitude. Maybe those people are not idiots, they just have different tastes than mine. So, I try not to make disparaging remarks about people who have the taste for these things. (Although, my distaste for certain things has become a running joke with one friend. I roll my eyes, she shrugs.)
      I think, if these are good friends, you could try pulling one aside to explain how this makes you feel. If acquaintances or general friend group, a quip of some sort might help. Were you injured by a dragon in a past life, to be so negative? Some kind of dragon related trauma? Perhaps sarcasm… yes, I realize werewolves are so much cooler than dragons. Did you see Michael j fox in that classic? So adorable. Or the attractive True Blood wolves? I will admit, you can’t schtup a dragon, if that’s your thing I can see how you prefer the werewolves.
      Or, argue the relative merits. You can’t ride a werewolf. A dragon’s a dragon all the time, a werewolf only once a month? And dragons can do cool stuff, slip dimensions, mind meld with their person, breathe fire… depending on your world building. What can werewolves do? Grow fur?
      If it wouldn’t mess up the friend group, or even if it would, you could also choose to call it out in the moment. Like, do you realize, with what you just said about dragon-writers, that I am one and I’m standing right here? Did you intend to insult me? If it was just a reflex of your anti-dragon bias, here your chance to apologize or walk it back. (It might only take once with this response to extinguish the behavior, if it works and doesn’t escalate the problem.)

      1. AGD*

        This – I was thinking about very similar stuff yesterday.

        One of my friends is a brilliant scientist (think particle physics) who nonetheless finds astrology fun and talks about it, especially when he’s drunk at parties. I’ve never said anything because I don’t want to be judgmental, but it secretly annoys me. Yesterday I was privately feeling irritated about how much he blabs about pseudoscientific garbage. Like, you understand the literal fabric of the universe more than 99% of us, dude. Such a bizarre contradiction! And then it occurred to me that:
        – everyone’s different;
        – we latch onto different things for all sorts of extremely specific idiosyncratic reasons;
        – academia is full of odd people, which is (often) part of its charm;
        – if he’s not harming anyone it’s probably not worth making a fuss about;
        – he probably knows that it’s scientific nonsense but it scratches some kind of itch for him anyway (plus he’s queer and I’m not, and I’m guessing there’s a connection there that I know nothing about that involves resistance to marginalization).

        There’s also an argument for reciprocation here. He’s never said anything about my special interests, even though a few of them are awfully unusual for an adult woman (so niche I can’t spell them out because they’ll indicate where else I hang out on the internet and things I purchase, but a near-parallel is the history of Matchbox and Hot Wheels toys – all this was caused by a single event that almost didn’t happen in my childhood). People are complicated, and develop passions for all sorts of bizarre reasons, most of which aren’t “I spent fourteen years observing humans and then picked all of the most logical common interests for my baseline personality and social position.”

      2. carcinization*

        Samuel Delany would certainly be surprised that you think a person can’t do that with a dragon! I think that particular plot point is from Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand but I’m not totally sure! Funnily enough, I did assume that this post was actually about romance writing, since it was pretty clear it was not actually about mythological creatures.

        1. Like grains of sand*

          Speaking of whom, there’s a long and deep profile of him in the current New Yorker magazine.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Ugggh people. Ideally, “Well, it sounds like we don’t agree about this!” and then exiting the conversation is the way to go. There is a whole thing I find especially prevalent in geek culture, about not being able to tolerate people liking different stuff. The best way to win is not to play.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think it’s the least bit rude to say “Well, I write about dragons, and I don’t agree at all.”

      As long as you can say it mildly and not angrily.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      “I really like writing about Dragons. It brings me a lot of joy.” And just stop there to let that sink in. I mean, there’s not a limited number of stories in the world and you’re not using up all the good words on a topic when those words could otherwise be used to write about equitable health care.

      Enjoy what you want to enjoy and just be thoughtful later about sharing details with this person who has, we hope, other interests they enjoy.

    8. Generic Name*

      Those people are incredibly rude, and for the record, dragons are awesome. I get why it feels personal to you, but I assume they aren’t hating dragons at you? Honestly, I think people who talk about stuff they hate, especially stuff that harms no one (such as liking my little ponies or something), are insufferable and even a little boring. Ok my dude, what DO you like?

    9. SuprisinglyADHD*

      “Well, like I said, *I* like reading/writing about dragons, and I’m excited for the festival.” Repeat until they either directly insult you, or get the message and change the subject.
      Seriously, if someone says “I like X”, it’s unbelievably rude for the other person to immediately say “X sucks and people who make and like X are awful”.

      1. kt*

        Yes, I agree with this, and might even go further if needed because I love embracing the awkward — “You are talking about me! I am doing the thing you are insulting!”

    10. Old Plant Woman*

      I think dragons are awesome. There can never be too many dragon stories. What if someone went on a rant about cats? Cats are out of fashion and there are way too many cat pictures on the world. Really?

    11. Punk*

      Can you reveal what the real topic is? Because if you’re getting frequent responses about the morality or harmful impact of a genre, I’d wonder if there really is something unsavory going on in that community.

      I am personally invested in some pretty specific branches of fringe literary genres and I’ve never gotten the reactions you’re describing, so it might be that there really are some iffy associations with the information you haven’t given us.

      1. June*

        It’s fanfiction. I’d rather not go into exact details, but they don’t like the same pairings I do. Basically no matter what you like in fandom, someone’s convinced it’s the century’s greatest threat to society and will lead to the downfall of humanity if you’re allowed to just keep liking it. (I am 100% serious, anything. The She-Ra remake caused some of the nastiest fights I’ve ever seen. The one made by Dreamworks for ten-year-olds.)

        It’s broadly considered polite, in this specific group, to just sort of keep quiet about the stuff you don’t like – this is fiction, it is all clearly labeled, no one’s taking it as moral guidance, we are doing extremely well if we hit a thousand readers. It’s just not worth fighting about whether having this favorite character means you actually support real-life murder or whatever. Mostly it works. This is about the times when it doesn’t.

        1. Punk*

          So there are certain fandom couples where I do question the morality or intentions of the people who cling to hard to them. I’m thinking of one popular ‘ship from a certain children’s series where the girl is coded as a member of an oppressed religious minority, and the boy is coded as a junior member of the real political movement that attempted to eradicate the religious minority. People who enjoy this ‘ship don’t take it well when it’s explained to them why the coupling is not in the same league as a standard “bully romance,” so yes, I do side eye people who prioritize their imagined versions of fictional characters over the real concerns of people who are sick of seeing these types of narratives.

          Forgive me, but the fact that you’re being elusive about any kind of specific information indicates that you know there’s a problem within the branch of the fanfic community that you’re talking about. Age-inappropriate relationships and the like are majorly uncool even if they’re clearly labeled.

          1. June*

            They’re both 30 and like each other. The objection is that it’s boring and overdone and cannot be written well because there’s no conflict, and thus everyone who likes it writes bad, boring, overdone stories.

          2. Jackalope*

            This is kind of…. pushy in ways it doesn’t need to be. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the OP isn’t sharing the real situation because she doesn’t want dox herself, especially if it’s particularly niche. The internet is a big and unforgiving place, and wanting to stay anonymous is not a crazy or out-there thing.

            And while in some cases the reason for the pushback is something genuinely problematic, it’s also a real and negative aspect of existing on the internet that people will be jerks about things that are no big deal in ways they won’t in person. (Given the OP’s follow-up comment I’m pretty sure it’s the latter and not the former.) I have a forum I hang out on sometimes for video games and I’ve seen people being absolute jerks about things like the following: you are clearly incompetent and a bad player if you have more than one healer in any one combat; you are a terrible person if you like character X because she said no to a dude in the game that they liked; you are Playing Wrong if you sideline character Y that they love but that doesn’t fit your playing style (game with lots of possible characters to choose from and you can’t use all of them in any one combat); and so on. Gate keeping interests and judging others because they don’t agree with you PERFECTLY is totally a thing on fan sites, unfortunately.

          3. Observer*

            Forgive me, but the fact that you’re being elusive about any kind of specific information indicates that you know there’s a problem within the branch of the fanfic community that you’re talking about.

            That’s a pretty bug jump. I mean, you can’t *really* think that people might not figure out who June is if they give away the particular fandom? That alone is reason enough to try to keep this purely theoretical.

            June gave a bit more description of the “issue”, and I believe it. People can be VERY weird about this stuff. And when people are being weird but also obnoxious it’s a good idea to not invite yet more bad interactions.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, my assumption was it was a pretty small fandom or a pretty unpopular pairing and only a small number of people were writing about it, so mentioning it could indicate who she is or just that she doesn’t want to start the argument again here. Like “oh, it’s Harry/Hermione.” “But Harry should totally be with Ginny!!11”

              I wouldn’t assume she is hiding anything.

          4. Yikes Stripes*

            You’re projecting extremely hard in every direction, just so you know, and there’s plenty of reasons people wouldn’t want to identify the actual fandom ranging from “People like punk have decided that I’m a *bad person* for being into it” to “it’s seven people and a panda and I don’t want to id myself” to “it’s none of your business and issues like this cross fandoms and platforms.”

          5. MissElizaTudor*

            It actually isn’t majorly uncool to write about things people find upsetting so long as they are labeled and people who want to avoid them can easily do so.

        2. Dragonshipper*

          Oh, this is such a pain. I’m in similar communities and this kind of thing is so hard to respond to. Are there people in the group you can ask privately about how they deal with it? I think the best approach I’ve seen is a slow escalation from “ok, fine” to “hey, you’re kind of being a jerk here.”

          You: I’m so excited for DragonMonth!
          Them: (blahblah dragons negativity)
          You: Ok, it’s fine that it’s not your cup of tea, but I’m really excited for it.
          Them: I just think dragons are (blahblah negativity)
          You: Hey, I’m sure you don’t mean any harm, but this is a group where we get together to talk about our writing and what we’re having fun with [or whatever description is applicable, basically just appeal to shared values]. Can we stick to that?
          Them: I just think people who write about dragons are bad because of (blahblah.)
          You: Wow, I do write about dragons, so that really hurts! Please find another outlet to say those kinds of things.

          Is this the kind of group where there are clear leaders or mods? Maybe a policy about not harshing people’s vibe is in order. If they’re not willing to make or enforce that, you might have to choose between leaving or not talking about DragonMonth. :(

          1. Dragonshipper*

            (Or “please don’t say those kinds of things to me” – while I personally wouldn’t mind if they went over to DragonHaterGroup to complain about it, I realize you might not want to risk putting the idea in their head XD)

    12. Longtime Reader*

      A slightly hurt or chagrined sounding “Ouch, is that really what you think about me? It hurts to hear that you think my writing is boring and overdone, and that I’m a bad person for it” can be pretty effective in reminding them that they’re not just saying nasty things about the faceless conglomerate of dragon writers, but that they’re saying nasty things about you, their friend, who they presumably like and would not say nasty things about if they stopped to think about it. You could potentially follow up with “You know, I like dragons because it’s cool how they breathe fire and they have beautiful scales. You don’t think I actually believe that kidnapping maidens is okay, right? That would be really ridiculous.”
      If they’re more acquaintances, or internet randos who are convinced that their opinions are god’s gift to mankind and must be shared at every opportunity, then honestly, just block them without guilt and move on, or give them a more blunt “Hey, you’re being really rude. Why do you think it’s okay to tell someone who’s talking about how excited they are about the Dragons Fest that dragons suck? Because it’s not okay, and this isn’t the place for it. Can you quit telling me how much you think I suck?”
      Honestly, you’d be fully justified in telling them “Hey, I’m just trying to have a good time writing about dragons, which are imaginary. You know dragons aren’t real, right? And that I’m writing this for fun and no one gets paid for it? And that me writing about dragons doesn’t actually impact werewolf rights because werewolves aren’t real either? You need to chill about the made up things that are supposed to be fun” but unfortunately that will probably just make them more defensive, so softening it, or phrasing it in a way that makes light of the situation is probably the more useful approach.

  32. Ellis Bell*

    Has anyone got any experience with alcohol sensitivity and alcohol free wine? This is not me seeking medical advice, just wondering about the prevalence of it, as I’m in that “I’m not sure if this is even a thing that happens to people” zone, which is how I used to feel about gluten. A couple of years ago I did an elimination diet to try and manage my autoimmune condition. I discovered that the only things I couldn’t reintroduce were wheat and alcohol. The wheat thing made sense because it runs in my family, and the alcohol thing made sense because it’s always struck me as being a thing that’s quite hard on the body, and cutting it out would surely help my wheat-ravaged gut heal, right? Well, I’m starting to think I might be even more sensitive than that; I’ve started experimenting with the new range of alcohol free wines, as this market is exploding. Whenever it’s a denatured alcohol, as in something that started out as real alcohol, I seem to have some mild symptoms the following day. Mild enough to ignore, but wheat intolerance symptoms began in a similarly mild way. I find this kind of fascinating as the alcohol as been removed but my body is still detecting it. I have consulted doctors, and they say diagnosing this stuff is really fiddly and invasive when I already seem to have my diet plan down, but I’m going to go back with these latest insights. I just wondered if anyone else found themselves in the same boat.

    1. NotBatman*

      Have you tried sweet white non-alcoholic wines? I know a few people who are very sensitive to tannin (found most in dry reds) and that’d be my best guess as to why you’d be continuing to react. Either that, or a grape allergy.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah, the genuinely non alcoholic stuff seems fine, as do grapes and grape juice in general.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’ve never thought about alcohol itself!! But I am having weird sensitivity to gluten, things with histamines, things with FODMAPs, dairy, and yeast. Doesn’t matter if it’s organic or homemade. But! Only in the USA. When I travel abroad I can eat whatever I want.

      I recently made an appointment with an integrated medicine doctor to try to figure it out.

      1. Red Sky*

        This is fascinating to me, I’ve got a number of similar intolerances and thought I noticed a reduction in symptoms when I was out of state for a week. Please report back if you get answers

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Interested to hear what other readers have to say on this! I’ve long held a theory about industrial and new world winemaking, where the additives used to create a particular flavour (or to guarantee a consistent flavour across each vintage) provoke worse allergies and hangovers. Anecdotally, almost every woman I know who drinks the kind of Australian wine available at most bottle shops has started struggling allergy-wise with red wine in middle age, and some even all wines. That’s where I’m at and I’m starting to get allergic reactions as well. Whatever process that wine goes through to meet a certain flavour profile, it can surely only be made worse with more processing to remove the alcohol.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Zero proof wine that was made with alcohol doesn’t change the nature of the alcohol. It just removes enough to fall below the legal threshold for labelling. Still real alcohol, just in very small amounts.

      Typical wine is 8-14 percent alcohol by volume. “Zero proof” or “alcohol free” is 0.5 percent abv.

      It would be illegal to put “denatured” alcohol in food, as that is full-strength alcohol that has been adulterated with other substances to make it unfit for human consumption.

      If you’re asking opinions, I agree with your doctor that it is kind of a waste of time and resources to go back with the finding that you are still sensitive to tiny bits of the same stuff you already knew bothered you.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      My immediate thought is that it’s not the alcohol, it’s something else in the wine. Maybe tannins in red wine, or the process that’s used to make it. I read recently that sometimes people who have seafood allergies can react to wine that’s been clarified with fish products, for example.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      No advice; just solidarity from another person who lives with a lot of weird food intolerances, including alcohol. My solution is to order seltzer with a slice of lemon or lime. If I act like it’s no big deal, nobody else should say anything.

    7. kt*

      Doctors are in general not going to be able to help, as this is not the sort of thing that is easy to study with randomized placebo-controlled double-blind studies on reasonably-sized populations. (I am married to an internal medicine doc and have food sensitivities; we’ve talked a lot both personally and about the research, and it’s just not what allopathic medicine is aiming for!)

      If you want to, have you tested whether alcohol is really the problem? For instance, if you have a bit of Everclear, do you get the same symptoms as with dealcoholized wine? If you try kombucha, do you get the same symptoms?

      Fermentation creates many, many byproducts that are not alcohol. Tons of amino acids and other byproducts, in both beer and wine. Distillation will remove some of these. These byproducts in many situations are what makes the beer or wine good :) but that doesn’t mean they agree with you. And then there are the chemical components that come from the grapes or grain themselves…. So look at/look up tannins and congeners and histamine.

      I seem to have problems with some histamine sources (if I have alcohol, especially a red wine or darker liquor, along with any of aged cheese/cured meat/kimchee with the dried shrimp all at once, then I get sinus pain and headache quite quickly). All I can do is track occurrences and avoid that pattern. I’m also finding that a glass of wine will give me a headache very quickly if I drink it without food (not a hangover headache, but a headache within 20 min). I cannot find a medical explanation. Oh well.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I don’t think you can get Everclear in the UK but looking it up it seems quite alcoholic, and I can’t seem to get away with any alcohol at all; I thought alcohol free would be an exception. I’m fine drinking kombucha though. What you say about allopathic medicine is fascinating.

      2. Kabocha Mocha*

        To me, this sounds a lot like migraine, in case you hadn’t considered that. Any fermented or aged food can cause migraines.

    8. Part time lab tech*

      Alcoholic drinks often have preservatives added (as do many wheat products). Both alcohol and bread use yeast for fermentation.
      kt is right on the money but if you’re interested in reading up on food intolerance fedup.com.au has good info in simple language.

    9. Nevdas*

      I doubt it’s actually the alcohol that’s an issue, tbh. It’s more possible that you’re very sensitive to trace gluten. Technically, wine is gluten free and is generally considered safe, but it’s highly likely that wine you’re drinking has been cross-contaminated or contains an additive that has gluten. The brewer’s yeast used in the wine making process may have been grown on a gluten grain, meaning trace amounts end up in your wine. And, gluten isn’t just found in wheat, either, which makes everything that much harder. Also, you may be sensitive to sulfites, which are in all wines.

      coastalwinetrail . com has a good list of gluten-free wines.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      I was not expecting much when I posted this, but wow this community is indeed a font of knowledge. Many thanks for the ideas and places to check for further information.

      1. Rrrach*

        There’s lots here that I’m also interested to come back to.

        I will add that I have an allergy to the protein in milk/dairy and to egg, and am intolerant to lactose and gluten, i have to only drink wine labelled vegan or else I feel unwell (it starts with wine as hiccuping, but if I have more than one glass I can feel quite unwell).

        As I understand it, wine producers can use milk or egg to ‘fine’ or finish the wine. Not all do it, and some countries include a vegan label on their wines (noting that could also cover other animal-based ingredients). I find myself explaining this a lot at bars when I ask to see the wine bottle label.

  33. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    Not to reopen the Great Toilet Debate or anything… but it seemed like many of the folks on the pro-brushing side were confused why anyone would mistake using a toilet brush for actually cleaning a toilet? And now I’m wondering if I don’t actually know how to clean a toilet?
    My steps:
    1. Put in toilet cleaner (used to be squirting it up under the rim but now I’m using a powdered version)
    2. Go do something else for 5 minutes or so
    3. Put on gloves
    4. Use toilet brush to brush inside the toilet, making sure to get the hard water deposits up under the brim (and yeah,splashing can be an issue)
    5. Flush
    6. Wipe down seat, handle, and exterior with disinfectant wipes.
    7. Take off gloves, wash hands

    It’s a quick job once a week or so at home, but brushing is like 90% of the active work for me. Am I doing it wrong?

    1. Not Martha Stewart*

      That’s more than I do (maybe I’m a slob??). To me adding toilet cleaner is deep cleaning and I do that every 3 or 4 times I do a quick cleaning of just scrubbing with the brush. I don’t normally clean the outside at the same time, just when it starts looking noticeably dusty. The only difference between my basic cleanings and a quick scrub to remove evidence is I also usually check the rim and underside of the seat for pee stains.

    2. Morning reader*

      I think you’re doing it right. I add flushing first to wet down the bowl before I add the cleanser, and I don’t usually use gloves. (My good rubber gloves are for dish washing and I don’t want to use them in the bathroom.) I wash up after, and often take my shower after the dirty jobs (kitty litter, taking out the trash, etc.)
      I flush once more after the cleaning and use that flush to rinse the toilet brush. It’s not pristine but at least it won’t have particles clinging to it. I had a couple summer jobs in my youth that included toilet cleaning so I guess I’m a “professional.” My maid training included using a piece of TP to wipe down all the surfaces and shine them up as the last step, getting rid of any moisture from the first wipe down, then toss the TP in the toilet for the last flush. You can use glass cleaner on surfaces and fixtures for that extra clean sparkle, if you like. (Put in a fresh roll of TP and fold the end into a point if you want to get fancy. No need to add the “sanitized for your protection” strip if you’re at home.)

    3. abca*

      If you’re just brushing the toilet right after you use (for example in an office) it you are expected to just clean the obviously dirty parts, not right under the brim. The goal is not to make it clean, just to make it not dirty (like when you spill coffee on the office floor and wipe it with a damp cloth – but when you clean the floor at home you would use cleaning product and put more effort into it). No need to put on gloves because the handle of the brush is not more dirty than the handle of the door or the button to flush (also because many people do use the brush and then open the door), and you would of course wash your hands immediately after.

    4. CityMouse*

      I put step 2 after 4. My experience is you are trying to clean any biofilm under the rim so I scrub the cleaner on then let it sit.

    5. londonedit*

      I think the point was that the non-brushing side were all ‘I would never clean the toilets at work!’ while the pro-brushing side were saying no one is expecting you to ‘clean the toilet’ (which I would agree is exactly as you describe); we’re just saying why can’t you give a quick swish around with the loo brush just to remove any marks. I think there’s a difference between quickly brushing away any stains and swishing the brush in the water before putting it back in its holder, and actually getting stuck in and cleaning the loo.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Yes, I was one of those who expect coworkers to clean up their skidmarks, but I’d never do a thorough clean like at home, just a quick brush swish to remove visible signs, then flush with the brush under water to remove any particles from that as well.

    6. Not A Manager*

      The difference to me, on that thread in particular, is that when I’m cleaning a shared toilet after my personal use, I just remove obvious skid marks so it’s not gross for people to look at; I’m not really trying to “clean” it at all. And the second difference is that I obviously only clean up after myself if there’s a toilet brush provided, whereas in my own home I will go fetch the cleaning supplies in order to clean my bathroom.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I avoided that debate, but I expect a big part of the divide was geographical and based on how much water (or water pressure) is typically used in toilets in commercial buildings.

      I have never seen a toilet brush in an office bathroom, and only rarely -very rarely- seen marks in the bowl. I would take it as a sign of poor plumbing rather than lack of courtesy by the prior occupant.

      1. Dillydilly*

        Apologies for graphic terminology-

        For preventive action, (when you know you’re going to spend a little time sitting) BEFORE you sit to do your business, lay down a few strips of toilet paper in the toilet, across the water that’s in the toilet bowl. Then do your business. The paper keeps the poo from sticking to the bowl surface, so the flush carries everything down the drain.

        This “paper before pooing” is a bit tricky if the toilet has automatic flush, if so, move slowly when you’re putting the paper down.

        If there’s still residue after the water is finished running, you can pour a glass of water into the toilet over the -er- residue. This usually loosens the residue, then flush again.

        I’ve never seen a toilet brush in an office toilet.

        1. Isobel*

          I think reactions varied a lot depending on the size of the workplace. So I can imagine that in a large office, where the toilets are maybe multiple stalls, there’s unlikely to be a toilet brush, and probably a team will be cleaning at least once a day, probably more. But I have generally worked in small offices where there are one or two toilets and it’s a little room with toilet and sink, like you’d have in a house, and yes, there is a toilet brush, and the cleaner only comes once a week.

        2. Yikes Stripes*

          Wow. Yeah, I’m never going to do any of that, good lord, and I would be stunned to find out that anyone I work with did either.

  34. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    Has anyone else who uses Facebook found that it has become 5% friend posts and 95% ads and “suggested posts” that are wildly irrelevant and kind of spammy? Flagging the “suggested posts” as ones I don’t want to see has helped only slightly, and maybe this is the time I get frustrated enough to finally quit Facebook altogether. But I’m curious, is this happening to everyone or is it because I don’t have enough friends (I only follow maybe 15 people these days)?

    1. dana*

      Yes! I’m not very active on there, but I have to go directly to people’s pages now to see what’s up because the news feed is useless.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in the same boat – I only have about 30 friends and I don’t actively follow half of them, and I see about three actual posts a day between ads. And most of those are from four or five days ago, even when I’m set to most recent – today, I have a 3 days ago, then a 6 hours ago, then a 2 days ago, and then “no more recent posts” which is total BS because I posted twice yesterday :-P

    3. Morning reader*

      Yes, I’ve noticed it too. If I go to a friends page or like or respond to their stuff, I think it boosts that person in my feed, but it’s still mostly ads.

      I’m using fb lately mostly for local information. It seems many local businesses or events barely update their own websites, but they keep their fb updated. It’s useful for that so I’m keeping it for now.

    4. Anna Crusis*

      Yes, and the ads/suggested posts are kind of disturbing and the only thing I can figure is either their algorithm is WAY off (I have never clicked on or otherwise interacted with anything similar to this crap except to try to block it) or ad revenue is down so we all get spammed. I avoid my news feed and only look at a couple of group pages.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Funny you say that, because lately I’ve found Instagram (which is the same company of course) to be sooo much worse it’s unusable. I suspect they show different feeds on desktop, which is now how I use IG. With FB I usually use groups, so maybe that’s why I’m not noticing it as much. We certainly are in the dark age of social media at the moment, with FB/IG both terribly run, and Twitter reaching a new low every week. I’m not on TikTok but I heard it is also not as good as it was.

    6. Alex*

      Yes. I barely see my friends’ posts anymore.

      I’m pretty active on some active groups though, so I get notifications from them. That’s basically why I still use it. The ads are ridiculous.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I look at FB too often (time waster) and just this morning I went looking for a way to see most recent posts in my feed and didn’t find it. Because the top of my feed was a post from a friend from a few days ago that I’d already seen.

      Also, yes, very ad heavy now. And reels heavy. And I dumbly click on reels which are half the time dumb and not funny. In the hope of cute dogs or useful workout info.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I’ve noticed lately it’s started giving me a load of conspiracy theory typed websites. I was actually wondering if I inadvertantly liked a neutral post from one of those websites or something, but now I’m wondering if it could be related.

    9. Mimmy*

      Most definitely, especially when I’m using FB on my desktop. I agree with the person who said that if I like or comment on a friend’s post, I’ll see more of their posts.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Yes. I think it is because I rarely use it. Kind of a self-reinforcing cycle. The less you’re on it, the less appealing the feed becomes.

    11. Generic Name*

      Yes! Annoying as hell. I’ve mostly gotten around it by tapping on menu (3 horizontal lines) and then “feeds” and it takes me to stuff my friends post without the crap I don’t follow. Using an ad blocker on my iPad eliminates the ad posts.

    12. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      Thanks everyone. And thanks for the feedback that Instagram is largely the same thing because I was pondering that as an alternative (even though, of course, FB and IG are same ownership.)

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think it also “rewards” usage though. It gives you more of whatever you click on, and in the absence of input it serves ads. If you searched for or clicked on your friends more often, it would show their stuff more.

    13. Filosofickle*

      It’s gotten noticeably worse. While the aggressiveness of suggested posts/ads is certainly intentional, it’s also true that my friends are posting less and less so there is more space to fill. Even if every one of your people put up a post every day, that doesn’t fill a feed.

      The way I cut through it is to switch the view to Feeds -> Friends, and that will remove all group and suggested posts, leaving only friends (and sponsored ads). That works on mobile.

      When I do that I usually find a couple friend posts that I missed. But I don’t find a lot, and I’ve been curious to the point of checking people’s walls to if they are posting more that isn’t getting to me. And they’re not, beyond a missed post here or there. People are just not using the platform as much, which leaves more noise to fill space.

    14. My Brain is Exploding*

      Oh my goodness, YES! I only have about 40 FB friends, but I have a number of groups (a sewing group, etc.) as well as a number of business that I follow. It’s a slog getting thru and I feel certain I’m missing things people have posted that I want to see. Also I seem not to be able to get things to post up in any kind of chronological order, so that I see something like…ad from today, Nutritious Movement post from 3 days ago, ad, ad, several not-ad-but-unsolicited posts (poetry, etc.), something my friend posted yesterday.

    15. Past Lurker*

      Yes, and the ads and sponsored posts I hide just get replaced by other similar ones.

    16. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I get a lot of ads and spammy stuff at the beginning of most months. I report each one as spam or worse, just because it makes me feel better to zap them. but it stops after maybe four or five days, so I figure it’s the price we pay for a free and otherwise fun thing. Besides friends (just personal friends and relatives), I follow and interact with a lot of special-interest pages and groups, that would be really hard to find, much less have access to in one place, without FB. So although I get aggravated at the time, it’s still a minor annoyance.

    17. carcinization*

      I guess the facebook interface is different for different people, but looking at it on my chromebook I can go to “Feeds” on the top left and click it, then I can see my friends’ posts in chronological order. I do still get some ads and such (and have to tell facebook I want to see less pet adoption posts and such), but I’m not seeing things from days or weeks prior unless I go back that far. I wouldn’t think that would be a function of how many facebook friends one has, but who knows. I think I have 300-400.

    18. *daha**

      Yep, it’s a real thing. My solution is to read chronologically, instead of accepting their curated feed. I still get crap, but at least I get to keep up with my friends’ recent posts.
      This is a lot harder to select with the new changes to the desktop version of Facebook. You need to look on the left hand column and click on See All. From that, click on FEEDS. (That’s their new name for most recent entries.) Now you’ve got a column opened up for choices within that – I stick with the default ALL, but you can also choose from Favorites, Friends, Groups, and Pages.

    19. gsa*

      I deleted my FB account a while ago.

      I signed up for NextDoor. I receive alerts from people. I’ve never heard of the neighborhoods that I don’t know where they’re located.

      I think it’s a social media thing. I want everybody to see everything we can click and they can get their click revenue… :/

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yep, it’s all ads. I’m spending less and less time on FB because it’s annoying.

  35. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Ok, this is the silliest low-stakes who-cares question but. I was random-ing through NAR this morning and after a bunch of non-US based posts, I am now curious – do non-USians actually call a (credit/debit/bank) card reader “the EFTPOS machine” on the regular, and if so, do you spell it out or pronounce the acronym as a word? (Or does it do more than just read cards?)

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Neato! When traveling in Ireland and Germany, I heard them called ‘Cashpoints’. In Finland, I heard them called “Cardpay.” Most of the time, they were not referred to at all – they were just obvious at a self-checkout.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        For me in the UK a Cashpoint is the same as an ATM, not a card reader for processing payments in a retail store.

      1. Felicia*

        They did that at every restaurant I went to while in New Zealand a few months ago and I was sooo confused what they were asking about the first few times since I’d never heard the word EFTPOS before and I don’t think our machines are called it. They said it as a word so I didn’t know it was even at acronym at first. I’m a non-USian, but I’m Canadian and our payment culture/customs have notable differences than the US, but we probably use the same terms for this sort of thing. Though here at a restaurant they mostly ask “do you need the machine?” and if you say yes they know you’re either paying with a debit or credit card so they bring it to you.

    2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      UK here.
      I’d refer to the till system as an EPOS (electronic point of sale) and pronounce it as a word.
      The actual card reader I call a card machine or a PDQ and pronounce the individual letters.

      1. londonedit*

        I’d just call it a ‘card machine’, I think! If we’re talking about the actual thing that you tap your card on to pay.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        In Ireland and I’ve never heard of EPOS or EFTPOS (though that is not to say others here necessarily wouldn’t). I’d probably say a card reader.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Back in the day, it used to be the way of differentiating between cash, cheque, credit (sign), and debit card (pin – eftpos). Then cheque accounts became an option on the eftpos machine, then credit too, and now it’s just all effed-poss.

    4. Ally*

      You just say it like it’s spelled! Comes out sounding a bit like “efposs”.

      You might get asked “cash or eftpos?” when you come up to pay.

      It’s just the bleepy thing at the cash register, it doesn’t do anything else.

      This is a great question.

  36. Crackerjack*

    Cat help/rant required :(

    I have two indoor/outdoor cats (normal here in the UK), nearly 7 years old. I also have 3 children, 7, 3 and 5 months.

    One of the cats is a scratcher if he gets scared. I wouldn’t describe him as an aggressive cat but he’s certainly not a pushover. He has sometimes clawed at/bitten me when I’m just stroking him, and more frequently if trying to get him into his basket/administer meds etc.
    The other cat is so placid he’s basically a dog. I believe he has scratched before, when we had to give him a bath, but that is the absolute outlier. He lets the kids roll on him and has never lifted a claw to them.

    The cattier cat has scratched all of the kids on occasion, but particularly the middle one. Once my son became mobile, he would hug/headlock the cat or grab at him and get scratched – usually on the face. I think the reason he got it more than my daughter is probably partly their temperaments but also that my son was toddling in lockdown so we were all at home all the time and things were busy – not what the cat was used to. Also probably I was just less vigilant with a second child.

    My husband has got less and less tolerant of the cats over the years. He’s stressed by having children and the resulting chaos and the cats are just an extra burden/expense/responsibility to him. He’s got increasingly wrought up about the cat scratching my son. The scratching incidents have gone down in frequency since my son turned 3 six months ago, as he’s finally learning how to interact appropriately. But of course it’s about to start all over again with our baby.

    She got her first scratch from the cat today (previously when cuddling her he’s stretched out an arm and lightly grazed her cheek but not enough to break the skin and not on purpose). I wasn’t in the room this morning but she was on the floor with toys (on her tummy, sort of leaning up on her elbows like they do- she’s not starting to crawl yet.) When she began crying I went in and she had a bloody scratch at the front of her scalp and a claw puncture mark on her forehead. My elder daughter said she thinks it was the Scratcher because she saw him nearby and he scarpered. I’m sure it was him – my guess is he came to kiss the baby, she grabbed at him (can’t do open handed touching at her age, she’s all about the grabbing) and he swiped at her to get her off.

    It’s complicated by the fact that Scratcher adores the children. He’s always coming to them for strokes and cuddling up to them when they’re asleep. He gets up in their business as much as they do in his so I can’t easily separate them.

    From my perspective, Scratcher’s behaviour is totally normal and so is the children’s and they’ll all shake down together as the kids grow. I’ve never been seriously concerned about an injury he’s given them – of course it’s unpleasant but they heal up just fine and the kids haven’t been traumatised.

    Husband however wants to rehome the cat. He says the cat is harming our children, he could take their eye out, and he’s obviously stressed too. He says if it was a dangerous dog we’d get rid. To me this is just nowhere near a dangerous dog – dogs kill children. I’ve never heard of a cat taking someone’s eye out, although I suppose it could happen. The cat is not attacking like he would attack prey, although he has occasionally done that with me (attacking my hand when I stroke); he’s behaving like he would with a kitten that was bothering him.
    But then I grew up with cats, was scratched from time to time, particularly when I bothered them, and love(d) them still. I think it’s fine for children to learn the hard way if necessary that animals are people not toys (although the baby is obviously too young for this! I’ll be more careful about making sure the cats not in the room next time I leave her alone). My husband grew up with no pets and isn’t really a cat person – he likes them well enough but wouldn’t have got them if not for me and certainly wouldn’t keep them now we have the kids.

    Argh I’ve already written an essay – sorry. TL:DR husband wants to rehome Scratcher, I vehemently don’t want to (and think it’s irresponsible to get rid of a cat you took on when it gets inconvenient). What would you do and/or any advice on how to prevent scratches better?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If he was indoor only I’d suggest trying claw caps, but I feel like that’s maybe a bad idea for an outdoor cat – maybe I’m wrong? They don’t prevent the cat retracting the claws or using them to climb, they (theoretically) just reduce the ability to actually scratch.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (The biting worries me though – cat bites are super likely to get infected and go bad really quickly. I know there’s a regular poster here who has mentioned ending up in a significant hospital stay due to a cat bite infection. I can’t tell from your mention how common it is for kitty to bite though, or if he ever bites at the kids.)

        1. Crackerjack*

          Oh, that’s interesting- I’ve had plenty of bites over the years, not just from this cat, and never done more than wash with soap, maybe some Germolene if it breaks the skin. I suppose I’ve been lucky! I don’t think that he’s ever bitten the children- maybe my son once? on the head? it’s almost always on the head or face they get got, because their face is right up next to Scratcher when he loses patience. with me it’s usually the hand.

          I think I’ll ask the vet about claw caps. never heard of them here.

          1. CityMouse*

            Oof… no, it is NOT normal for him to be scratching them on the head. I’ve been around cats and toddlers and cats typically for arms and heads and NOT the head.

            Look, this really isn’t okay. Your cat really is expressing some worrying aggression towards your kids. This really isn’t normal cat behavior at all.

    2. CityMouse*

      Mixed feelings here. I navigated a cat and a toddler but my cat mostly avoided my son and would run off. He only scratched him ine and it was on his arm.

      I also wouldn’t downplay the risk here, my brother had a pretty serious eye injury from his cat scratching his face and he was a grown adult when it happened. My brother rehomed this particular cat with my sister when his son was little.

      Ultimately I think the safety of your kid has to come first, the dynamic here doesn’t seem to be working. So I lean to your husbands view and think you should consider removing responsibly.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        On the eye damage: Destructobot attempted to start A New Thing where she would gallop dramatically across the pillows/our heads, and scratched my cheek. Because hitting my cheek rather than eye was sheer luck I insisted that she needed to be firmly removed from the bed any time she tried that move (my husband is the “fun pet parent”), and she soon cut it out. She does sleep with us at times, curled against a hip or knee. (Other times she wanders around lecturing the ghosts.)

        If the scratches were only ankle-when-stepping-on-cat and arm-when-grabbing-cat I’d be less concerned, but drawing blood from a nonmobile infant really isn’t par for the course with pet ownership. Just as you would need to supervise a toddler trying to grab a pet, who reacted violently to get away, you should be supervising a pet who wants to get close to a small child and then bites and scratches.

        1. CityMouse*

          Yes, I think why I’m reacting more cautiously here is I’ve been around a LOT of cats and babies and while a toddler getting scratched is normal, a non-mobile baby really isn’t. And I think this is likely to get significantly worse before it gets better. Toddlers can learn to pet nicely and stay away from the cat, but infants can’t and the cat is the one initiating here, negating the “stay away” aspect. It’s not great.

      2. Anthology*

        Yup my husband almost lost an eye from our two cats fighting on top of us in the middle of the night. A claw went partially through his eyelid. I have been obsessively against pets in the bedroom every since.

        1. CityMouse*

          My brother was sleeping on the couch when this happened. She hasn’t harmed anyone since, but she was showing some red flags when my nephew was born so she lived out her life with my sister instead.

          Rehoming doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This cat was miserable in a home with a baby and much happier living with my sister.

    3. Invisible fish*

      I second the claw caps – wonderful little helpers while children learn how to interact with those around them!

      Scratcher is acting like a cat with kittens, and like kittens, the kids will learn. Please don’t rehome him.

      As a note … I had scratchy cats as a child, and my dad would make threats about what he was going to do to the cat both directly to me and within my hearing. To a child, that is terrifying: “I love this animal, but I told you this animal didn’t do exactly as you want, so now you’re going to take away the animal I love?” This is upsetting and stressful to children. It also makes them hesitant to tell you about any sort of issue, not just one that needs a bandaid: “If I mention another issue, will parent’s solution also be something upsetting or stressful?” By the time I entered school, I told my father nothing about problems I was dealing with. (I know that sounds extreme; my father IS an extreme person.).

      1. CityMouse*

        The problem is Scratcher isn’t learning. This is a non mobile baby, he approached her, but then he punished her for very normal baby behavior.

        So while yes, cats scratch when grabbed the thing about this cat that’s unusual is he’s putting himself into these situations. In my experience that’s much less usual, and why I find this cat a bit more dangerous.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Aww, I’m sorry to hear that. I was going to suggest that the children might learn faster than the cat that they shouldn’t interact with this kitty, but he may well be attracted to the warmth/smells of the baby or curious about the toddler. Unfortunately my suggestion was to keep him separate from the baby, maybe gated off in a different room, or kitty lives in the basement or the upstairs (cats don’t need huge spaces, really – I mean, in a shelter they’d be in a tiny box so a good sized room is much preferable – I lived with my cat in a 250 sq foot studio for years and she was happy as a clam) – but honestly maybe that would be more stressful for everyone than finding a nice new home. (But only if you can put the cat in a trusted home yourself, not a shelter, and I’d be leery of an unknown home based on recent bad experience).

          1. Crackerjack*

            Yes, husband’s other proposal (reluctant – he’d far rather get rid of the cat) was that there be one room only that the cat is allowed in in the house. I’m just not sure logistically how this would work. I can’t imagine any gate that would hold him but more, he’d certainly be unhappy to be denied access to his family for strokes and cuddles and hanging out. He loves his family! He loves the kids! He and they just love each other a bit too hard.

            I think I’m going to take him for a claw clipping and ask the nurse if she’s any suggestions. I would really miss my affectionate little botherer if he had to go.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              When firstborn arrived, we had two cats. One kept her distance, one engaged is cuddling so she would imprint on him and want to obey his commands. (He had a glorious week of her opening doors for him before we started flipping all the deadbolts, which she couldn’t reach.)

              Since then at any given time we have had 1-3 cats and 1-2 dogs. I don’t think the cat scratch count on my kids is zero, but I think it’s much more in the realm of “cat was dozing on teen’s lap when loud noise happened, scratched teen while rocket launching itself to safety.” I think Scratcher’s degree of scratching is well outside what I would consider the norm for pets and small children.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Agree, I’ve actually not experienced a cat voluntarily approaching a non-mobile baby and then scratching it. That seems a little off to me. I have never done the kitty-Prozac route, but maybe …?

                1. Crackerjack*

                  Well I wasn’t in the room so obviously don’t know exactly what went down but definitely don’t think it was ‘walk up to baby and scratch it because its prey/a threat’. I think it was ‘ooh, baby, my favourite! walk up and head bump. oh baby has grabbed a handful of my fur. oh hell can’t get away. swipe/cuff!’

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  I think you’re focusing on the cat’s intent, where other people are focusing on the outcome–that the combination of unsupervised cat and infant is the infant being hurt.

            2. carcinization*

              Do the rooms in your house not have doors? My cat has his own room, that he’s closed up in when we are not here/are asleep. Granted, he is an indoor cat who uses a litterbox, and I guess I’m not sure if yours uses a litterbox since you let him outside. I get that your spouse wants the cat to remain in a room always, but perhaps he could be closed up in a a room and then let out for supervised visits? That’s basically what we did when we had more than one cat and were in the process of introducing the new cat, to the cat we’d had before, for example. Do you also not cut your own cats’ nails? My cat’s nails would be really sharp/dangerous if I relied on someone else to do it sporadically!

              1. Crackerjack*

                yes, we could do the one room idea when we’re not around, but not easily when we’re here

                1. Gemstones*

                  Can you at the very least supervise them when the cat is in the room with the baby? You mention not knowing exactly what happened at one point when the cat hurt the baby because you weren’t in the room.

                2. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  I agree with the above comment. At the VERY least, knowing that the cat scratches like this, the baby shouldn’t be left alone where the cat can physically get near her. She had a claw puncture in her forehead. You say it’s not a serious injury and you believe the kids haven’t been traumatized, but a bloody scratch and a puncture are not small things.

        2. Crackerjack*

          I agree, it’s made harder to deal with because it’s not just a question of making sure Scratcher has a safe place to retreat to – he will absolutely come to them. The thing is, he’s not an unfriendly cat – quite the opposite. He loves human attention and will ask for pets all the time but of course then he doesn’t like it when they give not a stroke but a wallop or a headlock.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Some cats love people and they love biting (or scratching) – they don’t see a contradiction there ha. I have noticed it especially in singleton kittens or those separated early from mom, but it can happen to any cat.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I think the actual problem is less about the cat and more about what you and your husband think is an acceptable level of risk for your kiddos and stress for him. Focusing on the cat blurs the fact that you both need to be on the same page about your kids’ safety and, when your risk tolerances differ, how you handle that.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Yes, it’s definitely this. To me, the scratches are worth it for the cat, just like grazes and bumps are worth it for the joy of climbing and running and exploring. Husband doesn’t think it’s worth it, because he doesn’t like the cat so he doesn’t see the upside.

        I think I’ll talk to the vet as well about what the risks actually are I.e. how serious a cat scratch/bite could be

        1. Coconutty*

          You think your children repeatedly getting scratched on the face, which could mean a serious eye injury, is worth it?

        2. D'Euly*

          But…grazes and bumps come because the child *chooses* to climb and run and explore. If someone else was giving your unwilling (and…immobile) child grazes and bumps, that’s a completely different thing.

          1. Talking about cats*

            I have an additional thought to consider, here: how involved are you with training the kids how to interact with cats? Are you doing more than just letting them figure out by trial and (clawful) error? Because we adults can assume kids will “naturally” pick up on certain things while they internalize them entirely differently. Instead of learning “cats will scratch me if I play with them roughly”, they could decide “cats will come up to me and attack me” and develop a fear of cats. Your nonmobile baby can’t think through their actions, or even leave if the cat approaches them – I’d be worried about them developing fearful associations with cats, along with everything else.

            I support letting Scratcher interact with the baby only under direct supervision, and making sure they’re separated otherwise. Think about what would set them up for success, not only with each other but other humans/cats in the future.

      2. Blue wall*

        Agreed. Also I’m not sure that you are hearing your husbands concerns— hearing them without jumping to right away solving them or nullifying them.

    5. sswj*

      I trim my cats’ claws about once a month. Saves inadvertent scratches on me, saves the lower-pecking-order cats from damage too. Not hard to do, just takes some patience.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m opposed to de-clawing, but if the alternative is re-homing, particularly if you don’t have anyone you trust eager to take the cat … I mean, people choose to put animals down every day, I think there’s scenarios where de-clawing could be the lesser evil. That said, it may just cause him to bite more …

        1. Crackerjack*

          I don’t think declawing is even legal here in the UK. I could never do it to him.
          Interested in the claw trimming – I would have thought they could still scratch with shorter claws so I haven’t been particularly on top of it but we have a package at the vet that includes claw trimming on demand so I could definitely up these!

          1. RagingADHD*

            Trimmed nails can still give a little scrape but are much less likely to break the skin.

            It is very similar to clipping your own nails. The only tricky bit is having good light & a good angle to see the quick. Ours will allow it for lickable treats.

          2. Bagpuss*

            Declawing isn’t legal.

            But clipping his claws regularly would help – it’s easier of you’ve got them used to it when they are young, and if he is normally chilled round people you may be able to clip them easily, otherwise you and your husband will need to cooperate – wrap the cast in a towel, one person holds the cat, the other clips the claws, one paw at a time.
            It should help as the claws are blunter as well as shorter.

            I think the other thing to do is to ensure that the ct is not in the room with the children unless you or your partner are also there to supervise.

            It does strike me as unusual – most cats I’ve known have either stayed well away from babies / small children or have recognised them as infants and been much more tolerant. Even out Very Grumpy Cat (grumpiness linked to age) who would scratch if annoyed, would tolerate babies and toddlers and never bit or scratched even when she suffered grabbing . (She appeared to consider them responsible once they were walking unaided, and at that point would scratch if cornered or grabbed, but babies never got more than an unhappy wail and a hasty departure.

        2. SuprisinglyADHD*

          De-clawing is VERY different from clipping the nails. Declawing means cutting off the first knuckle of each toe, and is very painful for the cat. In some cases, even permanently painful. Jackson Galaxy has at least one episode about that.

          Trimming or clipping the nails, means the same as it does for a human; cutting the tips of the nails so they are more blunt/less pointy. It doesn’t prevent all injuries but can drastically reduce accidental blood drawing (the “get away from me” swat from my cats tends to draw blood if they haven’t been trimmed lately). Nail trimming has to be done frequently, some cat’s claws grow more or less quickly. And with practice and patience, it can be done at home by the owner.

        3. GraceC*

          Declawing is illegal in the UK for both owners and vets

          Absolutely off the table as an option for the OP, both for moral and legal reasons

        4. I'm A Little Teapot*

          You don’t need to declaw. You just need to trim the claws. Very different situation.

        5. Yikes Stripes*

          Declawing is evil. It’s like cutting off a finger at the first knuckle and it frequently never fully heals and can cause the declawed cat pain for the rest of their life. It’s *especially* evil for indoor/outdoor or outdoor cats, as it removes their ability to defend themselves if attacked. Also, yes, it does make cats more bitey.

        6. LilPinkSock*

          Declawing is torture. I love our cats, and I would absolutely look to rehome one of them in a situation like CrackerJack’s before even considering ripping apart their paws.

    6. Kw10*

      One thing I didn’t see mentioned: do you regularly trim the cat’s nails? This can make a HUGE difference in their ability to do damage when they scratch, especially if they’re not intentionally trying to hurt someone but more trying to get away. Of course, Scratcher might, well, scratch when you try to get at his nails, but there are methods to try to get cats used to it. My suggestion is to wait until the cat is asleep or at least in a calm, cuddly mood, and to not expect to get more than a few nails at a time before he runs away.

    7. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Is there some reason you haven’t clipped the cat’s claws? It’s not really hard although the kitty may have to get used to it.

      For the record, I grew with many pets of all kinds, and have been scratched, bitten and stepped on no small number of times. My mother, an ER nurse who was raised on a farm took it all in stride. Dad needs to chill. The kids will survive the cats.

    8. MissCoco*

      I (just my personal opinion) would definitely be treating this cat as a bigger risk than you are. Never leaving the baby or toddler unsupervised around him, not letting him closely approach them, etc. For me the scratching of the infant would have been a huge alarm bell.

      Though a cat probably can’t “take an eye out” as you say, eyes are delicate and prone to infection, and a cat scratch to the eyelid or especially to any part of the eye could be very serious with a risk of permanent effects. Cat claws are very sharp and covered in things you wouldn’t want in your eye or on your face. Cat scratch disease is quite rare, but even a scratch to other parts of the body can have effects on the eyes and vision.

      As someone else pointed out, this discussion isn’t only about the cat, it’s about the levels of risk you and your husband are willing to expose your children to. I hope you can find a solution.

      1. Willis*

        No kidding. I have an adult friend that was hospitalized because of an infection from a cat scratch. Even if cats don’t bite like dogs, they can certainly do damage, especially to a baby or toddler. I sure as hell wouldn’t be waiting for the cat to do something worse to the kids eye, face, etc. before doing anything about it.

      2. Clisby*

        Agree. I love cats, and my children did, too. Even without knowing how the cat might react to a baby/toddler, I’d know better than to leave a cat alone with a child that young. Just like I’d never consider leaving a dog alone with a child that young. (Obviously, a cat does not pose the same level of potential danger as a dog, but it’s more than I’d be willing to risk.)

    9. raised country*

      I’m very much a cat person and don’t have children, but I do want to offer an alternative POV for the “it’s irresponsible to rehome a cat/dog if it’s inconvenient.”

      This is a really common perspective, but I think it does a disservice to the animal, who may be happier and longer-lived somewhere else. Think of pets that owners have to rehome when there is a change in their finances, health, or overall living situation –– passing the pet on to another owner can ensure they’re looked after, when the former owners are no longer able to do so. Rehoming your cat isn’t “inconvenient,” it’s giving Scratcher a chance to find a place where he can be cared for, without people (your husband, maybe children) who aren’t upset or stressed by his presence.

      Y’all might decide to keep the cat after all, but rehoming isn’t necessarily a terrible thing to do.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of our dogs was rehomed to us when his owner was ill and had no energy for anything beyond work. The dog got to come to a home with cats (fascinating! not sheep!), a younger dog (I don’t know why we’re sitting, but older dog is doing it so I will do it but also look confused), a person who worked from home and so could be followed around all the time (me), and some kids and their friends (10 year olds! possibly like sheep!).

        It was good for everybody.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          When I was a kid we had to rehome my childhood cat once we realized that my mom and I were both allergic. She went to live with my grandma, and really blossomed in a home with just one calm adult who really liked cats, no dogs, and no kids rather than with my family. She went from regularly hiding under things and avoiding people to being a lap cat. (This process apparently involved regular application of bacon as a bribe to start with, but she eventually decided she liked laps even without the bacon.) She was just a happier cat in a different home.

      2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Yes, I wanted to say something like this too. Finding a new home for a pet is not the same as dumping it at a shelter or euthanizing it. Maybe she can find someone to take the cat for a while and then get it back when the kids are older and know better how to interact with it.

        1. CityMouse*

          My friend adopted an older cat who had to be given up with his owner got cancer and he posed a health risk (he scratched occasionally). I’ve been a second owner for a cat myself, though I never knew why he was given up. It absolutely can work out.

    10. Double A*

      First off, I have the same mentality as you. But I also have empathy for your husband because I am not a dog person and I get pretty tense around what dog lovers consider normal behavior but I consider potentially dangerous (also just really annoying — I don’t want a dog jumping on me or my kids, so a scratch I or they get from that is more offensive to me than one from a cat who I or the kids were choosing to engage).

      I would commit to keeping Scratcher’s claws WELL trimmed and blunt as possible. Like do it once a week and check them frequently.

      We have the world’s most tolerant cat but he will reasonably swipe when pushed to a limit. Cats tend to keep their claws retracted when playing or warning, so the times the cat actually scratches are when his claws are longer and he can’t really help snagging the kid.

      In reading some more of you comments, I do think you need to discourage Scratcher from interacting with the baby. Most cats will simply remove themselves from a situation they don’t want to be in. the fact that the cat is seeking out the baby and then scratching… I would be less tolerant of that and would assertively work to teach Scratcher not to approach the baby.

      1. Double A*

        In further reading your comments, it sounds like you don’t clip his nails? That is very low-hanging fruit to improve this situation so I will reiterate that as the first thing you should do.

        1. carcinization*

          Absolutely agreed on this. I’ve never even had to “burrito” (towel-wrap) any of the 3 cats I’ve owned as an adult in order to do this, even though 2 of them disliked nail trims (my current cat is wonderfully stoic about it). I just hold them like a baby and get the task done as quickly as I can, then they get a treat.

        2. Crackerjack*

          Thank you, I will! and thank you for your perspective as a non dog lover – I hadn’t considered that but yes I would feel exactly the same! poor husband. I will try harder.

    11. Anon, I’m gonna get flamed*

      Keep the baby and the scratchy cat away from each other. You can’t blame the cat, but that doesn’t mean you should allow the behavior. And since you can’t train the cat not to scratch, you have to keep them separated.

      Allowing a situation where a cat will scratch a baby is, I’m sorry, poor parenting. If I were your husband I’d be livid. Put the baby first.

      1. CorsicaPink*

        I honestly can’t believe that there are reactions other than this. Really upsetting to read

      2. tangerineRose*

        “Keep the baby and the scratchy cat away from each other. ” This!

        When young kids and animals are together, they need to be closely supervised. The rest of the time, they shouldn’t be together, at least not until the kid is mature enough to know how to treat animals.

    12. No*

      Your husband is right. Normally I wouldn’t say that so unequivocally in response to a post like this, but the way that you’re discussing this whole incident is disturbingly cavalier considering the injuries your nonmobile(!) baby suffered. I’m not sure what is occluding your judgement here, but this is a much bigger deal than you seem to be grasping. Keep the cat away from your baby.

    13. Crackerjack*

      For those wondering why it hadn’t occurred to me to trim the cats claws regularly and am I just an idiot, I wondered the same – but I’ve just been googling how to do it and all the UK websites so far suggest its unnecessary if the cat is active and healthy, particularly an outdoor cat. Whereas the American sites recommend it every 2-3 weeks as a default. Weird!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Indoor only cats are more common in the US, so there is more incentive to stop them destroying furniture and their claws get less natural wear from rough outdoor surfaces.

        Since yours is already a partially outdoor cat, an alternative to keeping it in a certain room would be to keep it outside until the baby is old enough to get her face away from it or defend herself in some way.

        TBH, your cat’s behavior of seeking out affection and then swiping sounds like the rescued ferals and semiferals I have dealt with, rather than a cat who was socialized to humans early on. I would never leave our semiferal alone with little kids or babies, and if anyone were asking about adopting a semiferal with little kids, I’d advise against it.

        Some things just don’t mix, and I don’t think it’s irrational or a sign of “overwhelm” that your husband wants to prioritize your entirely helpless human children’s comfort and safety over your cat’s routine.

      2. The Charioteer*

        Yes, but obviously this isn’t about the standard recommendations. The cat is scratching your baby. That’s way more than “weird!” and it’s worrying you don’t seem to think so.

      3. Nancy*

        The cat is injuring your kids. At the very least you should be trimming the claws to prevent further injury to the kids. Keep the cat away from the kids unless supervised by an adult.

        Although honestly, I love cats but if one was harming my child I’d be contacting shelters for advice on how to rehome the cat. Doing this is not irresponsible.

        1. connie*

          yeah. Cats don’t necessarily feel the same way about every person in a family. We have a cat whose person is my husband. She likes me well enough but can get swiped (not trying to land, just to warn) if I am too insistent on petting her. I am a middle-aged woman who knows how to watch her signals for when to leave her alone—I am usually coming to her to pet her. She doesn’t come to me. I am mobile and move away if she seems to be getting annoyed. She’s a cat. It’s my job as the human to behave responsibly toward her.

          She may not feel as positively toward the new baby as you think, or at least right now. The baby’s needs come first.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        I think those recommendations are about the cat not having overgrown and uncomfortable claws, rather than who or what the cat might scratch. An outdoor cat’s nails won’t cause them discomfort because they are being used and filed down naturally. We have a cat who can, and does do a bit of damage with his long, sharp claws even though I see him filing and scratching away on trees all the time. He’s also quite the affectionate scratcher and biter. He retracts his claws so it’s just a small swipe or attempt to pin us close to him, and gives love bite nibbles on our lower legs. It’s nothing we can’t handle, but he’d be a real issue if he was doing it with kids, and especially babies. He could definitely afford to have blunter nails and still function so it’s worth considering with yours, I would say.

      5. Observer*

        but I’ve just been googling how to do it and all the UK websites so far suggest its unnecessary if the cat is active and healthy, particularly an outdoor cat.

        Yes, but that’s not really relevant to the situation where you *know* that the cat is actually scratching hard / deep enough that skin is breaking. Obviously your cats claws are longer / sharper than is optimal for your situation.

        1. Crackerjack*

          Oh yes, I agree- I was more explaining why it had never been a part of regular cat care for any of the many cats I’ve owned, when it seems so obvious to American commenter here. I think as Ellis Bell says, our recommendations are for keeping the cat comfortable, but no reason at all for me not to try to keep them trimmed much more often.

      6. LilPinkSock*

        Standard recommendations are for standard situations, not one in which a baby has puncture wounds in her face.

    14. Morning reader*

      Would it be possible to rehome this cat short term? A couple of years until your youngest is old enough to interact safely with him? As an older adult, I’d be willing to take in another cat without a long term commitment, especially for a younger friend or relative with small kids. (I might be too old to commit to a cat lifetime, unless the cat is also old.) maybe you know somebody who would like a short term cat, or at least be willing to take him in as a favor to your family.

    15. Protect your child*

      “Well I wasn’t in the room so obviously don’t know exactly what went down but definitely don’t think it was ‘walk up to baby and scratch it because its prey/a threat’. I think it was ‘ooh, baby, my favourite! walk up and head bump. oh baby has grabbed a handful of my fur. oh hell can’t get away. swipe/cuff!’”

      It’s a little alarming that you admit your cat sometimes attack you without provocation, and then not only do you leave your 5-month-old unattended with your cat, you assume it must be her fault that she got hurt!

      Please take a step back and consider what your husband is saying — not so you can rebut him, but so you can truly understand why he’s afraid of your children getting hurt.

    16. Cocoapuffs*

      I volunteered for years at a local shelter caring for cats and kittens weekly. We were instructed to report any and all scratches and bites immediately. They took safety very seriously. Though I had dogs and hamsters and whatnot growing up and not cats, I know from working at the shelter that things do happen – I was swatted at and booped plenty during feeding time or while cleaning litter boxes. I can see how an experienced cat parent would just be so used to the antics that they don’t think twice about it anymore. As a mom of littles though, I find this situation really troubling. This really feels like a big red flag to me – “He has sometimes clawed at/bitten me when I’m just stroking him.” If you, as a savvy, adult cat parent have experienced this outcome with this cat, I super worry for your littles. There is no teaching tiny tots how to successfully avoid danger if your cat is prone to unpredictable attacks, especially given that the cat loves to approach them to cuddle. While the cat may seem affectionate, it sounds like it has a history of aggressive reactions. Even with trimming of claws, if your cat has bitten you, it’s entirely possible your children will suffer the same fate. You’ve said yourself that you can’t easily separate them. And little kids aren’t going to know how to handle an emergency/attack properly in the heat of the moment. A good friend’s brother rehomed a cat who was acting bananapants, and in the new home, she was so much happier and more relaxed and loving. It’s not about giving up on a commitment to the animal. It’s about keeping your commitment to your children to keep them safe from a known source of harm. A puncture wound on an infant – let alone on the face and let alone the scratch drawing blood – is alarming. Puncture wounds of any kind are much riskier than scratches. And given the other facts you have shared, not something I would say is a freak accident. Your husband’s fears are well founded given past cat behavior, and, in my opinion, he is being a good, concerned dad. The cat is a known risk, blunt/trimmed nails or no. I fear changing the living conditions and isolating the cat will risk boosting the threat level because of the stress he’ll experience. Unfair to the cat, in my opinion, and frankly, super sad for him. If you have someone you know who will take Scratcher in and provide a loving home even if it’s until your kiddos are older, I feel that’s the right way to go here. The level of vigilance it would take to keep things safe while keeping the cat is just not practical with three little kids in my experience. Real life with littles just isn’t conducive to running constant interference like that. It’s such a heartbreaking situation.

  37. CityMouse*

    Any way to keep my bird feeders from becoming a cat trap?

    My new nextdoor neighbor has an outdoor cat and she’s taken to hiding in the bushes in my house right out where I put my bird feeders. I have also seen her in my back yard. The feeders are up in high poles but particularly the mourning doves hang out on the ground below eating the fallen seeds.

    She’s been a lot more around my house since my own (indoor) cat passed away.

    Should I just give up my bird feeders? Anything I can do to keep it from becoming a death trap for the birds?

    For what it’s worth I LIKE cats, it’s not her fault, so please no suggestions that could harm her.

    1. Harriet J.*

      Not sure if this will work, but we have used a water pistol to “train” our new neighbor’s very obnoxious cat to stay out of our yard and away from the elderly abandoned cat who has taken refuge there. To be honest, we had to go to a mix of water & vinegar since he was unfazed by just water. He is visiting less often and when he does show up, all we need to do is start opening the door and he scampers away.

      1. UKDancer*

        Water pistol worked for the feline invader coming onto my patio without being damaging. It only took a few goes before the cat got the message.

        I also have sonic devices which emit a noise that cats don’t like but people can’t usually hear. I think those aren’t good if you have children because children can hear them. When my handyman came around with his apprentice I had to switch them off because the prentice could hear them.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Any chance you can move the feeder to a less cat-friendly location? If it can be more out in the open on a pole, the cat may have less opportunity to hide and pounce. A friend had some success with motion-activated sprinklers I think. People have used those high-pitched noise devices but I can’t stand those (am I the only one other than deer who can hear them??)

      1. UKDancer*

        No, I had a handyman come around to do some jobs and his apprentice could hear the sound so I had to switch them off until he’d gone. I can’t hear them and find them very useful but obviously it doesn’t work if someone other than the animals can hear them.

    3. SpellingBee*

      One suggestion I’ve seen is to put a small garden fence around the clear area where the birds land, so that the cat has to jump over it to get to them. Just the little wire kind that you’d use to edge a flowerbed – it isn’t meant to keep the cat out, but to make her show herself more when she tries to pounce, so that the birds will be startled and fly away. I haven’t personally tried it but it might be worth a go!

    4. Don'tbeadork*

      Plant a border of citronella or lemon thyme around the area where the bird feeders are? Unless she’s a weirdo like one of mine was, the scent should help repel her.

    5. MissCoco*

      I believe the recommendation is at least 10-12 feet from any cover/hiding spots for the cat, but if there is food on the ground, birds will still be at risk.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know if this would help in your case, but for smallish areas where you don’t anticipate foot-traffic, you could set down some “scat mats” – plastic grids with raised points, meant to make it uncomfortable for a cat to stalk/crouch on. I suspect that to be effective the mats would have to be placed in a wide band around your feeders, so the cat couldn’t just jump over them, but they’re relatively cheap and it *might* help.

    7. Anthology*

      Bells or similar noise-makers on the bushes may help somewhat. Make it impossible for the cat to be sneaky.

      Convincing the owner to put a belled breakaway collar on her would also work, if that’s an option.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m not an expert on different types of birds and how they forage, but maybe you could get a platform feeder for the birds that currently eat off the ground and do more something to intercept seeds falling onto the actual ground?

  38. WellRed*

    Last week or so there was a discussion on how people were liking or nit liking And Just Like That and some comments seemed to really HATE it. I’ve started it and am not sure I see the hate? Sure it’s nowhere near as good as the original and ep. 5 was honestly kind of boring, at least to start. If someone can explain the pointless costume party? Of course, with the two strikes happening now, we’re all going to be scraping for entertainment months from now. Have a great day fellow commenters!

    1. Elle*

      Ugh. I think it’s because many of us have a strong connection to the original and they’ve really screwed up Miranda and Charlotte this go around. Plus no Samantha. In general I find there’s too many characters and a lot of the writing bad. The last couple of episodes have been ok for Carrie.

      1. WellRed*

        There’s way too many characters and the original friend group seems never to meet up.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      For me it is the quality of the show overall. The character development is terrible, the dialog is bad, the acting is bad, the circumstances are absurd–I could go on and on. The chemistry between the actors playing Che and Miranda is completely absent and I just can’t get over the storyline of Miranda and Steve.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        I agree wit this. The writing is not good – it’s so simplistic and predictable. There are so many new characters and none well-defined (are they all necessary?).
        My biggest gripe has to be Miranda. Certainly I haven’t always disliked her character/Cynthia Nixon’s acting this much but oof it’s just so bad.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Supposedly the show is getting better, but I’ve been too swamped with other things to check it out lately.

      1. Elle*

        The last two episodes have less going on with more of a focus in Carrie. Her scenes are decent but the rest you can skip. I fast forwarded through the Miranda scenes and didn’t miss anything. Charlotte was ridiculous this past episode. Awful.

    4. Cheshire Cat*

      I loved the original show, and looked forward to AJLT. But I only made it through one episode, it was just so bad. Given the long time between the shows, I’d expected that the main characters would have grown and changed some in between. But they were still just the same as they were 20 years ago. And without Samantha the dynamics between Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte seemed off-kilter. :(

  39. Clodagh*

    Bit niche, but does anyone have any recommendations for contemporary classical artists? I’ve been listening to Sebastian Plano a lot lately, but don’t really know where to look to next.

    1. Arya Parya*

      I like Hildur Gudnadottir. She made some great soundtracks, but also composes her own music

    2. CTT*

      Dustin O’Halloran is a long-time favorite of mine; he’s been doing more movie/tv scores lately, but his two Piano Solo albums are amazing.

      1. mreasy*

        Dustin’s group A Winged Victory For The Sullen also; Bruno Bavota; Hauschka; Max Richter, Sylvain Chaveau, the late Johann Johansson; Eluvium; Bang On A Can (& much of the Canteloupe Music label roster); ACME String Quartet (who often collaborate with many of the contemporary folks mentioned above, but whose members are also composers in their own right).

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      The ever awesome Yo Yo Ma. He should be deemed an American National Treasure.

    4. Clodagh*

      Thanks for all the recommendations everyone. Looks like I have some fun listening ahead of me!

      1. Harriet J*

        We heard the amazing Québécois Jean-Michel Blais at the Montreal Jazz Festival a few weeks ago. He had a huge crowd enthralled.

  40. M&M Mom*

    Looking for a product replacement. I’ve used Elf oil control liquid lotion for a few years, but it seems it has been discontinued. I use it mixed with a little foundation. I’ve tried a few other primers, but I can’t find one like this, which is a light lotion. Thanks for any suggestions!

  41. Elle Woods*

    I’m not seeking medical advice but I am wondering: How do you keep yourself motivated to work on something you can’t see or feel? I’m struggling with some recent changes and I think keeping up my motivation is going to be the hardest thing for me.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with a health issue that requires me to make some lifestyle changes (mostly exercise and diet). It took me a few days to wrap my head around the fact that I had this; I already lead a fairly active lifestyle, eat healthy 80% of the time, and have no family history of this issue.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Is the diagnosis and recommendation based on “numbers,” like bloodwork, or some other medical metric? Is there a way to track the physical results of your efforts? If so, and if your insurance or your personal finances allow, I’d do the follow-up testing more frequently rather than less frequently. For me, having some kind of tracking provides (hopefully positive) reinforcement and helps me feel that my efforts are worthwhile.

      And also, if the “metrics” really are an indication of whether your efforts are working, then if you do your very best and for some reason the metrics don’t change, then you’ll be in a position to decide whether it’s worth continuing on the regimen.

      1. Bluebell*

        Sadly, sometimes success with some metrics is “it’s not getting worse” So Elle might need to frame that as positive as well. But I like Not a Manager’s idea of more testing. You can also ask about what to expect as things progress, and then maybe compare against those symptoms/lab results. My specialist dr recently complimented me on staying on top of certain things and said that it’s probably due to that that I’ve stayed as healthy as I am as long as I have. Even though my health isn’t anywhere near a “normal “ woman my age, I’m grateful I’ve lasted almost 5 years past a somewhat grim prognosis.

    2. WellRed*

      Well… if I’m understanding you correctly, maybe try and think about how much better you’ll (I hope) feel as these changes take shape. It’ll likely take some time to adjust to the diagnosis as well. T1D diagnosed 25 years ago. It took a year for the full reality that this was now my life to really sink in. And don’t try to be perfect.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Risk of early death. That’s what kept me motivated.

      Two years ago, our doc told me I needed to cut my cholesterol. Problem was that my cholesterol numbers hadn’t gone up because a dramatic change in diet but because of menopause and a lack of estrogen. (I guess estrogen helps control cholesterol?)

      I was cranky because I felt like none of this was my fault. And I felt fine.

      But – heart disease risk. (My aunt had a heart attack a few years ago, so it’s in my family.) That’s what kept me motivated. Mr T and I changed our diets dramatically – olive oil replaced bacon grease (sob), red meat consumption down to about a third of what it had been, a lot less dairy (although oat milk was a step I discovered I was not willing to take).

      At our physicals last year, after a year of diet changes, Mr T’s numbers and my numbers had both dropped to the acceptable range. I guess it’s worth it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Honestly? Fear.

      I have a few chronic conditions, but the one I don’t feel is the one that’s most likely to kill me or give me severe brain damage. It also requires the most attention to detail and consistency in my lifestyle to control it.

      When I backslide, I think about the extremely real and fairly common worst case scenarios. That helps me get back on track.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I completely hear you on how it’s easier to do something when you’re feeling the acute consequences of not doing it. I’m going to assume this is a long haul type of issue, and also that it will change up your routines somewhat. So, if I’m right on those two things your goal to create “motivation” should actually be a goal to create habits. You can’t be constantly reaching for motivation long term, it has to become an ingrained habit that you would feel uncomfortable skipping. Since your lifestyle is already one you’re happy with, as opposed to accidentally formed habits, it shouldn’t be too much of a reach and I would probably start by asking yourself how you created those habits you already have. I read a great book recently on the study of habit forming, and the way to develop a desirable habit is the same way as the route to an undesirable one. All habits require a trigger, the ability to easily satisfy the trigger, and a sense of reward. So, for example the habit of eating late at night would be triggered by boredom/hunger, the ability to satisfy it would mean having access to food and the sense of reward could be dopamine/satiation. The habit of brushing your teeth could be triggered by time of day, or the post-shower feeling clean everywhere but your teeth, it’s satisfied by the purchase of toothpaste and toothbrush, the reward is the tingle of peppermint or just the feeling of clean teeth. I developed a habit of first thing in the morning yoga because my trigger is needing to stretch, I know some positions that can scratch the itch effectively and the reward is more comfortable muscles after working out the kinks. This can actually be more work than just promising yourself an unrelated reward for the sake of motivation, so the advice is to only form one habit at a time until it feels secure.

  42. Red Sky*

    Rec for soda makers? We really like our La Croix in the summertime, but I’m trying to be more budget conscious and even the generic store brand has more than doubled in price in the past year. I’ve been looking at reviews for the various soda makers and it’s a bit overwhelming to pick one. If you use a soda maker, what kind do you have and what do you like and dislike about it? What type of flavorings do you use?

    We’re not pop drinkers so will be using it for sparkling water, maybe flavored with juice? Recipe ideas and hacks also welcome!

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have a Soda Stream. We’ve had it for at least ten years – maybe 15? or 20? – and we love it. We used to occasionally make flavored sodas and now we use it for sparkling water only. I add a little Rose’s Lime Juice and a slice of lime if I want something fancy. We can get the canisters at our grocery store so it’s easy to replace them. We’ve had this one so long that I don’t think there were any real competitors when we bought it.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      We’re pretty happy with our soda stream. Word of caution though with fizzing anything other than water: hubs thought we could try making our own sparkling wine from a still white… it exploded everywhere. If it’s going in the bottle, stick to the approved flavour additives!

    3. Sloanicota*

      I will just add that I realized the “can experience” was essential to me (because I was trying to quit a diet coke habit) and I’ve had really good luck finding inexpensive store brand versions at more discount grocery stores, like PriceRite or Lidl in my area. I am sometimes snobby about what products I buy – more with produce – but I believe even fancy canned waters are often just from municipal sources, and what the heck even are “natural flavorings” so I am not too good for PriceRite brand sparkling water.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      We also have a soda stream; it had been gifted us and I was skeptical at first but now I use it several times a day.
      I like mixing the bubbly water with flavored vinegars when I want a little extra something.
      I like: convenient to have it always on hand, cheaper, cuts down on the cans in the house.
      i don’t love: that it’s plastic (though I hear there is now a glass bottle version), that I can’t tell the canister is empty until it is, takes up counter space

      1. Sloanicota*

        You drink sparkling water flavored with vinegar? Wow, I haven’t heard of this. Come to think of it I’m not sure why it would be so different than lemonade but it wouldn’t have occurred to me. Maybe I’ll try it!

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Yes! I found some fruit flavored vinegars while on vacation at one of those olive oil/vinegar stores and have been adding a drizzle of it to my sparkling water- my favorites are peach white vinegar and blackberry ginger vinegar. Fig balsamic is good too.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Try an Asian grocery and look for the sweetened drinking vinegars, which come in all sorts of fruit flavours. They’re typically drunk straight, in small quantities, to aid digestion, but work well as flavourings.

          It isn’t common now, but in the past this was known as a shrub – a drink made from fruit, sugar and vinegar.

          1. Decidedly Me*

            I’m actually starting to see shrubs on more and more menus these days. Also shrub mixtures in stores. They’re making a comeback!

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            Yes! A good friend lived near Saratoga Springs for years and shrubs never went out of fashion there. My husband has started fermenting fruit to make his own shrubs.

    5. Defective Jedi*

      I’ve had a SodaStream for at least five years, and use it to make 2-3 liters of plain sparkling water a day. Highly recommend! I’ve had both the manual and electric models, and prefer the manual one, because it didn’t need to be in a specific spot in the kitchen. The Terra is a great choice, IMO.

      I’ve occasionally used Mio and the “natural” SodaStream flavors in the little clear bottles to flavor it. My only note is to not add even a tiny bit of flavoring before you bubble-ize it. I ended up with bruised fingers and a mess on the ceiling from the bottle forcefully disconnecting the one time I did that.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I make ginger beer/soda and kombucha! They are both bubbly drinks and very easy (and inexpensive) to make. And you control how much sugar there is, which I like.

      For the ginger beer (which is very low alcohol), you need to make your starter – a ginger bug, which is just ginger plus sugar plus water plus time. After that, you just mix ginger, starter, water, and sugar.

      For the kombucha, you will need a scoby, which you can probably find on your local Buy Nothing group, water, sugar, and tea.

      And for both, it’s useful to have the swing-top bottles, which again, I got on Buy Nothing, but the woman who gave them to me saved the lemonade bottles she had gotten from Aldi.

    7. Bluebell*

      We have a soda stream. Often I’ll buy kombucha drinks at the store and then just add 1-2 ounces into 8 ounces of seltzer. This gives me just enough flavor. Sometimes I add lemon or lime juice, and occasionally I’ll make a fruit simple syrup like raspberry or strawberry. We used the flavoring once or twice but weren’t crazy about it.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      We have a SodaStream, which we like enough that we are I think fizzing between two and four bottles of water per day.

      We didn’t like the little bottles of flavoring they sell. We’re drinking the seltzer either plain or mixed with juice. About half-and-half with orange juice, pineapple juice, or apple cider, or adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to a glass of seltzer.

      Part of why we got the Sodastream machine is that it lets me make a bubblier seltzer than seems to be available around here (Boston).

    9. AcademiaNut*

      I like my soda stream so much that I have one at home and one for work. For work, I have the smaller 500ml bottle, so I make a bottle with chilled water from the machine, and drink it in my office.

      For flavouring – I really like using a few dashes of cocktail bitters (the alcohol it adds is negligible). Classic Angostura works well, Pechaud’s gives a slight licoricey flavour, fruit flavours work really well, and I have some tonic and celery bitters that add a refreshing bit of bitterness.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      We have a Soda Stream, which is more my partner’s thing. He uses their branded soda concentrates and we buy others, like from Portland Syrups.

      As much as he likes the Soda Stream, seeing that the Drinkmate fizzes other liquids makes me wish I had bought him that one.

    11. TX_trucker*

      Another vote for Soda Stream. You can buy an adapter on Amazon for the canister that lets you get it refilled at a paintball shop. In my area that is much cheaper than the canister exchange at the grocery store.

    12. Tiny clay insects*

      I am obsessed with my soda stream. I have had it for maybe 4 or 5 years, and I just adore it. Sometimes I make interesting drinks with, like, fresh mint and simple syrup, sometimes I squirt in some lemon juice from a bottle, usually I drink it plain. All options are good.

  43. Meh*

    I have pantry moths and they won’t go away. I cleaned out the space. Threw away so much food, put the “safe” stuff in airtight containers. I have pheromone traps, I kill every live one I see and yet


    Any suggestions or stories of commiseration?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugh I had these once. They can (as you know) live in like, the threads of screw lids. I had really good luck with freezing everything. Just literally everything in the cupboard, popped in the chest freezer. Some of it is still there. The gross thing was that then there are sometimes frozen moths in things when I pull them out, but I suppose that’s the point.

    2. The teapots are on fire*