weekend free-for-all – May 8-9, 2021

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: All Girls, by Emily Layden. Told in the voices of many different students at an all-girls boarding school that seems to be covering up an assault, it’s a story about what it’s like to be a teenage girl trying to figure out yourself, friendships, authority, and the world in general.

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

{ 1,008 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hello! Two new rules for the weekend open threads:

    1. The weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and are not well suited for medical advice. Please don’t post questions here that would be better posed to a doctor or pharmacist.

    2. From this point forward, I am banning questions about the Covid vaccine on the weekend open threads in order to avoid the inadvertent spread of misinformation. If you have questions about the vaccine, you should check the guidance from the CDC or talk to your health care provider.

    The full weekend rules are here.

    Thank you!

  2. Banana Karenina*

    I just finished and really liked All Girls, this week’s book recommendation. I don’t usually like books that have a lot of different point-of-view characters but this one worked for me. I would like more recommendations for novels. What’s everyone else reading right now?

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Last night, I just finished a re-read of “Evil Under the Sun” by Agatha Christie, because I’m fantasizing about a seaside holiday after over a year without beaches. I’m also listening to a few audiobooks: “Mossflower”, the second book in the Redwall series; and “The Bear and the Nightingale”, a fantasy novel set in medieval Russia.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I liked the Bear and the Nightingale and its sequels.

        There’s a new Lois McMaster Bujold Penric and Desdemona ebook coming out this month – novel length this time! I’m highly anticipating it (self-published, so it’s not listed on Amazon until it’s ready to sell – this information comes from the author). For those unfamiliar with her, she writes excellent character driven science fiction and fantasy, and the P&D books are her retirement writing and a great read.

        Other than that – a book of novellas by Tim Pratt, set in the Axiom series, The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison (a gaslamp fantasy riff on Sherlock Holmes), and the first book in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series.

        1. Asenath*

          Great news! I love Bujold’s books, and buy every Penric and Desdemona novella as soon as it comes out. Now I have a novel to look forward to!

          1. SpellingBee*

            Me too! And a long one, not just a novella that’s devoured in far too short a time. Yay!

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I loved Angel of the Crows, and anything Seanan McGuire writes is fantastic in my experience so far.

          1. Lilo*

            Her Wayward Children series is a pretty fun series of novels. I’ve read her InCryptid short stories but not the novels.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I think I have read almost everything she has written, barring some short stories in anthologies, under both her publication names. :)

        3. Reader*

          Katherine Addison’s “Angel of the Crows” is wonderful! It’s a fantasy version of Sherlock Holmes, where she’s imagined Holmes as another kind of creature that PERFECTLY fits his quirks of character!

          Another “Penric” to look forward to is great news!

        4. OtterB*

          Ooh, didn’t know there was a new Penric coming out!

          For the Katherine Addison fans, Witness for the Dead, set in the same world as The Goblin Emperor although not really a sequel, is coming out in June.

          If you’re a Martha Wells Murderbot fan, you probably already know that the most recent one came out a couple of weeks ago. I greatly enjoyed it.

          1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

            I just got this from my library (ebook using the Libby app)
            So excited!

        5. TardyTardis*

          She’s on my insta-buy list (along with Courtney Milan, Nicola Griffith, and a few others).

      2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        Over Christmas, I read Louise Erdrich’s Justice trilogy, which in fantastic writing brings up complicated justice issues as well as how crime can reverberate over generations. I warmly recommend it! Lots of interconnected charachters, though, and that meant that for me, a vacation was the perfect time to read it. As a European, I learned a lot about one bit of American Indian history.

        Right now, I thoroughly enjoy Mardi Oakley Medawar’s Tay-Bodal books – crime mysteries in a Kiowa community right before their forcibly removal to reservations. An engrossing, funny read which is less complicated than Erdrich’s novels.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          I’m reading “The Last Trial” by Scott Turow and it’s really well done. Deals with aging and family, as well as having a complex legal plot.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am rereading an old favorite that got lost in a move and I’ve bought a replacement: “The Dreaming Jewels” by Theodore Sturgeon. I bought a volume with 3 books in one, so others will follow.
      Except I will put it to the side if my library reserve comes through… I think I’m next for “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London” by Garth Nix.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I just started All Girls, on the basis of Allison’s recommendation.

      One of the best books I’ve read this year is “The Last One” by Alexandra Oliva. It’s about a reality TV show whose filming catastrophically coincides with a terrible pandemic. It was published in the Before (2016), so it’s mostly a commentary on reality tv and celebrity, and it’s excellent – a real page turner with convincing characters in extreme situations.

      1. GoryDetails*

        So glad to see THE LAST ONE mentioned – I really enjoyed that too, both for the world-cataclysm and for the (often hilarious, sometimes unnerving) reality-show behind-the-scenes bits. It does have some seriously wrenching scenes, and really involving characters.

    4. Lilo*

      I’m reading The Splendid and the Vile, about Churchill and the blitz. The author is very good at sprinkling in amusing details and anecdotes to lighten the otherwise dark subject matter.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s Erik Larson, yeah? Same guy who did Devil in the White City? I really enjoy his writing style.

      2. olivebread*

        I adored The Spending and the Vile! I really want to read more Erik Larsen.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Reviving an old interest in Edmund Crispin (detective Gervase Fen, an Oxford don in WWII).

      I’d forgotten how much fun it is to read a whodunnit with language so full of frills and furbelows. Crispin has an enormous, fairly archaic vocabulary, and he’s not afraid to use it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Gervase Fen books: I’ve enjoyed a couple of those, including THE MOVING TOYSHOP – surprisingly wacky for a book that started out with a very moody and suspensful scene!

      2. CanadianCatLady*

        I first learned of Crispin through my father, who loved his over-the-top post-romantic compositions under his own name, Bruce Montgomery. Time to go hunting for both genres…

    6. Teapot Translator*

      I’m listening to The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I like it!
      I’m also trying to quell my tsundoku urges. I really, really want to buy more books, but I already have so many unread books around.

      1. olivebread*

        Did you see that R.F. Kuang is releasing an academia noir/fantasy book next summer? It’s called Babel and is set at Oxford and is about language and empire and I am so so excited to read it!

    7. GoryDetails*

      Several books in progress, as usual, including:

      On audiobook: THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR by Josephine Leslie (aka R. A. Dick), the novel that inspired the 1947 film. [Just finished an audiobook of WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, a sweet teen romance that starts when the two main characters run into each other at a New York City post office. It switches between their viewpoints, with the two narrators doing a very nice job.]

      Bedside book: EMILY DICKINSON’S GARDENING LIFE by Marta McDowell, a mix of biography, poetry, and home-and-garden history, with loads of photos (current and historical) of Dickinson’s family home and neighborhood.

      Comfy-chair read: THE LAST by Hanna Jameson, about a group of people stranded in a remote Swiss hotel after a nuclear war devastates the planet – yeah, it’s on the bleak side {wry grin}. It unfolds from the viewpoint of a journalist who’s trying to cope by interviewing the others – and by solving the mystery of who killed a young girl and left her body in one of the hotel’s water tanks, apparently on the same day that everything went pear-shaped…

      Just for fun: KNIGHTS CLUB: THE BURIED CITY by Shuky, one of a series of choose-your-own-path books in graphic-novel format, with lots of puzzles to solve, clues to find, foes to fight, treasures to uncover. Quite a lot going on for a small book!

    8. the cat's ass*

      Happy Weekend! I just finished What Could Be Saved, the recommendation from last week. Very well done with flawed and human characters. Looking forward to The Plot, by Jean Hantz Korelitz (if sic I’m sorry) which comes out on Tuedsay!

    9. Blue Eagle*

      Finally got around to reading one of Alison’s recs from 2015 – The Night Circus. Really enjoyed the descriptive writing in the book and only wish that I could have visited the circus. It sounded like an amazing place (albeit a fantasy).

    10. Person from the Resume*

      Martha Wells just released a new Murderbot novella.

      Becky Chambers just released a new Wayfarers novel. She writes lovely character focused, often queer sci fi. This novel has 5 aliens thrown together as they are stranded b/c of an accident. They’re not in danger, they’re just stuck at “interstate gas station” for 4 or 5 days instead of the 2 hours they’d planned to be there.

      1. Kestrel*

        I love Becky Chambers! I had preordered her new one as an ebook and totally forgotten about it… thanks for the reminder to check my download list!

    11. Clisby*

      I just finished How to Raise an Elephant, the latest in the Ladies #1 Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. Longtime readers of this series will not be surprised that a baby elephant, along with the sometimes feckless Charlie, are involved.

    12. I take tea*

      I am reading The beginning of the world in the middle of the night, a short story collection by Jen Campbell. I wanted to reread Weird things customers say in Bookshops and noticed that she has written another book, and borrowed it. So far, two stories in, I love it. The first story is really disturbing, in a good way, as in gives me delicious chills and the second one a bit melancholy and sweet. They leave a lot to the reader to deduct, which I prefer. I get Ray Bradbury vibes from it, and that’s a compliment, as I love Bradbury.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      I just finished Dune (I wanted to read it before the film comes out later this year). Actually really enjoyed it – I’m not a big sci-fi person and had been put off it a bit by what I’d heard in the past, but it was a lot more accessible than I thought it was going to be and despite its length I felt the whole story flowed very well.

      And now I’m reading The Duke and I, the first Bridgerton book – *very* different but I was definitely in need of that! Still got about two-thirds left so will report back when I’m done with it.

    14. Bluebell*

      Recently read Caul Baby and Detransition, Baby. Both were very good. Excited to get The Souvenir Museum out of the library today. Love Elizabeth McCracken.

    15. My Brain Is Exploding*

      “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy” by Emmanuel Acho. A goal I had for this year was to read a certain number of books by/about POC or race/racism. So some are heavy and slow reading, but others are poetry, novels, biographies. This book is the youth version of his book “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” and it is so, so good.

    16. Rara Avis*

      I’m reading We Run the Tides, a recommendation from a while back. Turns out my sister-in-law went to high school with the author!

    17. Slinky*

      The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future, where a lot of the world has been destroyed by climate change, focusing on a white woman and an Aboriginal Australian girl living in a dry swamp, where the Australian government has corralled large groups of Indigenous people. I’m only about 50 pages in. It is heavy, dense, and very good.

  3. Aphrodite*

    I recently bought in a senior (55+) mobile home park, a lovely and desirable place. When I signed the contract, I was astounded to find it was more than 70 pages of rules, regulations and policies. Most of them were pretty standard but they do maintain some strict controls. That’s probably what makes it a desirable park but it can be annoying too. For example, no trees unless they are already there, no edibles in the front, exterior paint must be approved in advance, and so on.

    My place needs exterior painting which will probably be done around October. I have looked at numerous colors in blue, green purple, and even yellow shades. But I have settled on, because it is lovely, stark white with glossy black. Several friends tried to talk me out of it but I love it! And … surprisingly park management liked it too when I sent over some inspiration pictures with my request for approval.

    But that’s not really what this post is about. For those of you who live with HOAs I’d love to hear your horror stories, ridiculous rules, eye-rolling enforcers, and so on. Have fun!

    Alison, would you allow people to go at it here or is this too close to venting?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      When we bought our house there was an exterior sun shade over the front window. It was extremely ugly and kind of old/falling apart but hey it was already there and the room got super hot without it, so we left it up. Two or three years later, someone complained to the HOA about it and the HOA leader came to our house and told us that we had to remove it. I was noticeably pregnant at the time and made a big show of “struggling” to remove it (it wasn’t hard lol) and then purposely left it in a messy heap visible from the street until trash pickup, even though it would’ve been LESS work to stow it out of sight :)

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Never underestimate the desire for some for control and power. They go too far.
            But also, never underestimate the bad taste that others have.
            The two are always at war.

            Some love garish colors. Corny lawn ornaments. Crude, even profane, bumper stickers.
            Some would park junk cars on their front lawn if you let them.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      What does “no edibles in the front” mean? If there’s a porch or patio in front of the home, you can’t have lunch sitting there?
      Or is it to do with cannabis – I gather in the USA “edibles” refers to cannabis products you eat rather than smoke?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Nothing can be planted/grown that’s edible, like strawberries, vegetables, apple trees, etc.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I would be so tempted to plant roses, pansies, nasturtium, and every other edible flower, just to be obnoxious!

        2. Aphrodite*

          That’s correct. Recreational cannabis has legal here for about four or five years; medical far longer. As I recall, they don’t address that in the rules so I am amusing myself at the idea of planting it in the back. (They do have no smoking rules and that includes tobacco and cannabis. I mean you can smoke but if the neighbors complain . . . )

          No fruits or vegetables in front, but the idea of planting edible flowers also amuses me. I think I’d be fine with that though.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Gardeners usually divide plants and trees, or types of gardening, broadly into edibles and ornanentals.

        Though there’s some crossover, as many flowers are also edible or medicinal.

        The main reason HOAs ban front-yard edible gardens is that they often go through unsightly periods because they’re utilitarian. Ornamental gardens tend to be more consistently attractive, because that’s their primary function.

        There are also classist associations with edible gardening that its recent popularity has not erased.

        1. Sleepless*

          A very affluent HOA near me used to forbid vegetable gardens, for no other reason than because they thought it looked low class. Somebody got in trouble when a pumpkin seed left over from Halloween sprouted into a plant. I think they finally changed when suddenly vegetable gardening turned into a trendy-urban-hippie thing to do.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My mom ran for her HOA in her last senior living neighborhood where the HOA hired landscapers to deal with everyone’s yards. She had someone measure his grass with a ruler every time it was cut and complain if it was too long or too short.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not an HOA but there are two communities around here that people say, “The town owns the façade of your house.” In both cases, it is historic preservation and trying to retain the flavor of what the community once was. You have to get your paint approved and you have to get any changes approved. Sounds like some normal building code stuff but the restrictions are tighter. In one community you can paint your house any color as long as it’s white. I will admit it does look nice, but I still think it’s superficial and unnecessarily limiting.

      In the other community, people are just… leaving. It’s out of the budget range for most people. Very few people can afford to be in compliance with the regs. The homes are gorgeous and I understand the desire to preserve them. But it just seems that there is not enough money in the world and I think that our resources could be used in more practical ways such as taking care of homeless people.

      Closer to your point, a friend bought a place with in a HOA. He was given a list of acceptable plants for his property- the list included specific types. Yeah, he ended up leaving as this just was not a good fit given my friend’s personality and worldview.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      The thing with HoAs is that most are just fine. Mine has the usual provisions about alterations, and also maintains some common spaces. My parking lot gets plowed promptly, often before the street. So I really have no complaints. The horror stories we hear are because while most HoAs are fine, when they go bad they go really bad. What typically happens is that the neighborhood busybody gets elected, because the vast majority of people in the neighborhood have neither time nor interest. This person then merrily roams the neighborhood dictating to everyone in sight. My HoA? We hire a management company for all day to day operations. They have no interest in roaming the neighborhood looking to make trouble. And the benefit of an HoA, apart from those common areas, is that when one homeowner gets out of hand there is someone short of the city to complain to.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was chatting about this with someone on Quora. They said HOAs were good for keeping things from getting seedy, but a lot of communities already have laws against things like porch sofas and junk heaps (rat havens), and my old city would cite you everywhere if you hadn’t mowed your lawn in a while or had a bunch of old cars sitting in your yard.

        My take: Aside from historical districts, I’m not a fan of HOAs, unless they’re really not bothered about decor choices. If I want to plant a giant red, white, and blue flowerbed in the shape of Captain America’s shield, I’m gonna do it.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Ours used to be kind of nuts but they’ve backed off. You do have to get paint colors approved but unless it’s something pretty out-there it’s not an issue, and they used to be really strict about yards but now they really only say something if it’s gotten bad. Our neighbor let his entire yard go to weeds and it was overgrowing the sidewalk and they finally sent him a letter. He’s kept it mowed ever since. Weirdly, he had the nerve to complain about it to us–he moved in because it “looked like a nice place to live” but then was mad because they dinged him for his gnarly yard. Yeah, dude–that’s why it looks like a nice place to live! People maintain stuff.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We don’t have a formal HOA, but there’s a “neighborhood association” with a “treasurer” (it’s been the same person for all six years I’ve lived here, and I’ve never gotten any word about an association meeting or any elections or anything, so for all I know she just randomly declared herself treasurer of an association one day) who, every fall, sends around flyers asking for $40 from each house in the subdivision to fund extra streetlights and snow plowing. As there is never any snow plowing done and I don’t know anything about the extra streetlights, I can only assume that either everyone else thinks this is as shady as I do and also declines to pay (because it’s shady and I’m not paying), OR other people are paying and god knows what is actually happening with the money.

      My coworker has a HOA that does literally go around and measure people’s grass with rulers every weekend during the summer and sends them nastygrams if it’s over half an inch longer than acceptable. She also got yelled at for a slightly risqué bumper sticker that her son put on his pickup truck because it was in her driveway and therefore inappropriate. (I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it was at least tame enough that she felt comfortable quoting it to me and our boss on our work messaging system, so it can only have been so bad.)

    7. Anona*

      My now-husband used to live in a place with an HOA when we were dating. No street parking was allowed, and there was a designated lot with about 10 spaces, at the edge of the neighborhood. To park in the lot, you needed a parking pass; they would give each house 3 per month (each valid for 1 day).

      When we would host poker games, we’d have to have his friends park in a shopping center parking lot about 5 minutes away. So typically I would be ferrying the friends back and forth- I have distinct memories of some of them sitting in front of the grocery store, waiting for me and eating grocery store sushi.

      Another place where I lived for a year had an HOA, and all houses looked the same. The neighborhood was basically a big loop. I always had to look for our house number. I can remember getting distracted, and multiple times passing our house and having to take the loop back around, because they were so hard to tell apart!

      My husband and I have vowed to never live in a place with an HOA :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My brother loves those housing developments with all the maze-y streets and cul-de-sacs. I would haaaaaaaate that. Although the house they’re in now (after several moves and this is the final one, he says) is pretty darn nice.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        When I was little back in the 1950s, my parents bought a little house on a street of identical white houses. Except ours was tan for some reason. And in all the years my parents owned it, it was tan, gray, green, and finally yellow – and all the other houses stayed white. Mom and Dad left in 1970. I’ve driven past it a few times when I’m in that town, and it’s still the only house on that street that’s a different color. Mom left some good independent vibes for future owners.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      Ahh yes we’re currently renting and the HOA is constantly on us about doing lawn care. The yard where we live sucks, but we mow it routinely and don’t have the time nor the energy to put effort into a yard that isn’t even ours long term. We did end up hiring a weed service to come and spray because the HOA kept sending us letters about the weeds. Other than that, they do seem to be fairly tame

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s probably too late now, but this should seriously be your landlord’s problem, not yours. We rented a place where we were responsible for lawn care and it sucked but I did it– no HOA. If someone wants to rent out their house and they know there are rules, they should maintain responsibility for upkeep. The HOA needs to take up their grievances with the homeowner.

    9. Delia K*

      When we were looking for a house, we considered some houses with HOAs….until we saw that they had two pet limits. Two pets – not two of any species. We already have two cats and half the point of house hunting was to get a dog. We quietly crossed any houses with HOAs off the list.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        One of the places I looked at had a three animals per species limit. So you could have 3 cats, 3 dogs, three goat and 3 cows but not 4 cats. I asked if they were serious about that and yes. Yes they were. They did allow that if your dog had puppies the pups could stay until they were 6! weeks old then you’d have to get the total down to 3 dogs. We went elsewhere. Not that were were planning puppies, but still.

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          Yeah, but they really only enforce those rules if you’re causing a ruckus… and depending on the neighborhood and size of yards… 4 dogs may not be feasible without being unfair to the animals. We have an HOA with a limit of 3 pets, but the neighbors behind us have 4 dogs. I have not turned them in (although I used to think about it a bit because their dogs are loud and were frequently left outside ALL day even when it was too hot or too cold to really be doing so safely). Things changed when they had a kid and now someone is home more and I can hear them let their dogs inside more often.

      2. TardyTardis*

        We don’t have an HOA, just some rules of thumb–you can have chickens, but no roosters (roosters seem to have a short lifespan in our neighborhood…). No dead cars, and if someone is living in the RV parked in a neighbor’s house, we already know about it and wave hi. No politics, save for lawn signs for nonpartisan issues and offices, and frankly, it works out really well (mixed political neighborhood and we’re happy with the very low noise level).

    10. AliceBD*

      I bought a townhouse last year, and there’s an HOA since we have shared walls/roofs/etc. The management company handles the day-to-day stuff and the board seems reasonable. But there’s a group of maybe 5 people (out of the 100 units) who are upset about the board for ????? I honestly can’t figure it out. For one person, you knew when you bought it that all the doors are the same shade of red. You act like that shade is being hidden from you, when you were promptly told it when asked. For a couple of other people, you got way fewer votes than the people elected to be on the board. They’re all up-in-arms about paying the lawyer more in 2020 than originally budgeted when it has been explained and documents sent multiple times that it was because they didn’t know about covid when budgeting and they had to consult with the lawyer about how to hold the annual meeting, if the pool could be opened legally last year (no), etc. They’re also really upset about the pool not opening last year when it was clearly illegal during covid without thousands of dollars of extra costs to hire people to staff it — we were sent the relevant state regulations and they just refuse to accept reality. It’s bizarre to me.

      But one of the people in this group is my next door neighbor (with a shared wall; shared garden etc) so I need to stay on good terms with her.

    11. Arthur Dent*

      I watched on a zoom HOA meeting one is the board members have a complete meltdown over an owner asking to trim a tree themselves that was causing an issue with their unit. Another board member pointed out that she had gotten landscaping to fix a tree that was causing a similar issue with her unit (covered by the HOA) with board approval. She had an epic meltdown. To top it all off, that same meeting at the beginning one of the board members (tantrum lady’s friend) announced they were stepping down from the HOA.

    12. Lilo*

      My opinion of HOAs was heavily colored by my experience as a kid. My neighbors were constantly getting fined for not having their lawn immaculate whereas we at best got warnings. My family is white, my neighbors were not. The president of the HOA also complained about “certain kids” making the neighborhood pool dirty. Again, it was a race thing. She felt comfortable being explicitly racist in HOA meetings. It’s a big part of why my family moved.

      This was in Florida.

      1. newbie*

        I’m also in Florida and while my HOA is informal and also good about telling the Nextdoor busybodies to take their “Those people” remarks and shove it, neighboring HOAs are most decidedly not. Lately there’s been a huge dustup because a church that does supportive housing opened nearby and a couple of the HOAs are loudly complaining to the city about what amounts to the horror of occasionally having to see a poor person. It’s vile.

      2. TL -*

        Oh HOAs are generally racist (even if a lot of them are just passively holding on to racist structures) and they have a horrifically racist history.

    13. ThatGirl*

      We live in a townhome with an HOA and for the most part it’s reasonable but there’s one thing that drove me crazy two years ago. We got our cable upgraded and they ran a new line along the house. We’re in the end unit. It’s one cable, it’s not that thick, but the siding is a little loose and the cable won’t stay tucked. We got a warning for it. I tried literally everything I could think of – tucking, tape, hooks – short of hot gluing it. It wouldn’t stay and looked worse than if we left it alone. I wrote to the board, explained I’d done my best, we went back and forth for weeks. It was ridiculous, and they finally sent someone out, determined they couldn’t do better, and finally left me alone.

    14. No Tribble At All*

      Our HOA (condo complex) expected the windows to last 30 years and was shocked!!! When we asked to replace them because the room with 4 windows was 15 deg colder than the other rooms. We asked if we could replace them out of pocket, and after 6 months of dithering they said no. But they’re forming a committee to study the possibility of maybe replacing the 4,000 windows in the complex early.

      The part that drove us up the wall was literally every single board member saying “huh, you know, my rooms with more windows are colder!” and yet still deciding against it because our fifth-floor windows might look Different to someone on the street.

      1. Ariaflame*

        Are you allowed to have curtains (possibly pelmets)? They can help reduce heat loss through windows. (And if the right fabric and colour on the back, into the rooms in summer.

    15. Chaordic One*

      The HOA in the subdivision where my sister used to live had a provision against having satellite TV receivers attached to your house and being visible from the street (like for for DISH network) and the neighbors who had them would get notices and warnings from the HOA. Fortunately for the scofflaws, the HOA had no authority to enforce the rule, except to issue warnings.

      I used to have a co-worker who told me about one of her relatives who lived in a very exclusive, well-to-do suburb where most of her neighbors were extremely wealthy people. The relative lived in a modest house that was not visible from the street. Anyway, the big downside of living there was that the property taxes were extremely high, even on her modest house. The relative was always getting hit with expensive special tax assessments for various community improvement projects. Things like street improvements, such as repaving, and installing new street lights. (The seemingly bucolic suburb was was very well-lit.) One of the more seemingly ridiculous projects involved installing new curbs along the city streets. Instead of new concrete curbs like in most places, under their regulations the new curbs all had to be carved out of some kind of stone (I can’t remember just what kind) and they were expensive.

      Because of all of the taxes, the poor relative could never really get caught up financially and as a result, there were a couple of unfinished rooms in her house and she didn’t have much savings and drove an older car. She probably should have moved.

    16. Chilipepper*

      Like others, our HOA rules are fine, its the people.
      We had a woman move in recently who had no idea she had to actually follow the rules – rules like don’t cut down trees that are on community land, outside her fence and legal property. She was completely astonished that there were rules and that they applied to her. She bought the house right next to the gate! It is clearly an HOA community.

      Or the time I had to hide in a closet at our HOA meeting to call the police because one resident was screaming and threatening to attack the board, I think that time was because they would not allow him to park his car on his front lawn instead of the driveway.

      Or the owner who complained that when part of the road was repaired, the new asphalt color did not match the old asphalt color and we should do a better job next time choosing the color (its all the same material, it just fades over time).

      Oh, and the folks who took plants out of community beds to plant at their own home. They also took decorative items from the front of neighbor’s homes. We guess they assumed it was all community property?!

      I know that some HOAs are nutty and that its not for everyone, but if you have ever worked with the public, its the same in an HOA except its at your house and its 24 hours a day.

    17. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      My sister used to live in a place with an HOA that wasn’t too terrible but there were some rules that I found really dumb. This was a nice dry state where swamp coolers work great and are far more environmentally friendly than AC, but you weren’t allowed to have them because they were installed in a window (even if it was in the back of the house). Likewise you weren’t allowed to have a clothesline. My sister didn’t care about the “no edibles” rule too much but I enjoy putting nice looking vegetable plants with my flowers so I would not have liked it myself.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I would have been mad about no clothesline. That’s one thing I miss about my house. There’s nothing like the scent of sheets dried outside on a sunny, breezy day.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Having lived in both the US and the UK, a weird stereotype that people have in America is that clothes lines are somehow seen as an indicator that someone is struggling economically (because it means you can’t afford a dryer) and therefore HOAs and curtain twitchers perceive them to lower the tone of a neighbourhood.
        The majority of houses have clothes lines in the UK – mostly because houses are smaller here, so often we have really pathetic combo washer/dryers that don’t dry properly. Or we don’t have the radiator space to dry a whole load of laundry! (Side note: there is nothing less fun than rushing to bring in the laundry because it’s started to rain.)
        I think this attitude will eventually become less prevalent due to environmental concerns, though.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Oh, I know. It’s bizarre. I live in the UK now and I don’t have a dryer at all, which is totally normal and nobody thinks it’s low class to put your clothes outside. Yet when my family first visited me here they were weirded out by it.

          I think I partially converted my parents, though. They always had an old clothesline that never really got used but in the hot dry summer it gets things dry much faster than the dryer. I kick myself for all the quarters I used in the dryer when I lived in New Mexico. That was money I could have spent on beer!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My auntie in the UK has one of those umbrella-style rotating clothes dryers on a pole outside. She puts the sheets on that and just drapes everything else over the radiators. I wanted one of those pole dryers so bad but I never could find one here.

            1. Dancing Otter*

              We had one of those when I was growing up. We had to restring it every spring. As an adult, I had long lines from the house to a pole, which also had to be restrung often. Rotating was convenient, but I think I got better airflow.

              Almost everyone in our suburb had a clothesline in the back yard. I think the developers offered them as an option because a lot of families were “house poor” and couldn’t afford to buy all the niceties right away. Furnace, stove, refrigerator? Yes. Washer and dryer and new furniture (as opposed to “early attic”)? Not so much. It was a different time.

    18. Girasol*

      A covenant in a neighborhood without an HOA: The real estate agent was passing us page after page on the home we were buying. “…And here is the covenant, the usual things. Now let’s move on…” and as he and my husband moved on I read it. “Wait, wait! It says here that you have to get your neighbors’ agreement to build a shed. If you don’t, and they don’t like it, they can come onto your property and tear it down!” I was imagining a crowd of people coming at night with torches and pitchforks like the storming of Frankenstein castle. Nothing of the sort ever happened though. One of the neighbors did float the idea of building a hostel for retired greyhounds but they asked and everyone said “No!” so it didn’t happen.

    19. the cat's ass*

      OMG, the dreaded HOA! I’m creeping up on retirement age and am looking at some lovely condos with an HOA. Hopefully it won’t be a too nutty/rigid one and hopefully my neighbors/HOA members won’t be nutty or rigid, either. I thought the exact same thing re edibles-someone figured out how to grow a gummies tree?

    20. Stephen!*

      Ooof. I am a member of my HOA board, because nobody else will do it. And we mostly bumble along just fine, because we are a small complex and almost nobody really cares what happens as long as the building is still standing and the water stays on.

      Almost nobody, because one guy, who lives at the unfortunate intersection of *ssholery and mental issues, loves to complain about everything- but of course won’t actually DO anything. And he sends monthly screeds to the management association, referencing events that took place twenty years ago, involving people who have since moved, or died, etc.

      One was particularly amusing, because he said that the board was the “Amazon of HOAs” and we still don’t know exactly what he means. I’m assuming he thinks Amazon is evil and so are we, but they are also giant and efficient- which we are not.

    21. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve certainly heard horror stories, but the HOA I live in is pretty relaxed. We all live in the woods so it’s mostly just “don’t do anything to attract bears and these materials are banned because they’ll fly off your house during the summer storms and take out the power grid.”

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Fruits and vegetables. I could understand not wanting a full-on vegetable plot in the front, but it seems wrong to forbid apple trees or growing things like runner beans on a nice trellis in the flower beds.

    22. Buni*

      I have to say, as a Brit I find the whole idea of a HOA just barmy (I’ve only ever heard of them on US tv shows). I can understand having rules ‘n’ regulations re: rental properties but if I buy a house then that’s…my house (and land). Surely – within national laws – I can do whatever the heck I like on my own property!

      1. DistantAudacity*

        I think a major difference and reasons for HOAs (at least from what I’ve managed to grasp – I’m from your side of the pond) comes to what services are provided by your municipality.

        Things that we’d consider basic public services, like pavements, street lights and snow clearing in winter, aren’t necessarily so everywhere in the US. And so these must be provided as private services. It’s more similar to what we’re used to when it comes to condo buildings and private common driveways etc, but not for, like, areas with more-or-less regular houses.

        I think. Apologies if I’ve misunderstood completely – this is all based on US TV and random places on the internet! But the pavement thing (as in, there was none) was explained to me by the owner of an AirBnB room I was renting in the suburbs of Chicago as «because there was no HOA» in that particular otherwise nice area.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yes and no. I live in a townhome (attached homes) so our HOA provides exterior maintenance, snow removal, mows the grass, etc and also does things like repave driveways and replace roofs. But having sidewalks and streetlights are pretty common in the US, that’s generally a municipal thing. And some HOAs don’t provide much in the way of services, they exist primarily to enforce aesthetic values- ostensibly to keep up home values but it’s often kind of ridiculous.

          1. TL -*

            Some cities prefer/require all new developments to come with an HOA so they can pass on some of the costs of the maintenance stuff to the HOA instead of the city assuming responsibility.

            1. ThatGirl*

              There is that too. I see it more in southern states, and I’ve spent most of my life in the Midwest where they’re less common (at least as a citywide thing).

          2. Buni*

            Again, in attached homes (I presume that’s the equivalent of a terrace?) the individual owners would be responsible for whatever exterior / roof / grassy bits constitute ‘your property’ within the property deeds. If people are massively ruining the locale (e.g. 4 rusty cars up on bricks in the front yard) I think you could complain to the local council, but it’s not a guarantee.

            Though if there is one cliche in the UK it’s people spending 20 years and millions of £££s in a lawsuit with their neighbour over 4 inches of disputed land…

              1. Buni*

                We’re good, I didn’t think you were arguing :) I maintain my stance that HOAs are nuts tho…

                1. ThatGirl*

                  They are useful for shared maintenance in condos and townhomes, but pretty silly for single family housing.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I had a HOA when I lived in a gated community composed of 3 unit condos. They handled all lawn care, managed pool, and outdoor facade, shared roofs, etc. it made sense with so many shared amenities.

        They weren’t crazy or anything.

      3. Skeeder Jones*

        With many HOAs in the US, you don’t own the land under your home, the association does. And since people are given the list of rules prior to purchase, they understand what rules they will need to live by. I think the frustrating part is that some board members may be more fanatical about enforcing those rules than other board members. Additionally, it today’s world, at least where I live, it is rare to find properties that don’t have HOAs. I know of cities locally where there is not a single home that isn’t part of an HOA.

        1. OyHiOh*

          And yet, in my neck of the woods (western, mountainous state) HOA’s are relatively rare and are generally only found in condo communities or gated communities. So it’s very, VERY regional if HOA’s are part of the single family home dream or not.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            Here, in the big cities in the South, if you want a single family home, you will be buying in the HOA. I think in my area, in town, and in suburbs, probably 90% of single family/condo/townhouses, have HOA.s. Most neighborhoods were built beginning in the 1950s/1960s and had HOAs already included.
            My dad’s HOA is not terrible. The do of course have restrictions, but they also keep the neighborhood really nice, with parks, tennis courts, 2 pools, etc. And don’t bother you much.

        2. Sleepless*

          If the association owns the land, that makes it a condominium. If it doesn’t, that makes it a townhome. (Husband is a residential appraiser.) Free standing single houses, which are much more common in the US than the UK, are rarely condominium communities. HOAs are a different thing. You own the land, but you pay dues to a governing body that makes all of those regulations.

      4. Epsilon Delta*

        Yep. Midwest US, HOAs are not super common in the market we looked in, but not unheard of. I would have a real problem dealing with someone telling me that I have to ask permission to replace the roof or windows that I *own*. I would probably get kicked out or have a ton of fines because I would not wait for them to tell me which shade of white I’m allowed to paint my siding (or whatever).

      5. The Prettiest Curse*

        I live in the UK and we don’t have an HOA, but we do pay (small) membership fees to an estate management company, because we live on a newer housing estate. They have a few rules, but they’re mostly low-key and common-sense stuff and everyone here is pretty laid-back, so I haven’t heard of any major disputes. The main reason they exist is to do the stuff that the council will eventually do, because the council hasn’t yet taken over responsibility for road maintenance etc.

    23. Finland*

      The HOA Secretary told me that a former owner randomly strolls through the complex and peeks through the windows. It’s extremely weird and unnerving. We’re going to try to confront this person and warn them about trespassing. I don’t want to involve the police, even as HOA President, because I’m Black.

    24. Jackalope*

      My personal least favorite HOA experience, and the reason that I’ve vowed never to live someplace w/ an HOA unless it’s literally my only option….

      A few years ago I was housesitting for some friends who lived near a neighborhood w/ an HOA (by near, I mean a 15-20 min walk from their place). I didn’t realize that there was an HOA there at first; I just took regular walks through the area since I love walking and it was a few weeks of being outside of my normal neighborhood, so I enjoyed seeing new sights. At one point I came across a lovely park that I grew to enjoy visiting; it was a few acres large, and had a set of playground equipment, a big field area where people liked to play frisbee, and some benches next to a lake (if I remember correctly the lake didn’t have a trail around it because the other side had houses on the lake; there were just the benches so you could sit there and see the water). It was a lively, fun park with several families coming to play on the playground equipment, older people strolling around with canes or sitting next to the lake, etc. Every time I visited, it was a lovely little spot.

      Fast forward a couple of years later. I was back in the area visiting the same friends and decided to go down to the park where I’d had such lovely walks. At this point the HOA had put up a sign saying that the park was only for HOA members, everyone else was forbidden, and stay off. There was one woman watching a couple of kids on the playground equipment, and that was it. This was the only park in that area that I found, and now instead of everyone getting to enjoy it, they’d walled it off for just a handful of people. I know that there may have been reasons or issues behind it, but I just found it so antisocial and hateful to do, and while I haven’t gone back since, it seemed to have made it mostly not even used. This was in a city surrounded by more urbanness, so it’s not like there are a million green spaces for people to hang out at. It just left such a bad taste in my mouth, I was soured on HOA’s permanently.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Who owned the land? Who bought the benches and playground equipment? Who was paying to maintain the park? Who cleaned up the trash people left behind?
        If it’s the city recreation & parks department, then yes, it should be open to all city residents.
        If it belongs to the association, how is that different than my swimming pool or the fruit on my neighbor’s tree?
        There isn’t a public pool nearby, but does that mean that I should allow everyone to use mine? There’s no convenient source of free apples, but does that give everyone the right to take his?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          My neighborhood is it’s own tiny city, surrounded by big, large, and giant cities. We have a community pool. Yes, it’s municipal, but only city residents are allowed to use it. You have to buy an annual wrist band from the city hall, $10/year.
          You are allowed to bring a guest, or book a party with “out of towners”.
          I am ok with this. It’s not a huge pool, and my city taxes and fees keep it running.

        2. Roci*

          I see your point and agree that it is valid… but still something in me is deeply saddened by Jackaloupe’s story. The point of the park is that people enjoy it–surely this is more important than fencing off and regulating exactly who gets to enjoy it? Most city parks are open to non-residents as well, and residents who never use the park still pay taxes to the city to maintain it. If we get overly concerned with some people “unfairly” using “their share” of the park, we lose sight of the purpose of having the park in the first place… and the result is fewer people enjoy the park.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            The parks in my town are open to all. Playgrounds too. But pool, fishing licenses, use of the community center, tennis court, are restricted to the residents. I am ok with that divide. They are fairly expensive facilities to maintain.

        3. Juniper*

          This kind of thinking is so backward to me. I live in a country where the “freedom to roam” is codified into law. Someone could literally spend the night in my yard, as long as they were 150 meters from my house (I don’t have that big of a yard). It’s a wonderful way to keep one of the greatest public goods — nature — public. The ability to enjoy the outdoors can’t be bought. So the idea that by paying for some basic upkeep gives a group the right to control access reeks of classism and a type of capitalism that makes me cringe.

    25. Tris Prior*

      I’m still salty about this and it was like 20 years ago. My grandma, in her 80s, downsized from a house in the city with no HOA, to a townhome in the suburbs that did have one. She had a patio and brought with her a completely normal, not-eyesore, normally sized porch swing that had been a gift to her from my late grandfather. The HOA flipped out and made her get rid of it because it was against regulations of what you were allowed to have on your patio. She literally cried in front of him and they did not care. 80-something years old.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I think I’d have gotten a bit uncivilized if that happened to me or one of my loved ones. As in, claws and fangs uncivilized.

    26. RussianInTexas*

      I live in a small, one square mile, city, that is a suburb of a major city. We don’t have an HOA, but we have a litany of city ordinances that deal with what HOA usually deals with.
      The front lawns maximum untidiness, for example. You must bring the trash cans in during 24 hours after the trash pickup, and they can’t be visible from the street, once they are “in”. The tree brunches cannot hang lower than 10ft over the sidewalks and 16 feet over the road (makes sense). Paint colors, and garage door colors have to be approved (most houses are brick or stucco, so that’s not really a problem). Cannot park an RV, or a boat for longer 24 house by your house. No cars on blocks in your driveway (no cars parks on grass at all).
      Back in February we got a nastygram that our house was dirty and in the need or a powerwash. Had to comply within 15 days o rget a citation. The code enforcement officers makes rounds every other day.
      On the other hand, it’s a wonderful small neighborhood, especially for small kids. We have an elementary school in the middle, super nice park with multiple small baseball diamonds, free exercise equipment, ducks, kids splash pad, community pool, discovery center for kids (with turtles, reptiles, etc), all accessible playgrounds throughout various parts of town, communal events like music in the park on Fridays.
      And during our Big Freeze, the city opened the community center for all residents to come get water (if you don’t have running water, which we didn’t), have hot food, get some hot coffee and tea, use restrooms, charge devices, and even sleep there, if your power was out and your house was freezing. They kept it running 24/7 for few days. And before they closed it, they called every person who used it, to make sure we were ok with them closing.
      So small inconveniences of “near-HOA” don’t outweigh the rest of what the town provides.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        My hometown once cited a neighbor for peeling/missing paint *while he was on a ladder scraping paint*.
        Found out later the guy who wrote the citation had just been passed over for a promotion and hated everybody.

    27. ENFP in Texas*

      I live in a small neighborhood with an HOA. I’m very lucky, because the CC&Rs for my HOA aren’t burdensome or militant. They’re about not having non-working vehicles in the driveway (no “project cars” on blocks indefinitely), no parking of work vehicles (oversized that make resident parking difficult), and reasonable yard maintenance requirements (consistent with city code). Because some of the houses are rentals, and some of the tenants don’t quite have the pride in ownership, the rules have helped keep the neighborhood visually appealing.

  4. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    What new greenery or flowers or weeds have delighted you in the past week?

    1. MissB*

      We were gone for a week and everything seems so much greener and bigger. All of the pink and purple columbines are blooming which makes the walk along the gravel pathway absolutely charming. They’re such lovely flowers.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      The green bean plants that I planted indoors in mid-March have a nice crop of tiny beans on them! The outdoor planters are ready for them now, but it’s been so cold here that I’m waiting another week or two to move them. The indoor tomato plants are flowering but no signs of fruit yet.

    3. I take tea*

      I put some garlic down in my pallet collar bed when the earth was already frozen. I had no big hopes, but now there are two neat rowes of green making me really happy. This is a special sort I got from a colleague, tasty, but not sharp, and I do hope to get a harvest out of it.

    4. Lilo*

      I have aphids on my plum tree all of a sudden. Trying to figure out the best non-toxic way of getting rid of them.

      1. Venus*

        If it is a big tree then I have heard about ordering ladybugs. If it is small enough to reach with a spray bottle:
        “soap and water are effective on aphids and spider mites – 40 parts water to 1 part liquid soap (not detergent), which converts to 1 tablespoon or half an ounce of soap in a 20-ounce spray bottle.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          May I suggest you try to find native ladybugs when you order? At least here in the US, Asian ladybugs raise for agricultural bug control have become a household nuisance. They come inside in great numbers to overwinter.

        2. Delia K*

          You can also order praying mantises, apparently. I used to work at a pet store and I remember someone coming in to buy crickets to tide their new friends over until they could be released outside.

          Echoing the above commenter, though – make sure that whatever you choose is native – or at least noninvasive!

          1. Natalie*

            Parasitic wasps as well. I looked into these when I had a bad scale infestation on a magnolia tree.

        3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          My grandmother was very fond of tobacco juice as for aphid control. She’d just soak 15 or so cigarette butts in a spray bottle for a day and squirt away. Gross but effective. Now that there are no smokers left in the extended family the supply is gone.
          I know you asked about non-toxic, though, so this recipe probably does not count.

      2. Reader*

        The predators will arrive to eat them.
        It’s you’re OK with getting wet, blast them off with a hose.

      3. Girasol*

        Our ladybugs aren’t numerous or quick enough here to save my currants and nectarine tree from the aphid onslaught. The Master Gardener at University Extension says to use a spray of dish detergent, like Dawn, and water, the same as or just a little stronger than the mixture for washing dishes. It works great, but since it’s not poison I have to reach each aphid under the curling leaves and coat it thoroughly. I do it every day for week and a half or so until they stop coming. Dish water works by destroying the surface tension that keeps the water inside their exoskeletons, so bugs leak to death. I keep a gallon sprayer full of it all summer for squash bugs, and to soap down wasps at night so I can take down their nests safely. I hunt black widows in the garage and around the house foundation with a flashlight at night and soap them before they can multiply. Dish water works on all the bugs.

      4. Susie*

        We used to get tons of aphids on our Kale and Brussels Sprouts, but now use neem oil and marigolds to prevent–works like a charm. I don’t know if the marigolds would work for a tree, but the neem oil should.

    5. Anonymath*

      We made a trek out to a nursery yesterday and found most (but not all) of the plants we had lost in the freeze. They of course don’t deliver, so this morning we’re picking up a u-haul to pick up the plants and bring them home. We’ve got a tree removal company coming by this afternoon to give us an estimate on cost for removing the dead fruit trees. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to report the cost of all this in our taxes next year.
      We’ve got a sweet star fruit, a more frost-tolerant avocado, a mango, and a longan. It looks like we’ll have to wait until next year to replace our mandarin orange and jujube, but at least we know the nursery stocks them. I’m really looking forward to seeing happy growing trees again.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Once again I have messed up the hardening off process for overwintered plants, and the victim this time is my big three-year-old geranium. I think it will come back, if I prune heavily.
      The outside flowers have been beautiful though, and I have some volunteers in various places that are making me smile.

    7. Reader*

      My tree peonies bloomed heavily this year, and it was glorious! They’re finished now, but the Itoh hybrid peony is full of buds that will bloom in a few weeks.
      Last year, deer ate 7 lily plants. They got 3 early this year, but I’ve installed a motion sensor sprinkler that I hope will scare them away.

    8. allathian*

      The first tulip buds have started to grow, and our rhododendron buds are getting bigger by the day. Yay!

      I’m loving the tiny leaves on the trees.

    9. CatCat*

      The two Aerogardens are done. The lettuce bolted a while ago, but we let it keep growing just for the greenery. The herbs were doing poorly so we mowed them down and used them up. I’m cleaning them out aince we’re moving in a week. But I am thinking of what’s going in them next!

      I’m thinking more greens in one and some flowers and in the other.

      The weather is such that herbs will grow just just fine outside. I also have seeds for a miniature pepper plant, but where we’re moving, we’ll have good sun exposure so I think I’ll take a crack at them in containers outside (probably germinate them under the Aerogarden grow lights though).

    10. Teapot Translator*

      I’m experimenting with seeds! I hope I’m not overwatering them! I look at them every day to see if anything is growing yet.
      I also put the geraniums outside last weekend. I know it’s too early, but I just couldn’t deal with the big planters inside my tiny condo anymore. They’re still alive!

    11. GoryDetails*

      My flowering trees are at peak right now: a crabapple (dark pink), flowering cherry (pale pink with ruffles), and a flowering quince (deep, deep red). Also some daffodils and tulips and grape hyacinths, which repay neglect by coming back (sometimes in surprising places) year after year.

    12. Anonymous Hippo*

      So last year my dad was ripping out a flower bed that was full of Iris. He asked if I wanted some and I said sure. I ended up digging up several big clumps and sticking them in a Walmart box in the back of my truck. But then I got home and I forgot about them and they sat out there for weeks and weeks and I figure oh well, I’ve done killed them now, so I took the box out of my truck and tossed it to the side of my driveway. Where it sat, all winter, froze under a foot of snow during the snowpocalypse. And now I have a big box full of beautiful healthy iris who were like, “screw you, lazy person, we are gonna live regardless.” Now I just have to transplant back to actual ground come the fall.

      This is the kind of thing that makes me question people who claim to kill every plant they touch. Either I just pick super easy plants, or else I must be a plant goddess because I can’t even kill things when I try lol.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Yes, iris have a powerful will to live! They’re kind of amazing. I planted a bunch of pass-along rhizomes last summer that I got from a friend, some of them so small I was doubtful they’d make it. They all survived the winter, and a bunch of them have bloomed this year.

        Crinums (a/k/a “milk and wine lilies”) are similarly hardy – a few years ago my sister and I dug up a big bunch (with the owner’s permission) that were going to be bulldozed in a vacant lot near her house, and I brought about half of them home in a tub trug. They sat in that trug for probably 3 or 4 months until I could figure out where to plant them. If they looked too dry I gave them a spritz of water, and if it rained too much and there was standing water in the trug I dumped the excess out. They all survived.

      2. Pennyworth*

        I did something similar with daffodils once – I was given a plastic bag full bulbs by a friend who was thinning out the bed, took them home left them behind the shed. They flowered for two years in the plastic bag before I got around to planting them out.

    13. Rebecca Stewart*

      I planted some canna lillies which are okay, I suppose, but the majority of my tulip bulbs were dug up by the squirrels. They are also ransacking the bird feeder in a ridiculous fashion, so I have bought a capsaicin oil to go on the seeds. First filling with the treated seeds today, and we’ll see what results. My nose was running just mixing the oil with the seeds, and I wanted to cough, so it’s potent enough to do something. We’ll see. Hopefully I’ll see fewer squirrels and more birds.

    14. Bobina*

      Planted some rocket this week for salads because I bought seeds a while ago and kind of forgot. They’re already sprouting – yay! The real challenge is that the obvious kitchen windowsill just doesnt get that much light so anything I try to grow there doesnt usually end up doing very well. See for example, the coriander that I planted a few weeks ago. I think once the herbs are established they do okay, but at seedling stage, probably best to keep them elsewhere – so I’ll keep them in the living room for a while longer and see how it goes.

      And finally, my first flower from the bulbs I planted last autumn! A teeny tiny anemone (or at least, teeny in my head – maybe the pictures just made it look bigger!).

      Also excited that the random bunch of annual flower seeds I threw in a window box are sprouting – planted them a few weeks ago and thought I’d have seen something by now, but I guess the low night time temperatures were taking their toll. Looks like we should finally be getting some warmer temperatures so hoping a lot more of the seeds I planted start to appear!

      Also going to attempt Heuchera from seed again this week I think. Lots more light and warmth now, so fingers crossed!

      1. Bobina*

        Also forgot to say that my Ajuga are flowering and the flowers are so pretty! I mostly bought them for the foliage so this is a pleasant surprise for me :)

    15. fposte*

      Peony season has started! This is not a drill!

      Only one is open so far, my usual first peony: a single-flowered pink that looks like huge pink poppies. But the rest are coming soon. Raspberry Sundae, my favorite, is prissy about the late cold and curls up its leaves, but it never seems to affect the blooms. When it starts I get to cut blossoms and bring them inside, as there’s plenty to spare.

    16. Filosofickle*

      I had dreams of planters for my front porch to add color, bought the planters, and left them empty for years. But with some plans to move dashed and no backyard in sight, I’m trying to spruce up and settle in to what I have. I planted rosemary, thyme, and cilantro! Not colorful but practical. The sticks on fire I put in a few months ago are NOT thriving, not sure if they’ll make it. If not, another herb or veg I suppose. Previously I had planted flat parsley, but let it die when I realized that my small planter of it would never yield enough to cook with regularly. We also have some new houseplants and repotted some old ones. No green thumb, but trying!

    17. Natalie*

      The guy we hired to build my vegetable garden box is finishing it literally right now. Which is when I need it because I have an entry time reserved for the big annual plant sale this year. It’s back! Cancelled last year of course but they spent the intervening time well and modified the set up to be able to hold it again. They always have the best heirloom veg selection, and everything is really affordable.

    18. Aly_b*

      I planted out a few seedlings that I started inside and they aren’t dead yet! Huge victory, total win, I’m thrilled. Now I just have to keep this success up for another 8 weeks or so and I’ll have some grown up plants growing food and stuff.

    19. Burnt eggs*

      Came to the sad realization that my hanging fascia baskets are not going to survive; we lost all our trees to emerald ash borer and now everywhere is full sun- shady side is a concrete alley. So repotted them and took them off to a nursing home for their courtyard. Off today to make some final decisions in what variety trees we will put in. Note- when Dutch Elm disease spread through 40-ish years ago, everyone planted Ash. Not going to make that one-species mistake for future owners!

    20. Spearmint*

      Two of the four pots I seeded with different wildflower seeds have started to sprout! I was worried I did something wrong and would get nothing, but I guess I just needed more patience. Now we’ll see if my balcony gets enough light for them to grow.

    21. Clisby*

      Our tomatoes and jalapenos are growing like gangbusters. A few days ago I added a basil plant, which is doing fine except that yesterday I found it was squashed, like something sat on it. It seems to be recovering well, and resident cat is the #1 suspect. I’m keeping an eye on him. (He’s been known to just wander out to the garden to lie down.)

    22. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      It’s still really cold at night here with a few nights of actual frost, so most things are still living in small pots in the plastic greenhouse. I need to dig up last year’s cabbage plants, which I left to see what would happen and they are now 3 feet tall and getting ready to flower. Since it’s too early to put anything else in the ground there yet I thought I’d leave them for a while longer. The asparagus has been doing fairly well but I need to buy some more plants because they just don’t produce that much.

      I also have a horrible weedy mess to tackle in one corner. There used to be a tree there and I wanted to make it like a little rockery area but most of the things I planted last year died over the winter and got replaced by weeds. I’m considering digging all the stones out and starting again but that’s a big job.

    23. Jaid*

      I have a couple of two feet tall saplings growing in a planter on my balcony! The planter has fake greenery but real soil, because I tried taking care of plants and had a black thumb.

      But the saplings showed up there last year, I thought they died over the winter and they are green now.

      Life finds a way, yo.

      1. Venus*

        Thank you for this update that gave me a good smile! I don’t know why exactly, as I enjoy all the updates, but I guess I enjoy the unexpected plants even more than the planned ones.

    24. OyHiOh*

      Plant sale to support the local Master Gardeners program today. I didn’t go too crazy but got a bunch of perennials to plant in pots. Winecups, which I needed to flag down one of the roving master gardeners to ask about because they’re gorgeous but I couldn’t tell from the labeling if they were perennials, annuals, or self seeding annuals. Turns out they’re a spreading perennial that will happily take over an entire garden if given a half a chance. She told me they eventually grow a fist size main root and are vigorous ground cover. I bought one and put it in a heavy clay pot to minimize spread. It should look pretty spilling out of it’s pot. Also got shasta daisies and couple taller purple and pink flowering perennials. Unfortunately, a lot of the plants were root bound in their containers so I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll transplant ok. It’s very warm today but cooling off and raining for the next couple days so hopefully they’ll do alright.

    25. Esmeralda*

      About a month ago, we had to remove a dead tree and also a very fine liriodendron that’s been leaning ever closer over the house. I miss that beautiful tree! But now, so much more sun, and everything is growing like mad!

  5. Penelope Toodlesworth*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread (I see your thinking but it’s more appropriate for Friday’s work thread).

  6. Free Meerkats*

    A little weekend thought experiment.

    The classic Three Wishes, here are the rules:
    1. First wish had to mainly benefit you.
    2. Second wish has to mainly benefit humankind as a whole.
    3. Third wish can be anything.
    4. Only forbidden wish is for more wishes.

    1. Aphrodite*

      (1) Retirement. I’ve worked hard for it and would love to retire now. Alas, retiring now is not in the cards as I just bought my own home.

      (2) That a moment of kindness precede our every thought and action.

      (3) That all cats everywhere have a kind and loving home.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      1. A lifetime wardrobe of perfectly-tailored clothes.
      2. Reverse all environmental damage from 1800 onwards.
      3. For my partner to cave and agree we should get a dog!

    3. Llama face!*

      So you can’t wish for more wishes but could you wish for more wish-granting magical creatures? ;) Although given how those stories tend to end that may not be a very smart wish even if it wasn’t cheating…lol.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        There is a great short story in this vein called “As Good As New” by Charlie Jane Anders, about a young woman who finds a genie in a bottle after the apocalypse. LeVar Burton has a live reading of it on his podcast, and it is a joy.

    4. Grey skies*

      1. Good health for my family including fertility for the foreseeable future
      2. COVID to no longer exist
      3. Unimpeded access to education and contraception for all women and girls all over the world

    5. sswj*

      1. I wish I could magically live alone, but without causing any pain to the one I share my house with.
      2. I wish there were a mandatory vaccine against prejudice and intolerance, given at birth.
      3. I wish I could win even a small lottery. I don’t need mega-millions, but even half a million would be nice!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wrote my “three wishes in case I trip over a genie bottle” a long time ago.

      1. I wish to forever have the physical body shape, size and condition I had the morning of Thanksgiving 2014. :-P
      2. I wish to be able to mutually communicate at will with non-insect animals.
      3. I wish that the next 12 lottery tickets I purchase will be solo jackpot winners.

      My normal #2 doesn’t meet your requirements, so I would swap out either 1 or 2 for … probably the eradication and prevention of all cancers in all species. I would be hard pressed to decide which one I wanted to keep, but it would probably be the communication with animals. Probably.

      #3 is so that I can space out and deliberately time my windfalls, so that I have a legal explanation for where my megabucks came from, to circumvent monkey paw tricks like my zillion dollars come from a life insurance payout of a loved one, and so I can give away a couple windfalls, like to my parents or bestie, without incurring gift taxes by just giving them a purchased but unredeemed winning ticket. I’ve thought about this way too much. :-P I have wondered though how the logistics of donating a winning megabucks lottery ticket to, say, Planned Parenthood would work.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you’re planning on donating large percentage of your winnings, this genie would allow it if you just switch number two and number three.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I only have individual destinations in mind for six of the twelve winning tickets so far, but would totally be willing to donate at least three of the others to a variety of causes if the genie would consider that acceptable. That’s where the “how does it work if I donate a lottery ticket that JUST HAPPENS to be a megazillions winner” part comes in anyway :) I also know that at least four of the individuals who would get the first six would make significant donations to various causes and organizations from their own winnings, because they’re all people with whom I have had the “so what would you do if you won the lottery” discussion :)

      2. Buggy?*

        I love the being able to communicate with non-insect animals. It rather implies you *already* communicate with insects.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          haha, that is actually because I read a book series once, I don’t even remember what it was, where they were forcing an entity of some sort to give them the ability to communicate with animals, and in malicious compliance the entity starts with insects and they go basically banana crackers because now they can hear everything out of every ant or cricket or whatever and it totally drowns out the mammals they actually want to talk to. (For a while I would have said mammals instead of non-insect animals, but now half our critter zoo is reptilian – we have two dogs, three cats, four snakes and a tegu in my house these days.)

    7. Disco Janet*

      1. My in-laws personalities to magically change to be more like my parents (my parents are super loving and supportive whereas my in laws are…not. Want to control our lives, hate boundaries, play favorites with the kids and grandkids, and are bigoted. We hardly see them as is and it saddens my husband, which saddens me. So this wish would benefit me.)

      2. For all people in the world to understand the importance of and know how to properly research/fact check. I really think the world would be a better place if people didn’t believe everything they read on Facebook, watched out for confirmation bias, etc.

      3. Stealing Red Reader’s idea about the next 12 lottery tickets I buy being solo jackpot winners. I’d make sure to buy them in a state that lets you claim the money anonymously. First orders of business would be to pay off debt for myself and many loved ones, buy a home in the subdivision right behind the Magic Kingdom (Disney nerd), and donate a bunch of money to charity.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        haha, one of the things I would do with my windfall is to buy a winter home in the Orlando area and snowbird, because also Disney nerd :) But I’m not paying off anyone else’s debts, because the people for whom I would do, I can just buy them a lottery ticket and they can figure it out themselves from there. Heh.

    8. Jay*

      1. To live near my closest friends.
      2. That everyone have the financial wherewithal to live safely.
      3. That my husband’s allergies would magically disappear and we could have a dog in the house.

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      1) my student loan debt is forgiven and no longer a major stressor
      2) quality universal healthcare
      3) a big property with space for all of my dream dogs

    10. Anona*

      1. To have a really nice beach house, mortgage and upkeep all paid for, and to be able to visit there whenever I want
      2. An end to the diseases and cancers that are rare and research is underfunded. I have multiple friends who are affected by these
      3. For my daughter to have peace and confidence the rest of her life. For her not to get beaten down by the patriarchy, but to always have peace and confidence in herself and her decisions.

    11. allathian*

      Cool thread!

      1. A windfall to ensure financial security for my family with a bit of financial planning. I don’t know what I’d do with 20 million, but with a million I could pay off our mortgage and other debts and the rest I’d be able to invest in sustainable companies and non-profits to make the world a better place.

      3. I wish people would be more willing to accept scientific findings. If I could magically make everyone understand how science really works, the world would be a much better place.

      2. My sister is a marine biologist and very career-oriented. If I had the finances for it, I’d set up a foundation to ensure all her research projects get the funding they need. As it is, she spends a significant part of her time writing grant applications rather than doing research.

    12. Victoria, Please*

      Not following your rules exactly but I always thought I wish to be able to play any musical instrument with virtuosity, speak any language fluently, and travel to anywhere instantly. Then I would be a diplomat and hold concerts for good causes.

    13. Llellayena*

      1) Win a BIG lottery. I don’t buy tickets until the prize is over $100 million, and I know I’m splitting it among my extended family. This would also cover the “pay off my student loans” that was my first thought…
      2) No COVID. And we might as well get rid of the other devastating diseases too.
      3) One month (consecutive) of vacation on top of the vacation I already get. I don’t care if it’s paid or unpaid, but if I won the lottery I want to USE some of that money to travel!

    14. Ice Bear*

      1 – Eat whatever I want whenever I want without negative health consequences or weight gain.
      2 – Redistribute wealth so everyone has access to food, water, and healthcare without going into debt.
      3 – Have a family who is kind and supportive (instead of toxic).

    15. Kathenus*

      1. Have the financial resources to retire from paid work, buy a ton of land to build a haven for animals in need that keeps them in their own version of the lap of luxury with a highly paid caretaking staff to cater to them; and then volunteer to help with animal welfare at shelters, zoos, and aquariums for anyone who needs it.
      2. That everyone (current and future) in the world’s first thought and action is always how can I be kind and of service to someone or something.
      3. That I could beam myself to other places (and back!) to be able to see all of the amazing natural places and wildlife in the world.

      1. Nicole76*

        I love #3. I’ve spoken with a friend before about how cool it would be to do just that – visit all the places on my bucket list and still be able to sleep in my own bed at night. Beam me up!

    16. Chilipepper*

      These are all such amazing wishes!!
      1. I have always wanted to find a structure that was not built as a living space (old school, firehouse, retail space, even a commercial van or schoolbus) and renovate it as a place to live.
      2. I am so attracted to the science based wishes! So I wish that all people in earth value fact checking and science and use that information to inform all their decisions (so no more racism, anti-lgbtq, climate change denial, poverty, etc). But not in a, “planet Spock” kind of way!
      3. Fix mental illness and emotional suffering. I don’t think the science part fixes this.
      I’m feeling a bit vindictive at the mo. So I also want all the people who have ever not understood me to say, oh, I get it now, you were right, and I really missed out on that opportunity with you!

    17. Temperance*

      1.) I would love to live in a newer build house, with lots of storage, room for a california king bed, and an en-suite bathroom with a nice tub.

      2.) More effective treatments for pediatric cancer, which is far too often fatal.

      3.) A nice yard and an outdoor hot tub for my fantasy home. Oh, and a pool.

      Can you tell that we’ve been trying to deal with a 115-year-old house and its problems for far too long?

    18. PX*

      Ooh fun.
      1. Win a big enough lottery that I can retire early, build a home in my desired location, travel as much as I want and ensure my loved ones are taken care of.

      2. Universal basic income to exist globally.

      3. I was really torn on whether this would be something like find a cure for all diseases or solve the climate emergency, but I think I’d actually like something like really good education systems to be implemented worldwide. Mandatory lessons on history (taught in a neutral, non-political manner, so people understand why the world/their country is the way it is) and civics (so that people understand that governments are meant to work for them and they should hold them accountable to that).

    19. Nicki Name*

      Without peeking at the other answers first:

      1. A lottery win, but not one of the record-breaking ones. Maybe around $20 million.
      2. Twitter vanishes forever.
      3. ???? I don’t know, too many possibilities!

    20. Water Everywhere*

      1. A house in a quiet neighbourhood with good neighbours where I can have a nice garden and pets and age in place.
      2. An income cap of say $150k/year per person. If you make more than that, it is automatically redirected to a fund that distributes the excess to people who make less.
      3. Free healthcare and education for all.

    21. Burnt eggs*

      Wish 1: that I magically be physically fit and in shape. Wish 2: all languages have the ability to be spoken and heard with full understanding by people who speak other languages. Wish 3: no one is ever hungry, with good nutritious food always easily available to those who need it.

    22. KoiFeeder*

      1) I want to have the money of the top five richest people worldwide legally and stealthily transferred to the five most effective and helpful charities in each country, with about $100,000 from each rich person legally and unimpeachably entering my bank account; all of this will occur as an annual thing, so it happens every year, although not necessarily to the same people if they get their acts together.
      2) ability to transplant a crocodile or hyena immune system into humans, or at least the genes which make those systems so functional (this is a cheat, because it would definitely solve my immune issues as well as everyone else’s)
      3. Jellyfish discovered that cures endometriosis when eaten raw (this one’s for me, humanity, AND the dolphins)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I don’t trust billionaires to not try to sabotage charities in order to avoid losing money.

    23. OtterB*

      1. My house thoroughly decluttered and renovated, including an addition.
      2. The scientific and social advances to provide optimum healthcare to people worldwide.
      3. A good living situation for my young adult daughter with intellectual disabilities to move into, perhaps a lottery win to fund a group home with appropriate staffing.

    24. Jaid*

      1. Good health for me and my family. Not new bodies per se, but Mom’s memory issues gone and a do-over for me…like I was fifty but actually took care of myself, LOL

      2.That people had more empathy.

      3 Millions of dollars (after taxes).

    25. Pennyworth*

      1. To be confident and capable
      2. That all political leaders are people of integrity and vision
      3. That the climate apocalypse does not happen

    26. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      1. To not procrastinate any more. It’s not for chore type things, but enjoyable stuff like reading, improving my music from OUCH level to low-but-tolerable amateur, and sketching.
      2. That the knucklehead religious right would get the come-to-Jesus moment (which might involve some smiting upside the head) they so richly deserve, and they’d have that epiphany to make them empathetic, sympathetic, and just plain decent to people who aren’t carbon copies of themselves.
      3. To go back in time and visit relatives who are no longer here – and ask them so many questions that eventually they’d boot me back into the present.

    27. Fran Fine*

      1) Finally fall in love with a good, kind, loyal, supportive, and successful man, get married, and maintain a happy and loving partnership until we both kick the bucket.

      2) All diseases, including COVID, miraculously disappears.

      3) Enough money to pay off all my student loans, buy a luxury condo in my city, max out my retirement account, and still have enough to save a sizable portion for emergencies and my nieces educations.

    28. The Dude Abides*

      1) to be able to go back 5-10 years and tell my younger self what to do (and not do).

      2) worldwide UBI and single-payer healthcare.

      3) anonymous 9-figure lottery win. Build a house, pay off debt, set money aside in trusts/endowments, and then live off the interest.

    29. lemon meringue*

      1. Get my book published!
      2. The end of capitalism
      3. Invent a machine to remove all of the plastic from the ocean (including microplastic) and convert it into a closed-loop recycling system for essential uses

    30. ENFP in Texas*

      First wish – to always have enough money to meet my needs and desires.

      Second wish – to start a charity that helps pay vet bills for people with pets who have treatable conditions and the only barrier to treatment is funding. (This will be where I require the money for my needs and desires)

      Third wish – to have a long and healthy life, free from physical and mental disease.

    31. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      1. I would like an attractive body that is a standard clothing size and functions without chronic pain.
      2. Every child receive appropriate food, medical care, education, and the support of at least one caring adult.
      3. For the next 100 years, all presidents, senators, representatives, and Supreme Court justices in the U.S. must be female or non-binary.

  7. all the pretty things*

    1) enough money to retire comfortably & travel
    2) we learn to pollute less
    3) long trip with my mother & daughter

  8. MissB*

    Birds nests building question!

    We’ve lived in our house for not quite 20 years. We have a wraparound porch. The long side has a beam along it with 2’ bays. There are 18 such bays along the length.

    We were gone for about a week. In that time, a very industrious robin began building nests on the beam. It’s a perfect space because nothing can swoop in and get to the nest.

    Each of the 18 bays along the beam literally has either a nest or the start of a nest. It’s like the bird can’t quite figure out where it wants the nest, so has gone with the urban sprawl method. It’s grabbing some alpine strawberry runners (those look like strings) so I have tons of dangly bits of decorations from many of the nests.

    We will leave them be, but I’ve just never encountered such behavior! It’s been fun to watch the bird all week as it moves from one nest to the next to the next. Have you ever seen such nest building behavior?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Oh, that’s hilarious! Though also messy, I imagine. I suspect that once the robin starts to lay eggs she’ll settle into a single nest – though I did find an article that said that in some cases the robin will be so overstimulated by the nest options that it’ll lay eggs in more than one nest, but will only brood one nest’s-worth, abandoning the others. Here’s hoping that yours decides to go with a single nest in the end!

    2. pancakes*

      This seems to be precisely what’s happening on my fire escape the past couple weeks, though with thyme instead of Alpine strawberries! I do have Alpine strawberries, but the planter they’re in is indoors for now, on another windowsill. A pair of starlings and a pair of house finches who seem to live very nearby have been grabbing tufts of my thyme. It makes me so happy to see them. I’ve been spending more time doing the thing we don’t talk about on weekends from bed rather than at my desk to have a better view. My boyfriend also likes to see what they’re up to, so a few times per day I text him to tiptoe in for a peek.

      Several years ago, and two years in a row, mourning doves built a nest and raised their babies in a pot of herbs I kept on the fire escape in another apartment. The babies make a mess of the nest but it was so cool to watch the whole process.

    3. Jaid*

      I live in an apartment building in the end of an L shape. There’s a floor to ceiling window at my door. On the floor level there’s a wooden beam outside. Because it’s old and worn, a hole developed into the beam which leads into my kitchen wall.

      That’s where a little bird has made a nest. I can hear the little chirps in my kitchen now.

    4. Pam Adams*

      We have barrel tile on the edge of our roof, plus a couple of giant sage plants. We have become the sparrow and finch apartment complex for the neighborhood. Luckily, the wild parrots nest somewhere else.

    5. Pennyworth*

      If you love owls look up “eagle owls nesting on Antwerp windowsill” enjoy the video.

  9. PollyQ*

    Anyone know of any good resources (websites, books, whatever) for recipes that are both low-carb and low-salt? Thanks!

    1. RagingADHD*

      EatingWell dot com usually has something to suit nearly any special needs. I have always found their recipes tasty and easy to make.

    2. violet04*

      Skinnytaste had recipes tagged so you can search filter for low-carb, paleo, etc. Nom Nom Paleo has low carb recipes, but not sure about salt.

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m coming at this from the low sodium side, but in my recipes I swap out the salt for No Salt–which is potassium chloride rather than sodium chloride. It definitely helps cut back on the sodium. The only thing it won’t do is address the issue of sodium already in the ingredients you’re using.

      Best of luck!

  10. Anonomous*

    The whole30 diet is significantly lower carb, because there are no grains/beans allowed. And the other restrictions of the diet mean you prepare most of the dishes from scratch (very few prepackaged/premade ingredients allowed), which would allow you to know exactly how much salt is involved. So even if you do not follow the diet full time, you can find many recipes like you’re looking for by googling “whole 30”.

  11. matcha123*

    I recently got into the Circle (US) on Neetflix. Has anyone seen it? I haven’t seen season 2 yet, but I have found the show a lot more interesting than I assumed it would be.
    The cast all had pretty large personalities. It made me a bit jealous of the more extroverted types and I started thinking about how I could tweak my character to show outwardly the love I have inside.

    I feel for the (probably interns) who had to type up everything they were shouting. Hashtag that emojo with the hands.

    1. matcha123*

      Oops, that should be Netflix. I’m sure some neets are watching a lot of Netflix.
      Any Sailor Moon fans excited to watch the new films on there? I already saw them in the theaters, but I am so excited that the world will get to see them next month!

    2. Disco Janet*

      I haven’t seen season two yet either, but I got super sucked into season one around the start of the pandemic! Chris and Shubham were my favorites.

      1. matcha123*

        I liked them, too! I wasn’t too sure about Shubham at first, but he started to grow on me.

    3. Nicole76*

      I really enjoyed season 1 more than I expected but am not feeling that same enthusiasm for season 2 so I stopped watching after the first episode.

      Side note: I was disappointed to learn it’s recorded in Europe despite them showing shots of Chicago (my home town).

      1. matcha123*

        Woah! I thought they were recording in Texas, but the outside circle shots seemed to be from all over.

    4. Pregnant during COVID*

      I got really invested in season 2 and the contestants, which is funny because I wasn’t as into Season 1. There are a few introverted-seeming characters in Season 2, like River and Bryant. The show must really encourage hashtag use, I don’t know anyone who uses them to that extreme in real life. So odd the show tried to hide its UK location and inserted Chicago and Milwaukee skyline shots into scenes. Why the ruse?

      1. matcha123*

        I will be checking out season 2 soon. I wasn’t feeling the first episode or so of season 1, but wanted to watch something kind of carefree.
        Introverted cast members would be nice to see.

    5. Ellie*

      I’m a little obsessed with the show and sad that no one in my friend group has seen it. I love the personalities; Jack and Lisa paired up to be John was my favorite!

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      I’m getting into the UK version at the moment, about half way through S1

  12. Potatoes gonna potate*

    In what ways are men’s sneakers (and feet?) different from women’s?

    Ive bought a few men’s sneakers and while I sized up after converting – buying a men’s 8.5 when I wear a 9.5 in women’s – they have both been so incredibly tough to get into and I instantly get toe cramps. I have a wide foot and always thought men’s shoes were supposed to be roomier in the toes but seems like men’s shoes are narrower.

    1. shoed in anon*

      Speaking from Canada (thus US sizing)and talking about sneakers. A men’s regular width shoe is a D, which is the same as a woman’s wide, also D (which is why you’re probably NOT finding it roomier in the toes). I’m a women’s 10 wide–men’s 9 wide is usually okay for me, BUT mens’ wide width, E, is sometimes more comfortable. I think, as with so many things, it depends on the brand. I’m absolutely in love with skechers–I had a lovely pair of black sneakers/walking shoes, mens wide 9 and they were the best thing I’ve worn for walking (for me). Even most of their regular width mens sneakers were good, but I do prefer the wider width. Also, skechers have those shoes with laces that you slip on, instead of tying–I don’t like those as you can’t adjust how tight they are.

      Try wider sizes in mens–they seem to make those more so than for women–I’ve seen extra wide and extra extra wide available. NEVER seen that for womens shoes.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yes, it is so rare to find wide sizes in womens shoes. Admittedly I chose my sneakers for the colors and designs (what can I say im a sucker for bright colors). The only place I will buy fashion shoes now is Torrid, as they are reasonably priced and actually have wide sizes. I think 9W is perfect on me, Payless used to carry lots of them when they existed.

      2. Day Owl*

        I’m a woman with a narrow heel and wide toe box and the only sneakers I’ve ever found that are wide enough for the toes and don’t slip off the heel are Brooks running shoes. Over the years I’ve tried adidas, Nike, and every other brand I could find at my local running store but I always come back to Brooks.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The sizing isn’t as standard as one would hope.

      In my 20s I wore a 7. I always thought if I lose weight my shoe size would go down. NOPE. Over the last 40 years my shoe size has gotten bigger and wider. I am at least a women’s 9 now and I need a very wide shoe.

      As someone who has had foot issues on and off for most of my life, I have started ignoring the size of the shoe and select on the basis of fit and quality. Cheap shoes can do a lifetime of damage to the feet for some people. BTDT. It’s just not worth it.

    3. Janne*

      It really depends on the brand too. I mean, I have Converse All Stars in size men’s 8.5 both in designs that seem more girly (purple with gold glitters, blue with copper color flowers) and more neutral (green, dark blue) and they all fit the same. All Stars are a bit larger than the size they say they have, so I can have 8.5 in them while I’d need 9 or 9.5 for other brands. All in all I find it easier to buy from brands that don’t really distinguish between men’s and woman’s shoes, because I don’t have to deal with differences in their fit.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Converse and Vans and Doc Martens/TUK Creepers are generally unisex sizes in the most popular styles. Makes sense from an operational standpoint.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s a good point. Both of my mens sneakers are from Nike. I forget the model. But the first pair, they fit fine at the store. When I put them on later on, they were so tight it was very uncomfortable. The store refused to take them back. I held on to them hoping that my shoe size would return after having hte baby, but nope. Tried to sell them, the buyer said they were too tight and returned them.

        1. Janne*

          I understand! I tried some Nikes once and they were too narrow even for me and I have quite narrow feet (although mostly in the heels, my forefeet are normal width). Frustrating that you couldn’t sell them. I hope you find other shoes that do fit.

      1. Girasol*

        I like that article! Maybe that’s why there are never shoes narrow enough for my heels. Above a women’s 9.5, women’s shoes aren’t shaped like women’s feet at all, but something halfway between men’s and monsters’. But then there are high heels that are not designed in the shape of the actual feet of any sex or even any species.

        1. Day Owl*

          Try Brooks! See my comment above about having a narrow heel and wide toe box.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      My mom always buys men’s sneakers and shoes. She has very wide feet and says they fit better. I think she’s a size smaller than in women’s shoes.

      I wear a 7 or 7.5 in women’s shoes, so generally they don’t make men’s shoes that small! But I have bought some “skate” shoes in big boys size 5 on occasion. I think you just have to find what’s most comfortable.

      1. Temperance*

        We wear similar sizes in womens shoes, and I buy a lot of kids size 5s in Toms and Vans.

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      Thanks for asking this! I have wide feet and have been wondering if I’d have more options for gorgeous oxfords if I tried men’s shoes.

      1. Girasol*

        Go look. Some men’s shoes are masculinely clonky and some women’s shoes are femininely glittery, so the styles are very different. But there’s a sweet spot between the two where some of the more understated traditional shoe styles look almost the same between the men’s and women’s sides of the aisle.

    6. Girasol*

      I have long narrow feet, something like a size 10 A in women’s, but women’s large sizes are so wonky that I buy men’s. Men’s shoes often feature both regular and wide versions, like 8 and 8W, which you might want to look for. Like women’s shoes, men’s shoes have fads, so one year it’s like men only have three toes, and another it’s like their toes are ribbon-flat, or one year they’re for feet that are narrow and arched and the next wide and flat. But each brand differs enough from the rest in their concept of what feet look like that I can usually find a good fit in one brand or another. I used to find a brand I liked and buy only that, but now brands change design so fast that last year’s perfect fit is awful this year and vice versa. I don’t think men’s shoes differ from women’s in much more than size range, color, and quality. Men’s shoes are sturdier.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Interesting that men’s shoes have fads! I suppose it makes sense, but I never picked up on this. The men in my immediate family go in for comfortable + sensible.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm. I don’t know. I wear a straight women’s size 9; one time I stole a pair of my brother’s old sneakers. They were boys size 7 and they fit me. I think they were Adidas, but I don’t remember. Are the men’s sneakers cheaper than the women’s? If so I’m going to check them out. (I can only afford sneakers at Walmart.)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I’ve been buying my sneakers (aka running shoes) at a children’s store for years. It’s not as cheap as Walmart but it’s somewhat less expensive than buying adult womens’ running shoes. I would wear mens’ shoes if I could but my size (women’s size 6 1/2, men’s size 5) is easier to find in the shoes for big kids. Most mens’ shoes start at a men’s size 7.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Maybe they were that size; I don’t remember. He’s taller than me and that was around the time he shot up like a tree, so it probably was men’s 7.

      2. JobHunter*

        I buy men’s running shoes and it seems like they are usually about $10 cheaper than the women’s. I also find that I need to go down 2 sizes in men’s shoes.

        The main reason I get men’s shoes is because I prefer the colors available in the men’s styles of the same shoe (Black! Grey! Not neon pink!)

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          That’s funny, I started gravitating towards mens shoes because I saw way more that were in the color schemes that I liked. Neons and rainbows! :p

      3. Esmeralda*

        If you mean sneakers and not running shoes: check out Target. I find the ones I like, load up my cart online in the target app, then wait for the price to drop. (Except for the leopard print ones, those I paid full price for because I knew they’d sell out and, you know, leopard print!).

    8. FiveWheels*

      I’ve got very wide toes and very narrow heels. Adidas fit like a dream. It could be a brand thing as opposed to a male/female thing.

    9. Quinalla*

      Men’s shoes typically are wider than women’s, but not a lot wider and if they are shoes where they actually give you the narrowness, you can get men’s shoes just as narrow as women’s. I have big, narrow feet (12.5 womens which is a size that doesn’t exist anymore, 11 men’s typically) and often am getting men’s sized shoes, but have to find brands where I can get them in a B usually. Also, some shoes just won’t fit your foot shape well. I have really long toes and some shoes hit me in the wrong spot and I cannot wear any shoes (like birkenstock sandals) that have any toe imprint/shape to them.

  13. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I got my breakfasts paid for by other people twice this week- I get breakfast at a Mexican place near the workbox. It really floored me both times, but I hope I get to pay for my own breakfast today!!

    Please share your joys.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      2020 taxes are filed! I owe (quite a lot…), but they’re done and I never have to think about my old house or the six years of BS of being a landlord again. Also, the tax guy had me amend 2019 because he thought one item I uploaded look off. Turns out the 2019 tax service person made three pretty big errors, which I didn’t catch due to surgery recovery at the time. I amended and it turns out I would get money back, but with owing for 2020 it will reduce the unpaid balance. Fine by me. It’s just a huge load off my mind to be done with it all.

      Also, there’s a nest of baby birds above my back door and they’ve become much more audibly vocal this week. My home desk is in front of the window and I can watch mom and dad fly back and forth all day long to feed the babies. Cats are enjoying the show, too.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I got mine done early this year and it’s made me happy to remember that.

        And finally got my shot — which isn’t what’s joyful so much as the fact that I got it at TARGET! Living in Minnesota, “Tar-zhay” has always been our happy place, and it amuses me that I could browse the Spring clothes and get the shot. It’s joyful not to have to stand in the cold at some arena too.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My Elder Statesdog who turned 13 in January had a semi-annual checkup yesterday and while she still has some issues going on – she’s having vision issues, hearing issues, some mobility issues due to arthritis, and checks a loooooooot of symptoms on the doggy dementia checklists – she’s still in generally excellent physical health, which makes me extra happy.

      Also, the vet would like her to put on a couple of pounds, so she’s under doctor’s orders to get a scrambled egg in her meat cereal at each meal (or something similar – a spoonful of cottage cheese, a bit of peanut butter, something like that) along with a little extra meat cereal above her normal allotment until her next weight check in a month, which will make HER extra happy, which also makes me extra happy. (They’re easy enough; since she doesn’t care about the texture, I break an egg into a glass bowl, break the yolk and microwave it for 30 seconds, then cut it up into her bowl once it’s cooled down a bit.)

      1. Not a cat*

        When my old girl gets upset tummy, the only thing she’ll eat is a plain, scrambled egg. She gets excited when she sees me pull out the eggs. Dogs= Joy

    3. Jay*

      I hugged two of my friends! It was glorious. I noticed that now we check with each other before we move toward a hug. I hope this continues and benefits hug-averse people like my daughter, who is a selective hugger.

      1. Ali G*

        OMG I got to hug a friend last week too! We had masks on. I will also get to hug 2 more friends this afternoon. Yay! I also like the checking in first.

      2. Jackalope*

        One of the hardest things about the pandemic was not being able to hug my nephew (that I’m pretty close to) when he graduated from high school or left for college. I got to see him this week when he was briefly in town from school and finally got to hug him! I may have cried.

    4. BethDH*

      My 3 yo got his first ice cream cone and hearing him tell everyone he meets about it has made it worth the sticky mess x1000. “Did you know you can put your ice cream in a cookie and then you get to eat it?! You have to try hard to lick it before it drips!”

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      My antique dog, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, had a great checkup this week. No tumor growth, no weight loss, he’s still eating normally and is reasonably active for his age and condition. We’ve been spoiling him rotten since the diagnosis, and he seems to be thriving on the extra attention (and cookies!)

    6. Anona*

      My husband has a medical problem that’s caused intense, flaring pain for years. He talked to a surgeon this week, and the surgery to resolve it is a relatively simple one, recovery will take about a week, and he should be pain free. The thought of having pain not affect our lives is amazing!

      And I had really good nachos last night, and am planning to have the rest for breakfast, even though they’ll be soggy!

      1. Anona*

        Oh, and our dog had an ailment that our vet misdiagnosed, which I figured out. The vet tested the dog, it was what I thought, and the dog is now being treated appropriately!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teen dragged me out for a (gentle) hike and taught me how to count from 1 to 10 in Chinese to distract me from my aches & pains. And I received a few “YES that’s it!” compliments, which means to me the kid is a good teacher because I’m old to start a tonal language.

    8. allathian*

      I got my first Covid shot (Pfizer) yesterday! The queuing went smoothly with everyone obeying the masking and distancing instructions to the letter, I was a bit early for my appointment but they had the capacity so I was allowed in early, the nurse who checked my info was cheerful and the one who gave me the shot was so deft I didn’t even feel it go in.

      I’m glad I got the shot on a Friday morning because I worked all day pretty much as normal, but because we have flexible hours I decided to take a shorter day (9 am to 3 pm with 30 minutes for lunch). I was a bit dozy that evening and still am, but apart from that and a slightly sore left arm, I’m fine.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      A friend/former co-worker got a job at my company and I helped!

      I saw on LinkedIn a few weeks ago that he was about to be furloughed. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but messaged him and told him my company had a lot of open positions in our field.

      After a frustrating lack of response to his initial application, he had an interview for a contractor position (company does a lot of contractor to regular employee) on Monday. Turned out that one of the people interviewing him – and who would be his boss – has become a friend of mine, so I was able to tell her that although I had not worked directly with him at OldJob, I had always liked talking to him because he is such a nice guy.

      They interviewed him again on Wed and offered him a job – that he accepted – yesterday!

      1. Mimmy*

        A friend/former co-worker got a job at my company and I helped!

        I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but think of the old Shake n’ Bake commercials, where the little girl goes “it’s Shake n’ Bake and I helped!”

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’m glad I’m not the only one! First thing I thought of.

          And she had such an adorably thick accent: “Ahh hay-ulpt!”

          1. Texan In Exile*

            That was actually what was in my head when I typed out those words! But I was afraid if I wrote, “And Ah hay-ulpt,” nobody would get it!

            I am with My People. :)

    10. GoryDetails*

      First ride-in-the-car-with-friends in over a year!

      First appearance of the orioles at my jelly feeder!

      Oh, and rescuing a mouse – from the rings of my shower curtain; it had scaled the curtain to escape the cats and was huddled there with three eager feline faces clustering below. Got some gloves and retrieved the mouse and took it outside, where I hope it was as good at evading owls and foxes as it was the cats! (Those tiny paws were soooo cute…)

    11. AGD*

      There are flowers everywhere in my area and after walking all over downtown getting medical tests and picking up an antibiotic for an annoying sinus infection, I decided I deserved pizza for dinner and went and got some of that for the first time in more than a year. There are also flowers everywhere!

    12. Grim*

      Wife: The Sharks (NHL) won on Wednesday. Our scrub jay, named OverComer because he has one leg, came by after a week. Good to see him.

      Me: pinched a nerve in my neck five weeks ago and it’s now on the way to getting better; I got five hours of sleep last night, which is a big improvement from a hour here and a hour there.

    13. Queer Earthling*

      I just found out that they were doing a limited re-release of the first 5 American Girl historical dolls for the 35th anniversary of AG. I wanted the original Molly SO MUCH when I was a kid, but we couldn’t afford one. So, after some hemming and hawing (and encouragement from both my spouse and my sister) I decided to order one. My inner 8-year-old is ECSTATIC.

      1. AGD*

        I love this! I’ve been doing a few things just for my inner child, and haven’t regretted it.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Oh, my kid is going to lose her everloving mind. Maybe I can keep her from finding out.

    14. Temperance*

      I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

      Which was super cool, but also weird. (Being pregnant is weird.)

      1. Myrin*

        Temperance, I somehow totally missed that you’re pregnant! Please accept a dose of heartfelt congratulations from me!

      2. allathian*

        Agree that being pregnant is weird! I do know that hearing the heartbeat for the first time is what made everything real for me. Before then I just felt like I was having PMS for weeks.

    15. MissB*

      Dh and I watched our youngest graduate from college (undergrad). At one point I told Dh- hey, that’s been our parenting goal since we had our babies- get them through college. That brings me joy and contentment! Both kids, done with undergrad (and no debt).

    16. Camelid coordinator*

      I tried a new cake recipe (which I love to do) and had a friend over for a birthday dinner for me, now that we are both fully vaccinated. She recently broke a wrist running and was very glad to get out of her house since she can’t drive.

    17. Water Everywhere*

      Watching the elecam feeds from The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee! Knowing that these former circus & zoo (& in some cases abused) animals are now free to roam & socialize & just be elephants is a joy. The sanctuary is big, elephants roam, & the cameras don’t cover every area but when you do catch one on camera they are fun & kind of soothing to watch.

    18. Llama face!*

      I was able to book my first vaccine shot! It’s tomorrow and I am so excited to get it!!! :D

      Also, a little solitary bee comes and visits me when I sit in my backyard in the afternoons. It usually lands on my side table and licks my teacup but the other day it got brave enough to crawl onto my hand for a little while and then yesterday it landed directly on my leg. I’m pretty sure it’s the same bee every time and it makes me happy that it is not afraid of me. (I’m not allergic and it is not an aggressive species so being stung is unlikely unless I accidentally trap or squish it)

        1. Llama face!*

          I’m the oddball gal that always loved bugs and spiders even as a little kid. I remember loving picking up orb weaver spiders and letting them crawl on me when I was 6 or even younger. :D

    19. RagingADHD*

      I just got back from volunteering with my daughter at an outdoor/garden cleanup day for a children’s summer day camp. It’s a beautiful century-old faculty that originated as a “fresh-air farm” for the children of factory workers, back when this side of town was rural. Now they do summer childcare + tutoring, swimming lessons, nature walks, and free play.

      Met lots of nice folks who also like plants. Great day.

    20. Voluptuousfire*

      Got to see my family this week. Friday would have been my dad’s 85th birthday, so we had Wendy’s and Italian ices, which is what he would have wanted.

    21. Rara Avis*

      My daughter and I just walked into a library and browsed. First time in 14 months.

    22. OyHiOh*

      I drove through a mass vax site to get my 2nd shot, and got a nice little cheer from the nurse doing my shot. “Thank you thank you thank you for getting vaccinated! Health care workers thank you!”

    23. I take tea*

      My little joy this week is a lovely webcam, where I can follow wildlife. It’s set up to follow an area where elks cross a big stream in northern Sweden, but there are lots of other animals as well. They show different spots and even have microphone. It’s so soothing. I’d give you a link, but they will close it this weekend.

      But you can check out the Saimaa ringed seal webcam at #norppalive :-)

    24. ENFP in Texas*

      I bought a new (to me) pickup truck, the next stop towards my goal of being able to roadtrip around the US and Canada. My previous vehicle could only tow 1,000 pounds, but this one can pull 11,000 pounds. A lot more flexibility in my travel trailer options!

  14. WM*

    Getting a deck soon! Anything to think about?(I know about construction prices right now and it’s happening anyway)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Depending on the height, consider accessibility issues for aging in place or friends/family or short-term mobility issues or whatever. My deck is about 3-4 feet up off the ground, and we just added a temporary doggy ramp to one side of it because my arthritic Elder Statesdog was having a hard time getting down the stairs to the yard. (Later this summer, we’re planning to replace it with an ADA-compliant one that’s suited for people use too, because why not.)

    2. The Other Dawn*

      My parents retired to New Hampshire years ago and I remember them telling me, when they added a deck, that if the desk was attached to the house it was a permanent structure and taxed, whereas if they didn’t attach it, it was considered temporary and not taxed. I can’t remember the distance from the house, but I think it was something like a few inches. Nothing that caused a tripping hazard or was very noticeable. Something to check into wherever you are.

    3. Anona*

      If you think a hot tub is a future possibility, making sure it’s strong enough to accommodate that.

      1. Anona*

        And if you think you may have kids or dogs use it, and the layout makes sense, adding a gate. Our yard/deck make it such that our stairs going down are really steep. It would be nice to be able to latch a gate at the top of the steps, to either let the dog out to sun themselves on the deck, or to not worry about a kid falling down the steps.

    4. sagewhiz*

      Strongly suggest using composite decking. It was more expensive than treated wood when I first put in mine (but unlikely now that wood has skyrocketed 300+% and keeps going up!) Best of all is it is sooooo low maintenance—no need for repeated pressure washing, staining and sealing.

      Also, have the builder fully coat the supports (even treated wood) prior to putting them into the ground with something like liquid rubber to keep them from rotting. Which I only learned after the support posts on the first deck rotted away and forced a re-do!

      1. AllTheBirds*

        Agree. Composite decking is worth the extra cost, especially if you plan to live in (and care for) the home for many years.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Make sure you point out all exterior acccess points & service points to the designer. When we were house hunting, we saw more than one deck that people had put in and blocked things like rxterior door to basement, well head, garden hose connection, electric outlets. Trapdoors are a possible point of structural weakness & restrict your use of your new deck. Plus they’re an accessibility issue, if nothing else to you as you age.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        and that reminds me — basement windows too. My deck predates my owning my house, but when the stripper put it in, it covers all the basement windows. My basement is fully finished and has a separate room down there that my housemate wants as his bedroom because that way he could have the whole basement, basically, as his own mini apartment, he only has to come upstairs for food and the bathroom. He has his own office, living room and reptile zoo down there. But because of the way the deck is laid out, I can’t convert the window in that room to be an egress window without basically ripping half the deck off and redoing it (and all the other walls to that room are interior), and without an egress window I believe it’s legally dodgy as a bedroom. (I mean, it can’t be an official bedroom per code anyway, Indiana code requires that any room has to be on the ground level or higher to be considered an official bedroom aside from the other requirements, but — if letting him sleep down there without an egress window won’t actually make me legally liable for whatever, then I’m perfectly happy to make his day since his birthday is next week?)

        1. Venus*

          It is a giant safety thing – he would be guaranteed to burn alive if there was a fire. It’s a specific problem with bedrooms because humans spend a lot of time unconscious in a bedroom. So not a problem to have a windowless toilet because you would smell smoke and react before dying, but smoke detectors are imperfect and that is why legally and morally it is critical to have a bedroom where the windows are big enough to allow a person to escape.

          Regarding smoke detectors:
          I lived near a home where the residents were extremely lucky to have lived through a fire. It started in an outside wall due to an electrical fault, and the siding was very flammable and started a hot fire. The noise of the fire woke up the residents, and as they escaped they could hear the smoke detector start to go off as the flames began to quickly engulf their home. But there was never really smoke inside the home. Ever since then I always know how to get out of my bedroom (how the window locks work).

    6. Anono-me*

      Please look into a wider board on the top of your surrounding railings. That way people can use it for setting drinks and plates on it when you have larger groups over.

      Also with the surrounding railings you can have them so each spindle goes all the way to the deck or you can have the spindles go to a cross piece over a small space several inches high. I like the gap for sweeping dirt, leaves, and snow of the deck.

      If your deck will be several feet or more off the ground, consider make the underside into a gazebo or storage area depending on the height. Maybe add some sort of slab or pavers on the ground underneath and either one of the under deck products designed to keep the underside of decks dry or a sheet of fiberglass etc.

      If you are in a cold weather area, please pay close attention to the depth requirements for the support pilings.
      Frost heave can ruin your deck and mess with wherever it is attached.

      If you think you might want to add a gazebo roof , screen it in or convert the deck into a sun porch later, please discuss this with your contractor. There may be small inexpensive things that can be done now that could save you a significant amount of expense and aggravation if you decide to upgrade the deck later.

      If you decide to go with a non wood material, Try to keep a few extra boards and spindles, incase you ever need to replace any, as finding matching ones years later can be a challenge.

      If you are on a hill consider trying to have the stairs meet the rise of the hill rather than follow the run of the hill. you will have fewer stairs ($) that way.

      Also a + to everything everyone already said about accessibility and the ability to add a ramp.

      Enjoy the deck.

      1. violet04*

        We went with the wide board across the top also to allow people to place drinks and plates. I feed a feral cat and he likes to use it as a perch.

      2. allathian*

        Our deck also has a board across the top of the railing, it’s really useful even if we’ve rarely hosted parties big enough for standing room only on the deck.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      I live in a city with A LOT of regulations for decks! I had to get the signatures of all abutting neighbors to REPLACE my existing deck due to easements even though the new deck is smaller. I had to submit deck plans twice because the 2 city employees who sit next to each other but are in different departments don’t share! I had a deck guy start to give me a quote but then realized I lived in said city and exploded into a rant how he’ll never build a deck in my town again due to outrageous demands from the city that aren’t even in the city code!
      Otherwise law-abiding residents have suggested that next time I NOT get a permit and just have the work done. If the city asks, the prudent response is “just replacing a few boards”! Just an FYI, though, the city does use Google satellite images to monitor people’s properties. Sheesh.
      (It’s done, so I can laugh about it now.)
      Best of Luck!

    8. Water Everywhere*

      Make sure to put some kind of landscape fabric over the ground beneath the deck. My neighbours did not do this and every summer have to deal with weeds & saplings poking up between the deck boards.

    9. Double A*

      We live in a hight fire risk area and will be replacing our deck with powder coated aluminum. It’s more expensive up front, but is fire proof and basically no maintenance. And with timber prices what they are the price differential might be less than before.

      It’s still a newer product so we’re having to find a contractor who is willing to try it, but I don’t see how it’s not going to become an increasingly popular option as the fire risk gets worse and decks are one of the biggest risks for ignition spots.

      Could be worth looking into! There’s about 3 main brands.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        If it gets hot enough to ignite, aluminum burns rather spectacularly but this happens rarely in house fires (as long as you do not store oxygen cylinders on your deck…)
        However, it has a fairly low melting point at 1220°F. I’d still consider it safer than wood but check your area’s building code.

    10. Chaordic One*

      We had a railing around our deck and we had to add a gate to it to keep deer from coming onto it. It was weird to walk by the door to the patio deck and see and a deer staring at you through the window door.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      In my mind the most expensive and time consuming part of building anything goes into the stuff no one ever sees.

      If you have drainage problems in the area the deck will be, fix those first because it’s a royal PITA fixing them later.

      Because it is a deck, and people can congregate on a deck, I would want to over-build it. Make it stronger than necessary. This can be footings or bracings or whatever. So many stories on this one- in short it’s worth the effort for everyone to remain safe.

      Stairs. Maybe you won’t have a lot of stairs so this won’t be a consideration. But if you are going to put in a longer flight of stairs, consider the ease of use. Stairs can be crafted to be easier to use, I have seen them in assisted living places. It has something to do with the rise and run of each step- one set I saw was an indoor fire escape – it was an area closed off from the rest of the building. They called the steps “anti-fatigue”. I used those steps several times and I was very impressed. I went up several flights and my legs did not hurt and I would have expected them to have a dull ache. This might resonate with you if you plan on staying there for a long time.

    12. Quinalla*

      Consider screening it in with a roof. We did that on ours – there is a small part of it that is outside the roof/screens – and we get SO much use out of it as it is protected from rain and bugs and sun. If you can’t do it immediately as others said, build the deck strong enough to do it later.

      Hire someone who build decks for a living and don’t go with the cheapest group. Y0u want a deck that will last!

  15. migrating coconuts*

    Netflix series recommendation: Just finished watching the 3rd season of “Shtisel”. It’s an Israeli series, and yes it has subtitles (which I realized became an automatic thing for me after the first couple episodes) but it was fantastic! It’s about an orthodox Jewish family, but it’s really more about a family who happens to be orthodox. Love, loss, sibling rivalry, aimless youngest child, marriage problems, etc, everything every family faces no matter where they live or what religion they follow. The actors are all top notch, for those of you who watched “Unorthodox”, the actress who starred in that is in this series. Highly recommend. Anybody else watch it?

    1. Analyst Editor*

      I watched it but 2nd and 3rd seasons I had to basically skip through most of the middle.
      The characters’ decisions, particularly Shulem, are so frustrating.
      Like, the part where the clearly spiteful and jealous old lady has some reasoning about why watching the airplanes on Independence day is wrong, and Shulem just adopts that reasoning.
      Whenever he and Giti try to make a decision for their children, they repeatedly make a decision that shows they are not really in tune with their children’s needs and do not have true wisdom, and then problems ensue predictably.
      Really frustrating.

      1. migrating coconuts*

        But that is why it is so good. It’s true to life. Most people are contrary at times, make decisions that they think are right, or out of spite or stubbornness, etc, not always what is best for themselves or their children. Jealousies, insecurities, pettiness, but also love, family support, friendships and good times.

    2. HannahS*

      I LOVE it! It reminds me so much of a Jane Austen novel; people just trying to live a happy life within the confines of their society. The patriarch brings to mind Mr. and Mrs. Bennett–just kind of well-meaning but foolish.

    3. pancakes*

      Not familiar with the show, but your description of it reminds me a bit of a 2001 Israeli movie I liked a lot called “Late Marriage.”

  16. Any new documentaries?*

    Anyone have any new documentaries you recommend on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, etc?

    I tend to enjoy scam and mystery related ones. Liked the Inventor (about Theranos ), the Hulu WeWork one, This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, both Fyre Festival documentaries, and Murder Among the Mormons.

    Thanks

    1. Grits McGee*

      Not sure if it’s still on Netflix, but I enjoyed Sour Grapes, which is about wine fraud.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        That is one of the best docs I’ve ever seen. I recommend it to everyone.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      If you’re in the mood for something absolutely heartwarming I recommend the speed cubers one on Netflix! It was a lovely watch. I’ve also heard that My Octopus Teacher is really good

    3. Reba*

      For more in the vein of the Gardner museum doc, you might enjoy “Made You Look” — recent doc about a long modern art scam — and “Beltracchi” — sort of on the other side, it’s about a very talented art forger!

    4. AGD*

      Most of it is a few years old now, but I’ve been enjoying “Fake or Fortune?” from the BBC. The title suggests sensationalism, but it’s a deep and thorough look into art mysteries through the lens of intensive modern forensics (on top of old fashioned detective work). Which also means that sometimes the stakes are high, so along for the ride are politics and legal snarls and pettiness and obscene amounts of money. I haven’t been watching the episodes in any particular order; they’re pretty much all individually self contained. There’s a fascinating episode from near the beginning about whether a painting might have been the work of audacious and prolific forger Han van Meegeren.

      1. Helvetica*

        I was going to recommend this! It’s such an amazingly done show, especially because you can see the work they put into the verification and trying to track down the necessary info. And also because the solutions aren’t all happy but sometimes, for very infuriating reasons. This really shifted my understanding of the art world. Also, love Fiona Bruce, and even Philip with his delightful snobbery.

    5. Sunflower*

      I haven’t watched yet but there’s a series on HBO called Generation Hustle with a majority of episodes that feature scammers (there is a WeWork episode, one on Ana Delvey, the fake socialite who rang up a giant tab at tons of NYC’s hottest hotels and restaurants)

    6. fposte*

      Art and Craft on Amazon Prime. About an art forger who donates his work to museums, and since he wasn’t trying to cash in he evaded scrutiny for years. It’s oddly benign and quite fascinating.

    7. Qwerty*

      I really enjoyed The Social Dilemma. It explores the problems with social media companies, so it’s more scam-adjacent than actually illegal depending on how you feel about them.

      1. LQ*

        Was this the Paris Hilton one? If not that’s another interesting one. I felt like it tied into the Fyre Festival ones too. (Maybe just because I watched it at the same time, but they felt very tied together.)

    8. LQ*

      I don’t know if it’s new but the biodome 2 on Hulu was good and it was what I watched after the WeWork one. Now I just need to find a way to watch the Theranos one next.

    9. Opinions, I've Had a Few*

      Why Did You Kill Me about a woman who is gunned down and how her niece uses social media to catfish the killers.

      Murder Among the Mormons about the famous Mormon forgery case (also tied to an Emily Dickenson forgery).

    10. The Prettiest Curse*

      Anyone who is up for reading subtitles should check out the Romanian film Collective, which was nominated for 2 Oscars this year. It’s about political corruption in the healthcare system and is amazing, but not a cheery watch. (Work-related advice: if you’re corrupt and don’t want to get caught, be nice to your employees. In one scene, 2 women who work for a hospital blow the whistle on their corrupt boss specifically because he was so awful to them.)
      Another excellent (partly subtitled) documentary I’ve seen recently is Assassins, which is the bizarre and fascinating story of two young women who were conned into assassinating the half-brother of Kim Jong-Un.

    11. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Not sure if it’s still on streaming but Exit Through the Gift Shop is a LOT of fun!

    12. Ms. K*

      Sasquatch was really good. Desire the title it’s a murder mystery not a hunt for a big foot.

    13. miss chevious*

      The Dirty Money series on Netflix is a god one — each episode is a documentary about a different scandal. I haven’t been able to stomach the Donald Trump one, yet, but I’ve seen most of the other episodes and they are all pretty interesting.

  17. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Car loans. I am so confused. The people I’ve asked personally can’t give a straight answer, and neither can Google. I ordered a car from a dealer and it will be here end of the month, at which point I will buy it. When do I apply for the loan to have it financed?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Ask the car dealer. They generally arrange all that if you’re financing through them. If not, still ask.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        +1 – I saved (First car) a LOT by going through mine, as there were gotchas in the fine print (in the dealer financing, I was not only paying 1/2% more, I was also paying for insurance to pay off the balance if I died, and some other fee). My credit union was fast, great to work with, and I saved over $50/month on the payment (same term). I was able to shorten the term The dealership did NOT like this – they get (or did at the time) a “finder’s fee” for sending you through their financing. Overall, saved me $3000 plus the time value of that money saved.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Yes. You’ll get a better deal from the credit union and won’t have to go thru the “let me talk to my manager” nonsense.

    2. Maxie's Mommy*

      Your credit union. Then tell the dealer (who gets paid to place your loan) that he can place it if he can beat your 3% rate from the CU.

      1. MinotJ*

        This is what I did. My CU gave me a letter stating that I was pre-approved for a car loan of X amount at Y%. I took that to the dealer (fully intending to use the CU loan) and they gave me a better rate. I ended up with a loan through Chase, but the dealership didn’t advertise it that way.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, this. You’re better off getting financing separately from the dealership.

    3. twocents*

      If you’re buying through the dealer, then it will be part of you signing the loan documentation. Expect the whole closing process to take an hour or two.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        When I bought my current car (was that really almost 9 years ago? Time flies) I got a much better price for financing through the dealership. I saved about $2000 for having it financed at 0.3% APR … and I received interest from my bank as well for the money sitting in my account until the loan ran out.
        It was some weird sales scheme and I still have no idea how they made money on that. One of the very few times I bought something on credit.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I always got preapproved for up to a particular amount by my credit union, and took that information to the dealer when I was car shopping. I think you’ve done it a bit backwards, there! Now you don’t know what your rate or monthly payment might be. I did have a dealer once offer me a better deal than my credit union — I’m guessing it was a sales promotion, but instead of cash back, they offered a highly discounted financing rate. (We still paid it off early, of course!) Whatever you do, make sure you shop around for rates, because the dealership has a lot of ways of charging you more and making it sound like a better deal. Look up “four square car sales” (to avoid the other uses of the first two words) to read up on it.

    5. WellRed*

      The dealer will also be working with your insurer at the signing for that piece of it.

    6. Chaordic One*

      In the past I’ve always been able to qualify for low or no-interest auto loans offered by the manufacturer (and/or their affiliated finance division) as a sales incentive. Sometimes, receiving a low or no-interest auto loan meant that I did not qualify for other incentives. (i.e., I accepted the low-interest loan in lieu of a $500 rebate.)

      These kinds of low-interest financing offers seem to be most abundant when there are large inventories of cars in stock, and at the end of the model year when the manufacturers are introducing new models. (There were some very good financing deals offered on unsold leftover 2020 models last fall and into the first few months of 2021 after the new 2021 models came out.) The also seem to be more plentiful for slower-selling and unpopular models. (It seems like you can always get easy financing and a good deal on one of the more unreliable cars.)

      Right now, with there being a bit of a shortage of some models (due to COVID-related parts shortages and factory shutdowns), there don’t seem to be as many good financing deals offered by the manufacturers as there had been. I’ve been looking and my credit union is offering auto loans that are very competive with what the auto companies are offering right now.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I remember my Dad would always get our new car in the fall, just as the next model was coming out, every four years. Our cars were leftovers, not used.

    7. SnappinTerrapin*

      The better prepared you are before you get to the dealership, the better off you are. Dealers sell cars, loans and other financial products, and want to make money on as many as possible.

      I told my customers that every product we sold was designed to meet someone’s needs, but different customers have different needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, and don’t hesitate to make the decisions that meet your needs. That should be your bottom line.

      Lining up your loan before you go to the dealership will help you understand your options. It is possible the dealer will match what you line up. In any event, talking through the process with your bank or credit union will prepare you for your meeting with the dealer’s finance manager.

      If you pre-ordered your car, take the paperwork with you to discuss financing at your bank or credit union. Your banker can shed light on the whole process.

      The internet is also your friend. Several sites, such as Edmunds, Consumer Reports, and NADA can help you figure out what is a reasonable deal, and can help you see how the moving parts of the deal interact with each other.

      One comment referenced the “four square” sheet. That is a tool the sales team uses to help them keep track of the moving parts. It can razzle dazzle you, if you aren’t familiar with it. If you understand it, it can be as useful to you as it is to the dealership.

      Best wishes.

  18. The Babiest Babyface*

    Asked anyone have recommendations for fun earring shops? Mostly I browse on Etsy for this sort of thing, but I’m wondering what I’m missing out on. I love dangly earrings in fun shapes (I have this pair shaped like garlic bulbs that people love) and I’m looking for more unique pieces!

    1. Aunt Jet*

      Honestly, the only non-Etsy shop I can recommend is Ana Luisa. Their prices are fairly reasonable & their stuff is ethically produced.

      And, obligatory Etsy recommendation based on your garlic bulbs, I’m a huge fan of the shop softnscary. Her earrings are affordable, adorable, & incredibly well-made. (Also apparently on sale right now as well).

    2. Pharmgirl*

      I recently signed for Ear Fleek which is a monthly subscription. They have styles you can choose from including fun shapes. I just got mini bubble tea earrings!

      1. Pippa K*

        I have EarFleek too. It’s only $3.50 per month, and I like getting the fun little surprises in the mail.

    3. twocents*

      I like Francesca’s. It has a boutique-y feel, though it’s not one. The watermelon purse I got from them is one of my most complimented accessories.

    4. NeonFireworks*

      A bit of an offbeat selection, but if you’re near a Michaels or an AC Moore or something, it’s easy to find a bunch of quirky charms and bases for dangling earrings, and combining them doesn’t require anything special. I can tell I would enjoy the hunt, but I don’t actually like to wear earrings, funnily.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I was about to say that if you find the right thing to dangle, it’s very easy to make earrings. There’s nothing to it except needing a small pliers to crimp. And my first earrings were made at a stoplight with my fingers, after I bought some ear wires and round rubber rings. They were fun, and really lightweight.

        What was a joy about those earrings was I made the earrings to match a watchband I had that consisted of the rubber rings and matching aluminum shapes.

        It’s fun to make jewelry that goes w/something you already have, if it’s not too matchy matchy. Making earrings to go w/a necklace, for example, can be so easy.

        Bead stores have the ear wires and the beads, etc.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      My friend Sharon has just opened a vintage earring shop: bigearrings dot com. It’s fun just to look – her descriptions are hilarious.

      1. Pippa K*

        This was a good tip! I was unable to resist buying something. She’s got quite a diverse collection!

    6. ThatGirl*

      Ten Thousand Villages has a lot of unique handcrafted pieces that support artisans around the world.

    7. Elle Woods*

      Oceanne Jewelry has some cool earrings. They have everything from dainty studs to chunky dangly earrings. They also have cool necklaces, rings, bracelets and non-jewelry stuff.

    8. Sunflower*

      Baublebar is my absolutely favorite. Second the Francesca’s suggestion as well. J.Crew can sometimes have some interesting pieces as well.

    9. PX*

      They both have Etsy shops as well as their own websites: dorcascreates and linguanigra

      Some *very* expensive and not so expensive pieces: kasturjewels

      Ethical shops that do other jewellery and earrings: Shopsoko, Made51, Ishkar

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Also, you can take apart old jewelry and re-use it! I made some earrings from beads in two shades of red, off one of those dated necklaces my mom passed to me. Left off the rest of the 1950s beads.

    10. Initial B (they/them)*

      I love Juicebox (https://www.juicebox.store/) stuff, but it’s hard to get things since they do “drops” every so often. I’m hoping to snag some cute dangly star pieces next restock, but you might also like their dice accessories!

  19. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Family seeing themselves/their side of the family in offspring. Stories of possessiveness of children’s traits by their relatives? Over Facetime my mother-in-law complimented my baby’s eyebrows and made a passing comment that they’re like her niece’s. Which is a pretty funny leap given that I, the mother, have distinctive eyebrows and if my baby does too, oh, where could he have gotten them? I caught myself feeling possessive over that trait and found that kind of funny (and inconsequential), so I said nothing. In hindsight, my MIL probably was just going with her own frame of reference since she just saw that niece and we haven’t seen each other in person since before covid. Anyway, like most people, she does love to look at my children and see her side, even though they look like me too. I did really appreciate the time my MIL’s husband looked at my older child and exclaimed, “When I look at Oldest, I just see They Don’t Make Sunday!” He’s got no genetic stake in the game so he’s got a different opinion!

    1. Virginia West*

      My aunt is convinced that Littlest Cousin is the spotting image of her. Kid looks a little like her but much more like her dad, but the mom cannot see it and is wedded to her belief that the the kid is a mini version of her. We just nod and smile and say nothing, since she is so invested in this idea that it isn’t worth contradicting her. But she gets really worked up whenever anyone suggests the kid resembles Dad more than Mom. It’s really awkward!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My grandmother (dad’s mom) used to swear up and down that I looked exactly like her. I never really saw it, but didn’t argue too much. A couple years ago, I found my parents’ engagement photo from 1975, and that’s when I learned that if my hair is straightened (normally it looks like Merida), I (in my 30s) look EXACTLY like my mom (in her 20s), right down to her slightly awkward smile. I shared a comparison of her picture and mine together, and it was a riot. (Someone who didn’t read the text with the pictures asked me where I got the sepia portrait done because they were interested in such a thing for their family pics; they thought both pictures were me.)

    3. Asenath*

      I never really saw it as possessiveness; more as a way people make a connection with a new baby since they obviously can’t ask the baby about their hobbies or interests. I don’t always see physical similarities, especially when one of the people is an infant, which may be why I tend to think people who do are looking for connection more than seeing something that’s actually there. I have, however, noticed that sometimes similarities show up fleetingly, in situations in which movement or clothing or some action emphasizes a similarity that isn’t otherwise very obvious. I was generally considered to take after my father’s side of the family even into my adult years, although I couldn’t really see it myself except for eye and hair colour. One day when I was a teen I was walking downstairs in my maternal grandmother’s house and asked why she was looking at me so oddly. She said just for a second I’d looked just like her youngest daughter – and in fact, a few years later, a complete stranger in the family’s original home town assumed I was my youngest aunt. It’s not possessiveness, it’s sometimes making a connection and sometimes that weird way in which certain inherited physical characteristics are sometimes noticed, sometimes not.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s projection.

      Back when I used to act, I would see how casting directors create family resemblances in groups of unrelated people based on a feature or two that aren’t actually distinctive to the actors’ real life families.

      If you put a bunch of people with kinda similar noses together, the viewer will believe that’s the family nose. Our brains like to make patterns.

      As long as both you and your MIL are projectung love, affection, and connection onto the baby, it’s all good.

    5. Anonnybonny*

      My MIL did this and it used to bother me a lot! I have blue eyes and our baby has blue eyes. She was baffled by this – “well, I guess his great grandfather had blue eyes…” What about me, his actual mother? Lol. I finally decided not to care. It’s just a weird thing people do, like touch pregnant bellies or persistently ask when you’re having a sibling. Thankfully manners have somewhat improved on these points over the generations!

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        OMG, that is funny. Especially since he *had* to get the recessive blue eyes gene from both parents; it’s not like they could really come from the great-grandfather!

        1. RagingADHD*

          Actually it makes more sense if she was trying to figure out where the second gene came from on dad’s side. I mean, since it’s recessive, the answer could be “anywhere”, but I can understand trying to trace it as a matter of curiosity.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      There’s an old This American Life story in which a mother and her (adopted) daughter are talking about one of the daughter’s physical traits, and the mom says, “Oh, you got that from me!”

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Hah! One of my sister’s teachers, shortly after meeting her, was like, “Are you related to [Dad’s name]?” because her personality was so similar to his when he was in school. The thing is, our dad was legally our stepfather, had a different surname than my sister did, and at the time had only been married to my mother for about a year. We just happened to move to his hometown shortly after the wedding.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        An adopted family member was repeatedly told how she looked like her adopted mother by outsiders.

        I think we can tend to pick up each others words and gestures and we can influence each other’s likes and dislikes. It gets blurry because blending happens.

      3. Catherine*

        Just the other day my brother told me how much I look like his mother (my stepmother) because he’d forgotten we only share a father!

    7. AllTheBirds*

      Opposite to that is when my mom discusses the qualities of her great-grands, she always asks me, “Who did he get that [talent, quirk, eye color] from?!” as if everything MUST be handed down and children never just have their own personalities.

    8. AGD*

      One of my parents does this a lot, especially for psychological traits; my other parent doesn’t really care. So I hear a lot of “oh, you got that from me!” or “you’re just like [other parent]!” I shrug it off. I do think genetics is fascinating – I’m a cognitive scientist, so I can’t very well not – but it also seems oddly deterministic, as if every piece of the system yielding my personality and interests is made up of pieces imported from previous generations. Not my specialty area, but I believe that studies of identical twins raised apart suggest that personality is only about 50% heritable, meaning that nurture/environment/etc. gets the credit for the other half.

      1. Agnes*

        I’ve been fascinated to see random traits show up in my kids – like the way my son scratches his nose is the same as the way his uncle and my uncle do it – but I don’t. How can there be a gene for that?

        1. MissGirl*

          Ha, ha. My sister-in-law always sneezes three times in a row and each of the kids do it to. Of all the strange genetic traits.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      My brother looks like my mother and has my father’s personality. I look like my father and have my mother’s personality. We are so dissimilar that we’ve always had trouble getting people to believe we’re even related! He’s tall, (was blonde, now bald) with brown eyes and I’m short, (was brunette, now gray) with green eyes. The only thing we have in common is a sarcastic sense of humor.

      1. allathian*

        My sister looks like our paternal grandmother, although my dad looks more like his father, but she has our mom’s personality. I look like my mom except I’m taller and fatter than she is, and my personality is closer to my dad’s than my mom’s.

      2. Asenath*

        My mother’s family varied a lot – her father was tall and dark-haired, her mother was short and curly-haired. All of their children were more or less average in height, two of my aunts/uncles were very dark, and one of those was curly-haired. Two were blond, and one of those had curly hair. My mother, in the middle when in came to appearances, was a bit tall for a woman although not as tall as her father, had somewhat wavy hair, and was fair but not so blond as her two blonder siblings. But I’ve known families in which the resemblance among siblings was so strong that even I could identify one on sight.

    10. Camelid coordinator*

      It is funny how much this happens. Everyone says my son looks like me, I think because we both have blue eyes, but I think he looks like his cousins on my husband’s side. My (half) sister’s kids look like me in funny ways, down to little indentations in our ears. She grumbles about it good naturedly sometimes.

    11. Double A*

      It’s funny because I sort of have the opposite experience. Even though people look at my daughter and are like, “She looks exactly like you and Mr. Double A,” to me she’s so distinctly her that I can’t see specifically how. Same with personality traits. I mean, we have the same coloring and I know we do look alike but I just see it less and less. I’m too close to it to see it. I also don’t think that I look that much like my parents.

      Sometimes I think she looks exactly like my aunt as a baby, and sometimes I can really see my mother-in-law in her, and it’s both because of her eyes so who even knows.

    12. LQ*

      I think that a cousin’s daughter looks a lot like baby me. It’s weird, there is a genetic tie, but it’s a long arm. It could be that I think all adorable chubby-cheeked poof of blonde hair babies look similar too. No one seems to agree.

      Conversely, a younger person in the still generation after mine saw a picture of my sister and my cousin as kids and asked if it was cousin and sister’s son. (Who are …20 years age difference, but you know…) I think is a pretty adorable question.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My husband’s family all resemble each other, to the point where at least half of their children (cousins) look like brothers and sisters, as do the kids in the next generation. My husband and our grown son look almost like twins. Although many of my great-aunts and uncles in my paternal grandmother’s family were dead before I was born, I have enough pictures of them that I’ve figured out which ones looked alike, in batches – three very tall thin sisters who looked like their father, my Grandma and one brother who were short and stocky with similar faces, two brothers who looked a lot alike, and one sister who had her own distinct look. And when scanning pictures of my grandmother, I realized she and I looked a lot alike at the same ages. It made me finally like some of my features that used to bother me.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      This one is hard to explain. I grew up a way from some family members and met them later in life. We seem to “know” each other but we only met in recent years. So maybe it’s “family group-think”. But sometimes odder stuff happens. My cousin called up and asked me a weird question about x. (Too identifying, sorry.) And I answered her because I had to figure x out at one point. She said, “I knew you would know this…”.

      I compare it to two good dance partners. One partner can swirl across the floor but each partner knows exactly where the other one is at all times no matter what.

    14. Zooey*

      I definitely think people are more likely to see their side in babies. It’s a lot to do with the familiarity of those traits – I can really see my sister in my daughter because I saw my sister as a baby. It’s not obvious to other people. Similarly your MiL probably saw your niece as a baby so her mind makes the connection easier.

      My nephew’s maternal family live in another country. Ever since he was born we have commented how uncannily like his dad’s side he was. Then his maternal grandparents came to visit and seeing them side by side suddenly all the traits he gets from that side are obvious!

      I get your annoyance though as I find myself really wanting my baby to look like me – but as yet everyone has commented how like her dad she is!

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        It’s so true how you can look at someone one way and see one thing and look at them another way and see something else. It reminds me of those positive/negative space images, like the one where you either see the two faces in profile or a vase. Very easy to see one or the other, almost impossible to see both at once!

    15. Bluebell*

      My younger sister (no kids) often calls other sister’s daughter her mini-me, and they look absolutely nothing alike (both of other sister’s kids def look like their dad). Meanwhile, my mother used to say that my daughter looked like younger sister as a child. The only similarity was their haircuts, esp as my daughter was adopted. But it gives them joy, so whatever.

    16. Might be Spam*

      We have five sisters in our family all with a year or two between each. The first three look like triplets and mom dressed us in matching outfits. It got confusing on the school playground and teachers would try to send us to the wrong classrooms. As adults we look really different now.

  20. Grim*

    Happy early mothers day for all the moms out there! What’s everyone doing for Mother’s Day? I read that it’s the worst day take your mother out to eat because restaurants are overburdened and staff are unhappy about having to work on Sundays. Food quality is also suspect. Do avoid that ritual or take them out for dinner tonight.

    I read an article yesterday that 50% of moms would really appreciate sleeping in on Mother’s Day for their Mother’s Day present; that doesn’t mean breakfast in bed and waking up early so they can get on with their usual morning activities. Moms said it would be a treat to stay in bed all day, sleep well pass noon and do nothing else.

    So on this mother’s day, give mom the present of sleep and she’ll be a happy and rested mom.

    1. migrating coconuts*

      Seriously, sleep and to be left alone. Mom’s are pretty much never alone at home, and when others are there, a mom is always thinking about what she needs to be doing that day and when. Had a dad friend who used to take their kids out for the entire day and leave mom home. She could sleep in, eat what she wanted, binge watch if she wanted and didn’t have to think about making dinner. It was the best gift ever. Personally, I NEVER want to go out to eat on MD. My husband always make me dinner and lets me lay around the house. My kids are grown and usually the younger two are here for dinner (no kids) but my oldest has 2 kids and I never expect her to be here. She’s a mom too!

    2. WellRed*

      Ha! I read an article that moms want time alone. They do not want green tea pedicures and lunch.

    3. Elle Woods*

      We took my mom out for an early Mother’s Day dinner last night. She picked the restaurant; we made the reservation and picked up the tab. We also got her a gift card to a local greenhouse to use toward some of the plants she wants this spring.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I would love it if my husband and mom just appreciated me and said I was a good mom. Low standards yes but that’s my life.

      I am treating myself to a massage today. And a few hours of sleeping in would be nice esp bc Babys teething all week and I haven’t had more than 3-4 solid hours a night.

    5. Enough*

      We have a minor league baseball team in the area. When my kids were in school they had a reading program that the student would be rewarded with a free ticket. At that time they were always home on mother’s day and I would buy my husband a ticket and he would take them.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Mother’s day as a mom is kind of awkward, lol. Your kids want to celebrate with you and do nice things for you which is SO sweet and genuinely appreciated, but at the same time it’s like… you have to act grateful for what your kids want to do and then it’s just another day of momming for your kids’ sake rather than really getting to focus on yourself or take a break.

      My family usually does brunch on Saturday, goes hiking together, and then I also get a good chunk of alone time (I go out for a manicure or movie, or my husband brings the kids somewhere so I can have the house to myself). Pandemic makes it harder but we’ll probably get nice takeout like we did last year.

    7. Lilo*

      Between the cat and the 2 year old I rarely get even to pee in peace (we ate potty training so he’s very interested in people on the toilet, the cat is just a cat.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      When my son was a toddler, the best gift I got was the year my husband brought him to spend the day with Grandma. She got a day of playing with “her little chickadee”, and I got a day home alone to do whatever I wanted (which turned out to be a nap, a book, and using the bathroom alone!)

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      Besides Mother’s Day tomorrow is my ordination anniversary and also Confirmation for kiddo. As my friend said, that is like a gift for me. My brother and his wife are coming, and we are going to have a little lunch afterwards on the church grounds. We ordered a takeout special from our pizza place, I am looking forward to eggplant rollatini.

    10. Double A*

      I’m 38 weeks pregnant so I have no patience for anything, but personally I’d like to see people supporting policies that would actually help mother’s (and fathers!) like paid leave, accessible and affordable child care, flexible and humane work schedules, etc. Any politician who tweets about how great mothers are while opposing this stuff can shove it, as can anyone who votes for them but waxes loving about mothers once a year.

      In America when we call you a hero it’s so we can abuse and neglect you. Moms don’t want to be heroes, we want to be able to be moms and people too.

      We don’t really celebrate parent’s days in our house and it wasn’t something I did growing up either. I definitely don’t want it to be one more thing for us to plan so skipping both holidays is great for me.

    11. Mom to a toddler*

      We go low key which I love. My husband has offered to watch our toddler tomorrow morning alone so I can sleep in. We are then doing a picnic in our backyard with sandwiches, carrots, fruit, etc. Our little one will play ball with is outside, run around, etc. I will ha e a good book to listen to.

    12. Persephone Mulberry*

      I am going out to dinner with my mom and grandma NEXT Saturday. :)

      1. Susie*

        before my MIL moved to florida, this is the routine we eventually settled on–I got Mothers day with my kids and we took her out the next weekend. There was some drama getting to this…but I do miss the tradition a bit.

    13. Yellow Warbler*

      Today’s task is baking my mom an incredibly complicated layer cake, which will take most of the day, because it requires multiple steps with long waits in between for the fillings to set. She always asks for this cake, but would be horrified to hear how much work it actually is. Part of her gift is never telling her.

      Also, regarding your article, I call BS on servers not wanting to work on Mother’s Day. While the regular after-church crowd is always stingy, we earn mad dough on holidays. People always fight for that shift.

    14. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Re: that article reminds me of something that happened this week in one of my restaurant groups. A halal/Muslim-owned restaurant advertised a Mothers day all day buffet. It’s Ramadan and fast breaks close to 8 PM, so people in the group were angry and upset that this restaurant was advertising a lunch special in this month. That was a fun discussion.

    15. Disco Janet*

      I asked my husband and kids to let me sleep in. They always stress about gifts because frankly they’re just not good at it, haha – my husband doesn’t even like shopping for himself, so the pressure to pick out something good for me is a lot! So I’m going to go pick out something for myself from Sephora or Target or something while they clean up the house as their gift to me. And that is honestly what I want! Other people to get some stuff done so I can chill and do something for myself without feeling guilty or unable to relax because the house is a mess. (And then I feel a bit guilty for not wanting to do a big family activity for mother’s day…but our kids are pretty young, so between that, covid, and how carsick one of our kids get, activities are limited! And after this hectic year I just need a chill day. Teaching both in-person and virtually has been rough, and I’ve been working some looooong hours.)

      I’ll take my mom out for lunch another day for the reasons you cited. Husband sent flowers to his mom (honestly more than she deserves considering her treatment of him, but that’s up to him). My mom is pretty great and told me “you’re the one in the hard, active years of mothering – relax and focus on you!”

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This mother just wants someone else to put away three loads of laundry and maybe dig a garden bed.

    17. Rara Avis*

      Picnic lunch with my brother’s and cousin’s family. First get together with my brother since Christmas 2019!

    18. allathian*

      I got to sleep in this morning, and my husband made me some breakfast and our son had drawn a card for me. My husband and son are going to see my MIL today for a walk outdoors, we’re going to see my mom next weekend. I’ll call her sometime today, though.

    19. Esmeralda*

      I went to the climbing gym, worked in the yard, got myself a very good coffee, and am slothing around the rest of the afternoon. And my son is zooming w me tonite!

  21. bluebonnet88*

    I’m in need of some help re: mobile phones. I’m American but live in the UK and have for over a decade. Last time I lived in the US, I had a cellphone but I didn’t buy or pay for it, so I have no idea how it worked. But now, I’m looking into getting my grandma a cheap smartphone so we can videochat (her computer is old and won’t do video).

    I just want something that will run off wifi and it doesn’t need to have minutes or a plan or anything like that, as she has a landline for phone calls.

    Where I’m confused: Does it matter which carrier I pick? Should it be the one she has for her landline? Help! And can anyone recommend a good place to buy a cheap, basic smartphone online?

    Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If she doesn’t actually need to take it anywhere, and ONLY needs it on wifi for sure, a basic Kindle Fire tablet will do video chatting for at least Skype, and I think any other app an Android device could use. And Amazon has those starting at $50 for the 7″ size, going up to $100 for the 10″ size. I’m just guessing, but I would think a larger size than a smartphone might be useful for elderly eyes?

      1. Anono-me*

        At my local computer repair shop; I’ve seen tablets programmed to have special extra large icons that are set up to be one button to push to get results. For example a photo of bluebonnet88 on the phone as a large icon to push to call bluebonnet88 rather than the phone icon and then the bluebonnet88 name and then call.

        If you do this you may also want to set up the tablet for medical video visits

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Whoah, really? I have been thinking that my grandmother needs just such a thing but haven’t been able to find anything online that wouldn’t confuse someone with mild dementia. Do you know if it’s a thing they came up with themselves? I’d be trying to do this from overseas, too, but I could show it to my mom and see if she thinks it would work.

          1. Anono-me*

            I don’t know, I just saw a display last time I was in the shop and thought ‘Oh cool.’ and then remembered it when I saw RRTAF ‘s comment.

            It might be worth your Mom reaching out to the local computer shop.

          2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Consider an Echo Show as well. My mother loves hers.
            It can turn on the lights, make video calls, reminds her to take her meds, and shows a large catalog of family photos in rotation.
            She can control it by voice or touch.

    2. GlassGreen*

      I don’t think you need any carrier if she’s just going to use it over wifi. I have a Samsung Tab A tablet that I use that way. I use it for Jitsi video chatting all the time.

    3. winter frog*

      If you only need a device that runs off wifi, then you don’t need a mobile phone or a carrier. You could get an iPad or iPod touch or a similar Android device. Depending on which applications you use, you might even be able to use a Surface or a chromebook.

    4. ronda*

      If she is only going to use it with wifi you don’t need a phone plan/ carrier. I got my last smart phone on amazon it is android and it works fine. (I did sign up with a carrier after getting it, but they can do wifi too)
      tablets will work too if you want something with bigger screen.

      If she likes the idea of having a phone while out as part of this…. check for carrier coverage in her area, they all say they are good most places, but maybe see if she can check with some neighbors and see what they say. When I travel I get all different kinds of level of connection, but the one I selected was good at my home location.

      It is often difficult for older people to learn how to set-up and use these devices… so maybe see if someone local can help with that.

      1. Natalie*

        And if she does want it to have cell capability for an emergency, go with a prepaid MVNO rather than a monthly plan. The latter is just going to be a waste of money.

    5. RagingADHD*

      We got a good deal through our cable internet provider (Spectrum). It’s nice to have the option of using data away from home, but we primarily use wifi.

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m a cheap geezer and I have a Consumer Cellular phone from Target. It was an upgrade from my first one that got dropped too many times, but still pretty inexpensive. I don’t know about Skype or other things because I don’t use them, but I’ve used a medical video chat set up through my doctor’s office and that worked fine. I use Wifi at home and if I want to check anything when I’m out, I use the mobile network, which is ATT but managed through CC. The techs at Target set everything up for me and transferred everything that was moveable from my old dead phone. Very painless for a luddite.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Oh, and Consumer Cellular is marketed to older people. Their tutorial vids are SO easy to follow, and I usually hate instructional videos.

    7. Observer*

      Don’t buy through a carrier or you will have to get a plan. Pay up front for a decent phone. Pretty much any smart phone out there will run on wifi. Get something recent with the latest version of Android. Is there anything you want to do with this phone other than video chat? If that’s all you care about, then the main thing you need to look for a a good “selfie camera”.

      When you say “cheap” what do you mean? There is $100 cheap, and then there are phones that are a bit better but also a bit more expensive.

      Also, who is going to set this up for her? Most of the video chat services work with a telephone number. Skype should work without it, but someone needs to get it properly set up and make sure she has an account.

    8. chi chan*

      It depends what app or software you are using for calls. So if you are using skype, zoom or webex she just needs an email address. So you can get a phone without a Sim card and download the app and make her an account. Whatsapp needs a phone number to make an account. So you will need a Sim card however it need not have credit on it or a bill. Just make sure that the company lets you keep the number even if you don’t use it coz some cancel numbers not in use and resell them.

    9. Green great dragon*

      Echoing the suggestions to go for a tablet. My parents had pay-as-you-go phones for emergencies and were forever getting them cut off and losing their prepaid £10s because they hadn’t made a call for over 6 months.

      I realise your grandma may be perfectly technologically competent, but if she isn’t, someone with knowledge or with Google and some patience can get it set up so it’s really simple to do the things she needs it for.

      1. Green great dragon*

        ps – you don’t say why her computer can’t do video – can you buy an external webcam with mike for it?

        1. bluebonnet88*

          Oh, thanks, that’s another good point in favour of a tablet. I think she is relatively technologically competent – she is very intelligent (has a PhD, was a university professor) – I think she’s just not really all that into having/using technology, but she does have someone who has come to help her with her computer before.

          Her computer won’t run any video/VoIP stuff, because it’s running an older version of Safari that doesn’t support WebRTC. I also doubt the OS is new enough to download anything, plus I was hoping to avoid her needing to install a programme. Her computer may or may not be able to do FaceTime, but naturally I don’t have Mac anything.

  22. Grim*

    My cat sometimes uses his claws to eat his wet food and I’m curious if there’s any others out there whose cat does the same thing. Switched him over to wet food from dry because of repeated crystals in the urine and he’s been doing great since, but I’d like to get him to stop eating with his claws. Any suggestions?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Heh! One of mine does that, and I wouldn’t mind at all except that sometimes he’ll drag bits of food off the edge of the plate and get the floor all sticky.

      If you’re feeding in bowls, it might help to switch to flat plates, and perhaps spread the food out; if he uses his paws because he doesn’t like the feel of his whiskers against the bowl-edge or a mound of food against his muzzle, that might make a difference. But otherwise I’d just put down a place mat and let him do whatever he needs as long as he’s eating!

      1. pancakes*

        Yes – my cat doesn’t do this, but I noticed the last time I was shopping for a new bowl for her that some manufacturers were talking about “whisker fatigue.” Try a plate or a wider bowl.

        1. violet04*

          I have a wide food bowl from Vivipet and also some raised, wide bowls from Neoichi.

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      How quirky!

      I know of cats who scoop dry kibbles out if they are being forced to compete, so is there another cat in the home? If so, maybe try feeding them in a room with a closed door so they know they are alone.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      A plate will help or a wide, shallow bowl. I also put a plastic placemat down under the wet food plate, in case of smearing. It’s much easier for me to clean a placemat than mop the floor daily.

    4. RC Rascal*

      We’ve had several do this and it’s usually because they don’t like their whiskers hitting the bowl. Try serving the food on a saucer from a teacup / saucer set.

  23. Grits McGee*

    Does anyone have any tips or guidance for staying friends with couples who have kids and your are a child-free-by-choice single lady? I’m hoping to get advice on how to stay connected with friends once they have babies and a lot of the ways we used to hang out (bars, last minute day trips, etc) will no longer be on the table. How do I keep the friendship going without adding more work to their plates?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I used to go to my friend Leigh’s house when her daughter was an infant and sit with her while she nursed the baby or while we folded laundry together.

      With another friend, I went to her kid’s soccer games – we visited while the kid played.

      It’s not the same as bars or trips, but you can still carve out time.

    2. Ali G*

      When the kids are babies it’s a little easier, but you need to meet them where they are most comfortable. When the babies are small and non-mobile it’s easier for parents to take them places as they tend to just sleep in their carrier and hang out when awake and not eating or needing changing. When they get older, be prepared to have to travel to their place. It’s just too much work for them to pack everything up and keep their kid entertained in a non-kid house, restaurant etc. It’s actually more work than having you to their place. Basically you have to be adaptable to what the parents want to do.

    3. Mo Money*

      Seconding Texan in Exile. The mere act of showing up is priceless after kids are on the scene. (Bonus points if you pick up food on the way! Getting one or more kids clothed, packed and in car seats to leave the house takes more energy than you’d expect). The friends who can keep hanging out are so cherished. As the kids get older and more independent you’ll have a better chance for girls night or a weekend away while the other parent can more easily keep things together.

    4. Anona*

      If you offer to bring takeout or wine to their house, that would be amazing! You can hang with the kid a bit if you want and then really hang out post bedtime.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        And the kids can be fun! I liked my friends’ kids when they were little. And I have enjoyed getting to know them as adults and they become not “my friend’s kid” but “my friend.”

        1. fposte*

          Yup. And it’s fun to do stuff with them on their own, whether it’s taking them to the park or out to breakfast; they’re generally thrilled to have an independent social event with a non-parent grownup, and that’s something great you can do for your friend.

      2. Lilo*

        Yep. My kid’s bedtime is 7:30. A lot can be done after 7:30 but babysitters are expensive so it’s great if you come to me.

    5. miyeritari*

      I’m childless, and I just go over and hang out at my friend’s place (she has a 3 year old) and talk shit with her. that way if she has a kid emergency, and she can deal with it (as opposed to the husband) and i just look at my phone or talk to her husband, who is also my friend.

      a couple of times there’s been a meltdown and i’ve just been like “should i go?” and there’s a “yes” or “no.” it does require not having an ego – your needs are always secondary to the kid.

    6. peasblossom*

      Good advice above! I’ll just add that I’ve found that, as long as I’m willing to be flexible, bars/trips/wanderings aren’t off the table, and in fact, a lot of parents want to be able to do things that aren’t child-centric. So I’ll do activities that might involve the kid: go over for dinner and a movie, go for a nature hike, do an art project together, hang out at the pool. But I’ll also invite them out for happy hour or a long hike. The key is really just knowing that sometimes schedules will be way more chaotic and less flexible.

    7. Double A*

      The biggest thing for me is that I just can’t be spontaneous. So while I can actually do most of the things I could previously do, I have to have at least a day to plan, and it’s better of it’s like…a week +

      And of course be understanding if something comes up at the last minute. But did me usually when I’ve planned to make something happen, it’s happening unless there’s truly a meltdown at home. I think I’m LESS likely to flake than a lot of people because I’ve had to plan in advance.

      And I’d love for you to come hang out but frankly I also love to get out of the house. I haven’t seen a friend without my kid around since November.

    8. Natalie*

      I would also suggest you talk to your friend about their schedule and whether or not they’d like to still be included in last minute stuff, rather than make assumptions. Kids do frequently have two parents that can each take care of them. I would be annoyed to find out my friends just assumed I couldn’t come to brunch because I have a kid – I also have a husband that is equally capable of taking care of our child.

      1. German Girl*

        Yes, this so much. Both parents of a young child need child free downtime. It might need a bit more planning for the mom if she is still breastfeeding, but it’s totally doable. In any case it’s best to ask and be understanding if they say no.

    9. Yellow Warbler*

      I just disappear for about 13 years, unfortunately. My experience has been that moms want to hang with other moms, and they never want to do anything without the kids. I developed a CF circle, then the parents remembered I existed once the kids were independent.

      1. Zooey*

        I wish people with kids would believe you want to hang with their kids! For the last six years my husband and I have been keen to hang out with our friends and their kids, and have been totally up for going to kids museums etc. When we did go our friends always commented on how nice it was, but they never initiated – they seemed to default to assuming because we didn’t have kids we wouldn’t want to do that sort of outing.

        We just had a baby and when we saw those friends they were suddenly talking about all the opportunities to get together. And honestly… I am way less enthusiastic about spending time with their kids now! They are not a novelty (and naturally far less cute than my darling child ) and I no longer have loads of spare energy to devote to playing with them. This will probably change when my baby is old enough to actually play with other kids but really it’s strange to me that people seem to think that having kids will make you more interested in other people’s children!

        Sadly I have very few friends who don’t have kids now so I can’t benefit from this knowledge myself!

      2. Disco Janet*

        I think this depends a lot on the friend’s parenting style. Some people are all about mom life and that is their only priority while their kids are young. For others, it’s an important part of their life but they feel strongly about retaining their identity outside of being a mom and still keeping up their friendships and hobbies. Sorry your friends all seem to fall into that first category!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this is so important to remember. Granted, I must admit I was in a bit of a bubble when my son was a baby, and most of my friends are also parents. But we always made an effort to include the childfree ones in our group as well, and it’s worked out because they don’t hate other people’s kids, they just don’t want any kids of their own. And the parents in my group, myself included, respect that and we’ve never tried to persuade them to change their minds. And even when my son was a baby, I appreciated the opportunity to talk about other things with people who weren’t parents. The only friend who dropped out of our group was someone who really wanted kids but couldn’t have them. We tried to include her, but seeing other people who had what she couldn’t have was too much for her to bear.

    10. Disco Janet*

      Literally all of my friends are childfree by choice, so I have lots of experience with this! It’s awesome that some of them will just stop by and hang out at my house. The other thing is inviting me when they’re going to the bar, out to dinner, etc. – don’t just assume they can’t do things that are last minute! My husband and I are very chill about being on kid duty for the night if one of us gets a last minute invite to get together with friends.

    11. ....*

      You pretty much have to be willing to meet them at their house and be around their kids while their kids are screaming and playing. If I’m being honest.

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Hmmm. So one of my deepest/longest friendships has been with a friend I met freshman year of college, and she had her first at 21. So I’ve been the “childfree” friend for 14 years. but this may not answer your question b/c I wasn’t exactly CF by choice. Our hangouts were mostly just me going to her place and we go out to a mall or for walks and just hang out at home with and without her kids. Would hanging out at her house be feasible for you?

      for me being a newish mom, I would just expect my CF friends to….idk….reply to my texts. With some i find im making all the effort now – and no I dont go on and on about the baby.

    13. Mindovermoneychick*

      I second the idea of going with your friend to watch and sports they play. They are with their kids but don’t actually have a lot of responsibility for their kids during the game so it really is good catch up time.

    14. ten four*

      My friend who would just come over and have drinks and/or cook dinner with us was such a godsend. It was usually last minute – like “hey friend, are you up for company? I can bring a bottle/cook with you/just swing by and be an adult human.” She didn’t do chores or anything, just came around and hung out.

    15. Green great dragon*

      Some thoughts, as the parent who still wants to see her CF friends
      – as you’ve probably gathered from the above, it varies hugely. Ask, see what works. What do you want – are you up for hanging out at the local soft play with a coffee, accepting that parent will be dividing their attention between you and the child, or would you rather have child-free time only?
      – for toddlers and up, there are places with both adult and child elements so you can spend some time together an some apart – it’s like parallel play for adults. For example London’s Science Museum – I’ll take the kids to the (fantastic) kid bits, friend can go to the latest exhibition, and we meet up for lunch & some of the shows.
      – don’t give up if it doesn’t work well for a few years! I was pretty knackered/anti-social until child 2 got past toddler, but now they’re older and other parent/grandparents can cope fine I would *love* to hang out in a bar or planned-in-advance day trip.
      Thank you for thinking about this, and not just quietly grumbling you don’t see your friends any more.

    16. the Viking Diva*

      I think it’s important to communicate in word and deed that you will meet them halfway to stay friends. It depends on the kid and the parents, really – don’t assume those kinds of activities are off the table, but ask them: How can we adapt [fun thing] to include the baby? Maybe there is a quieter bar, or a patio beer garden, that would work just fine. Maybe there is a day trip that works with a child in a backpack or a longer break in the middle. But also find out how you can join in what they are doing with the child – bring coffees to meet them at a park, take a walk with the stroller. I think a lot of new parents assume that their single friends aren’t interested in this stuff.

      Offer to babysit once in a while, if you’re willing. It helps preserve their relationship if they can get a dinner out or a coffee date, so it’s very much appreciated. I liked developing an independent relationship with the child and having my own experiences and observations to share when the conversation went to the kid. But make sure you also assert that you want to see them too, and talk about the things you used to talk about, not just the baby (they haven’t lost their brains, even if it sometimes seems like it… ). If you’re not the babysitting type, find another way to help – bring takeout for dinner at their house, help with the garden or raking leaves or some other companionable chore.

  24. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Just wanted to say thank you to those that responded to my question about the Nissan Rogue. I am absolutely loving it. So far, in town, it’s getting 450 miles to the tank, so I’m not complaining one but on mpg!

  25. Mo Money*

    Any tips on how to get a relative to accept money?

    My husband’s aunt has been AMAZING in helping with his mom’s recent major surgery. She is doing a lot of driving/coordinating of care etc. We’re planning to sneak her a gas card and also try to have a candid conversation about how it would be a huge favor to us if she would allow us to feel like we’re contributing. We both work full time and have a toddler so we can’t contribute very much time but we absolutely have disposable income to throw at any problems like house cleaning that would make everyone’s life easier.

    Would welcome any stories on how folks have managed this sensitively in the past (we make significantly more money than they realize but that’s it’s own awkward conversation we’d rather avoid).

    1. Mo Money*

      For context, she was worried about reimbursing us for a $12 parking pass. The catastrophic out of pocket cap for this surgery is $10,000, which we can pay out of my bonus this quarter (we know this is a highly privileged position to be in!). No one else in the family is particularly well off, but they always band together to take care of each other. My husband is an only child and this is his favorite aunt who always goes above and beyond for other family members. We do NOT want her going into any kind of debt or even mild cost inconvenience when she is already gifting a (literally) priceless amount of time and love.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Ah, I see. I agree with other commenters that a physical gift or service would be better than just giving your aunt cash money. Since the aunt always goes above and beyond for other family members, is there a gift that would make her life easier? Like the robot vacuum mentioned, or getting a really nice meal delivered to your mom & aunt while they’re together (don’t know if the surgery is the type that MIL would want a fancy dinner!).

        1. Mo Money*

          Open heart surgery so sadly no fun meals for a while! But I love the idea to engage in a bit more creativity around making her life easier. Gas card came to mind because of all her driving but I’m listening for any other needs/wants (we are at the hospital with both of them until tomorrow). His aunt finished her crossword book so I got her a new one from the gift shop. Not something she would’ve thought to get for herself but I know how much she enjoys them and they really help pass the time. MIL lives in a very rural area so certain services simply don’t exist and it does fall to family to plug a lot of the gaps.

    2. CatCat*

      With a relative who could use, but doesn’t like to accept money, we’ve found gift cards for holidays and birthdays seem to be much more acceptable. Paying for services also seems to be acceptable. Also, making a gift of replacing something older or worn seems to work (we just hooked up a relative with a dying vacuum who struggled to vacuum regularly anyway, with a robot vacuum, she’s thrilled). Treating to a nice meal always goes over well.

      In this situation, perhaps a nice care package with a heartfelt card about how much you both appreciate aunt. Package could include flowers, treats aunt likes, and have a couple gift cards tucked in.

      1. Bobina*

        Yup, this. Actual cash can be difficult for people to accept, so “hide” it in gifts – gift cards, upgrading things they already have, inviting them on a holiday where they dont have to pay, meals out etc.

        But also, dont forget things like just spending time with her (post Covid ofcourse!) For example if she’s the kind of person who would love to spend more time with your toddler, inviting her over to spend time with you + child might be something that she’ll appreciate.

        While obviously you want to give her a tangible/monetary way to show you appreciate her, I guess in some ways this is also a “know their love language” kind of scenario. They might prefer a nice card or being able to spend more time with people as well.

        1. Mo Money*

          She doesn’t have any kids of her own and has always been a wonderful aunt. Love the idea of helping her come visit us for some quality family time. In his family we’d also be able to claim host privilege to spoil her with good food and relaxation. Thank you for this!

          1. Bobina*

            You’re welcome! My experience with people like this is that they value quality time with loved ones quite a lot – and its something that is often hard to ask for or initiate! I hope you’ll have a lovely time whenever you get to it :)

            Another top tip – take lots of photos and print/send some to her later on.

        2. LQ*

          Hiding money in gifts reminds me that one of the things I do is hand-me down tech equipment to family. I upgrade WAY more than I need to and 100% of the devices go (in very good shape and with all the bells and whistles) to family. And this is always a “you’re doing me a favor so I don’t have to figure out how to get rid of it” thing. This year a niece is going to get a 1 year old iPad pro as soon as I get the new one. So my niece will get a $100 bill for graduating, but also a $1,000 piece of computer gear that I happen to give her because I’m upgrading which is what I was going to do anyway. Which feels different from giving $1,000.

      2. Mo Money*

        The robot vacuum is genius. I don’t know enough about their new house to know if this would work for them or feel like a crazy extravagance/toy but I think it’s much closer to what I’m hoping to achieve. This aunt gave him his first car (think a very old but sturdy and well loved Honda/Toyota) and is always the first one on the scene when someone needs help. A care package with a nice note and some strategic gift cards mixed in with some pet treats, favorite snacks, crossword, and candles might do the trick until we have more information about needs/costs.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I have asked family and friends for help where I explained that it would be $X to pay a stranger and therefore I was offering to pay family the same conditional on them agreeing to take the money. It really depends on family dynamics of course! My family would feel awkward about being given money, except that they seem to be okay if I make it clear that this is already a planned expense. I also make it clear that there is no continued expectation of their help, so if they can’t help later then I can find someone else. It seems a bit mean to me, as I effectively say “If you want to help then I am pushing you to take $X otherwise I will ask a stranger” but I make my offer kindly and would really hate to disadvantage family that have much lower incomes. And they are offering to help me with tasks that I can’t do myself, so I’m not being lazy or taking advantage (like a big truck for moving large items). I also never tell anyone else that I am giving someone money. I don’t care if they say something, but I don’t want any other family to judge the family member if they wrongly guess that I was asked for money.

      1. Mo Money*

        Can totally see this. In his family it would maybe be possible for one-off tasks like dog sitting but even then it’s the sort of thing they just do for each other for free all the time. Putting money on it would be waved off indignantly/with confusion. There are definitely (far) worse problems in the world but it is a tricky one to bumble through for me!

    4. D3*

      If she’s helping her sister out of love and care for her sister, why do you need to pay her for it?
      Honestly this sounds like it’s more about your guilt for not doing as much time-wise (for good reason!) than about her not accepting cash.
      We all have seasons in our lives. You’re busy with jobs and a young child to care for. She had time to give. You can help with medical bills. Everyone is giving what they can and supporting your MIL through a tough time.
      This is just what functioning and healthy families do.
      You don’t need to force your aunt to accept payment.

      1. Chilipepper*

        She said they don’t want the aunt to incur expenses while also helping her sister. And they value her contribution and want to help her. Thats not about guilt, its about love.

        1. Mo Money*

          Definitely love! She’s an amazing person who cares so much about others. We want to make sure she’s taken care of too. This has been a really helpful thread to consider various ways to show thanks with time/services/material things/strategic gift cards.

      2. Mo Money*

        There’s definitely a little displaced guilt/helplessness at play. She is doing this happily and with love in her heart and we don’t want to warp the purity of that sentiment with something as cold/transactional as cash. But… we do want to help! We have money to spare and it would be a kindness to let us contribute in the way that we can right now.

    5. fposte*

      I think your impulse is good-hearted, but I think for your aunt cash may make her acts of love feel like a transaction. I wouldn’t push it if it’s been solidly refused; that ends up being more about you than her. A few other possibilities: ask for her suggestions on what might make your mother’s life easier (which by extension may make her life easier); find material thoughtfulness that she will accept (fruit baskets can be good for this); and/or put money aside in a separate account that will go to helping her out when she needs it, especially if she’s not likely to have much in retirement.

      1. Mo Money*

        We were definitely a bit (very) horrified to learn that MIL has less in her retirement savings than we do in our toddler’s 529 account. We will be helping her apply for the financial assistance that she definitely qualifies for and then covering any difference out of pocket. I suspect my husband’s aunt may be only marginally better off financially since she owns some properties, but it was eye opening for sure. I’m spending today plotting what to put in a gift basket that I can sneak out to her car. Thank you for the kind words!!

        1. fposte*

          I know how much it can mean to have somebody reliable on-site when you can’t be there.

        2. Mstr*

          Maybe you can pay it forward to the aunt someday when she needs help instead of monetary gifts right now . . . she might need rides to her medical appointments, or company during a difficult time, or help filling out applications, or someone to mow her lawn . . . it doesn’t have to be an equal exchange right now but definitely let her know you appreciate all she’s doing & offer your support.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        +1
        Offering cash after a good deed can offend some people. Offer non-cash items instead but if the aunt turns you down, please respect that. Regardless of her response, you could thank her profusely in person and/or write her a heartfelt thankyou letter. What a wonderful person to have in your life!
        P.S. Don’t reveal your income. It won’t have the effect you’re hoping for. If absolutely necessary, say “We’re very comfortable” and nothing more than that.

        1. Mo Money*

          Thank you for the script! Given some of the other family members in the mix we definitely don’t feel comfortable sharing our income level and it’s good to have some soft deflection language.

          And yes we’re very grateful to have her in our life!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      There are side-ways sneaks that you can do. Instead of aiming for a lump sum all in one shot, you can pace it out over time. This could look like $30 here, $70 bucks there. Applied, it looks like that scarf she admired suddenly appears in a package at her door. Or you bring her that nice plant for her yard that she never would have bought herself but she said she loved that particular plant.
      It could even look like getting her the same handy gizmo you got for your MIL. “I bought mom this super easy to use jar opener and then I figured why not get one for you and me also? So I ordered three jar openers.”

      With people like this, it’s not the price of the item. It’s the thinking that goes into picking out the item. In the jar opener example there’s an added feeling of inclusiveness.

      If she shows concern about your spending and she says she doesn’t want you to strain your budget then turn the tables. Tell her, “Right back at you, Auntie! We don’t want you having financial worries either.” Then you can launch into, “I will tell you what. Why don’t we make an agreement right now that we will just tell each other when something is too much? If one of us says that then we will just sit down together and see if we can build a different plan.”
      Notice here, you have skipped over your fiscal well-being entirely AND you have cut to your real concern about her and her own finances. Meanwhile, the whole time you are sneaking in random little surprises for her.

    7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It sounds like that’s her sister who had surgery? Please don’t offer her money for being there for her own sister. It’s family, not hired help.

      1. Mo Money*

        I tried to share more context above but we’re not trying to casually write a check and ride off into the night. This aunt is retired and of modest means (nothing wrong with that!). We are much more comfortable at the moment but have pretty limited time availability to support. We’d like to help offset some of the costs that we know the aunt is going to very lovingly incur (like gas for travel back and forth to the hospital) and try to make the overall burden lower (like arranging meal delivery or a cleaning service). It’s hard to do those things in a sensitive way that preserve her dignity so I was hoping to hear from others who have been there.

  26. Goose*

    I’m starting the process to volunteer as a guardian ad litem! Very excited as this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Does anyone with experience have any wisdom or advice to share?

    1. MissGirl*

      Are you a CASA or a Guardian ad litem. In my state the guardian is usually a lawyer but it changes.

      I’m a CASA. I would suggest having a set time every other week for a visit. I don’t and I’m always scrambling to get in with him. Hit all your team meetings because that’s where you hear the important stuff. It’s tricky right now because I’m not allowed to have him in my car with COVID laws so we just go to the park, which he’s bored of.

      Be a friend. Don’t take stuff personally. Have fun with them and listen.

  27. Casey*

    Has anyone bought the Light Phone? I’m so fed up with social media and I’m thinking about switching from my smartphone to something dumb after I graduate. I’ve seen ads for Light a lot but I’m not sure how it compares to like, a little flip phone.

    1. Girasol*

      You wouldn’t just unload all the social media and save the smart phone for Kindle books, the Libby library app, Audible books, and the Audubon guide? My smart phone doesn’t do social media by choice, but having a whole library with me when I’m hiking or waiting at the dentist or awake in the middle of the night is wonderful.

    2. LQ*

      Have you considered parental blocks for yourself? You can remove all the social media stuff, but I’d also recommend looking at the settings. I put limits on the number of hours I can be on certain apps on my phone. I have a lot of hours set to be “night” or whatever your all apps are blocked hours. Which is really nice. I get the functionality I want, the reminders that this isn’t what past, smarter me wanted to do with these hours of my life, and have options when I need something else. I say this in part because you’re saying after you graduate, but you can cut some of this out or at least down now with the tools you currently have. You can dumb it down a lot.

    3. Spearmint*

      One middle ground I’ve found if you don’t want to buy a light phone is to delete social media apps and the browser app from your phone (you can deactivate the browser but it’s different than other apps, google how to do it). I’ve found this helps me somewhat.

  28. Teapot Translator*

    How do you decide to make big purchases?
    Here’s my dilemma. I’d like to have a custom-made TV-bookcase unit. I want real wood, so it’s really expensive. I’ve been living in my condo for over 10 years. All of my furniture is cheap (Ikea). I’m settling my dad’s estate, and I’ve consulted with a financial advisor, who basically told me that I’m doing ok retirement-wise and that my share of my inheritance will just make me even more secure. So, how do I decide if want to put thousands of dollars into furniture? Part of me thinks I should just continue as I am since I’ve managed with my cheap furniture. Another part of me thinks that it would be nice to splurge a bit on something nice.
    I think my dilemma is that this purchase feels like an upper-middle class thing to do? And I’m not used to that? I think I was raised as low/middle-middle class?
    Anyway, I don’t know how to decide to take the plunge and wondered how other people made their decisions (whether it’s to go ahead or not go ahead). Or maybe you think I should ask myself specific questions to come to a decision?

    1. Kathenus*

      To be honest the fact that you’re thinking so hard on this and have consulted the financial advisor is a great sign. I don’t do a lot of discretionary spending day to day – so I do occasionally allow myself to indulge in a more expensive purchase. I just went through the same mental process as you about a new couch (spoiler, waiting for it to be made and arrive right now).

      In your specific case – I’d ask a couple of questions. How long do you think you’ll live there and get enjoyment from it? Is it movable if you move in the future or will it be built in place, in which case you can evaluate the value it will add to the selling price to help offset the current investment.

      I think we all have our places we indulge, whether it be with money, time, or something else depending on our lives. I’d personally rather splurge on something bigger every now and again than go to the coffee shop every day like some of my friends – neither are right or wrong, just different.

      My opinion from the information in your post is to go for it.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Kathenus’ question was the same as mine: built-in or free-standing? If built-in, how long do you think you’ll live in your condo to enjoy it? If free-standing, will you be able to get it out the door? TV sizes and styles change over the years, so this piece could be obsolete in a few years.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I have a few methods that I have gathered over the years. One is to make a decision (doesn’t matter which side I take) and sleep on it for a night or a week and just…see how I feel about it after that. What emotions does it stir up? Am I balking at it or sad about the decision? If so, can I dig into why? Am I still excited about the idea? Am I bummed about a missed opportunity?

      Another way I think about it is looking at the money I’d spend over time. So, for example, I bought a really nice sewing machine a few years ago, which was a big purchase for me. I had my last one for ten years. So, I divided the amount of money out over ten years (or five, if I was being conservative) and asked myself: would I be willing to spend $X per year on this in order to have a sewing machine that does Y and Z so much better? The answer was yes. It was a big chunk of money in one go, but I was very confident that it would make my day-to-day (more like week-to-week) sewing better, less frustrating, more exciting, etc. So for you, I’d ask yourself: how long are you intending to spend in the space you have? At least X years? Would the cost, divided over X years, feel more worth it to you?

      1. Burnt eggs*

        THIS! Buying cheaper (coat, cookware, whatever) every year or two vs a larger upfront investment which will last is an excellent way to look at it. Also, when having the piece made, ask that it be constructed in a way where it can be moved, and get those written instructions. Will it be something you could see being a ‘family’ piece which could be handed down? Have you splurged in yourself in the past few years? If not and if you can afford it, remember you are worth having things you like even if they aren’t the cheapest option.

    3. pancakes*

      I think you should try to stop putting so much emphasis on rigid class expectations. I’m not sure whether it would be helpful or hurtful to try to step back and observe where your mind seems to be going with this – e.g., ask yourself what exactly is the problem you see in a working class person making an upper middle class purchase.

    4. AllTheBirds*

      My first thought is, are you sure it needs to be custom? There is so much furniture out there that already may serve your needs. I’d look at quality retailers online first, see if they have what you want. Sure it could be $2-3k, but that’s reasonable for wood furniture. What kind of pricing have you gotten for a custom piece?

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Agree. The TV court shows always have cases where people pay a deposit on a “custom” wood piece and then the maker flakes out, keeping the deposit.

        Plus, you may spend a lot on something now that will feel irrelevant to you in the future. What if you’re locked in to that size TV? What if your life changes?

        If you find someone else’s “custom” piece for sale, you know what you’re getting. I’d look a lot first. Wood is unforgiving, unlike having a dress custom made that can be modified. And wood can look dated as tastes change.

    5. MissB*

      Do you have a budget? Do you have a line item for discretionary spending? I call ours “spending” and it’s a set amount each pay period. We rarely use it all and so I have some wiggle room in my budget to save for certain things by shifting that extra $ to a different account to accumulate.

      Maybe you could take the approach of actually saving for it, so by the time you’ve accumulated the amount, you can easily pay it.

      Dh and I have bought a lot of custom furniture over the course of our relationship. We have a favorite shop that builds pieces – and it takes them 3 months to do so. I’ve even bought a piece of their furniture second hand on Craigslist. It’s lovely stuff and we know that it’ll last forever and can be handed down to our kids should they want it. I can’t say the same about IKEA furniture.

      I do like the comment about forgetting about class. Dh and I come from humble beginnings and we’ve chosen careers (and been fortunate in them) so our future retirements are secure. I watch my mom, who buys $500 cars and goes to the food bank each week struggle and feel some amount of guilt (but I also pay half of her mortgage each month and another sibling pays the other half and we both send her cash). It feels weird at times to buy larger ticket items but as long as you’re not shortchanging your future, it’s going to be okay. I get it though.

      1. I take tea*

        Hey, you can hand down Ikea as well, I have a couple of my father’s bookshelves from his boyhood room. They’re practically vintage ;-)

        I like the “makes you happy” way of deciding. Some people are quite content with basic furniture, others feel that really well made built in bookshelves give them a good feeling every time. If you are in the latter group, it’s worth it.

    6. Disco Janet*

      As someone who used to sell home theater equipment, I’d think twice about having an expensive unit that will be for your TV as well. I can’t tell you how many customers I had over over the years who had a custom unit like this and, when their TV broke, they had trouble with the fact that TV sizes had changed and they were struggling to find a unit that fit as nicely in their unit as the first one did. If you decide to go that route, ask the builder about making sure it will be able to accommodate a larger TV down the road. (Lots of people say “I know I’ll never want a larger set!”…and then standards/what’s popular changes, and they change their mind.)

      1. Joan Rivers*

        And look at all the perfectly good oak cupboards that now seem dated to home buyers.

        1. Disco Janet*

          Yep, that too. So I’d try to find a middle ground – something you like, but not spending so much that it’s going to make you question it this much. (Especially since we’re not talking about furniture that has a more comfort-based use, like a mattress or couch.)

    7. Not A Manager*

      I suggest that you divide this money into three portions: one to save in case of serious future need, one to distribute yearly for your lifetime, and a small amount now to spend however you want to. For the second amount, the financial advisor should be able to give you a good sense of how much you can draw each year and still have the money last for your lifetime. You can use that to make your ongoing experience nicer, whether that means being able to support charities that you like or whether that means a bit more travel or dining out.

      That last amount is for you to spend now on a wow! experience. If that experience is getting a nice piece of furniture that you’ve always wanted, then that’s what the money’s for.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We did something very similar, we had a custom built installation put in that cost about $17K, including the TV mount (which is a large open area, so it avoids the issue that Disco Janet mentioned; in fact, I’m looking at upgrading to a 75-80″ 8K TV soon). It’s one whole wall, with a gas fireplace and bookshelves, and we did it after my mother passed away and left me some money. My rule of thumb is, since I’ve felt like we would have had a good retirement without any inheritance, that while I still tried to save most of it, I allowed 10-20% for splurges like this.

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      I know what you mean about feeling like a high roller with the big purchases. Sometimes this kind of furniture is not as expensive as you might think. There is a place near me that does made to order furniture from old barn wood. There is a catalog of choices or it can be entirely custom. Something like this could work for you, I bet. If you want the link to the store I am thinking of just chime in.

    10. Girasol*

      Me too: Both before inheritance when we had just enough or after when we had enough not to have to worry anymore, I weighed purchases the same way. I wait a couple months. Sometimes I look back and think, “Boy, that was a stupid idea!” and take it off my list. Sometimes I’m still not sure and leave it. And sometimes I feel sure that I’ll get a full share of enjoyment from it, see that it’s within my budget, and buy it. I’m kind of in the same boat as you: now that I can afford to be less frugal it feels a little uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But although I do get a few things that I’m sure I really will enjoy thoroughly, I’ve decided it’s okay to remain mostly frugal. I don’t need to clutter my life and the earth with stuff bought on a whim that I got tired of as soon as I got it.

    11. LQ*

      I know this is mostly about money but I want to respond to the big part because I think that’s a part of this. I’ve made several physically large investments in my home (apartment so furniture not built in) and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I wanted a custom…couch essentially. But I think I spent a year or more thinking about it. I moved pieces of furniture around in my home to emulate what size it would physically take up in the space. I did a lot of thinking about the space itself. I ended up with custom pieces (built by family, high quality and to MY specifications, I’m tall, they are built for Tall) based on the what I wanted. It was really nice to splurge on something that was made for ME. And this is what I want to really say, is that having something that really works for you, for your home, for your space, for your life and habits and future? That has been entirely worth it. I have a couch and a desk. Both of these have made my life better by having them in my space. Having a couch with storage built into it, that’s tall and deep enough for me, that’s not a regular couch, but is what I need it to be. Having a standing desk that’s tall enough for me and that doesn’t have a lot of floor level mess, that’s slim on space, and all the rest? That’s worth it. Having something that looks nice and not cobbled together. Something that means that other piece in my home don’t sort of work well enough, but they can do their thing? That’s a huge win. And makes my home feel more like mine, more like a home. I feel safer, more comfortable, more at ease at home and I spend a lot of time there.

      I hope that helps.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      If I had to think this hard on a large purchase then that probably means I don’t actually want it.

      It might help to compare this purchase to other bigger ticket items you have bought. Moving away from furniture for a moment, think of a time where you spent a little bit of money on a coat or pair of shoes. What went into that decision? I found common threads in how I approached those decisions. The number one thing was the usefulness.
      The coat had to have a hood (I don’t use umbrellas) and it had to be long- I don’t want to wear wet clothes in the office. It had to be more of a classic style so it might stay in style a bit longer. (I hate wearing stuff that is from two decades ago.) So in my coat example, I was aiming for durability and longevity. A lot of my purchase choices follow a similar pattern.

      Notice something else, the mechanics that go into my selection ties up so much brain space that I am not thinking about externals such as class level, how I appear to others and so on. You do YOU. I suspect (and I could very well be WRONG) but the fact that you are thinking about class levels telegraphs that you would be happier putting the money into something else. I think when the right idea comes along, you won’t raise these types of objections with yourself and argue with yourself. I think you will just see a straight line pointing to that item. The times I have debated a purchase in this manner, the purchase was not for me. (Looking at you, Vacuum Cleaner, I should have bought your much cheaper cousin.)

      1. LQ*

        This is super interesting and I’m so glad you responded. I’m 100% the opposite on this. If I’ve put this much energy into something I REALLY want it and I’m trying to talk myself out of it but can’t essentially. But I think how you’re thinking is very much how a close friend thinks about these things and likely why she’s been annoyed when I’ve said, you’re spending a lot of time talking about it and therefore must want it. Thank you!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Now you can test drive this and see what she says. lol.

          I think the key that jump at me here is that I am not trying to talk myself out of it. I know it would sound like I am trying to talk myself out of it. Yeah, if it were me, I might get a little annoyed because someone misread what I was saying. OTOH, it’s easy to see that I am not expressing myself that well.

          Think of it this way. I see a sweater in the store and, gosh, it’s the most beautiful thing. I really want it. So I try it on. Within a minute I am itchy all over. But I LOVE this sweater, it’s the nicest sweater I have ever seen in my price range. Well maybe I can wear something under it. Well, then that means it will be too warm most of the time and I will not be able to use it as often as I would another sweater. So silly me, I buy it. I bring it home and it drifts to the back of my closet because it’s too warm to wear unless it’s the dead of winter. I regret my choice. Annnd I kick myself because I had the clarity to realize this would be a problem but I bought it anyway. I could have spent that money on something that I would have gotten far more enjoyment out of. So I hang on to the sweater for YEARS hoping for a change in this story line. But the story does not change.

          I think some of this type of thinking goes into — what do they call it— a mindset of scarcity. I am not sure. I have to sometime read on this stuff.

          Tell your friend to hold out for something she really likes and she is sure about. Watch what happens next.

          1. LQ*

            For me an example is I’ve spent years looking for a new set of plates/dishes/etc. The ones I got out of college I had grown to hate, they were chipped, but also laced with bad memories and I desperately wanted new ones. I bought a set very cheap that I thought I would like that someone else said “looked like me” spontaneously (this is always my bad decision) and handed off the good part of the set to another young family member who was looking for new plates, got rid of the rest. So I’d been living with these crappy cheap plates I hated really fast while looking at a really beautiful set of custom pottery plates. I spent a ton of time telling myself I couldn’t afford them, but the real problem was I had like a weird existential “but are these plates really who I AM now?” crisis over them. I’m modern right? But they aren’t. But they were so lovely, and functional, dishwasher safe! And so lovely. But is that color me? Am I going to be bored. Are people going to judge me based on them. Etc.

            I finally decided that I’d buy some over the last year with stimulus money (because local potter!). I still don’t know what I was waiting for. I love them so much. I got rid of the cheap ones. I am over the moon about them.

            Reading your sweater story is so interesting to me because it reads like all my bad purchases too! But mine are never long before the purchase, but they sound so similar in tone to yours. If I’m talking to myself about it for months, I always want the thing. It’s the decisions I make fast that are bad. The slow ones are usually good ones, or at least better.

            I think the are you sure about this language would work well with my friend because she usually is quite decisive so it would make sense that she’d fall more into the languishing means not a good purchase space.

  29. Potatoes gonna potate*

    For those of you who choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, what are some unconventional ways you celebrate this day (Irrespective of the kind of relationship you have with your own mother)?

    For me, I like to send my SIL a greeting card. She’s a great stepmom to my nephews, and a great person all around. Regardless of what my brother and his sons do for her, I like to do my part.

    What about y’all?

    1. D3*

      I take the day off social media. I really struggle with the bragging about how awesome their mom is (if that’s really how you feel, go tell HER in person or write her a letter she can hold, keep and reread, not Facebook), with the assumptions that all moms are amazing (news flash: they’re not) and the admonitions to go hug your mom (No thanks, she was – and if I allowed her in my life still would be – abusive and manipulative.)
      I am so over Mother’s Day.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I’ve been able to forgive a lot since my mom died. She got sympathy for being widowed w/two small kids, and kids don’t know how to see their mother till they mature. But later even her siblings avoided her in a small town and implied she always acted out, even as a kid.
        Now, though, when I meditate I see her as young, and wish her well.

      2. Disco Janet*

        I think OP realizes this…for one, because she’s vented about her mom here a lot. And secondly, that’s probably why she opened her post by saying “for those of you who celebrate Mother’s Day.”

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          This is not a vent post. Hence the “Irrespective of the kind of relationship you have with your own mother”.

          I

          1. Disco Janet*

            I didn’t say it was a vent post – I think you got stuck on that word, but look at the context. I’m saying that I know you understand not everyone has a good relationship with their mother, because from pasts posts where’ve you’ve vented about her we know that is the case for you (not having a good relationship with your mom.)

    2. Grim*

      Give mom the day off. Take the kids out early am, let mom sleep as long as she wants, eat what she wants, binge watch, and chill.

      This is the best gift for mother’s day.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That was mother’s day in my house growing up! Dad would take us out so she could have time alone. It was a big shock later in life to find out most families don’t do it that way.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a parent. A friend comes over and we have breakfast together. He says that I still care and give care to people so we should celebrate that. It’s kind of a refreshing take on an old theme.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I think that’s sweet. I do like that in recent years there’s been more inclusion in this holiday and recognizing that you can have maternal/motherly qualities without having kids.

        1. saf*

          I’m going to jump in here and say if you like that, that’s cool, but I hate hate hate being “included” in mother’s day. Not a mother, and never wanted to be. So don’t try to shoehorn me into it. Thanks.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            @saf – I’m not sure how you think I was shoehorning you into it. I agree with you 100% btw. There’s a graphic that goes around every year that includes “to those who choose not to be mothers.” I understand including loss moms or step/adoptive moms, and others but I was always baffled to see why those who choose not to are included.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              I am a sort of step-mom (partner’s daughters started calling me that, even though we aren’t married, when she was about 18, and we were together about 3 years at that point).
              But no, don’t include me. I am not a mother, nor have I ever wanted to be one, nor have I ever will be.
              Step-daughter and I have nice warm relationship, but I am absolutely not a mothers to her. She has a mother. A very crappy one, that she isn’t talking to at the moment, but I am not her mother either. I live with her father, and we have good relationship, but I do not provide maternal “services”.

              1. SummerBreeze*

                I’m fascinated by this. So you have an actual stepdaughter but don’t want to be included in any moment acknowledging that? I would love to hear more about how you view your role, if you’re willing to share.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  Sounds like they’re not married so she doesn’t have an “actual” step daughter. The framing of “sort of” seems spot on to me in this context, where “step-mother” an easy way to describe the relationship to others (in terms of who is who), while the relationship dynamic is distinctly not parental.

                2. RussianInTexas*

                  Because even though she decided to call me step mother one day (dad’s girlfriend sounds more complicated just as fhqwhgads said below), I do not feel maternal to her, nor do I think she has any feelings towards me as a motherly figure. Nor do I want to be a motherly figure to anyone, I do not have children by choice. I do not think I have any motherly or maternal qualities, nor have I ever wanted to have them.
                  I’ve never felt “othered” by this holiday, probably because I did not grew up with it, I just unknowledge that it has nothing to do with me.

            2. justabot*

              I think it’s just an acknowledgment that the day can still be hard even for those who chose not to be mothers. There is still a feeling of being “othered” or unseen in a culture that often puts mothers on pedestals or ignores the fact that every women is not in fact a mother, by choice or not. Even someone who is voluntarily childfree may still be made to feel less than on Mother’s Day. I think that’s why that graphic you are referencing includes those who chose not to be mothers.

            3. saf*

              I was reacting to this, “more inclusion in this holiday and recognizing that you can have maternal/motherly qualities without having kids.”

          2. Filosofickle*

            I had the same reaction to a tweet earlier today. It said something like “mothers / mother’s day are complicated so let’s just make this a day to celebrate women”. I bristle when being a woman is inextricably linked to motherhood. I get that biologically it’s pretty much my purpose, but culturally/socially I reject that framing. Admittedly I’m touchy and possibly unreasonable about it!

          3. Grapey*

            +1
            I get so confused like “thanks?” when I see those “thinking of those that choose not to be mothers” memes.
            I do send my godmother (also childfree) a “happy NOT a mother day!” and we get a good smile out of that once a year.

  30. Sunflower*

    Anyone trying to rework their budget for post-COVID life and having trouble remembering what you used to spend money on? Anyone a bit anxious about their expenses going back up?

    I’m moving back to NYC and trying to rework my budget so I can find a realistic number I’m comfortable at rent wise(right now it’s about 22% of my gross income). I’m airing on the side of overestimating everything to be safe but compared it to my current spend, it’s a lot less than I’m saving now. It seems like everyday I remember another thing I forgot existed in pre-pandemic life. I started to get serious about my finances during lockdown and honestly kind of addicted to saving money and while I’m SO happy to have travel and crowded bars on the near horizon, I’m also having some anxiety about my bank account not growing at the rate it was before. With my projected budget, I’m saving about 30% of my income annually even with allotments for fun stuff, I’ve got my emergency fund built up. Really no reason to worry but I can’t help but feel guilty I should be saving more. I think this is partially due to some of the personal finance Instagram accounts I started following. While they give great tips, some of them are saving up to 85% of their income and running out of retirement accounts to put their $$ in. I never expected to feel social media envy from these accounts but it’s definitely making me feel some guilt.

    1. anon for this*

      Anyone a bit anxious about their expenses going back up?

      Yeeeeeeep. Thanks to pandemic food benefits, I haven’t had to worry about being able to afford food for nearly a year now. It was super nice not having to skip meals & I was even able to eat healthier. When the pandemic is ‘over’ & they cut those benefits, it’s going to have a huge negative impact of my budget.

      I guess the nice thing about being food insecure for most of my life is that it won’t be too hard to readjust to going hungry more often again.

    2. twocents*

      85% of your income is a ridiculous amount of savings unless you’re raking in obscene amounts of money. And someone who is a financial advisor to high income people will probably know better than me, but locking 85% of your income into hard-to-access retirement accounts isn’t the greatest idea either.

      The 50/30/20 rule of thumb, which works well enough for middle income, is: 50% of your income on necessities, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. You also reach a point where your rainy day fund isn’t doing much good for you just hanging around in a low interest savings account. Definitely should have some easily accessible cushion in case you suddenly need a car or home repair or some such, but if you’ve got tens of thousands hanging out in a standard savings account, you should talk to your bank/credit union about what options there are to move parts of it to something that accumulates more interest.

      1. ronda*

        RE: locking funds in hard to access retirement accounts

        There are techniques to get to your pretax retirement money out before retirement age. Look into Roth Conversion Ladders if that is something you think you will want to do. (this is a topic on retire early sites)

        This is really all based on reducing taxes, defer the taxes when you are high income and paying at a higher income tax rate. Pay the deferred taxes at a lower rate when you are in a lower income tax bracket after you retire and have lower income. You might also move from a high income tax to a low income tax state and further reduce taxes.

        1. Sunflower*

          Curious what are the best early retirement websites/resources you read are! The determining factors for tax rates when you start taking distributions confuses me a ton and I’m trying to weigh the costs/downfalls of accounts that pay taxes now vs later. Right now, I’m contributing 6% to my 401k, 6% to my Roth 401k(to max my company match) and maxing my HSA and Roth IRA annual contributions. Any cash savings I use for extra fun money or put into index funds.

          1. fposte*

            I love bogleheads dot org; it skews a lot richer than me but there are people massively knowledgeable there about taxes, estates, calculations, etc. I will be retiring (somewhat) early thanks to that forum. It’s also got a very through wiki.

          2. ronda*

            I like mr money mustache site. I do think his more current blogs are really more about selling stuff, but liked his early stuff a lot. That doesn’t mean I think he is right about everything. And I don’t follow lots of his “advice” but I do pick out the stuff that make sense to me.

            the boglehead wiki is wonderful. Where mmm is like you only need a “little” money to retire…. boglehead forums are more likely to think you need tons of money to retire, so also balance what they say with your own personal goals and experience.

            I also like livingafi . com. I like the way he writes about his life and he focus more on some personal aspects of it. More like why he wants to do this and his values.

            These blogs will reference some other blogs that you might like too. I find some of them too technical for my taste, but it depends on why you are reading and what you like.

            And for an explanation of tax “deferral”.
            Tax rate gets higher as your income goes up. for single person
            taxable income < 9950. tax rate 10%
            9951 to 40525. 12%
            40526 to 86375 22%
            86376 to 164925 24%
            164926 to 209425 32%
            209426 to 523600 35%
            more. 37%

            So lets say you have 90,000 this year in taxable income if you put nothing in your tax deferred 401k. your last dollar is taxed at 24%. the 401k contribution limit this year if you under 50years old is 19500. If you had made that contribution your taxable income would have been 70,500 and your last dollar is taxed at 22%

            Now lets jump forward to after you are no longer working and are old enough to take money out of the 401k without penalties. You decide to take 20,000 out of your 401k and that is your only income that year. 20,000 – 12550 standard deduction, 7450 is your taxable income. Tax rate is 10%.

            So when you put the money in you "saved" tax at 24% and when you took it out you paid tax at 10%.

            The problem with all of this is we can't predict the future and we don't know if our tax rate will be lower or higher, so the flexibility of having both Roth and Traditional is a good idea. This way you can pull from either type of account in retirement to get your income to the level you want it to be for tax purposes. And if you don't have a job you want to control your income level to get to the best ACA subsidy levels if possible.

            I did not have access to a Roth 401k until my last couple years of work so was mostly focused on the traditional, but I might do some Roth conversions soon to get the balances more equal.
            And I do kind of think… take the tax break while they are giving it…. who knows when they will change it.

            Also my last company allowed after tax contributions that you could then convert in plan to the Roth 401k , this allows you to contribute lots more to retirement account than the 19.5k limit. You pay taxes on it now and if you get it into the Roth, you should never have to pay taxes on it. If you have this option and want to get more $ into the tax advantaged accounts, look into it. Of course, don't make it so you are not able to spend the money you want to spend now.

            HSA accounts are great too.
            It sounds like you are doing a great job of saving.

            1. ronda*

              oh & since it sounds like you have investment in taxable accounts too.
              Capital Gains are taxed at a different rate than ordinary income. Capital Gains are the money you make when you sell an investment (diff between buying and selling amt).
              If you have 0-40k income the tax rate is 0% over that is 15% then even higher is 22?%

              So planning the impact on taxes of those might be something to look at. Also note that mutual funds can also distribute capital gains to you and they usually do this on dec 31st so they can mess up your tax planning. Funds that have a high turnover ratio are most likely to be doing this at a surprising level.

              Look at Tax Gain Harvesting and Tax Loss Harvesting to see if you are willing to do these techniques to minimize capital gain taxes (tax losses and tax gains are offset to get you to the total amount for the tax year and if you overall have a tax loss it can carry forward to offset future gains)

        1. twocents*

          There are limitations on withdrawing that money, and if you don’t meet the criteria, you pay heavy penalties for it. Retirement funds really aren’t intended to be accessed prior to retirement age, and they are much more difficult to get your money out for an emergency — like, saying, locking 85% of your income into them and realizing that you don’t actually make enough money to not have access to the vast majority of it for decades — than accounts that are actually intended for holding general savings.

          1. fposte*

            We’re probably talking about the same thing, but I don’t think I’d use the term criteria, since a 72t is available to anybody rather than being, say, a hardship withdrawal. But there are strict rules to follow and usually a much higher tax bite. And of course if you have a Roth IRA contributions are removable tax-free at any time, since you’ve already paid tax on them.

            Most people saving 85% of their income aren’t putting all that in tax-limited spaces anyway; those max out pretty quickly ($25,500 this year for IRA + 401k/403b, so that would be a 30k income). But for people who resist retirement accounts for fear of locking money up, it can be useful to realize that the IRS has quite a few ways you can access your retirement funds, especially if you really need to.

    3. Bobina*

      For personal finance on Instagram, I try not to follow too many, but I appreciate that Moneyaftergrad explicitly says that the point of saving and investing is so that you can enjoy your allocated fun money, and she’s not shy about showing the stuff she purchases just because she enjoys it and it makes her happy.

      Like twocents, I think something approaching the 50/30/20 rule is a good way to look at things. You can play with the latter two ratios a little if you like, but its a good rule of thumb to go by.

    4. fposte*

      I think the 85% folks are probably FIRE people/Mustachians. It’s not realistic for most people and even if you want to retire early you have to balance that with living now. 22% of income in NYC for housing is great, and I agree that the 50/30/20 rule may be a good place for you to start.

      Figuring out your emotional relationship to money can be really hard. It really does involve setting your own numbers and knowing why. You might also find it useful to do some spreadsheets with projections and/or play with calculators like FIREcalc or cfiresim. Right now it sounds like you’re trying to find what “enough” looks like when there’s no hard and fast external to go by; it can be really helpful to have run numbers that confirm that you’re at enough without sacrificing your future.

    5. Square Root of Minus One*

      Yes ! Not to the extent of moving, but I’m careful for sure. I wish I were able to save 30%, but I’m closer to 20-25%… I’m comforting myself with the fact that I add almost as much in my net worth by paying down the mortgage (I will resell my apartment at some point, and hopefully settle in a less expensive area).
      I’ve splurged recently into “investing” in a training session for a lifelong dream, and that was a difficult decision. I want to go out in May/June but looked at my spreadsheet just this morning and was scratching my head “How am I going to do that exactly ?”. To the point I felt guilty about €6 worth of pastries today :(

    6. ronda*

      I do believe you should balance supporting future you with supporting current you and you get to decide which things make you life better and you are willing to spend on.
      No need to get to 85% savings, just get to the savings rate that will allow you to support future you while enjoying current stuff too.

      Some of those 85% people seem to most enjoy saving money…. so that works for them. I find many of their ideas on how to save interesting, but many of them I am not willing to do in my lifestyle. I don’t feel envy or guilt about it, I just know I want to make a different decision.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Just as people can spend to their own detriment, they can also save to their own detriment. There’s always some story about an old person who went around in torn clothing and a beat up vehicle who was, in reality, worth millions of dollars.

      My suggestion is to ditch the websites that talk about saving 85% of income. I don’t think that this type of talk is helping you, because it seems to be making you feel worse not better. Going in a different direction, if you were in a website about extreme weight loss, you’d probably say, “Oh this is NOT for me!” I’d like to encourage you to think about finding healthy, balanced ways of thinking about money.

      Eh, it wasn’t in my genes at birth. I grew up with depression era parents. Grasping at every single penny was my norm. And not really a healthy way of thinking about money. I am mentioning this because I noticed myself, that no matter how much money my husband and I saved my rebuttal was, “That’s not enough.”

      At some point it stops being about money. Security in life can not depend totally on financial resources. What if the dollar became of no value tomorrow? All that money in the bank would mean nothing. I am a big fan of recommending that people do things to grow themselves, stretch beyond their safety zone to develop new skills and put a heavy “investment” (non-monetary) into relationships. Tell yourself that 85% in the bank is an illusion because it’s only one aspect of life- there are many other aspects.

      1. twocents*

        That’s a good point. Carolyn Hax’s April 20th column was about a couple that lived in poverty conditions because husband said they didn’t have the money, then he died and it turns out wife was suffering for no reason.

        You’ve got to plan for future you, but at the same time, you have no guarantee that you’ll get there, so you’ve got to consider what kind of life current you wants too.

  31. Teapot Translator*

    What’s everyone watching lately?
    I’ve started watching the TV series Vera. I read online that the main actor’s accent is bad (I think she’s supposed to be a Geordie and the actor isn’t?), which must be annoying for a lot of people, but I’m not British (I’m not even a native English speaker), so I can’t really tell. Besides that, I think the show is good.
    I’ve finished watching Inspector Morse and have started watching Lewis (I am choosing to ignore the Hathaway character). I think Morse is overall a better show than Lewis? Although, Morse had some issues, too (stop flirting with the witnesses/potential suspects!) Once I’ve gone through Lewis, I’ll probably try Endeavour.

      1. Other Meredith*

        Hard agree on Endeavour. I never even watched Inspector Morse (although I probably will eventually), but it really sucked me in.

      2. allathian*

        Endeavour is fabulous! And I’m really happy that I saw Lewis before all that political nonsense with Laurence Fox started. To be fair, I quite liked Hathaway way back when. Morse’s good too, but it does show its age, and one thing that really bugs me is the way Lewis always ends up paying for Morse’s beer.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Rewatching Orphan Black, which is one of my all-time favorite shows.

      I started Shadow and Bone last night and was like wow, I remember even less about the book than I thought! Some wikipedia-ing told me they’re apparently combining the story with another book (Six of Crows) that takes place in the same universe but wasn’t originally related to the first series.

    2. pancakes*

      We’ve gotten really into Call My Agent. I used to edit demo reels for actors so it’s probably of particular interest to me, but the pacing and humor and everything about it is so well done.

    3. more coffee plz*

      I liked Vera because I love the main actress. For lighthearted murder mysteries, I like Brokenwood.

      1. allathian*

        I just started watching the new season of Brokenwood. I must admit that the Russian patologist really bugs me, she completely ignores Kristin. I just wish Mike’d step in and tell her to stop it in no uncertain terms, she has the hots for him so that might work.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      We finally finished Elementary and just went back to Shetland. I am not sure what happened to season 2 but we are enjoying season 3.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve been watching the superb Chinese drama «Nirvana in fire». I’m on my second watch-through now!

      It’s available on Viki Rakuten, which has a 7-day free trial if anyone wants to give it a go. C-drama quality is usually a bit variable, with a tendency to overact a bit. This is not that, and quite frankly at 54 45- min episodes a bit short (the first time, I watches the whole thing in about 6 days!).

      It’s set in 6th-century China, and tells the story of Lin Shu, who, under the alias Mei Changsu, enters the capital of Liang to seek justice for a conspiracy that labeled his family as traitors 12 years before.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh, and if anyone does try out Viki: highly recommend the brand new Korean series «Taxi Driver», which is about a taxi service that is a front a service that helps provide vengeance for desperate people who have been victims/relatives of victims of various crimes. Kind of like Leverage, except the crimes are worse, and the whole thing is a lot bloodier.

      2. Anonbeth*

        Oh hey! I’ll plug the c-dramas “The Untamed” and “Word of Honor,” both also available on Viki. I’m four episodes from the end of Word of Honor and it’s all I can think about. These are both available for free but if you get the $5/mo subscription there are no ads.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I’m still watching the Korean buddy-cop-with-exorcists-and-demons series THE GUEST, and enjoying it quite a lot. The three main characters have finally (as of episode 6, I think?) figured out that they were all together as children when the Big Bad demon’s main attack kicked in, but it isn’t helping them find out what’s become of it in the present day. Some fun side characters as well.

      On cable I’ve been watching reruns of Midsomer Murders and ER, and following the current seasons of various doctor and firefighter shows (even though I get weary of the “romantic complications among co-workers” and “yet another main character has a loved one in harm’s way” plots). Oh, and the current season of TOP CHEF, in which a chef from a favorite local restaurant is still hanging in there, though he’s had his ups and downs.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been watching a log of PBS lately. I really like “Vera” and also “Summer of Rockets”.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I just finished watching what I think is the last episode of “Summer of Rockets.” It had a delightful unexpected twist ending.

    8. Other Meredith*

      If you weren’t a fan of The Mighty Ducks growing up, your mileage may vary on this, but I’ve been checking out The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on Disney + every week, and I love it. It is super nostalgic for me. I’ve also been watching Prodigal Son, and very creepy and very excellent thriller about the son of a serial killer who has dedicated his life to catching murderers after turning his own father in as a child.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      The new season of The Handmaid’s Tale has started, and I think Shrill has dropped its last season also. I’m all done with Falcon and the Winter Soldier and waiting for Loki. :D

      The only network shows I watch are Mom and The Conners. Mom is wrapping up its last season; I missed the beginning of that, so I’ll binge it on Hulu. Kenan Thompson has a new sitcom called Kenan where he plays a widower, and it’s cute; I’ve been watching that too, but I haven’t a clue as to what its longevity will be.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m so sad Mom is wrapping up. I love that show. And I feel like it’s better without Christy this past season. Not that she was bad, but I LOVE Kristen Johnston and think she was a great addition.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love her too, and I think you’re right. Christy kind of finished her arc when she decided to go back to school. Plus there wasn’t much more they could do with her kids, so they sort of vanished.

    10. Jaid*

      The Way of the Househusband or Gokufushudo is a manga about an ex-Yakuza turned househusband. It was recently adapted as an anime shown on Netflix and a subbed live action version is available on the Interneton various sites.
      Pretty damn funny, especially the fight between two ex-Yakuza members…of Instagram worthy desserts.

  32. MissGirl*

    I’m opening an investment account for my seventeen-year-old niece and nephew. Any advice on finance books for that age?

    1. Chilipepper*

      There is a book called the index card. Its a really basic, easy read, of all the main things people should know or do. Its not geared to their age exactly and its not flashy, but its really good info.

      1. Double A*

        Yes, seconding “The index card”. This came out in my 20s and was really useful to me.

    2. CatCat*

      Since you’re opening an investment account, The Simple Path to Wealth would be a great option. It’s easy to read and understand.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez is THE book on shaping your attitude towards money. It’s geared towards people who were raised to spend what they have or always want more, although it also backs that up with a lot of information on what to do and why. But if they’re already good savers, some of it might seem redundant. If they are at least familiar with the difference between stocks and bonds, and understand about interest, then maybe The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle.

    4. Anona*

      This isn’t a book per se (though I read it in a book), but I saw one of those retirement graphs in my early 20s, about how if you contribute $x to retirement in your 20s, you have way more than if you contribute more$$ in your 30s. Literally printing out that chart may be useful- it got me saving for retirement in my early 20s, when I likely wouldn’t have prioritized it.

      1. Anona*

        And this is the book I read. It’s REALLY cheesy, but it defines a lot of basic terms, and explains things like budgeting and 401ks.

    5. Generic Name*

      Thank you so much for doing this! My granny bought me a teeny amount of Microsoft stock 20 years ago (I went to her advisor and chose what to get) and it’s been an awesome emergency fund for me. Starting as early as you can is the best way to grow wealth.

    6. Can Can Cannot*

      In addition to any reading material, I’d suggest making sure they have a Roth IRA account in addition to any general brokerage account. The best time to put money into a Roth is when you have a low (or zero) tax rate, which is usually true when you are young. Combine the Roth with some low cost index funds and 45 years of appreciation, and they will have a nice nest egg when they retire.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, good point! The first time our kid worked all summer, we put the net amount they made in a Roth IRA, basically gifted them that exact amount as a reward for putting every dollar they made into a Roth IRA, but cutting out the middleman. :) I put it all in an S&P 500 Index fund for them and it’s already up about 50%.

  33. Bob*

    Do your very photogenic cats get paid a modelling fee for their weekly appearances on AAM?
    Also do belly rubs count as health benefits :)

    1. sequined histories*

      This makes me think of a little story from my past. I used to travel to visit my parents; they would generously pay for the plane ticket. I used to bring along my cat, but I would have to pay at the airport for the cat to accompany me. Once, during a visit, my mother walked up to me, handed me some cash and said, “This is for Orange Snowball.” Momentarily baffled, I replied, “What would he do with money? He doesn’t even have pockets!”

      1. Bob*

        Thats awesome!
        In Mexico there was a cat running for office.
        His motto: Tired of voting for a rat, vote for a cat.

  34. help me see*

    Any tips on cleaning very scuffed glasses lens? My up to date frames popped a lens so I’m in an old pair until I can order a new set. These lenses are SO scratched they almost have a white film over them when held up to the right angle of light. It’s really annoying! Any advice appreciated

    1. fposte*

      I see some lens manufacturers recommend a paste of baking soda and water, or gel toothpaste. I’d be scared to try that with a main pair of glasses but in your case I might give it a try. It’s also possible that what you’re seeing is actually an issue with the coating rather than the lenses themselves; I see some suggestions for etching products but even sterner warnings that they may wreck your glasses.

      But have you checked locally with glasses places to see if they can pop the lens back in on the good pair? I’ve had that done and it was NBD.

    2. Girasol*

      Plastic lenses? There’s spray for cleaning plastic aircraft windscreens that does a pretty good although temporary job of cleaning up scratchy haze on plastic eyeglasses. If you don’t have a pilot shop handy, a lot of pilots recommend Lemon Pledge, which I found can also do a pretty good temporary fix for foggy plastic lenses. You can soak a tiny rag with it and keep it handy to refresh your glasses when the haze reappears again.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We used to use Pledge on plexiglass sign holders in retailing. It made the holder look scratch free. The explanation was that the Pledge filled the tiny scratches. You probably will have to keep reapplying.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I would be very reluctant to use anything that might be the least little bit abrasive, for fear of further scratching the lenses and making the situation worse. Many years ago I read an article that said to use toothpaste to clean glasses and I did that to a pair of admittedly cheap sunglasses and they became so scratched they were unusable.

      There are purpose-made products that are supposed to repair scratched glasses lenses and in my experience they tend to be kind of “oily” substances that fill-in the scratches and make them less noticeable. Not perfect, but better than scratching the lenses.

    4. Yellow Warbler*

      There are products to clean haze on headlights, available at AutoZone and similar. Check the lens composition first to ensure a match (glass, plastic, etc).

  35. MM*

    Looking for card/board game recommendations for young adults to play in a group. Already have Codenames, Werewolf, Munchkin, and most commonly known games. Something more conservative than Cards Against Humanity. Any ideas?

      1. Girasol*

        You beat me to it. We’re not exactly young adults anymore but when we get together over Exploding Kittens we’re kids again. If you haven’t got the upgrade packs, they’re worth getting. More kittens!

      2. XF1013*

        Exploding Kittens is fun, but MM, beware that it has a NFSW edition. A friend bought the wrong one for her 7-year-old and… it didn’t go well.

    1. Grace*

      Scrawl? Phrase -> drawing -> phrase -> drawing, all around in a circle, drawing what you read and/or writing what you see, until it descends into absolute chaos. The phrase cards the game comes with range from weird-but-innocuous all the way to approaching CAH level, but you can remove the worst offenders from the game or write your own phrases instead.

      We also play Dixit sometimes, which has similar matching-words vibes to CAH but with images (and fully SFW)

    2. Not A Manager*

      We stumbled upon Superfight a few years ago. It’s a card-based game similar to Cards Against Humanity but less shocking. You create a superhero based on attributes that you’ve pulled on your cards, and you and your opponent argue your cases for why your superhero would defeat the other’s superhero. The other players vote on the winner. It’s fun for adults with or without alcohol involved, and it’s pretty appropriate for mixed ages down to about eight years old. (I think one card had one dubious reference and we just said pick another card.)

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Apples to Apples to similar in play style to Cards Against Humanity, but family friendly.