Book: Mr. Splitfoot

I finished the somewhat-disturbing-somewhat-upsetting-but-pulls-me-back-to-it book I mentioned in this post, and I am ready to recommend it, right before I start reading it again right from the beginning:

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Mr. Splitfoot, by Samantha Hunt. When I got to the last part I had to go into my room and shut the door, partly because I could not STAND to be interrupted even ONE MORE TIME by the family I was beginning to regret having, and partly because I wanted to be able to cry without being teased.

Wedding Registry; How to Leave a Company Without Yet Leaving

I was looking for a wedding registry, and an old one came up for a different person with the same name. On it were his-and-her bicycles, a video game system, a $500 DVD player, video games and DVDs, exercise equipment, and a $2,000 gift card. Literally, they specified that the gift card should be for $2,000. I love registries, and I love choosing what to buy (one big thing or several smaller things? the pretty bowls or the pretty towels? something fancy or something useful?)—but let me tell you, that one would have been a toughie.


The company I work for recently sent out two emails to all caregivers. In two fell swoops, those emails demolished my last remaining feelings of loyalty. This is not a company I want to work for. They are icky. Paul says any other company offering entry-level work would be just as bad, but if that’s the case I’d rather find something that’s just as bad but without the constant calls to fill shifts.

The decision now is how to proceed. Because even though my intention is to leave the company rather than to try to get them to stop being unfair and stupid, I still don’t want to leave either of my two main clients. One of them I could leave with very little discomfort for either of us, but I’m happy and comfortable working for him now, so I’d prefer not to leave if I’m going to be working for the other client anyway. The other client, I feel like I CAN’T leave. I know I literally could, but it would be so, so, so much better, for me and for her, if it didn’t have to happen.

If I could have things exactly as I wanted them, this is how I’d want them:

1. I’d continue with my usual schedule, with just these two clients.

2. I’d be called to fill shifts ONLY for these two clients, no other clients.

3. I’d be taken off the texting list, so I’d no longer have to pay per text to receive multiple bulk-sent texts per day asking for people to “step up” and take shifts.

4. When my favorite client no longer needs me, I’d leave.

5. The knowledge that I am staying only for the clients and not for the company, and only until the clients no longer need me, would free my mind to stop having mental arguments about everything my supervisors are doing wrong. The dramatic decrease in one of my least favorite parts of the job (getting continually asked to work extra shifts) would dramatically increase my job satisfaction levels / decrease my stress levels.

6. All of this would be accomplished with no explanations or confrontations or discussions.


I can have the first four, I believe. The fifth one is a hope, but we won’t know until we try. The sixth is the one I can’t have. If I want them to stop calling me and stop sending me to new clients, I have to tell them so.

Whenever I turn my mind to the issue, my first thought is, “This is not even hard: all I have to do is explain it and tell them those first four things. Ta da!” But then I start to try to write the email, and I get stuck. It only seems easy until I try to write the next word after “Dear Supervisor,”.

There are so many options for how much and what kind of WHY, and so many options for how to say it. I could go with an “It’s not you, it’s me” explanation, but that’s so unsatisfying. On the other hand, it kind of IS me, insofar as “I can see other people are willing/forced to put up with something I hate, but I am not” is “me”.

I could go with a mild “It’s you, and here is why” explanation, but I believe in this case, with the particular people involved, this would lead to further pointless and frustrating discussions. Like when you’re trying to break up with someone and they keep wanting to discuss it, acting as if they just want to understand / fix things, but actually wanting to demonstrate how reasonable/easy they are, and to explain to you why you’re wrong about everything and there’s clearly something wrong with you.

I could hit reply on one of the recent awful emails, and start with “I have recently come to a decision about…,” without referring to the email itself, but letting the implication stand.

I could leave it as explanation-free as possible, basically saying the four things that I want, not saying why, and saying I hope this will work for them. It’s still hard to figure out the first word after the salutation. …Actually, what if I started just as I started here: “If I could have things exactly as I wanted them, this is how I’d want them”? And then edited the four items to be more neutral (removing the reference to how much I hate the term “step up,” for example), but left them in a list just like that? I also might want to edit #4, so that I’m not promising to stay even if this goes on for years and years and other circumstances change. Hm. That has potential.

There is also the option of NOT telling them. I could just keep saying no to all other clients (“Oh, no thanks—I’m really happy with my schedule right now”), and volunteering to take fill-in shifts with these two clients. This would give me #1, half of #2, #4, possibly I’d still get part of #5, and #6.

Extra Shifts; Books; Cat Update; Chocolate Update

I accidentally signed up for five extra shifts this week. I mean, I signed up for each one on purpose, but in each case I short-sightedly peered at the day itself on the calendar and thought, “Yes, I could do that.” And I am not even pretending that I am as work-busy as people who work this many hours (or TWICE this many hours) EVERY week, but it is a startling change to my routine and the days are just flying by and I am not getting much else done and I am feeling fretful and frazzled.

Well! The kids are not up yet, and I have coffee, and I am not not not going to reach into the open bag of peanut M&Ms on my desk, and let’s see what there is to say.

I am reading a book that is kind of disturbing and kind of upsetting but also pulllls me back to it, and that is one of the best things in a book. A lot is going to depend on the ending, but right now it is a book success. This comes on the heels of two book failures in a row. First I tried this one (I am linking, but I don’t want to lure the author here to read something negative), and I kept feeling as if I OUGHT to like it, and I DID kind of like it, and yet I didn’t want to go back to it, and eventually I was like, “I do not have to keep reading this: I can just SAMPLE it, as I did, and then send it back to the library.” Then I tried this one, and after awhile I was thinking, “Haven’t we learned our lesson by now, that we NEVER end up happy after reading books about young boys coming of age via inappropriate relationships with older women and acts of dangerous stupidity with other boys?” “We” in this case being the royal we. Many others certainly love this sort of book, considering how many there are.

I was so glad for all the advice on the post about our difficult new cat. I feel as if we are making progress with her, but on the other hand yesterday there were like three or four big snarling spitting rolling attacks, so maybe I am imagining it. But there was ALSO a time when one of the boy cats walked past her and she was alert but did not attack, and he did not provoke her predator instincts by hissing and darting away. And we’re shutting her in another room while we feed the boys, and they are getting used to this, so that when I close a door and then call them, sometimes they don’t have to be dragged to the food but instead trot right up.

I LOVED the suggestions on the best chocolate to buy from a store! I am planning a gradual tour-of-eating through ALL of them. What I chose for the recipient in question was a bag of Lindt raspberry truffles (I remembered AFTER posting that I DID know she liked raspberry flavoring in general) and a three-pack of Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates (one of my own favorites, which I’d mentioned to her recently and she’d never tried).

Coffee is gone, kids are getting up, more another time!

Problem: New Cat is Chasing the Other Cats

We have a new cat, a 3-year-old female. We’ve had her for just over three weeks. She is simultaneously the worst cat ever and the best cat ever.

I will start with best, despite the word order of the previous sentence. She sits on everyone’s laps, even the little kids’ laps. She is super affectionate with people. She sleeps on beds at night. She cuddles with Edward when he’s lying on the couch feeling dicey. She purrs and does squeeze-eyes of love. I have never known such a lovebug of a cat.

But the worst: she chases the two other cats. We live in one of those raised-ranch-style houses where the main floor of the house is the upstairs; she no longer allows the boy cats upstairs. She will sit at the top of the stairs to make sure they don’t come up. If she catches them up here, she will attack them ferociously. Sometimes she will go downstairs and chase them around and attack them there, too. They are spending their days hiding under the beds or among the storage boxes. I count myself very lucky that the litter box is downstairs and that they have not yet stopped using it.

She is also MAD JEALOUS. Many of the attacks have occurred when she sees someone reaching down to pet one of the other cats.

We first tried using a spritz-bottle filled with water, and spritzing her when she attacks. But she does not seem to care much about that, or at least it only seems to reduce the duration of the attack, not the number of attacks or the time between attacks. We’ve tried Feliway, the spritz kind and the plug-in kind—but we’re in a windows-open season, so I’m not sure those are getting a fair chance to work. We’ve tried various “Look, everything is FINE, just FINE!” approaches, such as putting her in the same room with another cat, and assigning people to pet and reassure and feed both cats at the same time.

At this point we have to feed them separately: the boy cats are losing weight because she won’t let them at the food dishes, and she is gaining weight because she is eating all three bowls of food herself. So now we feed her; then we shut her into a bedroom and coax the other cats out to eat.

When we took her home, I told the shelter and the children that if she made life miserable for the other cats, she would have to go back to the shelter. But at this point, that would be a devastating decision: the children lovvvvvvvvvve her like they’ve loved no other cat, in part because SHE loves THEM. I know it’s possible to return her, but it FEELS unthinkable. So if you have any experience with this and know of anything that can help the cats get along, I would love to hear it. This is the kind of thing where of course I can search it online, but there are one million articles saying one million things, and I’d like to cut directly to the personal experiences of people I know.

Cuddle; Book: How to Weep in Public

I dreamed last night that my Twitter options gave me only one possible action for relating to other Twitter users, and it was “cuddle.” No “reply,” no “retweet,” no “message,” no “block,” no “mute”—just “cuddle.”

I recommend this book:

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How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows, by Jacqueline Novak. I have been having trouble lately with sad/despairing moods, and this book made me laugh.

Survivor Voting

( / Roger Buser)

( / Roger Buser)

After Ted Cruz dropped out of the race, I started seeing a ton more of “If it’s Trump vs. Clinton, I’m not voting.” I can see where that point of view comes from: if you’re offered two options, and you don’t want either one, declining seems like a good idea. It’s like if you’re going to a wedding, and the reception menu choices are shellfish, when you’re seriously allergic to shellfish, or steak tartare, when you avoid beef for health and ethical reasons, and RAW beef freaks you out even more. If you don’t WANT either one, don’t PICK either one. Hoard some extra appetizers, drink extra wine, ask your tablemates if they want their rolls, eat the mints in your purse, and order a pizza when you get home.

But this is not a wedding reception. Instead it’s an episode of Survivor, where everyone on the island has to vote for what will be served for dinner, and then everyone will be forced to eat the winning option. You CAN abstain from voting, declining both options. But then you will be force-fed whatever everyone ELSE chooses, even if it means dying of a shellfish reaction.

No one who knows you will mistake your vote for enthusiastic support. No one will think, “Oh, she’s choosing BEEF? After all these years of declining beef at my parties and ranting about how bad it is, now suddenly she WANTS beef??” Everyone knows this is Survivor.

Update on Reader Question: Gift Ideas for a Student with Cancer

There is an update on the post Reader Question: Gift Ideas for a Student with Cancer:

I wrote to you a few months ago about a student in my third grade class who was out getting treatment for cancer. I really appreciated all of the suggestions, and thought it was time for an update. The good news is that H is now considered cancer free and has returned to school!
He was gone for four months. Using Skype to keep in touch was useful, but it was kind of hard to arrange times when he felt well and it was good timing for us. We did send lots of pictures and cards. Each week one of the third grade classrooms send cards. He sent in his Valentines and we sent his home to him. He also had a birthday and we sent a video of us singing and holding up signs. He sent us a video of his how to speech that we did in class. I liked the idea of the ” flat H” and if he had been gone longer I would have done that too.
He had a pretty low immune system when he came back and no hair but I warned the class about germs and stocked up on hand sanitizer. He wanted to just slide right back into the rhythm of the class, but that took a few weeks. What really helped was having the Child Life specialist from the hospital come in and give a presentation about cancer, chemo, MRI’s and ports. I think it really made H feel better – that everyone else finally had an idea of what he had gone through.
Now his hair is mostly grown in, he is caught up both academically and socially. He still attends a lot of special events for cancer survivors, but otherwise is a normal third grader. Thank you so much for your help!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup, Similar to Panera’s Recipe

There is something so beautiful about waking up knowing there are Good Leftovers in the fridge. Today I have leftover Broccoli Cheddar Soup to look forward to, from this Taste of Home recipe:


Cheesy Broccoli Soup in a Bread Bowl Recipe


  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water or additional chicken stock
  • 2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 bread bowls


  • 1. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 6-8 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in broccoli, carrot, stock, cream, bay leaves and nutmeg; bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 10-12 minutes or until tender.
  • 2. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove bay leaves; stir in cheese until melted. Stir in salt and pepper.
  • 3. For bread bowls, cut top off each loaf; carefully hollow out bottom of each, leaving a 1/4-in. shell (discard removed bread or save for another use). Serve soup in bread bowls. Yield: 6 servings.

(That whole part between sets of asterisks-lines is from


Isn’t it so annoying when people are like, “This was great! But I made it with this instead of that, and I left out the this, and I added that, and I used half again as much this,” and after awhile you’re like, “Why didn’t you just find a different recipe?”/”How can I possibly tell from your review if THIS recipe is any good or not?” Ahem. But anyway, I didn’t do bread bowls, I just put rolls on the side. And I used extra-sharp cheddar cheese instead of cheddar. And I used an entire 1-pound/5-cup bag of frozen broccoli florets (I’m not sure why the recipe estimate of ounces-to-cups is different than the estimate on the bag of frozen broccoli). And I used a big handful of pre-shredded carrot, because I happened to have that. And I used about half the amount of onion called for, because I am wary of onion. And I did happen to have a 6-qt stockpot, but there was a LOT of extra room in that pot.

Well! Anyway! This soup claims to be similar to Panera’s, and it’s been awhile since I’ve had Panera’s, but I would say this soup is at least within range of it. Also, it pleased me by being surprisingly easy to make. I’ve tried other soups where I work for an hour and a half just fussing with all the prep, and this one I started at 5:00 and it was ready by 5:40, and some of that was time I spent playing Candy Crush on my phone while supervising the simmer. I guess it would have taken longer if I’d cut up fresh broccoli florets and finely diced a carrot. And hadn’t used frozen pre-diced onion. And hadn’t had Paul mince the garlic and Rob shred the cheese. WHATEVER. But I can do all those things NEXT time TOO!

Oh! Also. The nutmeg looked weird to me in this recipe but, despite what you’d think after the paragraph about all the changes I made, I have a GENERAL preference for making the recipe as-written the first time I make it, so I went ahead and nutmegged it up—and there was nothing weird about it. I didn’t think, “Whoa, nutmeg” or whatever. In fact, it is possible my jar of nutmeg has gone off.

What is the Best Chocolate I Can Buy from a Store?

I would like to buy a small amount of good chocolate as a birthday present for someone who loves chocolate. I am wondering what, in your opinion, is the best chocolate that I could just drive to a store and purchase. If I had a See’s near me, that’s where I’d be going—but alas.

I am picturing the amount that would fill a mug, which is her other present from me—but if the recommendations tend toward chocolate sold in a bar shape or a pretty box, that is fine: it does not HAVE to go in the mug. I say “a store” because I would prefer not to have to order it: warm-weather shipping is expensive; also, the birthday is soonish. [Edited to add: if it comes from Amazon with Prime shipping, that would work too.]

All the questions you might currently have, I can’t answer. Is she picky about brand? I don’t know. Does she prefer milk or dark? I don’t know. How does she feel about soft centers / caramels / truffles? I don’t know. How about nuts and fruit? I don’t know. And so all you have to go on is the very basic question about what YOU think is the best. (It’s okay if your answer involves a store you don’t know if it’s near me or not. Even if the store is NOT near me, I suspect OTHER people, people who DO live near that store, will want to hear about it.)


Last night I got an email from Old Navy about cardholders getting 40% off, and although I think of their clothes as being pretty much the same price no matter what the sale is (this is the case with many, many stores, not at all just Old Navy), I realized I hadn’t checked their Tall Perfect Crew t-shirts in awhile, and I like to make sure I am UP TO THE MINUTE on new colors for those, because I have allllll the grey, black, white, and navy I can EVER WEAR, and every so often they offer colors other than those.

Anyway. There were no new colors on the Tall Perfect Crews, and I remembered from a recent post that the word “tunic” was a good way to find shirts that fit like Talls, so I searched tunic.

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Wait. That is not a tunic. In fact, if I saw that just described as “relaxed plus-size hoodie,” I would think, “Nope, too short.”


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Okay, these are also not tunic-length. My understanding of the word “tunic” is that it means “will cover your entire butt and can be worn with leggings.” I do not even want to wear that short boxy coral one with jeans, let alone leggings. And look at the side-slit! The skin of her torso would be showing if she were standing up straight.


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Yes, THESE are tunics! Not available in plus-sizes, though. Hm. I will keep looking.


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This too is a tunic-length top. Regular sizes only, no plus.


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That’s a nice regular-sizes-only tunic-length shirt. Look at that excellent butt-coverage!


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Tunic-length sweater for thin people.


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Tunic-length sweater for non-thin people.


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Do your legs touch at any point, even at the very very widest part? No? Then you may have a tunic. Here, this is plenty long enough to cover that embarrassing thigh-gap.


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But are you plus-sized, even MODEL plus-sized, and would really like to participate in the leggings trend? I am sorry, this is what we call a tunic for YOU. Nice and short, a little EXTRA short in the tum region, with a nice high side-slit and oddly warped stripes. Also, we made the sleeves shorter, because we know plumper women like to show off those upper arms.