weekend open thread – October 7-8, 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: An Available Man, by Hilma Wolitzer. A widower tries to figure out dating again, while mourning his wife.

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

{ 1,087 comments… read them below }

  1. cinnamon world*

    Now that it’s getting cool, I’m looking for ideas for hot beverages that aren’t coffee, tea, or cocoa. I want to up my cozy hot beverage game this fall and winter. Alcoholic is fine but I’m especially interested in non-alcoholic versions.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Agree! I buy the spiced cider from Trader Joes and heat it up in th microwave. Sooo delicious and comforting this time of year.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Mulled wine and mulled apple juice. I make batches before Christmas, keep them in the fridge, and microwave as needed. For the apple juice, a mix of apple juice and cranberry juice is nice. Hot sake. Amazake (a hot Japanese rice drink made from fermented rice – it can be non alcoholic, or very mildly alcoholic). Hot toddies (various hot drinks with alcohol, a sweetener, spices and citrus.) Taiwanese style hot ginger tea (you can buy mixes, which have brown sugar and the ginger, and just need you to add hot water).

      1. Awkwardness*

        Or children’s mulled wine in general. I have seen recipes four light one (work apple juice as main ingredient) or dark ones (with grape, cherry or cranberry juice).

        Also orange juice with freshly grated ginger (makes it more intense than slices). My favourite in winter!

        1. allathian*

          Or the most common one here in Finland, black currant juice with Christmas spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, orange peel, sometimes cardamom). Serve with peeled/sliced almond and black raisins.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This is great! I finally managed to score more black currant juice, and the temperature here dropped after the rain yesterday.

    2. WellRed*

      Do you not like coffee, tea or cocoa or are you just tired of them? Mint, chocolate or cinnamon work to change up all three to various degrees.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Same thought… I regularly make Thai iced tea and kong ago discovered it’s good hot too.

    3. The cat's pajamas*

      Maybe broth?
      A friend of mine used to order just steamed milk at the coffee shop, maybe with honey or something in it, I don’t remember for sure.
      Hot water with lemon and/or honey
      There are “teas” that are technically just dried fruit/plants without actual “tea” in them. If you’re ok with brewed drinks but just don’t want the tea plant, that might work.
      Have fun!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like steamed milk (you can heat it in a microwave and then stick in a little frother) with nutmeg. It hits the comfort notes of hot cocoa without the sweetness.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I like half a chicken cube, half a Mushroom cube, and a squeeze if lemon as a broth drink.

    4. HannahS*

      I’m a fan of hot water with a flavorful piece of something, splash of milk (or alternarive,) and a touch of honey. Ginger, honey, and milk, cinnamon stick with almond milk, cardamom and black pepper…yum!

      My dad used to make “tea” of about a tablespoon of dried gogi berries in a cup of hot water. It’s really nice! I’m not usually a fan of “berry” teas, but this is really good.

      I used to like Horlicks, too, though I haven’t had it in a long time.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Nowadays hot chocolate drinks are usually dairy-based or pretend-dairy based, but when I was a kid my grandmother would make hot cocoa with cocoa powder, sugar and hot water. No dairy or thickeners. I really like it as a dairy-chocolate alternative. It’s a hot flavorful drink but not super heavy or filling.

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If you eat chicken, I recommend a mug of hot chicken broth. Swanson makes a very good packaged broth, or you can save chicken bones in the freezer and make your own.

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

      Vanilla milk is a great alternative to chocolate milk (just milk and vanilla, no sugar). Tisanes (aka herb tea) include so many amazing options. Butterfly pea flower is delicious and beautiful! Hibiscus is fruity and nice. Cold comfort tea is lemon, honey, and a pinch of cayenne in water and wonderful is you are getting a cold.

    8. Adriano*

      Definitely try mate! Is a type of tea that’s very energizing (like a strong coffee).
      You need only the yerba, mate and bombilla (herb, mug and straw, respectively) and maybe a short tutorial, and you’re set. It’s a very nice daily ritual for millons of Argentines and Uruguayans. You’re welcome to try it!

    9. Jay*

      Apple cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Heat it to a light simmer until everything is well mixed.
      Thank me later.

    10. Not just a tea drinker*

      Golden milk – milk simmered with Turmeric and other spices. There are many recipes online. Good made with dairy or non-dairy milk — I think I’ve made it with almond and coconut milk.
      You can also make a kind of fruit tea by boiling the core and the skin of a pineapple after you cut the fruit out to eat. It tastes good and it makes you feel virtuous. I wash my pineapple thoroughly before I peel and core it.

      1. Awkwardness*

        My grandma used to make tea out of apple peels. But as you said – boil it. Just adding boiling water might not be sufficient to extract all the good taste.

        I love hot orange juice with freshly grated ginger. My favourite in winter!

    11. Poly Anna*

      Hot milk with a bit of aniseed or star anise (there’s aniseed and sugar powder packets for this but I expect those to be hard to get outside of Europe), hot apple juice with or without spices, milk/milk substitute with vanilla, chai (non black tea variant with just the spices), tigernut milk with cinnamon, barley drink/tea, hot lemonade, ginger ‘tea’.

    12. Longtime Lurker*

      Miso soup. I use the live paste, 1 tbsp mixed with 1/3 cup of cold water before topping up with boiling water. Apparently that doesn’t kill the good bacteria???

    13. ghost_cat*

      Some fruit teas work well as a hot drink. Hibiscus tea and blueberry tea are my favourites. I prefer hibiscus using loose leaf tea, but there are some great teas available using blueberry in tea bag form. Podravka is a good brand.

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      One favorite of mine- hot water with a dried salted plum in it. Or also hot water with jujube.

    15. Another Janet*

      Hot water with a splash of orange blossom water or rose water. You can also steep it with whole spices (a cardamom pod, a clove or two, etc.). I like it when I just want something warm!

    16. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I like hot lemonade. It’s the same lemonade you make for summer but heated up with hot water or the microwave.

    17. kt*

      I don’t know if you’re in the US or not, but one fall (last fall?) I launched an exploration of atoles by ordering a selection of products from a place called Cultura Chocolates — they have a whole bunch of what they call heirloom atoles. Basically I’d been looking online for a good champurrado because I had one once in Mexico that was so delicious it stuck with me, so around the holidays I found this & place and made it a gift theme for myself and friends. (I am not that great at gift selection so one of my habits is to find a chocolatier and just get variety packs for everyone who likes chocolates.)

      What else have I been doing… tons of herbal teas, often now experimenting with mixing my own. I have a small garden & have learned to forage some plants, so my making of these teas is partly focused on the beverage but also has a big component of getting outside, observing nature, being thoughtful about what I want to taste or feel. Hawthorn berries for the heart, spruce needles when I want to feel a certain wintery feeling, the basil seed stalks when I have forgotten to cut the basil and it’s gone to seed, mint because it’s so fun. Goldenrod leaves make a gingery tea, to me — I really like them and they’re still going strong in fall. Of course this shifts with the season and soon in my area I am not going to be able to walk outside and get green leaves.

      I have been starting to mess with chai mixes again, because of the change in seasons. Not much to report yet as it’s only been cool for five day :)

      1. Kachoo*

        I wonder if goldenrod tea would desensitize people who are allergic to the pollen? I’m no longer in Missouri, but when I was, I experienced death by goldenrod and ragweed every pollen season.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Proceed with caution— a homemade rose cordial strongly triggered mt allergies.

          Admittedly I didn’t make it so I don’t know what else went into it.

        2. libellulebelle*

          Almost no-one is actually allergic to goldenrod, the culprit is ragweed which blooms at the same time. Ragweed is wind-pollinated, so that’s why everyone is breathing it in. Goldenrod is insect-pollinated, and you’d have to stick your face into a flower to be able to breathe in the pollen.

          1. kt*

            libellulebelle, you are right, and then kachoo, it’s also true that goldenrod tea is a traditional tea for treating seasonal allergies :) :) :)

            I love how it tastes!

    18. whingedrinking*

      Hot water with lemon and honey; horchata; rooibos; herbal chai; eggnog and mixtures; sangrita (yes, I know it’s usually served cold, but you’re a grownup and the world won’t end if you like it hot).

    19. Chaordic One*

      You might consider heated soda pop. Some of the carbonation will be removed, and they won’t be quite as fizzy as if you did’t heat them. You can boil it in a sauce pan on the stove top or put a glass in your microwave. For some reason, Dr. Pepper, seems to be the favorite carbonated beverage to heat. (Hot Dr. Pepper is very soothing for a sore throat if you come down with something.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You’re the first person I’ve heard who does this besides me. I can’t even remember where I got the idea — maybe an elderly neighbor, maybe a long-ago advice column.

        For a headcold, boil flat Coca-Cola with a chopped up lemon, peel & all. Dilute to taste, drink hot.

    20. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Hot lemonade: hot water with about equal amounts of sugar/honey or lemon juice. Adjust proportions to taste.

      This is particularly good if I have a cold or sore throat, and want lots of hot liquid but not three times my usual caffeine.

    21. Radio Silent*

      Champurrado or atole de elote, yummm.

      The first is chocolate based and the second is corn. They are on the thick side because most are made with masa. A lot of Mexican and Latin American restaurants have these drinks on their menu during the holiday season and, if you’re lucky, they have it available year round.

      1. Jasmine Tea*

        Hot Kumquat tea! It smells awesome if you cook the fruit in water then sweeten to taste.

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Pho… I’ve sipped it happily as an afternoon snack, without the meat, noodles & veg. (We buy the seasoning in bulk from an Asian market and make “faux” with whatever meat stock we have.)

      We also have several sweet flavored syrups that can be mixed into hot or cold beverages. Fruit syrup, Italian hazelnut syrup, our own mint in simple syrup. on the rare occasions when I get to IKEA I come home with elderflower & lingonberry syrup.

    23. Dandy Blend*

      You have a lot of wonderful suggestions but I wanted to throw in: roasted dandelion root tea! There’s a company that makes a powder called Dandy Blend. My household discovered it recently and now buys bulk bags because we drink it basically every night. No caffeine, no alcohol, but the same roasty, non-sugary vibe as a latte. We drink it hot with oat milk and it scratches the latte itch perfectly.

      1. allathian*

        Fun fact, roasted dandelion root tea was used as a coffee substitute in Finland during and immediately following World War II, when coffee was completely unavailable. When the first cargo vessel arrived in 1946 with a load of coffee beans from Brazil, the ship was met by a cheering crowd as it docked.

    24. Sopranistin*

      I like this herbal drink called Dandy blend. It’s an instant powder meant to be a coffee alternative – for me the taste isn’t close enough to coffee but I enjoy the flavor anyway.
      I also like matcha. It is technically green tea, but since it’s not steeped, to me it feels like a totally different drink.

    25. Nothing Happening Here*

      Here’s a weird one unless you live down south. Hot Dr. Pepper (in the crockpot) with a cinnamon stick.

    26. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Hot bouillon–HerbOx makes no-sodium bouillon in both chicken and beef, and a teaspoon in a large glass cup of really hot water is delicious. I discovered it while fighting an earache.

  2. Falling Diphthong*

    Share life’s little victories!

    • At the farm stand, I both remembered my reusable shopping bag and set it at the side of my basket, rather than pinning it at the bottom under all the vegetables.

    • A chipmunk with a deathwish got into the house, and I finally managed to distract the cats and usher it back outdoors.

    1. Elle Woods*

      I had an eye doctor appointment this week for the first time in two years and there was no change in my prescription. Really glad to not have to get new glasses and Rx sunglasses!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a big win! Yay!
        I just spent buttloads on new glasses/contacts — of course my vision allowance doesn’t cover all of it, because my eyes are “special.” -_-

    2. Mitchell Hundred*

      Had the week off work, and I mostly just lounged around my apartment. BUT. I did get up early every day for the past week and ride my bike around for an hour, whereas previously I’d only been able to keep that kind of thing going for three or four days. I will say that my mood has improved, and the hills along my cycling route are less challenging than they were when I started.

    3. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I got my flu and Covid shots, so that’s set for another year!

      And I dug out my expired passport, first step in applying for a new one.

        1. Seashell*

          Good for you! I got Covid & flu shots this week too.

          My arm was achy for about a week after both shingles shots. However, I know someone who got shingles before she was old enough for the shots, and it sounded really unpleasant, so I’ll take the achy arm.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            A dermatologist looking at a ferocious rash of mine said that it looked a lot like shingles but I wasn’t in excruciating pain, so he was confidently ruling that one out and we went with drug reaction.

          2. Buni*

            ugh, me. I had my Covid+flu last week and asked after the shingles one too, but apparently you have to be 50 here. I pointed out that I’d already had shingles (at 44) and just got “…huh.”. But I still couldn’t get the vaccine.

            It is indeed deepy unpleasant, and because I can’t leave a scab alone I have scars.

          3. allathian*

            Yes, I need to schedule my second shingles shot soon. I got the first one together with the flu shot last year, and I was sicker than at any time with Covid a couple months before that.

            I’ll get the flu shot soon, but because I’m neither over 65 nor severely at risk from Covid, I can’t get the booster.

            1. JR 17*

              I take it you’re outside the US? If not, the fall booster is approved for everyone 6 months and older here.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, I’m in Finland, but we had much higher vaccination rates in the beginning of the pandemic than the US did.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I made up a vegetarian side dish for yesterday’s dinner entirely out of ingredients that were already in the house. It’s a win because we had a near-empty fridge, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to the shops, and I’m not usually the kind of cook who puts ingredients together without a recipe. And the final product was more than edible :)

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      After a week of basically being confined to one room of my house because I had Covid and didn’t want to infect my husband, I finally tested negative on Thursday and (hopefully) avoided giving Covid to anyone else.
      I also managed to stave off boredom by binge-watching all of Ms. Marvel, which was kind of fun and luckily requires minimal knowledge of other Marvel stuff to enjoy.

    6. PX*

      Scored the last chocolate babka at my favourite cafe this morning! They are no longer on the regular menu so they only show up occasionally. #winning!

      1. BlueMeeple*

        Getting rid of most of a cold, ( and the cough is mostly gone, thankfully!), feeling fitter due to walking more and finally booking the train tickets for visiting family in December. :)

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      * Finally kicked Covid (had a rebound case after Paxlovid) and as of last Monday don’t have to wear a mask anymore. Glad to be able to check it off the bucket list.

      * When I went grocery shopping yesterday, I didn’t buy any junk and even though I couldn’t get the digital coupons to work, the cashier manning the self-checkout took off $10 because he said “I’m not confident with my math” smiled and went about his business.

      * I actually made beef stew (that came out amazingly) with the stuff in the fridge BEFORE it went bad. Usually I buy stuff to make a recipe and it rots before I use it but not this time!

    8. GoryDetails*

      I discovered a new favorite dish – a Hello Fresh offering, but one that I’ll make again with my own ingredients now that I know how much I like it. It’s a “Butternut Squash Farrotto” with Parmesan and fresh sage – like a risotto but with farro instead of rice, with a lovely nutty texture and flavor that goes beautifully with the roasted squash and the sage.

      Also, the autumn foliage is coming on, leading to lots of lovely little surprises around every corner – though the rainy weather might make the foliage season pass more quickly than I’d like. (The bright colors do pop against the grey sky, so there’s that!)

    9. RagingADHD*

      We have some friends stopping by on a flying visit through town, and the whole family pitched in to red-up the house.

      Teenagers! Cleaning! Without complaining!

      Mark the day.

    10. GingerJ1 ‍✈️*

      I realized this summer that I’m sensitive to gluten (non-Celiac, thank goodness). But I have to avoid gluten if (trying to be sensitive here) I have any plans for the next morning.

      GF bread is mostly fairly nasty and dense. But I discovered that Red Robin’s GF buns are quite tasty AND you can buy the buns only!

      And today, I finally tried subs again (my favorite food!) with GF buns. I was hesitant to do this, because I’ve always felt the bread is what makes a sub good. Anyway, Firehouse Subs has really nice, light GF buns, and also let me buy some for home. They’re light and don’t have a lot of taste to them, but they’re still perfect as a sandwich-filling conveyance device.

      AND my local pizzeria sold me an uncooked GF pizza crust to take to my friend’s party tomorrow night. They have an outdoor pizza oven and it would be awful to watch everyone eat pizzas without sharing any.

      So yay for restaurants with great GF options that they’re willing to share.

      1. Ms. Murchison*

        Have you tried Canyon Bakehouse bread? When I cut out gluten, I really enjoyed their 7-grain bread.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teenager cleaned the kitchen counters & island. (Apparently this was preferable to doing homework, but I’ll take it.)

    12. SB*

      I am Australian & I wish we had cute things that get into the house (racoons, chipmunks, squirrels) rather than snakes & spiders, which is what I normally find. That sounds very cute & I hope he appreciates your efforts to save him from being kitty poop.

  3. Elle Woods*

    I know Christmas is 2.5 months away but it’s already creating drama in my family and it’s driving me mad.

    My husband and I are hosting Christmas Day festivities again this year and have invited our parents, his cousin (“Dan”) & his husband (“Jeff”), my husband’s aunt & uncle, and my aunt & her boyfriend. With the exception of my aunt (“Susan”) & her boyfriend (“Gary”), everyone invited has gotten to know one another over the course of the nearly 25 years my husband and I have been together and gets along very well. So well, in fact, that my parents and my husband’s aunt & uncle go on international trips together!

    Susan & Gary recently became permanent residents of a southern state and sold their homes here in the Midwest. While my cousin, Susan’s son, does live in our area, he, his wife, and kids get together with his wife’s family on Christmas Day. Not wanting Susan & Gary to be alone that day, I extended an invitation to them to join us and they immediately accepted. This is where the problem starts.

    Susan & Gary have only been together about a year and we’ve not had much of a chance to get to know him. The couple of times we have been in his company, Gary, has made homophobic and sexist remarks that both my husband and I have clearly stated we disagree with. My aunt shares at least some–not all–of those views. Since they accepted the invite, both of them have expressed disapproval about Dan & Jeff being invited. They’ve also stated on no uncertain terms that because Gary is an alcoholic in recovery (27 years sober) we cannot serve alcohol. And they’ve complained about the menu (surf & turf, a Christmas Day tradition in my husband’s family) and asked us to serve something else instead.

    After a series of text messages from Susan & Gary indicating their concerns about things, I responded “We’ve heard your concerns. This is who has been invited, who will be attending, and what we will be serving for food and drink. If any of that does not meet your approval, please spend the day elsewhere.”

    I’m second-guessing myself big time that I am being too harsh on Susan & Gary. Am I wrong to tell them they can spend the day alone if they don’t like the way we’re doing things?

    1. rr*

      No. Why should guests dictate the food you serve or the other guests you invite? I’m more sympathic to the alcohol issue, but in that position, I might’ve phrased it as a request. A polite one. But these people clearly don’t know how to be polite.

        1. rr*

          I was just saying that if a person told me they were an alcoholic, and they wanted to come to an event I was hosting, but couldn’t be around alcohol, I would not be inclined to say, “oh, well, another time, then.” Maybe they are having a particularly hard time at the moment with being around alcohol? I would try to accommodate people that I wanted there. But that is really a side issue, no? The problem is that these people are who they are.

        2. StudentA*

          I think that’s rather harsh. Could be the key to success for an alochoolic is BECAUSE they avoid as many alchohol reminders as possible. Everyone is different. For many, they are already in situations they can’t control (like in a restaurant), but if you’re in a situation where you can talk to the host about it, I don’t see the problem. But no one is entitled to nagging the host about it.

          That said, this couple sounds like a pair of pills all around.

        3. Ms. Murchison*

          If your family can’t go a single meal without alcohol, there’s something really wrong.

          1. libellulebelle*

            That’s neither here nor there. Why should they be forced to on Christmas, for someone who’s acting like a jerk in other ways anyway?

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      If it was *just* the menu, or *just* the alcohol, I probably wouldn’t take such a hard line. But those two things PLUS homophobia, you’re doing the right thing!

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I think knowingly inviting homophobes to begin with wasn’t harsh enough, personally. I get feeling obligated to family but the second they expressed “concern” (bigotry) about your other guests I would’ve said they can either keep those views to themselves forever, or not come at all. If they were actually good guests otherwise it would be nice to try to accommodate dietary stuff, but for these two I’d be doubling down in the hopes they wouldn’t come.

      1. Clare*

        Sometimes people say homophobic things because that’s what they’re surrounded by and so they think everyone thinks that way. My Grandfather thinks gay people are terrible, except for literally every gay person he’s ever met. His favourite restaurant is run by a gay couple and it’s all friendship and laughter on both sides. So I can understand giving family the benefit of the doubt. But yeah, the instant they removed all doubt by making comments about other guests, well, feel free to uninvite yourselves if you can’t behave. You’re a disappointment to everyone, Susan.

        1. kitto*

          I understand that your grandfather is a loved family member but tolerating or even liking individual gay people doesn’t undo espousing homophobia all the rest of the time. That isn’t just “saying homophobic things”, it’s *being* homophobic but making exceptions. I hear this kind of thing often and although I get how one might need to find a workaround personally… minimising a person’s homophobia (or some other bigotry) outside of that relationship just communicates that this is something you’re willing to let slide and, by extension, that others ought to do the same. I think good allyship means recognising harmful beliefs even if you can’t bring that up with the person that says those things.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          I can understand choosing to associate with family despite their flaws, but um… saying homophobic things IS homophobic, regardless of why he thinks it’s okay. Thinking gay people are terrible IS homophobic, regardless of how many gay people he’s met.

        3. Magdalena*

          It’s all friendship and laughter until it comes to voting to deprive various groups of people of their rights.

    4. Rick Tq*

      You are fine. Making so many demands as first time guests was completely out of line. Susan and Gary can go elsewhere and be happier.

      Good job holding the line and enforcing YOUR standards.

    5. nnn*

      If there’s any chance they are still going to come, I think you need to actively uninvite them so you’re not exposing Dan and Jeff to their homophobia. Tell them why.

      1. Cyndi*

        Seconding that you should explicitly uninvite them if you haven’t yet. “Just keep your views to yourself” isn’t going to be enough even if they can convincingly fake civility the whole time, which I’m willing to bet they can’t.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yes, for Dan and Jeff’s sake, please tell them not to come. You can say, “I’ve reflected on this, and because of the anti-gay things you’ve said you are not welcome in my home. Please make other holiday plans”.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        This. You cannot be centrist on this issue; inviting the open homophobes tells the gay couple that you don’t consider homophobia to be a dealbreaker. As a queer person, I would be uncomfortable not only with the outspoken bigots on the guest list, but also with you for being okay with that.

      4. Celeste*

        If they decide to come, I don’t think they’ll be quiet about their views.
        If you don’t want to confront them about it, you could just try a, “It doesn’t sound like this is going to work out after all.”

        1. Laser99*

          They absolutely will not keep their mouths shut. I know this type, they see any request of proper behavior as infringing on their precious “rights”.

    6. WellRed*

      Well you made it clear and I think that’s fine. Guests don’t get to accept your invitation then try to dictate all the terms. If they want to dictate terms, they can host. I feel like any lesser response on your part would have led to continual negotiations.

    7. Mostly Managing*

      Joining the chorus of “you are in the right”.

      I have, for the record, held off on serving alcohol when there was a guest I knew was in recovery. That seems like a reasonable accommodation that doesn’t cause hardship. (I know the ADA doesn’t apply to personal events, but it seems like a good bar!)
      I have made sure that vegetarians can eat a decent meal (but still served meat).
      I have made gluten free, dairy free, nut free options so that guests can eat safely.

      But nobody gets to dictate what else is on the menu. And nobody gets to dictate who else is invited!!
      That’s not how being a guest works.

    8. Brain Flogged*

      Those two sound highly incompatible with your christmas plan. Nah, I would be harsher in your place. You where fine.

    9. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      No, you did this exactly right. Maybe make a plan for shutting down homophobic comments and/or ask Dan and Jeff how they’d like this handled in advance? Personally I tend to find homophobes funny/pitiable, as long as they’re outnumbered and nonviolent, and I do mildly eyeroll at the idea that “omg if a gay person hears anything homophobic they will melt!!!!!!”, but Dan and Jeff may be more zero-tolerance than me, which I get! (I am gay, otherwise I wouldn’t weigh in on this!)

      Good luck with Christmas.

    10. Seashell*

      I’m guessing Susan’s son’s in-laws don’t invite Susan & Gary because they’re demanding/awful.

      I’d say you showed restraint by not telling them to keep their homophobic rear ends home.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      As a recovering goodie two shoes owning my part in the dynamic (not changing course if being really nice was not, in fact, bringing about the results I hoped for) I think it was the right thing to do.

      Referencing the letter a week or so back about hosting, and how that has become rarer–I think a key to being willing to host regularly is to maintain boundaries. Otherwise hosts start to feel taken advantage of for zero appreciation and wouldn’t it be easier if they just stopped. So for the sake of the other people who enjoy this gathering, don’t hurt them in an effort to make the homophobes feel less judged.

    12. Lucy*

      As a guest, you don’t get to dictate the menu or the guest list. You were a lot nicer than I’d have been.

    13. Gayly Sober*

      As someone in recovery, using that as a reason to compel someone to cater to you at the expense of others seems oddly controlling. Part of recovery is realizing that alcohol is in the world and while others can handle it, we cannot. How fragile is it that after 27 years he can’t be in the same room with adults enjoying it on a holiday? I am also gay, so maybe this just has my hackles raised, but their willingness to try to take their invitation as a carte blanche reason to change everything about how you host your gathering doesn’t sit right with me. They can host their own boring holiday without booze, lobster, or homos if they want to!

    14. Old Plant Woman*

      I think what you said was just right. Have a plan ready in case they show up anyway and act inappropriately .

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That is 1000% bed, made, lie. If you are snotty and demanding of the people who have invited you to partake of their celebration, then you absolutely lose any room to complain if they reiterate that either you may join them in THEIR way of making celebration and be polite and well-mannered to everyone else involved, or if you do not wish to do those things, you may instead put an egg in your shoe and beat it.

      And if your idea of a good thing to do on CHRISTMAS EFFING DAY is to be snotty and mean to the people who have invited you to join them and to their guests, then you clearly need to learn some lessons on how to not be a crap person.

    16. Indolent Libertine*

      Do not even think of re-inviting these awful people! There is not a snowball’s chance in you know where that they will behave themselves. You owe it to Dan and Jeff and the rest of your guests not to ruin their holiday by inflicting obnoxious, boundary-free homophobes on them.

      If the only issue was the alcohol, and they asked nicely, and they were otherwise pleasant people whose company you looked forward to, maybe, but with the full package, hell no.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        And they are likely to make everybody feel really uncomfortable, Dan and Jeff for obvious reasons, because even if they hold off on the homophobic remarks, I bet they will be cold to them, the LW and her husband because they will likely feel responsible if Susan and Gary ruin things, the LW’s parents because they may feel responsible that their family member is making members of the other family feel unwelcome and if the LW’s husband’s aunt and uncle are Dan’s parents, they will quite likely be annoyed or upset on his behalf.

    17. goddessoftransitory*

      Wow, no. If somebody announces they disapprove of your friends, victuals, and viands, they can excuse themselves from your company to the benefit of all, thank you very much.

      1. Phryne*

        Right, they literally have objected to the food, drink and company of a get together that is in a large part about food, drink and company. It sounds like there is literally no reason for them to be there.

    18. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Not only are you not in the least wrong, I applaud your taking a (justifiably) firm stance against these rude entitled bigots. Let us know how this turns out!

    19. Viette*

      Chiming in to agree with the people here who think you should uninvite them completely. They’re being rude about many things and they are specifically being overtly homophobic, again, to you, even though you told them you have no time for that.

      If Susan and Gary say homophobic things to Dan and Jeff and you *knew* they might! because you *know* that’s how they are! and you invited them anyway! then Dan and Jeff might just decide their friendship with you isn’t worth the way you invite known vocal homophobes to parties just to be “nice”.

      You want to be nice? Well it’s not “really nice” for Dan and Jeff (or anyone else) to have to spend time with homophobes. It’s really awful. Be nice. Be nice to the people you respect and stand up for them and for your own values.

      1. kitto*

        this is spot on. It really is especially unpleasant to spend time with bigots when you are the waiting target of their hate. Bearing that in mind, imo it’s actually unkind to expect marginalised people to potentially endure hearing harmful beliefs (and certainly endure the company of their holders) at social events. If it’s optional, I think Dan and Jeff deserve a Christmas dinner without the presence of homophobes, whether Susan and Gary behave themselves or not.

      2. Kay*

        This! I’m not gay but I sure as H E double L don’t want to be anywhere near homophobes. Sounds to me like having these 2 there is a great way to torment the rest of your guests – please don’t do that – uninvite them.

    20. Uninvited*

      Your reply was perfect. I definitely wouldn’t change any of my plans in that situation. I would be on edge waiting for drama if they attended. I would probably follow up with another message to say that after careful consideration you are rescinding the invitation.

    21. Leviticus*

      Agree that you are totally right in disinviting these folks.

      But also. They don’t like the gays or the shellfish? Really curious their opinions on mixed fabrics. We could have some Leviticus fans on our hands here.

    22. Jenna Webster*

      I think you were very polite in the face of unreasonable demands. You could also just tell them that since you can’t trust them to treat your family members kindly and with respect, they are no longer invited.

    23. Still*

      Joining the chorus of “you haven’t been harsh enough”! I’m afraid that there’s a high chance they decide to come after all, and then spend the whole time being unpleasant. And you’ll spend the whole time until Christmas worrying about whether or not they’re going to show up and spoil Christmas. Uninvite them and stop thinking about it.

    24. Alex*

      Definitely not being too harsh. I would have done the same. They were invited to spend the day with your family, not insult them and demand their own catering.

    25. ghost_cat*

      You are nicer than me. I’d be telling them what they could do, and that the horse they rode in was optional.

    26. Longtime Lurker*

      Joining the chorus of support. At my wedding we served ginger ale in the champagne flutes so we didn’t out the sober alcoholic to the other guests. Dry wedding no chance.

      But the expectation that you would disinvite Dan and Jeff is the deal breaker for me. I would tell them that given their views I’m not able to invite them to any event where queer family or friends will be present. I’d try a one to one , but if they shared their homophobia or other bigotry on that occasion it would turn out to be a one-off.

    27. Madame Arcati*

      You are quite right.
      If Gary cannot trust himself to be in the presence of those drinking alcohol then he sadly cannot attend; that’s a choice he must make in support of his recovery.
      It’s like work; you could ask for reasonable accommodations – like if Gary had called and politely said, could you help me out by not placing a wine glass at my table setting, don’t offer me anything alcoholic and is it ok if I bring my favourite soda, that would have been fine. If Gary and Susan were hosting and didn’t serve alcohol and asked people not to bring it, then guests can attend or not according to their choice.
      Similarly, if they cannot be trusted to treat all guests with politeness, courtesy and (imho reasonable at such an occasion) warmth, then sadly they cannot attend. And there are no accommodations here because they aren’t reasonable.

      You don’t dictate to the hostess of a party or gathering what they serve or who else they invite; if you don’t agree you don’t go.

    28. Irish Teacher.*

      No, you are absolutely right. They are completely out of order by trying to tell you who you can invite and what you can serve.

    29. Ellis Bell*

      I think the minute they started gearing up to exclude your gay loved ones (!), you would have been well within your rights to say: “You don’t sound keen on the company, and we aren’t happy to have those kinds of attitudes around us, so it probably makes sense for you to celebrate the day elsewhere.” To tell them that they still have the option of showing up and enjoying themselves if they can stop being entitled, is more than gracious.

    30. IntoTheSarchasm*

      They want to dictate the menu and the guest list. I think you discovered why they are alone on the holiday and it isn’t just moving.

    31. Pocket Mouse*

      I mean, they weren’t invited to your cousin’s in-law’s get-together… maybe that was on purpose.

      1. Elle Woods*

        It’s definitely on purpose. My aunt told her son’s FIL one year that his (FIL’s) family Christmas traditions were stupid. Aunt was told on no uncertain terms to leave and never come back. That was a few years ago; she apparently still hasn’t learned her lesson.

    32. Alice In Craftyland*

      Maybe there could be a conversation about food or alcohol but I would absolutely not allow them to my gathering knowing their homophobic opinions. Personally, it wouldn’t even be “this is how it is, your choice to come or not”. My message would be “since you can’t even be civil in text messages, I can’t image how you’d be in person; you’re uninvited”.

      Side note, my stepmother’s mother, a horrible person who doesn’t consider me family because I’m a step child, one year complained about our Christmas dinner. My dad cooks duck every year; it’s a tradition. He told her she was welcome to bring along something else and use their kitchen to cook it herself if she didn’t like the traditional menu that she only ate once a year. Obviously she didn’t do that and ate the duck with minimal complaints that we all ignored.

    33. miel*

      For the sake of Dan&Jeff, uninvite the homophobes. It’s not fair or kind to them to invite them to an event where they’ll be around that BS. (If a relative of mine knowingly invited me to an event with someone who repeatedly and openly expressed homophobic views, I’d be very upset.)

      The menu and drinks are less of a concern to me. In fact if you actually wanted them to attend, I’d recommend a sober event; it’s the polite thing to do. But it’s a moot point; they’re uninvited.

    34. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I’m sorry, but I think you’re going to have to go the extra step and actually uninvite them. I don’t it was a wise choice to invite homophobes to an event with a gay couple and your first duty as a host is to ensure your already invited guests will be comfortable and compatible with all the other guests.

      Uninvite them and let the chips fall where they may.

    35. fposte*

      Umpteenthing the “uninvite them.” Or at the very least read the riot act unambiguously: “The comments you’ve made aren’t acceptable and won’t be tolerated in our house; we will ask anyone who makes homophobic comments to leave.”

      But really I don’t think you should invite them. You’ve got long-loved family members attending and it’s not fair to them and their holiday to invite people who are on the record as despising them.

      I’m going through a disheartening friend breakup with a friend of decades who’s taken a transphobic turn, and a big part of it is that we do a lot of socializing in big groups. But now I can’t bring some of my friends to their house and I can’t have them over with my friends, because my trans friends and their families get enough crap thrown at them and they deserve not to be exposed to that in my living room.

    36. No*

      You’re not being harsh enough on them. If they make bigoted remarks they shouldn’t be invited. As someone who’s been sober for many years I gotta say his sobriety doesn’t sound too solid if he can’t look at drinks at a holiday. They’re being incredibly controlling and have no right to be.

    37. kt*

      Adding my vote, necessary or not: I’d bend on the alcohol or, um, make a vegetarian dish for them happily, but no way on disapproving of Dan & Jeff.

      I’m trying to figure out if I’d disinvite them, and I’m not sure. It would make a lot of things easier. So I might. If I felt there was real benefit to trying to include them, maybe I’d pull some Alison language. “When you visit, I need you to behave in a way that allows all of us, Dan and Jeff included, to enjoy our time fully. That means no homophobic comments, no ***, … *** (whatever it may be) or other words or actions that make our time less pleasant. Can I count on you to do that?” If they say yes and still come, then … try? and if they argue with it, follow with “I’m sorry to hear I can’t count on you to be gracious with our family. I think it’s best if you don’t attend.”

      Just trying to work this out for myself, as… I could see this happening in my family down the pike….

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m not taking surf&turf off my menu and not roasting a turkey, but for a dear friend I’d offer to order a small turkey&sides takeout order from the specialty grocery in town.

        I’m not skipping wine with dinner, but for a dear friend I’d set up glasses & bottles in the side room and have iced tea on the table.

        HOWEVER. I do not count as dear friends people who make me worry that they’d be nasty to my other guests. These 2 can be expected to be nasty. OP did the right thing, and I like your phrasing.

    38. Zephy*

      No. You were trying to be nice and offer them a spot at your Thanksgiving table, but if they’re going to be rude to your other guests and complain about the food, they can absolutely go be miserable together at home for free instead of inflicting it on you and your loved ones. Your house, your rules. If you offer someone a gift and they then proceed to shit all over it in front of you, you have done nothing wrong here and the other person is the jerk.

    39. Come On Eileen*

      While “please spend the day elsewhere” sounds unnecessarily harsh to me, I do sense your frustration with Susan and Gary. I think you handled it correctly – the message should always be “this is my event and this is who is coming and this is what we are eating. If all that sounds good to you, great! If not, I understand and I’ll see you some other time.”

      I’m also sober 9 years and am comfortable around others drinking alcohol where that’s not a dealbreaker to me. If it was a dealbreaker, it’s on my shoulders to decline and spend my time elsewhere. I’d say if the person was new to sobriety and on unsteady legs, then removing alcohol is definitely a kindness to be extended. But that’s not the case here.

      All that to say – you have my sympathies! And I hope it goes well however this turns out.

    40. Chauncy Gardener*

      I completely agree with your response to these intolerant, of everything, folks.
      Stand your ground!

    41. Despachito*

      No, it was in fact a perfect response. It would be a clear NTA on Reddit.

      Good for you that you stood your ground. A guest dictating what a host should be doing.. no way, José.

    42. Maggie*

      I would have just straight out disinvited them. If they’re making homophobic comments I would just say sorry I have family that I love that comes to this event so if you’re going to make those comments it won’t work for you to attend. Sorry. Don’t even need to get into the menu or the booze.

    43. KR*

      That was a perfectly diplomatic and polite way to handle things. And honestly I wouldn’t be gunning too hard for them to go because of the homophobia situation. If they do go they’ll probably just bring the complaints in person. I have some discussions with the adults and near adults in your family about how you’re going to handle it if any homophobic remarks are said so everyone is united in their response and things are handled swiftly so that Dan and Jeff feel safe

    44. nonprofit director*

      No, you are not wrong at all.

      It’s your home. You get to decide who to invite and what to serve. It’s incredible that they would even make those kinds of demands on you. (I have not read any other comments, so I am likely repeating what others have said; I just feel so strongly about this)

    45. JSPA*

      If they were accommodating about everything but the alcohol, I’d cater to that, for sure.

      But once you get the sense that maybe they are alone because they are bigoted demanding jerks… I’d stop catering to anything.

      Actually I think I would have rescinded the invitation. “Dan and Jeff are dear and special to us. We can’t un-know your opinions on them, now that you have chosen to make them abundantly clear; we therefore think it better for all concerned to rescind this particular invitation, while leaving open the possibility of future dialogue.”

    46. WestsideStory*

      The polite last line could have been, “we look forward to seeing you another time, I’m sorry this isn’t going to suit you.” Or something to that effect…you can still use it for the inevitable backlash.
      I have literally banned guests who don’t understand that it’s my house, my rules.

    47. That wasn't me. . .*

      instead of “spend the day elsewhere” couldn’t you go with “we’ll see you some other time?”

    48. SnappinTerrapin*

      If guests are dissatisfied with the menu or the guest list, the polite thing for them to do is regretfully decline your kind invitation.

      I have some sympathy with the alcohol issue, but the polite thing for them to do would be to mention their concern, not make a demand, and then to decline the invitation if you are unwilling to accommodate.

    49. Clisby*

      I don’t think you’re being too harsh, but I don’t understand why you ever invited someone inclined to make homophobic remarks when you’ve invited other guests who are gay.

    50. Elle Woods*

      I was offline all day yesterday and have finally had a chance to catch up on all the thoughtful (and sometimes funny) comments of the brilliant AAM commentariat. I appreciate everyone’s insight.

      Brief update: We love Dan & Jeff too much to subject them to homophobes so we rescinded Susan & Gary’s invitation via a telephone call. Gary loudly berated us and called us all kinds of nasty names, which only reinforced why we were uninviting them in the first place. Susan went with her usual tactic of trying to guilt trip us; it didn’t work.

      Could I have handled this better to begin with? Definitely. I’ll certainly be more careful and thoughtful about guest lists for future family gatherings.

      1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        I used to devour the website Etiquette Hell, which I miss. If you had submitted your question to Etiquette Hell, I have no doubt that its (truly respectful and smart) host would have reassured you that you exemplified The Polite Spine, as she called it. She also would have put Susan and Gary firmly into her established category of Gimme Pigs.

        Have yourself a wonderful Christmas filled with and surrounded by love.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Came here to say this! So beautiful! The cat has a haunted look though – has s/he spent too long in the “wait, what?!” category? Is s/he staring into the distance trying to work out what is going through the mind of Leap YearBirthday boss or I Have A Message From Your Dead Relatives coworker?

        1. Zelda*

          That’s custom embroidery & applique– so talented! Would the “someone on Etsy” wish to be named here?

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    Recommend stories (books, movies, TV) that had meh or mixed reviews, but you gave it a shot and the story really resonated?

    I ask this because we just finished up Seasons 1 and 2 of Foundation on Apple+, and I loved it. And loved it right off. Gaal and Salvor are such compelling characters, while being very different. I loved that Hari Seldon was a huge asshole rather than a lovable grandpa who’s always right. I enjoyed the way the cloned emperors were slightly different in each iteration. And despite psychohistory being a thing I don’t know to what extent the story is going for everything is ordained vs there are pivoting people and points, and the characters don’t either, so none of us know what will happen.

    1. word nerd*

      Milkman by Anna Burns. I mean, yes, it won the Booker Prize, but it also has only a 3.5 rating on Goodreads, and I get why a lot of people don’t like it. I ADORE this book so much, though. I don’t know how much of it was listening to the audiobook rather than having to deal with some of the difficulties with reading it in print, but I got completely absorbed in it and found it so moving and I still think about it years later.

    2. Clara Bowe*

      “Emerald City” which ran on NBC ~6 years ago. I hadn’t heard it was directed by Tarsem Singh when I stumbled into it on Hulu. I had heard some pretty mixed reviews, but ended up ass-in- seat for the first seven episodes and only paused so I could sleep before waking up and watching the rest.

      Singh’s directing style is just so darn distinctive and really resonates for me.

      1. GingerJ1‍✈️ ‍✈️*

        It’s such a great book! I reread it every few years.

        Once I saw the movie–and I don’t remember a whole lot about it–I couldn’t imagine anyone other than Kevin Costner in that part.

    3. Mitchell Hundred*

      I definitely have issues with the movie The Wiz (Sidney Lumet should not have been chosen to direct a musical), but in my opinion it doesn’t deserve one-tenth of the panning it’s received. I flat-out refuse to hate a movie that saw fit to cast late 70s era Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.

    4. Gnomes*

      I don’t know if you’re looking for podcasts, but ‘Unwell’ really resonated with me, despite having fairly mixed reviews. It’s a supernatural mystery audio drama set in the US Midwest. Really slow paced but well-written and the sound design is excellent.

    5. Nessness*

      I loved the movie Don’t Look Up, which had pretty mixed reviews. I’m not always a Leonardo DiCaprio fan but I thought this was some of his best acting of his career, and the mix of comedy, absurdity, and sadness really worked.

      1. Not So Little My*

        I loved Don’t Look Up. I felt like it was a smart movie pretending to be a stupid movie, and a lot of folks didn’t get that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think that’s a good way to put it. I really liked it (in a bitter and cynical way).

          Also it was the first time I saw Timothy Chalomet, who proceeded to be everywhere.

        2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Ohhhhh I loved it so much. I suspect “smart pretending to be stupid” is my favourite thing – I hate “stupid pretending to be smart” with a fiery passion, too

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This is why I quit Sherlock, after quite enjoying the first season. “A portrait of a smart person written by a stupid person who thinks that smart people are indistinguishable from wizards.”

            Starship Troopers is similar–if you understand that it’s a parody of fascism and jingoistic patriotism it’s uncomfortable in a good way. If you miss the satire and take it straight it plays differently.

    6. Arya Parya*

      I also love Foundation. I love hard sci-fi, so this really is a show for me. All the concepts are great. I really hope we get a season three, because I heard good things about the new big bad

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      I have two – Superstore (US, TV series) and Wonderfalls (US, TV series). Superstore was a network comedy about daily life of the coworkers in a megastore like Walmart. I left it on to keep me company, and it really grew on me. The characters are a diverse group, and there are hilarious little visual interludes between scenes, that are of customers nonchalantly getting up to mischief.

      And Wonderfalls! Bryan Fuller’s first series (before Pushing Daisies or Dead Like Me). Again his main character is a young woman unsure of what to do with her life, after earning a degree in philosophy. She works in a simple retail job and lives in an Airstream. But….then creatures (ie. stuffed animals) in her life come to life and give her cryptic instructions to make others’ lives better. Her alarm at that, her frequent misunderstanding of the talking creatures’ meaning and her interactions with her coworkers and daffy family (Fuller series regulars, mostly) make it a charming short series. I rewatch it in a Fullerverse marathon with the other two at least once a year.

  5. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

    I’m already looking for recipes (or even better, a cookbook) for postpartum. There’s a couple of different categories of things:
    – Freezer meals that can go straight to the oven or in a slow cooker/instant pot to get prepped
    – Easy stuff for someone else to prepare, doesn’t need to be reheated to eat, and can stay good in the fridge for awhile (e.g. cold sandwiches)
    – Something you yourself liked?

    I know there’s now some cookbooks for nourishing postpartum recipes, but the previews frankly look too ambitious/complicated (too many ingredients) when I won’t have a ton of help.

    I know links sometimes can get filtered, so blog names and recipe titles would be appreciated. =)

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      There are lots of cookbooks out there and whole YouTube channels devoted to freezer meals. I’ll have to think about some freezer meal favorites, so I might come back with recipes.

      Some low effort ones we did a lot were:
      Baked potatoes (in the midcrowave) + a can of chili + pregrated cheese.
      Can of soup + canned biscuits + bagged salad
      Marie Calendar Pot Pies
      Stouffer’s lasagne (The veggie one is my favorite!)
      Costco has a lot of frozen meals as well. We would buy pulled pork microwave it, add BBQ sauce from a bottle and serve on rolls, etc. There are also pasta meals. I still buy bags of rotisserie chicken – and divide it into one meal portions and freeze. It’s a huge time saver and so much better than canned chicken.

      I did a lot of pasta salads postpartum – I could make them and they were just grab and eat. Only downside is that they were not easy to eat one handed, lol.

      Hummus and crackers + veggies to dip in it were another favorite. I would mix salsa, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a drained can of corn, and eat it with tortilla chips. Or put it in a quesadilla. Or over fried eggs.
      Yogurt and fruit are low effort as well. When I had Covid a few months ago, my husband would bring me food, and he’d bring me some of those Uncrustable PB&J sandwiches before he left for work. Two of those and a piece of fruit was a good low effort lunch I could do while trapped in the bedroom.

      1. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

        I prepared a lot of freezer meals for #1, but realized I overestimated how much active time I could spare (e.g. something that had to go on the stove was a no go). Pasta salads are a brilliant idea—you’re right, if only they were handheld! Did not know Costco had frozen meals, thanks!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have never been a new mom myself, but I am frequently team “let me fill your post-baby freezer for a month to make up for all the babysitting I won’t do til Junior is out of diapers.”

      Popular dishes in the past include:
      Mac and cheese – my friends already had kids in the house, so the mac was mostly to make feeding the other kids easier – I froze it in round containers about the size of a large butter tub, and it could go in a still-frozen block into a round crockpot for easy reheating. I did plain, taco mac (add a can of enchilada sauce and some taco meat), pizza mac (jar of pizza sauce and some chopped pepperoni), and I think one with ham and like peas and carrots.

      Chili and beef stew, frozen the same way as the mac

      Meat loaf patties (kind of like hamburger patties) – can be frozen either cooked or uncooked (with parchment paper in between), just make sure you label which way you went :) Cooked is easier prep when reheating, uncooked comes out SLIGHTLY better (a little less dry) but not enough to make that much difference and that’s what bbq sauce is for. Easy to make a quick meat loaf sandwich and can be eaten hot or cold.

      I did a lot of fillings – bbq pork or chicken, taco meat (ground beef or shredded chicken), sloppy Joe filling. Any of those can do sandwiches (though probably not the best option for one-handed eating while feeding a baby), but also are really easy to mix a scoopful into a bowl of instant mashed potatoes or mix up with one of those 90-second rice packets for a fairly quick but filling bowlful of protein and carbs.

      Also spaghetti sauce – some marinara, some with ground beef or sausage, some with meatballs, depending on the taste of the family doing the eating.

      Most of these are not high to veg content on their own, but my cooler full of goodies always includes on delivery a dozen bags of steam-in-bag frozen veg – small bits can mix into things, large bits can be eaten with fingers in a pinch.

    3. OtterB*

      I liked making a pot of chili and then freezing in small batches. It could be eaten as-is with some crackers or tortilla chips, put on a baked potato, put on a salad as taco salad, or mixed with macaroni.

    4. Copper Penny*

      I have a toddler and a 4 month old, so my entire menu is easy postpartum meals. I’m able to do more now than even last month.

      Zucchini slice is wonderful. It’s an Australian dish or at least I learned of it here with shredded zucchini and egg and flour. I use zucchini and bacon slice from cookitrealgood. It’s a great kitchen sink recipe so you can throw anything left over into it once you make it once or twice. It’s great to eat hot or cold. It freezes wonderfully. When it first thaws I like to throw it in the oven for a bit to keep it from being soggy but after that can heat it up in the microwave or eat it cold. I alway double this recipe so I have one to eat straight away and one to freeze.

      Tortilla wraps are great. Someone else can prepare all the parts and if someone is around they can assemble it for you and easy to eat one handed.

      Cottage pie is great for the freezer but not great for eating one handed.

      Crockpot creamcheese taquitos from this grandma is fun is also a great one.

      Muffins of any shape or size is great.

      Baked oatmeal bars are great and theoretically help with milk supply.

      Stuffed pasta like tortilini and ravioli I could stab with a fork was easy to eat.

    5. Rachel*

      Not a cookbook, but Pinch of Yum the blog has meal prep and really good filters to search for easy, freezer, etc.

      Her SOS series is designed for food quick and easy.

    6. SSC*

      I found an overall very good cookbook when I was newly postpartum, called Parents Need to Eat, Too. There’s a whole section for big batch/freezer meals. I’ve made several recipes from this one.

      1. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

        Second time someone has recommended that on this thread! Will 100% check it out, thank you and Newbie!

    7. Waffles*

      I just bought the yummy toddler cookbook and it’s not toddler food! instead it is a range of recipe options that are very easy to cook and put together, varied enough, and let’s you not think about it. it is for families with young kids, but unlike other cookbooks I am happy to eat what’s in here too.

    8. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      for me the best postpartum food was whole wheat bran muffins. my mom made a whole bunch and froze them. they were easy to grab and filling and I’m pretty sure I ate two to three a day while my son was a newborn. and I’m following the rest of this post because I’m trying to be more organized for my upcoming postpartum compared to the one with my son.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Google “freezer dump meals” an “crockpot freezer dump meals”
      Those are all the meals you dump the raw ingredients into a gallon ziploc bag and then freeze. When you want to cook it, take out of the freezer (generally the night before and put in the fridge, but you really don’t have to) and dump into the crockpot.
      Helpful hints: add a parmesan cheese rind to the bag if you think cheese will go with it. Add fresh herbs when it’s done. You can add a bag of frozen veggies toward the end of cooking.

      You can prep all these before you give birth, so you’ll have a freezer full of ammo!!

      Good luck!

    10. Lila*

      easy stuff that I liked in the newborn stages were yogurt with fruit and nuts (which is honestly still my breakfast daily) and bean salads of various kinds which could sit in the fridge for days and I could grab a scoop of. I’ve also really gotten into sheet pan dinners since my 3rd was born.

    11. SofiaDeo*

      This isn’t strictly postpartum, but I like Frances Moore Lappé “Diet for a Small Planet” and “Recipes for a Small Planet” series because many of the recipes are easy “multiple meals that the extra is stored or frozen”. They are protein complemented vegetarian based, so one doesn’t have to add chicken, fish or meat or other proteins involving more prep/cleanup, but are very nutritious and more inexpensive than expensive. I’ll often just add extra veggies to the various dishes, and voila! You will learn a few tricks about adding certain ingredients together to get the most nutrition for your time, money, and calories.

    12. cabbagepants*

      I am a little surprised to see so many people recommending soup-type stuff! I couldn’t eat this sort of thing because it seemed like I was ALWAYS holding the baby — she was a slow nurser but nursing was the only time she would reliably not need additional care and thus I could eat.

      I ate a lot of bread with peanut butter smeared on it, hunks of cheese, bananas, and mixed nuts.

      1. Nack*

        Yes, soup wasn’t great for me either. I prepped several batches for the freezer but found it hard to eat while holding a baby. If he was nursing, he was between me and the table and it was hard not to drip on him (and I don’t think I’m a particularly messy eater!)

    13. Macy*

      Before I had my second baby my husband filled our freezer with burritos. We did breakfast burritos with eggs and sausage, and bigger ones with chicken, rice, beans, cheese and tomatoes. It took some work to make but it was so nice to grab one and throw it in the microwave for a couple minutes whenever I needed a filling meal. They also stayed rolled up pretty well so I could eat while holding baby

      I also second the premade Costco meals! There are lots of good ones.

    14. JSPA*

      Tuna salad made with chopped cucumber rather than chopped celery. For when chopping celery (or cleaning a chopper or blender) is already too much fuss. it’ll be a bit more liquid. Still good, though.

    15. No Tribble At All*

      Stealing these as we prep for mini Tribble! ;) important food safety announcement though: never EVER put frozen food directly into a slow cooker. It doesn’t heat it up fast enough, unless yours has some kind of magical boil function or something. Always thaw in the microwave first so it’s at least cool, not frozen.

    16. Ally*

      This might not be quite what you’re asking, but my friend had lots of these drinks called up and go- it’s like a healthier milkshake or meal replacement type drink in a juice-box, she just kept them by her bed and could use in the night or when feeding or whenever. Because honestly sometimes even getting to the kitchen and heating something or making a drink was too much.

  6. word nerd*

    I read The Three-Body Problem recently, and I’m on the fence about continuing with the series. For those who have read the other books too, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Is it just downhill from here? Does it get better, and I get a new appreciation for how everything comes together by reading all three?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I thought the book was interesting, largely because it being set in China was different, but the next ones were just okay. If you loved the book I’d say continue on, but without expecting the sophomore victory. (Where the first book/season was getting the kinks worked out and the basics down, and then it all just surges delightfully in the next installment.)

      Women shockingly betraying their husbands was an uncomfortable repeated theme, for me.

    2. Not A Manager*

      My son warned me that the books get wonkier and more science-heavy. Since I prefer my sci-fi to be more fi and less sci, I decided to skip them.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I liked the first one. Interesting ideas, and a very different cultural view than Western sci-fi. The rest if the series kept making the plots bigger and bigger, with diminishing returns.

    4. Brain Flogged*

      I loved the first one, and the other two are not bad, per se. Just don’t expect the same level of realism, since the author already stretched it on the first book. But if you are equally into the fantasy part of Syfy, go ahead.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Thanks for the info. It was recommended to me by a friend, but I couldn’t get past how depressing it was. I gave up a couple chapters in. I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up again at some point, but it’s good to know it might get better.

    5. The bean moves on*

      I loved the sciencey parts of this book. It had some cool sci-fi ideas and I thought the story did them justice. But oh man was the series bleak.

    6. Season of Pumpkinhead*

      Chiming in with the group here: I really enjoyed the first book but upon learning that the subsequent books follow different characters, I decided not to finish the series. I kind of appreciate that the other books follow other characters because it makes it easier for me to conceptualize them as standalone stories. I don’t feel like I missed out haha!

    7. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed aspects of “The Three-Body Problem,” but not enough to want to continue the series. My favorite work by Cixin Liu is the collection “The Wandering Earth” – wildly-inventive short stories.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      I read the first and second but didn’t start the third. Part of me is hoping the series makes a little more sense, but I haven’t started it yet.

    9. Waffles*

      I’d say continue! The premise of the trilogy is that you can see the ripple effects of decisions hundreds or thousands of years in the future. I found the second one really dark and the third wrapped it up for me. The ideas in that trilogy have really stuck with me! Americans tend to feel that the characters are flat, but I suspect it’s more cultural difference than anything.

    10. RC*

      Interesting— Three-Body Problem has been on my list for awhile but I haven‘t gotten to it. I recently read and legitimately hated Lessons in Chemistry (and I very rarely outright hate books) so maybe I‘ll push that one down the list a bit for now.

        1. RC*

          A similar-minded friend alerted me that some of the (only 1%!) of 1-star reviews on Goodreads are pretty great. But also it seems, anecdotally, female scientists are particularly annoyed at this book. And also, the religious? Personally I‘m way more offended at the graphic sexual assault which happened in the first twenty pages without any CW and the lazy stereotyping and the multiple scientific inaccuracies plus the “this is 100% not how you communicate science, at all!!” rather than the kind of lazy Dawkinsian “this is why people are annoyed by atheists” of it all (I found it interesting she found the space in the book to put in a dig against vegetarians though, who are the other group besides atheists that typically get the “ugh I hate you on principle because you’re so annoying about your own beliefs, even though it’s really a small vocal minority who are actually annoying.”

          Yeah, I so rarely have such an immediate strongly negative reaction to a book, especially one that apparently EVERYONE ELSE loved, so I’ve thought about it a bit. :) Y’know, SCIENTIST AND ALL, lol.

    11. word nerd*

      Thanks for the input, everyone! I’ve decided not to continue based on what y’all have said, thanks.

  7. RMNPgirl*

    Anyone else doing something fun this weekend?
    I’m traveling to Houston for a live workout event with my favorite fitness person, EMKFIT aka Emily Thorne. We get to do a workout Saturday afternoon along with meet and greet and photos. Then line dancing Saturday night.
    If you’re looking for a fitness person, I highly recommend her. She is fun and encouraging and real. I support her through Patreon and have purchased three of her home workout programs along with some great merchandise.

      1. RMNPgirl*

        She has a couple country HIITs that have a little line dancing in them.
        She has a ton of free YouTube cardio dance HIITs that are just so much fun! They’re all different themes so you can definitely find something you like. She also has some strength and stretching videos on YouTube as well. If you support her on Patreon then you get additional access to things.
        Her workout programs that you can buy are focused on strength training.

    1. Mitchell Hundred*

      It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend, so… that. Saturday we’re having dinner at my mom’s house with my stepmom’s side of the family, and then Sunday we’re going up to my Grandma’s.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      My colonial dance group is performing at Fort Ouiatenon in Lafayette, Indiana at the Feast of the Hunters Moon. It’s our favorite event and some members have been coming for at least 20 years. Fortunately, it stopped raining and will be dry until we leave for home.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Saturday is a rugby day, so driving 400mi RT to referee.

      I haven’t seen the two teams in years, and they’re both struggling for numbers, so my goal is to make sure its fun, and that the rookies stick with it.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Ooooh. Where are you geographically? I’m in New England and I have seen ZERO hens of the woods. :(

    4. carcinization*

      I… thought I was doing something fun, my husband and I were going to go to brunch downtown and then to a seasonal holiday market that a local witchy shop was holding. But then he didn’t want to go to brunch because he’s not feeling great, and only begrudgingly agreed to still go to the market after I reminded him that I was planning to shop for some holiday gifts. Didn’t find as many gifts as planned and felt like I was dragging him around, so it wasn’t nearly as nice as I expected.

      1. carcinization*

        Hahaha then we were going to our friends’ (more than one friend) place for dinner and I was bringing pumpkin chocolate chip squares for dessert, they were really excited about eating them… but when I picked the lidded pan up from the backseat by the handles the top of it failed in some way so they ended up on the concrete. So our friends had to scramble for dessert and things started off fairly awkwardly.

    5. allathian*

      I’m resting up this weekend. I went to a great two-day conference on Thursday and Friday, and I’m all peopled out now.

  8. New relationship energy*

    What are the important things to discuss with a new partner when it’s become apparent that you both agree that this relationship has the potential to be serious and long-term? What are the most difficult to discuss and how should these be approached? What if the relationship is long-distance? How soon should you have your first fight? (That last question is a bit of a jokey question but also kind of not, lol)

    I know there aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all answers to these questions but I’d really value your opinions and, even more, anecdotes of successes and regrets.

    1. Sloanicota*

      There are good online questionnaires, but I’d say the most important ones are 1) How do you both approach money and savings 2) How do you plan to handle each of your families – what if someone’s parent gets sick or needs more help, and do you ever picture them living with you? What if someone’s sibling can’t care for their children, are you taking them in? What if your two family’s needs conflict? How do you handle disagreements between your partner and your family or your with your most difficult family member? Do you have a budget for how much financial help you plan to provide family? 3) What are your expectations around housework and emotional labor? How might any future kids, if you wanted, affect that? How much leisure time sounds reasonable to both of you?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh, and as to the first fight – rather than focusing on that (some couples never fight without that meaning their relationship is good, and every other variant on that spectrum) I’d say – observe how you two work through differences and try to make sure you’re seeing the relationship in non-polished settings where patience starts to fray. Travel is good for this. Camping if you’re that kind of person. How’s the dynamic when you’ve hiked all day and you can’t get the fire started for dinner? How is it when you’ve missed the layover in Denver and nobody’s eaten and everything’s closed and you might be sleeping in the airport? How is it when someone’s sick or injured?

        1. New relationship energy*

          This is interesting! My only other relationship was a very long one and we almost never argued while travelling, however argued all the time at home (part of the reason I’m not in that relationship anymore and also why I wanted some anecdotes about fights!). And our lives were not particularly stressful. So thanks for the insight!

          Thank you for your input, it’s really helpful!

          1. Ochre*

            My spouse and I go into problem-solving mode when there’s something big (for us) happening, like the cat needs to go to the emergency vet at the same time that one of us needs to go out of town for a family event, we are on it! We get up early, communicate about our plan for getting the cat crated in time, make sure the other person has packed their necessary supplies. Friends need to emergently crash with us? Beds are made, comfort food is on the stove! But in the long day-to-day we get lazy about stuff, get annoyed when the other person wants to make a plan and we just wanted a day off, assume the other person will take care of cleaning/laundry/dinner if it’s bothering them, and that’s where tiny resentments and irritations can fester. So maybe you experienced something similar? We’re pretty good in a crisis, but we have to be much more deliberate in the “normal” times. Other couples are not the same, but that’s how we seem to be.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            You might try reframing the question as: how hard do I avoid a fight, and for what reasons?

            Not many people who aren’t drama addicts are pro-fighting for its own sake, naturally, but that doesn’t mean fights aren’t sometimes the outcome of conflict. So it’s not that you’re going “oh boy, our first blow up!” but when/if it does happen you aren’t–terrified, so enraged you can’t control yourself, or any other extreme emotional state.

            Also; are you afraid of what might happen, physically or emotionally? Do you expect to be left by your partner because of a disagreement? Do either of you freeze out the other person for extended periods, give the silent treatment, or otherwise produce an untenable-to-live-with atmosphere, to the point where you’re swallowing opinions or irritation on the regular so “everything stays calm?”

            1. New relationship energy*

              To be honest, I think I’m afraid of this because my ex was a really cruel fighter; would throw out personal insults or unkind statements when we were fighting that he couldn’t take back and that often had little to nothing to do with the disagreement at hand. I hated it and I think it was really destructive to the relationship. I am not afraid to argue or to disagree with a partner sometimes, and I don’t think being really angry at your partner once in a while is going to destroy a healthy relationship, but I really don’t want a partner who fights like my ex did.

              1. PX*

                I saw something recently which said people talk a lot about love languages these days, but the rarely discussed but equally important flipside is anger languages. How do you behave when you are angry or upset. What do you need – space or to talk it out? Are you good at letting things go or will you always remember or maybe hold a grudge? All good things to think about and even discuss!

                My other favourite advice I’ve seen on this is that you can learn a lot about the potential success of the relationship based on how they treat you on your best and worst days. Do they show up? Are they excited for you on good days? Are they supportive on bad days? Pay attention to things like that.

                1. Sloanicota*

                  My problem is, for the first at *least* year or so, it’s not hard to avoid showing/seeing this side of each other, particularly if you don’t live together and you’re both excited about each other and on “good behavior.” At least, I’ve been taken by surprise in the past.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Money should be high on the list. Are you going to merge finances. Who pays for what if you move in together. Who is a saver, who is a spender. How to handle bills. Do each of you get Mad Money. Think of all the ways money (or lack of) can cause stress in a relationship and talk it through.

      When we realized we were going to marry we talked things thru and agreed to 100% merge finances, no his and hers accounts and separate credit card bills. To give some flexibility we agreed we would each get $100 per month of Mad Money, spent with without discussing the purchase before hand and no questions after. Neither of us use it most months but it keeps peace. I pay the bills and track expenses but review what is going on with my wife on a regular basis, at most I confirm odd things on the credit card statements are legitimate purchases. It has worked for 30 years for us.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in kind of a weird position, but for me, it’s the fact that I’m both monogamous and asexual (and also as interested in romance as a sack of hammers – I’m seriously not entirely sure how I’ve gotten married three times, though this whole set of issues does explain large chunks of the motivation behind the first two divorces.) I very rarely sex and I do not authorize sex with other people. That may arguably be unfair, but that is what my brain can accept (and I’m not actually willing to argue about it). If you want to stay just friends so you can have sex with other folks, that’s fine, but if you want to partner with me, this is what you (don’t) get. And if you tell me you’re okay with that, I will believe you. (And if it turns out that you’re totally not okay with it after all AND are a jerk to me about it, we will probably NOT still be friends after our inevitable split.)

      Husband and I just had our sixth wedding anniversary and have been together about ten years, so it seems to be working as a success so far.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Along these lines:
        Do you each want/don’t want kids, pets, more schooling/certifications/advanced degrees, to travel, retire early, do or watch, sports, etc.

        Where do you each want to live? You say you are in a long-distance relationship right now… I’ve had many friends’ relationships devolve because one wanted to leave the city and the other one didn’t, one wanted a house – and assumed that the other would handle all the responsibilities that go with it – and the other didn’t, one’s family was in a state that other simply could not abide by…

        What are the things that each of you cannot live without? I luckily fell in love with someone who adores musicals, science-fiction, Jane Austin, murder, mysteries, movies, travel, hiking, cycling, museums, and waterside locations (when I spent a year in Colorado Springs in my 20s I learned that my soul dried up that far inland/landlocked.). 30+ years later, we are now discussing how we budget our time and money once he retires so that we can continue to do these things/go to these places.

    4. Anono-me*

      What do you mean by subjective terms?

      Person A says “I want lots of kids.” And person B says “Me too.” Person A thinks 3 or 4 kids is lots. Person B thinks 12+ is lots.

      Person B says “I want to live in the country. ” Person A says “Me too.” Person B means
      in a modern rambler on 4 acres 2 miles outside of the city just off of a paved road. Person A means off grid in a cabin on 20 acres 30 miles from the nearest pavement.


      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        In a similar vein, make sure you spell out any implicit agrements/expectations so that you’re both on the same page. Early in our marriage, my husband got mildly annoyed that I didn’t do some minor household chore that he thought I’d do. It turned out that he thought that we had an implicit agreement that the person who did X would also do Y.

        I did not know about that implicit expectation (it existed entirely inside his brain) – which meant that I didn’t know he was expecting me to do the thing that I didn’t do! So it’s always better to spell out these things upfront to avoid potential confusion.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have been married for 20 years, and my major advice would be:
      1. Make sure that you share the same sense of humour as your partner, because the long haul will be incredibly tedious if you don’t.

      2. If you’re going to be in a long-term relationship with someone, you will need to make a ton of decisions, big and small. If you don’t make good decisions together (by this, I mean decisions that both partners can live with, so that it’s not always about one person getting their way all of the time) or worse, get stuck in an endless spiral of indecision, your relationship will be much more stressful and difficult than it should be.

      3. If you can, pick someone who has complimentary strengths and weaknesses to you. If neither of you can ever get it together to just call a plumber and your toilet is leaking, it’s just going to keep on leaking.

      4. Long-distance relationships are a lot easier psychologically if you have an approximate plan/timescale for making it non-long-distance, assuming that this is something that you both want to do.

    6. Longtime Lurker*

      Looking back to 1985 when I(61f) met my wife. We had little in common and were long distance for 2 years. Also she was a foreign student and I was starting a qualification that was only valid in my home country. Somehow we have built a 38 year relationship that’s in good shape.

      Where could we live? Big picture at the start of the relationship. You don’t know enough to settle on one place, but you should work out all the places you could live.

      Kids. Very early on we agreed that we didn’t want them. It would have been a deal breaker if we weren’t on the same page.

      Monogamy or not. We started out polyamorous and drifted into monogamy when I didn’t have the bandwidth for more than one relationship. That’s now a done deal but I wish we had had more conversations about it.

      Money. What’s fair to both of you? We settled on keeping our own money and contributing to the joint account in proportion to our income. We are now retired. I have my career pensions only because of her support so now we put all pension income into our joint account and pay the same generous amount of pocket money into our private accounts. Anything we earn from occasional current freelance work ( not very much) we keep. We adjusted our savings pots at the start of our retirement, giving each of us a good chunk and designating the rest as household money. What’s fair to us isn’t necessarily applicable to others. How would you deal with an inheritance?

      Fights. I don’t think that there’s a right time to have the first one, but you both need to fight fair. Or learn those skills. But I don’t think that you can know that the relationship could last until you’ve been through your first big difference, fought it fairly and found a resolution that you can both live with. Maybe with help from a therapist.

      Emotional “monogamy “ Can’t think of a better word even though it’s not quite right. Are you both on the same page about friendships? We have very few joint friends and very close relationships with our own friends. I have friends I truly love. Chosen family. Including an ex. Sometimes I will put their needs first, as will she, and that’s ok.

      Family. How involved are each of you with your own family? How involved do you expect your partner to be with your family. We both have a very semi- detached attitude to our birth families. I’ve seen relationships founder over a difference in approach to this.

      Time together. Is all time spent at home “together time “? Do you still date each other? We are both clear that our time belongs to each of us and that it’s important to have alone time as well as together time where we date and have fun as well as doing the joint domestic crap. How much attention do you each need from the other? Do you want to have personal space in your joint home? Are you comfortable and happy when her door is closed to you?

      Domestic responsibilities. Do you have the same standards of tidiness and hygiene? Is each of you happy with the share that the other one actually does? Given gender expectations I think that’s probably going to be more of an issue in mixed gender relationships.

      Those are the biggies that we had to resolve. That’s included some resolved conflict as well as easy agreement. How you resolve those issues is as important as finding resolution.

    7. Annon-a-nanny*

      ooooo what a great and thought provoking question.

      I’ve been with my partner for five years and the start of our “official” relationship was him moving from our home country clear across the globe, to see if we would work out.

      we got very lucky In that our approach to money is pretty similar, and we are on the same page about children (ambivalent with a side of ‘if one person decides it’s a hard yes, we would give that a go).

      I think you can look up the top reasons for divorce for an idea of what couples forgot to talk about and agree upon before they got married, and those should be discussed.

      what’s your plan for living together? how much space do you need when you do? how will you handle money? do you want kids? whats important to you in raising those children? do kids or dogs belong in your bed? who will stay home/be the parent who’s on call? how will you split housework? my sister’s partner makes more money so she does all the house stuff and that works for them, but wouldn’t for me

      our first fight wasn’t even a fight it was me getting frustrated about doing the lion’s share of the mental load AND of the house related tasks. unfortunately I cry when I’m frustrated so it was me trying to explain why I was so upset and cross at the same time funny now but not then!

      I think if you both sit and describe your perfect life in your perfect house. where overlaps? where are you on different pages? who’s able and willing to compromise? are you both happy with that? do you feel heard and supported even with the differences? I think that’s what’s important for a long term relationship to work

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I think “fight” is the wrong verb and if you’re in a relationship with honest to God fighting going on, you have a relationship bank balance which is always going to suffer from unsustainable withdrawals, no matter how much you pay back in. It’s like trying to carry water in a holey bucket. I had very definitive “fighting” in my past relationship, and even though I’m kind of good at holding my own in a fight, it made me avoid healthy conflict, and it even affected my emotional honesty and my participation in decisions because they were too stressful. However I have frequent disagreements in my current relationship which are always friendly and held in good faith attempts to make each other happier while being honest about our own frustration; for example we call each “a pain in the arse” very, very often while hashing something out, but in an affectionate tone of voice and we always figure something out. We make good and happy decisions, even if we don’t agree at the outset. Things I would classify as unacceptable fighting: 1) one person trying to win, or be right, or a policy in place that you’re not allowed to be upset about things the other person will judge as unreasonable 2) one person capitulating or putting up with a bothersome situation, because addressing it is too punishing 3) Any kind of unpleasantness or punishment being brought to the negotiating table in order to achieve no 2: the most common ones being judgement/insults in the form of disrespect, angry outbursts or silence as punishment. I would categorise healthy conflict as 1) A solid expectation of making each other happy and always trying to always find the net win decision which will make a better mutual atmosphere, 2) Being immediately honest whenever you have a problem you need the other person’s help with, and expecting them to care about your unhappiness, and to be proactive about changes and course corrections 3) Being honest if you don’t know how to sort out a particularly tricky problem so that you’ll both be equally happy; but never taking it off the front burner until you have figured out a way of achieving that. Our first “fight” was about a month in, and was actually him having an angry outburst at me because I can’t listen in certain overwhelming situations (ADHD) and he thought I was deliberately ignoring him. Instead of trying to explain or justify myself to him, I just said that kind of tactic, of jumping down my throat, was unacceptable and if he planned on doing it in future, I didn’t see myself going along with it. He was very contrite and since he feels exactly the same way about being confronted angrily, we soon figured out that if we ask each other to do something we will get further than if we tell or demand it (getting our needs met willingly by the other person was not always a given in our past relationships). I would say we’ve fallen off the anger wagon maybe once or twice each in the fifteen years since then, but the other person hasn’t joined in or allowed the anger as an acceptable opening, so it always fizzled out before becoming a fight. I think our only unpleasant days now are days when something external is making one of us unhappy, and the other person is all “Be happy! I need you to be happy!” which is kinda sweet if you think about it.

    9. Pocket Mouse*

      Who is your community/are your communities? How often do you see/visit/host them? What kinds of support do you want to be able to offer without question, what kinds do you offer only after checking in with each other, what kinds are hard nos?

      And honestly, I’d say you need to live with a partner for a while before you know if you’re long-term compatible sharing a living space and all that entails (finances, cleanliness, household labor, sleep, personal space/time). Some partners live separately long term and it works for them, but they’re in a minority. For everyone else, you can talk these things through ahead of time but often the reality is different than what’s said to some degree.

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Married almost 39 years, together for 41, spent most of the first five years living on opposite US coasts while in grad school (him) and med school (me). In some ways I think that was good for us. We learned how to really talk to each other and work out disagreements by using our words because we didn’t have an alternative. When we saw each other we put everything else aside – which caused some serious issues when we were finally together because it felt to me like he never made it a priority to spend time with me. I am grateful I had the chance to really focus on school without having to worry about the day-to-day maintenance of a relationship. So it was, of course, a double-edged sword.

      We never fought about money because we were lucky enough to always have enough, and I was both the higher earner and the more profligate spender. We also never fought about money because we never really talked about it. Then I retired several years after he did and we had to talk about it and it did nearly turn into a fight. I wish we’d had that real conversation years before. It would have saved us both a lot of angst.

      I love the advice about travel and thinking about how you do when things don’t go well. We did a lot of long-distance drives and a lot of camping and we figured out how to deal on rainy nights when the tent poles wouldn’t cooperate.

      Have the conversations about specifics – where do you want to live, kids yes/no, etc – and be ready for those specific desires to change because they will. I’d focus more on the process. How does it go when you want different things? Can you listen well and really hear each other? Can you find a true compromise – not one person always giving in but an actual third path that you are both comfortable with? And stay in touch with your own responses. Do you feel like you want to avoid telling your partner things because it will be easier if they don’t know? Do either of you hold grudges? Some couples fight. Some don’t. We learned early on how to fight fair. For us that means taking some time to catch our breath and returning to the topic ready to really listen to the other person even if – especially when – we don’t agree.

      Unspoken assumptions and expectations are the land mines of relationships. If you want something, say so. Advocate for yourself. And give your partner space to do the same.

      Good luck!

    11. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Topis in new relationships in order of importance:

      1. Finances
      2. Finances
      3. Finances

      1. Sloanicota*

        Seems kind of weird that this is the top answer to me! Yes, of course it’s important to have shared values around money or an agreed-upon system for handling it that works for everyone, but I’ve seen so many more relationships sunk by the Kids question or the Where Do We Want To Live question – incompatible careers – etc. – Interesting.

        1. Ochre*

          I think it’s because money becomes a recurring topic and you need to keep refreshing your perspective or expectations, while with “Kids yes/no?” you might talk about it a lot but eventually you will come to a decision (purposely or by default). Money is always relevant, its status fluctuates with jobs/expenses/outside factors (leading to many opportunities for conflict or feeling devalued or feeling cheated), and many people were raised to believe that their way of dealing with it is the One Way.

          Ultimately I would say “communication, communication, communication” but one of the things we communicate *about* most frequently is money. Or taking a slightly broader interpretation, we communicate about *resources* which include money as well as time, attention, possessions, and effort.

    12. Rick Tq*

      Regarding fights… Someday, sometime you will be fighting with your partner and it will heat up. When you are ready to escalate enough to end it, you have to stop and ask yourself “Do I want to be Right, or do I want to keep this Relationship?”

    13. cabbagepants*

      LDR — just be extra careful for what they say vs what they do. It’s easy for a partner to say that of course they’ll split the housework. You may learn just as much/more about them by just seeing what their home/life is like when you visit.

    14. Raisineye*

      In my relationship (together 5.5 yrs, married 2.5) we had both thankfully been to therapy independently and we were older when we met. Neither of us planned to get married, then we found each other. We have had some uncomfortable talks. One of us will bring up whatever is bothering them. The other person listens respectfully and gives it a good thought from the other perspective. Once my partner felt like I was physically cornering him, told me that in the moment, so I was able to move so we could continue the talk with less anxiety. Lots of times we will say what is bugging us and why and then just drop it as we trust that the other won’t do that again. I think the most important things for a relationship (ymmv) are trust and respect, although I don’t know if you can have one wo the other. Topics to discuss: money/debt/spending patterns. Children- are you on the same page. Do NOT assume someone will change their minds. Religion if either person is religious. You should be able to freely talk about your sex life- what you like, what you don’t like wo being shamed.
      As for time to first fight- my partner and I have never had a fight. We disagree on things sometimes, and we compromise. We try to give each other grace about faults. We annoy the heck out of each other sometimes and are comfortable saying I need my own space right now. We have snapped at each other when one of us is especially tired or hungry (usually I’m the snapper), but no out and out fights because we made sure we were compatible with the big things pretty early on. And we had both been in enough relationships to know what we didn’t want and wouldn’t put up with.

    15. Old Plant Woman*

      The most important thing for me was to talk about how to communicate. If I am feeling frustrated, pressured, or just scattered at that particular time, I really really need to step away and process in peace and quiet for awhile. He used to be determined to just bull through it to the bitter end. Not pretty for either one of us. We learned to give me some time and to let him be sure we really would come back and solve the problem. That worked. And there were any number of communication glitches that we had to solve before we could really deal with money, housing etc. Has been working for many years.

    16. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      What decisions will/should be made jointly, and which can each of you make alone?

      For example, is there a dollar amount above which purchases or other financial decisions have to be agreed on? And are there categories of purchases that does/doesn’t apply to. You could also put that as something like “don’t spend more than $200 without consulting each other, except for medical emergencies.” To what extent do you consult each other about job decisions?

      How is time spent? That’s not just division of household tasks, it’s do you schedule one date night a week and spend Sundays together unless something special comes up, or do you default to spending your free time together, or somewhere in between? How much (if any) time does each of you need alone, and is just being in a different room sufficient or do you really want the house to yourself at least one day a month?

    17. Redbecker*

      People have covered the relationship questions pretty well, so I’m just going to talk about the long distance part. Long distance can help a weak relationship last longer or it can push it to fail faster, it depends on how you do it, but in my experience it won’t damage a really good relationship if done carefully. All of my long distance relationships that have failed did so for the reasons they would eventually have failed had we lived nearby, they just failed faster because the problems became clear (or became dealbreakers) earlier: the one that worked, I think worked partly because we were on the same page about all the big things, but also significantly because we were both honest about the fact that we were being on our best behaviour and that wasn’t a permanently sustainable thing, and because when the time came to actually try living together we had the luxury of a six month test before visa applications had to be made, which we used consciously to let everything hang out. It also worked because we had the talk about what living locations were on the table very early. Some people can handle permanent long distance, one of my college professors spent 30+ years with her in Virginia and him in Maine and someone travelling at least every other weekend, but for many people the goal must be to live together, in which case, talk about where is on the table and how you would decide. Does one of your careers have more flexibility than the other? Is being near family more of a need for one of you? Is one of your locations a nicer/more affordable/more opportunity-filled place to live? Would you both like to try somewhere new? If you have to prioritise someone’s career when choosing a location, how do you decide whose, and what does the other person get as a tradeoff? Do either or both of you already own a home or have kids, and how do those things impact your options? Are either of you already planning on making life changes in the near-ish future, and how would they impact all of the above? In our case, he changed jobs just before we did our trial run on living together, which involved moving from a small town to the nearby city, which was really important in two ways. First, the small town had no jobs in my field but the city did: he had been looking to make that move when we met, which is good because I was open to moving to him, but not if it meant giving up my career. And second, we were able to choose to move into a new space together instead of me moving into his flat (which was already both full and set up exactly the way he liked it), to make sure neither of us felt like I was invading his space (obviously not an easy option for homeowners, but for renters it’s a thing to think about).

      My belief is that in any long distance relationship to some extent both partners are having a relationship with a person they build in their head, who is partly based on the other person’s two-week-visit-best-behaviour self and partly based on your best memories of the times you spend together. Since you look forward to a visit for a while you want it to be perfect, so you tend to reset to first date levels of preparation and manners, in contrast to living locally where you can see each other more often so there’s less pressure for each individual time to be perfect. That isn’t bad, it just means that when you stop being on best behaviour you will need to adjust to who you both actually are, not the idealised versions you’ve been imagining. So, if possible try to NOT do the best-behaviour self thing when you have visits, let yourselves fart or burp or leave clothes on the floor or play that extra hour of your video game or not do the dishes until the next afternoon (or whatever habit you’re slightly ashamed of) the way you normally would. It feels weird (and almost disrespectful), but it will help you to see who you will actually be living with and how you will actually live, and it helps (both of you) see what you’re likely to do in practice instead of in theory.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      Re the first fight, I’m going to add something related to observe when it arises: Relationships aren’t 50-50 every minute, but ebb and flow. On weeks when you’re clobbered by life and they’re supporting you, how does that go? And how does it go when that reverses? (I feel strongly that life hands you enough struggles, and would break up with someone who tried to come up with some fake struggles to test this.)

      I think the real strain on marriages comes when you are both hitting lows at the same time, and have to try and keep each other up in the rapids.

    19. Jessica*

      A great question to ask is what they thought of their parents’ relationship. Are there things that they would want to imitate from their parents’ example? Things they want to avoid? Whether or not their parents are still together, their parents’ relationship probably influenced a lot of their approaches to relations as an adult. There’s no “right” answer but I think it’s important that people really think through these things. And if someone says their parents had a really toxic relationship but promises that they will be better than their parents just through sheer willpower (and not through, like, therapy)…I’d be cautious. Ask me how I know.

    20. Numbat*

      google “house of doig 50 conversations to have before you get married” and find that list. my husband and I spent 7 months getting through it and it was such an important and insightful time for us. we would schedule time each weekend to discuss a few questions and it really made us feel more bonded and confident to get married. if 50 feels overwhelming then I agree with others – kids (whether to have, how many, when, how to divide labour), where and how you want to live, finances, approaches to household labour are key. highly highly recommend getting it all out on the table now rather than discovering something game changing too late!

  9. Soup for supper*

    This week we moved into soup weather where I live, and will stay that way for a while. Any favorite vegetarian soups that could easily be gluten-free? One of my favorites is tomato soup — currently I am in love with Alon Shaya’s Tomato Soup with Rice, which is all over the interwebs from his 2022 cookbook — but I’d like to learn about/try out your favorites. If you can point to a specific recipe online or provide replicable details, that would be ideal.

    1. MissB*

      I love Spanish Bean soup. If you Google up ‘The Oregonian Spanish Bean Soup’ you’ll find it. The smoked paprika gives it a nice depth. It’s amazing with cornbread (and honey!).

      Easy soup, and I’ve altered it a bit for the instant pot. I cook it in there for 15 mins and let it sit for 5 mins before releasing the pressure. I typically add the paprika after cooking it in the instant pot. I also tend to puree it too much, which I’ll note doesn’t make it look too appetizing so be sure to fish a few beans out before doing that, lol.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Funny, most of my soup recipes are gluten-free. I either don’t thicken them, or I use potatoes. Lentil soup, split pea soup, beans ‘n’ greens, vichyssoise hot or cold, beet borscht hot or cold, mushroom barley, corn chowder. I use chicken broth if it’s called for, but most of these just use water and I’m sure you could sub vegetable broth for the others.

    3. Bluebell*

      Laurie Colwin’s black bean soup and her curried broccoli soup are big faves. I think both are in More Home Cooking. I also make a super simple potato soup which breaks down to sauté a few onions, then add one potato, one carrot, and one stalk celery per person, plus one cup veg or beef stock per person. Keep simmering til it’s soup. Use whichever of the Scarborough fair herbs you like best, plus bay leaf. Finally, the blog Homesick Texan has a very nice Sweet Potato chipotle soup I like a lot.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I can’t even think of any soups I make that include gluten, though I know cross-contamination can be an issue.

      Tomato bean soup: refried beans, can or pouch of tomatoes, cup of broth, half an onion, garlic, salt, cayenne to taste. Blend the onion and tomato into a purée. Warm on stove, add the beans and the broth, stirring well. Add seasoning and more broth to taste/desired consistency. Serve with cheese cubes and tortilla chips if desired.

      I also make roasted tomato soup, lentil barley stew… can provide recipes if wanted.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I like variations on butternut squash (and/or sweet potato) soups. They’re good even with simple seasonings, or one can add curry powder or smoked paprika, etc. Many recipes include half-and-half or heavy cream, which is nice, but I’ve found that just pureeing the roasted veggies makes a creamy enough base for me.

      Here’s a Budget Bytes recipe: https://www.budgetbytes.com/butternut-squash-soup/

      1. Llamas in pajamas*

        my pumpkin soup:
        -cut into chunks and remove the seeds from 1 kabocha pumpkin(squash). Boil for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool the pumpkin – I submerge in cool water. When cold enough to handle,peel the skin. Cut into smaller pieces.
        In a pot fry an onion or two until brown. Add pumpkin, and water, but not too much. Cook for 5 or 10 minutes. Cool and then put through the blender to make smooth. Serve with heavy (whipping) cream or coconut cream. If not vegetarian, add a couple of slices of bacon when you fry the onions.

    6. Purple m&m*

      Roasted carrot & curry soup. Roast cut up carrot & onions in a 400 degree oven for 35 mins. Simmer in a pot with a quart of veggie broth. Add curry paste, curry powder, a bit of brown sugar, salt, pepper for 30 mins. Purée in a blender, back into the pot, add a can of coconut milk & simmer another 30 mins

    7. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Whole 30 Butternut Squash soup. I don’t do Whole 30, but it’s a very good and easy soup!

    8. Souper Duper*

      Martha Stewart has a Creamy broccoli white bean soup recipe that’s great. You blend the white beans with the broth to thicken the soup – no flour, and no dairy either.

    9. Veronica Mars*

      I love Martha Stewart’s Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder. I made it for a friend who is both gluten- and dairy-free with coconut milk and it’s delicious that way, and also delicious with the cream.

    10. Helvetica*

      For a lighter meal, I’m a fan of vegetarian borscht – so essentially a beet and cabbage soup, which you can add things into. I just do it as my grandmother would but Serious Eats seems to have a decent one.
      Three Sisters stew is technically a stew but with more water can easily become a soup, in my opinion. I go by the recipe on Chickasaw Nation’s homepage.

    11. Buni*

      Thanks, you just reminded me to take the [creamy butternut squash & rosemary] soup out the freezer…!

    12. Seltaeb*

      Harira (Moroccan red lentil and chickpea soup) is hearty and warming and vegetarian. Often has pasta in it, but that you can use gluten-free or substitute with rice.

    13. kt*

      Leek potato soup! Kale potato soup! Cassoulet (getting a bit further into stew or one-pot meal). Corn chowder if you’ve got the last gasps of corn (corn potato soup let’s be honest).

      1. Elle*

        I’m doing Salt and Lavender’s Tomato Potato and Leeks soup today. Easy, comforting and delicious.

    14. carcinization*

      How about Epicurious’ Hominy, Tomato, and Chili Soup? I think it’s already gluten-free, and easy to vegetarian-ize using veggie broth. I make it every year.

    15. BlueWolf*

      Washington Post’s Pork Chili Verde soup is flavorful and could easily be made vegetarian. It has white beans and hominy in it so you could easily up the beans quantity to replace the pork and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. And there’s no gluten in it. You just smash up the beans a bit to thicken it slightly.

    16. Redhairedrunner*

      French onion lentil soup, either make your own French onion soup or start with a pre made one and just add some brown lentils and cook until they are done. You might have to add a little extra water or stock. It is rich, hearty and super filling.

    17. Fellow Traveller*

      Chinese Corn soup- which sounds summery, but can be made with frozen corn. I put bean thread noodles in mine. And it’s so simple- onions, ginger, corn, broth (I use a ginger/jujube/celery broth), simmered together. Egg drizzled in after the corn cooks. Noodles added at the end.
      I also really love Marcella Hazan’s smothered cabbage soup, found on the Food52 website. A thick stoup and cozy.

    18. libellulebelle*

      Turkish red lentil soup is my favorite soup. The combination of paprika, lemon and dried spearmint is perfect.

      3 Tb butter or olive oil
      1.5 cups onion
      1 carrot, peeled and chopped
      1 cup red lentils
      1.5 tsp paprika
      2 Tb tomato paste
      6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
      Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
      Cayenne pepper to taste
      1-2 Tb dried spearmint
      Salt & pepper to taste

      Rinse lentils in a sieve until water runs clear. In a medium-large pot, sauté onion in melted butter until translucent. Add carrot and sauté briefly. Add lentils, paprika, tomato paste, and stock, and simmer until lentils are done, 20-30 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or food processor. Season to taste with lemon juice, cayenne, mint, and salt and pepper.

  10. HannahS*

    Fashionable people, help me with an outfit for a wedding*! It’s in about a month. It’s a Pakistani wedding, and my understanding is that it will be fairly traditional.

    So far, I have a long forest-green flowy dress with long sleeves and a v-neck. I’m not sure what to do in terms of accessories. I always wear flat shoes for bad-joint reasons, but…black? Something else? What would you do for jewelry? Both general advice on accessorizing and specific links to things are welcome.

    *It’s “help me, Obi Wan, you’re my only hope” vibes. When I was 20, I made a spreadsheet (before the days of Pinterest) to help me figure out how to dress. I want to look and feel good, but don’t have an “eye” by nature.

    1. Pippa K*

      Gold brocade flats? Would coordinate with the dress, be comfortable, and look dressy without wearing heels. And if you’re wearing gold jewelry, it could help present a cohesive look.

      Caveat, I’m answering this despite not being a fashionable person as specified :-)

    2. Imtheone*

      I suspect the women’s clothing will be very bright. Maybe add a long scarf. You can cover the v-neck if you want, or just wear the scarf to be bright.

      It’s also likely that the men and women will mostly be in separate rooms/areas.

    3. PollyQ*

      For jewelry, I think a chunky necklace that just hits your clavicles would be nice with a v-neck dress.

      1. Persnickitisha*

        clavicle (singular)
        A person has one clavicle.

        (sorry, pet peeve with this common mis-use)

    4. acmx*

      How about a deep red and gold? Like autumn colors? I feel like vibrant or bold colors would be appropriate.
      I am thinking red shoes and a gold (Maybe copper?) Statement necklace. Maybe a shawl.

      Also, not a fashionable person :)

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        I would also consider having a coordinating pashmina or shawl that you could drape on your shoulders, as part of the outfit, but you could also use to cover your hair and/or cleavage if it turns out to be a more “modest” dress code than you are expecting. Or you want to talk to a group of people that are more traditional.

        I’ve traveled in Pakistan in more casual clothes and my all purpose sarong/ wrap was invaluable for a quick strategic cover up when the circumstances made it courteous.

      2. HannahS*

        Alas, thinning rather than grey. My mom has incredible curly grey hair that I envy. Mine is a dark brown wavy/curly bob.

    5. Angstrom*

      With forest green, reds and golds would also be my first thought. I can also the right slate blue working with forest green. Hair color? If you’ve got grey, silver jewelry could work well.

    6. aubrey*

      If possible, go into a Pakistani or general South Asian clothing shop and ask for help. They would most likely LOVE to accessorize you! The wedding will be colourful and sparkling and beautiful, so you probably want a more dramatic look than you might usually do.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Always start with your shoes, because that’s were the majority of your comfort lies. I would probably go for dressy flat sandals in a metallic color, because metallics go with everything and it’s easy to get silver/gold/bronze jewelry or clutch bags.

    8. Raisineye*

      For shoes I would look for blue (more on the turquoise end vs navy blue end.) I think flats are totally fine, but make sure you have bandaid or medical tape if you start to get a foot raw spot. They are the WORST. Animal print is also a neutral in my. ook, but a more fun neutral.
      I dont have advice about any of the other things, but I really enjoy looking at shoes (especially the ones I could never wear- I’m also mostly flat shoes). Have fun!

    9. Frankie Bergstein*

      There are services where you can rent South Asian attire, which might simplify this?

  11. Soup for supper*

    Soup! Please share your favorite vegetarian soup that is or could easily be gluten-free, One of my favorites is tomato soup — currently I am in love with Alon Shaya’s Tomato Soup with Rice, which is all over the interwebs from his 2022 cookbook. I’d love to learn about/try out your current favorite! If you can point to a specific recipe name or provide replicable details, that would be ideal.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      My current go-tos are:
      1: a butternut squash soup you can find on Love and Lemons. I’ve made it like half a dozen times and served it at potlucks, it’s just so good and everyone loves it! Very simple, made with sage and rosemary. it doesn’t have a bunch of added stuff (no apples or potatoes or cream or anything) yet comes out super creamy and flavorful. You can make it totally vegan by using vegetable broth.

      2: An easy black bean soup from Two Peas and their Pod. I make a batch of this and can eat it every day for a week without getting tired of it! It’s so comforting. I usually add a bunch of red pepper flakes while it’s cooking because I like the heat but it’s so good on its own.

      Happy cooking!

    2. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Is dairy okay? We use a cream of mushroom soup recipe that could easily become vegetarian and GF by changing the broth and replacing the thickening flour with a GF thickener.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I have made this easy Southwest Chicken Soup vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth and an adding another can of black beans for the cooked chicken.

      14 ounce can corn drained
      14 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
      20 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chile
      28-32 ounces chicken broth, about 4 cups
      1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
      ½ teaspoon cumin
      ½ teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste as desired
      ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
      2 cups cooked chicken, chopped bite-size, about 3/4-inch pieces


      Combine all ingredients except chicken in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir to combine.

      Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is heated. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and add the toppings of your choice.

      Optional Toppings
      shredded cheese: cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Mexican cheese blend
      corn tortilla strips or broken up chips
      sour cream
      chopped fresh cilantro

    4. Soup for supper*

      Sorry about the double posting — it looked like my original post had not been submitted so I did it again.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      1 of Everything Pantry Soup
      (Expandable at whatever rate you need – I usually do 2 of everything, but it depends on the crowd)

      1 – healthy sized onion chopped the way you like them
      1 – amount of garlic (I use pre-chopped garlic and just scoop out a bunch)
      1 – 28oz can of whole tomatoes in puree (the best option – feel free to use a combo of crushed and diced, or just diced or whatever)
      1- 15 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzos, drained
      1 – amount of fresh or dried thyme

      Saute the onions until they’re softened then dump everything else in. (The onions stop softening when there’s tomatoes in there.)

      Bring to nearly boiling, then simmer for as long as you need. The longer it goes, the softer the beans, which is the best.

      It’s my go-to “out of town guests are going to arrive at some point this evening” soup. It’s not too heavy but it’s filling and delish. Serve with a great loaf of Italian bread.

      It’s also good as a sort of stew over rice. I put it in a tupperware with uncooked cous cous to warm up for lunch at work.

  12. An unpleasant etail surprise*

    I just got on Amazon to look for a thing, and discovered that they’ve raised the minimum for free delivery to $35. I don’t do Prime so I aggregate my orders until I reach the minimum, which had been $25 for a long time. Actually they bumped it up to $35 quite a few years ago, but then they changed it back to $25 and it stayed there until now.

    I do want their employees and delivery people to get fair wages, but I doubt that this higher minimum will do anything for them – I expect it’s intended to push more people to pay for Prime and just generally get people to increase their orders. Phooey.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I just make a monthly order of the stuff I need from them. I don’t care how high they raise it, I’ll never switch back to Prime.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I noticed the change but I just routinely add things to my cart whenever I go to Amazon until it hits the minimum, then order. I tend to keep a full closet of necessary items so there is never a time when I have to order something *now* rather than waiting.

    3. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

      Consider Walmart+, which is considerably cheaper and, you know, not Amazon. (Not that Walmart is a paragon of virtue, but still…)

    4. ronda*

      I am on my brother’s prime account. if you have someone who has prime, they can add you to their prime for free shipping (but not the other stuff like streaming). you still use your account for ordering, they just have you listed as someone who can get free shipping from their prime account.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      If it makes you feel better, they just announced a $1 per hour increase for all hourly employees.

    6. MugShot Coffee*

      I refuse to buy from Amazon. I will find the same item elsewhere and pay the appropriate amount.

  13. Mitchell Hundred*

    Here’s a question: if you were a pro wrestler, what would be your entrance theme? Odds are that many people here don’t watch pro wrestling, so a little explanation: your entrance music is what plays when you walk out on stage, and it’s meant to be an reflection of your character (which, in turn, tends to be an exaggerated version of the wrestler’s real-life personality). A lot of wrestlers choose rock music that goes really hard to get the crowd hyped up, but I’ve heard all kinds of stuff play to introduce someone.

    Personally, as someone who’s ridiculously stubborn and introverted, I’d probably choose either Spanish Flea by Herb Alpert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGMqTrc7TSU) or Keep Hauling by Show of Hands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTn86cEfhsI).

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Babyface – a modern take on “Rock and Roll is King.” I really like FTR’s theme, which is a spin on the Midnight Express theme

      Heel – Hellraiser by Ozzy Osbourne

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Scratch Hellraiser – I would pay whatever rights fee for the theme to Jim Cornette’s podcast. Maximum heat!

    2. PX*

      Hah. I think Anthony Joshua has used his music before to walk out to fights, but probably Kano. Hail has an excellent intro and the lyrics would definitely fit into a character narrative of someone who is a bit of a rebel and angry at the world.

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

        Ooh, awesome choice! I have always loved the episode of *Fresh Prince of Bel Air* where Will imagines getting married in Vegas processing to the theme from *Shaft*.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This week it would be Confident, particularly the Harley Quinn version on YouTube.

      (Which successfully drove Money Money Money out of my mind, after I watched Mamma Mia on a flight while being frustrated at the persistence of my mooching relative.)

    4. Not A Manager*

      “She’s A Rainbow.” I just think it would be such a fun pro wrestling entrance theme.

    5. fposte*

      I immediately go to Baby Elephant Walk or Yakety Sax. If I’m taking things more seriously Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart.

      1. Pippa K*

        An excellent anthem and now I need to do something requiring walk-on music just so I can use it!

      2. Mitchell Hundred*

        To be clear, you do not have to take things seriously. Comedy matches and comedic wrestlers are both things that happen.

        For example, if I were to have Spanish Flea as my entrance music, my character could be something along the lines of “befuddled tourist who somehow keeps getting lost and ending up in wrestling rings.”

      3. Celeste*

        I had forgotten about Elle King! I had her on a playlist a while back, and I love her voice. I’m going to listen to more now… especially since I need to get Baby Elephant Walk out of my head, or it will stay there all day!

    6. carcinization*

      Not unique to wrestling, when I go to see the local baseball team, the players all have walk-on songs as well. Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” is the obvious one for me, but my real theme song is “There’s Too Much Love” by Belle & Sebastian, which isn’t much like what you’d think from the title… lyrics include, “and when I come to blows, when I am numbering my foes, just hope that you are on my side my dear.”

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Good choice. Honestly, I’d be shocked if that hasn’t already been a wrestler’s entrance theme.

    7. Not Totally Subclinical*

      If I were going for something upbeat, The Weathergirls, “It’s Raining Men”.

      If I were playing a character who’s expected to lose, Imagine Dragons, “Bleeding Out”.

      If I were playing the underdog, Stan Rogers, “Mary Ellen Carter”.

  14. rr*

    How do you go about finding a primary care person who is not exclusively focused on weight?

    I have a health care plan that pays for 1 physical a year. So if I go to another person, they want to do a physical…and then I’m stuck with them another year.

    Any suggestions? I’ve really had enough of the person I’ve been seeing. Besides being condescending and patronizing, she doesn’t seem to realize that there are other issues besides weight and that everything isn’t solved by weight loss. I’m not saying I never want somebody (that is, a medical professional) to say anything about it to me. I realize that, for me at least, it is a problem and I would love to fix it. But I just no longer believe that it is either good medicine or appropriate to make it the one topic of discussion for each and every appointment. Nor do I believe that it is appropriate to make diet/exercise related suggestions like I’m completely ignorant about them.

    How do you screen for this, particularly when there is a shortage of primary care practitioners? Is there even any point in trying? This is the kind of person that made me stop going to medical appointments until I was actually truly really sick.

    I apologize if this was too much of a rant, but I really am looking for advice about how to find someone.

    1. OtterB*

      I needed a new primary care person a couple of years ago. I have been intermittently seeing a doctor and a nutritionist from a practice that specializes in weight management and does it well, so I asked him who he would recommend for primary care in my area that wouldn’t harp on weight. He gave me a list of 5 or 6 people, I checked for ones who were taking new patients and picked one. It’s a little odd in that the office I go to is not that doctor’s main office; there’s a nurse practitioner who sees the patients there, although I could go to the main office if I wanted. But so far, anyway, it seems to be working fine.

      tldr; is there anyone medical-adjacent you could ask for recommendations? Nutritionist, physical therapist, someone like that? Anything like a neighborhood listserv or Facebook group you would be comfortable asking?

      1. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

        I am glad you’ve had a good experience, but be warned that an NP is not an MD/DO, never will be, and is not even close. Look up “noctor” for various horror stories. Try to see an MD/DO at least once a year, and definitely for any emergencies (so e.g. if you see an NP for primary care, you would definitely want to see an OB/GYN and not a WHNP or CNM).

        1. carcinization*

          I’ve had much better care from NPs (and even PAs!) than MDs, and would never go to a DO, I mean, stuff would be way simpler if we could blame everything on bones, but we really can’t! Just for one example, an NP diagnosed a congenital heart defect that I eventually needed corrective surgery for that multiple doctors had missed, whereas I will now have chronic pain forever because my primary care doctor missed a broken bone when I went in for care. My current MD is okay, but the other folks give much, much better care in my experience, so I’m fine with it if I end up with the NP or PA when I go in for an office visit if he’s unavailable. As for horror stories, there are plenty of horror stories about MDs ignoring people’s pain, specially female-presenting people. I have seen thousands of those and never even heard of a “noctor” horror story. I’m sure those stories are out there, but neither my experience nor yours is universal!

          1. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

            No reason to not see a DO. That’s not a chiropractor, that’s an entitely different thing. DOs get basically the exact same training as an MD.
            I’m glad you get good care in your current setup but the problem is that many people are not aware of the vast, vast difference between an NP/PA education and an MD/DO education. And some primary care offices can be super insidious about it and not explain the difference, or switch out providers at the last minute when they’re not interchangeable.

            1. Becky S*

              In support of DOs….. there are a lot of them in my area. I”ve never been able to tell the difference. My Primary, who I”ve been using for 30+ years is one and he’s been great.

          2. Sparkle Llama*

            I have had similar experiences. One thing I like about my current PCP who is a NP is she is open with me about what she doesn’t know and will refer out when needed. So instead of just continuing my lackluster cocktail of psych meds that my previous MD had deemed good enough and difficulty sleeping she referred to a psychiatrist who was able to help. And she has fantastic bedside manner. I have had similar experiences with OBGYNs vs CNMWs as well.

            I agree that the training is very different and it is important to be mindful of that and consider when to pursue other care.

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          For every NP horror story, there are probably 2 doctor horror stories. Personally, I’ve got 3 doctor horror stories and 0 NP horror stories.
          Doctors, with their paternalistic attitudes and (insurance driven) quicker appointments, have missed SO MANY issues I’ve had that a NP or a CNM have picked up.
          Let’s not slam on advanced practice nurses. It smacks of gatekeeping, jealousy, and paternalism. The very fact that doctors have come up with a derogatory nickname that you suggest we google is evidence of the bad faith of doctors when it comes to any other medical provider.
          There are good people and bad apples in EVERY profession, and the letters after the name are not the determining factor.
          Take your bias and slander elsewhere.

        3. Nightengale*

          I am an MD myself and have gotten some of my own personal best care from NPs. Sadly the last NP I saw left my endocrine office and I was scheduled with one of the MDs for my last visit. Suddenly my care went from collaborative to paternalistic. NPs also provided some of my own medical education in my field and other fields, and continue to be collaborators in both my clinical and advocacy work.

          Yes there is a difference in training and background. The NPs of my acquaintance have almost universally had a good understanding of any limits and proactively sought out physician collaboration when indicated.

          The only time I would categorically recommend an MD/DO over an NP/PA is a person with a very rare condition where they need an absolute expert, or with puzzling symptoms that are worsening or not improving.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Use the internet for good. Nextdoor, review sites, google searches for “health at every size” or “non fat-phobic doctor”. “Wellness” doctors or integrative medicine might be better than standard hospital-affiliated doctors.

      1. Bonne chance*

        Yes, seconding the suggestion to try the “Health at Every Size” directory.

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, rr, and I hope you receive the healthcare you deserve.

    3. anonymous person*

      I don’t remember if I screened my current pcp or not but they have worked out mostly ok. I suppose you could call ahead and ask about their experience with larger patients, maybe?

      Look at their website and see if they have a photo/bio? For example, if they look super skinny and talk about how much they like running or something, maybe look for someone who is at least more average sized looking?

      I now start new dr visits by letting them know I have a history of being body shamed by doctors, and I’m not here for that etc. I have also started having a stack of peer-reviewed articles with me about mistreatment of larger patients ready to go if I get pushback.

      This sucks and we shouldn’t have to deal with it!

      1. Aaargh*

        I am so glad you are willing to challenge this. It’s really hard, but it works sometimes. In fact I’ve three times mustered the courage ( with difficulty) to say something, and all three times it actually had an effect! Once it was a dental hygienist who kept telling me if I brushed my teeth after every meal I wouldn’t be so fat because no one wants to eat after brushing. I complained to the dentist. Enough other people hated her too that the hygienist was let go. Let’s see. I also had a nurse at a weight loss program fat shame me! I was there for help!!! She disappeared after I told the appalled program director. (I wasn’t trying to get people fired, honest, in fact I wasn’t angry, I was in tears.). The third time wasn’t about my weight. I had a brain MRI and the doctor left a detailed message on a public phone line at my office! This was pre HIPAA. I mildly asked her not to do that again and she said it hadn’t occurred to her as a problem and she would be more careful in future. I think sometimes pushback does help.

    4. ThatGirl*

      It’s hard. My last pcp was like that, she was SO condescending. I was lucky that my husband had a doc he really liked who I could switch to. But yes, there is a point in trying! Ask around for recommendations, at a start.

    5. AnonRN*

      (I’m a nurse but writing as a consumer here!): If you have a uterus/cervix/ovaries you may be allowed to have a gynecologist as your primary care provider. I’d check with both your insurance and the provider. If you already know the gyn then you know how they are; if you don’t there’s no guarantee they will not have the same issues but at least you could get your pelvic exam out of the way while you’re there instead of it being a separate appointment! Also, if you have local friends, ask them who they see and how they like them.

      It’s probably true that “weight” and “diet” are 2 items on the checklist of things primary care providers are supposed to address in an annual physical, but they definitely shouldn’t be the only things. Other items might include vaccinations, mental health (my provider is starting with a depression and anxiety self-assessment for all adults now), recommended tests based on your age & history (mammograms, colonoscopy, cardiac stress test etc), smoking cessation, etc… So, one possibility is you are up-to-date on all that stuff and they don’t have much to talk about. Or they are just blindly focused on weight (sadly, a common problem for providers). When the staff member takes your vitals and asks if you have anything in particular you want to discuss today you could try telling them you’re not interested in discussing your weight (if it’s easier to tell them than telling the provider directly). You can try to redirect a little bit: “I hear you about my weight and I will think about what you said. But I wanted to ask you if I need colon cancer screening soon because I heard they moved up the age?” “Are there other tests I should be scheduling this year?” “What do you think about my recurring wrist pain…is there a specialist you would recommend?” Also (and I’m only saying this because you said you *would* like to reduce your weight): if you want to lose weight, do you have a plan in mind? Can you get her off the topic by giving a few details and then changing the subject? “I’m working on doing X Y days a week as well as changing Z, but something I really wanted to ask you about is Q.”

      FWIW I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the doctor to talk about diet at a fairly basic level since it can have a profound effect on health especially if any of your lab work is borderline…not so much “being on a diet to lose weight” but fiber intake, cholesterol, sugar, salt, etc and many many people *don’t* know this (or show no evidence of knowing it!) so the doctor has to start somewhere. I’d personally take that with a grain of “this visit is kind of a generic template, I can ask for a registered dietician referral if I want to get deeper into this.”

      My current primary care is booking annual physicals 4 months out (at minimum) so I really do treat it as a formality so I can have someone to call if I do have something concerning going on. Any major concern I have they usually refer me out to a specialist anyway. So, sympathy but the process feels very hit-or-miss to me.

      1. ThatGirl*

        My new doc asks me about exercise/activity level, whether I smoke or drink, and mental health but she does not harp on about diet. She asks what I care about, what I want to talk about. It’s very refreshing.

    6. EverythingGetsBlamedOnWeight*

      in my experience nearly all doctors of all sorts are obsessed with weight and there isn’t a lot you can do about it.

      1. arsloan*

        Doctors are awful on these issues. I have disorganized eating, which they know, and I was in the office after dramatic, unplanned weight loss (for a physical, but it was very noticeable and had been discussed). Then a) The doctor told me my cholesterol was higher and should *avoid meat and dairy.* So they told someone struggling to eat to cut out major food groups, one of which was the last nutrient-dense food I could regularly consume. b) They made an afternoon appointment for me and didn’t tell me until morning-of that they wanted me to fast for a blood test. “Drink water” they suggested. ???

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        I read that in order to be paid by the insurance company, doctors have to show that they have “counseled” an overweight patient at every visit. Luckily, mine must just lie and say she said something to me because she has never ever mentioned my weight. I was a serious weightlifter in my 20s and at 5’3″ and I’m considered morbidly obese due to the numbers. I’m so thankful for her.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I have found all my best providers of whatever stripe by word of mouth. Ask around with people you know locally.

    8. WS*

      Honestly, I’ve given up on finding someone actually willing to look past the fat, and I’m someone who ended up in a life-threatening position due to anti-fat bias (you’re not sick, you’re just fat, surprise it was cancer). My standard is now “will give lecture about weight and then actually treat the problem” as opposed to “will give lecture about weight when I have conjunctivitis and refuse to do anything else until I called in a witness”.

      Yes, it’s a low standard but I have chronic illnesses due to that cancer and I have to see someone!

      1. Filosofickle*

        Sadly this is becoming my standard, too — I would love to find someone who doesn’t have a strong anti-fat bias, but if I can’t, as long as I’m actually being treated and not dismissed / waved off that’s going to have to be enough.

        But I need to find doctors (changed insurance, nothing carried over) and this is what keeps me from going in at all. My internet research into available doctors is highly discouraging.

    9. E*

      Ugh so sorry this happened to you and good for you for getting out — so important for your health to find a better doctor

      Hopefully it works to post this link. There is a Health at every size provider registry.


      I can’t personally vouch for it , but I think this is a good place to start

    10. Doctor is In*

      Maybe look for a more experienced doctor who knows that, just like smoking, badgering a patient to make “ lifestyle” changes is not going to be useful until they are ready. We do discuss weight briefly at preventive visits, make sure the patient has information available on medical interventions, healthy lifestyle, etc. Bringing it up at a visit for unrelated illness is silly.

    11. Seashell*

      If you are on Facebook, join a group for people who live in your area and ask for recommendations. Most of those groups allow for anonymous questions if you’re uncomfortable with asking about it publicly.

    12. fposte*

      In addition to what people are saying, local Facebook or NextDoor groups may be helpful here; you just have to weed out the noise of all the people answering the question in their head and not the one you asked.

    13. AnonRN*

      I posted a long comment last night that seems to have been eaten but one part of it was that if you have a gyn provider (and like them) your insurance may let you make them your primary care provider. Obviously the provider has to be okay with this too…not all of them can devote office time to managing chronic conditions (hypertension or whatever) or urgent visits (flu, etc).

    14. Busy Middle Manager*

      Exclusively focused on weight isn’t the norm, but mentioning weight is. Rude and patronizing isn’t normal either, so that is also a reason to try someone else.

      but weight is still going to come up, if you don’t want to discuss it, just have some comments to shut it down.

      I finally found a doctor that did complete blood work. 45 pages of results. Then they had an in-office dietician I met with three times, with a food journal for a few months in between each visit, and after that I weigh less, am healthier, and eat way more. Especially excited about that last part. So I will gently push back on the idea that you need a doctor who completely avoids the topic of weight, because you have a bad experience with a doctor who is obsessed with it. After all, inability to lose weight can be a sign something is wrong with your body, so it’s not inherently bad if a doctor picks up on that.

    15. Jay*

      No real suggestions other than just keep trying, but I do commiserate.
      I spent years bouncing from doctor to doctor (not of my own free will, it’s just a network thing). All of them were “Just Loose Weight Now And All Of Your Problems Will Be Solved” types.
      My latest is actually working with me to solve my problems.
      And wouldn’t you know it!
      As some of the worst of the others are brought under control, my weight is (slowly) going down!
      Turns out when you aren’t as depressed all the time, you do less depression eating!
      And when you aren’t in as much foot and leg pain you exercise more!
      Who’d a thunk it?

  15. Sallie*

    Is there a word or term to describe a person who is dismissive or downplays your achievements or abilities? They make any recognition you might receive about themself. For example, Jack Skellington compliments you on your pumpkin carving skills and suggests getting a PSL to share tips. You shared you received an invitation from Jack with the person, in question. Their
    response is that Jack is only inviting you for a PSL because Jack wants to get close to them through you.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Haha. I would just laugh at that person. “Yeah, I’ll be sure to send him your info.” That’s bananas.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree, this person is so over the top there’s no point engaging or sharing things with them. There’s a more common version where you say “X good thing happened to me!” and they redirect the conversation back to themselves (“I did X good thing too only *even better*” or “well, Y good thing happened to ME!!”) that’s been called “conversational narcissism” – not as part of any formal diagnosis, just a descriptive term – but saying “your good thing is actually probably because of how great I am” is just cartoonish buffoonery.

    2. Sallie*

      I have other examples but they are work-related and are not able to post over the weekend. I will post next Friday. Thank you.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      yes to all of the above. And my go-to response to these types (ie my father) is to say, “oh I thought we were talking about me”

    4. Brevity*

      First thought was also “Mom”; but try Thesaurus.com. Plug in “vain” and work from there. It provides nouns forms as well as adjectives. My vote for your situation is “megalomaniac”.

    5. Samwise*

      The correct term for such a person is “asshole”

      Or perhaps “insecure, envious asshole”

    6. SB*

      Yeah, there is a word for it, several actually, but I really don’t want Alison to ban me for naughty words.

  16. Spooky Ghoul*

    What kinds of things do you like to do in the autumn and/or for Halloween? I love to fill October with seasonal things but I seem to be having a hard brainstorming and finding things. Looking for local events have really what’s been on my mind but I also want party ideas as I love to host parties that have a central activity for us to do. In the past, I’ve done pumpkin carving, murder mystery game, horror/true crime trivia. For out and about activities, We’ve done haunted houses, apple picking, corn mazes, autumn festivals, ghost/spooky history tours. So what kinds of things do you like to do this time of year?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My farmstand does mini pumpkins and mini bizarre squash. I draw little faces on them.

      1. Spooky Ghoul*

        What do you use to put faces on? I did acrylic paint once years ago and I think it flaked off pretty quickly.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have a huge stone lined firepit, so we do bonfire parties and cook on the fire. If I’m feeling energetic, I’ll carve pumpkins and have them lit all around, plus candles and fairy lights Everyone brings food and beverages and all the kids run around like lunatics because it’s in the DARK but with cool lights.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Reading! I read Frankenstein (almost done), Dracula, The Big Book of Ghost Stories, From the Dust Return’d, and The Halloween Tree every October. I always save Halloween Tree for last. In between I read spooky collections and novels that live on the Horror section of our bookshelf.

      I used to eat mini candy bars all month, but alas, as mortality grows clearer we’ve had to cut that out.

      1. mmmmmmmBop*

        Came here to say The Halloween Tree! Glad I’m not the only one who makes an annual tradition of it :)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I was enjoying that sensation this morning until I stepped in cat barf. Now I am enjoying my fuzzy slippers.

  17. anna*

    Does anyone here have experience applying for long-term disability? My spouse has a chronic condition that means it will be hard for him to work and we’re about to start that process and would be grateful for any advice about succeeding in the application, what to expect, etc.

      1. Morning Dew*

        My husband did due to his medical condition. We hired an SSDI lawyer to handle the case. We requested a consultation and every interaction with them after hiring them was done through phone and email. They sent the paperwork to complete (to authorize them to represent him, get his medical records, and etc.) and for every step, they guided us filling out all the necessary paperwork to submit. If we had questions or they had questions for him, all was done through emails and they answered everything. And they kept updating us with what was happening and what’s to come and etc. His case was approved at first try (he was near 50 with solid work background) and we were more than happy to pay their fee.

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

          I agree with hiring a lawyer — it makes the process go more smoothly — and if he is not approved on the first try, reapply, reapply, reapply. It can be kind of a waiting game.

    1. Washi*

      I am a social worker, not a lawyer, but I do this with people. If you can afford to give up a chunk of the retro check, a lawyer can give you peace of mind that you’re giving it the best shot, but I work with low income people who mostly can’t afford to do that so:

      1. Your husband should make sure to talk to his doctors about the fact that he is applying, and talk to them about how his condition affects his ability to work so that type of stuff makes it into their notes. SSA pulls medical records and that’s mainly how they make their decision so it’s important that those records back up his case.

      2. SSA says applying online is “faster” but the whole process takes 8-12 months and in my opinion, asking for a phone interview is SO much easier than doing their cumbersome application, even if your local office is booking out 3-4 weeks.

      3. For the interview, have a list of all your doctors, their practice names, addresses and phone numbers prepped, as well as any hospitals you’ve stayed in for the past few years.

      Something to be aware of is that even once you get SSDI, you have to wait two years for Medicare. If insurance is an issue, you can get insurance on the Marketplace. Healthcare dot gov has a tool where you can search for navigators and brokers in your area, and a broker can help you check coverage and even sign you up over the phone.

      Good luck!

    2. ronda*

      when my dad went on it a long time back…. he said that they denied most applications then you had to appeal and often would get it.

      not sure how true this is….. but I do believe there is an appeal process if you are denied at first. I do think specialist help with this is warranted.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      Mine was initially denied, then OK’d on appeal. I think it would have gone faster had I gotten a lawyer. I did mine online, the physician exam used someone local in that rural area so I didn’t have to drive the 1 & 1/2 hours to the nearest office.

    4. Cj*

      I helped my husband apply back in 2006 after he had a surgery that screwed stuff up. we filled it out together based on what he had been saying during the previous year, and what he said when we were filling out the application. I’m just better at wording things.

      he got denied the first time, which from what I understand happens in almost all cases. what was so ridiculous about it is they said he wasn’t disabled based on the fact that he had worked for years, and basically listed his employment record. well, yeah, he had been working prior to the surgery, but not since because he wasn’t able to.

      I then helped him appeal it, and he did start receiving it shortly thereafter. I’m thinking it took about 6 months from the first application until it was approved, but I don’t think government stuff was backed up as much then as it is now.

      so this can definitely be done successfully without an attorney. but I do remember when we were filling out the application, he was dictating things he thought for me to type. there are a couple of things that I said I thought should be rewarded, or left out of the application entirely, because I thought they could twist his to their advantage.

      We didn’t lie or omit anything, but you do need to be careful how something is worded, or if it should be left out. this is something an experienced lawyer should be able to do. some people might not feel confident in their ability to realize what might cause a problem.

      after I pointed this stuff out, my husband agreed with me, but if he had done it himself or I hadn’t been able to recognize that it could be an issue, he might not have ever gotten approved, or would have at least had to appeal more times.

      1. Cj*

        once again, my kingdom friend edit feature! I noticed this quite a few speech to text errors after I posted this, but I think people should be able to figure out.

        1. Cj*

          crap! I can’t even post a correct comment about errors in my previous comment.

          my kingdom for an edit feature, obviously.

  18. Alice In Craftyland*

    I have a group of crafty friends. Knitters, crocheters, sewers, cosplayers, jewelry makers, painters, so many different crafts. Every few months, we have a gathering where we work on our various projects and chat that is lovely. Recently, I had a movie themed gathering where we watched a movie and ate food related to the movie. Additionally, I came up with two crafts to do. The first was origami of a character, and the second was a much more detailed and hands on creation that would have invoked scissors and hot glue.

    When I brought out the second craft and explained it to my friends, they politely told me that, though it sounded fun, they weren’t up for it. I’ll admit, I was surprised and a little bummed, because I’d put a lot of time into the set up. But it’s occurred to me that I planned too many things, including the origami and the fictional food we made for the movie. The other surprise was how much everyone enjoyed the origami. It seemed to be a hit because people could work on it without too much focus and still talk with others.

    So in that case, does anyone have suggestions of really simple, not complex crafts that would fit along the lines of origami? Something that I could set up on a coffee table at my next party and let people mess around with it as them please?

    1. feline outerwear catalog*

      Maybe just have random craft supplies and let people make whatever they feel like? Or maybe beads to make bracelets or necklaces? I was at a convention recently that had a random craft table with a bunch of different beads, including the ones with letters, and some elastic thread. It was offered as a way to take a break or chat with people. People seemed to enjoy it.

      I wonder if a group craft might work, like having everyone work on one of those pixel kits where you stick gemstones to a preprinted sheet. (I think? I’ve seen them but haven’t tried one yet.) Or everyone makes a decorated fabric quilt square, or something like that?

      1. AGD*

        Seconding the first suggestion. I used to go to a craft group until it hit critical mass and several people started organizing it and adding podcasts/music and group activities we all had to do together. I ended up feeling kind of bad for quietly disappearing and never going back – everyone was putting much more effort into it than before – but one of the reasons the original setup appealed so much was that it hadn’t felt overly scheduled the way my job often does, and I didn’t tend to be interests in the podcasts everyone else chose.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I am not at all a crafty person, but one of my friends is, and she likes diamond art. From what I understand, it’s almost like paint by numbers but with beads. She says the hardest part is sorting the beads out.

    2. Crafty*

      I went to a museum exhibit of Pacita Abad’s works, many of which involve fabric. The museum set out squares of muslin with bright scraps of fabric, embroidery thread, and stuffing (and needles and scissors) and suggested that we try to create our own trapunto. It was a lot of fun to work on but we were able to keep some conversation going.
      I agree with Feline that beadwork could be great too. I remember getting kits for my daughter and her friends to make spiders out of black beads for Halloween, and Christmas tree ornaments that looked like wreaths and candy canes, if your friends celebrate Christmas.

    3. anon24*

      Rolled paper beads! You just need scissors, wooden skewers, clear drying craft glue, tape and colorful magazines/papers to cut up. You play around with cutting the paper into strips, taping as many together as you want to get the thickness you need (or don’t), then roll them up on the skewer and coat the last inch or so in glue to secure it. Once it’s dry it comes off and you have a bead. As you play around with different cuts and angles on the paper you can come up with really cool designs. I’ve done this a few times back in the day at a crafty friends house while watching TV and its the perfect TV craft because it’s simple, fun, and doesn’t need too much attention. And the materials are all super inexpensive so you can just have fun and if you don’t like the results it’s just paper and you can try something different with the next bead!

    4. kitto*

      Maybe air dry clay in different colours so they could make models? Maybe they could be based on the film as well if that’s not too distracting. Ooh and you could have a lil contest at the end for who made a character that nobody else made, or best likeness or the one that best captures the ~vibe of the film or something? Either way this sounds so fun, your pals are lucky to have you!

    5. ShineyPenny*

      Needle felting sheep wool! I mean, there ARE needles involved. But I’ve never had an adult guest get (upsettingly) stabbed, even while chatting a lot.
      Also I got a whole fleece— really the cheapest you can find because short cuts and rough wool from meat breeds all seem to felt just fine in my experience. Then I got a couple kits off Amazon that came with little bits of 20 different colors of wool, and lots of spare needles and equipment. So there was tons of white wool, and colors for little accents. Fun! We made Christmas ornaments and little animals.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        (If kids are involved, I do make sure they are actually focused, sitting at a table, and watching their hands. No injuries so far!)

    6. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, if people are going to get picky about the activity, I might let go a bit and just host bring-your-own-craft days, if they’re already passionate about knitting or beading arts or whatever. I can’t tell from the comment whether your friends asked you to organize a whole craft for them or if you’re excited about doing it, but I think it’s okay to step back a bit here! You’re doing a lot of work. And I’m someone who is an active crafter with my own crafts but not necessarily looking to start new crafts. Apologies if that isn’t what you were going for with your question.

      1. Alice In Craftyland*

        The gathering was my party so I came up with the craft myself. I’ve definitely learned that if the party is not directly for the craft (like sip and paint nights, or hosting a pumpkin carving), it’s easy for the craft to get lost and ignored. The only other time I tried to do a craft at a party like this was doing Christmas ornaments at a Christmas party; my friends did the craft but were really distracted, which I put down to the fact that most of us were drinking. In this case, there was limited alcohol, so people just weren’t in the mood for a complicated craft.

        I’m definitely stepping back from big crafts, since it’s not something that hooks my friends. That’s why I was trying to think of smaller things that people can pick up as they please, without me spending weeks ahead of time planning.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My reading was that they have a regular “Stitch and Bitch” where people bring their own ongoing crafts and chat, and this party was Alice’s (kind and noble) attempt to expand on that by hosting a party with movie and food, and since everyone is crafty include some new crafts.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Cutting snowflakes from paper. (Apropos of the season if you are in the northern hemisphere.) Can range from the ones you made in first grade to stuff you only tackle as a confident crafter.

      I commend you for looking back on this in terms of “This part worked, this part worked even better than I thought, and this part did not land like I thought–how do I adapt this so next time is more in the first two categories?”

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      This is a very interesting discussion. Every craft day I’ve ever been involved with has been a “bring your own and work separately together” sort. The “show up, watch X movie, make Y craft, eat Z food” seems a bit over-wrought for me. If I knew that was the agenda, I would likely not attend.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. It even sounds like they had to make movie themed food. I’m not surprised they were tapped out by that point.

    9. ronda*

      at 1st I thought the problem was having 2 different crafts to do. but you seem to think it was because the 2nd craft was too complicated.

      maybe ask a couple of attendees and see why they didnt want to do that craft and see if you are right about that.
      you could also take the chance to ask them about what they liked best and might like to keep doing or what things they might like to try in the future.

      It shouldn’t be on you to guess and prepare for things that they may not be interested in.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      We went to a freind’s house a few years ago, and he had little skulls that we drew elaborate designs on, as Day of the Dead decorations. As I recall they were regular markers but with very fine tips–they came out great and we still have ours!

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      I think hot glue in a group situation would make me nervous, and I’m actually fairly crafty. I went to a party once where we made giant tissue paper flowers, I thought that was pretty neat.
      Or a giant colouring project?

  19. anon_question*

    Not looking for legal advice, but just trying to get a sense of how long and how often people are in probate court and what people’s experiences have been.

    My folks refuse to make a will — despite how many time I explain it’s the opposite of their intention, they “want all their kids to get an equal share” and somehow a will is the antithesis of this. It makes my head hurt, but that’s where we are as they age. The issue is I’m NC with one sibling (frankly, most of us are, either overtly or inadvertently) and I dread having to deal with legal matters with them and their partner (who is an emotionally abusive person and the main reason relationships have deteriorated — they repeatedly choose them over us and my parents enable it because they don’t want to lose access to them & grand child, which is fair, but they have been physically abusive toward me & I’d rather just not be around them). Nothing is explosive but I fear their partner (not married, as far as we know) will extra annoying (they already financially take advantage of my sibling — everything about this situation pisses me off but I’m mourning it).

    I feel a wild surge of anticipatory anxiety lately and I think asking will help me feel better knowing what to expect. I really just wanna focus on my new job and enjoying my life while I am in a good spot, but the thought of being 1/5th owner of a house I know they will want to live in but 4/5th of us will want to sell makes my head throb.

    1. Rosengilmom*

      everybody needs to have a will! Maybe if someone other than children urges them, their clergyperson or doctor or banker or some such. if the expense is an issue perhaps you could gift the cost.

      1. anon_question*

        Unfortunately, it’s just plain stubbornness and I can’t think of someone who’d be able to convince them. Talking about this stuff is already fraught because it’s associated with death. I will think about this more though, to see if there aren’t people who might nudge them in the right direction. If it make financial sense right now (actively), they’d do it. But alas.

        1. 40ish*

          Maybe tell them a horror story about someone who did not make a will and what happened after they dies?

          1. anon_question*

            I will try this in combination with another reply I received below on taxes.

            Even for me, the whole topic is excessively distressing and I’m such more practical in these matters, so it’s hard to convey their reaction to these things even being mentioned. It’d hard to get them on the page where it’s as simple as “one and done and don’t have to think about it after the initial blegh feelings.”

            1. Seashell*

              I know there are bad stories related to estate planning of celebrities. I think Prince never made a will, and Aretha Franklin made multiple wills, so they didn’t know which one she actually wanted to use.

              Maybe you can offer to pay for a consultation with an attorney.

          2. numptea*

            I have one.

            My FIL refused to make a will. When he fell and the hospital got wind of his lack of planning, it was a gleeful free-for-all. The state took over his medical decisions, forced him into a care home, and charged BIL with elder abuse, identity theft, and electronic theft for paying the household bills out of the account they shared. FIL had agreed to this arrangement years prior, but because BIL was not officially listed as a PoA or decision maker anywhere official, he was faced with jail time. He ended up spending five figures that he couldn’t afford on a criminal lawyer, had to pay back every cent of that money to the state, and was on probation for several years. So basically the state sucked FIL’s estate dry by funneling all his hard-earned money into fines and penalties.

            1. Cj*

              those things would have to do with a living will and power of attorney. nothing at all to do with a will related to what happens to your assets after you die.

              1. numptea*

                Clearly it does, because it ensured that there was nothing left to inherit. Plus all those documents are usually handled together.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I recommend doing what your folks are doing and assume that the whole thing is in the far future and that everything will be somehow fine. Right now you are borrowing trouble. Sure, there will probably actually be trouble in the future. But you should leave it in the future and deal with it if and when it comes.

      Currently, it sounds like you are assuming that the situation as it is now will continue till your parents die. Your sibling could break up with their abusive partner. Your parents could sell their house and move to Acapulco. Maybe they will spend all their money on beanie babies. Or live to be 115 and outlast all their kids. Sure, none of these are particularly likely, but there are enough reasonable options that “exactly as it is now” isn’t terribly likely either, unless both of your folks kick the bucket in the next year. The more mundane version is “reverse mortgage to pay for increasing medical expenses eats up most of the value of the house”.

      1. anon_question*

        Thank you for this lovely reply – I am aware I’m borrowing trouble, but it helps to have it put in front of me like this. I hope this isn’t an issue for a very long time.

        They’re fairly stable, so I have no reason to believe anything will change. But my sibling breaking up with this person would be heartwarming to me & make it less fraught — I miss them.

      2. Seashell*

        Anyone could die any day, so assuming death is far in the future is just putting your head in the sand.

        My husband & I made wills when our oldest child was an infant. Ideally, everyone should put their wishes in writing, especially when there are minor children who would need someone to care for them in the event of both parents’ deaths.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          That’s good advice for someone who hasn’t made their own will, or something else which they have control over. But if you’ve encouraged someone else to do something, and they won’t, and you can’t force them, then you’re really just waiting for something to change, and it may well not be the change you’re most dreading. (And if it is, spending effort in worrying about it from now until then won’t actually have helped.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      Having equal shares under a will or by intestate succession doesn’t mean they have veto power. One person will be appointed the estate administrator. Selling the house and splitting the money is a very normal way for an executor / administrator to settle an estate.

      And depending on their financial picture or debt situation when the eventually pass away, the house may have to be sold anyway. Presumably one will pass before the other. They may wish to let the house go to simplify. They may need long term care. All kinds of things can happen.

      Are your parents ill? Is there a reason why you’re suddenly feeling the weight of this?

      1. anon_question*

        The lack of veto power is nice to hear. This is the optimal option for me to have things as my folks intended. I will look into how the admin is selected (it’s not one of us, is it?) I just feel better with a system in place, but in lieu of that, knowing what to expect is the next best thing. My other siblings are very level-headed and less anxious than me, so I won’t be alone in it all.

        They’re getting older and I am increasingly responsible for their care, which seems to be more and more by the month. I suppose I feel very alone as it builds up – the sibling I’m NC with is the only one that is local beyond me, but they’re not helpful and my parents still take care of them more than the other way around.

        1. Sarah with an H*

          I think the judge usually appoints an admin, or the lawyer files paperwork to nominate one. Usually it’s a family member, I think? I mean, I guess it depends on case by case. With my parent’s probate, it was easy because my sibling and I were both appointed adminstrators (but we didn’t have a lot of family drama, and there was no one else to inherit anything). Be aware that if someone else is appointed as admin, they get to bill the estate for their time doing estate tasks. Technically, my sibling and I could have paid ourselves for the work we did on the estate things, but it seemed pointless since we’d get the money when things were distributed at the end.

        2. RagingADHD*

          In an intestate situation it is usually any qualified person who applies. So it’s normally the most organized adult child. The other sibling could dispute it, but do they have their shit together well enough to actually follow through on a tedious paperwork process?

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, it probably depends on the state and the type of joint ownership. Google “Partition suit”. anon_question, maybe you can move your parents by pointing out that, by not having a will, their estate will probably have to pay for an executor, a partition suit, and a real estate agent, and those people will get to make all the decisions they didn’t make about how things are divided up.

        And remember, if in your state you cannot force a co-inheritor to either buy your share out, or sell and split the proceeds, you can always disclaim your share. That would definitely be preferable to owning a fraction of the house your NC sibling lives in and being partially liable for all their decisions about the property. I’m sorry you’re going through it, but at worst you can consider this option as if your parents decided to leave the house to the NC sibling, which they are kind of doing by forcing you all into this situation.

      3. Cj*

        this. yes, everybody should have a will, but having one wouldn’t make any difference in the issues they are concerned about.

        they’re still going to disagree about the house whether they each own 1/5 under the will, or 1/5 they inherit under the states rules for people that die intestate. and how this disagreement is settled is going to be handled the same either way.

        If the parents die without a will, it’s not like all five of them are involved in every decision. there is still an executor of the estate, even if it is somebody appointed by the court and not somebody appointed in the will. the powers and duties they have are no different.

        one thing a will could solve regarding the specific house issue is if their parents have enough assets that they could leave the entire house to the person who wants to live in it, and the other assets distributed so they are all still getting an equal share.

        my father-in-law didn’t have a will, but my husband was the only air, it has a state was small enough that it didn’t have to go through probate. but it’s my understanding if the estate does have to go through probate and there is no will, there are significant costs because the state takes a lot of money.

        it shouldn’t take much time or cost much money to discuss this with an estate attorney so they know what to expect.

    4. Anonymous cat*

      Would it help to tell them the government will get a bigger share if there’s no will? (If you haven’t tried that already)

      1. anon_question*

        This might actually be something that gets them to act. Thank you – I haven’t tried from this angle.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          Tell them the lawyers will get a much bigger cut too. Do they really want their money going to those lawyers instead of their kids? This question might give them a kickstart as well.

          1. anon_question*

            I have gotten so frustrated in these conversation, it completely slipped my mind to ask, “Do you guys think it will be free or something? Who will pay to sort it all out?” They do respond well to this.

            I feel better for have asking here – if they still refuse then it’s their money to waste at the end of the day. It’s honestly hard to let go of the issue because of how ill informed I know they are, but if they have all the angles and still don’t care then I did all I can. Thank you!

            1. Sarah with an H*

              Obviously this is not legal advice, as I am not a lawyer. But one thing I think a lot of people don’t realize until they start getting into the nitty gritty of this is that a will doesn’t totally reduce costs. Even with a will, a property must go through probate. Because probate is the legal process for transfer of assets via the state. Our probate cost about $5k and it was incredibly straightforward. Minimal paperwork, no large outstanding debts, nothing being contested. The only way you can get out of probate is to have property either in a trust with inheritors set up via the trust, or with transfer on death deeds for property. (Of course, neither of those solves the problems of inheritors not agreeing on things, it just cuts out the middleman of probate.) Things like bank accounts can also be set to pay out on death.

            2. Sarah with an H*

              I think the judge usually appoints an admin, or the lawyer files paperwork to nominate one. Usually it’s a family member, I think? I mean, I guess it depends on case by case. With my parent’s probate, it was easy because my sibling and I were both appointed adminstrators (but we didn’t have a lot of family drama, and there was no one else to inherit anything). Be aware that if someone else is appointed as admin, they get to bill the estate for their time doing estate tasks. Technically, my sibling and I could have paid ourselves for the work we did on the estate things, but it seemed pointless since we’d get the money when things were distributed at the end.

            3. Sarah with an H*

              Crap, I have no idea what’s happening, I somehow reposted my first comment here instead of what I meant to post. What I meant to post was: a will won’t get you out of probate. A will just lays things out, probate is still the legal process of asset distristubtion. I’m not a lawyer, so this isn’t legal advice, but the only way to not do probate and spend thousands is to have assets ready to transfer on death. For a house, that would mean having it in a trust, or having a transfer on death deed. (Obviously this just helps with the legal aspect, and doesn’t help if inheritors disagree.) Bank accounts can also be set to pay out upon death.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Re not paying a lawyer, if that reasoning vibes with them:

            In many states you can buy a blank copy of a will (used to be at the stationer’s; now online) that has everything in the correct turn of phrase. For a very straightforward will (“Everything to spouse; if they predecease me, everything to be split equally between my children”) this would get the job done.

            The one additional note I’ll give is that if you have three children, say “my children Rory Smith, Ignatius Smith, and Theodora Dunkirk” rather than “my children,” because the latter can cause the probate judge to ask if your parent is indicating the existence of an unknown secret fourth child that should be searched for.

    5. Paralegal Part Deux*

      In my state, it takes roughly 90 days to probate an estate. Thats assuming no creditors show up and have to be dealt with before the estate can be closed. All probated claims do is drive up the attorney fees since they’re trying to negotiate the probated claims down. I will say this can happen in a testate estate as well. Everyone needs a will. Because laws of intestate succession can get weird and don’t necessarily flow the way your parents think they will. You should be able to look that up for free. Like, in my state, it’s half to the surviving spouse and half to the kids to be split equally among them. Your state may be different.

      If there’s no will, it can cause on heck of a squabble among the heirs. I’ve seen it way too many times. People lose their minds over $1 when it comes to an inheritance.

      1. anon_question*

        Yeah, the squabble and confusion (read: prolongation of the process) is what I want to avoid – especially since my sibling’s partner is such a leech, for lack of better words. I trust my other siblings will be okay during this process, it’s just this one that’s such a headache. The way my state does it (looked it up now), it looks like everything goes to the spouse. If there is no spouse, then it goes to the children (various definitions of child, excludes grand-kids unless their parent isn’t alive to receive their share).

        I’ll try again, but for my peace of mind, it sounds like the worst case is lawyers and the state get most of it (and any creditors in the wood works). I could write a long comment on some of the silly choices my parents have made and how stubborn they can be, but I love them regardless how difficult they are. I know they’re trying their best and doing what they think is best. I just really want to avoid having to deal with difficult personalities though. Thank you!

        1. Despachito*

          If it can bring you some peace of mind, you have always the possibility to refuse your part of the inheritance. (I don’t think this would be necessary in your case as there are more siblings who are on the same boat but sometimes it can be tranquilizing to know you will NOT have to deal with a toxic person if you do not want to).

          I did something similar because if I accepted it would mean to share and administer a house with a toxic person I did not have the bandwidth to deal with. I lost a considerable amount of money (or rather the possibility to get it which was not hurtful because I did not lose anything that was already mine) and never looked back and never regretted it.

          1. Filosofickle*

            There’s a certain peace in this type of thinking. What if Mom and Dad die, it’s a mess, and difficult sibling makes things difficult? What if, in the end, you get nothing or walk away? And what if that’s totally fine? This isn’t a situation that can be fully controlled — people will people, even when there is a will — so accepting that it might go off the rails no matter what you or your parents do can be helpful.

          2. nnn*

            I was going to say the same. Rather than spending potentially years stressing over this, why not just decide you’ll disclaim your share and wash your hands of it? Or that you’ll do that if it gets too stressful? You can’t control what your sibling does or what your parents do but you have total control to walk away from the whole thing.

      2. Rick Tq*

        90 days is a minimum time, it can take much longer.

        My wife is executor for a friend’s estate. He died with a will and trust just before Covid shut down the probate court. Making things more complicated he had not made the Trust the beneficiary of all of his investment accounts, so it took a court decision for T. Rowe Price to finally release those funds.

        3 years later she is finally close to the end of the process to distribute funds to the 10 environmental charities he designated in his will.

    6. Rosie*

      My family is dealing with something similar to your anticipated scenario – grandparent passed without a will, bad feeling between their kids including one person who wants to live in the house and others who want the money. I just wanted to say that even if this comes to pass, it will work itself out – it’s slow and often frustrating, but there is a legal process to follow and everyone is slowly getting on the same page because there really aren’t that many options. If you end up in that situation you will find a way through one step at a time.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, sometimes if I’m fixated on something I want *someone else* to do, particularly if it’s about a future fear rather than a current problem, it means there’s something *I should be doing* for myself in the present that I’m putting off or avoiding. They don’t want to make a will right now, but when the time comes that you lose one parent, the other parent will then become the sole arbiter and the whole dynamic may change, particularly if that one needs more help in general with long term care. If you’ve brought it up and it hasn’t worked, I’d let it go.

    7. Name (Required)*

      One approach to look into is what happens to the last one standing (sorry for not being able to think of a more elegant phrase). If one of them dies, and the state will divide the remaining assets between the surviving spouse and the kids, that might leave the surviving spouse very poorly off (house sold, assets dispersed), especially if the relationships are complicated. Also, taxes and lawyers fees will be much higher without a will.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m appalled there are states they give the surviving staff half and the kids the other half. Sounds like a great way to ensure poverty.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There is often a homestead exemption for the widow / widower that carves out the marital home and a lump sum, with the remainder split.

          The other way to look at it is that, if it5 a second marriage, or if the widow remarries. If the children got nothing, the whole estate would pass to the new spouse’s family, and the kids of the first marriage would be disinherited.

          That’s not fair either.

    8. peanut butter*

      are you in the usa? my uncle died in the USA, with a will in place. he left a will, his assets were mostly a house. the will left everything to his siblings, as there was no wife/kids. the state initially refused to accept the will, because if he had left money to say nieces or nephews the state would take 30%, which didn’t apply if the moneywas left to siblings. so, depending where you live, the state may try to divide up the money, and take a large chunk for itself. your parents need a will, or it won’t happen the way they envision.

      1. WellRed*

        This is also a good example of why paying for some legal advice is a good idea, including the making of the will.

    9. Generic Name*

      Look into what happens in your state for people who die intestate. Asking for people’s experiences with probate court will get you as many stories as there are people, because every situation is unique.

      You aren’t asking for legal advice, but you mention surges of anxiety over this, so I suggest maybe talking to a therapist about this. Aside from therapy, I suggest deciding what your boundaries are around your family and this issue. You can’t predict the future, and you can’t control other people, but you can decide what you will and will not tolerate. You don’t HAVE to deal with a certain unpleasant relative. It may mean you get legal representation who deals with your relative instead of you. Or you can also just walk away, knowing you may walk away from an inheritance. Honestly, them dying without a will might be for the best because the state handles everything and any remaining assets gets distributed according to state law, and if obnoxious relative doesn’t like it, they can argue with the state (and good luck to them on that).

    10. Texan In Exile*

      My sister in law died suddenly and unexpectedly at 62 last November without a will. (In Florida.)

      Her brother got my niece (30 years old) a probate lawyer the next week and the lawyer went to court, where my niece (one of three children) was appointed executor. It’s been – to be honest – a real pain in the neck for my wonderful sweet niece, not the least because her brother does not want to sell their mom’s house. My understanding is that my niece gets to make all the decisions about the estate, but she would like to make decisions that don’t piss everyone else off. And there have been certain documents that she has needed her brother and sister to sign that the brother has resisted signing.

      In June, my nephew, who is 6’2″ and probably 180, lunged at my other niece, who is 5’1″ and weighs at least 60 lbs less than he does, when they were arguing over cleaning out their mom’s house. He stopped only when she threw her coffee at him. I think they are still not talking to each other. (In my niece’s defense, my nephew has turned into a misogynistic Andrew Tate disciple. I’m not talking to him, either.)

      My nephew has threatened executor niece and has been so hateful to the point that I have asked her to turn her tracker off on her phone – they used to share locations – and not to give him the address of her new apartment. (They are in different cities.)

      Some of these stresses might have existed even with a will, but the lack of one and the fact that my poor niece has to make all these decisions – decisions that are pissing of her already unstable brother – is not making life better and may be causing permanent rifts between the siblings. I’m sure that’s not what your parents want.

      1. Laser99*

        No, but it sounds like they are unwilling to see reason. Possibly anon could ask an attorney to call and schedule a visit under the guise of “for tax purposes” or something?

    11. And thanks for the coffee*

      I am not a lawyer, but my husband died within the last year, so I speak from experience.

      Consider that some assets may already have a disposition. We had joint ownership of our house, so now it is mine. Our bank accounts were also joint, so they became mine. Beneficiaries can be designated on retirement funds or life insurance, so those funds go to the beneficiaries. I don’t know what the situation is with your parents, but those are other things to consider.

      1. ronda*

        definately this.
        if they have any investments and life insurance , it will go by the beneficiaries they named and they should be sure it is up to date with what they want to happen. After my mom died it was very easy to get the investment with beneficiaries named paid out. just called, sent them the death certificate and they put the money in each beneficiaries name when each called and let them know where they wanted the money to go. Saying something different in a will does not change how funds with named beneficiaries will be distributed. and no probate required.
        SS stopped paying automatically. they apparently get the death certificates directly.

        When you get a will done they also give you other documents like medical directives and power of attorney. So they are not for just death, but if you have events where you will need someone to act for you. check if they want their wishes in those events followed or just want to leave it up to the doctor/ hospital/ state.

        for a house, I was planning to leave mine to 1 person (investment funds were split between many). Because co-ownership of a house seems like such a hassle. And that is what my mother did, left the house to 1 child and investments to the rest…… but it does turn out that the child getting the house asked if it could go to another child instead and my sister, the executor, said NO! :).

        if your parents do not have records of what they have, check unclaimed property for each state they lived in for any funds turned over to the state. my friend has been doing this after his wife died because she put money in many different places without keeping good records.

      2. Clisby*

        Yes. When my husband or I dies, the money in our bank accounts is all that would need to go through probate. If we *both* died, without wills, I guess the house would be included and split between our two kids. Everything else has designated beneficiaries.

      3. Where there’s a will*

        Right, I’m currently getting wills, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney for myself and husband. I hired a lawyer to do it. Discussed setting up a trust but almost everything goes to the surviving spouse upon death (house, joint bank account, retirement accounts) or other heir (our adult child is beneficiary on my retirement account because my spouse’s own account is sufficient for him and child is beneficiary of the 529). There are a couple of investment accounts that aren’t set up that way, but they’re a small % of each spouse’s estate.

        When the first of us dies, the other will redo their will etc to make things less onerous for our child. Frankly, if my spouse predeceases me, I’m selling the house and cars and moving to a small apartment in a favorite city.

        I will be very relieved to have these documents done. Very hard to get my souse to think about them previously— serious illness in the last year has made it clearly imperative.

    12. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      My father passed without a will. He had a small estate and didn’t own a house. I did one consultation with a lawyer (which was free) then was able to do probate on my own and it wasn’t bad at all. I did have to extend the probate period in order to pay off his medical bills but that was the only hiccup. I did not have sibling problems however.

      So, unless your parents have a very large estate, I personally wouldn’t worry that much about probate. (Just make sure problem sibling is not the executor)

    13. Random Bystander*

      In January this year, my parents decided to write (maybe re-write, but this was the first one I knew of) their wills, do health care proxies, living wills, and power-of-attorney. (Dad was 79, my mom is 77.) I have one sibling, four children (one of whom is married) while my sibling has two children and three step-children. So not an overly complex situation, and all of us generally get along with each other. Part of this necessitated getting all of their accounts and insurance policies and so on listed in a single place. It seemed to me that they were quite well-prepared, though it was my intense hope that none of it was going to be more than papers we kept in a safe place for a long time.

      In early August this year (so not even 7 months after signing all that), my father took a spill while walking the dog and hit his head but not hard enough to be unconscious for any period of time. The neighbor who saw him fall, since he was a good half mile up the street from home, called 911 and sent another neighbor to go get my mom. When EMTs arrived, he was fine, declined to go with them and said he wanted to walk home with the dog. The EMTs agreed that he could do so if they followed him and do a second assessment there, and so that happened and he still declined to go after passing both assessments and getting the surface cut bandaged (I saw the signed copy of the declining services form, and the signature looked exactly like all the other times I’ve seen my dad’s signature). My mom had health care training related to her work as a hospice chaplain (now retired) and a blood pressure cuff, so the EMTs told her what to watch for. 12 hours later, there was the first sign that she was to watch out for and they went to the hospital (with an ambulance, because if my dad had fallen again, my mom would not have been able to get him up). 12 hours after *that*, my father was dead. I was able to get up there before he died, but he was only semi-conscious after I arrived (I live a 3.5 hour drive away), but at least I was able to be present at the time of death.

      About six weeks later was my mom’s birthday, and so I and my youngest two went to celebrate with her. A kitchen counter that is about four feet long was absolutely covered in stacks of paper (normal 8.5 x 11 papers) … each one of those stacks represented a different task that my mom has to do, all of them related to Dad’s death–bank accounts, credit cards, life insurance, Dad’s pension (which will come to her), etc. I absolutely shudder to think what it would be like if they had not prepared ahead of time, it’s been rough enough with all the preparation done, and I’d thought they were extraordinarily well-prepared and there’s still a lot.

      Bottom line, I think that getting a will together is an act of love for anyone who may be left behind.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      If they do make a will, film them (with their knowledge) going through the paperwork and signing. That way if they experience any mental deterioration and forget later what they wanted or start accusing you or your siblings of anything, you can show them the video. It’s very reassuring to people who are losing their grasp on their memory to know that they did handle this.

      Also, you won’t end up like my dad, who was tricked into signing control of his estate over to his third wife’s son and then tossed into a facility, where he died of a stroke within the year. Guess who just bought a 189 grand house with my father’s money? Hint: not me or my sister. This stuff really happens.

    15. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Not a lawyer, not your lawyer, and this isn’t legal advice.

      I encourage you to look into/have your parents look into a “revocable living trust”. Generally, they will retain all control of the assets while they’re alive, and can name a successor trustee (which could be one of you, or an outside party) for when they’re no longer able to make their own decisions.

    16. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Can you present having a will as a way for them to save you and your siblings a lot of time dealing with lawyers and bureaucrats later?

      One possible angle on this would be: if they make simple wills that do what they want, that will apply if your parents move to another state. Or if the state government decides to change the rules for inheritance.

  20. Dublin Recs*

    I’ll be traveling to Dublin soon (for work) and looking for any recommendations: places to eat, drink, bookstores, your favorite whatever :)

    I’m traveling with a coworker and I’ll probably let them pick the touristy / sight seeing stuff. Although, if there’s something pertaining to folklore/myths I’d be interested (and I do plan to do research myself.)


    1. DistantAudacity*

      Definetly take in some of the very high quality buskers on Grafton Street!
      As far as I can tell, they are official, and have time slots available to them.

    2. Back from Irish trip*

      I can really recommend Outhouse Café, their food is delicious and you can support the Outhouse LGBTQ+ Centre by eating there.
      I also recommend Nancy Hands Bar & Restaurant, it’s a good pub next to Phoenix Park.

      1. Lilo*

        Newgrange should be booked ahead of time, FYI (all the tours cover admission but if you plan to just go you should book in advance too, I know someone who works there). i just checked the website and the next couple weekends are sold out (weekdays are not though).

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      the Chester Beatty library on the grounds of Dublin Castle is amazing. it’s free and has an extensive collection of books, scrolls, parchments, and art. there’s also a lovely rooftop garden that gives a great and quiet view of the city. (there is a bit of a folklore/myths angle to some of the material but it’s not Irish in origin – Chester Beatty was a collector of mostly Asian and Middle Eastern artifacts.)

    4. Bagpuss*

      you might like The Winding Stair – it’s a restaurant above a bookshop. it’s a few years since I’ve been but when I did, the food was great and location is perfect, too.
      If you have time to go out of the centre you can get the LUAS train to Blackrock and Raven Books there is a lovely independent bookshop.

      1. Suit Case*

        Irish person who works in mythology here, and I’d just caveat the Leprechaun Museum recommendation. I haven’t been to it, so maybe I’m missing something important – take me with a pinch of salt. My caveat is that the “leprechaun” isn’t a part of Irish passed down folklore, it’s a concept that has come mainly from the US. “The little people” (ie fairies) are part of Irish folklore but not the word leprechaun or the description we associate with that word. So, there’s a strong chance that the Leprechaun Museum contains a lot of storytelling that’s geared towards tourists and unfortunately not rooted in authentic folklore and mythology. Sorry!

        1. Other Meredith*

          I’m not Irish, but I have been to the Leprechaun museum, and the guy who worked there said they just call it that so people would visit. We enjoyed ourselves.

          1. Suit Case*

            That makes sense. I just looked up the website. Maybe the use of the word Leprechaun is a red herring and they actually have more solid folklore.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        Oh I didn’t know this was a thing, I need to add this to the list for my next trip! When I went to Dublin was so taken by surprise by how good the food was, and the existence of so many coffee shops (most around me had closed by then) that me and my travel partner basically walked in circles all day and kept eating out and trying new coffee places. I vividly remember one that had a fire place and loads of fancy leather couches and chairs and old paintings and candles and it was so cozy…..it felt like sitting in a castle sitting room

    5. Suit Case*

      Excellent social history museum: 14 Henrietta Street

      Bookshops: Books Upstairs, Gutter Bookshop

      Free exhibition about poet Seamus Healey, with a bit of a folkloric vibe because he used myths as some of his inspiration: Listen Now Again: The Estate of Seamus Healey

      Vegetarian food: Cornucopia (it’s especially nice to bring a tray upstairs and sit by the window!)

      Pubs: Grogans for a pint if you’re in the area, Mulligan’s on Poolbeg street for atmosphere and character

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      Would “The Ghost Bus Tour” be of any interest to you?

      As regards bookstores, you probably have to see Eason’s in O’Connell Street. Not that it’s anything particularly special, but it’s a huge bookstore run by an Irish company. And…it is right next door to the G.P.O., where Ireland’s rebellion of 1916 took place. If you have any interest in history, the G.P.O. has an amazing museum typed thing on the rebellion

    7. Sutemi*

      I greatly enjoyed the National Museum, which has the displays and research on the bog bodies and a lot of gold.

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      There’s a statue of Oscar Wilde by the house he lived in in Dublin. When I went to Dublin, I checked it out and they had two statues along with it, a male torso and a kneeling female figure. Both statues have different Oscar Wilde quotes scrawled on them, which was a treat.

      One tip though: Dublin was (to me) surprising humid when I went in January. It wasn’t particularly cold either. I horribly mispacked and was so physically uncomfortable the first few days there until I bought a lined hoodie from Primark. Bring a waterproof, breathable jacket and breathable layers!

    9. Still*

      The Stage Door Cafe in the Temple Bar area has the best fry up breakfast. We tried it one day and it became our breakfast spot for the rest of the week. The food is delicious and the staff are delightful in that Irish rude-but-friendly kind of way. Plus, they were clearly testing the limits of how much we could eat, our portions just kept getting bigger with every visit!

      And this is probably obvious but – if you drink at all, get a Guinness, even if you’ve tried it before and didn’t love it. I don’t know what it is but it just tastes so much better in Dublin when you get it on tap. I’m not usually a huge fan of stouts and now that I’m back home, I can take it or leave it, but in Dublin I drank nothing else. There’s just some kind of magic. (Oh, and the tea is so good! Don’t know if it’s the water or the milk, but every single cuppa I had was amazing.)

    10. Sister George Michael*

      Restaurant in Dublin: Pickle

      I also recommend a day trip to Glendalough (beautiful trip through Wicklow Mountains) and there is a restaurant called Wicklow Heather there that is amazing.

      1. Typing All The Time*

        I took a day bus trip from Dublin to Belfast, saw the Giant’s Causeway and the Titanic Museum. Both are very good. Just note that Northern Ireland is on the British Pound.

        1. AnonyOne*

          I would say, the Giant’s Causeway is a very long way – I’d say 3-4 hours driving (possibly longer on a bus). It is doable, but if you only have a few days, there is lots to see and do closer to Dublin.

    11. acmx*

      @DistantAudacity thanks for this tip!
      @Back from Irish trip I’ll make a note of all of these, thanks.
      re: Newgrange I’m unfamiliar with this! I’ll see if coworker is interested. @Lilo, thanks for the additional info
      @Bagpuss the Winding Stair sounds great!
      National Leprechaun Museum- well they have a fancy looking website. And good to hear the name is just catchy.

      yeah, I figure I’ll try a Guiness locally. I didn’t the first time I was in Ireland; just Jameson.

      Thanks all! :)

    12. SBT*

      Can’t recommend Hellfire enough. One of the best meals I’ve had in my life. Stopped for a drink at The Church and the drinks were amazing and the interior was beautiful!!

  21. Straight Laced Sue*

    Any recommendations for books (fiction probably, but not necessarily) about sensible, dutiful adults who just snap, say “f you” and go off on a rebellious, furious adventure? Eg, Dutiful support worker becomes a mutant assassin? Disabled carer becomes a vigilante wizard? Burnt out mother becomes a nun and spends 3 years in a fragrant, grand (but cosy) monastery with a stunning zen garden?
    Endings must be happy, justice must be served.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. (Second in a series, but stands alone.)

      Ilsa is the dowager queen, whispered to be mad, quietly living in the countryside with her mother and caring for her in her final years. She wants something to change but doesn’t know what that is, and fears over the years she has lost the ability to do anything other than the tiny constrained role others expect of her. Then she capriciously charges off on a pilgrimage, and into chaos and adventure.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Eagerly looking forward to the replies. None of these are exactly it, but I think of “The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year,” “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes,” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” I’ll keep mulling, this is fun.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      No, “f you,” (in fact they go, partly out of duty), but Haven by Emma Donoghue is about a trio of monks in 7th century Ireland, who set out to set up a community on a lonely island.

      The ending may not exactly be happy, but it hints at opportunities for the good guys and difficulty for the villain, so justice is definitely served. It’s more serious than you might be looking for though.

      1. Workerbee*

        Awesome comfort read every now and again, for the sweet comeuppance and beautiful writing.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Ironically I didn’t actually love this book, but House on the Cerulean Sea has some of these themes, and is a quick easy read.

    5. Sutemi*

      T. Kingfisher has a few with that vibe, and Nettle and Bone is one of my favorites, along with the Saint of Steel series. Be aware, she also writes horror under the same name which isn’t what you want at all!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Bored with retirement and widowhood, Dorothy Pollifax walks into the CIA and asks for a job. Coincidentally this plays out just as the director was supposed to interview a harmless looking older woman for a courier job.

    7. Rage*

      The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

      Bot/human construct hacks its own governor module and spends its days riding around on transport ships, watching media serials. Oh, and makes good on every opportunity to “eff capitalism”.

    8. GoryDetails*

      My first thought was “Hench” by Natalie Zina Walschots, though the ending may not be quite so much “happy” as “long-overdue justice served at great cost, giving temporary respite to the lead characters”. Definitely qualifies on the sensible/dutiful person snapping, though, and that justice is… well, yes, deserved, but terrifying!

    9. Lore*

      It’s a little bit of a stretch but the Thursday Murder Club series might fit—a group of residents of a retirement village start looking at cold cases as a hobby and wind up actively crime fighting. The fourth one just came out and while they do grapple with death—both because they’re crime novels and because the cast of characters is predominately either elderly or living a dangerous criminal life—they’re heartwarming and charming.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        I just finished the first book in this series and can attest to the cozy mystery feel as well, the hilarious writing, and the characters are so enjoyable to follow!

    10. Nessness*

      It’s not as dramatic as some of your examples, but I enjoyed the book A Year by the Sea, which is a true story.

      A middle-aged woman’s husband tells her that they need to move for his work. She refuses to go and moves into their New England beach house instead and goes on a journey of self discovery after decades of focusing on taking care of her family.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Not sure if this one’s quite in the rebellious/furious mode, but Travis Baldree’s “Legends and Lattes” has a burnt-out sword-wielding adventurer retiring to start a coffeehouse; great fun!

    12. OtterB*

      Maybe The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Not really furious adventure, and the main character would never say f you, but she does get out from under the thumb of the family who expects her to keep on serving them.

      Maybe Swordheart by T Kingfisher. Halla has been a dutiful housekeeper to her great uncle. When he dies and leaves her his house, her other family members want to railroad her into marriage to keep the inheritance in the family, which she does not want. Before long, she’s on the road with a magic sword and the swordsman who lives in it.

    13. Charlotte Lucas*

      Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. The main character is a woman who gets tired of taking care of her older brother, so she buys a traveling bookshop to have her own adventures.

      Published in 1917, it also has a delightful use of words.

      1. My cat’s human*

        Yes – I’ve read this and it was fun. It was one of Alison’s book recommendations a couple years ago. I think I downloaded it from project gutenberg dot org?

    14. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner, in which an older woman who has always put her family’s needs before her own decides to move out and become a witch.

    15. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

      When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

      Second (Third? Fourth?) the Mrs. Pollifax books. Also her Nun in the Closet.

      Not a book, but Now, Voyager is my favorite movie about a dutiful daughter who snaps.

      1. Nitpicker*

        Actually Now Voyager started as a book. It’s by Olive Higgins Prouty. The film follows it pretty closely.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      I love Nettle and Bone, by T Kingfisher. It’s a total reversal of the usual Prince rescues Princess story, where the princess is thirty years old, definitely not a virgin, and set to try to save her sister from her sociopathic royal husband despite having lived in a nunnery (not as a nun but as guest) most of her adult life.

    17. Fellow Traveller*

      I’ve just started it, so no idea if the ending is happy, but I suspect it will be – The Change by Kirsten Miller – about a trio of women in their 40s and older who gain mystical powers in their middle age, after having to put up with misogynistic BS all their lives. It is DELIGHTFUL so far.

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      As regards history, a lot of the leaders of the 1916 rebellion pretty much fall into this category. A bunch of mostly teachers, lecturers and writers who took up arms to “strike a blow for Irish freedom.”

      It didn’t end too happily for most of the leaders, because they were mostly executed, but de Valera pretty much fits, apart maybe from the “f you” part. He was far too boring and pedantic to react like that. (He himself pointed out how unlikely a rebel he was and that his “every instinct” would more fit him to be “a dyed in the wool Tory or even a bishop.”) He was a very serious, intellectual, possibly autistic, Maths teacher/lecturer who joined the cause (it has been suggested that his wife basically converted him to the cause, that he was mostly interested intellectually in Irish history and culture until he met her), led a group in the rebellion, survived being sentenced to death and ended up as a national leader who wrote the constitution.

      I’m not sure any of the biographies really focus on that though. Most focus more on his policies as taoiseach (prime minister) and his impact on Ireland.

    19. Rara Avis*

      Minerva Wakes by Holly Lisle. A mother becomes a fantasy adventurer when her children are kidnapped. Her writing is humorous.

    20. ShinyPenny*

      Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
      A very dutiful older woman on a distant planet, quietly sick to death of the way everyone expects her to be agreeable, and to be self-effacing, and to keep herself very, very small.
      She rebels with great intentionality and thoughtful implacability against the suffocating social expectations she’s accepted for so long.
      I find myself re-reading this about every 5 years. Lots of interesting reflections on how social pressure works, and whether love should make you feel like you are wearing a straight jacket.
      And, of course, adventures with aliens.

    21. I take tea*

      What languages do you read? I know the perfect book, but it’s written in Finnish and only translated into German, Hungarian and Dutch… It’s about a mousy social worker in a home for battered women who snaps and start arranging accidents for the worst offenders. She also starts asserting herself in other parts of her life. Very satisfying. (Tappava säde by Leena Lehtolainen, in the original.)

  22. StevensPinkLion*

    Have you gotten married for health insurance, or gotten married so that one souse could quit their job and/or take care of medical issues? Anyone quit their job without anything else lined up to take care of medical issues (esp mental) or been the supporting spouse in that situation?

    This is something my partner and I are considering doing. We’ve been together about 15 years, His job is wrecking his mental health to a debilitating level. Also, his dad passed away this past spring. The idea after his dad passed was that he would start applying to other jobs, but he’s been not in a mental place where that’s possible, and he’s running out of FMLA leave.

    (I want hear *OTHER* peoples stories, but I know people will naturally want to comment on our situation. So here’s some context: Neither of us want or have kids. My partner is in therapy and has been cycling thru various meds. He’s in the process of starting TMS therapy. We’ve talked about him doing a 6 month DBT Program after he quits, as well as sessions with a career counselor. Financially, things will be tight, but we can pay the bills and such on just my salary, and we both have a lot of savings.)

    I’d especially like to hear stories where things worked out in the end. Anyone experienced this kind of thing?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Yes, I’ve known people to marry for health insurance/visa status. And I’ve known people who remained married on paper in order to preserve one spouse’s medical insurance.

      I’m curious about why you specify that things worked out in the end. It’s vanishingly unlikely that anyone would legally pursue you for fraud in this case, or that the marriage or the health insurance would somehow retroactively be denied. So what is your fear or concern about things not “working out” in the end?

      I wonder whether part of you thinks that maybe achieving health insurance or time off might not be enough for your partner’s health issues to “work out” eventually. If that’s a concern, I think you need to take it very seriously. Marriage will probably allow you to access the things you list – insurance, maybe some time off, IDK – but it will also open YOU up to tremendously more financial liability that you would otherwise incur. Don’t discount this.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah hmm by “not work out” I assumed that meant now you’re married and the spouse just gets worse and worse (for myself, I will say that some structure have helped me more than staying home all day – but of course there are many forms of structure and I had to try not-working first) and if you need a divorce, they now can get alimony / half your retirement savings since they don’t have a job any have spent all theirs. Maybe a prenump? If you’re in sort of a non-romantic headspace around the marriage license anyway – for insurance, as you say – that could be an easier add.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Whew. If she’s going down this road, I’d STRONGLY suggest consulting a lawyer sooner rather than later. There’s not just the liability to the partner in case of divorce, there’s liability for joint debts or possibly debts that he incurs during the marriage, including medical debt. And if he’s really in a bad headspace right now, how likely is it that a prenup will survive a challenge if his choice was to sign it or forego medical care?

          NOT offering legal advice, just suggesting speaking to a real lawyer.

    2. Outlier*

      I know folks that have gotten married early to have access to health insurance. They were already planning to marry (in a religious/social ceremony) and did so later. Worked out fine for them!

      I got a domestic partnership with my years-long partner so that we could have health insurance through one of our employers and some basic rights like hospital visitation. There were tax implications (I owed money on the insurance benefits, which is not true for married partners). It was absolutely worth it and I appreciated knowing that we could dissolve the partnership *without* committing fraud or going through a lot of hassle if we needed to do so for financial reasons. We’re still together and ultimately ended up getting married (also for financial reasons–very few changes from partnered IRL to legally domestic partnered to married otherwise). I mention this in case a domestic partnership is an option in your city/state or if your employer has something similar. (My employer had an option to “prove” a domestic partner by providing proof of a shared address, shared financial documents, and a notarized form; once HR received those documents, you could add the partner to the insurance plan. We wanted city-wide rights so we went the official domestic partnership route instead.)

    3. Still married after all these years*

      Worked for me! We we had been together for four years and neither of us wanted kids or were particularly interested in marriage, so we hadn’t planned on it. Then we relocated, and I got a job first, and we got married so that he could have health insurance while he looked for a job, which took longer than expected. It was kind of a rough time while he was working part-time and getting more and more depressed, but it all worked out in the end. We’re still married and glad to be together (and still both employed).

    4. Sundae funday*

      “Anyone quit their job without anything else lined up to take care of medical issues (esp mental) or been the supporting spouse in that situation?”

      My husband works in a field that is very demanding. Multiple times, he has gotten to a point where he gets to a point where his mental health is being seriously affected, and he quits for a time. Shortest time was six weeks; longest was 2 years. It’s always worked out because his profession pays well and he socks money away knowing he’ll probably want a sabbatical, and he’s never had a problem finding another job when he’s ready to do so. Health insurance is through me and in a pinch, we could live off my salary (although that was not always so.) I would say the biggest hiccup was making it clear our expectations for each other during those breaks. He generally takes on the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and child care but we sometimes get snippy thinking the other isn’t doing enough. (which happens when he is working, too!)

    5. Clisby*

      I did do this, but the circumstances were way different. My now husband and I were living together but not married when 0ur first child was born. Our initial child-care plans fell through, which disrupted my plans for going back to work. (Note: I was happy with my job; he was not happy with his, and had started job-hunting.) He said, “Look, I’ll quit my job and stay home, you go back to work, and I can really focus on job-hunting.” We did that, and one of the first things I said was, “We’d better get married so I can put you on my insurance.” We did that, he found a much better job, we moved on, and I’ve never regretted it. More than 27 years later we’re still married and now have two kids. We were fortunate in that we were both computer programmers, so while we weren’t rich, either of us was capable of supporting the family.

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I mean, pretty much every stay at home parent out there has used someone else for their health insurance.

    7. mreasy*

      Not your question but TMS has been the only truly effective therapy for my treatment resistant depression. Wishing you well!

  23. Tacos?*

    In an odd twist, there was someone who posted a week or two back asking about freezing tacos due to an abundance of corn tortillas, and this week I find myself also in abundance of corn tortillas.

    I’m wondering how they turned out and reheating instructions. I tried to make BBQ chicken tacos and absolutely fried the tortillas (aka almost burnt).

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I was that person! (probably using a pseud) – I had great luck with “Mexican casserole” which was sort of lasagna-like with layers of corn tortillas – I made a few of them and froze them. They would have also been a good potluck / meal train option. I put more tortillas than the recipe since I was trying to use them up. The reason I went that route rather than my first idea of making and freezing whole made tacos is because people didn’t think the salsa would freeze and unfreeze well as a topping, and I knew I’d be out of salsa at whatever future date I defrosted pre- assembled tacos. But people had some other good suggestions for freezing individually wrapped tortillas themselves too.

    2. E*

      I’m not the OP but freeze stuff all the time. Tortillas freeze well but as you note will reheat faster than fillings. I’d freeze them separately and assemble post-freeze

    3. WellRed*

      Corn tortillas can be turned into tortilla chips! Cut em up, fry quickly in hot oil and sprinkle in some salt.

  24. Gnomes*

    Has anyone else been listening to the podcast ‘Unwell’? A Gothic mystery audio-drama set in the US Midwest.

    I loved it, it finished recently and I was so sad! I loved the slow storytelling and character development. The world-building was so effective that its setting, Mt Absalom, could easily have been a real place. Even though I’m from the UK, I really got the small-town vibe.

    It has helped me through my degree and several house moves – so sad that there won’t be any more!

    1. Spooky Ghoul*

      I’ve tried to check it out but the first episode or two didn’t quite grab me. When did it really hook for you?

      1. Gnomes*

        It did take me a few episodes to get into it – but I quite like the slow pace. It picks up a bit in later season but for a while, there’s no ‘big episode where lots of stuff happens.’ I found it helps to listen a few episodes at a time so you can go through a fair bit of story progression.

  25. Rosie*

    If you go to someone’s birthday meal, do you expect to pay for yourself? I want to invite about 20 people to a birthday meal but I’ve never planned an event for this many people! I’ve found a nice restaurant that offers a three course buffet-style meal for groups, for a fixed cost per person. I can’t afford to pay for everyone sadly although I would love to. I’m trying to work out if it’s ok to invite people and make the cost and what food we’ll have clear up front, although it feels rude somehow! It might be better to have everyone choose their own from the menu, but it’s hard to find somewhere that will take a group of this size for a la carte. Does anyone have experience with this??

    1. Cordelia*

      I’d expect to pay myself, in fact with my group of friends we’d usually cover the cost of the birthday person’s meal between us. We definitely wouldn’t expect them to pay for us. If it was a particularly fancy place that I couldn’t afford I would feel ok saying “sorry thats out of my price range, but can I take you for coffee/dessert/a drink another time?” Let people know the cost up front, and make sure there’s enough variety for any of your friends who have dietary restrictions.
      I guess one way to do it would be to send a “pre-invitation” saying “I’m thinking of going to Place X for my birthday, the set menu costs 1234 and here’s a link, have a look and let me know if you’d be interested and if that price is ok for you?”
      Happy birthday!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This would be my expectation as well: I would pay my own bill and chip in for the birthday person, probably for at least one drink for them as well.

    2. Bobina*

      This is one of those things that varies hugely by culture, but as long as you make it clear up front, I’d be happy to show up and pay my way!

    3. Rachel*

      I’m going to say this varies a lot by culture.

      For me, it varies a lot by age as well.

      18 – 30: everybody pays for themselves and chips in for the birthday person

      30 – 40: varies, some people host and some people do not

      40+: I wouldn’t be salty if I paid for myself, but most of the time I don’t.

      1. Maggie*

        Interesting! I would be mortified if I didn’t buy the birthday persons dinner regardless of age or anything else.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Different subgroups have different traditions.

      Something like “Celebrating my birthday at Dumpling Extravaganza, the cost is $40/person for the three course meal, plus drinks etc. Hope you can join me” removes the guessing component for the invitees.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Also, for going out around a funeral, I have specified the opposite direction: “Family dinner at All The Dumplings, we’re covering it for everyone.”

      When we’re talking about how much things will cost if you agree to them, transparency upfront is the way to go.

    6. Not A Manager*

      It is not rude to throw any kind of party you want, so long as you specify what the guests’ experience will be and you don’t pressure them to attend if it doesn’t work for them (aka expensive destination weddings/emotional hostage-taking).

      Think about what the payment structure will actually be, though. The thing that gets weird about these events isn’t that you plan a nice dinner where people pay for themselves, it’s the awkwardness/anger when some people “didn’t realize” or “forgot their card” or you pay the whole bill but they “forget to venmo you.”

      1. Sloanicota*

        Right, if you’re asking guests to pay for a fancier meal, especially prix-fixe where there won’t be an option to just split an appetizer or something, you just have to be extra-gracious about extending the invite as an act of love and understanding that some people won’t make it, even if they love you (kind of the “destination wedding” mindset). If someone is really agonizing about wanting to be there but you know they’re struggling with the budget, it would be a kindness to suggest going for drinks or something cheaper with them.

        1. BlueMeeple*

          I agree that this varies by culture and group of people: definitely let people know ahead of time if they need to pay for themselves or not. :)

    7. Decidedly Me*

      Not rude as long as you specify. I was invited to a birthday celebration dinner once where we weren’t told we were paying for ourselves until the bill came. It also wasn’t individual checks and I don’t drink alcohol, so my share was higher than my consumption. I could afford it, thankfully, and wouldn’t have had an issue if I had known. Definitely made me wary of future invites from that couple.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Yes I’ve been burned on more than one birthday celebration this way. I think I’m paying just for me then the check comes and includes the alcohol everyone was drinking plus the cost of the birthday person. And one tipsy person shouts, “let’s just split it, and birthday girl, it’s your birthday, you don’t have to pay!” It’s really hard to be the sole voice saying no… so suddenly I’m footing the bill for everyone else’s drinks plus all a portion of one person’s entire check. As a person living on a shoestring, this makes me feel so stuck and angry.

        So yeah, please make sure it’s clewr how drinks will be handled in a buffet scenario. But if a friend invited me to a dinner and made it clear it was $x to tak part, I’d happily budget for it to be able to attend!

        1. Rosie*

          In a way it seems that’s one benefit of doing it in advance, as everyone knows what they’re paying for and what they’re getting! I think extra drinks would be bought direct from the bar too so no communal tab to sort.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, this is definitely the big pitfall to watch out for. I don’t mind paying my own share and chipping in for the birthday person, but I do object to someone tossing back fifteen dollar cocktails all night and expecting to be carried.

    8. WellRed*

      If it’s fixed cost please consider how much that cost is. My experience is that it’s more expensive than I prefer to pay and I probably will only eat a small portion to boot.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I have invited people to birthday dinners at restaurants loads of times and they always assume they’re paying for their food. It’s no different to asking people to go to a restaurant at any other time, just make it clear whether you’re offering to treat, or it’s a split bill situation. Having gone to meal events of this size in the past before, I will say it can be better for general organisation to send out the menus and prices ahead of time and ask for deposits (a lot of restaurants will insist on this before they get a big group table together for you all). The past few events we have put down full payment before time, which means you can all relax about the bill on the night entirely and you only have tips/extra drinks to worry about. If you phrase it as “this is what the restaurant needs for the booking”, it really lets people see what’s on offer (like if they can afford it/would enjoy it/does it cater to their dietary requirements/are they definitely coming enough to pay in advance). If someone sent you an invitation to something you’d enjoy and could afford, you’d probably go for it, right? Just keep people’s budgets in mind and make it clear there’s no obligation, you can always catch up another time with anyone who doesn’t want in.

    10. Llamas in pajamas*

      This is so culturally dependent! In my culture, you don’t invite people to celebrate *your own* birthday. You’d get a friend to organize, and then everyone pays for their own meal, and chips in a little bit so the birthday person doesn’t pay at all.

      In your case, I’d issue the invitations, and make it clear that people are invited to the event, but must pay for their own meal. (in some places “invite” means come to the event and in others “invite” means that the expenses/meal are covered too).

      1. Cj*

        while I wouldn’t mind paying for my own meal, to me an invitation means that the person doing the inviting is paying, whether it’s a party, or a dinner out for just the two of us, or whatever.

        if somebody says I’d like to invite you to go out to dinner, I’d assume they are paying. if they say something like do you want to get together at such and such restaurant for dinner, I’d assume we were each paying our own way.

        I would avoid using the word invite or invitation if you are asking them to pay, even if you are upfront about it.

        as far as paying for the birthday person’s meal, that’s fine if somebody else is planning the party. but I think it’s pretty rude to plan your own party and expect your guests to pay for not only their own meals but yours. I don’t think that the OP is expecting their meal to be paid for, but there are a lot of comments from people saying the birthday person’s meal should be paid for.

        1. Cj*

          also, while I would definitely not mind paying for myself, I would never invite people to a party and expect them to pay their own way.

          somebody commented that in the midwest it is customary for people to pay for their own meals. I live in the midwest, and have not found that to be true at all.

          my friends aand I are all what would probably be considered lower middle class, and can’t afford large parties at restaurants. so instead we host things that we can afford, like backyard barbecues.

          1. allathian*

            In my circle of friends we’ve had various types of celebrations. My best friend is solidly upper middle class, and when she celebrated her 50th birthday, she paid for all of it. One of our good friends in this group is on a limited income because she’s too sick to work, and retired on disability when she was 26. So all of us chipped in for her meal when we celebrated her 50th birthday. My BFF organized the event. My BFF organized my 50th birthday, too, and my friends paid for my meal.

            In the past, when our kids were younger, we’d host birthday celebrations at home with families invited. Then the hosts paid for everything, although guests usually bring a bottle of wine or packet of coffee or some chocolate, etc.

            Unless it’s explicitly a birthday celebration, when we go to dinner at a restaurant everyone expects to split the bill. My husband’s income puts us in the solid middle class bracket, I’m lower middle class. I couldn’t afford to pay for all of my friends at a restaurant, although my husband could if he wanted to. But since it’s not a cultural expectation here, we don’t. My BFF’s a bit of a exception here. I can let her pay more than I’m able to reciprocate because she’s so gracious about it.

    11. Maggie*

      I would expect to pay for myself and my portion of the birthday girls dinner. I would NEVER expect the birthday girl/guy to pay for ME. And I don’t think you need to give people pricing up front? Unless it’s like a $500 buffet or you know they are really struggling financially. If someone wants to know the price they can look up the menu. US, Midwest and the custom is to pay for yourself and split the birthday girls dinner.

      1. WellRed*

        If the guests won’t have control over the spend then she really should tell them the cost.

        1. Maggie*

          I’d maybe send a screen shot or link of the menu? I’m really enjoying the responses here because I would consider it rude to tell them pricing, because it would insinuate that I think they can’t afford a dinner out. But i may be the odd one out! I just had a birthday dinner out last night that we put on my card and then all split evenly, covering the birthday girls portion evenly.

          1. Cj*

            but they aren’t ordering off the menu, it is a prefix meal, with a fixed cost. that’s not going to show up on the menu.

          2. Texan In Exile*

            I hate spending money at restaurants and I would be super grateful to know what I would be getting myself into. I would not take it as insulting *at all* to be sent the prices. Indeed, if you didn’t send them, I would be looking them up and bracing myself.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        You often don’t know enough about people’s finances to know whether they are carefully checking the prices and taking that out of their grocery budget.

        I can now afford to be surprised by whether or not I’m paying for this social thing I was invited to. But that wasn’t true all my life.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Something completely separate to consider: are you planning a cake? If so, you want to check with the restaurant well ahead of time if it’s okay to bring in outside food. Obviously, they want to make money on selling desserts if they can and may not want to have a lot of extra plates and forks used for something they aren’t making a profit on.

      Some places may allow a cake, but not lit candles, or only a store bought cake in a sealed container due to health code regulations. This is the case where I work–no homemade desserts but a bakery cake or pie in a sealed container is okay.

    13. Sparkly Librarian*

      Expectations, as previous posters have said, vary (regionally, culturally, by specific friend group). I once found myself awkwardly presiding at a restaurant dinner I’d organized for my own birthday, where I not only had to pay my own meal (fine, but not my expectation) but had to cover a couple of friends who thought I’d be hosting and picking up the check, and hadn’t come prepared. I was young and hadn’t thought to specify; whenever I’d gone to similar group functions we’d gotten separate checks or each contributed toward our own portion, and if it was in celebration of someone’s birthday we put in a little extra to cover theirs.

    14. Cj*

      do you have to pay the restaurant for the head count are the number of people who say they will be there even if they end up not coming? I’m pretty much assuming you do.

      what if some people don’t show up. are you going to make them pay anyway? are you going to try and determine if there was a good reason for it, and not make them pay if you think it was a good reason, and make them pay if you don’t think it was a good reason?

      I suppose if you make people pay ahead of time you don’t need to worry about that, but it’s something to consider if you’re going to send them a Venmo payment request.

      also, does the restaurant add an automatic gratuity charge for large groups like this? if so, is it included in the per meal cost, or is it added to the total at the end and you will need to make sure you add it to the cost when you let them know how much it is?

      if they don’t add an automatic gratuity, how do you expect that this will be handled? are you going to be paying it all yourself? expect people to pull out their wallets and put cash in the table?

      these aren’t things that can’t be solved, just things that you should figure out ahead of time.

  26. The bean moves on*

    Ok, so there is a mouse currently in my indoor trash can. It’s alive and I need it gone. How do I get it out without me screaming. There is a plastic bag lining the can, will it leave on its own?

    It’s preventing me from accessing my coffee.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you have an outside?

      If so, carry the whole thing outside and leave it there for a while. I’d tump the can over so it’s easy to get out.

      1. The bean moves on*

        I suppose if it hasn’t climbed out on its own by now, it won’t magically gain the ability to do so while I’m moving the can

        1. Jay*

          Put something heavy over the top as a “lid”, and then just push the can on it’s side with a broom or something when you get a little ways away from your home.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I’m sorry to say I doubt it will go outside on its own now that it’s found a nice indoor place full of food. It may leave the bin, but probably to go hide in your walls or something. I agree with taking the whole thing outside if you can. Try to get it further from your house where there are nice bushes or something and hoping Mx Mouse likes this new home more than your home.

      1. The bean moves on*

        I was successful, I wish I had seen your advice earlier- it might come back in. This time of year all the mice try to get in so we have traps everywhere.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Heh! Glad you were able to relocate the mouse – and that it put itself in a portable container for you!

      I have to relocate mice fairly often, as my three cats treat them like non-stop toys rather than potential food sources (which is probably just as well; if they ate them they’d be more likely to pick up parasites). I’ve gotten fairly deft at grabbing them in a gloved hand (never bare-handed, as the little buggers can bite when – understandably – terrified), or sometimes fielding one from the top of the shower curtain (the cats bring them up from the basement and into the bathtub to play with, as a tiny arena), and tossing them into the shrubbery. They may well come back inside as soon as they’ve forgotten their ordeal, but I can live with that.

      1. The bean moves on*

        Once I was awake enough to understand it wasn’t coming out on its own, i could deal with moving the whole can

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m sorry but this is so funny. One time my cat found a mouse in our apartment and I managed to lock the cat up and corner the mouse, but the thing I grabbed to move it was a big plastic sled. So I was like speed-walking to the door while the mouse scampered around on a huge tray and I’m pretty sure I was making strangled screeching noises the whole time

      1. The bean moves on*

        Yuuup! Every step I tried to make sure that I didn’t look directly at it while trying to simultaneously make sure it didn’t come to its senses and scamper up the can.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Thanks for sharing this. I’m still laughing. Glad you prevailed and can enjoy your coffee.

      1. The bean moves on*

        You didn’t hear me scream when I tossed yesterdays grounds in the bin and realized that I wasn’t alone in the kitchen

  27. Copper Penny*

    I would love crochet ideas that can be done with repeating stitches and no pattern. I’m struggling at the moment to follow patterns, but I’m enjoying repetitive stitches. Currently I’m making a headband for my daughter that’s crossing double stitches repeating until it’s the right length. I can make hats, balls, scarfs, bookmark and coasters but we really don’t need any more of those. Right now blankets are too big for my brain.

      1. Copper Penny*

        I don’t have a cat, but I have a toddler with dolls. She would love some blankets or hats for them. Thanks!

        Also my brain is toast. I can make the toddler and baby matching hats. It’s going into summer here, but I can make them big for next season. Toddler loves matching baby. Maybe the whole family will get matching hats for Christmas.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          You can also search for other doll patterns that are pretty easy–simple crocheted doll dresses or whatever.

        2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          I learned to crochet when my daughters were young. They got many doll blankets and loved them all.

    1. Not Totally Subclinical*

      By blankets being too big for your brain, do you mean that you need the regular hit of finishing something, or do you mean that you can’t keep a lot of complicated parts in mind? I wonder if making a bunch of random granny squares and sticking them in a box until you have bandwidth to assemble them would fit the bill.

      String bag? Start with a coaster for the base, then do a (single crochet, chain 6, skip a few stitches) around the edge to start the mesh section, then single crochet in each loop of the mesh, chain 6, sc in next loop, ch 6…. (Make it shorter than you think you need, because it’ll grow when loaded.) Handles can be one or two strips of sc.

      1. CopperPenny*

        A bit of both. But I could try the scarfs or squares until I have the bandwidth to finish it. Finishing the pieces would give some of that finished project hit. String bag is a great idea thanks.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      Calorimetry (headband w/button) by Kristin Rose on Ravelry is the crochet equivalent of the popular Calorimetry knit pattern from Knitty that I’ve been meaning to try. The project doesn’t require much yarn, and it works up quickly. I make a few of the knit versions each year, and they make nice gifts. I think it would be warm weather appropriate with the right kind of cotton/cotton blend.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Oh, sorry! I missed the part about no pattern. The Calorimetry is pretty much double crochets with increases and equivalent decreases that is easy to memorize as you work on the piece (you start with a small number of DCs and increase until your desired width, then decrease back down to the original number). This one might be good for later if figuring out the increases/decreases is too much right now.

        Granny squares that can be sewn together into a larger project are my mindless crochet go-tos.

        1. Copper Penny*

          Anything easy to memorize is fine as long as it’s simple. But I’m often crocheting with my kids around and pattern reading just isn’t happening at this stage of life.

          Thank you and everyone else for the responses.

    3. Clare*

      I like to make baskets out of two or three strands of cheap cotton twine held together. Just crochet either a circle or a rectangle in SC for the base, then go around the edges crocheting into the back loops only to get your 90 degree turn, then back to SC in the round to make the sides as high as you like. They make surprisingly classy looking baskets for hand towels and make-up, or whatever you want really.

    4. Qwerty*

      Are you open to donating the results? Scarves and hats are generally needed by charities such as shelters or schools, especially now that it is getting cold.

      I used to make a lot scarves for the Special Olympics Scarf Project – not all the states still do it but the goal is a scarf in specific colors for the participants. A lot of the states changed it to also include headbands and hats.

      Warm Up America Foundation is another good place to check out. I used to make rectangles for them which later get turned into blankets.

      For yourself – you can make a cocoon shawl by making a giant granny square and a little sewing.

      Not sure if baby blankets are also too big, but I’ve really enjoyed making those using just a simple granny square pattern.

      I appreciate this post because I’ve been needing motivation to get back into crochet…time for me to go make some scarves!

  28. Blue wall*

    Looking for a recommendation for a full-size wireless keyboard and mouse combo.

    I have a Logitech now, I don’t recall what series, it’s about 3 years old and the clackiness of the keys is so frustrating. How long are keyboards lasting these days?

    1. 653-CXK*

      I’ve been a Logitech fan for eons (I’m using the K360 keyboard and M310 mouse combo), but I bought a keyboard from Amazon for WFH – Amazon Basic’s own wireless keyboard combo that’s wireless and has silent. I also recommend Walmart’s in-house brand onn. that is also silent.

      I will put the links in the reply.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Correction – MK335 and M310 mouse combo…the K360 I’m using for my work from home computer.

    2. Generic Name*

      With heavy use, apparently 3-4 years, according to the IT guys at work. I have a Logitech and it works fine. Look for ones that are “soft type” or non mechanical. These days, most keyboards are quiet, and if you prefer the clackiness, you have to seek it out.

    3. mmmmmmmBop*

      If you’re not opposed to going with logitech again, I have their ergonomic model and love it. The keys are much quieter than their regular keyboard, which is a nice bonus, and it’s so comfortable to use. I’m going on about four years with this one.

    4. Isabel Archer*

      Hi blue wall, I know this isn’t exactly what you asked for, but I recently bought a new keyboard on Amazon by a German manufacturer called Cherry. They make a full size yet compact keyboard called Stream that is beautifully tactile and very quiet. It only comes in a wired option, so if that’s a dealbreaker this won’t work for you at all. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the build quality, having only used Logitech keyboards for the last gazillion years. Personally I find the keyboard & mouse combo kits to be nothing special. If you buy them separately you can get exactly what you want for each.

  29. BlueMeeple*

    Reading thread! :) What are you reading at the moment?

    I finished The Improbability of Love this week, and really loved it. A really good story with a huge cast of characters.

    1. Sage*

      I am reading The Once and Future Sex by Eleanor Janega. The author explains how women where viewed during the medieval times and why. This way we can learn what changed and what remained the same (more than I wish).

    2. carcinization*

      Coates’ Gallows Hill is this month’s book club selection. Not grabbing me so far, seems contrived and boring, but maybe it will get better, I’ve only read 60 or so pages.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Just now finished Frankenstein; I love how Mary Shelly works in these pointed little observations through what we would now consider florid prose.

      Like when the creature warns him “I will be with you on your wedding night,” and Victor is horrified but just assumes he means that he will be the one to die. Never occurs to him that Elizabeth, his beloved, is also, y’know, alive and the creature is basically yelling “I AM GOING TO KILL ELIZABETH YOU NIMROD.”

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Just finished Chuck Wendig’s Black River Orchard. Loads of apple-themed folk/cult horror fun! \0/

      Still slogging through Harry Potter — I’m on Order of the Phoenix now. I guess I’ll keep these since I can’t un-buy them and I’m still enjoying the story. At least I only bought the last two new, so she didn’t get much of my money.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Just finished the fourth Thursday Murder Club (excellent) and Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward (reasonably fun). Looking forward to the new Meg Langslow mystery next week.

    6. Filosofickle*

      This weekend I read two books. The Paris Apartment, which was a solid modern quasi-thriller. It shifts perspectives constantly, but it’s clearly signaled and not hard to follow. Tense but not scary. I also read The Midnight Library, which is about regret, the multiverse, and what might have been — in the end it gets a bit “It’s a Wonderful Life” for my tastes but it gave me stuff to think about. (TW: suicide attempt)

    7. Rosyglasses*

      Just finished the first in the Thursday Murder Club series, and am still slogging away at The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

    8. NB*

      I tend to lean more toward nonfiction. I just finished Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s a very well-researched and well-written book about the owners of Purdue Pharma and their role in the opioid epidemic.

  30. Morning Dew*

    For those with natural gas detector and/or carbon monoxide detector, can you tell me exactly where you have placed them in your house?

    (1) How far from the floor or ceiling?
    (2) is it plug in only or battery back up also?
    (3) what is the distance from your gas appliance such as gas dryer and gas cooktop to the detectors?

    When I read reviews of items and see pictures (that buyers posted or even the manufacturer), they are close to the gas source but some websites I read, they said not to place close to the gas source?)

    1. fposte*

      I have plug in CO detectors (in addition to smoke detectors) on my ground floor and second floor. They’re near the floor because that’s where the plugs are. The furnace and water heater are in the basement and the stove is in a different room from the one on the first floor. I see anywhere from 6-15 feet from a CO source; mainly for me I wanted them placed where I’d hear them no matter where I was in the house.

    2. Buni*

      1) In a room ~8ft high it’s about a foot from the ceiling – the guy told me the higher the better
      2) battery only
      3) about 6ft from the boiler (I only have a narrow galley kitchen so that’s ‘the opposite wall’) and 4-5ft from the cooker/oven on the same wall.

      I have a gas hob and the guy said if it was too close it could pick up the free gas in the split second between me turning the knob & hitting the ignition and that would just be annoying.

    3. ThatGirl*

      We have one on each floor, first floor is in the living room which is maybe 10 feet from the gas oven and 15 from the dryer and furnace. Second floor is in the hallway. They are both plug in with battery backup, maybe 6” above the floor.

    4. SofiaDeo*

      The US EPA says one for each floor, and if you only have 1 it should be near the sleeping area. I disagree with those recommending “as high up as possible”; you want the thing to be reading the air one is actually breathing. An article in CNET suggests about 5 feet off the floor. My state requires one to be within 15 feet of every bedroom.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        I got internal 10 year battery combo smoke & CO detectors and they are 6 feet up the walls, except in the garage. It has a low ceiling and the one there is on the ceiling. I have one mid hall in the hallway with 3 bedrooms, one just outside the lower level bedroom, one in the garage, one on the ceiling of the 3 season porch. The porch gets minimal air from inside the house, it’s more about the fire alarm in that unit but we do have a daybed that’s used as an occasional guest bedroom, so I want to be 100% up to code requirements for even a casual sleeping space.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have one on each floor – basement and main floor are stand-alone battery-operated, central and up near a ceiling, the second floor one is built into a hard wired smoke detector and also up and central. We have an all-electric house, no gas at all, so they’re probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.

    6. E*

      I learned CO detectors should be the height of your bed — you want it detecting the air you breathe when sleeping

  31. Amber Rose*

    How do you keep your chin up while struggling with a long term, expensive but probably not permanent health condition?

    On September 10 I woke up with severe vertigo. That part passed in around 4 days, but since then I’ve had persistent migraines, dizziness, nausea and pressure in my head.

    My doctor tried a drug that made things worse after misdiagnosing me then sent me to physio. Physio has been very painful with some setbacks but he’s feeling good about getting me through this in a month or so. That said, it’s not covered by health care and my insurance only covers some and is about to run out.

    I know it’s not forever but I’m back into debt, I feel sick all the time, and everything hurts. I don’t want to be a source of negativity for everyone around me but it’s so, so hard to function right now.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      From experience with two separate maladies! The second came in swinging literally a few weeks into my making progress on finally addressing the first. (Also with physio.)
      1) Be kind to yourself in small ways, like curling up on the couch and watching something on Netflix while sipping cocoa.
      2) Is there a big thing you would normally be doing but you don’t have the bandwidth? It’s okay to not do it. The world will turn etc. This is a time to have small everyday goals (the dishwasher needs to run) and not worry about the larger stuff you normally feel compelled to address.
      3) Is there an in-person support group you could go to? There the format is “The extremely sucky thing about dealing with this disease” and everyone has their own version, so it really helps to vent in that space. (And it’s hard to start in a new group over Zoom–the loss of gestures that indicate someone might want to speak next really limits these.)
      4) If you don’t have (3) but do have a person who will let you vent to them, figure out what personal things will make you feel more balanced and not like a trauma dumper. Like asking about their life, and talking about the neat Netflix thing from (1).

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

        Agree with the “small everyday goals” advice! If you can’t deal with things full force, maybe try “just enough” — like wash just enough dishes (if you don’t have a dishwasher) to get through the next meal or two. Or wash just enough laundry to get through the week. When I had, like, very little bandwidth, I sometimes combined bathing and mini-laundry, a la Kramer. I’d bring a couple of socks and pairs of underwear and some dish soap next to the tub, take my bath and then drain the water, and while I was still sitting in the tub, I’d run the socks and underwear under the bath tap, lather it up with the dish soap, rinse it under the bath tap, and then put it on the edge of the tub or on the towel rack to dry. (Of course, you could always send your laundry out to be washed too, but sometimes, I found even getting all the laundry together to send out to feel like too much.)

    2. Llamas in pajamas*

      I have long-term chronic painful stuff going on. Be in the moment. Look out the window: enjoy the weather, the sun, the clouds, the wind, the rain the snow. Breathe, and just take a few seconds to acknowledge the natural world around you. Say Hi to a tree that’s out the window. Breathe. Spend a few seconds/minutes several times a day to do this, and momentarily put the pain and shame of debt away. Put a timer on your phone for every hour or two, just to remind yourself to look out a window and do this. If you can’t look out a window, get an image on your phone/computer/tablet that brings you a few seconds of peace and joy. It could just be a sketch of a tree or a pic of a kitten. Try to focus outside of your issues for a few seconds as often as you can.

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

        Love this advice! My ex said when she was knocked out from chemo, she spent a lot of time just lying in bed, looking at the treetops move in the wind. When I had to walk reeeeeeeaaaaallllly slowly due to a health issue, I set my mind to studying the cracks in the sidewalk, checking out the blades of grass, etc. to distract me from how long it took to walk a block.

    3. WestsideStory*

      I’d suggest you look online for a community that shares the same malady. It’s an easy place to vent, and get good advice.

    4. Clare*

      I apologise if you’ve ruled it out already, but have your health care providers considered benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)? The symptoms are exactly like you describe, sudden onset severe vertigo, often triggered by things like rolling over or standing up apon waking. It’s anything but benign, my Mum thought she was dying when it hit her. I only mention it because if it is BPPV, your physio can quickly cure it in a single session by rolling you over a few times at the right angle, no pain involved. Whatever you have, I hope you start feeling better soon!

      1. JustForThis*

        Yes, this is where my thoughts went to. If you haven’t ruled it out yet, it’s certainly worth a try.

    5. SB*

      Have you considered that the people who love you are not seeing you as a source of negativity & are happy (not exactly the right word but you know what I mean) to be your sounding board/shoulder to cry on?

      I hope this all passes soon & your people gather around you to help you through!!!!

  32. Clodagh*

    Women of the UK – where are you buying your jeans from these days? I prefer bootcut and wide leg styles and used to buy from Dorothy Perkins. Thanks!

    1. Buni*

      M&S have a huge variety of cuts, styles & colours at the mo – they’re a bit hit ‘n’ miss about having sizes out on the floor but you can click & collect. Mostly in the ~£20-£40 bracket.

      1. Claire*

        Yup, I get my bootcut jeans from M&S, specifically the Eva cut. They come in different leg lengths, five different colour options, and a decent size range (I’m a size 24). I have several pairs and they last really well.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve had good luck buying from Monsoon online – they have a variety of different styles (including bootcut.) Prices are generally around £50/pair, but if you sign up for their emails they regularly send out discount codes for at least 30% off regular prices.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I find the more classic jeans or upscale the brand the more likely the cut is to be skinny; even my beloved Wrangler has become too skinny legged. The last few decent bootcut pairs I’ve found have all come from Tesco. High waisted too.

    4. Ron McDon*

      Fatface do a nice range of jeans in different leg lengths – their sizing is quite generous, I find, so good for those of us with larger bellies and thighs!

  33. Blythe*

    Hello! I have a 15 year old daughter who is smart, thoughtful, and makes good decisions— and who is a real live teenager surrounded by other real live teenagers. I am making her a “just in case kit” that includes condoms, lube, dental dams, fentanyl test strips, and narcan. I also made sure she has a ride share app on her phone that has our address and my credit card programmed in.
    What else (if anything) should I include? All of this is also coming along with a generous dose of ongoing conversation too!

    1. waffles*

      This is really great. In addition, I’d make sure you talk to her about how to interact with the police if needed (i.e., respectfully, say nothing if questioned, ask if they are being detained, ask for lawyer and parent immediately). Hopefully this is never needed.

      1. anon24*

        A good thing to teach a teen is tell police nothing, tell EMS and emergency department personnel everything. As an EMT, I don’t care what you did, I won’t even lecture you (I’ll leave that to your parents), but it’s going to be so much easier to help you or your friend if I know what happened, and also, I’m really good at detecting BS.

        1. Blythe*

          Ah, good way of putting it. We have had lots of conversations about this kind of thing (and will continue to do so), but the EMT vs police distinction is very good.

          1. anon24*

            Another thing to know is that in a lot of states Good Samaritan Laws give immunity to both the patient and anyone who calls 911 for anyone who overdosed or similar. So if an underage friend drank too much or took drugs, and your daughter calls 911, she and the friend would have immunity. This is not every state, but is worth checking your local laws. They made these laws to keep people from dumping or abandoning their dying friends for fear of going to jail.

      2. Llamas in pajamas*

        Very comprehensive! I don’t know what to add to the kit, but have lots of conversations and plans for when *someone else* is in trouble. At 16 or 17 my daughter went to a party where someone else was so drunk he was both falling asleep and vomiting uncontrollably. (my kid, who had had first aid was trying to keep him in the recovery position, but he couldn’t hold it & my daughter was worried he’d aspirate on his vomit). The kids couldn’t call his parents because with cell phones (as opposed to home phones) no one knew the parents’ number(s). So definitely discuss that, what if someone else is having a bad reaction to drugs (not just opioids) etc. The book “the teenage brain” had a story where someone died at a party because everyone was underaged and too scared of “consequences” to call the ambulance. So, discuss with your kid what happens if they are at a party with drugs etc. Can your kid call you?

        1. Blythe*

          Great idea. Yes, she can absolutely always call me. But it’s good to know when to call EMTs too!

    2. Generic Name*

      If you don’t already do location tracking through your phone (we all used to have iPhones, and I used find my family), I suggest having her download Life 360 so you can track her location. Not in a nanny spy kind of way, but so you can go get her immediately in an emergency without her having to give an address or figure out where she is.

      If she has (now or in the future) a steady boyfriend, consider having a discussion about going on the pill/other long term birth control. Especially when she leaves home for college or otherwise.

      And if it makes you feel even a teeny bit better, I have a son about your daughters age, and we are teaching him about consent and basically how not to be creepy/make girls feel unsafe.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Yep, 15 year old son here too – generally smart, usually makes good decisions, but also socially young (he’s neurodivergent), and when he doesn’t make good decisions, it’s because he’s sometimes persuaded that someone else had a “good” idea.

        We talk about consent, the difference between what you intended and how it felt on the receiving end, and yes, not being creepy/unsafe.

      2. Blythe*

        YES! We do have Life 360 and we like that it allows us to mutually keep track of each other (she likes knowing how far away I am when I am coming to pick her up etc). Also helps when someone loses their phone!

        And YES ALSO to the conversations about consent, birth control, etc. Lots of conversations around pregnancy prevention vs STD prevention (and how she should be aiming for both!). Definitely glad that this conversation is happening with kids of all genders!!

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

          I love all of what you’re doing! I think a specific piece of advice that is helpful to young people is that if you don’t know a person well enough to be discussing birth control/STD prevention, then you don’t know the person well enough yet to have sex with them. And when you do try, if the other person won’t talk cooperatively with you about birth control/STD prevention, then that is a red flag.

          Maybe also get your teen a copy of *The Gift of Fear*, which is about trusting your intuition and doing whatever you have to do to get out of a situation that makes you uncomfortable, no matter how silly you think it may make you look? (Content note: It is a little victim-blamey about DV victims, but the other advice is sound.)

    3. OyHiOh*

      Have a course of Plan B available at home (watch the expiration dates and swap out appropriately) and when it comes available next year, talk with her about the OTC birth control pill. She will still want to have condoms of course to reduce disease transmission!

      Assuming she has friends over, have a selection of period products in a bathroom. The basket of such things my girls and their friends have access to also includes cards for SafeToTell (K12 reporting app in our state), planned parenthood, intimate partner violence coalition, and health department (std testing) resources. I know my girls have the knowledge of those resources, but we don’t always know what their friends have access to.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep – condoms are great but the partner has to agree to use them, so ideally versions of birth control that are completely within her control and don’t require clear thinking in the moment are great for teens. Talk to her about what healthy, respectful relationships should look like and how she’ll know if a partner isn’t treating her respectfully – be clear on what stalking, abuse, control look like and let her know you’ll have her back.

      2. Blythe*

        PERFECT– I had been thinking about different resource cards and those are great ideas. I’m definitely thinking of this kit as something that any one of her friends might have access to as well if needed. And absolutely re period products everywhere. I teach middle school and am raising two adolescents who menstruate, so I feel like period products/symptom management makes up, like, 20% of my daily conversations ;)

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think one of the most useful things is to offer yourself up as an all-purpose excuse. “My mom would kill me…” Even if you actually wouldn’t.

      Bearing in mind that you’re often deploying that in response to “The vibe feels off, my gut is telling me to get out of here” rather than to An Obvious Transgression That Would Hold Up In A Court Of Law.

      Also the sincere promise “If you need a ride, call me and I will come get you, no questions asked. We might need to have a broad discussion the next day. But if the thing you thought you were handling is abruptly not handled, I will come extract you.”

      1. Llamas in pajamas*

        Yes to all of this. My daughter used me as an excuse a number of times. And we picked her up, no questions, a number of times.

      2. Blythe*

        Absolutely. I have told her all this, as well as that she can always use me as an excuse. “Sorry I can’t go– my mom said no.” When I told her this, she laughed: “I don’t really have a problem with being honest about things I don’t want to do.” (And she is absolutely right about that!! But always good to have the option for if she DOES find it difficult…)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I thing about being any age, but especially young, is that you can have things handled right up until that moment when you don’t. (Age hopefully gets you better at recognizing the looming cliff.)

          “Experience is what you have five minutes after it would have been useful.”

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

        Yes, knowing I could call my mom at any time to come get me was very helpful!

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have known people who have a key word for their kids – if kids say “really really” in the asking, parents know that kids want them to say no but don’t want friends to know that, will totally be the bad guy. “No, sorry, we have a thing going and I need you to head home right away.”

      5. BookMom*

        Absolutely.. the code word that means “I’m in a bad spot and need help/extraction and I can’t say it directly” is an essential tool. My oldest child’s was “YOLO” which was super popular slang when he was in middle school but was not something he would ever say.

      6. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Texting is awesome for this. Kid texts mom “CALL AND TELL ME TO COME HOME.” Erases text after Mom reads it so no one else sees. Mom calls and friends can hear Mom being adamant over the phone while kid whines to stay. Mom appears and removes kid. Mine never had to do this.

        Also came here to suggest Plan B.

        Since my kid could (and did) talk to me freely about sex and most of her friends couldn’t talk to their moms, I was the back-channel advisor to her group of friends in HS and in college. “Mom, Fluella missed her period….Emmalina thinks she has an STI…Julianette wants to know what to do for bladder infection…” I am a mandated reporter so I never promised her secrecy and at least once I’m quite sure she told me something specifically because she wanted me to take action even though her objections were quite convincing.

        Good for you.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      One thing I did when I was a teenager was if I was in car and the driver was impaired or reckless, I would say I was really carsick and about to throw up. It made it so I didn’t have to call out the driver. Had to walk a long way home a couple of times, but it literally saved my life once.

      1. Clisby*

        This is one thing we told our daughter, in case she was ever at a party or other social gathering where she was feeling like something was off.

        1) Call us.
        2) Tell whoever’s hosting (or similar) that you just threw up and still feel really sick (believe me, they don’t want you throwing up all over the place; AND my parents are on the way.

        It doesn’t have to be that anything criminal is going on – even teenagers can tell when something just doesn’t seem right.

        And we told them never to talk to the police without one of us present. (They’re in their 20s now, so obviously that won’t carry any weight any more, but this was when they were both teenagers.)

    6. fueled by coffee*

      ~$40 in cash! Credit cards and venmo are great, but so many people don’t carry cash anymore and I’ve needed in a pinch for everything from “only food source nearby doesn’t take cards” to “card declined” to “computers are down at the gas station so you have to pay cash and the next closest station is further away than my car will be able to make it.”

      Also useful if she’s trying to leave a situation early – at a restaurant or similar where people have already ordered, she can drop cash on the table to cover her portion and get out if she feels uncomfortable.

      1. Imtheone*

        Back when $10 would buy enough gas to fill up the tank, I wrapped up a ten dollar bill in plastic wrap and clear tape and attached it to my key chain. I often went out with little cash (and decades before cell phones). I never needed it, but it was good to know I always had enough money for gas.

        1. Jessica*

          You can buy a small thingy (metal cylinder) that goes on a keychain and would hold a pill or a bill or the like. Also a locking gas cap that has a combination lock and will hold a spare car key and a $20.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yep. They used to call this “mad money” back in the day: Always have enough cash to leave if he gets mad. Sad, but vital.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Tell her to memorize your phone numbers (home and cell), in case she can’t find or can’t use her cell phone for some reason.

      And/or add a card with those numbers, and maybe phone numbers of other adults who she could call in an emergency (like an aunt or uncle) to the emergency kit. Include the name and contact information for her pediatrician or the family doctor.

    8. Gamessss*

      Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I equipped my son with a similar kit and too many (according to him lol) ongoing convos. The most recent resource I added was a link to getcheckedonline, a free and confidential STI testing service in my province. It basically generates a lab requisition so you don’t have to go to a clinic and talk to a doctor, which can be embarrassing and a common reason many people don’t get checked.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Might as well throw some bandaids and a few aspirin in there since they don’t take up much room. Maybe some other regular first aid stuff and some tampons if you have room. They don’t fix big problems like the other stuff on your list, but they’re great for the minor issues that happen much more frequently.

    10. Alyce G.*

      Great idea! I would add a card with suicide hotline numbers and the local mental health crisis response number or program them into her phone. I do suicide risk assessments at work at the elementary level and kids are often the first ones to know when their friends are having suicidal thoughts. Even adults with annual trainings panic a little when they have to help someone find help with those thoughts.

    11. mmmmmmmBop*

      This is such a good idea! Seconding the cash recommendation. Maybe sanitary pads/tampons if that’s something she might need. A card with your cell on it if she doesn’t have it memorized (and even if she does – sometimes our minds refuse to provide the most basic information when we’re stressed).

    12. Jessica*

      I love the ideas people have had about indirectly helping her friends. Another good one on the relationship front is to talk about dating abuse from the 3rd-party perspective–if a friend is in a problem relationship, how to tell, and how to help. A friend recently said to me, talking about a friend who was in an abusive relationship in our long-ago college years, “we all knew it was messed up but we had no idea what to do.”

    13. Kiki Is The Most*

      Since I was a teen in the pre-cell phones era, then I suggest making sure that your daughter could function without one in case it is lost/stolen/damaged:
      *memorize parent phone number
      *small flashlight on key ring or in backpack/tote
      *keychain tool (I had a mini pocket knife on my house keyring)

      And as everyone has said, knowing that I could call my mom/dad without a doubt was the best resource for me. I, too, was a good kid but have been in some situations that I have had to walk out of a situation on my own because my friends wanted to stay in an unsafe space.

  34. sagewhiz*

    Hip-hip hurray, I’m getting a hip replacement!

    Since I’m in the land of “I don’t know what I don’t know,” for those of you who’ve had the surgery, what tips and tricks helped, both pre- and post-op? Esp. if you live alone.

    Other than prepping a lot of food for the freezer, what can I do in advance to lighten the later load or speed recovery?

    How long did you need someone to stay with you—due to a clusterflick of health issues in my immediate family, I have no one local to *babysit* me and am damned if I go into nursing rehab for a week or two as the doc said could be done, so I’m planning to fly a dear friend in to be with me. But how long a stay to anticipate? I know it’s dependent on the doc’s orders, but any general idea for her planning?

    What else do I need to know or think about???

    1. Llamas in pajamas*

      Not quite in your situation, but when I had my hip replaced, I’d say having someone for two weeks wouldn’t be stupid. Part of it is that for the first while you’re using a walker (get a walker with a tray, in your situation), and the other is that anesthesia does a number on you. I know advice varies, but where I am it is strongly suggested that you walk as much as you can. I think I tried for 3 or 4 walks a day, but it took a couple of weeks to get to the end of the block (from the middle) and back. You want to be supervised for all of that time. After the walker, I used crutches then a cane. It took me about a month before I could sit down for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. If you are prescribed physio, do it. Even if you cry from how much it hurts, it will pay off later.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      I joined the hippie club a few months ago. If you’re on Facebook, I recommend a group called Total Hip Replacement Forum. The lead admin is a physical therapist who’s had both of hers replaced. She’s got some stuff going on making her less available, but the group has tons of resources in their Files section, like lists of things you’ll need to buy and tips for preparing your home.

      My instructions were that I needed someone with me 24/7 for the first week and 2 weeks was better. I live with husband so this wasn’t an issue for me. I know you said you didn’t want to go to rehab, but just FYI it’s apparently pretty difficult to get insurance to agree that that’s “medically necessary” and pay for it, whether or not the doctor orders it. “Living alone” and “having stairs” don’t make it medically necessary. I was sent home same day, as is most common these days, and did just fine.

      You’ll need a walker of the type with wheels *only* on the front, and later a cane (some use crutches, insurance may provide some of these for you); a basket to hang on the front of your walker is extremely helpful; a toilet seat riser (I went for the 5″ tall one); good slip-on shoes and a long shoehorn; a “dressing stick;” a couple of grabbers/picker-uppers where you squeeze a handle and it closes the jaws to pick up stuff from the floor.

      Take your pain meds!! Staying ahead of the pain is really important. Also, narcotic pain meds will constipate you severely, so have prunes and high fiber cereal and ginger capsules on hand, and hydrate.

      Spend as little time as possible sitting up with your feet on the floor, to avoid swelling. Get up and walk for at least 5 minutes every hour, and sitting at a table for meals for 20 minutes is ok, but other than that spend as much time as you can with your toes as close as possible to the level of your nose. I lived in my powered recliner for many weeks; sofa or bed with leg elevated on pillows works too. Do your post-op exercises religiously.

      Keep things that you’ll need to use all the time on the counter, so you don’t need to bend/twist/reach for them in the first weeks.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      Yay for you! I just had mine done in March and it’s a game changer for sure.

      Ahead of time:
      – Get the sock thingy. It is so useful, especially for getting those compression socks on.
      – Get the grabby thing and keep it nearby at all times.
      – Toilet seat riser. I got an inexpensive one online, just basically a tall plastic donut
      – You should have a walker ahead of time and practice using it to get up and down safely. Attach a light grocery bag or basket to the front to help you schlep stuff around the house
      – Create a nook with trays/tables on either side. Stock it with a bunch of books, very simply craft supplies, chargers and power supplies that are not on the floor, a place for meds and water and stuff. You’ll be spending hours every day resting (between short bouts of PT) and it can get boring, and you will not be able to reach the floor for a while

      My partner stayed with me the first maybe 24 or 36 hours? Then after that he and my neighbors came by to drop off food or help with stuff. I don’t know how your surgery will go, but honestly, they wanted me up and moving right away. So while I needed help at first getting to the bathroom and such, within about 2 days, I was doing all of that by myself. Very slowly and very carefully, but by myself!

      there was also a physical therapist who came to my house once every other day for the first two weeks and helped me with increasing functionality. The first week or so, unless you can get someone to help, your house will devolve into utter messiness because you won’t be able to stand long enough to do dishes or laundry. So its great if you can have someone come and help with that. Or you can just tackle it a little bit at a time once your more stable.

      The one thing I don’t know how I would have done without my partner was showering. Getting in and out of the shower safely on my own took a while. Maybe you just do sponge baths, I don’t know. Or you could get a shower chair. But something to think about!

      And do ALL the PT. It’s really hard at first to get into the habit. They wanted me doing exercises every hour all day long. That’s a lot of exercise! But it made a huge difference. I was puttering around the house within a few days of surgery and taking walks around the neighborhood within the first two weeks.

      Sorry this was so long… I’m sure others will have ideas too. Good luck and I hope all goes well!

    4. numptea*

      I’ve been a caregiver in this situation.

      Have hands-free carrying capability (like a small crossbody bag or a fanny pack) that you can strap on your body to ensure that you have phone access if you should fall.

      You will not be able to navigate stairs for a while. Will you need a commode? Pet piddle pads and cheap cat litter can help if you need to dispose of waste in the trash instead of into a toilet. What about sponge bathing? Foaming or dry shampoo and baby wipes are good for this. Waxing prior to your operation can also make it easier to keep clean for the first couple of weeks.

      Lifting things is hard because you can’t firmly plant your feet and brace yourself. Move things you use often so they aren’t too high or too low.

      You will be using a walker, so make sure your house has wide paths and no trip hazards. Dispose of floor clutter and floppy area rugs, pick up pet toys, deal with any loose mouldings/flashing at flooring transition areas.

      Premake a lot of ice, or buy reusable cold packs for swelling and pain. They often use staples instead of stitches now, so use a cloth cover or else the ice against the metal will be uncomfortable.

      Some people believe that pregaming with certain foods and supplements encourages less bruising/swelling and faster healing, but diet and med changes should be run by your doctor to ensure there are no interaction concerns.

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

        With the walker, maybe make sure it has a bag or a tray so that you can move some stuff with you as you go?

        1. Lifelong student*

          In addition to the walker bag- I bought a bib apron with pockets so I can carry things – it is easier than a backpack when using a walker and not standing upright.

    5. Liminality*

      If you can get a handful of small-ish containers that you can write on with a dry erase marker (lids, sides) you can do your math of timing doses of medicines just the one time daily. You can prep each dose once a day and keep them close at hand for easy access.
      Trying to remember how often to take pain meds and which kind to take throughout the day can end up missing a dose or accidentally taking too much too soon. And, from what I’ve heard, falling into the pain-gap is rough.

    6. Luisa in Dallas*

      I would recommend EquipMeOT[dot]com and on her You Tube channel. She is an occupational therapist with some excellent practical advice for “how-to” sleep, dress, etc. after surgery. I was searching for handling shoulder replacement surgery (I will be the caregiver), but I see she has plenty of advice specifically for hip replacement folks. And her reviews of various kinds of assistance devices are very helpful as well.

      Hope all goes well for you with the help of your friend/caregiver.

    7. Sue Smith*

      My friend stayed with me for a little over a week. I agree about the brain not working well. I wanted to make a chart at home for tracking all my meds, and I couldn’t remember how to make a spreadsheet. Doing it on paper was crazy hard and took more than an hour (should have asked her to do it).

      She stayed nearby when I showered, and she did housework and did some grocery shopping and other errands for me.

      My post-op PT was at the medical facility so I had to arrange rides for all those appointments. I’d say not being able to to drive for six weeks was the most challenging thing.

      I did have a neighbor I could call if necessary.

    8. Nitpicker*

      Lots of good pointers here. Shoes. My foot swelled up (lasted about three weeks) and luckily I had sneakers that I could tie more loosely. Be aware, you have restrictions on bending over (google “hip replacement precautions “) so tieing shoes directly was out. I “pre-tied” a pair with elastic laces and used a combination of long shoehorn and grabber device to get them on.
      Occupational therapist met with me in the hospital to show me how to do this. (She also showed me how to put on pants using appropriate devices).
      Good luck. I’m so glad I did this – only sorry I waited as long as I did.

    9. Sopherin*

      In the U.S. there is a food storage wrap called Press & Seal that works like a charm for keeping your surgical site covered in the shower. Sticks to skin without being sticky, somehow.

    10. PhyllisB*

      There was a whole discussion on this topic last year. (Mid-October-first part of November) and I gave a lot of advice that I won’t repeat here, but I will tell you three things. Don’t be afraid to take your meds. So many people are afraid of getting addicted, but if you are in too much pain, you will not recover well. Especially the first two days. The meds made me loopy, but my PT said give in to it, you need to get plenty of rest the first two days. After that, I was able to just use Tylenol or Ibuprofen during the day and took my pain meds at night, but everyone is different.
      The other thing I didn’t know I should mention, is tell your surgeon to make sure your legs are the same length. (You would think that would be a given) I ended up with my surgical side leg being a half inch longer. It’s not a real problem, but I always feel like I am walking on uneven floors. When I wear my sneakers it’s not so evident, but I like to go barefoot.
      The last thing is, DO YOUR THERAPY!! The harder you work, the quicker your recovery. I saw the PT three times a week, but the clinic I used told me to download an app called mymobililty that gave me a reminder three times a day to do a set of exercises. (On PT days I only did them twice.) I was able to ditch the walker after a week and a half (with therapists’ approval of course) and was able to drive after three weeks. They told me it was because I was so compliant with my therapy.
      Good luck!!

  35. Ellen*

    Boyfriend Shirts?
    I don’t understand the thinking behind naming a women’s garment after a heteronormative relationship. Some retailers call them Big Shirts or Oversized Shirts which is descriptive without being, what? Cutesy? What is it about the word “boyfriend” that retailers (Lands End is one) think will appeal to their desired demographic better than “oversized” or “big”? Since many of these shirts are plaid flannel and on the more masculine end of the spectrum, maybe the thinking is that by calling them “boyfriend” shirts, they will be more appealing to more feminine heterosexual women because..? It gives them permission to wear something less appealing to the male gaze? They don’t want to think of themselves as being “big”, but the idea of wearing a boyfriend’s shirt is appealing? What? And for those of us whose preference is to wear non-feminine clothing, including some women who date women, adding a gendered appellation is curious.
    Every time I see that word when shopping, I think, “Here’s a company that’s stuck in a previous decade.”Can anyone here give me some insight into the naming choices by retailers?

    1. Clodagh*

      I have no insights but the style name for the underwear I wear is ‘boy shorts’ which I hate.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ha! I have never thought about this, but yes – I assume advertisers feel there is a larger market of heteronormative women who want to buy comfortable clothes but feel bad if it’s marketed as masculine/large – and they want to still feel “feminine” when buying these items – versus the market of gender neutral/queer people who would love to buy “stone cold butch sweaters” or whatever.* So by calling them “boyfriend” the idea is to signal they’re for women, in fact, attractive/desirable women who are in or would like to be in straight relationships.

      *would buy

    3. Not A Manager*

      When I was dating (hetero) in college and early 20’s, you would be at your boyfriend’s place and put on his shirt/sweatshirt to lounge around in. It felt special and intimate to be wearing his clothing, and maybe a bit territorial, too. If you got to take it home with you, that was *really* special. Sometimes you’d break up, but for one reason or another you’d still have custody of the big flannel shirt.

      When I hear “boyfriend shirt” that’s what I think of. That special, comfortable, loungy feeling of oversized clothing with a backstory.

      1. Angstrom*

        Agree. They’re trying to market the glow of “I’m yours, you’re mine, wearing this shirt of yours is like a warm snuggly hug from you”.

      2. Still*

        Yeah, this. I think that is exactly the feeling they’re trying to evoke. Which, fair, it’s a great feeling! Of course someone would try to sell it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I recall a clothing manufacturer explaining that his customer isn’t naked.

          People buy clothes that make them feel good. This is an attempt to evoke a feeling of warmth and coziness and belonging, via an item you can purchase. It could also apply to anything described as “fluffy.”

      3. Generic Name*


        I’m wearing a hoodie I stole from my husband. And I love wearing his flannel shirts (especially when they smell like him). I agree this is the feeling they’re selling.

        Funny story about “boyfriend” items of clothing. When my husband first moved in with me, he washed every single piece of clothing he owned right away. His roommate’s mom was visiting, and she smoked in the house, so he wanted to get rid of the smell. I opened the dryer, and saw a strange tank top I’d never seen before. It was Old Navy brand and said “boyfriend tank”. When I questioned my husband about it, he said, “yeah, an old girlfriend gave that to me. I’m not really a tank top kind of guy, it it also fits kind of weird.” I had to explain to him that it was a woman’s top, so no wonder the for was off. Lol

      4. Person from the Resume*

        I think this is the key. It’s not a boy short (which is describing masculine style of underwear for women) but a boyfriend’s shirt.

    4. anywhere but here*

      In my experience, “boyfriend shirts” fit weirdly in an attempt to look like the woman has taken her boyfriend’s clothes. They don’t fit like either men’s clothes or normal women’s clothes, which I think distinguishes them from regular women’s clothing that is simply less fitted / larger and more “masculine.” So maybe the naming convention is meant to indicate the weird sizing/fit moreso than the particular style of clothing.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      It’s a reference to the stage in a relationship where you feel okay to steal a man’s clothes, and going home in his hoodie or shirt is considered less “walk of shame” than returning home in your own cold, tiny bodycon clothing items which beauty standards made you consider to be more important than warmth and comfort. Obviously the problematic implication is that if he won’t even lend you a shirt, then it was definitely just a one nighter and there’s some slut shaming implications there, which is also why I hate the term “walk of shame”. So, if you wear genuine stolen-from-boyfriend items, you’re a woman whose desirability is such that it comes with a carte blanche to steal from another person’s wardrobe (if you speak to men about this, they aren’t happy about it, a lot of them!). If you don’t have a boyfriend, you can just buy your very own boyfriend shirt and fake the effect, subliminally telling a guy how good you could look in his stuff, and make him wonder if he would let you steal his clothes. To be fair, I think the most ridiculous thing about trying to fake wearing a boyfriend’s clothes is that the obvious move is to go buy actual men’s clothes if you really want to do it authentically. Which I do, because my guy has very nice stuff which I am not allowed to pinch, and men’s stuff is warmer, roomier and better quality than so called “boyfriend” clothes made for women. Possibly real men’s clothes make it look like you already have a boyfriend instead of just hinting that you’d like one? Its all pretty messed up tbh.

      1. Maggie*

        It’s really not that deep. It’s just a cutesy name for looser or oversized clothing. It’s not a referendum on who is good enough and who had a walk of shame.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Ha, fair! When I try to discuss metaphors in texts with students they say “Miss, you’re overthinking it”.

          1. AGD*

            I thought it was a fascinating bit of analysis! Regardless of whether the marketers intended it, those connotations are probably all coming out in the use/perception.

        2. ShinyPenny*

          I enjoyed the deep analysis! There’s a lot of great nuance there.
          You aren’t *required* to go that deep, but the whole scenario is definitely culturally loaded. And the marketing choice to use the term “boyfriend shirt” wasn’t made in a vacuum.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        I’ve read a ton of fashion discourse and never seen anything even remotely close to that in relation to “boyfriend clothes.” But interesting that some people think every single aspect of women’s fashion is designed to appeal to men.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I would probably join the “comfort blanket for women” school of thought if boyfriend clothes were in fact as comfortable as actual men’s clothes. But they’re always terrible.

          1. Valancy Snaith*

            For you…I find actual men’s clothes to fit me incorrectly in almost every way and are pretty uncomfortable. “Boyfriend” style women’s stuff is a good fit, though. Perhaps your own experience in clothing isn’t universal?

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Honestly it would be pretty strange if it was! That’s why I was only talking about why I hadn’t joined that particular response to boyfriend clothes *personally*.

          2. RagingADHD*

            I agree that it’s not the same as men’s clothes. But it’s an association they are trying to invoke.

            Branding isn’t exactly known for strict literalness or accuracy, after all.

      3. SarahKay*

        (if you speak to men about this, they aren’t happy about it, a lot of them!)</blockquote
        First time ever staying overnight at my boyfriend's parents and I realised I'd forgotten to pack a nightshirt. I asked if I could borrow one of his t-shirts so I'd have something to wear for middle-of-the-night bathroom visits (my t-shirts were all far too short to be useful for coverage). He looked horrified and said "But you'll stretch it in the front."
        Okay, yes, I have breasts, but they aren't *that* large.
        I pointed out that (a) it's a t-shirt; it will unstretch when you wash it. And (b) we're at his *parents'* house and I do not have anything suitable to wear, now give me the damn t-shirt!

    6. RagingADHD*

      They are pushing a very specific emotional button, associated with the affectionate / cozy implications that someone’s boyfriend has either lent a shirt to keep her warm when they were out, or that they live together and she borrows his clothes as a physical and emotional comfort item because it smells like him.

      It’s not just a garment, it’s a “blankie” or “lovey” that appeals to the toddler brain.

      I realize there are plenty of ways to assign negative implications, but the level at which the messaging works really isn’t that deep.

    7. Double A*

      I think a lot of women who date/have dated men have at some point stolen an item of their clothing and it’s been very comfortable both physically and emotionally. So I’m assuming they’re trying to cash in on that association.

      Also I have to say that association is very appealing to me as a straight woman. The boyfriend branding works on me to take a second look, but usually the styling is ugly and I don’t like it. Turns out a good boyfriend shirt is only one you actually stole from your boyfriend.

      1. SoloKid*

        I have a fair amount of “stolen” husband shirts…if I ever get the hankering for a store-bought source of them I’ll head to the men’s section

    8. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I find this term silly as well. At its most over the top: Once I ran across a pair of jeans dubbed “Ex-Boyfriend Jeans.” They were ripped. I found that both hilarious in its literalness and too on the nose.

  36. fear of sleep*

    Removed because we can’t give medical advice here; please talk to your doctor about this!

  37. GoryDetails*

    Reading thread? (There are already a couple of more-specific threads about recommendations, but not a general what-are-we-reading thread.)

    1. GoryDetails*

      My most-impressive recent read:

      THE SEPTEMBER HOUSE by Carissa Orlando, which I picked up because it sounded like an amusing twist on a haunted-house story: the protagonist loves her Victorian house despite the periodic oozings of blood from the walls, howlings of ghostly children, etc., and has chosen to find ways to live with these little inconveniences. Turns out that while the story does have a lovely dark-humor element, there’s an actual dark side as well, with flashbacks showing more details of our heroine’s life before moving into the house.

      Carrying-around book: THIN AIR by Michelle Paver, a re-read that I’m enjoying even more than the first time – much creepiness during a mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas, following the path of a doomed expedition that may have left ghosts behind.

      Audiobooks: A short work, “We Are the Water People” by Troy Onyango, read by an excellent voice-cast. It features a shifting-viewpoint account of a murder, including the views of the souls of dead fishermen who linger in the waters of Nam Lolwe (Lake Victoria), and concluding with living characters who – up to that point – have seemed to be the likely suspects; their version of events shifts perspective entirely.

      And another re-read: GOING POSTAL by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Richard Coyle (Moist von Lipwig in the television adaptation of Going Postal), with actor Bill Nighy reading the footnotes and Peter Serafinowicz as the voice of Death. It’s a hilarious tale of a con man who’s spared execution on condition that he take over the moribund post office – ghosts and fatal “accidents” and all. Subplots involve technological advances (the “klax” wireless technology has changing the face of the Disc), the rights of golems, and a very nasty villain whose aim is to *become* the city’s brilliant patrician, Lord Vetinari…

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Last book I finished: Spear by Nicola Griffith. Fun queer retelling of the Grail legends.

      Started but did not finish: Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall and Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho.

      Started and will likely finish: The World We Make by NK Jemisin. Sequel to The City We Became, which is simultaneously a superhero love story to New York City and a gigantic middle finger to HP Lovecraft.

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      This week I am reading the wonderful East Goes West by Younghill Kang. Written in the late 1930s, it is a remarkable story of a Korean immigrant arriving in the US with nothing, and bravely making his way. Many immigrant groups are mentioned and celebrated. The realities of the American Dream are matter-of-factly addressed.

      The author taught at NYU at the same time as Thomas Wolfe. How did this book not get the same kind of attention as Wolfe’s books? It is thought to be the first Korean-American novel. Penguin Classics has designated it now as a landmark book and added it to the Penguin Vitae list. Well deserved.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Thanks for this suggestion! I’ve just gone over to put Kang’s book on my library hold list

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

      I’m in cozy mode. Finished *The Italian Secretary*, finishing *The Code of the Woosters*, and about to start some more Lucia novels.

    5. OtterB*

      I’m rereading the Green Man series by Juliet E McKenna ahead of the release of book 6 in a couple of weeks. The main character, Dan, is the son of a dryad and a human man and he has the ability to see and talk to supernatural characters. But of course he can’t explain how he knows what he knows. I didn’t love the first book because it used one of my least favorite tropes, innocent person suspected of murder. But I am glad I stuck with it. Dan is a genuinely good guy, trying to do the right thing in sometimes ambiguous situations. And, since the Green Man has begun to call on him to clear up problems, he’s likely to keep finding himself in trouble.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      Thank you for starting the thread!
      This week, I read Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos. I have no idea why this was on my to-read list, this is not my usual genre (military sf). It wasn’t bad, but it’s not for me. I have a lot of books from the library and I’m trying to decide on what to read next.

    7. Forrest Rhodes*

      Am giving myself the afternoon off today so I can begin “Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law” by Mary Roach. I was intrigued when I heard her recent interview on NPR—and even more interested when I realized she also wrote “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.”

      I got the latter book in my library’s “take a risk” program—a shelf is lined with books that are completely and individually wrapped in brown paper; you choose one —mostly by size, I guess—without seeing title or author, and without knowing anything about it. (But the wrappings were all carefully marked as “For Children” or “For Adult” so there was no chance some 6-year-old would end up with “The Decameron.”)

      It was one of the more fascinating lucky selections I’ve ever made, and I’m really looking forward to today’s choice as well.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Mary Roach’s work! Her first books include “Stiff” (what happens to human bodies after death), “Spook” (she delves into the paranormal, finding the science behind supposed hauntings, looking into frauds, even attending a school in how to become a medium), and “Bonk” (about sex – with some… entertaining studies in which she drafts her husband to help), and I pick up her new books as soon as I see them.

    8. Bluebell*

      Just finished Sunshine Nails. Excellent recommendation from Alison though I thought the book flap description wasn’t really accurate. Also read The Guilt Trip, which was trashy fun.

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      For October, I’m rereading the Witch books in the Discworld series, starting with Equal Rites.

      I also have We Have Always Lived in the Castle lined up for this month.

    10. BellaStella*

      The cat who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa. it is good fun and is about a cat and a young boy and books.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m on vacation so I’m popping around between fiction and nonfiction.

      Fiction: I just re-read Under the Done by Stephen King and it hit a little uncomfortably close to current events in some roundabout ways. I also read “Cassiel’s Servant”, which is “Kushiel’s Dart” from Joscelin’s POV, which I think I might’ve enjoyed more than the original? And “Sleep No More” – the most recent of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books, which has a partner book coming out I think later this month.

      Nonfiction: “Wonder Drug” – what actually happened with thalidomide in the US (answer: both more and less than I already knew). I also finished “Glitter and Concrete”, a history of drag culture in New York City, which was absolutely fascinating.

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      I just finished the Alchemist. I found it to be a somewhat interesting story, with some parallels in plot and feeling to The Little Prince. But it was full of mixed theologies and mysticism (? not sure this is the word I want), and I just couldn’t get into it.

  38. Fiona Orange*

    How do you deal when you’re happily married and find yourself attracted to someone else, and it’s someone who you can’t avoid because you go to work on the same bus or train?

    1. sleepy kitty*

      You acknowledge that you’re human, that attraction happens, but don’t act on it? I had a very strong attraction to a colleague at work. I think we both felt the sparks, but … nothing happened. It’s harder when you’re having a rough patch with your spouse, but you’re always in control of your actions.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        You acknowledge that you’re human, that attraction happens, but don’t act on it?

        I support this approach. It reminds me of my first exposure to meditation. It was a lot of focus on your breathing and various parts of your body and how you feel, but it was also “If you get distracted by some thought (like what you have to do today), acknowledge that distraction and then let it go.”

        I think if you obsess too much about not being attracted or trying to avoid the attraction, it may make it worse somehow?

    2. Oh So Very Anonymous For This*

      I’ve been there, for sure. For me, I savor the tension and allow myself the occasional reverie but it never goes outside my head. I don’t involve that other person in my mental fun for several reasons, not the least of which is they may not be interested in me, and I don’t want to ruin the fun. Funny part is: My partner and I have an open marriage – if I wanted to, I could pursue those other people who catch my eye – but even with that permission, I still don’t.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      I had a pheromone intense reaction to someone once, it was very unsettling. I focused on their unattractive traits, but these were people I could actually speak with. Perhaps trying to focus on “your attraction is likely based on some fantasy, that a real person could not ever fill” will help? As well as, think of how “the visual” of this person in a manner similar to how reading something spicy might get you in the mood. My grandmother used to say “it doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you go home to eat.” Maybe just try to enjoy this “appetite stimulant”?

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, I didn’t see this comment before posting mine! I guess my friend and your grandma were on the same wavelength.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, that’s definitely what I did when I had a crush on a very attractive coworker. He was also married at the time. But even if we’d both been single, we’re so different personalities that there’s no way a relationship could’ve worked even if he’d had a crush on me. He’s an extrovert who needs to be around people most of the time (his mental health definitely tanked during Covid), I’m an introvert who needs a lot of time to myself to recharge, I’m an early bird and he’s a night owl (great for scheduling work because we have a flexible schedule and I start early and he finishes late), and we have very different tastes in entertainment. Both of us are voracious readers and interested in languages, but don’t really have much in common apart from that. But we complement each other wonderfully as coworkers and he’s the closest thing I have to a friend-friend at work, or even a male friend in general.

        I got over my crush by thinking of all the characteristics about him that I couldn’t live with in a partner, and by thinking about how happy I was in my marriage (this bit is obviously harder if you’re going through a rough patch). My husband definitely benefited from my increased appetite, and so did I.

    4. RagingADHD*

      A long-married friend once told me, it doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you eat dinner at home.

      Having been married 20 years now, I can attest that it’s excellent advice.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Forty eight years happily married, and I’ve had that experience a few times. I just think of it as a crush, like on an actor or musician. Great fun but totally nothing will ever come of it. Then be sure to be absolutely normal around the person. It’s not a big deal.

      1. Fiona Orange*

        This crush is different than having a crush on a celebrity, because I interact with him in real life. I guess the only thing to do is to be friendly with him whenever I see him, but not to deliberately go out of my way to spend time with him apart from the train.

        1. Today*

          So, you’re interacting with him, not just seeing him across the crowd? That might begin to complicate your situation. Perhaps you can give yourself a little more elbow room, wear earphones, etc.

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I am taking you at your word that you are happily married, meaning you love your husband, you are attracted to him, you love to spend time with him, things are going well at home, etc. Most traditional wedding vows contain some form of the phrase “forsaking all others…”. This is the situation where that phrase applies (assuming it was in your vows). Commuter trains I’m familiar with tend to have multiple cars. It would seem that if you really tried, you could find a location on the train away from this person and avoid any interaction.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I agree. It would be more difficult to manage on the bus.

        I guess it depends on the culture in your region, but I’m in Finland where commuters in general barely acknowledge each other unless there’s a delay or something else happens unexpectedly.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I think monogamy might actually be easier for people who don’t experience “I have pair-bonded, so I don’t notice other sexy people.” Because then passing attraction is a routine thing you are practiced at handling. Whereas for those who mostly don’t find other people sexually interesting, finally stumbling into that can read like “I have received a SIGN. From THE UNIVERSE” rather than “I have a functioning libido and so will occasionally find other humans desirable.”

    8. Angstrom*

      Well, if you believe in the infinite parallel universe theory, there must be one in which the two of you are a hot item. ;-) One can enjoy thoughts of being together in a completely different reality AND be very clear that nothing is going to happen here and now.
      You’re going to feel what you feel, but you absolutely can control your actions.

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Any former vegetarians out there? My partner has been a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) since he was a teenager. For various reasons, he’d like to start incorporating fish into his diet (but not shellfish– he’d prefer to keep a Kosher-style diet). I do 90% of the cooking in our household. With his permission, I’ve started incorporating things like bonito flakes and fish sauce into our meals, and he’s amenable to things like putting anchovies in pasta sauce (which I love and only do when he’s not around, so a win for me). If you’ve done this before, did anything work particularly well for you? Anything fail spectacularly?

    1. turkey weekend!*

      I’ve done this. Go very slowly. So, maybe buy a fish fillet, and you eat 2/3 – 3/4 and he has a bite or two. Then if all goes well, a few days later repeat, and then slowly work the way up to his own portion of fish?

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

      Not a vegetarian, but I had to train myself to like fish. Easier things were tuna salad, fish sticks, salmon filets, smoked salmon, as mentioned. Gefilte fish was okay too (tasty with some horseradish on it). I agree with the comments about going slow and having small/tiny portions of the new foods.

    3. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

      Yes! I was a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian for 10 years, but I started digging deeper into my childhood faith (not Judaism) which involves long periods of being vegan followed by periods of meat-eating. After one of those vegan periods, I was like, dang, I want CHICKEN! So I ate it, for the first time in 10 years ;)

      I honestly didn’t notice many if any ill effects when I incorporated (and unincorporated and reincorporated, etc.) meat into my diet. Conventional wisdom is to do red meat last. I’ve also heard good things about eating yogurt with live and active cultures.

    4. Squidhead*

      I didn’t have any problem (like intolerance or discomfort) re-incorporating poultry or fish and shellfish. I still don’t eat red meat (going on 25 years now) but occasionally have had soup I suspect was made with beef and had some discomfort. I’m not sure if that’s the type of problem you’re referring to?

      In general, I only re-incorporated meats I already liked (which does not include red meat) so I wasn’t trying to “teach” myself to like them though I did have to teach myself to cook them (I stopped eating meat at 17 when in college and hadn’t done a lot of meat cooking…especially seafood cooking at that point). So if he’s trying to add fish for health reasons but doesn’t know if he likes fish at all, then you might have to try some different fish and seasonings and cooking methods to find a good combo for him. If he already knows he likes eg: salmon then I don’t think it is much of an adjustment especially if you don’t make it every day. (Currently, I eat poultry or seafood between 0 and 4 days a week, I’d guess.)