Friday Open Thread

Clever Manka, · Categories: Open Thread

I hope everyone affected by the polar vortex hitting North America is staying warm and safe. What are your fave methods (practical or not) of dealing with dangerously cold weather?

232 Responses to “Friday Open Thread”

  1. CleverManka says:

    I never feel completely safe (physically or emotionally) when it comes to winter cold weather. I worry about falling on slick sidewalks, I'm easily chilled (and don't easily re-warm), I get frustrated by the diminished produce options, I hate how early it gets dark. Ugh. It's all terrible for me. I've tried brain drugs, full-spectrum lights, vitamin supplements, none of those did diddly. I used to find a lot of comfort in a combo of booze/not-really-legal drugs/comfort eating (they helped a hell of a lot more than any of the more "healthful" options) but those aren't available to me this winter and it's tough. I've been getting through by just doing what I do with everything else now and powering through out of stubbornness and spite but I'd love to hear what techniques and/or indulgences other people use.

    One fun thing happened this week! I found out one of my fave angsty overwrought bands is playing locally next month and I found out in time for me to get tickets! It's one of those massive four-band touring things which I h-a-t-e but I'll deal (probably by just showing up really late because it's a small GA venue and even if I'm way at the back it'll be fine). here's their first album if you're interested and if anybody knows of any women-led bands that sound like this (also similar to Muse and ugh, I know, 30 Seconds to Mars) would you please let me know? I adore this style of music but would really appreciate some non-dudes playing it.

    Last note, I'm taking my own advice and seeing a matinee of Proud Mary this afternoon at 4pm so I'll be out of pocket for a couple hours late in the day's OT. I'll check for comments needing approval right before the show starts and right after.

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      I use vitamin D, eggs, exercise, thyroid meds, and going slow and gentle on myself in the mornings. I hate winter.

      Will you review Proud Mary?

      • CleverManka says:

        You bet! I'll come back and reply to your comment after the movie.

      • CleverManka says:

        Okay! Just got back from the movie. I enjoyed it! It was a great example of something I've talked about (I think here)…that I am happy to watch something I've seen before (gangster movie, main character "bad guy" with a heart of gold, etc. etc.) if it has something new to offer. Like, for instance, not all white people or straight people or all men, etc. etc. This movie didn't really do anything new and frankly it was obvious that the studio wasn't interested in sinking much money into post-production stuff like sound editing and cleaning up shots to make it look pretty. But it was great to watch the story being played out with black people.

        Would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to see a basic shoot-em-up with excellent non-white actors where the fact that they're not white is not central to the plot. They're just…people who happen to not be white.

        The soundtrack is very good, too. =D

    • Xolandra says:

      Moving from SK to ON I had a LOT of fear of icy sidewalks, but the winter after I buckled down to a devoted yoga practice, I found I had way better balance, and that with a pair of boots with soles that are out of this world (grippy, as Mr. Colbert might once have said), my fear is almost entirely gone.

      Otherwise, I recommend an Ahab (sadly, the makers are on hiatus on Etsy, otherwise I would link to their store):

      • Heathered says:

        It's so cute! Hot water bottles are the best, so proper. What kind of boots have grippy soles? It turns out duck boots are pretty crappy in that regard (at least in rainy conditions).

        • Xolandra says:

          Ahab IS so cute! I love him so much ♥♥♥

          These ones!

          My priest saw them and was like "Those are BADASS BOOTS" because apparently the soles can be entirely removed and replaced (if you have a decent cobbler, which I do not). They are not flawless – the mentioned crampons have falled out (winter 2 took them), but I have literally never needed them, and honestly, unless you've got something to actually grip, the crampons just make things worse. But! We are on winter three, and with the proper care (cleaning the salt off on the regular) they are still beautiful. I may need to invest in an insole because the sheepskin has all been packed down and when it is truly cold (-20C or lower) my toes get cold, but for now wool socks are doing the trick ^_^.

          And it's a Quebec company 🙂 O, and I also hear great things about Manitobah Mukluks, but cannot attest to the quality of their sole (their soul, otoh, seems to be A+):

          • Heathered says:

            Oh my God, they're so pretty. I want to learn French just to impress them, which we all know is not going to go over well.

          • Xolandra says:

            O, there's an English button top right, sorry!

            And yeah, never try to impress the French by learning their language. They're not impressed with your efforts, regardless of which side of the pond you're on, hahahaha.

          • Doc_Paradise says:

            Those are the brand of boot I bought this year. I love my boots.

          • Xolandra says:

            Great minds think alike 😉

          • CleverManka says:

            Holy shit those are some beautiful boots. This website even has them in my size (which the cheaper sites do not). eeeeeeek

          • Xolandra says:

            Honestly, I love my boots. Other people totter around on icy sidewalks while I barrel past jumping around puddles without fear. It's AMAZING.

          • Kazoogrrl says:

            Oh shit, so many gorgeous boots I WANT!

          • Absotively says:

            Those boots are making me wish I hadn't just bought new winter boots this week.

            Though I ended up just buying the least lousy boots that were handy because I was tired of boot shopping. So I probably wouldn't have had the boot shopping energy to look at really nice boots anyways. Maybe in the fall.

          • redheadfae says:

            I think I'm wearing a cheap knock-off of those boots, LOL, but hey, I'm also not slipping and falling in the icy parking lots today! The real ones are 10x prettier. Man, those Storybook Mukluks are gorgeous but they are definitely lottery boots.

      • CleverManka says:

        I do have heating pads sprinkled around the house and an electric blanket…those help.

        Echoing Heather's call for grippy boot recommendations. I have Yak Trax and those work great but only when you're actually walking in the mess. They're nearly lethal once you move indoors.

        • Xolandra says:

          Look for things with rubber – NOT PLASTIC – soles. Rubber has a lower freezing termp than does plastic. Look also for things with a wide (thick?) tread. Do not buy Sorel's marketing – they haven't been the same since Columbia boots bought them out years ago.

          And omg, of course this is a question of great national import:…. The report:

          Note – adding crampons does NOT work unless the surface that you are going to be walking on is uniformely icy. So glaciers? yes? Icy sidewalks? No dice; as soon as the ice isn't there crampons + cold concrete = slippy AF.

    • vladazhael says:

      I fell on the ice in Wisconsin almost 5 years ago and permanently fucked up a shoulder and surrounding territory (partially my fault for not taking my dad's advice to do physical therapy afterward), and I am still extremely skittish about walking on ice or where there might be ice or during times when it's cold enough for ice to form. It's not even so much the injury itself that rewired my brain; it was the feeling of my feet spontaneously coming out from under me in a way I could do nothing to mitigate.

      • CleverManka says:

        I am unsteady on my feet to the point where I don't even like walking down steep inclines in perfectly dry, sunny conditions. I am nervous going down the stairs in my own house. Ugh. So I feel ya, even though I've never *knock wood* suffered a bad fall that injured anything worse than my nose.

    • Lynn says:

      My mantra this winter (which has already been so long and dreary here in the NE – it's warm today but it is raining and foggy) is "winter is too dreary to have boring outerwear." I love both my coats — the big one is a vintage wool coat in bright purple and the mid-weight one is a black and white houndstooth that feels like wearing a blanket but looks super chic, like one of Kerry Washington's coats on Scandal. I hate cold weather but loving my coats helps a lot.

      Also as a knitter I made most of my hats and scarves and so if I really start getting fed up I make something new to wear to break up the monotony. I finished a new hat and scarf specifically for super cold weather right as our temps dropped into single digits, which helped a lot in getting me to go outside.

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      Icy sidewalks are truly terrifying. I've seen people wearing crampon-type attachments on the bottoms of their boots, and I might have to invest in them if we are ever again plunged into 6 Inches of Solid Ice Atop Our Sidewalks Hell.

      For warmth, sometimes I absolutely need an external heat source to warm up properly. Baths and hot water bottles are crucial. I don't mind getting bundled up inside, so I often wear sweaters, hats, scarves and fingerless mittens for most of the day.

      I love soups and stews and braised meats, so that somewhat makes up for the lack of produce.

      Candles and mini lights and many, many cups of tea for coziness. Particularly "warm"-flavoured herbal teas that go well with cream (or coconut milk).

      The main "indulgence" though is just going easy on myself. I watch a lot of Netflix and read a lot of novels and fanfic in the winter because I just don't have much physical or mental energy. As long as I leave the house at some point and get some physical activity/exercise every day, I'm allowed to spend as much time on the couch as I want. Winter is definitely for surviving, not thriving.

      • CleverManka says:

        On weekends, I often wear two pairs of PJ bottoms (I have a pair that is two sizes too big so they fit over anything), and two sweaters (a cashmere under a wool) on top of a long underwear top.

        Ugh, I forgot to mention most teas are also unavailable to me this year so I'm having to make do with hot water poured over things like ginger slices, cinnamon sticks, and lemon wedges.

        Winter is definitely for surviving, not thriving.
        TRUE WORDS

        • Fancy_Pants says:

          Oh NO, that is tragic. Can you drink roobios? Awhile back I got ambitious enough to make some tea blends for myself and roobios is a nice carrier tea for chai-ish flavours (like maybe you could make a blend of cinnamon, ginger and anise? Put a little coconut milk in there?). I love me some lemon tea but it does NOT feel like a hug 🙁

          • CleverManka says:

            I'm going to be able to introduce coconut milk maybe next week (fingers crossed). Not sure about the rooibos. I've never particularly cared for it in pre-mixed, purchased teas but perhaps if I made my own blends I could make it more to my taste. It just feels so…weak in my mouth. I miss the strong mouthfeels of coffee and Yorkshire Gold tea.

          • jenavira says:

            Definitely try making your own rooibus blends – the reason I like it is because you can get as good a mouthfeel from it as black tea, which isn't true of a lot of tisanes, but you have to brew it for a long time. Like, ten minutes or more. But it doesn't get bitter if you oversteep it, so that's fine.

            (Rooibos + a little vanilla with a dash of milk is my favorite evening beverage)

          • CleverManka says:

            AWESOME, thank you!!!! I'll double-check with AtN that rooibos is okay to add in and will try that technique. Can you do the thing where you make a bunch and then reduce it down so you can just add hot water and not sit through the ten minute steeping every time?

          • jenavira says:

            I have never tried that thing, but I can't see why it wouldn't work!

          • CleverManka says:

            I love that thing. It's so convenient for things that have a steep time of anything longer than 5 minutes.

        • redheadfae says:

          I think ginger, cinnamon and orange all together would be lovely. Sort of like that one Celestial Teas with the tiger on it, can't remember the name since I quit buying them.
          I am Very Strongly considering making a set of PJs out of one or two of those microfiber blankets from TJ Maxx. So soft, so cozy.

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        I'm rereading an epically long Harry Potter holiday-ish fic because it's a total comfort read.

    • damngoodcoffee says:

      So I'm not very much of a bath person, but I do like to take foot baths and just hang out reading/on my laptop (carefully not letting it slip into the water). Sometimes warming up my feet that way is just what I need. In terms of the darkness, I'm not sure. I've always had a relatively easier time in winter than most, aside from the fact that I'm always so cold. I agree with everyone else saying that going easy on yourself is key around difficult times of year.

    • Xolandra says:

      O yes and also I asked my metal friend if he had recommendations for not-cis-dudes making music like above and he was like THIS IS EXCELLENT and also no recommendations. Sowwy.

  2. Xolandra says:

    O MY GODS, I love the Aristocats!!!! Best. .gif. EVER.

  3. Xolandra says:

    O hello, yes, I winter. I have wintered all my life, to varying degrees of success. I feel like we'll have to have a Canadian-specific thread, hahahaha.

    Point the first: winter is _so much less tolerable_ now than it was 70 lbs ago. I get colder and stay colder longer, and it is _misery_. But also now winter coats fit me, so you win some, you lose some.

    I wear Stanfield's for a good part of the winter. They are so great. I also basically always wear knee length socks as well. And you know, the other thing that has made winter way more tolerable? Not having a car. Turns out even if you warm your car up, and even when it's not that cold, sitting in a car is miserable. Walking, OTOH, is actually quite pleasant, and if you're cold you just… walk faster.

    I live and die by my hot water bottle. I also have blankets strewn on every possible surface, and I burn a lot of candles. If you're in a small enough room for long enough, candles will totally make a difference. I drink lots of hot beverages (lemongrass, y'all. It's so great, and mixes well with lavender for high anxiety days). O yes and also hot buttered rums are a delight to behold, easy peasy to make, and almost always taste like another ^_^.

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      Oh yeah. Layers and thermal underwear are absolutely a thing that works.

      I've found that heated car seats are levels of magnitude better for staying warm in a car than air heating. And faster.

      I also layer my bed. I've got a sheet, a summer comforter, a winter comforter, a quilt, and a fake fur blanket on my bed right now. I like the weight of them and I can kick them off or layer them up until I get to the level I want.

      • Xolandra says:

        HELLS YES, all of the blankets on the bed!!! I have like 4 too, I LOVE the weight. By far and away the worst part of sharing my bed is that GentlemanX generates too much heat for me to have like 6 blankets on me and remain a comfortable temperature, hahaha.

        • RoseCamelia says:

          Our bed has a sheet and only one blanket that we share. However, Mr Rose's side of the bed has an additional blanket folded in half. He enjoys double warmth and I enjoy not overheating.

          There's a very pretty duvet we do not sleep with. Sleeping includes dogs, their fur, and their somewhat dirty paws. The very pretty duvet is for throwing over the empty bed in the morning so it all looks very pretty. The duvet must return to its place away from all mammals at bedtime.

          • Xolandra says:

            I will fully admit that my cats have full run everything – from kitchen counters to pretty duvets. One likes to sleep on my pillow and one likes to curl up next to my belly (I am a side sleeper), but I usually toss and turn too much for his taste, and he generally leaves before I fall asleep.

            When GentlemanX is home, the cats abandon me for him. I am slightly jealous, but better rested.

    • CleverManka says:

      Wow. I'd never heard of Stanfield's and am now seriously considering asking for expensive underwear for xmas next year…

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      I discovered hot buttered rum this winter, it's a WIN!

    • damngoodcoffee says:

      Commiseration: dropping weight has made me feel the cold so much more acutely now, OMG. Luckily my apartment is really well-heated, but when I visited my parents over winter break, in their drafty house, I basically lived in front of the fireplace with a fluffy robe.

      • Xolandra says:

        Yeah, i was astonished. Like I used to be that person who would run outisde for a couple of minutes in -20, and now it's -2 and I"m all WHERE'S MY MUFF?

        Because of course I have a muff.

    • jenavira says:

      YES on the candles. I always forget how much heat they put out until 2am on the Solstice when I'm wondering why it's eighty degrees in my apartment…

    • Absotively says:

      I finally dug out my longjohns from the remnants of clothes mountain, having grown tired of telling myself that leggings would do until I got to sorting underwear. They are some fancy technical fabric, purchased from MEC about a decade and a half ago, and they don't fit as well as they used to, but they stretch good so it's just my ankles that aren't well covered, and I can compensate for that with warm socks.

      But! Though they were ok last year, the waist elastic is now completely shot. I am wearing them anyways, because I am wearing jeans and a belt and that seems to be sufficient to keep them up, but at some point I'll have to replace the elastic. Or buy Stanfield's, I guess. Or new fancy longjohns.

      • Xolandra says:

        Elastic just… not elasticing anymore = a great tragedy, imo. Like, why you gotta be subject to the ravages of time?!?

        I tried a couple of pairs of fleece leggings this year (for fashion purposes) and they just… they're not as warm outside, and they are more warm inside. IDK how that works, but it is what it is.

        I have been thinking of investing in wool (merino?) tights, but I don't have $80 to drop on a pair of not-pants just now.

        • Absotively says:

          I'm pretty sure mine aren't wool. I think they're synthetic. I can't check, because all the writing has worn off the tag. If I buy new fancy ones, they'll probably be synthetic, because I've been happy with these probably-synthetic ones and it's cheaper and probably less fussy about how it's washed.

          I have fleece-lined tights, but they are too small for me. They appear to fit when I first put them on, due to stretchiness, but then the waistband spends thirty minutes sliding downwards. I don't like them quite enough to bother finding some that aren't one-size.

          • Xolandra says:

            Synthetics make me smell REALLY bad, so I try to avoid them 🙁 But they are way warmer, so I am not at all questioning your judgement!

          • Absotively says:

            Fair! The new MEC ones apparently have some kind of anti-smell treatment, but who knows how well that works.

          • Xolandra says:

            Does anti-smell treatment = oxygen? Because honestly, cloth that breathes is good enough, haha

          • Absotively says:

            Nah, it's some silver-based anti-microbial thing.

            They are supposedly very good at wicking, which is not quite the same as breathing, but it might help, if it's the combination of moisture and lack of oxygen that is the problem. Some of them also have stuff about trapping pockets of air next to the skin, but I have no idea what that says about their breathability.

  4. Heathered says:

    I've never been as cold as anything here for which I'm super grateful, but endless pots of tea never hurt. I like trying to bracket caff and herbal for a sleepy version of vodka and Red Bull just to have a goal for the whole thing.

    Still over the moon about having a pain-free toe for basically the first time in a year. It makes a huge difference. Otherwise, I went to a second group meeting for this Wellness Recovery Action Plan deal, and am probably going to bail. I feel shitty about it, but there are people there whose needs so far surpass mine just in terms of communication that 90 minutes pass and basically nothing happens except my being enormously triggered by my own impatience. But to not go means being severely isolated again. Tricky, tricky. I choose to focus on my toe.

  5. vladazhael says:

    Being a native northerner, one would think I would be used to winter conditions, but really I'm just burned out on them with a side of fall-related trauma. I've escaped to a much milder version of the season for the past few years, which is a nice break, but I'll be moving back into the thick of it soon and yes, that's kind of insane for me to be doing. I'm pretty optimistic about re-adapting to it, though – perhaps to an even better level than before. My recent visits to Hoth… er… Wisconsin have served as a sort of winter trial run and involved a lot more embracing of the weather, and I've survived and thrived, with a few important lessons like "no, an extra layer is not the same as a thermal layer" and "my body is using a lot more energy than I thought it was to keep warm and I have not eaten dinner yet and now I'm drunk somehow". I know it won't exactly be easy to deal with a whole winter there – the extended gloom wears on me, the charm of snow gets old fast, I reach a point where I cannot get properly warm ever unless I'm just way too hot, and walking on ice is terrifying due to previous bad experiences – but I think I'm in a much better place to deal with it this time around, what with my life being actually good and not a long-term grind of emotional abuse and constant anxiety. I have a partner now who reduces my general stress level rather than adding to it, and will support my efforts to join in for long daily dog walks but not past the point of sanity (e.g. "It's 5am, everything is frozen, I'm the idiot who chose to get a dog, stay in bed like a reasonable person and I will bring you coffee on my way home from this madness."). And also I'll be working from home, so the balance between cabin fever and dear-god-i'm-not-going-out-in-that will be entirely up to me.

    For today, where I am now, it's possible there will be tiny amounts of snow and/or ice later today and my boss has ordered us all to GTFO by 2 at the latest. And I will do so, because the infrastructure here does not readily accommodate winter precipitation and I don't have a goddamn thing to prove that hasn't already been amply proven by my recent and willing forays into below zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures.

    • CleverManka says:

      Good heavens, I didn't think about the fact that you were moving that far north to be with Manfriend. He must be a prize, indeed.

      • vladazhael says:

        Indeed. He is snow-worthy. And to be fair, I have lived where he is before, and I was theoretically going to head back to Detroit at some point anyway, but he has made me willing to go somewhere colder, sooner, and for real. He would have been willing to move for me, but… ugh, why? I don't even want to stay here.

  6. Kazoogrrl says:

    Last weekend in Baltimore the low was single digits. Today the high is expected to be 65F, right now it's 60F. Lately I've been sitting at my craft table in my office with a blanket draped over the radiator next to me, then over my lap. Also, I drape clothes or PJs on the radiator to warm, or put my slippers there upside down for a bit, and we have a space heater in the bathroom to make it extra cozy. Saturday I went for a an hour ramble, and layers and wool socks/scarf/mittens got me through. The Eddie Bauer lined 3/4 length raincoat I picked up for my trip has been great, if not stylish, and I just finished knitting a thick wool cowl and I'm about to start on a matching hat.

    Last night I made a batch of whipped shea butter because I need extra moisturizing, and I made some paw balm for the dog because of the salt on the sidewalks. Poor little guy.

    This weekend I'm booking more tickets for trip stuff (candlelit Alls Well that Ends Well at the Wanamaker theater at the Globe, after visiting the Tower!). I'm also going to a dance performance for the first time in a long time, hitting the thrift store again to see if I can find a cardigan for the trip, puttering around the house.

    Oh, in a FB thread of best acoustic covers (I recommended Cat Power's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction") a friend posted a link to this amazing cover of "Africa" which is a song I love for all it's 80s glory, if not it's really white dude colonialist lyrics. The guy has a lot of fantastic covers, and he picks great back up singers.

    Oh, did you all see the news about Bryan Fuller working with Anne Rice. I want to see Mads as Marius! *crosses fingers*

    • CleverManka says:

      I am super conflicted about the Bryan Fuller news…for reasons you already know.

      Go you with the trip planning!

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        Because he keeps dithering about and no one is going to take him seriously and we NEED MORE HANNIBAL?!?!?!?

        Spending all the money!

        • CleverManka says:

          TBH I don't want another season of Hannibal because I la-la-la-loved the way it ended. I'm still bitter about him ditching Star Trek and American Gods.

          • Kazoogrrl says:

            We also need more AG, actually. I'm not a Star Trek person, so eh?

            This seems to be consulting but not show running or writing, and maybe that's where he needs to be, giving lots of good ideas but not wandering off after shiny new ideas and dropping the whole damn project.

          • CleverManka says:

            That would be great. I wonder if he'll be content with that, though. He seems like the type to have A Vision and is Unhappy when he can't achieve it.

          • Kazoogrrl says:

            I think he's brilliant, and he seems like a lot of fun, but also possibly kind of a pain. Though Janice Poon said he is very good at inspiring people to do their best work, which is nice of someone in a leadership role.

          • redheadfae says:

            Chenoweth leaving makes me happy. Her voice grates on my nerves.

          • Kazoogrrl says:

            I love her, but I understand where you're coming from.

    • jenavira says:

      Bryan Fuller working with Anne Rice

      …but…but…how? Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Bryan Fuller's Vampire Chronicles (and Mads as Marius…*swoon*) (can we have Lee Pace as post-body-swap David? Only if they really commit to the body horror, though, which iirc the book did not) but I thought she was anti-gay now?

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        I had stopped paying attention to her and didn't know about the anti-gay stuff, which she seems to have changed. Her son is gay, and it looks like he is also involved with the project.

        Lee Pace has got to be in it!

        • jenavira says:

          I can never keep track of what's going on with Anne Rice right now. As long as the show is sufficiently queer (and preferably stuffed with Bryan Fuller actors) I am Here For It.

      • CleverManka says:

        I think she kinda changes her mind depending on mood and money.

        • jenavira says:

          *giant eyerolling*

          (I will never forgive her for killing my first fandom. I still hold out hope that all the fic is archived somewhere and will re-emerge when it's safe.)

  7. Räven says:

    O wow, it's sixty degrees here but now I've learned it's going down to sixteen tomorrow night so that's a bit of news. Thanks for the alert. 🙂

    MY favorite method of dealing with cold weather is to put on a hat and a sweater and go stomping about in the winter air because I LOVE it. And I will bake some nice Swedish cardamom buns and drink a lot of coffee. YES.

  8. Rillquiet says:

    I make significant use of the gym's sauna, which is small but clean, and get out to the Korean bathhouse with the heated floors when I can. Merino longjohns from Icebreakers and camel wool socks have helped make the barn bearable on the coldest days. So far this year I've avoided the Seasonal Affective Blargh, thanks in part to a lot of exercise, distraction, and luck, but February will be the real test.

    For people who can do dairy and wheat, the Splendid Table's blini recipe is the real deal. The first blin will be a mess, so don't despair. Blini are a buttery reminder that winter is survivable; gussy them up with sour cream, chopped hardboiled eggs, lox, caviar, or tart preserves, and bring your friends around the table to laugh and eat. Vodka is an optional addition; serve it icy cold and in small shots, to be knocked back and immediately chased with more blini. A silly high-calorie party is one great way to spend a cold grey late-winter night.

    • CleverManka says:

      The Burgomaster and I have actually discussed purchasing one of those small saunas from Costco…

      A college friend of mine's grandma used to send blintzes packed in dry ice and we'd eat them all in one day.

      • Rillquiet says:

        As previously noted, I have assorted issues with Russian culture, but damn if Maslenitsa and the associated butter-and-booze parties aren't a great way to handle winter. I still don't get down with herring or green onions as toppings, but salmon roe or gravlax and some smetana? Slide them over and watch me go to town. The inevitable "oh god my blood is gravy now" aftermath is worth it.

    • Lee Thomson says:

      Oh yes! Smartwool longjohns and shirt, silk liners on smartwool socks, and the Muck winter riding boots made an enormous difference to me. Also riding without a saddle, and counting on balance, good nature and slow speeds to keep from plummeting.

      • Rillquiet says:

        My regular riding buddy has the balance and good nature, but he also has narrow withers and a razor-like spine, so the closest we get to no-saddle work involves two blankets and a bareback pad (and even then there are limits). Mountain Horse pants, though!

    • Flitworth says:

      and get out to the Korean bathhouse

      God, yes. I wish we had one around here.

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        I am a "not nude in front of most people" person, which I'd really like to get over because I want to go to a Korean bathhouse. It's weird, my parents were not body shaming, and my mom would walk around naked while getting ready in the morning, but I've always been fairly modest even though I've worked out a lot of the shitty social messages.

        • Rillquiet says:

          There are usually clothed areas, if that's any help; in the one I know, only the single-sex bathing areas require nudity, and the saunas, family areas, restaurant, gym, and nail salon absolutely require clothing. Most Americans I know have found the first five minutes or so in the naked areas challenging, then pretty much relaxed into it, but it's not unusual to find the idea of being naked in front of strangers and in a strange space difficult.

          • Kazoogrrl says:

            Our local manufactured town (Columbia, MD) has it's own spa, and you can get a day pass. Some friends and I are talking about doing that in a few weeks, it's a non-nude location. Not as awesome as the Korean spa, from what I've heard, but not too shabby.

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      A guest at Thanksgiving brought meat blini, and these amazing eggplant, cheese, and nut rolled things. She left all the extras for us and we feasted for DAYS.

  9. Fancy_Pants says:

    Because I'm already tired of winter and want to think about green things, do any of you crafty lovelies have any brilliant ideas for hanging up a ton of indoor plants? My big spider plant has produced dozens of babies that I could plant.

    I would love for my indoor space to be just a lush green jungle, but i am starting to run out of floor/shelf space. Ideally I'd love to hang a bunch of baskets, but Fancy_Partner isn't keen on drilling a zillion holes in the ceiling of our rental. I mean I'll probably end up doing just that anyways, but do you guys know of any clever workarounds?

    Send any plantspiration you have my way please!

    • Xolandra says:

      Vining plants. That way you only need one pot.

      Alternatively one of those pot hanger dealies would maybe work? Only two holes for a larger suspension area?

      • CleverManka says:

        Yes! I was going to say vine plants and you can just, like thumbtack guides for them along the wall.

      • Fancy_Pants says:

        Ohhhh vines! That's a great idea. I promised I wouldn't bring any new plants into the house until I took care of the spider babies, but if a sweet potato happens to sprout…

        • Flitworth says:

          Steal a cutting from those ubiquitous indoor plants that seem to thrive on fluorescent tube light and cubicle despair. 🙂

          • RoseCamelia says:

            If you are talking about Pothos, yes! It's the only plant I can keep from dying. It vines wonderfully, given a deep enough pot. Alternatively, it limits its own size if you plant it shallow.

            I have a shallow hanging basket in the bathroom. The ideal height, I have found, is for the soil to be at my standing eye level. That way I can feel how dry is the soil and water Edna (plant named for Ms. Crabapple on the Simpsons) without too much stretch or struggle. It is suspended at the center point between the sink and toilet (small bathroom). It's near enough to feel comforting, but not in my way.

            I have asked Mr Rose to rig me another just like it over my home office desk. It will be above the end of the desk, inches from the wall. Again, at my eye level when standing. That way it's well away from my head when I sit, but next to me and near enough for comfort.

          • Xolandra says:


            I have named my plants Fawkes (because I killed him like 4 times before working out how much water he needs), Elaine, Baby Pete (the aloe plant I got from a friend, he's gown so much!) and … no name yet for the pothos, if anyone wants to help name my plant baby.

            The Christmas cacuts is down to one piece, so we'll see if it survives before any naming ritual.

          • Fancy_Pants says:

            I love that you also name your houseplants. I couldn't possibly help name a plant I haven't​ met though, but I'm sure you'll come up with something great.

          • RoseCamelia says:

            All of my naming comes from people or characters I admire, and always women/femme. When in need of a name, I think back to the last book I read. If nothing appealing is found there, I hold the space in my head until I encounter, say, a news story about a badass woman I want to remember.

    • vladazhael says:

      I just noticed Joann Fabrics is now selling classic macrame plant hangers, which are great for spider plants and also delightfully kitschy. It'll still involve either ceiling holes or some very cunning use of 3M adhesives, but that's where I would start.

      • jenavira says:

        I've been seriously considering just getting a lot of tiny plants in tiny pots and using 3M adhesives to stick them up on the walls. I think they'd have to be air plants, to cut down on the weight by getting rid of the soil. But the problem I have in my apartment is that the 3M adhesives pull the paint off the walls, so I'm still not confident they'd hold.

    • Lee Thomson says:

      How many shelves can you put in front of windows? Or anywhere really? It seems like stacking things on shelves would be easier than hanging things, in part because my experiences with hanging things always end in plummeting, mess and misery. However if you can find the beams in the ceiling then you have a more solid foundation (? what do you call it if it is overhead and not underneath??) than I ever managed.

    • littleinfinity says:

      Do you know of The Jungalow? On instagram/ similar? It's totally white-girl-boho-millennial, BUT they do actually have cute layouts and ideas for working plants into your space. Personally, I have a black thumb so all my plants live outside where nature can help them along.

    • redheadfae says:

      Do you have a narrow wall and floorspace for a ladder? I had an old wooden one in my first apartment that I stacked plants and books upon, leaning against the wall.

      • Fancy_Pants says:

        Oh wow that is a BEAUTIFUL idea. I can't think of a space where it would work in my current apartment but I'm filing that away for future use. Although if I manage to find an old wooden ladder somewhere I will *make* a space for it…

  10. damngoodcoffee says:

    I have a hot, dry apartment and recently got a humidifier which has thankfully allowed me to sleep. I use a space heater in the office and layer as much as possible. I'm cold all the time, with additional circulation issues/low iron/etc. And yet winter doesn't bother me as much as summer does (I have reverse seasonal affective disorder so lighter/hotter times make me very agitated and unable to sleep). The only time the cold really bothers me now is when I walk to/from work (but I have super nice coworkers who live in the area who will give me a ride if it's like -15 outside) or walk to get food.

    Other news- work is so busy I can't even, and I'm coming in this Monday to work as well, but I get time off for it, so that's alright. Mostly sleeping/lounging/reading/watching by myself this weekend, which will be awesome. A couple of books I've read lately that I've really loved are:

    The Burning by Jane Casey: IMO this is not quite as good as a Tana French-caliber book, but if you love TF I would give Jane Casey I shot. I have requested the next book in the series through interlibrary loan already, and it's been a while since I've enjoyed a mystery novel that much. (Note: I got this title on recommendation at The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, which is, like it sounds, a bookstore just for mysteries. There's an entire wall devoted to Sherlock Holmes-related mysteries [my dad got one on Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] and the staff are v. knowledgeable).

    Somebody with a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill: this is a collection of her essays (mostly critical). I have never read Gaitskill before, though she taught at my alma mater, I think when I was there. I found myself disagreeing with her on a number of things while reading the book, but I was still blown away by the depth of her incisiveness, and will be requesting a novel of hers next, because I was just so impressed.

    • Heathered says:

      Ooh, it's been ages since I read anything by Mary Gaitskill, but she is so quick to get under your skin and in your head it's frightening. I really like her brain.

    • CleverManka says:

      Humidifiers are a life-saver for cold- and warmth-lovers alike.

      What did your dad think of the Mycroft book? I remember when that came out but I've been unable to engage with fiction for so long now…I hope it's good!

      • damngoodcoffee says:

        Oh, he hasn't read it yet. I'm thinking nothing will actually get read until retirement actually happens (in about a year). 🙂 I definitely feel similarly about fiction sometimes.

  11. jenavira says:

    I hate the dark, but it turns out I quite like the cold, and if I could have the one without the other I'd be happy. Winter is also the time I play with what I've started calling "Homestead Rules" – a little like LARPing Little House on the Prairie only without the aggressive colonialism and poor life choices. Homestead Rules are: ration light (only turn on the electric lights I need, prefer candles except when that threatens my eyesight, go to bed earlier), ration heat (turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater), and Make Do and Mend instead of buying new things. I tend toward retail therapy when I'm depressed, which I usually am in the winter, and this helps me focus on what I have instead of what I think will solve all my problems. Also, since most of what I retail-therapy on are books and crafts, it helps me get into my stashes and actually use what I already have. Also, doing this with food forces me to find new recipes instead of buying more frozen pizza, which is enjoyable and frequently tasty. I don't have the energy to do any of this when it's hot, so I might as well enjoy the feeling of (fake) self-sufficiency when I can.

    Brain update: saw my new psychiatrist yesterday, and as expected, she's changing my meds. This will be the third major med change and frankly I'm not optimistic. What usually happens is I feel great for a year or so, then it starts to feel iffy, then we start cranking up the dose, then I feel generally gross and we switch meds again. I really don't want to do this for the rest of my life. But I also don't want to feel "functional but blah" for the rest of my life, ever.

    (I mentioned ADHD to her and she basically ignored me; fair enough, let's get the depression meds sorted first, but I would have liked some acknowledgement.)

    • CleverManka says:

      I love your homestead rules! I would love for the Burgomaster to be a little more amenable to candles-burning-for-hours. I used to light candles pretty much the instant I'd get home from work and let them burn until I went to bed. They make him nervous, though, and also he doesn't like the soot and stuff they put in the air (not to mention scented candles are Right Out). SENSITIVE MEN I TELL YOU. We do keep the house pretty chilly, though, so he's on board with that. =D

      Best of luck with the new doc and meds. I hope she gets to a point where she listens to you!

      • jenavira says:

        Yeah, there is a distinct Candle Smell that happens, not to mention general particulates. I usually don't like scented candles, either, but I got a scented spell candle from the witch shop that was really nice so I may have to get a couple more of those. (Why do magic when you can pay other people to do it for you?) I aspire to one day fill every one of my candleholders with beeswax candles, but they're pricey and I have…a lot…of candleholders.

        • LaxMom says:

          around my aunt's house we have a beeswax candle company, and they have an outlet store. You can get "scratch and dent" votives for 10 cents each. They also sell church candles–I had a pair of 4 ft tall ones on either side of my fireplace for years, and they cost me $3. I love that store.
          AI Root company, I think. Do you have any candle factories nearby?

          • jenavira says:

            …not super close by, but there's a church candle supplier where I can get a box of 150 candles for $90, which might be an investment I'm willing to make. Good idea!

          • redheadfae says:

            Votives for $.10 each? :faint:

      • RoseCamelia says:

        Soot is nonexistent (it seems, I hope it's true) when I burn "sootless" wicks. I forget what they're made of, but remember it as something identifiable and a single ingredient.

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      Sometimes I feel like my entire life is LARPing LHOTP. I'm rereading them right now, and I am really glad the terrible anti-Native sentiment in that actual book didn't seem to touch me as a kid.

      • jenavira says:

        It is bad, isn't it? (I reread The Long Winter a couple of years ago, and I was not thrilled.)

        Have you seen/read Prairie Fires, the new biography of LIW and her daughter Rose? It looks terrific, and very informative about how the books kind of skimmed over pretty much everything that was not self-sufficient about their family (like, say, the ridiculous number of government bailouts they took).

        • Kazoogrrl says:

          I almost started shit in a local presentation about, well, white settlers had a lot of help from the government and they weren't as self sufficient as they pretended and look what happened during the long winter and blah blah blah. But I didn't want to get kicked out.

          I haven't read that, I was working through this but there was a lot of repetition between the essays and I lost interest 3/4 of the way in.

    • phantom says:

      I'm pretty inclined towards turn up the heat, though I also run cold, I'm currently in three layers with a sweater on top but still have the heat on, and I'm all Western so experiencing lighter cold than usual too. I do tend towards mend and fix though, though I'm still just learning to sew (I theoretically learned as a child but it was in a general classroom setting and not geared towards a kid with dispaxia also I was afraid of the sewing machine and still just use needle and thread) but I just learned you have to tie it to start which I somehow missed the first time for instance.

      I'm sorry about your psychiatrist ignoring your ADHD.

  12. Lee Thomson says:

    Mr Crow deals with winter by turning up the heat and complaining bitterly. It leaves me little room to complain myself since I'm happy 9 degrees cooler than he is.

    I have good layers? I really like my collection of long underwear tops and bottoms, in mad colors (brilliant PINK! thank you, yes), When I'm doing studio work I am standing and moving around enough that I can peel a layer or two and be comfortable, and re-layer when I finish.

    Cold weather coping matters not at the moment because it is slated for 60 degrees here today, although it goes back down to 2 by tomorrow night. I already have whiplash from the offspring and related friends coming and going, now the weather is doing it too.

    I saw Neko Case last night, and it was lovely, but oddly low energy? I dunno. I also didn't sleep til 2am so I'm offset and unbalanced.

  13. meat_lord says:

    I really like cold weather, which is probably because I have never lived anywhere Actually Cold. I find the cold bracing & energizing, but I haaaate that it gets dark early/ that there is limited daylight in winter. I don't have a good strategy for coping with that. Maybe I should make one.

    In other news, I just spotted the light at the end of the tunnel on a big, daunting work project. In other other news, I made two awesome new friends!

  14. Absotively says:

    This month's weather has been all about absurd temperature fluctuations. Two weeks ago it was all extreme cold warnings, all the time. A week ago it was near or above zero. Right now the windchill is -33 and we're back to the extreme cold warning. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be -3, and next week's forecast has a lot of highs near zero, which will be nice so long as we don't get freezing rain again.

    Have been using a hot water bottle semi-regularly. If this weather continues, I may have to start looking for a heated mattress pad. It's late enough in the winter that they may be mostly sold out, though.

    Aside from that: grocery delivery! I have groceries arriving this evening. This will make the third week in a row that I've had them delivered. I think it might be worth the delivery fee year-round, since I don't drive and groceries are heavy, but it's definitely 100% worth the delivery fee in this weather.

    • CleverManka says:

      Those are like, Mars temperatures and not appropriate for human habitation, ugh.

      I had a heated mattress pad that I loved and I must've been spoiled by it because the two I tried to replace it with just didn't work as well for me (tragedy). I liked the mattress pad better than electric blankets but I have to make do with a blanket these days since my new mattress is a memory foam thing that doesn't play well with heated pads.

      I hope you're able to find a heated pad that you love because seriously, fuck those temperatures.

    • jenavira says:

      Grocery delivery is life-changing, I swear.

      • Absotively says:

        I have been eating mostly home-cooked food instead of fast food and convenience store junk food the past three weeks. This is pretty much always a goal of mine, and I often do very badly at it, but now it seems fairly easy. I am really enjoying it.

        I think it's because when the groceries arrive, I'm not tired from lugging them home, so I have more energy to actually do something with them. Plus planning things to cook is easier when I'm sitting at my computer, and delivery bypasses the thing where I think "I'll just grab lunch at one of the fast food places near the grocery store, since I need to pick a few things up."

        And I have sufficient hemoglobin now. That bit's not related to the grocery delivery, but it's definitely a factor in the more-energy-for-cooking thing.

        • jenavira says:

          All of those are good true things I have found true when I get groceries delivered. I've been doing it less often, since it does tend to get expensive, but Jewel just introduced delivery in my area and the minimum order is half what it was with Peapod, so I might start doing it more…

          • Absotively says:

            Thankfully, Save-On-Food's minimum is low enough that I can reach it easily if I am organized enough to get most of what I need for a week into the order. And their delivery fee is substantially less than what I spend on fast food in a week when I'm not organized about groceries, so it's pretty easy to justify for me.

        • redheadfae says:

          Yay for hemoglobin!

          I just discovered that our local Dillons has online grocery delivery, and I am ready to try it out, because I hate shopping and I always end up impulse buying pricey things to make myself feel better.

          • Absotively says:

            I hope it works out as well for you as it has for me!

          • dirtymagpie says:

            Thanks, I'm sure it will since I'm going to be laid up after abdominal surgery next week. And it's a sneaky way to get what I want instead of hoping the Man will bring home the right thing.

  15. littleinfinity says:

    our high tomorrow is supposed to be 79 degrees

    i'm sorryyyy

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  16. LaxMom says:

    hmm. Tights with over the knee socks on top of those and scarves that wrap so far around my head that I don't need a hat (I can't keep one on my head anyway, they always fall off). Mandatory high boots, feet of snow here is the normal when winter really gets going. Although today it's a lovely freezing rain mess. I do get cold all the time, I have blankets on all the couches and chairs and in the cubbies. At school I wrap myself in sweater coats and fingerless gloves.

      • LaxMom says:

        oh yeah. They've been hyping this storm for weeks because the west side of town never gets the snow, and the north doesn't because of lake warming. But this storm is special in that they get all the snow first, and we here in the snowbelt get ice-glazed roads, sleet, and apparently much snow tonight. It has just started to shift over into white pellets. This following a warmup to 57F yesterday, so it was 47 degrees and sunny this morning when we got the "snow day" call from the school superintendent. He was dead on–by noon the main roads were starting to turn from slush to ice despite the plow army. By dismissal it would have been ice skating cars.
        I went to Teenboy's therapy appointment, stopped at the store to get my nutella, and then promptly went home and changed into pj pants. No productivity today.

  17. Flitworth says:

    This week, my husband has:

    Started live narrating slash fic during Midsomer Murders.

    Blamed pockets of warm air outside on clouds of turkey farts.

  18. Lynn says:

    Oh I forgot — I need Kittens Game advice! I am having trouble with the game not letting me designate new kittens as Engineers. Somehow I managed to get one (I'm still not sure how — it took days of occasionally poking the +1 button under the Engineers designation), but it won't let me assign any others. I'm playing the mobile Android version and there do seem to be a few bugs that don't seem to occur in the browser version, but I just wondered if there is a criteria for designating new Engineers that I am missing?

    In other game news, I sacrificed Alicorns once and it gave me an achievement the text of which was "Please stop" and now I am not sure I should do it again.

    • Absotively says:

      You need factories! Each engineer needs a factory to run.

      (I'm playing the browser version, so it's possible this is different on mobile.)

      • Lynn says:

        Ah ha — that's it. I only have one factory (I am still sorting out my power supply issues). And yup I bet I got that one right after I finished the first factory.

        Thanks! I think the main difference between the browser and mobile is I don't think the mobile always includes all of the contextual info the browser version does. I can't see my standing with the various other civilizations, for one thing.

  19. LaxMom says:

    unpacking update: apparently the fates have decided that I need to clear out the craft space and unpack, because the table surrounded by boxes is my old kitchen table, and my current kitchen table just broke a leg and is sitting down sideways, so I need to unbury the old one. Teengirl helped me save the crockpot and my neighbor's glass baking dish. She said it looks like we were in a shootout and using the furniture for cover.

  20. redheadfae says:

    I'm with whoever came up with "Why do I live where the weather makes my face hurt?" except that it makes everything hurt and I descend into gloom and irritability.
    I hate that I have to wear SO many clothes, and the on and off of them wears me out.
    I watch a lot of screens and snuggle into fuzzy blankets as much as possible and drink warm things with whiskey. Today I cleared off and dusted the bedroom in preparation for a week or six of being confined. Let me tell you, throwing things away felt SO good! And on another happy note, my crows came to eat today!
    They are still quite wary, but at least two of them showed up for peanuts.

    • redheadfae says:

      Oh yes, and I have a corn bag that I put in the bed for my freezing toes every night.

    • CleverManka says:

      YES oh my god the on and off of layers is SO EXHAUSTING. I have a heating pad in every room where there is furniture for sitting.

      You will very much like Proud Mary (I reviewed it for Doc Paradise, above) so maybe it'll be on your DirectTV (or whatever it is that you have) during your convalescence!

  21. Onymous says:

    So I just bought Slime Rancher the other day after coveting it for a while on Steam (there's a demo on Steam that appears to be the whole game minus the ability to save).

    It's delightfully low pressure and basically just a game of wandering around and hoovering up chickens.

  22. Semperlegens says:

    Ugh y'all I am so mad at myself right now because to date this week I've only billed 24.8 hours, and I need to get to at least 35 (preferably 40, although THAT'S not going to happen) by the end of Monday. Which means I will be working over this weekend that would otherwise have been a holiday for me.

    If I hadn't procrastinated so much, and billed 8 hours a day like I always plan to, and not gotten up so late every day, this would not be an issue. And my wife is so lovely and understanding and never makes me feel bad about it, but I feel super guilty anyway 🙁

  23. Heathered says:

    Just in case anyone shows up here late with no plans for the weekend, Amazon released the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel free for the weekend! I had plans but now my plans are this, and it has improved my weekend already.

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