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Opinion: “Elbow season” in the West is now packed full of tourists and pandemic pandemonium

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Opinion: “Elbow season” in the West is now packed full of tourists and pandemic pandemonium

Moab on a mid-fall weeknight was full. All the motels, RV parks and tents sites had “no vacancy” notices. Every food provider from Denny’s to the organic, locally-sourced artisan places had limited hours and limited menus due to lack of staff or food shortages.

On the southernmost tip of Utah, things got worse. There was no avocado toast left at the Kanab Creek Bakery. At the news, vegans and foodies looked visibly wan. The staff feigned patience. I settled for coffee that oddly came from being roasted at the extreme north end of the state, in Logan, Utah.

This felt like what travel has become these days — lots of tourists, strained services, and everywhere, Help Wanted signs. And weekdays didn’t seem mainly for retired people. We got to Chaco Canyon National Park on a Tuesday afternoon, and the campground there was sold out.

Fall used to be shoulder or at least elbow season; kids were back in school, people commuting to work, some campgrounds closed, and some attractions boarded up. In the few all-season campgrounds, you had your pick of sites. The pandemic problematic abnormal has changed that, and now there are rearrangements of everything everywhere.

Tanja, who spells it that way, let us in the Circleville, Utah, RV Park and Kountry Store for free. “It’s my campground and I can do what I want,” she said before making her rounds on her ATV.

The Cottonwood RV Park in Bluff, Utah, was not free and ready to close for the season. It’s near the Navaho Nation and many people were wearing masks. Nancy, the manager, tells us from a safe distance that she personally knew 40 people who died of COVID-19 in the last two years. She also gave us directions to the semi-secret petroglyph panels in Bears Ears National Monument; the same panels that the Friends of Cedar Mesa group would not mention.

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Caring for a husband who treated you poorly

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Top 10 paid Massachusetts public employees and overtime high earners

Dear Abby: A year and a half ago, I separated from my husband because I was being neglected, not respected and mistreated emotionally. During the separation, he had to have surgery and needed to be taken care of while he healed. I went back because, as his wife, I felt obligated to do the right thing.

I have tried to move forward and restore my marriage, but I still don’t feel loved or appreciated. In the back of my mind, I can’t forget the way he treated me in the past. I feel stuck because he isn’t working and doesn’t plan on working again. He says he’s not able to, but I believe he could do something that’s not strenuous. How do I find my happiness and still do the right thing?

— Conflicted in the South

Dear Conflicted: Have you told your husband how you feel — about everything? If you have and nothing has changed, make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what your obligations may be to a husband who is no longer self-supporting.

If he has no income, you may have to provide for him financially from now on. For some women, this might mean remaining unhappily married but living their own lives to the extent they can, and not relying on their spouse for emotional or any other support.

Dear Abby: I have to meet my fiance’s adult children. They are not happy he’s in a relationship since their mom’s death two years ago. I’m very nervous about it, and so is he. What do we do?

— Taking the Next Step

Dear Taking: You meet them, and do your best to relax and be friendly and open with them. Understand they are still grieving the loss of their beloved mother, and be prepared to do a lot of listening. Refrain from physical displays of affection with your fiance until they get to know you.

If it becomes necessary, their father should be prepared to make clear to them that you two are going to be married and, while they do not have to “love” you, he expects them to treat you with courtesy, respect and kindness.

Dear Abby: Is it customary to give a house cleaner or cleaning service lunch or offer them food if they are doing an extensive cleaning job? I ask because my mother-in-law hired a cleaning crew. She watches my infant daughter during the day. She doesn’t cook or clean, although I pay her. Well, she gave the crew lunch. Mind you, she didn’t ask me if it was OK or if I wanted the leftovers for my own lunch. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m wondering if this is typical.

— Cleaning Crew Lunch

Dear Cleaning Crew: Let me put it this way: It is intelligent and hospitable to offer lunch if you want a happy, energetic cleaning crew who look forward to coming back. The practice is NOT uncommon.

P.S. If there are leftovers you would like to have for lunch, take them with you before the housekeepers arrive.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?

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Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?

After a long career in nursing and owning cats for most of my life, I wanted to reach out and ask for your opinion regarding my 17-year-old cat.

I have never been one to go overboard and do excess testing on my pets or go to extreme measures in their old age. Perhaps it is because of my experiences on the human side and some of the suffering that I have seen or learning to accept old age realities but either way, I have been hesitant to pursue extraordinary measures.

My cat just had her annual checkup and I pointed out that other than losing a little weight, she was doing well. My vet pointed out that she had a few teeth with heavy tartar and that her heart murmur had advanced a little bit. The vet also noticed a slight weight loss and then suggested bloodwork.

At first, I hesitated but on their suggestion I proceeded. I am glad that I did. It turns out that my cat has elevated liver function tests and is hyperthyroid. Can any of the clinical findings be related?

The next recommendations are for medical treatment but possible ultrasounds and cardiology workups. What should I do? Given her age, will there be any benefit or gain from doing any of this without putting her through a lot?

I am glad to know that your veterinarian was able to persuade you to do the bloodwork for your cat.

Truthfully, some things that are found can be successfully addressed with simple medical intervention whereas other issues might not be manageable or able to be corrected.

The weight loss and heart murmur increasing in severity are most likely both due to the hyperthyroidism. I would definitely try and manage that with medication and methimazole can be inexpensively and easily given on a daily basis to bring that thyroid value down into the normal range. Retesting after a short time is important to make sure that the value is normal and be adjusted if needed.

As for the liver ultrasounds and cardiac evaluation, there may well be value to pursuing diagnostics but less likelihood of doing something that can restore normalcy.

Neither pursuit would be putting her through a lot and might actually provide some benefits and a healthier and longer life.

One needs to also weigh out the costs and ease of managing the cat. After all, had your veterinarian not done this initial bloodwork, you might not even know of what was found and can be addressed. Some cats are very compliant with workups and treatments whereas others are difficult.

With your medical background and knowing your cat better than anyone else, I am sure you will make the right choices for your cat.

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Lifetime’s ‘Vanished: Searching for My Sister’ a twin challenge for Tatyana Ali

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Lifetime’s ‘Vanished: Searching for My Sister’ a twin challenge for Tatyana Ali

Playing twin sisters in the Lifetime telepic “Vanished: Searching for My Sister” turned out to be quite the acting exercise for Tatyana Ali.

In the thriller, which is based on a true story and premieres Saturday, Ali (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “The Reason”) stars as Jada and Kayla, identical twins who could not be more opposite. While Jada is a responsible, gainfully employed single mom, Kayla is the wild child, going in for drugs, clubbing and associating with dubious characters.

So when Kayla disappears, Jada pushes her way into the investigation to the consternation of two police detectives (Jasmine Guy, “The Vampire Diaries,” and Carolyn Hennesy, “Click”). At one point, Jada even poses as her sister to infiltrate her world, hoping to find someone who knows something.

So the challenge for Ali was not only to play two characters, but also one character playing the other, sometimes in the same day, during the three-week spring shoot in Atlanta.

“It is a crazy challenge,” Ali said with a laugh. “It gets confusing. I think it even got confusing for the crew … I’m Jada now but I’m Jada as Kayla; I’m Jada now but I’m really Jada. I’m just Kayla now. Jada’s not involved. Yeah, it is challenging.

“I really, really relied heavily on the costumers, the hair and makeup team that I was able to work with,” she added. “They were wonderful and I really relied on them to kind of help make it through kind of the maze of all of that. … So the makeup and hair trailer, that was really like my safe haven, like the place where I could kind of switch from one woman to the next.”

Justin Bruening and Tatyana Ali star in “Vanished: Searching for My Sister” Saturday on Lifetime.

Ali was so unrecognizable as she switched characters that she even fooled the actor who played Kayla’s estranged husband Warren, Justin Bruening (“Grey’s Anatomy”).

“I didn’t get to meet Kayla until my last day of filming,” Bruening recalled. “And I didn’t even realize that we were moving on to the next scene where I would see Kayla. … So at one point, I come back and we’re like in our little holding area and I sit down. And we’ve got the PPE stuff on — the protection gear, masks and stuff — so that helped with the situation.

“But I sat there and there was a person sitting across from me on a couch,” he said with a laugh, “and I didn’t realize for the first 20 minutes that it was Tatyana, who I had been working with all day. … And I finally went, ‘Is that you? Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry. I haven’t been talking to you.’ ”

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