Ask a Manager


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

Book recommendation of the week: 
The Husbands, by Chandler Baker. In a neighborhood of high-powered, accomplished women and their extremely supportive, housework-loving husbands, all is not what it seems.

You may also like:

    1. Silly Hoomanz thought this box was for their stuff. I set them straight.

  1. How does your garden grow? How are your indoor, outdoor, fuzzy, smooth, green, purple, and other plants?

    1. I transplanted to a larger pot my aloe vera, and it sits outside still and gets about 2hrs of full sun each day. I may bring it inside once it gets too cold tho.

    2. I have a black bat plant that, after looking sad for 2 years has finally put up a flower spike! The flower is slowly opening but the spike is drooping… I hope I get to see it in its full glory!

    3. We planted some heather in outdoor pots by our front door. Looks lovely.

    4. In the back yard, the persimmon tree still has a lot of beautiful and delicious fruits to go, the two figs have some left if they ever ripen before pruning, maybe next year we’ll get to keep some pears. Out front, the pumpkins are turning gold, amazingly we still have some tomatoes, the brussels sprouts we let stay from last year have gone fascinatingly feral, only the too-spicy-for-me chili peppers survived the season, we have 1 tiny golf ball of an egg plant and some of the flowers are starting to bloom again. Our little yard is tiny but we’re making the most of it.
      I hate grass and lawns, always have, so if I’m going to put in any effort in to yard work it has to be something edible or at the very least pretty flowers. After the renovation we’re systematically demolishing everything for raised beds and native wildflower meadow. We don’t have an HOA (thank gods) and I don’t want to mow ever again.

      1. Ah, so jealous on the persimmon and figs. I have a hardy fig that thrives in zone 5b, but it’s rare for a summer to be long enough to allow it to fruit.

      2. Have you seen the book, “Foodscaping”?
        My bestie is a Master Gardener with an “ugly acre”; their city demands a park, but an acre really wants to be a farm. She planted all sorts of Red Russian kale, dinosaur kale, ornamental cabbages, and ornamentals that are really edible. Not just talking nasturtium blossoms in salad, either!
        High desert, like where I live, is a special pain in the….
        She used to teach classes on getting around HOA rules with really beautiful food plants.

      3. One of our figs has a problem—leaves spotted, then turned yellow, then dropped. My husband thinks its just the season, but last year the big guy had leaves when we brought it in so I’m worried. I’m insisting he use two dormant-season spaces even if it means i give up my newly created recycling area. Feh.

        1. I went to Lowes for another wheelie shelf for winter plants because tonight’s going down to 41°F. I also bought a bag of crocus bulbs and what appeared to be their last 50-count bag of daffodil bulbs.
          I know what I’m doing in this week’s downtime!

        2. Spotting would definitely make me think that it is more than just the season. Good choice to separate it!

      4. Just pulled 15lbs of persimmons, tomatoes and peppers from the front and back yards. I’m almost sick of tomatoes. Almost.

    5. Several months ago, relatives gave me a small house plant…it didn’t come with any care instructions and they couldn’t remember what it was called.

      It seemed to be doing well for awhile, but when it turned from bright pink to pale green that seemed a bad sign. I finally found out what type of plant it is: Pink Quill! I also found out it absorbs water through its leaves, not its roots…oops. I am not good with plants, but from what I gathered online it sounds like the quill isn’t going to recover but I may be able to re-pot the little shoots poking up.

    6. The garden was pulled in ahead of a frost one night last week. The tomato plants that grew like a jungle in the hot spell but did not set any tomatoes turned out to have quite a crop of green ones hiding inside on the day before the frost. They’re spread on the dining room floor to ripen. The first ones are ready to go into a batch of spaghetti sauce. We did well on potatoes both purple and red, and we have a half dozen cantaloupes left. They did wonderfully with the summer heat.

    7. The cherry tomatoes are still going pretty strong, but I cleaned out a bunch of dead foliage from the plants today. I am trying just a few things for fall/winter, like lettuce, spinach, kale, and some beets. I had sowed some seeds a few weeks ago, but I neglected to water them regularly and we’ve suddenly had a dry fall after a super wet summer, so not much sprouted. I resowed some things today right before we got some rain, so I’m going to try to be more diligent about the water this time around haha.

    8. Well we had to bring in plants before a cold snap and they’re in the living room/dining room willy-nilly, where I will see them all day while I am WFH tomorrow. And one of the plants has an odor I dislike that no one else can smell, and I can’t narrow it down!

  2. I am really overweight & out of shape, to the point where standing for a few minutes is quite painful to my lower back. Are there any exercises, or sources for exercises, that might help with this? Thanks!

    1. Bend from the waist, keeping your back straight. Basically, your body becomes a 90 degree angle. Put your hands straight out on a chair or sink edge. Stretch gently.

    2. I had debilitating lower back pain in my 20s and strengthening my core was key to addressing it. I did physical therapy, but pilates incorporates all the exercises they had me do, so I did Pilates regularly for years, a combination of videos (Stott Pilates is a good place to check out) and in-person classes.

      A couple of months ago I signed up for Momma Strong. Even though it’s targeted at mothers, I think it would be a really good resource if you’re just getting started with exercises that focus on your core. She talks about “integration” of key parts of your body to support functional movement, and there are resources that focus on specific areas of your body. There’s a new video every day, workouts are 15 minutes, and she’s super supportive of whatever your body needs. And if you’d be more comfortable with a program aimed at men they have a program called Papa Strong but I haven’t checked that out.

      It’s $12 a month but you can start with a 2 week free trial..I personally am more accountable to use things of I pay for them and I’d say it’s worth it.

      1. +1 for core strengthening exercises. Even just tensing your stomach muscles when you’re standing can help take pressure off your lower back.

        I also found the yoga cat and cow pose really helpful – but I tend to hunch forward so any exercise that helps me stretch out the other way helps too.

      2. My prenatal pilates class also catered for other people with limitations. So back pain or needing limited core work for other reasons. That is another place to look. Since we are talking about prenatal you can check the YouTube channel body fit by Amy or baby fit by Amy.

      3. Seconding PT with a focus on core–but a trained PT will be good at giving you the right set of exercises to strengthen and not strain.

        1. +1000. I so agree regarding a trained PT. What is right for my back may not be good for yours. I have a really bad back, but most of mine is caused by other injured body parts which has resulted in muscle groups being turned off, then my low back tries to compensate (ow). So I need to do certain stretches and targeted exercises to keep myself functioning properly. Pilates would be terribly damaging to my specific situation, although I know so many people for whom it’s been an incredibly positive thing. Everyone is different! Good luck and I wish you success!

      4. Yes to MommaStrong! In addition to the daily 15 min workouts, there are targeted “Fix Me” courses that run about two weeks (if you do them every day, longer if you take days off), 10-20 min per day. There’s one for back pain, one for knee pain, one for shoulder pain, etc. I’m planning to start the Diastasis course soon. And for the days that you can’t manage 15 min, there are 5 min “Hacks.” Honestly, that’s what I do almost exclusively. Because for some reason I have trouble finding those 15 min, but 5 is something I can manage, even if it’s right before bed (that would be the “Wind Down” hack). Even with only 5 min per day, I have much less knee pain, better posture, and more endurance.
        Another wonderful thing about MommaStrong is that there is ZERO focus on weight; it’s all about function. There is a separate nutrition program if you want it, but the exercise portion is very conscious about avoiding “diet culture.”

    3. If you have access to Pilates especially using a reformer, this is what helped me the most (I have a tendency to arch my back & my lower back started hurting when I was standing/walking in art galleries Before). If you don’t have access to Pilates, look for exercises specifically intended to build core strength and develop greater postural stability.

      I am far from straight-sized and was able to make a difference to my everyday life with attention to core strength. I hope you get good ideas here but of course if your pain persists please consider seeing a physiotherapist or other professional.

      1. Brief addition – I didn’t start Pilates in a huge class, but in person with an instructor who worked at a physiotherapy place. I’d had an assessment to make sure it was suitable for me and learned a lot from the instructor in sessions over the course of about one year.

        It was specifically for beginners and people managing back pain, or going through some recovery after injury. I don’t think it would have gone so well for me to have launched into a class designed for the general population! I did try some in person after I felt confident, but it didn’t suit me as well as the classes focussed on building strength.

      2. Seconding Pilates- especially if you can find a PT that offers it. It’s changed my life.

    4. If standing even for a few minutes is painful, you really need to consult a doctor before doing anything else.

      1. Yes, I was coming here to say this. OP, aside from making sure you can handle an exercise program and there’s nothing wrong other than needing to lessen the pressure on your joints and back, they’ll probably be able to suggest a few light exercises to get started. After doing that, you can find a trainer who specializes in working with people who are limited in mobility, have had back surgery, etc. Assuming it’s within your budget, of course. You could even just pay for a few sessions and then keep up with it on your own. My trainer now specializes in working with the 45+ crowd (me!) and those who have physical issues. He’s had six knee surgeries (partial and full replacement, as well as repair) so he’s great at helping people find a way to exercise without hurting themselves.

        1. Physical therapy might also be an option. Good doctors will recommend that over pain meds when you have back pain. I’ve found that PT’s can help you figure out that line between challenging yourself versus pushing too hard. Working smart versus hard. They also are good at identifying when your posture is off, which if not corrected can lead to injury. And recommending specific modifications.

          1. No offense to Chiropractic, but Chiropractic vs Physical Therapy is like the old thing about “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish, and you feed him for the rest of his life.”
            Get a referral to a physical therapist, and learn the exercises for your specific medical issues. My best friend has scoliosis, and surgeons put in a single straight metal rod when she was sixteen. They would NEVER do that now; it causes too many horrible problems down the road. Plus, it was done in a military hospital, and they gave her phys therapy exercises she did faithfully for 20 yrs.

            Fast forward to a better Dr., and a better physical therapist, who asked her to show her routine- he yelled “Stop!” and looked at all the exercises, then told her that they’d given her a standard military exercise plan that did more harm than good. She’s better now, but the damage is not going away.

      2. This. Consult a doctor and/or a physical therapist if this is available to you.

    5. The Mayo Clinic has back exercises which I have found helpful. You can also find “breathing exercises to strengthen your core” on line, I haven’t done them for many years but when I did my back and abdominal muscles got quite strong doing about 10 minutes a day, and I even improved my fitness (not sure why that happened). I love hydrotherapy pools when I can access them, the warmth and support let you relax and target areas with specific exercises. Get medical advice/clearance first, to identify what is right for your type of pain. I hope you get some relief, back pain is so debilitating.

      1. If you’re able to access a pool, water walking is how a family member’s doctor had her rebuild her strength after an injury. Literally walking around in the shallow end–choose the depth that balances resistance with supporting enough of your weight to be comfortable. Swim a few strokes in the middle for variety if you want.
        Unfortunately a lot of indoor pools are closed or extremely limited right now, so I don’t know how practical this suggestion can be.

    6. Google “NHS lower back exercises” – you’ll get some physio ones that way.

    7. You might have osteoarthritis of the spine, so I would suggest consulting a doctor. However, the doctor will most likely suggest exercise.

      I found walking a lot helped with my lower back pain. I started off walking in places that had a lot of benches or chairs, because at first I could only stand for a few minutes at a time. So I would walk as far as I could, sit and rest, then walk as far as I could, then sit and rest, and so on. Gradually I could walk further before needing to sit down. Eventually I could walk for a couple of hours without having to rest.

      Places I went to walk that had the right spacing of benches: parks, the zoo, art galleries, museums, malls. The local walking track was not suitable at first because the only resting places were spaced too far apart.

    8. Seconding all the recommendations for core strengthening exercises. It helps a lot. You can even start out lying down and just focusing on collecting your core when you breathe out. Once you’ve got that down, try collecting your core and lengthening your spine in standing. It should really help. If this is easy when prone with knees up but close to impossible with straight legs or in standing – as it was for me in the beginning – then you might need to gently stretch out your hip flexors and psoas to allow your body to keep the pelvis upright while the legs are straight.

      1. Also, to wake up all the core muscles and remind them how to do their job, I found this mobilizer sequence of pelvic tucks and tilts super helpful: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zBdGY9qMoDs

        It’s aimed at dancers but really good for anyone who wants to improve the coordination between the low back and hip.

    9. Highly recommend going to a physiotherapist, who can assess you and design a program specifically for you that scales with your improvement.. Jumping into exercise out of nowhere can make your problems worse.

      I understand that it can be intimidating to go to a medical professional when you know you’re overweight and out of shape, but in my experiences, physiotherapists are way more empathetic and willing to meet you where you are and help you rather than judge you. They’re also view the body more as a complex system and holistically than doctors seem to.

      1. I don’t know what physiotherapy is, but I was coming to say similar: going to medical professionals when overweight feels embarrassing. But they are there to help you. They know your health recover is a marathon (long slower pace) not a sprint and you are more likely to stick with it (this first part of getting your back in shape so that you will see incremental change and keep going – as an overweight person myself, my goal is not my weight but being able to do what I want without feeling winded that day or sore the next) if they give you something that will work for you and don’t shame you. Just like with you find with managers (as shown here on AAM), different ones will be better at holding you accountable without being overbearing or critical, so find one who can do that and let them help set you on the right course.
        Several people on here had good options to consider, like working out in the pool, but really the best suggestion is to find a medical professional to partner with you.

    10. Just wanted to add that if you sit a lot, your hip flexors are probably tight, which can also lead to lower back pain, so some gentle stretching or foam rolling could be helpful.

      1. +1. I have this issue and find basic sun salutation flows and keeping a yoga strap under my bed to stretch my calves/hips out can help a lot with this. Definitely easy to do when you’re not in shape!

    11. Not exactly what you asked for but it’s so cheap to do I have to chime in.

      Drink water, daily. Have a minimum goal that you commit to and make sure you hit it more often than not.

      I measure out my water into Ball canning jars every morning. That way I know where I am at as I go through my day. I try to get in a little more than half of it before noon.

      Lower backs are really odd critters. If kidneys or bowels are having an issue our lower backs can really yell at us. Regular water intake can encourage the organs to function properly.

      Again, not what you ask but I have gotten results with it- eat raw veggies daily. I prefer salads that are diced up really well. We can “will” ourselves to work harder at our concerns, but when we make these decisions it’s a super supportive activity to make sure we are getting some nutrition in on a routine basis. I don’t exercise because- life!- but by simply watching water and raw veggies I notice a big difference in my level of aches/pains and my ability to move around.

    12. Sorry to hear you’re hurting. Suggest walking, any distance you’re up for, can be very helpful. Even around a building, or down a hallway and back. Our bodies were made for it!
      Back pain can be because our spines get tired of holding our bodies erect, so any abdominal strengthening can help. Walking can be part of this strengthening. Best wishes!

    13. Aside from making sure there’s nothing else going on medically and presuming this is usual arthritis type pain, my advice is honestly to focus on diet/weight loss as much as exercise. If you exercise without diet (counting calories and daily weights really), most likely you will not lose weight, and losing weight can help joint pain a lot.
      I am not saying don’t exercise!!!! Stretches and exercise help a lot too, but it’s really a whole package and if you’re struggling to do much activity focusing on diet as well may be more feasible. Also, swimming if you have access to a pool or water is great exercise that’s easy on the joints.

    14. Stuart McGill’s book The Back Mechanic. It’s the gold standard. McGill is the back authority in North America.

    15. I agree with the suggestions for physical therapy. A therapist can often give you specific exercises as well as help you find the type of exercise you are looking for.

    16. Hamstring stretches, along with working abs and glutes! You can make a significant reduction in back pain almost immediately by “activating” or waking up these muscle groups. You’ll need to continue stretching and strengthening them over time to really solve the issue, but I have experienced temporary relief the same day.

      For hamstrings, put one heel on the ground in front of you and bend slightly forward at the hip (not the waist) so your back is a straight line and the hip is a hinge. Hold onto furniture if you need extra balance. You can get more stretch by bending the standing leg, or by propping your heel up on something, or both. Hold about 30 seconds and relax to stretch deeper.

      Do each leg several times throughout the day, especially after sitting for a while.

      There are many different exercises to activate and strengthen your abs, from crunches to planks to pilates or isometrics.

      For glutes, you can try donkey kicks, standing kickbacks, or deadlifts.

      I recommend the YouTube channel Bob and Brad for simple exercises to correct pain or mobility issues. They’re chill, funny and straightforward.

    17. A long time ago, when I had lower back pain, my doctor recommended that I sleep on my back instead of my side or a variation thereof. I really, really resisted this, for several reasons, and it felt psychologically uncomfortable in the beginning, but as I persisted, it came to feel not only natural, but quite good. I could even call it “the dead man pose” if I wanted. 🙂 …. And most importantly, it relieved the lower back pain. I still sleep on my back.

      1. Interesting— my doctor recommended never sleeping on my back (or stomach), so I sleep on my side with a knee pillow. It’s the only position that doesn’t hurt my back.

      2. I can’t sleep on my back, because my chest is so heavy that it gets really uncomfortable. The most I can do is a reclining position. I sometimes prop myself up with pillows if I’m really congested, but I can’t get a restful night’s sleep that way.

    18. Water fitness!! Water fitness is great for taking stress off your joints and building strength until you are able to do more.

      You can start with something simple, like walking back and forth in the shallow end, before you progress even to an organized beginner’s class. You don’t even need to know how to swim, though if that’s the case, I recommend giving the lifeguard or instructor a head’s up before you get in so they know to keep an extra eye on you.

      Water fitness classes are usually designed for seniors, but they are always happy to have younger people, and they’re usually friendly, unless by random chance you get a grumpy bunch.

    19. Agree with the folks who suggest you check with a doc to make sure there aren’t serious problems that need to be addressed. Assuming you check out okay, one thing that might help is massage. I have dealt with a bad back since I was a teenager. About two years ago I started getting monthly massages. I haven’t had a back incident during that time. She keeps me tuned up so stuff doesn’t get worse over time.

    20. After I checked with the doc to see if my back pain needed rest or exercise (it’s arthritis, so it wants exercise) I restarted using the Tarheels medicine ball routine. A 10lb medicine ball is cheap and easy to store and I can do all the exercises in the bedroom in the morning. It’s got some shoulder and leg exercises but it mostly focuses on core with a nice variety of moves. It’s a good place to restart exercising after being off for awhile because it’s not too hard and doesn’t take long at all but it’s enough that you can feel the difference. I like it when for whatever reason I’m not getting enough heavier exercise. It helps, and it’s too short and easy to make excuses about.

    21. My eldest is quite heavy and I had an injury, we read about aerial yoga and have been doing it for months now.
      It’s yoga, but the silks help with balance and stability. My core is so much stronger! Also, when I started, I could not lift my right arm past my eye (arm straight out), now I have full mobility.
      Bonus, I’ve found that I like being upside down! Haha! – This is a bonus, and not part of the regular class –

    22. Not what you asked for, but if/when you walk for exercise go get fitted for shoes at a running store. Not a big box store. (And not at a one brand store either like Nike). An independent running store will get you in shoes that work with the way your feet hit the ground.

      The first time I was fitted for shoes that worked for my feet I ended up with some very ugly shoes. But they made such a difference in how I ran that I’ll always go to a running store to get running/walking shoes.

      1. This is good advice. There’s a running store near where I live and they charge a $20.00 “fitting fee” which they will deduct from the price of any shoes you buy there. However, they do seem to know what they are doing. Apparently a lot of people were getting fitted there, and then going off and buying shoes elsewhere, because the shoes at this particular store are fairly expensive and you might be able to save a few dollars by buying the same shoe at another store.

    23. Suggest getting a back brace so you can do things like walk without hurting, while you also strengthen your core. I don’t suggest it for long term, just until it doesn’t hurt without it.

      A cheap alternative is to use a weight lifting belt – my Dad was visiting and his back was having issues, so with no back brace as he’d left it at home, he tried my lifting belt, and apparently they’re cheaper (around $20) and work just as well. Also if you ever take up lifting, which is great for back issues if done properly (done improperly it can make things worse), you’ll already have a belt if you need one.

    24. I had lower back issues as well. The only thing that truly helped was physical therapy. I begged my PCP (an older woman, also slightly overweight – I feel this is imp to mention) for help and she referred me to an orthopedic Dr who wrote me the Rx for Phys therapy. He was my favorite orthopedic doctor ever. Just 4 sessions of PT did wonders and I was able to resume my 4 block walk to my office and other light duties. Unfortunately, right after I got pregnant and COVID happened so all that stopped. But I would always recommend physical therapy.

      1. Want to add – nothing wrong in googling back stretches. I was skeptical about PT as well but in my first session, they asked a lot of questions, including my history and my goals. My therapist asked me to show her how I walk. I know I’ve been walking funny most of my life but I could never articulate why, and she was able to tell me what I was doing and how I can improve upon it. My therapist was also great in the soft skills department, so that was a bonus as well.

        So, to me, the benefit of physical therapy was someone who can view the way you’re walking and operating and guide you. That kind of on-hands help is extremely valuable IMO.

    25. Core strengthening exercises will help a lot. I have a lot of trigger points in my sacroiliac area so lying on the floor to do anything is out; I do my floor yoga on the bed. And it worked anyway.

    26. To people who suggested exercises & other tips: Thank you! This was exactly what I was looking for. I’ve noted down everything and will dig in to find a good starting point.

      To people who suggested I see a doctor: This is good advice, and I am currently seeing a variety of doctors for a variety of issues. This makes me a little reluctant to open another front in the war, as it were, but if I don’t get some fairly quick DIY relief I’ll raise the issue with my PCP.

      To people who suggested I lose weight: … C’mon, really? Every fat person in the world already knows that they’d be better off if they lost some weight, and also that the basic rule is “eat less, exercise more.” The problem is not in the delivery, it’s that it’s neither new nor useful information. Put this one in the pile with recommending adoption to people struggling with fertility.

  3. Best, most engaging podcasts you’ve listened to recently? Or audiobooks that are “lighter” reads? Looking for new material for some upcoming long stretches of travel.

    1. This might be VERY niche, but if you can understand the New Zealand accent and don’t mind listening to two 30-somethings who laugh a lot talking about their gardening adventures, We Like To Garden (Greer and Libby) is definitely engaging.

      I have also been enjoying an audiobook about medical diagnoses, of all things! The Great Courses “Medical School for Everyone”. Confession: I sleep with earphones, listening to audiobooks, so if I wake up and don’t immediately fall back to sleep, I am distracted from my own thoughts by interesting non-fiction, and also don’t feel as though I have wasted my time. This is definitely ticking my boxes.

      Otherwise – possibly not light? but engaging, and not connected with any current concerns, “Troy” by Stephen Fry, as narrated by Mr Fry himself, is riveting!

      1. I just finished Fry’s “Mythos” and the rest of the series is on deck 🙂

          1. I’m usually utter rubbish at paying attention to audiobooks, but for some reason, Stephen Fry’s writing-and-reading style just works for me, and it’s like he’s perched on a seat in the corner of my office behind me just kinda rambling about Greek mythology. Love it.

    2. Audiobooks: “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon is a rom-commy YA with great narration (honestly, look up Bahni Turpin on Audible and choose anything that sounds interesting – she has a lovely voice and is a fantastic narrator). “Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson is quirky and cute. I’ve listened to two of Alix E. Harrow’s books and they were really good, although there were times I wished I could easily go back and re-read things.

    3. Fortunately with Fi and Jane.
      It’s a BBC podcast by two British women (but you don’t have to be british or a woman to enjoy it!) who are both longtime radio broadcasters (one did radio 4’s Woman’s Hour until recently which is a British radio legend and behemoth). It’s chatty, very funny, touches on deeper issues as well, and they usually have an interesting guest.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation. I just listened for the first time and subscribed to it.

    4. You’re Dead To Me is really good too -it’s history but funny and light and easy to listen too. But not stupid. They have a proper expert in whatever the subject is plus a comedian to chat with. And it deals with things you might know a bit about or things you might never of heard of, and it’s not U.K. centric – there’s been an episode on the Probibition which was v good. But also Ivan the Terrible and the Mughals and Boudicca…

      1. Something similar to that, but unfortunately no new episodes for quite a while, is Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. It’s funny and interesting and not always people being eulogized.

    5. The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC – Brian Cox and Robin Ince with expert guests talk about a different science topic each episode. Entertaining and educational. About 150 episodes available.

    6. If you like National Geographic in general, they have an interesting short podcast called Overheard at Nat Geo. I’ve enjoyed most of the episodes — 2 or 3 haven’t been my thing — but they have a lot of topics they cover: history, space, general science, animals, current events…

    7. I’m not much of a podcast person, but I have enjoyed David Tennant does a podcast with… (usually an actor). It’s like listning to a couple of persons having an engaging conversation, but not so much that it feels like eavesdropping. And they are kind. I know some people say that tension makes it interesting, but I just get stressed.

    8. For history buffs, The British History Podcast is absolutely amazing. It starts with the last ice age and, 380 episodes in, is very nearly up to 1066.

      Also: Tides of History. This is more general. He was doing the Renaissance, then about a year ago switched to a new series on prehistory. It is fascinating. About twenty years ago DNA researchers figured out how to take samples from ancient bones. They called up their archaeologist colleagues and asked if they had any old bones lying about. It turns out they did: massive numbers, all exquisitely labeled as to origin. The result has been a revolution in our understanding of ancient populations. This is all very new. If your reading on the subject is from more than about five years ago, it is out of date.

    9. Anything David Sedaris. He records his own audiobooks. Just watch the road when you’re crying laughing!

    10. I’ve really enjoyed Newton’s law, A limited podcast about Newton’s tenure as warden of the Royal Mint.

    11. The Anthrochef’s History of Food is a fascinating and wonderful look at, well, the history of food. Can’t recommend it enough.

    12. Maintenance Phase! Two hosts who research, discuss, and debunk diet fads, MLMs, and “health” related topics. Funny, informative, and has made me think about my body in a more positive way.

        1. Michael Hobbes’ other podcast You’re Wrong About is also great, and at times very thought provoking, but not “light”. Their OJ Simpson series has been fantastic.

    13. I spend my workdays listening to paranormal podcasts. Hillbilly Horror Stories, Into the Fray with Shannon Legro and Howard Hughes the Unexplained are all great.

    14. If you like food, the Off Menu podcast is a delight–the conceit is that the guest is in their dream restaurant and they get to order their ideal meal through multiple courses. The two hosts are comedians in London but guests have been from the US as well as the UK, and the dishes mentioned range from family cooking to posh restaurants to cheap takeout. There’s a lot of discussion about why this choice is the best and what other versions came close, and it’s funny and obsessive and entertaining.

    15. I like HYPHENATED, with Joanna Hausmann & Jenny Lorenzo. Joanna is from Venezuela and Jenny is Cuban American. They talk about Latino culture – especially in the earlier episodes – and are funny and interesting.

    16. In the “lighter” audiobooks category, give Tony James Slater a try. He’s written several hilarious travel/memoir books, all available on audio, and I adore them. From THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS (about Slater’s stint at an animal-rescue in Ecuador) to KAMIKAZE KANGAROOS (traveling around Australia with his sister and her best friend) to SHAVE MY SPIDER (an extended trip through countries in southeast Asia) he’s always one pratfall away from disaster, but manages to see and do some amazing things.

    17. For podcasts I like Ologies (interviews with experts in a variety of niche topics), Hidden Brain (psych/behavior topics, with a more storytelling-based structure), SciShow Tangents (“lightly competitive” with 3 hosts bringing in fun facts about different topics), Lingthusiasm (linguistics)

      For audiobooks, Mary Kate Wiles has a full-cast reading of Anne of Green Gables & Anne of Avonlea (that one still in progress).

    18. I am far from the only person around here in love with Critical Role podcast – it’s a fantasy adventure, with a sizeable cast of excellent voice actors improvising a story. The framework is dungeons and dragons, but the POINT is character interactions an storytelling. There are literally years of long-form storytelling. Some people dislike the episode length – they can stretch to four hours! – but I find it easy to listen on my commute, turn it off when I get to work, and pick it back up when I walk the dog later. Funny (there are so many dirty jokes!) poignant (characters die, and it’s hard when it happens) and cozy (you’re basically sitting in on a group of friends, with all the teasing and banter you’d expect) I love it passionately.

      Probably my favourite audio-book to date was the YA Leviathan/Behemoth/Goliath steampunk series by Scott Westerfeld. The story is fun and engaging alternate history, the characters are layered and unique, and the reader is AMAZING.

    19. I really enjoy “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, “Apocalist Book Club”, “Overdue”, “Dead Authors Podcast”, and “You Must Remember This”. All are book/research related, but I grew up listening to NPR a lot as a kid, so I gravitated to book/educational podcasts. Plus, all of these have substantial back catalogs, and most do one podcast per contained topic, so you can easily bounce around the back catalogs for topics that interest you.

      As for audiobooks, I just finished “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. It is breezy and informative, and not super heavy. I am also enjoying “Me” by Elton John. The narrator is Tarryn Edgerton (so?) who starred in “Rocketman”, so it feels pretty on point. I would also highly recommend the “Sal and Gabi…” books by Carlos Hernandez in audio. They are middle grade fiction (heads up), and the narrator is just an absolute delight. Plus the stories are just plain fun.

    20. If you like creepy stories, I highly recommend the Magnus Archives lately. Each one is a separate story, but listen in order because they are linked and it builds.

    21. Favorite podcasts: My Favorite Murder (comedy and true crime), or Pod Save America (politics), or My Brother, My Brother, and Me (or MBMBAM, comedy). I can kill a ton of time with them.

    22. If you’ve not listened to the two series of «13 minut

      1. EAargh
        es to the Moon», you’re in for a treat 🙂
        BBC, about Apollos 11 and 13.

    23. If you’re a Star Trek fan, I recommend InvestiGates with Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher on TNG). She interviews fellow Trek actors about their lives and careers. The Delta Flyers is good too; Robbie McNeill (Tom Paris) and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) are going through Voyager episodes in order, reviewing them and giving behind the scenes details.

    24. Personally, I’ve really liked Noble Blood, a podcast that details the lives of rulers or nobility, or sometimes people related to nobility. It can be a bit gruesome, but its usually quite neat and usually not too graphic. I’ve also really been into The Other Half, which details the lives of queens and other powerful women. I’m only about 15 episodes in, and we’ve gotten through like 4 Roman emperors, but it’s quite fascinating.

    25. – You’re Dead To Me (billed as ‘a history podcast for people who don’t like history’). Greg Jenner – historian and self-styled ‘chief nerd’ on the Horrible Histories TV show – talks to a historian and a comedian about a particular person/historical event/topic. They just did a really good Paul Robeson episode, but the show covers everything from the history of chocolate to vampires in Gothic literature to the Mayflower to various historical figures. Very funny but also very informative.
      – Out To Lunch – Jay Rayner (restaurant critic for the Guardian newspaper) interviews celebrities over lunch in various fancy restaurants (or, during the various UK lockdowns, a Zoom call and a delivery from said various fancy restaurants). It’s insightful, witty and highly charming.
      – Sentimental Garbage, specifically the Sentimental and the City mini-series which focused on each series of Sex and the City as a Great American Novel. The two hosts (Caroline O’Donoghue and Dolly Alderton) are both really funny but also get into very deep conversation and it’s such an interesting analysis of the show.

      1. Horrible Histories and vampires in gothic literature – I have to check this out.

    26. I just finished “50 things that aren’t my fault,” the memoir of Cathy Guisewite, author of the Cathy comic strip. Her mother has some occasional guest appearances, which are sweet. She talks about her career and life juggling an elderly mother and raising her daughter.

      “Is this anything?” was a mostly fun retrospective of Jerry Seinfeld’s career, he goes back through his old jokes from each decade, interspersed with stories about his career. Some of the jokes did not age well, but if you can overlook that, the rest is mostly light and fun.

      “Still Buffering” is a podcast that started out as three sisters comparing what being a teenager was like then and now. The youngest sister is no longer a teenager, so now they talk about fun pop culture things.

    27. Podcast: Stuff You Should Know. Such random topics and it is always interesting

    28. I have a long commute and generally prefer light / funny listening. all have a lot of past episodes:

      Judge John Hodgeman – he settles disputes between listeners.
      No Such Thing as a Fish – just people from Britain talking about interesting facts. Funny light and fast moving
      Hilarious World of Depression. Can be heavy but is very well done.
      And
      My Dad Wrote a Porno – this guys dad wrote a 50 shades of grayish erotic novel and the son reads it outloud with 2 friends. It is the most reliably funny /awful / amazing thing.

  4. My dad’s wife is elderly and in poor health, and is asking family members to do a lot to help her. At first, we were happy to help occasionally, but now the requests are almost weekly and always very specific. Can we pick up her groceries at a particular market that is not near our house, can we make her homemade applesauce, can we take some old furniture to the dump, can we get her car detailed. To be honest, my husband and I both work full time and we have an 18-month-old — we don’t have time to run errands for ourselves, much less for someone else.
    For those who have dealt with elderly parents, is this just normal? As family, do we suck it up and do it? Or is there a limit where it’s ok to start saying no, and if so, how?

    1. Of course it is OK to start saying no, kindly.Try lowering her expectations – tell her you only have time to get her groceries at the store you shop at yourself, and does she have a brand of applesauce she likes that you can buy because you aren’t able to make some. Try to offer choices – like would she be OK with groceries from where you buy them or would she rather make some other arrangement, etc. Things like taking the furniture to the dump and getting the car detailed, can she afford for someone else to do it, or to come and collect the car? It sounds like she is trying to maintain her old way of doing things without adapting to her current situation. If you are unable to shop for her regularly, talk to her about setting up a system for getting her groceries without your involvement.

      1. I agree. If you can take care of the outcome easily (but her groceries where you buy yours) it is kind to do so but you don’t have to do it the way she would have.

        Suggest she throw money at the problem. Buy her applesauce, pay someone to detail or just wash the car (I get my car washed maybe 6 times a year, never detailed), etc.

        But as her ability declines she cannot just call on the busy couple with a toddler to do things for her the way she would have. You may need to have an overarching conversation about what you can do for her and what she’ll need to get other help for.

    2. It is up to you how much you are willing to help. She will only get worse, however. If you can help, I think being very clear and straightforward at the outset is a good idea. Have a meeting including all other family members who are willing to help (if there are any others), and discuss what needs to be done. Some tasks may have to be modified – maybe you could get her groceries every week, but at the store you shop at. Also investigate other help in the community. There are usually resources available to help seniors stay in their homes. See if any money is available to hire help. My family did not discuss and explore options when my parents first needed help, we just added on tasks on the fly, and it was a disaster. Get everything clear – the money and time available, how much each person is willing to do, how much help is needed.

      1. Absolutely. A friend of mine said she felt her dad also declined more quickly because he realized they would do everything for him. Now that my father in law is needing some assistance and we work full time with two young kids and live across the city, we set very clear boundaries and usually offer to help him find a service to help him (funds are not an issue). We also let him know if he insists we do something, it will be at a time that we can accommodate easily. He will often decline that because he is the type who just wants to see how high he can get people to jump.

    3. Yeah, I agree that you need to set some limits with what you’re willing to do. And if your dad is in better health than she is, he should be the one to do most of the grocery shopping, even if it’s been her chore until now. I think that you can nope right out of doing time consuming stuff like making homemade applesauce for her.

    4. A longer discussion is likely needed as well as identifying senior resources in your area but in the meanwhile, simply slowing down across the board is an option:
      – Slower responses to non-urgent issues (kind of like not being the fastest responder on a work email. It trains people not to help themselves)
      – Slower delivery on non-urgent requests (we’re busy the next few weeks, we’ll probably be making another batch next month)

      For each of these, it communicates that you are very busy and not able to drop everything. Doctors appointments and safety matters, yes. For the little luxuries (specific groceries!) it’s much more of a “maybe, if we can fit it in, but not committing to a timeline”. The more your can redirect to other helpful people of community resources, the easier this will be. The mental load you’re carrying is significant. Slowing down and remembering that she, a fellow adult, can handle certain changes and choices will help significantly. Put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. Nipping this in the bud now will likely save you enormous stress later since each task you agree to becomes the new normal.

    5. It’s… hard. Part of dealing with it -and it’s an ongoing process- was moving our dad in to an assisted living home. He couldn’t take care of himself and we couldn’t take care of him. He didn’t go willingly, it literally took a year of 2 near-death medical emergencies and trying to take care of him and his hoarder house for him to ‘see the light’ and even that was only after a year of him being at the home. Even now he still asks for a lot and eventually we started telling him the truth: “We don’t have time to do this now, we’ll get to it if we can, no promises.”

      Once you start saying no, they can figure it out for themselves or go without. BUT -importantly- if not already, there may be fast approaching a point where they need to downsize the home and relocate or get outside professional help. It’s a hard conversation but will need to be had eventually and it’s best if they’re willing participants.

    6. What my husband and I did with his mother was to have one time a week that was a set time just to help her. We would tell her to make a list of what she needed and we would do it on that preset day.

      In your examples here- you can look for ways to delegate. Does her favorite grocery store have home delivery? Is there a service in your area that would bring her groceries to her?
      Applesauce- the answer here might be “NO, sorry”. I would only make it for her if I was doing a batch for my own use, too.
      Furniture to go to the dump- find someone who would bring it for her. There are lots of people running small businesses who will take trash, yard waste, etc and haul it for people.

      Our priority became matters that are personal such as finances and health. Those things we’d allot time for, other things are things that other people can do and they can be hired out.

      Generally speaking:
      Set time limits- “we can help you two afternoons a month”.
      Set task limits-“our vehicle is not big enough to hold large items” OR “we are at work when the dump is open” OR “it takes both us to do a heavy lift and [one of you] cannot lift because [legit medical reason]”.
      Set limits to your own out-of-pocket expenses- “I can take go get your groceries next week, but I need help with gas because gas is getting very spendy and your store is not on my usual routes.”

      Encourage/be supportive of other family members when they talk about helping Wife as getting to be too much. These people can become your ally in campaigning for Wife to build a new plan that does not involve family. “Yeah, I agree, this is not sustainable for us either. Let’s help Wife build a stronger plan. Maybe we can team up and toss ideas around to make this easier on all of us.”

      I know this can bring on feelings of guilt. Let me tell you a horror story. I ran so much for my own parents that I ended up in the ER. One of the lasting effects from that time frame is that I no long drive long distances alone. I just can’t do it. I can go about 2 hours from my house and that is it for me. Giving too much and forgetting to take care of YOU can go into short-term health problems and longer term changes in how you go about life. What seems like a “her issue” now can work into a “you issue” later.
      Think of it this way, if you do not pace yourself and you take on too much you could land in a place where you might not be able to help her at all. It’s better to be selective so that you can keep going at life. Maybe other family would be willing to create a rotation where each person has 1 day a week that they go see her. Look around and see what the possibilities are- it’s worth it for both you and her. And this is something that you can say to her face- “You can help me to help you by agreeing to hire out x, y and z.”

      1. Yes, take care of yourself. I had to go to the ER with a stress induced ventricular tachycardia because of my dad. It hit me that I had to set some limits when after I got out of the ER and was going to go help him with yet another thing that morning because I had been guilted so hard into doing things. My wife convinced me that doing all this was maybe why I was in the ER a couple hours prior…

        1. But reality is if we each live long enough then we too will face these situations. So each one of us is responsible for getting a plan for old age/aging. I am seeing more articles about aging in place, I am glad that this topic is opening up for discussion. We can modify our homes and our habits so that we can remain independent longer.
          When I think of my elders, the ones who made a plan for aging were the ones who made out better. They were more self-sufficient for a longer period of time. What surprised me was most of them were happy with their new setting, probably because it suited their stage in life. They did not face daily problems with lawn mowing, window washing, etc because they had a plan in place for all of these things.

      2. I am the parent. When I was 70 I initiated a conversation with my son and his wife about what we needed to do as I aged. It ended up me moving into a duplex with them. I miss my house and my friends, but I would have died from an unexpected medical emergency last winter if my daughter in law were not tracking what was happening, although I have an entirely separate living space. I got to keep my cat and I can garden. I shop on the internet…she can get special applesauce there (I get sauerkraut that is not pasteurized). I live in a rural area and there’s lots of ways I can get my needs met without asking my kids.

        1. As a side question, what is the advantage of unpasteurized sauerkraut? I see it at our farmers market. Much more expensive. Is it worth it?

          1. Please ignore the above old message that stuck in my reply window; I erased it before writing it so I don’t know how it survived.

            You’re in perfect agreement with him in one way at least: you too believe in personal dynamics, and your own personal dynamics lead you not to gift up.

            1. Obviously there is a technical problem with my replies. Let’s see if it works this time.
              The heat of pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria that grew while the sauerkraut fermented. The unpasteurized sauerkraut also retains the vitamin C of raw cabbage, that is destroyed in cooking.
              It’s worth it if you want the benefits of the bacteria and vitamins. Not necessary if your main reason for loving sauerkraut is the taste.

        2. I applaud you for being proactive and realistic about your needs. I was actually going to post a question on this same topic, but in my case, my dad is 93, and I’m having to petition for guardianship because he’s no longer fully competent. It makes it so much easier on everyone, and ensures a better outcome for you, when you make these decisions yourself in advance.

        3. My benchmark for moving to a senior apartment is either I can’t handle stairs or my vision is too poor to drive. These are the two most likely things to happen to me.

          My kids won’t have to worry about how to tell me to move because there’s a hard limit that they know I will accept. (Our family has a code phrase for unreasonable behavior. We call it “Doing a Grandma.”) I looked at places to live for my mother and grandmother so I know they can be pretty nice and fortunately I should be able to afford it.

    7. I agree with everyone else you need to limit. But if she’s being specific about what she would like, I don’t think that’s a bad thing! You seem fine doing some things to help her, so if you can frame it has her letting you know what she’d ideally like as a starting point, rather than her expecting you to do exactly that, it could make the conversation a lot less fraught. (Is ask culture v guess culture a possibility here?)

      She may be presenting it as an expectation, of course, but treating it like a request that can be discussed may make it easier to keep things pleasant while only doing what you reasonably can (pick up groceries only from your local shop, buy the apple sauce, everything non-urgent will have to wait for your next visit when you will be able to tackle as many jobs as fit into [timeframe of your choice])?

      1. Asking for specific help is usually a plus since a lot of us say “let us know what you need” but don’t know exactly what to do. It’s fine to decide that a particular ask is too much but specific asks help cut down on the confusion.

        I will say to answer OPs question, yes in general as parents age their children do have to do more to support them. Sometimes it’s just one of the siblings, sometimes it’s more than others, but they do need more support from somewhere. It’s why we’re often called the sandwich generation caring for both parents and children at the same time.

      2. It is quite possible that reasoning out “how much of a bother would this be for these competent people who don’t live here?” is now too difficult for her, even if a decade ago she would have had that social calibration down and only asked for stuff you were happy to do.

    8. You’ve gotten some great advice here. I’m going to point out that her asking you to get her car detailed and make her Homemade applesauce is beyond reasonable. Asking for grocery help is reasonable ( specific store, no). I guess I’m separating needs from wants.

    9. Some of this stuff, can you look to see if you can arrange it for them? like grocery delivery, or mobile car detailing, or trash haulers. I find that often older people aren’t quite familiar with how to find these services since so much is done online these days. It would still involve some work on your part to research and arrange, but perhaps less than doing it yourself.
      I think you are always able to say no, or offer alternatives, or set your own timeline. I like the idea above of setting aside a certain tume each week (or bi weekly or what works for you) to tackle these tasks too- it’s a good way to set limits and expectations

      1. You can still get a Yellow Pages, I think, but you have to call and request one be sent to your house. Perhaps having one sent to them would be helpful.

      2. I appreciate all the comments! I guess I was feeling like some things were unreasonable and wanted validation. We have tried offering compromises like we’ll pick up groceries from our store while doing our own shopping, or we can buy applesauce, and those offers were declined. She says she’ll figure something else out but then often, we feel bad and say we’ll just do it. So I guess we just need to stay firm!
        Part of the issue is also that there have been multiple times when we weren’t sure how much longer she’d live, and felt like we couldn’t say no. But then she always recovers.

        1. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to let her figure something else out. Start practicing now understanding that no adult child anywhere can be all things to their aging parent. This gets more critical to understand as their health issues increase.
          No matter how hard I worked I could not make my father’s heart have a regular/normal heart beat. The desire to fix their woes can be very high. But we can’t. What we can do is start learning through the smaller things such as trash removal that we cannot do everything for them, no matter how badly we want to.

        2. Oh goodness, yes, don’t cave in! She’s always got the choice of coming back to you later and accepting the other store and bought apple sauce if her ‘something else’ doesn’t work out.

        3. My husband’s grandmother passed away in her mid 90s. For the last 10 years of her life we knew every Christmas could be her last. So each year we would do something that heavily focused on his side of the family, including uncomfortable long distance travels, attending family gatherings I didn’t particularly want to attend, and seeing relatives I didn’t want to see. But it’s hard to argue against “This could be Gramma’s last Christmas.”

          Honestly, I wish I had spent at least a couple of those Christmases doing what I wanted to do. When Gramma passed I was comforted in the knowledge she had a full life – it wasn’t the ten or so “last Christmases” I looked back on.

          It’s true, your dad’s wife could pass away tomorrow (as could we all). But it’s also true she may live another three, five, ten years. For the sake of your sanity and your relationship with her, you need to figure out a way that takes into account what you can realistically provide long term.

          This is such a tough dilemma. I hope you’re able to navigate it with as much kindness to yourself as you are showing to your family.

    10. You should look up if there is a “virtual village” in your area. I used to work for one (they’re non-profits), and this is exactly the kind of thing they do. https://vtvnetwork.org/

    11. Like others have said, this is a difficult thing to deal with. Something you may need to do is objectively look at the situation and sort out what she actually needs help with and what she wants help with. I had to do this with my dad. He became seriously ill and legitimately needed help with alot of things. As time passed and he began getting well, the things he needed help with increased. It got to the point where I was “helping” him every other day and all weekend and I had no life of my own. Most of the things he claimed he needed help with were things he just didnt want to do. I finally had to sit him down for a talk because it was putting a strain on my marriage, not to mention my own mental health.
      It may be that there are things she only wants done, and arent really necessary or that she can do for herself but doesnt want to be bothered with it.

    12. How close are you to your Dad’s wife? Does she / do her want you to be a grandma to your toddler? These seem to me questions that might figure into the equation as well.

    13. Forgive me, but is your dad able to do any of the things you’re being asked to do? I’m half assuming the answer is no because you’ve likely thought through that option, but without knowing details that would make the answer obvious, and with gendered dynamics and caretaking expectations the way they are, it’s possible he is able to take on at least some of these things (such as researching services/groups that can help, if he’s not able to do a given task himself). He certainly shouldn’t be left out of any brainstorming.

      1. My dad is doing all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking, and taking care of their cat. In her weaker spells, she can barely walk around the house, and he fetches her everything. So I don’t at all think he isn’t doing his share. In fact, often she cites giving him a break as the reason that she is asking for our help.

    14. I had the “suck it up and do it for family” mentality for years. Please speak up for the sake of your relationship. This sort of stuff breeds a lot of resentment and frustration. My parents always assumed I was perfectly fine taking care of them because I never spoke up. It got to a point where my anger erupted one day and I did not speak to them for almost a year afterward.

      If your family are reasonable people they will accept your help comes with reasonable boundaries.

    15. My heart goes out to you. I just want to echo and underscore the comments that it sounds like it’s time for some conversations about a broader plan for her care, and your dad’s. People always think it’s too soon to start talking about these things, until it’s either gradually or suddenly too late.

      I noted in another comment below that I was actually going to post a question on this same topic, but in my case, my dad is 93, and I’m having to petition for guardianship because he’s no longer fully competent. He has made some plans – he bought good long-term care insurance – but I think he never really thought he would actually need to use it.

      This past week, however, he had a health emergency that landed him in the hospital, because he wasn’t taking adequate care of himself. The good news is that he’s okay, and that the hospital will not discharge him back into independent living. The bad news is that I’m several states away and scrambling to find a care facility and sort out all the legal and financial stuff. I’m also having to enlist the help of local relatives who, I’ve just learned, have already been doing far more than their share for several years now, helping my dad with exactly the kind of tasks your dad’s wife is asking for.

      I know my dad doesn’t want to go into assisted living, especially 24/7 care – no one does – but it would have been much easier for everyone if he had been the one to choose where he wanted to go, or if he’d at least put together an advance health directive. It’s not just that I now have to choose a place sight-unseen; it’s that no matter where he goes, it will be someplace completely new to him, filled with strangers, at a time when he’s increasingly disoriented and fearful. And he’s beginning to refuse meds and fight with doctors, because he doesn’t fully understand what’s going on, so I have to make decisions about his healthcare, and can only go on my best guess about what he would have wanted when he was capable of making reasonable decisions. It’s awful, and there’s literally nothing else I can do. I can’t help thinking about how much better it would have been if he had already been living in a facility, with people he knew and trusted, who could step up his care incrementally as needed, and with his input, rather than having to make this sudden drastic change against his will.

      So from the bottom of my heart, I strongly encourage you to talk with both your dad and his wife. Make the conversation about them and their needs. The point is NOT that you don’t care about their needs; that you’re too busy and they’re asking too much and being a bother. The point is that you DO care very much about their needs; that since you realistically can’t provide everything for them, and this will only become more true over time, you want to give them as much say as possible in how they’ll get that support. Stress that the best time for them to make these plans – and actually begin implementing changes – is NOW, BEFORE it’s necessary. See the comment from retired2 below, who did exactly this, and may well owe their life to it.

  5. I’m excited for a retreat I’ll be chaperoning next weekend and also we got a cool front this week.

    1. Physio therapy and seeing progress! Also playing with my kitty with a leaf!

      1. I love this thread! I needed some happiness and have loved seeing everyone’s responses. I always get joy from seeing my little guinea pigs run around and play!

    2. I was on vacation from work this week and had absolutely nothing I had to do other than go to one doctor’s appointment. Since the doctor is where I used to live, which is 45 minutes away, I took the opportunity to spend the day with a friend and just visit. I also stopped at the cat rescue, where I volunteer a couple times a year, to drop off donations and play with the cats.

      I finished up my jelly-making for the season. I was ambitious this year and made eight different flavors. I had to stop because I ran out of lids. There’s a lid shortage this year and the stores near me are out of jars, so I’m done.

      I went through a box of my late brother’s pictures, which was given to us by his step kids, so it was fun seeing some very old pictures of him, as well as old pictures of my nieces, nephews, and siblings.

    3. The sun is shining and we’re having perfect, clear October weather with incredibly blue skies.

      Tomorrow we’re going to my parents’ to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday, coffee and cake. It’s the first time I’m going to see my sister without a mask for a very long time. She’s been even more careful than I’ve been, because her best friend is immunosuppressed and they see each other regularly.

    4. Finished the first draft of Chapter 10, on the rise of professionalism in baseball.

    5. Best Good Dog was feeling a little more chipper than usual yesterday. (He is an old man dog with cancer, so usually he’s pretty mellow.) We had a lovely stroll around the neighborhood, where he got to see a few of his canine friends and stopped to sniff all the interesting smells along the way. I was happy to see him enjoying himself so much!

    6. I custom built a luggage rack for my motorcycle and it’s almost perfect. I want to take a road trip soon and needed something to strap my stuffed backpack to. It’s strong enough for me to stand directly on it so… yeah, that’ll do. I couldn’t find anything that even came close to what size I wanted (Imagine dinner plate vs tray table) and as with all motorcycle things, cost more than I want for an occasional bolt-on modification. I built mine for about $80!

    7. Adele’s new single! Easy on me is amazing and it made me so happy!

    8. I got to start drinking hot coffee again – I couldn’t drink it for a week after dental surgery.

    9. I’m going to the renaissance festival!! It’s outdoors and my area’s covid rates are low / vaccine rates are high so this is our reward! We are dressing up 😀 I haven’t been in years!

    10. Reading on the porch I looked up to see a hawk fly right down my driveway, not 50 feet away. Close enough that I could see coloration without my glasses. Close enough to the ground that I was looking down on him. (It’s hard to find images of hawks from above so I’m not really sure what kind he was.)

    11. I live in New England so I can enjoy foliage season while just out and about doing my usual chores – but it’s also great to be able to take a spin up the coast, blending seascapes with the bright colors inland. And the weather’s finally at that nice mid-level, warm but not too hot, something we haven’t had for most of the summer.

    12. My patio stone arrived! (I ordered it 3 weeks ago, a week ago I found out it would be delayed until spring so I chose another one, then went back and forth with the sales person until Thursday.) Hopefully the giant pile of mud will be out of the yard soon!

    13. Someone I know recently published a novel. I wanted to support her as well as my local bookstore where it’s offered so I bought it. I figured I’d give it away if I didn’t like it, but it turns out it’s a wonderful book. I had no idea she was so talented. Plus I’ve been reading only nonfiction for ages, and I’m realizing how much I enjoy fiction and I’m going to be reading more.

    14. There’s an America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks’ Country marathon this afternoon, so watching that while also making pot roast and mashed potatoes. Also finally ordered my first enameled dutch oven. Been eyeing one for a year and saw one on sale for a good price in a pretty denim blue color. It matches a creamer/sugar bowl set I have.

    15. First real cold front of the season hit yesterday! It was a lovely 55 degrees this morning when I was out on a walk. Such a nice break from the usual oppressive heat and humidity.

    16. A few of my colleagues gave me really, really positive comments about my working style and work itself — that I’m really good at hearing people, running my team / delegating, respecting others’ time, that I’m super organized, that I’m super detail oriented, that I’ve handled some recent sticky situations well. It felt so affirming. (I realize that this joy is a work-related one, though!)

    17. I’m so grateful for everyone who starts and adds to the little joys thread!

      DH and I celebrate our 32d wedding anniversary tomorrow. And we still like each other most of the time!
      Little neutered cat is getting so chill and affectionate post chop.
      DD is adjusting well to the first phase of braces even though she misses “crunchy.”

      1. Seconding this! Even a short ride makes it so much easier for me to focus during the afternoon.

    18. We finally discovered a kind of wet food the cat consistently likes! It’ll be much easier to give the spoiled little princess her medicine now, lol.

    19. I was walking down a sidewalk earlier today and there was a father pushing an unhappy little toddler in a stroller. The kid was crying, but then he saw me and stopped crying and said the most adorable little “hi.” The quiet lasted them another 5-10 feet of walking in the opposite direction, and then the kid started again. I basically couldn’t stand how cute it was.

    20. It’s our wedding anniversary today. Yesterday, we went out for a lovely meal and some drinks. We’ve hardly been out during Covid times so it was such a treat.

      I made a lovely veggie lasagna with fennel and courgette, just finished the leftovers.

  6. I noticed two of the graphics were changed recently on the right of the screen (how to get a job, free guide).
    Are the resources also recently updated?

    1. I don’t think so. Alison was embarking on a visual overhaul of the site. I guess she started there!

    2. Whoa! This morning the site looked as usual and just now, it looks really different. I liked the old way, but this looks good too. I was just startled.

  7. Writing thread! How is everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.

    Small bits of outlining here and there is all I have the time and energy for at the moment, but at least it looks like this will be the most outlined project I’ve ever done.

    1. I’ve been asked to contribute to a new edition of the leading textbook in my field. Huge honour etc but a bit intimidating so I’m researching and planning! Like you, lots of outlining!

      1. Oh my gosh, mazal tov!!! That’s incredible! (What’s the subject, if you’re comfy sharing?)

    2. Not sure if this belongs in this thread or the gaming thread, but I’ll stick it here XD I’m working on writing up some of my D&D homebrew work so I can share it with others (hopefully eventually for money), and I’m having fun! I’m incorporating some of the art I’ve done (if interested, my D&D insta is r_badesigns).

      I’m wary that I’ll be able to make this comprehensive, but it’s a fun project for Shabbat!

    3. I mentioned last week or the week before that I’d taken over a project from another writer who had no discernable process and left a roaring trash fire behind them.

      Once I got my hands on the original interview audio & transcripts (which the other writer deleted and had to be retrieved from archive), I was pleased to discover that the material itself is very straightforward and easy to understand. Each interview is highly focused on a single topic, which the expert covers thoroughly.

      There are about 10 chapters’ worth of material, and I created a logical flow. Why the other writer chopped it up into 18 chapters and arranged them in totally random order, I have no idea.

      For example, if it were a book on starting a knitting club, the other writer started with pricing yarn, then why knitting clubs are fun, then how to fix knitting mistakes, then organizing group meetings, then how knitting clubs benefit the community, then meeting other knitters.

      Where it should be: why it’s great, then getting the people organized, then practical details about the actual knitting.

    4. I’m on the final push of the final project for my first graduate school class (8 weeks), which is due Tuesday. I’m about 60% done with fleshing out the details and outlines into final text, and hoping to be 90% done by the end of the day!

  8. Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want to, including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    Other than some Stardew Valley here and there to relax I haven’t had much time to play, but if anyone here has Metroid Dread I am curious to hear your thoughts about it.

    1. Starting on Atelier Firis today. I’m hoping to wrap up both it and the last of the trilogy I got in the eshop so that I can jump back into Animal Crossing on November 5. The new DLC and game updates look fantastic.

      In the meantime, I’m debating if I restart my island or nah.

    2. I had company for Thanksgiving, and we played Big Bertha, which is a rummy like card game.

    3. I’ve been bouncing between Asha in Monster World, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Goblin Sword, and Monster Boy, all on Switch. Yes, I love 2D platformers. I think I’ve played Asha and the Shantaes about twenty times each at this point. Comfort gaming for me means repeat gaming.

    4. Have thoroughly enjoyed playing Historic since the update. Struggling to get back to mythic, but not sure which way to take the deck

    5. Although there has been some (fair) criticism of later Ace Attorney games, I’m excited to start the DGS localization this weekend. (insert obligatory “where is English AAI2” whining)

      1. Report back! I’ve been eyeing the Great Ace Attorney, though I’ve never played any in the series before.

    6. Been playing Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch) to pass the time waiting for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond.

    7. Eeeee Metroid Dread – I started playing it because I love Metroid, but paused because I hate running from the EMMI’s. However, it has amazing reviews, and I can confirm the graphics and gameplay are just gorgeous and seamless. My friend is really enjoying it too, and told me to try again lol. If you like Metroid, you’ll probably enjoy it. It is cool to get such a smooth 2D platformer and there’s some really cool new moves Samus does. I wrote a bit more last week too, same handle but posted Sunday because that’s when I get time to read this thread.

      Played Mario Party online with 2 friends last night and we were not expecting how great it was! No lag, mini games were so fun, definitely surprised by how great it was. Will play online again, it’s up to 2 people per console which is pretty good.

      ACNH – free updated and $ DLC 11/05!!!! SO STOKED. Cafe, boating tours, outdoor market at Harv’s, Gyroids, group stretching, and other fun stuff. But then… wow the DLC. You basically make an archipelago resort by customizing homes for people and the island’s buildings. It looks so fun and silly and so many new customization features! Walls, pillars, counters oh my.

    8. Still emotionally recovering from the Crimson Flower route of FE: 3H. I’m going to do Azure Moon next, I think! I’m giving my wrist and my feels a break. 😀

    9. My 22 year old came home from college to play Metroid Dread on his little brother’s Switch this weekend. He finished it, and was very pleased! Partly he enjoyed playing a new game in the franchise he loves best, and partly he felt the game and new moves for Samus were well-designed.

  9. Rubber bands that last a long time? I’m a classical music nerd so I (still) collect lots of classical CDs and I use rubber bands to keep all the discs-in-jewel-cases of Violinist A separate from those of Violinist B or Soprano C. But after a few months or maybe a couple of years they always seem to dry out and break! (I’m not looking for heavy-duty ones as opposed to long-lasting; in other words I don’t need ’em to withstand a lot of stress, just do the regular job for a long time.) Also open to suggestions for a better trick than rubber bands . . . . Thank you and I love AAM, long time lurker.

    1. I, too, was thinking of other materials. Because I sew, I was thinking you could use thin strips of jersey (t-shirt fabric) sewn into a circle or even just with the ends tied together–that’s what we used for the bands around the ears on self-sewn masks. It let’s you set the size to your needs better than pre-bought stuff. Jersey is cotton (or other material) with a little bit of elastic in it and it doesn’t fray like woven fabric does. It won’t have the huge give like a rubber band, but it has plenty enough for a lot of things. You could buy a bit of good fabric or even just cut up a t-shirt, although those might be stretched out a bit already.

      1. Or just get a length of elastic from the sewing/craft store, and knot it into small loops? You want the fabric woven/covered kind that’s used for waistbands/trims etc, not the straight rubber kind.

    2. Velcro straps? Using “dividers” made of card stock instead of physically wrapping the CDs together?

    3. Hat elastic. Its like stretchy string, you just cut it to the length you want and knot it. I’ve had some for years and it hasn’t perished.

    4. Nothing useful to suggest. I just am wondering where you put your recording(s) of Brahms Double Concerto? In any case, props for your level of nerdiness.

    5. An idea from my archive days–consider cotton tying tape. Not adhesive, just a thin woven strip like a heavy no-slip ribbon. It’s used to tie covers onto damaged books until they can be repaired, and to group small sets of documents that are going to be bound together. Our supplies came from Gaylord but the material is also used in sewing so a craft store should also have something you can check out in person.

    6. Archivist here, rubber bands will pretty much always decay and fall apart (and in some conditions, they might stick to the cases). The idea of cardstock dividers is an excellent one, or something fabric-based.

    7. If you haven’t already, try non-latex ones. The are more resistant to drying and breakdown from ozone.

    8. I’m thinking the nylon loops for making potholders would work well!

  10. I want to learn to crochet. My goal is to eventually be able to make a cardigan out of granny squares. I have hooks and spare yarn. Any good resources for learning crochet for a beginner?

    1. Try the website New Stitch A Day. Start with chain stitch, then go to single crochet and double crochet. Then look at his granny squares. Also google “granny square” and you’ll find other patterns as well. When you come to a stitch you don’t know, go back to New Stitch A Day to learn it.

    2. Look at the Bella Coco videos on YouTube. They’ve got everything from granny squares upwards and take you through every step in very clear detail.

    3. The Crochet Crowd dot com- fantastic resource and hundreds of videos. Also Facebook pages

      1. THANK YOU!! They had a patter that I’d been trying to figure out for a while now. Basically, it’s nested squares rotated so that the corners of the inner square are touching the middle of the edge of the outer square. I want to make my son a lap blanket using it. All my kids hate the cold, so I’ve made them lap blankets for the cars (keeps me out of trouble when I travel, and gives me something to do while watching TV). Every time I’ve tried this pattern it’s gone…wrong. Like, one sort of went non-Euclidean on me. I’m still not sure how.

        I’m on a long stint on the road, so once I finish my other project (gambison), I’m going to start this.

        I know it’s absurd, but this is making me unreasonably excited. 😀

    4. I went to a local yarn shop that had beginner classes. I would check in with a local shop and see if they do anything like that for crocheting.

      1. Yes, seconding this – or if they can’t help you ask to be put in touch with the local knit night and ask them if anyone will help (don’t presume upon knit night… ask). I found crochet almost impossible to teach myself (ymmv!) but had it after a five minute tutorial.

    5. No resources, but I have advice: Keep going. Your first projects are going to look pretty rough, and that’s okay! You’re learning. There are a lot of little tricks–how you hold the yarn to maintain tension, if/when to switch hooks, how to keep track of stitch count, and a bunch of other stuff–and there’s no way to know it until you do it, because it’s all individual to you.

      I’d also suggest starting small. It’s easier to feel like you’re doing something when you’re completing a project in an hour than when you spend six weeks on a blanket. When I started my sister and I made dice bags for D&D–fast, easy, and useful.

      1. Keep Going – Yes! Similarly, my favorite yarn-working tip for newbies (I’ve been crocheting since I was 4) is this: It’s string. You have scissors AND thumbs. It cannot defeat you. 🙂 Be the master of your string. Your GOAL is to tie it in knots, you just have to find the right ones 🙂

      2. Along the same lines, I highly recommend washcloths as a starter project. Cotton yarn can be relatively cheap, and even if you end up with a sort of wonky trapezoid, it can go in the rag bag and get used for cleaning. Once you get reasonably good, they also make good little gifts

    6. The actual techniques are very simple, and the most important things to learn are

      1) to find which method of holding the hook and yarn are most comfortable for you. There are several, and they all work just fine.

      2) how to see the parts of the stitch so you know where to put the hook through,

      Once you get the hang of those, it’s all practice and muscle memory to be able to handle the yarn & hook and keep consistent tension.

      IME, once you learn crochet it’s quite easy to learn the “pickup” or “continental” style of knitting (or vice versa) because you hold the yarn in your non-dominant hand and move the working needle very similarly to a crochet hook.

      I learned basic knitting (American or cast-over style) and crochet as a kid, but stuck with crochet. After so many years, when I tried to pick up knitting again I found the American style really awkward, and I can go much faster in Continental.

      1. As a side note to the two knitting methods, if you learn both ways, it makes two color knitting a snap. put one color in you right hand and knit it American, and the other color in your left and knit it Continental.

    7. My library offers the website Creativebug for free with your library card. It has tutorials for arts and crafts like sewing, painting, crochet, etc.

      Also, the store Joann Fabric’s website has a lot of good free arts and craft tutorials on it, too. (Some of them are also really bad, so you do have to be choosy. But they do allow comments, and often someone who’s more experienced than you has found the part where the tutorial is unclear and offered up a fix in the comments.)

    8. A lot of libraries will host craft sessions, or did prepandemic. Neighborhood groups also exist; ours has a regular schedule in a park for summer, and a Facebook group where we will publish the winter location.
      One no-impact way to practice, get cotton yarn to make washcloths and face scrubbies. I’m churning out little rounds right now for makeup removal pads I can wash & reuse. ( I’m getting a lot better at starting a circle.)

    9. If you are someone who prefers illustrations to video (like me, I get irritated with videos as i have to fuss with the playback speed or start/stop too much), I recommend an oldie but goodie: America’s Crochet Book, by Gertrude Taylor, pub. 1972 and available for 4 bucks on BetterWorldBooks dot com

      I have to relearn how to knit or crochet about every 4-5 years and I got this and the Knitting twin book to it a long time ago and they haven’t let me down yet.

    10. Here’s how I started learning and hopefully there will be applicable things in here for you.

      I learnt a few basic stitches (in UK terms, these were chain, slip stitches, and double crochet for me) and then I identified a pattern I wanted to follow and looked up new stitches or new terms online – just Googling, and then clicked on YouTube or photo tutorials, whichever I felt was easier to follow for that stitch – as I went. I started with making really simple stuffed animals, like small amigurumi octopuses, that were fast to make, and then moved onto more complicated (but still beginner-level) ones after I’d made several of the first. Having something I was actually making rather than just having something I was practicing really helped me stick with crochet and not just give up because I was bored of practicing.

      My main pieces of advice would be these:
      1. Crochet tension is generally not meant to be super tight. If you’re really holding onto the yarn you’re working with and it’s difficult to get your hook into stitches, try holding onto the yarn less tightly and just let it run through your off hand without being actively slack.

      2. Identify whether you’re learning with UK or US terms, because they’re slightly different. If a pattern has single crochets (sc), it’s in US terms. Usually the pattern will say which one they’re using, too.

      3. Practice by making things you’re interested in. It’s a lot easier to stick with something if you’re not bored by the process of getting better at it right at the start.

    11. I just started learning a few months ago. Honestly I did some basic internet searching and then just went to the craft store, got a small set of common hooks and some cheap yarn to make a simple scarf. I restarted that scarf about 10, 11 times before I finally got the hang of what I was doing (and it’s still a mess due to my tension not being even) but I learned a ton! There are articles to describe pretty much every stitch out there, and many also have videos attached. Reading a pattern has been the hardest part so far, but I (now) have tons of yarn leftover that I just start the project on to get a feel for what I’m doing and if it looks right to ensure I’m understanding the pattern properly.

  11. I do like the cat pic… I ought to have grabbed a snap of mine being a blanket burrito. If I catch her at it again, I will.

      1. That’s what we used to call it when I had to give my cat subq fluids. We’d wrap her up in a purrito.

        1. Both of mine are blessedly not fighters when it comes to fun things like pills or trimming claws. The most I get is some mewping… more pathetic little noises than anything like a warning and definitely no actual struggle with all scimitars bared.

      2. That’s perfect; I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  12. Any stories from anyone here who met their life partner in their late 30s or beyond? I have been single for six years now and sometimes fear it’s too late.

    I would rather be single than in a bad relationship, but I am still feeling very tired of going it alone. Meanwhile everyone I meet seems to be married, partnered or unsuitable.

    Rationally I know people do meet in their late 30s, 40s and beyond. But it can be hard to not be impacted by the the negative narratives about what it means to be a single woman who is no longer very young.

    It’d be nice to hear people’s positive stories about finding real love.

    1. It’s not too late! Hang in there. I met my husband when we were both 35, and got married at 37. I kissed a LOT of frogs before I found him, was horribly betrayed by a prior longtime boyfriend, and never thought I’d find the right person. Also, a relative got married for the first time at 62.

      1. p.s. We’ve been married 26 years and still like each other!

    2. I met my husband when I was 40. We got married seven years later and are still fine. We were both foreigners living in Taipei at the time.

    3. I met my partner in 2012 when I was 35 and he was 45. He’s just made me breakfast in bed which he does every weekend.

    4. It’s coming up 4 years since I left my ex and I’m 45, so I’m here for solidarity.

      FWIW, I do think it’s statistically unlikely we’ll be single forever.

    5. I met my husband in my mid 30s, after years of being very single, and it was worth waiting for the right person.

      One advantage of meeting someone at an older age is that you can have a better sense of who you are and what you want out of life, so when you actually do meet someone compatible in the important things, it can really click.

      However, mid 30s wasn’t too late for love, but it did turn out to be too late for children.

      1. I read this a lot, but I guess it depends on the person. I have never had any goals for relationships other than to be in one with someone that I like being with.
        I’ve found that doesn’t make men happy. They want to know my life plans.
        Do I want to live in this country forever? Not really, but depends on the person and my job.
        Do I want kids? Pretty hard pass on that one, but might be willing to reconsider depending on the guy. But probably not.
        Etc., etc.

    6. I met my husband when I was 33, so mid- rather than late 30s. But before I met him, I was single for 8 years and despaired of ever finding anyone, because I’m very bad at casual dating. If I know the guy’s also seeing other people I really can’t relax and just enjoy spending time with him, so online dating when I tried it really didn’t work for me at all. I met my husband through my friend, who happened to be work friends with one of my husband’s friends. This was perfect, because the relationship was far enough removed that if it hadn’t worked out, we wouldn’t have been running into each other at social events, because our social circles don’t overlap at all otherwise.

      A good friend of mine was 39 when she met her now fiance, I met him for the first time at her 40th birthday party. Both of them have children from previous relationships, and my friend was adamant that she didn’t want to deal with another baby (even if she’d been able to get pregnant), so she dated a number guys before she found one who was enthusiastic about not having another baby. His kids are in their late teens and live with them every other weekend and part of every vacation, hers are in elementary school and their dad died a few years ago so there are no coparenting issues there.

    7. From a cis-het perspective, I personally found that there was a weird stage-of-life thing going on between 30 to mid 40’s. It seemed like everyone in that age bracket was either already settling into family life, divorcing and on the prowl after settling too early into family life (and usually full of ex baggage), or desperately trying to find someone to settle into family life with (and not being all that discerning about potential partners).

      As someone who wants to remain child (incl. step-child) free, and who needs to share a deep mental connection with my partner, I was pretty disillusioned with how shallow so many of them came across. I need a partner who thinks more of me than “you’re not my ex/you’re of tolerable attractiveness, so therefore you’ll do!” Like really, the other 99% of who I am and who you are doesn’t matter?

      But Mr Memes was out there, just as disillusioned, and the relationship we have now is 1000% worth whatever bullshit came before. When I consider our relative eccentricities, it’s kind of amazing to have found that one-in-a-million man really. After almost 10 years, we still have the kind of intense connection that other people seem to notice and remark upon. An owner of one of our regular dinner haunts recently mentioned how lovely it is that we always come in holding hands and that we spend all dinner talking to each other. And I guess I take for granted how much we do adore each other’s mind and company. Today for example, just a regular Saturday, we spent half the day in bed snuggling, talking and having mind blowing sex. Then we followed it up with a drawn out champagne lunch. It actually sounds really corny when I read that back to myself! But that’s our life together. Our relationship is not without its challenges of course, and like every relationship it takes work. But it’s so worth it to have waited to find him.

    8. Doree Shafrir has a recent memoir out about this called thanks for waiting. She got married at 38. And had a kid over 40. Her whole thing is about being a late bloomer.

    9. I met my husband at 33 and he was 37. We got married at 35 and 40! One thing that I noticed, it’s a lot easier for you to know if someone is going to work for you when you’re older and better know yourself. We got married quick, not out of desperation or anything, just because we were both like “yup you’re the one!” so why wait?
      I know people say this all the time, but for me it was true. I stopped trying and caring about meeting a partner. I had a successful career, great friends, owned my own home, got a dog and was having a good life. I decided that was enough and then of course my husband came along turned everything upside down 🙂

      1. This makes me feel so much better. I own my own house, have a dog, make good money in a stable career, and I keep finding guys spooked tf out and sometimes almost angry/defensive that I probably make more than they do and “I could own a house if I wanted to” or whatever. It makes trying online dating a slog since I can’t easily weed out who is going to be a big baby about who might make more.

        I do feel you on the knowing faster though. At least the guys I have tried wasted 1-3 nights of my time, not 1-3 years.

        1. One of the reasons I decided to give up caring about finding a partner was due to online dating. I hated it. It was so much work and had very little pay off for me. I didn’t have any successful first dates.
          I met my husband drunk as a skunk at a bar. He was on a bachelor party bar crawl for his friend. That friend ended up performing our wedding ceremony!
          Also those guy are weeding themselves out for you. Gawd how insufferable to be intimidated by a successful woman in 2021. My husband was thrilled he met someone with an ambitious career. He wasn’t looking for a dependent, he wanted an equal. Hold out for an equal!

        2. As a (older)guy, I’m sorry you have to deal with jerks intimidated by a happy, independent woman. From my perspective, having someone say “I don’t need anyone…I have choices…and I want you in my life” would be a huge compliment.
          My wife and I have both seen our incomes fluctuate over the years with moves and job changes. One adapts.
          There are good guys out there. I wish you continued happiness alone and eventual happiness with a partner if that’s your choice.

    10. I met my partner at 31 it’s been 10 years. It was just a random board game night in the middle of the week hosted by a friend. My partner was friends with their roommate. Being a generally anxious introverted person, I wanted to just go out and human a little for a change. So did they. They came out of the smokers’ room to join a group for a game not knowing the rules and apologized for making a mistake. I said “You’re cute so you can get away with it.” and apparently that was all it took. They were flirting with me the whole night (I had absolutely no idea) and after I left without saying goodbye (specifically to them) they found me online and asked me out. About a few months later invited me to move in. About a year later asked me to marry them. And here we are. It’s the family I always wanted and never had; someone I can be safe and comfortably, weirdly, imperfectly ME around and they feel the same.

      But before that it also took coming to a point in my own head, deep down inside, where I finally WAS comfortable with my weird imperfect self. The fear of ‘being alone forever’ vanished because I’m never alone. I have ME and I’m freaking AWESOME. Not perfect, not for everyone, but awesome, and learned to live in that skin for some time. Then it didn’t matter if I met anyone because I’m already complete and whole exactly as I am. And then I met my partner and it’s been one hell of a weird adventure ever since.

      1. I love your second paragraph so hard! : ) (Source: am old single person trying to be okay with it.)

    11. My husband and I knew each other since our early 20s, but were both involved with other people and just friends with each other for the longest time. We both coincidentally got divorced within a couple of years in our 30s and – it sounds cliche, but we kind of started noticing each other in a new light at that point, haha.

    12. I’m 40, and my boyfriend will be 39 in December. We met each other two years ago. It is possible 🙂
      It helps that we live in the Washington, D.C., area, where people tend to marry and have children later. It may be different where you are.
      Good luck!

      1. We’ve also talked about becoming foster parents or adopting children if we get married, since I’ll likely be too old to have a biological child (which is actually fine with me). If not, we’ll be an awesome aunt and uncle.

    13. In my experience, this is more common in more urban areas, and more difficult in rural areas. When I lived in a remote place everybody was married and thought I was quite a freak for being single at my age. I also felt some distrust, like I might try to steal someone’s husband (“a single lady of reasonable appearance must be in want of a husband!!”). I moved to a city and found far, far more single people of mature age – second marriages, older parenthood etc are more common here, I suppose because people are in school so long and work in intensive fields. I know several people here who got married mid-forties now or were happily single in their 40s and 50s.

      1. I’m still in my 20s, and this is definitely a thing. A BIG thing I’ve also noticed as my friends have started to pair off is how much of a difference it makes to find coupled friends who are, like, normal about it. I’ve started slowly cutting ties with the “everyone is always trying to steal my partner” people, and the “I know we said we’d hang just the two of us but I invited my spouse anyway because we can’t bear to be separated for a single happy hour” people, and the “Oh my god you must be so SAD and LONELY, here date this random single guy I know who’s twice your age and lives three hours away” people. Pre-pandemic I had just gotten out of a several month relationship and was dreading having to be the ‘one single friend’ again, but being surrounded by supportive, normal people (even those who were in serious relationships/married!) made a huge difference to how it feels to be single, and now as I get back into dating it’s so much easier to focus on finding someone who clicks with me rather than feeling like I should settle for anyone who could be my +1 to couple-centric gatherings.

    14. I met my husband when I was 40 and he was 38. In the laundry room of our apartment complex, of all places! We got married three years later and just celebrated our eighth anniversary! Neither one of us was really looking and we didn’t have any expectations at the start, but it worked for us. It’s the having/not having kids that was important. Neither of us has or wanted kids so it worked for us.

    15. I was single from the end of college until I was 37. I met my current partner at a New Years party and it took us a few years of dancing around each other to really connect (we only saw each other at New Years). We’ve been together in one way or another for almost 3 years and we’re moving in together next year! It does work!

    16. My cousin and his wife met when in their mid-to-late 30s; neither one had been married before. They have been married over 20 years now, have one child, and are very happy.

    17. My husband and I met when I was 43 and he was 46. We were 47 and 50 when we married. It’s the best relationship and we still occasionally marvel at how compatible we are (particularly as we come from somewhat different backgrounds). Second marriage for both of us. I wasn’t planning to remarry and felt pretty much fine at the prospect of singleness, but sometimes you just find the exact right thing that you weren’t even expecting, you know? I feel so lucky, but it also reminds me that there’s more than one good path of happiness out there.

    18. It did not work out for me, but I did know a nice doctor who had apparently given up on ever meeting the right person in her early 40s. She decided to concentrate on giving back through her career and went to work at a hospital in Haiti . . . where she met a wonderful Haitian doctor with whom she fell in love. They got married and had kids pronto, and their kids are adults now, and they seem truly happy together. Apparently, ya never know where you’re going to meet that lovely match!

    19. I met my husband when I was 41. I still like him. 🙂

      And my college roommate, 58, got married (second marriage, but still) last week to a lovely man she met a few years ago. I didn’t even know they were engaged – she just talked about taking a hiking trip in Utah and the next day, posted photos of the two of them on the rocks at Arches or Moab or wherever with an officiant, him in a suit and her in a beautiful long blue embroidered dress and announced that they had gotten married. (That’s the way to do it if you ask me.)

      1. That sounds like an amazing place and way to get married!

    20. I started dating my husband when he was 39 and I was 30 (so I was younger than you asked about but Mr Cleo was the requested age). We got married a year and a half after our first date and we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this month. It’s the first marriage for both of us.

      His family was ridiculously happy to meet me. Mine was ridiculously happy after they met him and saw how well he treated me.

    21. I was looking for another woman, so a bit of a different experience, but I met my life partner when we were both 36. I’d given up on dating by then and decided to go on Craigslist to look for some fun instead. I picked the one ad that was spelled correctly.

      We’ve been together for 9 years now and our daughter is 5.

      1. “ I picked the one as that was spelled correctly.” I love this.

    22. Not me, but my aunt met her now-husband in her 40s, and they didn’t fall for each other for several years after that. They’re married 2 years now and so sweet together!

      She hadn’t had a serious relationship since her 20s before that time, and she has always been an absolutely delightful person living a happy life on her own terms.

    23. My dad and stepmom got married in their early 40s- his second marriage, her first. They’ve been together over 20 years now and are still wild about each other, it’s very cute. They met at a high school reunion of all places, so I guess you just never know!

    24. Not exactly what you’re asking, but my ex and I met in our mid 40s and spent 4 great years. So, not a for-life partner but a partner in life for that time and 100% worth the time even though it ended. It was deep and good and affirmed for me this is still possible.

    25. I did. I was mid 30s he was mid 40s. At those ages you’re both fully formed & know what you want. We’re both unabashed nerds. Strangely we both were staunchly anti child before we met each other but flipped like a switch when we met each other. We now have an amazing young adult & have been very happily married for over 20 years.

    26. Not me, but a co-worker got married for the first time at age 50 and he seems very happy.

    27. I gave up on ever being with someone around age 38/39, after my last attempt at dating failed within 3 months… Closing in on the end of my third year with the same man at age nearly 47, and couldn’t be happier, or feel luckier, that we connected. (Full disclosure: we had already been friends for 18 years when we ‘hooked up’ after his divorce, and then it turned into a whole lot more.)

    28. I met my wife in high school – yes, we are those people – but we didn’t get together until we were 36. We’re 44 now and we’ve been together for 8 and married for 7 and we often say that if we’d gotten together any sooner than we did, it’d have been a disaster and we’re so glad things gelled when they did.

    29. My husband and I met when I was 27 and we didn’t get married until i was 33, which I understand isn’t too late but I had never had a boyfriend before him. So there’s hope!

    30. Thanks for your stories everyone. Brightened up my day to hear them!

    31. 2 of my closest friends met just prior to 40 and married a couple of years later. She saw him in a play and really liked him and a mutual friend decided to set them up. They are both very happy and grateful to her.

      I actually don’t know that many people who settled down in their 20s. We were all far too young and stupid and most of our relationships were varying degrees of disaster back then. I remember a few friends who did, but I’d say over half of them are now divorced or clearly not getting along so well.

      I do think dating at a more mature stage of life presents more challenges. We are less spontaneous, more measured and discerning in our choices, which can sometimes feel like having fewer options. But I also think that makes us more likely to make good choices because we’re more self sufficient and less impulsive, no longer jumping at every exciting opportunity or desperately seeking someone to share the bills with due to being broke.

    32. Boyfriend met me in his early 40’s. We’ve both been through a first marriage and divorce and were a little traumatized in various areas, but we’re good, and we’re going to get married in ’22.

  13. Ever have one of those hilariously quintessential “yep, this is where I live” moments?

    I was reading in bed, drinking a beer when I took a swig and had that sudden gag reflex as my brain registered a Not Liquid chunk. I spat out what I was expecting to be a fly… except, nope. Spider.

    1. I’m now imagining a person looking rather startled with the legs of a huntsman spider sticking out of their mouth…

      1. Ha! Thank goodness no, just a green jumping spider. Out of all the spiders, huntsmans are the ones that I truly can’t stand. Too big, too hairy, too fast, and they hide in too many weird places. Ask me why I’m drinking beer and haven’t searched the wine fridge recently…

        1. Given the range of spiders that are native to Australia, I’d have thought the huntsman is one fo the less worrying ones.

          1. There’s really only 2 kinds of Australian spiders to actually be worried about: the funnel web and the redback. But they’re always in predictable spots and hang about in their webs, so they’re pretty easy to avoid. Unlike the adventurous huntsman, who, while not venomous, may surprise you by jumping out of your bathroom cupboard and running up your leg, hugging envelopes in your letterbox and saying g’day as you’re sorting through your mail, or hitching a ride in your car*. I have personally experienced each of those scenarios. Like I said, they’re too big, they run too fast and they hide in too many weird places. I’ll take a slow predictable redback, thanks.

            1. Nightmares for days now! I dunno how you aussies live with those things.

            2. No. Nopity nope nope H NO! I am not sure if I can ever actually even VISIT Australia now.

              1. Same. I think of Australia as a place that just really didn’t want to be inhabited, but humans have not taken the hint. So now everyone cohabitates and gets along well enough.

                I’m pretty sure all the species I fear most live there.

                1. Australia has been inhabited by humans for 50-60 thousand years…

    2. Ah! Stuff of nightmares. I’m in the tropics where the bugs grow big and it never gets cold, so I live in fear of centipedes. I will say trapping the little lizards is always a good time. I just want to get to them before my dog does and they do not get it.

      1. I HATE stink bugs. Not just because they smell, but the buzzing sound they make when they fly. I’d never seen or heard of them until I moved inland in my state. I once had one in a clean pair of jeans and didn’t know it. I felt a bump inside the pant leg. Assuming it was a ball of fuzz or something similar, I grabbed my pant leg from the outside to feel what it was. It was a stink bug, which I ended up crushing by accident. Once I smelled it I figured out it was a stink bug. It smelled so bad. Needless to say, I scrubbed my leg really good and changed pants. Now I make sure to shake out my clothes before putting them on.

        1. They’re actually a new invasive species in the US northeast.
          For me it was swimming in Long Island’s Peconic Bay, and seeing a snorkeler freaked out by an eel… I mean, that’s why they call it “eelgrass.”

    3. Ooh, I almost did that as a child with a mug of milk. I was about to chug it but noticed something black in the corner of my eye and put my mug down and there it was floating on the surface just looking at me. It was a long time before I drank any milk without eyeing it very carefully after that…

    4. I can relate, and I wish I couldn’t. I felt something wriggling in my mouth a few months ago after I took a bite of food. It was a live spider. I spat it out in disbelief and needed about a week to stop thinking about it. Gross!!! I absolutely hate spiders.

    5. The first time I brought my kids hiking when we moved back to the PNW (where I grew up) from Arizona. One got sap all over her hands and the other got her boots stuck in the mud

      1. I also grew up in the PNW and this really made me smile!

    6. I live in the very large metro area in Texas (not Dallas, this is important), and always tell people that no, people do not wear cowboy hats IRL, we don’t have horseback riding cowboys around, etc.
      Yesterday Texas decided to Texas at me. First, two men crossed the rather large, not at all rural road, on horseback, property, on green light, while I was waiting on my red. No idea where they were going or coming from, no parks around, or equestrian centers, or anything.
      And later a man came in to the restaurant to pick up his food, while wearing a cowboy hat. Shorts, tennis shoes, t-shirt, and the hat.

      1. I laughed too hard at “not Dallas” because my first thought before that was ‘well….Dallas…’

        1. Right? Dallas is a lot more cowboy town than Houston, where I am, we are a lot more international and a lot less “Texas”.

          1. I had such an ‘this is where I live moment’ today. I was playing tennis and it was so dark and dank and drizzly that it was almost impossible to see the tennis ball. At 1pm in the daytime. I live in Northern Ireland.

      2. There’s a solid population of urban riders in Houston, especially near Aldine – mostly black men that I saw. But you will occasionally see horses even inside the Loop.

    7. My husband and I spent part of the afternoon arguing about the average number of spiders a person consumes in a year. I read this to him, and the debate has sparked anew.

    8. Last night on the Tube – a man playing Abba songs on a violin. Only in London!

      (For context, the Tube/London Underground/metro here has a number of slots in its biggest stations for buskers – they’re highly competitive and you have to audition, but you get some really good and unusual acts because of it. And it’s nice to have music as you’re going about your day.)

      1. I lived in London for many years – the best busker I have ever heard was at Bank station playing Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello.

    9. This governor’s race ad is probably the most New Jersey thing I have ever seen (but there is some swearing) : https://youtu.be/bFlZNTZ-W0I

  14. Is anyone here a fan of “Cole and Marmalade” on YouTube? It broke my heart when Cole crossed the Rainbow Bridge last Sunday. I think the cancer had spread.

    1. Yes, I love Cole and Marmalade. I was so sad to see Cole passed away. Considering I’d just lost my 17 year old kitty, I was a mess reading the posts.

    2. Yes, I’ve followed them for years and I cried when I saw the post.

    3. Yes. I follow them on Facebook. It hit me really hard and I was a crying mess for a while.

    4. I miss Cole a lot! He brought a lot of joy to the world. Cole was the Bestest Cat Ever.

    5. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I haven’t followed lately, for some reason, but used to love them.

    6. I follow their Facebook page, and when they announced it on their page, I ugly-cried.

  15. Will we get more ghost stories this year? I love reading them!

    1. I do hope so. I actually have one to contribute this year.

      1. I hope Alison reads this and makes another call for ghost stories. Alison?

  16. Trying to get gift ideas across the board- thought this would be a fun way (apologies I may have actually since this here before but I can’t recall for sure!

    Most practical gift you ever received?
    Most unique gift you ever received?
    Most thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?

    Mine are:
    1. Tie between Costco Membership and Hotels.com giftcard (pre pandemic)
    2. One of those portraits where they combine a photo with some formal body/background (think a knight or noble)- but the photo was a non-releasable opossum I dearly loved at my zoo volunteering who had passed of old age (I never feel like zoo is quite the right word- they only take animals form rehabs that cant be released that need proper habitat and care from licensed professionals).
    3. Lindsey Stirling tickets (best show I’ve ever seen)

    1. 1. My mom just got me AAA for my birthday! And my wife is getting my car detailed.
      2 and 3 are harder, as I’m not really a gift person. In terms of thoughtful, though, I recently met up with friends in the desert. One friend brought us all small care packages that included vintage scarves (different ones for all of us) and a mini Nivea, which was critical for the dry environment. So thoughtful!

    2. Practical: Turbie Twist. When I got it, I thought “really, towels?” but they’re so much better than a regular towel at pulling my wet hair up and away. When the ones I got wore out, I ended up buying more.

      Unique: When I took up running, my dad saved the bibs, medals, and extras they give you (like face tattoos and wrist bands), and made it into a shadow box clock for me. I don’t actually run much these days — one of my knees doesn’t like it right now — but it still serves as a reminder that I can do anything I put the mind and work toward.

      Thoughtful: Assortments of flavored hot chocolate. I LOVE hot chocolate, even in the summer. I got a bunch of blends one year from probably a small business? I remember the packaging and it was not like the ones you get at the store. They required I scoop more powder in, but the end result was better. Now I’m sad I don’t have any more these days, lol.

      1. Oh, I am a hot chocolate obsessive and I rarely meet another! My favorite ever came from a local chocolatier who, I think, used up her scraps in the mix. Sadly, she’s not doing it any more. I also loved this amazing cream from Butterworks Farm in Vermont, which is no longer distributed outside of the northeast. But I soldier on chocolately.

        1. There’s a chocolate shop in Brick Lane (in London) that makes its hot drinks by shaving blocks of high quality chocolate while you watch. I haven’t been there since before the pandemic but it’s so delicious that it’s one of my recommendations anytime a friend is going to be in London.

    3. This is a great idea for a thread, Loopy; I’ll be taking notes too. These aren’t in ranked order, just coming to mind.

      A small commissioned painting of my house (I love my house, and I really like the idea that I’ll have this when eventually I move out)
      Gift certificates to art galleries I haunt online
      Subscription to a streaming service I meant to try but never quite got around to

    4. 1.) My dad once gave me an engineering book with all sorts of information in it. It’s got sections on various equations that frequently pop up, sections on geological formations, sections on how much stress various steel beams can handle, sections how calculating flow rate from pipes based on how high the water is–basically with this book someone could re-start civilization. I’ve used it a surprising number of times at work. Sounds kind of sad, but it’s the way Dad and I work. We don’t share a lot of common interests, but we can talk about work, and he can help me out in ways I don’t know I need help in yet.

      2 and 3.) My mother crocheted me a black dragon banner. I’m a giant nerd, and have taken the black dragon as my heraldry–I know it’s taken (like 60 times over), but it’s just a personal thing, not registered with any heraldic college, so screw it. Anyway, I remember unrolling it and just sort of freezing for a while. I had no idea she was doing it, no idea she even knew about the whole black dragon thing. I’d never spoken to her about it; apparently my sisters informed on me. It remains one of my most prized possessions.

      Alternate answer: Two rocks from my grandfather’s hog yard. I was in college studying geology, and they gave them to me as a joke (my grandfather had a different, “real” gift). I was the only one who didn’t get the joke. I loved it! Fine-grain sandstone and a true siltstone; I was studying siliciclastic sedimentary rocks at the time, and hadn’t seen hand samples of either! The rest of the family were somewhat taken aback by the fact that I was genuinely happy to get these rocks.

        1. Type in “Pocket Ref” in Google and it’ll come up. It’s not much of a title, but if you work around engineers it makes sense.

    5. Most Practical — from ex-girlfriend: little food storage containers with attached lids. I think the company’s called “Mr. Lid.” No more searching for missing lids!
      Most Practical and Thoughtful — from myself to myself for the holidays: a tub tray that can hold a book and a glass of something. I [email protected]#[email protected]!#$ing love reading in the tub.
      Most Thoughtful — from some distant relative to teen me: a gorgeous angora sweater that I would never have bought for myself but that made me feel like a million bucks every time I put it on.

    6. I don’t like wearing rings and I hated the short trash can my husband had before we got married. I admired my friend’s expensive, foot-pedal Simple Human trash can. My husband got that for me instead of an engagement ring. (And we took a trip to Paris.)(And he paid full price for the trash can because after six months, it had not gone on sale.)

      A former boyfriend got me a belt sander, which I love and have used many times.

      I contrast those to the cheap pressed-wood nesting tables painted with hibiscus and hummingbirds that my husband’s mom bought for us. She thought we needed them because there was absolutely nothing like that in our house, which I guess could be interpreted as the need for such an item but could also be interpreted as a lack of desire for such a thing.

      Anyhow, she was very very offended when we returned them. She retaliated by sending us a potted Meyer lemon tree, which needs temps above 70 degrees and 8 hours of sun a day, neither of which are possible where we live.

    7. Awwww this is a cute thread. For most thoughtful, I’d say: a Swiss Army knife engraved with my name. Mr. Tribble went to Geneva for a conference (this was pre Covid) and got it for my birthday. I’m an engineer, and he knows how proud I am of that & how much I like tools, which no one ever got me as a kid b/c no one gets girls Swiss Army knives. Plus, I have a unique name, so I’ve only once found a souvenir with my name on it. He got it custom engraved by the official makers, and I cried when I opened it.

      Now every time I need to open a box, etc, I’m like wait let me get MY Swiss Army knife!!! It delights me.

      1. Aw, Mr. Tribble is totally a keeper — what a kind, thoughtful human! : )

        1. He is ^_^ when we first started dating he was really bad with gifts— he found it very stressful & would just ask me what I wanted. So the fact that he thought of it all on his own, got it months before my birthday was sooooo sweet

      2. I was a huge MacGyver fan (the original series), so I was a girl that got Swiss Army knives for gifts. People laugh at you carrying one – until they need it. 😀

    8. Technically, that would be money; once my folks retired they gave my sibling and me nice fat checks as a “pre-inheritance” present.

      Ah, that one’s got to be the Kenya/Tanzania safari. Some very well-off friends decided they wanted to spend a couple of weeks there and thought it would be fun to bring family and friends, and sprang for almost 30 people to go and see the wildlife (got to pet a baby rhino and its warthog companion!), the scenery (awesome), drive over some of the worst roads I’ve ever experienced (wry grin), and be fed amazing food as compensation for all those rutted roads. The friends who did all this are gone now, and sorely missed, but the memories of that trip remain.

      My sister and my best friend conspired to replace a beloved Steiff stuffed toy that I’d had since I was two; it got demolished by a roommate’s dogs during Christmas vacation in college. The Steiff company had re-issued that particular toy a decade or so later, and they bought one and sprung it on me as a birthday surprise. Still get teary over that one!

    9. Practical: my MIL gives me a pack of Costco wool socks every year. They’re so comfy and I don’t have a Costco membership so I really appreciate getting them.

      Thoughtful: my husband got me some wireless Bluetooth earbuds (also practical!). I never would’ve thought to ask for them but now I use them almost every day!

      Unique: I can’t help thinking of this as a euphemism for bad gifts lol, most of the things I’ve wanted/enjoyed have been pretty basic!

      1. Practical:
        DH got me an entire year of batteries for my hearing aids for Christmas last year.

        Thoughtful: one of my oldest friends bought me really fancy kitchen towels which i coveted but never would have bought myself.

        Unique: one of those fake oil paintings of a victorian lady with my late kitty’s head subbed in.

    10. Practical: my mom is the queen of practical gifts. I think the most practical was either the jumper cables for my car, or the air purifier because I have heinous allergies and live in SoCal, land of fires. I use the air purifier every day and hope to never need the cables, but I appreciate both of them.

      Unique: my dad was a long-haul truck driver, and he’d bring me back “painted ponies” (horse figurines painted/modeled by different artists IIRC). I’m pretty sure they were sold in truck stops in the Midwest, but I’ve never seen them so they’re unique to me.

      Thoughtful: my best friend knew that my partner and I have been spending all our time in our shared home office, and that the mess and the setup was driving me crazy. So they helped us organize and redecorate it. Now I have a beautiful, artsy wall as a backdrop for video calls, and we have a ceiling blanketed in string lights and fake vines, and my partner’s band banners are shown off away from my work-space but where we can both appreciate them. It’s a small room, but somehow now there’s a clear space for me, a clear space for my partner, and a space where our weird, silly tastes overlap and show our connection. It totally transformed the room for both of us, and made it a sanctuary for me instead of a place where I begrudgingly spent 10 hours a day unable to disconnect from work.

    11. Unique, unexpectedly practical, AND thoughtful: I received a food dehydrator. It took me awhile for me to ‘get it’ : I hate tasting the sulfite in dried fruit, I had just gotten into camping, and i like puttering in a kitchen. The giver put those ideas together and gave me a way to make my own dried fruit. I’m still using it 30 years later.
      On another level, my brother realized one year that our elderly mom was keeping the thermostat low because of spiking fuel oil costs. So he gave her an extra fuel oil delivery. Golden!

      1. On another level, my brother realized one year that our elderly mom was keeping the thermostat low because of spiking fuel oil costs. So he gave her an extra fuel oil delivery. Golden!

    12. For practical- my husband is always upgrading my electronics because i don’t like getting new devices.
      Not sure I have a “most unique”…
      For most thoughtful: i work in theatre and it’s common to give wine for opening night. But I don’t drink, so one beloved director gave me a huge hunk of Stilton because he knew I love stinky cheese.

    13. Practical: a dustbuster. I asked for it; used it for the first time that very day (spilled goldfish crackers) and have gotten a lot of mileage from it.

      Unique: when I was little, my dad (biology professor) made me a Valentine in the shape of a heart. A biological heart.

      Thoughtful: a Squishable Cerberus. Best gift I ever got from a student.

    14. Most practical gift is a tie. When I got my first car, my dad gave me a portable battery jumper and a set of window visors (so I could leave my windows cracked without worrying about rain). Then when I first moved out on my own, my mom gave me a set of glass tupperware-esque containers and a few basic pieces of cast iron cookware. I still have a!l of those things and would immediately replace them if anything happened to them. It’s all so insanely useful.

      Most unique gift was probably a portrait session with a local photographer who specializes in a specific genre and film developing process. It’s not something I would have ever got myself or even thought I’d want, but it was a really fun experience and I still have all the photographs.

      Most thoughtful gift was a framed poster of an anime character from a not-very-popular series. It was my all-time favorite show for years and I identified strongly with the main character during a pretty rough time in my life.

    15. 1) Most practical: My family leans into “practical” gifts, so I have lots of examples. I got flannel bedsheets last year for Christmas and LOVE them.

      2) Most unique: This was also thoughtful. When I went to college, my mom put recordable voice buttons in the paws of a stuffed animal I was taking with me— she recorded herself reading me a quote, singing part of a lullaby, wishing me good night, and giving advice about sunscreen and hydration. It was QUITE a surprise when I first accidentally pressed a paw! A wonderful gift then and one that brings me to tears now that my mom is gone.

      3) Thoughtful: When I turned 18, my mom left two gifts for me to find first thing in the morning. One, the quintessential book on body health for people with uteruses (title escaping me) was labeled “For the woman you are becoming.” The other, a small stuffed dog, was labeled “for the child you will always be to me.”

      1. LOVE the recorded message idea. Lost my mom at age 6, would have treasured such an item.

    16. 1. Two times now I’ve gotten good electric meat thermometers. Good kitchen equipment is something I like and instant read thermometers are my jam. The second one was because the old one broke at 4 years.

      2. Most unique: a possibly vintage Navy Peacoat, circa WWII. We can’t tell if it’s an original or a reproduction or what but it’s made of the real stuff—heavy boiled wool with a silk lining. Heavy as blazes but really good for windy days.

      3. Most thoughtful: every now and then, when I’m down, my mom will gift me a fancy chocolate. She can read me better than I can myself and getting a chocolate on a random day is a wonderful blues killer.

    17. For 1, I’m going with the bath pillow my daughter got me. I quickly went from “Hmm, well, I’ll try it” to “Nope, gotta get out of the tub, I forgot my pillow.”

  17. I’d love some help with a niche crafting challenge! Does anyone know where to procure .7mm lead (for a mechanical pencil) in *brown*? The multi-color sets I’ve found don’t include brown. Thanks in advance!

    1. Google says that Amazon has it (made by Pentel). If you have a good art supply store you could try there/ring them first. (Probably not a craft supply store like Michael’s; I’m truly thinking of an independent art supplier.) Happy crafting!

      1. I searched for “0.7 mm lead brown” and the ad results show the product, just FYI since it seems like others might only be finding the 2.0 mm.

    2. Does it have to be .7 lead? I’m thinking of architectural drafting pencils which are lead holders that use thicker leads but the leads can come in various hardness levels. The harder end of the range can be sharpened to a very fine point (can equal your .7 leads). I’ve seen them in colors, though blue and red are the most common to find.

      1. I’m getting the same results: 2.0mm. Easiest one to describe is a company called June Gold selling on Amazon.

      2. Jetpens has one in brown, but it’s a 2mm one

  18. Does anyone have any advice for how to make friends in a new country? I moved to Saudi Arabia two months ago and I’m not doing very well at it. I meet plenty of people at work, and we all also live together on a compound, so in theory it should be easy to get to know people, but I just don’t seem to be making connections. I’m here on my own, so I really would like to build a social life, but I also tend to be a bit introverted and socially awkward. I’ve tried looking into expat groups in my area, but I live in a small town and they don’t seem to exist here. Any advice on how to make friends would be very welcome!

    1. Could you organize group activities in the compound? You could set up a social committee or something along those lines, and ask for volunteers to help with the activities. You could start a book club, for example, or organize visits to local landmarks. I think it might be easier to get the ball rolling with group activities, and then use that as a launching pad to identify people who have similar tastes and like the same activities as you do. I’ve also heard advice to just be bold and ask someone if they’d like to do a particular activity with you. Perhaps practicing with a script and preparing how you’d respond if they said no so that you’re not caught off guard would be helpful.

      1. Thank you! I think this is a really good idea. I had actually thought about maybe trying to start some kind of group activity. I think I feel a bit shy about doing this as a very new person, but I maybe just need to take the bull by the horns. Apparently, this sort of stuff did use to happen on the compound, but it all got stopped because of covid. Maybe there are others here who would also like this kind of thing.

        1. I always it find it easier to manage this sort of thing when I have a clear understanding of my role. I can give training to hundreds of people without a problem, for example, but I find it excrutiating to make small talk at networking events where I don’t have a particular “purpose”.

          I’m sure there are others in the compound who would love to get out and about and meet people as things hopefully open up again. Good luck!

    2. This is SO dependent on where you are and the culture you are in. And it is so hard to know what to do standing on the outside of it. I know how you feel! I have been there. Well, not Saudi Arabia, but the feeling of loneliness that comes with trying to make friends in a palce where everything is new and unfamiliar, including all of the unwritten social patterns. It is hard work to try to make friends anyplace, but that adds extra layers of difficulty!

      I have no clue whatsoever if these ideas will be helpful where you are, but, at various times, they have been helpful for me:
      1) Ask. Seriously, if you get to chatting with someone at all, ask how they made connections with people. This works for coworkers, too. That will give you a lot of information that is very local to where you are, some of which may be useful. It might also clue that person in to the idea that you’re interested in maybe spending time getting to know THEM or OTHER PEOPLE THEY KNOW, while not putting them on the spot.

      2) Classes and other formal opportunities that throw you together with other people. A lot of times a single meeting wont get enough traction for a friendship, but multiple meetings will. If you have a structured activity, there’s plenty of fodder for talking and getting more comfortable on both sides. I often had especially good luck with language classes, I think in part because the people were already interested in learning about another culture and language. But really, anything will do as long as it is there. Board games. Book clubs. Volunteering if that is a thing where you are.

      3) Is there anything like a tourist office where you are? I know that sounds kind of silly, since you aren’t going to be their audience (you live there!) but in my experience the people who work at such organizations in anything other than big cities have an ear to the ground in a way that can be useful. If nothing else, they’ll have information for you about local cafes or places to go or see or do with your free time.

      4) Same question about a local library or public facing establishments like museums. Even religious establishments can be places to engage with people who are very local even if you are not that particular religion. Or universities!

      5) If you’re just going for getting to know people in your building, as opposed to groups outside where you live too, then is there some organization that manages your space that might be helpful? Or a place to hang up a notice that says “Hey, I’m new here! I would love to meet my neighbors. Want to come over and have [drink] and [food] and chat? If so, please [come by at X time] / [drop me a note] / [whatever]. Maybe have some conversation topics (see idea #1) handy so that you have something to fall back on if the person isn’t super talkative for whatever reason.

      6) One last idea for just your neighbors: can you knock on their doors to say hi or leave a note in their mailbox introducing yourself? A neighbor recently did this and it was lovely to just know his name and some beginning information about him. That made it easier to strike up a conversation in the hallway, in part because I knew he was at least superficially interested in some sort of connection with the people in the building.

      1. Thank you! I especially love the idea of language classes and I’m going to look into it. It might kill two birds with one stone as I don’t speak a word of Arabic at the moment and really feel like I want to do something about that.

    3. Look for an “American Expats in Saudi Arabia” facebook group, as they may have more country-specific suggestions.

        1. One really useful thing about language classes is that often you are tasked with asking your fellow learners lots of questions – where do you come from, who is in your family, do you have a pet, favourite foods etc – so it’s a great way of getting to know people in a way that might seem weirdly intrusive if you were asking in your native language.

    4. I’ve lived in the Middle East and found it easiest to make friends with other expats who had also just arrived. Expats who’ve been living in a place for a while usually have their friend groups already. The tricky thing about the expat life is that people tend to come and go quite a lot, so after a while those who are there for the long haul don’t want to get to know someone who might leave soon. However! I guarantee other new arrivals are just as lonely as you are and would be just as excited to make friends. Honestly, I met some friends just hanging out in cafes, sitting at a shared table with other foreigners who were also there alone.

      If you have any interest in learning Arabic, I also became friends with several of my language exchange partners. Even if your Arabic is currently minimal to nonexistent, that wouldn’t be a problem as long as you enjoy learning. Language exchanges are a great way to structure social time for those of us who are a bit awkward (I include myself in that).

  19. I hope it’s okay to post two questions. I am stumped on how people do something. I want to look at very specific types of property/homes for sale and I have no idea how one would internet search for them. I’m not committed to buying, I just want to see what’s out there- so I don’t think a real estate agent makes sense.

    Something like finding a house surrounded by woods or land within 3 hours of me, preferably a cabin/cottage. I’m not looking for anything way out in the wilderness/remote, just not in a subdivision/neighborhood. Anything from 1-3 acres would be so great.

    Everything on zillow is (understandably) in neighborhooods or just land without a house. Do I just pick areas on a map and search by zipcode?

    1. I have had some luck putting keywords in the advanced search on Shorewest.com, where you can also narrow down by county.

      Otherwise, a real estate agent is a good idea as they have access to more information, including properties not yet listed. We weren’t charged for her time if that’s a concern. Ours found us the house of our dreams where we would never have thought to look.

    2. On the Redfin app you can pick a minimum lot size, that might help to narrow your search. There are probably realtors who specialize in the wooded/rural communities near you -especially if there’s a feature that makes the area desirable (lake, hiking, etc). Find them and search their website listings.

    3. I do sesrches on realtor.com by county with the criteria avaliable and then use google maps satellite and street view to see what the area around the property looks like.

    4. Zillow tends to be better for niche searches. Use the advanced search and choose single family home, set your minimum acres, and you might even be able to search by county or zip code.

    5. This is easy to do in GIS (“Geographic information systems” – basically using software you can make maps and do analysis) but that’s not something the average person can use; I wonder if a sympathetic staffmember at your city or county planner can help – or might you know anyone who uses GIS for work? Land trusts do this but they aren’t likely to do it for you on staff time.

    6. I think I would indeed make a list of possible zip codes and search that way, probably on multiple sites…but I also like doing my own research and I REALLY like being thorough. Housing search engines are also only as good, or as bad, as the information put into them. I’ve known several people who have gotten better deals or closer to their dream or otherwise benefited from finding properties that had been miscategorized or were otherwise difficult to find via the usual search engine limitations. But it really depends, I think, on how much time you want to put in and how much you enjoy the process itself.

    7. Redfin allows you to save your search parameters so you don’t have to adjust the filters every time you look. They assign you a realtor but they’re salaried so you’re not wasting their time/costing them money by only casually searching, and you could either ask them for help finding places or just let them know you’re not serious right now and will get in touch if you ever want to check something out

    8. I don’t know if this tool exists on other property websites, but Rightmove (I think) here in the UK has a function where you can draw a circle on a map and it will search for properties in that area that fit your criteria, so it might be worth looking to see if anything where you are offers something similar.

    9. I used zillow — I searched by county and set a minimum acerage.

  20. I have been researching this and am still a bit puzzled. We (the children) will be getting my parent’s IRA split among us. I would personally like to get a tax or estate person to help with my share so I don’t make a mistake or incur penalties. I am not the executor of the will and he doesn’t think we need a lawyer, so I am assuming I have to wait until we get the death certificate to get my own counsel. Can I just roll it straight into an IRA in my name and then get help with it?

    1. CPA here. Under current law, if you are the beneficiary of the IRA you can roll the proceeds into an inherited IRA if you are not the spouse- but not into an IRA in you name. Under current law-and it changed a year or two ago- you have 10 years to withdraw the funds. When you withdraw, you will pay income tax on the amount withdrawn. You do not need an attorney for this- a CPA or financial advisor can help you understand the rules and the tax impact.

      1. Right, so you’ll probably want to withdraw about 12% a year (to account for growth), but if you’re near retirement, say 5 years, you can wait 5 years and spread the withdrawals out over the remaining 5 years instead, when your earned income is zero. The only requirement is that it is emptied after 10 years, so yes, an advisor might be helpful in planning to minimize the tax impact.

      2. Not an IRA, but a retirement account. I had them withhold money for taxes up front. It was an overage, and I did get a refund.

      3. my experience is from an ira with me and my siblings named as beneficiaries. I was not the executor, but I called the investment firm (Vanguard) and they told me what was required. One of us had to send the death certificate, and then each of us had to call to set-up the inherited ira account and transfer our portion of the ira. This part did not require an estate attorney, but my sister (the executor) did go to an estate attorney to get other necessary info, we all signed a document saying we agreed to my sister being excutor and the will. I think it was presented to the court and a “letter of testimery?” was issued that some folks required to distribute funds (ones mom did not have beneficiaries listed on)/ close accounts etc.
        each state has different rule, so exactly how you handle anything done by the will vs named beneficiaries on an account can be different in different states, so that is why you definitely need an estate attorney.

        For the taxes, it depend if the IRA is a traditional or Roth. If it is a Roth, it won’t be taxed when taken out, so it is best to take 100 % out in year 10 to get more tax free growth before it goes to a taxable account and starts generating taxable income (unless you need the money now, then take sooner). It is more likely to be traditional and you will pay taxes when removing $, so project your taxable income for the next 10 years and figure out if you expect to have higher or lower income in some year, and what tax bracket you expect to be in. Take out as much as fills up the tax bracket that you want to stay in and that you project will empty the account in year 10 without making that last year a high tax bracket year.

    2. The company/advisor where your parent’s IRA was held should be able to help with that. Typically, you would need to pass the assets into an inherited IRA and would take distributions from there. Different custodians (the bank or brokerage) may have different requirements. Many of them will require all beneficiaries to submit their paperwork before any distributions are made. You don’t need a lawyer, but it might be helpful to use a good accountant to determine if there will be any impact on your taxes.

      1. This matches my recent experience with my mother’s estate, which included an IRA that was split among her three children. I was executor (well, co-executor, but I did the heavy lifting) and worked with her financial advisor to transfer the IRA to Fidelity, but I bet we could have done everything with just Fidelity’s help. Fidelity then worked with us to split it three ways. All of the work was done online or by phone and mail. The initial transfer turned our mom’s traditional IRA, held elsewhere, into an inherited IRA at Fidelity. The split turned that inherited IRA into three individual inherited IRAs. (BDA was another term used.) Fidelity walked us through their process. First we three had to open three empty, individual inherited IRAs. Then I sent Fidelity a letter of instruction on how to split up the money (equally, but they needed that in writing with the four account numbers and names spelled out). It was a slower process than I expected, mostly because I had trouble getting Fidelity’s Transfer of Assets form. And some Fidelity representatives were faster and more helpful than others. But overall it went smoothly.

        So I really don’t think you need an estate lawyer for this. We had one early on, but he didn’t handle the IRA. Mostly he gave us an overview of the process and answered questions for estate-level issues like the EIN.

        I don’t know anything about possible penalties. Our CPA is working on the estate tax return next week, but she hasn’t indicated that the inherited IRAs will be problematic. I haven’t started withdrawing money from mine, but I expect I’ll have to be careful with that and consider how it affects my income and taxes.

        1. I should add that the estate-level IRA didn’t go away after the split. In fact, it accumulated a bit more money from interest and dividends, so I had to contact Fidelity a few weeks ago to make a final, three-way distribution to get that account balance back to zero. Now it’s sitting there empty.

        2. My experience also. I was beneficiary on one of Dad’s IRAs and my deceased stepmom was on the other. That made them two different flavors of inherited IRA with different RMD requirements, both different from the RMD requirements on my own IRA. I talked to both my CPA and Fidelity about it and they both knew what to do. The accounts must remain separated because of the different draw down rates for each.

    3. When my mother died, the IRA was split and rolled into new ones in each of her children’s names, and each child (all adults) dealt with it as made sense in their own individual cases – leaving their inherited IRA intact, cashing it in and using or reinvesting the money, etc. There were special tax issues for those of us who weren’t in the US, but even they weren’t anything a tax person in the 9ther country hadn’t seen before. Well, mostly. Some of them were pretty firm that their expertise didn’t extent to US funds in a US account, but that’s not your problem.

    4. You probably don’t need a death certificate, either. For all the accounts I’ve dealt with, I (executor & trustee) submit the initial paperwork and death certificate (or copy, lots of this is done by fax!) and addresses for the beneficiaries. Then the beneficiaries get forms which they fill out. There is a choice of boxes to tick, immediate distribution or distribution over 10 years. As others said, timing for taxes is really the question at that point. I don’t think I’ve even sent a copy of the death certificate to any of the beneficiaries.

      1. I got the impression that the death certificate hadn’t been issued yet. The beneficiary doesn’t need a certified copy themselves, but there does need to be one.

    5. My recommendation is start reading Ed Slott’s website irahelp.com. He a national expert on all things IRA. The law for inherited IRA’s recently changed significantly. He newsletter is well worth the cost.

    6. It’s actually simpler than it used to be, so that’s helpful for you.

      The portion of the IRA that goes to you will be retitled–not exactly to you, but more like You as Beneficiary of Parent (Parent’s name must be on the title). Any financial institution should know how to do this. Make sure you keep saying “*inherited* IRA” rather than just IRA to minimize any misunderstanding.

      The recent change in the law about inherited IRAs simplifies things–you have ten years to withdraw all the money from the account. There’s no need to calculate RMDs in this situation–you could take it all the tenth year if you wanted, though of course that might not be the best-case scenario for taxes.

      If your parent was over 70 1/2, you and the other beneficiaries will want to check to make sure the parent took their RMD this year; if not, you all will need to take the RMD calculated for your parent this year and pay tax accordingly. That can come in part from all of you or all from one of you–the IRS won’t care.

      FWIW, the IRS is legendarily forgiving on errors on inherited IRAs. It’s pretty common for the year-of-death RMD to be missed and taken in a later year, and generally they waive penalties when an explanation is submitted. So don’t worry too much.

      1. Actually- the required age for RMD’s changed a few years ago. In 2019- it changed to 72. There is currently a proposal to change it again to 75. With tax things, the answer is generally “It depends”- and changes in the law happen all the time!

        1. You’re right–I remembered how the SECURE Act changed the inherited IRA rules and forgot about the RMD age–good catch!

    7. I’d vote for talking to a CPA. When Dad left me (the only heir) two IRAs, the CPA who does my taxes told me what I needed to tell Fidelity (where my own IRA is) and Fidelity made sure everything was right. On one of Dad’s IRAs I was the beneficiary, and on the other, the beneficiary was my stepmother, who predeceased him. So although I inherited both, the legal situation turned out to be different. That made the Required Minimum Distribution rules different between each of them, and because they’re inherited, different from my personal IRA too. So now I have three small IRAs each running a different RMD schedule. The one thing I learned was that I definitely needed advice! I was ready to guess that an IRA is an IRA and jam them all together, which would have been a real mess.

    8. If your parents haven’t died yet, they can simplify this whole process by naming you and your siblings as equal beneficiaries. Could be contingent if the primary beneficiary would be the living spouse (in the case of the first to die.)
      When the first parent dies, the surviving spouse sends a death certificate and the account is rolled into theirs, making the children equal beneficiaries. When the second dies, the executor sends the death certificate and the company works with each child to set up the successor account that must be liquidated within ten years. Genuinely the easiest part of the estate process, no need to go through probate.
      Life pro tip- make sure to keep your beneficiaries updated on all of your accounts!

    9. Sincerely—thank you all, so much! I feel loads better about handling what’s ahead.

  21. I now have an heirloom stuffed animal that smells like decades of scented pipe tobacco! I’d love to de-scentify it but am afraid of ruining its cloth and stuffing. Is there a for-sure home method or do I need a stuffed animal doctor?

    1. Have you tried putting it into a sealed box next to a bowl of vinegar? That trick works for removing the smell of musty dresser drawers. But, if it’s treasured, I’d go the expert route.

      1. Or baking soda, I think? hell try em both, they’re cheap and unlikely to do harm.

        1. Just not at the same time! That will make a volcano.

    2. I’m a huge fan of Nature’s Miracle Enzyme spray. It’s intended for pet smells but it’s amazing stuff. Just spray a bit on the stuffie, on the bottom, see how the fabric holds up.

    3. Can you hang it outdoors for a few days? Maybe use a clothespin or two with a hanger and let it wave in the breeze. That’s how I got a funky smell out of a pretty jacket I bought online. I found the tip online somewhere, and it worked! I think the colder the weather, the better.

      1. I’ve had really good luck with this too. Definitely make sure it’s in the shade to protect colors, though.

    4. If you’re trying at home remedies (that involve putting something on the toy), just make sure you test an inconspicuous spot first! Also try to figure out what kind of material it’s made of – that may impact what is safe to use.

    5. There’s nothing sacred about its stuffing if the value is entirely sentimental rather than monetary. (A collectible stuffed animal should not be restuffed.) While airing it out or enclosing it in a container with an odor-eliminating product might work, it seems unlikely. Tobacco smoke leaves a residue that can infiltrate pretty deeply. (Just ask anybody who’s tried to paint the walls of a house where a smoker lived for many years.)

      I’d probably spend time with a decent magnifier and a seam ripper, opening an inconspicuous seam on the underside, pulling the stuffing, and cleaning the “skin” by whatever means seems safe and effective, like hand washing and air drying. If any repairs are needed (like more firmly attaching eyes, ears, or tail), now’s the time. I’d restuff with the same material, only new, and neatly stitch it shut again.

      1. >Just ask anybody
        Oh yes. My bedroom has a ghostly smell of old cigarettes after several days where we can’t open a window. And it’s new plasterboard & flooring…that’s from the closets & built-in bureaus.

    6. Thank you! I’m going to try a few of these remedies. Some outdoor time in the sun today and baking soda in a box tonight to start with.

  22. Wills! What kinds of arrangements do you make for a house (where I currently live) while writing a will. It seems like such a pain to will it to someone who would have to then sell it. I don’t have anyone close to me who needs housing (like a younger person). I live alone, am not close to family. Or is that just part of what happens when someone dies, whoever just will have to deal with it? How do you choose the whoever?

    1. I can’t speak to the estate aspect of things, but if you can do a pre clean yourself and get rid of/donate stuff that you no longer have use for (think: cleaning out the attic, garage, guest room, closets, etc), that is hugely helpful.

      After helping clean out two sets of grandparents’ houses, having to sort through 2-40 years of someone else’s stuff was the worst. Obviously if you are living in your house, there are things you want to keep with you while you’re living. But stuff you’re holding onto and not using- just let it go. Your family will be appreciative!

      1. Or another option is to downsize and move into a retirement community (but only if you want to!). That takes care of the big clean out, on your terms.

        The amount of things we threw away/thrifted I feel a little bad about, but when you’re dealing with someone else’s things, most of it is just… Stuff… and not meaningful/worth the hassle of selling.

      2. One of my grandmothers spent the last decade of her life systematically clearing her house and making sure every single financial item was squared away in neat file folders. That was such an act of love. (She outlived two husbands so she understood the need, plus was a legal secretary so she had a leg up on the organization bit!)

    2. I would look at it as a monetary thing, you are leaving the value of the house to whoever. There are plenty of agents who will take care of liquidating the house and contents for them. We had to deal with this when an elderly relative died hours from where we lived. (Found all kinds of odds and ends such as a box of silver coins among the junk.)

    3. Can you google your state to see if there’s a transfer-on-death option? Sadly, my state does not permit this, but some do, and INAL but I hear this is the simplest and easiest way to get this done.

      1. If you are doing a trust, you can put the house in the trust, and that also bypasses a lot of the probate issues. Then the successor trustee manages the sale. As others said, a realtor can help do a lot of the heavy lifting. As long as the executor or trustee is in the US, the closing can be done remotely, they just send a notary to your house at the end.

        1. We have our house in a trust for estate reasons. Our lawyer did the paperwork. This will save our executor time and trouble.
          I wouldn’t bother willing a house to anybody but maybe a charity. Let it be part of your estate and give bequests in percentages of the entire estate. That way, any changes in your estate between now and then will still reflect your intentions. When you will a large, expensive non-cash item to someone, the potential taxes on the inheritance might force a sale anyway.
          Side note: when I won a car, I had to pay $4000 in income tax UP FRONT to claim the car! And I wasn’t done paying. At tax time, I had to pay the rest of the 25% federal income tax and 10% state income tax. I often wonder about someone who wins or inherits a big non-cash item and has to decline it because they can’t afford the taxes!

    4. My place will be re-sold whether I leave it to an individual or group of inviduals because, like you, unless something drastic changes, they all have their own homes. I figure they’ll just hire someone to sell it (and maybe clear it as well), and split the proceeds. I chose the ‘whoever’ as being the same small group of relatives who are very close to me and who are also getting whatever is left over after some other bequests. I have heard of people who leave houses to charity – not big histo houses, just ordinary ones that the charity has cleared and sells for money for their mission.

      1. That’s what happened with my mother’s estate (my father pre-deceased her, and left everything to her.)

        Her will specified the estate was to be divided equally among her 6 children. The house was the most valuable part of the estate; my oldest brother was the exector, and he contacted a realtor and had it sold. Before putting it on the market, all of us got together and picked what we wanted to take from the house, and my brother donated the rest to the hospice where my mother died (they had a charity resale shop to benefit the hospice.)

        In case anyone wonders, we had no disputes over who got what. We started out by drawing numbers, 1-6. Starting with #1, you picked an item (we didn’t get all nitpicky about value of each item.) #6 drew last, so at that point we reversed the choices and went from 6 back up to 1. Then 1 back down to 6. That sort of evened things out. Nobody got in an argument.

    5. I am on my own, too.
      So far my plan is to go to a lawyer and line up an auction house to unload the contents and maybe even the house.
      I do have a dog and my friend said he’d take my dog. (He has a key and can just come get the dog.)
      I thought of leaving whatever proceeds to a local NPO.

      Don’t forget to do some funeral planning. I do have a space at a family plot and the space has a stone. So that is one or two less things someone has to figure out.

      That’s as far as I have gotten. I will be interested to see what others have done.

    6. I talk to my clients about two main options. One, if you leave the house to someone, it’s up to them to do what they want with it. Maybe they’ll live there, maybe they’ll rent it out, maybe they’ll sell it. Depending on the state and what kind of property it is (I’m looking at you, Florida timeshares), they may or may not be able to live in the house (or rent it out) while your will is being probated, but they’ll still have to pay taxes, utilities, and any condo or HOA fees during that time.

      Two, another option is to direct that your executor(s) sell the house and then have the proceeds go into the estate or to one particular person, or into a trust for the benefit of someone or something, such as your favorite charity. When my child was still a minor, I went with the latter: I directed that the house be sold and the proceeds go into a trust that paid out half when they reached age 25 and the rest when they reached age 30. Now that my child is an adult, I’m directing that the house be sold and the proceeds go into the estate, and my child is the main beneficiary of my estate. (They don’t live near me, so leaving them the house outright and leaving it on them to decide whether to live in it or sell it, and then to deal with selling it, wouldn’t be the most thoughtful way for me to handle it.)

      1. Glomarozation, Esq- Can I ask… in this case, are your children not the executors of your will? And (if it’s not too personal) how you chose who would be? I always thought that most people choose their children to be the executor of their wills (Both my parents and my husbands parents have). Our children are minors, so my parents ate currently our executors, but I always assumed we would transfer that responsibility to one of our children. Just wondering if there are other factors we should consider?

        1. Mr. Glomarization is my executor, followed by my lawyer. Your best choice for executor and back-up executor is someone who is:

          – younger than you, but not a super young adult,
          – living in the same state,
          – not a felon,
          – not broke, and
          – trustworthy and honest.

    7. For me, the house goes along with everything else in the tangible property. It’s all to be sold (aside from any specific bequests of items) and the proceeds divided among the beneficiaries. I’m working with my lawyer to put in language that explicitly allows for the executor to hire necessary services for that (and she’s also been informed of that) rather than having to do it all herself. There’s no sentimental family attachment to my house so they’d benefit much more from the proceeds.

    8. With Mr T’s parents, the house was just part of the estate. The money from the sale of the house paid off the mortgage and the remainder went into the trust for the grandkids.

      Please have all your files prepared so your executor knows where your bank accounts are – where the title to your car is (not in a manila envelope on the shelf of the guest room closet, please) – whether you have a safe deposit box or not.

      Arrange for your executor to have easy access to some of your cash (maybe put that person on your checking account now) so she can cover her expenses of closing your estate and pay the utilities for your house before it sells. (Pay them without having to use her own money, that is.)

      Throw away or donate all the crap you’re never going to want again. Sort through the eight years’ worth of Medicare EOBs and other bills so that your executor has to deal only with active bills.

      Arrange and pay for your burial/cremation/donation to The Body Farm. It seems macabre, but it is just one less thing for your executor to do. (Actually, I don’t even know if the executor is in charge of burial – but someone has to do it!)

      1. And if you have pets, figure out what’s supposed to happen to them! That was the worst thing for Mr T. He had asked his parents several times before they died what plans they had for their cats.

        Mr T spent weeks trying to re-home the cats – he did not want to send them to a sanctuary. (And bringing them to our house was not an option – we already have two cats and his parents’ cats were mean.)

      2. Thank you. I have a will because of your postings. That is a good idea about having cash on hand for the executor for expenses.

        1. Bibliovore, it makes me so happy to know that you have a will and that I helped! It’s a great feeling to know that someone’s life is a little bit better because of something I said.

          (I am also super happy today because someone commented on my latest blog post that her community college, which has a lot of first-generation students, has re-named “office hours” to “student hours.” She thinks it’s because last spring in a faculty meeting, she recounted my story about not knowing what office hours were when I was in college. I thought those were just the hours when professors worked (which made me think a five hour workweek was what I should expect in life) and not a time when I could ask a teacher for help. So – I never asked for help, which I desperately needed. I didn’t even know it was allowed.)

          1. Because of you, when my husband suddenly died five months ago I knew where everything was. All the important documents.
            We made sure that all assets were in both our names like the deed for the house and the car titles and all checking accounts. That I was the current beneficiary on all I R As etc.
            Because of you there was no probate.
            And because of you I am working on an estate plan that includes who and how the pets will be cared for.
            It’s been pretty awful but it would have been worse without your guidance and horror stories.

            1. Oh Bibliovore. I am so so sorry that you ever needed any information I shared. What a horrible loss you have suffered. I would so much rather have been shouting into the wind than have any of my words be needed. I am grateful that your work was lessened but wish so much more that your husband were still alive. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

    9. Whoever is drafting your will/estate plan should be able to help you with this. In general, after you die someone will manage all of your stuff and distribute it however you’ve said. You can tell that person to give a specific thing to a specific beneficiary – like giving your home to your niece – or you can treat all of your stuff as one big lump and give a percent of it to everyone. In that case, your house would just be another asset with a market value that’s included in determining how much money each person gets.

      Usually the executor (or trustee) has broad discretion to liquidate items in your estate and distribute cash, or to give someone a particular asset as part of their inheritance. Some investments aren’t easy to liquidate or it’s bad market timing (or they have specific sentimental value to the recipient).

      So you probably shouldn’t have to decide in advance whether your home should be sold as part of your estate, to raise money for your beneficiaries, or whether someone should just inherit the house outright. You can leave everyone a percent of your estate, and then they and the executor can decide if it makes more sense to sell the house or to transfer it to a beneficiary; you can leave someone your house or its equivalent value, and then whatever it’s worth when you die is what that person would inherit; and I’m sure there are a lot of other options.

      Your estate planner should be able to outline your options in broad strokes pretty quickly, so you won’t have to pay a lot to get some guidance on this.

  23. Last weekend someone mentioned the hobbydrama subreddit so I checked it out.

    Many posts require a lot of reading of the background of why something is interesting / dramatic but I saw the posts from 2019 about a clam chowder Facebook group.

    Those posts are amazing. The personality clashes over clam chowder (which I like but hadn’t spent too much time thinking about but now will think about a whole lot more) were epic.

    So what did you read this week that you really enjoyed and got stuck in your head?

    1. Thank you for asking, because I have been desperate to tell people about this. There are various text accounts and also at least one YouTube video on the topic (that’s where I encountered the story, so I specifically recommend the Vox video), which is the mystery of “same sky” postcards. It’s the result of an obsessive postcard collector who began to see that there were a couple of very specific cloud formations that would recur in postcards from places all over and at various times, and a dive into how such postcards got made and why the skies got repeated. What to me was as fascinating as the same-sky situation was what this man’s huge postcard collection revealed about patterns and tropes in these images. I just love when somebody looks broadly at some kind of unconsidered medium and finds meaningful patterns.

      1. Oh, I saw this too and thought it was so interesting! I love watching people (including myself) get keenly interested in things, plus I understand the urge to collect in general, and the guy in the video is from the same city I grew up in.

        1. Totally! In this narrow area he’s done his own core sample on the world.

    2. I’m reading “Jane Austen: The Secret Radical” and while some of the author’s analysis feels far-fetched to me, the way she places Austen’s novels in the personal and cultural context of when they were written is really interesting. Also she pointed out that Wickham might be Darcy’s half-brother and now I’m scandalized lol

      1. Wickham being a secret half-brother sounds quite reasonable to me, amd increases the reasons why 1) the Darcy’s cared, and 2) Wickham was angry and revengeful.

  24. I have a question about what to do with someone’s pets if they are not able to care for them for a period of time.

    My husband’s sister, “Amy”, has been an alcoholic for at least the past few years, maybe longer. It’s gotten to the point where she cannot go a day without drinking otherwise she experiences severe withdrawal symptoms.

    She was hospitalized this past week and there is a concern that her liver is badly damaged. After she gets out of the hospital, she is going into a recovery program for 30-40 days. She is also dealing with fallout from business dealings with an ex-boyfriend and may need to declare bankruptcy.

    Amy has four older children who live on their own and one teenage daughter who still lives with her. The father of the teenager is not in the picture. She also has three cats and a dog.

    The daughter is staying with a family friend. My husband’s other sister, “Beth”, has taken in the dog.

    My husband and I are the cat people in the family, so we’ve volunteered to care for the cats while they are sill in Amy’s apartment.

    I went over there last night and the place was quite dirty. There are two litter boxes that look like they hadn’t been cleaned in several days. There was some water in one of those automatic feeders but I couldn’t find any food left out for the cats. There were empty bowls with dried food in various places in the apartment.

    I noticed one of the cabinet doors ajar and I think the cats might have been eating the dry food out of one the large bags in there.

    I gave the cats fresh food and water and cleaned the litter boxes. I emptied out multiple bags of trash and did the dishes piled in the sink and counter.

    The cats are still pretty young – around 6 months to a year. Two boys and a girl and I don’t think they have been fixed yet. My husband and I have agreed to take the cats and pay for them to get fixed. And we are going to care for them while Amy is still in the hospital.

    However, we don’t know how long Amy will be in the hospital and after that if she goes into rehab for another month that is a long time to care for these animals.

    We both feel like these animals should be rehomed, because we don’t know if Amy would be physically or emotionally able to care for these animals when she comes back home.

    Her older kids are not in a place to care for the animals. One of Amy’s daughters has an un-spayed female cat and Amy took in two of the kittens from that litter. We’re also trying to get in touch with the older daughter to help pay for getting her cat spayed.

    We don’t want the cats going to a shelter so we would care for the cats and post on social media and try to network with friends to help get them adopted.

    Since this is my husband’s family he will be discussing this with his other siblings.

    Are we making the right decision in trying to rehome the cats? We’re trying to do what’s best for the animals and trying to reduce the burden of responsibilities on Amy as she goes through recovery.

    1. This is a question for Amy, because they’re her cats. Personally, I would take care of the cats for the month she’s in rehab, because if she doesn’t have care for the cats, that’s a reason for her to avoid actually doing rehab, which won’t be good for anyone. Then you can talk to her about whether she can realistically care for the cats and whether she’d be willing for you to help her rehome them.

      If you absolutely can’t care for the cats while she’s in rehab, tell her and her daughters that, and let them figure out a solution. But you can’t just give away her cats while she’s in rehab against her will. They are her pets, and they don’t belong to you.

      1. We’re planning on taking care of the cats for the time being and may ask other family members to help out if needed. My husband will talk to Amy before any decisions are made. We would not rehome the cats without her input.

    2. Rehoming them is probably not a bad idea, but I don’t think it’s something you should do without talking to Amy first, if at all possible. She might have some trouble with them when she gets home, but if she comes home out of rehab to find that people gave away all her pets while she was in, that probably won’t put her in a very good mindset either.

      1. My husband would be talking to his other family members and Amy before making any decisions.

    3. There are cat rescue organizations in many cities that will take them to foster/adopt if Amy decides to give them up. Possibly could foster them while she is in rehab, not sure if they do short term like that or not. Bless you for stepping up for the kitties.

      1. Thanks. I would be happy to take them in myself, but we have five cats and some that are sensitive to changes in the environment. I don’t want to cause stress for the resident kitties. For the time being, I’m planning on taking care of the cats while Amy is in rehab.

    4. Around here there is a little secret that some vets will spay for free. The one vet that I know of who does this commits to doing x number of free spays per month. I am pretty sure other vets also do this. This is not something that is advertised and usually comes into conversation ONLY if there is a need, such as your story here. You can frame it as, “I am trying to help my sick family member. I have been taking care of these cats but I can’t cover the spaying, is there anyone around who would be willing to help me?” Keep asking until you find someone who gives you an answer.

      1. The nonprofit that runs county animal services here does low-cost spay/neuters. I just trapped a stray to get him neutered (and then, of course, ended up keeping him) and it was $50 for the spay plus $10 for rabies vax and then an optional $15 for three days of cat morphine which I paid for because he looked so sad in his trap and I felt guilty.

        1. Our county health department offers free rabies shots. Check your county website to see if your county has this offering. They pick one town a month. So you can just go when the clinic is at a town near you.

      2. We had several pretty feral cat spayed for $20 through a program that goes around with a mobile surgery unit. They do this because they don’t want them to continue to multiple.

        We’ve also gotten a discount at that when we had multiple pet cats spayed same time. Since they’re looking at 3 and possibly for cats with the daughters they should ask their vet.

    5. The only thing that I would mention that I am not seeing here is whether or not it would make sense to talk to the teenage daughter about it. I mean, it is a crappy enough situation for her at the moment anyway, so I would wonder what effect coming back home to no cats would have… Maybe none, but also maybe something. That would tip the scales for me in terms of my actions. I would definitely be willing to do more care for the cats over a longer period of time, as opposed to something more irreversible like rehoming, if it made a material difference in the teenaged daughter’s health and happiness. But a lot depends on the particulars that I don’t know.

      1. Thanks for mentioning this. I know that the daughter is very attached to the dog and we’ll definitely keep her in mind as we figure out what to do with the cats. I just feel like she’s been through so much already, I don’t know what level of care she can help provide her mom for the other animals. I’m just talking about daily litter box cleaning and making sure they have good and water. But all this is speculation and requires more discussion with everyone.

    6. Echoing everyone that, as you already have addressed, this is a question that only Amy can answer. I honestly got a cat to help deal with my mental health issues, so having a routine around caring for her cats could be a huge help to Amy. It does sound like it might help for a care routine to get developed so she knows what’s needed for caring for them, if she decides to keep them.

      There is also the possibility of finding a short- or long-term foster situation until Amy is back on her feet (mentally, financially, etc). Some people are willing to do this! There’s a group in my area that recently started for people who need their pets rehomed temporarily.

      1. I came here to say this: caring for a pet may be helpful during a difficult healing process. For some people, it is easier to get out of bed in the morning because someone else needs them rather than “just” for themselves.

        1. I have five cats, and they definitely help me get out of bed in the morning and keep me going when I feel depressed. I agree that this requires a discussion with Amy and maybe me and my husband can offer to help with pet care when she gets back home.

    7. You’ve replied to many people that you will talk to Amy before **you and your husband** make a decision.
      That’s the wrong approach.
      What you need to to is talk to Amy, ask her what HER decision is, and then respect that.
      You think you’re “helping” by reducing demands or whatever other justifications you’ve come up with. But you do not get to micromanage Amy’s life, or the teen’s life.
      Be supportive by caring for the cats during rehab.
      And also be supportive by respecting Amy’s autonomy.

    8. Amy is so seriously unwell that she has to be hospitalized. Her daughter is living through an immense trauma. How would you feel if someone got rid of your pets (or started asking you about the possibility of doing so) during the lowest moment of your life?

      If you can’t take care of the cats, you can’t take care of the cats. Your boundaries are yours to set and enforce. But right now is probably not the right time to ask Amy (or her daughter) about rehoming their pets. If you aren’t able, financially or logistically, to maintain the status quo for a bit, it would be ideal to ask another family member to take this piece on. I think rehoming should be a last resort only.

    9. OP, you are a fantastic human for prioritizing spaying and neutering the cats. And for giving them foster care while your family member is in treatment. I think that rehoming the cats is a valid conversation to have with Amy (when she’s feeling well enough). Presuming that everyone is on good terms and interested in having this discussion.

    10. Of course your intentions are good and it may be in the cats’ long term best interest, but you just can’t do this behind Amy’s back. She is in rehab, she’s not dead or a vegetable.

      If she can’t take them back when she goes home, you aren’t on the hook to keep them forever. You can have a conversation at that point about where else she might want them to go, or how to handle it.

      But you can’t just get rid of her pets without her consent. Not just morally, legally even. Would you go through her house and give away her appliances or jewelry so she wasn’t burdened?

    11. Thanks for all the responses so far. When I originally posted, I was in a tired, emotional state and upset from the things I had seen the previous night. All that combined, made me jump to the extreme conclusion of needing to re-home the cats. It was wrong and judgemental of me to do that.

      My husband talked to Amy today and she is doing well. She gets out of the hospital in a couple of days and will be in rehab for a couple of weeks. We will continue to watch the cats until she comes home and we offered to help once she comes back home.

      It sounds like this was a wake up call for her and she seems comitted to doing the work to stay sober.

      1. I’m glad you are feeling more rested and optimistic. I want to say that it may not be a straight line for Amy to achieve long lasting recovery. Relapse is often part of the process. The fact that it’s a process is important to understand. It’s not a pen and done decision.

        I’ve lived though this with close family. And I’ve had my share of mental health challenges, including things getting the point where I needed to spend two months in residential treatment earlier this year (my primary diagnosis isn’t one that there are a lot of options for).

        I was so so lucky to find a friend of a friend who was willing to take in my cat for that time. She’s a people cat and would have been miserable. And I don’t have any family that are able to support me like you’re able to do here. I flat out refused to go if I didn’t have someone for her to stay with. I would have left treatment against their advice if it came down to it.

        Perhaps I seem to obsessed with my cat and not enough with my health. But you know, there’s logic and then there’s what you can live with. I just couldn’t have abandoned her. She didn’t choose for me to be the one who took her in and gave her a home all these years. I don’t always have a lot going for me but my commitment to my values is one thing that keeps me going.

        So please, don’t underestimate how these sorts of things that seem like they shouldn’t be can nonetheless be very important. Whether it’s her cats or something else, ultimately she gets to decide what her priorities are.

    12. If you can get the cat into the right no kill shelter, they actually may be able to find better homes and you just you just post on social media. If a social media post would get them a home with and it probably be fine. But Humane Societies we have adopted our dogs from Vickery funeral in fitting that we would be a good home, including talking to our vet for our current

  25. I’m looking at getting a ragdoll cat and am thinking of getting pet insurance. Has anyone ever bought pet insurance before? Is it worth the investment? Any recommendations if you have?

    1. Everything I’ve read about pet insurance says that you should instead put aside that amount of money each month -never touch it-and you can pay out of pocket should something happen. The insurances are picky and don’t cover a lot of things. So..ymmv.

      I have my senior dog on a pet care plan from Banfield because it includes all the routine stuff and unlimited office visits. She’s old and I worry, so those are quite often.

      1. FWIW, I got the Banfield plan four years ago, when I adopted my cat as a kitten, mostly because this is my first real cat and I was anxious about properly taking care of him. I’ve been mainly using it for the routine care, but they discovered he has hypercalcemia and stage 2 kidney disease at a recent checkup and recommended fluids once a week.

        I tried, but he won’t me give him fluids. However, with the Banfield plan, I can take him in once a week for a vet tech appointment that (I was surprised to learn) only costs $10 each time. So the plan has been worth the expense.

        1. My sister bought the Membership Plan from her vet and found that was more cost effective for her one year her cat was expected to have a bunch of expensive stuff. It’s not insurance per se, but it works in a similar way. You pay the vet’s office a membership fee each month and it covers a whole raft of care.

        2. We have Banfield wellness plans for our dogs- I think of it as a pet HMO, rather than insurance. t allows you to get them the standard care they need at a fixed/discounted price.

    2. I had pet insurance for my beloved cat when she was younger, mostly because I was tormented by the idea of not being able to provide some medical treatment for her and having to put her down; it was almost more psychological for me than anything. I suspect it’s a better deal for dogs than cats; I had it for about six years and never used it (it didn’t cover ordinary vet stuff). When she turned 15 I cancelled it because the price was increasing and the coverage decreasing, and I wouldn’t pursue extraordinary measures anyway at that point. I’m a bit skeptical of all insurance honestly, as someone else said it might be better to just save up a lot – because then you *know* you’ll be able to use it, as opposed to paying a lot for insurance and then getting your claim denied and having to spend your own money anyway.

      1. I think it’s more psychological at this point, because I’m looking at a purebred ragdoll and know those tend to have more health issues. I’ve done all kinds of research and just can’t come to a decision so thought I’d ask here for opinions/if anyone has used pet insurance. I did check with my vet, and they said they’d fill out all the necessary paperwork to submit to the insurance company to make it easy on me with the insurance company. I just don’t know what to do.

        1. Keep in mind that a lot of the advice about pet insurance out there (like much generalized pet advice) defaults to somewhat large dogs as the platonic ideal of “pet.” Often when I look into details, it’s people talking about their Golden Retriever needing a tumor removed which would have been multiple thousands of dollars. A tumor identical in description to my cat’s, which was about $600 all-included.

          Even though said cat is now on multiple cancer drugs, I still opt to pay for my other cats out-of-pocket since she’s the only one I’ve had in my life that would have made the insurance pay for itself.

    3. I do think they’ve gotten better in the last few years than they used to be. I’ve heard good things about Nationwide’s pet coverage, and at least looking at their materials, I’m only mostly joking when I say it looks like it gives better coverage than my own health insurance. 😛 I’ll be getting more puppy in the spring and probably doing more research at that point – I have a few coworkers who use it and have been reasonably satisfied. They do still have deductibles and such, and the younger you get the critter covered the less likely you are to have to worry about pre-existing conditions.

      1. The cat I’m looking at is 2, so she’s fairly young. I have looked at so. many. websites. It’s so overwhelming. As far as I can tell, Embrace is a good company but has higher rates, but it has the wellness visits (and chronic conditions like allergies) covered like I want at an extra cost.

    4. I looked into it because I was getting new renters insurance and they offered a bundle. I realized I’d rather get Care Credit if something happened to my cat and I wasn’t in a place to cover it myself. The rules and stipulations for the insurance I looked at didn’t seem to make it worth it. Plus there’s nothing worse than fighting with insurance companies during/after a stressful emergency situation.

    5. We have PetPlan (I think it’s Fetch now, actually) for 3 cats. Each cat is around $300/year, which is an amount we felt was appropriate for peace of mind. One of the cats had a $9000 hospital stay for a fatal condition that needed surgery…followed by another hospital stay for a different life-threatening problem a few months later…and he’s still here, 6 years later! We definitely would have euthanized him because the surgery was high-risk and we couldn’t have afforded it at the time. The other cats we haven’t had any major medical issues but the insurance did cover the one cat’s sedated dental cleaning because the vet saw that she had gum disease. That took the procedure from “health maintenance” to “disease treatment.”

    6. I just read about a new thing called Pawp. $19.99 per month, any animal or age, and you get access to a vet 24/7 online. If you need to go in for an emergency, it’s covered up to $3k , paid before you leave the clinic. I haven’t used it but it seems like a good deal.

    7. I don’t have it because the criteria and limitations are such that I’d rather just budget for my dog and pay out of pocket. My dog is a mutt, and hasn’t had anything outside of a couple UTIs in the four years I’ve had her.

      However, a friend of mine has a purebred dog that won the lottery on inheriting dang near every genetic defect that comes with being purebred, so for her, the insurance has been worth it. Her dog had four (? if I remember correctly) surgeries by the time he was six months old.

      I don’t know anything about cats, but if you’re looking at a purebred that might have the same sort of problems that purebred dogs do, then based on what I witnessed with my friend, it may well be worth it.

      1. The cat is a purebred ragdoll, because, apparently, you have to return those to the breeders and can’t just give them to a shelter if you can no longer take care of them. She’s 2 (has had one litter of kittens but is on the petite side so isn’t exactly ideal for ragdoll size – but perfect for me, actually), and I’m a bit wary on the health issues. My last cat was part ragdoll but was healthy as a horse. She just never got sick. So, it was never an issue. This cat, however, may be a ticking time bomb of health issues. I just have no way of knowing for sure.

    8. I had VPI for rescue cats, and they claimed literally everything was pre-existing, since I didn’t have medical records going back to their births. Total scam rip-off. I will never pay for pet insurance again. Just set aside money each month.

    9. I looked into it for my cats, but decided against it. It doesn’t cover the main expense I’ve had repeatedly over the years: dental. Dental for cats is really expensive and it’s typically needed every couple years, depending on the cat’s health, how well their teeth are cared for, and their predisposition to gum disease and other dental issues. And last time I checked, which has been a few years, it didn’t cover routine care. I agree with others saying to put money aside in savings for anything that might come up.

    10. I had pet insurance for a number of years and for me it wasn’t generally worth it. Even though I got one that was more generous than the rest in what they covered (and they had you take the cats to the vet within two weeks of when you got them, or got the coverage, and then anything the vet didn’t find then was NOT a preexisting condition), but it still covered almost nothing. At one point in time they switched to a thing where you had a $700 deductible…. but it was for each condition, every six months. So I had a $750 dental bill and they paid $50, and then a few months later I had a $600 bill, expected it to be paid (not knowing that they’d changed it so each separate condition had its own deductible), and had to pay it all out of pocket.

      After that I dropped the pet insurance and just started saving more. I’d rather self insure since I got so little help from them after paying them a lot of money in premiums.

    11. I had pet insurance when I had cats previously. Luckily I never had to use it, but the reassurance of having something to fall back on if they got seriously injured or ill worked for me. I guess the issue with the whole ‘save what you’d spend on it’ is that if something goes wrong fairly early in the pet’s time with you in that scenario, then you’ll be out of pocket for considerably more than if you’d had insurance, but that obviously depends if you can cover the cost in other ways.

      I’m in the UK so the companies may be slightly different elsewhere, but I was with Petplan and always found them to be pretty good.

  26. What areas of the US are based around a rural social fabric, yet populated with people who have liberal/democrat social values? Or at least, people with not very conservative/religious values.

    I live in an area that until about 40 years ago was very much in the country, quite separate from the city I grew up near, but now is on the edge of the suburbs of that city. Being near the city, most people with non-conservative values here come from an urban social perspective or even liberal activist footing (the “east-coast urban elite”), while the people whose families have always been based out here in the country, living as part of the rural social fabric, are all pretty conservative. The two worlds exist on top of each other, hardly intermingling. Although I went to a fancy liberal-arts college my work is of a rural type, and after 10 years of living out here I can see and appreciate how the community of rural folks functions, and can somewhat pass as part of it, but would never find it a comfortable social home because of political/social views. I would love to live in an area with the small-scale rural arrangement of society, but populated with non-conservatives. I have visited areas that do have the sort of social fabric and demographic I describe, and where I would be happy to live, but they are not numerous because rural/conservative and urban/liberal correlate so closely. I would be glad to know of other areas to investigate especially as my partner and I consider an eventual move together.

    1. I live in Virginia, in a “country style” area near Richmond. We’re definitely a purple state, with some really conservative areas, but my area is a mix of liberal and conservative (at least I assume, just given demographics/comments people have made). The more rural areas trend conservative, but being this close to Richmond they’re not fully.

    2. I found large swathes of Vermont to fit into this type of category. The areas around Dartmouth are maybe less rural than you’d want, but definitely are not-city and pretty liberal.

    3. I lived in a rural area south of DC and it was very Red, people proudly sent their kids to Liberty, and open carried.

    4. Yellow Springs, Ohio or Oberlin, Ohio might fit the bill. Oberlin of course is centered around the college. But it’s completely surrounded by cornfields. Yellow Springs is extremely charming and it used to be home to Antioch College, which was a very unique, sort of self directed college. I live in Ohio and can’t speak to other places.

    5. I think a lot of rural college towns would fit your description, especially in the Midwest.

      1. Though I think that’s often still the intermingling RSF describes rather than a general across-the-board liberalism–at least it’s like that in my state.

      2. That was my thought too. The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign seems to fit what OP describes wanting.

    6. I am fairly rural here. There are pockets of liberal thinking folks around me.

      Just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. People think they way they do for reasons. It’s my theory based on what I see here is that the rougher weather and rougher terrain tends to help incubate the more conservative thinking. I would not move a few miles from my house that I have now. Simply because life on those roads can get pretty tough and sometimes scary (scary to me- bears, big snakes, drunk drivers on curvy roads etc.) To me the country side sure looks pretty, but day-to-day life would not be doable for the person I am. I don’t wanna be the first and only responder to a car crash. I have no interest in helping a neighbor down the road deal with a large bear. And so on. Eh, on my current road we’ve had problems with rabid foxes. My friend who lives about 5 miles from here tells a story of running from a bear with two kids one in each arm. (oh noooo.)

      With all this in mind- my suggestion to you is to go toward small towns or villages- places with services and stores. Look at the condition of the properties. Find out what kinds of groups meet regularly- if they have a chamber of commerce, then C of C should be able to help you find a list of civic organizations. Libraries can be a great source of information about their population that they serve.

    7. I sometimes ponder all that too. I daydream about moving to several acres in the countryside, but the political divide around here (upper Midwest) is just as you describe, and so I don’t pursue it.

      My husband and I live in a small-ish city of about nine thousand residents that’s ten minutes from the most liberal city in our state. There are other small cities and villages around the big, liberal city (BLC), but mostly the surrounding land is rural (townships). All of the surrounding entities lean more conservative than BLC.

      For us it’s been a decent compromise to live just outside of BLC. There are lots of like-minded folks there and activities galore. But we’re off to the side where space and prices suit us. We’re not social in our small city, and that’s not just because it’s more conservative than we are. All of the local friends we’ve made through work and hobbies happen to live in BLC or the other small cities/villages and townships. And people in our neighborhood keep to themselves besides an occasional wave and sidewalk conversation.

      We often drive to a pub in a nearby village that’s so tiny that you’d miss it if you blinked. The vibe is definitely more conservative, and we won’t eat inside because mask compliance seems low. We feel a bit like outsiders, but we love the place and keep going back.

    8. Small resort type towns like Taos, Durango, Sedona….these tend to be liberal.

    9. Oberlin
      University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
      Pockets of Vermont
      The Seacoast area of New Hampshire

      I was looking for exactly what you are looking for and we settled on Durham, New Hampshire. College town. Amtrak to Boston. Tons of greenspace. There’s dozens of other small towns, with varying politics to match.

        1. When I lived in Chapel Hill in my early 20s, I was surprised by how conservative it was—I’m from Texas, as a point of reference. It was long enough ago that it’s possible it’s changed, or maybe I just had some one-off experiences.

          I will say it’s pretty difficult in the US to find a place that feels like a small town but is liberal and isn’t outrageously expensive. I think about this a lot…I don’t think I’d move back to Chapel Hill, though I would consider Asheville.

          1. I currently live in Chapel Hill, and it’s definitely a liberal community, Carrboro even more so (Chapel Hill and Carrboro are right up against each other and share a public school system). I wouldn’t call it rural, though. It’s a college town. Maybe check out Hillsborough or Pittsboro? Both are less liberal than Chapel Hill/Carrboro (everything in NC’s less liberal than Chapel Hill/Carrboro), but are increasingly progressive while having more of a small-town feel. They’re also both less pricey.

            1. This is nice to hear! I suspect I really did have some one-off experiences that were more representative of individuals’ beliefs than the values held by most people in Chapel Hill (and Carrboro).

              I still miss the Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro. Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had was there, and I remember it fondly.

    10. A number of California’s coastal counties are like this. The down side is the wildfires and the relatively high COL.

    11. That’s a tough one. Part of me would love to move to the WV mountains I’ve visited a few times when my grandparents were still living. There is so much there. But I would struggle to connect to other people and I know it. I could coexist but I’d feel like I wasn’t being true to myself for all the things I let go unchallenged. With my grandparents it was different because it was family. Also, for whatever reason my grandpa didn’t like Trump.

      My personal theory is the socially conservative aspect at least has a lot to do with the remoteness itself. I’m as liberal as I am because I’ve lived different places and experienced enough to see that all the stereotypes you hear aren’t accurate. But if you only ever known the same people, then there’s not those experiences to challenge inherited beliefs.

      Case in point: one of my relatives who fought in Vietnam sent a picture home with a note about how eating with his Black troop members was “how it is here.” Once he spent time with actual Black people he realized that they jwanted to survive and go back home just like he did.

    12. I don’t have an answer to your question but appreciate you raising it. Decades ago my father in law retired to an area out West that had been quiet, rural, and very conservative. He said he could gauge the influx of new people into the valley by tracking the votes on changing/loosening the regulations on selling liquor. We intend to retire there as well, and my guess is that my social interactions will be with other folks who moved in. The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks helped me think about this dynamic.

      1. Interesting discussion. I’m very liberal for my area. I find myself doing a lot of code-shifting at times, if you know what I mean.

    13. Joshua Tree has a deep liberal artsy undercurrent, but is a rural place. I will note that rural CA gets conservative very quickly, but what both liberals and conservatives in those areas have in common is that they move to the desert because they want space and to be left alone.

    14. I haven’t lived there, but I have visited, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a small Ozark town with a what seems like a tight-knit community that loves being a thorn in the side of state-wide conservative politics. The Daily Show did a segment about their anti-discrimination legislation. Now it is a tourist town, so not exactly rural, but I don’t think anyone would call it urban either.

  27. Two friends of my husband’s stayed a night with me. (over 40 years)
    One took a nap in the afternoon.
    He took out his hearing aids and put them on a low table.
    My puppy took one and noshed on it.
    They are not dog people and didn’t realize that would be an attractive treat for her.
    These are not people of means.
    I would like to offer to pay for it.
    I understand that this could run thousands.
    I am ok with that.
    How do I approach this topic?
    I wished I had offered right away. Feeling kind of stupid.

    1. I would just call and say you’re so sorry for not offering earlier, your manners escaped you, but of course you insist on paying to replace the hearing aid. Just let you know how much, and the check will be in the mail. And you’re aware they cost a lot, but such is dog ownership sometimes!

    2. I’d say just call/email/text (whatever you usually do with these friends) and say some version of “Since my dog chewed up your hearing aid, please let me pay for a new one, I know they can be expensive and this one’s on me because my dog did the damage.” If they say absolutely not, eventually you have to drop the subject, but I’d offer several times even in the face of an initial “no” to make it clear you’re not just making a polite offer you don’t mean.

    3. “Hey, I just wanted to apologize again that puppy nommed your medical device. That was our oops**, so please let me know what the bill is for the replacement and I’d be happy to take care of that for you.”

      **I mean, it wasn’t exactly, but since you want to pay I’d grabby-hands the blame anyway.

    4. My dog chewed up my dental retainers the ONE time I left them on a low table. Not as expensive as hearing aids of course but getting new ones made was a pain. Not sure why they love to chew on little plastic things. You are a good person for being willing to pay for replacement.

      1. When I talked to my dentist about a mouth guard the first thing he asked was ” do you have pets” since if I had pets he would not recommend the silicone ones

        1. I got my mouth guard about a year ago and the very first thing the dentist warned me about was that dogs would chew on it so i had to be careful to put it away

    5. “Hey, I so enjoyed your visit and it still bothers me that Pooch ate your hearing aid. I want to make good on that- it’s my dog and I am responsible here. I’d like us to talk about how to get a new hearing aid for you.”

      I love how you are stepping right up here. You put a smile on my face. I think your friend will smile too, even if the friend says, “no, don’t worry about it” they will still remember that you reopened the conversation because it was that important to you.

    6. Call your homeowners’ insurance. Depending on the value of the broken device and your deductible it may be worth letting them take care of it.

      1. Good idea! Hubby’s hearing aids are $2500 apiece. Your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance deductible might be less.

    7. Update: I did understand that the homeowners insurance might cover it but my preference would be not to file a claim (increase in rates)
      I called this morning. They refused to allow me to pay for it. I tried a few times and they still said no. They said it wasn’t a hardship for them and I shouldn’t worry about it anymore. They will be coming back for another visit in a month. Thank you all for giving me language and easing my anxiety.

  28. Any recommendations for Dubai? I just found out I’ll have a work trip there around the Expo so will definitely be hitting there but restaurants/other things to do? I’ve never been there or to the ME but an American colleague who lives there and has been giving me details on things I need to know before I go(like I can wear the same stuff I wear here in the states) but anything else good to know that I can’t easily find online?

    1. If you are a man then most things will be fine. Just wear long sleeves and trousers and do not show tattoos or piercings etc.

      If you are a woman then there will be severe restrictions on you. Wear full length clothing that does not flatter your figure or expect to be harrassed to one degree or another, at the least there will be looks and muttering.

      I recommend you do not consume any alcohol or drugs there, the punishments are extreme, I also recommend you only go places with company you can trust.

      My sister worked there for a six months and said it was one of the most dangerous and unpleasant places for women she has ever experienced.

      1. I’ve lived in Dubai for the past 5 years, and aside from the penalties on illegal drug use, nothing in this comment is accurate at all.

        Dubai is full of women walking around in perfectly normal clothing, including shorts or crop tops, and showing tattoos. Alcohol is completely legal for tourists and widely available in public restaurants and bars. And never once have I been sexually harassed or catcalled in public – practically a weekly occurrence back home in Europe. There’s plenty to criticise on a political level, but in terms of day to day safety, the UAE is by far the safest country I’ve ever been to.

        Green Snickers – don’t let people make you nervous! Dubai is very cosmopolitan and a fun time. The Expo is a really cool day out and I suggest looking up Time Out’s best restaurants list for recommendations. If you have time for a day trip, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi is an hour away and wonderful, and the sunset desert camps are quite magical.

        1. Agree. I’m a woman. I visited Dubai in late 2016 – never had any issues with catcalling or harassment. I wore “full” clothing but that’s b/c I’m shaped like a potato. I visited malls and beaches and saw women wearing anywhere from abayas/niqabs to bikinis so.

        2. I’ve been to Dubai several times and second this. They cater to Westerners/foreigners. You can get most typical things, including alcohol.

    2. The nice thing about their public transit is that there is a women-only coach. I loved that.

      There is (or was) a women-run taxi service as well. It cost more than a regular taxi (of course it did) but if you’re expensing it anyhow.

      The food was amazing – don’t eat in the hotel if you have time. Eat at a local place – it’s cheaper and the food is amazing.

      There’s a souk and a fish market and a museum of old Dubai, all of which were neat. Oh! And take the water taxi across the river.

      I wouldn’t go to Dubai for a vacation, but if you’re going to be stuck there anyhow, there are things to do.

      Take earplugs – the first call to prayer comes awfully early in the morning. It woke me up.

    3. Don’t know if it’s a concern for you, but it’s illegal to be queer there.

  29. Ugh, my sophomore novel comes out in December and … everyone just keeps telling me that supply issues will make it impossible to get in stores. I see even famous authors – much bigger than me – on Twitter trying to reassure readers that they’ll eventually get copies because they’re not currently in stock (and it’s only October!). Publishers just keep saying “push the pre-orders” but I find that quite a difficult sell for the average reader: “Pay full price now and get the book in a few months” isn’t a great deal. Have you, a non-publishing-insider, ever pre-ordered a book, and if so, why? Was it a swag-type opportunity (this is tough for authors because we’re paying for that swag out of pocket, and mailing it), a reduced price (beyond my control sadly) or wanting to show support?

    1. I preorder books quite frequently, but usually for authors that I already know I’m going to buy pretty much anything they put out. (And always as e-books, I almost never buy hard copies either in advance or after release.) For me, it’s convenience – if Seanan McGuire says something about thus-and-such book coming out in January, I’ll go preorder it while I’m thinking about it so I don’t forget later. A book that I want to read-but-not-buy, I would normally get from the library, and those are more likely to be something I follow up on post-release.

    2. I have pre-ordered multiple times and it was to show support! Plus it meant I got it right away when it came out. I am also happy to pay full price for books (largely because I hate Amazon and shop at my local bookstore or at bookshop dot org).

    3. Just last month I preordered a book. It’s the author’s first book but I’ve been reading their writing and following their work online for years.

      1. I forgot to add: no swag involved and I don’t know the author personally so it wasn’t to show support. The book just looks really good! In normal times I would have just picked it up in store next time I was in one after the release, but with all the supply chain issues I didn’t want to risk not being able to have it in my hands for who knows how long, ha.

    4. I pre-ordered because I knew the author and wanted to show support.

    5. I’ll pre-order books when they’re the next in a series I’m excited about, or a new book by an author I’m already familiar with. If an author whose book I wanted to buy was tweeting/social media-ing about how pre-ordering was important, I’d probably go for it. The $25ish I’d spend on a book is not such a huge expense that I’d be irritated at having to wait.

      I’m not fully tuned into the supply chain/paper shortage situation, but if your book is due out in December, could you frame this as some sort of “get a head start on your holiday shopping” thing?

      As a teenager who religiously followed YA authors’ blogs/social media, I also remember a few “send me proof that you pre-ordered the book and I’ll do a lottery to send one or a few people swag/donate a nominal amount to a charity you pick/send a signed bookplate/etc.” I think Maureen Johnson once offered to name a dead body in her WIP murder mystery after one lucky reader. So I think there are creative ways to incentivize pre-orders without mailing out swag to everyone.

    6. Yes, regularly. An author I value explained how important pre-orders are, and since then, I’ve preordered books I know I’ll want to read. Appeals to the fans work! People outside of publishing don’t understand at all how it work, because publishing is honestly a weird industry, but people are often interested in learning. I’ve also seen authors offer various preorder incentives. For example, when Alison published her book a few years ago, people who preordered could get a signed bookplate they could insert in the front of the volume.

    7. I’ve preordered books when I am familiar with the author, so expect it to be good, and I’ve read from some authors (like Mark Lawrence) that whether you get another book deal lives and dies on how your current books sell. Preorders get them shelf space and get them seen. Since I know I’m going to read it anyway, it feels like an easy way to help them out. Obviously, I don’t bother with the big names who are guaranteed tons of shelf space anyway.

      I didn’t know books were behind on printing, so I bugged my book store every couple of months. I just checked my emails, and the one I preordered from them took four months to come in.

      But I don’t care, because I wouldn’t have spent the $20 if I couldn’t afford it, and it helped my local bookstore out and helped out the author. I don’t need swag or deals to do it.

    8. I pre-ordered a friend’s 1st novel to be supportive but also a novel from a columnist whose work on the The Root I really enjoyed, and I didn’t know the columnist at all — I just knew that I enjoyed his writing and was psyched to get my order in so that I’d get his book as soon as it was available. No swag involved at all. Getting the pre-ordered books was also like a lovely surprise because I had forgotten when they were supposed to come. I say, promote the heck out of those pre-orders on your social media or wherever else you reach people.

    9. I preorder a lot of the books I buy – probably most. Anything by my favourite authors is automatically preordered as soon as it’s announced, and anything I get recommended by authors I trust (who may have read an ARC for blurbing etc) I will preorder as well.

      For me, it’s partly about showing support, but mostly about making it convenient for myself. I don’t have to keep track of release dates this way. I just know the book will show up.

    10. I only ever pre-order Kindle books, from the writers I already know, but I do it quite often. I get at least 5-6 books pre-ordered per year.
      Right now I am waiting on the final book of The Expanse series, book #9.
      I would never preorder a book by a writer I haven’t read before, even if it’s a hyped book, I would rather wait on reviews and the price drop.

    11. I have absolutely pre-ordered books from authors I was excited about, and honestly it was like being a kid when it came as a surprise in the mail. There was squealing.

    12. Only when the Harry Potter novels were coming out, when I was an adolescent. Otherwise, no. To be fair though, I have a strong preference for borrowing fiction rather than buying it, so I’ll queue up at the library before the book comes out, which can help the library see how many copies they should acquire, I think.

    13. I’ve preordered books in a series that has been consistently enjoyed, books by friends, and books by people whose websites I enjoy.

    14. Like Red Reader, I pre-order frequently, usually as e-books, snce my eyes are too weird for most print books these days.

      What is your book’s title, or your author name? I believe I’m starting a collection of “books by AMM people.” Three so far, including Alison.

      1. Aw, you’re sweet. It’s called “The Bone Cay” from Crooked Lane books. It’s about the caretaker of an estate in Key West who refuses to evacuate before a hurricane (based on the Hemingway House during Hurricane Irma) and stumbles into a mystery once the storm sets in.

    15. I pre order because I tend to totally forget about doing it and then it’s a delightful surprise when I see a book I’m looking forward to is finally out and I’ve already bought it! I usually buy ebooks but I’ve pre-ordered months and months and months in advance for sure

    16. To everybody who responded: Thank you, you’ve given me a lot to think about! I will be more open on social media about why it’s particularly important and some of the advantages. I had certainly never heard of it myself as a reader before I got to this side of things.

    17. I do preorder a handful a books a year as a way to support up&coming authors whose work I’m passionate about! I will say that the swag I’ve gotten has been fine, but nothing that has been phenomenal (stickers, magnets, etc.). I understand the psychology of providing readers an incentive, but part of me wishes I could decline the swag and strike a small blow at consumerism.

    18. I ready everything on my phone using the Kindle app, so there’s no swag with a pre-order. I pre-order only when I’m reading a series and it’s the next book being released. It’s simply so I can get it right away when it’s released and also so I don’t forget it’s being released.

    19. I don’t typically pre-order, but for a specific reason. I greatly prefer paperbacks and most books release in hard cover. I could pre-order paperbacks, but tend to miss the timings on them (since the original release date is marketed more than the paperback one). If I notice it, I do, though!

    20. I pre-ordered books for authors I like so I can get them immediately and don’t have to remember the release date to order it at that time. I’m not sure if I would do it if I had to wait months to receive it, especially when the date would be unknown.

    21. I do this for personal friends, but also to show support for people I really like and want to see succeed. In addition to pre-ordering books, I also pre-order music (vinyl and CDs). Otherwise, I’ll do it with a particular author or artist when I absolutely love their work and can’t wait for their next work and I want to be able to experience it at the earliest opportunity.

    22. I have preordered! Mostly to show support for an author- I’ve seen authors explain why preordering is helpful to them which convinced me.

    23. I’m a published author and have found that many readers and followers are eager to help out once you share why preorders are so important. Also, the preorder incentives do not need to be physical items. You can give a bonus ebook, a webinar or online Q&A with you, etc. Best of luck!

    24. –Find a local independent bookstore that is a decent size and offers online orders and shipping. Talk to them about doing a signed preorder campaign. They will be able to publicize to their following, highlighting you as a local author. You can send your friends there, and all you’ll have to worry about is showing up to sign the books before they get shipped. Bonus: Talk to them about hosting a launch event (in-person or virtual) and/or making them your official bookstore so that they can contact you any time someone wants to order a signed copy. If they have those systems in place, they are most likely NYT bestseller list-reporting, so it will help your numbers.
      –Reframe preorders in your mind. People aren’t paying now and having to wait to get something. They are placing the order now so that they don’t have to remember to do it later. It’s really just a way to set it and forget it. Offering preorders is a service, not a request for a favor. Especially now when those supply issues mean that if they don’t preorder, they risk the entire first printing (or at least whatever of it is available from their preferred source) being spoken for before the book is even out.

      So your pitch might look like “Hi Friends! XTitleofbookX comes out in December, and I can’t wait for you all to get to read it! I know that’s a bit far away, but you can place your preorder now, then you’ll be all set on publication day (especially since the global supply chain means we all have to think ahead and get those holiday orders in now). Plus, if you order from XmyfavoritebookstoreX, I’ll sign and personalize it for you! And then you can tune in on December X for our virtual launch party on Zoom!”

  30. Your username is now your superhero/villain name. What are your powers?

    (Mine: turn into evil dog, summon old gods. It’s not a great career choice I admit)

    1. I … flutter in, trailing pixie dust, and help folks make decisions. When I’m not reading. (Barring the pixie dust and the fluttering, it really sounds about right. 😛 )

    2. I… die, and come back with 9 lives that are ironically funny to a niche group of internet strangers?

      1. I produce masses of sweet but spicy smelling wool. I look like an adorably fluffy light orange cloud. I am so cute people want to pet me, squeeze me and adopt me, conveniently making them forget that I am also deliciously edible.

    3. I… enjoy a really good cup of tea! My hope would be with other people here, that would be fantastic. 🙂

      1. I’ll share my Yunnan, or Milk Oolong with you anytime 🙂

        1. Oh yes to both! I just finished off my Yunnan a few weeks ago, funny you should mention it. Thanks for the reminder to get more. 🙂

        2. Oh and I would of course share my tea too! I … may have an entire sideboard dedicated to all my tea, teapots and tea utensils. And I still have many things in my kitchen, too. I’d love to host a tea party for you all!

      2. Might I interest you in a cup of gyokuro green tea?

    4. My most notable superpower is finding and gathering the nearest tasty snacks. I am also super neurotic yet super cuddly with a strong tendency towards “friskiness” (as Mrs. Cunningham might have put it on *Happy Days*). It’s actually kind of accurate.

    5. Heh–that’s why I chose her. My power is bring order to family chaos through good manners and firmness of purpose.

    6. I gift people I don’t like with annoying amounts of fluffy creatures!

    7. Superhero – combine all the best of pets to be an awesome companion to all

      Villian – use all the bad habits and evil tendencies of pets to wreak havoc on everyone and everything

    8. Great question!
      I can …. clone other people, and myself, for specific tasks. When the challenge is met, both clones merge back into the original self. This would be highly useful for having a Difficult Conversation (brave self steps up while timid self spends self-care time in a beautiful garden), meeting deadlines (file your taxes or declutter your home in six days, no kidding!) or subduing otherwise unmanageable logistics (meet Uncle Asterix at the airport at 4 pm plus stage an entirely home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner at 6 pm).

    9. Quintessential Jewish grandmother who preaches the powers of matzo ball soup to heal all your ills.

    10. I’m an inept villain who traps people with philosophical monologues that get everything slightly wrong in an absurd way

    11. I can find the answer to esoteric questions- my partner these days is Mr. Google! But I also have a relationship with Library.

    12. Some people might call me a reformed villain. As a result of an inadvertent poison/transformation potion mixup I can transform my head into a llama’s and gain amazing spitting powers. Sarcasm is my natural talent. I am also extremely good looking and have a palace waterslide. Oh did I fail to mention I’m an emperor?

      (Figured I’d mashup my username reference with my super identity 😉 )

    13. Ha. I am the Star Wars’ verse greatest villain, with the sharpest mind possible. Calculating, never wrong in military matters, can outthink anyone.

    14. I make easy things hard and hard things easy. I can bend the time-space continuum to make objects and hours disappear without a trace.

      I can shoot fireballs of rage out of my eyes, but not for long because I forget what I was mad about.

      I am rendered impervious to passive aggressive barbs and most types of interpersonal drama through my Cloak of Obliviousness.

    15. I can Snooze for England, and get mice to sing and fix things.

    16. Half-woman, half-parrot who is part of ST:TNG’s Q continuum, so infinite powers + immortality, I guess.

    17. Sometimes I vanquish evil from afar by muttering under my breath.

    18. As a villain, I distract the hero with floods of information. Nothing useful can be accomplished.

    19. I am a strange character in the background. I challenge the protagonist to use swing sets and carousels. To indulge in occasional childhood favorite snacks. To dance, sing, and make art — because these things are natural to all humans not just a few trained experts. To play with words and each other. To fall down and cry a little then laugh and try again. To use running sentences that celebrate every detail that strikes their fancy.

    20. Looks like I’ll get a random power each time I activate the “something” ability. It’s hard to plan around, but sometimes it’s pretty useful!

    21. But I’m more of a side-kick that shows up to spout the catch phrase as the bad guys are led away to solitary confinement.

    22. With my army of mischievous penguins, I will take over the world! No one believes that my superhero name is actually just my real name. My mortal enemies don’t believe I actually exist. So I can get away with anything, and still pose as a responsible individual in society.* I can also make fantastic pasta from scratch. In my spare time, I volunteer as a Canadian Cultural liaison and bring Kraft Dinner to Children’s Hospitals.

      *I seriously did not believe that macaroni penguins were an actual species.*

    23. I channel all the energy of women’s hot flashes then scrunch up my face and send out brainwaves which cause people to interact with each other in a civil manner. And then have a cup of cocoa and a nap. I also wear a cape, boots, and a brain-magnification helmet, and can fly a bit when the energy is strong.

    24. I’m apparently very good at using my feminine charms to take out sleazy British archaeologists (and other villains).

    25. Now that I got that out of the way, my superpower is arranging the most beautiful new release wall you’ve ever seen and getting entitled rich people to pay for late fees.

    26. I create order out of chaos and I create chaos out of order. There’s a method to my madness (sort of like string theory). I’m great at editing, curating, alphabetizing, arranging things in numerical order, cross-referencing and color coding, at creating understanding and presenting information in logical, easy-to-follow, step-by-step formats. When I create chaos it is with the intention of shaking things up, keeping people mindful, on their toes and of not getting rigid or compliant for compliance’s sake, of not getting boring.

    27. Well, I named myself after Caleb Widogast from Critrole, so… I’m an autistic transmutation wizard with an academic trauma background?
      Alternatively, a smol wizard who carries around books all the time and recalls random facts from them to save the day now and again.

    28. Through the power of smiling, I, a little pug, save the day through the power of reflecting power off my pearly white little teeth. 🙂

  31. Apologies if this is too serious for this thread. I went to the dental surgeon recently, and he made a really inappropriate joke about domestic violence (not that there are any appropriate jokes about this!). I sort of stammered a response, but I want to do more — maybe write a letter to the dentist in charge of the practice. Any suggestions?

    1. Report it to both the local-area and state dental societies! Heck, I’d even report it to the Amer Dental Assoc (if you’re in the US) … says this long-ago editor of our state’s dental journal.

    2. You can also leave a review online, which organizations tend to be very quick to respond to. But there are so many people who would be grateful to know that a) this dentist is someone to avoid, and b) how the practice responds!

    3. Hmm. I guess I differ from the other 2 responses. I would say something to the dentist myself or write him a letter. Maybe? it was a one-off or maybe it’s something he does all the time, but if I couldn’t tell/didn’t know which, I would prefer to assume the former and not go harder on him until it’s clearer. But you were there, and your comfort with how to handle it is your call.

    4. Thanks for the tips! I’ll definitely file a complaint with the state board and maybe the local dental society.

      1. A313 – I’m supposed to see the surgeon again in a couple weeks, so I’ll see what happens then too.

        1. You might want to wait until after the follow-up visit before filing the (justifiable) complaint. For 2 reasons: 1) in case something else egregious occurs that should be included and 2) in case your report gets back to him before the visit—you can’t be sure your name will be kept out of it. But def do not go back to him after that. And tell your own dds, who will likely never refer another patient to the dude. Seriously, docs want to know things like this.

        2. This is what I think I would do, but I can also see the case for this being so out-out-bounds that you feel differently. But as sagewhiz points out, you want to do this after he completes your care and maybe you’ll get more information either way.

    5. This seems so excessive. For a single joke? Even a bad one? To threaten someone’s job over a joke?? How awful was it? Was it like the equivalent of a joke using the N word or something? How did it even come up?!

      Write a letter, take your business elsewhere, leave a bad review, but reporting to the board? I think that should be reserved for malpractice, sanitation violations, serious violations of the law, really bad treatment of yourself or someone vulnerable.

        1. The reason to report it to the board is that it’s likely this dds has been offending patients for years, and they’ve either received other complaints or patients don’t even realize they should be lodging complaints. It’s like pretending “oh he didn’t really mean to sexually harass Sue in the elevator.” Also, if a guy is joking about domestic violence, it’s quite possible he’s an abuser and his colleagues may have heard rumors to that effect. He needs to be put on notice. No prof assn wants to be sullied by a bad member.

      1. A “joke” about domestic violence is anything but. It’s right up there with racial/ethnic “jokes.” Especially in a professional setting! Not ok! Dental professionals are mandated reporters in most states, which makes this especially not ok!

        My state’s medical board (which I believe also covers oral surgeons, though not regular dentists) lists “inappropriate conduct” as a reason to report, so yeah this is probably in their jurisdiction. If this is a first incident, he’ll get at most a reprimand, which should be enough to keep it from happening again. If this is a second or third incident, well, I’d argue that this is not a person who should be in charge of anyone’s health, dental or otherwise.

  32. Any tips on looking like you don’t have a gender?

    I’m kinda exploring my gender (cisfem technically but I feel pretty ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about it all) and want to look less female. I already wear pretty neutral clothing (pants, loose shirts, etc.) but I’m wondering if there’s more?I’m not willing to change my hair though, which is pretty long. I hate having my hair short.

    1. Fellow afab gender-explorer here 🙂 It’s a fun place to be!

      There are hairstyles for long hair that are more or less feminine—I personally tend towards quite feminine, so I’m not *as* familiar, but I know there are things you can play with there.
      … I was going to say something about how much of gender presentation is culture-specific but then I remembered ALL of gender presentation is culture-specific. But there are a lot of places to draw inspiration from in terms of hair, and other things!

    2. I think the key is to remove styling details that look explicitly female, and push your figure towards neutral in a way that looks intentional rather than sloppy.

      It’s pretty surprising how readily people key in on weird little details like your shoes (even “female” versions of male classics look immediately female), the height of the waist of your jeans, your watch, your glasses, etc. You can source this kind of stuff in the men’s (or boys) department, but be careful to have them still fit your frame.

      For neutralizing your figure, ideally you need clothing that fits at anchor points like your shoulders or your waist, and then skims over curves. You can get stuff altered if needed, but be aware that most alterations places I’ve gone to have been *very* reluctant to help me with this stuff. Your best bet if you go this route is to go to places that explicitly only do men’s alterations, and assure them repeatedly you want men’s alterations 😀

      I’ve found a lot of inspiration in browsing androgynous men’s looks from Asia on Pinterest. There are a lot of interesting silhouettes and stylings that to me look genderless rather than “coded male on a female”. You can get a lot of this stuff on Amazon for pretty cheap, too, though it took me a few tries to find the right incantation of search terms.

      1. Makeup-wise you can do boy contouring on your face, it’s surprisingly easy and surprisingly effective at attenuating feminine markers.

        For your hair you might explore getting an undershave and sometimes pinning the rest up in a way that looks like short hair.

    3. If you really want to, you could try a binder (or a flattening bra if you don’t want to go full blown binder) – that, combined with baggier tops, can make you look pretty androgynous

    4. Definitely look at your accessories. Male-coded belts, shoes, etc. will really help. Wear more ball caps. Also, men’s clothing is going more fitted, amusingly enough, but dude’s skinnies (for example) still look different than female-coded skinnies – the denim is heavier, they’re skinny but not painted on, etc. Poshmark is your friend while you’re trying things and don’t want to spend a ton of money.

      Definitely squish your chest – I prefer a size down on sports bras than binders, but your mileage may vary. Polo shirts are also kinder to those of us with chests and hips than button downs, and novelty prints have come to men’s clothing, so men’s polos can are pretty delightfully genderqueer now.

      Autostraddle, if you just go and search for “clothes” has a lot of things to say, ergo: https://www.autostraddle.com/basic-butch-style-eight-hour-layover/

      Google pics of dudes or genderqueer folks with long hair and see whose style you like to get ideas about hair. I LOVE Steve Aoki’s hair, for example, and he just wears it down.

      Also, don’t laugh at me, but Googling “softball lesbian” may give you some ideas, too.

      If you’re not already wearing ‘men’s’ underwear, give it a go – when I wake up on the masculine side of the bed, underwear choice definitely helps. We dress from the inside out, after all. It might take some experimentation to see what you like; I’m a boxer brief or briefs person, myself.

      1. Off topic: I hate how women’s jeans are no longer denim. I don’t mind the stretchy material for dressy jeans.

        There are times when I want thick denim for warmth/wind block and ruggedness and I can’t find that in the store.

        On topic: material of an item can transform it from men’s to women’s. Women’s is always less rugged and long lasting.

    5. I’m nonbinary but haven’t dealt with it too much since my body’s features mean people always read me as female, so I don’t bother too much trying to dress myself to reject that. But my partner is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯gender (though we often just call it agender to make it somewhat easier to explain) and from their experience – trying not to be read as having a gender is hard. Society is still at a point where most people try to fit anyone they meet into male or female, so my partner still gets gendered, but now it just happens to end up a mix of “him” from some people and “her” from others.

      Other people have given specific tips for dressing, but the biggest tip I can give is to wear whatever you can find that makes you feel more comfortable in your body, no matter if it comes from the womens section, mens, childrens or whatever. This obviously isn’t an easy process any means, even if you’re not trans or dealing with Big Gender Feels.

      But you’re far from alone, and if you keep an eye out you might find communities around you for people who are exploring and experimenting with their gender presentation, and many are open to people who don’t feel like they are necessarily trans or nonbinary.

  33. I’ve been obsessing over a bike I saw on ebay last week. It’s in my size, and checks the boxes for what I want in a commuter (if anything, is overkill). I’m currently commuting on my road bike, which, while zippy, is killing my shoes (well, specifically my left shoe). Carbon soled road shoes are not meant to be unclipped at every freaking red light. It would be nice to be able to do more errands, not have to kit up for every ride and have various options for carrying stuff other than a backpack.
    The answer is always n+1, right?

    1. *flutter flutter flutter*
      If it wouldn’t cause you financial hardship, do it!
      *flutter flutter flutter*

      1. I like the way you think. I made an offer. Please send good vibes they accept!

    2. In the short term, you could swap to flat pedals, clip in pedal adapters so you could use street shoes, or switch to SPDs which are walking-friendly. A clip-on rear fender helps prevent the wet-road skunk stripe.

      But you’re right — for commuting flat bars, full fenders and a rack make a lot of sense.

    3. Yay for a good commuter bike. On mine, I can get somewhere pretty fast if I don’t have much stuff with me, or I can haul a weeks worth of groceries home with two pannier bags, a backpack and maybe one or two small light tote bags on the handle bar. I barely use my car these days except when it’s raining cats and dogs.

  34. My boyfriend and I are in our 40s but haven’t had a lot of dating experience overall. We’ve been together 7 yrs and are having a rough patch. I would like to learn techniques for succeeding at a relationship. We’re open to counseling, but prefer it to be the kind where you learn communication skills, etc and don’t just talk about your feelings weekly for years. Is there a name for this kind of therapy? Or are there books or videos where we just do some work ourselves? We’ve never done therapy and don’t want to have to go weekly but feel like there are probably great techniques out there that we don’t know about since we haven’t had many relationships. Thanks in advance!

    1. You might check the archives at Captain Awkward. https://captainawkward.com/

      She has a a lot of useful scripts for starting good conversations.

    2. I’d look into CBT-inspired or CBT-based couples counseling! Family system therapy also.

      I will say that sitting and talking about things (including feelings) does help in determining where to go, so that will be the beginning. In my couples therapy experience, we had 1 group session, each saw the therapist individually, and came together for a 4th session before we started working really seriously as a team. So it’s not a years-long thing—but feelings will be discussed 🙂

      1. I second this recommendation.
        And just to clarify for Agjmss*, CBT in this context stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

    3. I think a lot of couples counseling is focused on communication, but you’re also the customer here, so you can ask for what you want. Use the paragraph you wrote as a template and ask if that’s a focus they can provide.

      Also, I heartily recommend the books of John Gottman, who revolutionized the field, and whose work is very communication focused. Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is probably a good place to start.

      1. Partner and I are working with a counselor trained in the Gottman method. We found it tricky to apply the book content; the counselor does a great job facilitating while we practice the strategies!

    4. My husband and I are in couples counseling. Some of it is talking about feelings, but a lot of it is strategies. We started out weekly, went down to twice a month, and now are monthly. All by zoom. It’s been great! I wish we had done it years ago. We just looked for someone using the search tool on the Psychology today website. We looked for someone who listed relationship issues as one of their specialties.

      1. And we’ve been in counseling for maybe 6 or 7 months, for reference.

    5. Our marriage greatly improved when my husband and I worked on it. We’re up to 42 years now! The most helpful resources were books by 3 different authors: John Gottman, Harville Hendrix and Harriet Lerner. Gottman and Hendrix both have books with specific exercises/activities to do together. I wish you well!

    6. When my now hubs and I were about 2 2/1 – 3 years into our relationship, living together, we hit a really rough patch. We argued ALL the time. I finally asked him if he wanted to split up and he said, no! That I was the person he wanted to be with.
      So we went to ‘marriage’ counceling. Our therapist was great, and we still use the tools that we learned. That was about 36 years ago. We’ve now been together for 39 years and married for 34. We still like each other, laugh a lot and we still hold hands.
      😀

    7. I really appreciate the Gottman institute for their articles and tips. They have some “courses” which are paid, and I’ve never tried, but my partner and I have talked over things when we are going through rough patches, sometimes naming what’s going on can be really helpful
      I think this winter we may read one of his books together

    8. I got some counseling through my work’s EAP (from an MFT), and found the limited number of sessions plus coming in with a specific problem really helped me make progress. It’s definitely worth a try. It did take me several tries to find someone who could think outside the box in specific ways I needed, but in general I found it very very helpful.

  35. I am facing the unthinkable with my spouse, but praying for a miracle. We are married, with kids, no will. He handles all of our finances. I do not have a job. Our health insurance is through his employer. What do I need to do? Is there anything I should try to do while he is still technically alive? Please just help me make a list. What do I do right now? What do I do if my worst nightmare comes true? Please help me figure out my immediate steps for now and after.

    1. I’m very sorry.
      Get your hands on important papers proving you’re married.
      Ask local friends for estate lawyer recommendations. If he pulls through, you’ll want work with one anyway to get all your planning done.
      Ensure you can access all accounts and will continue to have access if he passes.

      1. Get your hands on every piece of paper proving joint ownership of any assets you actually jointly own.

        Go through every piece of paper and document you can find to make a list of every account your names are one, and any and all user name / password for accounts.

        If you know the login / password of any bank accounts that have only your husband’s name on them, transfer a good chunk of that money to account(s) with both your names on them.

    2. I forgot. He’s not conscious so I can’t ask him anything. I wish he could tell me what to do.

    3. When my dad was going to be passing and I had power of attorney, I made sure to move sufficient assets into the account with both of our names on it — do you have a joint checking? — so that I would be able to have money to pay for the funeral and other expenses. (The power of attorney expired when he died, so I had to move the $ ASAP, or I would have had no access to his money for a while.)

      You might want to talk to your local funeral home before he passes so that you have things planned out with them that are within your budget. Funeral for my dad cost about $12K, NOT including the gravesite, which he had pre-paid, but there are cheaper options out there, like cremation.

      After he passes, get a whole bunch of copies of the death certificate — you will need them for all sorts of things. In my state, we can get those through the funeral home. I had to pay, but not too much. Actually, YMMV, but the funeral director I spoke with was a really good resource for “what you need to do right after someone dies” information.

      I second the advice to talk to the financial institutions and an estate lawyer now. Maybe the estate lawyer can help insure access to the accounts for you after he passes.

      Also, look into hiring an accountant to do your and his and the estate’s taxes — they will be complicated this year.

      1. Update: see Teapot Translator below, who says that not all states give you access to a joint account on one party’s passing.

    4. I don’t have advice, but sending waves of love your way wherever you are. I’m so, so sorry this is happening and I pray for a miracle for you too.

      …one practical thought, is there a chaplain or social worker available, assuming you are at a hospital? They may be able to provide guidance.

    5. I’m sorry you’re going through this.
      Maybe contact the HR department at his workplace so they can give you the information you need for the health insurance?
      If you don’t have access to the bank account because he’s the one who handles it usually, go to the bank and ask for access (I assume here that both your names are on the bank account).
      If both your names are on the bank account, open a bank account in your name only (if you don’t have one yet) and forward some money to it. If the worse does come to pass, and your jurisdiction works like mine, the accounts will be frozen when the bank learns of his death even if it’s a joint account.

    6. A lot of bank stuff can be done online. You can sign up for your own online account with the banks and you should be able to see all your joint accounts.

      It’s also helpful if you know his email password, because then you can change passwords on any accounts he is managing and see any online bill reminders and so on.

      I don’t know if you can contact HR at his company. I think you might be able to continue his health insurance under COBRA even without him, if so, that might be worth doing in those first few chaotic months. If you are working at a job with health insurance, this will qualify for you to switch over, and the same thing for Obamacare. Also if they can tell you if he has life insurance, and what the company name is. They sometimes carry one year’s salary even if he didn’t sign up for it.

      Is there anyone you can enlist, a sibling or a friend, who is more used to handling money and can be there, even thru zoom, while you do some of this?

      1. You should contact his employer’s HR department. You should be able to keep COBRA for 18 months, although you will need to pay the premiums, but at least you’ll have health insurance for you and your family. The HR department can also walk you through any other benefits he has through work, such as short term and long term disability insurance, life insurance and any balances he may have in any accounts (such as an HSA and FSA)
        Please talk to the person/people who does your taxes and investments. Also to your husband’s doctor about any support groups that may be relevant for your situation, for both you and your kids. There are many associated with hospitals and the like.
        I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Just take things one day at a time and know that we are all here for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

    7. Oh, no, I’m so sorry. If he’s in the hospital, please ask if they have a social worker you can talk to, who will likely have experience and information that you’d find helpful.

      If he’s not conscious and you don’t already have a power of attorney, you won’t be able to access financials in his name only, so I would say the earlier you can see a lawyer the better–I’d look at recommendations this weekend and make an appointment Monday, because you’ll feel better having knowledge ASAP. A lot of what will happen with his estate depends on what state you’re in–it might be a simple thing in some states and more complicated in others. Also ask explicitly about your husband’s hospital bills and how they’d be handled. If your husband has any life insurance, maybe through his work, that’s really important to pin down, as that passes outside the estate so you may be able to get faster access to it.

      Practically speaking, I’d figure out how much money I’d have access to on my own and figure out what the payment priorities are and where slack can be cut; I’d also list what payments need to be moved to my name. Usually rent/mortgage would be first priority; utilities are often lenient and will wait a little, so I’d contact them and ask for some forbearance. Don’t forget anything car related, such as payments and insurance, if they’re relevant.

      There’s a regular poster here, OyHiOh, who was in a similar situation a few years back and she may have some useful suggestions as well. And I hope none of this turns out to be necessary for you.

    8. If it were me, I would consult an estates and trusts lawyer first thing Monday morning. If your husband is unconscious, you might be able to get financial power of attorney fairly easily in order to ensure cash liquidity for your/his immediate needs. The lawyer should also be able to give you better guidance about your larger question.

      It’s also possible that your husband’s employer’s EAP could help you, especially since he’s ill so you are also looking for ways to assist him.

      My other advice is to line up some immediate support for you. You need someone to help you interface with the hospital and your husband’s immediate medical care; to sort out future arrangements whether those are in-home care or whether they involve funeral planning; and someone to help you sort out your financial options. These don’t need to be the same person and probably shouldn’t be. Please reach out to your network if you have one. If you don’t, talk to the hospital social worker and to your husband’s employer and try to get as much support as you can.

      My thoughts and very best wishes to you and your husband.

    9. I do not have a credit card in my name. I am an authorized user on our current card. Should I open a card now under my name while I can truthfully report his income? Will that cause problems with my credit score or something else I’m not thinking about right now?

      1. I would call the credit cards company and see if they can change the card to your name. But opening a new one just under you is a good idea too.
        Good luck. I posted more above as well

        1. I can only speak for how the bank I work for works, but there is no situation in which we’d change the signer. To make the authorized user now the signer is effectively a request for a new credit card and would be treated as such. The original signer (not the authorized user) would have to make the request to add another co-signer or to close the card, but short of bankruptcy or death, that signer is stuck on that card.

          1. I’m in banking and I agree. We wouldn’t change the accountholder, either. The authorized user would need to apply for their own card.

            OP, if you don’t have a credit card in your name at all, you should apply for one regardless of whether your husband pulls through or not. You never know when you’ll need it for something.

      2. If you’re only an authorized user, then his card will almost be certainly frozen upon his passing, because authorized users aren’t liable parties like co-signers are. If that’s your sole access to credit, and you have no other finances easily available, then yes, definitely get your own card. It will affect your credit score — but so much stuff does that as your only credit line, it really isn’t going to be a big deal.

      3. I know this is late but I hope it is helpful. Treat yourself like you are in shock or have a traumatic brain injury.
        Now is the time to lean on family or friends that you trust.
        The smartest thing my brother did was march me into COSTCO and apply for their Visa card. I put down our family income and within a week had a credit card that was in my name only.
        Do not rush to take his name off joint accounts. That caused me problems paying automatic bills.
        Figure out passwords.
        Fortunately my husbands were super obvious.
        Find the car titles, house deed, and any outstanding loan or mortgage payment info I am so sorry you are going through this.

    10. Another AAM reader sending you good wishes and prayers. I hope you find compassionate, helpful, supportive people at the hospital; in HR at your husband’s employer; and among your neighbors, family, friends (listed in no particular order) and other people in your network. If you are a member of any group or organization (book club, mom group, congregation, PTA, scouts…) reach out. There is always someone who is glad to help.

      I second what others have said about hospital social workers. They may be over-extended but they got into their line of work because they want to help others.

      Take as much care of yourself as you can regarding food, liquids, and rest. Keep a notebook (or smart phone) with you and a file folder or box at home so that all the details are at least in one place. Later you can sort things out further. Finally, trust yourself to do the best that you can in this awful situation. You’ve already begun, by reaching out. Take care.

    11. Came back to emphasize the last sentences of two other commenters.
      From fposte: “And I hope none of this turns out to be necessary for you.”
      From Chauncy Gardener: “Just take things one day at a time and know that we are all here for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

    12. I am so sorry you’re experiencing this.
      See a lawyer. You really need legal advice specific to the place where you live. (For example: where I live, safe deposit boxes are sealed until the estate is settled, so empty it now.)
      I am very sorry.

    13. Bank: get an account in your own name at a different bank and try and set a starting goal for 1 month of living expenses. A quick way to calculate that would be to assume your housing payment is 30% of what you need. A credit union might be a good choice.
      Credit card: open one in your name. Credit unions often offer credit cards, and so the bank balance may count in your favor toward applying for the card. Transfer a small bill, like a streaming service, to the card and pay it off, on time, every month. Schedule auto pay through your bank to make sure it happens.
      Housing: Are you listed on the lease/mortgage? What are the utilities? When does the lease renew, can you go month to month, are you on good terms with the leasing agent? Do you want to stay? Common advice is to not make any drastic changes for the first year if you can, but do what you have to do.
      Health Insurance: you can go COBRA, but you may not want to. It is pretty expensive and you can probably get a cheaper policy through the marketplace. COBRA could be good for a couple of months but a key question is: is voluntarily cancelling COBRA considered a “qualifying event” for the marketplace or would you have to wait until the open enrollment period? If cancelling cobra isn’t a qualifying event, then you’ll probably want to go straight to the marketplace (healthcare.gov). Many states have agents who will help you find the best policy for you and you could get that planned out now.
      Car: whose name is on the title and loans, if any? When is the registration due? (usually the birth month of the person on the title)
      Accounts, life insurance, retirement funds: Are you listed as the primary beneficiary?
      Financial Records: Your husband may have a system, but it’s important for you to know where things are and if you need to organize things differently, then do it. You could get some bright postits and mark where things are stored, or you can corral the important documents into your own storage container and system. Piled in a giant plastic tote in the living room is a system, so don’t think you have to be fancy. I recommend a shoe-box sized box or drawer for things like marriage/birth certificates, social security cards, checkbook, etc.
      Certificates: when getting copies, always ask for about 5 more than you think you need. The first one is always more expensive, and copies are very cheap.

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope it all works out for you and your family.

      1. This is a great list from Tib. A few other things:
        Online access: You will need to quickly get online access to all bank, utility, etc. accounts. If your family is like mine, 100% of our expenses including credit card payments are paid online. But some things are on auto-deduct from the bank account, some are auto-pay via credit card, and some require me to log in and initiate a payment. It would be great if you have a trusted friend or family member who can go through everything and figure out how and how much you pay for rent/mortgage, utilities (electric, water, trash collection, internet, cable, etc.), car payment, car insurance, property insurance (maybe included in your mortgage), etc. This will help you figure out your base living expenses and let you know how much cash you have on hand. It will also give you the info to pause services (if you want) and a list of accounts that you will eventually put in your name.
        Life Insurance: This will be your best source of income before you get a job, so make sure you know the provider and find out what is needed to make a claim (what forms and where to send).
        Funeral arrangements: Funeral homes generally handle everything but there are plenty of questions they will ask about your preferences and various add-on services that are available. It can be helpful to have a friend or relative come with you when you make arrangements, especially if you don’t want to be pressured into spending extra $$ unnecessarily. You do not HAVE to ride in a limo to the cemetery.

        I’m so sorry about your situation. This random person from the internet is sending sympathy to you and your kids during this difficult time.

        1. My one useful thought is to find the account and account login and passwords now. If your husband wrote them down or if they are saved in your computer password manager and you can get them do so.

          Legally if it’s not a joint account you probably can’t do anything with it but knowing what accounts you have and where money is stored and going is important.

    14. I am going to repeat the advice of my very loving aunt. She said to me, “now is not the time to be proud or to show how independent and resourceful you are. This is a life changing event.” She advised asking for help and accepting help that is offered. It’s in these exchanges- asking/accepting that new friendships are formed. And this is an important time in life to find good people and let them befriend you.

      My friends carried me though my husband’s illness and passing. Each friend had something different to offer, but each of their offerings was so meaningful and so important to me.
      If you have a religious inclination, churches (other religious groups) can be key in staying afloat.

      Gather a group of professionals (lawyer, docs, even counselors) to help you. Also gather a non-professional group of friends, neighbors and comfy acquaintances to help with random stuff that comes up. If you have to make a list and put it on the fridge or by your land line if you have one. Don’t force yourself to go it alone when you see other options available. My pastor took me to the funeral home to make arrangements. Eh, no one else was available that day. I would have preferred not to burden him, but I had to take the option that was available. This is one of those times in life where we must grab whatever life preserver that gets thrown in our direction. It’s okay.

      As others have said, keep coming back on Saturdays. Sadly, there are plenty of people here who know what you are talking about. Go one day at a time, do your best each day. Then allow yourself to accept the fact, “This is the best I can do today.” Give yourself that gift.

      1. I agree with NotSoNewreader. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. And I’m so sorry.

    15. My husband was in a coma, on life support, for three weeks and was not expected to live. And then he did, and made a complete recovery that stumped the entire hospital. He also did not have a will, was our main income, and we have kids. All our ducks are in a row now. I hope your husband beats the odds, too.

    16. Thank you so much for the replies. I felt overwhelmed yesterday and just shut down. I have a strong support network but I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t paid a bill in years. I should have paid more attention when he talked to me about money. I will never take him for granted again. Today I am going to try to get a credit card, open a bank account, and find a lawyer. Mostly I’m praying that he recovers. Thank you AAM community.

      1. I really hope he pulls through. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you.

        It’s a good reminder for everyone to make sure your spouse/partner etc knows where the keys to the castle are. My mother lost her husband recently and while they had pretty much separate accounts, she’s still working to get into some of his to stop some autopay bills. It’s hard and frustrating for her to spend so much time on the phone trying to resolve all of the issues.

      2. I’ll be thinking of you and your husband over the upcoming week. I’m so glad you have a good support network – please lean into that.

    17. The single most important thing you can do in the worst case is IMMEDIATELY get a lot of copies of the death certificate. It’s going to be the key document for taking care of a lot of the details you are going to have to deal with. Having those copies is going to REALLY make your life easier at a time where every little bit is going to help.

  36. Any other baseball fans here? It’s the postseason, and I’m rooting for the Dodgers because A) I’m a Nationals fan and I hate Atlanta; B) I can’t root for the Astros and Red Sox because of the Astros’ cheating and Alex Cora; and C) I’d be happy for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner if they won another ring.

    1. I’m a HUGE baseball fan. (Go Twins!) Like you I can’t root for the Astros because of the cheating scandal from 2017 and by extension, Alex Cora and the Red Sox. The only reason I’d like to see the Braves win is because a couple of former Twins (Rosario, Adrianza) are on their roster.

    2. As a, ahem, Guardians fan (seems weird but I’ll get used to it), I agree that the Dodgers are the only choice out there! I still hate Atlanta because of the ’95 World Series, and I can’t stand the cheating ALCS teams. I hope the Dodgers get a chance to kick the crap out of the Astros in the World Series. Justice.

    3. Another Nationals fan here and I agree, but I was hoping to see the Rays and Brewers get further in the postseason so I’m already disappointed 🙁

    4. Now that my team is out, I’m rooting for the Braves. My father his siblings both graduated from Macon, so I’m rooting for Snitker.

    5. I’m not a big baseball fan but when I lived in Tampa I was a Rays fan.

      I always root against Boston and the Yankees. They are rich bullies pushing others around by throwing money around. Hope they lose.

    6. Yes, loving the postseason! I’m rooting for the Dodgers! I hated the way the last game ended against the Giants though. Trea Turner is adorable, but he needs to start hitting like he did in the regular season. Mad Max is definitely an entertaining guy! I’m so glad those two on are on the Dodgers. I’d also love to see a rematch against the cheating Astros for the World Series and see the Dodgers whomp them in four games, ha ha

    7. Yeahhhhh it’s a rough postseason.
      – Can’t root for the Braves — the tomahawk chop just makes my skin crawl. I can’t believe they show it on TV over and over.
      – Astros… cheating.
      – Red Sox… ditto.

      Every single division series went the opposite of my rooting interests.

  37. I am going to be traveling (long cross-country plane flight) in a week and staying in a hotel for a couple of days for the first time in a couple of years after a relatively cloistered time throughout most of the pandemic. Anyone have any pandemic safety tips for air travel/hotel stays that made you feel less anxious? I’m a wreck.

    1. I haven’t traveled by plane, but I’ve done hotels and I didn’t find them particularly worrying. It’s pretty easy to keep your distance from people and you’re not in proximity for very long. Be extra patient not just because of COVID but also staff shortages (that may mean, for instance, that housekeeping doesn’t go into your room every day). I had very good luck with elevators, but that’s where I’d probably be most cautious and be willing to wait for another (or take stairs). You didn’t mention restaurants–I’m still not super gung ho about eating inside restaurants and either have done carryout or eaten in non-crowded restaurants.

    2. I’ve been traveling almost the entire pandemic, due to the nature of my job. Unfortunately I’ve only been driving, so I have no air travel recommendations. There are a few things you can do to make yourself safer driving and staying in a hotel. The gist is, avoid contact where possible.

      Following these recommendations has kept probably 30 people virus-free over the past two years, so they’re fairly effective.

      1) Ask that your room not be cleaned while you’re there. That way you’re the only one in the hotel.
      2) Either pack your meals, or have them delivered. That way you’re not out in a restaurant.
      3) Take drinks and snacks with you. That way you don’t go into gas stations.
      4) Get vaccinated, wear masks, all that good stuff.

    3. Wear a really good mask for the airport and flight. I normally wear a double layer cloth mask but for flying I wear an N95. It’s probably overkill, but still. The airport is a greater risk of exposure than the plane itself.

      My doctor also advised against using the air nozzle above the plane seat because it sucks in air from the row both in front and in back so if someone is sick in either of those rows, you run a risk of exposure. Hand sanitizers and hand wipes are a must for air travel.

      Most hotels are going above and beyond with COVID precautions. Honestly, they’re being so cautious it takes away the fun of staying in a hotel. Your remote will probably be wrapped in plastic and some amenities may be reduced/cut (last hotel I stayed in last weekend was a Westin in Minneapolis and there was no room service at all nor was there housekeeping for stays under 3 nights unless specially requested and the bar/restaurant had severely reduced hours/menus).

      1. I had the same hotel experiences (2 different hotels) in july. No housekeeping, curtailed amenities, the free breakfast was wrapped pastries instead of real food. And on and on though I suspect some issues were due to labor shortage.

    4. For flying: if you don’t already have one, buy a good-quality mask (KN95 or N95). Knowing that I was protected even if other people had their noses out or whatever (on the flight itself, flight attendants were very good at managing this, but the airport was pretty hit or miss).

      Eat before you get to the airport so you don’t have to sort it out there. For a longer trip or if you get hungry, bring snacks that don’t involve your hands touching the food (granola bars, a sandwich in a ziploc, etc.). I know surfaces aren’t the primary means of covid spread but I felt kind of gross eating pretzel sticks after touching stuff in the airport. Bring hand sanitizer (but under 3oz so you can take it on the plane!).

      I have heard that planes themselves are relatively safe because they have really good air filtration – so that might help your peace of mind.

    5. KN95 for the airplane – I have one with straps that go over the ears, and one with straps that go around the head. I switch them out as they get uncomfortable/for different needs. (When I’m eating or drinking, I like the over-ear one so that I can replace it easily between bites.)

      I don’t find hotels to be very problematic. I used to wipe down the surfaces but I’ve mostly stopped doing that. We do open the windows when we arrive.

    6. I’ve traveled the whole time. I was vaccinated this past spring. This is a mostly travel experience than tips as I am comfortable traveling.

      My mask of choice is a surgical mask. Wear what you want. I see people double mask, wear a face shield, saw someone in paint suit. When you provide TSA your ID, you can wait to lower your mask until they ask.
      TSA allows up to 12 oz of hand sanitizer. I’ve only brought a key chain bottle and leave it attached to my backpack, so no issues. There is hand sanitizer throughout every airport I’ve been in.
      I have eaten in the airport. Early on, I just found space apart from others since the ventilation of airports isn’t really discussed.
      I’d pack snacks as food can be limited. The choices can be minimal and/or long lines and maybe not enough time during a connection.
      The air in large aircraft, the exchange rate of air is every 3-5 min. It’s a mix of air and it’s filtered. Advice was that using the air vents create turbulence (inside) which would push particles to the ground.
      Tip: bring an empty water bottle and fill it at the airport. This is just a general tip not pandemic related.

      Hotels will probably vary a lot depending on location. If you need airport transportation from the hotel, call them to ensure they are providing it, get on the list, find out the hours. Mask requirements are more based on the city/state requirements from what I’ve seen. I wear a mask in the elevator (and typically through the hotel but not always). Food also varies so inquire ahead. More hotels are offering a marketplace/pantry where you can get snacks and microwaveable meals.

    7. I flew long-haul UK to US and intra-Europe in the last six weeks and survived it all with no covid diagnosis. My parents also were driving three days cross country at the height of the start of the pandemic, to help out my brother in another sate and they didn’t catch it either. Our best tips:

      1) Get thee a good, comfortable mask at least at FFP2 level and wear it door to door. I used a Cambridge Mask Company mask on my flights and it held up well after 16 hours of non-stop wear. They are fabric with multiple filters and last a good few hundred hours before they need to be replaced. Paper or cloth masks will get wet and yuck real quick on a plane.

      2) Wash hands. Then wash them again. And what the hell, wash them one more time. Be aware of when you may be using your fingers to eat something and try not to do that.

      3) Bring hand sanitizer or wipes for the plane and wipe down arm rests and tray tables

      4) My parents were spraying down their hotel rooms with a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water, which seemed to work well for them. They also traveled with their own food and wiped down high use surfaces in hotel rooms

      5) I did a lateral flow test every week just to check and reassure myself

      6) Go with the flow. Things may not make sense, systems may not flow like you are used to, and everyone is stressed out about relearning the ropes on top of worrying about getting sick. Add extra time if you need to get to and through airports or checking in to hotels.

    8. Every time I’ve flown on United, the attendants gave each passenger an alcohol wipe upon entry to the plane so that we could wipe down our seats, etc. ourselves. If you’re flying on another airline, bring some of your own wipes in case they don’t give any out so you can do the same. I always double up with a cloth mask on top of an N95/KN95. I agree with the other advice to bring food that you don’t actually have to touch. If there are snacks/drinks being served on the plane, it may be a good idea to wait until other people have finished eating before going for your own. All the hotels I’ve been to defaulted to only cleaning between guests as opposed to the traditional daily cleanings, but it’s not a bad idea to check beforehand or to make that request when reserving a room.

      1. Oh, and the hotels were 50/50 as to whether they provided disinfecting wipes for guests to use or not. Again, might want to come prepared so you can wipe down door handles and tables.

    9. Lots of good advice here already. I just wanted to add that we just started traveling again and flying turned out to be way less scary than I expected. Our Southwest flight was half empty and the three of us each had our own row at the back of the plane. The airport was the most masked place we were in once we left home and was not crowded. Hotels in the western states we were in had lots of unmasked people, but they were easy to avoid. We all wore KN95s and tested negative when we got home. I recommend Project N95 for your masks – they are a nonprofit that thoroughly vets everything they sell.

    10. I am traveling right now, and I want to add: please, please, please, do not wear perfume on the flight! It’s always hard to sit beside someone with a lot of perfume, I tend to sneeze and cough from it, plus the headache of course. And with the mask on it’s like the smell gets trapped underneath and it gets really hard to breathe, even though I usually can wear a mask without any bigger problem than foggy glasses.

    11. Airlines are very strictly enforcing masking right now. So don’t worry to much about your on plane time. I have always been able to find empty gates to sit and drink some water/ have a snack at all the airports I’ve been through in the last year and they do require masks in airports unless you are eating as well. As for hotels you can always skip housekeeping and just get fresh towels at the front desk if you need them.

    12. Take your own pillow. I don’t think there’s much that’s more disgusting than pillows for containing sweat, saliva, mucus etc. Hotel pillows creep me out! In fact you don’t need to take your own favourite pillow, just take a pillow slip of your own and buy a really cheap pillow when you get to your destination, travel with it and then feel free to dispose of it rather than bring it home if you are short of space in your bag.

  38. And if you have pets, figure out what’s supposed to happen to them! That was the worst thing for Mr T. He had asked his parents several times before they died what plans they had for their cats.

    Mr T spent weeks trying to re-home the cats – he did not want to send them to a sanctuary. (And bringing them to our house was not an option – we already have two cats and his parents’ cats were mean.)

    1. Oops! I hit “back” a few too many times and then hit enter!

  39. Mine…has stalled. Due to the fact that a lot of social activities are still on pause due to COVID, I’ve been exclusively on the apps since September. Last month I seemed to be getting a steady stream of matches and ongoing conversations, but they’ve suddenly seemed to dry up. One guy and I tried to meet but our schedules kept clashing and we eventually gave up on it lol. I decided to take a little break for now and delete the apps. I’m also trying to think of other ways to meet people but honestly don’t know how. I don’t have a robust enough social circle in this area to meet people in person, so eh.

    1. Maybe change your focus to “meet more people” instead of “find a partner”?

      Years ago when I was single and moved to a new city I wasn’t immediately looking to date, but I was absolutely determined not to spend evenings alone in my apartment. I found the locals listings for clubs and organizations and activities and classes and started going to anything that looked interesting. Ski club, origami club, dance class, public lectures at the university, cheese tasting, etc. — I went. Usually it was “Ok, interesting, but not for me”, but I don’t ever remember thinking “That was a waste of time”. I met interesting people, learned my way around town, found some new activities, and eventually did find a partner.

  40. I think a few people mentioned here they use the Paprika app for their recipes – is that right? I have a question about it. I have a bunch of recipes saved on my computer in PDF form (so I print to PDF instead of paper and save them). Can these be easily uploaded into the app? I’m wondering how much work it’s going to be to transfer my recipes. If it’s a lot I’ll probably give up because I am lazy.
    Also I assume it’s a one time payment and then at some point I’ll have to upgrade?

    1. If you still have the source (e.g. in PDF you have the link), you can just click on the link, then open the app and download that recipe. Otherwise, you would need to copy paste sections and add recipes (the app allows saving recipes from URL, but also manually entering name/ ingredients/ directions and saving).

    2. I’ve used the paprika app for years on my phone. I love that it keeps my phone on the entire time so I don’t need to touch my phone to kept it from going dark.

      I’ve never upgraded. It’s never asked me to do so.

      If you don’t have the links printed on your PDFs, I’d spend a few minutes googling them to find them. Paprika downloads recipes quite well and quickly. I rarely enter a recipe manually.

    3. I love Paprika! I’ve only paid for it once, and I’ve re-downloaded it on several phones and just had to sign in. It’s like $5 for the phone app. I believe there is a computer desktop version that is more expensive, but it would be easier to enter recipes from PDFs.

      However, I don’t necessarily use paprika for every single recipe; if I have something in a cookbook, I still use the cookbook. So if I had a bunch of PDFs printed out I would probably just keep using those. At least, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of entering every single one. Paprika is great for browsing recipes online and then saving them. It does an excellent job of cutting out all the extra junk that’s on a recipe page.

      It’s definitely worth $5 to see if you like it. I find it super useful for grocery lists as well.

  41. I woke up this morning to a friend posting about #sprinklegate and I was rolling. Posting the article below.

    1. I saw that earlier this week. I always love a furor over the trivial, and this delivers in spades.

    2. I can’t even imagine being the person who thought to themselves “I know, I should get a local bakery closed over sprinkles.” Like get a hobby!

    3. It’s not trivial. The banned ingredient is an allergen, people who have the allergy, or whose kids have it, would expect anything with sprinkles to bed safe, as it’s not permitted. He could have killed someone.
      And it’s the baker who is refusing to use any of the readily available options, no one is trying to close the shop.

      1. Ah, that makes more sense. We went through a period when my daughter was small, when she was not allergic but hypersensitive to yellow food dyes. Within a short time of eating it, she would become frighteningly out of control – not like normal “kid with sugar” jazzed up. Like, throwing herself against the wall, banging her head, screaming and kicking anyone who came near her.

        Freaked us completely out until we traced the problem. Slice of cake with white icing, jazzed but normal. Slice of same type of cake with yellow icing, psycho to the point of needing restraint so she wouldn’t hurt herself.

        If somebody slipped my kid an additive like that without me knowing it, I would be reporting them for sure.

      2. Agreed! Not trivial at all. I’m LOL’ing at “UK sprinkles taste like shit!” Sprinkles do not do it for me taste or texture wise, so all sprinkles taste crappy to me 😉

        It seems like there are a few ways this can end up: post a warning regarding the ingredients/additives, use different sprinkles/UK approved (which unlikely based on the owners comments), don’t use sprinkles at all, etc.

        1. Sprinkles do not do it for me taste or texture wise, so all sprinkles taste crappy to me

          Def agree with this! Those cakes that have a hidden core of sprinkles may photograph well, but I can’t imagine eating a whole mouthful of sprinkles.

        2. It looks like the ingredient is totally banned and can’t be legally sold at all. So that would knock out the “post a warning” option.

          The baker is being a very precious widdle baby if he would rather close up than follow food safety laws. Makes you wonder if he thinks his unwashed hands make the food taste better, too?

          You don’t pick and choose which health regulations you feel like following.

          1. It’s not, though! It’s legal in the UK but ONLY for making cocktail cherries for some reason. And totally legal in the US.
            And nothing I have seen says it’s an allergy issue. in higher doses it is possibly cancer causing.

            1. The colour definitely causes cancer. It is refined from petrol/gasoline.

              In the UK cocktail cherries are not intended for consumption for some reason (even though loads of people eat them) so that is a loophole. This colour is ok for decoration, but not consumption.

            2. He’s in the UK. And he’s not using it in cherries. If it’s illegal for him to sell food with the sprinkles, then selling them with a warning is not an option.

          2. It looks like the ingredient is totally banned and can’t be legally sold at all. So that would knock out the “post a warning” option.

            No, it’s NOT totally banned. That’s how they were able to get it. What’s more it’s actually permitted in food that gets eaten.

        3. I like sprinkles (in small quantities), but they’re just little colourful lumps of sugary dough. So I really do not understand the fuss over the dye. You really, really do not need that specific colour of sugar lump for the cookie or cake to be tasty. Basically, the sprinkles are really not the actual reason why any of this nonsense is being discussed at all anyway. The baker’s absurd reaction to being told to follow a 30 year old law is real reason.

    4. Or being banned for selling cancer causing chemicals to the British public is funny?

      I am failing to see anything amusing, there is a man-child throwing a wobbler over not being allowed to give cancer to UK customers, there are tons of muppets having a go at the Trading Standards people for protecting us from cancer causing USA foods, there are people suggesting he carry on giving them out to customers who want the petrol based cancer sprinkles, others calling people who (like me) think that this guy should face much more severe consequences (in my field if I walk a Pitbull, a Dogo Argentino, a Tosa or a Ban dog I will be immediately arrested and imprisoned for “endangering” the public) evil or jobsworths etc.

      This is ridiculous, the story is a man broke food safety laws and is not being fined over it. He got lucky and should really shut up before someone at TS decides to fine him out of business.

      1. Even the UK doesn’t think it’s that likely to cause cancer, because it’s not a banned ingredient–it’s just a limited one. I’m a rule follower myself, so I wouldn’t bring Kindereggs into the US, for instance, but I wouldn’t consider somebody who did to be dealing death just because the US takes a different food safety view than other countries.

        1. If you tried to sell the kinder eggs and got busted, would you pout and act like a victim?

  42. I’m likely breaking up with a long-term partner who makes a lot more than I do. My standard of living is going to change pretty significantly. I’d like to talk to a financial advisor or some such person to get a sense of my financial future, how I might need to change retirement planning, etc. I know money basics, but don’t make much in salary and don’t have much in assets / investments except my retirement funds and my share of the house. Any advice on how to find a financial advisor? What questions I should be asking? Thanks!

    1. Sorry about that, but I’m glad you’ve decided that this is a move that’s worth it. Go to somebody who charges by the hour, which isn’t super-common but does exist. The Garrett Financial Network can be a good place to start. Do not go to somebody who wants to manage your assets for you and charges based on assets under management.

      Ask them what they want you to bring and they’ll likely tell you; probably it’ll be at least copies of the house title and mortgage papers, your 2020 W2 and 1040 forms, and information about your current bank and retirement accounts and options available within those accounts (meaning what companies your employer offers through those accounts).

      Figuring out the house is probably going to be the trickiest. Usually in such a case either one partner buys the other out or the asset is sold and the proceeds split. That second option can take awhile, especially if it’s a grudging solution. If you’re the lower earner, it’s usually best for you to be bought out and to use the proceeds for new housing; one of the most important things in managing your cost of living is your housing choice, so I’d go as cheap as you can stand at least for the short term.

      I also recommend William Bernstein’s free pamphlet If You Can and the book The Index Card for fairly simple explanations of retirement savings. The most complicated thing in doing it successfully, IMHO, is figuring out what BS to ignore, which is most financial discussion; the actual saving plan is pretty simple once you know what you’re going to do. (All that is aside from the actual amount of money you have, which is obviously a factor in its own right.)

      Good luck. I think it’s smart for you to think about how your finances will change and get such a plan in gear.

    2. Look for a CERTIFIED financial planner who is fee-only (as advised above, not one who charges a percentage of your assets or wants to manage your portfolio). There’s also the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Anyone can call themselves a financial planner – so find one who actually passed some tests!
      Best of Luck

    3. When I was looking for an estate attorney a few decades ago, I asked my work pals for recommendations. I usually ask friends, colleagues, and family members first to see if anyone I trust has found someone they can recommend in a particular area.

      I’d lay out my general goals just as you did here. I hope you can get a feel for responsiveness in an initial phone call and either feel good about making an appointment or move along to someone else.

  43. Happy Saturday! I have a weird property advice question. I live in an older urban neighborbood (think rowhouses, not high rises). I have the smallest yard on my block and hate it for reasons I won’t enumerate, but are probably understandable to most people. It was clearly carved out of my next door neighbor’s large, oddly shaped p property. The current neighbor is a tenant who does basic maintenance but has never used the rear of the property directly behind my house for anything but piling brush, as far as I have seen. The owner lives in a nearby neighborhood but we haven’t met. I’d sort of like to offer to buy a small part of their property (like 750 sq ft) to enlarge my yard but I’m not sure a) how to approach the landlord/tenant dynamic and b) how to estimate the right price, tax assessment values per sq ft are all over the place on my street. What should i do first?

    1. I’d say talk to the landlord first. If she’s not receptive, that’s it. If she is, you’d probably need a real-estate lawyer.

    2. To estimate your offer, look at your latest tax assessment. There should be 2 numbers: the value of the land and the value of the improvements (your home). Take the value of the land and divide it by the size of your lot to find out what to offer per square foot. The value of the land shouldn’t vary as much as the improvements.

      1. Thanks! I did this for my house and the ones on either side, and I think the relative value seems to have an inverse relationship to size of property. For instance, my neighbor’s is 12k sq ft and the tax assessment values it at $8/ft. Mine is 2400 valued at $25/ft. The other neighbor’s is more like 3500 and valued at $15/ft – I forget the exact numbers but their total land value (not improvements) is within a few hundred of mine despite having twice as much usable yard space. So it seems like there is a baseline “big enough to build a house on” value, and marginal value for additional space goes down from there. So is the value of another piece too small to build on $8/ft, $15/ft, $25/ft, or even more because market value and assessed value are not the same?

    3. Might be problems in subdividing a city property. Before you make an offer, look into what might be legally required.

      1. This is a good point. In addition to whatever you pay to the seller, you will probably also have to engage a land use lawyer to go through the process of getting the lot line adjustment approved. Depending on your jurisdiction, that could be simple or it could be a very cumbersome and expensive process. Might be worth checking with a lawyer to get an estimate of what that would cost before you make an offer to the neighbor.

      2. Some areas will let you split property but not recombine them. Do check with a lawyer, so you know you are not going to be stuck with two properties each being taxed separately.

    4. If you can’t buy, maybe you can lease or sublease the space?

  44. Computer glasses recommendations? Do they help a lot with eye strain, especially at night?

    1. I have a computer lens on my bifocals. Anything that helps me see better at screen distance helps with eyestrain. But at night I also use the app f.lux to dim and redden the screen to reduce eyestrain and the sort of blue light that can cause insomnia. F.lux is free and easy to install and comes with a number of choices for dimming level and schedule.

  45. Time for my annual question – what books should I buy the children in my life?

    Child 1 – grade 2, French immersion (so English or French books), has a dog and a cat, likes dancing and crafts.

    Child 2 – grade 5, slow reader, likes Shannon Hale and some graphic novels, plays football

    Child 3 – grade 6, very good/quick reader, likes Gordon Korman and the Rangers’ Apprentice series, into games (video and board games)

    1. Grade 5: “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson is a really great graphic novel, I think she has some others as well.

      1. Grade 2: Beverly Cleary is great for that age, especially the Ramona books, although I think she has a standalone that involves a kid in dance class. Or check out A Mighty Girl, they definitely have a dance-themed book list that might give you ideas (you can also search their database by age/level as well as topic).

        Grade 5: Raina Telgemeier is another author that I think would appeal to a Shannon Hale fan.

      2. Grade 6: A lot of my students who liked Gordon Korman also liked Patrick Carman books. Rick Riordan would be another good one with multiple high-quality series based on mythology, and Gregor the Overlander is another fantasy series that might interest a Ranger’s Apprentice fan!

        1. Thanks for all of these suggestions! I will check them out!

    2. Children 2 and 3 might like anything by Gary D. Schmidt (although “Orbiting Jupiter” is better for older middle school kids). I recommend “The Wednesday Wars” and “OK for Now.”

    3. Grade 2: anything and everything by Robert Munsch. The Dragon Masters series is long, and appreciated in that age-range. It’s also been translated to French, but is probably above an immersion student’s reading level in grade 2 – in French it’s pretty popular with grade 3/4 readers. Elise Gravel writes French-language picture books that are utterly ridiculous and near-universally adored.

      Grade 5: Dogman, Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid are all popular with my slower/reluctant readers at that age. They mix comic-strip illustrations with traditional text in a way that seems to appeal to this age-group.

      Grade 6: A couple of my 6s quite enjoyed Ready Player One. Sigmund Brewer has been popular at that level recently. Seconding Rick Riordan, and recommending Scott Westerfeld (except the Uglies series, which squicks me out and is frankly too cliched for him, in my opinion.)

      1. Thanks for all of these suggestions! I really should have recorded what books I bought for the older siblings of some of these kids. 🙂 But some of these are new, and I will check them out.

    4. Child 3: Amulet of Samarkand – alternate-history urban fantasy about demon summoning, british humor along with strong social messages especially in later books. Sea of Trolls – been a while but mostly I remember “norse-y adventures, nice”. Protector of the Small quartet – my absolute fave series from my fave author, swords n sorcery fantasy, read it in 6th grade for the first time and think it holds up as an adult.

    5. Child 1 – The Little Prince, identical copies in French and English

  46. I’m very low tech, so am asking for advice.
    I’m staying with my sister and she has very weak internet, so I have been going to the library, but I’m worried about security. I have Norton 360/antivirus and a VPN on my laptop. I have been tethering it to my iPhone, which also has a VPN. Is this secure enough? I want to log into my credit card accounts, my brokerage accounts and my email account, which contains financial information on it.

    Would it be equally secure to log onto the library’s public wifi? Can I go to a coffee shop and either tether to my phone or use their wifi? Or is their a better, safer way for me to log into my financial accounts? My only other option would be to go to my cousin’s house, but she lives and hour and a half away, so I’m reluctant.

    1. Generally public wifi is always always a bad idea. Are you using your phone as a wifi hot-spot, and your phone is using cell data? That’s usually the most secure, so if that’s what you’re doing, keep it up, you’re definitely on the safer side.

      1. Yes, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not used to not having internet access at home, so I’m trying to figure out how much security is enough.

    2. Can you use your phone’s internet as a hotspot instead of your sister’s internet provider while you’re at her house? I’m new to using a hotspot and thought it sounded intimidating, but I tried it recently when our home internet acted up. It worked beautifully, and I think it’s pretty secure (password protected).

    3. The best way might be to turn off the wifi on your phone & connect to your accounts using the phone’s data plan.

    4. Your phone is going to be a much more secure option than the library or coffee shop wifi, which is annoying. So, for non-sensitive stuff use the library wifi, but for the bank, etc. use your phone.

      Consider getting 2factor authentication for any account that will allow it. Don’t bother with SMS (texting) based versions, because it’s not going to give you much in this context. Ideally, you would get something like a Yubikey or similar fob. But if that’s not a partical option, using an app based authenticator (Google Authenticator and Microsoft Autherticator are both free and work with a LOT of systems) is very useful.

    5. Don’t use public wifi unless you have the VPN active on your device. The VPN will encrypt all your traffic to/from your device to the VPN provider’s endpoint and protect your privacy from anyone else on that wifi. Otherwise, tether your computer to your iPhone and make sure it’s using its cellular connection, not any public wifi. You don’t need to have the VPN active on your phone and your PC at the same time, that’s probably causing a performance inpact more than providing any additional security.

      1. Thanks! Does it make any difference if the VPN is active on my phone or on my laptop?

        1. If your connection is a laptop to phone to the internet using your phone’s data plan, you want the VPN on the laptop turned on. I’d turn Wifi on your phone off to be sure you aren’t accidentally using it.

          If your connection is a laptop to free wifi, you want the VPN on your laptop turned on.

          If your connection is a phone to free wifi, you want the VPN on your phone turned on.

    6. May I just say what a wonderful community this is? So many answers and so much information! Thanks to all.

  47. Anyone from ThisIsStupidColdNorth places? We’re very seriously thinking about relocating to northern Wisconsin or the upper peninsula of Michigan. It’s super exciting and only slightly terrifying lol. It’ll be a big change- we’re in SW Missouri now! Anyone have any tips? Advice? Definitely don’t forget this important thing?

    1. Consider how much you value being outside. Cold places vary; somewhere sunny, snowy, and dry is more amenable to outside activity than somewhere that’s more wet (overcast skies, ice and sleet instead of snow).

      When looking at property, remember that you’ll be responsible for clearing the walkway and driveway of snow and ice, and in some places also the sidewalk in front of your house. Consider your willingness/ability/ability to pay someone else to do it before buying somewhere with a long or steep driveway.

      Recall that commutes are WAY slower in the winter–if you don’t have a garage, add ten minutes each way to get the snow and ice off of your car, plus the slow-down from icy roads.

      Consider if the house is adequately insulated and energy efficient; it saves on your utilities bill which will likely be higher than you’re used to.

      1. Yeah that’s part of the reason we’re wanting somewhere way up north. Winters where we are now are wet and unpleasant. There was a major ice storm about 15 years ago. We’d much rather a snowstorm than ice.

        I’m looking for a remote job, so obviously that will cut down on commute.

        I’m not so concerned about snow-clearing… we’re basically wanting something similar to Alaska homestead just… not in Alaska lol.

        We’re pretty self-sustaining already. Obviously being prepared for an electrical outage is important, but we’re honestly wanting to get away from relying “on the grid”.

        1. If you’re planning to be partly or mostly off-grid, think carefully about your heat sources. Managing a wood-burning stove as your primary heat source is very romantic and also takes up WAY more time and energy than you think it will, and it’s very different to be without heat in -40 than at just freezing. Ditto electricity, especially if your work depends on having a strong grid at home. Solar isn’t a great option in places where it’s very dark all winter, for example.

          (Also it may be worth noting that in snowy northern climates usually it’s not snowstorms instead of ice storms, but rather in addition to. Snow in the middle of the winter, ice on the shoulder seasons.)

          My advice would be to spend a good chunk of winter time in the place you’re thinking of living. Maybe take an extended December holiday in a cabin? See how it grabs you. Also I would take it slow. Moving from a subtropical climate to Northern temperatures is an adjustment in and of itself, before you add “off-grid living” or “homesteading” into the mix.

          1. Actually, Solar can’t be that bad in most of the US except Alaska, as it’s all further south than Germany and we’re super happy with our solar output here. Yes, it drops quite a bit in winter and our roof is too small to allow us to go off grid, but you can absolutely get a good portion of your electricity needs with solar even at 52°N.

            1. It’s not just how far north/south you are. Weather patterns play a huge role. Michigan abuts several of the Great Lakes, which have dramatic affects on weather patterns, including cloud cover. Then you have the tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico that influences things–not always rain, but it can have a real influence even that far north.

              I grew up in Northwest Ohio. When I was in college they were running experiments with solar power there. The idea was, if you could get a solar power system to work there it would work anywhere in the USA–there were fewer sunny days there than almost anywhere else. Michigan is going to be just as bad, again because of the lake effects.

              1. Yes, exactly. Where I live is a comparable latitude, so it’s light from ~7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the dead of winter, but it’s rare to get much direct sunlight during those hours anytime between November and February. Not good for solar. It rains a lot in the summer also but when daylight is 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. you have a better chance of getting at least a little sunshine in.

    2. Keep a kit in your car for snowy weather: blankets, water, granola bars, flares, etc. If you get caught in a snowstorm, you’ll be happy to have that stuff on hand.

      1. A candle and matches, too. (At least, according to my Wisconsin dad.)

    3. I lived in Southeast Wisconsin for 17 years (not quite as cold as where you may be going). Having a garage is worth any other sacrifice you have to make, IMHO. That’s one end of your commute where you don’t have to clean off your car or defrost the door locks. Make sure you have good snow boots, dress in layers, and wear a scarf and a hat to keep your head and neck warm and keep the draft out of your coat. Don’t let the winter weather turn you into a hermit. Learn what weather is safe to drive in and get out and do things. There are plenty of guides about safety stuff to have in your car, and how not to lose a finger in your snow blower (I lived in the suburbs and shoveled instead of having a snow blower, but be sure to take breaks as shoveling snow can overtax you really fast and sneak up on you.)

      1. Oh absolutely. My husband is a mechanic, so a garage/shop is non-negotiable anyhow lol

    4. I’ve lived in North Dakota. Don’t buy a house with a flat roof. Spend the money on quality winter clothing. Get an engine block heater. All your kids’ Halloween costumes have to be made such that your kid can where a winter coat underneath. Things (like school!) rarely shut down in the north due to weather. Find a good place (large empty parking lot) to practice driving in ice and snow. You will have less daylight in the winter and more in the summer and quite possibly very vicious mosquitos. Gas furnace or fireplace is nice in case there’s a blizzard and the electricity goes out. Turn off your water if you go somewhere for a few days during the winter (in case the power goes out). Learn to like hockey? LoL, we didn’t.

    5. My parents retired to northern Wisconsin a few years ago and live up there full time. If you’re going to be working from home, make sure to verify the internet availability before buying a place. I think it’s gotten better now, but when my parents first built their cabin in northern Wisconsin (a number of years ago) it was a big pain to get internet out to them. From what I can recall, the internet company wanted them to pay something like $100k to run a line out to them (although I don’t think they ended up paying that in the end). Their place is basically in the middle of nowhere. They like to do outdoor activities year-round (fishing, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.) and there are lots of opportunities up there for that. Winters are much longer and colder up there, so it helps if you enjoy outdoor activities in all seasons. As others have said, have an emergency kit in your vehicle because if something happens it may take a while for someone to come help you. Make sure you wear lots of layers in winter, especially for outdoor activities. Invest in good quality winter clothing. I grew up in Minnesota and still appreciate a nice pair of warm wool socks, even though I don’t really need them in our milder winters in the Mid-Atlantic. A good chainsaw comes in handy too. My parents have a long driveway and live in the woods so they’ve had to clear trees from their driveway on a few occasions.

    6. If you have a wood burning stove you will need to have your chimney cleaned at least once a year. You will also want a way to keep an eye on the stove pipe temperature, the build up inside can catch on fire and that is bad. Maintaining a wood stove fire that burns cleanly is a bit of an art but is crucial if you are using your stove daily. Also always keep your firewood super dry and make sure the wood isn’t too fresh or else it won’t burn well.

    7. I moved from Atlanta to Northern Illinois fifteen years ago. Winters are usually just normal-cold but we do get hit by the polar vortex (cold air sweeping down from the Canadian Rockies) which can bring them temp down to -30 or lower. My advice: Don’t invest in a warm coat that doesn’t have a hood. A hood is clutch. It keeps your head and neck warm and keeps cold air (or snow) from going down your back. A hat is great when it’s cold. A hat with a hood pulled up over it is a lifesaver when it’s stupid cold. Make sure your jacket with a hood has enough room for wearing layers underneath. Make sure it covers your butt so you don’t literally freeze your butt off. Buy snow boots. They are warm and have better traction in cold weather. Get them half a size larger than usual so you can wear thick socks. Get nice, tall boots so the snow doesn’t come up over the tops and get down inside them. Lastly, my favorite trick for warm hands – buy thin gloves you can wear under thicker mittens. You can pull the mittens off if you need more dexterity without freezing your fingers off.

      1. I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life, and and am seconding all of the above recommendations regarding clothing.

    8. We go to Madeline Island (part of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior) every summer, which requires driving through northern WI. We have spent time in Ashland and Bayfield in the summer and the fall.

      Practical considerations for N WI:
      * There are not a lot of places to buy stuff. That is, not a lot of grocery stores or Target, etc. We take our groceries with us (from Milwaukee) when we go.
      * How people vote: Ashland county went for Biden, I think, but we saw a lot of Trump signs this summer between Abbotsford and Ashland. Yes. Even now. The only place we saw masked people (other than us) was at the Co-Op in Ashland. It seems that most of N WI – which has among the lowest vax rates in the state – is determined to be idiots about covid.
      * I get the impression from the people who own the cottage we rent that property taxes are high. But that may just be for Madeline Island.
      * Last spring, Bayfield and Ashland were asking tourists to stay away because their hospital capacity was limited.

      Benefits:
      * It’s gorgeous in the summer.
      * Lake Superior. That is all.
      * The fish is amazing.
      * Did I mention Lake Superior?
      * Loons.

      1. Also – Houghton, which I think counts as the UP, is a lovely college town. I think it would have all the advantages of city living with all the disadvantages of awful winters. 🙂

    9. I have family in northern WI. I also have family in MO, funny enough. Although they’re both rural areas, there are distinct differences in way of life so be prepared for some culture shock.

      I saw elsewhere in this thread that you said you were expecting to work remote/from home: Budget for internet accordingly. Some of my family members do not have internet at home because it’s cheaper to use their phone data than to pay for limited speed on a broadband connection. Other family members are paying prices that would make big city AAM faint to get somewhere close to the miniums necessary to work from home and/or have kids doing school from home.

      If you have children, or hope to in the future, school is another issue to plan for ahead of time. I’m not familiar with how school districts are organized in MO, however, WI went through an intensive round of school consolidation in the mid-90’s. At this point, it’s not uncommon for a single high school to serve a third to half the county in rural counties. I personally do not think this is bad for philosophical reasons, but this may factor into decisions about school transportation.

      If you have dogs, invest in hunter orange vests for fall and put them on every time the dog goes outside. It is shockingly common for leashed dogs, or dogs safely contained in their yards, to get shot by idiot hunters during deer season.

      You’ve got good advice about in the thread about clothing, garages, flat roofs, etc!!

    10. Everything wool. Wooltights under your pants, wool socks/mittens/scarf/hat, wool or down parka/jacket/….

  48. A few weeks ago I posted about my tiny foster kitten. She ended up on antibiotics for a URI, which helped stimulate her appetite more. But she’s still taken several weeks to gain that final pound.

    All that to say. I have foster failed. However, the name the shelter provided her does not really fit me or come to mind easily (Merida, after the Disney princess). I’m hoping for some help.

    I like pet names I can shorten. For example, Lucille to Lucy, etc. I also currently have two male dogs. I’ve always been a dog person, and she’s converted me. There’s a slight naming convention with my pups of grammar/punctuation in jokes or something with a literary bent.

    Physically, the kitten is quite small and an apricot/red tabby with kind of olive eyes. For her personality, she’s a bit spicy, my shadow and/or parrot, and rather fearless and adventurous. I’m just drawing a blank on a name for her.

    I’ll do my best to respond to replies. I appreciate any and all suggestions. I just can’t quite bring myself to call her Merida — it doesn’t come to mind super easily even though it kinda does work for her.

    1. Alanna, after the Tamora Pierce character – a tiny badass literary redhead 🙂

    2. Trixie or Gidget? I’ve always liked those as cat names, but neither has fit my cats .

    3. I would name her “Anne with an E”, call her Annie, and explain to confused friends that the name has nothing at all to do with the little orphan of song. It’s a totally different orphan that captures people’s hearts!

      1. I thought this was a reference to Anne of green gables.

      2. I thought of an Anne of Green Gables type name as well from the description of kitty!

    4. Sounds like our cat, both in personality and in story. Shelter cat, and the name they gave her didn’t fit at all. Spent weeks looking for a name, couldn’t find one that fit. But since she was kinda mischievous and devilish (along with sweet), a friend said, “How about Lucy? Short for Lucifer?” 🙂

    5. Gisele, Ariel, Red, Fire, Phoenix.
      Not sure you can shorten those though.

    6. There’s a slight naming convention with my pups of grammar/punctuation in jokes or something with a literary bent.

      What would you name her if she was a dog? Perhaps use that naming convention. (I now want to name an animal Semi-colon!)

    7. You mentioned her eye colour – olives do come in a range of colours and sizes and spiciness – I think the name Olive would be great!

      1. I thought of Olive too. And it can be literary as a reference to Oliver. An adorable orphan plucked from the slums and lifted to a loving home/ family. (Please, sir, I want some more!) Ollie for short?

    8. I name my cats after old Anglo Saxon names, so my last one was Aelthwinna, my current is Braethwinna, my next will be Ceolflaed or Cwenae…

      You said she is brave? Bemia means “Battle Maiden”, or Ardith “One fighting a good war” or Coenburga “A woman who is strong like a fortress”

      Perhaps a “Fire” based name? Synne means “A gift of the Sun”

      Egnerthe “a shining unique sword”, or Egbertina “a shining sword that can kill”

      There are loads of fun names with meanings in the Anglo Saxon tradition, perhaps search out some Anglo Saxon names sites for more options?

      Good luck, nice job on failing to foster and keeping her too!;)

    9. Paprika? Could shorten to Rika or Riki or Pika or Piki (since I don’t think Papi works…)

      Or….it’s a stretch, but how about Wendy Darling? I believe in the book she met Peter Pan when she sewed his shadow back on (maybe that was the movie). Your comment about a shadow made me think of it, and I kind of like the idea of a cat whose full name is “Wendy Darling” but just gets called Wendy.

    10. I mean, I love the name Apricot! Apry is a short form.

      I got a kitten from a shelter in March named Orchid—eugh!—and renamed her Hero Israel. It’s fun to rename cats as it suits them!! And there’s no rush. A friend didn’t rename her cat the final time until 2 years in!

    11. Isabelle, because she is so prette she Is a belle. Issy or Belle for short.

    12. Or for a very different fiery-girl, maybe “Azula”, from the Last Airbender series; she was not a nice person, but a high-energy, self-centered, take-no-prisoners character does sound rather like a cat {wry grin}.

    13. I’ve always thought Maple would be a great name for an orange cat!

    14. I’m having Outlander withdrawals, so I have to recommend Brianna, the name of the red-headed daughter of Claire and Jamie Fraser!

  49. Consider how much you value being outside. Cold places vary; somewhere sunny, snowy, and dry is more amenable to outside activity than somewhere that’s more wet (overcast skies, ice and sleet instead of snow).

    When looking at property, remember that you’ll be responsible for clearing the walkway and driveway of snow and ice, and in some places also the sidewalk in front of your house. Consider your willingness/ability/ability to pay someone else to do it before buying somewhere with a long or steep driveway.

    Recall that commutes are WAY slower in the winter–if you don’t have a garage, add ten minutes each way to get the snow and ice off of your car, plus the slow-down from icy roads.

    Consider if the house is adequately insulated and energy efficient; it saves on your utilities bill which will likely be higher than you’re used to.

    Research what to do in a power outage in the winter, so that you aren’t caught by surprise.

  50. oh gosh, alison’s website has a new look! I had been wondering how long she was going to keep the old one lol. but still, this is quite a change!

    1. Yeah, it’s a massive change. Also things are hopefully still being adjusted as on my iPad the layout is not great – boxes are overlapping and the sidebar is MASSIVE! I hope this is going to be tweaked or it’s going to be a real pain.

      1. Interesting, we didn’t have that show up in any testing. Can you email me a screenshot of what you’re seeing with info about what device and browser you’re using? ([email protected]) Thank you!

      2. I’m having a similar issue with the side bars, they take up so much space that the last nested comment is basically one word per line. I’m using an older iPod, so maybe it’s an Apple thing?

    2. I’m afraid I don’t like the new format. It’s more difficult to read on my phone, which is where I mostly access AAM.

      1. We’re still tweaking and it’s possible it’s rendering wrong on your phone. Can you email me a screenshot of what you’re seeing, with info about what device and browser you’re using? ([email protected]) Thank you!

      2. Not really a fan either. The sidebars make it look messy, and threading gets hard-to-read narrow pretty quick on mobile, like narrow enough to only allow 2-3 words a line so the comment is 3 words wide and 3 pages long.

        1. I’m not having any sidebar issues (using firefox for android), but the indenting for replies does seem a lot wider than it needs to be, which definitely exacerbates the weird squeezing Red Reader is talking about.

          I will say, I *love* that the update has gotten rid of the problem I always had before on mobile of accidentally hitting the reply button while just trying to scroll.

        2. I don’t love the new format. It looks a lot more juvenile, in my opinion, but it’s not my site, and it’s not going to make me stop reading.

          But I agree strongly with the second half of this comment. This will probably make me spend less time on the site because the comment threading gets so narrow. It ends up being really annoying to read.

        3. I like it, I’m using Firefox on a computer. The space on the right is a bit too wide, but I love the new sans serif font, it’s much easier on the eyes on screen than the serif font was. I do like the way you can follow the bars back to see the previous level comment. Before, I always got lost in the nesting.

          I do hope, though, that Alison’s comments will show up with a different background again.

          1. Looking at it on a computer screen, it’s definitely better than on mobile. I like the bars showing comment levels conceptually, but that’s what I meant when I said “the sidebars” make things look messy (honestly, it kinda makes me think Tumblr, and I don’t really like that look there either). Unfortunately I don’t really have a useful alternative to such a thing though – either you increase the space between levels and have big open gaps, or you have the lines and look like Tumblr, or your levels just aren’t distinguishable, and none of those are ideal.

    3. I’m loving almost everything about it (on my Windows PC using an elderly version of Firefox). The one thing I miss is a horizontal rule between top-level comments. Makes it a little hard to tell when one conversation ends and the next begins.

        1. Is it possible to make the divider omething that is text-searchable? For those times when halfway through a topic, we decide we want to jump to the next one.

      1. Also missing the blue “side-lighting” that showed when a comment was new.

        1. And the blue box for when you are posting, Alison. Maybe that is a next week thing also?

    4. I’m going to need to give it some time. It looks great. What I’m worried about is reading this colourful and flashy version discreetly at work!

    5. I was hoping for an easier way to report problematic comments because for a workplace blog, the way it currently is is years behind other websites where it is clear how to do this where you comment. I would like the comment timestamps back but overall looking forward to the forthcoming tweaks you’re continuing to make.

    6. I agree that the scaling on mobile is not good. It’s all whitespace on the right side. I’ll send a screenshot.

    7. I’m having an issue where the collapse/expand link is overlapped by the “set collapse as default” checkbox (iPhone, Safari). I also agree with the other comments to improve the comment threads. I also miss having Alison’s comments appear with a blue background. It made it easy to pick out when she responded. Doesn’t have to be blue, but some obvious difference would be good.

      Will this fix the issue of the comments deciding to reload mid-read (or mid-type)?

    8. Thanks , I like it (on a computer screen, not tried mobile)
      Two bits I’d like fixing – blue highlight for Alison as previously mentioned and it was missing the link to get to this page from the Friday good news post. I had to find the recent posts section which is a bit of a pain.

    9. When I saw the new layout this morning, I was like “whoa!”. It will definitely take some getting used to but I like it. My thoughts:

      -I like the lines in threaded comments, it allows me to follow up to see who the reply is to, though I think the gap (wrong word?) between levels could be a tiny bit narrower
      -I see a lot of people commenting about timestamps, I’m just curious why people find those useful.
      -I miss the blue indicating new posts and when Alison responds, I think Alison said those will be back later in the week?
      -Love the graphic at the top with Alison in a pile of papers

    10. When I saw that there was a new format, I was hoping it had been changed so that when I make a comment it doesn’t take me all the way back up to the top of the comments again. Especially on the weekends I can be quite far down on the comments and it’s hard to find my spot again. Looks like this wasn’t changed, though.

      1. My guess is that you have the page set to collapse comments rather than having them expanded. When you set it that way, it can’t take you to the place where you just commented — because your comments are collapsed and so it’s not visible. The way to fix that is to use “expand all” comments. (That’s not something the site itself could change, you control it.)

    11. These responses have me baffled. I read AAM on my laptop on the chrome browser and have not seen any changes to this blog.

  51. New formatting and avatar/logo – WOW! I was getting the maintenance note several times this afternoon and when I was able to get back in it was the new updated site – looks GREAT Alison!!!

    1. TL;DR: This was supposed to be a quick comment. Apologies.

      Quick comparison:
      Old site
      – font with serifs (those foot-like lines at right angles to the vertical or up-and-down lines; think of a capitol A, H, or I) used for comments, commenters’ names and date/time of comment
      – each comment is preceded by the date and time, in light blue lettering
      – each comment is followed by a “collapse replies” button, also in light blue
      -Alison appears head-to-toe, with green eyes looking straight ahead and pink blusher on her face

      New site
      – sans serif font
      – black and white and *burnt orange* for the date on each comment
      – reply button is all caps and electric blue
      BF- when you start typing in the comment box, a message above says “REPLY TO KATHENUS” (or whomever) in ALL CAPS – very helpful, thank you!!
      – you can collapse/expand all comments via a large button on the side instead of having to scroll all the way back to the top of the site
      – Alison appears as a head-and-shoulders image, with dark eyes looking to the side and no blusher

      Quick conclusions:
      Nice work to make this go live on a weekend afternoon! Compliments to Alison and her tech team.

      Love these two new features:
      – the HEY, YOU, THIS HERE IS TO WHOM YOU ARE REPLYING message above the comment box – because hopefully we’ll have fewer comments nesting in surprising locations
      – the side button to collapse/expand comments – because now no more interrupting one’s reading to seek out and enact this function (yes, I know, first-world problems)

      As always, thank you to Alison for creating this online salon, social outlet, source of chuckles, and community.

    2. I do like it! But the replies are a really small font. I wonder if I’m able to adjust on my end or not. I’ve never been able the adjust the AAM font sizes before through browser settings (on my phone at least).

      1. Do you mean all comments or just replies? Those should all be the same font size, so if they’re not appearing that way for you, can you email me a screenshot with info about what device and browser you’re using? ([email protected]) Thank you!

        1. Sure! It’s just the replies. I’ll send a screenshot shot.

        2. Had the same issue yesterday, it’s resolved on my phone today.

    3. Loving the appearance! It was a surprise when I refreshed this morning, as it was still the former site last night!

      It seems very clean, and more readable on a phone for my old eyes. Great on a computer monitor.

    4. It does look clean, but the font is smaller and it is a bit more difficult to read. I do miss the lines between the comments and also, there seems to be a lot of extra space between the different paragraphs.

    1. It’s also easier to scroll on mobile without accidentally opening a “reply” box! Definitely like the upgrade.

      1. I got a shock when I logged in but I think I like it so far. I like that it tells you who you’re replying to.

  52. My doctor gave me some exercises to do, one of which is picking up marbles with your toes and dropping them into a cup. I have marbles (they’re in a jar as a pretty/colorful decor element), but I worry about causing damage to the marbles and/or the cup. If I get a plastic cup or bend cardboard into a circle to make walls and put it on the floor instead of an actual cup, will the marbles be okay clanking against each other, or does this seem like it would do bad things to the marbles? Or has anyone done this with something other than marbles?

    1. Marbles are typically solid glass, it would take an awful lot to break them! Consider that when you play an old-fashioned game of marbles, you actively are flicking marbles at high speed into each other, yet they don’t normally break. Simply dropping them from a few inches or even a few feet isn’t going to hurt them.

      If you’re particularly concerned, then do it over carpet, perhaps?

    2. Once upon a time, kids played with marbles by shooting them into each other, so if they’re still made to those specifications, they should be fine. But unless you’ve got a sentimental attachment to these particular marbles, I wouldn’t worry about it regardless. You can get 100 of them for less than $10, so not expensive to replace. The cup, on the other hand, might well be too fragile to take all those marbles, so a plastic cup is probably a good idea there.

    3. When kids play marbles they are shooting them in to each other at high speed to knock the target out so dropping one from a few inches shouldn’t damage it but might chip a porcelain or glass cup.

      I’d go with a plastic cup or your cardboard target.

    4. The coach for my online running group had us do this kind of exercise with a towel, we would pick up and put down the towel with our toes.

    5. I had to do similar exercises when doing PT after I broke my ankle and the nerves in my foot were flipping out. I’d try it with regular glass marbles and a plastic cup (I think one’s toe grip is better with glass marbles than it would be with a different material and the size of marbles is perfect for this kind of activity, but that could just be me). If you don’t want to risk damage to your decorative marbles, you could probably buy some at a dollar store.

      1. You could use conkers instead, at this time of the year at least. Nice and autumnal!

    6. Kindly, I think you’re worrying for nothing. I wouldn’t spend a second more thinking about it!

  53. I wanted to update about my cat I asked about a couple of weeks ago. He has FIP, which is a fatal disease caused by a mutation of a feline coronavirus.

    Well, the day after we got the diagnosis, I made an appointment to euthanize him with a different vet. But by the day of the appointment, he was still doing relatively well due to a steroid injection, so we agreed that he had more good days left and it became a discussion about palliative care…and about the black market drug that is available to treat FIP.

    I assumed this treatment would be insanely expensive and a total long shot, but it turns out it’s actually highly effective (like, 80-90% recovery–basically, it’s remdesivir) and not quite as expensive as I thought it would be (still pricey, but in the range of what we have budgeted for life-saving treatment for our cats). The biggest issue is finding a source, but our vet gave me a website that she’s had a couple of other clients work with (two of the three had their cats survive).

    Anyway, long story medium-length, we got the stuff, I taught myself how to give injections to a cat, and after 9 days, he is doing incredibly well. His energy and body are almost back to normal (he was lethargic and bony with a bloated belly before). He started pouncing on the old cats and chasing toys again, which he hasn’t been able to do for weeks. He still seems a little short of breath, but considering how close he was to dying I’m not surprised he’s not 100% yet. The treatment is 12 weeks so we’ve still got 10+ weeks to go.

    We’re cautiously optimistic, and obtaining black market cat drugs was definitely the most intrigue I’ve had in my life for a long time.

    1. Oh, that’s terrific news! I hope he continues to improve.

    2. Glad to hear the cat version of remdesivir works better than the human version 😀

      1. I don’t really know the specifics, but my understanding is that there’s actually a connection between the success they were seeing with this compound for FIP treatment and bringing remdesivir to market. My husband and I have been wildly speculating about the details. But yes, it seems to work much better in cats than in humans. Hopefully one day they’ll come back to studying it in cats and refine the treatment. What were doing seems effective but it definitely feels a bit crude– the medicine is fairly acidic and harsh as an injection. Seems like they could eventually tweak the formulation to be a bit less irritating to the cat.

    3. I’m so happy that the Mutian is working for you! I have heard that there are a lot of successes, and the biggest issue is often cost. Rescues often spend $300-500 at most for spays and vaccines, so $5000+ on any treatment isn’t feasible for almost any rescue. And yet FIP is such a devastating killer, and the more that it is used then the more hope we have for future rescue cases, and the happier we are now to hear that FIP isn’t a guaranteed death sentence.

      Thank you so much for this news, it makes me so happy!!

    4. So happy to hear this! It’s been well over a year since my cat finished treatment (using the oral version, rather than injections), and you would never know that she’d ever been sick. No long-term effects whatsoever.

  54. Advice on insoles for tennis shoes? I bought some Dr. Scholl’s, and they’re OK, I guess. I bought the cheapest ones I can find. I was hoping for something a little more comfy, but I also need something that’s tough. If the gel insoles can break, well, that might happen.

    1. Try the Sole insoles. I’ve been using them for years. They’re a bit pricey, but they last and last. The website is yoursole dot com. I actually prefer these to the prescription orthotics. Question: are you looking for support, or cushioning? Or both? The Sole offer both.

    2. I have custom insoles now, but I really liked Superfeet before I got these.

      1. I love Superfeet. Definitely pricey but if what you need is insole support, they are worth the price to keep your feet from hurting.

  55. Google says that the easiest carpet to clean is a nylon carpet. Does anyone have experience with this kind of carpet, what it feels like, is it slippery, is it comfortable?

    1. I’m pretty sure that’s the default indoor carpeting. Go to your local flooring showroom or Lowes and feel the samples. It can be many styles, colors and textures. If a sample is something else, it’ll say so loud and clear – Wool, polypropylene, etc. as those tend to be selling points that the maker wants the buyer to know about.

    2. All I can contribute is that I will never get wool rug, carpet or underliner again after a runin with moths. Synthetic of some sort, all the way.

    3. If you build up a static charge while walking around on it, you will be zapping your pets when you touch them, and your own self on things as well!

  56. Hi, my family and I (adults and teens) are planning on visiting New York City around Christmas to see relatives. Does anyone have advice on more-or-less covid – safe activities we can do? We would normally go to museums, restaurants, and theatre – are you a recent visitor or a resident who knows of any alternative versions of these? Or know any that are particularly covid – compliant? Thanks!

    1. Weather permitting, the relatively-new High Line walking path is very cool! That’s only an hour or so of your time.

    2. Museums, theater, and restaurants all require proof of vaccination to enter. Restaurants are pretty varied as to how strictly they enforce this, but I’ve found museums to be very good about it. Museums and theaters will also have a mask mandate. Of course do what you are comfortable with, but as a resident I am comfortable going to museums and shows! Who knows what December will be like but our case numbers are trending down right now and we didn’t have as much of a delta spike as many other areas.

      1. In terms of outside activities, there are some holiday markets (Bryant Park and Union Square are the big ones), the zoos, Central Park…most restaurants have outdoor seating now and if you don’t mind bundling up, eating under a heat lamp isn’t so bad.

    3. I’d want to visit the Bronx Zoo, which appears to be near New York City but not in it. Most zoos are mostly outdoors, which should be good as far as COVID-19 goes, but might be pretty cold around Christmas.

      1. NYC has five boroughs. The Bronx in one of them. So yes The Bronx is part of NYC. As for visiting the zoo I believe they require you pre-book and buy tickets before your visit. Same with the Botanical Garden which is across the street.

      2. The Zoo is in NYC – The Bronx is one of the 5 boroughs that make us the city.

    4. I don’t know how well masking is being enforced on it these days, but taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back is pleasant and free, and if I remember right, there are outdoor parts where you can stand. Maybe try during non-commute hours for fewer people around you? For the same kind of trip but with more stuff available at the other end of it, maybe take a ferry to Governor’s Island and grab some food/take a bike ride/take a walking tour? Supposedly, they’re open year round now. For staying in Manhattan, rent a bike and take a bike ride in Central Park, weather permitting? For educational/cultural activities, there are also a bunch of Manhattan walking tours available on various topics, or for something more serious, you could go to some outdoor historic sites, like the 9/11 Memorial Plaza or the Irish Famine Memorial or the African Burial Ground.

      If you don’t mind going a little further afield, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are very pretty! There’s also the Bronx Zoo. Or walking the High Line (former elevated railroad tracks converted to urban park) in Manhattan is a funky experience of being surrounded by plants and buildings at the same time.

      Actually, just walking around the (non-Times Square/midtown) neighborhoods of NYC can be its own kind of fun activity — so much window shopping and cool architecture to see!

      And there are some tasty foods available at food trucks, so maybe you can substitute some of the restaurant-going with take-out from those?

      1. A twenty-minute bus ride from the SI Ferry is Snug Harbor. There are a few different gardens there and a children’s museum. There’s also a outlet mall right next to the ferry terminal in Staten Island. It’s pretty standard but is right on the water and has fantastic views into Manhattan. May be a nice place to have lunch.

        There are also a few restaurants by the St George Theater (about 10 min walk from ferry terminal) that are good– Marie’s and Enotec Maria. All the cooking is done by grandmas, so it’s supposed to be very good!

    5. We’ve been to two Broadway musicals, the Beacon Theater, and Lincoln Center. Each venue was extremely serious about checking vaccine cards. We felt very safe.

    6. If you’re up to outdoor activities – which tend to be cold at that time of year, the Zoos and the Aquarium are great. The biggest on is the Bronx Zoo, but there are some other nice ones.

      Also, many large stores in the city have special window displays at this time of year. I don’t know which stores are doing that this year, but googling something like “store holiday display NYC” should get you some information.

    7. Thanks for the replies! Lots of good ideas here. With regards to theatres checking vaccine cards, we’re coming from outside the US – does anyone know if they accept overseas vaccine cards? I’ve been to the NY vaccine website but it’s not clear.

  57. Whoooah shiny new interface!! It’s pretty, but I’m sad to lose time-stamps on comments (at least on mobile they don’t display)

    1. Yes, I really miss the time stamps! I also miss the blue line that shows new comments. It was so easy to scroll and see what’s new and what I’ve read already. And I miss the horizontal line break between each top level comment.

      1. Yes, leaving both of these things out diminishes usability. Any chance they could be added back?

        1. I feel the same way! The horizontal line was very helpful, especially to mark the boundary between a long chain of replies and the next new comment. It also gives a comment with no replies (or replies hidden) its own little zip code, which was nice. I do like the new vertical lines though to mark the threading. Time stamps are important, I think. Also at least on my computer, the date stands out quite a bit but all the dates are the same, while the username does not stand out as much, but that’s an important piece of information when scrolling through.

    2. it’s pretty, but I’m finding something about it really, really hard on the eyes 🙁 the colours are a bit too pale maybe?
      also missing the time stamps! and the horizontal line and blue ‘new stuff’ lines that The Other Dawn mentions

      1. It’s really hard for me to distinguish which comments are new threads and which are in response to the one above it.

      2. If you have a PC, you probably have a Magnifier option that has an “invert colors” feature on it. I’m looking at the screen using the inverted colors, and the background is black with white print, which is much easier on the eyes.

    3. It really doesn’t work properly on mobile for me at all. There is a big gap of white space on the right.

  58. I saw on social media today that my first boyfriend/lover has passed away. It has been more years than I care to mention- more than many of you have been alive! We have not be in touch since then- although I had looked over the years for him on social media with no success. I am sad to know that one more link to my youth is gone.

    1. I tried to reply but somehow achieved a nesting fail! See below.

    2. I’m sorry for your loss. I saw a post somewhere that said “No, I never want to talk to you again. Yes, I still think about you on your birthday.” Some people stay part of your life even after they’re not really part of your life anymore.

    3. Awww, I’m sorry. I often think about my first boyfriend/lover, and it would hurt to know he’s gone. I haven’t seen him in decades, but I like knowing he’s in this world, and I often think of him with fondness and best wishes.

  59. The new site appearance looks very nice, especially the avatar with the pile of papers. (I think there should be more coffee cups.) But the font is so small that even with my font size default on medium large/16, it’s hard to read the text with my browser at 100% magnification.

    Putting the browser on 110% magnification doesn’t make a significant difference in font size, and 125% magnification plays merry havoc with the layout even as it makes the text large enough to comfortably read.

    1. Just grabbing Candi’s coat tails.
      The new avatar is fine. The type is too small. You lost the time stamps and the line down the left side so you could see where you left off reading. But biggest: the pink (mauve?) has got to go. Sorry.

        1. I agree with Wicked Witch of the West and I’m also using Firefox and a Windows-based PC.

    2. That is funny! I had the opposite reaction when the new version loaded for the first time — too large a font! Actually I think it is just less “compressed” than I am used to, with more space between letters and a longer text line before wrapping, and the new comments right up against the left edge without any whitespace along the border. The letters themselves I THINK are the same height, comparing to a cached version on google. But they’re a fainter black, so are harder to read? In any case, reducing magnification to 90% helped on my end, that looked better.

    1. Whoops. Saw the question to Wicked Witch of the West first, so answered there. But, Chrome, Asus laptop with Windows.

  60. All: If you’re seeing problems with the new design, please email me screenshots ([email protected]) with info on what device and browser you are using. That info is essential for us to be able to track down the problem.

    We’ll keep tweaking — we launched it on a weekend because some of this is expected, despite extensive testing.

    1. Did we lose the blue border marking unread comments? I’m not seeing it on my android phone.

        1. Oof. We seem to have lost the invisible asterisk after usernames. The ones you put in to make it easier to search for LWs and OPs.

    2. I’ve emailed with screenshots, my main issue is massive amounts of whitespace on the borders (about a quarter of the page is lost to whitespace as I type) and as others have said, no horizontal line to distinguish between comments makes it very hard to tell whats going on or to skim the page quickly.

  61. Knitting question –– I have a knitted blanket that I intend to give as a gift. Yarn is supposed to be v. washable (the people at the yarn store told me this). I’d like to wash it once before I give it away, just to make sure that the colors aren’t going to run and to make sure that all the little tucked in ends stay tucked in.

    Suggestions? Esp. interested in suggestions for how to dry it flat after, as it’s a pretty big blanket.

    1. If you are very nervous you can put it in a garment bag. Now that I write this I’m not sure what I think I’m accomplishing when I do this, but I’ve had to wash a blanket in progress (crochet) on two different occasions, and that’s how I did it.

      As for drying flat . . . I will drape it over a drying rack of some type, or even better if you have any type of outdoor table with slats or open bits, you can dry it on that (then there’s at least some circulation underneath.

      There are also drying racks you can purchase for some front-load dryers, and I know people who dry their blankets (folded) on one of those, just flipping it over or refolding every so often

    2. Is this a blanket that has to be dried flat? What is the fiber content?

    3. A lot depends on the fiber content of the yarn. If it’s superwash wool blend or a totally washable fiber like bamboo, cotton, or synthetic, then you can wash it on delicate cycle and dry it on low heat.

      If it’s wool or a fancy fiber like cashmere, alpaca, silk, etc, then I’d recommend rolling it in towels to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Depending on the size, you can create a makeshift drying rack by lining up chairs and draping it across the backs.

    4. I’ve not done it- but I have read of something called Color Catchers (or something close to that) which people use to avoid having colors run.

    5. What’s the fiber content?
      In general, this is what I keep a few of the giant Costco beach towels around for. I soak and/or hand wash the item, squeeze as much water out as I can (don’t wring), then fold it so it’s the width and length of the towel. Lay it over the towel, then roll up the towel/item like a jelly roll, as tightly as you can. Once it’s rolled up, I usually take a thick book or board, put it on top of the “roll” and stand on it. If needed, unroll, then repeat with a fresh towel. Once done, either lay flat & shape, or block, depending on the item.

    6. I will do a cold water wash on gentle then use the “jelly roll” method that newbie mentions, then lay flat on a towel or drape over a drying rack.

  62. It can be bittersweet to realize that you will never again see a significant other, and learning of someone’s death is very final. On the other hand, there was a reason that you were not in touch for all these years. I hope that you each were able to construct a satisfying life.

    1. This was intended to be a reply to Anon for this whose comment began I saw on social media today that my first boyfriend/lover has passed away. (See above.)

  63. Does anyone here experience either seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter blues? How do you prepare for them? What do you do when they arrive?

    I think I experience the something akin to a “winter slowdown”. That is, I can get out of bed, get my work done, and maybe some minimal amount of exercise. What I struggle with, however, is feeling like my momentum is low. I feel sluggish, molasses-like. Last year, when we were relatively new to the pandemic, I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to be inside, relatively alone, in the dark. This year, I want to go in more prepared.

    So far, I’ve gotten a 10,000 lux full spectrum lamp that was used in clinical studies, so I know it’s the type that works. I’ve also committed to exercising daily, even if it’s something very light like walking or yoga. I’ve gotten a big, snuggly gentle giant of a dog. There’s lots of coziness in my home — the blanket at my feet, flickering flames of a scented candle, and some spiced chai in the mornings. I’m also going to try (try!) to let my perfectionism slide, let it be okay if I can’t be as productive as I’d like. I know that will be the absolute hardest thing for me since I locate so much of my value as a human being in my productivity (I know that’s not healthy — I’m working on it!).

    I’d love to read about your experiences, solutions, and what practices you’ve honed over the years if seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, or a “winter slowdown” like mine are part of your human life 🙂 Thanks for reading to this point!

    1. http://tlc.ku.edu/
      This guy has an interesting and promising approach to depression and I think is a good baseline. The light is one part. Fish oil supplements. If you go through website videos it’s a free overview. Though I think he has a book too.

    2. The SAD lamp will help, eating a little more calories helps, and accepting that feeling sluggish is a normal part of winter helps the most. But if productivity really helps your mood, one way might be to schedule commitments for your weekends so that you’re forced to get out of bed (like a volunteer shift, a yoga or other type of class, a coffee date with a friend or other social daytime plans, etc) and get moving. I like to read but I always fall asleep reading at home in the winter so sometimes I’ll bring myself to the library to read there. Weekends are so sluggish for me, especially in winter so it helps to add structure.

    3. I don’t have SAD but still do feel some effects of less daylight in northern winters. What has really helped me the last few years is lamps on timers, so I am not constantly walking into dark rooms. Having a light on in the kitchen when I get there for breakfast, and not having to leave a pitch black house behind me as I shut off lights on my way to bed makes a huge difference to my mood. It doesn’t have to be super bright… Just enough to keep the dark away. Basically I use the same rooms of my house at the same times each day, so I am not really using much extra electricity anyway.

    4. I’ve had winter slowdown and SAD for most of my life. It hits me around the third week of September and lets up in March. Cold weather makes it even harder to get moving.

      It helps to have something to look forward to first thing in the morning. When my alarm rings, I start reading on my tablet. The blue spectrum light helps wake me up. I have a second alarm so I remember to stop reading and start my morning routine.

      Getting fully dressed helps me feel more energetic and more likely to leave my house. If I stay in my pajamas I don’t get anything done.

      I also try to spend as much time as I can next to a sunny window and take at least a short walk. I don’t like going for aimless walks so I at least take a small bag of garbage out every day.

      I used to take a very low dose of an antidepressant from September to March which made a big difference.

      Accepting that my life will be slower in winter, gives me peace about it. I reward myself when I finish things that I have to do do. There are special things that I only do in winter like wrapping up in a special blanket and drinking my favorite tea that make me feel happy. Sometimes it helps to shake up my routine and try something new even if it is something small or silly.

      1. Ooh, the pajamas – yes! If I spend all day in my jammies, even if I am working from home, I feel deep down like I am sick. If I get dressed, especially if I put on shoes, I feel much more put together, and yes, it IS easier to et out of the house then.

        1. I agree about the shoes. I’ve thrown a coat on over the pajamas a few times.

    5. I used to use a sunrise lamp by my bed – it wakes you up by gradually increasing the light level. It worked pretty well for me. My Slavic genes crave carbs once the equinox passes, so I try to fool them by eating keto in November and December. I don’t gain weight and I get that keto mood uplift. Also as much actual sunlight as I can muster each day – walks or eating meals outside.

    6. Depending on the year, I sometimes make it more of a point to schedule social engagements (coffee/dinner/etc) with friends, because it helps get me out of the house. Otherwise I can absolutely just go into full on hibernation mode.

    7. A happy light and leaning into it/accepting it and cozying up have been the best for me. I also addd in a multivitamin since my fave fruits and veggies are out of season and less nutritious. Lastly, I have a ton of houseplants and I find that they help me in the winter too. They’re something to care for (although less demanding because it isn’t the growing season) and they tell me when spring is coming. They’re like an alarm, giving me an end date for all the gloom.

    8. I have a number of routines I try to get well established in summer before things start getting rough. This includes:
      Getting outside 15 min or more every day
      Having a good meal prep and planning routine
      Getting to bed and getting up at the same time every day
      Keeping a regular housework schedule
      Taking daily vitamins including a multivitamin, vit D, and vit B12. (I increase my D dosage in the cold months on my doctor’s advice)

      I look at my calendar in late summer/early fall and try to plan in things to look forward to, even as simple as requesting a single vacation day to add in a long weekend to my month.

      I have learned to be on the alert for certain symptoms that indicate my SAD is gaining ground. For me that includes:
      Eye twitches
      Getting this weird compulsive neck jerking movement (I think it is connected to feeling neck/back tension)
      Nausea in the mornings and accompanying loss of appetite
      My sleep patterns getting out of whack so I want to stay up later and can’t wake up in the morning. Also getting exhausted at late mid afternoon and also mid evening
      Not doing dishes (this is the first housework thing to go since it is my most hated one)

      I plan for things to deteriorate since unfortunately that happens sooner or later. So I will stock up on things that are easy to eat or snack on for when I can’t handle full meals. And I have some paper plates and plastic cutlery if the dishes start getting too much. I also budget for more often eating takeout meals in winter. I make sure to save enough sick leave for this season because I will need to take days off once on a while when it gets too bad.

      Other things I do include regular deep tissue massages, seeing a therapist, journalling and trying to track my progress or regress (my SAD can quickly sneak up to severe levels if I’m not being body/mood aware), and making sure I plan in some social and relationship contacts regularly.

      Things I’ve done in the past: SAD light (didn’t work for me but helps lots of people), mild prescription for anxiety med to help with sleep (also didn’t work), subscription to a meal kit program (was helpful but it’s pricey), online therapy program (not very helpful since it required too much self initiative I didn’t have then).

  64. Can I ask what everyone’s favorite convenience, but tastes like real foods, are? From here to the end of the year, things are going to be ridiculously busy, and while I’ve been doing some cooking ahead and freezing, some nights I’m just going to want to come home, throw something in the air fryer or instapot or microwave, and be done with it, but it’d be nice if the food didn’t taste like cardboard, and I hate to spend money on bagged or prepared food that’s not going to be worth the calories and/or money.

    I’m gluten free and she’s allergic to onions, but feel free to suggest whatever, maybe the suggestion will be useful to someone else if it doesn’t work for us. We have Aldi, Lidl, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Publix, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and we have a Costco membership, but feel free to suggest whatever, again, if it’s not geographically useful to me then it will useful for someone else.

    (I’m the primary household cook, and I love to cook, but this fall is just going to be hectic. Please trust that I am okay with the current household division of labor.)

    Thank you in advance for savings us from a fall of gluten free chicken nuggets and Taco Bell. My offering in thanks: if you haven’t tried the premarinated garlic chili wings from Costco and you like chicken wings, they’re well worth getting. One tray will feed us (2 healthy sized adults) for three dinners and they cook up like a dream in the air fryer.

    1. I know it’s not convenience food exactly, but I’ve found boneless skinless chicken thighs actually cook up nicely in the air fryer. I don’t even trim them generally because the fat renders pretty well. We’ve done them with just some sauce basted on them (barbecue, teriyaki, etc) and then cook some rice in the rice cooker. Maybe add a bagged salad or other easy vegetable on the side. You can also do some type of marinade for the chicken instead (we’ve used Greek or Italian dressing).

    2. Gardein has some good frozen entrees that I like for when I don’t want to put effort into dinner (not a vegetarian but they’re yummy!). The mandarin chik’n is good with rice and scallions, and the chik’n sliders are not great on their own but you can fancy them up with condiments, cheese, and veggies.

    3. You can make good chicken and brown rice in the instant pot. I use ifoodreal’s recipe but sometimes vary the seasonings. It’s versatile. It’s not exactly convenience food but it’s not a lot of work either,

    4. You’d have to check the ingredients, but I really like those Indian simmer sauces that you can get in the store. Especially useful if you forget to defrost your meat because you can throw your frozen chicken in the IP with the sauce and it will cook in 15 mins (w/ time to build and release pressure). Eat over rice.
      Not gluten free, but I also really like potstickers. TJs has some great ones.

    5. Alas, most of my quickest heat-and-eat go-to’s are gluten-y so I’m gonna hit the fast-or-no-cooking angle here. But I know you have alright GF pasta that you like, so maybe lean into that? Spaghetti with a little herbed olive oil (or the garlic sauce I use whips together in about three seconds) and some quick-defrosted pre-cooked shrimp, maybe. Or turn your GF nuggets into a cheater’s chicken parmigiana 🙂 Grill – frozen burgers take less than ten minutes on the george, ditto hot dogs/brats/smoked sausages. Sandwiches (griddled or cold). Deli tray nosh – cheese, crackers, hummus, veggies, salami? Sheet pan bakes can be done in the air fryer and take way less time, if your “come home and bang something into the air fryer” allows for some chopping; the roasted sausage and potatoes take about 15 minutes to cook and less than half that to prep.

      If it were feasible, I would totally load up your freezer for you when this time of year rolls around.. <3

    6. I’m a big fan of Amy’s brand frozen dinners and soups, they tend to be less salty than other brands but full of flavor(not sure about onion free though). Another good one is microwaved baked potatoes topped with whatever you want.

    7. Commenters here have mentioned the frozen Indian food from Trader Joe’s, which I have been eating a surprising amount of when I am busy (which lately feels like all the time). A frozen brown rice mix was conveniently next to the palak paneer when I went to TJ’s yesterday.

    8. Do you eat fish? I get the bags of frozen pre-portioned filets of tilapia and salmon. You can cook them from frozen in about 15-20 min.
      Quickest baked potatoes: poke holes with a fork, pop in microwave for 3-5 min depending on size. Then rub with olive oil (or don’t) and pop it into the airfryer to finish cooking and crisp the skin.
      Green Giant makes a lot of gluten free frozen veggie mixes that just need to be heated up. I like their cauli mash and cauli rice blends.

      1. Seconding the quick baked potatoes — and you can also nuke Sweet Potatoes!

        I don’t have an air fryer, but quick toaster oven or oven meal: put dijon mustard, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce on lamb chops, broil in toaster oven/oven for 12-16 minutes, turning over once.

    9. The Costco near me carries really excellent fresh tamales. I put them in the freezer and cook them in the microwave. Takes about 4 minutes on high from frozen, then let them sit for one minute before unwrapping. (Use an instant read thermometer, though. For some reason they *usually* cook in 4 minutes, but occasionally there’s a cold spot and they need an extra minute.)

    10. The Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa packets at Costco are delicious and extremely easy to prepare (90 seconds in the microwave). Makes for a very quick side dish that’s actually pretty healthy outside of the high sodium content. I also recommend checking what prepared soups are available from Costco or other stores – we’ve had good experiences with Pacific Organic and Annie’s. Heat up some pre-made soup and eat that along with a quick salad or microwave baked potato and you are set!

    11. My favorite almost doesn’t count as cooking meal is this: Slice up 8 to 16 ounces of your favorite precooked sausage. I usually used Polish Sausage but anything will work. Brown the slices lightly in a pan or kettle (I use a 4 qt soup pot). Dump in one or two packages of shredded cabbage ( like you’d use for Cole slaw). Stir well. Turn the heat down, put the lid on, cook until cabbage is tender to your taste (I prefer no crunch, so about 15 min). Dump in a 15oz can diced tomatoes, heat through. That’s it. Super easy.

    12. Not sure if this is the type of thing you are looking for, but Blake’s brand makes a gluten free individual chicken pot pie. It doesn’t have onions and it’s decent tasting if cooked in an oven. I wouldn’t recommend microwaving. I follow the oven baking directions, but after they have been in there about 15 minutes, I take them out and cut slits into the crusts to create vents, otherwise the filling leaks out. Then I pop them back in for the rest of the cooking time. We eat this with salad on the side for an easy meal because there aren’t many prepared meals I can eat.

      Another simple meal we do is Rao’s brand Sensitive Stomach tomato sauce over gluten free pasta or oven baked polenta. The polenta is easy – 1 cup regular polenta (not instant, we buy Bob’s Red Mill brand) and 3 cups water. Combine and bake in a casserole dish at 350 for about 50 minutes. You can add cheese, cream or whatever you like in polenta.

    13. The husband and I are dearly fond of just about everything in the Trader Joe’s freezer section. I’m not familiar with having to look for gluten-free, but I remember they have just about everything in most all genres of food, from pizza to beef-and-broccoli! The pre-seasoning that the meals come with is pretty good, but you can also add sauces and spices (or extra ingredients) to tweak them.

    14. I eat gluten free and I like a brand called Amy’s, I like the Amy’s bowls. Contrary to the package instructions I head the food in a saucepan. The portions are smallish, I think, since I only eat about once or twice a day. I eat meat so I have defrosted leftover cubes of meat to add in and that is satisfying. My other fast meals are peanut butter on rice cakes, or grilled cheese with gluten free bread (and maybe a slice of tomato). You know the drill.. hard boiled eggs, cheese pasta etc. Freschetta’s gluten free cheese pizza is very good.

      I don’t shop at aldi often but last time I was there I was expecting to get some of their gluten free cheese pizza or spinach and kale sandwich but their freezer section had none of the gluten free items that they normally have… whether this is a company decision, random fluke or supply chain issue I don’t know.

  65. Looking for advice on dealing with a friend with a bad drinking problem. I know she pretty much knows she has a drinking problem and is definitely not ready to deal with it. I’m so worried about her–she drinks SO much. She’s a small person and will go through a handle of vodka in a few days. Sometimes starting in the morning. I’m worried about her health, but also the effects of this drinking on her life.

    We’re pretty close but I’m not her absolute closest friend. I am close friends with her girlfriend (who also worries about her drinking but hasn’t had any success in talking about it with her). I don’t really know what to do or if there is anything I can do. Anyone have good advice in this situation?

    1. Getting her girlfriend to go to some Al-anon meetings would be good. They will be able to support her in this. You might even consider going yourself. From their website: “Al-Anon members are people, just like you, who are worried about someone with a drinking problem.”

    2. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My only experience is with my dad, who self-medicated with alcohol and became addicted to opiates at the same time when he developed a painful condition. He’s sober now, but the most important thing for me was to realize that I can’t help him, he has to want to do it himself. I’m also lucky in that I’d already moved out when he started drinking, so I didn’t grow up with an alcoholic dad.

      I second the recommendation to join a support group like Al-Anon. You’ll get the chance to talk to others in a similar situation, and it’ll probably help you deal with your friend’s addiction in a healthy way. It’s very important to realize that there’s nothing you can do to stop her drinking until and unless she wants to stop.

      I think you’re doing a lot of good just by being a good friend to the girlfriend.

      1. Thirding the Al-Anon recommendation! It’s not going to fix your friend, but it will most likely help you and her girlfriend deal with this very difficult situation with less anxiety and a little more inner peace.

        And if you and her girlfriend don’t like the first Al-Anon meeting you go to, try a couple of different ones until you find one that works for you. Some of them have a heavy religious vibe, and others don’t, so find whatever makes you comfortable.

    3. It’s very hard to watch someone close to you be unwell. All you can do is express to her that you’re worried about her and that you care about her, and that you’re there for her if she needs help. You can lend support to her girlfriend where she needs it. Some people really love Al-Anon, some people less so, but it’s good to give it a try.

      You can also research treatment options available near you so you are ready to offer help and support if she does decide to make a change. Twelve-steps are ubiquitous but unlikely to work so it’s great to be the person who can say “oh yes there’s an inpatient program at x and a day program at y” right when your friend says “I think I need help.” Sometimes the moment of openness to change is really fleeting so the faster you can act the better.

      Doing some reading on readiness to change and what impacts people’s ability to break the cycle of substance use might be helpful in understanding where your friend is at and what she’s going through. Sorry you’re living this with her and her girlfriend. It’s very hard.

      1. AA is pretty religious, if your friend prefers secular options they are out there too!

        1. AA also works about as well as most diet programs do (i.e. basically not at all), so there’s that.

      2. If they say they are ready to get help in think it’s better to to suggest they see their doc first? I wouldn’t recommend therapeutic programs that may need referrals and or not have space available.

        1. If she is lucky enough to have an addiction-savvy family physician, definitely! Most of the ones I’ve encountered basically give you the number to call to self-refer to the treatment programs and/or recommend twelve-step programs. In my area, most inpatient and day programs are self-referral programs, but I also live in a place with socialized medicine so YMMV.

          1. But yes of course it’s always preferable to seek medical advice from a medical provider.

      3. Seconding all of this. I was in a similar situation with a friend and didn’t do enough to tell them how concerned I was, and it ended with them developing Korsakoff’s syndrome. They are still alive but the false memories have been very hard to deal with.

        1. Thanks all for your input. I didn’t even know about Korsakoff’s syndrome. Health effects are what I’m really most worried about–she shows no signs of slowing or stopping, and it breaks my heart to think of the damage she is doing to her body.

        2. I was in a similar situation with a friend and didn’t do enough to tell them how concerned I was, and it ended with them developing Korsakoff’s syndrome

          Please don’t blame yourself for not doing enough. There is nothing you could really have said to convince them to seek treatment. NOTHING would have been “enough” because outside feedback just can’t compete with the addiction.

          1. Thanks so much for these kind words! I know it wouldn’t have been as easy as “if I’d said something, things would have been different” – probably I’d just have been pushed away – but it’s still so hard to avoid playing the “what if” game.

    4. I quit drinking a few years ago for health reasons, and I spent a lot of time reading blogs at hipsobriety.com. If she is open to reading things, Alan Carr’s “Easy Way” is still a remarkably effective tool. There’s also a great article out there called “I Used to Think Sober People were Aliens” or something like that.

      SMART Recovery is a non-religious version of AA. The founder of hipsobriety, Holly Whitaker, has also put out a lot of content on creating more inclusive recovery programs. She’s got a book and a few other things out there that are all very interesting and compelling, in my opinion.

      If she likes to hang out online, there is a subreddit at r/stopdrinking with daily check-ins and a discord. “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace is a top recommendation there. “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter is too, though I’ve never read it. I think he just put out a sequel.

      I also enjoyed all of these books: Sober Curious (Warrington), Quit Like a Woman (Whitaker), Her Best Kept Secret (Glaser), Unexpected Joy of Being Sober (Gray), Sober Diaries (Pooley), Blackout (Hepola), and Happy Hours (Jersild).

      Hope some of this is helpful. It’s a very painful experience for all involved.

      1. These are great resources. But please realize that your friend needs to be ready to hear suggestions, or this won’t do any good. So, your best bet is to see if she’s open to trying. If so, great. If not keep this in your back pocket to pull out if she ever gets to the point where she’s willing to try.

        1. Yeah, that’s what’s so tough. All of it is irrelevant if they aren’t ready. It has to come from within.

  66. I should add, I’ll also recommend ebooks to my library through overdrive that are due to come out because it gets me on the holds list if they buy it and I don’t have to remember when it comes out (and helps encourage them to buy!)

  67. Wow! Love the new website – so clean and uncluttered! Easy to see what’s here and to find what you want to delve into; nice graphics and clear fonts; so readable. I liked the old site, but this is such a great refresh! Thank you, Alison!

  68. Happy weekend!
    Was wondering if anyone could offer advice for some Halloween costume projects?
    1) My son wants to be the Millenium Falcon, so I’m planning to make it out of cardboard for him. I’m wondering, though, what is the best way to put it together? Usually when I make him cardboard creations, I use packing tape to put it together, but I feel like the paint won’t stick to packing tape. Any other suggestions for how to put all the carboard pieces together? I do have these cardboard screws (by a company called Makedo)….but not sure how to use them to attach the sides to the top and bottom.
    2) my daughter wants to be Princess Leia from Hoth. I’ve ordered her white pants, white turtleneck and a white puffer vest and she has grey boots already. She has very short hair – any suggestions for how to get the hair? She also is very specific that she wants the badge on vest – I’d rather not pin it on – thoughts for how to do this in a non permanent fashion?
    Thanks for all your crafty suggestions!
    Anyone else working on Halloween creations? Please chime in… I’m dragging my feet and would love to be inspired by other people’s projects!

    1. When I did Hoth Leia, I took a runner’s headband and attached a yarn braid to it so the braid would wrap around my head.

      1. Oh i love the headband idea- it does double duty to also keep her hair back.

        I actually have an old magnetic name tag- i’ll see if that works!

    2. Hot glue gun to hold the cardboard together! Or shiny gray duct tape might blend in well.

      There are magnetic boutonnieres that might work for the badge? Depending what it’s made of, you might be able to tack it on with a couple loose stitches — wouldn’t leave big holes like a pinning it all night might.

      I’m making my 6 month old a unicorn costume! Most parts from the Dollar Tree — using hair extensions to make a tail to attach to her onesie and putting the ears, horn, and mane on a hat.

      1. I think duct tape will take paint. You can try that.

        1. Try gaffer tape–it’s less glossy and will probably take paint.

    3. You can whip stitch the badge on with a fine thread and then pick it out.

      I’m working on Meg March from Little Women for my historical dress obsessed 12 year old. Not sure it will get done on time, but the hoopskirt should arrive this week.

      The 14 year old is 3-d printing Mandalorian armor. We found a black turtleneck and some awesome chunky biker boots. She already had black jeans. We picked up some fabric to swag a cape.

        1. That part we’re buying. You can barely get all the materials for what you’d pay for a basic model, unless you just happened to have miles of twill tape in stash for some reason.

      1. A tip for the munchkin on using the bathroom in a hoop skirt: Pick it up in front of you, then straddle the toilet facing the back. Much easier to juggle the front part of the skirt and underpinnings than trying to wrangle what’s behind you where you can’t see where they’re going.

        1. If I ever find myself in a hoop skirt, I’ll remember this advice!

          1. I was a Rainbow girl myself for eight years and advisory board (for a different assembly) for six years 🙂 I can change out of a hoop dress into pajamas in a Smart car without flashing anybody or dropping anything!

    4. I think there’s tape that can be painted, it’s like a brown paper texture? I’m not sure how strong it is but you could reinforce the inside with duct tape if needed.

      For Leia you can buy fake braid headbands, or get doll hair at the craft store and make one yourself 🙂

      1. I was thinking this as well – I have this tape so know it exists. You could try searching for plastic free tape (I bought mine because I try to limit my plastic consumption and am pretty sure I got it somewhere that was making a point out of the fact that it is plastic free).

        1. Oh good idea- even if i can just put it over the packing or duct tape.

    5. Cardboard hinges- cardstock glued to both sides might be an option, especially if you score and bend rather than completely cut through the corrugated cardboard.

      I’m supposed to be making a vulture costume- need to get sewing!

  69. Just wanted to say I really like the new look for the web site! 🙂

  70. One problem though: I don’t see how to flag/report problem comments like spam. There used to be a link for that, right?

    1. Yes please! There’s definitely a spam post just above yours.

    2. No, there was never a “report” button and it’s sorely needed. The reporting function was (is?) done by emailing Alison or posting a comment with the link to the offending comment, because including the link sends the comment to moderation.

      1. Yes, I’d like it too! But it has to stay this way for now because every reporting plugin either breaks something else on the site or simply removes the comment that was reported after an insanely low number of reports (like 3), which seems ripe for abuse and would also cause other problems (like people’s replies to it also disappearing). Unfortunately a lot of plugins don’t work on a site with this level of traffic or break other things that we have in place that people want. So that’s why the workaround.

    3. You might be thinking of the “report a typo or problem” link, it wasn’t for individual comments

      1. Yes, it was a link. When I was looking for it, the comment rules referred to it as flagging the comment.

  71. Here’s my Saturday night ethical dilemma…please weigh in. Kind and respectful responses are appreciated.

    So we live on the liberal coast in California but also in a county where the C19 vaccination rate hovers at 44% for adults. Halloween tends to be A THING here.

    My 12 yo daughter has a friend/classmate whose parents put on a Halloween party most years. She was invited to attend this week and stay the night. There will be lots of kids, “family friends”, and the usual adult things like beer and cannabis. When asked this evening if my daughter would be attending (a few other girls from the class are going), I texted what I think are normal questions – how many people are attending, who will be sober. The reply included that there will be a lot of people, no masking (well, duh, it’s your home), the husband and several of his friends don’t drink (okay, but dabbing??), and that they understood my concerns and it may be better if my child stayed home.
    I had initially replied that she could come by for a few hours. Due to foreseen parking issues (it’s a caldesac), someone would walk her to the street. Walking is NOT a challenge for me. The idea of not being able to knock on your front door to pick up my kid has always, always been unsettling to me and a bit of a boundary.

    All this to say, I can’t tell if I’m hurt that I wasn’t invited and this is why I can’t get on board or if my spide-y sense is legit (for crying out loud, it’s a house/Halloween party). Fellow parents – what would you do?

    1. I have a 13 yo daughter and would be very uncomfortable with this arrangement. Can you invite the friend over on a different date?

    2. I’m a little unclear what the issue and your boundaries are. Are you concerned about the number of people or lack of masking? The fact that you weren’t invited and you’d be more comfortable being there to keep an eye on things?

      If my 12 year old weren’t vaccinated I wouldn’t send them to a party like this, but my 12 year old would be vaccinated. With a vaccinated 12 year old, I’d probably ok a couple of hours but not overnight because the supervision sounds spotty.

      1. Masking remains important but I don’t expect mask use at a private home. I am wary of any unnecessary compound exposures, vaccinated or otherwise. And yes, it’s seems odd to not be able to supervise (in an easy going way).

        1. I would raise the counterpoint that mixing many households indoors with a high number of unvaccinated people is precisely the kind of situation that can spread covid. Especially with people drinking/doing drugs, they are likely to be lax about general safety–people may forget cough/sneeze etiquette and frequent hand-washing. This whole situation seems iffy for many reasons but I would not feel comfortable attending even masked and vaccinated, never mind sending a child in there unsupervised (and possibly unvaccinated?).

    3. I stopped getting invited to those sorts of parties when my kid was 9 or so. I thought of it that the kids invited their friends and the parents invited the parents’ friends, not the parents of the kid friends. All this to say, that if I weren’t friends with the parents I wouldn’t expect to be invited.

    4. I’m a bit puzzled, why couldn’t you just knock on the door and pick up your daughter, even if you had to park a block away?

      That said, the whole setup has all my spidey senses tingling, I definitely wouldn’t let my 12 year old son spend the night in a house with adults neither of us know well, and most emphatically not if they’re drinking and smoking pot. I’d only consider allowing him to go if I could go with him, and then I’d take him home fairly early.

    5. There’s no way I would send a kid to a party where adults are also partying if I wasn’t going to be there the whole time. Also no way I would send a kid (or myself) *anywhere* with a large group and no health measures during a pandemic.

    6. I wouldn’t send my kid to a sleepover party full of intoxicated adults I didn’t know regardless of the pandemic. I’m not sure I totally get your issue about the pickup, but overall this is not a scenario where my family would be jazzed to participate

    7. How much does your daughter want to go? Remembering my own childhood with cautious parents I was ready for the tension in the question to be between uncertain parent and excited kid asking to go; instead it’s between you and another parent who asked if your kid is going. Are you concerned about being seen as a stick-in-the-mud? They say it sounds like this won’t be your type of party so stay home; you say to them well she could come by for a few hours.

      I don’t think I understand why this is a problem, unless the daughter were really pushing to attend, but she doesn’t appear in the question, and I’d assume if she’d talked about it at home her thoughts would have been included. This may be off base, but I feel like the issue to solve by texting the hosts would be allaying your concerns to come to a compromise with your daughter (go for a few hours, I walk you to the door, etc) rather than to come to a compromise with the other parent.

      I would try to get enough information to feel comfortable with a compromise in proportion to how strongly my kid wants to go (obviously within limits!). If they reeely want to go, and can tell me why it’s important, sure, maybe I could learn enough about it to feel comfortable taking them at an early time, dropping off & picking up at the door, coming in to scope out the situation, and returning in a few hours. Maybe I’d be comfortable with them going only if I stay there. But their reeely wanting to go would be the only reason to think hard about it.

      I do think your concerns are 100% legitimate and reasonable, and I wonder if your own feelings about the adult-level social situation are getting mixed up with the kid-level situation of what she thinks about a party she’s invited to.

    8. This is a no for me. I have a 12yo and a 14yo.

      I mean, if it were my own family party at grandpa’s house, and the grownups are having beer & wine, that’s one thing because I know & trust all the adults. I would be fine leaving my kids there at any age.

      Not just a kid party with the host parents, but other unrelated adults? Nope.

      Whether I’d be okay with the unmasked & mixed vax status would depend on the local numbers for community spread.

      But the situation here is that we just don’t know these folks well enough to be okay with the setup, and we should get to know them in a smaller setting first.

      It isn’t just about “stranger danger” either. Preteens get up to stuff. They break stuff (like their phones). They need a responsible adult on deck.

      And adults act stupid, too. Even if they aren’t directly being inappropriate with the kids, there is all kind of intoxicated party behavior that I don’t want my kid exposed to.

      We have neighbors who get lit at 10am and have loud drunken fights with each other and with family members.

      We used to have neighbors who threw things at each other in front of my kids.

      Strangers + lowered inhibitions + my kids without a known safe adult, is not okay with me.

    9. I don’t have a child, but I don’t think, fi I did, I would send my child to a party where adults were also having a party time (alcohol, weed) and I wasn’t there. Nope nope no no nopers.

      Either it is a party for everyone and everyone goes (children with their parents) or it is a party for kids with sober adults supervising.

      1. I don’t get the part about knocking on the door. Assuming cells work in their area, you can call her to tell her you are outside and waiting. But personally, I’d never get to that part of the plan.

    10. As a 12 year old, I would have HATED being captive in a house where adults were obviously not being role models. I had friends whose parents did coke and partied with their friends while we played and it was awful.

      1. I’m not the OP, but just wanted to say this is a useful and thought-provoking perspective. As much as adults may think a 12-year-old may not care about or notice what adults are doing—that’s not uniformly true. As a 12 year old I would have freaked out if parents/adults were doing drugs in my presence.

      2. I had to attend adult parties as 12 year old where I was the oldest sober person and they were extremely unpleasant. Nothing terrible happened, but it was still awful, and occasionally terrifying when a fight broke out. I hated every minute of it and there was no escape. The kids usually ended up barricaded in one of the kid’s rooms.

      3. Yes. I’d have been a wreck, hiding under a bed and probably bawling. (Frankly, the big drinking and drugging it up party sounds like the fifth circle of hell to me as an adult too, but now I at least have the option to take myself out of the situation.)

      4. Yep, around that age, I actually wanted to be able to say, “Oh my parents are really strict and I can’t go.” I had enough about me to know that a set up like this could end up being Not Good.

    11. As a parent – hell no. If the kid is unvaccinated, double hell no. There’s a pandemic on. It doesn’t matter why the people are unmasked – the virus doesn’t care.

      But even with a vaccinated kid – trust your gut. The host is basically telling you “it may be better if your child stayed home”, flat out. There will be hinky things going on there. OK, there might be some sober people there, but do you want your kid inhaling secondhand cannabis and being around dead-drunk grownups who may do, ahem, grownup things to her or around her?

    12. I wouldn’t be hurt, but I’d be SMH that a houseful of all sorts could include your daughter but not her parent(s). Who’d let their child attend a drug-and-alcohol party at 12 without a parent?

  72. What is a fair way to share expenses when carpooling on a trip? I’m in a hobby group and we occasionally travel to weekend events out of state. Two of us got a ride with a a guy in his brand new suv. The two passengers paid for all of the gas and it was really expensive. Next time, the two passengers want to take a smaller car with much better gas mileage. This is going to really upset the truck owner. He’s proud of his vehicle and likes to do things his own way.

    Should we ask the truck owner to pay for some of the gas if we ride in his truck again? Otherwise, I really want to drive my own car because it will be so much cheaper and less dramatic. The cost of gas is pretty much the last straw for me. I would be ok if it cost the same as driving my own car but I don’t want to pay extra and have to deal with drama. So much drama.

    My question is really about how to be fair with paying the driving costs. How do you share driving expenses with one passenger or two passengers?

    1. If he wants to take his car that’s fine. Doesn’t mean you have to ride in it. I suggest he can drive alone and you can ride with another person in a separate car with less costs.

      1. I agree with this suggestion. “Your SUV is very nice, thanks for driving last time. We’re taking (a more economical vehicle), you’re welcome to join us or we’ll meet you there.”

    2. How much would it cost per person if you took your car? That’s how much I would offer to chip in for petrol, and offer taking your car as an alternative.

    3. The way my circle normally does road trips is that everybody in the car splits the gas equally, and some combination of the passengers buys the driver’s lunch on the road. (This is assuming the car owner is also the driver. If the passengers also take turns doing the driving, the lunch part may fall by the wayside and everyone get their own lunch, or someone may buy the car owner lunch as a thank you anyway, at that point it depends on the specific persons involved.)

    4. Fuel costs where I live aren’t so extreme that this would make a huge difference for me; the benefits of having someone else drive, of having plenty of room on a long trip, and of having their vehicle take the depreciation and wear would make up for the fuel costs for me. (That said, even the least fuel-efficient of my friends’ vehicles are way better than a huge SUV, so I might change my tune in your situation!) When I do share rides with friends, we often take turns driving, or buy each other meals/pay for tickets at the destination to make up for the costs of taking the wheel.

      For your specific situation, your mention of drama if you don’t ride in the Big Shiny New Toy tips the balance for me, costs notwithstanding; if you really don’t think the truck owner would be happy about a request to be included in the fuel-cost split, then taking your own vehicle or sharing with someone else in a more fuel-efficient ride makes sense. (Sounds like he won’t be happy about that either, which may affect your future hobby-relationship, but that won’t be your fault.)

    5. Yikes! I would say “I’m only able to chip in $50 (or whatever amount) for gas. I want to be up front that I can’t contribute more than that. If that doesn’t work for you, I’m happy to manage my own transportation.” However, if you feel strongly that you would rather drive, just say “I’m driving myself this time, thanks!”

      For my part, I try to focus less on getting exact $$ compensation in situations like this and more on receiving / showing appreciation. Like if I drive someone on a hiking trip and they then buy me lunch, I try not to focus on whether what I spent on gas was the same as what they spent on lunch (within reason I guess), but focus more on the fact that they showed they appreciated my driving. Every time I start thinking about accounting exactly for each expense it just makes me frustrated and unhappy with no real benefit. But that mainly works with friends where you can feel that things will even out over time–sounds like maybe that’s not the case here.

    6. If everyone in the car is attending the event, you divide the expenses by the number of people. The carrying cost of the vehicle is a tiny fraction compared to the gas, but if the owner wants to factor that in as mileage, then that should be evenly split as well.

      Of course he wants to drive if he gets free gas out of it. He’s totally taking advantage.

    7. I’m usually the driver in my car on our friend road trips. I just have the most reliable big enough car in the group, that my family can spare for a few days. Everyone else either has smaller cars or their family needs the bigger car on a daily basis. We have always split the gas equally and I’ve never, ever thought I should skip paying a share. That’s so odd that the driver expected the passengers should just cover everything!

    8. Thanks for the perspectives. I’m going to tell him that I will drive myself next time. The other passenger wants to go with me and I’ll let her tell him that.

      If he offers to help pay for gas I’ll think about it, but most likely drive by myself. The cost issue was the last straw and deal breaker, anyway. There is way too much emotional labor he wants from me and would be another much longer post, so I won’t get into it now.

    9. Not sure if you’ll still see this, but anyone who causes drama on the way to a hobby-weekend event is not worth driving with. I had a really bad experience a lifetime ago, and I am still bitter about it to this day. The person was killed in a really terrible car accident (not their fault) a few years later, and I couldn’t even drum up any sadness that they were gone, such was my terrible bitterness. (I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but trust me, what they did on that trip was really, really bad.)

      Drive yourself, don’t take anyone you don’t know really well and want to spend many hours in the car with!

  73. I got to play with kittens last week! My department at work had a donation to a animal shelter, and I got to to there to present the donation in person. And got to play with kittens!

    I would adopt from there, but their application process is way to complicated.

    1. Do you live in the US? If so, I can work with you to adopt some kittens if you want! I work with a rescue in Alabama and am currently fostering 4 kittens and 1 adult cat that are eligible for adoption.

  74. I have a question: how much is petrol where you live? I know it is going up in price, and has gone up almost 15 cents since September here. Gas here is averaging the equivalent of 2.08 USD per Litre. Or, 1 gallon is just less than 4 litres so about 8.25 per gallon.

    1. Well I am in the US but it’s like $5 a gallon where I’m at

    2. From what I saw going past petrol station on the bus last night (outskirts of London, UK), petrol is about £1.38 a litre and diesel is £1.40. Not sure if that’s been affected by the recent issues we’ve had with fuel supply/panic buying here though.

    3. About CAD$1.45 per litre so I guess a bit under $6 per gallon.

    4. Today it’s about 1,55€/litre for diesel and 1,65€/litre for the regular stuff.

      I’m so glad I switched to electric and my own solar roof years ago.

    5. Gas is $3.65/gallon in Pennsylvania. Some of that price is because PA has, if not the highest, one of the highest gas taxes in the country. But if others are paying over $6 and $8 a gallon other places I will try not to complain too much!

      1. Europe has regularly paid much more for gas than even the most expensive parts of the US for at least 20 years. I’m in California and it’s $4.05 today.

        1. Yes – in Norway it’s due to fees/tariffs added on to the base costs. Initially it was a source of taxation (funnelled towards infrastructure), later there was the additional benefit of fuel economy.

    6. I think I just paid $3.54 a gallon yesterday in central Indiana. I didn’t pay too much attention, because even if gas prices are getting expensive, the last time I bought gas was in August and I probably won’t need to do again before Thanksgiving, so there’s a lot of wiggle room in my fuel budget.

    7. I’m about to pay $3.33 in central IL, just as I’m about to drive to Des Moines and back.

    8. $3.09 a gallon in Iowa. Definitely higher than normal. It’s been nice to be WFH and fill up only once a month.

    9. US, PNW in a metro area and I’m paying $4/gal

    10. Near east LA yesterday, I filled up for $4.15/gallon. In eastern North Carolina 3 weeks ago I paid $2.89/gallon; looks like it’s gone up to 2.99-3.09.

    11. Norway – $2.02/€1.70 per Litre (petrol; diesel is slightly less)

    12. It’s between $3.49 and $3.65 a gallon in Utah.

    13. CAD$1.70/litre in the far west of canada. That looks to be about 5.5US/gallon.

    14. Southern US: Average near me is $3.08/gallon, but the warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s have it for $2.89.

      If gas were $8/gal here, there would be literal riots.

    15. $3.55 US/gallon. Pennsylvania has the highest state gas taxes in the country at the moment, but we don’t have the supply pressures some other states have.

  75. Best new feature of the blog is the red highlighted title for a followed link!

    Since that sentence is kind of obscure … I was reading some of the archives just now, and clicked a “Update Here” link. There was the note, as before, of letter #2 or whatever since it was one of a series of questions. When I clicked over and scrolled down, the letter in question was in lovely red font! Very helpful for my easily distracted … !squirrel! … self 😀

    Thanks for all your work on this blog, Alison! It’s one of my daily must-reads, and I’ve learned a ton.

  76. Don’t like the smaller text size from the update; makes it harder to read on my phone.

    Also, I don’t see the blue line that indicates new posts since my last visit.

    1. The smaller comment text is a LOT smaller and harder to read—on my computer! I usually have this site at least at 110% and I’m having serious trouble.

      I love the separators between posts on the main page, but I seriously miss them between comments.

  77. Any fans of the podcast YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT? (I feel like this group could have some.) What do you think about Mike leaving the show?

    I wasn’t surprised by that- I feel Sarah and Mike were overwhelmed by the attention they were getting for it, and Sarah especially seemed disengaged. I’m seriously surprised she plans to keep going. Mike seemed to be in charge of editing/production. That’s probably why I like Maintenance Phase, but haven’t been drawn into You Are Good.

    1. I’m bummed but I really like Sarah and they always had good guests, so I have hope! Would be sadder if I didn’t get my Mike fix on Maintenance Phase, which is just the best.

    2. I love the content but honestly, there’s something about Sarah’s voice that is off for me. Mike is amazing, I would him and Aubrey to talk about anything. They should do some spin offs!

  78. Hi! Anyone who is having problems with the new design (comments nesting becoming too narrow, margins too wide, font weirdness, etc.): If you want to help troubleshoot, please look at this site — https://demo.athemes.com/hiero/2012/01/template-comments — and see if there’s similar weirdness on the demo, in the main post or comment areas. (Make sure to scroll all the way down to see the comments threading many replies deep.)

    Then, can you report back and tell me:
    1. What problem you were experiencing here
    2. Whether or not you had the same problem at the test site in the link above
    3. What device and browser you are using

    (My hunch is that you won’t have the same problems there, but I want to confirm it.)

    1. The smaller comment text is a LOT smaller and harder to read on this site—on my computer (Macbook pro, chrome)! I usually have this site at least at 110% and I’m having serious trouble reading it.

      I love the separators between posts on the main page, but I seriously miss them between comments (which does show in the demo).

    2. The text on your site is so small, and the comments thread gets so narrow. I don’t see that on the test site, it’s much easier to read. Also, it’s been said before, but I really miss the time stamps. I’m on mobile, Brave browser

    3. 1. My main problem is the narrower text-display portion; looks like the right-hand sidebar and the margins on both sides take up more space than before, or at least that’s what it looks like to me. I imagine I’ll get used to it, and it may be more phone-friendly, but it is a minor step down in readability on my laptop. Not a huge deal, but as you’re taking comments…

    4. I’m using Samsung browser on a pixel phone. I have it set to the biggest font and biggest display size so I can read without massive strain (being legally blind impacts how I use the internet). With my usual settings, both the your site and the demo site have threaded comments become unreadable by anywhere from the third to the fifth comment in–unreadable in the sense that I’m only seeing one to three letters of a word and I have no idea what the comment says. In order to actually read the comments, I have to decrease my font sizing enough that it’s readable but not easily readable.

      I’m not expecting this to be fixed, as I recognize that it’s most likely due to how I need to have my settings so I can read. I figured you might want to know about it, though.

    5. The comments if multiple levels become completely unreadable — they are narrow and parts of the words are cut off. I did not have same issue on test site. I’m using chrome browser on Android phone (Pixel 4A)

    6. One last comment about fonts. Years ago I worked as a graphic designer and typesetter and at that time the prevailing thought was that “sans-seraph” fonts are better for getting people’s attention (think STOP signs or headlines), while “seraph” fonts are better for blocks of text.

      Supposedly, with “seraph” fonts, the seraphs (the little lines on the tops and the bottoms of the letters that are sort of like little hats and shoes) direct the eye to the next letter making it easier and quicker to read and to go on to the next word. With “sans-seraph” fonts (fonts without seraphs) the eye just kind of stops at the end of the letter or the end of the word.

      I’m probably a bit old-fashioned, but I do prefer the serif fonts for paragraphs and blocks of text and would like to see them retained (at least for paragraphs and blocks of text). I really believe that their use makes paragraphs easier to read.

        1. Lol this made me laugh.
          Excuse me but my font is not angelic enough. Can you add a few seraphs please?
          Also, if you italicize a seraph font does that turn it into a demonic font (because fallen angels)?

      1. You can see that I was “typesetter” and not a “proof-reader.” I need spell-check, don’t I?

    7. Eeeeh, the comments are much more difficult to navigate on the new version and there is a lot more scrolling required.

  79. Okay, back to the old site for now and we’ll keep working on the new one. Thank you to all of you who helped test; I got a ton of good feedback.

    (I thought it would be fun to claim no new design ever happened and all of you were experiencing the Mandela Effect, but I figured I can’t pull that off.)

    1. No problems but two things i think can be improved is text size being bigger and a line between comment trees like the old design would be nice.

      Also i am curious what your gaze towards top right is looking at?

      1. +1 on the increased text size and comment tree lines. I need the left side blue line back as well.

    2. The highlighting of your (Alison’s) comments in blue which I see on this version, I did not see on the new version. Other than that, I have no problems with the new version. Using a PC running windows 10- Chrome browser. I do prefer the time stamps but not a critical issue to me.

    3. How exciting, Alison! It looked great and I’m sure you’ll have it worked out perfectly!

    4. Ha! I had a dream about an AAM website update a few weeks ago and it was relatively similar to the actual update, so this would probably work on me. “It was all a dream….”

    5. “New design? what are you guys talking about? I don’t get it.”

  80. Need recommendations for jeans to fit skinny and tall 2 yr old son. For context: 2T pants are about 2 inches too short and are still big in the waist (all his pants have the elastic adjustment). I’m looking for brands that fit skinner than average (some slim brands are still huge on him!). I’d like to find him pants that aren’t high waters but don’t fall down haha.

    1. Have you tried shopping the girl’s section? I have the opposite problem with my toddler daughter (pants too tight on her) and she primarily wears jeans and khakis from the boys section. You may be able to find 3 T girls pants that fit- i find that once you get beyond 2T, the waistbands are less roomy, I’m guessing because they don’t have to accommodate diapers.
      Lands End girls tends to run skinny.

      1. Didn’t think about that! Will check into the girls section…

    2. Since no one has replied, I’ll just throw this in: could you check Etsy and have them made? It might not cost much more than Baby Gap, especially if you order several pairs at once.

    3. Let me know if you find any. So far I’ve just let mine run around in high waters pants but it’s getting too cold for that.

      Dungarees work of course, but are cumbersome and not great for teaching him to undress himself to go to the loo.

      So I’ve just used the adjustable elastics ones, which do look kinda big on him but they don’t slip if I make them tight enough and they’re the right length.

      For the ones without elastics, having him wear an undershirt underneath his pants keeps them on a bit better.

    4. According to one of my children who has a son who is tall and slim also, The Childrens Place is pretty good for that.

    5. My kids were both long and skinny, and we had good luck with Carter’s, right from infancy. Children’s Place is sometimes good, but quite pricey. They do get good sales, though, and the quality is solid.

      1. Definitely look for their sales – my kid is on a tight budget, too. Sales make a real difference.

  81. It’s been a long time, but when my string bean was little, JCrew was longer & slimmer than average.

  82. A little late but any recommendations for apps or exercise programs/guides that help increase cardio endurance?

    Right now I’m able to do light housework without feeling uncomfortable (which is actually an improvement for me), but just walking (pushing a stroller) for a few minutes gets me out of breath. Funny enough I don’t get that tired pushing a grocery cart…..

    My preferred exercise used to be HIIT and lifting weights but it’ll be a few more weeks until my hand dr clears me to lift weights (but he said cardio is OK for now). Ultimately I’d like to be able to jog/run for 20-30 minutes straight. I know I’m a long way from there right now.

    I have tried couch25k, as the end of the program there were long periods of jogging/running. But my issue with that right now is the 60/90 seconds switching from running to walking, it takes me a few seconds to register and change the speed and I just can’t keep up with the prompts – it puts me off.

    Is there something else I should try, or just continue with that app and push through the first few days?

    1. Are you tall? I had the same thing when my kids were little: Grocery carts were fine, stroller meant huffing and puffing. A friend pointed out my stroller handles were much lower and I was hunched over pushing the stroller.
      Got handle extenders and suddenly I was much more able to push the stroller!

      1. I’m 5’3” so a little on the short side. But that’s interesting, I’ll check that out!

    2. If walking for a few minutes winds you, don’t worry about jogging yet. Just keep walking until you are comfortable with the time, then start adding intervals. You want to be breathing deeper/heavier but not winded.

      You probably go faster when you’re out for exercise than when shopping, because you aren’t scanning shelves or navigating around as many people.

      I like the ZenLabs c25k app, but everyone has a different preference about prompts. You could just alternate songs on your playlist. Like, when a new song starts, switch what you’re doing. If you can’t jog or fast-walk the whole song, then use the remainder of the song for your rest period and switch back to the fast interval with the next song.

      It doesn’t have to be so precise when you’re building up a base level of fitness. There’s no magic to the 60/90 seconds or whatever.

      I sometimes get sidetracked by trying to optimize everything to the point that I don’t actually do it, because it isn’t “perfect.” I have to remind myself that I don’t need to adhere perfectly to a strict athletic training regimen. I’m not in the Olympics, I just want to sleep better, feel better and live longer.

    3. I liked the Zombies Run app. You run when you’re being ‘chased’ by the zombies, but otherwise, you can kind of go your pace. (They also have their own c25k, if that’s your jam.)

      You could always try other low impact forms of cardio exercise like Step, dancing, etc. that get your heart rate up without being too hard on your body. I use the Les Mills+ website, which has a two week free trial to their 18 different at-home programs.

    4. It is less fun than a couch to 5k app with a virtual coach, but if you want to build up to it, you could download a free interval timer app to your phone, set up the intervals that work for you (eg 30s run, 2min walk), then pop on some music and do your own pre-couch to 5k program.
      The interval timer beeps on my app are a little quieter than I would like when used with music, but I do this for running intervals and it works pretty well.

    5. Do you live in an area with above ground power lines or regularly spaced streets? My middle school cross country coach would tell people to jog between one set of power lines and walk the next. That way there isn’t a verbal prompt you have to keep track of just a physical landmark you can focus in on. But as someone with asthma who runs a lot, if your lungs are saying slow down pay attention and go easy on your self. Walking at a brisk pace is still great cardio

      1. i work out in a gym but this is a great idea for when I begin outdoor exercising

  83. A little late but any recommendations for apps or exercise programs/guides that help increase cardio endurance?

    Right now I’m able to do light housework without feeling uncomfortable (which is actually an improvement for me), but just walking (pushing a stroller) for a few minutes gets me out of breath. Funny enough I don’t get that tired pushing a grocery cart…..

    My preferred exercise used to be HIIT and lifting weights but it’ll be a few more weeks until my hand dr clears me to lift weights (but he said cardio is OK for now). Ultimately I’d like to be able to jog/run for 20-30 minutes straight. I know I’m a long way from there and thats OK.

    I have tried couch25k, as the end of the program there were long periods of jogging/running. But my issue with that right now is the 60/90 seconds switching from running to walking, it takes me a few seconds to register and change the speed and I just can’t keep up with the prompts – it puts me off.

    Is there something else I should try, or just continue with that app and push through the first few days?

    1. I’d continue with the app, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments to suit. You don’t need to be dead on with the prompts to get the benefits of exercising.

    2. What I did for a while instead of following a proper C25K was to cue up a playlist of songs that were mostly around 4 minutes long, give or take. At the beginning of each song I would jog until the end of a verse, or a verse and a chorus, or whatever seemed reasonable to me, then drop back to a walk for the rest of the song and pick it back up at the next song. If you pick songs you know, then you at least have a notion of when the (first verse, first chorus, end of song, whatever markers you pick) is coming, and if you want to keep going past that point, you can do that too.

    3. I never had any success with c25k apps, for all kinds of reasons. I’ve tried a ton of them and, I don’t know, I need my barrier to entry for cardio to be as low as possible and none of them made the cut.

      I found a “podcast” that I could finally make work from here – https://carlifierce.com.

      Each podcast is a downloadable mp3 that is one ~30min long audio file. So that eliminates the hassle of trying to get a c25k app to overlay your music player properly. Plus you can just put the files on your phone storage so you can run in areas where phone service isn’t good enough for streaming music. I really like this because I can put my phone in airplane mode and just focus on running.

      It does include prompts over the music, but they are recorded right into the audio file. You can kind of hear the prompt coming when the music quiets, then her voice comes on at every new interval to give you a “it’s time to run again! ready…. go!” so you have a few more seconds to mentally prepare to change pace. It’s a much more natural transition. Plus, it’s an actual person named Carli, not a computerized voice or beeping tones or something. She is very positive! It’s surprisingly helpful.

      The downside? Same music every week. But her song choices are good and it’s so much easier to get out the door when all you have to do is hit play on a file that’s already on your phone.

    4. I’ve used physical landmarks like power lines to set my wall jog intervals in the past. Being able to see the ‘finish line’ can really help when you are hurting. But also as a runner with asthma please listen to your lungs, if a brisk walk is all they can take that is fine.

    5. When I did c25k it was so long ago that I didn’t have an app to use – I wrote the intervals on my hand and used a sports watch. No worries about prompts and it meant I could go harder or slower depending on how I felt.

    6. I’d recommend sticking with C25k for a little while longer – the intervals between walking/running get longer, so there’s less switching.

      It worked miracles for me – I couldn’t run for 1 minute without getting out of breath,now I run for 30 mins three times a week! It’s a brilliant plan, but you need perseverance and willpower too!