weekend open thread – July 29-30, 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 Innocents, by Francesca Segal. A modern retelling of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, but set in a tight-knit Jewish community in London.

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

{ 1,055 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. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, and give or request recs. As always, all reading is welcome.

    I’ve been reading the Legendary Farmer series by Elizabeth Oswald. It’s a 5 book series that’s sort of sci-fi and fantasy both. Most of it is set inside a virtual reality fantasy RPG, with the two POV characters being a teen girl from our world and a farmer from the game world. I’ve enjoyed it a lot; it’s been playful and fun, with just enough pathos to give it weight without enough to make it a downer. I finished books 2 and 3 and am now waiting for 4 and 5 to show up from B&N.

    1. Lydia*

      I’m reading the Thursday Murder Club series first book and I just recently heard about a book called Legends and Lattes about an orc who leaves adventuring to open a coffee shop and it sounds very sweet and fun.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I think another book is coming in September or October that’s similar by the same author

      1. English Rose*

        Loved the Thursday Murder Club, eagerly awaiting the fourth in September. Just off to download a sample of Legends and Lattes, thank you!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          To elaborate: The Thursday Murder Club is one of those brilliantly executed stories that is great even if mysteries are not normally your thing (my spouse). Like Only Murders in the Building is terrific fun even if you have zero interest in true crime podcasts (me).

          Legends and Lattes you probably do need to enjoy either fantasy or coffee shops to get into it. For a very mild tone spoiler, it is not about how the only answer to her problems is to pick up her sword and ride off to battle again. It is about baked goods in delightful depth.

    2. NatTheGreat*

      Started reading ‘Perfect Prey’, the second in the ‘Perfect’ police procedural thriller series, and it’s good enough that I’m gonna try reading the rest of the series.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This past week I read “Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem” by Anthony Bozza and it was way better than it has any business being. I picked it up expecting a biography, but that’s not what it is at all. It’s overall less about Eminem himself and more about the world he inhabits and the impacts he has had on it and it has had on him – the sociological and musical history of hip-hop and of Detroit, about identity and the shifting between Marshall Mathers vs Eminem vs Slim Shady, the sociological implications of a white dude in a primarily Black space. It’s fascinating, both almost academic (informally) and at the same time immensely readable.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        That book sounds awesome. I know little about Eminem, but I love the idea of one musician’s art in the context of broader society, including discussions about race.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          There was a little bit about misogyny and homophobia in rap as well, specifically Eminem’s songs, but not a whoooooole lot.

    4. Just a guy no longer in a cube*

      Just finished Vajra Chandrasekara’s “The Saint of Bright Doors” … a little bit fantasy, a little bit science and bureauracracy, a little bit recent Sri Lankan history relevance, and very good.

    5. Teapot Translator*

      Is anyone doing Women in Translation in August? I don’t know how widespread it is; I saw it on Twitter.
      I’ve had a lot of DNF lately or books that I finished, but I didn’t like. I did read Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy. I enjoyed it. I’m waiting for the next one from the library.

    6. word nerd*

      I recently read (and enjoyed) Silas Marner by George Eliot and realized that I should read more Eliot since Middlemarch is my favorite book ever. I didn’t like The Mill on the Floss as much, but I think I should try out something like Daniel Deronda (open to other Eliot suggestions too!).

      I also realized when talking with my husband about favorite books that I think Austen is my favorite author despite Middlemarch being my favorite book. I don’t know if that even makes sense… even though I’m meh about half of Austen’s novels, the other half just sparkle so much for me. I think Austen’s wit and humor and sarcasm just put her over the top for me when thinking about authors I love. Of course, I go through different phases and moods in my reading, so who knows what exactly I’d say next year.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved Middlemarch so much I couldn’t wait to finish it so I could read it again.

      2. Straight Laced Sue*

        I am similar. Middlemarch is my favourite book, and Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors, or my favourite author…
        I liked Silas Marner, but every time I’ve tried another George Eliot I’ve given up fairly quickly. Must try AGAIN

        1. word nerd*

          Haha, I do feel like you have to go in ready to make a commitment when you start one of her bricks.

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

          Samesies! I LOVE *Middlemarch* and liked *Silas Marner*, but man, I did not enjoy *Romola*, and I’ve never been able to get very far in *Daniel Deronda*.

      3. GoryDetails*

        Heh! Another fan of Middlemarch here. Of Eliot’s other works, I found Daniel Deronda and Scenes from a Clerical Life more enjoyable than Silas Marner (though that one suffered from having been “assigned reading” in school when I was really too young to appreciate it properly). I also liked Adam Bede, but I didn’t care for Mill on the Floss at all…

        1. Peonie*

          Adam Bede is so great! Middlemarch is putting my favorite novels ever, but Adam Bede is a close second for me. I was an English major in college and took a George Eliot seminar. Loved that class so much! her essays are also great and provide a lot of context for the subjects she works on, plus her carefully worded and/or chosen epigrams.

    7. Bluebell*

      So I finished the Adventures of Amina Al Sarafi by Shannon Chakraborty this week, and absolutely loved it. It’s not my usual thing, but I loved the voice of the main character, and all of the history. Just finished Killing Me, which is a wild thriller about a woman who is saved from a serial killer, and ends up involved with another woman who is hunting a different serial killer. Pretty tricky, but fun. Loved the Vegas setting. Still haven’t finished Homes Fires, but maybe that will be next.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve been meaning to post about the Adventures of Amina Al Sarafi! It might be one of my absolute favorite books hands down!!! Heartily seconding your assessment :) it is right up my alley so for readers of fantasy it’s also recommended.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        An unexpected additional little bonus of Adventures of Amina Al Sarafi was looking things up. “Hey, this island is a real place! This is a real tree!”

        I loved this story to bits: I am a sucker for “We got the old gang back together to pull one last job” and this was such a unique setting and characters for that tale.

    8. Jackie*

      just finished “lessons in chemistry” this evening. it really captured my attention and so happy i finally got to it on my kindle!

    9. Jay*

      I just more or less finished the latest “SNAFU” novel. It’s an anthology of “military” themed horror from various genera and of various quality. The stories range from excellent to absolute garbage. This last installment seems to be the weakest of the lot, with a strong “old West” theme to it. I get a strong feeling that most of the authors are just not familiar with the genera. They still have a few nice ones, though.

    10. Straight Laced Sue*

      I’m reading Harry Potter. Specifically H P and the Order of the Phoenix. Like a lot of people, I still (mostly) like H P besides being alienated from the author. Sad inner conflict, but I love her world-building. Currently fantasising about Dumbledore offering me a job as a Muggle Studies teacher – DEEP into the details, such as pay, holiday allowance, where teachers sleep, where they socialise, if they HAVE to eat dinner together every evening (ugh!), whether it would be better to live in Hogsmeade and commute, following a text book Vs devising a new curriculum, running a muggle-showcasing movie night on Tuesdays, etc.

      1. allathian*

        I re-read the whole series during my summer vacation this year, but didn’t mention it here because of the JKR controversy. I won’t be contributing financially to JKR anymore, but I still enjoy my old books.

        I even wrote an outline for a fanfic story where the POV character was a witch who with a group of witches and wizards helped the Muggle-born escape persecution by the Death Eaters during the events of the last two books. Maybe I’ll get that story written someday yet…

    11. English Rose*

      Reading a little non-fiction book called Dostadning – The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson. It’s a bit like Marie Kondo for older people. Basically about putting your affairs in order before you die, but much more than that, it’s about living whatever time you have left without dealing with clutter. It’s so affectionately written, and more uplifting than the subject matter might suggest.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Swedish Death Cleaning – I liked that one very much, both for its practical advice and for the author’s tone. Among other amusing bits: she mentions the amusing Swedish concept fulskåp, “cabinet for the ugly”, a place to store items that you find unsightly but that you want on hand so you can bring them out when the family members or friends who gave them to you come to visit – and then she points out that if you do this you’ll just reinforce the givers’ belief that you like the presents and you’ll get more of the same. Hence, no fulskåp for her!

      2. Bluebell*

        I haven’t read Swedish death cleaning yet, but read her follow up about aging and Swedish culture. It’s very cheery bd also has some useful ad.

    12. Kate*

      I just finished The Marriage Act by John Marrs.

      It was good, but too dark for me in the end. I really enjoyed The One (another futurist fiction book of his, although the TV version is awful) but this one got under my skin in a not-good way and I couldn’t wait for it to be over (but finished it because I had to know how it ended)

    13. Atheist Nun*

      I am reading, and very much enjoying, The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World by Max Fisher. His writing is excellent and ties together very well the antecedents and current state of social media. I am both horrified and fascinated by what I am learning about how social media companies operate.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis, in which not believing in alien abduction conspiracy theories is not enough to prevent our heroine being abducted by an alien. Also, believing in alien abductions is not enough to prevent one being abducted, as we head off on a zany and growing roadtrip across the southwest trying to figure out what the alien wants.

      Pros: Sweet, fun, the sort of story where you know no one is going to be killed or maimed and it’s all madcap humor. Also I did a roadtrip in this part of New Mexico and Arizona because I needed to get from point A to point B, and wound up considering driving in a straight line across the beautiful, spare landscape a highlight of that trip. Cons: The heroine is earnest and spunky and tries to do the right thing, and I couldn’t tell you her job, or her interests beyond rescuing her college roommate from ill-thought-out engagements. And there’s a very high level of Stockholm Syndrome that I think was supposed to land as zany hijinks, and for me missed.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “No. Do not do this,” I said to the characters. I’m kind of ignoring the last couple of pages as clearly presenting a terrible idea. In my head canon this is when they finally realized that sometimes you have to say “no” to your awkward friend.

    15. cleo*

      I just read a marvelous and unexpected novella. If found, return to hell by Em X. Liu. About a burned out journeyman magician on call center duty at One Wizard. It starts as a send up of what it’s like working in a grinding bureaucracy that’s supposed to be helping people (but doesn’t) and turns into something much weirder and more hopeful. It’s written in 2nd person and it actually worked for me. But read the sample.

      1. OtterB*

        I bought this, read a little bit, and neither loved nor hated it. You’ve encouraged me to try it again.

      2. SaraK*

        I read this and enjoyed the premise and the glimpses of the world the characters inhabited (novella, so not big enough for world building, but lots of world hinting) but I didn’t buy the central relationship. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Still enjoyable but ultimately I did not love it.

    16. My Brain is Exploding*

      I just finished Hillbilly Elegy! It’s a well-written, enlightening, and disturbing book about harsh Appalachian culture and mores which follow people through their lives and to different locations. Absolutely eye-opening, compassionate, and thoughtful. Quote from the book, ” For many…the first impulse is escape, but people who lurch toward the exit rarely choose the right door.”

    17. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      Clockwork Canada, from the “Exile” series of anthologies by Canadian authors, this one focusing on steampunk. Some really impressive stories in here.

      The Gin & Tonic Gardener by Janice Wells, an amusing collection of the author’s memoirs/essays about gardening and about the various changes in her own life in Newfoundland and in Nova Scotia.

      On audiobook: I’m listening to Hugh Howey’s “Wool” saga (which inspired a Netflix series called “Silo”) about a distant-future post-apocalypse world in which the characters have lived in a massive underground silo for generations. The book switches viewpoints as characters discover some awful truths (and, usually, die not long afterwards) and gradually nudge others to push back against the information-controlling leaders.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, in which four women who were recruited as 20 year olds into a guild of international assassins for good set out on their retirement cruise, and discover their former employer has targeted them for assassination. So they need to figure out who did it and how to get the targets off of themselves.

      There is lots of assassinating.

      I really enjoyed this. Two tropes that resonate with me are “Young woman underestimated because people assume she is decorative and helpless” and “Old woman underestimated because people assume she isn’t worth their attention, doesn’t understand tech, can’t fight off a 30 year old gym rat, etc” and this book had fun with both.

      1. Bluebell*

        I would so love to see this made into a movie, if they can resist casting Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. Why can’t Jamie Lee Curtis take this on as a new project? Or Geena Davis?

      2. cheap eats*

        Deanna Raybourn has a series set in Victorian England that is fabulous, if you liked Killers of a Certain Age. Plenty of the tropes you enjoy will resonate with you in those books too.

        1. Jessica*

          Can you say which series you’re referring to? I see two Victorian ones on her stopyou’rekillingme page, but neither sounds quite like what you describe. Thanks!

    19. Also cute and fluffy!*

      I just finished the audiobook of Man Made Monsters by Andrea Rogers of Cherokee Nation. The book follows an extended Cherokee family from the 1840s to far into the future. There are vampires, zombies, space aliens, and even a ghost cat. The audiobook was terrific, but I see that I should get a look at the paper book because the book has illustrations that incorporate Cherokee syllabary. The illustrator is Jeff Edwards who is also Cherokee.

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      The two books I read this week did cause me to reflect on what does and doesn’t take me out of a story. A mistake in the science I often notice: if it’s central to a plot turn it really knocks the suspension of disbelief; if it’s more atmospheric (that battery should be dead after 20 years) I can shrug it off. But if you say “So here’s an international guild of assassins” I’m like “Pleased to meet you.”

      I’ll ride with all sorts of unlikely human hijinks–international extra-governmental assassin agencies, wills with ridiculous conditions that could never stand up in court, fantasy governance systems that probably wouldn’t work if I gave them a close look, etc–so long as the story is interesting and I’m being carried along and the don’t-squint-at-it thing just establishes the background for what happens next.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Right there with you. I’ll swallow a whale and choke on a gnat. (I’ll also turn off if the audio narrator mispronounces a random word that isn’t just an accent)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m that way too! I’ll accept a ridiculous or impossible premise, but if the details of the story don’t back up the premise I get yanked right back out (like in the movie AI, where there’s “flesh fairs” and dump sites of old robots–if resources are so damn scarce, why is the society not recycling those things???)

    21. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m reading Educated. I guess I’m in a cult rut? I tried to read When The World Didn’t End but there was too much CSA for me. also Educated has domestic violence so I gotta skip over those parts

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          It’s part of an updated and more precise way of speaking about abuse of children. CSA is childhood sexual abuse, CSEM/CSAM are child sexual exploitation material and child sexual abuse material and are used instead of “child pornography”

    22. J.B.*

      I’m starting Three Twins at the Crater Lake and listening to the audiobook of How to Train Your Dragon, both recommended here. I really like David Tennant’s reading and the Crater lake book though early has a great premise.

    23. Donkey Hotey*

      Just finished the fourth Murderbot novella. Love the humor and their growth.

      Currently listening to the audio book of Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch about how the Internet is changing how we write and speak. Fascinating and it’s hilarious to hear her attempt to give voice to different methods of online communication.

    24. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I recently read Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. I don’t generally read crime or mystery, but this was a delight. I loved the characters, especially Vera, and the relationships that developed between a disparate group of people who, on the surface, appeared to have little in common. The Big Reveal was a bit of a letdown but it was overall a satisfying read.

    25. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading Betty Smith: currently Joy in the Morning, then Maggie-Now and Tomorrow Will Be Better. They definitely have “of their time” attitudes towards a lot of things like race, but are surprisingly forward thinking in terms of sex (guess what? Healthy young people tend to want to bang! And enjoy it!) and birth control.

      Also reading Whites, by Norman Rush, a collection of short stories about white people in Botswana. It’s very–eighties? Not bad at all, but just kind of unusual. Instruments of Seduction is a very odd but compelling story about a woman who considers herself a seducer. “Not a seductress […] a seducer was a professional.” One of those books where you can’t honestly say you like it per se, but definitely gets under your skin and you keep thinking about it.

      1. OtterB*

        I remember reading Joy in the Morning from my grandmother’s bookshelf a good many years ago and liking it. I suspect some of it was over my head at the time. I have clearer memories of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    26. OtterB*

      I just reread The Doctrine of Labyrinths series by Sarah Monette / Katherine Addison. She just rereleased them under the Addison pen name. I’d read them when they first came out and liked them. They are NOT the kind books that The Goblin Emperor is. The two main characters are (mild spoiler, they find this out late in the first book) half-brothers but are very different. One is a wizard who has been badly abused by his mentor, and the other is a cat burglar with deep roots in the city’s underworld. They earn a HEA/HFN ending by the end of book 4 but there’s a lot of angst along the way.

      I’ve also been reading Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute. It’s in the 50’s some time. An very low-key English engineer heads for the South Pacific where his sister died in a shipwreck, and along the way encounters a number of people who know him from the articles he writes for a magazine on building miniature models. It’s a book about good people doing good things.

      Not sure what’s next. I have a LOT of things I’ve bought but haven’t read yet.

    27. Filosofickle*

      No winners lately! The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner, a beach read, was okay but too soap-y for me. Users by Colin Winnette was weird and went nowhere. I bailed on The Maid, which has a (coded) autistic hotel maid at the center of a murder investigation — I knew the protagonist would eventually come out the other side in positive terms but the her naivete was just too painful to read. (I am also on the spectrum.)

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

      Just finished Agatha Christie’s *The Labors of Hercules*, a bunch of Poirot short stories. Good light reading, but content warning for some racist language.

    29. ICodeForFood*

      I just finished Ben Mezrich’es “Bringing Down the House,” about the MIT students (and dropouts) who worked together as a card counting team, and won a lot of money playing blackjack various casinoes before being banned. It was the basis for the movie “21.” It’s supposed to be non-fiction, but from what I read online after I finished it, some characters were composites, and some of the real people involved dispute some of the incidents in the book. I ploughed through it really quickly, and though I’m not a gambler (or a mathematician), I really enjoyed it.

    30. Elizabeth West*

      I was reading Laboratories of Autocracy by David Pepper, but it’s best in small doses (so I don’t rip my hair out). I’m going back and forth between that and a book called Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity, by Greg Jenner. It’s a quite funny and interesting look at the phenomenon of fame in history. What we call going viral is NOT a new phenomenon, y’all!

    31. PassThePeasPlease*

      Just finished “The Last Chance Library” by Freya Sampson and really liked it! It falls perfectly into my favorite genre, an ensemble cast of misfits/different personalities have to band together on a (relatively) low stakes issue and just the right amount of cute/wholesome romance. Bonus that it is set in an English country village! Would also recommend “Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting” by Clare Pooley in the same genre.

      1. noncommittal pseudonym*

        You might want to try the Aunt Dimity series – Aunt Dimity’s Death is the first one. They fall in the same space.

    32. Don'tbeadork*

      Still rereading Phoebe Atwood Taylor’s Asey Mayo series. Written in the 30s to the 50s, there does need to be a warning about the racist language and stereotyping, but the stories themselves are still engaging.

    33. DreamingOfWinter*

      I just finished The Witch King by Martha Wells. I hope she writes more in this setting! It’s richly imagined and she shows us just enough for the story to make sense, but also leave the reader wondering. As with her other books there’s a strong element of found/chosen family, as well as some straight-up adventure (magical floods! ghost ships!).

      I’m currently reading The Golden Spoon which is a cozy mystery made up of Great British Bake-Off fanfiction, for lack of a better description. Some of the characters are really grating and I’m torn between moving on to something meatier (I’ve got the Doctrine of Labyrinths series queued for a reread too) or sticking it out to see what happens. So, much like the show ;)

    34. carcinization*

      I guess my husband and I started reading each other The Wind in the Willows today. We got it for Christmas but this is the first time we had the chance to look at it. I’m wondering if I read it as a child (like more than 30 years ago), because some of it is vaguely familiar.

  3. Elle*

    What we Do in the Shadows fans: there’s an amazing example of an awful meeting in this week’s episode. The tech “issues” felt very familiar. It was hilarious.

    1. NandorILoveYou*

      Omg I just watched this and honestly I think it’s one of the best shows ever. And I loved the cast of the supreme council of energy vampires!

      1. Elle*

        Evie seems more powerful than the other vampires. She can reduce a room to mush very quickly.

      2. TPS reporter*

        Martha Kelly was the chairwoman was genius. I love a good Colin centric episode! it’s so cringe and so reflective of office dynamics.

  4. Teapot Translator*

    Thanks everyone who answered my question about spending last week. For the moment, I’ve taken two steps: updated my monthly budget with 2023 numbers (in theory, I’m not in the red, yeah!) and trying to limit my spending on food by having a set budget (mix of card and cash, once cash is gone, no more food/treats!).

    I have a question about how you handle unexpected expenses. My budget has all the line items for recurrent and predictable expenses. I had to have my car repaired and it was rather expensive, but I don’t spend this much money every year on the car. So, should I add a monthly amount to my budget for maintenance and repair?

    1. Jackalope*

      I have two things that I do. First of all, I have some accounts for specific things (I know that not all banks and credit unions will do this, but I find it helpful. Adjust as needed). For example, I have a car account and a house account; if something big comes up in either category then I use that money to cover it. That way something like a broken furnace or a fender bender is less of a Big Deal.

      Second, I also have an account for what I call “short-term savings”. That can be anything from an unexpected bill to a sudden fee to gardening expenses, whatever. At the end of the year I use whatever money is saved up there (or part of it, if it’s a large amount) on Christmas presents.

      I will emphasize that you don’t have to have multiple accounts. That’s what works for me but it might not for you. If you have a way to have your bank just take the money after your account each month or pay period, however, then that can be useful since it’s much easier that way. I have the money transferred the day after my pay check comes and try not to look at the amount in my account until after it’s already come out so I’m just working with the post-withdrawal amount.

      Also, I recommend looking back on your expenses and seeing if you can get an average of how much you were spending each month on unexpected stuff. Back in the day when I had my first post-college job and I was trying to figure this out, I realized that every month I tended to have $100 of unexpected expenses; something I didn’t know I’d have to pay for at the beginning of the month. I put a line item in my budget for $100 unexpected stuff, and that way I was prepared.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do the same thing – I have probably 8 savings accounts and I automate transfers the day after payday. I have accounts for vet expenses, car expenses, house expenses, my mortgage, general vacations, specifically my NEXT vacation, my next term’s tuition, Christmas shopping, a couple of general savings accounts. One account where I added up everything I have that has an annual fee, added a cushion, divided it by 26, and transfer that every payday, so that when an annual fee hits (my Costco membership, car registration, my Microsoft 365 subscription, the every two years membership dues for my professional association, etc) the money is already set aside for it.

      2. Squidhead*

        Every place I’ve worked that had direct deposit allowed me to deposit into more than one account, so I do the same thing but skip the “move money the day after payday” step. I deposit fixed amounts into 1) a checking account (the one we pay for big things out of, like the annual car/house insurance, and have a few specific automated payments; I calculated the direct deposit to accommodate all that plus a cushion) 2) a money-market account at an online bank that pays interest but limits transactions to 6 per month (this is our savings; it takes up to a week for them to EFT us money when we withdraw it, but the transaction limit has never been a problem) 3) the balance of my check goes into a checking account that we pay all our normal bills from. We don’t carry much cash and put everything on cards that we pay off in full every month, so I pay about 6 actual bills each month (2 credit cards, 2 store cards, 2 utilities) plus random things like co-pays occasionally. I’m hourly and do variable OT, so I do have to check the amount deposit into that third account each payday, but that would be true even if I deposited it all into one account.

    2. Rick Tq*

      You handle emergency expenses by having an emergency fund that you contribute to every month, so yes, add that line item to your budget and put the money in savings.

      1. cabbagepants*

        Yes to this. I have different emergency funds for different things (spouse and I had a tough conversation about how much we were able to spend on palliative care for a very elderly pet and we wanted to keep money for that separate from money for things like car or home repairs). I put in $x/month and then when/if the fund reaches $y, I stop contributing and take that $x/month for something flexible, like travel, additional savings, whatever.

    3. NatTheGreat*

      Oooh, I wish I had seen your post last week as I am a money coach!

      For myself, I have the following accounts, and I pay different things out of different ones:

      1. Main account: All income comes into it, all fixed expenses and food paid out of it.
      2. ‘Emergency fund’: Self-explanatory. I transfer $100 every two weeks into it, and buy term deposits with every $1k over $2k. This way there’s money for vet bills and other smaller emergencies without me having to cash my TDs.
      3. ‘Long-term savings’: For big-ticket items, like renos, dental bills, etc.. Same rules as 2, above.
      4. ‘Short-term savings’: For unexpected non-emergency expenses, like gifts, clothes, small home expenditures. I pay $80 every two weeks into it.
      5. ‘Occasional expenses’: Things I need to save for but that are known, and that are less-frequent than monthly – pet food, hair appointments, supplements, health expenses not covered by extended medical. I pay $138 into it every two weeks.
      6. ‘Slush fund’: pocket money. Restaurants, movies, etc. I pay $150 into it every two weeks.

      1. NatTheGreat*

        For 1. I should have said, all groceries, hygiene & cleaning supplies, etc., as ‘food’ is not clear.

      2. Jackalope*

        What’s a term deposit? Is that like a CD? I looked into those for awhile at one point, but the return on the money wasn’t enough to make it worth losing access to my money for as long as I had to so I never tried it. Is there a way to make it worth it?

        1. NatTheGreat*

          I’m in Canada, so we’re probably talking about the same thing with different names. It’s a short-term guaranteed loan to the government through your bank. In Canada they’re also called GICs. I use them to earn higher interest than a bank account for money that I want to keep fairly liquid. The term is shorter the larger the deposit. In Canada they’re also shelterable. For me it’s worth it because if I have access to money I tend to spend it. So as I accumulate an extra grand that I might have earmarked but am not ready to spend, I bung it into a GIC just to take my mind off it. I will also amalgamate smaller ones into larger ones that have terms as short as 30 days.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Supposedly, the way to make it worth it is that once you have enough money in savings that you’re very unlikely to need all of it at once, you slowly make a “CD ladder” where you have a CD coming due each month by opening a CD with 1/12 of your intended savings each month. If you need the money when it matures a year later, then you have it, and if you don’t you put that money into another CD.

          I have always meant to do this so that I’d basically have a year’s worth of monthly “paychecks” coming from CDs maturing if I ever lost my job, but I keep thinking I need my money more liquid in case something goes wrong with my house so I haven’t actually done so.

        3. fposte*

          The idea is that they’re guaranteed not to lose money and they should bring in a little more money than a savings account. CD interest rates go up and down. Right now they’re very high, but so are savings accounts rates.

        4. But what to call me?*

          I’ve found pretty comparable interest rates on high-yield savings accounts as on CDs lately, and the money is much easier to access.

          I was skeptical about them at first, in the sense of too good to be true, probably a scam, or at least there must be some kind of trick to them where only people who really know what they’re doing/get lucky can make money while everyone else loses out, but they seem to be legit. (Someone please tell me if I’m wrong about this.) As far as I can tell, they really are just regular savings accounts at FDIC-insured banks (at least in the US) that offer higher interest rates than many traditional banks, presumably to attract new customers. They seem to be a good place to keep money that you don’t plan to mess with much (it might not be at your regular bank, so might be slightly harder to access) but still want to be able to access if you need it.

          It’s possible that the banks that offer them are riskier than traditional banks, so I wouldn’t ever put more money in one than the FDIC will insure, but I’m *very* far away from needing to worry about that. I do still keep as much money as I regularly need to access plus a little more at my traditional bank, both for convenience and just in case, but the difference in interest between the two is ridiculous.

    4. Aphrodite*

      I keep four basic liquid savings accounts (entirely apart and separate from longer term and retirement savings): Savings Fund, Emergency Fund, Home Fund, and Miscellaneous Fund. Plus, I have an oversized plastic jar (“Coin Jar”)at home I keep filled with cash, about $50 in coins, and about $450-$500 in bills, mostly ones and fives. These are intended to cover any type of emergencies from cat care to appliance replacement to even cover a dangerously low gas gauge in the car because I haven’t gotten to the bank to withdraw from my checking account.

      Every month on payday I add a minimum of $100 to my four accounts and, if necessary and possible, get the coin jar back up to where I want it. I have mentally decided I want to have a minimum of $25,000 in each liquid account and keep the coin jar at the level it is. I am thinking about adding small bills adding up to about $25-$30 in the car just in case . . .

      Ever since Covid, which I now view with almost gratitude because it changed many habits with me, I have stopped almost all unnecessary shopping and never go to restaurants any more. (The price of food at restaurants is shocking to me; a friend and I now get these special sandwiches and go to one of our many lovely parks to sit and chat and walk and I actually love these outings more than going into a restaurant. So habits have changed, and one of the results is having more money to “spend” on savings. I am getting more pleasure from this spending as I did from the more traditional kind. I really do love the change and without Covid I don’t know if I would have ever known it. For me, it’s one of those forced changes that didn’t reveal its full blessing at first but has unfurled it slowly over time.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Keeping a certain amount of cash on hand is very, very good idea; I have about a hundred in small bills tucked into my wallet in an inaccessible compartment for things like a sudden emergency cab ride or similar (and I couldn’t use a card for some reason) and some cash tucked away at home for similar emergencies. In today’s climate change world, access to electronic banking and mobile phones shouldn’t be taken for granted.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          I also like to keep on hand a small amount of cash ($20?) in small bills to give as tips to food delivery workers and car service drivers so that they can receive some remuneration for themselves, because I am skeptical if “tips” paid through online web sites actually reach the human beings who do the work.

        2. Aphrodite*

          You are absolutely correct about not taking electronic banking for granted. If one lives in a HCOL area that is also prone to natural disaster–earthquakes for me in a town that is likely to be on its own for at least a week should a major earthquake happen–I want to always be as prepared as I can. That means having cash on hand, at least half a tank of gas in the car at all times, plenty of water and canned food, cat food and litter and, let’s face it, toilet paper and of course other supplies. But the key, I believe, is cash. I still remember when a relatively smaller one happened and it affected all electricity. The grocery stores stayed closed and at the door a manager and a couple of workers would get you some things–limited by their choice–if and only if you had the proper amount of cash and you were willing to pay more if you didn’t have the exact change because they were not giving change. I learned that lesson well; lots of change and small bills at all times.

    5. Alex*

      For stuff that I know is going to come up but not every month (like regular car maintenance or small repair), I estimate how much I would need to spend in a year, and then divide that by 12, and add that line to my monthly budget.

      For bigger stuff that is totally unexpected, well, that is what savings accounts are for. If I have to unexpectedly take a large amount out of my savings, for the next few months I will see where I can trim the budget so I can save a bit more to make it up. For example, every month I put an amount towards “vacations” even though I don’t take a vacation every month, but I might end up putting that towards savings after a big unexpected event.

    6. Anon Poster*

      Just chiming in that I do something similar to many of the previous commenter, but I only have 1 savings account. I transfer over a specific amount when I get paid each month, and then I allocate the money to different savings categories in my budget, based on my goals and needs. So if I hypothetically add $1,000 to savings each month, in my budget line items I would allocate 40% of that towards a house down payment, 15% towards car maintenance/future new car down payment, 15% towards medical stuff my insurance doesn’t cover, 15% to a vacation fund, and 15% towards “home stuff” because I’m looking at replacing some furniture soon. I reevaluate the categories/percentages as my goals change and needs arise. I already have a decently solid emergency savings category, so I mostly leave that alone and only add to it every once in a while. I’m thinking of adding an “electronics” category soon, because I’m sure I’ll want to upgrade my laptop in the next two-ish years, so I’ll need to do some re-prioritizing there.

      My savings account is purely for long-term goals. For my regular checking account, I have line items in my budget for unexpected expenses and things like Christmas gifts, taxes, and gifts for other occasions like birthdays, weddings, etc. Things that I don’t spend on regularly, but like having money set aside for because I know they’ll come up.

      I absolutely could not handle moving money between more than these two accounts. It’s a lot easier for me to just have the checking and the one savings account, and to allocate the dollars in those accounts within the budget itself. I’m single, I’m a renter, and I have no kids or pets, so I have a lot less to track and spend on than most people. This is what works best for me in my particular situation.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      A “slush” fund for those expenses is a very good idea! Because there’s always something, right? I’d set aside that amount after savings and fixed stuff like rent/bills.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Average out car maintenance over the last couple of years, or look for a “cost of ownership” calculator, and put money aside each month for those intermittent expenses. Same with home repair, doctor copays, and similar.

      They aren’t really unexpected You know stuff is going to happen sooner or later. You just don’t know when or exactly how much, so you estimate with averages.

      It’s never going to be perfect, but it sure helps to have that cushion.

    9. I don’t post often*

      There are some things such as cars, lawn mowers, certain big ticket house maintenance things that you should have a monthly or weekly line item (depending on how you are paid).
      If you depend on a car for transportation, ideally you would have a savings goal of a next down payment. For us, we have one car that is 10 years with 176,000 miles. At anytime, there could be a repair bill of $3,000 because the ——- breaks. We are working towards saving enough money to either fix or buy new to us. Now here is the things- car prices still haven’t recovered, so unless that car collapses in the middle of the road never to be revived, we will likely fix whatever is wrong with it.
      Adjust the amount depending on the age of your car and the amount you need to purchase.

    10. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Yes. I am charting a year’s expenses (include Fun Surprise Adventures in Plumbing, with a 60 year old house, guess how old the pipes are) and the maintenance fees on the timeshares, which I am telling the kids they do *not* have to inherit if they don’t want to. Will consider pleading ‘widow with lesser income now’ with the company rather than get ripped off by those who collect $400 fees ‘to help you get rid of the timeshare’ and then disappear. Let’s not talk about the fender-bender while on slushy ice and pretend it didn’t happen…but it’s all paid for and the cards are clear.

    11. Observer*

      So, should I add a monthly amount to my budget for maintenance and repair?

      Yes. For some people just kind of sequestering that amount each month works. But for some people putting it (and other similar amounts) into a separate account makes it easier to manage.

      The idea is to put a small amount away each month for expenses like this – it doesn’t come up often, but when it does it tends to be expensive that throw everything out of whack. By putting that money aside each month when (not if – you know that at some point you are going to need a moderately expensive repair, or to replace the car), that collected amount reduces the overall impact on the rest of your budget.

  5. Jackalope*

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

    I have a weekly D&D game that I often don’t mention here because it’s so constant, but the last two weeks have been… exciting. We went to my character’s hometown, and have been having adventures there, rescuing people, etc. At the end of week one our DM left us on such a cliffhanger that I think we all gasped; that’s always a sign of a good time in an RPG.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Been rediscovering The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons via Switch Online–I have finished both, linked both ways. I find that playing Ages first is easier than playing Seasons first.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        I loooooved Ages growing up.

        Tried Seasons once on an emulator, couldn’t get into it.

    2. skadhu*

      Witcher 3. I’ve had it for years but am just now getting round to playing it. Enjoying it but my gosh it’s got a complicated system and it took me ages to decide that I’d be a spellsword because potions are Just. Too. Much for my wee brain.

      I have a big backlog of games to play because I buy these games that are already long and then I do every side quest and fetch quest, and I only play an hour or two at a time and not every day. Iit can easily take me months to finish a game. Am I an outlier in this or are others just as slow?

      1. anon24*

        Witcher 3 is soooo good. If you took all my games away and left me with the Witcher trilogy I’d be sad and miss Skyrim but I would still be a happy gamer. I always have a playthrough running between other games. I’ve completed it… idk how many times now? I have something like 700+ hours into it. Over 1000 hours into the trilogy. It’s so worth taking the time to just wander around and explore every nook and cranny of the map and find all the hidden quests and all the beautiful locations because there are some really lovely places hidden.

        The potion system confused me a lot the first half of my first playthrough, but by the second playthrough I had the potions and the witcher signs down and had cranked the difficulty all the way up to DeathMarch and now I always just DeathMarch my way through the Continent.

    3. Quoth the Raven*

      My group just started playing Vampire the Masquerade, and I’m so thrilled about it! I’d been wanting to play it for at least 15 years now but I’d never found a group who did it, so our usual DM learnt the system for us. I’m so happy with my character, too (I went Brujah), and I can’t wait to see where we’re taken.

      I hope your game continues to be exciting!

      1. Antagonistic Kittens*

        Gen Con is this week, so we’re gearing up to work some demos and play some demos! anyone have any new-ish board game recommendations to look out for?

        1. Trina*

          I do not, but I am going to Gen Con and am curious about which games you’ll be demoing!

          1. Antagonistic Kittens*

            We are demoing Pampero! It’s a game about the economics of the wind power revolution in Uruguay.

          2. Antagonistic Kittens*

            I don’t know which games we’ll actually be playing. That’s the husband’s purview, lol.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Obsessed with Persona 5 Strikers. It’s hard for me to maneuver in 3d space so the jails are hard but I love it anyway

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        Strikers is such a good stress relief game. It’s just so satisfying to go full ham on a huge mob of bad guys.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      Mostly just doing the dailies on Arena. I’m low on gold, and trying to get to 25k to get the newest Explorer Anthology.

      I don’t care much for the Historic one, since I am skeptical of other eternal formats coming to Arena any time soon.

      In paper, I am slowly adding my collection to Moxfield. I still have a few thousand cards to go, but the estimated value/replacement cost is starting to make me consider getting collectibles insurance.

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      D&D: I grew up playing in the 80s but it’s been on the back burner for a long time. My teenage niece recently discovered it. she took me and a few others through her dungeon. Now it’s my turn. Spending so much spare time on converting an old school module into 5e. Family win!

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      My Retroid Pocket 3+ came in yesterday! Initial setup of RetroArch and all the miscellaneous bits and bobs was kind of a slog but once it’s all done and the Daijisho frontend is in, holy moly it’s great. It also does a bangup job on Android games and out of all the stuff I’ve loaded this thing with, it’s a Nier: Reincarnation hole I’ve fallen down.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Pikmin 4 just came out and I’m unable to shower or eat since the release. LOVE it.

      1. Granger Chase*

        Me too! I’ve been playing Pikmin Bloom since it came out to get my Pikmin fix (and it’s really helped with getting my steps in too!), but I have been playing Pikmin 4 every day since it’s release & I’m loving it so far! The rewind feature has helped so much, since losing Pikmin was always the only part of the game I didn’t like!

    9. Reluctant Mezzo*

      FFXIV, run a team with my son’s main characters (I’m a tank paladin, he’s the healer, makes dungeons easier).

  6. Lydia*

    Extending the TTRPG conversations from the 4 short answers thread, what games are people running? Is anyone using a VTT? I’m trying to learn Foundry so I can run a Pathfinder 2E adventure path and it feels like too much, but I’m determined to figure it out.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m running D&D off and on; I’m the backup DM to give our primary DM a break. He’ll run for a few weeks and then I take over for a few weeks and so on. (His “few week” periods tend to be longer than mine, hence the primary and secondary). For awhile I also ran Monster of the Week but that group kind of dissolved. I will say that I was a bit taken aback by the amount of prep time everyone said that they do for running this morning. Maybe it’s because a part of my backup work means jumping in last-minute if Primary DM is sick or unavailable, but I’ve had a number of times that I had super limited prep time (like, say, 20 min or so), and just ran with it. Not to say that I haven’t done more at other times, but it’s not a huge time commitment for me to prep.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t need near so much prep time to run a game, but I run pretty much exclusively adventure paths or scenarios that I purchased, rather than making them up myself. The majority of my materials and paths are first edition Pathfinder, but I have some of the second edition materials as well. I also love the Starfinder setting, and in (it used to be White Wolf, what is it now?) Aeon/Trinity has always been my favorite setting.

      I have a pack lord/saurian shaman druid planned out to have a full party’s worth of companion faux-lociraptors (the Jurassic Park kind, not the actual ones) and a T-Rex companion. I got to play her twice but then the DM moved from my basement to the literal other side of the country :-P otherwise I haven’t gotten to play much, I’ve been the primary DM for the last five years.

      My husband and I met at GenCon … either 21 or 19 years ago, depending on who you ask. (I remember him from 2001, he doesn’t remember meeting me til 2003.) I went in 03 with my then-boyfriend who became my now-ex-husband; we attended my now-husband’s wedding at the convention (in the Klingon jail) somewhere in the middle 00’s. Now-husband and I were staff for a multi-sphere Con LARP for many years before real life got in everybody’s way and the game drifted apart. Eventually we both ended up divorced and living in the same state, I adopted his dog and wouldn’t let him have her back, and eventually he married me for the dog. I think we’re coming up on six years now. (That dog passed, but he stays for my other two. :) )

      He doesn’t go to Con anymore, but I am going next Sunday just for the one day. (We’re local now.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yeah, I realized after I finished typing and hit “Submit” that I had mentally merged two top-level posts together and sort of responded to both of them, and then gone totally off-piste in a different direction too, but it was too late to do anything about it at that point, haha.

    3. Nicki Name*

      I haven’t done any real-time online GMing (I’ve done some play-by-post) but if I ever did, I’d want to use Foundry. Hang in there and good luck with it!

    4. frystavirki*

      My friends and I play TTRPGs together, but we’ve never used a VTT. We just run them over Discord (we’re located all over the US so we can’t play in person) and talk things out. The only time we’ve ever needed a map was this January when we were playing a system with more wargame-y setup and needed to move units – what we did was we made a table in Google Docs for the various positions our units could be in and wrote them in there. I think you can do a lot with just talking.
      What we’re running right now every other week is a reskinned PBTA my friend is working on, based in the Star Wars universe, though we’re also planning to run a system that one of my friends made up on her own soon. I’m not very good at games or TTRPGs, but I like having friend time, so. Games.

    5. Rage*

      OK so this *sort of* touches on work, but it felt odd to bring it up during the work/school thread…and since you’re talking about it now….

      Last week I went to a seminar on using D&D in Adlerian Play Therapy. Since I’m in grad school working toward my RPT (registered play therapist), I simply HAD to know more. You know, for science. Turns out, there’s a fair amount of research already about the use of TTRPGs in adult therapy. But for kids, not so much. But here were these 2 random play therapists in my state doing a seminar on it.

      It was so informative and amazing and fun and now I totally have to go get my certification as a Therapeutic Game Master. And since my internship starts in…uh, 3 weeks…I also probably need to start developing a middle-school-friendly campaign. Or two.

      So, all of that being said: anybody got any tips, tricks, resources, etc. for campaign dev? Any shorter one-shot campaigns you’ve played and enjoyed? (And please tell me I’m not bananapants for budgeting $500 for D&D resources for next semester LOL)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you go to paizo dot com and search for “We Be Goblins” – they have five one-shots they’ve put out for Free RPG Day in years past, they’re all available in PDF for free and they’re super silly, I think they’d be okay for middle schoolers? They’re built in the Pathfinder system but the first edition Pathfinder system is basically D&D 3.5, and you can fudge the rules too if you need to.

        Individually, they are
        We Be Goblins
        We Be Goblins Too
        We Be Goblins Free
        We B4 Goblins
        We Be 5uper Goblins

        There’s also “We Be Heroes??” that is goblins, but also an intro to the second edition Pathfinder system.

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      My friends primarily use Roll20, but one of our GMs just moved his game to Foundry when he restarted it last week. I was skeptical of the change, but I definitely see why he wanted to move now. The VTT is a lot more set up and behind the scenes work for him, but it’s capable of doing WAAAAY more once he has it set up. I don’t notice as much difference/difficulty as a player – the select tool still selects, the ruler still measures, etc. – except that the GM setting up cooler encounters and effects is possible.

      My GM also has approximately 100 packs-of-stuff-to-use downloaded into his game with more apparently on the way, though, so…. Caveat emptor and godspeed to any other GMs who want to try it! o7

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve never heard of Foundry before this post, but I was looking at it this morning and I’m considering it!

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          From what I understand of what my GM has told me, if you have an interest in tinkering and/or some programming/macros, and you’re willing to do some learning to figure the bits and bobs out, it’s worth checking out! He’s been feeling super burned out on GMing (took an almost yearlong break while someone else ran) but now he’s actually excited again, especially with all of us “Whoa!”ing and “Cool!”ing all over the new tools he set up. (I could actually walk through a door and the map automatically changed and took away line of sight on stuff I couldn’t see anymore! Then another player accidentally locked me in! It was really neat.)

          So far the only thing I don’t really like about it is that he has to run it from his computer, so if he ever turns that off or shuts his computer down (like for traveling), we can’t access the Foundry game at all. But that’s not a huge deal as we keep our character sheets in DNDBeyond, RP in Discord, and notes wherever the player prefers.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Completely pencil and paper, no digital or virtual anything. But then again, there are 5 of us, we’re family, and we live less than a mile apart.

    8. Quoth the Raven*

      My main group just started a Vampire the Masquerade campaign which I’m extremely excited about. I’d wanted to play VtM for ages but I’d never found a group until our DM decided to take over and learn the system. I’m playing Brujah, and I’m really excited to see where it’s going. We do traditional pen and paper.

      Another friend is working on another Vampire campaign based on Seattle at Night; since the bunch of us are located in different states and countries, we’re going to use Discord and Roll20 unless something changes.

      1. Jackalope*

        Let us know next week (or whenever would be appropriate given your game playing schedule) how it goes! I’ve heard good things about VtM but haven’t ever gotten to play it. I have a group of friends I could try to play with but I’d like to hear more about it first from someone else who’s new to playing.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          Will do! Our next session is on August 12th, so I’ll make sure to come back after that and post about it.

          First impressions being what they are, I really like the fact that for a game about vampires, it is still very human, in a way. Rather than having a Big Bad out there be the main focus on the conflict, a lot of it is a conflict with yourself and your humanity (or lack thereof). I also greatly enjoy the social and political aspect of the game. Of course I still need to play more to come to a real conclusion, but so far it’s been what I expected it to be.

  7. sarah*

    Would it be weird to offer hand me downs to my nanny? She has worked for us for nearly 2 years and is wonderful with my kids. We have a pleasant relationship although it’s not a close one. I am doing a big clean-out of my closets and setting aside a lot of items to donate. I know she loves clothes and handbags. Would it feel condescending to ask if she wants first dibs on anything before I pack it up? I don’t want to insult her or treat her like a charity case, or worse, like I am offering her my trash (although all the items are clean and in good condition). But if she would like any of these items I would love for her to have them. I guess it feels awkward because I know she wouldn’t be in a position to make that offer in reverse so it feels more “noblesse oblige” than I am used to feeling. Is there a non awkward way to make this offer? (AAM-style scrips would be very much appreciated.)

    1. Nanny Nancy*

      I’m a Nanny and I say offer! “Nanny, I’m purging my closets and giving some things away that don’t fit or I don’t use. I’d love to have you look through them and take anything you would like before I offer them to the next person. If you don’t see anything you want it won’t hurt my feelings. I’ll set them out so you can look thru them while child is sleeping/playing, Feel free to take as many or as few as you would like.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! Think of it as offering first refusal; not pressure to take anything, but welcome to anything she would happen to want.

      2. JSPA*

        especially if you don’t mind if she wants to pass them on to friends and family or sell them on eBay. Setting “personal use only” limits gets a bit boundary-crossing.

    2. Pearl Grey*

      No, it wouldn’t be weird! You are overthinking this. Describe the situation as you have above: you are downsizing your wardrobe and would love to let her choose whatever she wants before the rest go to the donation bin. Just give her time to make a selection and try things on or let her do that in her own home where she can see what works with her wardrobe. If I were your nanny, I would see this as a perk.

    3. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I’d be more afraid of overthinking this and not giving her the option to acquire some nice items that she might enjoy having than of offending her, unless you’ve found her to be sensitive about this kind of thing.

      You could say something like this: “Jane, I’ve realized that I need to thin out my closet. If you’d like to check out my stuff for yourself before I donate it, let me know and I’ll have it ready for you to look through on Monday.” Then follow her lead.

    4. Alex*

      I used to be a nanny and would have appreciated the offer! I don’t think it is awkward at all. Just treat it like you would offer it to a friend.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Maybe add “if you or someone you know would like these clothes…” Then she could say “my friend, cousin…” That’s a rather lame old fashioned way of saving face.

      1. Imprudence*

        Another thing to do is to offer a polite form of words for her to decline so she doesn’t have to think of an excuse on the spot. I might say “Of course, if they are not your style / you don’t have room for them” just to give her an easy get out.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think it would be condescending if you present it the same way you would to a friend or family member. “Hey, I’ve been clearing out my closet and getting rid of stuff I don’t need. Is there anything you’d like? Feel free to take a look through it and take anything if so.”

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Offering is good. You want to hit the tone right, a casual “I’m purging my closets, and if you would like to snag anything before I drop it all at Goodwill, feel free to look over the stuff on the bed in the guest bedroom.” It should feel easy for her to take a bunch or nothing, and you want a dynamic where you’re not standing next to her while she judges your taste in things.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I think when it becomes condescending is when one gives without asking. “Here, have this coat and skirt I’m throwing out” hits a lot different from “take a look through this stuff and feel free to take anything you’d want. I’ll only be throwing it out if nobody I know wants it.”

        Just replied this to your comment to follow up on the “offering is good.”

        1. MaryLoo*

          I’d use terms like “things I don’t wear/use” or “doesn’t fit” and “stuff I’m giving away” or “donating”.

          Saying “stuff I’m throwing out” sounds like you consider it to be trash, which could sound a bit off-putting.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Many years ago I was fresh out of grad school and interning while living in NYC. I cat-sat a few times for an older friend and she once told me she was doing a closet re-organization and leaving a bunch of stuff to donate out on the kitchen table, and I was welcome to take anything I wanted. I had zero money at the time and it was actually amazing because I got three cashmere sweaters (two of which I still have) and a gorgeous coat out of the deal. She was very matter-of-fact about it.

      Thinking back on it… one of the best parts of that deal was that she was gone so she didn’t see me going through her things. I think I would have felt awkward taking things while she was there. So consider that with your nanny, as in, “I left a bunch of things in the guest room, you’re welcome to look through and take anything you want.” Less pressure.

    9. Reluctant Mezzo*

      That’s how I got my wedding dress, because Grandma L. cleaned houses! (very small pension from second husband, no SS because not enough quarters, but she was enterprising and made things work).

    10. Christmas cookie*

      Go for it. I am a pretty financially successful adult woman and I still happily accept hand-me-downs. Just give her a heads up that the pile is up for grabs! “If you have any interest, take it- if it doesn’t work just pass it on.”

      I have had the same issue with my house cleaner- he has a daughter one year younger than my youngest so I always have tons of toys/clothes. I solved this by putting my pile for donate/give away out on the porch on the day he comes and leaving a note that he’s welcome to take anything for anyone that could use it before I offer it up to friends/neighbors. Whatever is left goes on freecycle and is picked up later that day.

    11. vulturestalker*

      Definitely go for it! I’m a grad student and none of my friends or I have much money. Maybe that’s what contributes to really normalizing a culture of secondhand shopping and trading clothes? Wherever the impulse comes from, I think it’s fun regardless of income level. I keep a giveaway bag and periodically offer clothes to friends who come over, and once in a while I’ve had more intentional clothing-swap get-togethers. There’s never an element of shame or weirdness; rather, everyone’s just excited to get new clothes without paying for them and without contributing to fast fashion!

      So, yeah, I hope this trend spreads, and you can help make it happen. Just be very matter-of-fact, as others have suggested.

    12. But what to call me?*

      What easily saves this from a ‘noblesse oblige’, doing you a favor you obviously can’t return situation is that letting someone go through the clothes you’re not going to wear anymore to see if they want any, as opposed to, say, taking her shopping for a new wardrobe, often *isn’t* a one-way exchange that has to be returned in kind to keep the relationship equal – at least if it’s framed in the way the commenters above have described.

      You’re not just doing her a favor by offering her your old clothes/purses, she’s doing you a favor by giving a new, loving home to things you don’t have a use for anymore but presumably were fond of at some point. Enough people enjoy knowing that some of their things are having a great second life with people they like that the act of offering them itself comes off as an exchange of favors – you offer her cool new stuff, she offers to take some of it off your hands in a way you’ll feel good about. Everyone wins, unless you somehow manage to frame it as ‘here, take my trash, because it’s clearly better than anything *you* own’.

      Which seems unlikely :D

  8. slowingaging*

    Happy Emotions are strange things. No details, because it’s about the other place. I had a day where I asked the right question at the right time, and happened to have done the right thing at the right time 3 weeks ago. Suddenly I am wonderful. I am glad it worked out well, but its just funny. It is also unreasonable that I feel so happy to the person of the hour. What unreasonable happy emotions have you had?

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      Right place, right time, right actions would make me happy any old time. My happy right now is doing a lot of gardening this morning before it got hot, an awesome date with my man. And coffee. Coffee is very reasonable. You don’t want to discuss this with me before coffee!

    2. Rage*

      Whatever makes you happy (as long as it’s not hurting anybody) is perfectly acceptable! And sometimes, like the situation you described, where your timing and execution were *flawless* – yeah, go ahead, bask in that feeling. You may not have consciously determined your response or timing, but that doesn’t mean your subconscious/gut instinct/soul/whatever didn’t recognize it and guide you toward it. You done good. You are allowed to give yourself kudos and recognition.

    3. Anonymous cat*

      I’ve occasionally had a sudden rush of happiness, and wondered what was that? And then realized I had just passed a milestone! (Of any kind)

      It was like my subconscious was looking out for me and noticed what I’d done even though my attention was elsewhere that day.

      It’s pretty cool when that feeling happens because I usually associate subconscious stuff with things I worry about.

    4. But what to call me?*

      Today, it was:
      1) found candy in my candy jar that I thought was empty

      2) successfully solved the mystery of how to disassemble, fix, and reassemble a new step-thingy my grandparents had bought that they had already given up on (and weren’t even going to bother to return, despite the price, because that thing was heavy and how to return it was another mystery)

      I am ridiculously proud of myself (and enjoying my candy).

  9. NatTheGreat*

    First I want to thank everyone who answered my question last week about strata councils. I didn’t get back to the site in time to respond, but I got a lot from the replies thanks.

    So I have a kind of a follow-up question! I want to create a committee in my 90-unit building to support our neighbours in making the best choices regarding recycling, discarding large household items, etc., and also to explore green initiatives for the building.

    I’d love advice and ideas about three things:
    1) How to structure the committee so it is inclusive, functional, respectful, and effective;
    2) What kinds of strategies and initiatives we might actually use;
    3) A good name!

    I’m not asking you to do my work for me! I’ve created and run effective committees before, but they’ve been quite autocratic and I want to do this differently. I’m also aware that our actual strata council may not be as effective as it used to be, so I don’t want to go down that same road.

    I also have a lot of ideas of my own, but would love to hear what others think.

    Recycling/disposal: A survey to find out what people actually care about and what they’re willing to do; a notice every few months focusing on one aspect that residents can focus on to improve; information blurbs to go out with the strata meeting minutes or in emails from the property management with the rules and conventions; distributing the City’s recycling rules; developing a relationship with a junk hauler who can give us a good rate on dump runs; doing mini workshops for the commercial units (the worst offenders due to volume); KPIs (not sure what or how to measure); sharing our goals with the residents; a ‘move out tips’ sheet to provide to new residents with ideas how to dispose of their move-out waste

    Sustainability: Green roof technology, solar panels, commercial heat pumps, grey water initiatives;

    Name: The Conservation and Sustainability Committee

    So those are my ideas and I would welcome any others. I’m especially interested in establishing KPIs

    tl;dr ideas for an effective, respectful recycling/dumping/green building committee in a multi-unit building.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Very cool! I can’t speak to strata councils in particular, but I co-founded and co-ran the Green Team at the place we don’t discuss on weekends. Primarily we improved recycling to include plastics, glass, and metals and not just printer paper. We also offered extras like guest speakers on environmental topics, and we ran a twice-a-year book swap that was very popular. That was easy to set up (folding tables, emails, and posters), and we donated leftover books to libraries and hospice centers. For a few years we organized a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program that folks could opt into. My best advice is to anticipate that you’ll need to say no to some suggestions from others or at least delegate and oversee their efforts, assuming you run it solo. It’s easy for the scope to grow beyond your capacity to manage it.

      1. NatTheGreat*

        Thanks a lot for your reply.

        To add more information, I live in a city that already has a robust and fulsome recycling and composting program that residents and businesses are obligated to comply with.

        Four categories of recycling are collected regularly at the expense of residents, as well as garbage and compost. Recycling is broken down to:
        – Corrugated cardboard
        – Clean paper (no plastic, food-impregnated paper, tissues/paper towels, waxed paper)
        – Glass
        – Non-glass household containers, including clam packaging, metal, plastic

        My personal plan is not to expand on this; in fact this has been strongly discouraged in the past. What the committee wants may be different! But my personal goals are to a) improve recycling compliance, as the recycling bins are currently contaminated with a lot of non-compliant materials; and b) decrease the amount of dumping in the garbage room and loading bay that happens when people move out.

        I would like to consider some of your suggestions like the book swap. I’d also like to see if people would like to organize regular dump runs for recyclables that aren’t part of the municipal program, and large items like furniture.

        I’d also like to create materials that can be shared with new residents, with resources and conventions, and I’d like to create some way of training the 15 or so commercial units, as they are responsible for a lot of the non-compliant materials.

    2. cabbagepants*

      This is very cool! I have some questions/thoughts/ideas for KPIs.

      1) What is motivating your desire to do this? Are you in violation of some local laws or incurring unwanted extra expenses due to people disposing of things improperly? Are people unhappy that their garbage bill is too high? Basically, what is the motivation for the committee’s existence.

      2) Do you have the ability to enforce rules, fine individual tenants, whatever, and/or is your goal to motivate people to choose to obey whatever rules you make?

      3) How will you distribute this information/these directives? It sounds like there are a lot of facets to the plan, which is not a bad thing, but it seems you might have a lot of information to distribute.

      4) Just a comment — please avoid any system that penalizes people for doing the right thing. It should be at least as cheap, easy, and convenient to do the right thing as the wrong thing!

      5) KPIs — monthly waste disposal cost, annual fines for improper disposal, amount of junk hauled, ratio of non-landfill vs landfill waste

      1. NatTheGreat*

        Yeah, thank you so much for your reply and those are great questions.

        1. My motivation is to improve compliance with the existing very clear directives from our metropolitan region, as a way to make the world a better place. It probably won’t end up costing less money, but it would just be nice to do the right thing, and do it well. For reference, a) I have been a rabid recycler for decades, and every time I go to the garbage room I pick out non-compliant material and get mad about it LOL (if it’s not clear, this is a multi-unit building where refuse is aggregated and collected from a main location, and we pay through our strata fees, not individually. That applies to the businesses in the building as well.); and b) I recently saw a headline that ‘Canadians are great at recycling paper. Unfortunately it’s full of plastic.’ I will link the article as a separate reply to my original post.

        2. Fantastic question. My vision for the committee is that it would be gently and respectfully encouraging compliance through improved information, education, signage, and by fostering a stronger sense of community. Obviously in many cases it would be impossible to discover individual rule-breakers (although I have been known to fish bubble-wrap envelopes out of the paper recycling and sticking them under the doors of offenders with a note saying ‘Not recyclable! Also you’re risking identity theft!’), but in the case of the commercial units, carrots might not work and we might need sticks. We would not have that power, but we could advise the council to do so.

        3. I have the agreement of the council president that we would have their support in distributing information through the strata channels, which include email and postal mail. I’m also imagining signage, and maybe drops to individual unit doors. I’m also excited about creating materials that could become part of the move-in packages that new owners get.

        4. Not sure I understand what you mean about penalizing people for doing the right thing, but definitely my vision is not to punish people or make them feel bad.

        5. Very useful, thanks!! Definitely junk haulage and landfill waste.

        I really appreciate it!!

        1. cabbagepants*

          Got it, sounds like a worthwhile effort! I would have really liked to have this information when I moved into my last apartment.

          For #4, I just mean that the easiest/cheapest/most convenient solution should also be the one you want people to take. If it’s free to dump hazmat into the general trash, for example, find a way to not charge people money for proper hazmat disposal. You and I would go out of our way to recycle properly, but lots of people won’t make the effort.

  10. ChomChom Pet Hair Remover*

    Someone on this site recently mentioned that they have a ChomChom Pet Hair Remover and love it. I never heard of it, so I looked into it and ordered one. Thank you for mentioning it! It is amazing. We’re ordering a second one.

    1. Antagonistic Kittens*

      So I have a cat who has always been a little scared, hiding from thunderstorms, visiting dogs, etc. We adopted a new cat recently, and despite this new cat being confined to a single room of the house, scaredy cat about 2-3 days after has been terrified. Of everything and everywhere. We took her to the vet when we couldn’t get her to eat despite a calming collar and all the Feliway diffusers.

      The diagnosis is anxiety. Now she’s on regular Gabapentin, which helps immensely. She’s intermittently back to her old self, but will still hunker down for seemingly no reason.

      My question is this: does anyone have any stories of long-term anxiety treatment in cats? How likely is this to be a forever thing versus a temporary regimen until she realizes that new kitty will not eat her? If it keeps up, we may switch to something like fluoxetine, but I’m hoping for it to not be a forever medication; scaredy cat is only 3.

      1. Rage*

        Not me personally, but…as a long-time cat foster-parent, I wonder if you just haven’t given your current cat enough time to really adjust to the idea. Cats can sometimes take *months* to adjust to a change, and if she’s been a solo kitty her entire 3 years, the addition of a new cat could be challenging for her. Or, if she came from a multiple-cat environment that was stressful for her, she could be remembering that.

        So, some questions: How long between the start of the symptoms and the vet visit did you give her? How many days did she not eat? Did she lose any weight, if so, what percentage of her body weight did she lose? Are the cats currently introduced and, if so, what are their interactions like?

        1. Antagonistic Kittens*

          There were two, and we just added number 3. Scaredy cat was a stray, and we believe we were her first home, although she wasn’t feral, so we’re not entirely sure. It was maybe 4-5 days of increasing panic and 24 hours of refusing to eat before we took her in. New kitty hasn’t been introduced yet except for occasional glances through the open door as we enter her room. I’m not certain of the weight; my husband took her to the vet and I didn’t ask for numbers since the vet didn’t seem super concerned yet.

  11. Esprit de l'escalier*

    I want to re-read Pride and Prejudice as an e-book from Amazon. They have several versions of it, but my experience with ebooks of classic novels is that all Kindle books are not created equal – some are really defective.

    Can anyone recommend a specific Kindle version that you found acceptable? (You’d have to describe its cover art.) The first few that are listed cost only $0.99, but it would be aggravating to keep trying until I found one that was an accurate edition.

    These books have thousands of reviews so I gave up on my original idea of scanning through the low ratings. (There were also reviewers who hated P&P as a novel and could not understand its immense popularity … so they gave it one star. Not what I expected!)

    1. AcademiaNut*

      What about downloading the Project Gutenberg version? It’s definitely an accurate, well proofread version, and it’s free.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This! I’ve also had good luck with quality from the free ebooks I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. They’re always my first stop for anything old enough to be public domain.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes – that and Faded Page are where I get all my older books. They have a very streamlined and thorough system for generating ebooks.

          Most of the cheap editions of out of copyright stuff you buy on Amazon are simply the Gutenberg stuff repackaged (which is fine according to the Gutenberg terms). If they do a good job, you get a decent cover and a better table of contents, but a lot are just lazily done.

      2. I take tea*

        Fourthing Gutenberg.org. I’ve read so many classics there and never had a problem. You just download your book in .mobi, if you have a Kindle.

        I can also recommend a site called A Celebration of Women Writers, I’ve found some real gems there.

      3. Seconds*

        It’s accurate *now*! Some years ago, my husband and I were reading it and realized that there was a sentence or two missing on the first page! We reported it and it got corrected.

    2. Sloanicota*

      One common piece of advice for writers dealing with bad reviews is to look up the worst reviews of their favorite books. People are so funny. I recall someone gave Moby Dick one star due to a typo, and someone else because their order arrived late.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Maybe try your local library? If they have a version you like, then buy that one or just read for free.

      2. Ally*

        I saw a review of P&P online that was 1 star. “Just a bunch of people going to each other’s houses.”

        I mean, it’s not incorrect.

    3. HBJ*

      Have you tried the library. My library has a lot of classics that have unlimited copies – it doesn’t matter how many people have checked it out, you still can.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I loves me my Libby app! Just scored a nice William Gibson book which is more than I want to spend on Amazon.

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      You’ve made a good case for Project Gutenberg, folks, thanks for that. I do all my book reading these days using the Kindle app on my laptop. How would I read a P.G. or other nonKindle ebook on my laptop?

      1. ecnaseener*

        They have kindle format! You find the book and then under download options, click Kindle

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          Um, and then what do you do? I couldn’t figure out how to actually read it. Do I need to download the Kindle app to my desktop? I normally read ebooks in a browser tab.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            If you want to read it in a browser tab, you can use the “Read this book online: HTML5” link instead of the Kindle link, and it’ll open up the book on their webpage so you can read it in your browser.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The common EPUB format now works on the kindle.

        First, download the book to your computer. Then use your “send to kindle” email address. If you haven’t used it before, you can long into your amazon account to find the address and instructions; if you log into amazon as xyz@example.com the send-to-kindle address probably looks something like xyz472@kindle.com

        Also, a lot of public libraries have e-books that you can read on the kindle. If you check one of those out, the library website should give you a “read now on kindle” link.

        1. WestsideStory*

          If your public library has Overdrive you can download Libby, the free ebook reader.There is literally a world of books available for download globally, including bestsellers and foreign language titles you can get via overdrive. But for public domain books, I also recommend Project Gutenberg – they put a lot of care into correct formatting to make the online reading experience comfortable.

        2. My Cat’s Human*

          Is there a way to add Project Gutenberg as a “library” in Libby?

          I had added/used it in the Overdrive app, but our library switched to only the Libby app now.


          1. WestsideStory*

            I’d guess not, as PG isn’t an actual library. It’s more of a depository that allows downloads.

  12. Sewists!*

    Sewists: where do you get your work-appropriate patterns? I’m looking for somewhat more conservative (blazer, work dress etc). I don’t work in fashion, Vogue is way too flashy. Not necessarily *for* work, but I don’t go to big galas, either.

    1. Phlox*

      Mostly through following folks on IG and what my local shop has to offer. The Assembly Line has some fun silhouettes that read work-oriented to me.

    2. eeeek*

      I’m a big fan of independent designers, and some have great instructions and they are very size inclusive. Every pattern I’ve been interested in has IG tags and the patterns have been made by sewists of an age and build like me, so I can better imagine what a garment might look like on me.
      My work style is more “softly styled” professional – in part because my sewing skills are not quite at a standard to make a properly tailored and fitted blazer and skirt.
      Specific designers & patterns:
      Tesutti Fabrics Berlin jacket; I have made several. My favorite is in an eggplant wool viscose that looks like an Eileen Fisher blazer. I get many compliments on it. Tesutti has a few other blazers/jacket patterns that I haven’t made, but would…
      I have made Helen’s Closet’s Pona jacket. It’s very adaptable to casual wear and there are a lot of super casual versions, I made mine in a polished, structured double-knit and I consider it very work-appropriate.
      Also from Helen’s Closet, I’ve perfected my Blackwood Cardigan pattern. (My long version uses a hack for slant instead of patch pockets, and a much wider neckband to create a shawl collar – much more polished that the original.) This is an amazingly hackable pattern.
      I have not yet made Closet Core Patterns Jasika Blazer – it’s in my queue. I have seen some amazingly polished versions of that pattern.
      For work appropriate dresses, I have a number of simple sheath-like dresses that are basically self-drafted or pattern-hacked T-shirt dresses – I think the trick is to use a pattern with a bust dart, turn the hems (instead of using ribbing) and use a bias bound facing at the neckline…and make them in very nice knit fabric.
      For a more structured look, the long-sleeve version of the Grainline Studios Farrow Dress is very polished, takes well to color blocking for a little jazz, and has enormous pockets. There’s a tutorial for how to line it, too (I have a black wool lined version next up in my queue). I have version in a non-stretch brown wool, sleeveless, that (again) looks like it’s from Eileen Fisher.
      I haven’t found a “suit skirt” yet. There are good tutorials online for self-drafted knit pencil skirts (like the basics collection at JJill).
      My go-to pants for work probably don’t meet a “conservative” professional standard, since they are a pull-on style from StyleArc (the Airlie, in case you’re curious) – but because they have a smooth hollywood waist, when they’re made in the right material, they look very polished. (I should insert my standard warning about StyleArc instructions. Gaaah, they are awful.)
      I’m working on another Closet Core pattern, the Mitchell Trousers, which I think will work as a “polished” work pant in the right fabric (fine wool…) I am very tempted to make it in flowy velvet for the holidays…

      WHOA that got long, fast. Sorry to ramble. This is my hobby horse. (Toddles off to look at the EmmaOnesock site…)

      1. hydrangea macduff*

        The Blackwood Cardigan is lovely! I’ve made 4 versions, two of which have matching pencil skirts—instant “suit”.
        Itch to Stitch has a great blazer pattern for knit fabric as well. I like how her patterns have multiple cup sizes.

    3. Clarbar*

      My local independent shop The Confident Stitch has a huge variety of not-big-box-store pattern makers in their online shop (Google “Confident Stitch Missoula”). I adore Liesl & Co for very simple, clean lines, and there’s a bunch of other ones that I can’t pull out of my brain, but I highly recommend paging through their offerings! Huge bonus: they have a large selection of adorable plus-size patterns, and several pattern makers they carry are actually plus-size only, instead of the situation where patterns are just sized up willy-nilly without regard for things like drape and the final look.

      1. eeeek*

        Your comment reminded me of Cashmerette patterns – they have great work appropriate styles, and they’re working to become “size inclusive” for the smaller end of the scale.
        I like Liesl & Co patterns, too – great styles for my tastes, good pattern drafting, good instructions.
        What will I make this rainy weekend? HMMMMMM, I wonder…

    4. Filosofickle*

      If you’re willing to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt and order patterns, I follow Lilli on Instagram (@frocksandfroufrou) and covet everything she makes. It’s typically work appropriate without being boring. She always credits where her fabrics and patterns were sourced from, so going through her posts might lead you to interesting indie pattern makers She’s in Australia, so some may be hard to come by.

    5. Amey*

      I’ve not sewn any of the patterns, but I’ve heard good things about Itch to Stitch and have always meant to try some for work – she has some lovely work-appropriate patterns.

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I’m afraid I can’t answer your question, but it raised a (probably dopy) question for me. I never saw the word “sewist” before! Is that standard usage for people who sew their own clothes?

      1. Anthology*

        I think the Internet changed the preferred term, since you can’t hear the pronunciation of “sewer” in type and it’s easily confused with the word for sanitation. Plus “seamstress” is a bit dated, gender-wise.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Whether or not that’s where it came from, it certainly does address a real problem! Without context, if OP had titled their post “Sewers!” I definitely would have first thought they were talking about the sanitation system. Easily corrected upon further reading, of course, but there would have been a moment of confusion. Patterns… for… sewer design at work? Are you asking for construction advice? Oh! Clothes! Sewing. Sew-er. Sewer. Got it :D

    7. Despachito*

      Burda (if you can get it where you are) has some conservative patterns and they are pretty well prepared.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Burda do a monthly magazine with patterns as well as simple and plus-sized editions.

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

      Style Arc has a lot of items that are work appropriate but with interesting cuts or details. I haven’t used their patterns yet mostly because a lot of reviews mention that their directions are minimal, and I’m not yet confident enough in my skills to want something that assumes I know what I’m doing, but for folks with intermediate-to-advanced skills, they seem to have great results.

    9. WheresMyPen*

      Friday Pattern Company has the Heather blazer which would work really nicely in formal settings. Sew Over It also has some quite classy formal styles. The Fold Line has a huge directory of sewing patterns where you can filter by garment so I’d recommend having a browse on there

  13. janesfriend*

    I have an *extremely* low stakes, but very annoying, problem. Socks rotate around my foot (so the heel part ends up on the top or side of my foot, and I end up feeling the annoying wobbly toe seam under my foot). It is a sensory disaster. It happens with all socks, though some are worse than others and it generally only happens when I am shoeless. I am wondering if anyone else has this problem and (please!) has a solution. Here’s hoping…..

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve found that getting socks on the smaller side helps. This means both: socks that are shorter (ankle height) and socks that are a size lower than recommended for my shoe size. That tends to make it so that they stay put better since there’s less fabric to rotate and less clothing touching the sock to make it spin around.

      If you can afford it, I also recommend getting more expensive socks, because the cheaper ones are often poorly shaped, poorly made fabric sacks for your feet (or that’s how they feel for me, anyway). I have gotten socks at REI for around $12-17/pair, which is a lot more than a six-pack of regular cotton socks, but they’re much less likely to slip around on my foot. If that’s something you can try, maybe buy a pair or two and see how they work for you.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I HATE that! Hate it! And also the “work your way down and bunch up like worms under my arches” crap.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        When I had socks that did that, it was because they were too small. My feet are right in-between the size for the typical “women’s” sock and the typical “men’s” sock in fashion/dress socks. Women’s socks would have the heel under my foot and heading for my arches, and men’s would have it up rubbing against the back of the shoe. This is one of the reasons why I switched to hiking socks, in which I am a unisex medium.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I don’t have this problem, but I also never walk around in just socks (and wear the expensive REI hiking socks mentioned in another comment, as well).

      My uninformed suggestion is to maybe try tube socks, since they wouldn’t have a heel? Or socks without a toe seam, if that’s your bigger sensory issue? A very brief poke at Amazon did not surface any tube socks without toe seams, but perhaps they are out there.

    4. skadhu*

      I have the same problem. I tend to wear wool-mix hiking socks* now because they hold up better, maybe because they’re made under the assumption that you’ll be moving a lot. The ones that work best for me are snug round the instep but not the toes. I love cotton but they just don’t hold their shape. (And smaller socks won’t work for me because I can’t stand it if my toes feel squeezed.)

      *Luckily my life is such that wearing hiking socks is almost always an option.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I have had this problem too. Socks with built in arch support work well for me. I’m not fond of the fancy performance socks designed for serious runners, but Bombas and Pacas are great.

      They do feel more snug in the middle, which could be like trading one sensory irritant for another, but if it doesn’t sound too bad they’re probably worth a shot.

    6. Roland*

      This has happened to me with certain socks, but never happens with my wool blend socks – worth a try if you haven’t tried those before. I like smartwool brand. The price tag is shocking but I find them to be worth it.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yup! I can relate.
      Feetures socks, the ones that are labeled L and R don’t budge on my feet and they are super comfortable as well. They are not cheap, but are great.
      Good luck!

      1. Manders*

        Seconding the brand Feetures – I’m wearing them right now! They do not budge at all. They are expensive but they last a very long time. I found that cheaper socks always moved around.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Thirding Feetures for staying in place while shoeless. They might feel too tight around the arch for someone who didn’t like that (I used to not like them for that reason) but now I find them very comfortable. They stay in place and don’t bunch up while also not squishing my feet. They are a little expensive, though.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I would try a pair of Columbia socks (the sportswear company), which specifically I often find at my local Marshalls/TJ Maxx. They were my “Oh, sock quality is a thing!” discovery. Much more likely to hit the “I put them on and then never have to think about them” bar.

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Bombas. Yes, they advertise on social media. I started buying them on a friend’s suggestion and they are now about the only socks I wear except for my wool hiking socks. They have a slightly more compressive section around the instep that I love the feel of and that keeps the socks from moving at all. Worth the money. Also they wear like iron – the first ones are now three or four years old and have had heavy use and I can’t tell them apart from the ones I bought last month.

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I use two methods: I have short, cheap ankle socks that don’t have enough fabric to twist. And when I wear long pants, I use my fancy RedWing brand boot socks. They were expensive at $30/pair but they lasted me 2-4 years depending on which style.

    11. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Socks from Nike are quite firmly put together with a strong, strong heel. You have to wear them for years before they get limp.

    12. Silence*

      The extreme solution is to knit your own socks and use Kitchener stitch to eliminate the toe seam

  14. Junebug*

    What membership(s) do you have that has been well worth it? Either online subscriptions or to things like specific local museums, parks, etc.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ll think about it a bit but my current favorite is Spotify. We got a paid subscription because I hate commercials, and we’ve loved it. It’s so nice to have a solid, regular music and podcast source and to avoid the commercials!

      1. WheresMyPen*

        Seconding Spotify! It made my mum so happy to show her that she can play any song she wants through Alexa, even though now she’s totally skewed my Spotify wrapped with all her Motown and disco

    2. CatCat*

      Cook Smarts for meal planning.

      YNAB for budgeting.

      Calm for my mental and emotional well-being.

      Supernatural for my physical well-being.

      Apple One for TV, music, games, and storage.

    3. Sleepy in the stacks*

      For personal use, Spotify for sure.

      For work and sometimes personal use as I love to make cards for family and dabble in very basic design with it, Canva Pro. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that you can get with Photoshop, but it is also easy to use and has a huge database of graphics to use!

    4. Girasol*

      When my husband got his cancer diagnosis, a friend suggested an Audible subscription: a book a month. An audiobook is great when you can’t sleep and we’ve amassed a whole library of favorites.

      1. But what to call me?*

        I’ve got YMCA through school and will definitely be keeping it once I have to pay for it directly. There are multiple branches in my city and I get access to all of them, which means I get access to all the group exercise classes at all of the different times, so there’s usually a class I like reasonably close to a time when I’d like to go to it.

        Or if not there, then some other gym where a membership gives you free access to a lot of classes. Group exercise classes are definitely the way to go for me. My brain classifies it as a scheduled activity because it happens at a certain time, so I can’t keep planning to get up and go ‘in just a few minutes’ until suddenly the day is over and I’ve done absolutely nothing. Which happens unfortunately often if there’s no scheduled event requiring me to get on with the day.

        The downside to group exercise classes is the volume of the music, but I’ve handled that quite nicely with a pair of musician’s earplugs. All of the exciting, motivating music, none of the hearing damage and sensory overload!

    5. Knighthope*

      Membership in local and nearby museums have many benefits. You are supporting community institutions. Some have free or reduced price admission or special access to special exhibits or programs. Others offer tours or members only programs. Many have fun gift shops with a discount for members. There are often lower membership prices for students and seniors.

      1. Filosofickle*

        For me it’s museums! Especially the Oakland Museum of California, which is a local treasure and is also three museums in one (natural science, art, and history of CA).

        Also streaming. Right now Peacock is giving me life.

        1. tab*

          I love that museum! I have a North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM) level membership at our local museum. It allows me and my husband to visit museums across North America for free. I travel a lot, so it’s well worth it.

      1. anon24*

        I agree. It gets a lot of hate, and I get that, but it comes with both ad free YouTube and the unlimited ad free music. I do all my music streaming through it instead of using Spotify or another service.

    6. Taking the long way round*

      Apple music (or Spotify- I don’t have Spotify now I have AM, but it was definitely worth it). And a subscription to the local boat museum which gives you free access all year.

    7. English Rose*

      For me it’s museum subscriptions. I’m in the UK and I am currently a member of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and a local museum. The V&A membership allows us to get into special exhibitions free of charge and without booking, and there’s a beautiful quiet members room which serves beautiful food. I go in about once a month (I live about a 40 minute train trip from London) and love it.
      Most recent trip was this week to their Diva exhibition which is an amazing curation of history and outfits from the very early opera and theatre divas to modern day. Seeing the encrusted pearl outfit Rihanna wore to the 2018 Met Gala in real life, and a handful of Cher’s Bob Mackie outfits, was just amazing!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have a year pass for the KHM in Vienna, and it covers about 6 different museums. I especially like the main art collection.

    8. allathian*

      Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ for movies and TV and Deezer for music. We used to have Spotify but my husband wanted to switch to Deezer because it has much better audio quality. He says that Spotify’s only good for listening through headphones/earbuds in a fairly noisy environment, like on public transit.

      We have an online subscription to our main local paper and a couple magazine subscriptions as well.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Costco!! I’ve had a Costco membership and credit card for the past 10 years. We don’t even go to Costco that often — probably once a month— but with a Mini Tribble on the way, I expect we’ll go a lot more often. Also, Costco has eye doctors in with it, so I’ve gotten my contacts through there. We’ve bought new appliances through Costco. The card gives 4% back on gas at Costco, 3% back on travel and dining (iirc), etc, so I usually get several hundred dollars cash back each year. I’m a huge Costco fan.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ditto — On top of everything else I get there, I just bought flooring for a large swath of my upstairs at Costco and saved BANK over buying it elsewhere. (We’re self-installing, so it’s literally just the flooring material, but I’ve heard great things about their contracting partners too.)

        (For the Tribbling, I’ve heard that as long as their diapers and wipes work for your munchkin, they’re about the best buy you can get for disposables.)

        1. HBJ*

          I disagree about them being the best buy. The cheapest are actually store brand in non-membership stores (comforts at Kroger, parents choice at Walmart, etc.) Much better price than Kirkland Signature or Amazon’s store brand.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Oh, yes! I love their greek yogurt. It is nice and mild.

        Every couple weeks I pick up a rotisserie chicken, a giant tub of yogurt, a giant tub of hummus, and a clamshell of spring mix that makes at least 8 big salads. $25.

      3. Mrs C*

        Definitely Costco. Been a member for years.

        In the lean years, we would not have survived without their prices.

        And now, still the least expensive gas in town. Love their appliance delivery and setup. Car rental through their travel affiliate is also great.

        I am wary of credit cards, but the 2% rebate with the upgraded membership is totally worth it.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      The Boston Museum of Science, which has reciprocity with a bunch of zoos and science museums across the country and world. Even if we don’t go to our local one this year, we will likely go to a few while traveling. Having stuff be free or half-price moves more stuff into the “This would be neat to check out” or “We only have a couple of hours, but it’s free so why not.”

      When we’re traveling and I’m drawing up the “things we might want to try” going to that page is a great way to find some new stuff. Most recently went to the Cincinnati Zoo, which is excellent. We only had the morning, and didn’t feel like we were obligated to hit every exhibit and get our money’s worth.

    11. Nitpicker*

      New York Times online including the crossword puzzle (crossword archives go back to 1994).
      BritBox (aka PBS on steroids); Met Opera on Demand)
      Inc online (not just for Alison)

    12. Blue wall*

      Substacks- so I don’t need to navigate the big news site and get news and writing I’m really interested in, often supporting independent creatives. Right now I pay for Daniel Gordis, The Free Press, Mari Andrew, and Parent Data.

      YMCA membership.

      Synagogue membership— so important to pay to support this, IMO.

      Less useful than I hoped due to time constraints: art museum and folk music society memberships

    13. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Tech and media for fun: Audible – this was much more important when I was working full-time and driving at least an hour a day. I cut back my membership and still really enjoy it. Spotify. Patreon subscriptions to crossword puzzles – really good puzzles and the pleasure of supporting constructors directly. Ad-free subscriptions to Paramount+ and Discovery+ because that’s most of my TV watching. The MLB app to listen to and watch out-of-market games.

      Museums: We live an hour from Philly and 90 minutes from NYC. When I retired I started joining museums. I now belong to the Barnes in Philly (haven’t been back to the Art Museum since pandemic and will probably join whenever I go next) and the Met, MOMA, Whitney, and Frick in NYC. I love being able to go for an hour when I’m in the neighborhood and I love the online and in-person member experiences. In each case I’ve joined at a level that allows me to take guests either for free or at a steep discount so I can easily go with friends. A friend from IL was in NYC for a few days and I suggested we go to the Met. She was hesitant until I explained that I could just take her and she LOVED it. So much fun for me!

    14. Maestra*

      Obé fitness – it’s both live and on demand exercise classes. The variety is good and the classes have been appropriately challenging. I like the instructors and the price isn’t bad!

      I have Apple Music because I got six free months with my headphones, but I’ve kept it because not having commercials when listening to music is key.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      When I lived in New York, the Bronx Zoo membership was well worth it-that got me free admission to the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Central Park zoos, and the Coney Island Aquarium, and we lived an easy bus trip away from the Bronx Zoo.

      The Seattle Zoo is, I think, worth it if you live in the city (and not across Lake Washington); the Boston (Franklin Park) zoo isn’t large or interesting enough for me to want a membership.

    16. Daily Fan*

      Any local museum (in the US) that is a member of the ASTC and/or NARM. Support local and get reciprical benefits from museums all over the country.

      1. Kay*

        I became a member of mine, and it translates to entry around the country at others (even though I still just pay their fees – good cause). Plus they usually have art and music events as well.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      WaPo, LA Times, and Boston Globe newspapers, although I haven’t read them much lately. My streaming subscriptions too (Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus). They provided information and escape throughout six years of hell.
      One paper is probably going to go. It won’t be the Globe because that’s MY paper now. :) My only beef with it is that the app sucks.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      I get every penny’s worth out of my Pandora One subscription. I use Spotify too but I like having Pandora play songs I wouldn’t have thought of.

      Peloton: I don’t have the equipment (I don’t like stationary bikes and I have a 20 year old treadmill that still works just fine), I just stream the workouts. They’re amazing. I don’t like doing most life-stuff online, but I have never liked going all the way to the gym just to work out.

      We had a membership to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta for years when my kids were growing up and we loved it. We have one the the Georgia Aquarium now; we don’t go as a family very often but my daughter goes to school downtown and she drops by a lot.

    19. Jay*

      My membership to 1-900-HOTDOG.
      It’s a comedy website run by the people who wrote for Cracked back when Cracked was fantastic. It is DEEPLY not safe for work, but also deeply hilarious.

    20. There You Are*

      NYT games subscription. I got one for me and one for my dad, who lives 1700 miles away. We enjoy low-key competing with each other on most of the games.

    21. Rebecca*

      My YMCA membership is so worth the $140/month it costs my family. I have 2 little ones who are at home with their dad during the day; the drop-in childcare is such a lovely way to get a break and wear them out before nap time!

  15. MissGirl*

    Give me your best non-work related ideas to do this weekend to distract me from a possible job offer/rejection on Monday.

    1. Harriet J*

      Do you want to be near or far from your phone/electronics?
      -if far – go birdwatching or swimming.
      -if near – do you have a closet or drawer that needs to be cleaned out?
      Sending positive vibes for a positive outcome!

    2. Yay!*

      Watch one (or all!) of the following feel good and/or funny movies:

      Galaxy Quest
      A Fish Called Wanda
      School of Rock
      Logans Lucky
      Oceans Eleven
      Bridget Jones’ Diary
      Legally Blonde

      Good luck on Monday!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Yay!*

          Which three? :-)

          Also on my list of things to watch when I’m tense or down in the dumps:
          The American President (precursor to The West Wing)
          The Good Place (Netflix)

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can you garden or get outside where you are? Go for hike or go to the beach. It’s always hard for me to obsess over something when I’m outside
      Good luck Monday!!

    4. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Are you crafty?

      -Learn a new craft from YouTube vids or WikiHows

      Do you prefer TV and movies?

      -Binge watching the Graceful Baker’s cookie decorating channel, cake decorating channels, Tasting History, or Food Wishes

      -Watch a TV show in another language (with subtitles), especially if you can find full episodes.

    5. MissGirl*

      Thanks everyone. First thing, I went to my mom’s last night for a few hours and promptly fell asleep. It’s easier to relax at someone else’s house. Today I’ve hiked, done a puzzle, watched a movie, and am planning on a sunset paddle board.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        These are all things I would have suggested — napping, being outside, being with loved ones. Hope things go well for you tomorrow, and that you have some peace inside even if the outcome isn’t great.

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Watch Love At First Bite on YouTube. Yes, things were different in the 1980’s, but Arte Johnson threatening to eat his lunch? So there.

      ‘Children of the Night! Shut up!’

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

        Oh, *Love at First Bite* is so fun! I just wish they hadn’t had some dispute over the music rights. That dance at the disco is supposed to be to *I Love the Nightlife*, but they dubbed something else over it.

  16. running watch help*

    I know there are a lot of runners here, so I’m looking for recommendations on a replacement watch. I run occasional marathons and have a Garmin Forerunner 220 that I’m looking to replace. All the new ones seem to have so many fancy features that I’m overwhelmed. I don’t particularly like the “smart” features, but they all seem pretty built in. I’m currently trying to decide among the Garmin Forerunner 45S, 55, 245 music, or 255S music. My understanding is that the first two are more basic, and the latter two more fancy, but past that I’m lost. Does anyone have experience with any of these?

    1. running watch help*

      For the more fancy ones, the music and course features seem potentially useful, but I would be interested if anyone has experience with how easy they are to use and if it’s worth it.

      1. Can't think of a funny name*

        I have the 245 music and I like it. I follow a training plan in Training Peaks and you can send the workout to your watch and I like being able to listen to music without having to carry my phone. I also like being able to monitor my heart rate…it’s very accurate. I’m sure there are a ton of features that I don’t use!

        1. running watch help*

          Thanks! I’m looking to avoid carrying my phone with music too. How easy was it to set that part up?

      2. Kay*

        I can’t help you with any of those specific models, but it would depend on the kind of running you want to do as to whether courses might be useful, and what you currently do for music. I have experience with the Fenix models and the course feature was one of the main reasons I started out there. I also go long distances, out in BFE, to places where there are multiple connecting trails, around the world, etc. Courses has been extremely helpful when the trail isn’t clearly defined, when I just want to get myself back to start, etc. My current favorite mp3 player is no longer made – so there may be a time the music feature will come in handy.

        There are tons of features I don’t use, but the ones I do make it worthwhile. Most things with Garmin are pretty easy in the way of setup, and they have excellent support for all their products in my experience.

    2. Angstrom*

      The best site I’ve found for sports electronics reviews is DC Rainmaker. Very detailed, LOTS of screen shots.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      I have the Garmin 255 Music (I think! i got it last year – this year’s model has a fancier screen).

      I’m very pleased with it. My previous watch was also whatever that year’s model of the Forerunner was.

      I like, in no particular order: that it comes in a small size, battery capacity is very very good (drains more depending on use, especially music), good set of functionality (I run a bit so don’t need the more advanced stuff ). Easy to use.

      The Garmin Connect app is good and shows all sorts of interesting things. I’ve found it easy to set up a training program (best via Garmin web site). My bank supports GarminPay, so I can use it to pay for stuff in a pinch.

      Also, their customer service is known for being top-notch. After a couple of years I broke a a pin in the strap of my previous watch. I contacted customer service, sent it in and they semt me a new watch.

      For setting up music: basically it supports Spotify, Deezer and a couple of other players. You set your watch and your phone on your local WiFi, and you ask the watch to synch with your player of choice. You then select playlist(s) to sync to the watch. Tajes a bit if time first time, depending in the size of the playlist. After that you’re good to go – headphones connect via bluetooth. Using it obviously drains battery moore.

      I found it very convenient, not having to bring a bigger phone.

      I do like some of the more advanced analytics that they have in the Forerunner. I find they give an interesting data point/base line for me.

      For the different Garmin models I suppose it comes down to look and feel, but as a marathon runner you are pretty advanced. Battery time would be a thing, especially if you are looking to use the music bit on longer runs (I think it’s 5-8 hours using music, rather than 10+ days otherwise :)) I’d say the newest Forerunner is for you!

    4. Two Dog Night*

      I love my Forerunner 245–the non-music model… but I don’t have experience with any of the others. I find that it covers the stats I’m interested in without adding in a bunch of extras that I don’t need. And I love being able to set up interval workouts.

  17. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I need white cat advice. Our foster cat Cherry (pictured above) has more white on her than any cat I’ve ever had. Two days ago she got into something very dirty (I have no idea what, she doesn’t go outside) and her previously snow white paws and stomach are now grey. Her own cleaning hasn’t taken care of it. Cat wipes (wipes designed for cats) haven’t had any effect. I have some dry cat shampoo that I might try this weekend. It doesn’t seem worth subjecting her to a full-on bath if we don’t have to. People with white cats, advice?

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      No white cats here, but a lot of dust balls. About the time you get her clean and pretty, she’ll go play in the grey again. Can you find her play ground first?

    2. Clarbar*

      Have you tried brushing in a dry shampoo? The dust/grime has probably settled down into the fur, so just wiping the top down won’t get most of it. (Source: we had a white kitten sneak under the fireplace grate.)

      1. Clarbar*

        (I’m dumb, and somehow skimmed past the sentence where you specifically said you were going to try a dry shampoo.)

    3. Don'tbeadork*

      You’ve used cat wipes, but have you done a very thorough brushing? If the grubby stuff is up near her skin then the wipes aren’t going to do any good. If anything, they’ll just dampen her fur and help the dirt stick better.

      Have you taken a very close look at all your houseplants? I wonder if she’s rooting around in a pot for some reason.

    4. Taking the long way round*

      I have a white cat who loves rolling in the soil in my garden – I think she likes the coolness of it. I brush her, but the dirt does go eventually. It might take a few days, but she looks white again afterwards. I have only had to wash her once when she got into something stinky and I didn’t want the place smelling.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        I just washed her on plain warm water and she didn’t hate it although she wasn’t massively fond of it.
        I’m going to try the suggestion below to use a wet washcloth.

    5. StellBella*

      take a wet washcloth and try to gently rub her. my cat loves this and it is nice in warmer months overall

      1. Ellis Bell*

        We have a cat who loves being dried off from the rain with kitchen paper. Sometimes I’m sure he goes rolling in wet grass deliberately for the sensation of being stroked with damp paper like a huge kitty lick. We used slightly damp kitchen paper to cool him off on hot days, and sure enough he loved it.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Agreed with trying the wet washcloth. In your situation I would quickly bathe just the paws and tummy in the sink, but I tend to default to washing in the sink. I’ve washed a lot of messy kittens!

    7. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      My snow white kitty with fairly long and super soft hair gets into all kinds of messy stuff in the yard. I got tired of showering her so I began to leave her be. She reverts to white in a few days.

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        I was going to write something similar. When I saw the kitty photo it reminded me of my much loved boy who passed away last year at the age of 21. He had similar coloring and when he occasionally got in the dirt (I took them outside for a walk every day), it would go away within a few days.

    8. Kate*

      She might not hate a shower?

      Our former cat needed pretty regular bathing since he, frankly, sucked at it.

      I acknowledge that he was weird in liking the occasional bath (he’s float around like a manatee, weirdo), but we later lived in a house with only showers and he didn’t mind those provided you were in there with him.

      Basically a human shower, but you are holding the cat facing outwards (aka claws AWAY from human body parts and use pet shampoo (human can irritate their skin).

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Do any of the other cats give her a bit of a wash? If you give her fur a good sniff, does it give you any clues how she got grubby? As it’s not oily or sticky, it will rub off on your furniture and carpets and clothes over a few days! I used to have a completely white cat and he loved nothing more than a dirt bath, sometimes he was almost unrecognisably brown. He would dig a hole in the soil and then roll and wriggle about in it with great enjoyment.

    10. TPS reporter*

      my mostly white cat loves to roll in the litter box so doesn’t look grey from it sometimes. and she gets a weird dirty looking patch near her bum. repeated brushing over several days seems to do the trick. is it okay to just leave them looking a bit dirty as long as they aren’t tracking anything on the floor?

    11. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I’ve had white cats get dirty and I would clean them up a little with a damp washcloth and let the rest just gradually wear off over time as the kitty cleans itself. it just less stressful for the kitty.

      1. RLC*

        Same here, and the damp washcloth session tends to encourage the cat to “finish the project” by self cleaning the dampened area.

    12. FaustaJunillia*

      Just a thought, but are you sure it’s dirt and not a gray undercoat starting to show? She may still be growing into her adult colors and the undercoat may not have been visible until now. I say that because her sooty patch reminds me a little of Dirt the Nevada railway museum cat (although he is a lot more extreme in the sooty department than Cherry! :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I thought that at first — I thought, “Oh, she’s developing colorpoints!” But I don’t think she could have developed them in four hours :)

  18. Summer Rose*

    Hoping to purchase a house soon-ish, and hoping to upgrade to a king size bed at that time! All our bed frames and mattresses have been hand-me-downs from relatives, but this we’ll likely buy new.
    I’m looking for a suggestions on how much we should budget for mattress and frame—we want both to be good quality, but don’t need deluxe or very top of the line. How much have you spent if you’ve purchased recently?

    1. Girasol*

      We got a Tuft and Needle, one of the mattresses that ships to your door compressed in plastic wrap and poofs out into a luxurious mattress when the plastic is cut. It’s lovely to sleep on. They’re running about $850-$1200 in Amazon depending on the thickness and model you want.

      1. MissCoco*

        Seconding Tuft & Needle, we are on our 2nd (upgraded to a larger bed) and after 4-5 years it is still supportive and comfy!

    2. Just Another Cog*

      We were temporarily using our guest bed and found out it was very uncomfortable. Kind of embarrassing to know our guests were not comfy. We bought a Sealy pillow top queen size with box spring and paid about $1300 total, on supposedly “half-price” sale. Our regular bed is a Cal King. We’ve had the bed frame for several years, so I don’t remember the cost. The mattress is a Sealy Posturepedic hybrid and we paid about $1700 (no box spring) on sale of course, about five years ago. I am frugal with a lot of things, but mattresses are one thing I’ll not cheap out on. There really is a difference between a cheap one and one that has a decent warranty. Expect a good mattress to last about 10 years. Get one with a good trial period since it takes a bit to acclimate to a new mattress and you don’t want to be stuck with a bad one.

    3. I'dliketoliveinalittleaptoverabookstoreonacobblestonest*

      We are looking for a new mattress now, and the prices seem to be all over the place. I am building out a spreadsheet including mattress price, delivery fees, restocking fees, return policies, sales promotions I’ve seen them offer, length of trial period, number of coils, edge support, firmness rating, etc. There are several really helpful articles online that you can find if you type in something like “best mattress” or best hybrid mattress,” including comments from folks who have tested them at home. We started there. Some of the more “eco friendly” mattresses really cost a small fortune, but I’ve seen so many amazing reviews. I did see something today about how some are made with fiberglass, which we definitely don’t want, so that could be something to look up as well. A family member loves their memory foam Nectar, and it is comfy, but it has zero edge support and is too squish to meet the needs of the other family member currently shopping. I would say read the “best of” articles, check out Consumer Reports (we can through our library for free), decide which features are most important to you, then find the brands that fill those needs, and you will have a better idea of possible spend. We are still looking for a unicorn eco friendly medium firm pillow top feel with no memory foam and a good coil count with good reviews and decent edge support and a bit of bounce for a stomach sleeper that doesn’t cost as much as a used car. Good luck!

    4. Zzzzzz*

      I spent a lot on a new mattress about 10 years ago–it wound up being way to uncomfortable (I mean, how can you really tell laying down in a store for 10 min, even w multiple visits back to the store “to be sure”–I then went on vaca and the air bnb had the most comfortable bed. Wrote to the owners: where did you get this mattress? IKEA. Cost was about half what I had spent… Couldn’t afford to go full new but did get an organic topper which made it the mattress a better “fit” for my comfort level. (Be careful w foam vs organic rubber toppers built into new mattresses that are not organic–many have off-gassing from petrol products that are truly harmful).

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My bed frame is a Malm from Ikea, wooden slats instead of a solid platform or box spring. We found that the slats do soften up, especially under bigger folks – my husband is 6’4″ and over 250, and he did actually break a couple of them when we had a really thin mattress. But they’re also per-side, not full-width, so what we ended up doing was sliding my side of slats over to him (because they were softer than new, but not as soft as his and not broken) and getting a new set for my side (because I prefer a really firm bed). We no longer have the really thin mattress – a couple years ago we upgraded to a Sealy Cocoon, though I don’t remember which version. It’s still a little softer than I’d prefer, but I deal. They’re reasonably priced though, I think we paid $700, and looks like they’re having a sale currently.

      Something else to note for a king bed – if you have different softness preferences, you can also get two twin mattresses (which is what we did for a while), and there’s doohickeys you can get to hold them together and cover the gap in between so no one falls in. We put both mattresses in one fitted sheet, then each of us had our own set of covers. (Eventually we concluded that our sleeping needs were just incompatible in pretty much every way, so we have our own bedrooms now. :P The dogs sleep with me so I got to keep the giant bed.)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      If you have an Ikea: In the past few years we swapped out the kids’ old beds (hand me down single with hand me down mattress) and got queen beds with new mattresses from Ikea. You probably want to go to a more serious furniture store for the bed frame part–our reasoning was “workable guest room option”–but Ikea has decent mattresses that aren’t too expensive and you can actually try them out.

    7. Pippa K*

      We got an inexpensive (maybe $500? for a queen) mattress from Costco and added a 3-inch memory foam topper. It worked so well that we did the same for the guest room and we’ve now had 3 houseguests ask about the topper so they could buy the same one themselves, so it seems a pretty broadly liked arrangement. For the frame, we have one metal one from Wayfair that we’re really happy with, but of course the risk with Wayfair is that quality seems to vary a lot. We also found a vintage solid-wood bed and matching furniture at a local secondhand shop, and it’s honestly much nicer than any of my previous bedroom furniture (and cost $300 for the whole set, a bargain I’m still pleased about four years later!). If you have time to keep an eye out for something you like, vintage stuff can be better-built than new.

    8. Maryn*

      When we moved three years ago, we ordered the cheapest Casper foam mattress to tide us over until the moving van arrived with our bazillion-dollar “real” mattress.

      Guess what we’re sleeping on.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      We spent $1100 on a cal king recently, but it was a Memorial Day Sale (which google told us was the best time for mattress sales). The mattress in question was normally $2300, but I’m guessing can usually be had “on sale” for something less, just how much depends on timing.
      Can’t help on the frame as we’ve had that size for a while and have the plainest plain frame, and I’m pretty sure it was free with our original purchase 20 years ago.

    10. Anono-me*

      Don’t know about recent matress prices, but no matter how much we shop around, we have always ended up getting our mattresses at Macy’s Labor Day sale. If there is one near you, you may want to check into it.
      Congratulations on the new place.

  19. Green Goose*

    Hi all. I volunteered to be part of a community group that is trying to address needs of our city because I have a specific skill set that I thought could be helpful to them, doing behind the scenes research and helping them with processes. They were originally looking for people with strong ties in our community, which I don’t have, so I emailed them letting them know this but also explaining how my background could be helpful in a different way. They encouraged me to apply so I did, and was selected as a volunteer.
    I’ve gone to a few meetings/trainings but the host organization has not been super clear about what we’re doing, but it seems like from more of a place of disorganization than them trying to be covert. I’ve been patient because I’ve always wanted to volunteer in my community and I know that they are being pulled in many directions.
    The upcoming meeting was originally supposed to be another virtual meeting but then I got an email saying it was “in person” and that we should wear comfortable shoes and bring water as we were doing an “outreach training” and “outreach”.
    I felt an immediate dread, as this is not something I would have signed up to do. I’m really more interested in doing behind the scenes work, and helping them with strategic organization, systematizing their work/processes. I have worked in the past where I had to hand out flyers or go up to people and ask them to engage with me and I really, really didn’t like it. We also live in a city that is a high crime area, and I’m worried they would want us to go door to door or engage with people that don’t want to engage with us.
    This is the first time there has been a solid “plan” but I really don’t want to do this/go if it’s any of the scenarios I’ve mentioned above. I did ask the point person if they could give me more information about what “outreach” means and where it would be, but since they are pretty disorganized and unclear, should I be really direct and say what I don’t want to do? That feels a bit awkward to me, especially if that is not what they are planning.
    I have professional ties to people in the org (no one that works there directly, but I work with people that they know) so I feel like I can’t just ghost them. Am I overreacting? Is this weird? I’m starting to feel like a bit of bait and switch, but I’m also just not sure.

    1. Samwise*

      Email (or call): I’m so sorry, I won’t be able to participate in Outreach Event.

      You don’t need to say anything else. If anyone asks, say “There is a conflict.” Smile and shrug.

      You don’t need to participate in anything you don’t like doing. It’s not work.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      Sounds like a bit of a mess to me. Is there really not someone readily available to tell you exactly what they plan to do, exactly where and for how long? That’s ridiculous. Maybe they don’t need somebody behind the scenes right now. I think they need someone right in front with some common sense.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You don’t need to dance around it — you’re a volunteer! You can just be straightforward about what you are and aren’t interested in doing. For example: “I’m not interested in doing outreach work so I won’t be attending, but if you need someone to do research or (whatever else you’re willing to do) I’m interested in that. If you can use me that way, please let me know!”

    4. Yoli*

      I’m going to offer a different perspective and say that the outreach may be one of the initial tasks because they want to weed out folks coming in with a savior mindset, particularly if many of the volunteers lack community ties or there’s a trend of the volunteer vs. recipient group makeup reflecting existing power dynamics.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t not do it, but it does mean it might not be the right fit if it turns out they are trying to build a coalition of volunteers who understand, empathize with, and humanize the challenge and then assign folks to tasks/roles based on the skill sets they bring with them (aka liberatory design), but you’re looking for discrete, task-driven opportunities to help.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I think most such organizations could benefit from the skillset that LW is offering for behind-the-scenes work, where having or not having a savior complex would not be an issue. LW might be a one-of-a-kind volunteer for them and was included in this email because no-one was paying attention to how inappropriate it was for LW. (LW said they seem to be pretty disorganized.)

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I think “community group that is trying to address needs of our city” would be a pretty big clue that there will be a lot of face-to-face community involvement with a wide range of people and neighborhoods. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a group with a much narrower focus.

      1. Celeste*

        But it doesn’t mean every volunteer is doing that all the time. OP made it clear she’s looking to use other skills which is a totally reasonable thing to do, and they took her up on it initially.

    6. Sunny*

      At work, one of my coworkers convinced me to join an employee volunteer group because she said they needed someone with research skills to do research for them. After I joined, they immediately asked me to be the “secretary” and do things like attend all the meetings and take meeting minutes (which bothered me because I was the only woman). They had me go to every desk in our building to hand fliers and magnets to employees (I have social anxiety, so interrupting so many strangers at work was horrible). Then I had to write their first newsletter, stay after work to sort through donations, etc. I started dreading the volunteer group and asked when they were going to need help with research. “Not right now,” they said. I quit because I had only volunteered to do a specific thing and they clearly wanted volunteers who could do whatever they asked.

      I feel like your situation could end up being the same. I’d reiterate that you can help with a, b and c tasks, not outreach, and ask them to contact you when they’re ready for help with that.

  20. I'm fabulous!*

    Hi all. I’ve been helping to declutter both my stuff and that of a deceased relative’s. We’re looking to try to sell some books and music online but is eBay still popular?

    1. Taking the long way round*

      I used Ziffit for books – it was quite good, although read the terms closely. I don’t think a lot of people realise that when they actually receive your books they can keep them but decline to pay you for them for damage. E.g. I had one book declined because of ‘water damage’! It wasn’t damaged when I sent it.
      So that’s annoying if they do that for a lot of books. But if the books are in good condition and you package them well, I think ziffit are good and they pay quickly.

    2. GoryDetails*

      A friend of mine uses eBay pretty regularly – though when I dipped into it, it seemed to me that you had to do more work to set up your “sell” page than I was ready for. I sold quite a few books on Amazon Marketplace some years back, and for me that worked well; sure, Amazon took a biggish cut, but listing the books was really, really easy, and the site handled the listings and offered postage-label printing and had pretty good coverage for cases where the customer was unhappy. (I always listed my books as slightly less-good condition than they actually were, to ensure that what I thought of as “very fine” wouldn’t disappoint someone else.)

      These days I put most of my no-longer-keeper books into Little Free Libraries, and haven’t tried selling any in ages; not sure if that appeals to you. (I’m talking typical home-library books here, not first edition/limited edition rarities.)

    3. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Ebay is still popular but I recommend checking how much effort it is to set up a sellers page. It was a lot of work when I started, but worth it for the sheer amount of stuff I had. They’ve recently re-vamped their app and browser site, it might be easier now. Once the setup was done making new listings was pretty easy, and you could buy shipping labels at a discount if you set the shipping method when you listed it.
      Neighborhood apps like OfferUp can work, it depends on the area. Sometimes it’s just people who want things for free. Offerup lets you say you will ship the item so it will show up in searches far away from you.

    4. Lucia Pacciola*

      Once I’ve decided something shouldn’t be taking up space in my life, I tend to want to get it out of my life as quickly as possible. Managing an eBay auction just seems like a way to have it take up even more space in my life.

      Therefore, I recommend Powell’s Books. They have online selling options. Just do that, get it over with, enjoy the fresh space in your life. https://www.powells.com/sell-books

    5. Middle Aged Lady*

      I also recommend Powell’s. You can wnter an ISBN and they tell you upfront what they will pay.
      This isn’t what you asked, but since lots of people are downsizing it’s very hard to sell books and music. If you itemize taxes (at least in the US) you may make more ‘profit’ by donating the items and taking the charity deduction. The IRS provides a valuation list that makes it easy. Get a receipt from the organization and keep your valuation list in case you are audited and you’re good to go!
      In many cases you can deduct up to 50% of your adjusted groos income.

      1. I'm fabulous!*

        I’m okay with that. I was hoping to make some extra dollars but I’m happy to donate some. Right now, I’m staying in NYC until the holidays so I’m trying to bring somethings to Strand Bookstore to sell. I’m probably getting a third of the original price tag per book (there are some they don’t take at all).

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          Ooh never heard of the Strand. I imagine it being like Powell’s. I was at Powell’s a couple of weeks ago with friends from out of town. We spent five hours there and could have stayed longer. They have a cafe so you can take a break in the middle of shopping.

  21. Professor Plum*

    I bought new frying pans based on last week’s useful purchases thread. Thanks Brontosaurus for the Starfrit the Rock recommendation—love how my eggs are just sliding out now!

    Has anyone else make a successful purchase from an AAM recommendation?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      One of my fellow UK commenters recommended Lindex soft bras a while back and I have 5 of them now. They’re really comfortable and not too expensive either!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Lots of books, with special thanks for those who put me onto The Scholomance and Murderbot.

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      My bionic hose was delivered and I hooked it up to my outside faucet yesterday, but it’s been raining so I havent tried it out yet. :-)

    4. Pieforbreakfast*

      I bought the Lily cat hair cleaner mentioned last week and it is great. I also ordered the Starfit pan and it is arriving today!

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

      Books and tv shows from here!

      I also wanted to put in a plug for the cooljams neck pillow, which I forgot to put in last week’s thread. It has gel in it that helps wick away heat from your head. It’s not perfect, but it’s wide enough that if my part of the pillow gets warm, I can move to another part of the pillow that is deliciously cool without flipping the pillow over.

    6. There You Are*

      I missed last week’s useful purchases thread but want the world to know that I have found the best body wipes: Hercules for Body.

      They’re branded as “job site” wipes (“The Job May Stink – You Don’t Have To”) but they’re the best body wipes I have tried.

      And I have tried dozens. Literally. I broke my foot, tore the tendons in my wrist, and then tore my rotator cuff all in the span of a few weeks. I haven’t been able to take a shower. So I have had a desperate need for a wipe that is large enough, strong enough, and stays damp long enough to clean at least my legs and feet (one wipe), and then my torso and arms (a 2nd wipe).

      And I really, really, really did not want to smell like I’d just had my diaper changed, which was the underlying scent of alllllll the other wipes, even the unscented ones. [Dude Wipes? Baby smell. Lume Acidified Wipes? Baby smell. Any of the “water” wipes? Baby smell.]

      Plus, all of those other wipes tore to shreds and fell apart if I tried to do any actual scrubbing with them.

      I’ll keep buying Hercules for Body even after all of my injuries heal and I can shower again. Imagine going camping and being able to get really, truly clean miles away from any water source.

  22. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    Does anyone have good suggestions for keeping track of things in a side-by-side refrigerator?

    I’m one of those people who forgets about things if I don’t see them, and I feel like my refrigerator skills just aren’t up to having a side-by-side refrigerator, and stuff keeps getting pushed to the back and forgotten about. I’ve always had top-freezer units before, and as long as I used the crisper drawers for beer, candy, and soda rather than fruits and veggies I was fine. I could see all the way to the back of the fridge, so I’d notice stuff and eat it or throw it out as needed. (Fruits and veggies go as close to eye level as possible. Sure, they’ll theoretically go bad faster outside of a crisper drawer, but I will also eat them sooner so it all works out.)

    The house I bought 5-ish years ago had a side-by-side, and it’s just been a constant battle of once something isn’t in the very front part of a shelf, it’s dead to me. For things that I need an entire shelf-depth of it works out because I just pull out the existing milk and put the new milk behind it when I’m unloading groceries, but once the jar of salsa ends up behind the ketchup I won’t remember I even own salsa until I wonder why there’s no room on the “taller than eggs, but shorter than milk” shelf for the jar of salad dressing and start digging, thus unearthing the Salsa That Once Was, But Is No Longer and other assorted gross treasures. I could put the same kinds of things that I put in the crisper drawers on the back halves of those shelves, but I don’t really need more places to store bottled water and soda, I need more places to store salad dressing, salsa, and leftovers where I actually remember that I have those things and will eat them.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Bins! Assemble your like-kind things together (ketchup/mustard/mayo, or ketchup/soy sauce/sriracha, it doesn’t matter so long as they go together in your mind; sometimes I arrange them by “small jar/big jar”). Pop them into appropriate sized bins or boxes. I’m a sucker for specialty organizing products, but you can use leftover amazon boxes or shoe boxes. Don’t insist that the boxes all be the same shape and size – use whatever works for the stuff you’re putting into them.

      Especially be sure to group your perishables in bins, like dairy products, deli meats, veggies, etc. Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re a milk/yogurt/cottage cheese person or a milk/orange juice/coffee creamer person.

      Now when you are looking for the carrots you will pull out the veggie bin and you will see that half of a yellow pepper you wrapped up two days ago.

      If you do like specialty organizing products, I really like the lucite shoe boxes that can stack on top of each other and have little drawers that pull out. I keep two small sized ones stacked on my fridge shelf and I (roughly) keep cheeses in one and deli meats/cooked leftover protein in the other.

      1. Tinamedte*

        One of the bins can be specifically for “eat this stuff soon” and then you make a habit of checking that bin first every time you cook.

    2. Aphrodite*

      This may or may not help but would it be useful to keep a whiteboard or paper on the refrigerator and put a note on it every time you put something like salsa in and the date. For example, if you mentally or physically number your shelves it could read: Salsa / Shelf 2. / 7/28. The cross it off or erase it when you use it up.

      It’s not what you are looking for but it is low tech, low- or no-cost, and effective.

      1. Squidhead*

        Team White Board! Even in our top-mount fridge with crisper drawers, we forget that one of us got zucchini and it winds up buried under the spinach. Veggies get listed on the white board along with things like potatoes or tomatoes which we keep in a cupboard but don’t always have in stock & so might forget. We have untrustworthy cats so leaving things (even stable fruit) out on the counter where we can see it doesn’t work for us.

        Stuff in small jars (salsa, pickles, jam) goes on the fridge door and is usually one-in-one-out. We’re grouping it by size, not flavor, but at least we know where to look for condiments/seasonings, and every few weeks we do a “what needs using up?” survey when planning our grocery shopping.

    3. Firebird*

      Related items go in shelf-sized bins and trays, that I can pull out like drawers. It helps cut down on the number of duplicates and expired items I kept finding. It’s easier to get to the stuff in the back, when I only have to pull out a bin or tray to see what’s in the back, instead of pulling things out one by one.

    4. California Dreamin’*

      My mother-in-law has sort of a lazy Susan spinning tray on one of her refrigerator shelves. She keeps things like pickles, sour cream, salsa, stuff like that on it, and you just spin it around to find what you’re looking for. Maybe something like that would help?

      1. English Rose*

        Yes that’s what I was about to say. I got one recently, keep it on the top shelf for just this purpose and it’s a life saver. I was embarrassed at the number of out of date pickles and jam I found when I was installing it.
        Plus clear plastic bins for vegetables in the big crisper draw.

    5. Roland*

      I try to keep back layers to things that I know I always have – for example eggs, butter, and drinks. And always on the same shelf – my butter (beyond the one in the door) is always in the back of the top, drinks are always in the back above the crisper, etc. Works for me because I force myself to add them ro my shopping list the second I run out (or even before), so I KNOW I can always count on them being there without having to see it.

    6. FashionablyEvil*

      The other thing that helps me is doing a weekly review of the fridge before I go shopping. I rummage around and say, “oh, there’s half a jar of tomato sauce and that cauliflower I didn’t end up cooking this week. I should make pizza one night and plan to cook the cauliflower tonight.”

      Also, smaller containers and packages of things helps too so I don’t feel bad if I have to toss them.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      We do a weekly inventory. That way we know what we’re low on, what we have too much of, and what’s about to go bad. Then we plan our grocery shopping and our next few-several meals based on what we find.

      Then we do a quarterly clean-out. Hopefully we don’t have to toss anything — wasting food is a huge peeve, though of course sometimes it happens.

      If the format of the fridge is truly not working for you, though, why not replace it? Sell this one for a few hundred and put that cash toward one that is configured in a way that is more helpful for you.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Similarly, I do a weekly clean-out (a strong word, this is a five-minute rummage) when it’s time to take the trash bins to the curb, because I don’t want molding food to sit long in the trash bins. So on weeks I’m really on the ball, the last thing I do before bins is go through the fridge quickly to see if there’s anything that’s rotting. This is the only way stuff that has slipped into the back can re-emerge.

    8. crookedglasses*

      Whew, I also struggle with this.

      Something that did not work for me but might work for you was making a bunch of magnets for each type of produce I tend to buy. Whatever fruits or veggies I had on hand, I would put the magnets front and center on the fridge to prompt myself that way.

      I like the lazy Susan suggestions above, I may pick one up to see if that helps.

    9. Bye Academia*

      I have a pretty small fridge in my apartment so I have to use every inch of space. I’ve found it helpful to keep a list on my phone of the produce/fresh condiments I buy, and delete as I use it up. It makes it easy to see what I need to use up when I’m planning my next meals/grocery trips.

      Another thing to consider if this style of fridge just isn’t working for you is to get a different one. One of the beauties of owning is that you can change pain points like this. (I rent, so my small fridge is here to stay.) You could sell this fridge on craigslist/facebook marketplace and buy your replacement the same way so you’re not wasting a good fridge or spending too much extra money. Even if it is a little extra cost, you may find that it’s still worth it to have less food go bad.

    10. chocolate muffins*

      We use one shelf per meal – all the breakfast stuff on one shelf, lunch on a different shelf, dinner, and snacks. And we try to put the tall stuff in back and the shorter stuff in front, though we are (um … I am) sometimes more successful than other times.

  23. Woman in the Booth Behind You*

    I am exactly like this myself. Sometimes I’ll miss a side quest or two because I just don’t know it is there, but in general, I will totally run back and forth across the whole map looking for that one special thing that’s not even worth the trouble.

    But hey, I find it fun. It’s been a while since I’ve booted up the Playstation, though.

  24. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Doorbell recommendations! We’re thinking about a simple model with just the chime. We’ve always been in two minds about a video doorbell, because of the costs involved, and concerns it may not be that efficient for us (our front door is almost at street level: if we set up alerts for people approaching, they’d risk to pick up any random passer-by).

    We need something that is not siren-loud, but can be heard from a distance. At the moment, if someone knocks and we’re in the garden or not on the ground floor (three-storey house), we almost certainly miss it.

    The doorbell would sit next to the front door, and when it rains, it would be pretty exposed, so weatherproof is another quality we look for.

    There are so many brands on Amazon, I feel overwhelmed just trying to browse. Are there any you’ve been particularly happy with?

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve been. happy with my Cacazi wireless doorbells. I wanted a situation with no “smart” features but which would let me have two different doorbells with different chimes (one on the gate to the backyard and one on the front door) that would both ring on multiple base stations in different parts of the house (mostly so I could hear the front doorbell ring when I’m in the backyard).

      I think the package I got came with 2 doorbells and 3 base stations, although I only use 2 of the base stations due to my house layout. If I were buying it again, I’d get a set with one more doorbell than I thought I’d need, because there have been a few times that I wished I had one to leave someplace temporarily. (Mostly for Halloween, so I can let kids ring a bell at the bottom of my porch steps to let me know to come out and send candy down a chute rather than bunching up on my tiny porch right by my front door.)

      My family previously used a set of these doorbells as a “call button” system for my grandmother when she lived with my mother, so she could hit a button attached to her walker or on her side table if she needed help while everyone else was in other parts of the house. Worked well for that, which is why I bought them for actual doorbells when I got a house where I kept missing people ringing the front doorbell when in the backyard. (Grandma was not a tech/gadget person, so we wanted something that literally only had one button, and what she was supposed to do was just push that button, rather than an intercom system or similar. Gave her more privacy and agency than a baby monitor without making her fiddle with something she’d have to learn how to use.)

    2. Imtheone*

      You can get some electric doorbells with a second set of chimes. Those plug into an outlet, so you can add chimes to another part of the house. That could help with hearing the doorbell when you are far from the door.

    3. Generic Name*

      We have the Ring camera doorbell, and you can set the zone it detects so it only picks up someone on your porch, for example.

      1. Kay*

        Our experience with this has been terrible, well, with Ring in general, and wouldn’t recommend them. We actually stopped using it because it either constantly went of for… ghosts apparently… our we would get a video of the backside of the FedEx driver as he disappeared from view (after clearly being right in front of the door). I’ve read some people had good experiences but it was a solid waste of money for us.

    4. Observer*

      Does your current doorbell have chimes already in the rest of the house? If so, unless it’s something like an actual intercom system, many of the doorbells can connect to that so you can continue to use that.

      If not, look at the ones that have extra chimes. I will say that for us, it didn’t work out because they all came with *one* chime, which wouldn’t have been enough. And either you couldn’t add chimes or the additional chimes were out of stock.

      What we wound up doing was getting a Nest video doorbell and adding a Nest mini speaker. (We already had one). Between the two speakers in different parts of the house, we have pretty good coverage. If you tend to keep a smart phone with you, you can also connect that, so that’s another way to make sure you don’t miss the doorbell. There are a number of doorbells that have this functionality, not just nest.

      The thing to look at if you get a video doorbell, and you don’t want constant alerts when someone passed your house etc. is to look at the software set up. The better ones let you do things like fence the area you want it to monitor. For instance, in my case, I kept on getting alerts about the next door neighbor’s door. While I can’t really do much about the angle of the camera, I really don’t need or want those alerts. So I showed the software what is my porch and what is not, and now the only thing I get are stuff at my door. There are also other setting that may be relevant, like how sensitive you want the camera to be and whether to ignore animals, etc.

  25. Lilo*

    I’m staying briefly with a friend in England next week and she suggested I bring US snacks for her kid when I asked about what I could do as a thank you for staying with her. I’ve used Google to seek out American snacks that aren’t available in the UK and gotten mixed results. Like some sources say peanut butter M&Ms or Cheez Its, other sources say those are easily available in the UK.

    It’s not Girl Scout cookie time where I live, so that idea is out. I was thinking maybe Maple Sugar Candy? Trader Joe’s Pickle chips/crisps?

    1. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      Peanut butter pretzel bits? If they can eat spicy, Trader Joe’s chilli lime cashews?

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve always wondered what graham crackers are like. I’ve tried to make s’mores with substitutes like digestive biscuits, but I have no idea how authentic that is.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I think graham crackers and digestive biscuits are pretty much indistinguishable. Graham crackers are usually made with molasses, but IMO there is so little actual molasses in them that it adds color more than flavor, really. (Now I want to try to have a blind taste test to see if I prefer one to the other.)

        1. Blythe*

          I find graham crackers and digestives to be very different. I could cheerfully interchange them and be happy, but I would *definitely* be able to tell the difference! Maybe bring some and make s’mores? Or make rootbeer floats? I think that’s pretty quintessentially American…

    3. Laura Petrie*

      There are a lot of US candy stores in the UK but they charge ridiculous prices and many are thought to be a front for money laundering.

      Honestly, the novelty of US sweets will get you brownie points. Personally, I love Trader Joes biscuits (cookies) of whatever flavour is seasonal, Swedish Fish, Goldfish and the interesting flavours of Sour Patch Kids.

      Unless you know the kids like pickles, steer clear of TJ’s pickle stuff. It’s certainly an interesting flavour but not one that’s popular here.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Woah, I didn’t know that about the money laundering. They are starting to spring up in Ireland. Only noticed them over the last year or so. Wonder if that is true here.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          Very possibly. If you search for ‘American candy stores Oxford Street’ there are quite a lot of stories about how dodgy they are for various reasons including tax evasion, money laundering and counterfeit goods

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, and they’re absolutely ruining the look of Oxford Street. It’s quite sad – so many shops have closed thanks to the pandemic etc and they’ve been filled in by American candy shops and short-term lease places selling knock-off suitcases etc. It looks horrible, they pay no tax and they’re undoubtedly a front for something dodgy.

    4. Sage*

      we always used to bring back from Canada to the UK: goldfish, goober (the peanut butter and grape jelly in a jar), peanut butter m and ms (you can get the peanut ones but the peanut butter ones are hard to find), french onion soup mix (for making dip with sour cream – oddly hard to find here!), president’s choice chocolate chip cookies (Canada only but you may have something similar!). Maple sugar candy and proper maple syrup too!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you live in the mid-Atlantic part of the States, bring Utz crab chips. Along those lines, if there’s anything super regional I would go with that (I would bring Tastykakes, for example), like your maple sugar candy idea. I disagree about the pickle chips– I think a small bag or two of those is worth a try, since that’s pretty uniquely American and in this case, uniquely American is the point.

      When I was studying in England many, many years ago, my grandmother sent me boxes of Kraft mac and cheese. It horrified my flatmates but I was so happy. Travels well, too.

      1. Laura Petrie*

        It’s actually illegal to bring any kind of potato products into the UK from overseas but I don’t know how much this is enforced.

        Some kind of cheesy snack will go down way better than pickle chips. I’m British and afore pickles and I hated them. Pickles as in pickled gherkins are not particularly popular in the UK.

        I forgot about different flavours of Oreo. We can get standard ones here but not the seasonal varieties you get in the US

    6. Squidhead*

      TJ’s licorice might be a good one, since every British style of licorice I’ve had is more like “allsorts” rather than the sweeter chunkier kind. Not too large to put in a suitcase, either. I don’t know about things like basic pretzels? When my brother worked overseas he missed that type of crunchy snack…your basic pretzel rods or twists, or flavored ones like honey-mustard…but he wasn’t in the UK.

    7. Lilo*

      Peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s seem like a good idea. I’ve read elsewhere cheese popcorn might be a good idea? Whatever season items them have (if they still have lemon batons) that might be a good idea. I know Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi but that does seem to mean TJ’s stuff is in Aldis in the UK.

      The kid in question is the same age as my own kid (preschool) so pick out stuff my son likes.

    8. No Tribble At All*

      One of my UK friends always requested pop-tarts in the wildest flavors you can find. Apparently they only have strawberry and chocolate over there. So whatever seasonal or red velvet Oreo flavored pop-tart nonsense you can find :)

      1. Lilo*

        It’s funny because I sort of pick stuff I normally eat and I don’t think I’ve had a Pop Tart since I was in high school. So I need to rethink my paradigm.

      2. Madame Arcati*

        Yes that’s true and pop tarts of any kind aren’t that common.
        I remember when I was small a packet of Jolly Ranchers causing quite the sensation – you can get them here but they aren’t widespread and it depends where your friend lives. Any fruity candy is probably of interest as our purple/black sweets are blackcurrant flavour whereas I understand yours are usually grape flavour. Nothing in the U.K. is grape flavour (apart from…grapes) so that would be a novelty.
        I’ve not seen peanut butter M&Ms but I have seen Reese’s pieces although not as often as I’d like! Other Reese’s candy is easy to get.
        It’s bulky but it is light so I’ll suggest it – American cereal. One sees Froot Loops and Cookie crisp etc on tv shows but you can’t get it here.
        Lastly and I mean this from a place of love; no Hershey’s or other chocolate.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      Anything from Trader Joe’s will definitely go over well, because we don’t have TJ’s here. Ranch-flavoured chips might be popular, since that’s a flavour that doesn’t really exist in the UK. The pretzels you mentioned would probably be a good choice. Also, you can get Reese’s peanut butter cups here, but they’re pretty rare. I have never seen Cheez Its here. Hopefully, this will give you a few choices!

      1. Mechanical Theft Robot*

        Reeses peanut butter cups are not hard to find here. B&M, Poundland, even normal corner shops these days!

    10. Canadien*

      Something that’s a limited edition or “crazy” flavour of something that’s otherwise a normal snack has a fair chance of not being available in the UK.

    11. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      The quality of most American chocolates aside, what about Twin Bing or Cherry Mash candy bars? My brother says he didn’t often find them even in the stores on base when he was overseas. Definitely check for freshness, the ones I get in Arizona are sometimes stale.

      1. WhatTheWhat*

        I’ve lived in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and theff Southwest (and traveled through most of the rest of the US) and I’ve never heard of either of these. Are they uber local? Where do they exist/what are they?

        1. Bings are awesome*

          Developed and originally made I. Sioux City, Iowa! Cherry center (like cherry fluff) covered in a chocolate peanut coating. That’s what a Twin Bing is! Cherry Mash is the same thing as a single but made from a different candy company!

    12. Pretty as a Princess*

      When we were visiting friends who were expatting in Germany a few years ago, we asked what we could bring for the kids. Their 12 year old daughter desperately missed Hershey kisses. (All the brilliant chocolate in Germany of course, but she also really just loved Hershey kisses and could not get them!)

      So we brought her a 5-lb bag from Costco:)

      Based on what I just saw in an “American Candy” store in Belfast on vacation a few weeks ago, here are some other thoughts: American KitKats (different overseas), maybe some of those specialty flavors of Oreos, Jolly rancher candy, Nerds, basic nacho cheese Doritos. (Seriously, all of this has varieties in the UK but not the US varieties)

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      My sister in law who lives in the Netherlands always requests sugary breakfast cereal – we bring her kids those multipack of single serving boxes. Also home made chocolate chip cookies.

    14. Yay*

      See’s Candy. Expensive, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love them. Including folks overseas.

    15. Been There*

      Pop Tarts! That’s what I always bring back when I visit the States :-)
      With M&M’s I think you could go for the more special flavours.

    16. londonedit*

      Are Fruit Roll-Ups still a thing? We lived in the US briefly when I was a child and I absolutely loved those. Haven’t had them since I last visited in 2014! There’s nothing exactly like that here, so they might go down well as a novelty.

      1. Snell*

        Well, if you’re bringing up fruit roll-ups, I can’t not bring up fruit by the foot, which, by my own childhood memory, were a more fun configuration.

  26. English Rose*

    Headphones with hearing aids.
    I’ve had hearing loss since childhood and wear hearing aids in both ears. Does anyone have suggestions for headphones you can wear on top of hearing aids? I get fed up taking them in and out to put earbuds in, and big headphones which enclose the whole ear can be uncomfortable on top of the hearing aids.
    I wear receiver in canal aids.
    I’ve been looking at different options on Amazon but getting very confused!

    1. *kalypso*

      My dad’s hearing aids are headphones but he still uses Sennheiser overears I got him for Christmas one year – they do enclose the ear, but they are large enough to accommodate his aids. I’ll have to get the model number off him next time I visit, but he prefers those to the old foam-covered airline-type ones that used to be common before over-ear and earbud became the main types.

    2. Llellayena*

      Are your hearing aides the Bluetooth version that can tap into audio systems at concerts and speaking events (my church advertises that people can tune their hearing aides to the system)? If they are, maybe you can use the hearing aides AS the headphones?

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Seconding the hearing aids as earbuds.

        My uncle-in-law is in his upper 70s, and has a pair that he absolutely loves

        1. English Rose*

          Thanks, I’ll look into the Sennheisers.
          And no, can’t use current ones as earbuds, but I’ll talk to my audiologist about that option next time I visit.
          Thanks for the suggestions, much appreciated.

          1. Observer*

            And no, can’t use current ones as earbuds, but I’ll talk to my audiologist about that option next time I visit.

            You should definitely talk to your audiologist. Properly set up they can be magical.

            My mother has hearing aids and we wound up getting the bluetooth ones for her for other reasons. Discovering this capacity has been a game changer for her phone calls with the grand kids.

      2. Mimmy*

        Thirding this! I have a special accessory that allows me to use my hearing aids as earbuds on my desktop or iPad. It does require a recharge about 1-2 times a week, but I love it. I have not tried the device to tap into audio systems yet. I also love that phone calls go directly into my hearing aids (no accessory needed). I also have an app but I haven’t figure out all its bells and whistles. It is amazing what hearing aids can do nowadays!

        I do see below that you can’t use your current pair of hearing aids, but definitely look into Bluetooth hearing aids, even if down the road. The accessories can get expensive, but it is so, so worth it.

    3. Samwise*

      I have pricey behind the ear prescription hearing aids that are Bluetooth enabled. Highly recommend if you can afford them. Phonak brand.

      I also have Bose headphones that work well with the hearing aids.

  27. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Our poor old dog (almost 13) is having some terrible anxiety issues. He’s always been anxious, but the fireworks this year really put him over the edge. We used to take him for 20-minute walks before bed, now even getting him outside is a struggle and keeping him outside for longer than a single pee is out of the question. We live in an apartment building and we’ve even had incidents where he has peed on the hallway carpet to avoid going out. (We clean it up thoroughly, I promise!) This is a dog who has never had an inside accident in the 10 years we have had him. It’s only his last walk of the day– mornings are still hour-plus sniff-fests, and he goes out willingly in the afternoon (but he won’t stay out, which I attribute to the heat). I’ve tried some things like a Thundershirt and increasing some of his arthritis meds but nothing has truly helped.

    We’re going on vacation on Monday and boarding him at his daycare with some of his favorite people, including the dog behaviorist who owns the place. I’m so hoping the change of environment and being away from us (I’m pretty sure our stress contributes to his anxiety) will help, but man, I am so worried about my buddy. Has anyone experienced a sudden change in behavior like this, and were you able to fix it?

    I’m also concerned about sundowning, since he is pretty senior. If boarding doesn’t help then there will be a vet appointment as soon as possible when we get back.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      It sounds like you’re on the right track! My vet has suggested meds for anxiety/pain and that’s where I would look, since this is obviously an age-related increase in anxiety. He may be losing vision or hearing, causing him to be less certain at night. My boy woke up one day refusing to cross our local bridges, out of the blue. Never quite figured out the cause but I suspect his vision. Eventually he regained some confidence and can often make it now. I wouldn’t worry about him with boarding as he’ll likely take his cues from his dog-buddies there, and as you say he’s in good hands with an experienced behaviorist anyway. Enjoy your trip.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you, that’s reassuring. And I truly believe that the dogs support each other at boarding and daycare (I make jokes about how they compare fireworks notes and tell vacation stories, but I kind of believe it happens in their doggy way). People often ask us why we still send him to daycare once a week when he doesn’t really play much anymore, but he gets a lot of benefit from being around different people and from watching the younger doggies romp around.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is there something different about the last walk of the day? Busier around the building, less light? If he’s having sensory input changes (vision or hearing trouble, etc) those types of differences could feel more overwhelming than they used to. Are there stairs? He might just be physically not feeling up to going up and down stairs and going out at the end of the day – You know you just want him to go out long enough to pee, but for all he knows you want him to go out and romp and play for an hour and he’s just not wanting to deal with it. I feel you though – the only real plus to my Elder Statesdog (now gone beyond) going mostly deaf was that fireworks and thunderstorms didn’t bother her anymore because she couldn’t hear them :( But not being able to hear anything else bugged her a lot.

      If it comes to the vet appointment (or for his next regularly scheduled one anyway), you can find checklists online for symptoms of doggy dementia. We found that a lot of the things that we had individually been writing off as “oh, she’s just getting older” were on the checklists, and when looked at all together painted a slightly different picture. Not that there’s anything really to be done about dementia, but knowing the bigger picture helped us identify things we could do better to mitigate the overall impacts on her, rather than trying to look at every issue individually, if that makes sense.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The biggest change about nighttime is just the sheer amount of loud, percussive activity that’s been going on. We live in a very residential area but it’s still a city– people have been setting off firecrackers almost every night since July 1st. If it’s not firecrackers, it’s drag-racing. Thunderstorms and police sirens don’t bother him, but the last time we took him out for a “normal” nighttime walk, the second we walked past an alley someone started shooting off firecrackers (at 8:30pm while the sun was still out, mind you). That’s when it all started.

        I think it’s a combination of trauma from those firecrackers and senior dog deterioration. Which is one of the reasons why we didn’t change our plans to board him– he’s boarding in a much quieter neighborhood that’s a good distance from where we are, so hopefully that will help with the environmental problems.

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      My last pup had several years of anxiety and cognitive decline towards the end. Some of it was definitely related to hearing and sight loss. She hadn’t been bothered by fireworks or thunder before, but I think being able to only partially hear them was confusing. She also developed Cushing’s in her last few years and I’m sure the increased cortisol was part of it.

      Doing all our walks during the day so she could stick to quick pee trips after dark and having some lights on all night was helpful. CBD and melatonin helped her quite a bit, but I also had to add a low dose of Xanax eventually.

    4. MP*

      That can be tricky! I have fostered many senior dogs and if you go the medication route there are a lot of options your vet can help you with. I have a 10-12yo dog that has had a lot of anxiety since we adopted him and Prozac made a HUGE difference for him. It’s also only $4/month at Walmart. He takes trazodone as needed also but it takes a bit to kick in (maybe 2-4hrs) and knocks him out quite a bit but I’m sure you could find a dose that just takes the nighttime edge off. I’ve had other dogs who are on gabapentin which is great because it helps any arthritis aches and pains too. Melatonin is a good OTC option but the only time I tried it the dog had significant dementia so it didn’t do too much. Or Benadryl OTC too but I’m not sure if that’s okay to give regularly I haven’t used it much. The only time I tried Xanax the dog had the opposite reaction and went nuts for 24 hours but it looks like a previous poster had had some luck with it! I hope you find something that works for your pup!!

    5. Clarbar*

      Back when we had a dog, she became almost paranoid as she got older. Turned out her thyroid was wonky! She went back to her normal level of chill once we got her a prescription for doggy Synthroid.

    6. Anono-me*

      I womder if it may be the noise and not seeing well at dusk/dark. Do you have a bright wide light flashlight you could use at last walk? Also is there an alternate route outside? Even if you never find out his trigger, maybe you can avoid it?

  28. The Prettiest Curse*

    I don’t want to let the passing of Sinead O’Connor go unremarked. Even though she was definitely not an easy person (and she seemed to have a remarkable capacity for feuds), she was the first 90’s female solo artist I remember who came across like a real person, as opposed to having come off some pop assembly line.

    I remember what a huge hit Nothing Compares 2 U was when it came out, how the video it was played on repeat but somehow never got old or seemed stale. Most of all, she was one of the first people in public life to put shame onto the people who truly deserved it (and to reject it for herself) and for that and the fact that she was decades ahead of her time, I truly respected her.

    If you’re not very familiar with her music, I’d recommend starting with my 2 favourite tracks of hers – Mandinka and The Last Day of our Acquaintance. But most of her 90s songs are great.

    1. Atheist Nun*

      Thanks for writing this message. I really love “Take Me to Church” and “Jump in the River” (and also “Mandinka”). Rest in power, Sinead.

    2. BellaStella*

      Thank you for this. I could not find a way to open the comment on this, thank you for doing it well. I am terribly sad. Troy, Mandinka, Belfast Child with Simple Minds, Emperor’s new Clothes, gosh all of her stuff was a soundtrack to my late teen early adult years. I saw her in concert twice. I loved her bravery, activism, outspokenness, and beauty inside and out. Her songs were full of rage and compassion. She stood up for people. Her singing with the AfroCelts was stunning (‘Release’). Her work brought me to Clannad, and so many other great Irish bands and musicians. She was right on so many accounts. Her life meant something special to so many people. Rest in Power, Sinéad O’Connor/Shuhada’ Sadaqat.

    3. Junebug*

      Appreciate this. I went to Pink’s concert this week, and she and Brandi Carlile (one of her openers) did a duet of Nothing Compares 2 U that brought tears to my eyes.

    4. allathian*

      Appreciate this.

      Yes, Mandinka and Nothing Compares 2 U have been my steady earworms since I heard of her passing.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I wore out the cassette of her album when I was young. Such a voice.

      And of course, her willingness to make herself a target brought attention to abuses in the Catholic Church that were being covered up. She took the fall for it, and it was still a long time before TPTB paid attention and started doing anything about it. But she knew what she was doing – she faked out the showrunners at SNL by showing an innocuous photo of a refugee child at the rehearsal, which was an “acceptable” cause to endorse on TV.

      She used her shot at a really big career like a message in a bottle, and threw it in the ocean to get a warning out to the rest of us.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Very cool that you got to see her in concert! The SNL controversy may have done huge damage to her career in the US, but it did a lot less harm in the UK and she continued to have success here till at least the early 2000s. (The awful tabloid press here did mock her a lot for a while, but I think they would have done that anyway because she was so unconventional and dared to speak her mind.) What happened to her career in the US was definitely a case of people shooting the messenger because they really weren’t ready to hear the message. But given that she still continued to have a fascination and very fraught engagement with Catholicism and its imagery for much of the rest of her life, I think what she did on SNL was more complicated than people appreciated at time (or even now), and it frankly makes most other political gestures made by musicians look kind of pathetic in comparison.

        I’m Irish Catholic on my dad’s side of the family and (for many reasons) decided that Catholicism wasn’t for me when I was a teenager, so Sinead/Shuhada’ is a real heroine for me, on a personal level as well as her music.

        1. Pippa K*

          There’s a great quote from an interview with her that I’ve been seeing on social media (on whether ripping up the photo of the Pope ruined her career):

          “It was not derailing; people say ‘oh you fucked up your career but they’re talking about the career they had in mind for me. I fucked up the house in Antigua that the record company dudes wanted to buy. I fucked up *their* career, not mine. It meant I had to make my living playing live, and I am born for live performance.”

          Massive respect to her.

    6. BigMove*

      She was defiantly, unapologetically herself and an amazing musician. The Gospel Oak EP is beautiful and well worth a listen.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      So sad. The Irish Times has a much nicer obituary than the Associated Press one, which seemed just like a list of gossip.

    8. mreasy*

      I work in the music biz, and despite her reputation for being difficult, folks say she was actually delightful. She just didn’t hesitate to speak her mind, which in especially major label halls hasn’t historically gone over well for women artists.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve read a number of interviews quoting folks who worked with her who said that she was very kind and a delight to work with, so it’s an interesting case of someone being different on a personal level than their public/social media persona. The music industry can be so tough on women that I’m not surprised they didn’t appreciate her sharing her opinions.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, obviously her death is dominating the Irish media and numerous Irish celebrities are writing articles about her and most are about how kind she was to them or how much she did, quietly, for charity.

        Very currently, Ryan Tubridy said that a few weeks ago, she invited him to stay with her in her London flat, due to all the negative publicity over here, which I guess she would have an understanding of, even though it’s a very different situation. (Basically, our national TV station is in the midst of a major scandal, largely for paying Ryan Tudridy extra money “off the books” when he already had a salary of half a million and the station is taxpayer-funded, so all salaries are meant to be publically available.)

        And there are a lot of articles about how much she gave to homeless charities and so on.

    9. cleo*

      When I heard the news, it was like hearing about the death of a friend from college that I’d loved dearly but lost touch with years ago.

      Her first two albums were part of the sound track of my late adolescence. Her music meant so much to me. The power and emotion in her voice. I finally put on The Lion and The Cobra last night. I wasn’t quite ready to listen until then.

    10. Dear liza dear liza*

      The podcast “60 Songs That Explain the 90s” had an episode on Nothing Compares 2 U that was wonderful. They talked a bit about how awful Prince was to O’Conner, including a very scary physical interaction. ( Prince wrote that song, fyi.) Definitely recommend a listen.

      1. Nothing Compares to Prince*

        Thank you! Can you please remove Dear Liza’s entire post then? Because it still contains reference to problematic rumor about Prince.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          She factually relayed the contents of a podcast episode. I see no reason to remove that. (And to be clear, I removed the thread not because of the discussion of Sinead’s allegations but because of the comments implying her account wasn’t reliable based on some seriously problematic reasoning.)

    11. Bob Howard*

      One story:

      In 1991 a 20 year old student was dying from cancer. She was contacted out of the blue by Sinead O’Connor, who invited her to London. She stayed in touch, sending wine, flowers and letters until the student died in 1992. Sinead O’Connor’s “Silent Night” is dedicated to her.

      Source: Daily Telegraph, Saturday 29 July 2023, Letters to the Editor (page 17). Also in the Irish Mirror, I will post a link as a reply to this post.

      I have no direct involment whatsoever, but thought others might like to know.

  29. Zzzzzz*

    Speaking of Hearing Aids: anyone have experience purchasing the new over the counter hearing aids? Pls give me the good, the bad and the ugly/anything relevant to buying and buyer-beware. Thanks!

    1. *kalypso*

      My dad did and ended up needing the fancy hearing aids (beyond what is paid for by his pension etc.) anyway. The OTC ones were essentially just bluetooth headphones with a tinny kind-of-amplifier and didn’t help distinguish sounds, just turned everything up or down. His actual hearing aids have the ability to pick out voices a lot better and came with a portable shot mic so he can give that to people in a conversation.

      And they also do the bluetooth thing with his phone, computer and whatnot, so there was nothing the OTC ones did that his now don’t. Plus if his hearing changes during their life he can get them recalibrated and a new hearing assessment for free from the hearing centre, which the OTC ones definitely don’t include.

  30. *kalypso*

    I’m very stressed due to life stuff at the moment and I’ve gone back to finding factors in how many letters there are on signs, subtltes, headings, etc. but now I’m also flapping my hands when I walk and if I try to stop it then other things end up happening that are less benign.

    Kind of wondering whether I have to go the adult assessment route to get help for it at this point, though, because all the flares I’ve sent up haven’t really worked and I’m not sure if this is worse, or I just never got this before.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Assessments can help point you in the right direction to a specialist who knows the toolbox for that particular condition. I’d say go for it. You deserve help with both the stress and the way you handle the stress. Wishing you the best of luck.

    2. Harriet J*

      Are you already seeing a therapist? If not, I know finding one can be overwhelming. If you are employed, check with HR (if you have that) about their Employee Assistance Program. (EAP)
      Another option is to start with your primary care physician and specifically ask for assistance (I’m presuming that by writing that you’ve sent up flares that you haven’t directly addressed this with a doctor)
      988 is another option. Unfortunately the level of response can vary (depends on your state and funding), but they can help you find local resources.
      Definitely seek help. Stress does not go away on its own.
      Sending positive vibes!

      1. *kalypso*

        Oh, no, I’ve told my GP at every appointment for the last year, but without a referral I can’t get in to counselling because they’re so overbooked at the moment that unless you have a referral or get admitted via emergency you don’t even get an assessment for 8-10 months. I literally walked in to an appointment in tears and said help i am not functioning i am emotionally shattered and he just gave me my monthly prescription and said how great it was that it was working. Spending $2k and waiting 12 months to get assessed for something that hasn’t impacted my life to date to just be another person trotting out a diagnosis to be accused of doctor shopping and trying to be special for the sake of it and risking my physical disabilities being dismissed as mental issues and neglected again sounding like a good option isn’t exactly something one does when they can get help from the usual and traditional channels.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, please do insist. I know it’s easier said than done, but this is as much a part of your health care as anything else.

    3. Anono-me*

      I’m not terribly knowledgeable about your particular health challenges; but everyone deserves appropriate health care for their medical issues. Can you ask a friend to assist you in navigating the corporate maze that is modern health care? Right now you are not at your best because so many of your forks (similar to ‘spoons’ but resonates more with me) are going into dealing with both the stressful situation and normal life. I bet you have a couple of people in your life are good at this sort of thing that would be glad to help out or repay a past favor. It is always easier for someone else who looks and sounds like an extra from LA Law to deal with medical bs than the patient. (My family always brings an extra person in business wear to major medical appointments.)

      Two things I hope you will keep in mind going forward.
      1. I try not to keep track of favors that I do for friends, but I darn sure keep track of favors that I receive from friends in hopes of repaying them someday . I think most people are like that.
      2. It sounds like waiving/wringing your hands helps you get through a cruddy situation. Please don’t worry about other people’s reactions. If I noticed it; I would think to myself, “Oh dear, somethings wrong. I wonder if I can help. Should I offer or would that be intrusive?” Again, I think this would boost people’s reaction.

      Wishing you better care and better times ahead.

      1. *kalypso*

        I’m the person who does that for everyone else (of those who are left); I haven’t been able to make anyone understand what’s going on with me enough for anyone to properly advocate for me and then it gets worse because they’re giving the wrong information and nobody talks to me directly to get the right of it, and online friends can’t exactly walk into the GP with me. I know where all my cutlery is going, there’s a leak in my bucket, the healthcare system routinely fails people who look like me etc. but I’ve also had the being fired from a doctor for having mental health in my file and insisting that my very real issue (later ameliorated by surgery but too late to be enough) was anxiety, and I have to be so careful to prevent that happening again that bringing an advocate (especially with a brain injury that affects communication so people already think I’m not intelligent at best) can actually make it a lot worse for me. I already have entire government departments that won’t talk to me because I insist they can talk to me in person and they find new and inventive reasons to refuse. I already have people giving me the ‘mental age of a child’ treatment IRL because they see me and decide that autism is the most likely explanation and therefore they must treat me like the ‘special kid’ in the classroom they were allowed to play with if they finished their work early, and I worry that having any diagnosis that tracks to that category will make things harder for me to be seen on my own or have this thing that’s killing me from inside get fixed without compromising the part where I need my script to be able to walk and I won’t be able to get out of the triggering situation.

        1. Anono-me*

          I’m sorry. I thought your problems were of the playing Maden on hard level variety; but you are unfortunately playing Silent Hill 3 on Extreme Mode level. I’ve got nothing useful. But everyone deserves good health care and I hope you get it.

          1. *kalypso*

            My speed is more vintage Tales without a guide, but this is like the time I tried to play Code Vein and spent a month trying to beat the ice lady with the cannon turtle dude. I got down to 1/4 of one health bar once and it just gets worse since.

            I just don’t know how else to fight for what I need, get believed, and not lose anything else in the process and looking for the option with the fewest downsides is hard, especially when the basic advice is always ‘remove oneself from stressful situation’ when that’s not always possible when you have to live somewhere, work somewhere, find money to pay for said advice etc. and none of those things come out of the jenga tower without impacting its stability.

  31. Myrin*

    In the spirit of keeping this “relatively light” I’m going to keep this brief but – does anyone have some tried and true advice on how to deal with grief in others when you personally aren’t really affected? Warning for death.

    There was a terrible accident in my home county a few days ago which made national news and claimed several victims, one of whom was a former classmate of my little sister. I knew him as well when we were children/teenagers, but really only by sight, and while my sister wasn’t super close to him, they knew each other since they were eleven and were part of the same friend group for a decade; she’s also been in regular, albeit sporadic, contact with his sister for the last years.

    Obviously dealing with things like this vary from person to person and I’m asking my sister what I can do for her and how she would want me to behave but I’m wondering if people have some general tips on what might be helpful, especially since my sister has clinically diagnosed depression and has literally just come out of a very stressful situation at work which really brought her depression to the forefront like it hasn’t in years, so I’m thankful for any and all thoughts.

    1. *kalypso*

      Listen, be available, do small stuff to signal that you’re there and not just verbally say ‘what can I do’ and take it as that and only that – depression isn’t always good at making words understood, but swinging by after work with takeout and a video or the streaming equivalent doesn’t have to be loaded but it means a lot.

      It’s hard to draw a line between be available and don’t hover, but showing that you trust her to give her space instead of going too far (like if you visit once in a blue moon don’t go over every day – sign in on Discord but be online, don’t say hi and pester her to talk every day) means a lot also. Assume she can handle things unless she says otherwise, no means no until it’s to the point where you’d pay $20k for the ER just to get help, and stick to small gestures of visibility. If she can draw the inference that you don’t think she can handle things because she has depression, she certainly won’t let you know if she can’t no matter how visible you are – but if you’re there and demonstrate being open without signalling that you’re waiting for her to break, then she’ll reach out before she does.

    2. allathian*

      My condolences for your situation, and I’m so sorry for your sister’s loss.

      My story is from when I was a young adult in college and my sister was in high school. She was devastated when a guy in her class died in a car crash. I was just there for her and let her cry on my shoulder when she needed to. Trauma counseling wasn’t really a thing in the early 90s, at least not in our area, but the whole class went to the funeral to grieve together. My family’s never been particularly physically affectionate, but my sister and I hugged quite often for a few months.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Give her the grace to not know. She probably has no idea what would be helpful or how she wants you to behave. Most people do not have much insight when they are grieving, and grief has no roadmap, so there’s not much foresight either. Only hindsight

      So if she responds to something you do or say “wrong,” then you both just found out. Cut her some slack.

      1. Invisible fish*

        Oh, regardless of its origin, it’s more true *today* than during the “old west” era – I’m going to see about turning it into a figure of speech here. A lot of people seem to have no problem completely setting things on fire, regardless of how others are harmed and left scrambling.

        Actually, if you don’t know much about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, look up an event called a “calf scramble” and watch a video. The scene there, the racing and confusion and running and grabbing and falling and pushing and pulling and wrestling? That’s what Houston schools – and the state in general – are turning into.

        1. ampersand*

          I did NOT see this, and I’m appalled. I don’t know how I missed it given I read both local (I’m in Texas) and national news. Dear god. Could this place get any more inhospitable and utterly disappointing.

  32. Portland Recommendations*

    Hi all! I’m going to Portland for an upcoming conference and I was wondering – is it worth renting a car in the city? I’ll be staying in downtown next to the light rail it seems so my plan is to just take that to my hotel. Most things I’d want to do outside of the conference (get vegan food, hit up Powell books, and go to the park near the river) seem to be in walking distance too.

    Second ask – vegan food recommendations for the city of Portland? I know it’s a hot spot for vegan food. It’s weird to feel overwhelmed with choice!

    1. Trina*

      I was in Portland also for a conference (at the same convention center, I would assume) and you absolutely do not need a car. All of their forms of public transportation – light rail, buses, street cars – are through the same service (Trimet), so you’ll only need the one pass. Light rail got us to 90% of the places I wanted to go and buses covered the remaining 10%.

      If you are a tea person and are planning on being out by the Japanese garden anyway, I recommend Smith Teamaker; I’m not personally vegan but it does look like a few of their food options are.

    2. Pop*

      We do have a lot of great vegan food here! Some recommendations of favorites:
      – Doe Donuts for all vegan donuts with fun flavors. Really close to a MAX stop so easy to get to!
      – Dirty Lettuce for southern food. This one won’t be as accessible on public transportation
      – Obon Shokudo – Japanese food, no sushi – I haven’t had anything else like Obon and I love it
      – Fermenter – slightly nicer sandwiches, bowls, etc. menu looks pretty ordinary but the food is some of my favorite.
      – Boxcar Pizza – very cronchy junk food pizza. Really good.

      We do have a ton of vegan options and can get almost anything you want vegan here! Downtown I like to get food at Luc Lac, not a vegan restaurant but very well labeled with a lot of options. As for a car, unless you’re planning on REALLy leaving the city – like to go hiking or something – definitely skip it. You won’t need one and you could get an Uber if one thing is inaccessible via transit. Have fun!

      1. Pieforbreakfast*

        You can get to Dirty Lettuce by transit- light rail to Hollywood Transit Center then the 75 bus to 42nd and Fremont, walk the 6 blocks to the restaurant. There’s a new sports bar another half block down called Deeply Rooted that serves vegan bar food. I’ve not been yet but it is getting good reviews. It’d be a good place to watch the world cup if you’re interested.

    3. Missb*

      As a Portlander, I agree you could do without the car. Unless you’re heading to Multnomah falls or the coast, you likely won’t need one (and I think there is a bus to the falls).

      I am not vegan so I can’t provide any restaurant suggestions but Portland is a foodie town and vegan fare is everywhere.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Transit nerd chiming in – you can get to both the coast and Multnomah Falls by bus, although in both cases it means taking a non-Trimet bus.

        Bus system for Multnomah Falls/the Columbia Gorge more generally: https://www.ridecatbus.org/columbia-gorge-express/

        The beach is somewhat more complicated, just because “the beach” is a big target. Here’s the web page with an overall route map that can help you narrow down your options: https://www.nworegontransit.org/

        The main things that are frustrating trying to do by bus in Portland, in my experience, are (a) visiting people who live in neighborhoods that are not on a bus line and (b) trying to get from Point A to Point B anywhere involving both an origin and a destination in SW Portland or Washington County without having to go all the way to downtown Portland and backtrack unless they happen to both be on the same line, since it mostly radiates from downtown with few cross-connections. (There just doesn’t seem to be a west side equivalent to the 75 that actually connects any places I’ve ever needed to get between.)

        If there’s anything specific you’d like help figuring out how to get to on transit, I’m happy to provide whatever I’ve figured out about it.

        If the conference is at the Oregon Convention Center, definitely that’s transit-friendly and I always take transit to events there unless I’m volunteering at that event and will be leaving later than the last train home (which is generally after midnight, but I’ve had shifts ending as late as 2am).

        If it’s at one of the more likely Portland convention hotels for smaller than convention center events, you’re fine unless it’s the one out at Jantzen Beach, in which case everything is inconvenient by both transit and car because you are stuck on a small island accessible only by a freeway or a boat, but I usually drive in that case. (That hotel used to be a Red Lion, and is now a Holiday Inn. I attend multiple events that tend to rent it because it has free parking and an extremely large ballroom, but it’s terrible for being able to actually see Portland while attending an event. It’s also terrible for finding the breakout rooms from the ballroom due to a confusing layout with three non-contiguous first floors with function space on them, and I just generally Have Thoughts about that hotel, but it doesn’t sound like that’s where you’re headed anyway.) Any hotel downtown or in the Lloyd district will be fine on transit as long as you’re ok with walking a bit.

        Waterfront Park (the park in downtown Portland by the river) tends to have a lot of events in it during the summer, so your experience may vary depending on when you’re there. The rest of the park is accessible even when there’s something going on, but there’ll be parts of it fenced off for whatever event is happening a lot of the time in the summer. I’m not sure what events are left this summer, because all of the ones I pay vague attention to have already happened this year and I can’t find a comprehensive list. (When I was a teenage collection of much less effective hobbits, I went to a big concert series that a local radio station would put on there at the end of August, but I last cared about that kind of thing in the 90s so I have no idea if anything similar happens now.)

        I am no help on the vegan food, unfortunately. I was going to suggest Laughing Planet, but they seem to have left downtown. They’re one of my favorite local chains to take a mixed vegan and non-vegan group to because they have a good mix of clearly-labeled vegan menu items (mixed in with the non-vegan ones) that just generally sound like tasty meal options someone might pick because they sound good regardless of their diet restrictions, so the vegans can get multiple options for a meal with both nutrition and flavor in it at a place where the non-vegans can also get something they will probably want to eat. (I am not a vegan, but tend to have at least one vegan in my extended going-out-to-eat-group at any given time.)

        Oh, and it’s temporarily somewhat annoying to get from the airport to downtown because they’re rebuilding and upgrading the airport light rail line right now, but there is a shuttle bus to connect the airport to the light rail system: https://trimet.org/alerts/2023/index.htm#shuttle . It’s not a big deal, but it adds a bus and a transfer to what would ordinarily be a single on-and-off train route between the airport and the convention center.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I visit PDX regularly. If you are staying close in, you will be fine without a car. Anything inaccessible by public transportation is a cheap uber.
      Only vegan place I know is Mama Dut.
      Have fun! Glad Powell’s is on the list. If you have any 80s nostalgia, Ground Kontrol is always fun.

    5. Saddy Hour*

      For vegan food, there’s a pizza place called Sizzle Pie right across the street from Powell’s. It was really, really good and I mournfully craved it for months after I visited.

      Unfortunately most of the other places I tried are scattered around the suburbs so not helpful for you. But I ate like a vegan queen for the entire week, I don’t think you can go wrong. I hope you find some great spots!

    6. Nicki Name*

      Be aware that the light rail line to the airport is currently being rebuilt in a couple spots– there’s still a shuttle bus covering the inactive section, but the local transit agency warns people to be prepared for the trip to take as much as an extra half hour.

      Cosmic Bliss, just north of Powell’s, has some excellent vegan ice cream flavors.

    7. Another librarian*

      Kung Pow! on NW 21st near Glisan has excellent vegan items on its clearly labeled menu. If you have time and need some peace and quiet, the Lan Su Chinese Garden will make you forget you’re in a city.

  33. Housewarming gift help*

    I’ve been invited to brunch tomorrow by close friends who just bought a house. They’re financially comfortable, so I’d like to get them a housewarming present that’s meaningful/useful. They like cooking, hiking, and reading. She’s an avid tea drinker and loves plants/gardening. He’s planning to raise chickens there. Any suggestions? What did you wish you had when you first bought a house? What were useful house gifts that you’ve received? Thanks!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Rubber/silicone spatulas, impossible to have too many. You can even get ones in cute designs!

    2. Atheist Nun*

      Consider giving a very nice bottle of olive oil (the fancy stuff you would use for dipping/finishing, not cooking).

    3. Despachito*

      Some nice tea collection? Harney and Sons used to make this sample box with different kinds of tea. If I got this for a present I would be thrilled.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Large gift: Especially for a first house, but any time you move you probably need to go to Home Depot to get a thing. A garden hose, some paint, a step stool.

      Small gift: A plant, either a houseplant of one for the garden.

      1. Clisby*

        I agree, but since I wouldn’t know what any given person would need, I’d get a gift card. Even better if it’s for a local hardware store.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      Since fancy tea, fancy olive oil/oil and vinegar set or basket.
      Something consumable and more expensive than people tend to by for themselves.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Gardening book with good pictures to inspire the new project; lots of design ideas and plant ideas. You can’t have too many and they’re superb for daydreaming over. Also, making room for chickens involves a plan!

    7. Aphrodite*

      A subscription to either (or both) Veranda magazine and Fine Gardening magazine. Both are higher end publications and absolutely beautiful and full of wonderful ideas.

    8. Lurkiest lurker*

      Fire extinguisher! Not something that most folks think to get for themselves. I have a small one in my kitchen for potential kitchen fires, and a slightly larger more multipurpose one for general use that’s stashed in my kitchen closet.

    9. Housewarming gift help*

      Thanks all for the suggestions, appreciate it! Went with the Home Depot gift card as I know they’ll have to buy a lawn mover and snow blower etc.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      “365 Ways to Cook Chicken”?
      Everyone I know who tried raising chickens in town changed their minds when reality intruded.

      If they’re planning a kitchen garden, books about that, obviously, but also consider books about preserving the produce – Ball (the company that sells canning jars) used to have a very good guidebook. Or books specifically about herb gardening and cooking with herbs. I wouldn’t give canning equipment without knowing if they want to do that, but books are good. A subscription to a gardening magazine, perhaps.

      Yard and garden tools, but there’s a risk of duplication there. Everybody needs a rake, but not three or four. Likewise, a snow shovel in snow country.
      The long-handled tool for cleaning gutters without climbing a ladder (the name escapes me at the moment) is a God-send.
      A long-handled pruning knife, if the property has trees. (Can you tell I’m nervous about ladders?)
      Handyman magazine subscription, or a book on home repairs. No matter how good the presale inspection was, houses always seem to need something fixed every time you turn around.

  34. Sunny*

    Does anyone have recommendations for a company that makes good women’s cargo pants? Preferably ones that aren’t low rise, and that come in short lengths and small size? I’ve been looking for some, and it seems like a lot are low rise, or they don’t have short lengths, or the short lengths only come in bigger sizes. I would get men’s pants, but even the smallest sizes are too large for me.

    1. FB*

      They are pricey, but I’ve worn Kuhl for years. I work in an outdoors-based field and a lot of people I know wear them. Definitely not low rise, huge pockets, and I think they actually run small, but I’m short enough (5’1″) that I still need to hem the short lengths. I much prefer them over other brands, such as Prana, which are always incredibly long and too narrow in the thighs for me.

    2. BookMom*

      Eddie Bauer Ascent are wonderful pants with perfect pockets, and they come in petite.

    3. Sutemi*

      I have a couple pair from Deluth Trading Company that I quite like. Mine are technical fabric, but they have a more canvas fabric as well. Great pockets.

    4. BlueWolf*

      You could maybe look at Duluth Trading Co. I haven’t bought cargo pants from them, but I have their gardening overalls and like them. I see they offer different inseam lengths and pretty inclusive sizing. It doesn’t look like they would be too low rise either. They’re a bit pricey, but they often have sales.

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      I have some hiking pants from LL Bean in petite that have cargo-type pockets on the side. The fabric might be thinner than what you have in mind though.

    6. cleo*

      I wear LL Bean’s cargo pants. They’re mid rise and fit just below the natural waist line, which I prefer. They wear out a little faster than I like though.

      I’m considering getting my next pair from Dovetail. They make women’s work wear and they have several work pant options with side pockets.

    7. Anon. Scientist*

      This may be more industrial than you need, but I work outside and live in Dovetail pants, which come in 4 lengths, many sizes, and are designed for you to be able to squat without showing your butt.

  35. No Tribble At All*

    All right, Responsible Adults of AAM, how do I get into meal prep and planning? We’ve finally unsubscribed from HelloFresh, a meal kit service, which means we’re faced with the vast expanse of “uhhh how about sandwiches” for dinner. My own parents ruthlessly picked out meals at the start of the week and cooked them all from scratch, which is a lofty goal. I never ate any frozen or premade food as a kid. I like the idea of batch cooking a lot of… chili or stew or something, putting it in the freezer, and then having options for lunch and dinner.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We do weekly dinner planning so I can do the needed shopping, but I took a stack of index cards and wrote a dinner idea on each one with the general shopping list for that dinner listed on it. (Ex: Sloppy joes: 1lb ground beef, one tin Manwich, buns. Salmon: 2 salmon filets, herb-and-garlic rice packet, bag of frozen vegetables.) I don’t get into like, seasonings and things that we always have, but if I might not have it, I put it on the card. The cards include a lot of make-from-scratch stuff and a lot of protein+carb+frozen-veg meals, but I also have cards for “sandwiches” and “breakfast-for-dinner” and “a frozen dinner” (I usually have a frozen lasagne or heat-and-eat pasta dish or whatever in the freezer). So if nobody has any specific requests, then we pull three or four cards out of the pile and see how we’re feeling about those, will one of them make enough to have leftovers or do we need to pull another one, etc. Sometimes we use what was on the cards, sometimes pulling a card makes someone go “You know, I’m not really feeling THAT, but I suddenly want THIS.” It’s a good starting point :)

    2. fposte*

      The last is my favorite way to live. Chili, stew, soup—they all batch cook great, and you can freeze them in individual portions, or family size portions, or whatever takes your fancy. I find it useful to note ones that bring particular joy, so I can remember to keep them in the rotation and remake them when they get low. I usually have at least three in the freezer, and more often there’s five or six with maybe a stray container of something else lurking. You can decide whether your household who wants to pair that with salad, in which case I hardly recommend premixed salad blends, so you can just dump it in a bowl, put dressing on it, and put it next to your soup or stew. I also keep crispbread around and usually some bagels in the freezer, both of which can be open face heated sandwiches very easily (I’ve been doing a ton of roasted red peppers with melted cheese on crispbread lately). A go-to to cheese to put on these kind of sandwiches is useful to keep as a staple, and then you can just throw on whatever veggies you’ve got laying around or have picked up at the farmers market or have leftovers of. (Leftovers are your friend!). Similarly, a pasta shape that works with a lot of things is useful to keep on hand, and you can throw leftover meat and/or veg (or microwave some frozen veg—it’s great to have a couple of go-tos available there that are popular in the household) in with it, and then just use olive oil and grated Parmesan on top. Meat eating is a very individual preference. I generally eat meat in some batch cooks and occasionally broil up chicken tenderloins that can go alongside veg, get chopped up into a salad, or get shredded into a pasta, but I don’t eat meat every day.

      So to start you might:

      Pick out two dishes to batch cook
      Pick a recurring pasta shape
      Pick a sandwich base
      Pick a cheese for sandwiches
      Pick two kinds of frozen veg to be old reliables (peas and green beans for me)
      Figure out a meat habit

      This means you have a choice but a limited one once dinnertime hits, and it’s really nice to have an easy fallback of great chili or split pea soup that just needs nuking.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      the Lazy Genius podcast has a ton of stuff on cooking and meal planning. one of her best ideas is a *written out and posted* list of “brainless crowd pleasers” which she defines as a meal you can make on autopilot and everyone in your house finds acceptable if not their birthday favorite. then keep the ingredients around so you can always fall back on a BCP.

      1. Clisby*

        My grad-school daughter still does that. She tried Hello Fresh when a fellow student gave her a certificate to get 2 or 3 meals for just the shipping cost. She said it was well worth it for the shipping cost, but at the overall cost she’d be better off going to the store and buying the ingredients. She liked one of the meals enough that it’s still in her regular rotation, just not from Hello Fresh.

    4. GoryDetails*

      The Budget Bytes site has lots of meal-prep suggestions; might give you some ideas. (For me, the batch-cooking of stews and soups is the go-to, but there are other suggestions – including a sandwich-ingredient-buffet type of thing – that could be good.)

      1. Elle*

        Love Budget Bytes. Pinch of Yum and Skinny Taste also are good for meal planning suggestions.

    5. Missb*

      When my kids were much younger, I did a lot of batch cooking.

      We eat differently now; our quick-can’t-think-of-anything dinner is more like bowls with a grain, greens, veggies and a protein and some sort of a sauce.

      I do keep grilled or baked sliced chicken breast frozen in small portions, as those are really flexible for lunches or quick dinners. We both work from home now so if we don’t cook enough dinner the night before, we always have something easy to make.

      I generally do plan meals for the week, keeping it kinda loose so that I can pick and choose from the five or so options that I’ve shopped for ingredients to make those meals. If we cook a pork tenderloin for example, the leftover pork may be a quesadilla or fajita or the aforementioned bowl later in the week. I don’t plan seven dinners for that reason.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Start simple. I’m not a creative cook, so our weekly list is pretty boring:

      A piece of fish
      Chicken (we keep breasts or thighs in the freezer)
      Ground turkey for burgers
      Pork chops or spinach feta pizza (on prepared crusts) or a crust less quiche

      We always have salad fixings and various side dishes like couscous and rice.

    7. Girasol*

      Start stocking a pantry with supplies that keep, like spices, pastas, grains, and whatever canned goods you might use, like canned sauces, soups, raisins, canned fruit, and beans. Then when you buy fresh meat, bread, and vegetables, the pantry provides options for varying the menu. Most people who prepare their own meals experiment with a new recipe now and again but don’t usually cook from recipes. They just look at what they have on hand and invent something that appeals to their whims of the moment.

      1. Elle*

        This is huge for me. I always have bbq sauce, minute rice, canned beans, broth, soy marinade, nuts, dried fruit, frozen veg, and protein in the freezer. This lets me be flexible and ensures I always have something on hand. Shredded beef and chicken are easy to cook and can be used in different ways throughout the week.

        1. HBJ*

          Not true at all. I am the worst at making up things completely from scratch. At the least, I’m usually working from a recipe as a base and tweaking it or combining recipes.

          1. HBJ*

            Whoops, somehow this nested under the wrong comment. This is about the statement that most people don’t follow recipes and just make up something based on what’s on hand.

            1. Pippa K*

              As nesting fails go, this one was amusing!
              “Shredded beef can be used in various ways…”
              “Not true!”

              Now I’m imaging someone on a campaign to promote the One True Use of shredded beef :)

              1. Elle*

                Fake news! You can have Italian Shredded beef, Mexican shredded beef, BBQ shredded beef.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        Most people who prepare their own meals experiment with a new recipe now and again but don’t usually cook from recipes.

        Do you think that’s true? I’ve been cooking for 30+ years, but I’ve never really got the hang of improvising–I pretty much use recipes for everything. Am I an outlier?

        1. Veronica Mars*

          I’m with you–definitely a recipe user. And even the things I can make without looking at the recipe are just things that I make so often I’ve memorized the recipe. I’m not the kind of intuitive cook who can just throw things together and make something delicious.

        2. Elle*

          I use recipes but have gotten better at identifying what won’t work or substituting with what I have on hand.

        3. Chaordic One*

          I find that you really have to stick to recipes for baking and that there isn’t a lot of room for improvisation with that. Maybe add an additional ingredient here and there, but that’s about it with baking.

          OTOH, I really don’t closely follow recipes for cooking meats and vegetables and those are what make up most my family’s meals. Aside from cooking them, you aren’t really doing all that much to them, just sort of tweak the proportions and the seasonings, maybe come up with some new unexpected combinations or maybe not. I wouldn’t say that everything I cook is an original never before seen dish. They are more like variations of staple foods and meals.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t riff on a recipe until I’ve made it to spec at least a few times; I am not an intuitive cook. And then it’s only if it’s a real bog-standard for me, like spaghetti sauce. I still use the How To Cook Everything recipe for meat sauce for amounts and such, but have refined it to where I think of it as “my” sauce.

        5. carcinization*

          I don’t think it’s true either. I cook a lot and have been doing so for decades, and I cook some fairly complicated and unusual things, and also some simple/”comfort food” things, etc. As others have mentioned, I have a few recipes basically memorized, and of course I modify other recipes for various preferences/needs (I don’t eat raw onions so I cook them or leave them out, I reduce the salt in a lot of recipes, I can tell if something needs additional garlic/cheese for my taste, etc.), but I’m still dependent on recipes… I describe this as, “I’m a cook, not a chef.”

      3. Valancy Snaith*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is true. I cook supper every night from scratch, as do a ton of people I know, and I don’t know anyone who invents something new every night. Not to say that every single night is following something out of Joy of Cooking word-for-word, but like…I don’t invent a new recipe with what I have on hand, I make the same spaghetti I always make. When I cook new things I use a recipe, see how it goes, and modify it to our tastes as required, and every now and then I’ll adjust an old recipe to use up some stuff, but I for real don’t know anyone who invents something new all the time. Beloved family recipes come from somewhere, you know?

        1. Loreli*

          A word about “Joy of Cooking” -it is the absolute last cookbook I’d ever recommend to anyone, because of the way the editors chose to write the recipes. Instead of listing all the ingredients up front, they list the items you have to do something with, followed by a paragraph of instructions. Then the instructions continue, with additional ingredients named within the sentences. In order to find ALL the ingredients needed you have to read through the paragraphs and pick them out.

          When I’m scanning through recipes, I’m thinking “do I have everything on hand?” I want to look at the complete list of ingredients, not discover additional items as I’m in the middle of cooking. It’s exasperating.

          I’m fine with substituting similar things in stew-type dishes. But I want to know what I need at the beginning, not halfway through the instructions.

          1. Snell*

            I haven’t read The Joy of Cooking, but I was about to comment on that format, until I read your comment in whole. Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food (I and II) has the ingredients throughout the recipe, but unlike Joy, they’re in indented lists in bold type, at the point in the recipe when they are to be used. I found this format very helpful and a lot easier for my brain to process, since I didn’t have to jump back and forth between the steps in the middle of the recipe and the ingredient list at the beginning. I think it also helped “train” me to get an intuitive grasp of what to do when while I was working in the kitchen, so that I was less reliant on recipes and had more confidence in experimenting with food on my own.

      4. LilPinkSock*

        I’m intensely curious who these “most people” are. I follow recipes almost every time I cook (unless it’s, like, spaghetti or pancakes or something)–I don’t think I’m in the minority, either.

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I know what you’re going through, I was abruptly in charge of family meals in college and it took me a while to get the hang of it. Here’s what I’ve figured out in the years since then!
      There’s a few easy meals that I always keep the ingredients for, so if I don’t plan something ahead of time I can just choose a favorite. Tomato sauce and pasta, quesadillas, and pasta-vegetable salad can all be made with whatever leftover meats you have. Chicken soup, hamburgers, hot dogs, and meatloaf are easy to stock the ingredients for, they use vegetables that store well for a while and we go through ground beef like crazy so I just grab a new pack every time I shop.
      There’s a few things that need a little more prep but also fill that “what to make today” gap. We buy family packs of boneless chicken breasts, cut them all into smaller “chicken tenders” or nugget-sized pieces, and put them in Freezer Zipper Bags. We fill just enough that the bag lays perfectly flat, put todays date on it, and freeze them flat. When we need a fast meal, we take one bag and shove it (not open) in a bowl of water to defrost. It’s usually ready to cook in 30-40 mins.
      When we do make a big meal, we often make double and freeze it. It’s a little more work at the time but takes way less time than making it a second time. Meatballs can be mixed, seasoned, shaped, and frozen (on a tray so they don’t stick), then you can put them in whatever containers you freeze things in and cook them weeks later. Sauces, soups, stews, and gravys all freeze very nicely, just label them and add todays date (so you can go “oh that’s waaaaay too old” for that one thing you forgot was in the back.
      And pre-prepared/boxed foods are super helpful! I buy large frozen bags of individually vacuum sealed fish fillets, so I can defrost exactly how much I need. It’s also great when you forget to plan a side dish. Frozen veggies can be dumped in a pot, steamed gently, and seasoned (I mostly add butter and garlic). Boxed rice mixes are the only way we’ve managed to make non-goopy rice, and there’s also a 90-second microwave bag of rice that’s great! Beans make an easy side dish, there’s a bunch of sides I make that start with “one can of beans”. You can try out a bunch of stuff you’ve never had from a box mix, we never would have tried couscous but a 99 cent box was too tempting not to make!
      Most of all, don’t worry about not meeting some standard by forgetting to plan, missing ingredients, running out of time, or needing pre-prepared stuff for some meals. Over time you’ll figure out some standbys that can give you a good meal without fuss, and not every meal needs to be gourmet.

    9. My Brain is Exploding*

      Haven’t read the other replies, but I would start with answering this question: what ONE thing do you think you could eat every week? For example, our daughter’s family has Taco Tuesday every week. Everyone loves it, it’s easy, boom! (Plus you can cook and freeze a variety of taco fillings – beef, ground beef, chicken.) At our house we have the same thing for lunch 5 or 6 days a week – GIANT salads with a variety of veggies, some meat, cheese, beans, nuts, etc. We do veggie chopping twice a week and put a mix of chopped veggies in small containers appropriate for one person’s salad (because spouse doesn’t like radishes and I don’t want tomatoes). We also go out to eat once a week, and usually this isn’t anything too expensive – it may be the local burger joint or it may be bringing home a pizza and occasionally something a bit nicer. Sunday at our house is no-cooking day, so it’s salads for lunch and leftovers (or popcorn and cheese and fruit, etc.) for dinner.

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      When I was cooking for a group, we’d always have a Sunday Dinner that made good leftovers (usually the centerpiece would a roast of some kind, often chicken because it was usually cheapest, which would then be the protein everyone used for lunch sandwiches the next few days).

      Monday night dinner would be something cheap and simple like pasta with jarred tomato sauce, or some kind of soup. (If Sunday night was ham instead of chicken, split pea soup is an easy use for a hambone and ham fragments.)

      Tuesday or Wednesday would be a new protein with leftovers for the next night, generally either salmon (the next night would be salmon caesar salad) or tacos (next night would be omelettes with taco meat and any other leftover taco ingredients).

      The next night after that two-night protein would be another one-off, unless we wanted the other two-night protein meal we hadn’t had yet that week.

      At least once a week we’d end up with a night when somebody would be out someplace and so other people would just fend for themselves and make individual things, but anchoring a specific day a week with “big protein that supplies sandwiches/snacks for several days” and two days with “re-use the thing you cooked last night in a new way” gives you some structure to your week. (If it was a ham week rather than a chicken week for the big roast, we’d possibly also do ham quiches instead of taco omelettes, and so on. Pretty much any time I was going to spend a substantial chink of time cooking a meat, I’d ask myself if it also could be something else tomorrow so I didn’t have to do it again.)

      I now live alone and became a vegetarian, so my current meal planning vibe is completely different than when I ate meat and lived with other meat-eaters who always thought I should be figuring out dinner. Since I personally don’t mind eating the same things over and over, I just keep ingredients for my current favorites in the house and make sure I get a decent mix of nutrients throughout the week, but if I eat tacos for dinner every night, the important thing is to make sure that my go-to taco recipe has a good mix of nutrients in it rather than find things to eat that aren’t tacos. Right now, I’m focusing on remembering to eat fresh fruit as a snack because a lot of good stuff is in season. (I am the kind of person who can pack the same thing for lunch every day for a year and not get tired of it, but have to remind myself to eat different fresh foods seasonally rather than just the pantry and freezer’s greatest hits.)

    11. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I cook all the time and it is easy. I also can’t plan official meals so what I do is cook some combination of:

      brown rice
      sweet potatoes

      for the “background” or base of the “meal.”

      Then I have a couple different salad dressing, cheeses, soy sauce, and different types of tomato sauce on hand, and usually cheddar and goat milk

      then the rice can turn into rice, veggie burger, tomato sauce, grated cheese

      or the brown rice can get an added veggie (like boiled carrots or sauteed brocoli) with some soy sauce

      Or I slowly sautee a skinned eggplant and throw it on the pasta and add sauce, and voila, italian. No need to coat every peice of eggplant in egg and breadcrumbs and fry. Just put it in a pan with water and it sort of “melts”

      I also keep a few avocados and limes around and can quickly whip up avocado toast as a snack in 2 minutes

      So that’s how I get most of my calories, and maybe twice a week I’ll make a very “official” meal like chicken cutlets.

      But the above more laid back attitude works great for me. Just have the ingredients around and think of meals more like the “bowls” panera does

    12. Generic Name*

      We often do a combo of “ruthlessly cooking planned meals from scratch” and some easier meals like Chinese from the frozen section at the grocery store. We also do a fair amount of when we call “chicken, rice, and veggie”. We have a ton of Penzey’s and Savory Spice Shop blends we use for these meals. I used to have at least one, sometimes two leftovers meals, but I’m finding it harder and harder to have leftovers with a teenage son. :)

    13. Still haven’t picked a name*

      I recommend Emeals, or similar meal planning services. They just provide recipes, no food, with lots of different cuisine/budget/eating style options. It’s pretty cheap, and the recipes are generally designed to use ingredients efficiently throughout the week. My husband and I use the family plan, so each meal usually provides two meals worth of food for us (it’s easy to pick and choose which ones you want if you prefer not to cook every day… we usually do 3-4/week).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        A great site I loved was Will It Casserole? on The Takeout. It took all sorts of dishes and invented a casserole version of them.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      General recommendations:

      Assess your freezer/fridge space BEFORE you go on a shopping/storage spree. Unless you have a big or separate freezer there’s only so much room to go around. And make sure your storage containers are good for freezing stuff, not just the fridge.

      If you’re trying new recipes or types of food, make a small batch to sample before committing to a giant pot or casserole dish of something you may not like.

      Make sure you can switch out so you don’t have to eat the same thing too many days in a row. Husband and I shop weekly and get ingredients for four meals (two apiece.) That way we can take turns cooking and eating different stuff without having to spend every evening trying to pick something when we’re tired and hungry.

      Factor in what we call “staples runs” where you’re picking up things like cereal, milk, flour, sugar…stuff that are staples for your household and not specific to a recipe. It makes it far easier to plan meals when you know you have, say, rice or noodles and can go from there.

    15. chocolate muffins*

      I cook an enormous amount of food on Sundays and freeze to eat later. Usually it is more than I need for that week – because one night I might eat out or a few nights I might be traveling or whatever – so there are leftovers for the following week, and I will add to those leftovers by cooking something different the following Sunday. Then I end up with variety, because if one Sunday I made salmon and the next Sunday I made chicken and the Sunday after that I made pasta, by the fourth week I’ll have some of all of that left over usually so can have a variety of dinners. This works for me because I do not mind eating food that has been in the freezer for a loooong time, nor do I mind eating the same thing a few nights in a row. Might not work for everyone, though!

    16. carcinization*

      Budget Bytes appears to have a lot of meal planning resources if you google them. I haven’t done their meal planning per se, but I love several of their recipes.

      1. carcinization*

        Hahaha someone already suggested this way upthread. Well, at least I wasn’t totally off-base!

  36. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

    I’m at my wits end with my neighbor’s kids. They will NOT stay off my property no matter how many times I tell them to get the f*** off (never said those exact words but I’m getting close, won’t lie). I live on a flagpole lot and their backyard borders my driveway/side yard. My driveway is over 100 feet long and almost entirely fenced off–no gate, much to my dismay–but they feel completely entitled to come up it whenever they want, hang off the fence (which is already in bad shape, partially thanks to their devoted efforts to destroy it), and run around in my yard. Yesterday one ran up the driveway, across the side yard, and hopped my other fence, which doesn’t even border their property. Why?!

    I started off nicely. I said, “please stay off my property. I’ll throw your toys back when I find them but I don’t want you to come and get them.” (And I do throw them back! Even now, when I’m furious!) Then I went to, guys, DO NOT come onto my property, you are not welcome or allowed here. I’ve gotten so pissed off that now I’m down to storming out the door and yelling “STAY OFF MY PROPERTY!” and waving my arms like the angry old lady that I am. All I ever get is a glassy stare and occasionally a mumbled “okay”.

    Yesterday after the fence hopping incident I was standing outside just marinating in the sheer audacity and saw that the mom (? I’m assuming) was in their backyard. I went to the fence and said, “I’ve told your kids twelve times to stay off my property and they keep coming back. Can you PLEASE tell them to stay away, I don’t want them on my driveway, in my yard, hopping my fence. I’m sick of it.”

    She gave me the most vacant look, as if I was speaking Klingon, and just said “okay”.

    I have zero confidence that anything will change. They only hang around for a minute or two, not long enough to call the cops (I have a strong feeling the cops would not give a rip anyway). What on earth do I do next? I’ve already gotten some quotes for replacing the fence so I was thinking about telling the landlord when I contact her about it that they’re repeatedly trespassing, but I don’t know if that would do any good. I live in a red area of the US so I legitimately don’t want to go to their door and try to talk to a parent every time it happens for fear of getting shot.

    I have security cameras which unfortunately don’t catch a lot of it, but I have a few clips of them trespassing, and a few of me telling them to GTFO (no audio captured, sadly). I also started keeping a written log of incidents.

    It may not sound like it but I’m an anxious, nonconfrontational person and this crap is ruining my home for me. I absolutely loved it here until they moved in and now every shriek (and there are a lot of those) gives me full-body tension and my heart rate shoots up because I know they’ll be trespassing again before long.

    And before anyone says “oh they’re just kids, let them be kids”–nope! I don’t care what they do anywhere else, hell I think it’s great they’re playing outside instead of being glued to a screen, but I don’t want them on my lot, period, full stop. Some of them are teenagers and the rest will be eventually, and I do NOT want uncontrolled teenage boys thinking they can do whatever they want on my property. Plus I do not want the liability issue if, god forbid, one of them hurts themselves while trespassing.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t like if they damage your fence or are noisy but if they are only on your property for a minute I really think need to find away to ignore it. I really think telling kids they can’t even retrieve a toy is over the top. And a written log and checking security cameras? To what end? Otherwise the solution is to make your yard less accessible. A gate? Plantings? More fencing? I don’t know what a flagpole lot is so having trouble picturing this.

      1. Anthology*

        A flagpole lot is shaped like a flag on a pole, so a long skinny piece of land that reaches the street and contains the driveway, with the house set way back on the main rectangle. It’s usually touted as ideal for people seeking privacy, since the road access is minimal and the house is often not visible from the street.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I disagree; it’s her property (or she has the use of it) and these kids are loud and destructive. They’ve already damaged the fence. Unfortunately, the shrieking may not be actionable if they’re on their own property, but the rest could very well be.

        OP, I would tell the landlord, especially about the fence. The property owner may have legal remedies that a tenant may not.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Definitely start with the landlord. These aren’t little kids who may not “know better” (that’s its own set of problems); they’re tweens/teens who should be able to grasp “do not come on this side of the fence.”

          At the least, letting the landlord know should mitigate any damage deposit loss when you move out (especially if you can prove it was the kids.) Keep that log and those recordings!

    2. Missb*

      I think it’s a tougher problem to solve when you rent the property (that’s what I’m assuming; you used the word landlord).

      Ask your landlord if you can post some no trespassing signs. Ask your landlord if you can have a gate installed.

      There may be some history of the property- is it possible that the family living on the front portion of the lot used to own the entire property or are otherwise related to the person that owns the house you live in?

      I would think the liability would be with the landlord not the renter.

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. WellRed*

        Yep, with the landlord. This may be a good talking point when bringing it up to the landlord.

    3. fposte*

      If you owned the place I’d suggest motion-activated sprinklers or prickly bushes along the boundary line, but it sounds like you don’t.

      One other tack you could try is to nice them out. Come by with cookies periodically, talk to the kids when they’re not trespassing and find out more about them as individuals. Added benefit is that you may find them less irritating if you know them.

      But honestly, much as I dislike saying this because I’d hate this too, at this point you may have to admit defeat. Even if the cops do come they’re just going to lecture the kids and they will go right back to trespassing. Presumably the start of the school year will take care of the issue. But for my own mental health I’d try to emulate the people who are happy to have other kids running around in their yards and accept it, rather than framing it as something I could get controlled.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would at the very least let the landlord know that the neighborhood kids are doing damage to their property (as you say they’re causing damage to the fence) – that might prompt them to do something, maybe. But you at least need to let them know that’s going on so they don’t think you’re somehow responsible for the damage.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t own the place, you don’t have liability. The landlord does.

      Notify the landlord and the parents in writing about the fence damage and that you have told the kids repeatedly to stay off the property, and told the mom. That’s your CYA. I assume there are no serious hazards like a pool? If the landlord doesn’t choose to do anything about it, it’s not your problem either.

      Are you 100 percent sure the fence belongs to the landlord? If it was actually built by the neighbor or they shared the cost, that might explain why she was nonplussed about your concern over the fence’s condition.

      I think managing your anxiety about normal kid noises from playing outside is something you’re going to have to address for yourself. They have the right to make as much noise as they want in their own yard in the daytime.

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Get a big ass nasty guard dog. This should deter their jumping over the fence.

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

      Given the glassy looks your getting, I do feel obliged to ask if you’ve ever clarified with them where you both understand the property line to be? I’ve definitely lived places before where mown lawns abutting houses were considered more private than the wooded areas between houses or long driveways, and people would ramble through the woods with their dogs with a friendly disregard for property lines, and anyone who tried to say “stay off my property” would be met with bafflement along the lines of “what are you talking about, I’m nowhere NEAR your house”. I’m not saying that’s definitely what’s happening here or that there in the right if that IS what’s happening, but if you’ve never actually had a conversation with these folks to find out if there’s a mutually-agreed-upon definition of “my property” and “your property”, I say that’s a place to start, certainly before calling the cops.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        She said they’re hopping the fence and that the driveway is fenced but not gated. So I don’t think there’s any question of boundary: it’s a fence. They’re coming in through the end of the driveway and/or traversing the fence.

      1. WestsideStory*

        Oh no please don’t do that. Particularly in a red state.
        I sympathize with the intrusive noise issues but the right move is to write your landlord notifying them of any current damage and a possible liability issues.
        Motion-activated sprinklers are a thought, though. I’ve known them recommended for keeping deer away from gardens, but no idea where they are sold these days.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          um, I live in a blue area, and people here don’t like to randomly be hosed off. Sort of a random dig to half the country to add in

          1. fhqwhgads*

            No one likes to be randomly hosed off. The implication is in some parts of the country you’re more likely to be shot for doing it. That’s neither random nor a dig?

            1. Shades of gray*

              I’m very “blue” and currently live in a very red region of our country for family reasons. I feel much more safe from gun violence here than I ever have in my previous, famously blue, cities. This kind of black/white thinking and categorizing of fellow human beings is destructive and won’t solve anything.

              1. Prospect Gone Bad*

                Agreed. That comment is the type of thing people say when they watch too much cable news. Besides the fact that it is bizarre to drag this topic into mundane neighborly requests. They aren’t in some rural backwoods where people carry protection, given the way the lots are described. Sounds suburban. Either way, I’m sick of people “othering” people they know exactly nothing about!

                1. WestsideStory*

                  OP mentioned they are in a red state…and I see I have been misunderstood because I did not give context. I was not thinking about guns but specifically thinking of Birmingham (May 3, 1963) and similar events since. I’m old, I remember things. Apologies for being off track.

    8. Anono-me*

      Since you mentioned a landlord; can you even switch out the fence as a renter?

      I always thought that most liability was on the landlord, so maybe check with whomever you have your renter’s insurance with?

      Also. can you get your landlord’s blessing for a decorative planting along the fence line? Possibly some pretty roses or yucca (depending on the zone) ? Maybe if there are plants not only grass there, the kids will stay off.

    9. Roland*

      > She gave me the most vacant look, as if I was speaking Klingon, and just said “okay”.

      Have you ever tried speaking to the parents before? Because my interpretation of this is “woah, this person who’s never spoken to me is really upset right now, I don’t have context as to why, and I don’t want to upset them further because I don’t know them”. If you have spoken to them calmly before then that sucks, but if you haven’t, try knowing on their door, introducing yourself, apologizing for snapping, and reiterate that you need their help in keeping their kids away from your property.

      1. I don’t post often*

        Agree with this. I live in a neighborhood in which people are in each others lawns all the time. No big deal. I have one neighbor that prefers we stay out. I know him, and knew him pre-dog and kid, so I know this. But if he came at me in my yard yelling about the dog and kid, I probably would do what she did. Respond with minimal tone and words to make him go away asap. People are crazy.

        Why not knock on the door and speak with them like regular people. Frame it as you are concerned for the kids and the state of the fence.

    10. Ochre*

      Many people are interpreting this as you are renting…but I’m thinking you OWN your property and you plan to contact the landlord of the adjacent property to discuss replacing the fence that’s on your shared border? So the noisy kids are the kids of the current tenant?

      If that’s the case I would say definitely let the landlord know about the issue, but it might not come to much. Next, get the tallest, most opaque fence you can afford/are zoned for. Put the smooth side on their side to make it harder to climb (you usually have to do this anyway: if you own the fence, the nice side faces the neighbors). Visual separation may not sound like much, but it helped tremendously to not be able to see the neighbors every time we were outside. It gives both parties the illusion of privacy, even if you can still hear each other. Our new fence was also tall enough that stray toys/balls are unlikely to get in our yard (though we don’t mind them coming in to retrieve them if they do, we just didn’t want them playing). And since they could no longer see into our yard, they didn’t think about being in our yard as much.

      Source: The property next to mine is a rental with a very lax landlord. His tenants (5 or 6 different sets in the time we’ve lived here) have been tenants their whole lives. None of them seem have the same feeling about their house/property line as someone who owns their house does. Not that that excuses them from following your requests, but they may not even realize that you own yours (or certainly the kids don’t get it); they assume you are renting just like they are and they don’t know what the fuss is about. This is definitely the impression I’ve had from the families next door, anyway. I don’t think you can change that mentality, you just have to decide how much time and energy you’re willing to devote to making it inconvenient for them to be on your property (plant some raspberry bushes up against that new fence!) versus actively choosing to let go of this. Hopefully they will move out. Or at least go back to school soon. In the meantime, try to be as boring as possible when talking to them. No screaming, no yelling, same boring message every time you choose to engage with them. You can’t play here. Go back to your house. Stay off the fence. Go back to the sidewalk and walk around, you can’t cut through here. Essentially, don’t make it entertaining for them to rile you up. Sorry this is causing you so much stress!

    11. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Release the power of stinging nettles! Years ago my sister gave me a plant that turned out to have some baby nettles in with it. I have not yet made any nettle soup, nor do I intend to. My entire garden is capable of growing nettles now… my sister actually grows them on purpose in her vegetable patch as apparently lots of butterflies etc love them very much.
      I am sorry this is happening for you; I live next to two yapping dogs who are capable for barking without stopping for as long as ten hours at a time. I became very reactive to it, so that any bark at all caused me to tense up in anticipation of many hours of barking.
      Take some pictures of the fence as it is today, in case there is future damage to it you will then have some baseline proof. The neighbours are trespassing, and you do have a reasonable expectation that people will not wander around in your yard/garden without your permission or unless there is an emergency. However, your options to control the neighbours are very few.
      I know they are ‘just kids’ but as kids we do have to learn about boundaries, and how to get along with other people by respecting their personal belongings, private space etc. It’s completely reasonable for you to have told them not to come into your property, and to expect them to respect that. Best case scenario – they win the lottery and move away to a place where the kids have a lot of their own space to roam. My sympathies to you. Do what you can to lower your own distress about them doing this, and good luck!

    12. Nancy*

      Let the kids get their toys. Talk to your landlord about the fence.

      Also, talk to the parents when you are not angry. She may have reacted like that because by the way you write it it sounds like you were yelling at her and she may like you been thinking ‘red state, better not engage.’ Or in reality, been confused as to what is going on and why the neighbor is yelling at her.

    13. Joron Twiner*

      Maybe if you talk to the kids and parents when you’re calm, and explain exactly WHY they can’t be on your property, it will be more effective. To be honest I don’t see an actual problem here, they’re not on your property for long periods of time, the only thing I can see is they’re hanging on your fence and damaging it. So why not just ask them not to hang on the fence because it’s damaging it?

      There is a reason old people yelling at kids to get off their lawn is a meme. Are you upset about the principle of encroaching on your property, or about some harm they’re actually causing?

  37. Closet Decor*

    Do you prefer the inside of a closet to match the rest of the room it’s in?

    I’m turning our spare bedroom into an office, and the dark tan walls and greige carpet are currently also in the closet. I love jewel tones and hate neutrals, so the new color scheme will be drastically different. The problem is that there is a waist-high fire safe inside the closet, so moving it to redecorate is going to be a giant pain in the ass, and I probably only have one shot. We’re not getting younger or stronger.

    I’m thinking of doing a glossy white in the closet. It will maximize light reflection and scrub clean easily, plus it won’t clash with anything should I decide to repaint the rest of the room again in the far future. Still not sure about the flooring in the closet, though. Thoughts?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m redoing bedroom floors (from carpet to laminate) and painting some of them, and I’m updating closet flooring, but not repainting the walls. (Honestly I don’t even know what color the insides of the closets are painted right now, I think they’re some sort of neutral cream or taupe?) Right now, the carpet in the closets is all of a piece with the rest of the room carpets, and it’s all going, so we have to redo the flooring in the closets anyway. But we’re redoing the flooring with a transition strip at all doors rather than all of a piece so we will have the option for the future.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      Yeah, inside the closet I woukd maximise for light and functionality.

      Since you’re not getting any longer, you will suddenly understand brighter lamps!

      I woukd plan for closet lightning, of the kind that turns on and off automarically. Ikea does good solutions, I’m sure there are cheaper amd more expensive options. Plan for suitable electic outlets, at the very least!

      The IKEA website is pretty good inspiration for various closet setups overall.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Heh! I wallpapered the coat closet in my living room in a pattern of Egyptian hieroglyphs – I loved the paper but figured if I used it in an often-used room I’d get tired of it pretty quickly, not to mention the issues of decorating around it. (It’s a beige-on-beige pattern so nothing really wild, but still.) Anyway, having it in the closet means that when I *do* open the closet door I get this moment of “cool!” and it’s always a little bit of a surprise. (If I ever host a Halloween party I might try installing a mummy in there, but otherwise it’s just an interesting wall pattern.)

      Not sure if that’s of any help in your situation; if you often open the closet door and don’t want it to clash with the rest of the room, a “surprise” pattern might not be the best option.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t care if the closet matches the room, but mostly out of laziness. When we moved into our house most of the closets were neutral/white but for some reason the linen closet in the hall is like this almost neon reddish-orange. It kind of amuses me how ugly it is but I’ll probably do something with it someday.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      The white sounds perfect. If there is decent flooring under the carpet, like wood or something, you could pull the carpet out and just leave it bare — then if you change the carpet in the bedroom again, you won’t have to do it in the closet. No one will see it if the door is closed anyway.

  38. PhyllisB*

    Seeing the question about hearing aids and headphones reminds me of a question I’ve been wanting to ask.
    I have tinnitus, and most of the time it doesn’t bother me, it sounds a lot like the noises you hear outside at night in the summer. (I just treat it like white noise.) The problem is, it’s getting worse. It’s causing me problems when I’m in a group especially. When noise level gets higher, tinnitus gets louder. I know it’s irritating to other people that I ask them to repeat so much. It makes my husband furious, and he’ll start yelling at me. (I can handle him, but I don’t want to distress other people.)
    This is my question: have any of you managed to treat it successfully? I keep hearing that hearing aids don’t help with this issue. I don’t mind getting hearing aids, but I would hate to spend that kind of money (insurance won’t pay for hearing aids) and find out they don’t work.
    I keep getting ads in the mail from Beltone, and invitations for an evaluation, but I’m not sure I trust them to be honest with me. Any advice?

    1. Generic Name*

      Have you been to an audiologist? That would be my first step.

      ….and your husband is angered and yells at you for your hearing issues? Yipes

    2. Wow. The husband…*

      I can’t help with the tinnitus, but would really tell your husband to stop immediately getting mad at you… BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HEAR! It’s completely out of your control. I’ve actually said to people in incredulous tones, “Are you making fun/mad at me because of my disability!???” He does not get to be furious at you for a disability you can’t control.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, we’ve had words, and I’ve pretty much said that to him. He’s getting (somewhat) better, but I think a lot of it is because he’s starting to having hearing issues too, so… like I said, he’s really not my main concern and I shouldn’t have mentioned it, it’s the other things I’m worried about. I’m getting to the point that I’m thinking about not wanting to go to church or my ladies’ group anymore because I feel so self-coconscious about it.

    3. *kalypso*

      I sometimes use Flare Calmer, which are soft silicone inserts that they push the ‘we didn’t make it for tinnitus but it helps some people’ marketing for. I don’t find they help the normal tinnitus, but when I haven’t eaten and it’s really bad, it can take the edge off.

      My dad is also going through the adjusting and yelling at me because I can’t hear or I didn’t respond fast enough and it does suck, especially as reminding him makes him just as angry because he feels mad at himself then. If you can talk about it and work out a communication style that fits, and maybe some of your close friends who are in those groups, it can really help and lets you keep communicating freely. My dad has hearing aids and has been a little more inclined to cooperate since he started using them, and sometimes still needs a bit of reminding or adjusting, but I can frame it as a dad thing he can do to be a good dad and that works after a while. Like, music really helps me and cuts out the body of the tinnitus, and music is emotionally helpful for my dad but he finds constant sound bothers him and it’s hard for him to pick things out with background noise as well, so at home we’ll consciously turn off music if we are talking, not just turn it down; pause a show instead of talking over it/in the ads; we’ll go to quieter restaurants or take food back home/to the car/to the park rather than sit in a noisy place with lots of people. If I can’t hear him or didn’t understand, if there is background noise I can control I’ll stop it and sign that I didn’t understand, and ask him to repeat it (he doesn’t always get this because he hasn’t yet caught up to facing me to talk to me, but as he finds it helps him also, he applies it more). Similarly, I’ve reinforced when he’s told me he doesn’t understand something so he feels more comfortable asking me to explain, but I’ll also actively rephrase and check that he understood (and blame my brain when he gets mad, like ‘i am not sure i phrased that correctly’ instead of ‘did you hear’, since our other issue is that he reads like a book a year and I have a literature major so our language styles can clash). In groups or in public I’ll type on my phone, which sometimes people do back to me because they see me do it and assume I’m deaf and also moderate their language because they assume deaf people are illiterate which I do enjoy punching a hole or two in, but sometimes in clubs and concerts etc people will suddenly go ‘great idea’ and there we all are in a group chat. You may or may not have to do a degree of making your husband think communicating clearly with you is his idea, but if he’s just yelling out of misplaced frustration, making him feel like it’s something he can control may work like it does for my dad. It’s really scary when you live with someone and then one day they can’t hear you and while that should 100% be contained to being scared and not then taken out on anyone else or made the problem of the person who can’t hear, but it is something that a constructive communication about adjusting can keep from continually spilling out.

      Hearing aids don’t usually work because the tinnitus is happening inside the ear/head, and the hearing aid moderates and amplifies sound coming in that the brain processes over/on top of/at the same time/ If there are any physical triggers, you can work on those to minimise it, but beyond keeping your body’s version of healthy, there isn’t much you can do but work around it.

      1. MozartBookNerd*

        Hi, I have tinnitus too; for me it’s mostly just annoying and fatiguing. so I can’t speak to the difficulties in hearing except to say I’m sorry that you’re experiencing that!

        Three thoughts:

        1. I agree with *kalypso about hearing aids not being of direct help, because this is a brain thing, not an ear thing. We only seem to be hearing it.

        2. Here’s my experience with audiologists. Their main, easy question is whether the tinnitus is bilateral (i.e. perceived in both ears) or not. If it’s bilateral, then they’re satisfied that it’s not caused by something physical and serious in the brain — AND unfortunately they helplessley shrug their shoulders and say there’s not much that science has to offer.

        3. (CONTENT WARNING: DEPRESSION.) On the other hand, one audiologist worked with a psychologist, and clued me in to a Googleable webinar called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Tinnitus Distress,” from Bruce Hubbard of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. I haven’t been through the whole webinar yet, but there is one very encouraging reason that I mention it! Hubbard says that most, most, most people eventually “habituate” to tinnitus, meaning that it remains seemingly audible but that it retreats way beneath consciousness and just isn’t noticed much anymore! It can take 6 to 18 months, Hubbard says. I’ve had mine for a year, so, we’ll see . . . . By no means am I saying “hey just get used to it;” on the contrary, I would love nothing better than to get rid of mine! But the hope from a relatively knowledgeable source seems valuable!

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      There’s one trick that sometimes helps me briefly. I put the palms of my hands over my ears, with my fingers pointing to the back of my head. Then I use my fingers to gently tap on the back of my head. It’s hard to describe but it sometimes gives me a small break from the ringing.

      I also have terrible tinnitus (didn’t actually realize it was weird till I was in my late teens because “ringing” isn’t how I describe it). I also have audio processing issues which mean that when I hear words, sometimes my brain makes them sound like gibberish. Have you seen those videos “what english sounds like to a non-english speaker?” It’s like that.

      It can certainly be frustrating to my friends and family, but no one has ever been angry/furious at me when I didn’t catch something and need them to repeat. Pretty much everyone has figured out that if they say the exact same thing a little slower (the accent in my area is one of the fastest in the US), I’ll get it most of the time, and if that doesn’t work they’ll re-phase it, rather than yelling it louder. And sometimes if I only missed a couple of words, I’ll repeat the part I did get and then ask for just the missing part. EG: “Have you fnjie;fherwiuo the cat?” “Have I /what/ the cat” “Brushed” “Oh yeah, it’s all done.”

      You could talk to your husband and offer scripts like that, and even do it over text if it’s easier for you that way. The yelling is probably making it harder for you to hear him, My tinnitus gets much worse when I’m stressed or my heartrate/blood pressure is high.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Actually now that I think about it, there was ONE person who got furious at me for not understanding immediately: my dad when I was a kid. He has severe anger issues and decided that all my shortcomings were on purpose to spite him rather than mistakes because I’m human and a kid. In that case, the problem wasn’t my tinnitus…

    5. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      I don’t know how this works exactly, and it may not be good for all types of tinnitus, but a friend of mine did something where an audiologist (I assume) played tinnitus sounds to him in real life, and then the brain was able to cancel it out and that stuck for the tinnitus as well. It didn’t last forever but it worked really well for a while.

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Anything you can buy to treat tinnitus is snake oil designed to lighten your wallet.

      Google “Tinnitus Talk Forum” and you will get help from a wonderful group of tinnitus suffers.

    7. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I used to live by an extremely noisy road, near an intersection, so constant braking and accelerating noises etc. Unable to sleep. Could not tune out or ignore the noise at all. A friend advised me to start listening to and for the momentary silences rather than the vehicle noises. This helped me a lot. I later tried this when I developed tinnitus, and it has worked very well. Obviously each person’s tinnitus is different and of different severity, and self-hypnosis is not a guaranteed cure, but I think it is worth you trying it – try listening for the background noise you want to hear – the quietness, which may be only momentary. You are encouraging and training your brain to ignore the noisy parts, and notice the quiet parts.
      Also, your ears don’t like noisy environments as much as you get older, and it’s hard to find places to meet that don’t have music, poor sound abatement, noisy furniture and machines etc so it’s not just you who finds it more difficult.

    8. Doctor is In*

      Get your hearing tested and see ENT. Worsening tinnitus could be a sign of a medical issue. Hearing aids don’t help tinnitus but you can get apps that produce a sound that short circuits the noise. My tinnitus is low pitched left ear and the sound I found that masks it is higher pitched. I have hearing loss and the hearing aids are wonderful.

  39. Courageous cat*

    Does anyone get extreme… like… almost anxiety when they are apartment/house-hunting and find a place that they really love? Instead of being happy and optimistic about it, I start burning up with this intense fear that someone else is going to grab it before I can, hahaha. It’s horrible. I don’t relax until I sign the lease. I guess this is part of living in a big city, it just all feels so much more competitive.

    Waiting on that last stage now and finally able to function semi-normally. This is why I shouldn’t ever move/house-hunt. I get so invested. Please keep your fingers crossed for me as this apartment would drastically increase my quality of life.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      No I think it’s awful. It’s exciting once it’s secured, but not having any control over a decision so important to you is genuinely nail-biting.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep, we looked at houses for over a year before an offer was accepted and it got to the point where just LOOKING at a house that I liked would make me sad. The ones I didn’t like were just fun to explore but the ones I wanted were awful. My theme song for submitting offers was En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It” lol.

      I hope your apartment works out!!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, it’s so frustrating. the first place I put in an offer on, I dragged multiple family members through the open house on different days, thought deeply about where specific furniture I owned would and wouldn’t fit, made plans for how I’d use the backyard space…and didn’t get the house, because someone else put in a cash offer for way over list price.

        The second house I put in an offer on, I thought carefully about how I would use the space, where all of my stuff would go, etc. I didn’t get the house, because someone else put in a cash offer way over list price.

        The place I finally bought, I walked through the house looking for obvious deal-breakers, made sure it had at least two bathrooms, and figured “good enough, might as well put in an offer”. (I knew I wanted to live in that particular neighborhood, so by the point I was checking out basically every house in my price range with at least 2 bathrooms in good enough condition to qualify for a mortgage.) I did not want a ranch house with a gas furnace and no AC, I wanted a split-level with a heat pump, but by then I just wanted to be done.

        It feels like the bigger the amount of money, the less choice you actually have. I can get new dishes in any color I want anytime, but the house, which you have to actually live in and keep your stuff in, will almost certainly not be the layout and design you prefer. (Also, apparently cars only come in boring colors now and none of them have crank windows anymore. I want teal with hot pink racing stripes and to be able to roll down the window while parked. Boo.)

        It was fun to see the occasional house that I wasn’t willing to put in an offer on, though. One had serious “the same DIYer has lived here by themselves for 50 years” vibes, including a tiny bathroom with three entrances: one from a bedroom, one from the kitchen, and one from a weird room that probably used to be a patio. The overall vibe was like what my grandpa would have done to a house if he’d been left unsupervised.

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

          My realtor (who represented both buyer and seller, but that’s another story), told the buyers of my Dad’s house whom she was representing to put a clause in their offer saying that they’d pay $5000 over the highest offer from anyone else. Only works if you’re willing to pay ton, though.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          I saw one that fully felt like the Winchester mystery house and was SO creepy. There were like… two upstairses? From the outside it looked like a regular second story but there were different staircases and they didn’t connect, so you’d go up one figuring you would go down the other, open what appeared to be a connecting door, and find yourself staring into a closet instead. Lots of built-in furniture with weird little storage spaces. 100% haunted.

    3. mreasy*

      This has happened to me every time I’ve apartment hunted. I live in NYC so the process is extra stressful baseline, but like you’re saying – it’s so tough to find a place you like that when you do it’s very scary to not get it!

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

      Yeah, big-city renting is brutal. My apartment has some issues, but the thought of having to apartment-hunt again is one of the things that keeps me staying put. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there and seeking another place!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same, and I’m lucky as shit that I found something halfway decent with NO roommates. I could have got something bigger but it also would have been janky and/or further away.

        The tradeoff is climbing two flights of stairs, being a transit hour from work, and living in a very small space with too much stuff (I’m working on that part). But it’s comfy and it’s all mine. :)

    5. Alex*

      Oh man I relate to this! I just moved and was so anxious about it until I moved in! I kept thinking there would be some mistake and move in day would come and they would have accidentally given in to someone else, or who knows what. I don’t know what I would have done if I had to wait long to sign a lease–I brought my checkbook with me to the showing and told them I wanted to give a deposit right then and there. I had to wait until the next day to sign the lease and I was definitely anxious!

      I also live in a big city where it is next to impossible to find places to live so I think the anxiety is warranted, but fingers cross for you!

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think this is actually normal now, unfortunately! I am passively looking since I like my current house but eventually wanted to move to a smaller house on a bigger lot in the country.

      There is a heck of a lot of FOMO being pumped out there. Now I’m seeing anxious realtors pushing FOMO narratives that in my opinion are fear mongering, and it freezes me (and probably many potential buyers) up.

      I am not making a purchase this big based on fear, and in a rush. I am not waiving contingencies, and I am not getting involved in a bidding war for a regular middle class house. But some people, in my opinion, don’t think long-term, think the covid house-rush is going to keep up, don’t know sales volumes have nosedived, so feed into it.

      So yeah, your feelings are not only rationalized, but are unfortunately normal and even warranted in this market. I wouldn’t worry! I feel like the housing market is currently only catered to dual income higher earners. It’s bad out there. It can’t continue like this.

      It may feel better if you dive into the numbers and think through how likely it is for the market to change? I’ve spent too much time debunking the many arguments people have for why housing prices and competition for housing will never ever come down. Many are repeated so much that people blindly believe them, but most barely make sense. The basic formula is “random thing will probably happen, therefore prices never come down.”

      Sorry if this reads like a rant, but I sympathize and have seen more craziness recently than in 2006, which has been bothering me. I am seeing people in my income bracket signing up for mortgages they can barely afford at the peak of their careers. You used to buy around 30 and then hope inflation and income growth made the payment feel smaller over time. This wave of people living paycheck to paycheck on high incomes and signing up for 30 year mortgages at 40 or 45 and just assuming they’ll be raking in well over six figures for most of that time just boggles my mind.

      I will not compete with that and rush into a house I can technically afford but can’t in reality

    7. Despachito*

      I am keeping my fingers crossed for you.

      And if it is of any help I feel the fear you described every time there is something I really want :)

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, yes. We desperately want a bigger apartment and there’s a building like, three blocks away that would be PERFECT (One bedroom with a separate den!) but naturally none of those are available, rrrrgh. We’re going on a shorter lease so if one opens up we can snag it!

  40. Anthology*

    This sounds insane but hear me out: how do you teach a cat physics?

    Our cat is stupid as hell. He was the last survivor of an orphaned litter, almost dead from dehydration when he crawled into our garage. I suspect his rough start caused some brain and vision issues, but he also seems to lack the basic understanding that two things cannot be in the same place at the same time. I have never met an animal that does not intrinsically grasp this concept.

    I have taught cats basic commands in the past, like to stay off counters and to come when called, even a few tricks. But I have no idea what to do when he runs head-first into our legs and is confused about what happened, or gets so far underfoot that he causes falls (one in which my husband was badly hurt and chipped some teeth).

    A regular “don’t be in this place” command I would reinforce with a spray bottle, but I don’t want to make him scared to be near us at all. I don’t know how to teach “don’t touch our feet and legs, but it’s okay to be close”.

    This is really miserable; he’s causing serious safety issues for us, but is truly sweet and loving.

    1. Generic Name*

      I think positive reinforcement works better for training. Maybe do a “place” command where he goes to his cat tree or something. We’ve trained one of our (bright, food motivated, and dog like) cats to sit and shake using treats same reward techniques one uses when training a dog.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, poor kitty and poor you. As you say, this sounds to me like he may have a genuine kitty learning disability. Teaching to do something is always easier than teaching not to do something, so I agree with the idea of teaching him to go someplace when told. If you have stairs, I’d put particular training emphasis on them—maybe a “wait” command with a release when you get to the other end? Actually, a “wait” would be a great one in general, as it would allow you to come to him.

    3. SuprisinglyADHD*

      The getting underfoot might not be “doesn’t understand they can’t be in the same place at the same time”, some cats use that to get attention. Is it possible to set up a “cat spot” in each room and give attention/treats there? Training would involve petting/play/treat session in the spot, as well as physically picking up the cat when it’s being a trip hazard and moving it to the “cat spot” (not giving it attention for tripping you, just moving it there).

      1. Rainy*

        I like this–and speaking as the owner of a cat who Has Some Issues (it’s a long story but basically we know zero things about her life before she was six or seven months old, she is nearsighted), if your cat is genuinely just not bright, you may have to accept that he’s only ever going to learn one or two things, so don’t get too excited about training. Is he orange?

        1. Anthology*

          LOL he is not orange, though I understand why you’d ask. He is what the internet calls a “standard issue cat” with brown/gray tabby markings, white booties and bib, and green/yellow eyes.

    4. sswj*

      Potentially silly question, but …
      Are you sure he can see? Really see? Cats are such amazingly adaptable creatures that he may actually have compromised vision, but get around and do most catly things just fine. But when you are moving or standing in usually open bit of floor and he’s not concentrating on where he’s going (ie: working off his mental map and moving to a plan) he may simply not know you are there.
      I don’t know the full circumstances of the collisions, obviously, but it might be worth stomping or loudly scuffing your feet when you see him coming, or even try to teach him a “whoa kitty” command to get him to pause for a second.
      I have also had cats who love nothing more than to rub on my feet and legs while I’m moving. For those two I just kept going but would either slide my feet, or deliberately (and carefully) shove them aside with my feet as I went. And if they persisted and I didn’t have time or wasn’t in the mood to humor them, I stomped hard and loud and added a loud “Tsssst!!!” to get them to quit.

      1. Anthology*

        This is a good point. I don’t think he’s completely blind since he does respond to gestures, but I definitely think he’s not whatever the cat version of 20/20 would be, and his depth perception in particular is very poor. Do vets have reliable testing for that?

        1. Rainy*

          Not that I’ve seen (as it were). We have a cat who’s pretty nearsighted (we think, anyway, it makes sense) and it takes her a while to figure out e.g. new cat furniture etc because she’s not a confident jumper. The vet was like *shrug*. She can see us, the dog, toys, etc. She doesn’t like the laser pointer as much as the other cat and the dog, but she does watch birds sometimes.

        2. nope*

          My cat has mild-moderate crossed eyes, and your kitty reminds me a lot of her. She *seems* like she can see and can track some things, but if you watch her closely enough you can tell she isn’t seeing what you or another cat would see. She loves to play fetch, but we can only play in the hallway so that she knows which way to run. If I throw it in an open room, even after indicating which directions I’m going to throw it, she will run in the exact opposite direction.

          Question: does he jump up on counters? On chairs? On window sills?

          Vets can diagnose visual abnormalities and I’d urge you to make an appointment. They will ask a lot of questions so if you can note observations on behaviors and trends, they could be helpful for the doctor. Once you know what you’re working with, you can adapt the environment and makes things easier on all of you. Good luck!

          1. Rainy*

            My nearsighted kitty loves to fetch, and we use her old collar, so she hears the bell!

            1. nope*

              Funnily enough, she hates things that make noise! They seem to scare her. You would think that with funky vision she’d love to track things by sound, but nope! I spent so much money trying to find toys that make noises she likes, but after 5 years I’ve accepted that she prefers quiet play. I even have to take the bell off collars if I want her to not escape them everyday. Luckily she isn’t able to be outside off-leash so no bird are in danger due to her bell-less ways.

    5. TPS reporter*

      would putting a bell on him help to at least warn you he’s close? also if he’s young and full of energy maybe he needs more playtime?

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

      I have a cat who is teachable enough that he no longer jumps up on counters or wakes me up before 10am for breakfast, but nothing I’ve been able to do (including accidentally stepping on him MANY times, which he does NOT enjoy) has broken him of his persistent habit of getting underfoot. So far I’m good at not falling when I trip over him, but I know as I age and my balance gets worse, it’s only a matter of time (he’s already fairly elderly so I don’t think he’ll last long enough for that to be a problem, but who knows? He’s weirdly fit for a 13+ year-old.) So basically I’m saying, worst case scenario, if he remains untrainable, what are your options for rehoming him? If he’s actively making your house unsafe, that’s pretty serious.

    7. bathing suit gown*

      Im not a veterinarian but it’s worth checking with your vet about the possibility of “ cerebellar hypoplasia” aka Wobbly Cat Syndrome. That could be the cause of his balance issues and your vet might have some resources on how to manage it (from what i understand, it’s not a fatal condition or such, but it usually develops in utero).

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      This sounds more like a vision/neuro issue than a training issue.

      Source- I train dogs professionally for a living so I see and work with a lot of animals and this reminds me of a partially blind dog I recently worked with.

      I’d investigate any medical concerns further and use positive reinforcement training methods

  41. Viva Las Vegas*

    Las Vegas Recs
    Wondering if anyone could provide Las Vegas recommendations. We’re having a destination wedding in Vegas and want to just have dinner at a restaurant (private dining room, pre-fixe situation) after the ceremony instead of a traditional reception. I’ve done so much Googling and there are so many options that it’s hard to narrow it down. We anticipate about 35-45 people, including a few kids, so it can’t have an age minimum. Ideally we’d like to spend about $100/person for food and drinks (just basic beer and wine package), although we could have a bit of flexibility on that (I know it’s not a huge budget in Vegas). Based on what I’ve found so far, that means anything on the strip is pretty much out of the question, which is fine because we’re planning to arrange transportation either way. I also would appreciate any recommendations for transportation charter companies.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I took my wedding group to Nine Fine Irishmen at NYNY after my Luxor ceremony, we ordered off the regular menu and just had a normal reservation – there were 14 of us – and the bill was under $800 including a large gratuity, so the Strip might not necessarily be out of reach. They do private rooms, large groups and custom menus, and there’s an email address on the website ( https://newyorknewyork.mgmresorts.com/en/restaurants/nine-fine-irishmen.html ) to ask about groups of 15+. They do eventually disallow kids, but not until pretty late in the evening, like 11pm I think. We had gluten intolerance, vegetarians, and even someone allergic to potatoes in our crowd, so they are very able to accommodate :)

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Good luck and have fun!
      Maybe reach out to Batista’s Hole in the Wall? It’s not fancy fancy, but it’s steeped in Vegas lore (It’s been there forever).

    3. Rainy*

      If you want a casino restaurant feel and menu options without the price point of the strip, take a look at the casinos/hotels/restaurants on Fremont (the old strip). The parking options on the old strip are good now and it’s pretty walkable as well. Since the redevelopment of Fremont, there are some nice newer independent hotels and restaurants at either end of the district.

    4. WestsideStory*

      If it’s going to be family with kids, zero in on Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood. Parent companies of both run restaurants nationally and specialize in group catering. (Prime rib special at PH is always a stop for us).
      That said, the most elegant place I’ve dined in Vegas is the Eiffel Tower restaurant in the Paris Hotel. Dinner with drinks for two runs about $400, not counting the extra charge to score a window seat to watch the dancing waters light show while enjoying their excellent signature lamb chops. While this may be out of your price range for your size group, the Paris has a lot of other dining areas with good food, so they may be able to come up with a package that suits. It’s a cute little casino we go to whenever it’s too pricey at Venetian.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Well, it depends on the vibe you are looking for, but I have never had better Thai food than Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. I’m sure they could put together an amazing northern Thai banquet for you if you enjoy that kind of thing.

    6. NaoNao*

      Giada inside The Cromwell Hotel was where I had my “welcome dinner” for my wedding weekend. There’s a few separate/private dining rooms and areas, I believe. I think it might be a touch more than $100 per person but we had 8 and I think it was about $1100 total for the 8 and that was soup to nuts with like 1-2 drinks per person. I recommend it, it was a crowd pleaser and an easy meal that didn’t feel intimidating or too fancy for our guests.

  42. sagewhiz*

    Q 4 middle school teacher in US:

    Considering the (ridiculously necessary) security measures now in our schools, do any of you have a hand-held device that immediately summons the school resource officer or security?

    Reason I ask is I’m writing a middle school book where three bullies encircle a boy with Down Syndrome outside his classroom door, another boy steps in to stop it, things escalate enough that the teacher hears, comes out with her *panic-button* and threatens to call security on the four (not realizing one’s a good guy) if they don’t disperse right then and there. Is this a reasonable scenario?

    1. Teacher Trainer*

      I don’t know about the tech specifically, I’ve seen panic buttons being sold for teachers but aimed at school shootings not bullying scenarios. I’ve never spoken to anyone who’s actually using them though.

      As a teacher though, I will say that what you describe would be a terrible way to handle the situation and would show that this teacher is appallingly poorly undertrained, incompetent and/or inexperienced to the point of it being negligent to leave them alone with a class. If that’s what you are trying to communicate, great!

    2. Mo*

      No—the device teachers use to get outside support would be either the classroom phone or their cell phone (to text/Slack) someone to come help.

      Also, it reads as odd to me for the teacher to “threaten to call security”, since they aren’t a bouncer and this isn’t a club. I’d expect them to tell the kids to knock it off and get where they’re supposed to be (middle schoolers typically aren’t supposed to be hanging out in the halls, unless it’s passing period in which case there’d be lots of other kids and teachers out there too), and if they didn’t the teacher could text/Slack for support, but they wouldn’t need to announce it, especially since it’s not like whoever’s coming can teleport there.

      I’d imagine you’ve already done this, but I’d also check that wherever you’re setting this fictional school still actually has SROs, as many districts have gotten rid of them, and even the ones who still have them don’t necessarily use SROs for lower-level behavioral support.

      1. Clisby*

        My (US) school district does still have SROs, but this situation doesn’t strike me as one that needs an SRO, unless the “bullying” students are engaged in outright violence as opposed to, say, making fun of the bullied kid. Not that any bullying is OK, but IME teachers are expected to be able to step in and stop that kind of behavior on their own.

      2. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

        Yes – we have a panic button that we wear with our IDs and we have an SRO. The panic buttons can issue two types of instant alerts. School alerts notify resource officers and administrators of classroom health or safety issues; emergency alerts can send schools into lockdown and notify sheriff’s offices of larger-scale emergencies like school shootings.

        1. Clisby*

          But would you use that in the scenario described by the LW? To me (US), that seems like a wild overreaction.

    3. Generic Name*

      If the setting is an actual place that exists, I recommend doing some research on the school district there. I live in the same district where Columbine happened (about half of my son’s friends attend the school) and we don’t have “security” in middle or high schools, nor are there call/panic buttons. There are county sheriff deputies stationed at each high school, but they aren’t security. The term is “school resource officer”. The officer and I think the administrators do have walkie-talkies, but I don’t think the teachers have them. They have phones/computers in the classrooms. So if there was a hallway disturbance in my son’s middle school, a nearby teacher would probably call the office, who would summon the SRO.

      1. Generic Name*

        And when I say “hallway disturbance” I mean something above and beyond what a teacher could handle themselves. Most teachers would tell the kids to get back to their classrooms and wouldn’t feel the need to “call security”.

    4. Rara Avis*

      Every teacher I know wades in themselves to stop a fight and relies on others within earshot to call in back-up — usually paras, principals, etc. None of the schools where I or my husband have worked had security or resource officers. No hand -held panic buttons.

    5. Blythe*

      Also a middle school teacher in the US– I agree with everyone else that this is not a realistic scenario. No panic buttons, we wouldn’t “call security” (we might call admin if things have REALLY fallen apart); we would handle it ourselves and then report it to counselors/admin to follow up on.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      So, this is a UK perspective (we do have armed intruder drills though), but your teacher doesn’t really sound like a teacher. Calling security isn’t a thing; they should step in to manage the situation and find out what’s going on. Teachers manage discipline themselves because they’re in loco parentis, calling security isn’t a thing that you do for your school’s own kids any more than a parent would call for security on a sleepover party. The only difference is supervision is done as a team, so I’d be surprised if a teacher was alone in a busy area, at a busy time. If I was in a situation where I needed other members of staff I’d use my phone (we have an “on call” system). We would tell a misbehaving group that we we summoning on call which usually means a world of trouble for them. Senior members of staff (who patrol the school with walkie talkies) respond to on call. Really though, a half decent teacher should be able to spot or at least suspect bullying, especially if a vulnerable kid is involved and getting them to disperse is odd phrasing because you need them to identify themselves and where they should be so you can make sure they get there.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Just wanted to say that is really interesting and so different from my experience across the water from ye! We don’t have anything like armed intruder drills nor do we have anybody with walkie-talkies or anybody “on call” as such. In a real emergency, we’d send somebody (a special needs assistant or in the worst case scenario, a student) to get the deputy principal.

        In the scenario mentioned above, the teacher would most likely order them to get up, usually they would. It’s also very likely the teachers in the neighbouring classes would hear and would come out to support andI have rarely if ever seen students ignore two or three teachers. And the three bullies would probably be taken to the principal or deputy principal.

        I get the impression US schools are quite different from here (as regards procedures), but I agree that a reasonably competent teacher should be able to tell if a child with Downs Syndrome is bring bullied and not think him part of the problem.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I’ve worked in schools without the on call system and it’s definitely not always necessary; there’s just a different way of organizing things if you don’t have it. Like, you’d be buddied up with a neighbouring teacher or send the student somewhere etc. Taking students to the head or deputy head would work in a smaller school, but we are a massive school, easily the largest I’ve seen. I can’t always count on the head being available she’s ridiculously busy. We have quite a few deputy heads, and they tend to be the people with walkies. We also serve a really deprived demographic and because we have a lot of success with behavior, we tend to get everyone else’s expulsions. So, in addition to the extra deputies, we have pastoral leaders who are solely in charge of behavior management (this is all they do, no teaching at all) and they have special relationships with specific year groups. So they are often on call too. When I first came, I was agency staff and my first thought was that I wouldn’t stay in such a large school even if they asked me to stay on, but they won me over. Fun fact, but a huge proportion of our staff are Irish because, Liverpool, and they like to trial people from agencies and one of the agencies draws from Ireland a lot.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, ye’re schools tend to be way bigger than ours too, I think, which makes a difference. We are hoping to get over 300 students (in the school in total, not starting) next year. Last year’s student numbers were about 265, I think. I’ve a friend in England who said they had more than that in one year.

            And yeah, I am familiar with the way schools get reputations for taking certain groups. My current school seems to have that for students with special educational needs. Something like a third of our students or more get resource help, so of course, we have a huge resource department and as a result, parents are more likely to send kids with special educational needs to us as we have a lot of resources for them. I think it’s a good thing when it happens for things like special educational needs because a lot of these kids would struggle if they were in a class with students looking for straight As, plus it means there is no stigma to getting resource in our school; in fact those who don’t are often jealous that “I don’t get to miss any classes and most of the rest of my class do.” But it happens with behaviour too.

    7. Flower necklace*

      At my high school, we have people on duty with radios. When a fight happens, the closest teacher with a radio calls security or someone alerts security using the panic button in the classroom (it’s attached to the wall and looks like a light switch).

    8. Girasol*

      Maybe schools don’t offer such devices but they could. Isn’t that like what hotels give housekeepers so they can hit a panic button if guests assault them as they’re cleaning rooms?

    9. Anon Poster*

      My middle school campus recently asked (but did not require) staff to put a panic button app on our phones, but only to be used in extreme events when lives are in danger. We would not use it in the scenario described.

    10. RagingADHD*

      There is a school district near me where the teachers were once known for routinely calling the SRO for student behavioral issues, even down to elementary school. They have pepper-sprayed middle schoolers for using bad language.

      They are in the middle of massive legal repercussions from the Justice Department.

      Anyone who calls armed guards on unarmed children doesn’t belong in a school.

    11. Rainy*

      I work in higher ed and we have a panic button system, but it brings the police *to your office*, not to the panic button’s physical location. Every panic button is registered to a specific office in our suite. If you are in someone else’s office, you push their panic button. This is a pretty common system in higher ed.

    12. Shingles*

      I worked at a private school in the middle school. The more public-facing spaces (office, etc) DID have a panic button under the desk. We were all told about these locations and also told that if we press it, we can expect the response of all school security officers responding ASAP with guns drawn. It was clearly only reserved for Very Serious Incidents (and luckily has not yet been needed).
      What might be a more common scenario in your example is if the incident is seen on a school hallway camera and a response comes from that. Most schools (public and private) have hallway cameras that can be monitored by anyone in the office. MANY of these cameras are low quality, so given your mix-up situation, it could be easy to misunderstand who the children are in the jumble in the hallway.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Haha no, this isn’t a thing.

      My school doesn’t have a cop on campus, so if there’s an issue I can’t handle I contact the VP via phone call (urgent) or email/Teams chat. This would vary a lot by district, though.

      It sounds like in your scenario a couple kids are surrounding/verbally bullying a kid? It would be extremely weird for a teacher to need backup for this. Even if they’re starting to push or hit him it would be a “stop it immediately” with the first step of consequences being something like a referral, sending to the office, and calling parents.

    14. just a random teacher*

      Chiming in that I’ve never worked someplace where this is how that situation would be handled, in either a middle school or a high school.

      Calling security is perhaps useful if you want a specific kid walked from your classroom to the office and they’re both (a) likely to stay put in your classroom until security arrives and (b) unlikely to make it to the office if you just tell them to go there by themselves. This is a fairly unusual circumstance, as most kids will either figure out the escalating-consequence-chain well enough to just go to the office when you tell them to so they’re not in even more trouble (or can plead their case to someone over your head) or escalate themselves to the point of leaving the classroom even if you’ve told them not to before security could show up.

      And yeah, you don’t want a group of kids getting in trouble outside your classroom for a potential fight dispersing, you want them sitting quietly at separate desks in your room with their heads down (or lined up facing the wall far enough apart not to touch each other, or whatever other way to keep them apart from each other and not easily able to keep setting each other off presents itself) while you write a bunch of referrals and call the office and/or their parents, depending on that particular school’s discipline procedures.

      If it’s already an actual physical fight, you sweep whichever non-fighting spectator/bystander students will follow adult directions into your room or into another hallway/common area and call security to break up the fight, probably. I mean, I personally have a known reputation with most students and would give a loud, roaring “[name] and [name], stop that this instant, both of you!” a try before retreating because it might work (particularly if I called them both by name – knowing their names means I can write a referral and call their parents, and proving that I know their names reminds them of that).

      A lot of teaching is about relationship-building and trying to get to the point that students won’t try shit in front of you because they don’t want you to be disappointed in them or upset with them. It is surprisingly easy to be the least-awful teacher in the eyes of a student who spends their entire day in trouble, and it pays off in having to manage less behavior from them and also giving them a break from being in trouble all day during which they can emotionally recharge and might actually learn something. You just have to be fair, consistent, and have mild consequences that you can actually enforce but also let them come back from rather than hold over their heads for a long time. Ideally, you build a culture to the point where the rest of the class, including their friends, start chiming in to encourage the kid to take the minor consequence at that point. (As an example, in the pre-smartphone days I had a no cell phone policy, and the deal was that if you gave it to me right then, without arguing, it would go in my pocket and you’d get it back at the end of class. If you argued, it went to the office and you’d get it back at the end of the day. Every time a kid looked like they might be about to argue with me, their friends would usually start reminding them what a good deal I was offering and how they should just give me their phone. They also knew that I would not actually go through their phone and look at their messages or anything, and that I would, indeed, keep my word at give it back to them at the end of class. By halfway through the year, I could pretty much just put out my hand and give them a look without having to even use any words. I also made exceptions for times it actually made sense to have a phone out, by specifically announcing to the class that it was ok to take their phone out and [whatever] because of [reason], most often if we had a weird bell schedule that day and I wanted them all to take cell phone pictures of it so they’d know what time their classes were.)

    15. Don'tbeadork*

      No. First, most bullies would be smart enough not to pull that kind of BS right outside a classroom. There’s plenty of secluded and less traveled areas for picking on victims in most schools. Second, the teacher should actually deal with the situation herself. One of teachers’ most basic jobs is conflict resolution among their students. If she can’t handle that most basic of situations, she’s either a first-year teacher on an emergency certificate or going to be out of teaching in under three years.

    16. sagewhiz*

      Thank you all for your comments! You’ve helped a lot in my thinking through the scene development.

      Plus, I broke my own Rule #1, never send a first draft. ;-) I’d left out that the biggest bully moved to intimidate the teacher, thus prompting my idea she’d threaten to call the SRO.

      Really appreciate y’all!

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Steven King wrote a scene in Christine you might find useful (King was a teacher himself). The teacher is confronted with a really aggressive kid, who’s secretly armed and the teacher is trying to get him to turn out his pockets. The kid has no fear of expulsion or pissing off the teacher, but the teacher rolls off the options available to the kid which boil down to ‘ok you don’t care about defying me and school repercussions, but if you leave this school with a knife and I call the cops to pick you up at the gate, you’re looking at worse than detention’. I don’t think the scene ages terribly well; an armed student on campus would be a much bigger deal today and the teacher’s confidence that the knife won’t be used on him is almost quaint. What does seem to be perennial is the spelling out of options and consequences for kids and asking them to ‘make the right choice’. Teachers do this all day long and it would be unusual to not at least try it.

      2. just a random teacher*

        As someone who has worked in some…pretty dysfunctional public schools in the USA, I think one of the things that would drive next steps in a situation where a student was threatening a teacher would be what kind of school it is and how out-of-hand things are generally.

        I spent 2 years working at a high school where, when I was moving to the classroom phone to call security, the kid I was trying to call security on physically grabbed my wrist to try and prevent me from calling. He was back in my classroom in less than a week with no plan to keep him from doing it again. (This was a 15 or 16 year old who was probably taller than me. I’m guessing I outweighed him, but it’s not like I was going to sit on him so that’s of limited utility. I brig this up because there’s a difference between being grabbed by a full-size human and a tiny human such as a 5 year old in terms of your options for ignoring the behavior and proceeding to do whatever you were going to do anyway.)

        By the end of the year I’d built a decent enough relationship with him and built my general expectations of whether or not I could get any help from admin (no) or security (also no) that later in the year when he tried the same thing I instead decided to argue with him about whether or not his attempts to physically prevent me from getting to the phone would constitute a foul if we were playing basketball, which was a weird enough argument that it got me to to the phone and generally de-escalated things, and by the next year I basically just didn’t call admin for any reason and just tried to handle everything myself because that year’s principal was actively going to make it worse. (My “favorite” story of that admin was the time he tried to tell me that it wasn’t a problem that multiple students were smashing windows in anger during the school day that semester by telling me that the most recent one had “just done it because he was having an argument about cafeteria food with his girlfriend”, as though the fact that it was for a stupid reason made it ok that he’d chucked a chair through a window compared to if he’d done it for more sensible, deeper reasons?)

        If you look at least 2 of the more recent school shootings, you’ll see a narrative where the teacher tried to send the kid out but admin sent them back, so there’s that, too.

        Teachers are expected to somehow keep pretty extreme behaviors under control themselves even when a kid is threatening them a lot of the time. It’s one of the reasons new teachers burn out, since they tend to get hired into the schools with the most extreme issues early in their careers, because those are the schools with a lot of openings (since their teachers keep quitting). I’m not saying that those teachers wouldn’t try calling security, but early in my career when I did that it took them forever to get there and they were no help when they did, so the longer that teacher has been there the less likely they are to call.

        I think the only time I called in the spring of my second year at that dysfunctional school was the time a kid being escorted out of the building by security (not one of my kids, no idea what he’d done to get security to actually show up and get him) smashed his fist through my classroom window while being walked down the hallway while I was trying to teach, and blood and glass ended up all over that part of my classroom floor. I needed someone with a sharps/biohazard kit to come clean up the resulting mess before my students could leave the room, which took a long damn time to happen since of course the kid had also bled in the hallway and who knows what other damage he’d done on the way out, plus of course whatever happened to cause security to show up in the first place. I ended up holding my class after the bell and emailing the rest of the staff with a list of who would be excused-tardy to the next period due to being stuck in my classroom.

        It is possible that in a school with fewer other behavior problems that a more minor threat toward a teacher would get more serious consequences, but I think they basically teach principals to ignore and minimize all student behavior problems as part of their admin programs, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. (We’re having an issue in my current district with principals who won’t enter referrals into the official system, because it makes their numbers look bad to have too many referrals, for instance.) This is particularly true in the younger grades, since there’s a certain line of thinking that “little” kids can’t meaningfully hurt adults and you should be able to keep them under control regardless because they are a child and you are an adult (tell that to the first grade teacher who got shot by one of her students last year).

      3. Michigan teacher*

        Teachers are very used to kids thinking they can intimidate us – I’m not calling “security” (nonexistent) over that. I’m trained to handle these situations. At no point does that involve threatening anything!

  43. Missb*

    Airbnb question:

    We are staying at an Airbnb this week. We drove across country to see our oldest kid, staying at hotels along the way. We usually stay in hotels in this city too; this is our first time using an Airbnb here. It was conveniently located about a block from our kid’s house.

    The house has two beds in two bedrooms. Nowhere in the description does it say that the beds are only full size. Each bed has one decorative pillow and one pillow to sleep on; but the ad says it sleeps four. No extra pillows around in either closet. I guess we’d sleep on a decorative pillow if there were actually four of us?

    Non smoking unit but when we walk in each day, it smells like cigarettes so someone obviously smoked here.

    To me, it looks like a non-owner occupied unit. Cheapest furniture and dishes (actually plastic plates and bowls and cups).

    The white (!) couches were dirty but came with covers which we immediately put on. (Dog friendly and we brought our dogs).

    The rug under the dining table is…gross? We aren’t wearing shoes inside but my feet don’t touch that rug. It’s just visibly dirty and stained.

    The towels were brand new, like still had the inspection stickers attached. I didn’t notice until I used one after a shower. Is it odd to expect they’d launder them first?

    How much of this is weird? We’ve used Airbnbs occasionally but nothing has looked or smelled like this. Is it worth mentioning to the realty company listed as the contact? Should we leave feedback?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Of course you should leave feedback. Is this “weird”? Well, honestly, with AirBnB there are very few standards. You should expect a clean place that looks like the photos and includes what’s described in the ad, but there’s no requirement for certain things to be done a certain way. I once stayed in an AirBnB with great reviews that had a broken shower. No warning about that. Instructions were posted in the bathroom about how to make the shower work, but it was pretty busted.

      You have the option to go somewhere else if you’re uncomfortable enough to forfeit any costs. I believe you can dispute with AirBnB. You can also try getting in touch with the contact and complaining– if it’s a realty company with a property manager, they may come by to check on things like the smoking smell, and maybe they’ll bring extra pillows. The dishes, though, that’s just the risk you take with an AirBnB. Towels too.

      1. Missb*

        This is super helpful, thanks!

        I think I’ll mention the smoke and the rug and leave it at that.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      You should leave feedback, both in the publicly visible review (do a favor for your fellow renters) and in the part that only the host sees.

      My own Airbnb experience has been overwhelmingly positive–one I cancelled because I couldn’t contact the owner (and ABB was quick and responsive about that), and the others have ranged from “fine, as advertised” to “what a delightful spot, I would try to stay here again.” (When my parents were alive we usually stayed in the same lovely Georgian ABB each time we visited.) From others’ complaints I get the feeling that a bunch of people went into it because they heard it was easy money, and so while there are more offerings those aren’t always appealing. The way to improve the average quality is to give a sincere review.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Leaving comments is so important. I scour them for telltale clues! It’s the best way to understand what you’re actually getting, and if there are unexpected things about the space or rules that aren’t obvious. As a result, I’ve had mostly great stays.

        It’s especially helpful to note what’s not there — if there are many reviews and no one says it’s comfortable or clean then it’s probably not! People rarely say “the bed was terrible” but you can see the sidestep. Lots of “we had a great time thanks” or “great location” comments with no praise for the actual space/experience is a huge tell.

        Last time I booked Airbnb (just a couple months ago) each bedroom had an icon for bed size. That was really helpful, but I don’t think it’s required for all listings.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m staying in one in a few weeks, chosen because so many reviews started off “Our dog loved it.” Not that we live only for our dog, but that the sort of things that appeal to our dog (lots of space to roam around, low traffic, quiet) also appeal to us.

        2. Bluebell*

          So true. I always try to stay at places that have 20+ reviews and if no one says it’s clean, then that’s not good! Also, cozy usually means small. “Great location is the equivalent of “have a good summer” in a yearbook. I usually write longer reviews but on a few occasions I’ve just not reviewed at all.

    3. mreasy*

      This has happened to me so many times in airbnbs which is why I don’t use them anymore. I have had great experiences but enough like what you’re describing that I just can’t take the risk anymore.

      1. Kay*

        Same. And for everyone saying read the reviews – the final straw for the decision to never use Airbnb was when they pulled our review of a place that was wildly not as advertised – think no mention that the small bathroom was shared with 4 other rooms! Not to mention the one that surprised us with the housekeeping list including “make sure the linens and bedspread are washed and dried before leaving”.

    4. vulturestalker*

      Definitely go for it! I’m a grad student and none of my friends or I have much money. Maybe that’s what contributes to really normalizing a culture of secondhand shopping and trading clothes? Wherever the impulse comes from, I think it’s fun regardless of income level. I keep a giveaway bag and periodically offer clothes to friends who come over, and once in a while I’ve had more intentional clothing-swap get-togethers. There’s never an element of shame or weirdness; rather, everyone’s just excited to get new clothes without paying for them and without contributing to fast fashion!

      So, yeah, I hope this trend spreads, and you can help make it happen. Just be very matter-of-fact, as others have suggested.

  44. SuprisinglyADHD*

    Has anyone used mothballs to deal with fleas? Both of our cats have had fleas since last fall, despite daily brushing, monthly flea drops (even bi-weekly once, per packaging directions) regular vacuuming of rugs, frequent washing of their blankets, etc. I suspect it’s because they’re picking the fleas up again from areas we don’t see them sleeping (every so often they find a new flat surface with some kind of cloth stored), and areas we can’t vacuum well (like under the queen bed).
    My mom insisted on buying mothballs, which I hate (strong smells give me migraines). While she was at work, I put some under the couch and the big bed. Within an hour my partner and I were miserable, not “getting used to” the smell at all. We ran errands for a while and when we came back it was so bad we both got sore throats. We bagged up all the mothballs and put them outside and aired out the house.
    My mom is insisting on using them again, she want to put them out, and leave for the day. I’m worried about the cats! It caused two adult humans serious distress, what might it do to the small cats? She used to use them in a closed basement or pantry (decades ago), now she wants them in the living room and bedroom. Am I crazy to say it’s a terrible idea? And does anyone have any suggestions that don’t involve horrible fumes?

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Mothballs are a horrible idea and I don’t recommend them for anything.

      Move the bed. Vacuum everywhere. I don’t have any brilliant strategies but I don’t think mothballs even work for fleas and I don’t think they are safe around pets. Or people.

    2. Emma*

      Is the flea treatment from the vet? If not, I would ask the vet for options. Our vet prescribed a pill for our dogs, Nexgard, which has killed all fleas – it’s really strong. It’s definitely more effective than the over the counter flea collars/flea dips we used to use when I was a kid.

      1. Emma*

        And my understanding of Nexgard is that it’s so effective because it disrupts the fleas’ nervous systems. So basically as soon as they bite the pet, they die, so it kills the population. Since it’s an oral med, you don’t have to worry about it wearing off.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Monthly Nexgard (or similar) treatments for everyone (dogs and cats) was what worked when we had fleas. (You need to keep killing as new ones hatch from the eggs, so a few months to take down a few flea generations.) When there’s no infestation the dogs get a monthly Nexgard pill treatment (they’re going out and about and meeting other dogs) and the cats do not.

        Mothballs seem like a terrible idea. Fleas are not moths.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Poor kitties, and poor you!

      Short-term solution for cats: a medicated flea bath. Ask your local vet — some cheap off the shelf brands can be really dangerous :( you can also use Dawn dish soap. Yes, it will make the cats horrifically unhappy. Yes, they can just deal with it. (The YouTube channel Cole + Marmalade has a good “how to give your cat a bath” tutorial). Get a flea comb, which has very fine teeth, and comb your cats. Dunk the comb into a glass of soapy water (again, just Dawn) in between passes to kill any fleas you find.

      Our cats got fleas when I was in college, either from my roommate’s dog or from squirrels in the attic. Right before thanksgiving break, we gave them the medicated bath and IMMEDIATELY put them in carriers. We took them to my parents’s house and flea-bombed our house. The long weekend was enough time for the pesticide to safely dissipate. You may substitute with a local pet-friendly hotel (which I know is still money).

      Longer term, I highly recommend the Frontline or Revolution topical anti-flea gel. It’s a little pricy, but you put it on your cat’s scruff once a month. It contains a chemical that’s safe for cats but kills fleas, so they can’t live on your kitties anymore. Again, check with your vet for recommendations if your local brands are different. The very cheapest chemical flea collars are not safe and can harm your cats.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Oh, I saw you’re giving them flea drops already. I really recommend Frontline and Revolution topical if that’s not the brand. They prevented any flea reoccurrence on my kitties.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Dawn soap has been helpful, both for baths and for brushing. At this point we always have a bowl of water and soap sitting next to the flea brush and paper towels in the living room so we can just grab them when one of the cats wants brushing.
        I appreciate the warning about flea collars, we had that on the possibilities list! Flea-bombing is unfortunately not an option, we couldn’t stay out long enough.
        I’ll ask the vet for more suggestions!

    4. Time for Tea*

      I would suggest doing a household blitz with a fabric and carpet spray like Indorex, getting in to all the little edges and nooks and crannys. Vacuum as frequently as you can.

      I would also swap whatever chemical flea treatment you’ve been using to a different chemical as you need to get on top of them and you likely have fleas resistant to your existing treatment. For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume you are using a fipronil based treatment (Frontline, etc) which would usually be used once a month, so I would swap to imidacloprid (Advantage).

      I prefer natural treatments and don’t routinely use flea treatments on my own pets, but I’ve lived through an infestation and it was miserable for us for months until they died off. We had no luck at all with Frontline then, changing to Advantage saw numbers drop significantly pretty much instantly and all gone in a few weeks.

    5. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Mothballs are recommended for enclosed spaces like trunks, where the fumes are not readily or constantly inhaled. Refer to the label before using any pesticide, to ensure it is labeled for the pest in question and appied in the correct manner. The National Pesticide Information Center is a good resource (link to follow in a separate comment).

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        The National Pesticide Information Center’s page on mothballs:


        For continued flea control, vacuum daily and discard the bag or empty the cannister outdoors immediately. Use a spray containing Insect Growth Hormone Inhibitors to treat carpets and around baseboards. Eggs and larva won’t develop further, but pupae will be protected by their cocoon. You will need to treat a few more times to eradicate all the life stages.

        You can monitor for any survivors using a shallow white dish of soapy water on the floor, under an incandscent light placed very close to the dish. The heat and light will draw the fleas, which then jump into the dish. (This does actually work!)

    6. LBD*

      Mothballs and mothball fumes are highly toxic to people and pets!
      I have dealt with a severe flea infestation as well as minor outbreaks on occasion. One of the problems is that fleas can go format for a very long time at one stage of their life cycle. Any surface that your cats have ever been on needs to be cleaned. Could you borrow a roomba to clean under the bed? Otherwise moving it might be necessary. We also found that Advantage worked well.
      Make sure the cats aren’t picking up new fleas from outside sources. Somebody else mentioned squirrels in the attic. Multi family housing with poor separation might be an issue. The backyard in a neighborhood with a lot of other free roaming cats could be a source. Keeping the cat in and using Advantage on the dog made a huge difference. As pet care standards in the neighborhood evolved, it got easier and easier to control. Fewer outdoor cats and more people using long lasting treatments (Advantage had been recently released at the time) made life easier! I transitioned to treating only the dog, then only the dog in warm months, then only the dog at first sign of a flea.
      Good luck; it’s wonderful to be rid of them!

      1. LBD*

        Not format! I meant dormant!
        If fleas could go format does that mean they could learn other software processes? The possibilities . . .

    7. RagingADHD*

      The fleas in different regions develop resistance to different meds. And they live outdoors. Even if the cats never go out, fleas can hitch a ride in on your clothes or bags.

      For us, prescription Revolution Plus was the only thing that finally worked.

    8. Rainy*

      Mothballs are not going to kill fleas. A quick google tells me that while fleas are attracted to the mothballs, they won’t be killed by them.

      Either get out of the house for a weekend and flea bomb, or talk to your vet about a prescription flea treatment. I’m assuming you are using OTC flea preventive, and the Hartz and other common brand OTC ones never worked (but did make cats very sick!). Frontline plus and Advantage do work, but you may be in an area where the fleas have developed immunity. Talk to your vet; they will know and have a better recommendation than anyone here, but no, do not use mothballs–they don’t kill fleas but they might harm the cats (and you).

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

      If you have a persistent flea problem and the medication isn’t working, get every living creature out of the house for a day and bug bomb it. Since your mom seems to like the moat toxic option, the drama of this should appeal to her, and in my experience it’s pretty effective as long as you follow the instructions and have the flexibility in your life/schedule to vacate the premises for a day.

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Thank you everyone! I convinced my mom not to use mothballs in the house, by reading her the label about how toxic it is and bad for pets and humans etc.

      I’ll call the vet this week and see if he recommends any other treatments.

      She won’t consider flea bombing because she doesn’t have the energy to “clean every single surface and object in the house” afterward, I don’t know if that’s a thing but I won’t be able to change her mind there.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Our rescue uses VetKem for treating homes. It happens rarely, but mistakes are sometimes made and we have treated for fleas. Based on the website (I’ll post in reply) the local vets sell the Fogger. It’s great because the cats can be in the home at the time provided they aren’t in the room where you spray, and they can go out into the home as soon as the chemical dries. So they can hang out in the washroom for a couple hours while you spray and it dries.

        We use Revolution for the cats, and occasionally Advantage (not Frontline). Nexgard is also a great option but more expensive for rescues (revolution is a liquid and easier to get cheaper bigger doses and split them). When a cat arrives with fleas we give 3 doses of revolution every 30 days.

        Between VetKem and Revolution we’ve had a lot of success.

    11. carcinization*

      Borax is generally a lot less irritating to cats or humans than mothballs, and helped my household get rid of fleas a few years back. Lots of detailed info online about this, that’s where we found out how to do so.

  45. Decidedly Me*

    Questions about sunscreen that may seem silly.

    I try to be very good about wearing sunscreen when outside in the summer – though I’m still bad about daily wear when a sun burn isn’t a concern. I make sure to reapply on a regular schedule, too. However, I never see people applying sunscreen anywhere other than at the beach. Even when outside all day (was recently affected by 11 UV index everyday) – people never seem to either put it on or reapply. Where are people doing this or are they not?

    Some people are burned, so there’s my answer there, but many are not. I was traveling and tended to just find a shady spot to apply. I don’t think people were going to cars or public bathrooms (not common for tourists where I was at), so I’m confused.

    Also – if you wear make up, how do you reapply sunscreen to your face? I don’t wear make up, so not looking for specific tips, just trying to understand.

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      I have really sensitive combination skin that gets SUPER oily in my t-zone, so I found a powdered sunscreen option that lets me reapply SPF while also tamping down the greaseball look some. I currently use the SuperGoop Mineral (Re)Setting powder, which is fine, but I might look for some other options next time. It’s probably not 100% coverage or protection but I figure every little bit helps!

    2. Rainy*

      I expect they are and you’re just not noticing it. You’re meant to put it on half an hour before you go out in the sun, so the first round is likely before they leave, so you wouldn’t see that. You probably notice it on the beach because it’s a place where you’re aware of the need, and not other places because they’re stepping to the side. I doubt people notice you putting on sunblock either.

      I don’t wear makeup regularly anymore, but when I did, I applied sunblock under, wore spf makeup, and also a broad-brimmed hat. A hat typically works better than sunblock on the face anyway, since you can’t render a hat ineffective through sweating. :) There are sunblocks meant to be applied over makeup without ruining it, though–spf powders, facial spritzes, etc. The hat is a better choice imo.

    3. ThatGirl*

      If I’m going to be outdoors the bulk of the day, I wear and reapply sunscreen – not just at the beach but at theme parks, for instance. My husband is very conscientious about it too. But I’m not sure if we’re outliers. As for makeup, I put it on over my makeup.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      My girlfriend normally applies sunscreen before leaving the house, and sometimes reapplies it after she’s been out for a couple of hours.

      This year, I’m trying carrying around a small sunscreen stick in my daypack, and applying it if/when I think of it. That’s also useful if I realize it’s brighter than I realized, or I’m going to be outdoors longer than I originally planned.

      If you happened to be looking at me when I was applying it, you’d notice, but you might nor remember, the same way I wouldn’t remember if someone else stopped to tie their shoe or reached into their bag for a pen.

    5. Qwerty*

      My foundation is better than any sunscreen I’ve found despite only being rated SPF 15. Whatever they do to make it last all day makes the sunscreen last as well, where I usually need to reapply sunscreen on my arms/chest hourly on a sunny day. Once I got stranded on a lazy river and got so burned everywhere I turned purple – except my face, which stayed pasty pale.

      If I’m out and about all day, I’ll probably only apply it once really thoroughly and risk getting a mild burn. Beaches, parks, places where you hang out all day are the types of occasions where I’ve got a bag with me and the memory to reapply.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Agreed. For my face I use a SPF tinted moisturizer and it works better than any sunscreen I’ve found — it creates a more opaque barrier. Bonus, it doesn’t make my skin mad like most sunscreens do.

        1. Qwerty*

          Sure! Nothing fancy, just brands that I find in the grocery store

          Currently using Revlon Colorstay for Normal/Dry skin and had the same success with Maybelline Fit Me. I was using Covergirl for the sunburn story – either TruBlend or Clean Matte, its been a while. I usually go for a lightweight liquid foundation and use Covergirl concealer on red spots.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      I referee outdoor sports, so from April to September, I always have it in my kit bag.

      I prefer aerosol, so I try to make sure I apply it away from others. I also re-apply every 30-45 minutes, since I tend to sweat it off.

    7. mreasy*

      I use facial moisturizer with SPF, but if I’m gonna be out all day I sure as heck reapply regularly on my arms and face – but I’ll usually just grab from my purse and apply on the go. Re makeup, I don’t wear foundation, and if I’ll be out in the sun I usually just do brows, concealer and mascara, so reapplying sunscreen doesn’t mess with it. (If I’m eg going straight to a nice dinner, I’ll bring makeup along for touch ups/refresh in a bathroom somewhere along the way.)

    8. Angstrom*

      Have skin cancer in the family. Got tired of gooping up all the time and now prefer to cover up as the first line of defense. For outdoor sports I’ve found that wearing sun sleeves with a short-sleeve shirt is more comfortable than a long-sleeve shirt. Long-sleeve rash guard in the water. Hats with big brims and/or with ear & neck coverage. And I seek shade — being in the sun midday is often avoidable.

    9. I don’t post often*

      I tend to cover up, rather than use sunscreen. Our whole family has short and long sleeve rash guards for swimsuits. We get crazy sideways looks from people at the lake or pool, but I just smile in return. I also wear a hat as does husband. We do wear sunscreen but apply before leaving the house. We also use spray so it is quick when we reapply. I found a face sunscreen that is spray for daughter (8) so it was easier for her to apply.
      It does seem in our area that people do not take screening from seriously. Many of of friends/ neighbors come back from ball tournaments, amusement parks, vacations, etc burned or dark all over, saying they “forgot” to apply, but I notice their children are not similarly sunburned sooooo. But again that’s my take on it. The women in my family are prone to sunspots so I started wearing a hat and sunscreen outside when I was around 33

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I came here to say this—I live in the lands end spf shirts—called swim tees and rash guards but are much looser and more comfortable. For my face I use a 30 spf moisturizer and then carry a dry stick of 80 spf to reapply—and I live in baseball caps and floppy brimmed hats.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      My sunscreen is built into my daily moisturizer–I use Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50. Also apply all over my neck and down to my boobs. For rest of body, I mostly apply regular sunscreens when it’s very hot/sunny, I’m wearing less clothing and am going to be outside for a while. Mostly I’m only out for about ten or so minutes at a time–I’m not a beachgoer or an outside exerciser.

    11. carcinization*

      I put something that contains sunscreen on every morning, usually a facial moisturizer or something similar. In summer if I’m spending more than a few minutes outside I apply sunscreen right before going outside, to parts of my body other than my face/neck (upper chest not covered by clothing, arms, etc.). If I’m going to be outside for a really long time or am going outside again for a long period of time after being inside for awhile, I will at least consider re-applying sunscreen. Most of this sunscreen application takes place in my vehicle or at home, so I guess if I didn’t drive/wasn’t driven places it might be easier to see me putting it on?

      I have put makeup on over sunscreen but not sunscreen over makeup, and don’t usually wear full-face makeup, so can’t really answer that part.

  46. *kalypso*

    SPF foundation is a thing.

    Then again, I’m outside rarely enough that wearing sunscreen and full coverage makeup may not help my Vitamin D absorption, so unless I’m actively out in the sun all day instead of in between buildings, I won’t wear sunscreen and save full coverage for events. It may not be much Vitamin D but it does help, especially in winter when the sun itself is struggling a bit in that regard.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      For light-skinned people, I read that 15 minutes of fairly direct sunlight per week is enough to supply necessary vitamin D. Darker-skinned people need longer, and less direct sunlight is less effective. Lower-angle winter sunlight is also less helpful than the sunlight you get near the summer solstice.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        This varies wildly by latitude and season (not just due to angle, but also because of how covered up people generally are or aren’t), but the general recommendation I’m aware of is 15 minutes per day, not per week.

  47. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    Treatment for recurring eye styes?? Thoughts? Family remedies? Magic spells?

    I’ve never had a stye in my life and over the past two weeks I have gotten about 50….not exaggerating. Maybe more than 50. I’ll wake up and find like 5 new ones. Next day, 5 more. Inside and outside the lid and tear line. They’re painful and quite swollen.

    Went to eye doc (so grateful to get seen so fast), he prescribed oral doxycycline (a very high dose) and said to continue with the antibiotic and steroid ointment that I had been using the past two weeks. I am also taking fish oil, eating ginger, using the fancy type of warm compress 5+ times a day followed by eyelid massage, eyelid wipes with tea tree oil, and also probiotics and sunscreen due to the very high antibiotic dose.

    I haven’t worn makeup since this started. I don’t reuse things that touch my eyes. I just finished a weeklong food detox thing where I ate super clean all anti inflammatory foods.

    What the heck could be happening? Eye doc said all my meibomian (oil) glands were malfunctioning and ‘capped’ like the way skin pores get blocked and create pimples. He has no idea what could be causing it. I did also recently have a weird skin reaction all over my body where my skin got red and scaly and then it all peeled off as if I’d been sunburned.

    He also said “geez Louise” when he examined me. So there’s that.

    I’m 43, but had a hysterectomy a few years ago (they left my ovaries) and I know hormonal changes can cause styes but this many all at once is kind of unheard of.

    I read some Ayurvedic remedies like placing boiled and cooled neem leaves on the eyelids as well as making a marigold paste.

    Looking for any and all advice, or magic spells, or really anything at this point.

    1. Chaordic One*

      It sounds like your doctor is giving you good advice and treatment, and that you’re doing everything right. Although I didn’t have styes, I had similar problems with infections that caused blocked tear ducts resulting in dry red eyes and blocked pores resulting in swollen eyelids and swollen skin around my eyes. My doctor had me use over-the-counter moisturizing eye drops for the dry eyes and he prescribed a prescription-strength hydrocortisone ointment (which sounds like the steroid ointment that your doctor prescribed for you).

      One extra thing my doctor had me do was to wash (shampoo?) my eyelashes and eyebrows and the skin on my eyelids and around my eyes with Johnson’s baby shampoo. He said that it contained alcohol which would kill some of the germs causing the infection in my blocked pores, but that it was still gentle enough that it wouldn’t hurt my skin. He said to stick to the Johnson’s brand because some other brands of baby shampoo don’t have alcohol in them. It seemed to help me.

      In looking at the ingredients listed on Johnson’s baby shampoo, I’m not exactly sure what ingredients might be ones that are the alcohol. I suppose that if you carefully compared and matched the ingredients with other brands, if another brand had the same ingredients as Johnson’s it would work as well.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I have a tendency towards keratoconjunctivitis and I wash my eyes with Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo every time I shower, on my doctor’s advice.

    2. Sungold*

      ” I did also recently have a weird skin reaction all over my body where my skin got red and scaly and then it all peeled off as if I’d been sunburned. ”

      I know we’re not supposed to give medical advice on here. Also, I have an MD but my dermatology experience is limited and long ago. However the skin reaction you describe warrants a trip to a dermatologist to figure out the cause, whether or not it relates to the eye problem. Don’t ignore it. Hope you get some answers and feel better soon!

      1. WellRed*

        I second this. Even without the rash, I’d probably still say try a deem in addition to the eye guy.

        1. WellRed*

          I’d also suggest pulling back on all these remedies you are trying or considering. Without knowing what’s going on, you don’t know how to treat and could cause worse problems. Sorry you’re dealing with this!

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Thank you so much! Such a good point. My eye doc was tracking all those remedies and approved of me doing them, I was just feeling desperate and in pain. THANKFULLY the oral antibiotics seem to be kicking in and I’m not in any pain anymore as of this morning!!! Wooo!

      2. AnonRN*

        Agreed, a PCP/internal medicine visit and a dermatologist visit are both in order. If you took any new meds/supplements before the scaly skin thing started (or even changed brands of your current ones), tell them about what you were/are taking.

        Personally I have always found tea tree oil to be very drying. You probably want to lubricate and moisturize the tops of those glands so they open and drain (that’s their intended function!), not dry them up. I would only use something recommended by your eye doctor that is compatible with what they already gave you (not something OTC).

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          That is true! The eye wipes I have (which I showed my eye doc and he approved) also have ingredients like hyaluronic acid and others that moisturize the glands. Thankfully (so very much thankfully) the oral antibiotics are kicking in and I have no pain as of this morning, and they are all much smaller too. What a relief. What a weird experience.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Brands can be super important! Every manufacturer of, say, Vitamin D may use different binders/bulkers in their pills, and if you switch from Brand A to Brand B you may have a reaction to something completely random in the new pill.

      3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Thank you so much. I was feeling so desperate when I posted this. It’s only been a few days of the antibiotics but they seem to be helping!!! Only 4 new styes over the whole weekend (rather than 5-10 every 24 hours), and the others are much smaller already and none of them hurt anymore.


        I thought since the skin thing was over with, there wasn’t much they could do, but I’ll call tomorrow and ask for a derm referral. When I showed the weirdness to my PCM he gave me several different creams to try, none of which did anything.

        Thanks again for your response.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Finish the ENTIRE prescription of the antibiotics! I’m sure you know this but it’s my personal PSA; not finishing can cause a resurgent infection that’s twice as tough to treat since it’s developed a resistance to the original medicine.

    3. Quandong*

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this but glad you have sought medical advice.

      I think you would do best to follow the advice of your eye doctor, and to only add folk remedies IF the eye doctor has explicitly said they can’t make your situation worse.

      There are lots of reasons why you might be experiencing this eye problem but I don’t think the general population of this comment section will be as knowledgeable as medical professionals who are treating you.

      I would definitely recommend following up with a dermatologist about your skin, and ask your PCP about getting tested for new allergic reactions.

      If you have recently started running air conditioning for longer than before, the dry air may also be impacting your eyes.

      If you can take some time off work to rest, please do! Good luck and I hope your eyes improve soon.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I have a meibomian gland disorder that affects my tear production and causes dry eyes. I haven’t had styes from it, but have been treating the disorder. Things that I do are eye drops (oasis tears plus preservative free to be exact) and a heated eye mask daily for about 10-15min. Additionally, I got several rounds of a treatment called TempSure.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think a heated eye mask (you can get microwaveable ones at most drugstores) is a low risk DIY measure that’s likely to get recommended for meibomian gland issues.

        Amusing side story: I once went to urgent care for an eye antibiotic when I had a corneal ulcer from the dry eye. I mentioned my meibomian gland issue to the med student who was taking history, and who turned out not to know what the meibomian glands were, because a puzzled doctor then came in saying, “You say you have a *bone* in your eye?”

        1. Aquamarine*

          That’s hilarious! “Hmm, I think I see the problem… it’s that bone in your eye!”

    5. Dancing Otter*

      It sounds as though this happened right after you spent a week eating differently than usual. Have you been tested for allergies lately? Allergies can change over time, both the allergens and the reactions or both. People can be allergic to anti-inflammatory super clean foods, not just junk food.
      Seconding the recommendation for baby shampoo, just as a gentle but thorough cleansing agent that doesn’t burn, applied with a very soft cloth – not a cotton ball, which could shed cotton fibers. We bought a whole pack of baby washcloths, so they could be thoroughly laundered between uses.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I did get blood work last week done for allergies. The styes started the week before the anti inflammatory diet. I think that I am sensitive to foods that are high in histamines that are good for you (like mushrooms, argh) and I’ll keep looking to see what’s going on. I didn’t change my diet drastically before the styes started and the detox diet thing was long planned, but you made me remember the wildfires! Last time I was exposed to such a large amount of airborne particulates was in Iraq, with the burn pits – and I had a severe eye lid infection/swelling reaction then! No styes but maybe that combined with the skin reaction also two weeks prior (maybe the peeling was all over my body including my eyelids! And I was able to exfoliate my skin but didn’t think to exfoliate my tear line because that wasn’t on my list of things that are possible to do – I won’t make that mistake next time if that happens again lol – and so the glands got clogged).

        Thanks for helping me think through this mystery! I’ll keep pursuing tests. I’m scheduled to see an integrative medicine doc this fall (5-month waiting list!) and hoping she’ll have more insights as well.

  48. How do I cook for myself when I'm stressed?*

    Okay, y’all. I have a food/meal prep problem.

    I’ve been going through some really stressful life changes, which bring with them some MH challenges –– I think the worst is behind me, but things are still going to be bad for awhile. I estimate at least another month.

    Stress makes me not want to eat/cook, especially supper. (I can manage w/ light, snacky options for breakfast and lunch.) I’ve been relying on healthy fast food (think Panera) for every evening meal. It’s getting pricy. But also I tried to go grocery shopping today and walked out with nothing. I’m also neurodivergent, the store was noisy, and I didn’t find anything that sounds good.

    I’d like to start pulling together my own, very light, no-effort-required suppers, especially as the weeks pass and (hopefully) things return to normal. But I don’t know how.


    1. fueled by coffee*

      Some low-effort meals:
      -Buy a protein that you can throw on a sheet pan in the oven (veggie burgers, chicken nuggets, etc.) without needing additional seasoning or prep, and some steam-in-bag microwaveable veggies
      -Sandwich ingredients and a can of soup to heat up
      -Tuna salad (I do tuna, mayo, mustard, and sometimes celery – takes about 3 minutes to mix together) + crackers or bread

      If grocery shopping is tough because of the noise, etc., maybe signing up for a delivery service like Instacart (or doing curbside pick-up, if that exists near you?) could help? You can decide what you want from home without having to deal with noise, etc.

    2. FishBiscuit*

      I love sandwiches & cereal when I don’t feel like cooking. I’ll buy ham, cheese, lettuce, bread & milk/cereal. If you want to mix up the sandwiches, heat on the stove (leave out the lettuce) for a grilled sandwich.
      Also, yoghurt & granola is a healthy option too which doesn’t require any prep.
      You can also buy eggs – super quick to do sunny side up & have with toasted bread.
      If you’re looking for easy protein, rotisserie chickens are SO convenient. And they’re decently cheap too! Just buy one and tear in.
      Hope this helps!!

    3. Forrest Rhodes*

      I’m a big fan of salads; they’re light, easy to make, and are filling but don’t leave you feeling over-full.

      I generally have a variety of my favorite ingredients on hand—baby bok choy, spinach, bell peppers (I’m partial to yellow), cherry or small tomatoes, olives (black and green), chopped walnuts or almonds, mushrooms, red onion, etc., along with (usually) vinaigrette dressings. I usually add a big handful of frozen peas, right out of the freezer, for sweetness and a light crunch.

      Easy to assemble, and the different combinations make every one a treat.

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

        I like salads too! Sometimes when I’m just not feeling up to chopping anything, I have a salad that’s as simple as greens from a bag, cherry tomatoes, and dressing, maybe with some sunflower seeds if I have those in the house, or (kind of like the frozen peas above) with a handful of frozen berries straight from the freezer. If I’m *really* not feeling like dealing with gathering multiple ingredients, I’ll get one of those salad kits from the store that has a dressing packet and seeds/nuts packet included. Some of the bagged salads have carrots and snap peas included too, so again, less assembly required.

      2. Chaordic One*

        The other thing about salads is that you can take pretty much any kind of protein (boiled eggs, a chicken breast, a slice of ham or roast beef, a small beef steak or a fish steak) and chop it up and dump it into the salad. Or dump in a can of tuna, chicken or diced ham or cottage cheese. Anything to make it more filling and then the salad can be a meal.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          Agreed, Chaordic One—the possibilities are endless, and they’re tasty, healthy, and easy!

    4. cleo*

      What about buying groceries online and having them delivered? A little pricier than going in person but less than fast food.

      Some of my staples for when I can’t easily feed myself:

      Peanut butter and crackers or peanut butter spread on apple slices (or celery)

      Pasta / spaghetti with jarred pesto sauce or tomato sauce.

      Frozen shelled edamame. I defrost them and eat them with white or brown rice. (I’ll also make brown rice and eat it for several days with various things)

      Frozen pizza.

      Chicken broth to make egg drop soup.

      1. cleo*

        For the pasta, I’ll sometimes cook other things in the pasta water, as the pasta is cooking. Like adding broccoli to the water for the last 3 minutes. Or soft boiling an egg. That’s probably my favorite low effort, high reward meal.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      For cooking, I recommend an air fryer. It’s a lot easier to use if your MH isn’t the best. You can toss one or two things in (if you get a fancier once with dual cooking spaces) and have a solid meal with minimal effort.

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

      When I’m feeling super low energy, I just stick a sweet potato in the toaster oven till it’s soft, split it open, and add some sour cream on top.

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

        Also, fried eggs can be pretty low effort: Put butter/margarine in the frying pan and heat, crack open eggs into pan, and in a few minutes, you have eggs sunnyside up (or scrambled eggs if you feel up to stirring). You can buy pre-cooked bacon at the store for a side. It’s less greasy than regular bacon, and you can eat it as is or heat it slightly.

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

          Also, for when part of the difficulty cooking feels like the cleanup, I stock my house with paper plates/, plastic baggies (to store leftovers without having to wash my dirty tupperware), aluminum foil (so I don’t have to clean the toaster oven tray all the time), and plastic cutlery. It’s not ideal, but it gets most of the job done when I just can’t face the thought of washing dishes.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I cook frozen peas in the frying pan before cooking the eggs. Just dump them in still frozen in a bit of oil and cook med-low with an occasional stir until they’re cooked. Then I usually crack a few eggs in on top and scramble them with the peas and whatever spice I’m feeling. You could tip the peas out and fry the eggs instead if you wanted. Super low effort, and it has veggies!

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Wow, Elspeth, that sounds really good. I love peas, and love doing eggs in different ways (and with different additions) but for some reason just never thought of throwing peas in with the eggs.

            Have just been introduced to Za’atar, so will probably use that as the spice, too.

            Thanks—you’ve just given me my breakfast tomorrow! (Or, if I’m too impatient, my dinner tonight.)

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

            Ooh, I’m going to have to try something like that — that’s brilliant!

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The lowest effort thing that is at least somewhat healthy and I will actually eat is Tastybite lentils over a microwaveable rice bowl. It’s just two shelf-stable things that each get a turn in the microwave, and then dump them both into a bowl and stir with a spoon, then eat them with that same spoon. (Costco carries both of these things where I live, so I just keep a stash of them in the pantry.) Ideally, you can add some kind of fruit or green vegetable themed item as well, but if not at least you’re still getting food that is easy to cook and easy to eat.

      You can the gradually add more complicated options, asking yourself each night “am I up for [meal], or am I just going to have lentils and rice tonight instead?”

      You could also do this with whatever kind of canned soup/chili/whatever sounds the most edible if one of those works for you. The point is to have something extremely low-effort that keeps for a long time in the pantry as your fallback option so you always know what to eat as a default when you’re not in the mood to deal with food. For me, it helps if it’s something I can eat out of a bowl with a spoon while doing something else, so when I really don’t want to eat I can put on a video and just mindlessly eat low-effort dinner. (I once went through a phase when I was particularly burned out where I’d just eat a bag of prewashed broccoli plain while sitting on the couch when I first got home from work, then maybe get some nuts or cheese in an hour when I felt like getting up to add some protein.)

      1. WestsideStory*

        I do something similar vehement not feeling up to the task. The key ingredient is the instant rice that comes in a microwavable bowl or a bag – not cheap but it’s a hot meal base in 90 seconds, and enough variety of flavors (brown, jasmine, lime, spiced) to keep it interesting. This gets topped with either canned chili or canned soup, I like the organic kinds with lentil or chicken and just strain out a good bit of the liquid before heating it up so the soup acts like a sauce over the rice.
        I keep such things as staples for when I’m dining by myself, but now and then I may jazz up the soup part with sautéed vegetables or extra spices and double the recipe for a quick dinner for 2.

    8. *daha**

      Give yourself permission to have food that is crappy in the long run, but is easy and will keep you going day-to-day. For me, that’s peanut butter and jelly on toast.
      Get the calories in you, let the intentions of better nutritive balance wait until you’ve got the spoons to deal with it.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I’ve been very busy and stressed recently, and food prep has gone out the window. My last meal of the day has been cheese and crackers, avocado mashed up and eaten with tortilla chips, tuna mixed with mayo and eaten on sturdy crackers, or rolled up deli meat. That kind of eating is easy on my digestion and doesn’t feel like a chore.

    10. wherestheheffalump*

      So many great ideas here. Our house is neurospicy, so we have some food challenges around texture to work around. What works one day may not work another, but we have a long list of go to items. Apple slices and peanut butter dip is easy. We bought a sandwich squisher from Dash that heats up quickly, and it’s good for hot PBJ and “grilled cheese.” Veggie platters with ranch dip could be easy if you buy pre-washed bags of broccoli and carrots and a bin of grape tomatoes. Sometimes we’ve just tossed grape tomatoes in dressing if the premixed salad has gone bad. Hummus with whole wheat pitas and grape tomatoes and carrots for dipping = yum. Turkey and cheese sandwiches are easy. You could make a quick and fancy board with pre-washed veggies and fruit and deli turkey or ham, olives, etc. We freeze grapes and other fruit like blueberries for quick grab and go snacks. Frozen blueberries, strawberries, or mixed berries are awesome with granola and yogurt. We do taco night with pre-cooked chicken strips, tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc. and it’s easy to warm up a can of black beans in the microwave with some garlic and whatever sounds good to you and toss some sour cream on or whatever you have to make a taco bowl. I count nachos as a meal! We usually have wraps in the fridge, and you can use them for breakfast burritos, hummus wraps, more sandwichy things like turkey or tuna, or for a quick quesadilla. I toss some tuna on toast and top with cheese and put it in the toaster oven until the cheese melts. Frozen veg roasted on sheet pans with olive oil and salt is my easiest dump and go goto that feels fancy. I second the air fryer/toaster oven suggestions. Speedy! I love the rotisserie chicken idea, we do that once a month or so, and it can last a couple of days in the fridge for chicken salad, etc.. I saw this week that our grocery store sells a ton of Panera products I didn’t even know you could buy, so you could see if you can get your favorites and use them with pre-washed/convenience grocery store ingredients to ween yourself from the fast food prices – but still get the NOM! On bumpy days, we use paper plates and bowls for messy/sticky foods especially. We also assign certain foods to certain days – like Friday is pizza night, Sunday is pasta night, etc. It helps make shopping predictable (and we can usually copy the same old list), and you never have to worry about what to choose. We’ve had a ton of success doing grocery runs once a month and stocking up, which also reduces stress. You could choose one day of the week to do a curbside pick-up order for the next morning then spend the next day prepping for the week and wash, chop, and toss things into ziplock bags. The New York Times has an awesome cookbook with so many easy ideas using things you might randomly have in the pantry and fridge called No-Recipe Recipes. No measurements, really, mostly. Just interesting combos that are yummy. tldr: rotisserie chicken, frozen fruits and veg, yogurt, tortillas for wraps or soft tacos, whole wheat pitas, canned beans, tortillas chips, bagged salad, grape tomatoes, hummus, apples and bananas (good with peanut butter), orange slices, pre-washed/chopped veggies like carrots and broccoli, pre-cooked chicken strips, deli meats and salads, tuna (packets are easier than cans), shredded and sliced cheese, sour cream, goat cheese, whole grain bread, dressings and dips, and seconding cereal and milk and all things salad.

      1. wherestheheffalump*

        Also, string cheese is easy, individually wrapped cheddar cheese sticks, cottage cheese with fruit, yogurt smoothies, applesauce, slivered almonds and jarred/canned mandarin oranges for salads, whole almonds, peanuts, cashews, we buy pre-sliced baguettes at our grocery, and someone had mentioned lentils. I found organic packs of lentils in curry sauce or with rice that I can just microwave when I need something quick, and our Wegmans has frozen jasmine and brown rice you can microwave. Pre-made grocery store fruit salad from the produce section. Cheese and whole grain crackers with grapes or apples. Frozen or fresh grocery store quiche if you like the idea of egg but want to skip the pan and the stove. Our store has frozen mini quiches. Instant oatmeal or overnight oats. I love grazing or nibbling through dinner when I’m exhausted. When we get low on food/right before a grocery trip, we have a lot of “random stuff” nights where we might eat a bunch of random odds and ends to empty jars and free up fridge, freezer, and pantry space. Sending good vibes and kind thoughts your way.

    11. Anon Poster*

      My no-effort go-to is to open a packet of tuna and eat in on crackers. I won’t even bother to add the mayo/mustard, just eat it plain, because sometimes just opening all the jars and taking out the spoons and doing the mixing feels like too much. I’ll have an orange or a banana or eat some spinach straight out of the package to make myself feel better about my fruit/ vegetable intake, but nothing I have to prep in any way by washing or chopping first.

      When it’s just a lazy or busy day instead of a bad brain day, I’ll boil up some pasta, add canned chickpeas the last three minutes or so, and mix with jarred pesto. If I’m feeling a little fancier, I’ll add some spinach and grape tomatoes because that’s still very low-effort, the only extra step is rinsing the tomatoes.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Tuna with crackers—me, too! On the rare occasion that I’m feeling affluent, it’s a can of salmon with water crackers.

    12. Prospect Gone Bad*

      My random recipe of the week. Boil quinoa with a sweeet potato cut up in it


      When you eat it, add in dried cranberries, maybe some greens (I add alfalfa or really finely chopped lettuce). Maybe some nuts or sunflower seeds for crunch

      I think some Green Godess brand dresses (I have an avocado oil one) go really well with it, but so does Grey Poupon mixed with a little vinegar

      I also like Dr Prager veggie patties (kale ones have the best texture and don’t taste like kale to me). It’s easy to pop one in the microwave and throw tomato sauce on it, or make it a sandwich

    13. JustEm*

      My favorite low effort option is a microwaved potato or sweet potato, split and top with frozen peas and a slice of cheddar and then microwave until peas thawed and cheese melty
      Another option is a can of refried beans, pregrated cheese, and tortillas. can make a simple microwaved burrito in 30-60 seconds.

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Do you like eggs? You can combine them with just about anything and put them in tortillas, on toast, on a potato or nothing. If I’m feeling particularly unmotivated I chop up a piece of canadian bacon, add it to a scrambled egg (while cooking) with a bit of cheese with a piece of toast on the side and there’s a hot meal. When I see good canadian bacon at the store I buy a bunch and freeze it in little baggies so it’s even less effort.
      Hope you feel better soon!

    15. fposte*

      I also think “effort” means different things to different people. For me it means turning on the stove or doing assembly. It might be helpful for you to think specifically about what it means to you.

      I’m a big fan of microwave oatmeal and just leave the container and a big bowl to nuke it in next to the microwave. If you want to add stuff, you can add just about anything, sweet or savory. Similarly, for salads, I buy premixed greens and leave a bowl with the nuts and dried fruits I like to add right next to the fridge. If something’s a go-to, I don’t want to go far to it.

    16. chocolate muffins*

      I recently went through a time that also made me not want to eat, let alone cook. So I wouldn’t eat for most of the day and then feel sick, which made me not want to eat even more, even though I knew that the thing that would make the sick feeling go away was to eat food. Here are some things I ate during that time – many geared specifically to be okay for a nauseaus me:

      – Cereal + milk (usually for breakfast, sometimes for dinner)
      – Oatmeal that I made with milk to get some protein and to which I added fruits of various kinds to increase the amount of nutrition I was getting from it
      – Bagel + cream cheese + lox if I felt like I could handle protein
      – Burrito bowl: Rice, beans, cheese, sour cream or guacamole
      – Crackers, with cheese if I could handle it, and/or fruit. Also lots of fruits for snacks, or dinner when other food was too hard. Watery fruits were good for when I really didn’t want food – like grapes, watermelon, peaches. Bananas were good for when I felt hungry rather than nauseaus and wanted to eat something that would make the hunger go away for longer.
      – Ready-made soups that I bought from the grocery store and froze until I needed them
      – Frozen pizza and other frozen dinners
      – Applesauce
      – Fried or scrambled eggs with toast
      – Grilled cheese or other sandwiches

      Also usually I just drink water all day but during that period of time I drank more tea, ginger ale, gatorade, so that I would feel physically less bad even if I wasn’t eating great. This might help for days when food doesn’t go in an ideal way.

      When I started having a little more energy I used some of that energy to cook actual dinners – which for me was usually an animal protein + vegetable + starch – and freezing them, so that on days when I had no energy I already had something I could eat. So I’d do something like pan-sear some fish, sautee some carrots and broccoli, and freeze that to eat later. And buy big bags of potatoes that I could put in the microwave for a starch.

      I’m sorry that this is a stressful time and hope that things get better soon.

  49. Supporting a friend going through a separation*

    One of my close friends is in the process of separating from her wife who has been treating her badly on and off for some time (not abusive, just a jerk). I have tried to be supportive, mainly by listening and validating and telling her she has my support in every way possible, that she can call any time, etc. I’m not offering unsolicited advice, and I’ve also made it clear she has my support no matter she decides, as she is vocalizing a possibility they may be able to work it out.
    For those of you who have been through a separation, are there any specific things you wish a friend had done to support you, or things tha