weekend open thread – May 11-12, 2024

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: Funny Story, by Emily Henry. When a librarian’s fiancé leaves her for his long-time best friend, she moves in with the ex’s new fiancée’s ex-boyfriend.

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

{ 928 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s what happened to me today” personal-blog-style posts are not. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

  2. Medical Librarian*

    My college-age daughter leaves for a month of study abroad in Tuscania soon. Any tips to share with her?

    1. BeeCee*

      I have studied abroad for a semester. Here are my tips:

      * Learn to take public transportation. Some Americans, especially ones from the rural area, never take a bus or a train before. Lots of the older European cities are not car friendly. Energy prices are “extremely high”. Expect to walk tons. Get comfortable shoes.
      * Learn the local language. At least the important keywords such as restrooms, exit, entrance, numbers, telling time, some foods & drinks. Do not assume that everyone can converse in English. Don’t be afraid to use body language if you are not understood. Nowadays, translation apps help.
      * Learn the local history according to the people who live there. Different countries want people to know certain things. Social media shows you what you want to watch: Get out of the bubble. Be sure to know the do’s/don’ts and taboos.
      * (Americans only) Never tell other that you are from a certain state: Just tell others that you’re from the US. It’s so common for Americans to tell foreigners that they are from Iowa/Texas/Utah/South Carolina etc. People may know where Washington, San Francisco, Florida, Hawaii and New York are, but just putting out the name of a state (especially in the mid-west) may be a bit awkward. If others are interested, you can start describing the parts of the US.

      1. Daisy*

        I’ve lived in Europe repeatedly, and I’m going to second the comfortable shoes. Test them out by walking two or three miles before you leave on the trip. If you have bad shoes, you will DIE.

        Another detail, from when I lived elsewhere in Italy– that place was big on terazzo floors, which got very slick when wet. You want these shoes to have non-skid rubber soles.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I really noticed the shoes when we were in Florence–if you’re not in a fashion shoot, you’re wearing shoes practical for a lot of walking. Walking is the practical way to get where you’re going, while admiring the beautiful narrow cobblestone alleys.

      2. KeinName*

        I just yesterday had a woman in the elevator in a Norwegian hotel tell me she is from Georgia and her pals are from Iowa, and I didn’t mind at all, although admittedly I don’t know the first thing about these places. I liked that she wanted to be specific. She also first said, in a very questioning voice, ‚I am from… the USA?‘ as if I mightn’t have heard of that place, which also tickled me.

      3. Ex CA*

        I say I am from California. It helps stave off assumptions and stupid questions e.g. about politics where I am in Europe. Of course, that works because California is famous enough.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Haha, I’m usually even more specific and say I’m from Los Angeles. But pretty much everyone knows where that is.

          1. ElastiGirl*

            Ha!… I was once on a customer service call with someone whose English was not good at all. Out of curiosity, I asked where they were located. They insisted they were in the US. Okay, fine. We continued with the call. They kept bringing up that they were in the US.

            Then I had to give my address. I just said Los Angeles and the zip code. They asked, “And what is the state?”

            They were not in the US.

    2. Daisy*

      Most public places in Europe do not have free public restrooms, nor can you count on stores to have them. Always carry enough Euro coins to pay for a restroom if need be, and, also, you might need to get used to drinking way less water than is typical for Americans.

      Check your phone’s international plan for the data/phone rates. For mine, the data is fine but the cost of phone calls is exorbitant, so you want to make all your calls over wifi. I accidentally racked up a $90 phone bill one month while there. Heed my mistake!

      Every time I’ve visited Europe I’ve come with a guidebook, and almost always ignored it but for the maps. I’ll explore an area on foot, and usually find more unique stores and museums and eateries than are ever listed.

      There is a brand of Italian mints called Pastiglie Leone which are *delicious.* There are any number of Italian truffles which are *delicious.* Italian licorice is *delicious.*

      On a similar vein, Bassetti is a brand of sheets in Italy which is utterly to die for, the absolute silkiest things and the most gorgeous colors and patterns. Reasonable prices! You cannot find them here, and the European sheet sizes will fit on American bed sizes just fine. Don’t come back without them.

      Do not bring a suitcase you can’t roll with you for at least half a mile or carry up three flights of stairs. Ask me how I know.

      Your standard Italian grocery store will have prosciutto far superior to any prosciutto that is to be found even at fancy grocery stores in the US. The same goes for cold cuts. And pasta. And pest (many more varieties). For vegetables, you really need to go to a specifically vegetable/fruit store or one of those food court market things.

      You will walk a lot. Get in good physical condition before you leave. Perhaps by rolling your suitcase several miles in the shoes you plan on wearing, then hauling it up several flights of stairs?

      The acoustic experience of hearing music performed in the spaces it was originally designed for cannot be replicated. Go to an organ/classical music concert at a church or cathedral, even if you don’t think it’s your thing. The way the space amplifies the sound and lets it reverberate is a unique wonder unto itself, more profound than the difference between watching a movie at home vs. in a theater.

      That’s all I can think of for now, but I’ll add more if I remember!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Enthusiastic cosign for finding music. I’ve heard chamber music twice in St Chappelle in Paris and we found a Vivaldi performance in Venice in a 16th century building. I’m not Catholic (or any variety of Christian) and I love going to church services in gorgeous old cathedrals just to hear the organ and the choir.

        1. CatMintCat*

          Living in Europe was the only time in my life I went regularly to church. For the music.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        on the bathrooms points…depending where you are coming from, Europe is better! There is a complete lack of bathrooms around me, the bathrooms at places like Starbucks are even locked for no reason at times. I loved the option of paying a tiny amount but knowing I will 100% have a bathroom, when in Europe!

    3. AcademiaNut*

      For the translator apps, pre-download the language pack for the language(s) you’ll need. That will let you use the camera translation (useful for menus, signs and grocery shopping), and give you some functionality even when offline.

      If you have serious food restrictions, write down an explanation in the local language to show at restaurants. The EU has a lot of regulations regarding labelling menus, etc. so common allergens are generally listed on the menu, much more so than in the US.

      Know the generic/chemical name of any over the counter drugs you use (pain killers, allergy meds, etc). Different countries have different brand names, and even if you can’t read the language, the package often has the more general name.

      And enjoy the food! Be willing to try stuff outside of your comfort zone. I got treated very well in Italy at restaurants; it was blindingly obvious we were tourists, but we read up on local eating and ordering habits in advance, and I think it was appreciated. Italy blew me away food wise; the cuisine is quite different that Italian food outside of Italy/Europe.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      I may have read too much NotAlwaysRight but I get the impression that in the US there is a lot more leeway in customer services, in the customer’s favour. I’m sure your daughter won’t be impolite/ try to insist someone is fired and expect things to be discounted or comped to stop her making a fuss, but Europe is stricter on deals/offers and returns. If it’s buy one get one free, you must buy two, you won’t get one for half price, and if you need to return something because you’ve changed your mind as opposed to it being broken/faulty, it must be unworn/unused, with tags/packaging, and a receipt.
      Again I’m sure she wouldn’t but for the love of all that’s holy don’t say aloud, “well it’s not like it is in the states” – of course it isn’t that’s why you are somewhere else! :-)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Eh. For what it’s worth, a large portion of NAR is made up and/or exaggerated, and even what true stories are there, keep in mind “I went to work and everything was fine and I came home” doesn’t make a good story, they’re only sharing the weird stuff.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          I’m sure you’re right but there is enough “the manager made me do it anyway” to indicate there’s a grain of truth to it – some basis for expectations that don’t exist here. The buy one get one free thing is something I learned from a real life US friend.

    5. ruining my life*

      People can tell you’re a foreigner/tourist. They absolutely never need to approach you for help/directions. If someone approaches you they are trying to pickpocket you. This includes sitting at a cafe with friends. People don’t need the time, or to ask you anything at all.

      1. Medical Librarian*

        Smaller town in the Tuscany region of Italy, north of Rome and south of Florence.

    6. Offlerite*

      It depends what she’s there to study: if it’s language, a month is not long and could very easily pass before she’s found any linguistic confidence, especially if she’s in the company of other native speakers of her own language. Something I’ve found really helpful when learning languages in-country is to accept that you are going to look an idiot at times. Shyness or fear of error will extend this period. Just grasp the nettle, start talking to locals and if they can see that you are making an effort they will usually be pleased to help out. Each embarrassing mistake is a gift, because you never make it again!

  3. Peanut Person*

    Another post asking for your moving advice :)

    My husband and I are listing our home for sale (going live June 1) and moving four states away. Any advice on house shopping from several states away? And any general moving advice? I’m in super declutter/simplify mode right now, as well as getting pre-approval applications going.

    Thank you!

    1. Not your typical admin*

      Get a great realtor who will do live video walkthroughs with you. Google maps is great for looking at the surrounding area.

    2. 3-foot inflatable rainbow-colored unicorn*

      Random moving advice from years of military relocations:

      -Be ruthless in your decluttering, especially if you’re potentially downsizing with the new house. If you’re on the fence about something, ask yourself if you really want to pack it, pay to ship it, unpack it again, and find someplace to store it.
      -Decluttering includes food- cut back on your grocery shopping now and start eating through everything you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry
      -Stacks of books get very heavy, very fast, so only pack them in the small boxes.
      -Take photos/video of your furniture and breakables before the movers come in so you have evidence of their original condition for any damage claims later (why no, the cream sofa from the living room did not have greasy black bootprints on the cushions before it went on the truck)
      -Label boxes on all sides with the destination room: kitchen, master bedroom, basement, and so on
      -Similarly, identify the items that you’ll need for your first nights in the new house (bedding, dishes/cookware, etc) and make sure those are packed in marked boxes so you can find them quickly

      1. Just Another Cog*

        I second all of these tips! We sold our home a state away and put much of our stuff in storage at our new location for a year while our new place was under construction. We downsized, and I thought I was being ruthless in paring down. I was not ruthless enough. After moving into the new house, we had to get rid of even more furniture and stuff I was kind of on the fence about in the old house. I realized we wasted so much money, time and energy moving and storing things we could have just gotten rid of to begin with.

        Keeping good thoughts that your house sells at a great price and quickly. And, that getting settled into a new house is stress free.

      2. MJ*

        If the movers are helping you pack, make sure they don’t split your “open first” box contents into other boxes in an attempt to fill them up!!

        1. cabbagepants*

          Ah, the memories of the movers who enthusiastically packed our carefully-reserved box-cutters.

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

      If you’re going to have your house staged by a professional stager, once you’ve decluttered down to the furniture level, pause and ask the stager if there’s any furniture you should make sure to keep for use in the staging.

      If there’s a fair bit of furniture or other random nice stuff you won’t be taking with you, you might be able to get a professional in to do an estate sale.

      And if you can afford it, hire professional movers who pack your stuff for you (and can unpack it for you on the other end for an additional fee).

    4. Knighthope*

      Pack a suitcase for each person containing clothes, toiletries, toys, whatever for several days. Also, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. essentials boxes.

    5. Daisy*

      Many boxes can be had for free if you ask nicely at your local liquor or grocery store. On the other end, you can offload them easily by offering them for free on Craigslist.

      1. EssentiallyEssential*

        Call and ask for the produce manager. Ask if they’re able to set aside any apple boxes. They’re sturdy, deep, and the lid just fully fits over the top of it. (Yes, there will be a lingering apple smell. You may need to find a way to de-scent it)

      2. Llellayena*

        Barnes and Noble boxes. Perfect size for books (obviously) but also sturdy and a good carrying size. You might have to ask one day and come back to pick them up but you can get a big stack easily.

      3. ElastiGirl*

        Arrowhead water boxes for books. Wine boxes, with the inserts, for small items.

    6. Rick Tq*

      Zillow and Redfin are your friends, plus see if the county(s) you are interested in have their property records online. We used it to check actual lot sizes, identify flood plains, etc. Google Maps and Street View are a start but having a local realtor makes a big difference in locating exactly the right neighborhood and property for you.

    7. JSPA*

      If you can, find someone to swing though the neighborhood on friday evening and Sunday morning to check noise and activity levels outside of standard realtor hours.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m not sure where you are moving, but the housing market is crazy in many parts of the country right now. I would ask your realtor what the local area is like and depending on what they say, see if you can widen your search or also consider a short/long term rental so you have some options if you can’t find a house you like in the new area right away.

    9. RLC*

      Check out the websites for the local TV station(s) and other local media at your destination. Both current news items as well as archives can have a wealth of information about everything from the neighborhoods that flood with every rainstorm to the roadways with the worst delays for commuters to which schools make the news (in both good and bad ways), just a few examples.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Citydata is a good source, too.
        Label boxesin big lettets on all four sides and the top. That way you can tell the contents no matter how they are stacked.
        Good luck!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      My advice is for after you get to your new home.

      1) Set up and make the bed before you do anything else. (Have the pillows, blankets and sheets packed in one box and clearly labeled. Include your pajamas in there too.)

      2) Make sure you have all your toiletries, including things like shampoo, set aside in one case/box as well. Include towels, shower curtain/liner, and bathmat. Once the bed is set up, set up the bathroom. Don’t worry about decorating; just make sure you’ve got all the basics out and ready to use.

      3) Once you’ve got everything off the truck and are ready to eat, order pizza, Chinese, or whatever else you want. Make sure to save enough for tomorrow’s lunch.

      4) Exhausted, haul yourself to the bathroom, take a long hot shower and brush your teeth. Collapse into your tidy, set up bed, and snooze contentedly.

      1. I take tea*

        Absolutely seconding the recommendation to make your bed first thing. I was so thankful for that the first evening. A suitcase with a week’s worth of clothes is also very convenient.

        Everybody says to declutter first, but I didn’t really have the time and energy, so I have done it while unpacking. But we didn’t move cross-country.

        1. cabbagepants*

          The bed idea is so smart. We would always sleep on an inflatable mattress and assemble the bed last and ugh! We never felt really moved in until our bed was assembled.

    11. Six Feldspar*

      Number your boxes and keep a general list of what’s in there, if you can get different coloured tape you can colour code the boxes to each room too.

    12. Andromeda*

      Measure your furniture and compare it to the floor plan of the new place, especially if you’re moving somewhere smaller. Photos on house websites are always extremely deceiving re how much space you’re actually going to get.

      Also, moving is EXHAUSTING. Plan more rest/do-nothing time than you think you’ll need in the next few months.

    13. My Brain is Exploding*

      Some of this depends on if you are moving yourself or having movers. Lots of good advice already, so I won’t repeat (I hope). With movers (and maybe if you do it yourself) – have them BOX the sofa cushions and, if feet come off coffee tables, etc. remove them and box them as well. (Yes, our movers did lose a sofa cushion and a coffee table leg! They did find one of them.)

    14. You want stories, I got stories*

      Ar you moving yourself or hiring movers? I will share the two horror stories that have happened recently to people I know and using movers. This is not a “Bash them” but hopefully a. “What questions to ask.”

      My sister moved, hired movers. They load the truck. Take the truck to a central location. Unload the truck. Then load another truck to take to the final destination. Stuff got left behind the the movers said it wasn’t there problem.

      A friend was moving. The truck got into an accident. Jack knifed. Driver is fine. But their stuff was left on the side of the road, the trailer broken and they weren’t allowed to try to salvage anything for a few days and it rained that entire time.

  4. Not your typical admin*

    Tomorrow is my oldest’s high school graduation!!! Feeling all the emotions. He’s giving a speech I haven’t been allowed to read. Tips on being able to not cry would be helpful.

    Also – next week is prom and I’m thinking of doing a small afterparty with snacks. Give me ideas for your favorite, easy, low clean up late night snacks

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s Endive with Oranges and Almonds

      It is lighter and has fruit and vegetables, which people are often craving as an option. I brought these to my child’s sports team gatherings and they were devoured.

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

      Congratulations!

      I don’t know that you have to not cry — if you can’t cry from joy when your kid graduates, when can you? Just bring a nice handkerchief or something and don’t worry about it.

      To follow up on Falling Dipthong’s healthy suggestion, if you don’t have a lot of energy for cooking/prep work, maybe pre-chopped veggies and dip from the store?

    3. California Dreamin’*

      I expected to cry a LOT at my eldest’s high school graduation (I’m a pretty easy crier!) and oddly I just… didn’t. Maybe I was feeling more excited that evening, maybe I was distracted by the busy week ahead with family in town, but the sentimental feelings weren’t actually as strong as I’d anticipated! Don’t ask me about dropping him off at college, though…
      I have the last two graduating next year. It’ll be interesting to see how that feels.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      For snacks, nachos? You can assemble them ahead of time on parchment or foil lined baking sheets and just put them in the oven for a few minutes before everyone arrives. Clean up is as easy as throwing away the tray liner. Also, I would use paper plates/plastic cutlery and plastic or paper glassware.
      Other low effort ideas: hummus and veggies, a fruit and cheese tray with bunches of grapes, clementines, mini mozzarella balls and pepperoni sticks, popcorn, chile crisp cucumbers, chex mix

    5. EA*

      Charcuterie board – you can cut everything up ahead of time and arrange it in a big board pretty quickly. There are lots of fun ideas for organizing on Pinterest.

      I was going to suggest slider-type sandwiches but that isn’t exactly low effort. But I feel like sliders and some cheese fries would be a big hit with 17-18 year olds :)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Lunchables for grown-ups” my college student called charcuterie boards.

        My grocery store will often offer a tray of tiny pastries in the bakery section.

    6. Might Be Spam*

      My son stayed for awhile at our family party and then party-hopped with some friends. We had fun without him and I give him credit for enduring as long as he did.
      They came back to have a bonfire and finish up all of the food in the house. Buy lots of snacks. Lots. Of. Snacks. Especially if you can put it on a stick and hold it over a fire.
      Anything the human locusts don’t devour can be saved for another time.

    7. Honey cocoa*

      If you really want to not cry bring something to drink. It’s pretty difficult to swallow and sob at the same time. (Insert metaphor about alcoholism here) Sipping your water should keep the crying under control. And get some waterproof mascara. It’s a big day, enjoy.

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Oh, go ahead and cry! Everyone will be. Wear makeup that won’t smear, bring tissues, and take deep breaths.

      For snacks: our local store sells small, medium, and large trays of cheese and fancy hams for a quick charcuterie option if you don’t want to do one yourself. We also have a store that makes custom boards. They’ll be hot and thirsty – in addition to all sorts of soft drinks, maybe a fresh fruit salad? Or go in a completely other direction and get a six-foot hoagie….

    9. Generic Name*

      Aw, it’s totally fine to cry! Nobody will be taken aback or think less of you if you cry. Bring a pack of tissues and skip the mascara or wear waterproof if you wear makeup.

      IMHO, you can’t go wrong with pizza and teenagers. A cereal bar, as in like 6 boxes of cereal and bowls and spoons set out, might be fun. The junkier the cereal the better. You can leave the cereal explosion for your teenager to clean up the next day (tell them in advance they’re responsible for dealing with the mess) and all you have to do is put the milk away. :)

    10. Forrest Rhodes*

      No food suggestions, but many congratulations to the graduate, and to you, too.
      And if the tears want to flow, this is a totally appropriate time and place to let ’em flow. Your graduate might be (secretly) disappointed if they didn’t!

    11. Camelid coordinator*

      I hope the speech went well. My senior went to a new high school in that COVID fall and has never really seemed like a part of his school. He is thinking about skipping graduation. I could be ok with that, I put a lot of energy and time into his Eagle Scout ceremony in the winter since I thought that would end up being more meaningful for him. I cried then, and I am sure I will be weepy when we drop him off at college..

  5. WoodsmanWrites*

    Here’s this weekend’s joy thread, large or small. Mine is that the medical facility where my doctors are has brought in a piano. After my appointment, I stayed for a long time afterward listening to what was original music by an anonymous man whose lovely notes resonated through an atrium spanning three floors. What a wonderful, calming way to start the weekend.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        So funny! Autocorrect has been totally possessed lately on all my devices.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Mine qualifies as large – to me, anyway.

      I’ve suspected for several months that I needed a higher dosage on one of my pain meds since I had another issue pop up in October that hasn’t gone away. But I didn’t ask for an increase, mainly because I felt as though the dosage should have been enough, I should just deal with it and plow through, and thinking to myself, “What’s wrong with me that this isn’t enough?” or “I’m just being a baby.” It was my mind holding me back, basically. When I told the pain management doctor at my monthly appointment that the issue was still around (epidural didn’t help it), it’s waking me up multiple times a night, and taking one of the pain meds before bed actually kept me awake and was therefore a last resort, the doctor suggested an increase in dosage on one pain med, and a switch from one type to another on the other pain med (to avoid too large of a jump in opioids).

      Well, it’s been almost two weeks and it has been LIFE CHANGING! I never thought I’d ever have a 100% pain-free day again. But I did. I had three in a row! Then it rained and I had some achiness, but it wasn’t as bad as usual. As long as it’s nice outside, I’m pretty much pain-free now. :) The increase in the one med is making me really tired at night hours before my usual bedtime, but I’ll eventually adjust. And it’s totally worth it to feel the way I do now. I got so much done last weekend that my leg muscles were sore. (And by “so much” I mean I went to three grocery stores in a row and vacuumed. Goes to show how sedentary I’d become because I was almost always at some level of pain.)

      1. chocolate muffins*

        So glad for this joy for you! My contribution is a lovely trip with my family last weekend and the amazing smells of all the flowers blooming in my neighborhood.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I am so happy for you! With the fentanyl crisis, people forget what a godsend properly used pain medication is.

      3. Observer*

        Mine qualifies as large – to me, anyway.

        I think it would to anyone who has ever dealt with chronic pain. I think it’s absolutely huge.

        And I am *so* glad that your pain management doctor is doing the right thing for you!

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

      Saw a robin splashing around and enjoying a vigorous bath in a puddle today!

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I just saw a bunch of adorable ducklings swimming in a creek as I walked along the arts trail!

    3. Knighthope*

      FINALLY resolved the myriad issues that arose when some scum used an obviously counterfeit check (which two major US banks failed to detect), to withdraw money from my checking account. Took 4+ months to deal with all the fallout, which my banker considered “fast.”

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Went on a long, beautiful, warm walk to see all the tulips and blooming magnolia trees. also, our Apple and lilac trees in our own backyard seem to be doing better than ever!
      Played a hilariously raucous game of dominoes with dear friends on Monday.

    5. Middle Aged Lady*

      Moved some of my plants from under the grow light in the garage to pots outside.
      Dogsitting and enjoying the dog’s silly ways.
      First really warm day and we had a cold dinner of chicken salad sandwiches.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Having caught cold yesterday, I called out of work today with no guilt! Hopefully that means I can shake this bug rather than it dragging on for days and wearing me out.

    7. Might Be Spam*

      I finally got to do the cavern zip lines. I had to skip it last year because my mom died and I had to get back home sooner than I expected. Anyway, it’s the scariest thing I have ever done. They took pictures of us in our gear, but it was too dark for action shots.

      The zip line was fine. The scary part was getting hooked up to the lines. My legs were shaking and since we were in a cave, it was pretty dark and there was no way to know how high up we were, and we had to climb up on a small platform that didn’t have any railings. Also I’m short, so I couldn’t reach the line to hold on while I was being hooked up. Until that moment, I had forgotten that I have peripheral neuropathy in both legs and they tend to shake, which sometimes affects my balance. I didn’t think to mention it earlier, when they asked if anyone had any medical issues.

      I volunteered to go first on all of the lines, because I knew it would be scarier to watch others while waiting for my turn. The zipping part was great, though and some of the zip lines were pretty long. One was 3 football fields long. I might do it again, next year, but somewhere outdoors where I can see better. And also get action shots for proof. Lol

      1. Honey cocoa*

        We did some really fun zip lines on the Big Island near Hilo. In case you need an excuse to go to Hawaii.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Louisville Mega Cavern in Louisville, Kentucky.
          You have to pay online because they don’t take cash. I was a walk-in, because I wasn’t sure of my arrival time, and I called ahead to check availability. Everything went pretty smoothly for check-in.

          It isn’t as cold as they say on the website. It’s in the 60’s underground all year round and long sleeves or a light sweater was fine.

          Apparently the caverns run under the Louisville Zoo. It might be fun to go there afterwards.

      2. just here for the scripts*

        Also Costa Rica in Arenal (think it’s the same company as what’s now in the big island) sooo safe and so wonderful!!!

    8. RedinSC*

      The hooded orioles came back to my yard and built a nest! This makes me feel so special, they chose us, again!

      1. Generic Name*

        Yay! Had robins build a nest in a wreath last year, but I haven’t set out the wreath yet this year.

    9. funkytown*

      I just got to see the Northern Lights right from my backyard!!! (Northeast US)

      1. RLC*

        Just saw the Northern Lights for the first time in my life – Northern Nevada (39.65° N) Completely worth standing in back garden, 42°F, camera in hand, until my eyes adjusted to the darkness.

      2. allathian*

        Apparently they’ve been visible as far south as northern California and Alabama thanks to the G5 solar storm on Thursday and Friday.

      3. Generic Name*

        Lucky you! I mean to take a peek when I woke up in the middle of the night (as I normally do) but I slept like a rock last night. :(

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I couldn’t see anything! Too much light pollution. Boston is lit up like a damn stadium all night long. I tried to walk down the street near the cemetery, but there’s a streetlight every five feet. :(

      5. Tea and Sympathy*

        This is what I was going to post about, too. I was in the rural midwest, so no light pollution. They were fantastic. Never did I imagine they could ever be visible from my state. I’ve had a rough couple of years, and seeing the lights from here filled me with joy and hope and positivity for the future.

    10. Tau*

      I took advantage of the public holiday we had this week to do a small multi-day cycle trip along the Neisse and Oder rivers (that’s the Polish/German border) and am just coming back from it. Lovely weather, lovely landscapes, passed by a small gem of a baroque-style church in a historic monastery I had no idea existed (as so often goes on these trips), managed to get good food the whole way despite this not being a super vegetarian-friendly region, and I crossed into Poland briefly and got to semi-successfully use my Polish (I’m currently learning the language but am still nervous about trying it out in the wild). All in all a very successful trip and I’ve still got almost the whole weekend left!

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      My children, who are in graduate school, are still really happy if I send them homemade cookies.

      1. imperfect human*

        aww. Mine’s only in undergrad, but the thanks I get when homemade cookies arrive is worth most of the bad parenthood times. I expect this to be true her whole life.

    12. allathian*

      We cleaned the deck and our outdoor furniture today. Tomorrow we’re going to oil them so that they’ll be ready for use if we get summer temperatures next week.

    13. Madre del becchino*

      I am a week and a half into CPAP therapy for severe obstructive sleep apnea. Although I still have a ways to go, I am sleeping better because I don’t snore — and my husband is sleeping better because I don’t snore!

    14. Dancing Otter*

      I had long-overdue knee replacement over the winter, and am enjoying being able to walk without as much pain, gradually regaining strength and balance. This week I finally got to explore part of the path around the (Villege Name) Slough.
      Not all of it, because there’s no indication how long the circuit is, and the footing was rough after the first few hundred yards (I hope they get funding to extend the boardwalk soon), but I got far enough to see the tower with the ospreys’ nest. No ospreys visible, but there’s a sign about them.
      Another day, I saw a family of geese with four goslings near the retention pond. It did a lot to offset my annoyance with the geese in my parking lot.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Congratulations on your mobility. My knee replacement 15 years ago was life-changing. I’m even backpacking now.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Similar to @The Other Dawn’s story, I had a six-month check on my thyroid meds recently, and the doc said my levels were just barely normal. He wanted to up the dose, but I was reluctant, because last time I tried the higher dose, I felt awful. So we agreed to wait a few months to see if I started having symptoms.

      It wasn’t a week before I noticed I couldn’t stay awake after work. Then I started to get inexplicably sleepy DURING work. I let him know and we had a telehealth call, and he called in a month’s worth of pills at the higher dosage. Well, I guess I’d gotten used to being too low, because it was night and day. I was able to dig out and rearrange all the crap stored under my bed last weekend, concentrate hard to get a giant deliverable out this week, and clean my apartment fully for the first time in weeks today instead of just doing the bathroom and calling it good.

      I have an appointment on Monday and I’m going to tell him, let’s stick with this. But the best part was that he told me flat out, “I’m not going to let you do this by yourself. I’m going to hold your hand through the whole thing.” :3

      Now if I could only find a boyfriend like this, heh heh.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Isn’t it amazing? I, too, have been able to focus much better these last couple weeks due to the dosage change.

    16. carcinization*

      Well, it’s an anticipatory joy but I’m hoping to adopt a lovely little grey kitten! Just put in a pre-adoption application for him at the no-kill shelter, and crossing my fingers! Also a much smaller anticipatory joy, but my husband and I are going out to a fancy brunch tomorrow.

        1. carcinization*

          The rescue still needs to neuter and microchip him, so not yet, but they said all was well with my application and that they’d let me know when he’s ready, so… maybe this coming weekend? And… planning to name him after a star in Aquila, not sure I want to be more specific!

    17. Sitting Pretty*

      The peonies at the local botanical gardens are absolutely exploding right now! I haven’t been in years due to some health and mobility issues but a friend took me in a wheelchair today to toodle around.

      So I guess Small Joy #2 is how well maintained and accessible the paths are at the local bonanical gardens. We went all over the place with no issues except one bear of an uphill on the way out. My friend said this got them out of leg day this week :)

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        It did not snow this week! (since it did snow last week, thought it was worth mentioning). Highs in mid-70s and cool at night. So loving it!

  6. Bibliovore*

    I need to replace the deck above my garage. I have done nothing with it for 3 years. The paint is peeling and there are boards that seem to be broken and rotted. What are the things I should know about hiring a contractor to replace the deck. A complete replacement was done about ten years ago and I am pretty sure my husband did something to maintain it but I have no idea what. Googling has not been helpful. I cannot strip the wood and paint it myself.
    All advice is welcome.

    1. I only want everything*

      Look into Trex decks. I honestly can’t remember what it actually is but it’s kind of like fake wood maybe. Wears like iron. My parents had it a couple of houses ago and are getting it again at their current house. Pretty sure it’s more expensive but if it’s in your budget it’s absolutely worth it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I came here to suggest this. My sister’s old deck was falling apart and she went for the fake wood. I don’t know if it was the Trex brand for sure but that sounds familiar. It looks beautiful and you wouldn’t know it’s not wood unless someone told you. Although it costs more upfront, it’s guaranteed to be maintenance free for 30 years. In her case living in the woods in Oregon, it also reduces fire risk. She said that and adding a metal roof lowered her home insurance.

      2. RC*

        It’s fake wood made of plastic. Hopefully recycled (or rather downcycled) plastics, because it’s pretty much the only thing you can make out of “recycled” plastics. Keeps it out of the landfill for a bit longer, I guess. Not sure if they’re all made like that, but I hope they’re not making any out of brand new plastics…

      3. Juneybug*

        I agree with everyone who suggests getting Trex. Our porch faces south so it gets all of the sun as well as all of the rain and wind during fall-winter seasons (good ol’ PNW). After TWICE replacing wood decking (average every 10 years), we splurged and got Trex. Love, love, love that stuff! It doesn’t get hot in the sun, doesn’t stay damp in the winter, nor does it fade or look beat up after a few years. No regrets whatsoever.

        Tips –
        1. Make sure contractor has worked with Trex before. It has some quirkiness with the install so your typical wood deck installer will have issues with hardware, cuts, ensuring enough support for the Trex boards, etc.
        2. Get samples to see what colors you would like before committing. The catalog and actual color doesn’t always match. It’s close but your selection of Redwood might be more red than brown for your taste (as an example).
        3. Make sure you pick a color that will also go with further paint color(s) of your house.
        4. You can have patterns/designs with different colors so plan ahead if that is what you want. Do realize that patterns and different colors will cost more due to various cuts of the boards (more possible waste).

    2. Rick Tq*

      Check your locality building department to see if your deck needed a permit and if needed one was pulled. If the deck needs work you want to be sure it is structurally sound before spending the money to restore it to a usable condition.

    3. RLC*

      Civil engineer here: if you do choose to hire a contractor for repair or replacement, check that they have the applicable license(s) for the work. If you’re in the US, most states have a licensing requirement for contractors, and a searchable database to check license type, status, and whether actions or complaints have been filed (and if they have been resolved). If you’re in a state without a licensing requirement, you could check if the contractor happens to be licensed in a neighboring state with more stringent requirements (I’m in a border town and neighboring state has VERY strict requirements so I have high confidence in contractors licensed there). Also if you’re in the US, your county building department may be able to answer questions and provide guidance.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      Check the court system for lawsuits against your contractor. We didn’t do that and it turned out that there were 22 lawsuits. Our 6 week job turned into a 3 year ordeal and we had to get another contractor to finish the job.
      A lady at church felt so bad for us, that she gave us her contractor and told him to finish her job after he took care of us. The original contractor was our parish council president.

    5. LBD*

      My deck is vinyl surfaced plywood. I don’t know anything about the contractors who did it, as it was done decades ago, but it is still holding up pretty well. It is a low traffic area and doesn’t get all day sun, so that has helped it last.
      I am hoping to extend it, and have started by checking building code for decks, as I don’t want to be the people who make the news because their deck collapsed with a group of people on it. I have also seen good you tube videos from professional building inspectors showing problems with various construction features.

    6. Bibliovore*

      wow thank you. I am so grateful for this advice. My brother says to look at Thumbtack. Has anyone had good experience with that?

      1. office hobbit*

        I would start by looking for word of mouth recommendations for contractors, and if that doesn’t turn up enough options, try calling local realtors and ask if they have recommendations. Then follow the advice above about checking your local licensing board to see if they’re licensed and insured and if there have been complaints against them. I haven’t used Thumbtack myself but I worry if you hire someone who isn’t recommended to you then you could end up in one of the nightmare/headache situations described above.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I’d use thumbtack for more handyman style stuff, not necessarily stuff where you want someone licensed and bonded and the project potentially involves permits. There are some licensed contractors on there, but with a serious project you probably want more of a standard contractor vetting process.

  7. vulturestalker*

    I got great recommendations for skincare when I asked here, so I thought I’d try again with hair.

    I am not a haircare person and find the entire topic overwhelming and not particularly fun to research. My hair has very thin strands with a bit of natural wave, Type 2A on the hair chart. I wash it at night and air dry, simple shampoo and conditioner, have never done anything else my whole life and really don’t have the energy to develop a whole routine. It looks really good air dried most of the time, but on especially rainy or humid days, it’s frizz city.

    I would like to introduce 1, or maximum 2, products to tame the frizz a little, but everything I’ve tried to date (not very many things) weighs down my hair like crazy. I don’t know where to start trying to figure out which product I need. Can anyone give me some recommendations? I’m not being deliberately difficult, but I know I won’t be able to stick with anything complicated or expensive. Status quo at “meh” is all right, but if there’s something simple I can do to go from “meh” to “yay” that would be even better!

    1. office hobbit*

      I recommended this to someone else last week: Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk (plain white bottle) is my go-to. I believe it’s carried at Target in the US, at least online. It’s much lighter than other things I’ve tried. (The brand’s other products didn’t work for me, though.) And it’s easy to apply, just run it through your hair at the end of your shower while your hair’s still wet. You can also just apply it to the areas of your hair that get frizzy and leave the rest alone.

      I’ll also admit my recent silly secret: I noticed the ingredients on the Hair Milk were very similar to the ingredients on my favorite, locally made hand lotion……so now I use hand lotion in my hair (thinned with water and mixed with jojoba oil).

      For my hair, which sounds similar to yours but maybe a drier, oils like jojoba, sweet almond, and grapeseed are good. Coconut oil, castor oil, and olive oil were too heavy.

      1. vulturestalker*

        Thanks! I forgot to ask about when to apply this sort of thing. Sounds like the consensus is to put it on wet hair. Very helpful! And I actually just got a Target gift card so maybe I will give this suggestion a shot.

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      What shampoo/conditioner do you use? I am Type 2B, and find a low-poo shampoo (like Deva Curl) works well and doesn’t weigh my hair down. I use Pureology Curl Complete Uplifting Curl, a light spray gel I work through my hair after I wash it, scrunch it and twirl some curls. So wash, condition, the gel spray, a minute of scrunch & twist, and air dry.

      1. vulturestalker*

        Interesting! I don’t know what low poo means? Currently I am using a shampoo from Herbal Essences, and I have a conditioner from Garnier Fructis that has worked well for me for years.

        I have been skeptical of the scrunching and curls thing because a friend tried it on me once and it looked awful, but I really shouldn’t generalize on a sample size of one! Who knows if she was even using the right product.

        1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

          It means a cleanser with little lather and no sulfates. It keeps the hair moisturized. The one I use is called Deva Curl Low Poo Delight.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I don’t scrunch either, but I still find light gels valuable for frizz and hold. Scrunching is just to oomph up your natural curly pattern. I started using Umberto Gianni curl friends to make a “cast”; basically a cast smooths down all the little frizzies onto your curls while your hair dries. I make mine even lighter than it is by emulsifying with water in my hands to dilute. If you find your gel is too crispy (mine isn’t really), you would then “scrunch out the crunch” when you’re sure your hair is dry. This just means putting your hand in an old t shirt to gently break up the cast and free your curls. Don’t use your bare hands because hands cause frizz. Which is why I own satin gloves.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          The Herbal Essence shampoos which are sulfate-free are explicitly labelled as such. The Garnier Fructose conditioner (if it’s the sleek and shine one) has a very mild silicone which is probably helpful and fine, but there’s a slim possibility it isn’t getting washed out by your low poo shampoo or has built up on your hair so it isn’t working as well as it used to. I would just try gel first without changing anything else. Then, if gel alone isn’t doing anything I would use a high-poo, sulphate shampoo to clarify and get rid of any silicone build up (I would use this just the one time as using high poo a lot is drying, which causes frizz), deep condition with a mask, and then you can probably go back to your normal routine until it’s time to clarify again.

    3. Dannie*

      Thin frizzy waves need gel on sopping wet hair. Look up “plopping” on YouTube.

      You will be able to “scrunch out the crunch” once it’s dry. It will not look wet or greasy, even though you will be skeptical.

      1. vulturestalker*

        I have indeed been skeptical but I will look into this, thank you!

        And to clarify, the hair strands themselves are thin, but my hair in general isn’t–there’s a LOT of it! Especially when it’s frizzy, hehe… (shoulder length or a bit below, if that matters).

        1. Dannie*

          “Fine” is the word you want then. “Fine” refers to the diameter of a strand, “thin” refers to how many strands you have.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I like Paul Mitchell’s super skinny serum (I use very, very small quantities – like 4-5 drops for my whole head) and drying my hair with a heated round brush. If you’re interested in enhancing your waves this is not the way to go, but if you just want to tame frizz and don’t mind straighter hair this works for me.

      1. vulturestalker*

        Intriguing! This is probably not the way to go for me–I love the waves and want to keep them as is, and I don’t own a hairdryer. But I’m really glad this works for you!

    5. Indolent Libertine*

      I swear by a Rusk product called Str8. It tames frizz wonderfully and adds just a touch of relaxing to the curls; gets me closer to Botticelli than poodle. Apply a small amount to wet hair. And if you want to encourage the waves, no hairbrush! Brushing separates the curls and magnifies frizz.

    6. Helvetica*

      Leave-in conditioner is your friend! I have one from René Furterer, which is light-weight and tames the frizz.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Bumble and Bumble makes a product called Don’t Blow It Fine Hair Styler that is specifically for air drying (although I use it when I blow dry as well). It helps me to keep the frizziness down. There’s a version for thick hair too, so be sure to pick up the right one. My Target has a Ulta store which carries it, but you can also order it from the Target website and use your gift card. It’s not cheap but it lasts me maybe 6 months (shoulder length hair).

    8. just here for the scripts*

      You could be me—I’m a wash and go gal with humidity that sauce ever-growing frizz! I swear by sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners—most currently use L’Oreal’s Ever Pure. After washing and rinsing , i turn the water off and flip my hair over my head while looking down) and spread a quarter-sized dollop of conditioner throughout the hair, starting at the roots and ending at the ends. My hair is way past my shoulders so you might want to start with a dime size amount if your hair is shorter. Then I scrunch tightly at the roots and scrunch up from the ends—you’ll hear the water and conditioner slurp together and see the curls come back immediately. Then I wrap a towel around the hair and straighten up—whole process post hair washing takes under 2 minutes. I keep the towel on the hair (no scrunching, no drying) while I finish up my post-shower/getting dressed routine (drying the rest of me, brushing my teeth facial moisturizer, occasionally body moisturizer, etc). I take it off when either it falls off or I have to put my head through a neck hole in my clothes. Then I just let the hair air dry (I might fix the part in my hair with my fingers, but no combs or it straightens out the curl).

      I’m a dirty blond, and in the dead of winter and throughout the summer I goose the blond by styling with Jonathan Freida’s Go Blonder conditioner in the shower. I leave it in just like the other conditioner and my hair gets a bit lighter/brighter over time.

      I don’t wash my hair/shower every day. On days I don’t, I comb out my hair and then wet my hair down in the sink and repeat the conditioner-as-styling gel while over my head move. Again takes about three minutes in total.

    9. A313*

      You might also want to try a microfiber towel instead of the usual bath towel, if you wrap up your hair for a bit after washing. Also, blot with the microfiber towel, don’t rub, as that causes frizz.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        It’s expensive but I’ve been using Olaplex which was recommended by a friend. I don’t need very much since my hair is short. I use the conditioner most days. That’s enough for me, I add the bond smoother to wet hair before drying if the weather is going to be more humid or when I have an important presentation at work.

        I found it on sale, maybe black Friday? My friend also recommended the living proof anti frizz spray, but it was waaaay to strongly scented for me. If you’re ok with that or prefer a scent, it does work well and you might be able to use that instead.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Microfibre seems to work for everyone but me. It’s plain cotton or nothing, if I want to avoid frizz. I started out with old t-shirts, but then I found cotton crib sheets with elastic hems so I can wrap them around my head. It’s a shame because microfibre is so much more absorbent, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s why; if my hair doesn’t get a nice long drink post-wash, it’s very unhappy. Any attempts to speed up drying seem to prove it.

    10. ElastiGirl*

      John Freida Secret Weapon is the best defrizzer I have ever found. It’s available in drugstores, not expensive, and you use it on dry hair as needed, so there’s no routine to hassle with. Just a tiny amount, run your hands through and over your hair, and presto! The frizz is gone and you look styled and ready to go. (For reference, my hair is 2C/3A depending on the humidity).

    11. cabbagepants*

      My hair is similar and I also have no interest in a complicated hair-care routine with many products. Here is how I get my best results:

      1) I spend the money to get better shampoo and better conditioner. I’m still searching for how to define “better” but I’ve had good luck with two separate sulfate and paraben-free shampoos, one solid and one liquid. Basically the fancy “all natural” stuff at farmer’s markets.
      2) I wash only 2x/week. I also airdry over night.
      3) ARGAN OIL. You can either work in a few drops when your hair is wet or get a spray. I use OGX brand Argan oil spray but I’m sure there are many others.
      4) I keep my hair long. I find that anything shorter than shoulder length just turns into a frizz poof. I do keep up with trims since any split ends turn in to frizz poof.

  8. paintstravaganza*

    I’m going to paint! Has anyone used a low-VOC or zero-VOC interior paint? Any advice? I’m looking at Sherwin-Williams Emerald or SuperPaint right now, but I’ve also heard good things about Ecos Paints. (It does need to be very very low VOC–I get bad headaches otherwise.) I have zero experience and am preparing for this to be an adventure. Welcoming any recommendations or advice!

    1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Keep a wet soapy rag nearby as you paint. It’s easier to clean little drips while they are fresh. It won’t prevent you from leaving lagoon blue fingerprints all over the house, but at least you’ll be able to wipe them up right away. :D

      1. What the what*

        I have a bad habit (forgetfulness) of leaving wet rags on wood furniture when I paint. So I switched to baby wipes to clean up my drips. I can just pitch them after a few wipes.

    2. What the what*

      Benjamin Moore Regal is my favorite. Not sure if it’s lowVOC. I’m very (!) sensitive to odors and it doesn’t bother me like Sherwin Williams does. Good luck!

    3. Just Another Cog*

      Be sure you do the proper prep – cleaning, taping, spackling, sanding, etc. ! It will seem to take longer than the actual painting, but the end result will be way better than trying to skip that. And, use good quality tools, tape, brushes, rollers, etc. You don’t need to use top of the line, but good rollers, for instance, won’t leave fuzzballs all over your finished walls. Even if it says one coat coverage, I find you always need to coats for the best finish, so make sure you buy enough paint. The folks at the paint store can give good advice on that and tools. You will be so happy when it’s done! Your walls will look so clean!

    4. RLC*

      Disposable lightweight nitrile gloves to keep paint off hands. Much easier (and gentler on the skin!) than scrubbing skin clean. Gloves get paint-y, peel off and don another pair. If you don’t want paint on your arms, try the disposable AI (artificial insemination) gloves sold at farm supply shops, those extend to shoulder level. Wear the nitrile gloves over the AI gloves, the more snug fit of the nitrile will help with dexterity.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I am very sensitive to smells and fumes and have been quite happy with Behr paint — I always get their cheapest one, Premium Plus. And having googled it just now, that exact paint is on their Zero VOC list, so I’m not imagining that this one is better for my head! (Unlike the Benjamin Moore semi I’ve been using for trim, which I can only stand for a little bit and then I have to aggressively air out the room for days with the door closed.) With Behr I can paint for long periods and stay in the room with no trouble, and the paint performance is great too. I’ve had rooms painted for 15 years that still look like new, and the ones I’m painting now are lovely. I keep thinking I should upgrade to a “better” paint but if it’s working, why? And now that I know about the VOCs I will definitely stick with it.

      Second the advice on prep and quality tools. Take your time and be patient. Always two coats (no matter how good the paint is, most of us aren’t that good and we leave drag marks and thin spots.) Flat paint if your walls have texture.

    6. just here for the scripts*

      To help me choose a color DH painted a swatch of different ones on the wall so we could see how the sun/lighting affected them throughout the day. BEST IDEA EVER! The one I was leaning toward was too pink-ish I. The afternoon light and the one (in a different room) that I initially thought was too dark was brilliant and perfect!

      Also, check the finish type—flat will be more forgiving—glossy was less so (but a lot brighter if there’s a dark space)…I tend to err on eggshell for walls (lets you wipe clean later) and glossy for molding and metal covered objects like 60+ year old hvac units that have already been painted before.
      There’s also moisture/mold retardant paints for wet areas like baths and kitchens.

      Also for prepping I’m very old school and insist that contractors:
      1. Wash the wall and let it dry first—so obsessed with this that I’ve done it the day or two before contractors arrive (I live in NYC where there’s a layer of silt on every surface). Depending on your wall surface, you may need to sand/fill areas of the wall to make them even.
      2. Tape/paper over everything that you don’t want painted . And wear old clothes that you can live with being covered in paint. And a hat you don’t care about (paint does get into your hair)
      3. Use 2 coats of primer (yeah, I know there’s paint+primer now—like hybrid skis and bikes I remain unimpressed of the quality). Be sure to let it dry in between (ask me how I learned this ;))
      4. Use two coats of paint. Be sure to let it dry in between (ask me how I learned this ;))
      5. Make sure you have rollers in a long broom handle like thing for high places and ladders.
      6. Paint wall surfaces in a w format, not straight lines
      7. Know it will take way longer than you think —like days! Figure a day each for the prepping and for each full step of the process (taping, covering, washing, priming, drying, painting, drying etc). If it takes less time—yay! But don’t count on it. Painting uses muscles in odd ways that you never use elsewhere.
      8. Stretch in-between sections.
      9. Have Tylenol and wine for the end-of-the day enjoyment of your accomplishment.

    7. Call me St Vincent*

      I used Emerald all through my house and it’s been great. It is pricey but worth it!

    8. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’ve heard that Ecos paints are virtually odorless and safe for people with autoimmune problems. There’s one lady on Tumblr who got into their testing program or something, look up thebibliosphere + ecos paint. She had detailed notes on which products she used in her house and how it looked/smelled. If I remember correctly, it looked great and didn’t trigger any headaches or autoimmune responses.

    9. paintstravaganza*

      Thanks for all the painting tips and the info about different paint lines! This has been super helpful in helping me hatch a little plan for next steps.

    10. NPTraveler*

      We use Sherwin Williams Emerald and it is worth the extra cost. I just did a bedroom and only had to use a coat of primer and one coat of paint, it covered so well. Also just bought the blue painters tape that has “sharp lines” and it did – very much worth the extra 1 or 2 dollars it cost! Can’t remember brand but was at Home Depot and Walmart. Good luck!

    11. JSPA*

      only suggestion is that low VOC does not strictly mean non-toxic / non-irritating, especially if there are mold inhibitors or epoxy-type cross-linking compounds included. So keeping some cross ventilation going and paying attention to the skin contact cautions still matters. And “self priming” always comes with an asterisk. And 70%‐95% of the work is best spent on scrupulous pre-cleaning, careful sanding or other de-glossing (including pre-check for lead, if the age of the building makes that possible…or if someone might have used old paint), and priming any raw materials with the appropriate primer(s).

  9. Tradd*

    Anyone a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books and Mercedes Lackey’s Valendar series? I keep reading these over and over. And the new series with Fourth Wing and Iron Flame are also good for many repeat readings.

    1. Be the Change*

      I am. :-) the Harper Hall trilogy remains one of my all time absolute favorites. Valdemar is total comfort reading. I wish Heralds did exist, we could sure use ’em.

      1. Tradd*

        I found both series in college in around 1990. I picked them back up about a year ago. Wow. I’d forgotten how much I live them. Yes, Harper Hall is lovely.

    2. dot*

      Yesss! One of my favorite series, I’ve read books from it repeatedly since I was a kid. I’ve never made it through every book, but I have collected most of them at this point. I absolutely adore the Michael Whelan cover art from the 80s.

    3. Jay*

      I’ve read them more than a few times. They are old favorites.
      The Crystal Singer series is another I always greatly enjoyed.

      1. Girasol*

        Me too. The audio books are the best when I can’t sleep, those and Golden Compass.

    4. allathian*

      I haven’t read Valdemar yet, but I used to be a huge AMC fan. I was a mod on her official fan forum for years until it shut down.

      Sadly, I find that the Pern books especially have aged rather badly. Not so much the Harper Hall books because they’re YA, but the rest. She was hailed for simply featuring gays in her stories, but the gay greenriders are still presented as less than other dragonriders and unfit to lead other dragonriders. There are no lesbians on Pern, at least none feature in her stories. Consent doesn’t exist on Pern and the stories feature at least two rather disturbing rape scenes, supposedly excused by the riders losing control when the dragons rise to mate, even if the women appear traumatized afterwards, at least for a while. Even the greatest romance in the series between Lessa and F’lar started with non-consensual sex. Of course, when I first read the books in my teens all I saw were the awesome dragons. My favorite Pern book is Moreta, it’s also the first Pern book I ever read.

      My favorite is the Talent and the Hive series featuring people with PSI powers.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        In fairness, the greens are among the smallest of the dragons, aren’t they? Dragon-rider rank seems heavily dependent on the color of the dragon, with weyr leaders traditionally riding bronzes, and browns being wing leaders.

        1. allathian*

          They are, and that’s the explanation for them not being leaders. The blueriders who are also gay often read as a bit camp. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s just a bit stereotypical.

          Of course, the only green mating flights that are described rather than mentioned in passing involve the exceptional female greenriders. And of course there’s nary a mention of F’lar’s pre-Lessa greenflights.

          1. Goldfeesh*

            Plus, it’s been years since I read them so I may be wrong, it’s not like the green and blue dragonriders exactly choose to be gay. It’s more like- these dragons chose you, therefore …

    5. Zairdeth*

      I love the Dragonriders of Pern books! They were one of my favorite series as a teenager, definitely got me hooked on the fantasy. If you like dragon riders books, I highly recommend the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. They’re my favorite dragon rider series because the dragons actually have personalities and are standout characters separate from their riders. It was nice to see a series where dragons get the spotlight. It’s historical fantasy so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really love it.

      1. Generic Name*

        Oooo! Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been in a reading rut lately and need ideas

    6. Generic Name*

      Dragonsinger was my entry into fantasy and sci-fi! I was gifted the trilogy when I was 14. I’ve re-read most of the Pern series, but I lost interest when her son took over writing the books. He took the series in a much different direction (I guess the dude is into polyamory/group sex? I don’t quite remember, but all I remember is feeling like to didn’t want to keep reading because that’s not my thing).

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I’ve never read those, and I don’t want to. I’ve read some quite good fanfic set on Pern, though.

    7. Llellayena*

      Ooo, me!!!! I love both series and have specific sub-series within each that I go back to. I really like the AIVAS storyline in Dragonriders, both for the epic story and the opposition/social change. In Valdemar I go back to the Mage Wars trilogy and the Mage Storms trilogy (anyone sensing a pattern?) for the discovery and mixing of different cultures and the deep friendships. She’s gotten a little lazy with the storylines lately, but they’re still enjoyable reads.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      The Harperhall trilogy is on sale at Chirp at the moment. $12 for all three audiobooks.

    9. Square Root of Minus One*

      Oooh, I like Valdemar. I’d really like to reread some of these soon.
      I remember my first was the black gryphon book, I was like 11 yo and… so lost. I wasn’t aware it was a prequel, I’m not even sure I knew what a prequel was, and it was just so inconclusive. Let’s just say the Talia trilogy was a better introduction.
      My favorite of all was Magic’s Pawn, though. The tragedy stayed with me a long time.

    10. Fluffy*

      You might like Shanna Svendson and her Fairy Tale series. I like all her books and was a big fan of Pern

  10. chocolate muffins*

    I am looking for recommendations for friends-to-lovers romance novels. I’ve read and enjoyed People We Meet On Vacation (and it sounds like this week’s book suggestion would also be up my alley) and Evvie Drake Starts Over, which also kind of has a friendship, though not a long one like PWMOV. I’d love to hear your additional recommendations!

    1. word nerd*

      Emma by Jane Austen
      Anne of the Island (the third book of the Anne of Green Gables series)
      And for a not-oldie, The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (if you consider them “friends” while they exchange notes but haven’t met)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I feel like The Blue Castle also fits into your list, which are my kind of books exactly!

      2. sloth in a speedboat*

        Slapshot at Love by A.K. Isaacs is cute, especially if you are a hockey fan

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I enjoyed Jackie Lau’s His Grumpy Childhood Best Friend. Most of her books have diverse heroines (many working in STEM fields) in Canada.

      Shipwrecked by Olivia Dade has 2 people who have a rocky start who become friends then lovers while working in a TV series. Also her Tiny House, Big Love has two old friends who become more after she signs up to be on a House Hunters-like show.

      Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell is a Hanukkah novella about two old friends who reconnect and fall in love when they revisit the camp they used to work at.

    3. Six Feldspar*

      Iirc The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan has the main couple as friends to lovers

    4. Dicey Tillerman*

      Every Summer After, by Carley Fortune, was one of my favorite reads of, well, last summer.

    5. tree frog*

      If you enjoy queer and/or trans romance, all of the TJ Alexander books I’ve read have some element of this, but particularly Second Chances in New Port Stephen. They’re pretty cute and fun.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      I read mostly historical novels and my favorite regency romance friends to lovers is Mary Balogh’s A Certain Magic.
      Also really like When He was Wicked by Julia Quinn.

    7. chocolate muffins*

      Thank you all for the suggestions! Really looking forward to exploring these books.

    8. Cardboard Marmalade*

      An author I’ve recommended here before, Zen Cho, fairly frequently has friends-to-lovers plotlines in her books. The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is one of my favorites.

    9. A Little Bit Alexis*

      This is very late but if you see it –

      This week’s recommendation definitely meets the criteria! Same author as People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry. She wrote another, Beach Read, that I think would also be a really good one for you. Beach Read was my first Emily Henry book and Funny Story had a lot of the same vibes, they’re my two favorite books by her.

      When in Rome by Sarah Adams is a new friendship, but still friends-to-lovers. It’s fun and has good small-town vibes, plus it’s the first in a series if you enjoy it.

      Jen DeLuca’s Well Met series is lighthearted and , enjoyable, especially if you like Renaissance Fairs. The main characters are almost all part of the same friend group.

  11. Falling Diphthong*

    I will be going to Madison Wisconsin in a few weeks. Advice for things to do, particularly good restaurants, neat museums or similar attractions, and nice walks?

    1. word nerd*

      My favorite restaurant in Madison is the Laotian restaurant Lao Laan Xang!
      Their zoo is small but has some cool animals and it’s free admission and set in a cute neighborhood.

    2. Filosofickle*

      The Capitol building has a gorgeous interior. There’s also a Frank Lloyd Wright designed civic center on the water — which I only learned about because this season of Top Chef is set in Wisconsin! Haunting the instagram accounts of this season’s judges might give some top notch restaurant suggestions.

      1. RC*

        I went to a conference there a couple years ago and through that entire episode I was like “lolol I’ve totally been there”

        The ones I remember liking (walking distance from the convention center) was Himal Chuli and Marigold Kitchen. They also (at least at the time) had outdoor dining which I won’t eat out without it at this point.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      Epic was mentioned in the office decor thread. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m intrigued. It’s 11 miles southwest of Madison in Verona. You can get directions for a self guided tour at the registration desk.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      The National Mustard Museum is in a western college town suburb of Madison and it is a lot of fun – plus it sells an incredible variety of mustards. 7477 Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562

      1. Agnes*

        Normally the historical society but I believe that is closed for renovations. The university art museum is good (used to be Elvehjem, I think has a new name).
        Somewhat out of town – Ten Chimneys, where Lunt and Fontanne lived, and House on the Rock, which is a wild overstuffed house.

        There is a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright around; I’m sure you could get a list. The Unitarian Church, for instance.

        Might as well embrace the Wisconsin and have ice cream by the lake on the UW Campus (the Union).

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          It’s worth the trip. In early August, they have a mustard festival with free hot dogs ($10 if you ask for catsup! :D); my husband and I drove up there from Missouri one year just for lunch.

    5. bassclefchick*

      If you’re here on a Saturday, the Farmer’s Market around the Capitol Building is really good! We have plenty of bike paths. State Street is fine, but it isn’t what it used to be. They have closed portions of it to be a pedestrian mall now. Others have mentioned the zoo and the mustard museum. There’s a nice botany garden on campus, right on University Avenue. Though parking is always a nightmare, the University just ended its semester, so that will help.

    6. Chapeau*

      Was there last summer for an event for kiddo, and really liked it, despite only having a small amount of time and having to balance what kiddo was there for with the rest of the family’s desires. Ended up driving through New Glarus, which was about 45 minutes away, but looks like a Swiss town. Architecture, plants, etc. really fascinating, and definitely in my list of interesting places to visit someday! We found it by accident, just driving around on our way to somewhere else.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I think the WI Historical Museum is closed, which is sad because they display some very old toast. :)

      The capitol building (capital?) is beautiful.

    8. Other Duties as Assigned*

      Former Madison resident here:

      Seconding the Farmers Market (Saturday mornings on the Capitol Square) and looking inside the Capitol building itself. One little-known item at the Capitol is that usually on Saturdays (and perhaps other days) you can get up to roof and walk outside around the base of the dome. Ask at the info desk for directions to the elevator that will get you there.

      One neat free thing is the Geology Museum on the university campus about two blocks from the Camp Randall area on Dayton Street. They have some dinosaur and other vertebrate fossils along with their collection of rocks and minerals. Open weekdays and Saturday mornings.

      A nice walk is the Capitol to campus via State Street. Continue to the student union on the lakefront and you can grab the lake shore path to a place called Picnic Point. Perhaps come back via the Babcock Dairy Store on campus. It’s part of the animal and dairy sciences department and sells ice cream and cheese. They have a dine-in area with sandwiches, snacks and scooped ice cream. Open every day.

      Some restaurant recommendations:
      -the Old Fashioned on the Capitol Square–a retro tavern/supper club with Wisconsin fare (Wisconsin fish fry, cheese curds, brats, lots of beers, etc., all sourced in-state).

      -the Nitty Gritty is a burger bar with three locations: campus (near the Kohl Center), suburban Middleton and suburban Sun Prairie.

      Enjoy!

    9. VermilionOwl*

      I would check out the Olbrich botanical gardens – all of the outdoor areas are free!

      If you go to the farmers market at the capitol on Saturday morning I would stop by the empanada truck (it’s blue and usually near the King St corner). Another great restaurant to check out is Ahan.

      In terms of nice walks, Picnic Point or the University Arboretum are good options. If you’re looking for something paved, there’s a section of the Capitol City bike path that goes right by the Monona Terrace and Lake Monona, although the traffic is a little loud.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        +1 to the botanical gardens. They are across from the lake and super pretty! Also, most of the Malaysian places are fab. And there is a pelmeni place downtown that is super good.

        1. OtterB*

          Another +1 for the botanic garden and the arboretum. Restaurants, Short Stack has great breakfast items, particularly recommend the sweet potato oatmeal pancakes.

    10. bassclefchick*

      Two other things!

      There’s a really nice Ukrainian restaurant on East Washington called A Touch of Ukraine. It’s really good!

      Also, if you’re worried about the protesters, they just came to an agreement with the University, so the tent encampment should be gone from Library Mall.

    11. Semi-retired admin*

      Depending on your time and transportation situation, Taliesin is just about an hour drive. Totally worth the drive! By the way, in general, Wisconsin is lovely.

  12. Daisy*

    Have you been following my German is-this-a-romance saga? Would you like an update?

    Happily, thanks to all your advice, German Guy is my boyfriend now! Two days into my trip, he took me to his high school reunion, and, during a lull in the festivities, I simply could not stand it any more and went off in a corner and kept frantically posting on one of these earlier weekend open threads asking for advice and then refreshing to check for updates. I mean, what was I going to do? He was hot! I was desperate! He’d showed me all his favorite books and all of his favorite climbing trees and he’d taken me out stomping through the countryside to gather edible plants! We went on a separate trip to gather wild asparagus! Also, did I mention he was hot? He looks like German Keanu Reeves…

    Anyway, thanks to everyone here’s advice– yes, he really did like me, too– and thanks to RagingADHD’s script (https://www.askamanager.org/2024/04/weekend-open-thread-april-13-14-2024.html#comment-4676615) I managed to use words to tell him things (go me!!!!) like how he was one of my favorite people and how I definitely did want to go climbing up an abandoned castle with him at ten o’clock at night, and then, once we were there, I asked whether he wanted to kiss me (go meeeeee!!!!!!!!!). RagingADHD, you were absolutely right, he *had* been completely smitten with me, but couldn’t tell whether I really was interested or whether I was just being friendly, and was very very grateful that I had been the one to put that ambiguity to rest.

    The remainder of the trip was spent eating ice cream, watching YouTube videos, hiking to more castles, and foraging in the woods for edible plants. He remains my favorite person. By day four I was like, “I should move to Germany hahaha right?!?!” and by day eight it was really obvious that this was not a hahaha right?!?! sort of occasion, that I really was needing to do this. So, with the help of his brother-in-law, who is an American who came to Germany for work, we’re sorting through the visa and job search issues. German Guy for his part is more than a little shocked that he fell for someone so hard and so fast, but also for both of us it’s the feeling that we’ve known the other person all of our lives, somehow. So, here we are.

    While this all sorts out, I’m back in the US, and German Keanu Reeves-Looking Guy and I are back to texting each other three hours a day. This, too, shall pass. Anyway, I just want to give my thanks to you all, AAM community– I have honestly never felt so happy or so supported in my entire life.

    1. office hobbit*

      Sooooo happy and excited for you and German Keanu Reeves!! Thank you for updating us!!

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Your news gave me a warm happy glow in my belly.
      Wishing you and your German Guy much happiness!

    3. KeinName*

      This made me cry. Congratulations! Tell us again how you came to know him in the first place? And how come you just up and went to Germany, only to visit this one person?

      1. Daisy*

        There was an academic conference in my hometown that we both attended, and afterwards some of the Europeans who came ended up sticking around a few days extra for sightseeing, so I took him out to see one of those big German heritage towns. Nothing like the expression on his face when the Christmas music started up and it was all in German! I also took him to a gas station and introduced him to Cheetos, Fritos, and Ding Dongs.

        We kept in touch sporadically after that, catching up on our field and sending each other photos of cool places we’d been, and always he kept making “it’d be really cool if you came here and I could show you around, too,” sorts of noises. So when I had enough frequent flier miles to give myself a nice European vacation after working through all the paperwork for a two-year divorce, where did I go…?

        Anyway, it’s really funny. At the conference, I had been seated before a talk and saw German Dude walk in and thought, “Who is that really hot guy? I really hope I get to talk to him later!” WELP.

        1. KeinName*

          Oh this is so good. Thanks for sharing. So will you work in German academia? If so, German Scholars Organisation would be delighted to heat from you and support you, I‘m sure. Germany is currently marketing itself as a research wonderland.
          Divorce makes sense as a backdrop on why you need a big vacation! And a readiness for a change of location.
          My boyfriend currently lives 28 train hours away, but I can’t quite get myself to quit my nice job, wonderful health care, and the rest of my life to apply for a visa to a place that just hates foreigners (which my country also does but here I am at least not a foreigner myself). I wish I had your lack of hesitation, it’s very romantic.

        2. turtles*

          “Who is that really hot guy? I really hope I get to talk to him later!”

          Aww. I had the same feeling about my now-spouse, but we were both grad students. It took about 6 years before we started dating, but we’ve been together for about 25 years now. I hope the same for you!

    4. LBD*

      I’ve always been sceptical of the “Enjoys long walks on the beach at sunset” part of dating profiles, because what do you really learn about someone from that? But foraging through the countryside for edible plants is a very specific detail and really seems to reveal personality. Sounds like you have loads in common. What a great start!

    5. Kaleidoscope*

      I’m here in New Zealand (and have been for a few years) because I met a guy and only 3 months later he asked me to come back home with him (his visa expired) Sometimes you just know. hope you have as much happiness as we do!

    6. Atheist Nun*

      This is so awesome that you found each other! Thank you for sharing your happy news!

    7. Manders*

      As Seth Meyers says, “THIS is the story we need right now!”. I’m so happy for you. This is definitely the update we were waiting for.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Go you!

      I am all for doing the big moves and trying something new when you are young and flexible.

      1. Daisy*

        I am actually not by any stretch young, and German Guy is a decade younger, which I find a little hilarious. People keep making all the “older divorced women finds hot European boy toy” jokes around me. Oh my god.

        But I have lived in Europe before, and Germany specifically, and so the fact that I have an excuse to come back is like…what a relief. I always felt more comfortable there than in the US, language gap aside. Nice to be able to finally live with the person and the place that suits me.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I’m very happy for you especially as my mental image of your new paramour is Ted “Theodore” Logan wearing lederhosen. Sorry.

      1. Daisy*

        It’s Jack Wolfskin jackets! That’s the stereotypical German uniform of choice now, lol.

    10. Tau*

      Congratulations!! I saw your comment last week what felt like too late to respond, but as a fellow German I thought it sounded like he was interested in you – glad to hear I was right! :) You two sound incredibly sweet together, and I hope the visa, job search, move stuff all goes smoothly and you enjoy Germany! I think it’s a great place to live but I’m obviously biased, lol.

    11. Dicey Tillerman*

      Well this is the best news I’ve heard all day! Best wishes to you and GKR!

    12. KeinName*

      I‘m getting a hilarious ad for a German manufactured night vision thing on this website currently btw. It says BOAR! the night is in your hand! And has pictures of wild boars viewed through night vision

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      Woo hoo!!!
      SO happy for you both!!

      My husband and I went from just meeting to moving in together in two months and in nine we were married. It’s been 35 years now! So it has been done.

      1. Not that Jane*

        Somewhat similar story here! Met, moved in two months later, married within two years, and that was almost 15 years ago now. And we’re still super happy together :)

    14. Once too Often*

      Hurray! Congratulations & much happiness. So glad you shared this with us.

  13. Radar’s Glasses*

    Travel advice needed. We are in CA. We’d like to visit Montreal, Toronto and Niagara Falls (Canadian side) for about two weeks. After flying to East Coast, partner wants to drive all the way(!). What’s easiest or less time consuming route? T down to NF and drive up to M. Or go to M and drive down to T & NF? Fly home from Montreal or from Toronto? Thanks for your insights.

    1. Suzanne*

      Toronto to Montreal is 5 hours and 30 minutes driving distance one way. Toronto to Niagara Falls is one hour 30 minutes driving distance one way (so very doable to drive there, see the stuff and then drive back in one day). Niagara Falls to Montreal is 6 hours 30 minutes driving distance one way.
      Either fly into Toronto, go to Niagara Falls, back to Toronto, stay overnight and then go to Montreal.
      Or fly into Toronto, go to Niagara Falls, stay overnight, drive to Montreal.
      Or fly to Montreal, drive to Niagara Falls, stay overnight, drive to Toronto.
      Any way you do it you are going to be driving a lot.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        If you want to split up the drive a bit, Ottawa is not too far out of the way (4.5 hours from Toronto and 2 from Montreal), you could do an overnight!

    2. Former Local*

      I personally would fly between Toronto and Montreal (source: I live in Toronto, it’s a long and very boring drive to Montreal). I recommend flying out of the Island airport rather than going to Pearson (and getting to the island airport via ferry can be a fun touristy thing to do anyway:))

      1. Mephyle*

        But there are numerous things to stop and see between Toronto and Montreal. With a two-week trip, R’s Glasses has enough time to spend a day each at more than one interesting in-between spot – Thousand Islands cruise, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ottawa, and any number of wineries with tastings and tours.

        1. turtles*

          Yes, was going to suggest Sandbanks and the Thousand Islands. Afternoon wandering around Perth, on the way from Kingston to Ottawa.

    3. tree frog*

      Personally, I would suggest taking the train from Toronto to Montreal (or the reverse. The Toronto airport is bigger and less sad if that helps). Niagara Falls is close enough to Toronto for a day trip, and there are shuttles from the city that will take you there. It’s a longish train trip, but more fun than driving, and both train stations are pretty central.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I have been wanting to do this train journey. Isn’t it supposed to be beautiful?

        1. AGD*

          Yes, it’s pretty! Lots of leaves, and a big part of it runs directly alongside Lake Ontario.

    4. Mephyle*

      Another way to break up the stretch between Toronto and Montreal, or between Toronto and Ottawa, is to stop for a Thousand Islands Cruise near Kingston. Have done (3-hour cruise, many years ago), would recommend. With a two-week trip, I believe you have enough time for this.

      Your itinerary puts you near many local wineries that offer tours and tastings. Check www-dot-winecountryontario-dot-ca or google 10 best ontario wine tasting tours.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        Thousand Oaks is absolutely worth a trip. That whole area is absolutely gorgeous. I crossed into Canada from NY at that crossover and I was so impressed by the geography.

    5. Trawna*

      You can also consider flying into or home from Buffalo so you don’t have to backtrack at all.

  14. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

    seeking help from The Crafty people of aam!

    I have those bath mats that are soft on top with a plasticy folded material on the bottom. after years of having them I put them in the dryer for the first time (tag says its ok) because we had a newborn and I couldn’t deal with line drying them. now they are slippery on my bathroom floor. any suggestions for something I could add to the bottom to help them stay in place? I can sew.

    normally I would run to the craft store and poke around but I have a 6-week-old and a 2 year old and I’m just too tired!

    1. Shutterdoula*

      Nonslip rug grippers. Available at places like walmart, target, amazon, etc.

    2. Daisy*

      Dropped this in the wrong comment thread! Anyway, how about the loose-woven non-slip rubbery sort of shelf paper you can find at Target or some such?

    3. Shiny Penny*

      100% silicone caulking, in dots across the bottom surface?
      I haven’t done it, but I’ve seen a number of you-tubes of people doing this with various objects they want to be grippy, like the bottoms of slippery camping mattresses, or the bottoms of socks.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        along this same line, I’ve done the same with a hot glue gun and generous globs or lines of glue. Rather than run to the hardware store, I was just using what I had on hand and it works just as well for me. For socks I’ve used those puff-paint tubes from the fabric store to draw cute designs in all different colors…that was such a “thing” in the 1980s lol.

    4. Mephyle*

      After years of enjoying my bath mats, the non-slip rubber on the bottom dried up and started flaking off. I gave one of the mats to the dog for her outdoor dog house, gave the rest to the garbage collectors for recycling, and [here is the part where I didn’t have to go out to a store] ordered some new ones online.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        rather add something to bottom amd wait to replace because the tops are in good shape and the bottoms aren’t flaking or even structurally damaged. the issue is that there’s no longer skid resistance – the heat just changed the texture

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      thanks for suggestions everyone! besides this issue the mats are in a really good shape!

  15. Dr. Doll*

    I hope this isn’t too work related, as it’s quite personal as well. Advice sought for being supportive: I have a “friend-ish” colleague who is very, very sick. They like to have visitors in their health care facility. I’ve been trying to drop by every couple of days for 30-45 mins. Usually, there are 2-4 other people there.

    A couple of times I’ve been there alone, and… what does one talk about? I ask because I can’t talk about their work, and I don’t really want to talk at length about what a piss-poor waste of oxygen they think our organization is. (Although a quite beloved person in our org because they show up and get sh*t done, they’re famously, vocally, continuously, consistently irascible.). Those two things are kind of all they talk about. I sure don’t want to press them to discuss their condition. So any other ideas?

    1. Daisy*

      Bring something with you that can serve as a neutral topic of discussion. A newspaper/magazine/coffee table book/cookbook, some YouTube videos, a selection of small foods to sample, that sort of thing. Or, ask their advice on something you think they’d enjoy giving feedback on. How should you redecorate your living room? What sticker sheet/scented candle/wine bottle should you get your young cousin/mom/sister-in-law? What should meal planning for the next week look like, for you?

      YMMV, but when I was very, very sick, I very much appreciated the friends who could supply me with a slice of normalcy from their everyday lives, to counteract the misery of my own body and the medical system I was swimming in.

      1. Suzanne*

        When I was very ill and in the hospital I just liked to hear their day to day stuff (errands, etc). You are so removed from that in the hospital. I would rather hear about stuff than have to try to answer questions or give opinions. Another thing to think of is not to tire them out. 45 minutes sounds way too long to me. Especially with other people there. You aren’t feeling well and you are tired. Everything is exhausting.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          I do wonder about length. It seems heartless to leave someone alone in that dreary place, especially someone who likes company. I should just ask.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Yes, ask, then watch the signs and check in again during the visit. My mom would usually ask for something like an hour or so, but sometimes she perked up during the visit and I’d stay longer. Other times she’d fade earlier or rounds would start and I’d be in the way. If it looked like she was tired or not enjoying the visit, I’d name it — looks like you’re ready for a rest, should I take off? And let her lead. Between me, my sibling, and my father we were with her a few hours every day. She was usually happy to have the company, but she also needed lots of naps and wasn’t always up for it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I second the idea of bringing almost anything with you that you can natter on about for a few minutes. If you do handwork, bring your knitting or needlepoint. Pics of your dog. Bring a small plant cutting and propagate it in a clay pot. You can give it a little water when you come and comment on its progress.

      And if this person likes to complain about your company, surely they will be equally happy to complain about the hospital or their insurance. If you want to get them started, ask them about the hospital food. Also, that gives you a nice little gift to bring the next time you come – a decent snack.

    3. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      You could take in a travel book such as anything by Bill Bryson, and read a chapter – this might prompt conversation about places they have been, or their opinions on his descriptions, and it also takes them away from the confines of the hospital mentally. Bryson is a witty and engaging writer, and it would be easy to stop part way through a chapter if necessary without ‘losing the plot’.
      If they have access to the interwebs, you could also look up the places he is describing.

    4. Cordelia*

      I’d probably just let them complain about work, tbh. Sometimes people just want to talk about normal things, and if that’s what’s normal for them – keep your visits short and let them pretend that your waste-of-oxygen workplace is the most important thing there is to think about, at least for a while.

    5. tree frog*

      I’ve found crossword puzzles (or other types of puzzle/game that you can do together) are good for hospital visits. Talking about and showing photos of pets can also be a nice taste of the outside world.

    6. Llellayena*

      Are they able to do something like card or board games? Visiting doesn’t have to be talking. Showing up every few days for a game of chess or gin rummy might be a nice change for them.

  16. Guinan's Hat*

    Has anyone here sold their house privately — without a realtor? We decided to do this for a number of reasons, but one of the major ones was because we wanted to set up a sale well in advance to be sure of our moving date. Happily, a highly motivated buyer showed up, a relative of some neighbors who had long hoped to retire close to them and absolutely loves this neighborhood. We came to a handshake deal some months ago, have had a (sterling) inspection, and…

    …and progress has stalled. The buyer is, I believe, still very much intending to buy the house and to move, but it’s becoming clear that she may have needed the guidance of a realtor. We did a ton of research at the beginning, looked up expected time frames, professionals to hire for inspections/repairs/title company/etc., and assumed she was doing the same. Instead, every time she communicates, she’s handwavy about stuff we are well past the point of being handwavy about. She IS selling her house (in a hot real estate market in Texas), but only just put it on sale last week, and yet she has not spoken with her bank about a bridging loan. She seems to think she can close on the sale, then close on our purchase, in a matter of days. To top all this off, she is very concerned we won’t leave before she wants to move in–which is in late July. I’m like, lady, I would LOVE to be out of here by late July, but without financing in hand, how is this supposed to progress?

    Maybe we’re fated to be a cautionary tale. But I’m looking for any advice how to proceed from here. If she were just trying to weasel out of the handshake deal, we could just call it all off and list it in a hurry. But she’s a genuinely committed buyer who just worries about everything and yet informs herself about very little, and who still lacks a realistic sense of how long it takes to finance a house closing. What would you do, if you were us?

    Worst case scenario, we’ll move later than we hoped–it’s not the end of the world–but it’s adding a lot stress to the already-joyous experience of moving.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I don’t know for sure, but can she choose her own real estate agent and you pay them half of the usual commission that you would pay if there were two agents involved? I think you need to be firm. It’s great that you want to honor this handshake deal, but she could string this out for months. Tell her that you need to close by x date, and if that doesn’t happen, you’ll put your house on the market and she’s welcome to make a new offer then.

      1. kalli*

        Yeah, that’s not allowed – the agent would have a conflict of interest and it’s great for clients to waive that and all but they shouldn’t.

        There are some states where a real estate attorney/conveyancer must be involved by law. They can represent one party and address the other party as unrepresented, and be paid out of the sale, but they also can’t and shouldn’t actively represent both sides.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I’ve certainly had agents that represented both sides, it’s quite common, but I was just suggesting that the buyer get an agent, and the seller could continue to represent herself if she wishes.

        2. JustEm*

          I sold a house with agent representing us both. I hadn’t been planning to sell, just rent out, but the buyers approached me. They happened to be using the same agent I had used to buy the house, and they had us sign agreement to represent both parties.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Pay for a couple of hours of a real estate lawyers time. Have them draw up a contract with requirements that all inspections be completed by X date, letter of approval from a lender to be provided by Y date, The lawyer will know what needs to be in there. It’s up to your buyer to figure out how to get things done and get her own advice if needed. I think you need to be prepared for the possibility that she will not perform her obligations timely way.

      1. Peanut Person*

        I think this is the way to go.

        I’m currently dealing with a lodger who thinks he gets a refund in last month’s rent if he moves out a few days early by choice. I say this as an example to show how I’ve recently been thinking about people like… dont take certain types of contracts seriously. You kind of have to do a little reality check with a lawyer at this point. And honestly, it protects both of you with no misunderstandings.

        I have been a buyer with no realtor, and I found my financing bank to be extremely helpful and they walked me through step by step. I think the procrastination is on the woman, for whatever reason.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This. We sold our house without a realtor to people who proved to be a gigantic pain the patoot. It was worth it because they bought the place as-is and we didn’t have to put in the 10K worth of work to get someone to finish all the projects my husband had started. We had an attorney draw up the paperwork and review everything. We paid her hourly so the buyers had nothing to say about it.

        Set a deadline for the inspections and financing and either tell her yourself (in writing or via Email) or ask the attorney to do it. Make it clear you will put the house on the market if she doesn’t meet those deadlines. And agree with Indolent Libertine that it’s a good idea to prepare for the fact that she might not follow through.

      3. allx*

        Thirding this. A real estate lawyer will be more knowledgeable and very cost-effective compared to a percentage based real estate broker. Some states (e.g., Texas) have a Real Estate Commission that already has approved form contracts that set out all the details of a transaction. See if your state has such a thing, then get the “handshake” deal converted into an actual contract. A lawyer would still be beneficial to complete the form contract–there are many technical points that are just not in the normal knowledge of most people. At this point I would set tight deadlines because if she is going to flake out, you want to know it in time to find another buyer on your time line. Second idea is to go to your neighbors and see if they can facilitate–i.e., let them know that if she doesn’t comet through you are moving on to other buyers. Maybe they can light a fire under her.

      4. LynnP*

        Seconding paying an attorney. I sold a house as-is in a cash sale to a neighbor’s relative and had a lawyer draft the paperwork. It was less than the real estate commission and great when the buyer wanted to renegotiate the price which did not happen. The lawyer also facilitated the closing.

      5. Guinan's Hat*

        I actually attempted to hire not one but two real estate lawyers, each of whom said, you don’t actually need this, the title company can handle what you need. Maybe they just didn’t want to take on a task that wouldn’t take very long/earn them much? IDK.

        Basically, next week, we have to get a purchasing agreement in play, or we’ll have to list the house. It makes me sad, because I think she legitimately loves the house and the neighborhood–and because WE love the house, and my worst nightmare is selling it to a flipper who would uproot the trees we planted and knock out the walls and remove all the character and paint it beige or gray. I also don’t see how we’re going to be able to stage this and handle showings when both of us work from home. But it is what it is, I guess. I don’t regret trying this, regardless, but in retrospect we should have pushed for a much earlier purchase agreement.

        1. Abigail*

          Respectfully, the future homeowners will treat the property as their own, not as yours.

          Unless you get it registered as a protected historical property, the new owners have no obligation to maintain landscaping or character.

          1. Clisby*

            It’s a lot more than having it registered as an historical property. I live in Charleston, SC, which is big on historic preservation, and even here the Board of Architectural Review (the city board that handles requests to renovate/repaint/expand/whatever) has absolutely no say over interior changes. It’s strictly about the exterior. In some cases, where the interior is truly *extraordinary*, owners can place an historic easement on the interior – that will limit what future owners can do, but also lowers the market value of the property.

          2. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, my parents’ house is unrecognisable from what it was when they bought it in 2001. Even by 2003 it had gained an extra storey and bedroom, and in 2013 they put on a massive extension to the lounge and kitchen. It went from a pokey bungalow with a galley kitchen to a nice full sized house.

            I’m thinking of doing the same to part of my conservatory but can’t even be arsed to sort out the garden or the slightly cracked facade, so I’m just living with a less than ideal space. But if the sellers had finger-wagged us about changing anything I’d have thought they were a bit…strange. The first thing we did when we bought it was put in new carpets and give the walls downstairs a lick of paint, making the slightly anaemic colours darker and bolder. We did keep the Tardis-blue garage doors and were going to add a fun decal in honour of the good Doctor, but unfortunately my husband got very sick and our focus wasn’t on the house.

            More dramatically, my late husband and his best friend bought a single bungalow between them and split it into two units. They did effectively double their money when they sold — each unit sold for the price of the full house when they bought it — even if hubby’s part was basically a semi-studio — bedroom, lounge, kitchenette and shower/toilet cubicle.

            Let that part of it go, Guinan’s Hat. A house is a house is a house. I know you get attached to places you’ve lived (my husband died a few years ago and the house I live in still has his presence in it, which I’ve found comforting, and it would take a lot for me to want to move), but it’s not yours once you sell it, and many homeowners actually redecorate prior to selling in acknowledgement that their particular taste might not be that of the new owners. Magnolia paint is the running joke over here in the UK but it’s true — it’s easier to put your stamp on a new house if you have a blank canvas to work with.

            And yeah, my mum grubbed up a few trees after I finally left home. She acknowledged that I liked them because they shaded my bedroom during the summer, and I do get migraines if I get too hot or it gets too bright, but once I moved in my with my husband (a year or two before we got married) she cut them down to get more light into the back rooms, one of which my dad converted into a gym for himself and one of which stayed as a bedroom but offered a bit more light for other guests rather than their crypto-vampire daughter.

            On this point, I think you’re struggling to detach yourself emotionally from this place, and may need help to just let go.

        2. Willis*

          If you don’t have anything in writing or any earnest money or anything beyond handshakes and handwaves, you don’t really have any deal to sell your house. You have, at best, someone who may be interested once their home sells (which is on a timeline you don’t know and definitely don’t control). If you don’t care about timing, then sure sit around waiting to see if this lady gets her shit together. If you actually want to move by July, list the house, clean it up, and find some coffee shops or coworking space to work out of so you can have some showings. That’s how motivated buyers look for homes; they don’t wait for their friend’s daughter’s neighbor to mention they want to sell their house months down the line.

        3. Tea*

          Who’s to say that the flaky buyer wouldn’t also make drastic changes to the house though if she ever did buy it? Maybe all those trees get tree rot and have to come out before they pose a hazard? Maybe their roots are about to rip up the foundation? Maybe she just wants different trees???

          Maybe she wants more of an open floor concept inside the house? Or genuinely likes beige or gray walls?

          Once you sell the house and leave, you have no say in what happens to it. Imagine if, when you’d bought this current house, the sellers had said “oh please don’t do X, Y, or Z to it” after they handed over the keys? Especially if you really wanted to do X, Y, or Z or *needed* to do X, Y, or Z for safety or aesthetic reasons?

        4. Fettuccine*

          “I also don’t see how we’re going to be able to stage this and handle showings when both of us work from home.”

          CoughRealtorcoughcough

        5. Lucia Pacciola*

          Real estate lawyer seems like some serious overkill, honestly. I’m not at all surprised that the ones you talked to told you to let the title company handle title company things.

          A real estate *agent*, on the other hand, is a kind of specialized clerk, that helps you keep track of and organize all the fiddly little bits that can go into the buying and selling of homes. That can be super helpful.

    3. Gyne*

      I would relist the house. If the sale hasn’t progressed through normal time frames, she’s in effect opting out. The times I’ve bought and sold houses were all with a realtor, but each step had a well defined timeline by which it needed to be complete to move forward. You are probably within your rights to keep her earnest money at this point, too.

    4. Cheer, cheer, cheerios!*

      “But she’s a genuinely committed buyer who just worries about everything and yet informs herself about very little…”

      Call me cynical but I think this is how a lot of people operate, for better or worse. And this is exactly why God invented professions that require a lot of training, certification, etc–like lawyers, doctors, *realtors*…

      I’m not a real estate expert but maybe getting a real estate lawyer of your own to look things over would probably be a good idea.

      And for everyone else: this is why realtors exist.

    5. Nancy*

      This is why there are professionals with years of expertise tot ale care of the process. I think you should get a realtor, relist the house, and don’t do anymore ‘handshake deals.’ I don’t think this person plans to buy.

      1. Guinan's Hat*

        Well, she is selling her house, which strongly suggests she does in fact intend to move here. My guess is that she really, really didn’t want to make a move before her house sold–but also was unrealistic about how long it was going to take to list her house, and is being unrealistic about how long it will take to close that deal and this one.

    6. Helpful*

      Even without a realtor, you can’t do this DIY. You need a RE attorney, title professionals, lenders… I’d be willing to handshake on initial terms, but then you go under CONTRACT, which is a legally binding CONTRACT. Get an attorney to walk with you asap.

    7. Saturday*

      My sister did everything without a realtor, and it worked fine and saved them money – so it can be done, and it sounds like you’ve done your research. I think it’s probably time to move on from this buyer though (and find someone to work with who ideally has a realtor).

    8. Shard*

      but it’s becoming clear that she may have needed the guidance of a realtor.

      I mean, couldn’t you say the same thing about yourself at this point?

      1. Guinan's Hat*

        No, snarky person. I did buy this house once upon a time, and I know that even having a realtor–a good one!–is not a guarantee against a bumpy process or a flaky buyer. But thanks for being supportive and helpful!

        1. Bog Witch*

          It never ceases to amaze me how people come to a public forum for advice only to immediately raise their hackles to anyone who tells them something they don’t want to hear.

          You admit to some pretty elementary mistakes in your initial post, so yeah, there is a degree of pot calling the kettle black here. As other people have said, there’s a reason there are professionals who do this and take classes on it, get certifications and licensures, etc. No, of course having a realtor doesn’t guarantee a perfectly smooth buying/selling process every time, but it’s a heck of a lot smoother than doing this without one — as you are currently finding out the hard way.

          You’ve gotten some good advice here. Swallow your pride and take it.

          1. Willis*

            Right. It’s also kind of funny that the OP is eschewing the whole industry devoted to providing advice and guidance around dealing with the home sales, but wants free advice from random people on an unrelated blog.

            1. Zona the Great*

              This is my experience with everyone I know who tried to buy or sell without representation. Constantly asking for help finding buyers and sellers. Seeking legal advice no one is qualified to provide. Complaining about how frustrating it is.

        2. Marta*

          People are trying to save you from making a big mistake even worse – slow down and just think about it for a minute. NOT hiring a professional is a dumb move, doubling down on it is even dumber.

          Sorry to sound harsh – honestly just trying to help you see it

        3. kalli*

          Buying a house is not selling a house. The problem here isn’t the bumpy process or flaky buyer – it’s the lack of guardrails against those because you haven’t put them in.

          Have you even checked that it’s legal to sell in your area without the involvement of an attorney or conveyancer?

        4. Tea*

          We are being supportive and helpful. This is a textbook case of why handshake deals and not using realtors is a bad idea.

        5. Nope*

          Why ask for advice if you aren’t going to listen to it? The only one being snarky here is you.

    9. Lucia Pacciola*

      Sounds like it’s not you that needs a realtor, but your counterparty. The best advice I have for this scenario is, find a more motivated counterparty.

      There’s very few scenarios where it’s possible to motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated, or convince them to get help if they don’t want to get help. This is not one of those scenarios. You have to decide: Do you want to sell your house and move on with your life? Or do you want to spend months and months playing patty-cake with an unmotivated and unprepared “buyer”?

  17. Daisy*

    How about that loose-woven nonskid shelf paper you can buy at the Targets and Wal-Marts of this world?

  18. Little John*

    A request for encouragement, please. I am working on learning new skills, and I can tell they are going to come to me slowly and I have a lot of progress to make. I don’t deal well with long, patient practice over time. One of the things I want to learn is the guitar. I technically play it to a basic level already. I’ve played a little bit for years, but not improved much, because I get into a cycle of frustration — I practice for a few days, don’t make much progress, get tired of sounding bad and give it up for weeks, rinse, repeat.

    Deep in my heart, I believe I’ll never improve, and that I’ll pour time and effort into my new skills but be the one person who never got better, no matter how much she practiced. Does anyone else go through this and/or have a key to fighting past it? It’s hardly conducive to a growth mindset, but it’s hard for me to get past in order to put the work in.

    1. Daisy*

      Find something you enjoy about the physicality of the instrument. Do you enjoy your back up straight, your fingers moving in some repetitive cycle? Think of it not so much as honing a skill, but the process of doing meditation or yoga.

      1. office hobbit*

        Seconding this. Find something you enjoy about it that doesn’t depend on being good. Try to enjoy the journey. The worries about what if you never ever get better are a concern for the future, not for every day. Maybe tell yourself that in x months, you can assess whether you’ve improved, but until then, don’t even think about it, just have fun. (“Fun” for a hobby can be a broad definition of the term, in my view–challenging things can also be fun even if you aren’t overjoyed in the moment.)

        1. office hobbit*

          And also (I just reread your post), since you say “I don’t deal well with long, patient practice over time,” it’s okay to decide improving at guitar is not actually something you want to do after all. I don’t play an instrument but my understanding is that they’re kind of the definition of long patient practice over time. I assume you don’t have any external forces requiring you to become a guitar virtuoso (you didn’t promise to perform at your sister’s wedding, e.g.), so there’s no harm if you at some point decide it just isn’t for you.

          1. Lime green Pacer*

            Or you can just decide that you enjoy playing badly. A lot. Who knows, you may get better with practice, but your goal is just to do the fun stuff. I’m awful at archery and fanfic writing, but as long as I have fun, I don’t let it bug me. (I do practice safe archery though. Not too tough, given my circumstances—shooting in my rural backyard )

    2. Not A Manager*

      Is it really true that you see NO progress at all? Or is it that you want to actually sound *good* in a short amount of time? If you want to sound good quickly, I think you’re right that that’s unlikely to happen. But if you want to be able to accept sounding *better* over some short time-frame, I suggest that you absolutely sweat the small stuff.

      I’m not musical, so I don’t know what the equivalent would be for guitar. But when I’m doing something physical, which I’m not naturally gifted at, I take satisfaction in doing one rep more than last time, or knowing that my form was better, or any little thing that feels like incremental progress. And then after a few weeks or months, those tiny victories add up and I can see “real” progress. But what keeps me going on a daily basis is focusing on the little things.

      1. Tau*

        I’m also coming at it from a different lots-of-practice-needed-to-become-good hobby (language learning) but I absolutely cosign the setting yourself small milestones and celebrating minor improvements thing. Am I going to be fluent in Polish anytime soon? Not a chance. But hey, the other week I understood most of a learner’s podcast, I have a thousand words in this vocabulary app I use, and when I stayed at a Polish hotel I got through a simple interaction completely in Polish without needing to switch languages. Go me!

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        I think there’s also an issue with music where your listening skills, if that’s the right word, improve along with your playing skills, so you do improve but don’t sound better to yourself because you’re also a harsher judge of what you’re doing.

        (I don’t seem to get that with languages to the same extent, although other people might!)

    3. RagingADHD*

      Can you pick projects that give you a really defined goal, rather than being “good?”

      Like making a thing, or learning a song. It has an endpoint so you can get a sense of accomplishment, you have a reason to keep going until you reach the milestone, and you are bound to improve from the beginning to the end.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve played four instruments in my adult life, pretty badly. That used to bug me, until I reminded myself that I’m just playing for my own amusement. I’m not going to join a band, and I’m not competing with anyone. I was on a forum for one of the instruments, and nearly everyone talked about practice, practice, practice. It suddenly dawned on me – playing, even badly, is the fun part, and all playing is practice. After years on two instruments, I bought another in the early days of Covid, and had a blast learning enough to plonk out some tunes. About two months ago, I started another instrument, and it’s been so much fun! It might help that I’m old and in the “don’t give a rat’s ass what other people think” stage of my life. I’m having fun and keeping my brain active at the same time. Embrace the level you play at and enjoy the heck out of it!

    5. Six Feldspar*

      Is there any external pressure on you? Any friends or family who know about your goals and ask how you’re going?

      Some people are motivated by external accountability but some of us as very much not. I bought a keyboard last year and not a single person in meatspace knows about it, because I know that any question about how it’s going no matter how gentle will send my brain into a tailspin of stress.

    6. Morning Reading*

      Not exactly the same but I find myself starting and stopping projects in a similar way. For me, having a teacher or regular tutoring session would work to create external pressure, especially if I am paying for it. Even if it’s free, if I made a commitment to someone else, to meet at a particular time, or to practice before that, I would be more likely to do it than if it were just a commitment to myself.
      If you’re like me, sign up for something! I’m currently taking a class in ASL and while I should practice every day, I practice most the day before class.

      1. ruining my life*

        I was also going to suggest lessons. It really worked for my partner, who wanted to learn piano, but couldn’t get himself to practice regularly. So, the weekly lessons made him practice more, to not disappoint the teacher. The teacher also taught him a couple of tricks that made the playing sound better. There’s more to music than notes, and you don’t know what you don’t know.

    7. Hlao-roo*

      Is there a piece or two you can play well? Even a short one, or a small chunk of one? I recommend ending each practice session with that, so you end with a feeling of “I sound good and this is fun!”

      I used to play violin, and I always ended practice with something easy and fun that I knew how to play well. Sometimes I started practice the same way, too. It definitely helped sort of “smooth out” the emotions that come with the hard bits of practice.

    8. strawberry lemonade*

      Yeah, I think that you have to enjoy what you’re doing as you do it. It’s not like practicing a skill is never a grind, but you have to think it’s interesting at least sometimes in order to keep doing it.

      1. You might be practicing wrong for your brain. Throw away how you think you “should” practice. There’s time to do drills later once you like playing guitar and want to exercise your hands. It’s not how can you practice, it’s how can you play the guitar and find it interesting?
      2. The time will pass whether you’re playing guitar or not. Why not spend your time with music?
      3. Even if you never get good at playing guitar, the time will not have been wasted, because you’re playing music with your own hands.

      1. strawberry lemonade*

        I also want to note, your fear of never being good is a reasonable fear, because it’s completely self fulfilling.

        What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Can you do that, while afraid?

      2. Jackalope*

        This may or may not help but I stumbled across something that I found useful so sharing in case it’s that for you as well. Like many people, I learned to start at the beginning and end at the end, including while working on difficult chunks. I read a suggestion somewhere to start with the end and work backwards. So for example if I was working on a difficult set of 8 measures in a row, I’d start on measure 8, get that down, then go back to 7, work on that for awhile, then play 7 & 8 together, then go back to 6…. That way instead of going from easier to the tougher bits you don’t know, you’re working from the less familiar bits flowing into the stuff you’ve already worked on, and it makes it easier to pick up the whole thing. This may be a bit too much in the weeds but I share it because it was a very helpful way to break down hard stuff so that I could make it simpler.

    9. Lexi Vipond*

      You may or may not be this kind of person, but it helps me to make ‘play for X minutes a day’ a challenge in itself, and then I can tick that off, and any improvement is a free gift.
      (X is currently quite small. But I do improve!)

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      It can be very difficult to learn a new skill, particularly an art-based one like music or sculpting, because you can tell what it’s supposed to be like and how far away you are. The only thing that’s helped me was finding ways to practice that I enjoy. If the practice itself feels fun then it’s not about gaining skill in my mind. So the skill gap I can hear/see doesn’t bother me as much because it’s not the goal. This worked for cross-stitch and digital painting for me, but not for piano (yet, I’m still hoping to find a way eventually).

    11. kalli*

      If you have a decent PC, grab a copy of something like Rocksmith. The gamified experience and independent feedback help where you don’t have an actual teacher and schedule and goals to plan towards.

      You can also emulate Rock Band 3 but Rocksmith is still maintained and Rock Band 3 is not (plus, emulation).

    12. Zephy*

      The point of doing things isn’t to be good at them. It’s okay to suck at things you do for fun.

      So what if you do just permanently suck at guitar? Who’s gonna die if you can’t shred some hott lixx on command? Nobody, probably. But, leaving that aside for a moment, maybe you need a different approach; instead of learning to Play The Guitar, what if you just tried to learn A Song, On The Guitar? Maybe working toward a more specific goal will make it easier to tell if you’re making progress – does it sound like Freebird yet? No? Okay, why not, what do we work on next?

      I don’t remember if this was a paywalled post or not so apologies for sharing your secrets if you’re lurking here, Captain Awkward, but I recall a post from the good Captain about learning piano. She’d taken piano lessons in the past, as a child or young adult, and similar to you, got bored and frustrated two pages into the basic exercise book every piano teacher wanted to start her with, with the fingering and scales and what have you. Eventually she decided to take another run at it, and found a piano teacher who would let her skip straight to learning A Song. No more getting bogged down in theory or endless hours of drills to learn how to play quote-unquote “correctly” – nope, we’re jumping right to Piano Man, or whatever the song was she wanted to learn. As long as your instrument is making the sounds you want it to, it doesn’t matter if you learned how to make those sounds the “right” way or if you just screwed around with it until you figured out *a* way to get the damn thing to do what you want it to (which might or might not be technically “correct”).

      This applies to literally any kind of creative hobby. Is there a “correct” way to cross stitch? Probably, according to someone’s grandma, but I don’t give a shit about her opinion. No one is gonna die, the hoop isn’t going to crumble to dust in my hands if I sew some little x’s “wrong.” There are no rules, there is no One True Way to do art. There are only Ways that other people have already done, and you can follow them, or you can just point yourself toward your goal and figure out the path as you go.

    13. MeepMeep123*

      I’m a guitar beginner myself, learning classical guitar. I totally get the frustration. The guitar is a much harder instrument than most people tend to think. I play the piano at the semi-professional level, so I’m not new to music, and I was completely taken by surprise when I started the guitar. It’s not easy. Not at all.

      Here’s my advice:

      1. Get a teacher. You’ll progress much faster and you won’t get stuck in a frustration loop where you keep doing something wrong and not knowing why you’re not getting the sound you want.

      2. (This is one I struggle with a lot) Pick very easy pieces to learn. Don’t go for something hard right away. Learn an easy piece and learn it right. You’ll get a lot more out of it, and progress a lot faster, than if you were to try a very complex piece and crash and burn on it.

      3. Video yourself playing once a month, or at other regular intervals. Then, when you need some encouragement, listen to the video from last month and the video from this month. If you’re practicing regularly, you WILL hear an improvement.

    14. Angstrom*

      Finding someone to play with is a huge help. Playing badly with someone is is much more fun than playing badly alone.
      And while not a practice issue, it might be worth having the setup on your guitar checked. Beginner guitars typically have a very high action which makes everything you do with your left hand more difficult. A good gutar tech/luthier can adjust the action and make it easier to play. If fretting is physically difficult, going to lighter strings or from steel to nylon could also help.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I had this with skating; I was never going to be anything but a recreational skater, my one competition not withstanding. So I concentrated on what I liked most about it, the artistic/performance aspect. That’s the part I was actually good at.

      My eventual burnout had nothing to do with my mediocre technical prowess. I had two coaches at one point, one freestyle and one moves, and made a lot of progress during that time. If I’d kept going, I probably would have mastered all the (single) jumps eventually and maybe even competed a little more. I burned out due to recurring injuries and the frustration of not being able to practice during the week because job, and coaches leaving/changing all the time weren’t helping me improve. They also hired a new director who started up a points system that disproportionately favored younger, competitive skaters. She eventually left, but by then, I was over it.

      I still miss it sometimes. I miss the camaraderie with other skaters, the backstage excitement, and the thrill of starting a new program. I kept my skates and saved all my best dresses because you never know.

      If you can focus on something you like about it, it might be easier to keep going, but it’s also okay to stop if you’re not finding joy in it anymore.

    16. k*

      If you aren’t feeling motivated or enjoying your practice sessions, I highly recommend trying a different type of guitar and a different style of playing. It took me more than a year of playing on and off to admit to myself that I have absolutely no interest in playing rhythm guitar. Switching to fingerstyle and then eventually picking up a classical guitar unlocked the instrument for me.

      One of the biggest challenges with playing the guitar is that it’s physically painful at first, especially with steel strings. It sounds like you’re not playing enough to build and maintain calluses, so you’re having to go through a miserable time every time you put the instrument down and pick it back up again. In that respect, consistency is better than “long, patient practice”. In your shoes I would do my best to commit to playing for 5-10 minutes every day for a month. Once your fingers have acclimated the guitar gets way more fun.

      I also really recommend that you approach the instrument in the spirit of play. You sound like you may be overly focused on mastery. Don’t treat it like homework, don’t get hung up on technique or scales or practice routines — save that for when you feel more organically motivated.

  19. Meg*

    I hope to get recommendations for restaurants and indoor attractions in Charlotte, North Carolina for my ten-year-old granddaughter and me.

    She lives near Atlanta and goes to parks and outdoor events there often, so I’d like to take her somewhere a little different. Right now, she is a pescatarian and intensely interested in twentieth-century history, especially women in history.

    Thank you!

    1. Buster*

      I live in Charlotte, and although we don’t have as much going on as Atlanta, there’s still a lot to do!

      Check out the Levine Museum of the New South. It was closed for a while during the pandemic, but I think it’s reopened now. There are also some good art museums in Uptown. The Mint has a great collection of Southern art and modern craft art. My daughter is 8 and she loves Discovery Place, which is a hands-on science museum.

      I know you are looking for indoor activities, but I have to plug the Whitewater Center. It’s a huge outdoor activity complex with rock climbing, ropes courses, ziplines, hiking and biking trails, and of course whitewater rafting. I think the Olympic rafting team trains there.

      I asked my daughter for her favorite restaurants, and she said Brix Pizza, which has locations around the city. North Carolina is known for barbecue, and Midwood Smokehouse has fish and veggie options (the Mac and cheese is wonderful).

      Have a great visit!

    2. beep beep*

      I spent some childhood time in Charlotte. I second Discovery Place, especially if she likes animals- they have a small aquarium and a small walkthrough “terarium” area made up to look like a wooded area with lots of birds and turtles and other animals to stand and watch.

      I’m not sure if they do a visitor’s pass, but if she’s bookish she may also like Imaginon, which is a very large public library uptown with areas geared towards kids and teens. There’s also a children’s theater inside if you like to see plays/musicals.

      As for food, if she likes Indian, Passage to India is in the University area and has very good seafood, vegetarian, and vegan options. Golden Bakery does both sweet and savory Arabic food, though I don’t think they do fish; they have cheese options, though. They have a minimum amount of food when buying from the case, but most things are reheatable or good cold.

    3. SBT*

      I live in Charlotte, and while I don’t have kids, would recommend the following:
      – The Museum of Illusions
      – Seconding the recommendation above for The Whitewater Center, even though it’s outdoors – it’s a really cool spot. And depending on when she’s here, there might be a concert or an event like the rubber duck racing!
      – I’d check the local theaters to see if there are any shows she’d enjoy (The Lion King is coming later this summer), but you can find the details on Blumenthal Arts’ page (Theatre Charlotte and Matthew Playhouse also have solid shows, and both of those have kids’ theater shows over the summer)
      – Check out the website Charlottes got alot .com as it keeps a running list of events and festivals, of which there are many. Axios does as well.

  20. Alex*

    I’m looking for ideas to use fresh dill in cooking! My dill is growing like crazy and I need to tame it down so there is room for the other herbs.

    I eat pretty much everything but am a bit pressed for time at the moment so quick and easy recipes are appreciated! I cook for one but don’t mind leftovers if they keep well.

    1. Daisy*

      A lot of Georgian food (Georgia the country, not Georgia the state) uses large quantities of minced herbs (incl. dill) in combination with walnuts, garlic, and then some sort of salad/meat patty ingredient (potatoes, beets, ground beef…). One of my favorite ways to cook!

    2. fallingleavesofnovember*

      My go-tos for dill are:
      Use it on fish in the oven or with smoked salmon
      Make a non-mayo-based potato salad (like with olive oil)
      Borscht!
      It would probably work well in an omelette, maybe one with goat cheese or cream cheese in it?

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      The best cucumber sandwich: blanch 1/2 a bunch of dill (about 3-4 large springs) and 1 bunch of chopped scallions. Squeeze all the water out of the herbs and chop finely, then mix with 8oz softened cream cheese, .5 tsp sea salt and .5 tsp ground black pepper. Spread on white sandwich bread, top with thin sliced and peeled cucumbers, and serve. The herbed cream cheese keeps for a few days in the fridge and is really good stirred into scrambled eggs or on a bagel with lox.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Spinach dill meatballs.

      Sautee chopped green onions, add garlic, then finely chopped spinach and a bit of salt. Cook until it has shrunk and the excess liquid gone. Add a couple of handfuls of finely chopped dill, turn off the heat and let cool. Mix the vegetables with ground meat, and optionally some eggs and breadcrumbs. Form into large meatballs and bake on a tray.

      They’re good with tatziki (also made with lots of dill).

    5. The Other Dawn*

      If you like goat cheese or cream cheese, make a flavored version. I then use it on toasted crusty bread or in an omelette.

      For mine I use:

      1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
      6 oz. plain goat cheese (or cream cheese) at room temperature

      Just mix it up and put in the fridge overnight so the flavor develops.

      I found this recipe just now (withtwospoons dot com), which looks good:

      11 ounces goat cheese (I assume you can sub cream cheese)
      2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill
      2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
      1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      zest of one lemon
      1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      2 Tablespoons half and half

      Allow the cheese to soften at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
      Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip for 2-3 minutes until light and airy.
      Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Shrimp salad:
      1 lb boiled shrimp
      2 avocados, diced
      juice of a lime (mostly to prevent discoloration of avocados)
      generous handful of dill
      salt

      I pinch the tails off the shrimp and cut them in half. Dice avocado to same size. Toss with lime, dill, and salt.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I put fresh dill in my chicken soup. Would nicely dress up a commercial soup if you don’t have time to make your own. Soup can be “set it and forget it” on the stovetop – these days I usually make it in the Instant Pot.

    8. OaDC*

      Pickles! Cookie and Kate has a recipe for “easy refrigerator pickles” that I like.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      Cucumber and tomato salad with dill and sour cream, salt and pepper. You can add some green onions and radishes too.
      Soups, especially of the Eastern European variety. Eggs.

    10. Shutterdoula*

      I’ve made logs of dilly butter, then I semi-freeze them, cut them into rounds, then fully freeze the rounds on parchment paper. Once fully frozen, I put them in a ziplock bag. Then over the year, I pull a few out and put them on fish when cooking them.

    11. Girasol*

      I have a recipe for braising carrots in beer that calls for salt and dill when the beer has burned off. Actually dill works even with plain steamed carrots. It’s also great mixed with salt and garlic in a bit of Greek yogurt for a dressing or dip.

      1. Chicago Anon*

        Carrot salad. Grated carrots, dill (and/or other herbs if you like), some salt and pepper, ginger if you like it, lime juice, mayo. Amounts depend on what you have and what you like!

    12. Kathenus*

      I love dill – I put it on/in anything with chicken or seafood, plus I chop it up and add it to a garden salad, as well as if I’m making a tuna salad. Also great on potatoes.

    13. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Dill can be added to a lot of soups, and summer salads made with mayo or sour cream. You can also add it to oil- or-vinegar-based salad dressings like cole slaw or tomato salad.
      Dill also freezes exceptionally well! I pick the thin branches off the thicker tough stems, and put them is snack-sized ziploc bags. Squeeze all the air out, label it with a sharpie and date, and drop it right in the freezer. When I need some I just pull out a couple of sprigs, or if it froze into one lump, chop off the end while frozen to get the amount I need.

      1. Kathenus*

        Yes! Great on most veggies – forgot when I posted above but I use on both fresh and canned or frozen veggies – green beans, corn, broccoli, etc.

    14. Czech It Out*

      My parents love dill sauce to go over potatoes and egg or meat. Search “koprovka recipe in English” and website called Cook like Czechs should come up (I don’ want to post a link so I don’t get stuck in moderation).

    15. Chauncy Gardener*

      My Eastern European husband loves boiled baby potatoes tossed with butter, kosher salt and chopped fresh dill.

    16. Ali + Nino*

      what a good problem to have! I second tzatziki and also suggest the following salad:
      Six baby cucumbers and six radishes sliced very thin
      dill
      green onions
      Dress with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, dash of black pepper and a touch of sugar. enjoy!

    17. Filosofickle*

      My fav dill use is in potato salad — not the mayo kind, but a french style potato salad with vinaigrette and herbs. Barefoot Contessa / Ina Garten has a recipe I like.

    18. I take tea*

      You can make pesto with dill instead of basil. It’s really nice.

      This is a classic (as in “my grandmother always did this”) where I live:
      Slice a lot of cucumber really thin (I like the small ones with a thick, rough peel for this)
      Layer cucumber and lots of chopped dill in a bowl. Press down a bit with a pestle or something to release a bit of the liquid from the cucumbers. Dont mash the slices.
      Mix white vingar and a bit of water (it’s supposed to taste sharp, but not so strong that you can’t eat it. How much depends on the strength of the vinegar), as salt to taste, some people like a pinch of sugar too. Pour over and let it rest overnight. It will keep for a couple of weeks and goes well on a sandwich or to a lot of food.

    19. londonedit*

      You could make a dill butter – all you need to do is soften some nice butter and mix in as much chopped dill as you like (with whatever else you fancy – other herbs, or garlic, salt/pepper, etc). Then shape it into a log, wrap in baking paper and foil and freeze it. You can just cut bits off the frozen log of butter whenever you want to use some – stir it through boiled new potatoes, or put some on the top of salmon and bake it, etc etc. Or you could also freeze it in a silicone ice-cube tray.

  21. Jackalope*

    A bit late tonight but here’s the reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs.

    I read Seanan McGuire’s book Seasonal Fears. It’s the sequel to her book Middlegame, and I enjoyed it a lot. The story was fun and had good suspense but not too rough. A lot of sociopaths in this book, though.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m reading The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, by Natalie Haynes, who also wrote Pandora’s Jar and Divine Might. It’s witty and interesting, and she’s very good at pointing out the similarities in thought between the classical world and our own.

    2. Mitchell Hundred*

      I’m reading a book about saints in the early Middle Ages. Not the kind of thing that would normally catch my eye, but there’s a section in there about how people thought of sex and the practice of abstaining from it, and as an asexual person that interests me greatly. I’m always interested in hearing the social history/anthropological takes on sex and virginity (even though that last concept is one that really shouldn’t exist).

    3. Forensic13*

      I’m trying to plot out a thriller/gothic horror book so I’m reading some of those. I’m planning on rereading Rebecca, which I love, but I also thought I should read some of the older classics. And yikes. Did not like The Turn of the Screw. Maybe it’s scarier published in installments.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      Finished “What Happened to Nina” – and yeah, I definitely hate prologues.

      Started “Radiant Heat” by Sarah-Jane Collins. It’s about a woman who narrowly survives a wildfire in Australia and then discovers a dead woman in a car in her driveway. I’ve stalled about 20% of the way in and need to decide whether to keep going. I’d really been looking forward to the book, but something about is dry and uninteresting.

      In the interim, I’ve been reading “Dear Committee Members” by Julie Schumacher. It’s an epistolary novel, told entirely in letters – mostly recommendation letters – by an English professor. It’s…ok. Very lukewarm on it because the guy is too much.

      I also finished listening to “The Great Alone” by Kristen Hannah. It’s set in Alaska in the late 70s – 80s and is about a family that moves to remote Alaska to homestead. It’s essentially a soap opera in book form. I loved the main character, a teenage girl, but a lot of the action in the book seems to be based on people making the dumbest possible decisions to create the biggest possible melodrama. That wasn’t what I signed up for, so I found the book a bit disappointing.

      1. FalafalBella*

        “Things I Wished I Told my Mother” by Susan Patterson and Susan Diablo. Fictional story about an adult mother and daughter– very readable.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Just finished Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer! It was very good, but very much ends on a To Be Continued note — luckily the sequel was available on libby right away!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Monique, a writer in NYC stuck writing mostly lifestyle pieces, is summoned by retired movie star Evelyn Hugo, who wants Monique to write Evelyn’s biography. It’s the story of Evelyn’s life, told in the framing of her telling the story to Monique. Evelyn was a teenaged girl who wanted power, fame, and money, in that order. In the 1950s, with the asset of being very beautiful, her plan was to get herself to Hollywood, get noticed by an agent, and become a movie star. She pulled this off.

      Mixed thoughts about this one. I really liked the aspect of the interwoven studio and paparazzi systems–how the first wanted to craft a story that would engage the second, how you could counter a possible scandal by offering up a different scandal that is equally salacious but has a story counter to the first, how this really anticipated the modern social influencer who is stuck with all the jobs that once were divided out across a studio and newsroom. I didn’t think that tied strongly enough to movies as a storytelling vehicle. Or writing.

      The framing is very much Evelyn playing a role and crafting the image she wants Monique to see. Which meant it didn’t go deeper into the parts I would have found interesting (the craft of storytelling, how she honed her career skills, how the relationships with others developed) and, as the title suggests, was focused on who she married. I also thought Monique largely disappeared from the middle 80% of the book.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you enjoyed Middlegame and Seasonal Fears — the A. Deborah Baker books that are regularly referenced through at least Middlegame, she actually wrote and published those as well; the fourth (and last) just came out a couple months ago. The first one is called “Over the Windward Wall” and they were quite well done.

      Also – if you enjoy her writing and want to step away from her fantasy type stories, she also writes more science-y thriller fiction under the name Mira Grant.

    8. Autumn*

      I’m reading Amy Among the Serial Killers by Jincy Willett. It’s the third Amy book (The others are The Writing Class and Amy Falls Down). I loved the first two and so far love this one. The writing is so beautiful, and The Writing Class and Serial Killers are funny and full of snap. Amy Falls Down has some really dark and distressing passages but that’s life, and the writing is amazing. Her website is hilarious too.

    9. Girasol*

      I took Ursula Vernon’s Black Dogs on a trip and bought volume 2 part way. it was a delightful fantasy that got me through a tough time.

    10. Bookworm*

      I am constantly reading – I love Seanan McGuire. I recently got my husband and teenage son hooked on Dungeon Crawler Carl. It is definitely a more mature read – PG-13/R. It is often hilarious, but it also is a book that’s (kind of?) about an apocalypse with people fighting for survival. I’ve both read it in book form and listened to it in audiobook – if you’re looking for an audiobook, the narrator who does this is phenomenal.

    11. carcinization*

      I wish I liked Seasonal Fears as much as Middlegame. But I’ll still read whatever the next one is.

      I just finished a book for the book club I’m in, Feeney’s Rock, Paper, Scissors. It was definitely not my thing, I’m more of a speculative fiction type and that’s what my book club usually reads, but I guess this one is vaguely horror-ish or something? Anyhow, it mostly seemed like an exercise in how many increasingly implausible twists one could pack into a novel rather than the usual thing which is I guess hoping the reader is interested in the characters or plot? I guess some people might prize not being about to predict what happens next/where things are going more than they do anything else? But at least I will have opinions to share at book club next week! Hopefully I will like the next book better!

    12. chocolate muffins*

      Finished Just Mercy earlier today. My husband and I saw the movie – I think it was the last or one of the last movies we saw before COVID and we haven’t been in a movie theater since – and the book was even more devastating. Didn’t know that was going to be possible, but both the book and the movie are excellent and highly recommended.

    13. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Enter the Body by Joy McCullough. Four Shakespearean heroines get together and talk. It was a gut punch to me because my daughter was Juliet in her senior years (while my husband, who did fencing, was armsmaster and fight choreographer, as well as Old Capulet, because old, and he didn’t have too many lines).

      The book is short but pretty emotionally overwhelming.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Enter the Body: sounds intriguing! I dashed out and picked up a copy at the local independent bookstore.

    14. GoryDetails*

      Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson – a chatty, fourth-wall-breaking murder mystery in which the narrator/protagonist *claims* to be accurate in everything he says, while managing to promote misdirection all over the place.

      At first I found that I wasn’t liking the characters very much – a bickering extended family with criminal connections and far too few boundaries. But as the various revelations came through as to who killed whom and under what circumstances – plus the clues about the ongoing murder mystery – I found myself enjoying it more and more. (I was also pleased to have deduced the location of the McGuffin correctly!) The crimes themselves were surprisingly gruesome, yet I wound up with some sympathy for the killer, so all in all a more satisfying read than I’d expected at the outset.

  22. Jackalope*

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

    I returned briefly to Fire Emblem Three Houses to finish up a prior run I had started. It was fun, although I was a bit lost at first since I didn’t know what my goals had been or where everyone was in terms of meeting them. I did a themed run : Edelgard and the Girls Crush the Patriarchy. (When the run started almost every one of them was in fact a girl and not a woman, hence the name.) I missed using some of the male characters but enjoyed getting to lean into some of the female characters I hadn’t used as much in previous runs.

    1. SunnyShine*

      I’ve been playing Slay the Spire on my phone. it’s free on Google pass. it’s a deck building game.

      I’m about to start another Star Dew Valley run, but modded because I’m old and don’t have that much time to play. lol

    2. Manders*

      Pokémon Go (yes, still!). I found out this week that if you use a referral code vs a trainer code, you get tasks that you need to complete for pretty good rewards. Some of the tasks are easy, some are more daunting. But if anyone out there wants to friend me, my referral code is BT4T8TWMR.

    3. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I got Hades II on early access! It’s the first time I’ve gotten a game before the full release, but I decided to because 1) I’ve been a huge fan of their games for years, and 2) I followed Hades I when it was on early access and was very impressed with how they handled it (many updates, full patch notes without spoilers, easy to give feedback, a list of things that were still in the works, saved games worked across each patch without needing to restart, continued patches for a long time after full release).
      So far it’s just as good as the original, although it’s easy to see some places where it’s not yet the finished product. I’m totally stoked!

    4. Nicki Name*

      I tried out The Great Split on BGA and decided I love it, but there aren’t enough people playing to get into real-time games. Anyone have suggestions for games that are similar but more popular on BGA?

  23. WoodswomanWrites*

    This is an injury-related question, but not I’m not asking for medical advice.

    A few days ago, I tripped and fell in my apartment–note to self, time to deal with the clutter–and since my forearm was still a little sore and a lot discolored, today I saw the doctor. An x-ray shows I have a small fracture in the radial head of my forearm near my elbow. Fortunately it barely hurts and I have full range of motion in my arm and hand. I see the orthopedist next week and I’ll be getting either a splint and/or a sling.

    For anyone who has had this injury, how long did it take you to have unrestricted use of your arm back? I’m asking because I’m a musician, this is my dominant right arm, and I’m looking to practice more intensively prior to a week-long music camp in July.

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      Ouch! Fellow musician who broke a (left) humerus a few years ago. My break was a lot worse than yours, but it does take time for bones to fully knit together. The real recovery challenge is loss of muscle tone and range of motion in the shoulder from immobilization, so it really depends on how still you have to keep it for how long. A physical therapist will probably give you the most realistic timeline for recovery. I hope you’re back in the saddle in time for camp!

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I had this sort of injury in 2004. It took about 6 weeks? The break I had was super-stable, so no cast was needed. At the time, it hurt a bit, and I could not turn my palm over from up to down.

      I’d wanted a cast, because I was paranoid of the arm not healing properly, but my orthopaedic guy said it was important not to let the muscles atrophy. He gave me a sling and very light exercises to do a few times a day (I think….it’s been nearly 20 years, so it might have been once a day) to keep the muscles from atrophying.

    3. Hypatia*

      My partner is dealing with this right now. It will be about 4 weeks now, no cast, but it’s not healing well so in about 2 more weeks, they go back for another xray. I would be careful about any use of that hand/arm. Partner kept using it for writing, and that made things worse. The doctor had said to try not to use it much, but I think there are just so much little twists and pulls on the bones we don’t even think about. Partner will need surgery if this doesn’t heal up right. Be more cautious than you think!

    4. May*

      my toddler actually had this exact injury, same arm and location, recently. it was 3 weeks in a splint but toddlers are bionic healers. she experienced no pain when splinted, though!

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for all the guidance. I’m confident that carefully following the medical advice from my team will have me healed up in time for my music camp in July. I may be a little rusty, but that’s okay. Now if I’m lost with anything they’re teaching, I can just say I had a broken arm and no one will be the wiser. I’ll take it.

  24. Crockpot all night long*

    What’s cooking?

    We have been crock-potting it up lately due to hectic and varying work schedules. TikTok shop got me last week so I have a chuck roast going overnight with a jar of Instant-Birria (ours takes a while to heat up so overnight works best for us in order to have lunch). We’re excited to try it!

    Do you have a go-to slow cooker or relatively hands off recipe?

    1. Six Feldspar*

      Recently I realised I can do beans and stock bones in the pressure cooker together and get tender beans with some good flavour, and a stock with extra protein from the beans. It’s a little thing but now I’m trying to build my weekly cooking around it and it’s a good structure to build meals from.

      1. hate to cook, but love crockpots*

        A couple of chicken breasts, a jar of salsa verde, a can of roasted chilies (we like medium), some garlic. Cook on low about 4 hours. Shred chicken, eat on corn tortillas or over rice. I top with fresh cilantro.

      2. ccsquared*

        Ooh, trying this – my fitness coach wants me to get more protein, and this sounds like an easy, tasty way to do that!

    2. Seashell*

      I make a lot of slow cooker recipes of varying degrees of difficulty, but this is probably the easiest one.

      BBQ chicken – put 2 lbs. boneless chicken (I use breasts, but thighs work too) in the crockpot, put 1 cup of BBQ sauce & 1 cup of tomato sauce over it, cook for 8 hours on low, stir once or twice if you’re around, then shred the chicken with two forks.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I do exactly that with pork for pulled pork. I will try it with chicken next time!

    3. ccsquared*

      Target has a 16-bean soup starter (Good and Gather brand) with a recipe for Crock-Pot ham and bean soup. I made that this week, and it was amazing. My secret to everything is to use the fire-roasted variety of canned tomatoes in recipes that call for tomatoes – gives a bit of fresh spin to these more traditional recipes.

    4. turtles*

      took out the penultimate jar of plum jam from my late mother’s plums from the freezer. Will make plum jam lemon cake.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Pot roast, for sure. I’ve tried lots of different ones, a favorite being in red wine sauce and served over polenta. Soups as well, of course!

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      The book Make It Fast Cook It Slow has ever so many fabulous crockpot recipes. They all happen to be gluten free as well!

    7. carcinization*

      I have all kinds of crockpot recipes, but a lot of them are in cookbooks, or are just random things I’ve been making for 20+ years (so I originally got some of them from the internet but they might not be easily-findable there these days). Right now I’m making Budget Bytes’ “(Not) Refried Beans” in my crockpot, but this is the first time I’ve made this recipe so who knows how they will be. They sure smell great though! One recipe that I can definitely recommend from the same site is the Slow Cooker Jambalaya, it’s really great and you don’t have to make it as spicy as she does if you’re not a spice-hound. It makes so much food and my husband and I are always super-excited to eat the leftovers!

    8. OxfordBlue*

      During the cold wet weather that has only recently ended here in the UK I felt like I was married to my slow cooker, I used it so much. I discovered this series of books on Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.co.uk/Skinny-Slow-Cooker-Vegetarian-Recipe-ebook/dp/B00BL87C2Y?ref_=ast_author_dp&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.A4PRDLX1e2P3V4azNtzt2bR4oa1i365U4GQSnK-9m0SeV505aAggAIRoPRxTR3sQTcn7zppVTbGUviHMEd5vxOZRIU3a5FKoEjY-59jACSoHVN7heOReUDbYUZYLNjaXq7WoojMwtmZ_gAiEA5p8-DjFuJKWkWT0Yp28TbCneNqDkawUmxf1yI8FRrp3x6sIm2iYQ1OrSqIedF7njxnVD3-0PjTZK0zKSjGolrTt3C4.umGBKcTlfX9U1LTCs7nvzRJjlCCVk47LKo4_wGKpPh4&dib_tag=AUTHOR and worked my way through the vegetarian one with great success.
      Other places I get slow cooker recipes from are http://www.bbcgoodfood.com, http://www.olivemagazine.com and http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk.

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      I am trying a new crockpot recipe today, for pinto beans. You cook dried pinto beans in a mixture of chicken broth, water, spices, and pickled jalapeños. I am somehow down to only my old and more low-temp slow cooker so it will probably take 10 hours. I hope they are good and ready in time for dinner!

  25. Everyone's not a superhero all of the time*

    Loved reading about everyone’s superhero skills last week (the other week? I’m not good with time)

    So here’s the opposite. What’s the one thing other people seem to do with no problems but you can’t seem to grasp?

    Mine is backing my car into a parking spot. I can parallel park into the tightest of spots. But I can’t even back into my driveway without ending up in the front yard. And backing out of spots is a slow process.

    1. Kiki Is The Most*

      Decorating! Have no idea of having a ‘vision’ for a room, feng shui, buying furniture or accent pieces, or anything that has to making my flat look somewhat decent. If I did this on my own, it would take years for me to even put up a painting. Thankfully, I have friends that do this easily (not as a job though) and have helped me out because…they actually LIKE doing it!?!

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I so wish I was good at decorating. I love beautiful spaces. I can tell good decor from bad decor. But I just can’t create it. The rooms in my house that I like have been the result of either dumb luck, or photos on Pinterest that I followed as closely as I could.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        Oh same. I would l love to have decor, but my house that we have been in is functional clutter for decor

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I can’t throw a frisbee. Every few years when I tell someone that, they figure that I just haven’t been given the right tips and they kindly try to teach me. Nope, not happening.

      I also can’t whistle. I can make a couple of notes breathing in, not out, and that’s it.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        I was able to whistle until I had braces as a teen. I do the same as you to “whistle” now.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I can’t throw one either. I also can’t hula hoop or use a yo-yo. I can whistle, though!

      3. Clisby*

        I’ve never been able to whistle. On the other hand, I can make that trilling sound with my tongue that you use to roll r’s in Spanish. (I mean, I can make it for about 5 seconds straight.) My Spanish-minor daughter was so jealous.

    3. Cabbage*

      Navigation. Getting from point A to point B is my personal kryptonite.

      I have poor spatial reasoning and absolutely zero internal sense of direction. I can read a map, but it takes some time and intense concentration. My brain struggles with making the jump from the 2D map to the 3D environment – there’s just a disconnect that I apparently cannot fix with any amount of effort or practice.

      This applies to everything from cross country road trips to navigating in my own city to walking around in unfamiliar places. Without Google maps, I’d be (literally) lost forever.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I bet you’re not as bad as my friend who failed to notice we had reached an island and didn’t realise you couldn’t reach the ground floor on a multistorey carpark by driving up repeatedly.

        Yes, both true stories.

        The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge so we drove across the bridge with the sea on both sides of us and we reached it and my friend was like, “have we missed the turn for the island? I don’t see any signs for it.” Another friend told her we were on the island and she was like, “what? This is the island? Here?”

        The other one was that she was trying to leave a multistorey carpark and started following another car. Her mother and I who were the in the car with her tried to tell her she needed to drive down, not up, but she told us to stop confusing her and that “you can probably get out from any level”. Then we reached the top and she asked, “how did I end up on the roof?” I pointed out, “because you kept driving up” and she said, “but then the car in front of us must have ended up on the roof too.” I said he was probably looking for a carpark and she said, “oh? You mean he might not have been looking for a way out? So…how do I get out then?” Me: “Try driving down.” Her (sounding like this was a genuinely revelation): “Oh! Right.”

      2. Andromeda*

        ACK! me too. Spatial reasoning is thoroughly not my thing at all. I find it easier to navigate via landmarks — if you can tell a “story” that makes sense to you about the journey you’re on (“I walk until I see the Tesco that had the really cute dog outside one time, and then I turn left and there’s the mechanic with the fairy lights, so that means I turn right two roads from now”) I find that can sometimes help.

        1. Cabbage*

          Yes, I navigate almost entirely by landmarks. It makes places like large conference centers or suburban neighborhoods particularly difficult because they deliberately make everything visually uniform.

          It also means I get in trouble with areas I kinda know because everything looks somewhat familiar, and I’m not sure which landmark to follow.

          I’ve accepted that getting lost is just part of my life. ;) I build in extra transit time and make sure my phone is always well charged if I’m going somewhere new.

          1. Clisby*

            Me, too. I have no sense of direction. I am pretty good at reading a map and internalizing it, so I usually can get around without too much trouble. But throw a mandatory detour in there and I’m completely lost. My husband, on the other hand, has an *amazing* sense of direction. I always feel better driving with him.

          2. Andromeda*

            The worst thing is when you ask someone “how do you get to X?” and they’re like “well you start on [name of road I’ve never heard of] and then you go round the roundabout and take the first left then the second right and then round another roundabout and take the third exit” and I’m like I CAN’T VISUALISE THAT FAST ENOUGH CAN WE SLOW DOWN

      3. allathian*

        I’m a member of this club too.

        I also have very poor hand-eye coordination, probably at least partly because I’m right-handed and right-footed, but my left eye is dominant.

        I have zero sense of style, and no concept of which colors look good on me, so I tend to wear the colors I like regardless.

        1. Mimmy*

          I have zero sense of style, and no concept of which colors look good on me, so I tend to wear the colors I like regardless.

          Hi, are you me?! I’ve gone by what other people tell me what colors I look good in. I also have no concept of what styles and cuts look good on me. So when I see yet another picture of myself looking like a blob, I cringe.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Hello, black tee/sweater and jeans, my old friends. Join me for every day of my life.

      4. Aquamarine*

        Oh my gosh, I’m the worst. I can read a map, but I have no intuitive sense of direction.

        At doctors’ offices, after someone leads me to an exam room, I can’t find my way back to the front desk when it’s time to leave – so embarrassing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Well, everything looks the same! Tons of identical doors going into exam rooms and no markers.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, maps. I’m terrible at directions as well–I couldn’t find the North Pole if I were in Alaska and surrounded by polar bears doing disco dances while holding signs saying “LOOK UP.”

        Last year my regular dentist sent me to a specialist. I had their address and the little map on a brochure showing their location. Still ended up across town and sweating buckets, only to finally discover that the actual building WAS ACROSS THE STREET from my regular dentist!

      6. mreasy*

        10,000% same. I’m constantly turning around my phone to point the direction I’m trying to go. I also never ever remember landmarks so that doesn’t work to clue me in – I can go somewhere I’ve been several times and have no idea what’s where.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      Oh, I have loads. Small talk and banter would be obvious ones. I describe it as my not having been programmed with those set answers everybody else has. I reassured one of my colleagues once that yes, I do know she’s joking. It just sounds like I don’t ’cause I don’t know how to reply to jokes.

      I also don’t really know how to get somebody’s attention when they are doing something else so I either barge in or stand there awkwardly waiting for them to notice me (luckily my colleagues know me well and know I’m not being intentionally rude) or how much to speak when in a group of three or more, so I tend to either talk too much or go silent.

      I am also aphantasic, so anything that involves visualisation, like giving directions (I’m OK at finding places, but describing it, nope. No picture in my head), drawing, knowing what will go together for decorating, etc…all hopeless.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Wow, you’re my internet twin! Yes, yes, yes, and yes to all the above. Not being able to make small talk has bothered me the most since that’s such a universal way of getting to know people and navigating interpersonal situations.

      2. Mimmy*

        Another internet twin! When I’m talking with just one other person, I’m fine. For example, my husband and I chat and banter all the time. Beyond that, I’m pretty quiet. I’m not very good at jumping in at appropriate times.

        Regarding getting someone’s attention: Maybe try knocking lightly if you’re in the doorway of someone’s room or office?

        Regarding the visualization: Years ago, I volunteered at the patient information desk at a hospital and hated having to direct people to different parts of the building. I could find these places myself but could never describe it to others. Nowadays, even at my current job where I’ve been for 7 years, I still have to think really hard to describe to a student how to get to a certain office or room.

    5. NeonFireworks*

      I don’t think I actually have any learning disabilities – I didn’t struggle at all in school – but I can tell that something is a little wonky between my auditory processing and short-term memory. As in, when people read out a string of numbers or letters, I can’t hang onto more than a small portion of those unless I’ve also been writing them down. Other people are clearly much better at this than I am. I’m also hopeless with instructions/directions delivered over the phone – can’t keep them all in mind at once regardless of whether order is important. I’m also bad at giving out these things because I lose track of what I have and haven’t already said.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Hear different vowel sounds. I would once have discussions with my spouse that went “It’s not oven, it’s oven.” “You just said the exact same word.” “O-ven. Not o-ven.” “Still the same word.”

      Brooklyn 99 had a running bit about how Jake could not correctly pronounce the name of his godson Nicolaj, which was extra hilarious to me as I have no idea if there was actually any difference between how Jake and Charles were pronouncing the name. Jake and I were as one.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        That reminds me of people claiming that Don and Dawn are pronounced differently.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Thank you! Don is pronounced like “on” and Dawn is like “lawn” or “awe.” Completely different.

            1. Lexi Vipond*

              I have a slightly longer vowel in ‘Dawn’ than ‘Don’, but exactly the same vowel in ‘on’ and ‘lawn’!

              COT-CAUGHT merger, I believe.

            2. Jackalope*

              In the accent of where I grew up, all of those vowels make the same sound, at least in the words you provided. I would compare them to other words to try to clarify how we say them, but I don’t know if we have the same way to say those other words so that might not help.

            3. The first thing*

              Those are all pronounced exactly the same where I am. No difference between On and Lawn.

        1. turtles*

          Ah! that’s such a dialect difference. Don and Dawn are the same in mine. As are ant and aunt.

          1. Souvenir*

            The weirdest thing is that I have a friend who can tell which one I’m saying with 100% accuracy even though they sound identical to me.

      2. Le le lemon*

        Funnily enough, in that enjoyable B99 riff, Charles actually affirms Lohank’s pronunciation of Nikolaj as correct when it’s not; and Charles actually varies how it’s pronounced throughout the series.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Hula hooping.

      When my children were small, the Boston Children’s Museum had a “grandparents’ house” with stuff from the 50s. Including hula hoops in the “backyard” at the end. We did the “Oh, a hula hoop! I used to do these. I will show you” and the hoop would immediately crash to the floor. Then we sat on the side and watched as each emerging set of parents had the same idea, and the same outcome.

      1. office hobbit*

        This made me laugh. I recently got a hula hoop for exercise and got to experience this surprise myself XD

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      With you on the backing up. I also can’t fold sheets and towels neatly. Not just fitted sheets – any sheets. They come out all different shapes and look like untidy blobs.

    9. beep beep*

      I never learned to snap my fingers, despite many people trying to teach me. It’s a skill I can live without, but when I was a kid, man…

      1. Jackalope*

        Oh that reminds me; I’ve never been able to learn how to whistle through my fingers. You know that super loud whistle that people can use to get everyone’s attention? Not a thing I have ever managed. It would have come in handy when I was younger and working with kids, sometimes outdoors where we’d have a big unstructured play time and then I had to get everyone’s attention to come back inside…

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          Same here, Jackalope—I canNOT do that whistle.
          Worst part: in my teens and 20s, I was a great loud-whistler when appropriate and necessary. But apparently, no mas. (I blame it on diminishing lung power and lack of practice!)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I can snap with my left hand, but not my right. Oddly, I can do the Vulcan salute with my right hand, but not my left.

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          This made me check my snapping-fingers mojo and it was just like yours. My right hand is the dominant one so I would have expected it to be the snapper, not the nondominant left hand. Why is that???

        2. Mimmy*

          I can kinda do the Vulcan salute with my left hand but not with my right. Which is interesting considering I’m right-handed.

          I can’t whistle either.

        3. Filosofickle*

          I spent a good month when I was young training my hands to do the Vulcan thing. (Then went on to learn how to wiggle my ears.) Those are weird muscles! But now that I can do it, I’ve never lost it.

          I can snap but I’m lousy at it

    10. Double A*

      Using the correct word for left and right. I know which direction I need to go, or tell someone to go, but more than half the time the wrong word pops out. I have to pause and gesture before I say the word.

      Interestingly my brother and several cousins have this issue too.

      1. Once too Often*

        I knew a couple who used “my side” & “your side” for driving directions.

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          We were also a “my side”/”your side” couple, after too many occasions of me saying “Turn left! — No, the other left, I mean turn right!!!!”. He drove, I navigated, and I was an excellent intuitive reader of paper maps but I had a strong left-right verbal confusion. That is one of the few things that’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older.

      2. Decidedly Me*

        Same here! When giving directions, I also point and I tell people to trust where I’m pointing over what I’m saying if they are different.

      3. carcinization*

        I can usually get to it, but it’s not as quick or automatic as it is for most. I tell people it’s probably because my mother is left-handed and I’m right-handed, so being taught how to do things handedness-wise wasn’t all that simple.

      4. Mimmy*

        I occasionally get my left and right mixed up, which gets pretty interesting because I work with blind and visually impaired adults and sometimes need to direct them to their seat or tell them where something is (e.g., your cane is by your left foot). Good thing I’m not an orientation & mobility instructor ;)

    11. Dannie*

      I can’t back in straight either, but it’s this specific car that’s the problem. It’s shaped like a triangle–slim in the front and angling out to a wide a$$. So if I follow the lines of the car, I will be crooked. I used to rely on the alignment to guide me, but a hell-depth pothole ruined it, and my mechanic has not been able to get it back to what it was.

    12. Timeless*

      Time math. After umpteen years of living abroad or being in contact with people who do, you’d think I could remember what direction to go. Or do the arithmetic with twelves and all that. Or figuring out how long something takes by subtracting the start time from the end time… Nope. I get it right just often enough (not often) that I can never even trust my results to be wrong.

    13. No Tribble At All*

      Unlocking things. I don’t know why, maybe I just have weak hands, but I have to very deliberately check which way I’m turning the key, or it gets stuck. It’s such a dumb weakness.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I’ve never learned to whistle and I’ve never learned to snap my fingers. I try and I just can’t do it.

      1. Llama face!*

        I also can’t snap my fingers and I can only whistle “backwards” (by sucking the air into my mouth instead of blowing it out).

    15. Chaordic One*

      Parallel parking is one of those things that really depends on the car. In most newer cars the styling is such that the windows are all pretty high up and you can’t see the end of the car, so you don’t really have a sense of where the car is positioned. My parents used to have an enormously long Mercury Grand Marquis, but in spite of its size, I found it was easy to park because when I looked out the back window I could actually see the end of the trunk which gave me enough of a visual cue that I could figure out where the car was located in relation to the parking space. OTOH, my own (much smaller) Honda Civic was much more difficult to park because when you looked out the back window you can’t see any part of the car and have no idea (at least I don’t have any idea) of where it is located in relation to the parking space.

      1. exoboist1*

        Thank you! I’ve had that same feeling with several different recent cars, where you just can’t see either end of the car.

    16. Helvetica*

      Blowing up a balloon. I just cannot transfer the breath in my mouth into the balloon. I’ve tried and tried and I don’t know why I can’t but it just will not work.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I can blow up balloons but I’m scared of them–specifically, them bursting. I hate loud, sudden noises so I can’t blow them up past “puny,” or watch other people blow them up.

      2. office hobbit*

        Ditto. In my case I think it’s a lung capacity/strength thing. When we blew up balloons for a wedding I had to pass all of mine to my mother, ha!

    17. Generic Name*

      Good handwriting. I cannot for the life of me wrote neatly, even if I try really hard to slow down and form letters neatly. In fact, my handwriting gets worse if I do this. My son similarly has terrible handwriting, and every time I’d have to fill out a permission slip or something for school, I’d think to myself, “Now the teacher will know where he gets his bad handwriting from!”

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      Wearing scarves.

      When I worked in house, you could easily distinguish Art from Editorial because the former were really, really good at wearing scarves. The color and shape would pull the whole outfit together and it would look great.

    19. The OG Sleepless*

      OP, does your car have a backup camera? If it doesn’t, it might be a game changer. I’ve always been decent at backing up, but my backup camera has completely taken the work out of it. I can back into crazy tight parking spaces in parking garages that I would have never attempted otherwise.

      1. Everyone's not a superhero all of the time*

        It does have a backup camera and unfortunately it does not seem to help one bit. That’s how I knew I ended up in the yard lol.

        1. Annie*

          My Achilles heel is parking as close to the edge of a few inches tall, paved parking ledge without ending up past the ledge. I have to roll down the driver’s side window and look outside at the edge every time or a passenger will complain about not having enough space between the car and the wall to get in/out.

    20. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Huh, I’m surprised at how many of the answers here are related to spatial awareness! Parking, directions, left vs right, judging distance, even decorating to a lessor extent. For me, I’m terrible at all of the above, learning to drive was a nightmare, I got lost in college buildings at least once a month for 4 years, I can never make the correct turn at a 4-way intersection based on someone saying right/left. I was shocked when I started taking ADHD meds as SO MANY things were suddenly so much easier! I can park my full-sized van (slowly, with many maneuvers, but no panic attack), find my way back out of the doctors exam room, go from Google maps to actually finding my way somewhere, it’s still constantly a surprise to me! Everyone else in my family is quite skilled at all of these, I have no concept of how common those difficulties are in the general population.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      Math in my head. We’re supposed to be able to calculate how many points people earn in our loyalty program, and honestly, it’s Greek to me. Thank God the computer does it for regular orders, but I hate when people order online and then call me because they forgot to use their loyalty account and want me to move everything.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I can’t do that either, thanks to severe dyscalculia. I also have a hard time figuring out how long something will take, so I have a hard time getting out of the house in the morning.

        I can whistle, but not for long. My dyscalculia is comorbid with dyspraxia so whistling took me a VERY long time to learn. As did blowing bubbles with gum — my siblings would tease me about it, but there was an actual reason why I couldn’t!

        The more tired I am, the worse my dyspraxia gets. Hello wall, nice to suddenly see you up close!

    22. Anon this minute*

      My executive function is REALLY bad. Anything that requires multiple steps seems super hard to me. ADHD testing put me in the 9th (!) percentile for planning ability, so I am an officially certified planning doofus.

      On the plus side, any time I actually make and execute a plan, I should be incredibly proud of myself, I guess.

    23. HannahS*

      I can’t read lips. At all. It’s so perplexing to me that people wiggle their mouths at me and expect me to understand anything.

      Paradoxically, when COVID hit and we all started masking, I learned that I struggle to understand people when I can’t see their face; it also takes a lot of focus for me to listen to podcasts.

    24. Llama face!*

      Be able to orient themselves based on cardinal directions (North, South, East, West). I have no idea what direction north is unless I go through a multi step process of reasoning based on a few locations I’ve memorized. But so many people will be like “turn north” when they give directions and assume that is a reasonable instruction.

      Also, cartwheels. I have never ever been able to do them, not even as a child. My body would flop over.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too, with cartwheels! I can’t even do somersaults–I fall over sideways.

      2. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Oh my, cartwheels! I took ballet for a few years as a child. At some point we learned cartwheels and I loved doing them! It was thrilling to be able to make that complete circle through the air and end up upright. But by the time I was in college I had developed a strong fear of being upside down and was unable to do an over-and-under exercise that was a requirement for passing the PhysEd class. I had lost my cartwheel chops and they never came back.

      3. Chaordic One*

        I’ve always thought that my inability to do cartwheels had to do with a lack of upper body strength in general and having very skinny arms, but maybe there’s more to it than that.

    25. carcinization*

      Hmm… well, doesn’t exactly fit but my anti-superpower is always finding a bone in my fish even if everyone else is eating fish too and not finding bones. But if we’re talking about things that are easy for other people and not for me, I couldn’t do dial-style combination locks in high school (I could finally do it with much care when I had a job with lockers when I was in my twenties), and for some reason I can’t turn my mom’s TV on or off with the remote even though my husband and my mom can.

    26. chocolate muffins*

      This thread has been an educational experience in what people consider to be common skills! Like, I didn’t think most people could easily back into a parking space, but maybe they can? I definitely cannot! To add a new one, I also can’t coordinate colors. My brain does not process the difference between “these colors look good together” and “these colors should not be next to each other under any circumstances,” and I don’t understand at all what other people’s brains are doing that allows them to figure that out.

      1. Annie*

        Good news for you: There are online tools that can tell you which colors are likely to go well together.

        First: The tools: https://www.canva.com/colors/color-wheel/ (color combinations for computer, phone, and tablet screens)

        https://bahamas10.github.io/ryb/ (color combinations for everything else)

        Explanation: The main concept involved is called “color harmony”. The Canva link goes into detail into what that is as well as the different color harmonies that exist.

    27. WestsideStory*

      I still can’t swim. I learned late in life and have taken lessons 3 times over the years. I just don’t seem to have the coordination to stay aloft.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        Me neither, I sink like a rock. There must be some mysterious trick to it that I just cannot figure out.

    28. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Could never do anagrams, not even those dumb four-letter ones they used to show at the movies while waiting for the show to begin. I can’t do Scrabble, Boggle, Wordle, or any other make-words-with-letters games. There are certain types of mysteries in which The Bad Guy inevitably signs a note with an anagram alias. That’s how you know he’s a Bad Guy.

      The spouse has issues reading anything at an angle. If we’re watching something and text is upside down or/and backwards—like in a reflection—I’ll translate for her.

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      Fist bump to all who can’t whistle, use a hula hoop, throw a frisbee, and properly wear a scarf, and/or can’t make a yo-yo work.

    30. Dumpster Fire*

      Names and faces – which is especially bad since I’ma teacher! I try all the tricks and strategies that everyone suggests, but it’s still Thanksgiving before reasonably confident about calling on a student by name.

    31. Also cute and fluffy!*

      Team sports. I’m spectacularly terrible at team sports. I thought it was just my schoolmates K-12 were nasty to me, but I am so bad at team sports that I make otherwise friendly adults lose their dang minds. I finally quit trying to play any kind of team sports in my early 30s. Life is too short.

  26. 2024*

    Tallahassee, FL. I lived through my first tornado yesterday morning. Or at least the edges of it. It just started sounding so strange, storm noise I’ve never heard before. I hid in my closet. Huge tree limbs rained down on my roof, side yard and front shared yard. So much damage! Water pouring down my kitchen walls because a tree tore out part of the roof. My front door was blocked, I had to call 911 to get the fire department to get me out. Unbelievably giant limbs are all over the place here. The house in front is in bad shape, a big chunk of roof torn out, rafters exposed.

    I think this will put the landlord out of business. I’m sure he does not have insurance, and it will cost a fortune to deal with tree cutting and removal alone. Repairs to both buildings will require permits, inspections, and updating everything to code.

    I’m in a safe place. I was moving on Tues anyway. But with all that water mold will quickly set in, so I have no idea what my stuff will look like when I go back to get more. I’m not really feeling anything so I might be in shock. Looking out the window to see all these trees down, just doesn’t feel real.

    1. Grandma to three cats*

      How terrifying!! You were so smart to hide in your closet. So glad to hear you weren’t hurt and that you have a new place to stay, but I hear your concern over your stuff.

    2. Still*

      I’m sorry, that sounds really scary. I’m glad you got out safely! Hope you get a lot of support and that you’re able to recover or easily replace your stuff.

    3. allathian*

      I’m so sorry it happened and happy that you’re unhurt and safe. Good luck with the move and I hope that your new home will comfort you.

    4. Reebee*

      Gainesville here and I am so sorry that happened to you. Barely missed us but I’d heard about Tally yesterday. Stay safe, dear.

    5. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m also in Tallahassee; fortunately we had no damage. Try to get your things dried out as quickly as possible to prevent mold – keep your ac on a lower temperature and use tons of fans, particularly for books. It was very scary and I’m glad you’re ok. Good luck!

      1. 2024*

        Yeah it was rough. I was in the Myers Park area, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. so much damage. With help, I got most of my non-furniture stuff into new place. BTW, if you work for a hospital you might see my landlord. He’s in his 60s, and swears he’s doing all the work himself. Cutting up all the giant tree limbs, getting up on ladders to repair roof damage, that’s not going to end well.

        1. Healthcare Worker*

          Myers Park and Indianhead are the worst! Take care and I’m so glad you got most of your stuff moved. It’s exhausting and don’t be surprised if your emotions run wild in the next few days as your body adjusts from the adrenaline rush. Be gentle with yourself as you can be.

          1. 2024*

            I will. Thank you. A friend brought over her dog so I could hug her. I love Brekke so much, awesome dog.

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Advice from a multi-hurricane survivor: the quicker you can get your stuff out and dried the better! The most critical are important papers and photos, and then anything cloth. Water can destroy them even before mold sets in.
      If a beloved book is soaked, you might be able to save it! Starting from the front, gently (!) peel each page apart, squeeze it between 2 paper towels, then lay clean paper towels between each page as you work your way back. Working in front of or under a gentle fan helps too. It uses a lot of paper unfortunately, but we were once able to rescue some collectable comic books from an unexpected leak this way, most didn’t have any running ink or rippled paper by the time we were done.

      1. 2024*

        The only water was in the kitchen. I was concerned about mold spreading and it may claim what’s left at the apt.

    7. Observer*

      I’m glad you are safe.

      I’ll agree with all of the people who say to get your stuff out sooner rather than later. Even if it means taking a day off work, if at possible.

      I’m also going to say that this is a good example of why it’s a really good idea to scan any and all important papers (and pictures that are important to you personally, as well.)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Oh gosh, I’m so sorry you went through this. Tornadoes are awful.

      Did you have renter’s insurance? Stuff can be replaced, but you can’t. *HUG* I’m glad you’re okay.

  27. Diabetes question*

    So I’m going to be up-front that I’m not looking for medical advice; I have a medical care team I’m working with and am trying to figure out that bit. But I’m a bit freaked out that I just had some blood work come back showing I have pre diabetes, and am trying to figure out my next steps. I get lots of exercise already, and mostly eat healthy foods, but feel like the food area is one where I’m most likely to be able to make progress from my end. Any recommendations on specific foods that are helpful for someone in this situation and that are reasonable to try using for food? Like say, “Sweet potatoes are great and bagels are better than regular white bread,” or something like that? Just trying to find stuff to add so it doesn’t feel like I’m just cutting things from my life or punishing myself.

    (Also, anyone else notice that there’s a very specific idea of what kind of person tends to get pre diabetes or diabetes that results in lots of annoying and condescending advice? Like if this is happening to you, you must be lazy and fat and addicted to junk food? Part of why I’m asking here is because my past experience is that the comments here won’t be super judgmental like that and won’t make me want to throw my phone across the room….)

    1. Still*

      A friend of mine got tests back showing pre-diabetes and she got sent to a dietician. The dietician had her write down everything she ate for a couple of weeks and it then made concrete suggestions for things to add and replace. My friend found it really helpful. Could that be an option for you?

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I agree. You said you are working with a medical care team, so tell them to refer you to a registered dietitian. If you have health insurance, the RD’s services might be covered.

      2. Nitpicker*

        Seconding this. My A1C was 6.3 and my PCP called me in. She wanted me to take medication – I declined and found an excellent nutritionist. She came up with a food plan which we then tweaked for my other food issues and my A1C came down. I also lost 50 pounds – a weight loss I’ve maintained for around 14 years.

      3. 00ff00Claire*

        I have two friends who are dietitians and I agree that seeing if you can get a referral to one is a great place to start. They shouldn’t be judgmental and will have knowledgeable advice for how to make changes that work for you. In the US most insurance will cover appointments with a dietitian for certain conditions, including diabetes (not sure about pre-diabetes though).

      4. Observer*

        A friend of mine got tests back showing pre-diabetes and she got sent to a dietician.

        That’s an *excellent* idea.

        Some things to keep in mind, to get the most out of one-

        1. This needs to be a judgement free zone.

        2. While an experienced dietician is obviously going to use their experience of many people in guiding you, they need to recognize your individuality. Both in terms of the rest of your health (eg if you have allergies or GI issues, that’s heavily going to affect what makes sense for you) and your personality etc. (When my husband developed IBS, we worked with a dietician who was mostly very good – but also wound up giving us a fairly bad piece of advice because she simply didn’t get what my husband is like.)

        3. They need to work with you to come up with specific and actionable advice. The worst situation I saw was a friend who went to a dietician who basically said “Here’s the list. Figure it out.” You can google lists yourself . . . You’re going to a dietician to help you get past a bunch of lists.

    2. Askew*

      If you haven’t already, try looking up the glycaemic index – it’s a measure of how fast or slow carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream and it’s a pretty quick way to see where swaps could be useful. Adding fat and protein also lowers the GI index of a meal, so what you’re putting on your bread or potatoes can also be important – a lot of healthy living misses out the fat part in particular

    3. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I also got diagnosed with pre-diabetes or as they said “borderline A1C”. It was…6.5. I had not been taking care of myself post-gallbladder surgery. I was on metformin for 3 months and also worked with my doctor to understand what I needed to do to get off the meds. It was…exercise, lose some weight and lift light weights (muscle building helps, apparently). I did my part and really watched my sugar intake (for the 3 monthly only in terms of super strictness, it was my decision to do that and see what would happen), + started walking quite a bit more than I had been, and after 3 months tested at 5.4 and ever since, everything has tested just fine (since 2018). So! As others have said, work with your medical team and more importantly, don’t freak out about this development, it’s totally “tackle-able” and you can even look up food alternatives.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding weight lifting to build muscle. When I added this a trainer at my health club showed me how to use the hydraulic machines (which are easy to tweak the weight up and down), and this guidance turned out to be free.

        I have also seen HIIT as a tool that is useful for prediabetes (and seems to help me with energy) so if you can vary your workout to have some intense burst built in rather than all slow and steady that might be helpful.

    4. Andromeda*

      I think this might be basically medical advice! I don’t know what you eat normally so even if I were an expert I wouldn’t know what to suggest.

      To help with worrying about food, rather than with changing exactly what you eat, I’m trying to reframe my thinking right now as “going to eat lots of new things, because the old things weren’t working for me. Trying out lots of cool recipes from cultures I’ve never encountered before. EXPLORATION. DISCOVERY!”

      1. Diabetes question*

        I can see how it might seem that way; I was trying to frame a coherent question last night but even though it’s been a couple of days since the diagnosis I still feel like I’m mentally flailing a bit. I guess I was just looking for a couple of tweaks since our food is mostly healthy. It was discouraging researching this online and getting in several places, “Cut out all of the junk food you eat and stop eating garbage!” when that’s not what we do. So I was hoping for a handful of suggestions to try like, “I found that a roast sweet potato is good in salads,” or something.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          As someone who drinks soda maybe twice a year, it’s so discouraging to be lectured about how much healthier I would be if I just eliminated it.

          In addition to the advice that a good nutritionist can look at what you’re eating and suggest targeted tweaks: I find that having the various mini vegetables on hand makes it easy to add a few to my plate at lunch. Like Monday is cucumber and carrot, Tuesday celery and radish, Wednesday lipstick pepper and broccoli. Or that could be by week, so you get variety but use up the package.

        2. Anonymous Koala*

          Some simple swaps that work for me (although it really, really depends on your diet and preferences):
          Plain greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt or sour cream – if I want a sweet yogurt I add a bit of honey or jam to taste
          Cottage cheese instead of ricotta for spreading on toast or eating with fruits/veggies
          Swapping out part of the potatoes for cauliflower in mash or creamy potato soup
          Adding veg to baked pasta dishes – for example, when I do baked ziti I do 1/2 the pasta called for and replace the missed volume with cut up sautéed onions, sweet peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, or summer squashes
          Adding roasted green veggies or a green salad to meals that are otherwise a bit carb-y or lacking in veg
          Swapping chia jam (just 12oz mashed up thawed frozen fruit + 2 tbsp chia seeds left to sit overnight in the fridge) for regular jam on sandwiches and in yogurt

          1. Anonymous Koala*

            Oh also: adding collagen powder to soups, smoothies, and hot chocolate – for me the taste is undetectable and I like the small protein boost a tablespoon or so adds.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Been there. I decided not to worry about calories or fat and focused on reducing carbs, especially simple carbs. So less rice and bread and pasta and what I did have was whole-grain and brown rice. That did the trick for me. The American Diabetes Association has lots of resources online.

    6. Professor Plum*

      In my research following a prediabetes diagnosis I found a program that has been instrumental in steadily lowering my A1C. I was already eating a low carb diet but it was much higher in fat than I realized. OptimisingNutrition dot com helped me dial in what I eat with nutrient dense foods. They have lots of free resources alongside their very reasonably priced programs. You won’t fix it in a 30-day program though—it’s a commitment to a lifestyle change. One aspect that I really appreciate with their programs is the incremental changes you make based on what you’re already eating.

      The other key component is building muscle. All of which will help the prediabetes and so many other health conditions.

      I’ll add a specific link as a comment.

    7. Maggie*

      I think the key to getting back out of it is mostly reducing carbs especially simple refined ones. I would look for a diabetes focused dietician. But getting rid of simple carbs and sugars is def step 1

    8. rkz*

      I had gestational diabetes, which is a little different, but I can definitely relate to not being the “kind of person” people expect to have gestational diabetes (whatever that means…Grr!)

      I agree with everyone who says to see a dietician, but if you want some tweaks for right now I’d focus on cutting way down or out refined carbs (basically anything white…white bread, white rice, bagels, etc.). Swap anything you can for a whole wheat version. and pair any carbs (including things like fruit) with a protein (like a cheese stick, peanut butter, chicken…)

      good luck!!

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. I have type 1 and cutting down on white food and adding protein make a difference. So does eating less overall for me.

      2. Not that Jane*

        I had GD as well, and thanks to a personal connection I was able to get a continuous glucose monitor (which I think usually aren’t used for GD). It was nice to see exactly which times of day / foods were problems for me. In my case: I switched from dairy to plant milk at breakfast (one with close to zero carbs); almost entirely eliminated sugar; planned so that I could snack on veggies instead of fruit; and consistently went for a 10-20 minute walk after every meal. It was tough for a few weeks but quickly started to feel more sustainable. However, that was in the context of knowing it would only be for a few months, so I’m not sure how I would have done with making more permanent lifestyle changes.

      3. EA*

        My aunt came up pre diabetic in tests and we were all really surprised. She controlled it just by swapping juices/drinks for water or tea. This was an “easy” switch for her since she didn’t care that much about those drinks but out of habit often had orange juice in the morning. This and cutting back on white bread were the only changes she really made, and she hasn’t had issues again. So it might be an easier fix than you think.

    9. Joey*

      How about replacing rice and noodles with quinoa? You basically prepare it the same way as rice, and it has a very mild flavor so I don’t really notice the difference. I even make spaghetti or lasagna with quinoa now although it does have a shape/texture more similar to rice. (Brown rice is also a better alternative than white rice, but it does have more of its own distinct flavor.)

    10. Nicki Name*

      If you haven’t already, swap fruit juices (or other sweet drinks) for whole fruits. Try something new from the produce section at your local supermarket every week. Or start going to your local farmers’ market, if there is one, once local fruit season starts, and try new things from there.

    11. Anon this minute*

      The Fuhrman eating plans are pretty good for this. Joel Fuhrman has a book called The End of Diabetes that pushes eating daily some beans, greens, tomatoes, seeds and nuts, onions, berries, and mushrooms, along with other fruits and veggies. He has some vegan cookbooks that have tasty options too–particularly tasty smoothies and desserts. I never followed his plan perfectly, but when I was following it fairly closely, my endocrinologist was like, “Your bloodwork is SPECTACULAR!” I’ve fallen off the wagon now, but I still believe in his eating advice, even if I’m not up to following it right now!

    12. A Significant Tree*

      Also reading for hints and recommendations. I know two people who were just diagnosed with prediabetes in the past few months. It makes me wonder if the screening process has just gotten more refined to allow for earlier detection. FWIW I was really surprised at their news since they also would be the last two people you’d ever expect to get that diagnosis (they both already do 5 of the 6 recommended steps to improve health, with diet being the area of improvement), but I have a feeling that perception of who’s at risk going to change a lot if the screening has improved.

      1. Diabetes question*

        Yeah, I hear that. In my case it’s almost certainly due to genetics, which is part of why I’ve done the other stuff like healthy food and exercise. I’m just barely over the line into pre diabetic so we’re going to try to work on it without meds for the moment, but because of family history I’m more concerned than I would be otherwise. (I told my dad that he’s been a great dad in most ways but he could have kept this to himself.)

    13. turtles*

      my advice (based on what worked for me) is to track your fiber and make sure to get as close to 25-30 g/fiber per day. So, it’s 2-6 weeks of writing down what you eat, and figuring out the fiber, and think about ways to increase the fiber.

    14. HannahS*

      I’ve found helpful is to use a calorie tracker increase my knowledge of the relative nutrition of different foods, and to recalibrate my sense of what a reasonable portion is. Not to rigidly lose weight, but just to inform my choices. So for example, a slice of whole wheat bread is pretty different to a bagel; a sweet potato is more similar to a carrot than eating a russet potato; rice is my favourite but I should pair lots of veggies with a little rice before taking more.

      These are things that work for me:
      -whole grain rice, bread, and pasta, most of the time
      -I try to eat only breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner
      -We cook most of what we eat
      -(this is hard) I’m trying to limit treats (desserts, chips, etc) to special occasions
      -I try to avoid eating with a scarcity mindset (Oh, I’d better eat more even though I’m full so that I don’t get hungry later; I’d better finish this ice cream because I won’t have a treat again until X day)
      -Often when I’m snacky I’m actually thirsty, so trying to stay hydrated
      -I try to have 1-2 vegetables at lunch and dinner

    15. Emma*

      My husband lowered his A1C quite considerably mainly through dietary changes. It seems like adding fiber helps a lot.

      A lot of his experience has been trial and error. It seems like the most helpful thing is that he checks his blood sugar twice a day – he pricks his finger and has test strips. He’s been able to use that to figure out what foods spike his sugar, and which ones don’t. He talked to his doctor, and the doctor was able to prescribe the testing supplies, so it’s covered by insurance.

      I never in a million years would have thought this would be something my husband would be interested in doing – pricking his finger. But he really wanted data, and it seems to have really helped, vs just guessing.

      Like if he eats something for dinner/at night, and has a high reading the next morning, he knows he should switch it up next time.

      1. Emma*

        I asked my husband about this and here are a few specific changes he made:
        substitute light beer for heavier beers like ipas and wheat beer (and lowering alcohol consumption in favor of marijuana gummies, which are legal here), substitute sparkling water for soda, avoid processed food to the extent that he can, when late night snacking eating things like heaps of homemade salsa or hummus either alone or heaped on a triscuit or tortilla chip.

        Reduce fast food, reduce sweets – but not eliminate! He has mentioned that if he’s overall eating well, a few “bad” foods here and there won’t tank him, just like if he’s overall eating poorly, a few “good” foods don’t help that much.

        Here’s the salsa recipe he uses. it’s so good! https://www.aspicyperspective.com/best-homemade-salsa-recipe/

        He also really likes the homemade hummus recipe from Budget Bytes. He uses a cheap food processor for all of this.

    16. Diabetes question*

      Just wanted to say thank you to everyone that’s posted (and any posts that come after this). I’ve had a super busy day and so haven’t had time to respond to most of the comments but I’ve been taking screen shots and saving things for review. Even some of the ideas that are less immediately helpful are good at giving me ideas about the kind of things that I might be able to do, which is good. As I said above, I feel like I’m still flailing, and this is helping me get something to hold onto for now. As mentioned above, I’m talking with my doctors about this, but because of the state of health care right now I probably won’t be able to talk to someone for a few weeks. So thank youall again for the ideas!

    17. Part time lab tech*

      Some of prediabetes is related to insulin resistance in the muscles. Exercise is like medicine to improve insulin sensitivity and a regular (>5/week) 30min walk is better than irregular high intensity in my experience of hormonal issues related to insulin resistance.

      1. Emma*

        My husband has mainly done dietary adjustments, but he did find that his blood sugar was lowered when he would take a walk before bed.

    18. Observer*

      Any recommendations on specific foods that are helpful for someone in this situation and that are reasonable to try using for food?

      Yams. There are many different types, but they all tend to be low(er) on the glycemic index.

      Spices. As with salt, very often if you add other flavors you can make foods taste a lot better even while reducing sweetness.

    19. Mrs. D*

      I would also add my voice to the suggestion of working with a dietician. My husband was diagnosed with diabetes, and his nutritionist was very helpful. The practice she worked out of also offered classes that provided a lot of information about nutrition and diabetes. If your medical team can connect you with something similar, it might help to demystify some of the food stuff for you. In the meantime, some additional advice:

      When my husband was diagnosed, I also got some well-rated diabetic cookbooks since I love to cook. I found those very helpful. Recipes had nutrition facts included, so I was able to tell exactly what each serving would provide (fat, protein, carbs, etc.). You might benefit from a similar cookbook; if you are looking to lower your A1C, those types of recipes could help with that.

      Some foods we began using:
      Sweet potatoes instead of regular (make sure you get sweet potatoes and not yams; they are different)
      Brown rice instead of white
      Dave’s Killer Bread – lower in carbs than other breads, and lots of whole grains and fiber
      Berries – some of the best fruits since they have far less sugar than many other fruits
      Lean proteins (chicken, fish)
      Fair Life whole milk (if you’re a milk drinker) – it’s pricier, but it’s ultra-filtered which cuts out a lot of the sugar found in regular milk
      Lots of spices! – if you don’t use many spices in your cooking, consider adding in more varied spices to raise the flavor level, particularly with foods that can be bland on their own

      Good luck! It’s a bit of a life change, so it’s good that you have a medical team to help and support you. Please let us know how you are doing!

  28. Annie*

    Can anyone recommend a good animal based farming sim? It seems the choice is either between realistic design with focus on machines/crops or overly cutesy cartoon animals and I just want to take care of (somewhat) realistic designed animals and not deal with harvesting vast fields of crops. (I wouldn’t mind taking care of a vegetable garden or something like that. I am just not into big farming machines.)

    1. Annie*

      I would have loved Sims 4 Horse Ranch if the sheep and goats weren’t mini variants who keep jumping up and down. Just give me regular ones, please.

    2. WS*

      Stardew Valley has a new farm type in the latest update (1.6, it’s not out on all systems yet) which is animal focused rather than crop focused.

  29. Andromeda*

    I would love some mood lifters for an absolutely awful case of PMS. I’ve got anxiety stuff going on anyway and this time of the month always makes it much worse — all the negative feelings times ten, plus some extra sensory stuff I normally don’t have as much. Going to talk about it with my lovely therapist on the 16th but until then I just need some advice on quick things I can do to ease the mood symptoms while still being able to do stuff besides sleep and watch movies

    1. Nicki Name*

      Go for a walk around the block? I find even a little bit of sunlight and fresh air lift my mood, and if there are cramps involved, the walking motion helps with those too.

    2. Generic Name*

      Petting or playing with my pets always lifts my mood. The classic laser pointer is great for playing with a cat that requires little physical effort on your part.

    3. Anon this minute*

      Maybe some fun music from YouTube? I like ’60s lounge music or samba/bossa nova. Or maybe some Abba? Whatever gives you a lift!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Bird watching. Watching the gulls soar about, the crows dive bomb and hide their snacks, and the LBJs hop and burble about always perks me up.

        1. Generic Name*

          LBJ is birder slang for “little brown jobbies”. In other words nondescript brown birds you can’t identify. Lots of sparrows and finches fall into this category.

    5. Janesfriend*

      Watch something short and funny on YouTube. Tracy Ullman’s Judi Dench and Queen Camilla performances work for me. Whatever makes you laugh!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Robin Williams on “Behind the Actor’s Studio.” Funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.

    6. Forensic13*

      I find doing low-key physical things help a lot, like kneading dough or weeding. It’s important for it to be something that you don’t need to have a perfect outcome.

    7. Mystery*

      If you are already on or considering an SSRI for anxiety you may want to consider discussing luteal phase dosing for PMs/PMDD with your provider.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      I like ‘everything showers’ – they feel a bit productive and the hot water really calms me. I also try and make plans with friends when I feel like this – if I make plans with someone else I’m more likely to show up, and getting out of the house for some socializing helps me a lot.

    9. Alex*

      This isn’t an instant fix, but I really struggled with cycle-related mood issues, and my psychiatrist recommended taking calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. It really helped! I actually skipped the calcium because I eat a lot of dairy but the other two were easy to take and really made a big difference.

  30. Jay (no, the other one)*

    My daughter moved across the country for college and six years later (age 24) is moving back to our coast. She has a few piece of IKEA furniture and a convertible sofa that’s a couple steps better than IKEA plus kitchen gear and (of course) clothes and shoes. So.Many.Shoes. And a six-year-old somewhat battered car. She’s not coming home. She’s moving to a densely populated area with decent mass transit and terrible parking – a safe garage spot will add several hundred dollars a month to her rent. She has asked for advice about moving. I think she should sell or donate everything except the kitchen gear, which can be packed into boxes and shipped to her new place via UPS. Then again I haven’t moved since 2001 and the last time I moved cross-country I had a job that paid for the move…

    so am I off-base? Does it make sense to pay to move her stuff rather than start over? She’s going to grad school and we are going to subsidize much of this. Since it’s our money she is more willing to listen to us than she would otherwise be!

    1. WellRed*

      My first thought was sell the stuff. Moving ikea furniture cross country really does not seem worth it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. I love Ikea, I’m a grown-ass adult and still furnish my house in mostly Swedish Square, but I can’t think of any of it that would legitimately be worth paying to ship across the country instead of just replacing it on the other end with stuff that I know will fit a new living space.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Youngest is planning a move cross country and we have settled around:
      Bring: Expensive computer chair
      Sell: Ikea mattress
      Don’t try to ship: Ikea bed and desk

      Oldest wound up buying an old car in NYC and Geneva because she wanted to leave the city and do outdoorsy things on the weekends. In both, she could park the car for free on a research campus, which made that much simpler–she was getting around on foot or public transit during the week.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yeah, she’d like a car. I’m not sure it’s worth the money for parking and insurance.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It really depends on the public transit; where I live, you might as well grow hothouse orchids or collect Fabrege eggs as own a car and shell out for parking, but for many people it’s a necessity due to their jobs and family. But we also have good transit that makes it fairly easy to get around to different areas without too much hassle or time loss.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            She won’t be using the car to commute – tolls and parking make it prohibitive. So it’s groceries and getting away on the weekends. I think the cost of parking and insurance would cover a heck of lot of Uber rides to the store, Instacart fees for delivery, and car rentals when she wants one. I’d like her to sell the car before she moves and try it without one. And I’m trying to leave it up to her because she’s a grownup…

            1. Samwise*

              Have her run the figures. What are the costs of owning and using a car at hr destination? That’s her budget for a public transport pass, Uber/lyft, gas money when someone else drives, a good quality wheeled grocery tote, occasional instacart.

            2. Observer*

              I’d like her to sell the car before she moves and try it without one.

              Nope. She’d be best off driving the car back to the city she’s going to be living in and trying WITH the car, before making the decision. But even if she has to transport it, it still makes more sense to try with the car first.

              It’s going to be a LOT easier to get rid of the car – even in an area with good transportation, than to get a new (to her) car. The car market is a bit insane and getting a car is going to be an expensive proposition.

    3. tree frog*

      Yeah, any cheap furniture, I would sell and get secondhand replacements in the new city. Not worth the hassle and cost of moving. Also if she is likely to have roommates, she might not need a ton of furniture. I’d also donate any kitchen stuff that is more trouble than it’s worth to move (worn out, cheap, big or heavy, etc). Again, a lot of basic kitchen stuff can be thrifted.

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      To add to the factors beyond cost in dollars: Will she need furniture asap when she arrives, or will there be time to refurnish her new place? If she gets rid of her current furniture, will she be replacing with secondhand or buying new? There’s a larger environmental impact to buying new rather than keeping and moving used or buying used in the new city.

    5. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      One other consideration: If she doesn’t bring her current furniture, consider whether transportation for moving new or new-to-her used furniture into her new place is an added cost or logistical puzzle.

    6. ruining my life*

      Keep what’s important/what she’ll use a lot: maybe kitchen stuff (depends on quality, etc), definitely clothes, books, shoes. Ikea stuff: sell/donate. I keep cars for a long time, so a 6-year-old car doesn’t sound very old to me. If it’s impractical/expensive to keep it where she’s moving to, can she keep it at your place for the length of grad school? That may or may not be worth it.

      I may be moving too, and I just checked what it would cost (now) to replace our Ikea bookshelves: more than $2000, so those will be moved (if we move).

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We’re over an hour away and there isn’t an easy transit way to get to us. And we have to get the car across the country – I doubt she’ll want to do the drive. If she wasn’t moving I would not think of replacing the car.

        1. WellRed*

          If you haven’t looked at car buying recently, you should. It’s awful and expensive. If she wants a car I’d hang into one that’s only 6 years old. She might have to suck it up and drive it back. There are companies that will also do this. Or have her get a friend to share the drive and pay for the return flight home.

        2. ruining my life*

          We’re over an hour away and there isn’t an easy transit way to get to us.

          This is arguing that you want her to keep the car. If she keeps the car at your place *or* sells it, she’s still an hour away with no transit.

          But really, it depends how long grad school is- anywhere from 1 to 7 years depending on the program. If it’s 6-7 years, and the extra cost of insurance garage is $500/month, then that’s close to $40,000 and probably not worth it. If it’s a 10-12-month program, then it’s $6000 and may be worth it.

    7. Generic Name*

      Does the school offer remote parking? My sister’s university had a large parking lot off campus that had shuttle service to get to from campus. She might ask her advisor what other students typically do with their cars.

      1. carcinization*

        I’ve moved multiple times with Ikea furniture (beds, tables, dressers, bookcases, etc.) and have never had a problem with it! I guess the furthest I’ve moved with it is about 3 hours away though, I don’t have any experience with cross-country moves. Still not saying it’s an economically correct choice for everyone to do so though depending on their specific circumstances!

        1. Filosofickle*

          Me too. In fact I have an Ikea dining set that’s been through 3 moves in 20 years! Successfully! I honestly didn’t think it had the last move in it but it came through with flying colors — likely because the awesome movers packed it up super well. It is a better grade of their stuff, though.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      When I did a cross-country move for grad school, I did not take furniture. Most of it was IKEA or equivalent, and it went back onto Craigslist from whence it came. Especially if you’re living in a small space (trust me, that stipend doesn’t go far in a major city), it’s super important to have furniture that works in the space, which means you need to pick the space first and worry about the furniture later.

      At the time, Virgin Air would take up to 10 bags for $25 each. I hired a minivan taxi to get me to the airport, and had a relative with a truck on the other end. My calculations were, therefore, quite simple: is this item worth 50 cents a pound, or a quarter per 1% of the volume of this medium-sized cardboard box, whichever is greater? If not, it didn’t come with me. Had six boxes in the end, plus my carry-on.

    9. ronda*

      I moved across country. I only took a car load of stuff. (clothes, computer, a couple boxes of sentimental things). — my sister did drive out with me and flew back. Find someone you want to spend about 5 days in the car with, plan to visit a few things on the way and enjoy a road trip. — I definitely did need a car where I was going, in NYC, I think having a car would be a hinderance. try the math calculation of how much money will be saved on her, and have her read a subreddit on parking wars in NYC :) maybe she will see the light.

      Most things were given away to people I know, a few to the thrift store. a bunch of stuff in the trash.
      The only thing I asked my brother to mail to me after the move was my ramekins. :)
      I do laugh cause I visit the people who took my stuff once a year, so I do sometimes visit the things that used to be mine.

      When I arrived, I did make the mistake of ordering sofa and chair from a furniture store…. took about 8 weeks to deliver. Bed from the mattress store was delivered the day I was moving in to the apartment. Look for options that will deliver on the time frame you want.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Good point. We’ll see if she wants to do the drive and, if so, who might do it with her (probably my husband who has more tolerance for long days in the car than I do).

    10. More Coffee Please*

      I made several big moves throughout my 20s for work (late 20s now). My advice echos yours and goes a little farther – sell/donate as much as possible/willing.

      Definitely sell/donate all the furniture. Other people in her shoes will be selling/donating furniture in her new city that’s probably equal quality to what she has there (I’ve cycled through so many IKEA coffee tables bought and sold for like $15). It’s easier to get rid of the furniture in her home city and then buy new/used furniture in her new city, even if it means having to hire local movers (e.g., I bought a nice couch for $350 on Facebook Marketplace and paid a TaskRabbit person $150 to move it for me because I didn’t have a car).

      The kitchen stuff may or may not be worth moving depending on the quality. Low quality pots and pans are hard to ship (heavy, bulky) and are easy/relatively inexpensive to replace. It’s easy to order things like this online now.

      Shoes are also a category of items I find deceptively hard to move because they’re irregularly shaped and can be hard to pack efficiently. If she can downsize the shoes, that would help as well. You mentioned she’s going to Manhattan in the comments, so the downsizing will help for what is likely going to be a very small apartment.

      Moving in general is a great time to evaluate what you own and what you want to bring with you into your future life.

  31. Tree*

    I mentioned in the thread yesterday that wfh has raised my anxiety a lot particularly since the job is slow paced and a bit boring compacted to my previous roles. I am looking for a job that is hybrid and better suited to how I like to pace my work, but in the meantime does anyone have routines or strategies that helped them deal with the isolation and that their home (small apartment) is also their workspace.

    1. MissGirl*

      I’ve focused on developing a social life outside of work, which I didn’t have the energy for when commuting. I’m in a hiking group and a pickle ball group. I sometimes go crash at my mom’s for the weekend or work from there even though she lives ridiculously close. I’ve considered working in the public library but I have a very needy dog ;) I just started gardening in a community garden so I walk to that after work.

      I do miss hybrid but I got a great raise for a fully remote job. I try to remind myself of that.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Having workspace cut out from other space. When oldest and fiancé were both working from home in a small space they got a screen to go next to her desk, and it made it feel like she was in a designated work space. Which really helped with focus.

    3. Generic Name*

      You poor thing. This site skews heavily towards the “wfh 4everrrrr” crowd, but I think most humans really need regular in-person interaction with other humans. Since this is the weekend thread, I’ll make suggestions for off time stuff. I suggest joining a club or volunteering or joining a volunteer board. If any local bars have trivia nights, attend those. Join a gym or take fitness classes. Gaming shops in my area have game nights for different games. Some are free. Commit to doing something in the evenings that takes you out of the house and interacting with other people at least once or twice a week. When you’re grocery shopping, choose a line with an older person doing the checking out. They tend to be more open to chit chat. Speaking of which, maybe try volunteering at a local nursing home. Lots of residents don’t have family nearby and need socialization. (Maybe this idea is influenced because I just watched Fried Green Tomatoes yesterday).

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Joining outside activities, making new friends, and cultivating new hobbies might help – I was in a similar position a few years ago and I joined some hiking meet up groups and took a painting class, which really helped. I also found that I really thrive on ‘work’ – it helps me if I feel like my hobbies are really productive – so I started a side business related to one of my hobbies with my extra time. I think this worked for me because I was so used to feeling busy that the added structure of a business, not just a hobby, helped me with my restlessness. I also worked outside of my apartment as much as possible – I had a list of local coffee shops and cafes to try and whenever I got restless I’d work from one of those for a few hours.

  32. Elle*

    If you’re looking for tee shirts going into the summer beware of Lands End. My order just showed up and it’s the worst batch I’ve seen. Shirts where the body is fine but the arms are too tight. The sleeveless tees are even worse. Very baggy in the armpits and too tight in the middle. I’m sad because they’re usually so reliable.

    1. CatPerson*

      I used to buy most of my clothes from Lands’ End but their quality has really deteriorated and I would not buy from them now. The fit, the quality of the material, both terrible. For casual clothes I have been buying from LL Bean and find that the quality so far is consistent.

      Lands’ End started to decline when they were bought by Sears many years ago and they have really reached bottom, in my opinion.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Too many catalog/online clothing places have gone downhill in quality. One I’ve bought from for years, very reliably, has turned to utter crap in the last few years – sizing of the same product varies from “can’t breathe” to “falls off” and my favorite waffle weave shirt, that I’ve bought in different colors for YEARS, is now a cheap, thin fabric with the texture merely stamped into it, with a horrible fit and made so badly that the back was a couple inches shorter than the front. I hate shopping, and now I have to start over somewhere else to find clothes I like that fit me. Poop.

      2. Esprit de l'escalier*

        This is really dismaying to read right now, because I appear to have lost 4 or 5 of my Lands End crewneck tops that are perfect for the current weather, I wear them every day. I was going to order a couple of replacements today but happened to get on AAM instead, whew. Now what?!?!!

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      Does anyone here buy clothing from Duluth Trading Company? I keep hearing good things about the company, and their clothing seems to be designed for real people (rather than models) without being budget-destroyers.

      1. Lazy Turtle*

        My husband and I both get stuff from Duluth. Good quality and fit and a few brick and mortar stores even. As a note – he has a pair of the fire hose cargo shorts and had a spectacular wipe out on his bike. Slid many feet on concrete and the shorts were undamaged. Even the blood just washed right off (his arm did not fare as well, but dang those short are really indestructible).

      2. office hobbit*

        Yes!! I love their stuff. They can run a little larger than other brands so check their sizing guides.

      3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        My sister got me a t-shirt from Duluth Trading Company. Much better quality than the Land’s End that used to be my staple.

    3. Generic Name*

      Thank you for the warning! I’ve been looking for tops, and one of my favorites is a lands end shirt I bought secondhand. Have you found an alternative?

    4. Forrest Rhodes*

      Sorry, Alison, I didn’t realize how much my comment sounds like a commercial. Wasn’t my intention—I’m really looking for opinions!

    5. Mimmy*

      I get Lands End catalogs allllll the time. I do buy from them from time to time but get confused by all the different categories; I’m like, “what’s the difference between A and B??”

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      This right here is why I never buy merchandise from online sites or stores–they often contract (understandably, but still) with the lowest bidder and the quality and cut of the stuff reflects it. Plus, I can’t believe how many places don’t grasp that XL does not mean “for a ten year old.”

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m not an expert, but I’ve been happy with the J. Crew “perfect fit” T-shirts that I got last year. Would buy again, but this batch is going strong.

      1. carcinization*

        I used to have J. Crew as a go-to as well (okay, I wasn’t trying to rhyme that much, but here we are!), but over the past few years their shirts have all been way too short for me, I am a middle-aged person with a professional job and can’t wear “belly shirts” to work! Like, their XXL is now shorter than the size Ls from the same brand that I still have! But I will probably keep buying a couple a year just to see if they ever go back to a decent length….

        1. Ridiculous disaster*

          I bought a few J Crew t-shirts in a recent sale and they were very sad! Almost sheer, with the necklines buckling after the first wash.

    8. Brunch with Penguins*

      They have a meadery that is fabulous – lots of good breweries as well, but the mead is “modern” so lighter and more drinkable than old-school versions. I had to drag my friend there against all his preconceived notions, but before we left, we’d had TWO tasting flights because he wanted to try them all after the first one.

    9. All Monkeys are French*

      American Giant makes really good quality T-shirts in the US.
      They are not cheap, but they hold up beautifully, and despite what their choice of models would have you believe, they actually can be worn by chubbier people.

  33. Franny and Zooey*

    I lost my engagement ring this week. I’m devastated. The last I remember wearing it was when I was taking it off before going to bed. I put it in my bedside table in the bowl just like I normally do. Then I went away on an overnight business trip. I don’t remember wearing the ring there or taking it off at the hotel. I was so exhausted when I got to the hotel and then the next morning I rushed off to my meeting. I was so stressed that I’d be late. It’s just not like me to leave behind something so important and to treat it so carelessly. but it seems like the most likely scenario since I’ve turned my house upside down trying to find it. I’ve called the hotel at least four times and it hasn’t turned up. Unfortunately, I did not get insurance for the ring so there’s no recourse there. My husband did not take it (I am positive of this), I have no pets, and my six year old told me she didn’t touch it.

    My husband is understanding and is keeping positive that I’ll find it. But I can tell he’s upset. The ring had some diamonds from family members who are no longer with us. I’ve been so honored and loved to have worn this ring for 11 years. We have been having a hard time lately. A lot of financial setbacks and mistakes have happened mainly by me in the last year. I totaled our car, got kicked off our insurance, and the new insurance is almost $500 a month. We don’t make much money and we’re just living paycheck to paycheck right now so this happening in addition to all of the stress and tension between us is really not good for our marriage. I mean, accidents happen, I am only human, but it’s just been relentless and I have scheduled doctor appointments to find out what may be going on with me physically and mentally.

    I want to start saving up money for a replacement. Has anyone done this before or has bought an engagement ring recently? How much do they range? I want to get the same exact setting (I truly loved this ring). Are there payment plans anywhere? Buy online or in person? I live in the NY/NJ area. Anyone have any advice for mending hurt feelings from your partner in situations like this – when bad things keep happening and they are your fault?

    1. KeinName*

      Both of these things don’t really sound like your fault (unless you were drunk totalling your car). A marriage is supposed to be through thick and thin, and there are two people in it who can have mishaps. As there are two people in it who will have good fortune.
      I think the nice thing to do would be for your partner to give you a cheap replacement ring that symbolises that he loves you. And in ten years time when you have more money you can get yourself a proper replacement.
      I recently lost both a kindle (left on the bus) as well as weirdly an old pullover and scarf (in my workplace) and am also deeply confused as to how this happened, so I can only imagine how you must feel losing such a pricey possession. But I guess you can only let it go and wish it well.

    2. Chapeau*

      tldr, I found the diamond from mine six months after I lost it, in our refrigerator. Don’t give up hope. And there are lots of weird crevices on a bed frame…

      Lost the stone from my engagement ring the day after we got married. It had been his grandmother’s ring, and several of his family members were angry she left it to him. (He was too young, too irresponsible, too casual in his relationships, etc). We met 6 years after she died, and family was still complaining about it.
      And the day after our wedding, the stone fell out. We searched everywhere, retraced my steps, crawled all over the house on our hands and knees.
      He had been laid off about 4 months before we got married, and ended up piecing together 2 part-time jobs, I was working 2 jobs, and we didn’t have anything extra to save for a new stone.
      And I’d had the wedding ring and the engagement ring attached to each other, so I couldn’t even wear my wedding band since there was a gaping hole on the set. It was awful, and I tried to avoid his whole family because of it.
      And then six months later there was something gross is the back of the fridge, and when I wiped it up, there was the diamond. Maybe not the textbook definition of a miracle, but I’ll take it!
      We skipped valentines that year and used that money, plus a minor bonus, to have the setting fixed.
      (His aunt STILL doesn’t think we’re responsible enough to have that ring, and we’ve been married 15 years now!)

    3. WellRed*

      I lost my grandmother’s wedding ring. Looked everywhere, posted signs at work, called a restaurant I’d been at (people are wonderfully understanding of this sort of things). It turned up two months later in the laundry room just under the litter mat.

    4. Double A*

      First, in really sorry you lost the ring.

      I’m going to reframe this a little: I think 11 years is a pretty good run for a piece of jewelry you take on and off frequently and wear daily. I mean that is literally thousands of times you’ve done it. It’s so easy to lose jewelry and the more you take it on and off, the easier it is. Times when you’re out of your routine (eg travel) are especially easy times to lose something like this. So you’re not stupid or careless; in fact, you’ve kept it despite many opportunities to lose it for 11 years.

      It’s also a little bit of extra mental load you’ve taken on in your marriage. It sounds like your husband valued you wearing the ring, but did he value the work it took to wear it? He probably doesn’t even see that work. Yes, it’s small, but but those things add up.

      I think the ring is symbolic of a lot of stuff for you right now. Whenever I’m upset about something small in my marriage, I try to deep beneath the surface and figure out what the core issue is. You’ve already touched on a lot of it in your post; I think your solution should be less focused on the ring and more on the things it represents.

      It doesn’t sound like a good time financially to replace the ring. I also assume you have a wedding ring; do you really need to replace an engagement ring? The engagement is over. (I know it’s common in some places for women to keep wearing their engagement ring, but I personally rarely wear mine because it’s too fancy). However you have a decade into this marriage, so maybe whatever ring you do get can represent that.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – I don’t wear my engagement ring because it’s fragile (which is a bummer, I love it, but I’d rather keep it safe, and we had to have it repaired three times in two years, so) so my husband and I picked out a much simpler band that I wear with my wedding ring instead.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I keep mine safe too; it’s a black pearl which once fell out of the setting! Luckily I found it and had it fixed, but ugh, that stomach dropping moment when you see it gone…

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yup — my original one was fire opals which are second only to pearls in fragility, so first when one of those chipped we replaced them with harder stones, but then I just kept having issues with the setting. I do have the original stones still at least, and and I just put the whole thing straight into my jewelry box the last time it was repaired.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Years ago a friend at the time (no enmity, we just drifted apart due to life, relocation, etc.) told, for some reason (related to our conversation?), how her mother somehow lost the diamond from her engagement or wedding ring, and how her father comforted her: “It’s just a diamond, it wasn’t that something happened to one of the children.” And they went on with their lives. I don’t recall whether, how, or if they ever bought another diamond.

      As others have said here, in the end it’s just a possession–although one currently freighted with both warm, historical, family associations and some currently quite difficult emotions (“How could I have been so careless?” “But does anyone else really think that I would have lost it intentionally?! Or that the loss is a good indicator of how I feel about my husband/my marriage/my in-laws, etc.?”). Give yourself some grace. Assume some good intentions underneath the current stress and tension. Perhaps you are rushing around because you are feeling over-extended. Perhaps you are trying to take care of too many people and/or logistical arrangements.

      You yet might get lucky and find it at home in a totally unexpected location. Or you might not. But as Double A said, your marriage is more than ten years old and both of you still have each other–even if, at present, you also have tension and stress. The decade-plus of loving coexistence is the real gem here.

      It might be helpful to take a deep breath, literally and metaphorically. Re-set your stress at a lower level. Be kind to yourself and your partner. Actively re-invite tranquility into your life. Rearrange some of your limits or habits. AND don’t even think about doing all of this at one time!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        “Rearrange some of your limits or habits.” — meaning: Take good care of yourself to reduce
        your daily load of stress and tension. Possible ideas:
        – always putting your house/car keys in the same place every time (a bowl at home, a specific corner of your handbag when visiting others?)
        – go to bed 30 minutes earlier, and/or get up 30 minutes earlier
        – drink more water and (within limits of living from paycheck to paycheck…I’m doing the same thing right now and yes, it’s hard) eat more fruits and vegetables
        – find value, happiness, and sufficiency in something that doesn’t cost money (borrow books from the library? walk through a neighborhood with great home gardens?)
        – learn to say “NO” [politely ;-) ] to all unreasonable, impossible, and/or utterly exhausting requests to chair the church study committee, be your precinct get-out-the-vote captain, foster any cats or dogs, or drive people to go grocery shopping every.single.week (find someone with whom you can alternate weeks)…

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      One more comment, which I hope will give you some consolation if not full-on amusement: Many years ago my husband’s wedding band disappeared after he had been out of town for a work event. I called the hotel about four times. The front desk staff sounded sick of me. I was sure they thought I was a suspicious and/or deluded spouse. (No, there wasn’t an affair. Honest!)

      We finally bought another band, which he seemed to enjoy wearing more than the first one. And within maybe two years, while I was cleaning out a piece of furniture before a move, I found his wedding band inside a silver candlestick, carefully tucked into the small round space where you insert the candle!!

      We continued to be married–with the usual mixture of good and bad experiences–another decade or so until my husband died.

    7. allx*

      Oh, poor you. That is the worst, feeling like you’ve completely messed up and there is no fix. I agree with DoubleA that you have done a good job of protecting the ring all this time. Give yourself time to destress over the loss and possibly remember more about where you had it last. It is possible you never wore it on your trip, in which case it will be somewhere in your house. If you need to replace it, save up and look at vintage or estate jewelry which can be much more affordable than new diamonds.

      My lost ring story is that my wedding band was lost after 15 years of marriage. I fell off a ladder taking Christmas lights off the house. I hurt my hand (and cracked three ribs as it turned out) so, afraid of swelling, I took off the ring and my husband slipped it on to the top part of his finger while he was helping me. He went back to digging in the yard while I recovered on the sofa. Later that night, I asked him for my ring and he didn’t have it. The next day we crawled through the garden bed next to the driveway where he had been working. No luck. That week we went out and bought a metal detector and scanned the area repeatedly for the next few weeks. Found nails and screws and other random bits, but no ring. Two years later, the next-door neighbor came over and asked “didn’t you lose a ring once? is this it?” And it was.

    8. Rara Avis*

      If it makes you feel better, my father has lost his wedding ring at least 3 times. (Big knuckles, so the ring has to be loose to fit over them.) the latest time was down by the seatbelt fastener in the car; it slid off when he was buckling in and he didn’t notice. It was just a random thought that led us even to look there. One time it came off while he was throwing yard clippings into the compost pile. (He stopped wearing it during yard work after that; my husband actually found it with his metal detector.) but he’s replaced it once. These things happen to small pieces of jewelry that come off regularly. (My wedding ring only comes off when the hospital says so, and it feels weird to be without it.)

    9. TPS reporter*

      thought I lost mine too for over a month. I had left it in a pocket, it went through the laundry and was stuck in some clothing I didn’t realize until I pulled it out of the drawer.

    10. Maggie*

      I would look into getting it recreated with lab diamond or moissanite for a more budget friendly option. Gold is also very expensive right now so 10k instead of 14 or 18 will help save money too. But I kinda think you’ll find it these things turn up all the time. A finished gold ring with lab diamonds will still be starting at a couple thousand dollars for something petite so you may have to wait on that. Any decent custom jeweler should be able to recreate it from a picture. Also get multiple quotes from people. In the meantime if you want a stand in go to tiger gems dot com and get the closest thing you can find. They’re CZ and plated silver but it’s a decent product for what it is. I used to recommend it to my customers who had very frugal budgets but wanted to propose now instead of saving.

    11. acmx*

      I’m sorry your engagement is lost.

      Just adding a “found” story: I once lost my house key while traveling. I was sitting on the couch in my hotel room when I took something else off my key ring. I looked in my backpack pocket and in the sofa and couldn’t find it. Weeks later I heard a sound when putting my laptop in my backpack and found my key in that pocket (and I used the backpack numerous times before I found my key).

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      I lost my engagement ring in 2019 after 26 years of marriage. I’m still sick over it. I have always been bad at keeping up with jewelry and I had several close calls with this ring over the years. What I did was order a replica. My ring was a simple diamond solitaire and I just ordered a solitaire ring with the same size and cut stone, with a cubic zirconia instead of a diamond. It cost, I don’t know, about $100. If I lose this one, I’ll just replace it again. I’m currently having my wedding set resized (sigh, it was time to face facts about my post-pandemic, post-menopause body). I told the jeweler “by the way, that solitaire is a CZ” because I didn’t want him to see it and think my husband had secretly gotten me a fake.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I meant to add, the jeweler told me that lots of people have CZ fakes of their rings made for travel.

    13. kalli*

      You can talk to a jeweller, design exactly to a picture or your recollection, get a quote, and save up or pay it off.

      That said, my binding and eternity rings disappeared within a few months of each other in 2014. I didn’t throw anything out for two years without sitting down and combing through the rubbish bag because I was *sure* I had dropped one in the bin. I cleaned and vacuumed and turned the entire house upside down and neither one turned up. I was on my third set of replacements (one set did not handle heat at all, so my partner just started buying $20-$30 rings at craft shops instead of us spending on jewellers – my eternity ring was 600 euros plus shipping in 2012!)

      Fast forward to February 2024 and after I had turned the study inside out yet again in the process of moving, my dad picked up a handful of papers and put them in a trash bag. I saw a dull silver flash – could it be? I descended upon the bag while these very confused people stared at me. My dad started crying – had he done something wrong? I started crying – there was my eternity ring.

      I explained the situation to my dad and showed him a picture of my binding ring. “I’m fairly sure it ended up in the rubbish,” I said.

      A few hours later I was quietly working away, determined to not lose any more time to the moving process, of which finding my eternity ring was a faint glimmer against the four year hellscape the process had become. Time to check on dad, I thought, and I found him sitting on a box, holding up my binding ring.

      I had turned that room over so many times. I had been through the rubbish so many times. I had retraced my steps – I had realised it was missing minutes after I thought I had it and I didn’t – it had been sliding off for months and I had been so careful because resizing it would have been silly given there were also times it would not come off for love or money or an entire bottle of conditioner. But there it was, ten years later.

      So don’t give up hope – it is entirely possible you didn’t put it on and it’s under your bed and will turn up when you’ve given up. This kind of thing happens when you’re stressed because stress does things to you, physically and mentally, and the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself. You did not set out to disappear this ring which was precious to you, you didn’t set out to crash your car, and if your husband is reasonable he will be able to separate fault from feeling and work with you on moving past the current stressy period. The ring is a symbol of your relationship – it is not your relationship.

      But if my binding ring can turn up after ten years when I thought it must have gone to landfill never to be seen again, your engagement ring can certainly turn up when you least expect it.

      (Side note – some contents policies cover jewellery even if it’s not listed directly as an inclusion. I trust you’ve double checked, but just in case – it may still be helpful to do so!)

      1. Deanna Troi*

        That is wonderful that you found them both! I hope that Franny and Zoey does as well.

        I’m curious as to what a binding ring is. Google tells me that it is a metal ring to hold papers, but I’m quite certain that isn’t what you are talking about. :)

        1. kalli*

          My partner and I aren’t traditionally/legally married and didn’t do the engagement/marriage route. The binding ring is the one I received in our commitment ceremony, binding being the word we used based on various historical (marriage bonds) and fantasy concepts (binding of soulmates etc.).

          I usually translate it to engagement ring since I received it first and it looks like an engagement ring but with a big amethyst in place of a diamond, and my eternity ring we got designed to fit around it so they appear like a marriage set. I just forgot for that post, sorry!

          I also have a bracelet which thankfully screws on so it can’t fall off or get lost, and only causes problems when I have to have unplanned scans or surgery and nobody has a 2.5mm hex key handy! But we decided on rings as well when I got a job in a male-dominated manufacturing environment (I’m feminine-presenting non-binary and can’t really pass as anything else) and a couple of people recommended a ring as a way of deterring sexual harassment. (It may have, but also what happened was people didn’t believe I really had a partner since they never saw him and I didn’t ‘talk about him enough’.)

          1. Deanna Troi*

            Thank you for responding. I love this! It is so sweet!

            I was thinking it had something to do with an arranged marriage.

          2. Deanna Troi*

            I should add that it isn’t sweet that you feel you have to wear a ring because of harassment. I’m sorry you have to put up with that.

            A coworker go married recently, and when her husband went back to work recently, someone asked him how his vacation was. He mentioned it was his honeymoon, his coworkers were shocked because they didn’t even know he was dating anyone. He didn’t understand why they would have expected him to mention anything.

    14. Lost earring*

      Even if you don’t have specific coverage for your ring, if you have renters or home insurance you can try to file a claim with them – perhaps they’ll cover some of it.

      I lost a very sentimental diamond hoop earring and knew I would never find it. (When I realized it was missing, I knew it had fallen out on the sidewalk in NYC.) My renter’s insurance paid for me to have a ~ $1,200 match custom made at a jeweler in the Diamond District – I just had to pay the deductible. Probably the engagement ring was worth more than $1,200 but it never hurts to at least ask them.

      I wouldn’t give up hope — maybe it’s still in your bedroom. Did you fly for your business trip? Did you perhaps take it off when going through security? If so try to contact the airport lost & found and see if, by chance, it’s there?

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      These things don’t sound like they’re your fault at all! Sometimes bad luck just decides to be our buddy and it sucks big time.

      (One thing I’ve discovered about tiny things, especially jewelry–they can snag themselves on so many things and get flung or dropped and bounce into the weirdest nooks and crannies–like, you cannot work how the laws of physics allowed it to happen. So definitely expand the search if you haven’t.)

      But again, you didn’t do anything wrong! So it’s one thing to commiserate with your partner about this loss and another to blame yourself/allow them to blame you for it. You didn’t bet it on the horses or flush it down the toilet.

    16. Flower*

      Don’t give up. It may yet turn up.

      I was at the beach with some friends and one of them noticed later his wedding ring was not on his hand anymore. This was hours later. We went back in the morning to look for it. A fool’s errand, right? We weren’t even sure where we had been sitting, and with literally tons of sand… we found it anyway. What are the chances?

    17. RagingADHD*

      Check the bend in your sink drains regardless of what anyone in your family says.

      When my engagement ring went missing was when I discovered my child (about age six) was capable of totally convincing herself she didn’t do something if sufficiently motivated. She assured me with great sincerity and an absolutely convincing face that she never touched it. If my older kid hadn’t cracked under the pressure of keeping the secret, I would never have known.

      1. IzzyTheCat*

        First thing I thought when reading this (as mother of a child slightly older than this) was “yup, the 6 year old played with it”…
        (But it might still turn up someday, don’t lose heart.)

    1. Not Australian*

      After years of experience I’ve learned that – especially with the metal ones – the secret is actually to take the lid off. I have no idea why this works, but it does.

  34. Plain white Tee*

    I’m a woman and I’ve been looking for a plain, white T-Shirt forever that isn’t completely transparent. Has anyone recently been able to buy one they are happy with that can tell me where you bought it.

    Alternatively, how are we supposed to be wearing these see-through white shirts that are being manufactured lately? Is there something I don’t understand? I do wear a nude colored bra but you can see it through this shirt. The last one I bought, was an Amazon essentials brand, and the reviews didn’t give away that it was see through. Some people had pics of themselves in the reviews wearing it and it didn’t look transparent like the shirt I got.

    1. Maggie*

      Amazon essentials is kinda the cheapest possible option so it’s going to be very thin/low quality. I would recommend Uniqlo. They have much thicker t shirts especially on their men’s side. As for the trend of sheer shirts that’s just something that’s trending now, I wear a black or colored bra underneath that shows intentionally. But if you want thick t shirts the men’s side of Uniqlo def has them my husband has multiple

    2. Future*

      I don’t know if they’re super common in the US, where I presume you are since you haven’t said otherwise, but United Colours of Benetton usually have good quality cotton. Whether they have a white t-shirt at the moment that isn’t a weird shape is another question, but when they are good, they are good.

      1. ampersand*

        Their stores used to be more common in the US but looks like they’re only on the east coast and around Los Angeles now. I didn’t even realize they’re still around! Good to know.

    3. MaryLoo*

      An unlikely place I’ve bought several t-shirts is Michael’s craft store. They have a section of clothing and other items to decorate, which includes different color t-shirts including white. There’s plain neck & v-neck, also ladies cuts which are the shaped ones. They’re reasonably heavyweight cotton. Worth checking out.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I was searching for a neon pink shirt for an 80s night on a cruise earlier this year and Michael’s came up as a suggestion. Since I have a store near me, I went in person and sure enough, they had what I needed and it was the heavier 100% cotton. Good price, too. And they had many different colors and a few different cuts.

      2. Dannie*

        These are Gildan and Bella+Canvas, so if you aren’t near a Michael’s, you can find both brands online.

        They’re thick because they’re meant to hold up to screen printing. If you search wholesalers, these are a good buy in bulk.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I wear mens t-shirts. I have to get looser cuts than I would for womens, but in my experience mens clothes are thicker, heavier, and last longer than womens. Heck, for yard work I wear men’s cotton undershirts, the bra doesn’t show through and they don’t stick to me when I’m sweaty.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I love men’s tees. I am straight up and down but in a larger size, so the men’s shirts fit me perfectly. PLUS they are almost tunic length which covers things I’d like covered, PLUS the sleeves come to my elbows, but aren’t snug. I’ve been enjoying the Hanes tees lately, for comfort, fit, looking tidy, and a decent color selection. Gildan is also good.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        I was about to suggest Madewell. I have a blue Madewell tshirt that is pretty substantial.

    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Kohl’s! I’ve found several styles and brands that seem to be either thicker and/or woven differently to be opaque!

    6. Maryn*

      You’ve got lots of T-shirt answers, so I’ll address the sheer white shirts that are all over the place in stores and catalogues. What I do is wear either a cami or a tank top under it. Sometimes I wear a nude cami, which covers up the bra well enough without drawing attention. Other times I’ll wear a tank top or cami in a color intended to show through the sheer cloth, usually matching or coordinating with whatever I’m wearing on the bottom half.

    7. office hobbit*

      A more unusual answer for you: check out Dharma Trading. It’s a dye and crafts website, and they have a huge selection of white T-shirts. Some of them may be lighter weight than you want, but the description should say.

      1. Dyeing for fun*

        I’ve used Dharma Trading Company (a quick internet search will get you their website) and they have fabulous customer service — if you have any questions, call or email them.

    8. M&M Mom*

      I have Everlane in my to buy list. It was recommended somewhere, just not sure where. Planning on buying one soon.

      My favorite was a brand they had at Target, but they don’t have it anymore.

    9. Plain white Tee*

      I just want to thank everyone who replied. I have several places to look, and I think I’ll start with a visit to Michael’s.

      Also thanks for the tips on wearing the transparent one I already bought. I will try wearing a cami under the shirt I bought. I think my problme is that I don’t like that you can see the lines of the cami underneath.

    10. ReallyBadPerson*

      If you are in the US and don’t mind spending a bit, the brand American Giant is excellent. Their white t-shirts are well-made and not see through.

    11. Canuck Gal*

      Echoing the person who mentioned Uniqlo. I have a women’s white tshirt from there and I love the weight of the cotton and it’s not see through. Great quality too.

  35. Usedtobeunderpaid*

    Having a terrible time making a decision… and I know it shouldn’t be this hard. I am retiring at the end of June and we’re planning a trip out of town to celebrate. We haven’t flown in several years due to Covid, but we’re planning a short flight from the bay area to Portland. As the time gets closer, I find myself panicking more and more and thinking maybe we should just do another road trip. We are super Covid conscious and – we both worked from home until my husband retire, we mask everywhere, don’t do indoor dining or any indoor events, etc., etc. for this plane flight even though it short and we will be fully mask his font with beer and anxiety.

    My doctor and others I talk to say that Fly is fairly sick now, especially when we leaving and going to smaller airport that will be crowded. But I find myself unable to make a decision for sure to go or not. I think maybe just another road trip would be fine, but after two years of these four walls in our small apartment, I really feel the need to get away. Like away away to someplace a little bit unfamiliar but not too much thoughts to deal with the decision, but not so much the anxiety would be really helpful . I’m in therapy, talking to my doctor, etc. around the anxiety, but I’m just trying to figure out how to decide whether to go on this trip or not.

    As background, with the limitations of Covid, my life has become smaller and smaller. I stopped driving some years ago as I’m a little night Wind and don’t feel comfortable in traffic, and I would hate for flying to become one of those things that I never do again.

    1. Rara Avis*

      My parents are also very Covid-conscious, but they started flying again (from the east coast to the Bay Area) in 2022. They wear kn95 masks. They have never gotten Covid from a flight. Even my Bay Area medical provider thinks that the risk is low enough that they don’t require masks, even in the cancer treatment center. I think you should go, if your doctor agrees.

    2. No name yet*

      For what it’s worth, my wife is immunocompromised and still wears a KN95 mask in nearly all public situations. Our entire family masked for much longer than most folks, and we didn’t eat inside a restaurant for…I don’t even remember how long (though we are doing so now). And, we started flying again in 2021 (her entire family lives across the country, so we just wouldn’t ever be able to see them again if we didn’t fly). We all use KN95 masks in the airport and on the plane, only take them off to eat/drink, then put them back on. We’ve probably done 10+ round-trip flights (including at Christmas time in some very busy airports and packed planes), and have never come down with COVID (or anything else).

      I 100% understand that it’s scary (my COVID anxiety for the sake of my wife has been not small), my wife had many repeated conversations with her medical specialists about traveling and masking – and ultimately they said that the goal is to keep yourself reasonably safe, in a way that you can still live a life that feels meaningful. Is wearing a KN95 for 10+ hours enjoyable? Or getting a kid to do that? No. And, the balance of still getting to visit our family and keep ourselves safer (nothing is perfectly safe, even driving) feels like a reasonable balance to us.

      I hope you figure out something that works for you.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        Thank you so much for your kind and very detailed response. I really appreciate it.

      2. Hopefully not a plague rat*

        I am very covid conscious and still mask everywhere indoors. I have also flown a few times safely. If you choose to fly, I recommend a SIP valve. Its’s a valve you can put into your mask that allows you to drink without removing your mask. My SIP valve allowed me to take shorter flights and remain hydrated without removing my n95 mask at all.

        I know some covid conscious travellers also take a portable hepa filter with them on the plane, but not every airline allows them, so be sure to check.

        1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

          Thanks we have sip valves also. Unfortunately, our airline does not print it personal

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Has the therapy recommended any mindfulness stuff? I still use the tape the cancer center therapist gave me–it’s focused on picturing oneself healing and recovering, which is still applicable but in different ways. (I was not anxious until the cancer diagnosis. But the anxiety went around attaching itself to other things, so even though I am in remission the anxiety will on occasion still pop up.)

      I would go. I think a short masked flight is quite safe.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        Yes I find those tools really helpful. I do a lot of mindfulness stuff. I’m just scared of getting overwhelmed. Once I’m overwhelmed it takes a while to come down

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Are you particularly at risk? You don’t mention cancer or compromised immune systems or that sort of thing. If you don’t have risk factors, you should 100% go.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        I’m 70, high blood pressure, just started taking statins for high cholesterol – so I’m not immunocompromised in the strictest sense but I do have risk factors that would make Covid pretty serious for me

        1. Nicki Name*

          My parents are about your age with similar health issues, and they’ve been taking long-distance trains. They get their own compartment in the sleeper car and only mask when they’re in the station.

          There’s a train called the Coast Starlight that runs through the SF area up to Seattle and Portland, if you want to look up more info. Sleeper compartments might already be sold out for the dates you’re looking at if you’re travelling right at the end of June, though.

          1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

            we’ve done that many times. we did think about it for this trip.It is a long trip and often very delayed and there’s no guarantee there won’t be shared air even in a sleeper compartment. A few folks that were super Covid conscious on social media have done this trip and brought CO2 meters that show it can get pretty high readings, even in a separate compartment.

            1. Maggie*

              I would definitely take anything someone that’s bringing Co2 meters on a train says with a huge grain of salt.

              1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

                so I guess I have a grain of salt because I do carry CO2 meter if I go to a busy doctors office or someplace else where I can’t avoid crowds.

                1. Ali + Nino*

                  Genuine question – what is the benefit of bringing a CO2 monitor? didn’t even know that was a thing.

                2. Maggie*

                  Fair enough, that’s your prerogative! How does that inform Covid risk? I think I might be misunderstanding the purpose.

          2. Usedtobeunderpaid*

            we’ve taken that trip many times. it’s often quite delayed and not sure it’s less risky than flying in a small plane.

            1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

              Tells you if you are getting exhaled air from other people and how much – the higher the reading, The greater number of people are exhaling into your airspace in the greater likelihood of someone of them having Covid. It’s not foolproof, obviously, but It’s a way to assess whet her the air is being filtered or not

              1. Observer*

                Tells you if you are getting exhaled air from other people and how much – the higher the reading,

                If you really mean CO2, then no. You are not getting any useful information about how much exhaled air you are getting. Because CO2 emissions are most likely to be coming from things like the fuel being burned by vehicle you are in, the fuel being burned by the vehicles around you + how airtight your vehicle is, and the air quality in the place you are in.

        2. Generic Name*

          You may need to confirm with your doctor, but the last time my dad (who is in his 70s) got Covid he took Paxlovid and it helped immensely. Really, Covid is a different disease than is was in the early days of the pandemic. We now have medicines to treat it and an effective vaccine. I am not downplaying the fact that long Covid exists or that people have and are still dying; I am saying the risk profile is much, much different than 4 years ago.

    5. WellRed*

      I think you should go. The longer you wait to take that step, the harder it becomes to ever do and your world becomes smaller and smaller.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      Why not just drive? Save yourself the flying stress. Wear gloves to pump gas, keep hand sanitizer in the car. Then you won’t need to rent a vehicle in Portland.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        it’s a long drive for us. We would need to do several days up in several days back. If we drove, we probably would go closer to the border and stay in Ashland or something. That is an alternative.

          1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

            That’s straight through all highway. That’s really not feasible for us. It would be a two or three day trip for us to break it up in comfortable chunks

    7. Covid Conscious Too*

      I’ll offer my two-cents as my spouse & I consider ourselves Covid-conscious, although I’m not sure how others would classify us. We do what we can to avoid getting sick, including wearing n95 masks in indoor places or crowded outdoor places, but we recognize that we still will probably get Covid (or maybe we already have and just didn’t test +) and most likely be OK. We would just rather not get sick and we are fortunate to be in a position to reduce our risk more than if, for example, we had young children.

      If your primary concern is: Is it possible to take a trip like the one I want to and avoid a Covid infection, I believe the answer is yes. We haven’t flown a plane post-2020, but I follow people on social media who continue to take various precautions against Covid and some of them travel. I don’t think there’s any way to guarantee 100% that you won’t get sick, but there are certainly tools you can use and measures you can take to stack the odds in your favor.

      Is is also possible that some of your decision paralysis is you don’t feel like you have enough information on how to travel as a Covid conscious person or you don’t know where to find it? Or do you feel like you have enough information and incorporating it all is overwhelming to the point that you’re unsure whether the pleasure of such a trip outweighs the stress of planning it?

      I think I understand a little of where you are coming from with respect to feeling overwhelmed and panicked. It truly is more cognitive load and more work to navigate living while incorporating practices to prevent infection. For me, keeping that in mind & keeping it a neutral “fact” helps me to maintain perspective. I look at it as being similar to any other fact that impacts a family’s everyday life, such as how having a diagnosis like Celiac disease or food allergies means that going out to eat would take more cognitive load and work than for someone without any food restrictions. So maybe that means that since it is more work, you still take the trip but plan for it to be further out time-wise than you would have previously, to allow yourself more planning time to offset the additional work compared to traveling pre-2020.

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        Thanks for this great reply. I think you have identified a big part of my paralysis – the Covid conscious people I know certainly have opened up their lives more than we have. However, a lot of the Covid conscious people I follow on various social media platforms are even more restricted than we are and warn heavily against doing anything that might cause them to get Covid. So I have two opposite ideas to keep in my mind at the same time which as we all know can be very difficult.

        I think I have good information. It’s just conflicting. I don’t follow random people, it’s mostly medical professionals and others who are experts in what’s going on. And most of them agree this is a relatively low risk activity – once we got to where we were going we would follow the same rules we keep everywhere, stay in Airbnb, no shared air, no indoor dining, etc., etc. So not since it’s not more risky once we get there.

        But thanks for understanding all the challenges I’m having. I really appreciate it.

        1. Not that Jane*

          My family and I are in such a similar boat to you, except that we have young children (school age, finally, but still young). We are actually doing a 4,000 mile road trip with them this summer instead of a flight… I sympathize so much with the isolating feeling of still being so COVID-cautious in a world that seems no longer to care. How did we get here… we lost two very dear loved ones early on, and we know two people, younger & healthier than us, who are 100% disabled by long COVID. So it still feels like something we cannot afford to risk for a “fun” reason (eg plane travel), especially since we are somewhat risking it for reasons like school & work already. No advice, particularly, just sympathy & know you’re not alone.

        2. Observer*

          However, a lot of the Covid conscious people I follow on various social media platforms are even more restricted than we are and warn heavily against doing anything that might cause them to get Covid.

          I’m Covid conscious, and also dealing with the fall out of Covid for my husband (officially not “long covid” but health issues that will almost certain to dog him permanently.) So I get the fear. I really truly do.

          But there are two mistakes that a lot of these people are making.

          1. It is actually possible to prevent getting Covid by your actions (and that anyone who gets covid was probably careless. That’s just not true. Not only did one of my children who lived with us at the time have covid (we didn’t know until he tested for antibies), very early on. My husband (with whom I share a bedroom, to clarify my risk factors) also got Covid. And he was being extremely careful. Why did they get Covid and not me? Who knows?!

          2. Not only is Covod the biggest risk, but pretty much the *only* risk. And that’s just not the case. No one here can tell you exactly how to balance all of the risks we all face. But “anything that might increase your risk for covid” is for sure not the right balance. Keep in mind that none of the things you are suggesting WILL cause you to get covid, nor would they even if you were more immune-compromised. So what you are looking at is an increase in risk. And you need to balance that against the risks to your health caused by these extreme restrictions.

          1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

            This is also quite helpful thank you. I appreciate everyone’s kindness and willingness to engage.

    8. Scientist*

      I think you should go! The flight will be short and the air filtration on planes is incredible. This is obviously anecdotal but I’ve done twelve round-trip flights since 2021 (for various required reasons and a couple personal trips) and I’ve only had Covid once in my life (and it was unrelated to flying.) Mask, wash your hands a lot, hydrate and rest beforehand so your immune system is top notch, and have an amazing trip!!

    9. Bluebell Brenham*

      I’m not immunocompromised, but have a variety of health conditions. I’ve flown about 6 times since I was vaccinated in 2021. I always mask in the airport and on the plane and wash my hands a lot. I still mask indoors in places that are even a bit crowded. My thought for you is that June will be a much safer choice than during the winter. Also, if you can get Paxlovid prescribed for you, you can pack it to take with you. That helped me feel much safer. And pack some tests too.

      1. ronda*

        even before covid my sister’s mantra was always “wash your hands, dont touch your face”

        On planes she also takes disinfecting wipes to wipe down her seat/ tray area.

        take all the steps that will help you block any germs/viruses and go if you feel that will be enough for you to enjoy yourself.

    10. chocolate muffins*

      In case reading others’ experiences helps: I am pretty COVID conscious, have flown multiple times since 2021, and have never gotten COVID from any of those trips as far as I know (I could have gotten it and not had symptoms I suppose, but I did have COVID once with symptoms – during a time when I had not flown recently – so know what at least that bout felt like and have never had anything like that again). I mask indoors anyway, even when not traveling, and I don’t stop that during travel. I do eat on planes, so I’m not masked 100% of the time, but I try to eat quickly and wear a high quality well fitting mask the rest of the time.

      Also the time that I did have COVID, I took Paxlovid and only felt really sick (=very tired) for a day or two. The worst part of that experience was that my husband and at-the-time baby all had it at the same time, plus the baby could not go to daycare even after we were all well because they had a specific number of days that people were excluded after testing positive for COVID. It’s a big part of the reason why I have kept masking indoors – I don’t want to potentially transmit illness to others, I don’t want to get sick myself (with COVID or other illnesses that a mask would help prevent), but mostly I do not want to be stuck for days with no childcare. I know that this comment has gone off into topics that are not particularly relevant to you so to bring it back to the main point – I’ve flown while mostly masked and it has been fine for me, and also Paxlovid helped a lot with a bout of COVID that I had that was unrelated to travel (and Paxlovid also reduces the risk of long COVID which I am guessing might be a concern for you).

    11. Indolent Libertine*

      We are also super COVID-cautious, still mask everywhere, no restaurant dining, etc. and we started flying again in late 2021 once we were both vaxed. We mask for trips (KN95 or N95) from the moment we enter shared space until we reach our own space on the other end. Neither of us has had COVID ever, and we’ve flown 3 or 4 times a year for the past 3 years to visit grandkids. If it’s in your budget, get premium economy seating on a big plane where there’s a section that’s just 2 seats across rather than 3 so at least you’re not right up against an unmasked stranger. And the ventilation on planes is really quite good. Enjoy your trip!

    12. Double A*

      I feel like you should ask yourself what is all the caution for if not to enable you to do the things that are really worth it to you?

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      What does your therapist recommend, are they giving you baby steps to take? Reading this thread, my takeaway is that you’re trying to go from 0 to 100, which, in any situation, will cause anxiety!

      IMO start with baby steps. Your bigger issue is as you said, your world has gotten smaller and smaller. I’d recommend just making an effort to get out more. Go try a restaurant, just go at an odd time so it’s not crowded. Maybe try to drive again. IDK because I don’t know specifically what you’re into, but you mention husband and beer, maybe go somewhere walkeable and take a break where he has a beer and you get a mocktail. I’m sure after enough day trips you’ll start feeling more at ease and know how to proceed

      1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        We do day trips all the time, and a longish road trip every few months. We also eat or do cafes outdoors at least once a week . So it’s more like 70 to 100!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          If you want to go 70 to 90 instead, could you fly one direction and rent a car to drive the other direction? Maybe fly to Portland, using all the masking tips others have offered, so you have experience with post-COVID flying but you can do it with the knowledge that if flying is no longer a feasible means of transportation for you, you just have to do it the one time. Then you can enjoy Portland knowing that you don’t have to fly again. You can take your time with a three-day road trip back home at your own pace and with COVID precautions you’re more familiar/comfortable with.

    14. acmx*

      Not sure if this helpful. I’m not very COVID conscious now that I’m vax (and had 2-3 boosters): I travel for work (and considered an essential worker) and my flying didn’t change (2/month). I have been very lucky and not caught COVID. I don’t think the couple of colds I’ve had came from flying.
      (I have masked a couple times when I’m on the airport trams or those buses at LHR).
      I hope you’re able to be comfortable with whatever you decide and have a great trip.

  36. Usedtobeunderpaid*

    Speech to type fail..sorry..”flying is fairly safe now.”
    “Fully masked but still filled with fear and anxiety.”

    1. Not A Manager*

      I thought your husband was masking his anxiety with beer!

      I think you should go. Bring hand sanitizer, wear a mask, if you can afford it fly first class so you don’t *feel* so close to other people, although in reality the air exchange on the plane is pretty good. Once you do it, the next time will be easier.

      Have a great vacation!

  37. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    What’s a good, simple coffee making setup? I don’t drink the stuff myself, but have a boyfriend who does. My first thought was a French press (my parents use one), but I’d also have to get an electric kettle. Would a basic drip coffeemaker be better? Something else?
    Other factors:
    *my boyfriend doesn’t seem to be that picky on his coffee. Better is better, obviously, but it doesn’t have be coffee snob coffee
    *I have very limited counter space, so I’ll need to put it away every time. I don’t have much storage space either, so small would be good.
    *the cheaper the better

    1. HavaCuppa*

      We have a basic mr coffee 4 cup. It has an on-off switch and no fancy features – not programmable, no timer, etc. 2 cups from this pot fills a regular mug. I think the “cup” markings on coffee pots are for about 5 ounces which fills a small old fashioned tea cup.

      Advantage is you don’t have to time anything like you do with a French press. Also less fussing than using a melitta type cone pour-over setup.

    2. ruining my life*

      I’d suggest an aeropress. They can make excellent coffee and are small and relatively cheap. You can heat up water in a pot on the stove, if you don’t have a kettle. And, if you have no other use for a kettle, I wouldn’t buy one.

    3. WellRed*

      You need to ask your boyfriend. He may not be lucky but he’ll have his preference for how he likes to make it. I have a very small Mr Coffee.

    4. SuprisinglyADHD*

      We use a stovetop peculator, it lives on the back burner or gets moved to a counter if we need all the burners. It does take much longer to cook (26 minutes for a pot) so we make coffee the night before and just reheat it in the morning.

    5. mreasy*

      Pour over is easy I doesn’t need much equipment. You’ll need a kettle but then you’ll have one for other uses too. I actually find French presses a real hassle to clean.

    6. Jay*

      They make very small drip coffee makers that take up shockingly little counter space.
      If you have a small French Press, and your S.O. is not picky, you can heat the water in his coffee cup, in the microwave, or in a kettle/pot/pan on the stovetop.
      They make a wide variety of stove top coffee pots, from simple to complex. Many are as small or smaller than a small drip coffee maker and there are others that are very visually appealing and artistic, to the point where leaving them out on an unused burner is very much a positive feature.
      You can get a nice Moka pot for around $40.00 for a good one (if your B.F. likes Espresso) and under $10.00 for a kinda-not-so-good-but-it-still-works one.
      Percolator pots (which make regular coffee, although course ground is preferred there) are usually in the same range.
      You can also find very nice ones, indeed, that cost hundreds of dollars, and are as much display piece as (amazing) coffee maker.
      On a personal note, I’ve used a chocolate melting pot (a small metal stovetop one) with great success to make Greek/Turkish coffee.

      1. iced americano*

        +1 for moka pot!! It’s the best way and it is criminally underrated in the US. Tiny, efficient, delicious.

        1. Jay*

          I found a nice, somewhat larger one, that makes both espresso and cappuccino. I actually had to stop using it for a while, because it was so good I was drinking WAY too much :)

    7. Generic Name*

      Dumb question, but are you not able to boil water on the stove in a pot you already have or use a microwave and boil water in a mug? There are also small single cup drip coffee pots. You don’t have to keep it in the counter when it’s not in use.

    8. strawberry lemonade*

      I actually really like pourover and pre-ground coffee. I find it easier than a drip machine or aeropress—much much easier to clean and simpler. I have a Kalita wave cup thingy, coffee filters, and a scoop that measures enough ground coffee for 1 cup. Everything except the kettle lives in my cupboard on top of a mug, and the grounds go neatly in the compost. Pourover thingy goes in the dishwasher.

    9. Clisby*

      If he’s really not picky, just get instant. I like coffee, and that’s what I do, and I recommend Cafe Bustelo. If instant won’t do, a small Mr. Coffee. I, personally, think a Keurig is a total waste. We had one, and I like the idea of a Keurig, but I could never get a decent cup of coffee from one – it was always too weak. I even got disposable K-cups so I could put a much stronger blend in, and even that was too weak.

      1. Generic Name*

        Folgers also makes tea bags but with coffee. It’s not instant, but it’s nearly as easy.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I’m on Team Pourover. Inexpensive, easy to clean and store, tastes great IMO. Boil water on the stove or in the microwave.

      Note: All those people who tell you that water boiling in the microwave can build up under the surface and then burn you, are correct. Ask me how I know. There are a variety of ways to protect against this, so do use one of them.

    11. Anon Poster*

      I live alone so make coffee only for myself, and used a French press for years. It was simple and great for pouring the coffee straight into my 17 oz travel mug and heading off to work. On weekends, though, when I drink out of a smaller, non-insulated cup, I was mildly irritated by the coffee cooling down in the French press when I went back for a refill, so I very recently switched to the tiniest, cheapest drip coffee maker my local Target had to offer. My weekend coffee is warmer now, but I’m at a loss as to how to clean up the little stray grounds of coffee and cinnamon (I like a little dash in the grounds) that make their way into crevices they shouldn’t be in. I’ve been using a toothpick, but surely there’s a better way?

      1. Jay*

        Have you tried a couple of “blank” pots? That is, just running plain water through the machine? That can prove surprisingly effective for small problems. Even if it doesn’t fix things, it can prove diagnostic, identifying problem areas that you may not have seen.
        Does you tiny machine have a removable basket?
        Then handwash in the sink.
        They you can run cleaner through the machine like you are making a pot of coffee.
        There are as many theories on what the best cleaning solution to use as there are terminal caffeine addicts.
        My normal cleanse is strong white vinegar once, then run plain water through the machine until all smell and taste goes away.
        If, for some reason, my machine has reached critical levels of calcium deposits, then I will run CLR through it and then water, many times, then vinegar, then water again until it’s pristine. I find this last process to be a waste of time, money, and resources, so I will only do so if all else fails, and the coffee is becoming undrinkable (this has happened exactly once in the last 5 years, and that was the result of loaning the coffee maker out and it not being returned for several months).

        1. Jay*

          Please excuse the crappy wording, spelling, and grammar in this reply. The bandage on my pointer finger and auto-correct conspired against me.

    12. Anonymous Koala*

      I frequently make cold brew coffee in a large pitcher (12 oz ground coffee + 10 cups cold water steeped in the fridge for 24 hours, then strained through cheesecloth) and drink it cold or heat it up in the microwave for a hot coffee. No special equipment required and it makes a pretty strong coffee that’s always on hand.

      1. Frost*

        I make cold brew as if it’s sun tea — 6 spoonfuls of grounds + water in a jar by a window all day, strain at night, heat and drink in the morning. I started doing it for a few reasons but stuck with it because I love waking up and just heating up a mug — no pre-caffeine fuss.

    13. carcinization*

      Why would you have to get an electric kettle for a French press? Do you not have a stove? I understand that some people are very against microwaving water to boil it, so I’m not going there, but you can boil water in any old pot, or obviously a non-electric kettle, as long as you have a range top… my husband and I got a French press for Christmas but have no electric kettle, and it worked just fine to boil the water on the stovetop and then transfer it to the French press when we tried it out.

    14. Samwise*

      You need some way to heat the water regardless. I have a stovetop kettle. When I was young and poor I heated water in a small pot. You can also get water plenty hot in a microwave.

      I have a small French press for daily coffee and a large one for when I have visitors. I also have used in the past a “clever coffee dripper”—it’s inexpensive and works very well.

    15. acmx*

      I bought a French press for my boyfriend. See how much I like him? I allowed coffee in my house
      French press plus boil water on the stove or in microwave. The press fits in the skinny cabinet next to my microwave.

    16. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      You really don’t need an electric kettle if he’s not picky – caring about the precise brewing temperature is fairly high on the coffee snob scale. A French press would work fine with water boiled on the stove or in the microwave and cooled to just below boiling.

      If he’s the only coffee drinker, a pour-over setup is easy and takes up less room than a drip pot.

      Do you have a grinder? Burr grinders are much better than blade ones but depending on how non-picky he is he may not care. Just don’t use the same one for coffee and spices!

    17. *daha**

      I just spent $10 at Walmart for their Mainstays brand drip style 4-5 cup coffeemaker. No clock or timer or insulated caraffe. A coffee “cup” is considered anywhere from 4 to 5 liquid ounces, depending on machine manufacturer, so figure 20-25 ounces of brewed coffee, or less if you put in less water. You can buy ground coffee and probably 2 tablespoons will work out right – make stronger or weaker as he lets you know. You’ll need to buy the basket style filters marked “4 cup” to use with it, because the standard 8-12 cup filters will require you to fold them over or trim off excess. It will keep the coffee hot until you turn off the switch or unplug the machine.
      My Mr. Coffee version of this cost about $20 and the “on” light has worn out, so I’ve got this new one as a replacement when the Mr. Coffee dies entirely. I also make coffee in fancier ways when I want to indulge myself. I’ve got a french press and a moka pot and a cold brew caraffe and I have a burr grinder that I use with whole beans, but you don’t need any of these things. I’ve never tried a pour-over.

  38. Not-So-New Mom (of 2)*

    I have been updating my username as a commenter for many months, from “New Mom (of 1 3/9)” while pregnant to “Not-So-New Mom (of 1 7/9)” after my first turned 1. As of this week I am now a not-so-new mom of 2. =) Everybody is doing really well. I didn’t really read AAM during my last mat leave, so thanks for following along!

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Congrats on your new arrival. I’ve noticed the updates to your username.

  39. just swell*

    Anyone have advice around going back to school later in life, and balancing work/school/life? I’m early 40s going back to school for the majority of a BS. Kids are out of the house (getting degrees of their own – yay!). I thankfully have *some* flexibility as to when and how much I work… as in I can super load some days and block out others completely for school work, and I can have some flexibility in whether I work full time or reduce my hours somewhat. I plan to do the of majority of my courses online. I’d like to aim for full time at 12 credits, but maybe I am being unrealistic about how much I can take on while still working. Anyway, nervous and excited to get started on this over the summer/fall and welcoming your advice — thanks!

    1. Usedtobeunderpaid*

      I went back to school at 50 and completed an advanced degree while working part time. My husband lost his job in the middle of my degree program and we managed to a combination of part-time work, unemployment, a few loans, and his eventual reemployment. It led to me becoming an adjunct professor for the past 15 years which I never could’ve predicted.

      Especially without kids in the house, I think once you commit to doing a program, you will find a way to do it. I wonder if you desire to do it online you might want to try to mix it up with hybrid so you get support from being live on occasion

      1. just swell*

        This is really helpful. Yes, I was thinking I’d do best with at least one class each term or so that isn’t strictly online and asynchronous, so thanks for mentioning that. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to me. :)

    2. turtles*

      Without knowing what your degree is in, most advice for undergraduate studies is to allow 3 hours of study/homework time for each hour of class time. So, if 12 credits = 3 hours of class per week at 4 classes, you should expect to spend (3 + 3*3)*4= 48 hours per week on classes/studying. What type of job you can do after that is up to you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For what it’s worth, I’ve been a working student sporadically since 2005 and consistently since 2009 (an associates degree, a bachelor degree, two masters degrees, and a second bachelor degree, all at full-time school, and then half-time at a community college since 2020 just for funsies, I just like being a student) and I have never in all those years had a class that routinely warranted the 3 hours of study/homework time per week, per hour of class time. (Most of them did once or twice during the semester, especially in grad school and usually around finals, but never consistently every week.)

        So I agree with the folks saying to consider starting out half-time and ramping up, so you can get a notion of what feels realistic to you, but people really like to throw out the 3:1 ratio and in my experience it just isn’t the case.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (sorry, when I say “working student” I mean I was working at least full time throughout, except for one year during my first bachelor degree when I took nine months off from working after moving across the country. )

    3. Clisby*

      It wasn’t that much later in life, but when I was 32 I went back to college to get a computer science degree. I’d worked for newspapers for years, which was lucky, because I found a job as a night copy editor so I could work about 4-midnight and go to school during the day. I couldn’t do much else besides sleep, but it was over in 3 years.

      I normally took 3 courses per semester, so I got 9-10 hours in.

      I’ve always been glad I did this. It was not easy, but it was probably about as easy as this could be when I had to support myself. I was not married or a parent, so the only person I had to accommodate was me – that helped.

        1. Clisby*

          I was used to working 4-midnight, so that wasn’t a problem. But in previous newspaper jobs, my co-workers and I would go out and socialize after midnight. Having to get up to make an 8 am class meant I missed out on some of that, but it was by far the easiest way to get this degree. I can’t even imagine doing it while having to accommodate other humans in my immediate life.

        2. Clisby*

          It was easier than it might sound. I was already used to working 4-midnight (normal schedule for a morning newspaper) so basically I just had to get myself up in time for morning classes. Since I’m really a morning person, I could manage that. I couldn’t do much besides school and work, but since I was on my own and didn’t have to accommodate anyone else, it worked. I wouldn’t have wanted to work like that all the time, but I could do it for 3 years.

    4. Plain white Tee*

      I went back around age 40 go get my masters in computer science. I have a full-time job as well. I tried to do two classes per semester at first but it was difficult to manage on top of my full time job. I started having major overwhelm/anxiety so my therapist suggested I drop down to one per semester, and that made all the difference. I am graduating this year :)

      I would say it will depend on the area of study, and the demands of your job to determine how many hours you can handle at a time.

    5. Anon this minute*

      I agree with doing one class a semester, at least to start, if you’re not in a hurry. If all goes really well, you can experiment with ramping up to more classes per semester.

      1. just swell*

        Thank you. I will be on the quarterly system for the first while, so I think I’ll start with one course for summer, and maybe ramp up a little more in the fall.

    6. Clara Bowe*

      I finished a degree while working full time in 2020. My only regret was not giving myself breaks. I absolutely should have made sure to take summers off. I also found that six or fewer hours was the way to go. But! Your mileage may vary!

    7. Hyaline*

      Many of my students are returning adults, and I will be honest—many overestimate the feasibility of balancing full time coursework with the rest of their lives. Worse, because of very silly bureaucratic reasons they are often discouraged from part time courseloads. Be flexible and gentle with yourself. Be willing to adjust your academic plan and downshift course load. Slow and steady is way better than rapidly burning out.

    8. Dannie*

      Lessons I learned getting my MS in my 40s:

      Start by finding out if there’s a max allowed time to get your degree. Some programs are time-sensitive and limit you by claiming the knowledge gets outdated, etc.

      Make sure you understand which classes have prerequisites and what they are. If there is limited availability, you could get stranded and lose time waiting. Say you need Teapots 101 to take Teapots 102. Teapots 102 is only offered in spring, Teapots 101 is only offered in fall. If you get burned out from a heavy fall course load and decide to take easy fluff in spring, you’re setting yourself back an entire year waiting for the next Teapots 102. If you’ve just started, you may have enough to fill the other semesters, but as you get further along you may run out of filler classes.

      Make sure household members take your class time seriously and give you peace and quiet. My professor and classmates heard me neglect to mute a shrieking fight with my husband because he refused to stop watching a profane comedy show in the room I was attending lecture from. That was so embarrassing that I still wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares about it.

    9. Six Feldspar*

      I went back to uni when I was about 28 for a career change degree. It was definitely worth it but do Not try to do full time work and full time study – I found 3 days work + 75% course load was the ideal. If dropping your work hours isn’t an option, do fewer courses and space it out. Most of my classes were in the evening too so you might lose that time while you’re studying.

      I might have been lucky, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find the group work ran much more smoothly than undergrad – I guess people either have more experience working in teams at their jobs, or doing a postgrad course is something you only do deliberately and you want to get the best out of it. My groups always had time clashes so in general three of us would be able to get together to work on a project, and the busy one would catch up later.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      I took premed classes while working, starting just before age 40 and I found two classes plus one lab was my max. I was working on the campus where classes were held and my boss let me flex my schedule to attend, which helped enormously, and after the first semester my department had budget cuts and I was able to cut my work to a 75% FTE, which was golden.

      I think that when you are that busy the time to study becomes obvious, you don’t have to plan it. I selected one essential hobby (for me it was folk dancing) the I maintained no matter what.

  40. Face timing*

    Just want to vent. I am SO tired of my shitty complexion. Just in time for Mother’s Day, I woke up today with my entire jaw, chin, and neck blown out with huge painful zits.

    I have kept meticulous skin-friendly habits for decades (including things like a strict diet, nightly pillowcase changes, frequent sanitizing of phones, no face touching, all that usual jazz), I’m on both oral and topical prescriptions for it, and I’m 48 f***ing years old. I’ve done the blood work, I’ve done the FODMAP, I’ve done the hormone tests. My face just refuses to grow up.

    When will this end? I’ve got deep wrinkles and I’m still covered in zits! So angry that this will be all I see in tomorrow’s photos with my mom.

    1. Jay*

      That happens to me, too. And I’m also 48.
      But, I’m a guy, so I had an easy out for this:
      I grew a big, bushy beard.
      I haven’t found anything else that helps.

    2. Empathy*

      I am so sorry you’re (still!) going through this! I had acne, moderate to bad, from the age of 11 to 12 to well into my 40s. It affected my self esteem terribly, especially in middle school and high school. I sometimes wonder who/how I would be if I’d had clear, or at least clearer, skin.

      Antibiotics were generally effective, but not a long-term solution. Birth control did nothing to help. Topicals were too harsh to be effective. I hated that I ended up at a place in life where wrinkles AND acne were both a problem. A dermatologist finally suggested spironolactone, and for me, it’s been miraculous.

      I hope you find your miracle! It’s so, so frustrating, I know. But I will also say that no one notices it the way you do. That’s small comfort, but it’s really true. And the older I get, the more I realize that everybody has “something,” even if you can’t see it right away. (Although acne is right there — on your face — making it that much harder to deal with.) I hope it won’t negatively affect your time with your Mom, and someday, you may look at the photos and think actually, you looked pretty good!

      1. ronda*

        I actually had good results with birth control for it.
        Then I had to get off birth control , I went totally bananas with a huge amount of back acne and face issues too. I was on antibiotics for a few years that controlled it pretty well , but a few zits every month.

        then my dermatologist said he didnt like long term antibiotics and to try spironolactone. This worked great for me. I get a zit more like once a year. I know they test for liver damage when you are on this drug and I did cut back on the dosage over time. I started at 2 tablets per day and many years later I am on one tablet every other day.

        for the photos…. edit them to remove the blemishes…. that is a thing people can do.

    3. Plain white Tee*

      I just want to validate how frustrating it is to deal with acne. I think people who never struggled with it don’t understand how badly it affects your self-esteem and confidence. I struggled with it since I was in my early teens, and I tried all sorts of things to try to fix it. It never really seemed like anything helped. I think it is just different for everyone. I think mine was hormonal. Mine has actually stopped recently and I have no idea why. In my early 40s I just stopped breaking out, but my skin is drier. Again, I think my hormones have changed. I hope yours can resolve too.

      One thing I did do that helped some in my mid thirties was I went to a esthetician that specialized in acne and she had me on a regimen that seemed to help a little. The products were a line from ‘face reality’. I also stopped wearing any makeup for a while which was really difficult when I was self conscious of acne.

      1. AGD*

        I have PCOD and my skin was a disaster until I was in my early 30s (I don’t know what changed then!). No one said anything unkind, but I hated that every time I thought things were clearing up, there was another outbreak. I just wanted my face to look like a face, and I outgrew all the other garbage teenage hormone stuff so much earlier. I really feel for you.

    4. Maggie*

      I still deal with acne too and it sucks. I won’t make recommendations because I’m sure you’ve tried them all!

    5. Name*

      I feel your pain. I’m 51 and still dealing with acne. The only upside is that I’ve been using Retin-A fairly consistently since I was a teen, so I don’t have very many wrinkles.

      Something I’ve recently discovered is checking the ingredients of anything I’m going to put on my skin at https://acneclinicnyc.com/pore-clogging-ingredients/

      It’s much more restrictive than just “noncomedogenic” and flags many products that are frequently recommended for acne – and some of the ingredients it flags are probably BS. But my skin is much better in the two years that I’ve been avoiding products based on whether they have triggering ingredients. (Even though my hormones are worse than ever – I still get my period regularly but have other perimenopause symptoms. I recently had a huge breakout across my chest, and I’ve never had body acne before. So I now run my body lotions through the website, too, and that seems to have helped. Knock wood.)

    6. tree frog*

      I feel you. I also had serious acne for years and it sucks. Feel free to ignore because you didn’t ask for advice, but if you’ve ever considered going on accutane, it works for most people and the bad press around it is fairly overblown and mostly applies to teens. Obviously there are reasons not everyone can take it (cost, etc) but for anyone who has avoided it for nebulous reasons of it being unsafe, I think it’s worth looking into if acne really bothers you.

    7. ThatOtherClare*

      I hate to be that person making suggestions, but you didn’t mention anything about rosacea in the list of things you’ve tried.

      Just in case your medical professionals have neglected to tell you: rosacea can sometimes be the cause for acne, and if (big if) it is, you’re in luck! Within the last decade they’ve come out with a proper treatment for rosacea that actually works. It’s called Soolantra, but it’s just ivermectin cream (yes that ivermectin), so you should be able to find a reasonably priced generic alternative. It works best if you follow the instructions and do the proper treatment course and accompany it with a simultaneous scalp treatment with ivermectin shampoo (usually used for nits).

      Whatever the cause of your skin problems, I hope you find a good treatment soon, you poor thing :/

  41. Myrin*

    Alison, have you shared Stella and Wallace’s love story before and if not, would you be willing to do so? I’m delighted just reading the little caption!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know if I have! Stella got sick with FIP last summer*, soon after arriving. She is now cured, but she was very sick for a while. While she was sick, Wallace stood guard over her. He would curl up by her and just generally treated her very gently until she healed. When Stella returned to health, it was with a deep and abiding love for Wallace. She likes all the cats, but she loves him. She lights up when she sees him come into a room. She follows him everywhere and even prefers to eat out of the same bowl he’s eating out of. (He is very tolerant so he allows this.) She likes to go up to him and just rest her cheek against his — which used to annoy him, but she’s been so persistent that now he’s ending up liking it too, and they just sit there cheek to cheek looking blissful.

      * FIP always used to be fatal, but now there’s a cure. This is now my major volunteer passion so ask me anything about it at any time!

      1. A313*

        Such good news: This is from an email I get from Cornell:

        I hope this message finds you and your feline companions in good health. I’m writing to share some exciting developments in the world of feline health that have significant implications for the care and treatment of our beloved cats. As the Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center, I am privileged to witness the remarkable advancements in feline medicine, and I am thrilled to bring you breaking news that could transform the way we approach feline healthcare.

        A recent announcement by Stokes Pharmacy has U.S. feline enthusiasts and veterinary professionals very excited about the prospect of a safe, effective and legal treatment option for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease that, until quite recently, was considered an untreatable and almost routinely fatal feline disease.

        While specifics are still pending, this announcement comes at a time when concerns regarding a lack of FDA-approved treatment options for FIP have prompted many US owners of FIP-infected cats to seek therapeutics through unregulated and often unreliable sources out of understandable desperation.

        The announcement states that Stokes has formed a partnership with the Bova Group to produce a unique compounded oral treatment for FIP that has been used in Australia and the UK, and that it will become available by veterinary prescription only on June 1st, 2024.

        We look forward to learning more about this exciting and impactful news and will keep the cat-loving public informed about updates as we become aware of them.

        Let’s work together to ensure our cats live their best, healthiest lives.

        Warm regards,
        Bruce Kornreich, DVM, PhD
        Director, Cornell Feline Health Center

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! This is probably trickier than it appears from the announcement; what we’re hearing is that it will be in pill form only (a lot of cats need to start with injections because FIP attacks the GI system and pills can’t be absorbed well enough at first) and it’s also likely to be a lot more expensive than what’s available on the black market currently (to the point of probably being unaffordable for a lot of people) … but it’s a big step in the right direction and anything that gets vets more comfortable with treating FIP is a good thing.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Before I got to the parenthetical about absorption I thought the drawback of being pill-only was the notorious difficulty of giving pills to cats!

          2. Ontariariario*

            You’re going to have to start shipping cats up to Canada – CA$1,500 for legal treatments.

    2. Dicey Tillerman*

      Where are you seeing the little cat-captions? I try and keep track of who is who, but then I get distracted because they’re all such cuties.

  42. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Has anyone ever used a duvet cover without putting a duvet in it? It seems like the cover alone would be perfect for warm weather.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Ha! I just this afternoon pulled my duvet out of my duvet cover for the summer. Might need to put something lighter in it yet, but the feather duvet was definitely way overdue to come off the bed. I did the empty duvet cover last summer too and liked it.

    2. Anon Poster*

      Yes! I did it for years, and will probably do it again in the future because it’s too hot where I live for comforters and I can never find quilts that I like. I missed the coziness of snuggling in under a cozy thick blanket, but cozy thick blankets just do not work for me.

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Definitely! Used to always do that during really hot summers as a kid.
      Did not sleep under it, though, but IN it – like in a big, very thin sleeping bag. That made sure the duvet cover didn’t slip off me during the night.
      Can definitely recommend :)

    4. mreasy*

      I have a flannel one that I sewed together to use as a blanket, knowing it would never be cold enough to have double layers of thick flannel PLUS the duvet.

    5. Mighty K*

      Yup, when it’s warm I have a duvet-less duvet cover on me, with a thin duvet in another cover on top. I frequently remove /add back the actual duvet during the night depending how warm I am. One advantage of sleeping solo!

      The extra weight of an empty duvet cover compared to a sheet does make it more comfy

    6. LLH*

      Sure do, in fact I never use a duvet in it. I have a memory foam mattress that sleeps really warm. In the summer I do just top sheet and duvet cover. For winter I’ll add a blanket on top of the duvet cover.

  43. The OG Sleepless*

    Any advice on a disagreement with a home repair company? I have a finished basement (carpet and everything…very common where I live, when we eventually downsize as the kids leave home I will never have another one, but it was nice when the kids were young). A year ago, we found water in the basement. Didn’t seem to be the water heater. We called a local company that is well known and seems reputable. They said we had a crack in the foundation and we needed a super fancy water pump installed. We would have to have the finished walls in the underground part removed, both the drywall and studs. Rather than pay someone, we did that part ourselves. It absolutely KILLED me to take a sledgehammer and a Sawzall to my nice walls, but what do you do? They came, they installed their stuff all along the foundation, we were supposed to get someone else to come and rebuild it later. Total cost for the installation $9K, with the estimate to refinish everything another $9K.

    A few days go by and guess what we’re still finding? WATER. It’s still coming in, exactly as before.

    Our plumber comes out, looks all around the water heater, and…there’s a leak from the water heater after all. Replaces it for $175 and all is well.

    (Our homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it! Since the repair company’s installation is for water coming from outside of the house, that must mean the water was coming from outside of the house, so too bad.)

    I contacted the repair people a couple of months ago (why did this take so long? Because I kept trying to delegate it to my husband, who kept saying “ok, I’ll call them” and never did). I sent them a certified letter spelling out all of the above and asking for $18K or we will sue. (I’m willing to actually sue, up to a point. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an attorney who does this kind of thing, so this is an empty threat.)

    They sent a guy out to look at everything and eventually told us, tough luck, you can’t prove anything. The pump thing they installed is actually catching some water, so see? Problem solved. They offered to refund us half of the cost of the install, $4500, so 1/4 of what I asked.

    What do I do? Just take the money? Hold out for a compromise, like pay me that half *and* contribute to the rebuild? Keep looking for an attorney? Try again with the homeowner’s insurance? I’m in GA if that matters.

    1. Anono-me*

      I think you need to find a lawyer who can tell you what they can realistically do for you and what they estimate their odds of success to be. I would suggest asking your insurance company for a recommendation. (They may not pay, but they surely have a list of lawyers that deal with this type of law, and sharing those names costs them no $.)

    2. BlueWolf*

      I was able to get a full refund for a home contractor issue, but in my case it was because they did poor quality work and I was going to have to pay someone else to re-do it properly. I was also fortunate to have legal insurance through my work, so I found a lawyer that way and a strongly worded letter from the lawyer was enough for them to give me my money back. Can’t name the company because I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and also couldn’t leave any bad online reviews. I didn’t feel great about the fact that they get to just keep covering up their poor work quality, but I was a relatively new homeowner and it was a very expensive project. I know in my state there is a home contractor licensing agency and I believe there is a process to file complaints. You could look into whether that is an option in your state. I’m not sure what the recourse is, but even threatening to put a complaint on the record may entice them to settle.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Ooh, I hadn’t thought about getting a lawyer through my company’s EAP…I think they do that. I thought about offering to sign an NDA as part of a bigger settlement. I would never actually leave a nasty online review, having been the target of a couple of them, but they don’t know that.

  44. Llama face!*

    AAM hive, give me your recommendations please!

    I’m looking for a face-friendly SPF 30+ sunscreen that is not too greasy. I don’t wear makeup and also can’t tolerate the aerosol sprays. Price is also a factor; I’m hoping to find something under $20 for a reasonably sized container.

    What can you recommend?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I use Neutrogena moisturizers with built in SPF–they range from 15 up to 70!

    2. Falling Diphthong