weekend open thread – October 2-3, 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: Several People Are Typing, by Calvin Kasulke. Told entirely through Slack messages, this is the story of an office, complete with morning meetings, out-of-touch bosses, and a cursed spreadsheet. It’s very funny.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,273 comments… read them below }

  1. money and family*

    Best way to lovingly tell a family member “please stop asking for money, we are not going to loan or give you any more and it is getting in the way of our relationship”? We’ve given loans a few times and are worried we’re being seen as a bank. It’s it’s no fun following up on missed payments, which often seem to happen. But we love this person and don’t want to make it awkward for any of us.

    1. RagingADHD*

      The next time it comes up, such as when you’re collecting a final payment or if they ask you again, tell them “You should know that we’ve discussed this and we won’t be lending any more money. We’re glad it was helpful in these situations, but it isn’t sustainable for us.” The immediately follow up with something that reaffirms the non-financial side of the relationship, like “but of course we love you and always want to have our Saturday brunches,” or whatever the case may be.

      If they want to know why, I would recommend falling back on, “We decided that this is what we’re doing.” In other words, a softer version of “because I said so.”

      Enumerating reasons is just going to lead to arguments, and you’ll wind up saying more than you should.

    2. Tam*

      “We’re not able to keep lending you money.” Say it kindly. Don’t explain why. Repeat if needed. So point them to other resources.

      1. Zathras the Third*

        You’re not the ones making it awkward. They are, by not repaying you. They know full well they’re not doing the right thing. Don’t feel guilty (easier said than done, i know).
        i now don’t hesitate to say “please stop making things awkward by *doing this thing*”.

      2. WellRed*

        This. Keep it short, no apologies, no explanations. If they currently owe you money and you can afford it, consider forgiving the balance when you tell them the spigot has been turned off.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I have relatives for whom money is a black hole. And they are not terrible people! Just really bad with money, for a long time now, so the “one off for this unforeseeable expense” thing is utterly unbelievable now.

        I think Tam’s suggestion is the best you can do. It will feel awkward. The only way to shift the status quo of using you as a no-penalties bank is to take a turn at being The One Making It Awkward, rather than The One Smoothing The Awkward. If you want a different path, you’re going to have to actively push against the greased skids all of you are sliding along on this one, and that means some awkwardness.

        More broadly, at the start of such a relationship, someone suggested the framing “This is a gift. If you pay it back, then we will consider it a loan and also be amenable to future loans. If you don’t, then this is it for financial help.” It helped the lender remember only to lend money they would be okay never seeing again, and put the borrowers into fair categories for future loans. (Even someone who did this might one day decide to give Tam’s speech–when things changed financially, like retirement, or emotionally, like feeling like you’re just the bank.)

    3. allathian*

      Own the awkward. The family member is making things awkward by trying to borrow more before they’ve paid off the old loan.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      A word from the Wise: Don’t ever loan money, even to family and friends. It will break the relationship.

      If you can afford, give money.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        +1
        Give what you can easily afford (if any) and tell them it’s a one-time-only gift and to not ask for more.
        People can have a one-time jam but giving more money to someone who can’t handle money is unwise. You are actually interfering with their valuable life lesson.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think this is a good overall warning. But want to note I have seen families where lending worked. When it was a rare thing, done once or twice per person (starting a business, getting the mortgage amount below the jumbo threshold), and the repayment schedule was strictly followed.

    5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      This is one of those moments in life when it is important to remember that “No” is a complete sentence.

      Regrettably, there’s no good way to do this without it feeling awkward to someone – especially if you’ve done it before. There will be questions, complaints to other family members, snide judgements – that’s just how families get about this sort of thing.

      One thing I have found in dealing with loan requests from my own family, is that the requests stop relatively quickly when you ask them to put up collateral – Yes, uncle, I will help you pay your property taxes, but you’re going to have to let me put a lien on your house/car/etc, and I will exercise it if you miss payments. Only do this if you actually are able to bring yourself to claim the collateral, though.

    6. Anona*

      I’d address it sometime when you’re not already talking about them needing money. Kinda like an update:
      “We’ve been happy to help you with loans in the past, but wanted to let you know that going forward we will no longer be able to. Wanted to let you know.”
      I wouldn’t go into the reasons why. If they ask, I’d say something bland like it just won’t work for us anymore/isn’t something we can do. But we love you!

    7. Frankie Bergstein*

      I heard a wealthier-than-the-rest-of-her-family woman say that she’d tell her family members that they could make one ask per year. She helped sometimes, which she liked. And they understood and accepted it.

    8. Daffodilly*

      Honestly, I think your “please stop asking for money, we are not going to loan or give you any more and it is getting in the way of our relationship” is perfect.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I think at a neutral time you just need to say “x, i have to bring up that I’m getting frustrated that you keep asking for money. We’ve said no and that decision isn’t going to change.” and then switch the topic to something fun.

      Good luck! But remember, they are the one making things awkward by not accepting no for an answer.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I think your script is already perfect but another good one is “I’m sorry, lending just isn’t in our budget anymore.” It’s true – you are no longer including loans in how you manage your money.

    11. Sue*

      It’s so counterintuitive how quickly feelings go from gratitude to resentment with these family/friend financial deals. It will probably make your relationship much healthier to stop any loans and to limit any gifts to regular holiday or dire circumstances. The main point is to take them off of “expected/entitled” attitude. I agree with the advice to do it without any lengthy explanation or judgment. Just say you can’t do it as kindly and definitely as possible.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Resentment, exactly! Six months after my ex-husband asked his mother to co-sign a loan for him, he was complaining because it meant he couldn’t declare bankruptcy. At least he had the decency not to leave her on the hook for it — or maybe he asked her for the lawyer’s fee, and she put her foot down.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          I just read a book like that. I won’t list the title since my comment is a spoiler.

    12. Bluebell*

      I think it’s too hard to loan money to family, so my advice is to simply and kindly say you can’t. In the future, if you are in a position to gift money, you can do that, but also be careful with expectations. I have a relative who constantly asks for money/things, and I eventually told them I’d directly pay certain bills. It works for me, but different families have different dynamics.

    13. Pocket Mouse*

      “You know, the loan arrangement isn’t working out. Why don’t we call the remaining amount on your last loan a gift, and let’s take all financial transactions off the table going forward. I’d love for us to be able to focus on our personal relationship rather than any financial relationship. We’re not going to be able to provide money to you any longer, and I wanted to let you know now so we’re all on the same page.”

    14. Camelid coordinator*

      To echo everyone else, I think you just have to come out and say it. My sister would always ask me for money after Christmas. Finally I stopped buying gifts for her and her kids and gave her a mostly equivalent grocery store gift card.

    15. Dumblydore*

      I think you’re trying to figure out a way to say no and (1) not feel guilty/awkward and (2) not hurt their feelings. The reality is that you can’t. If both you and Family Member are used to you saying yes, a “no” is going to feel unpleasant even if you have excellent reasons and are saying it politely.

      My advice here is accept it will be difficult for you and it may cause them upset. But as someone who grew up with major boundary issues, trust me when I say saying no gets easier with practice. And as for their hurt feelings, the onus is on them to deal with that and not on you.

  2. It's Quarantime!*

    So I was starting to get a little crazy(er) in my house, alone, trying to get a handle on my long covid issues that have been kicking my trash for six months now and I decided that I needed to be around other humans to get a little more stable. I took a week off work and brought some stuff on Sunday to stay with my parents for a bit.
    Aaaand I ended up trapped in quarantine with them as they had been exposed to a positive covid case at a birthday party on Saturday. They just got their test results back and they were negative for covid, so that’s a relief, but I’m an even bigger wreck now than I was when I got here.
    There are upwards of 1700 new covid cases daily in my area and I have no idea how to be as cautious as this level of contagion seems to require while still being any level of connected to life and other people.
    So my question is, how does anyone actually maintain distance and/ or sanity in this crazy mixed up world of Pandemica where nothing is safe or predictable?

    1. HA2HA2*

      Events that can be done outdoors, masked, and with small numbers of people at a time, with everyone vaccinated. It’s the safest way of seeing people and interacting with them.

      It’s as safe as it is possible to be. Which isn’t perfect. But it’s the best I got, I think.

      1. Merle Grey*

        For me, being outdoors (even in an urban environment) is helpful for my mental health. My family and friends are all vaccinated and still taking precautions because some have some risk factors and some have children too young for the vaccine. We spend most of our time outdoors when we get together.

      2. It's Quarantime!*

        The air in my area has been particularly bad this summer due to wildfire smoke. I’ll admit that I was doing better when I was able to be outside/ have the windows open.

    2. Kiwiapple*

      Are you going to therapy at all? Unfortunately this is likely to keep happening unless you shut yourself away and become a recluse – it sounds like you need to get to the heart of what is going on in your mind.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        I have been trying to find a therapist, but availability is low right now as I am far from the only one needing support during Pandemica.
        You’re right though, I do need help.

    3. Asenath*

      Do the best you can and then put any danger out of your mind. I’m making my first trip since COVID next week, and I really don’t think my risk is high, but I know there’s a risk because I’m travelling from an area with very few infections to one with more, and there’s the airplane and changing planes, two of the three times in the busiest airport in the country. I’ve got my vaccinations, I’ve got a supply of masks, and I’ll be handwashing and hand-sanitizing. Other than that, all I can do is put any worries out of my mind if/when they creep in there, because I’ve done all I can. I don’t expect keeping a distance to be a big problem, because the person I will be visiting is careful, but on the other hand, I will certainly be meeting new people, and I will not know whether some of them (store clerks, taxi drivers etc) will be vaccinated or careful in their personal interactions, although chances are most of them will at least be vaccinated. But that’s beyond my control, and something I put out of my mind.

    4. AY*

      Trust your vaccine and live your life. Obviously no one here can tell you what you feel comfortable doing (and you should only do things that make you comfortable), but I do all the things I normally do. If I get COVID, yes, it will suck, but I won’t go to the hospital and I won’t die.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Yes, I am alive, but covid has turned my entire life inside out. I hope you make it through all of this unscathed, but please know it’s not always a matter of living or dying. I didn’t have to go to the hospital during my active covid in February, but here I am, 6 months later still so very sick and terribly tired trying to unravel the confusing long haul symptoms.

        1. kng442*

          My sister is a covid long-hauler as well. She’s expressed exactly the same feelings you have. She did get a little relief when she was vaccinated.
          One proactive thing you could try is to get into a medical study looking at long covid if there are any in your region. This MAY get you therapies that you might otherwise have difficulty accessing. You can help advance science and get some help yourself in return.

        2. AY*

          I must have read this half asleep because I totally missed the long covid! I hope you recover soon. I am sorry you found my post disrespectful. That was not my intention.

    5. Venus*

      I have traveled to places with higher rates, and both wearing a mask and eating / drinking outdoors has kept me safe. I live in a town with a lot of mask wearing and our rates are relatively low. Interacting with people has some risk, but you can make that risk very low.

    6. LGC*

      This is going to be really heartless, but…I don’t know if there is a way to be perfectly cautious. Because of decisions that we as a society have made (assuming you’re in the US), it’s fairly unavoidable. We’re all interconnected, despite what a very vocal minority insists. (And yes, they are a minority.)

      Practically speaking, there’s a lot of good suggestions. But also – don’t rush yourself! We’ve been in this disaster for 18 months. You can take your time to emerge from it, especially since you yourself are dealing with long COVID. If being connected to life and other people gives you severe anxiety, start small! Start with people who have your level of caution (unfortunately: probably not like your parents, who seem to be less cautious than you). You can’t eliminate risk, but you can mitigate it.

      Finally, anecdotes and statistics. My good friend’s youngest daughter caught COVID recently. (She’s an infant, so far too young to be vaccinated.) He isolated from us, but he was fine – in fact, he ended up racking 100-mile weeks in training for a marathon. No one else in the house got sick.

      And statistically…the media has been doom and gloom about Delta causing infections in the vaccinated, and it’s definitely a problem at the population level. But at the individual level? It depends on which vaccine you got, but you have something like between 60% and 90% reduction in contracting COVID overall. (And that includes immunocompromised people in the average as well.) Masks – as annoying as they can be – also reduce your chances. I guess the best analogy is…like, driving a car or riding in a car. This is a risky thing that a lot of people do every day, but very few people think about it. But you do put on your seatbelt and car makers put in airbags just in case, and they do work for the occupants.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Thank you. I got my second shot a week ago because I am trying to do everything I can to protect myself.
        I miss hugs. So much.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Are your parents not vaccinated? Were you not able to be? Has the CDC changed guidance recently, because last I looked vaxed people did not need to quarantine after an exposure if they had no symptoms?

      We are in a high caseload area and our whole family is vaxxed. We balance safety and connection by following official, results-based guidelines. I trust that in an imperfect situation with imperfect information, public health officials are giving a reasonable consensus about risk and how to mitigate it. I trust that our vaccines will reasonably reduce our chances of catching or spreading it, and keep us from having severe cases if we do catch it.

      My kids wear masks on the bus, to school, and for the indoor portion of their extracurriculars but not the outside portion.

      We carpool with 2 other vaxed families and everyone in the car keeps their masks on.

      My husband and I go to the gym and wear masks there.

      We go to church and wear masks inside, but not for outside events like kid activities or the church picnic.

      I meet friends for lunch sometimes and either eat outdoors or keep my mask on while moving around indoors or when a server comes to the table.

      We had about a 2-3 week period when we were all dealing in turn with upper respiratory symptoms, and each got tested several times until it was gone. They were all negative, so it must have been some random normal cold.

      We still don’t do everything we want, like have company over or let the kids have sleepovers, but we are staying connected and getting out of the house.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        My parents were vaccinated in April because they watched how hard covid was on me in February. I just got my second shot a week ago after waiting for medical approval.
        The positive case(s) they were exposed to were people who had also been vaccinated, heck one of those people had the 3rd booster shot recently.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, yes, breakthru cases happen. Good to hear that you and your parents’ vax seems to have broken the chain of transmission as intended.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      This is the one time introverts shine! Don’t interact with people? Great! No problem!
      However, the sanity part is a bit harder to maintain. Doing something (anything) new or going some place new (preferable outdoors) helps. Talking with people on the phone can help. This Pandemic era will pass. The next era, probably Endemica, will not be “back to normal” but certain new behaviors will be normalized.
      Hang in there. There are signs we might be seeing the too-slow ending of Pandemica. In the meantime, make this time the most productive you can. We won’t get this time back, so let’s work it as best we can.
      Cheering for you!

      1. Hunnybee*

        I’m a hardcore introvert, and have reached the point where even I am having a hard time dealing with the isolation of all of this. But I also recognize that it’s taken me a year longer than the extroverts I know to get to this place.

      2. It's Quarantime!*

        Yup, I’ve generally been an introvert, and I was doing alright last year, but between acute covid, the long haul problems, and having to say goodbye to my 20 year old beloved kitty in April, I am just not okay. I live alone, I work from home, and I need actual physical contact, hugs, etc… but I don’t know how to find that anymore.

        1. allathian*

          You have my sympathy. I’m so grateful for my husband and son, because living with them means that I can get the physical contact I need from them, and it hasn’t been much of a hardship for me to isolate from others.

          Last weekend we celebrated a dear friend’s 50th birthday indoors, unmasked, eating and drinking. I was actually a bit anxious about going there, but I’m so glad we went. All adults were fully vaxxed, and the kids who were old enough, like my son, had had at least their first shot. We were all healthy, and nobody got sick afterwards. I’d last seen most of these people outdoors in the summer, when we went to an outdoor restaurant. But the climate here is too cold to sit outdoors in October (except last year, luckily).

        2. Definitely a Real Cat*

          Belated chiming in, but all the solidarity—I had to say goodbye to my 19 year old cat a month ago and it is so hard. I know I don’t know you, but you’ll be in my thoughts.

        3. Hex Libris*

          It’s so hard to lose a companion like that. I’m not going to tell you “get another cat!” but maybe fostering? Helping others always helps.

    9. Chaordic One*

      Pretty much everyone in my family was vaccinated as soon as they could be. However, earlier this month my vaccinated niece tested positive and came down with a “breakthrough” infection. She had mild flu-like symptoms, but she experienced a total lack of smell and taste which was the big clue for her and a medical test confirmed she had COVID. Although she is mostly working from home she believes she was infected by one or both of a pair of un-vaccinated co-workers during a mandatory out-of-town business meeting. She quarantined in a bedroom and has since recovered and no one in her household tested positive. Breakthrough infections. Scary.

      I’m still avoiding large crowds and getting takeout instead of eating out. I started wearing my face mask in public when shopping and running errands again in September. Being, um, older I grew up talking to other people on the phone and I continue to visit with a lot of my close friends regularly on the phone. I never know when a quick call to check in might turn into a 2 hour long conversation. This seems to me to be a bit of a generational thing because younger people seem to be more in to texting and don’t seem to like visiting on the phone. I just never could get into texting. All that typing. And it seems a bit impersonal.

      I don’t really think it is possible to maintain sanity in this world. (Historically, we haven’t really done that well as a species and that was before the current pandemic). Cut yourself and others a lot of slack. The world is short-staffed.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Even before the pandemic, we did a video call with my parents every weekend—they live on the other side of the country. This tradition goes back 50 years — my grandparents called us on the phone every week too.

      2. It's Quarantime!*

        Amen.
        I enjoy phone calls and video chats, but there’s a level of physical contact that all humans need….
        I love alone, and I don’t even have my beloved 20 year old kitty to hold anymore.
        Thank you for your thoughts and your kind response.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      A question that keeps being posed, but not answered that I’ve seen, is how many of these positive tests are a) in response to symptoms rather than possible exposure, b) if vaccinated, a sign that there are some covid germs in the nose trying to start an infection but being beaten off by the immune system, rather than an active infection at contagious levels. I sincerely don’t know the answers to either, but the second is a reasonable question and the first my anecdotal observation–that it’s a chain of positive tests in symptomless vaccinated people.

      1. RagingADHD*

        In my area, we can see data dashboards broken down by school district, individual school, zip code, and county.

        To the best of my knowledge, no large private employers near me require testing, and the universities that do are in certain zip codes. State and local agencies do not require testing, and we have no large federal agencies nearby.

        The school districts say they require testing if a student is out with covid symptoms, but there is no requirement for post-exposure testing. And since there are a certain amount of parent notes allowed, they could just send the kid back with a note saying they had some other non-covid issue. Given how close a call it was for our district to require masks, and the shocking number of parents who were publicly and vehemently opposing any precautions at all, I am sure there are a lot of folks knowingly sending their kids to school sick and not bothering to test them.

        I’m well convinced that our positive tests mostly reflect symptomatic cases from people seeking medical assistance, and our true positivity rate is far higher than the statistics show.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          There are definitely parents sending their kids to school sick and knowing about it. My friend is an educator and one family was sheepish when caught and admitted to giving medicine to try to mask the symptoms. You might think this only happens in desperate situations where a parent will be fired and lose their home if they don’t come in (and it does happen then), but it seems to happen just as, if not more, often to people who just want the kid out of the house.

    11. Bluebell*

      Until the case count goes down in our area, spouse and I have decided to limit socializing to outdoor only. That has meant a lot of porch hangouts, and patio dining. We shop indoors with masks, but no movies or theater yet. It doesn’t feel that isolating, though colder weather might be dicier.

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        I have been going to movies frequently for a few months now. I was worried the first time, but decided to risk it because I was going stir crazy. Of course each city would differ, but here usually there are very few people in the theatre. I have watched several films where I was the only person there; most of the time there are two to five people in the theatre. Twice there were about 20, on weekend evenings. For me, that is an acceptable risk – avoid weekend showings of popular films at the beginning of their runs, and you might very well be alone.

    12. MissCoco*

      Outdoor activities have been key to me feeling safer and also outdoors time (including alone) has been helpful in keeping my mental health in an ok place.

      I’m really trying to take advantage of the fall months before people get too cold to stay outside for long.
      Last winter I decided on a couple friends I trust enough to spend time with indoors unmasked. We spoke upfront about the decisions we were making, and what we felt safe with being exposed to from each other vs what decisions we wanted to be informed of.
      As the pandemic continues to drag on, my mental health isn’t such that I can keep going without having a few friends I see in person through the winters, so my risk-benefit analysis has shifted to maintain my physical *and* mental health.

      I also really like microcovid .org to help with decisions about risk

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’m fully vaccinated and committed to wearing masks until this is really, truly over. And it will be, someday. I can’t predict when, but that will happen. I think mask-wearing is also going to be a thing during cold and flu season because COVID itself is not going away even if the pandemic does. It might be weaker, especially if more people including children are vaccinated, but some experts think it may likely be endemic (still in the population but controlled at a manageable level) the way plague is in the Western US rodent population.

      I know these precautions may not stop me from getting COVID at some point, but although I might get sick, I’ve got much less chance of dying or incurring a $50,000 hospital bill. I can’t control what other people do, but taking these steps helps me feel like I have some control over my own experience.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Thanks for your proactive and responsible choices. :) and thank you for your kind reply.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, I’ll definitely continue to wear a mask on public transit during flu season from now on. As much as I dislike masks, they’re better than the alternative.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I always wondered why we didn’t do that to begin with. Every time a coworker would come to work with a cold, I would get it. Wear a mask, Susan!!

    14. HigherEdAdminista*

      I just want to send some solidarity. All of my friends are back to their lives, with some precautions, and I’m home without them. I had just been thinking “maybe there is a way for a friends-giving” when a couple of them went to an even that shut down the next day because of a COVID exposure, and they seemed nonplussed. They are vaccinated and masked, but I realized right away it won’t work because they are still going to be going out and likely wouldn’t give it up for a couple of weeks to come over.

      Pick your people and see them outside when you can. Get outside yourself when you can. Obviously you are dealing with long covid so you might not be able to take a 45 minute walk, but if you can do 15 or even 5 or even just sitting outside it could help.

      I’m not sure my solution is a workable one, but I made myself busy with a personal project. It doesn’t change the social isolation, but it distracts me by making me have something I need to work on so I don’t just spend the whole time staring at my phone.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        I’m sorry your friends are not taking the types of precautions that would help you feel safe being in close contact with them. That would be disappointing.
        Yeah, some of my long haul issues make it difficult to distract myself with projects or even with TV, but I get where you’re coming from.
        It’s the physical isolation that is really getting to me. I never knew how important the occasional hug could be.

        1. allathian*

          Have you considered getting another cat? I can understand if your loss is still too raw for you to think about that now, but at some point in the future? A warm, furry friend you could pet, hold, and hug, on the cat’s terms obviously, might help. It sounds like the death of your cat was the tipping point for your mental health.

          1. It's Quarantime!*

            Yes, at some point I want to have another feline companion. Right now I’m on such a roller-coaster of post-covid issues and genuine grief that I’m not capable of even caring for myself very well. I hope, now that I’ve had both my vaccination shots, that I’ll start evening out the awful digestion problems, terrible fatigue, and constant tinnitus to a point where I am capable of feeding myself consistently and keeping my home clean. At that point I’ll be ready to start considering finding another cat.

            1. Bibliovore*

              An odd suggestion. I am immune compromised, chronic pain and live alone with two dogs. And grieving. What has helped me on the isolation front is one of my dogs has a co-parent. She visits every day for doggie love. Perhaps you have a friend who can distant visit and you can get pet snuggles. This doesn’t fix your need but it is something.
              Bad air was a big problem for me so I know this might not be possible.
              I am sorry for the loss of your beloved pet.
              I acknowledge you are going through a very difficult time.

        2. HigherEdAdminista*

          That makes total sense! I was hesitant to even recommend a distracting activity because when you are dealing with a chronic condition, sometimes nothing distracting can be done or is helpful.

          I stand with you though on hugs being important. My life situation is a little unusual, so I’m pretty used to having little physical contact with people anyway, but even still sometimes the need for it can be overwhelming. I haven’t ever used one, but I’m wondering if a weighted blanket could be helpful in at least giving some comforting physical touch. I have some people in my life with neurodivergence and who might not always want human contact mentally, but sometimes still need physical comfort and this is really helpful for them.

          I hope things will improve soon and it will be safe for you to get all the hugs you need.

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I personally have decided that 1. I’m vaccinated, and 2. I’ll wear masks, but otherwise I’m doing normal life. I’m going with a friend to either a museum or a pumpkin patch tomorrow (still working out details). Can I still get sick? Yes. But that’s what the vaccine is for – to reduce the chance I’ll get sick, and if I do to lessen the severity. Between the vaccine and the masks, I’m probably pretty well protected.

      Life isn’t risk free. You can slip and fall and die in your bathtub. You take reasonable precautions, but if you allow yourself to be ruled by fear, then you will have a miserable life.

      1. Chloe*

        Falling in the bathtub isn’t contagious.

        Precautions aren’t about being “ruled by fear.” It’s about precautions against a virus whose sole purpose is to look for a host any way it can. I’d rather work around it, even if I lose all of normal, than to risk my family burying me.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          This. I think a lot of people aren’t aware or just don’t think long covid can happen to them. There are many people who are vaccinated though and had a breakthrough infection and still have lingering effects. Someone I know went out to a bar and contracted it on that first trip out, even though he was vaccinated. It is months later and everything still smells like cigarettes to him.

          He is lucky that he doesn’t seem to have any other effects, but walking around the world with everything smelling like cigarettes 24/7 doesn’t seem great, especially when you know the reason for this is brain damage, even if it seems minor.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          So when do you decide that it’s ok to go places, see people, do things? Because covid isn’t going anywhere. It’s endemic now. Until the day you die, you will have a risk of exposure to covid. The best we can do is get it to the point where case counts are much lower, but there will be outbreaks, there will be deaths. If we’re lucky treatments to prevent or resolve the long term symptoms will be discovered, but there’s no guarantee.

          Are you really willing to isolate for the rest of your life? Because that’s what you seem to be saying. And the next question – would your family prefer that’s what you do, rather than live a more normal life? That doesn’t seem to very loving to me.

    16. Double A*

      If you’ve both had Covid and are vaccinated, you have some of the best protection out there. In the situation you describe, I’d have everyone get tests but then trust your immunity if those tests were negative.

      Has a doctor told you that you’re particularly at risk if you’re exposed again?

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Not specifically, no. I was locked down pretty hard through 2020 and only two weeks away from being vaccine eligible when I tested positive this past February. And I’d like to personally smack anyone who says covid is “mild” just because someone doesn’t end up as an inpatient at a hospital. I’m already dealing with awful long haul problems and the idea of another bout of active covid is almost too terrible to even contemplate.
        I just want a hug.

        1. allathian*

          You obviously don’t want to risk getting active covid again, given your long haul problems. I don’t think that people who haven’t experienced it, or seen it happen to someone they know, can really understand how debilitating it is, and how much it’ll affect how you assess your risk levels. Myself included.

          Have you been able to get any support/commiseration from other long covid sufferers?

    17. MeepMeep*

      Is there any way you could move in with someone who is at the same level of caution? We all need human contact, and this appears to be the only way to get it safely.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Not really. My parents are the best option and… that isn’t going well. I have siblings who live locally, but they have school aged children and very busy lives.

    18. hugs*

      About the hugs, I feel this loss very much too. I’ve had to do some conscious thinking about that. For me, a hug is about wanting comfort and closeness but hugging is one way to show closeness and caring and there are other ways to show this. So I try to consciously think when I am seeing friends (mostly online, not many people close by) is to think this interaction contains a hug. Sometimes I/they might mimic the giving a hug from a distance. I often feel hugged by my therapist for example even thought we have never and probably will never hug in real life (even when we were in person). I’m not saying it’s the same and it is a lot of work at the beginning, but it is a way to get some of what I need when external constraints won’t allow more. It also has allowed me to appreciate and pay more attention to what others where offering even if it wasn’t how I really wished it. Good luck!

    19. Quinalla*

      I don’t have a perfect answer, but for us we’ve been doing a weekly zoom call since the start of all this with my extended family. It gives us some connection! We play D&D 1-2x a month, again online on zoom and Fantasy Grounds with our normal D&D group. We play video games online with family and friends regularly and our kids do the same and are on voice chat while we play. For my husband’s family, they call each other regularly. We also do video chats on birthdays & holidays with family.

      For visits, when the pandemic has been calmer, we’ve done visits to various family. Depending on vaccination status and care they were taking – sometimes masked visits and/or outside only, sometimes not. I haven’t seen my sister and one of my brothers families excepted masked or outside since this started because while all adults in my family are vaccinated, none of the kids can be yet and I haven’t wanted to mix our kids unmasked as all of us have our kids in school and they have their kids in daycare too (we are fortunate to not have to send our kids to daycare right now). We only were comfortable driving to visits, going on a plane is not something I’m doing until at minimum my kids can get vaccinated.

      It isn’t perfect, but we’ve kept connected pretty well with folks.

    20. That One Person*

      Some of my friends would go to a parking lot at a local park and do “trunk brunches” with each other schedules permitting. It allowed them the ability to chat and hang at a safe distance while doing something relatively normal – like eating – even if meant doing it in a modified format. Also helped them get fresh air at the same time.

      Can use this as something of a template where you can hang out while maintaining a safe distance.

  3. Unkempt Flatware*

    Ha! That Sophie pic needs to be turned into a cartoon drawing. I suggest having one made for your new website design, Alison!

    1. Squirrel Nutkin*

      This week’s cat photo spoke to me as well, Alison. I enjoy all of your cat photos, but that one . . . that one is something special. The composition is gorgeous — it looks like a formal portrait from one of the old masters, at least to me. I was thinking if it were me and my cat, I’d blow up that picture and frame it.

    2. Chloe*

      I wonder if Alison would permit an informal caption contest of the kitties’ photos. The kitties are just so adorable!

  4. Dot*

    Removed because medical advice — please talk to a doctor about this rather than non-doctors online :)

  5. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I bought a cute little lamp that’s pretty bright and has some nice color settings.

    Please share your joys!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Ooh. There’s a Korean fancy spa called Sojo in Northern NJ that has an outdoor hydrotherapy pool and it’s carved out of a corner of the building. It has gorgeous views of Manhattan. On a clear day it’s stunning. I miss that!

    1. Zathras the Third*

      Had to travel 10 hours from point A to point B. Baby Zathras (10 months) was in a good mood all through and smiled at his great grandpa (wheelchair bound, semi-coherent, no sure he recognizes me) upon meeting him, to gramps’ delight.
      I’m so happy they could finally meet.

      1. The Dogman*

        Are you a Babylon 5 fan by anyway chance?

        I don’t think I have seen the name Zathras anywhere else…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Every iPhone I’ve had since they released has been named Zathras, because Zathras is always busy, yes, working hard for other people to do what needs to be done. (All my electronics that talk to a network have Babylon 5 names. My husband’s are all named after 19th century scientists and my brother’s are elder gods. Makes identifying things on the router very easy.)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              And my work devices are all named after Star Trek doctors. (I work in healthcare.) :)

        2. Zathras the Third*

          Yep, B5 fan and feeling overworked lately^^.
          Cautiously optimistic about the announced reboot.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I am too! But I will for sure miss the actors who played Londo and G’Kar, they were the best.

          2. The Dogman*

            I would rather some new scifi rather than these endless reboots.

            The new Battlestar was dull and way too religious and the new star trek movies and shows (disco and picard) are so outside the universe that they don’t count as star trek to anyone I know.

            I really want to see something new done well, Altered Carbon was ok, but not very good compared to the books, but Peter F Hamiltons “The Reality Dysfunction” NEEDS to be made into a 3-6 season TV show ASAP…

            Or even go back for some classics, the Dragonriders of Pern would make for a good 5/6 season TV show, or “The Forever War” would be a great 2 parter film or 1 season show…

            I am starting to loathe all remakes and reboots, they are usually so inferior in spirit even if they look better and have better CGI and effects etc.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Luckily, a reboot doesn’t devalue or otherwise detract from the original, so you can totally pretend they’re not even there if you’re not interested in them. (And I thought Discovery was EXCELLENT, or at least the two seasons I’ve seen of it so far.)

            2. Black Horse Dancing*

              I heard rumors Magic series by Mercedes Lackey is being made–I am worried but hopeful.

            3. The Smiling Pug*

              I’ve always wondered why no one has commissioned a Dragonriders of Pern TV show or movie series, like what they’re doing with Dune and what they did with LOTR.

              1. allathian*

                There was talk of it before Anne McCaffrey died on at least two separate occasions, but it came to nothing in the end. Now that they could make something really impressive-looking, there isn’t enough interest. Todd McCaffrey’s Pern books have had nowhere near the visibility or popularity that his mother’s works enjoyed. There’s room to tell some really amazing stories in that universe, but it hasn’t really aged all that well. Granted, Anne McCaffrey was one of the first sci-fi authors to feature gays in prominent roles in society, because any dragonrider, even if he rode a mere green, would have status in comparison to anyone else on Pern, but her stories can hardly be called progressive today.

                1. The Dogman*

                  “but her stories can hardly be called progressive today.”

                  Why must they?

                  GoT is not “progressive”, loads of TV is not…

                  Granted Tods are not as good to read, but the first 5/6 books would make a great 4/5 season TV show.

    2. Camellia*

      Bought a ticket to BTS’s on-line concert scheduled for October 14th! It even includes the pre-concert sound check! So excited!

      1. Mad Hatter*

        I got one last week—and gave it away today on a buy nothing site. I followed the weight rec but it was just too confining for me. I’m glad yours is working out!

    3. German Girl*

      I went sailing on Monday afternoon, had a very successful pointe class on Friday afternoon and had friends over for dinner and boardgames afterwards.

      1. UKDancer*

        Ballet is wonderful for the mood. I did my usual Saturday morning class today and feel really good as a result.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      After way too much time spent sedentary recently, I started up two StepBets and two distance challenges through The Conqueror (Hadrian’s Wall for steps and the English Channel on my new rowing machine) on Monday and so far I’m keeping up with all the goals and feeling good! Even if I’m frequently getting those last couple hundred steps in by jogging in place in front of my television after dinner – the majority of them are coming from outside walks while the weather is still nice enough to allow such a thing.

      1. German Girl*

        Yeah, we’ve had really nice fall weather, too. I’m out and about with my little one a lot, so on the weekends, when I don’t complete my Pilates goal during my first break at , I’ll forget to do my daily Pilates until it’s my own bedtime – and then I just do the shortest sequence there is, which is about 3 minutes, but hey it’s the weekend and I’ve not done nothing and kept up my goal of doing at least one sequence every day.

    5. Run mad; don't faint*

      I’ve really been enjoying the hummingbirds that are migrating through. They’re a delight to watch. They chase each other off from the feeders and flowers with very dramatic swoops, trying to bump into each other, and they’re very vigilant about protecting it once they’ve won. They’re such feisty, territorial little birds!

    6. UKDancer*

      My subscription beauty box has arrived with a lovely upmarket moisturiser and a new sheet mask. I will enjoy giving myself a pamper tonight.

      I’ve also booked for an online dance festival with some really interesting workshops and an in person ticket for a small theatre near me to see an interesting play. First theatre visit since Covid so I will enjoy it.

    7. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Found *In Like Flint* for free on YouTube. I love those ’60s costumes, set designs, and music. Very cheering!

    8. Might Be Spam*

      My neighbor gave me his red toaster oven when he moved. Red is my favorite color. Most of my small kitchen appliances are red. All I need now is a red electric kettle. My white one is still going strong so it will be a long time.

      1. BeenThere*

        This post gave me joy! I love that you are holding on to the working kettle instead of rushing out and replacing everything to match. It is so much something I do :)

        I live in America however I didn’t grow up here both spouse and I start our days with a cup of tea. Tea kettles are not common and they don’t work as well here, I suspect the voltage is at play. In 2019 invested in a Zorijushi water boiler and warmer, my spouse was annoyed with me and declared he wouldn’t use it. I decided to use it anyway because we are not morning people and waiting for the kettle in boil every morning was making us late to work. It didn’t take long for for the boiler to become one of the hardest workers in the kitchen, fast forward to the pandemic and it has been a life saver. The boiler, now named bubbles, has been on several road trips, and is our constant daily companion. Last year, the two slice toaster quit complaining of overwork and was promptly replaced by a four slice model in the same finish as bubbles.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          My iron and ironing board came from my grandmother and are 40 or 50 years old. If something works I need an extremely serious reason to replace it.
          When the switch broke on the white electric kettle I fixed it with a paperclip and now the switch is better than it was when I first got it. It will probably outlive me. The only appliance that I use more is the microwave oven. I’ve considered painting the kettle red to match the rest of my kitchen.

          1. allathian*

            My favorite kitchen appliance is the adjustable electric kettle that we got from my MIL one Christmas. We had one that worked fine, but I really like the fact that I can heat water to the correct temperature for green and white tea. If you’ve tried those, and found them bitter, that’s probably because the water was too hot.

        2. Fellow Traveller*

          Oh I so want a zorijushi water boiler! We had them growing up, and I even asked for one for my birthday. But Husband decided to get me an electric kettle instead. Which is … fine, but not what I wanted, and I felt so guilty for being disappointed!

          1. Liz*

            I feel the same way about my teakettle. My BF gave me a gorgeous Le Cruseut red tea kettle. But i never use it because unlike some, where when it whistles you can flip the cover up, and it will stay, this one you have to hold! which is kind of annoying. But I’d never tell him because it made him so happy to give it to me! so it sits on my stove, and while I almost never use it, he’s none the wiser.

      2. Run mad; don't faint*

        You’re inspiring me! I have a red stovetop kettle and a red fruit bowl. Recently, we got a red on the counter ice maker. And I’ve realized how much I enjoy the color in my kitchen. I’ll have to look for a red toaster oven when the old one gives out.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          My microwave is red and black and the toaster oven is red and silver which matches my toaster and mixer. My red cookware gets to stay out in the open, too. It’s pretty hard to miss that I really like red.

        2. Liz*

          My kitchen is red too! As is my boyfriend’s. I knew we were meant to be when I saw that! hahahaha. I have black and white appliances (apt. so no choice there) but everything else I can find is red. my brita pitchers, utensil crock, etc. I also last year put in heavy metal shelving along one wall for storage, and put those square fabric bins on one shelf, along with all my red bakeware, etc. i LOVE it. I do also have some yellow and orange to mix it up a bit.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We went to a drive-in movie last night. Two movies, actually, because it turns out this theater does double features. I usually say no food in my car, and I usually go to bed before midnight, but dinner in the car and not getting home until 1 a.m. was worth it. I enjoyed Shang Chi as much as expected, and then there was a happy surprise with Free Guy. It’s romantic comedy in a superhero/science fiction setting. Ryan Reynolds pushed all the buttons and spoofed dozens of movie tropes.
      Our movie was the last one to end, so I had a chance to walk in a dark field under a cloudless sky, with the Milky Way standing out bright and clear.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >I had a chance to walk in a dark field under a cloudless sky, with the Milky Way standing out bright and clear.
        Gorgeous imagery, beautiful words….I’m torn between total admiration and a touch of envy because, to me, nighttime walking in an open, flat space is such a pleasure!
        Thank you for sharing this imagery. It will resonate happily inside my head.

      2. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Got home late a few nights ago and was treated to a sky like that when going to check the mail. Had to stop in the driveway and just look.

        The joy of having a farm field across the street from our house…no lights and the occasional ‘moo’ in the night.

      3. allathian*

        Oh wow, some of my happiest childhood memories are from walking in the fields at my grandma’s in the fall, with the Milky Way overhead. She lived right in the country, no streetlights, and with the nearest neighbors half a mile away, and outdoor lights she had control over. Once, when I was 6, I saw some absolutely stunning aurora borealis. It’s one thing to see on photos or videos, quite another to be on the top of a hill, with a 360 degree view of it.

        Thanks for reminding me of my memory.

    10. wingmaster*

      Finally got my box spring this week. No more sleeping on a mattress that always dips in the middle!!

    11. Big Moody Curve*

      I took two of those aggravating push-and-turn childproof caps out to the garage (concrete floor), gave each of them a good whack with a heavy hammer, and successfully broke the outer cap without damaging the inner, non-childproof cap. Now I can open the bottles without swearing. That counts as joy, right?

      (I’m old-ish. There are no small children here, so no danger of poisoning. Grandkids are old enough and strong enough to operate childproof caps better than I do.)

      1. crookedglasses*

        Nice!

        Ymmv on this, but I’ve found a lot of pill caps can be used upside-down. They still seal securely but just twist on and off without the childproof challenges.

        1. Observer*

          That’s deliberate – It allows the pharmacies to provide childproof caps without worrying that someone who needs to NOT have a childproof cap will run into trouble.

    12. Frankie Bergstein*

      -Ted Lasso
      -an overflow of cherry tomatoes from the garden of a friend of a friend
      -an overflow of poblano peppers & jalapenos from the CSA of some new friends
      -friend’s badassery / professional accomplishments
      -Loving my creature babies (a dog, cat, and potentially a snuggly new dog)
      -Crisp, cool fall air
      -Solo weekend sans dog and hubby
      -New-to-me thrifted clothes, including cute flats, a top, and sweater dress

    13. Laura Petrie*

      Had a lovely couple of evenings out with my husband. We’ve turned into hermits since lockdown so I’ve really enjoyed being out of the house.

      I had a delivery of some lovely dark beers. I love stouts and porters at this time of year, we’re having Stout Saturday today to enjoy some of them.

      I finally managed to see some of my coursemates in a social setting in person. The first year of my degree was pretty much all online so it is so nice to see people in real life. I’ve found a few lovely people who are good company and happy to go to the pub after lectures.

      I started volunteering somewhere new and had a great afternoon of bingo and tea & cake.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      We are traveling, and my husband suggested eating breakfast at the same place multiple times.

      Usually I’m the “That was great; we should go back” and he’s “That was great; we should try something new” and this has really been kind, as I eat my way through the menu.

    15. The Smiling Pug*

      I’m making progress on my podcast! I’m currently in the middle of rewriting scripts, but it’s wonderful to know that I’m getting closer to a finished product. :)

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Midnight Mass!!!!!

      This show on Netflix was an absolute joy for this horror fan. I LOVED it. So many layers, so much emotion, and an interesting take on a classic trope. I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen next, and I love when that happens. It very rarely does. I can’t get it out of my head! And I’m really jealous I didn’t think of it first! :D

      I’m now on a Mike Flanagan binge. I loved Doctor Sleep, Gerald’s Game, and The Haunting of Bly Manor, but I’d skipped The Haunting of Hill House because I was afraid it was a bomb like that dreadful 1999 remake film. I’m working my way through the show now. It’s really good. He uses some of the same actors in all three shows and they’re outstanding.

      But Midnight Mass is my favorite, I think. If you’re going to watch it, try to go in cold. It will have much more impact that way.

      1. ampersand*

        Same with Midnight Mass! Finished it last night and I was blown away. I also didn’t anticipate what would happen next and there were parts that were truly unsettling/almost scary but in a good way that I appreciated. There were also parts that were hard to watch! It gave me a lot to think about. So.many.layers!

        Mike Flanagan and company did a phenomenal job on this show. I loved Hill House and Bly Manor—but Midnight Mass was even better. Apparently he’d been working on it for years, and the title Midnight Mass appeared in other of his works (as a book/manuscript) which I think is kinda cool. You can tell a lot of thought and time went into the story. Now I’m telling everyone I know to watch it. :)

    17. voluptuousfire*

      Got a bagel and a coffee this morning and the bagel was really good and still warm. Yum!
      Organized my clothes so that I swapped my summer clothes out for my fall ones.
      Rode my bike last week for the first time. Rode 2.5 miles and enjoyed it immensely.
      My cat attempted to jump onto the windowsill of my office window but didn’t realize it was closed so she just kind of bounced off the glass and landed looking at me like “WTF?” when she landed. She was fine and she got a little extra wet food for her trouble. LOL. I ended up laughing until I cried. My cat is such a dork sometimes.

    18. Dancing Otter*

      1. I finally started seeing progress again on my diet, after being on a plateau for almost a month.
      2. We had an outdoor crafting gathering at the home of a member who had rotator cuff surgery so can’t drive. The weather was perfect, other than a bee. Nobody got stung, and he didn’t drown himself in my diet cola.

    19. DefinitiveAnn*

      I got my dog a puppuccino and they write her name on the cup and out little hearts next to it.

    20. Crop Tiger*

      The plants that grew from the fallen birdseed that I let grow out of curiosity turned out to be some kind of primitive corn. It’s amazing what you can end up with!

      1. Ariadne Oliver*

        Congratulations. I retired a month ago and am still marveling at the awesomeness of never having to work ever again (unless I want to).

    21. Faith the twilight slayer*

      The one thing I can rely on in life, without fail, is my sweet little six pound ball of floofy love, Aphrodite, waking me up every morning by grooming my nose. There have been days when I literally cannot face getting out of bed, and her love first thing in the morning is the best thing ever.

      1. allathian*

        Awww, that’s so sweet. My dad taught one of their cats to lick his nose when he pointed at it and said “kiss my nose”.

    22. Double A*

      As I posted about below, we just learned our baby cat is dying, so I’m trying to focus on having good moments with him while we still have him. Even though he is very tired from his illness, he’s still got a spark for life. He’s been sleeping at the foot of my bed, and in the morning I’ve been going in and cuddling with my daughter and he jumps up and makes biscuits on her blankets like he always has. So that’s been a joy.

      Last night he hovered around me all while I was making dinner, occasionally mewing at me like he wanted something. He wouldn’t eat cat food, but when the chicken was done he gobbled down quite a bit when I offered it, so today I’ve been giving him chicken and tuna and he’s seeming quite a bit perkier (there’s no hope he’ll get better, but I want him to have some good days left). I’m trying to take some joy in spoiling him and giving him anything he wants.

      1. Not a cat*

        When my Tinsel Christmas Snowflake was dying, two things she would eat were rotisserie chicken and canned pumpkin. Getting food into her perked her up a bit. Oh and sometimes babyfood.

    23. FD*

      I got to spend an hour last night chilling on my sofa eating popcorn and eating Great British Baking Show on Netflix. I’m usually so stressed and busy on weekends that I don’t have much downtime so it felt great.

    24. Hotdog not dog*

      The local farms are currently carrying Crimson Crisp apples. It’s a fairly new variety, so they’re usually limited quantity. I got a big basket the other day and they are delicious! Super crunchy, juicy, and not too sweet.

    25. Wrench Turner*

      Felt really confident at the day job and was able to really solidly help some people this week. I love being able to do that. Also made some good progress on a few art projects and got the home renovation process started, so it feels like it’s real and really happening. All good, if big and important, things.

    26. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Similar to Zathras – I found out that my Grandpa is coming to visit for a weekend. Junior and Mini Orchestra are really looking forward to his visit. Junior Orchestra is the oldest of his great-grandkids at 13.

      1. allathian*

        Plantains a.k.a. cooking bananas are very commonly used in Caribbean and South and Central American cooking.

        1. The Dogman*

          Ahh so a less sugary banana variety (I imagine most bananas end up tasting caramelly or burnt if cooked) or just immature bananas?

          Thanks for the info too! I love learning new things, especially about food!

          1. Meh*

            They can be sweet when ripe (they turn yellow and then darken like a regular banana). According to my internet search yall call them cooking bananas but they might not necessarily be plantains – just green regular bananas. Plantains (when green) are almost impossible to peel and rock hard
            They have pronounced ridges where the sections of the peel meet up.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              Extra-ripe plantains (a state that is almost impossible to achieve at home if you start with green plantains) = maduros, which are delicious.

            2. The Dogman*

              Ahh I have never seen them in the shops… might be more common in some of our ethnic supermarkets perhaps? Although we dont really have south american stuff, mostly african and middle eastern, with a few far eastern places.

              Good to learn, might need to learn a banana dish or two! :)

          2. The Smiling Pug*

            Plaintains are smaller and less sugary than bananas, but they’re part of the same family. Plaintains are banana’s cousin. Fried with a yogurt sauce is amazing.

            1. RagingADHD*

              The ones I see in the shops are huge. Much bigger than a regular banana. Must be a different variety.

              1. allathian*

                There are lots of varieties, but sadly pretty much the only bananas we get here are of the Cavendish variety.

      2. TechWorker*

        In the U.K. we still call it plantain but you probably won’t see them in supermarkets/markets unless you live somewhere that has a decent proportion of folks of Caribbean descent.

        (They definitely need to be cooked – I remember a ‘healthy eating’ workshop when I was a teen where the person running it had clearly bought a bunch of stuff from a market and not looked it up. Absolutely not recommended raw, it’s like eating flour :))

      3. RagingADHD*

        There is a large enough Caribbean population in the UK, I’m sure they are available somewhere.

        They are more starchy than sweet, though they caramelize well. When green, they taste more like a potato and are excellent smashed and fried with salt. In my old Domininan neighborhood, those were called tostones.

        Ripe and caramelized slowly, they make a lovely saucy side dish or dessert that’s between a banana and a yam in flavor. Those were called platanos.

        1. Stitch*

          It’s also super confusing because the words for “banana” and “plantain” vary in Spanish based on where you are from. In some instances you call both a banana and a plantain a “plátano”.

        2. The Dogman*

          Thank you, we have a couple of Caribbean shops nearby so I will go have a poke about and see what I can find!

      4. Fulana del Tal*

        Puerto Rican/Caribbean:
        Banana- Guineo
        Green (cooking) Banana: Guineo verde
        Plantain(green): Platano or Platano verde
        Yellow plantain: plantain maduro
        Tostones: Dish where Platano are fried, smashed and fried again
        Maduros: similar to tostones but using yellow plantains sometimes not double fried
        Yes you can buy green plantains and ripen them to yellow at home just keep them in warm dark place

        Other Latin American countries:
        Banana: Platano
        Plantain: depending on which country but I heard platano macho

    1. Teal*

      F yeah! One of my favorite breakfasts. Did they serve them with beans and crema? I only eat them with beans; that savory/sweet combo. Yum!

  6. Arya Parya*

    About a month ago we suddenly lost one of our two cats. We’re still grieving, but my SO and I have decided that, once the time is right, we want another cat. We still have a 7 year old female tortoise who has never been without a cat companion. She has been missing her buddy, so we will be giving her and ourselves some more time before we adopt. But I was hoping to already get some advice about getting a new cat, so we’ll know our stuff once it’s time.

    So I was wondering, is it better to get a younger cat, seeing as they are more likely to be accepted by the older get? Or do we get one of a similar age, so the energy levels match? And is it true that a female cat is more likely to accept a male? All the information online if very conflicting.

    We will be going to shelters, so hopefully they will be able to give advice too. But any and all advice about getting a second cat is welcome.

    1. The Dogman*

      In a case like this I recommed a kitten or fairly young cat.

      A mature cat can work, but will take more time and effort to integrate them, and may not work. But with a cat under a year old you should find it pretty easy.

      Give the new cat a room alone for a couple of days, but put in that room a bed or blanket that smells of your cat, maybe a few toys that will have your cats smell on them too.

      In a couple of days (in one case I know of it was 40 mins so some cats are faster) they should be either side of the door occasionally “talking” to each other, as long as it is chirps and wurps (not hissing or yowling) they will be fine with each other.

      Or get a puppy and the cat can beat it into submission while it is young! ;)

    2. Asenath*

      I never noticed that female cats were more likely to accept a male cat (assuming both are neutered!), but I’ve certainly heard and read that. I’d go for a young or youngish cat, but a lot depends on the mysteries of cat personalities, and sometimes an older cat will adjust too. Most cats will eventually accept each other, but, rarely, it can take so long you might as well say they won’t. The shelter might have some idea about how sociable a given cat is, but sometimes there are so many they don’t know them individually that well, a shelter is not the same environment as a home, and cats can be hard to predict. Introduce them slowly, as The Dogman suggests.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I would definitely rely on the shelter to match you with a cat. A good one can tell you which cats would prefer a companion or would rather be the only cat, as well their energy level.

      That said, I have multiple cats and I’ve found age doesn’t have a lot of bearing on energy level, and sometimes doesn’t dictate whether they’ll be accepted by the others or not. I have a pair of four year old siblings. Emily has a normal energy level for a cat her age and likes to play, while Arlo has always been a couch potato. He gets maybe one burst of real energy a day and it lasts not much more than five minutes.

      If your cat is missing her buddy and they used to sleep together, snuggle, etc., maybe consider getting another cat sooner rather than later. It might help her accept a new cat more easily and fill the void she’s feeling. I have enough cats where if we lose one of a bonded pair, they can latch onto someone else in the house. Emily loved to snuggle with Oscar, the old man of the house, and after we had to put him down, she became very needy towards me. She finally decided Leo was her new man, the next oldest boy. Well, we had to put him down last weekend and she’s already chosen her next buddy, Bailey (whether he likes it or not–she’s a little pushy and she does like the boys).

    4. WS*

      A young cat but not a kitten, so the shelter can help you with one that likes to be around other cats and doesn’t have intense kitten energy straight up! But it’s also helpful to introduce them slowly and make sure both cats have safe places of their own.

    5. Yvette*

      Not a cat expert or even an owner, but will a shelter allow a trial period to see if the new cat would be compatible with the old cat? Maybe you could foster with an option to adopt?

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      My family was lucky enough to adopt one of our foster cats. For years we’d been a foster cat family, and the resident pets were used to this. Then our noble 18 year old Grandpa Cat passed away. After taking a few months to grieve, we started fostering again. The resident 5 year old cat eventually picked a 3 year old foster cat. She just adored this guy, and it was obvious that the two got along spectacularly well. This isn’t an option for everyone, I will admit. But it worked out well for us.

    7. Purple Cat*

      Our first cat was female and clearly lonely for the first 2 years we had her.
      We got a second male kitten because we heard that’d be better for bonding and accepting. He desperately wanted her to be his mommy and she wanted none of that. Whatever, his presence alleviated her loneliness, but they never bonded. 12 years later we got a 3rd cat – another male kitten. Oldest female wanted nothing to do with him (She was a PEOPLE kitty through and through, didn’t care about other felines). Our first male and the second male – holy cow, immediate bonded pair. It was so surprising. We call them lovers.

      So, all that to say, you really can’t predict who is going to bond with who. Just like siblings, individual personalities will trump all.

    8. Exif*

      You may as well roll dice, I’ve been owning/fostering for decades and it’s a total crapshoot. Sometimes a kitten keeps the elder young, sometimes it just harasses her/rough-houses too much for her older body. Sometimes my females strongly bonded and shunned the males, sometimes a mixed-gender pair are inseparable.

      I agree with others that a matched activity level is a good place to start, as is the lap/touch factor. A cat that wants constant physical contact is not going to do well with an aloof one.

      Note that, even if they don’t get along with each other, a good cat/human fit can make it work, and just having another cat in the house seems good for their mental state. My two permanent residents are NOT a good fit for each other: a tiny graceful female who hates men (cat and human) and doesn’t like to be touched, and a clutzy bumbling 20-pound male who gloms onto any warm body for snuggles. He runs around the house like a bulldozer bouncing off walls and doors (we think he has impaired vision due to almost starving as an orphaned preemie) and she nimbly leaps to the highest perch and watches with disdain. They are both foster fails who strongly bonded with us (female with me, male with my husband) so they stayed.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the mixed-gender thing is a general rule with plenty of evidence, but there are all sorts of exceptions. When we chose Small Orange Cat (based on her intense bonding with my son) the cat rescue people selected a female cat the same age they thought would be a good companion energy-wise, even though she was curled in a tiny ball in the exact middle of her cage throughout the adoption day. And she was! She just started out under a bureau, and within a week was zipping around and practicing leaping onto the newel post.

    10. Canonical23*

      I’ve had better luck integrating adult cats with adult cats rather than younger cats with existing adult cats. When working with the shelter *clearly* state your current pet situation and what you are looking for. Ask the shelter for proof if they say that the cat gets along well with other cats, as often you’ll be talking to a volunteer who isn’t the most familiar with the details of all the animals. (We wanted to adopt a dog at one time and the shelter volunteer SWORE the dog loved cats. Luckily, we walked the dog by the cat play area and realized very quickly that the dog was very against the concept of cat friends.) Avoid any cats with descriptions that imply they are needy or want to be “the boss.”

      In addition, if your cat is an easy traveler, see if you can bring your cat with you and introduce it to its potential new friend. Or see if the shelter allows trial periods or fostering, which both have end dates if the new cat turns out to be a horror. There’s nothing wrong with rehoming animals, provided that it’s done responsibly.

      I’ve never heard about the male/female cat dynamic, and the two male cats I’ve had were far more accepting of random cats and small dogs than the female cats I’ve had. Either way though, neutering as early as possible (while still being safe and vet-approved) gets rid of most aggression problem in male cats.

      When you do adopt a new cat, the best things I’ve done have been:
      1) Extra litter boxes. It’s better to have too many and phase them out than to not have enough and find out one of the cats is territorial and have to clean up messes. We have four cats and while they were getting used to each other, we had 7 litter boxes in various locations throughout the house. Now it’s down to three boxes once everyone started getting along.
      2) Keep the cats separate when you can’t watch them, for at least a week. It’s easy to figure out which cat likes to sleep/lounge the most – keep that one closed in a room with food, water, litter and toys while you’re at work or sleeping.
      3) Those cat hormone diffusers are very helpful. They don’t work instantly but they definitely add an extra layer of calmness after a day or two.
      4) If anyone sprays/marks territory, clean it ASAP and use an enzyme cleaner. Regular cleaners do fine for human noses but not for cats – they’ll still smell the scent and keep on marking.
      5) Always reward good behavior. If both cats are getting along, give them pets, or treats or whatever they seem to enjoy. Cats aren’t always as quick to make connections between “good behavior” and “good treatment” like dogs are, but they do usually get there.

      1. Jackalope*

        The extra litter boxes thing is key. I’ve heard that as a general rule of thumb, have at least 1 box per cat plus 1 extra. Also, make sure they are spaced out so that no one can keep someone else from using the litter box by guarding it. I would recommend doing the same with food and water as well. We have all of the food and most of the water in the same room, but they are far enough apart that no one has to be in someone else’s business when eating or drinking if they don’t want to be (some of the cats enjoy sharing a food bowl, so…).

    11. Book reader*

      I had heard that getting a kitten under 4 months gives the best shot for all of the cats to bond with each other. Older cats are more of a crap shoot and I’ve heard of a lot of instances where older cats just never meshed. Kittens from what I’ve heard are more likely to be accepted because older animals (as a very general, definitely not always true rule of thumb!) are less likely to be aggressive towards the young of their species. We had a M/F older pair and got a M/F pair of kittens earlier this summer. So far that’s been true; the first couple of weeks were a bit hairy, and our older queen was NOT happy about new cats in her territory (she’s always been the more territorial of the two), but now everyone more or less gets along and can all sleep on the bed at the same time, for example (although not in a heap yet). Our 2 queens still don’t get along (our baby girl is scared of our older queen), but everyone else seems to be warming up to being a group, and even the girls are cautiously sniffing each other sometimes, so I’m hopeful that they will eventually be comfortable with each other too.

      My thought on kittens, though: I highly recommend that you get a pair if you are going to get one. Two kittens is a LOT easier than 1; they amuse each other and have someone else in the house with similar energy levels and interests to figure things out. That meant that when the kittens get the urge to tear the place up, they have someone to do it with. They tried a few times to convince the older cats to join them. The older cats let them know they weren’t interested, and now the kittens run around together, but then when everyone is tired they can all flop together. I think it would be harder on a solo kitten that didn’t have a playmate. But that’s not a hard and fast rule.

      I also like the suggestion someone else made about fostering for awhile and seeing if there’s a cat that your cat really hits it off with. That’s a lower risk option because if it doesn’t work you know that the new cat will be on their way at some point. The one thing to make sure of is that your cat is up on all of their shots before fostering, since you can’t always be sure that new kitties won’t bring something into the household. I assume you’re doing that anyway, but if you’ve let yourself get behind bcs COVID, make sure to take care of that first.

    12. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for all the advice so far. It’s been great to read about all your experiences. There is a smaller shelter nearby with exclusively cats. They really seem to know all their cats and also have some older kittens. I’ll be visiting them once we feel ready.

      Our current cat isn’t too dominant, our other cat was. She still has quite a bit of energy. So Is hope it won’t be too difficult to find a match. We at least got enough room to keep them seperate at first.

      Umfortunately fostering isn’t an option right now. Maybe in the future, because it is something I’d like to do. But I will als about a trial period.

    13. Double A*

      If your female cat has always been around a male, I’d suggest you stick with that. My female cat has always loved and quickly accepted male cats and hated other female cats (“I just can’t deal with girls’ DRAMA” says girl very clearly starting all the drama, but whatever). But if her former companion was a female, I don’t really know, seems like it could go either way.

      It also really depends on personality. My female cat is pretty confident and dominant, so young or submissive/passive males have been a good fit for her. She’s done poorly with other cats who want to be the boss.

    14. Forrest Gumption*

      I had a neutered male cat who was about seven years old when I adopted another neutered male, also seven years old. it took about a month, but they grew to like each other very much. I slowly got them used to each other by first having them in separate rooms, so they could smell each other under the door (about a week), Then confined them to separate halves of the house, with a baby gate in between (about 2 weeks). In the fourth week, I took the baby gate away and let them slowly get used to having free rein of the house together. They kept their distance for a couple days but then chilled out and are now are quite friendly with each other. They don’t sleep next to each other or cuddle, but they do play-wrestle occasionally and enjoy exploring the garden together.

    15. Slothy*

      Like others said, it’s a bit unpredictable. I’d recommend an older kitten (~9 months) or adult because the younger ones will likely annoy your older cat and she may never get over that. Of our five cats—all of whom now peacefully coexist—the first cat and the second (who we got at 12 weeks when the older was 3) get along the worst. They are both female. The first cat did bond well with an older male we got later. It took a lot of work on his part… he loved her from the day we brought him home and wore her down. We specifically requested a non-dominant cat who got along with other cats.

      And, as others have mentioned, get more litterboxes, the diffuser things, and feed them near each other. Good luck!

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games.

    Last week in Alison’s book recommendation thread, the subject of low-literacy teenagers came up and I suggested that perhaps video games could help there as well (I believe the commenter Batgirl works with low-literacy teenagers?). I suggested some games upon request, but this was if course a list heavily skewed towards my own interests (so a lot of RPGs and Visual Novels and life simulators, and few shooters for example). If anyone has some games they would also recommend for this purpose, I’ll be starting a subthread here so they can easily be found.

    As for what I’ve been playing this week…not much, due to being very busy. If we stretch the definition of “game” a bit, however, I did use Study Bunny a lot, which is basically a cute pomodoro timer app. Studying (or any other focus related activity – some people use them to help with writing) makes you earn coins to buy stuff for your bunny. It’s pretty cute.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      So for recommendations for games to help with literacy, please make sure they are easily available on modern systems. I have some games I would love to recommend, but they are on retro consoles and the retro market is a bit crazy at the moment.

      As for recommendations, I think I forgot to mention the Ys series last week. They’re also RPGs, but more action-based (Action Role-Playing Games or ARPGs). Depending on what the teenager in question is into, this may be more up their alley – especially because the amount of action may make them feel like they’re reading less than they actually are.

    2. Batgirl*

      Ooh phone games! Or apps! Yes please to those recommendations for literacy. During the pandemic I was very pleased with myself to be able to tell parents they could access our fancy software from any browser, only to discover the only device they had in the house was a phone. Much frantic browsing of apps then ensued before the cavalry of government laptops arrived (which were shit).

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        You can find ports of older games (NES and SNES era) on the Google Play Store, I just noticed. Ys 1 and 2 are on there (these are the only games in the series that really have to be played in order – originally they were meant to be one game, but technical limitations in the 80’s forced the developers to split it into two), as well as “Secret of Mana” and “Chrono Trigger”. I haven’t played these myself though, so I’m not sure how well they work.

        For phone games, June’s Journey is a hidden object gale I’m rather fond of. It’s set in the 1920’s and you play as the no-nonsense June who has to take care of her niece after her sister and brother-in-law are murdered (which is obviously the first case June solves). In doing so they keep ending up falling from one mystery into the next. It’s free, and you can even create a detective lounge to okay together with friends (or classmates, in this case).

        1. Laura Petrie*

          I love June’s Journey. Just bought all the October decorations as I had enough coins. I played Pearl’s Peril before this too.

          I’m still playing Animal Crossing. I seem to have a couple of weird looking elephants now living on my island!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t know what literacy level they’re written for, but the Lifeline games are interesting and text-only – they’re basically choose-your-own-adventure games, where the player somehow started picking up some sort of communication signal from someone in a Dire Circumstance and is basically talking the someone through the Dire Circumstance. I don’t remember if any of them are free, they’re usually a couple bucks each I think. They’ve usually taken me a week or two to play through, and they’re not (or at least the ones I’ve played haven’t been) time-sensitive in that you must reply immediately or something. (In fact, they’re more likely to say that the someone is going to take a nap or walk for a while or something, and then you won’t get any prompts from the game for several hours.)

    3. The Dogman*

      Can’t recommend much in terms of low literacy games but I have been playing AoE 1 (definitive edition for win 10 update… it was nearly 10GB!!!!!!) which is a lovely bit of visually updated nostalgia for me.

      Also playing (which is also fun to replay). The later games are much prettier, have more things to do, more complex and yet are somehow deeply boring and disappointing for me when I play them, while the originals (with the extended XL mod installed on MTW1) are, to me, endlessly replayable.

      I also currently play a lot of Gangs of Deadville 3 which is a great little zombie “recovery after the apocalypse” game that can be played turn based or in real time, which is a nice touch, and has endless replayability to really. Although I recommend a happiness mod to get you going as the harder settings are too depressing for the in game people.

    4. Laure*

      I finished Gnosia (video-game) and it was awesome! We also played a lot of Anachrony (board game, a few years old, wonderful.)
      Tomorrow I am hosting a game afternoon with Muggles (you know, real people who don’t play games all the time) so, Code Names and Avalon it will be.

    5. allathian*

      Yatzy (Yahtzee, but this is a Hasbro trademark and our game isn’t by Hasbro) with my 12 year old son. It’s been fun, and he’s so fast at adding the eyes of the dice, much faster than I am.

    6. Numbers kid*

      You’ve got me thinking about all the early-90s educational computer games my dad tracked down for me and our 386 DOS computer! Asking about words/literacy, I remember there was one that had a word version and a math version, hadn’t though of it in years, but I really spent a lot of time playing it. Google tracked it down and it was Math Rescue! Youtube has a gameplay video and man, it’s a constant stream of little math problems, I remember getting really engrossed in the game but I can see now that it was almost pure math practice. The word version was Word Rescue, and I remember it not being as fun — or maybe I was just more of a numbers kid. Anyway, I’m sure this isn’t useful for modern kids or modern computers, but I had a good time remembering it, so thanks for your question!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Okay, gamers I’ve got a movie for you. Free Guy is set inside and outside a video game. (I already said more in the little joys thread. It’s a hoot.)

      1. twocents*

        Awesome! The trailer looked charming, but you can never be sure if it’s because the movie underlying it is good vs. if the marketers are just geniuses.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s just plain fun. Sometimes I need a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    8. wingmaster*

      This week, I went to another board game meetup and learned to play Forbidden Island and Hanabi. Hanabi is harder than I thought! It was with a group of 5. 3/5 did not know how to play, so it was a lot of hint giving and discuss amongst the whole group.

    9. twocents*

      I decided that 20 hours in MHS2 when I really wasn’t feeling it was enough to decide it wasn’t my cup of tea and move on. So I purchased the Atelier Mysterious trilogy in the recent eshop sale. I’ve been playing through Atelier Sophie. It’s my first “real” game in the series (I technically played Nelke first, which I loved, but nothing in the main series proper).

    10. The Dude Abides*

      With the ladder reset, I’ve been slowly climbing back to Mythi on Arena

      I also just found out about Diablo 2 Resurrected, and it is taking a lot of self-control to not buy it and hibernate in the basement for a week or seven.

    11. LimeRoos*

      I’m still making my “perfect” ACNH island & waiting impatiently for Metroid: Dread (which, please find the Japanese Nintendo Direct trailer of it because it’s awesome and better than the US trailer), but hubby has been obsessed with Diablo II Resurrected since it was released as it was his favorite game in middle school & high school. So I finally downloaded and omg is it a ton of fun!! I’ve never really played any of these games since they felt ridiculously complicated, and everyone I knew who played them knew everything (like, almost literally everything) about the game so it was super intimidating to start. But wow, once playing it’s not nearly as complicated, though I have no idea how hubs & bestie don’t get distracted trying to identify every item and explore every nook & cranny XD. I’m super slow, since distractions, but it’s great to just punch things. I started Friday for fun, since another friend grew up with Diabs 2, and she’s also stoked for Resurrected, so the 3 of us did a bunch of, erm, quests? acts? Things. We did things and killed baddies, and played all of Friday night. Since we’re using those characters as a trio, hubby & I made new ones yesterday night so now I have a Druid & an Amazon. And wow the graphics, soooo much better than the old one – which they let you switch between at the push of a button and you can play old school if you want.

      Other than Diabs, I just got a new villager – Cherry, who is awesome! I got lucky after Annalisa the Anteater moved out, and snagged Cherry on my first island visit. So I’m slowly changing up my villagers. I think I’m going with a slight food theme – I have Cobb (which reminds me of a cobb salad, since he’s green, but apparently it’s because pigs eat corn on the cob? I like my version better) and now Cherry. I need to switch out Tammi & Erik, then I think I’ll be content with my villagers for a while. Oh! If anyone wants to check it out – my dream address is DA-6185-9505-9125. I’ll update it today, cuz not gonna lie, I’m a little proud of what I’ve done so far. Though you can see what areas are still under construction lol.

    12. Wrench Turner*

      My favorite video game is No Man’s Sky. I get to wander the galaxy picking rocks and flowers. That’s it. That’s the game. Late at night, lights off and exploring the stars? It’s perfect.

    13. Smol Book Wizard*

      I finished Spiritfarer… not a completionist run, but one I feel satisfied about. Also, at long long last I have a Switch, and am indulging merrily in Fire Emblem: Three Houses! It’s just as good as I hoped, although some of my brother-in-law’s remarks are making me Worried about my choice of the Black Eagles route :D But I couldn’t help it, I did like Edelgard somehow right off the bat, like.

  8. Seeking Jewish Community*

    I am seeking some advice, materials, ideas, experiences and so forth from people who have found their way back to a jewish community, particularly those who have done most of the leg work to create the community themselves.

    I grew up vaguely jewish in the US, but I now live in central Europe. Two particular events are making me seek more jewish community: Most recently, a good family friend passed away and handling that grief is stirring up all sorts of memories and making me reflect on a lot of things. Adding to that, I have a small child who is becoming old enough to engage and understand (almost 3).

    Because casual jewishness that I knew in the ‘States is not available to me where I live now, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that if I want this, I am going to have start cultivating it myself. I did reach out to two jewish communities vaguely close to me but it has been two weeks and I haven’t gotten any answers at all. Just showing up for services at the moment is not realistic, unfortunately.

    So with that backstory, here’s what I am looking for more specifically:
    1) Suggestions for me: Are there good online services somewhere? Egalitarian is a must and I tend toward the liberal/reform/etc. side of things. If I am really going to (have to) go it alone, I’d love some beginning book or blog suggestions, too. There must be other people who have done this sort of thing and the books that I have don’t really cover it.

    2) Suggestions for my child: What good books and materials have you given your children? How else did you pass on your cultural identity and beliefs?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. heckofabecca*

      Shabbat shalom :) I’m Jewish and living in the US with no kids, but I will share what I remember from my own childhood.

      2) SO many great children’s books out there! Particularly rich in event-based books. Patricia Polacco has beautiful children’s books—perhaps a bit older than three, but not too early to get. Here’s some books that have stuck with me:
      – Polacco: The Keeping Quilt, Thundercake (with recipe!), The Blessing Cup, The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Mrs. Katz and Tush
      – Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins (def too scary for 3!)
      – The Fish in the Bathtub
      – I can’t remember the name of it, but there’s a children’s book about making a challah with eggs within the braids for Rosh Hashanah iirc—recipe included!

      Non-books:
      – stuffed torahs are popular!
      – having Shabbat dinner, keeping some form of Shabbat. Doesn’t have to be ~religious~ but just doing the rituals is really helpful, and the idea of that special day can be really great when framed right. Same with other holidays! Just do the thing, and frame it as a good thing. What really helped me was that my mom was open to us trying non-Jewish stuff (i.e. cheeseburgers—we kept kosher in-house) so that I had a CHOICE to follow Jewish traditions. That matters less at 3, but I tried a (terrible, I threw up) cheeseburger at school when I was 7.

      1. Coenobita*

        omg, Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins scared the pants off me as a kid – but in a good way! I just love that pickle jar goblin.

    2. Kate*

      I did this for four years! In Europe as well.

      Let me spend some time putting together some thoughts (haven’t had coffee yet)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Same here re “spend some time putting together some thoughts” (not the coffee part, though, lol)

        in the meantime, Shabbat shalom or shavuot tov (good sabbath or a good week) depending on where you are in your day/time zone.

    3. Legalchef*

      For kids, look into PJ library. They sent free, age-appropriate books a number of times a year that are tied to a holiday or a Jewish concept

      1. Legalchef*

        Just to add – some of the books are a little over the top for me, but one of my sons favorite books comes from there – it’s not about anything specifically Jewish, but just about helping others, so it’s a nice, universally applicable message.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Sorry — nesting fail!

          But I did want to write to you that that’s really cool that you’re enjoying PJ Library! I have a dear friend whose excellent Jewish-themed kids’ book manuscript recently won the Sydney Taylor manuscript award, but she’s been having a heck of a time trying to get it published. She was recently considering going through PJ Library, and it’s heartening to me to see that those books really do make their way out to a wider public.

          1. Curly sue*

            PJ Library was an absolute lifesaver for us, in a smallish town with very few Jewish resources. Their book program was fantastic for my kids.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        When I was a kid, one of my mom’s friends gave me a bunch of biographies of famous Jews — educational as well as affirming. There are also books on ethics for Jewish kids that are nice.

        My very favorite Jewish-themed kids book someone got me, though, was this adventure novel called *The Star and the Sword* by Pamela Melnikoff. It’s about these Jewish kids in England in, like the 1100s when there are violent pogroms attacking Jewish communities. This brother and sister lose their parents in one of these attacks and must make their way to safety to their uncle’s house . . . through Sherwood Forest . . . where they meet Robin Hood (!!!!!), who takes them under his wing. There’s also an exciting part where they have to break someone out of prison. As a little Anglophile Jewish girl, I found it awesome to be able to imagine myself as one of the protagonists meeting a kind Robin Hood — since the Jews were mostly kicked out of England around 1300, we don’t figure very much in a lot of English literature for a couple of centuries, especially not in a positive way like this.

    4. fueled by coffee*

      For #2:

      For younger kids:
      some episodes of Sophia the 1st/Elena of Avalor have Jewish characters I believe(?), the Arthur Chanukah episode, the Rugrats Chanukah and Passover movies, It Could Always be Worse, the Sammy Spider series. My niece is about this age and her parents focus a lot on food-based cultural practices – making latkes for Chanukah, hamentaschen around Purim, etc. there are lots of resources online for holiday related crafts, too

      For older kids: the Prince of Egypt (movie), the “Rebecca” American girl series, some of the Diary of America books (there’s at least one about a Russian immigrant to the US?), I can’t remember if Molly’s Pilgrim is specifically Jewish, but I read it in 1st grade and still remember it, biographies of famous Jewish people (Hank Greenberg, Sasha Cohen, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, etc.), Speed of Light by Sybil Rosen, the “All of a Kind family” series

      For teens (you know, in case you wanted suggestions for a decade from now): the Golem and the Jinni, everything by Chaim Potok, Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, Shylock’s Daughter by Marjam Pressler

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Oh! And “Something from Nothing” by Phoebe Gilman! It’s based off a Jewish folk tale and the illustrations are beautiful.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Oh, and also also — I’d try reaching out to your local Jewish orgs again. The high holidays/sukkot just ended, so it’s possible your message just got lost in the shuffle.

      3. Observer*

        everything by Chaim Potok,

        Just be aware that his portrayal of Orthodox Jewish life is WAAAY off.

          1. Observer*

            Not true. Some of what he describes was never true. Also, some of his stuff is set later, and it’s just not accurate.

      4. Imtheone*

        Molly’s Pilgrim is Jewish. Molly has a school assignment to dress a clothespin doll as a Pilgrim. Molly explains the assignment to her mother, who dresses the doll to look the mother as a girl. Molly is disappointed, but her mother says that she was a Pilgrim. Molly’s mother came to America for religious freedom, so she is a Pilgrim.
        Nice book, an early to mid-elementary read.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Thanks – I couldn’t remember if the mom was specifically Jewish, or just Eastern European. Either way, I read it as a kid and it stuck with me.

    5. Coenobita*

      I belong to a Reconstructionist congregation here in the DC area that I really like – I actually joined during the pandemic, after not having any real connection to a Jewish community since college roughly 15 years ago. Services are fully online for the time being and open to all. I’m local, but there are a number of farther-flung members as well as immunocompromised folks, etc. so I suspect the online option will be sticking around for quite a while if not indefinitely. We have services a few times a month plus holidays, with a mix of Friday nights and Saturday mornings. Evening services are probably a challenge for you due to your time zone but maybe drop in on a Saturday sometime? The website is kolamivirginia dot org.

    6. Lila*

      I found the book How to Raise a Jewish Child to be helpful. They make the point that the best way for children to learn about living a Jewish life is if their parents are observing and doing things within the home. We light candles for Shabbat and it’s been a good way for us to start.

    7. Crop Tiger*

      The All-of-a-Kind family series by Sydney Taylor. A little old for a three year old, but might be something for the future.

      Full disclosure: I’m not Jewish but this was recommended to me by a Jewish associate.

    8. jewinpew*

      Hi! Here’s my context: I am in the US, a rabbinical school student, and involved in multiple denominations.

      Regarding your comment that you reached out to two Jewish communities recently– it’s been basically a month of back-to-back holidays (shabbat on weekends, and then two-day (one day for YK) holiday)s every week since Rosh Hashana, with the last hag ending Wednesday night with Simchat Torah. Your Jewish communal professionals haven’t had time to do anything except be in holiday mode/creating holiday experiences for a month, so allow them another two weeks before you rule them out. If you wait two weeks and you still haven’t heard back, email (and also try to call) again, as your email probably is lost in their inbox. Truly, it’s been an exhausting holiday season for those who observe all the holidays.

      I would really encourage you to try to get involved with a local-ish community, or one that conceivably you might be able to attend at some point. For instance, maybe you travel to Germany a couple times a year– I think I heard there is a conservative congregation in Germany. You could start with whatever online options they have and then when you are able to attend in person, you’ll already know some of the congregation! I did something like this, unintentionally, and it made a huge impact on my in-person experience.

      As others have said, there are many congregations who stream online; there are those that work really hard to cultivate an online community vs those who just stream in-person services. Are you looking to learn for yourself or just your kiddo? Many communities are doing adult ed online; and there are also well-established educational institutions who do learning online (some may be for the more intermediate/advanced learned): Hadar, Drisha, Pardes. Check them out, many offer free live classes, podcasts, emails… The different denominations (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist) all also have learning opportunities that are put on by the movement, do some poking around and see what interests you. For instance, I was listening to a Reconstructionist podcast recently (Hashivenu) and heard an interesting convo with a rabbi of a community in the DC area about his synagogue’s covenental agreement. Since what he said struck a cord with me, if I were in your shoes, I would look him up, see what online offerings his congregation is offering, check out one or two, and see where that path leads.

      Passing on cultural identity and beliefs- you have to live it and make it part of home life! See if you know a few other Jews near you, maybe have them over for Shabbat dinner, or a Havdalah potluck in the park, etc. Cultivate that community.

      Hatzlacha! It’s not an easy path, no matter where we are, but hol hakavod for you for seeking it out. Please keep us updated!

    9. Ruth A*

      I found Sarah Hurwitz’s book Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There) both informative and deeply inspirational. It’s part introduction to Judaism and part spiritual memoir, and the spiritual memoir element is very much about her returning to Judaism as an adult. Hurwitz is definitely on the egalitarian/progressive side of things, and she also has a lot of resources for further reading.

      My local congregation is small enough that it doesn’t have Friday night services (my favorite service) every week, and I’ve found the expansion of online services during the pandemic to be really great. On weeks we don’t have services, I’ve been able to try out services with other congregations which has been nice both because the variety helped me clarify what kind of services work for me and because it means I can go to Friday night services every week. I clicked through to a lot of congregations through the directories from the Reconstructionist and Renewal movements, a list of congregations in the closest larger city, and a directory of LGBTQ+-friendly congregations until I found ones with easy links to their services that I could try out. For time zone reasons, you might see if you can find one you like that keeps the recording of their live services up on Facebook or YouTube so you can watch it at a different time, or you might see if there are congregations in your same time zone but far away who have services you can virtually attend.

      I’ve returned (again) to Judaism over the pandemic in a way that’s been good for me, and I hope you find or create the right community and way of practicing for you!

    10. MeepMeep*

      Shabbat shalom! For your 2) – we are vaguely secular Jews, but one constant in our life is Shabbat. We have a fancy Shabbat dinner with my parents, and we treat Shabbat as a day off from school or any school-like activities. The kid also gets lots of cartoons on Shabbat and on no other day of the week.

      I find that this is really helpful in maintaining the kid’s Jewish identity while we are in COVID isolation and can’t go anywhere.

    11. FashionablyEvil*

      I really liked Danya Ruttenberg’s book Surprised by God which is about finding her way to Jewish practice (she eventually became a rabbi.)

      There are a lot more programs these days for Jews who aren’t affiliated with a synagogue—have you looked for those type of groups?

      Also, a plug for Jewish summer camp if that’s an option for your family. It can really teach them a lot and normalize Jewishness for kids who live in places where there aren’t a lot of other Jews.

      1. Imtheone*

        There are also Jewish family camp experiences, since sleep-away camp for your child is a long way off in the future.

    12. DistinctiveGait*

      The podcast Judaism Unbound has a really large backlog now so you probably wouldn’t listen through the whole thing, but you could look through for topics that interest you—they talk a lot about building Jewish community and how the way people are Jewish is changing (and/or should change) as society evolves—and different/new ways for people to be Jewish together. Really interesting discussions with cool people, though I think a lot of it is US-focused. I also really liked the new kids’ book Recipe for Disaster by Aimee Lucido they discussed on the podcast—it’s a middle grades novel that deals a lot with what it is to be Jewish and defining what Judaism means to you in a nuanced way. All centered around different recipes by the protagonist’s grandmother. A cool book for adults to read as well. (I also second The Golem and the Jinni as a fantastic historical fantasy book with Jewish characters for teens/adults in answer to #2.)

    13. Jewish Young Professional*

      Re: community building, I think it’s important to really think about what you are trying to build. If you’re looking for more of a Jewish social community, in which case connecting with any existing community (even if not the best fit religiously) and/or starting a Facebook group for Jewish Community in your geographic area is a good starting point. If it’s an egalitarian prayer community, take advantage of online options and you can also simultaneously feel out interest in the local Facebook group (from above). If it’s educational, for yourself and/or your child, Myjewishlearning, Hadar, Pardes, should all have resources.

      Also, keep in mind that building community, especially an in-person Jewish community, is hard and it is a lot of work. It’s important to keep your expectations manageable and realistic. Additionally, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of any online resources so that you’re not trying to do everything yourself.

      Hatzlacha!

  9. Loves libraries*

    I noticed a lot of Tamora Pierce love in last weekend’s YA recommendation thread so am creating a thread to rhapsodise further about my favourite author. All welcome to get on board!
    What is your favourite series?
    Who is your favourite character?
    What do you love best about Tamora Pierce?
    My answers- Circle of Magic
    Keladry
    Just such great characters with a lot less romance than most YA (I find romance centric novels boring)
    All contributions welcome!

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I’m also a Keladry girl through and through!

      I love Circle of Magic—I’m not sure which my favorite series overall is, but I really like the follow-up Circle books.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I love all of her everything, but my dog’s name is Alannah. :) I know, the spelling isn’t quite the same, but there were multiple reasons I chose the name and the Lioness was one of them. My pups were both named after kick-ass women from entertaining books. The Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond was Angua, after Sir Pterry’s first female werewolf Captain of the Guard. (Entertainingly, Angua was blonde in her books and red in real life, and Alannah is the other way around.)

    3. Llellayena*

      Trickster’s Choice
      Aly
      She really does write about how women can do whatever they choose well. She does focus more on fighting roles, but she also shows women can be spies, craftspeople, scholars, police officers, veterinarians (Daine?), rulers, and even more traditional roles like healers, wives and mothers (usually in the support characters). Each woman chose their role within OR outside expectations.

      1. Hex Code*

        So true, and she never devalues the “typical” roles for women either, like the role of the Queen at court or the women’s role in keeping an estate functioning. Something we could use more of in the modern world!

      2. CheerfulGinger*

        Trickers Queen is my favorite and so is Aly!
        I love the spin-off from the Alanna series, which was my intro to Tortall. I especially enjoyed how the women work together, instead of the stereotypical in-fighting. And the Crows! We humans have much to learn.

    4. UKDancer*

      I grew up with Alanna and loved them. Then when I got a kindle in my 30s I discovered that she’d written a load more and I like them. I also think her writing has developed and grown over time and love the way she’s become more mature.

      My favourite character is probably Alanna for all the flaws that series has and in that one I also like the minor characters like Rispah and Eleni Cooper.

      I like Numair and also really like Sarge and can’t wait for the next Numair book to come out (which seems to be taking too long).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The waiting has been hard for me, too. I find myself hoping that it’s because she’s working on the screenplay for the Tortilla Universe project with Lionsbridge that was announced in late 2019.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I loved the Lioness and Immortals quartets. I have a distinct memory of reading “In The Hand of the Goddess” over a friend’s shoulder on the bus to camp in 7th grade and being like I NEED THIS BOOK.

      I just love that she took “write the book you want to read” and ran so far with it, with a wide range of female fantasy protagonists doing different things. The idea that there are many ways to be strong and powerful, without falling into the “not like other girls” trap of criticizing femininity.

    6. Forensic13*

      Ahhhh Tamora Pierce thread! She does not get enough love.

      I love both the Circle of Magic series and the Terrier series. And Tris and Beka Cooper are both great. But I love almost all her books!

      1. Jackalope*

        I loved the Circle of Magic series (pretty much all of the books in it), and I enjoyed the first 2 Terrier books. The final book in the Terrier series, most particularly the end of the book, absolutely ruined the series for me, and I can’t go back and read them. It’s too bad since I enjoyed the first two, but I just can’t do it.

          1. Jackalope*

            Sorry this was a bit late, but….

            Spoilers!

            Spoilers!

            In book 3 there was a character who became a traitor. I found it totally unbelievable. They went from being a trusted companion for many years, pragmatic, and so on, to selling out their friends for reasons that they 100% knew were bogus and wouldn’t actually give them what they wanted (see: pragmatic). This was a stable character who would not have just thrown everything over for a whim, but yet somehow they….did? And went in a week from this trustworthy person to being someone willing to murder a child for being in an inconvenient place. And then there’s the fact that all of the characters in their party were consistently described as being perceptive and able to read people, including catching people they cared about who were committing criminal acts and not allowing their personal feelings to get in the way. This was repeatedly described throughout the series. And then they’re all on a journey together, the traitor is with their closest friends who are deeply perceptive, the traitor is allegedly turning to the dark side, and none of the friends notice that anything is wrong??? It was so implausible, and felt like the author was just throwing away a perfectly good character for the sake of throwing away a character rather than this being a natural continuation of what would have happened w/ the character.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ah, I had a friend who threw the book across the room at that part and never finished it. (Well this was like 10 years ago now so she could’ve finished it at some point, but she hadn’t.) I tried to tell her the closure was helpful, but she wouldn’t do it.

    7. Anony*

      I’m loyal to Alanna. Such a formative series for me and really addressed topics head on that weren’t written about much back then. Plus I like that almost all of her characters have clear flaws.

    8. Jackalope*

      My favorite series would be a tie between the Circle of Magic and the Daine books. I love the creative ways that she used magic in the first book, especially things that a lot of people would dismiss (having a super green thumb?? Sewing??) and worked with them to make them interesting and super powerful. And I’ve always loved books where the main character has some sort of link with animals, so Daine as a friend to almost ALL of them is my ideal wish fulfillment.

      I can’t narrow it down with a favorite character, so after spending the last few minutes wracking my brain and trying to figure out just one or two, I am officially giving up and saying All the Characters.

    9. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

      My parents recently found the huge box of books that I put away when I moved out 18 years ago, so I’ve embarked on a reread starting with the Circle books. Previously I’ve always thought Kel was my favourite character but coming back to these four kids is just … they each embody different parts of me! Tris’s bookishness and temperament, Sandry’s stitch witchery, Daja’s bisexuality and Briar’s green thumb… I was a little shocked reading that Lark and Rosethorn are 30 (like I am currently?!?). And very excited to see if I pick up more about their partnership now that I know it’s a thing. :D

      But honestly I love almost everything in all the books and they were such a big part of my life throughout my teens. I hope we do get some more of them eventually!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Well that’s upsetting about Lark and Rosethorn, in my mind as a teen they were so old lol

    10. ecnaseener*

      I love all the books and can’t pick favorites, but one of my favorite Things about them is how the child/teen protagonists are respected, treated as young people who need guidance but are smart enough to understand a lot already.

    11. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Ooh fun! My answers are:
      Favourite series: Tie between Immortals and Trickster duo – read Immortals first but god the Trickster books are f u n (I enjoy all the spy work immensely)
      Favourite character: Fave main character is hands down Daine, and favourite side character is George
      Favourite part: Honestly so many but first thing which came to mind was that I l o v e that characters from earlier books keep showing up and that we get to catch and and follow what happens to them and see them from different perspectives (e.g. I read Daine’s books first so will probably always be more lenient re: Jon than those who read Kel’s or even Alanna’s books first).

    12. Xenia*

      Provost’s dogs
      Beka Cooper

      I love the more slice of life style that series has—still some major events but a much more down to earth level of concern.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    I did almost nothing this week – been very busy. Kind of feel guilty about that.

    1. Bookshelf Warrior*

      I have 25 days to write 38,000 words to deliver on a book contract. I’m afraid I’m not going to make it and it’s going to be a complete disaster.

      1. The Dogman*

        You can do it!

        It is a bit of job, 1520 words per day, but get grinding and you can get it done!

        Good luck and hope the fingers are not too sore at the end of it too!

      2. Lore*

        This may not apply if you’re not working with a traditional publisher, but if you are, delivery dates shift All The Time and everyone is used to it. If it’s a matter of days/weeks, even one/two months, no one will bat an eyelash (there will be some grumbling from your production team but they’re used to it). If it’s going to be longer, you will be a model author if you give your editor and agent a heads-up so they can do an actual amendment to the contract. But seriously there are books I’m working on that are years past contract date and everyone just rolls with it.

      3. Yvette*

        Don’t know what type of book so I hope this isn’t stupid but, can you write parts for it out of sequence? For example if you know there will be a certain event that will take place or piece of information that will be imparted could you write it now?
        Just getting something, anything down can be helpful in “breaking the ice” and provide a sense of accomplishment.

      4. RagingADHD*

        You can do it! AIC (ass in chair), lots of snacks, make sure and walk around once an hour or so.

    2. The Dogman*

      I actually got some done this week!

      Not huge amounts mind, and I am still stuck on how I want to go with one main character, which is holding up the rest of the main story, but I bashed out a few short passages I intend to use inbetween the main character parts as “flavour” and to crowbar in info I can’t easily fit into the main character parts.

      So feeling better about it… the annoying part is the short story this all grew from took me 4 hours… the turning it into a novel process has taken over 3 years!

      Oh well…

    3. Golden*

      I’ve never done NaNoWriMo but have always been curious about it! There’s about a month to go, and I’ve gone back and forth about trying to find a group (online) to participate in.

      I was thinking not to write a novel necessarily, but have been interested for some time in creating a fantasy world someone could theoretically set a DnD campaign in. I know some NaNoWriMo groups are pretty lose with the rules, but would 10k words of worldbuilding as opposed to a novel/story fly in most places? Side question, is there any place online to upload your fantasy world for other people to use (and hopefully let you know what adventures they went on in your world)?

      1. Maryn B.*

        AbsoluteWrite.com/forums is a writing community that always has lots of people doing NaNo–and is fine with members who choose different goals than NaNo’s 50K in November. There are also frequently people like me who find November inconvenience but do our own NaNo at another time, with the community’s encouragement.

        If you’d like some guidance in creating your world, look for Patricia Wrede’s worldbuilding questionnaire. It’s quite detailed, and if you can work out answers to nearly all of it, your world will be able to hold up no matter what scenarios are set there. I never finished my fantasy novel, but the world I built wasn’t the problem.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I used that questionnaire to write a world compendium for my latest and I can vouch for it. It’s extraordinarily detailed.

        2. Farragut*

          I thought the AW forums were dead! Thank you so much for making me go back and check. I was active there years ago.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      As a homework assignment (in my currently running once-weekly class for adults who are mourning the death of a parent) I began journaling. So far it is not only breaking up my emotional logjam but also unfreezing my poetry writing. Both of these have long been immobilized by a series of problems. No magic solutions yet (or ever) but I am happier when my mental gears regain motion. I may cross-post this in the tiny joys thread. It’s comforting to regain a treasured activity.

    5. RagingADHD*

      One of the interesting parts of my day job is that I sometimes get to see the inner workings of other writers’ processes. Sometimes I learn really useful stuff that I can apply in ny own work. Sometimes I see trainwrecks that let me punch my imposter syndrome in the face. Like, this person is getting paid the same as me, so why should I feel inadequate?

      This week I stepped into a book project midstream, because the other writer had a health issue and needed to bow out. (Found out in my project onboarding call that they actually stopped working altogether, so it must be pretty bad). The editor suggested me, because the first writer had already been struggling to structure the content clearly, and I’m a structure geek.

      My word. Y’all.

      *Y’all.*

      This was like that robotics company in Hitchhiker’s Guide, where “the fundamental design flaws were almost entirely obscured by the superficial design flaws.” It wasn’t just the manuscript that lacked structure. It was the whole project.

      We have access to very clear guidelines, templates, and a process for absolutely everything we do, but of course since most of the writers are freelance the company can’t require anything except deliverables, and as long as everything is on schedule, generally within budget, and nobody raises an issue, the project manager just answers questions and checks in from time to time to ask how things are going. They have access to everything, but they don’t go hehind people to look at their work unless there’s a handover or a need for emergency coverage.

      I always follow the guidelines because they are actually the most efficient way to do things, and they *work.* They also facilitate collaboration because things like filenames are standardized.

      None of these files were named in any recognizable way. Nothing was in the folders where you’d expect it to be. There were a bunch of randomly named subfolders, some of which were duplicates of each other, and some of which were mostly duplicates but with a couple different files, so you couldn’t take for granted that everything was duplicate.

      None of the original source material was preserved anywhere (which is actually a deliverable requirement). None of the editor’s comments in chapter drafts were where they should be, because the writer had made new copies of the files and deleted the previous versions off their GDrive (fortunately, they deleted them recently and I was able to recover a copy). We are supposed to work in a shared Google doc with a specific template, to preserve version history and keep the formatting clean for the layout team. But this person was apparently downloading files to work in Word offline, and uploading a new version every time they made a change. Why some versions were there three times and some were deleted is a mystery.

      They had created preliminary drafts of all 20 chapters of the book, each as separate files with multiple versions. No outline. Each paragraph is written in coherent English and appears to be accurate, but the paragraphs are just thrown together in no particular order.

      Twenty draft chapters of highly technical teaching content about business and finance, and no outline for any of it beyond a list of chapter titles. You don’t “pants” nonfiction. Not if you want it to make any damn sense.

      This writer billed 90+ hours just in the manuscript writing phase (not counting the content-collection, interviews, etc) to produce FOUR chapters that actually made it to the editor, three of which were sent back for extensive changes. For comparison, I would expect to spend about 60-70 hours in that phase for this size book, to complete a full, relatively polished draft including editor feedback.

      This writer created reams and reams of preliminary drafts that they never sent to the editor and weren’t required. There’s probably 30k or 40k words of just “voice and tone” samples, which is 10 to 15 TIMES more than is needed. I can’t begin to estimate how many hours of work they actually did behind the scenes and didn’t bill for. Because if they were running that far over expectations this early in the project, the PM would have asked about it.

      And every scrap is getting thrown out. I had to get the admins to retrieve the original interview audio and archived source material, because starting over is less work than trying to decipher this, much less try to fix it.

      At this point I’m wondering if their health issue was actually a breakdown, because they spun their wheels so hard that they flamed out. It’s upsetting to me, because they were clearly flailing and creating so much totally unnecessary work for themselves. And there’s all this help available! The editors and project managers are just so genuinely nice and thoughtful. They will answer the dumbest sounding questions without making you feel stupid. There’s a writer’s Slack channel where people are constantly exchanging advice and tips. The project guidelines are very clear and call for much, much less work than this person was doing.

      Y’all, process matters. There are variables for every project, and different things are going to work for different people. But you need some rational, intentional way to approach the work and use your time. A simple, clear process produces simple, clear thinking.

      And you will never be able to write more clearly than you can think. You have to get your stuff straight and your head straight in order to write straight.

      Keep your stuff in order! Writing is hard enough without making the simple parts complicated.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >And you will never be able to write more clearly than you can think.
        Awesome! Can I copy this onto a sticky note and put it, like, everywhere?! (Might also include the sentence after this one.) How can I credit you?

    6. marvin the paranoid android*

      Semi-related, but I highly, highly recommend George Saunders’s book A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, which is a series of short stories by Russian masters (Chekov, Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev) accompanied by essays reflecting on why and how they work as stories. I’ve read a lot of books on writing and to me this offered a totally new perspective (although it helps that Saunders’s philosophical approach to writing really connects with me).

      If you like to learn about writing by analyzing how great writers do it, you will probably find something valuable in this book. I also discovered that I really love Gogol and don’t know how I’ve gotten this far without reading his work before.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Still vacillating between Book 3 and Newer Project. I wish I knew what I will be doing in November. I can’t commit to NaNoWriMo at this point. If I could, I might be able to choose and bang one of them out, but things are hanging right now and I can’t make a decision. Plus, the cloud certification course the career center tacked onto the project management one expires at the end of October and I’m trying to at least get a handle on the material even if I can’t take the exam for it right now.

      It’s okay, though. I’m in the inside-my-head phase for Book 3. I’ve been writing down little bits of scenarios or dialogue that pop into my head when I’m doing something else.

  11. Farragut*

    What are the best ways to ask other people – coworkers, event attendees, parents of kids my kids play with – if they’re vaccinated?

    1. StellaBella*

      I wear 2 masks everywhere and I tell people I am vaxxed if I am meeting them and add the whole ‘abundance of caution’ language. I find that others will offer it up if they are, or stay silent if not. At events I would hope they require masks or proof of vaccine? if you run the event then require it. For play dates, maybe ask directly, and refer to all the recent stats on kids getting it, by saying, ‘until junior is old enough to get a vax, we are being extra careful, so a play date outside is ok but until we are sure everyone in our circle is vaxxed we just want to be safe.’

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Honestly, I’d just ask but my tolerance for beating around the bush with regards to vaccines and who has them is below zero. If they get offended, so be it.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yeah I don’t care if I offend anti-vaxxers and if someone has a legit medical condition keeping them from being vaxxed, I want to know to be extra careful around that person.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Me too. A simple “Have you been vaccinated?” is in no way impolite. If anyone gets upset about that simple question, that tells you all you need to know.

    3. Hornets*

      I go with “Are you vaccinated?” because in the case of covid, my health and that of others I love take precedence over their potentially hurt feelings.

      1. Jim Bob*

        I was first in line to get vaccinated, because I can’t afford “brain fog,” but I’m 1) a very private person and 2) deeply resent the idea that coerced medical treatment is acceptable, whether by government, employers, or social pressure.

        Though I have been vaccinated, I have been refusing to answer this question when asked. I would frankly rather not associate with people who feel entitled to my private medical information.

          1. Jim Bob*

            1) This is intellectually dishonest, and you know it. There is a fundamental difference between vaccines that have been commonly given for many years and one that has been approved for less than a year, whose safety and efficacy has been *the* hot topic (unjustifiably, but repeat something enough and it sounds true) of the past 365 news cycles. Regardless of whether we personally agree that people are well-informed, we have to allow them to make their own decisions; the Tuskegee experiment, the 1920’s eugenics nightmare, and Texas’ new abortion law show us what happens when we allow the government to decide the “greater good” overrides personal bodily autonomy.

            2) I was given those vaccines (except smallpox, I’m too young for that one) as a young child by my parents. If they came out today, I would make my own well-reasoned decision (probably to vaccinate).

            1. Imtheone*

              Those who are not vaccinated are risking the lives and well-being of me and my family. I am very concerned to know!

        1. Stitch*

          Being vaccinated and providing documentation thereof is nothing new. I’ve had to regularly provide copies of my son’s shot record to his daycare. My friend had to hang out in the gym first day of 7th grade because they didn’t have her medical exemption on file for vaccines (she had leukemia, she caught up when her chemo was over).

          When my first nephew was born my Dad basically ordered the whole family to check when their last TDAP was (Dad’s a pediatrician, 90% of babies who died of whooopingnl cough are under 2 months old (when they administer the vaccine to babies)).

        2. Deanna Troi*

          That’s your choice, Jim Bob. And I would frankly rather associate with people who refuse to tell me if they were vaccinated. We recently hosted an outdoor birthday event for my husband’s sister, and told the sister’s daughter that she couldn’t come because she wasn’t vaccinated. We recently went on a hike with another couple, and I asked them if they were vaccinated. If they had said no or declined to answer, we wouldn’t have gone.

          At work, if someone wasn’t vaccinated or wouldn’t tell me, I would tell them not to enter my shoebox of a cube and I would refuse to sit in the same conference room with them.

        3. Daffodilly*

          And we would rather not associate with you.
          This is community issue and we have to work together to solve it. People who are being jerks and refusing to coordinate/work with others can go exile themselves for all I care.
          You cannot have the benefits of community without accepting the responsibilities of living in a community.

        4. what*

          What a terrible attitude toward others’ safety. They’re asking to protect themselves and their families, not to pry into your medical business. It’s like asking if someone drank at the party before getting in their car for a ride home–it’s their business if you could put them at risk.

        5. RagingADHD*

          You sound like there probably aren’t a lot of people waiting for the day they can safely hug you again, that you would like to reassure and spend unguarded time with.

          That’s a shame, and I hope you get some more close connections, because everyone needs that.

    4. Asenath*

      I don’t ask, but am ready to volunteer my status if asked, or if it comes up naturally in conversation. I have a pretty good idea of a LOT of people’s status from just doing that.

    5. Venus*

      Vaccination reduces their likelihood of having covid but doesn’t eliminate it, so I usually care about masks. I phrase it as “I can’t have anyone indoors unless they wear a mask, so what is your preference?” So far everyone wants to meet outdoors. For vaccinations I would have a similar way, maybe “I prefer to limit visits to vaccinated folks for now. Would you be available in coming weeks or would you prefer to wait?” They could suggest next week and not be vaccinated, yet they could also lie if you ask them directly.

    6. Kathenus*

      I’m going to be going on a road trip including visiting some friends, and I just asked outright in our emails on plans. I volunteered that I was vaccinated and asked if they were or not. In my case this information is also used in our return to work screenings, so I mentioned that. Even with friends it felt a bit awkward but I think we all need to just get comfortable with it, and for me the only way to do that is by doing it. I suspect it’ll become more natural over time.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I’d ask if it’s a dwfit requirement for you and focus on other things if it’s not. For example, would you decline an event if there were unvaccinated people there? Would you be okay wearing a mask knowing others might not? For a playdate, you might just say “we’d love to get together but we’re still wearing masks with people outside our household, do you mind doing the same?” since the kids can’t be vaxxed yet anyway – it may not matter if the adult had their shot. For a small indoor meal it might be “I’m sorry, but I can only come if everyone is vaccinated, do you know if they are?” to the host. For bigger gatherings I’d just ask what their requirements and decide from there. This is one area where I’m comfortable being very blunt, but my expectations change depending on the type of event.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Remember some people might lie and say they’re vaccinated when they’re not, especially if they think it’s ‘no big deal’ and you’re ‘too cautious.’ Obviously this is a crappy thing to do but I can imagine some people might do it. Not sure how you can check, demanding proof might lead to a row.

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            For me the question is more about normalizing the idea that you SHOULD be vaccinated if you can. If I’m not sure I can believe someone I would make my decision as if they’re unvaxxed, but I want them to feel like a bit of a weirdo for it lol.

            1. banoffee pie*

              Good point, I see what you mean. But then you might have to listen to an anti-vaxx lecture which would be annoying ;) I have no patience with people explaining science to me wrongly.

          2. Sue*

            I actually know someone (found out from a misdirected text) who admitted they lie and say they are vaccinated. Zero respect for this person now, obviously. Somehow, lying about it ramps up the jerk factor by about 1000%.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Honestly, lying about something that could kill people is just evil. There’s premeditated evil, there’s evil done through reckless disregard, and there’s evil done through cowardice. It’s all still evil.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      a) Straight up “Are you vaccinated?” Don’t beat around the bush; many people will think ‘Whew, she raised it!’ and say “Yes, we’re all vaccinated.”
      b) Tell them you’re vaccinated, in an obviously-people-wonder-this-now calm and helpful tone. “FYI, everyone over 12 in our house is fully vaxxed.” If they don’t respond “Oh, us too” you can read that as “I personally am refusing to get invisible secret microchipped, a theory I read and type about at length on this little microchipped device I carry in my pocket.”

    9. RagingADHD*

      If I or my kids have reason to be within six feet of them unmasked indoors (for more than a few moments) or if I am meeting up with someone outdoors that I would otherwise hug, I say, “Of course I am vaxed, are y’all?”

      If it’s not someone I know or have a particular reason to deal with face to face, I don’t ask and keep my mask on.

      If the kids get invited to someone’s house, I just ask, and say no if they aren’t vaxed.

      1. Stitch*

        +1. My kid is too young to be vaccinated. I’m not risking his health out of some idea of politeness.

    10. retired*

      I’ve just found a jewel of a house cleaner. She won’t work for someone who is not vaccinated. I told her I was vaccinated right away. I am so grateful just to have a straightforward talk.

    11. MeepMeep*

      Just flat out ask, and ask for proof. I’m kinda done with pandering to vaccine hesitancy. Want to get close enough to potentially hurt me? Show me proof that you’re most likely harmless. Want to get close to my kid? Show me a vaccination card or you’re not getting within 100 feet of her.

      We are at 700,000 dead. How many of them were being too nice to ask for proof of vaccination?

    12. Starling*

      A very gentle way is “are you comfortable sharing your vaccine status?”

      Vaxxed folx tend to jump up and cheerfully share. Someone choosing to withhold the info… I wouldn’t risk it!

    13. Clisby*

      One of my neighbors has an annual Carolina Day party (commemoration of an early American Revolution battle). This summer, he sent out invitations, and asked recipients to please decline if they weren’t vaccinated.

  12. mreasy*

    Hi! This feels like a very silly problem to have, but here goes. I have to wear earplugs to sleep because my husband snores and we live on a noise corner. But I guess I have weirdly tiny ear canals, because normal sized ones barely ever work, and the Hearos Nanos (made for small ear canals) sometimes still don’t fit. I’ve tried silicone but I have long hair and they get badly stuck to it. I’ve also used some reusable ones, but they only last about a week until one of them comes out of my ear in the night and disappears (I have cats). Does anyone else have tiny ear canals who has come up with a solution for earplugs. Thanks I’m advance for any ideas!

    1. heckofabecca*

      I have tiny ear canals so I strongly sympathize! Could you get a silk turban or headband or something similar to wear to bed? It’d keep your hair out of the way and keep the earplugs in. I strongly recommend Grace Eleyae’s slap turbans, but a headband might be better for your situation—there are noise-cancelling ear muffs that look like a headband, apparently!

      1. mreasy*

        Thanks! I used to wear a headband to sleep but I got paranoid that it was causing hair loss along my hairline. I don’t think it was actually the culprit though, so this is a good reminder to try that again.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You might even try the night bands with built-in headphones to add some white noise to your physical ear blocking, if you think that might help.

    2. The Dogman*

      It will be much easier to address his snoring than sticking things into your ears.

      Safer for your hearing too!

      Does he snore in all sleeping positions?

      If not get a body length “bolster” pillow, have him prop himself so he doesn’t snore. (My partner snores on her back, so she sleeps on her sides with a pillow behind her shoulders to stop her rolling. Sleep for me is so much better, and better for her as I am not waking her up to get her to roll over.)

      If he snores in all positions then see a doctor to get a referral to a sleep specialist.

      In the mean time some people have success with the nose strips (little sticky strips you put over the bridge of the nose to pinch it slightly, for a lot of people this stop or reduces the snoring.

      Others have mouth pieces (seems too invasive to me) that do the same.

      For some it is just loosing weight that gets rid of the snoring, but others need surgery.

      Regardless if he is keeping you up to the point you are willing to put sticky silicone in your ears I think you should find him a snoring specialist doctor and address it that way!

      Good luck. Have no recommendations on ear plugs sorry… maybe separate bedrooms?

      1. mreasy*

        He only snores on his back and not all the time – I’m just a light sleeper. Unfortunately there are enough outside noises that I need earplugs regardless. But thanks!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Solidarity. I am a super light sleeper and my husband is a snorer – sending him to the doctor got him diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and got him a CPAP machine, and now HE sleeps better, but I … am now kept awake by the machine’s noise instead of the snoring. :P (And I can’t do earplugs, so I just get to deal. The machine noise IS better though, as long as he doesn’t knock it off kilter in the middle of the night.)

          1. mreasy*

            Could be worth trying the sleep headband with Bluetooth headphones in another commenter suggested below?

          2. blue wall*

            Not disagreeing with RRAF at all, but wanting to add a note for the general commentator who might read this– I also use a CPAP machine and it is super super quiet; anyone I’ve shared a room with or who’s been around when I’ve used it has not been disturbed. (Certainly if someone is a very light sleeper in a very quiet house you will be able to hear it, but it’s not a violent loud noise by any means.)

            – Signed, someone who ignored dr’s advice to get a CPAP for 4 years because of an off-hand unrelated comment someone made on this comment section about their spouse’s experience with a CPAP

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Nope, for sure — I think my husband is just bad at getting his positioned correctly and/or not knocking it off kilter in the middle of the night. When he first gets it settled it’s fine, but if something wakes me up in the wee hours and he’s jostled it just off, it makes this infuriating wheeze-whistle noise like a balloon with the tiniest pinhole. It’s not a big loud noise, just something about it sets my teeth on edge and makes it super hard to get back to sleep. It’s definitely a me issue. :) Sorry for being unclear!

              1. allathian*

                Light sleepers deserve the chance to get a good night’s sleep as much as anyone else. Have you ever considered separate bedrooms? Is your house big enough for that?

                My husband and I have slept in separate bedrooms since our son was a baby, when my husband slept in the same room with him. I wake up at the tiniest noise, and it often takes me a long time to get back to sleep, whereas he can usually fall asleep again within 5 minutes. He could deal with waking up in the night and bringing our son to me for feeding, even while I was on maternity leave and he was working. Luckily our son started sleeping through the night at 4 months, so my husband could get the sleep he also needed. I’m absolutely certain that sleeping separately saved our marriage, I’m a horrible person when I’m sleep-deprived. I was single for most of my adult life before I met my husband when I was 33, and even when I dated my exes, I never lived with them, so I guess I never really got used to sleeping in the same bed with another person.

                1. allathian*

                  I also can’t sleep with earplugs, they seem to amplify my tinnitus to unbearable levels, and I can also hear my pulse like I do when I’m congested. We put our ventilation on a high setting at night, and that generates some white noise, but not enough to be too distracting.

                2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  Our agreement is that if he stays up past a certain hour (I go to bed early and get up early, he’s more of a night owl who sleeps in) then he sleeps on the couch in his office so he doesn’t wake me up coming to bed. But that’s not a viable long-term solution, because the couch in his office does not do kind things to his body and then he’s all pained, which is a problem for him, and whiny about it, which is a problem for me. Heh. As far as the nighttime noises – I mostly just deal :) I’m fortunate enough that I don’t need near so much sleep as he does to feel well rested, and my natural sleep schedule is also frequently biphasic, so I’m awake for an hour or so around 2-3 am anyway whether I want to be or not. (Mostly I’m just bad at sleeping and, as with many of the other ways my brain works weird, I’ve grown accustomed to working around it :) ) There’s also relationship reasons that neither of us is keen on moving to separate rooms, even aside from the logistics – our relationship is weird-not-bad-weird enough as it is, because of differences in sex drive, and deliberately sleeping in separate rooms on a regular/permanent basis would make that “worse” for both of us. TLDR, we have considered it and decided it wasn’t a viable solution for us, but thanks for the thought :)

                3. allathian*

                  Thanks for the explanation, Red Reader.

                  Sleep deprivation completely kills my sex drive, which is hardly conducive to marital harmony in our case.

            2. Imtheone*

              It helps to put the CPAP machine a little lower than the mattress, as that blocks some of the sound. It also helps to put a towel under it in case there are vibrations.
              My family says it is so much quieter without the snoring that they don’t mind!
              For ear plugs, try the waxed cotton ones that can be shaped to go over the entrance to the ear. They can also be trimmed if you need them to be smaller.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Also consider covering the hose. We have a “hose sleeve” –just a long strip of fleece sewn lengthwise, big enough for the hose to slip in. My husband’s first machine did not have a heated tube, and we like a cold house, So this started as a way to fight condensation.

        2. The Dogman*

          Youtube and search “10 hours of rain” then select one with or without thunder and that will help you sleep perhaps?

          Good luck anyway… try the body length pillow too!

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I’ve been sleeping in earplugs for the last 15 years or so, by myself or next to someone. I absolutely cannot tolerate any noise when I am trying to fall asleep, even white noise. Even ceiling fan. My brain starts to pick out noises and I get anxiety and frustration. It has nothing to do with my partner’s health, but with my misophonia. I never travel without them.

    3. mreasy*

      To clarify, I don’t mind sleeping with earplugs at all – just that it’s hard to get them in my ears.

    4. WS*

      I get children’s silicone earplugs (for swimming) and they’re smaller so there’s not so much silicone on the outside to get stuck to my hair.

    5. Arya Parya*

      I have small ear canals (I have kids size earplugs for concerts). I use wax earplugs to sleep with. You can mold them and cut them a little smaller if needed.

    6. Merle Grey*

      I have small ear canals, and foam earplugs hurt after a few minutes. My workplace is a little noisy, and sometimes it gets on my nerves. I got some Loop earplugs because they have different sized tips, and they don’t stick out. They are very comfortable. I haven’t tried sleeping with them, but the loop part sits pretty flush in the outer ear, and they are soft (silicon) but not sticky. I was thinking about getting a spare pair, and noticed now they also come with XS tips. They block about 25 dB.

    7. Dr B Crusher*

      I used to have a pair of foam earplugs that were on a cord. They were very useful for travelling and sleeping in hostels back in the day, and never got lost. I could even usually find them and put them back in if one fell out in the night, because the other was still in my ear and I’d just have to sleepily find the cord and pop the rogue earplug back in.

      Also, regarding foam earplugs, I have small ear canals too and used to have problems until I found a technique for twisting the foam plugs in that worked for me. So if you haven’t experimented with this, I might give that a try.

      1. Dr B Crusher*

        Adding that I don’t remember where I got the earplugs on the cord. Probably just a normal pharmacy but possibly an outdoor adventure/travel shop. I’m sure you could find them online these days.

        1. mreasy*

          Ooh good shout! I don’t mind when the foam ones fall out bc they’re disposable but I see construction workers with earplugs on a cord so maybe those exist in other styles!

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve never found a set that work well for my ears either. I currently use a Bluetooth headband and listen to sleep stories, white noise, or podcasts to sleep

      1. mreasy*

        I have one of these but stopped bc I thought it was causing my hairline to be irritated. I actually need to use earplugs with it (why am I so cursedly sensitive to sound???) but it sounds like going back to it and maybe trying kids size silicone earplugs may be the move. Thanks!

    9. Anonymous Koala*

      Would white noise help? My husband is really sensitive to changes in sound when he sleeps, but a fan or white noise machine a few feet from his side of the bed really helps drown everything out. Our A/C is also really loud, so we keep the fan from there on at night to help drown out other noise.

    10. Deschain*

      I have the same problem! The only thing that’s worked for me is sleeping with a box fan turned on high on each side of the bed. They have to be elevated because they need to be close to both of your heads. White noise machines didn’t work. The fans don’t always work either but they’re the best option I’ve found.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      Every time I see a woman write about her body is somehow wrong – too small, whatever, I think about Caroline Criado Perez’s book “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.”

      My bet is that your ear canals are just fine but that earplugs are designed for men, so of course they are not going to work as well for women.

      (I just heard her in a Freakanomics podcast talking about how the stab vests the cops wear in England are designed for men and that when female cops wear them, their vulnerable body parts are still exposed because breasts make the vests ride up and gape.)

      1. TPS reporter*

        I laughed at seeing ear plugs for women at the pharmacy that come in pink and purple. But they do actually fit me a lot better! I second the recommendation to do a lot of twisting before putting them in your ear.

        I have to sleep with them in for various reasons.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          “Pink it and shrink it” – as if women’s bodies have all the same proportions as men’s. :( But I am glad you have found earplugs that work for you!

        2. mreasy*

          Yeah I had a friend who guffawed at the women’s earplugs til I explained they’re smaller! Women’s plugs are still too big for me, and even the “for small ear canals” styles don’t fit well (with a lot of twisting it works but only after a lot of frustration).

          1. acmx*

            You should roll the earplug (lengthwise) between your fingers to compress, then reach your right arm over your head and gently pull the top of your left ear and insert the earplug. Repeat on opposite side.

            (Not saying smaller ones won’t help. This is just how they’re supposed to be inserted).

            1. mreasy*

              Unfortunately that’s exactly what I do and they’re still nearly impossible to get into my ears.

    12. Dr. Anonymous*

      You can have an audiologist cast custom earplugs for you that will fit your teeny-tiny ear canals and are easy to remove and won’t stick to your hair.

    13. Pennyworth*

      Have you tried the soft foam ones they use during MRI scans in hospitals? You compress them to fit them in you ear canal.

    14. BoseHeadphones*

      Another person with tiny ears here who has never found earplugs that stay in my ears – I wear bluetooth headphones to sleep. Specifically the Bose noise-cancelling ones. They. are. amazing.

      I know others on this thread have suggested headbands, but if you are worried about your hairline as I can see in some of your replies, headphones may reduce that concern a bit since they sit more on top of your head rather than around your hairline. With a soft enough pillow, I don’t find them uncomfortable to sleep in at all.

    15. Slothy*

      Mack’s Dreamgirl. They’re pink, but they fit small ear canals and block out A/C rattles, cat noises, and human noises.

    16. Student*

      Don’t know if this will help you – but I only recently learned that I’d been wearing earplugs incorrectly after using them at work for a long time.

      To get earplugs to fit right, I have to pull on my ears in a specific direction as I insert them. Then they fit me just fine. If I try to put them straight in, they feel like they don’t fit, especially on one side of my head. I’m using the foam ones used for industrial applications that you squish before inserting them.

    1. banoffee pie*

      Interesting article. I definitely agree that ‘laziness’ might well be insecurity/not knowing where to start/lack of confidence etc. One quibble I have is, I’m not sure I agree that most people judge homeless people for wanting a smoke/drink instead of spending money on food. I think a lot of people understand why they would need some comfort.

      1. ampersand*

        I agree. It might be that the most vocal people hold these ideas about homelessness, and the rest of us (the majority, I would hope?) understand that you take comfort where you can get it.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      Thank you for sharing! I have general anxiety disorder. I’m doing better now, but there was a lot of crying the first time I went to university.

    3. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

      I had a few tears myself. Well past the college age, but I have some issues that keep me from functioning as fully and successfully as possible. The worst is knowing that no one will understand, so I can’t tell anyone what is really going on.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for sharing this.

      I agree that very seldom is a person actually lazy. Ironically, it’s the speaker who labeled the person as lazy who is the one who is lazy. Taking the time to understand where things are at for others can get a little time consuming, and it also involves extra energy. And it helps if people have an inquiring mind.

      I also believe that very seldom do people actually have psychosomatic symptoms. but that’s another topic. The point is we have these crutches to label people and get ourselves off the hook for looking closer and perhaps caring a little more than we do now.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Price has written a whole book by the same title which builds off this essay. Definitely recommend.

  13. Arya Parya*

    I have small ear canals (I have kids size earplugs for concerts). I use wax earplugs to sleep with. You can mold them and cut them a little smaller if needed.

  14. J.B.*

    OT for kids

    Last week Elf had some questions about occupational therapy for kids in response to my question about slow processing speed. My response to that was late so I wanted to put it in here.

    From a parent’s perspective an occupational therapist helps support a kid with motor challenges and with problems integrating different senses together. Movement takes a lot from identifying what you want to do to knowing your position in space to motor planning to completing the action. Some of the supports an OT have put in for my daughter are about getting her sensory inputs in class but quietly. Many occupational therapists for kids also work from the zones of regulation program to identify emotions and how the body feels at different times. Insurance coverage is often more common for occupational therapy than for psychotherapy.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ll chime in that several of my friends had OT for their kids and it was universally positive.

      I compare it to PT for a rotator cuff injury in adults, where you start out lifting the one pound weight thinking “How can this change anything?” and at 10 reps are like “Whew, I’m really feeling this in one specific muscle. Huh” and then the therapist tells you to do 10 more and you experience a flash of homicidal rage. “Just move your arm” isn’t sufficient advice, because there’s only one weak muscle and most of the time other muscles are compensating for it, right up until they suddenly can’t. You need someone who can figure out exactly which muscle isn’t operating right, who then knows what physical exercises isolate that muscle and force it to get stronger. OT is like that but with mental stuff rather than shoulder muscles.

      1. Meh*

        OT, is for physical stuff too! My mom is an OT and CHT. She’s part of rehab services and does a lot of fine motor work, makes splints and adaptive tools etc. Usually the patients have had surgery for something hand related (carpel tunnel, trigger finger, severed tendons)

        I’m jumping in with no knowledge of the previous thread, but make sure you are getting an OT that is specific to the kind of care you need. They aren’t all the same and you’ll find different specialties.

  15. Saturday Anon*

    Hi! I finished reading The Goblin Emperor and would like to read more in a similar style. Does anyone have any recs?

    I liked how Maia was learning to deal with this new world and keeping his basic kindness. And how he found that some of the people around him were
    basically kind too. (Though some definitely weren’t!)

    I liked the setting and learning how this world worked. (I really want to see the model bridge they made!)

    Does anyone have any recs for books with a similar style?

    1. Nicki Name*

      There’s another book in the same world, The Witness for the Dead (not really a sequel though).

      Do you need the recs to be fantasy, or will science fiction work too?

        1. Reba*

          I highly recommend Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series (sci fi/space opera, themes of imperialism, AI personhood and the possibility of moral action) and her unrelated novel Raven Tower (fantasy, themes of goodhood and solving a giant puzzle).

      1. Eisa*

        – Witness for the Dead is so, so good.
        – “The Mirror of her Dreams” by Stephen R Donaldson is a riveting fish out of water type fantasy.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I will, however, caution that Donaldson does *not* write books that make you feel warm and fuzzy!

    2. Coenobita*

      It’s a totally different setting, but the Muderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells gave me similar vibes. It has interesting worldbuilding and characters who are generally good at heart.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Just finished this series! Really loved it. I see the similarity– Murderbot is also from an emotionally and experientially impoverished background, trying to learn how to be himself in the bigger world among (eek) humans. And also finds some bad actors, and many good ones.
        (Extra rave: this series was my first Audible experience, which I was surprised to find really enjoyable. The specific reader was fantastic– Kevin R. Free iirc. The pandemic induced me to learn how to use Libby to get library books– Surprise, I kinda like that, too! Audible books had never been on my radar before. Chores Got Done.)

    3. Pam Adams*

      Becky Chambers’ work has that similar kind feel.

      Along with Witness for the Dead, Katherine Addison has an alternate Sherlock Holmes fantasy- The Angel of the Crows.

    4. CJ*

      The Hands of the Emperor (Victoria Goddard) hit the same kindness and worldbuilding notes for me. It’s the only other book I’ve found that really hit the same buttons (including Witness For the Dead, which I liked but didn’t have as much of the ‘working for good within an imperfect system, and changing what you can’ that was my favourite part of Goblin Emperor).

      1. Jen Erik*

        Seconding this: it would be my the-nearest-thing-to… pick. (She’s writing a sequel ‘At the Feet of the Sun’ which I am very excited about.)
        The other book I mentally shelve with Goblin Emperor is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson which is in some ways quite different – an older minister writing an account of his life for his young son to have – but which is also a book about a good person, and how they try to live a good life.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      T. Kingfisher is good for books about decent, flawed people doing their best in difficult circumstances (and are also quite funny). The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune is a lovely book. The Wayfarer Books by Becky Chambers are sci-fi, concentrating on small scale stories against a larger backdrop. Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona books – theologically themed fantasy.

      I just finished the second book of Novik’s Scholomance Trilogy (just out!), which features people learning to be decent people against a dystopian backdrop.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I think the most similar in feel book I’ve read is Chalice by Robin Mckinley. I totally love it, but fair warning it is a bit slow and sometimes isn’t very good at “show not tell.” But there is just something very cozy about it in the same way as Goblin Emperor. And I love the magic in it..

    7. Fiction Reader*

      Try Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. Aliens land in medieval Europe where they encounter a priest who has been through political and theological chaos and is now trying to love his neighbors, no matter how different they are from him.

    8. Virtual Light*

      Laughing because I also loved that book and was excited to read others’ recommendations… only to find I’ve already read all but one or two of them! Good to know my people are here. Will continue to follow this.

  16. Grandma Mazur*

    Looking for advice from gamers:

    We have two young children (4 & 2.5) and I suspect they may be interested in (what my generation called computer or video) games in the future. I suspect that the best way to ensure they’re safe and respectful online is to start them on that journey with us as active gamers along side them but it’s a long time since I played anything (I stopped at GoldenEye, GTA San Andreas and Lego Star Wars) so I’m not sure what our best entrance into this world is – in terms of games (individual recommendations and genre recommendations both welcome!) and consoles (I can see a Wii might make sense if that’s still current..?). Any suggestions for how to approach this in the future will be gratefully received!

    1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      In my opinion, Nintendo has the widest collection of games I’d consider ‘kid-friendly’ – both in terms of theme and ease of play. The Wii wouldn’t be a bad way to go; I have fond memories of playing Wii Sports with my family (especially the bowling and disc golf).

      That said, I’d also highly recommend the Nintendo Switch, which could be considered the newest iteration of the Wii concept. Since it’s Nintendo’s most current console, you’ll have hardware support for longer, and you’ll be able to find a growing library of games for it.

      Games-wise, I’d recommend 1-2-Switch, which has a lot of easy-to-learn mini-games designed to teach you how to use the controllers. Mario Party is essentially a board game disguised as a video game, I’ve played that one with kids aged 6-8 and we all had a good time. Any of the Pokémon games are great as well – they don’t require a lot of technical gaming skill, just the ability to read and retain information about all the adorable creatures you collect. Pokémon isn’t generally designed for multiple players, but I could see a parent sitting with a kid, letting them ‘drive’ and reading/discovering together, and that could be super fun. Hope that helps!

      1. curly sue*

        Pokemon Sword / Shield was good fun with my kids that way – one of us ‘drove’ the rest were backseat drivers. It’s got fairly simple gameplay and very linear storyline — there’s usually only one road you can go down to get where you’re going. I second the Switch; we got ours a couple of months before the pandemic hit and it’s been well worth it.

    2. OTGW*

      Lol they’re still called video games. A Nintendo Switch I think is the best start cause you’ll get recent games and anything Mario are great for kids. But if you’re on a budget, a Wii is good too. And minecraft is a good game you can get without needing a console. But Animal Crossing, sniperclips, racing games are always solid.

      As for actual online games, I think all the games out now will be way less popular by the time they can play. Fall guys, Fortnite, overwatch, among us, etc. And none of those are really anything a toddler can do. An 8 year old, sure, but I would just wait to see what’s out in five years.

      However, pretty much everywhere, you’re gonna get people talking about really gross things. So I would talk about that and make sure they know to disengage, leave the server, whatever, if that happens. Kids shouldn’t be dealing with that.

      1. BeenThere*

        Seconding the Nintendo switch recommendation, there’s a relatively cheap subscription called “Nintendo switch online” which gives access to a back catalog of NEE and SNES game. In October there will be adding Nintendo64 games to the back catalog probably at a slightly higher price tier. I really hope they re-release GoldenEye in the catalog. They have announced Banjo and Kazooie as one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64 games on the switch. It’s a wonderful platform game from that era developed my the game studio Rare (acquired by Microsoft, all the talent departed/ took their payday). GoldenEye was always developed by Rare, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    3. Run mad; don't faint*

      By the time your kids are 6-8, you’ll see a lot of handheld consoles showing up in their friend group. It will probably be the Nintendo switch, unless something new has come out by then. They can play on the switch with others, though it tends to be by sharing codes, if I recall correctly. So you can make sure they’re only in contact with friends at first, which is good because you can focus on teaching them how to play nicely with others that way.

      Online/computer game-wise, Minecraft is still popular with younger kids. They can play it alone or on a server with others, so setting up your own Minecraft server would be one way to play with them. You could talk with their friends’ parents and set up Minecraft servers with them, so that you know who your kids are playing with when you’re not. I agree with the other comment about teaching them to back out of situations they don’t understand or that make them uncomfortable.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, my son’s been playing Minecraft on a server with his friends from school since he was 9, and he’s 12 now and still interested. So far, he hasn’t shown any interest in playing with people he doesn’t know. He used to play Fortnite on the PS4, but we didn’t enable voice chat for that, so he didn’t hear other people’s comments and didn’t comment himself, either. Now that he’s actually old enough to play Fortnite, he’s no longer interested.

    4. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I don’t think you need to do a single thing to get them interested in video games. They will see other kids playing them and hear kids talking about them and they will beg you for what they want (regardless of the cost or age-appropriateness). I use common sense media heavily, even with my teenager. He’s almost old enough that he can play just about everything at this point.

      1. A*

        As above, do not make it any easier
        I have a 21 year old son and I deeply regret any access to video games

        He is border line addicted, your kids social group will create lots of opportunities to play and if I could do it again, I would have never let him have a gaming system until he was 12 or even later
        He has ADHD, and several learning disabilities so his skills to self regulate are limited

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think you can model the behavior you want in other contexts. Then put the gaming system in a well-trafficked family area so you can easily monitor any online conversations if needed.

      When my son was small I earnestly attempted to play Lego Batman with him, and would immediately wind up in bubble. We agreed that video games were clearly not my forte. Around middle school he asked permission to play rated M games, explicitly offering that if we saw a change in his behavior then we could take it away again. During the pandemic he spent a lot of time in-game with his friends, all checking in from their own houses doing something together, and I’m glad he had that.

    6. Nessun*

      I’ll add my voice to the Nintendo Switch suggestions. Nintendo skews a little younger than the other consoles sometimes, and has lots of options. Things like Animal Crossing are particularly good because gameplay is what you make of it (goals are pretty much open) and they can use the traditional controller or the switch handpieces or the console as a handheld system, to see what setup most appeals.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The 4 yo might be ready for Minecraft, and we still use our Wii and buy used gmes. I’m not sure what’s available new.

      The kids liked Wii Sports from a young age, a well as Just Dance. Around ages 6-8 they really got into a pirate-themed adventure game called Zach and Wiki, which is puzzle based and lots of fun.

      As a family we enjoyed Guilty Party, which is a collaborative mystery/detective game. Again, that was around ages 6-8.

    8. Grandma Mazur*

      Thanks everyone, individually for such thoughtful replies but also collectively for coming to a really consensus on the key points (and recommending the Switch!). I do agree we don’t need to be the ones explicitly introducing video games but I do want to be ready when the older one asks (and the 2yo will see it by default at that point even if he is still too young to play). I’m excited by the library of old Nintendo games – a chance to relive my youth!!

  17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    People with memberships to warehouse stores – Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s are the ones I know of – what do you buy there? What do you specifically NOT buy there? (I’ve been a Costco gal for 10+ years, so I’m not looking to be either sold on or dissuaded from a membership personally, I’m mostly just curious about people’s logistics and planning a big Costco trip tomorrow, which of course means I can’t think of half the things I meant to put on my list. :) )

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      (Also, what do you WISH you could buy in bulk? This thought brought to you by the 20 canisters of Crystal Light peach mango green tea pitcher packs my dad brought me this week because I can’t find it anywhere near my house. It’s like a six month supply.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I WISH I could get no-sodium canned tomatoes, no-so boxed broth, and distilled water.
        I get no-so nuts in the baking aisle, bulk King Arthur flour at the price our grocery store sells its brand, cereal, and jarred garlic. Guilty pleasure: giant bags of no-so tortilla chips and shredded cheese for “too tired to cook” nights. Counteracting that: big resealable freezer bags of peas, spinach, and thin green beans, so we add small amounts to what we cook at most meals.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      We buy our toilet paper and paper towels from Costco. We also buy chicken and frozen pizzas to have on hand. I love the clothing section too! The sonicare toothbrush heads are usually a good deal so we get those there and then we just buy whatever other random stuff we see.

    3. Sunshine*

      We had three under three, so diapers formula and wipes were our go tos. And milk.
      I feel there are some good values in rotisserie chicken, cooked to order pizza , cheese, berries. Sheet cakes! Gift cards are usually at a discount. I like to wander through the books. There are good deals in clothes. We bought a couch online that we are happy with.

    4. AY*

      Toilet paper, contact lens solution and other toiletries, giant packs of tilapia (I divide them into smaller packs at home, wrap them in prosciutto and fry them), and big old 16 lb pork butts for big old pork roasts.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Off the top of my head: I buy TP, laundry soap, trash bags, dishwasher detergent, paper towels. Vitamins and ibuprofen (which we then split into smaller bottles and scatter all over the house :P ) Cat litter, cat and dog food. My dog’s favorite doggy beds also come from Costco – they’re big 42” diameter round pillows, the covers come off for machine washing in a pinch, and they’re sturdy enough to hold up to lots of fluffing with pointy whippet paws, for $30.

      Meat – ground beef and pork chops from the fresh section and frozen chicken parts from the freezer section. In the deli section, they have drumsticks that are marinated in a garlic sauce that are phenomenal in the air fryer, so I tend to stock up on those. (I have a whole standing freezer, separate from the one in my fridge, and a vacuum sealer, which both make bulk-buying meat much more viable.)

      I don’t usually buy sodas at Costco – the other grocery stores I use have 12-packs on sale often enough that it’s not actually a savings. I also don’t buy much there in the way of fresh produce because I don’t go through it fast enough, with the exception of bags of small red/yellow potatoes. I do buy butter there, and shredded cheese, but not milk or eggs or most other dairy products.

    6. Colette*

      Toilet paper, cheese, nuts, bacon mostly. Oh, and dehydrated hash browns, which are nice to have on hand.

    7. CTT*

      My parents are Costco members and are in it almost entirely for the wine. They do have a good selection and their house brand is good quality. They’ll also get toilet paper/towels in bulk, but that’s about it. I went with them once maybe a year after they joined and they had never even looked at the food before.

      1. Coenobita*

        All of you talking about Costco wine/liquor are making me jealous! I have primarily been to Costco locations in Pennsylvania, where of course that’s not a thing (yet). I love a good Costco trip, though. Whenever I go to my hometown to visit family, my mom and I go shopping at Costco, it’s basically our favorite mother-daughter bonding activity.

        1. *daha**

          The Sam’s Clubs in my state have big signs saying that you don’t have to be a member to buy their liquor, but also that the liquor is not actually discounted. (They tend to have a lot of brands in 1.75 liter bottles that you don’t see at other liquor stores, though.)

    8. Lizabeth*

      Vitamins, protein drinks, snacks, rinse stuff for the dishwasher BUT they have to be on sale and cheaper than what I’d pay elsewhere. Just because it’s at Costco doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. Like coffee pods – I get them cheaper at Wegmans.

      DEFINTELY gas and their pizza!

    9. Meh*

      Toilet paper, nut milk, dog food/fish oil/cosequin, salad greens, oil(avocado or olive), canned tomatoes, thick bacon, chicken breakfast sausage, rotisserie chicken, better than bullion, eggs, heavy cream, whole bean coffee, pirates booty, tortilla chips, alcohol, English muffins, thick pork chops (some I’ll put in the food processor for ground pork), pork butt, giant jars of capers and kalamata olives, king Arthur bread flour. I could go on…

      I think I just wrote out my shopping list ;)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m totally planning to come back to this post this afternoon and write my own shopping list from y’all’s suggestions, haha. On the pork chops – we buy the whole 3-foot-long loin for usually under $20 and then my husband cuts them into different thickness chops for different uses, including bigger chunks for roasting or grinding.

        1. Meh*

          I used to do that, but my cuts were so uneven. I decided the 20c more a pound was worth it for them to cut (I like them thick for tonkatsu any way). When they put the loins on sale I’ll make smaller loins cuts and make ground loin (I don’t do beef).

    10. Anona*

      Dog food, paper products, peanut butter, jam, parmesan cheese, goldfish, dried fruit, olive oil, motor oil, oatmeal, nuts, spices, diapers, lemonade mix, lemon juice, macaroni and cheese, frozen fruit, dishwasher pellets, dish detergent, and collagen powder.

      All from Costco- that’s actually my list lol

    11. Michelle*

      As others have mentioned, we get all of our toilet paper and paper towels at Costco. I also pick up (and then split into smaller packages to freeze) steaks, Italian sausage for making meatballs, Empire chicken breasts, and pork ribs (for smoking). I occasionally pick up their rotisserie chickens, remove all of the meat and freeze in meal-sized packages for soups and casseroles, and then boil the carcass for chicken broth…kind of a rubber chicken, of sorts.

      In the refrigerated and frozen sections, we always pick up milk and eggs (but you need to go through a lot of eggs to make it worthwhile), hummus, cheese (especially the Parmesan wedges), panko-crusted tilapia, Just Bare Chicken Nuggets, and frozen shrimp. I also occasionally grab the Kirkland Cheese Fruit and Nut packs for snacks. Cream, butter (can be frozen), and yogurt also make my list when I am getting low on things.

      Nuts (pecans, almonds, and walnuts) always seem to find their way into our cart, pure maple syrup, large bag of jasmine rice, canned salmon and chicken, Rao’s pasta sauce (or Victoria’s, depending upon what they have in stock), chicken broth, and Annie’s macaroni and cheese.

      Non-food items we grab include allergy medicines, pain relievers, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, printer paper, and hand soap.

    12. Golden*

      I’ve found that Costco’s liquor prices are unbeatable, given that it’s nice quality stuff with the Kirkland label slapped on.

      We also do toilet paper, toothpaste and floss, frozen pizza, fancy soda, burgers, and occasionally yogurt. I have celiac and must eat gluten free, so I find that they carry a lot of gf stuff I haven’t seen elsewhere and also tastes good (oats, flour, Ramen, and frozen pizza that is actually affordable lol)

      I ended up canceling my wedding due to COVID, but we were going to get our cake from there. Costco cakes and flowers always got great reviews in the wedding planning Facebook groups I was in.

    13. Squidhead*

      Gas, tires, paper goods, sometimes big packs of pens or packing tape, frozen fish, frozen shrimp, junk food (candy in giant bags, 4-lb tins of butter cookies, flavored tortilla chips), coffee beans, sometimes ‘fancy cheese’ like brie or Manchester, half and half (mostly because our grocery store brand contains thickener and our BJs brand doesn’t), flour, chocolate chips, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sometimes shampoo/conditioner if they have the right type, yard waste bags, food storage bags, garbage bags, occasional special deals on Pyrex storage containers, the giant TV (only once, of course!), sometimes medications (ibuprofen is cheaper at the grocery store), cheap shoes and leggings. Plus we’ll try random things (mostly junk food) it there’s a coupon. And we get a discount on our home/car insurance so the membership more than pays for itself!

      They used to have big boxes of tea that I liked and also canisters of hot cocoa mix…we bought a lot of those but apparently not enough to keep them on the shelf!

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      We keep a grocery list in a grocery app, so it stores the things we buy regularly. That way before a trip, we can go through and check the staples.
      For us: diapers, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, laundry detergent, fizzy water, nuts, fruit, fish, peanut butter, dried beans, canned beans, butter, eggs, hummus, cereal, batteries, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, frozen fruit, frozen dumplings, frozen tortellini, cetaphil cream, snacks
      We don’t tend to buy electronics or a lot of non-food items, though I will browse if I see something i really like. We sis buy our ahed there, but we did that online. If there is a bug ticket item that we are shopping for I will check the website, but don’t often buy it in the store.
      I’m also really sad our Cosco no longer prints photos instore.

    15. newbie*

      Check your house’s storage capacity before loading up on paper goods or other big stuff! My house is a 1960’s starter house and I do not have the storage space for a Costco size package of paper products. Tried it once, and it took up half my linen closet. I’m still working through the box of trash bags I bought when I moved here in 2017. I’m probably another 2 years out from needing to buy more. At least those don’t go bad.
      Dog food and dog beds were why I got my membership in the first place. When I drank, their beer and wine selections were (and still are – I just don’t buy them anymore) top notch.
      I try to buy food and household supplies from my local co-op whenever possible, but Costco is where I get things they don’t have – diet coke, aleve, allergy medicine, light bulbs, batteries.

    16. CJM*

      My husband and I don’t like to cook, so I sometimes buy a few trays of prepared food in the deli area at Costco. I can recommend the chicken enchiladas and the ribs. I tried the giant pot pie and the mac and cheese but found both too rich. My daughter and her family love the street tacos. I enjoy them at their house sometimes, but I don’t like them enough to buy them at home.

      Aside from that, I regularly buy the house brand toilet paper and paper towels and a few cat supplies: puppy pads to protect the floors in the litter-box areas and big bags of baking soda. (I lightly dust the bottoms of clean litter boxes before I add litter.) Occasionally I buy dishwasher soap, napkins, and kitchen scrubbers, and those supplies can last for a year or so.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Totally agree with your daughter on the street taco kit. That thing is great in a pinch or if you’re craving tacos but don’t want to cook.

    17. RussianInTexas*

      Costco – paper supplies, kitty litter, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent. Ground beef gets cheap, big blocks of cheese, sets of toothpaste, soap. Sometimes snacks, kitchen storage. They also have some neat frozen stuff – samosas, yakisoba noodles, ramen.
      Gas.
      And weirdly, rental cars! You can get nice discounts.

    18. the cat's ass*

      I’m grateful to Costco! paper goods, cat litter and office supplies are my regular go-to’s, but over the years I’ve also gotten some awesome camping supplies, including two new collapsible swing chairs, new sleeping bags and a tent. When the kids were little i also got diapers and bathing suits for them. The dollar hotdogs are a must on the way out. I also enjoy going to Costcos not my own when i travel to see what ‘local’ goods can be found (especially on Maui-those bright red franks and the local macaroni salad). Recently DH went for the usual quarterly visit and got a couple of really nice entrance rugs and throw pillows for his office. My local Costco is also stocking more organic and recycled products and even has organic lactose free milk. Enjoy-i consider going to Costco a noisy exhausting scary parking lot adventure!

    19. Gotta Move On?*

      We buy guacamole, coffee, pot pies, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, butter, chocolate chips, bacon, frozen ravioli, vitamins, and their frozen chicken bakes. We microwave the chicken bakes for 2.5 minutes then finish them in the convection oven for better crispiness.

      We don’t buy things we can’t use before it spoils, so milk and most fruit and vegetables.

    20. Not A Manager*

      We buy items that are (a) non-perishable, (b) of the exact brand we like (including the Kirkland brand a lot of times, and (c) that we have room to store. Sad experience has taught us that most perishable items will perish before we use them up, off-brands don’t get used ever, and there can be too much of a good thing.

      We also buy the 18 flats of organic eggs because we will use them, bulk butter (stores well in freezer), bags of fresh tamales (freeze well), bacon (freezes well), smoked meat/fish (prosciutto/salmon) because they last quite a while, large blocks of parmesano reggiano, bags of lemons/limes, and fresh berries. I love their fresh meat and fish, but mostly we buy that if we’re entertaining. We also buy booze at Costco, but again only our preferred brands.

      I make sack lunches for people with food insecurity, and I get all of those supplies at Costco. The limit is my refrigerator capacity.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I actually don’t worry too much about a shopping list for Costco. I’ll write down things I definitely know I need, and sometimes I’ll make a note of things that I know we have enough of. I have a pretty definite flight path through Costco, so I walk up and down those aisles to jog my memory.

    21. Run mad; don't faint*

      We have a good sized family, so when everyone lived at home, I would buy my meats, produce, cereal and bread there. It didn’t always pay off completely because sometimes, people would just get tired of eating that many grapes or other produce item. But usually it worked well for us. Fresh meats, I’d split into smaller packages and freeze until needed. I could buy toilet paper there too, since we had enough space to store that in the bathrooms, but not paper towels. I’ve never had room to store more than a couple of rolls at a time. I think the two biggest qualifications for buying are : can I use this amount of [item]? And do I have room to store this amount of [item]? If the answer to either is “no”, don’t buy it.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        > I think the two biggest qualifications for buying are : can I use this amount of [item]? And do I have room to store this amount of [item]? If the answer to either is “no”, don’t buy it.

        Excellent questions! I’d also add “is the Costco discount on this item it worth my time and energy right now?” Costco is close enough that I can *almost* treat it like any other grocery store, but their schedule and mine don’t always mesh and I dislike having to wade through crowds of people. Results: I rotate among the nearest convenient grocery store, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and the kosher markets. Each offers different benefits and drawbacks in terms of scheduling, products available, price, and convenience. The kosher consideration isn’t helpful for most shoppers but might interest people with halal or vegetarian diets. “My” costco also has a large frozen section marked Halal.

    22. sagewhiz*

      If you or anyone you know takes gloucasamine chondroitin for arthritis, Consumer Reports determined the Kirkland brand is the best of all they tested. And it’s much less expensive than other brands.

      1. LouAnn*

        Good to know! Thanks! I also find that Costco’s chocolate macadamia nut clusters ward off all kinds of evils, from loneliness to monsters under the bed.

    23. Chaordic One*

      I belong to Costco and I regularly buy toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, k-cups of Starbucks and Peet’s coffee, frozen pot pies, bread, Depends (for a certain family member with a certain problem), vitamin supplements, skin moisturizers. I also regularly buy gas for my car there.

      Less often I will buy clothing, books, toys and office supplies. I once bought a TV there. In the past I’ve bought new tires there and I go there twice a year to have them swap out my snow tires for the summer tires and vice-versa. I have also used their optical services and their pharmacy.

      Sometimes, I buy food for a party at work or with family, but so many of their food items come only in such large amounts that it is not practical to buy so much at once and some things just don’t freeze well. Sometimes their selections are just “meh” and often, the prices aren’t really any better than at any other random store. I’ve been especially disappointed with their furniture selections. Generally seems well-built quality-wise, but no great bargains and not exactly my taste.

    24. Jean (just Jean)*

      Here’s my own list based on my self-question “is it worth my time and energy to go to Costco today?” Answers vary depending on my schedule, the items I’m seeking, and whether I want to prioritize price or convenience.

      Oh, and–speaking as someone in a small family and small living space–it’s always worth being totally realistic about whether or not we’ll ever use up whatever vast quantity is being sold. The late, great columnist Erma Bombeck once said that warehouse stores encouraged longevity, because who’s going to die when they still have to use up an “eight-gallon drum” of oatmeal?

      So anyway, here’s my Costco “is it worth it?” list:
      Usually: Skim milk in gallons (the same or slightly cheaper than Trader Joe’s), breakfast cereal, granola, Kirkland brand non-fat plain Greek yogurt. And diapers and infant formula, years ago.
      Sometimes: eggs, Kosher chicken pieces.
      On rare occasions: candy or Kosher baked goods.
      Once in a blue moon: Hardback books, women’s bikini underwear, women’s or men’s athletic socks.
      I got my last pair of eyeglasses (trifocal lenses without visible lines) from Costco.The price was good for lenses and frames, but the viewing experience wasn’t ideal. It could be that I need to be more savvy or assertive about where the lenses sit on my nose. Not sure if that’s a conversation for Costco or the eye doctor.

      Always good for astonishment: The vast array of products. My son once commented (possibly in a grocery store, not Costco) that the cereal aisle was proof that “capitalism has lost its mind.”

      Always good for a smile: Recalling my impatience while our neighborhood Costco was being built.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Left out other “sometimes” items: Kosher cheese trays, big bags of chips.
        The cases of soft drinks seem to be just as well-priced when on sale at the grocery store or chain pharmacy, but I don’t buy these frequently enough to track the prices closely.

        Hugs to this community (if people want them)! Where else can we chat online about our shopping preferences?

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, our common game is to keep an eye out for the most absurd combination of size and item. I think at one point the five-gallon bucket of soy sauce was up there, and right now it’s the six-pound can of tuna fish. (I know, restaurants and schools and such, but still.)

    25. Public Sector Manager*

      I do as much of my regular shopping at warehouses as I can, except for produce because it will go bad before my wife, son, and I can finish it. I’m lucky because they opened a Costco Business Center about a 3 minute drive from my house. It’s basically Costco that’s designed for restaurant supply and small businesses. The frozen area is just about the same as normal Costco. But the water and drink selection (they don’t have beer, liquor, or wine) is about 5 times the size. I can get a box of single serve chips, cookies, etc., which is great for keeping our son from having too many! Coffee selection is better than regular Costco. Refrigerated section is about 3 times the size. Cleaning supplies–they have everything you could want and were never out of anything during the crazy buying in the pandemic. And it doesn’t have the impulse buy items in the center aisles that tempt me at regular Costco. Downside is that meat and eggs are mostly in bulk. They only have about 20 in the U.S. right now, but it has so many day-to-day items that it’s my “regular” grocery store. I go about once every 1-2 weeks and shop it like a normal grocery store, which I never do at regular Costco.

      At my regular Costco, impulse buy, clothes, and furniture are all in the middle of the store. So I tend to stick to the outer aisles and the back. That keeps me out of trouble.

      1. Not A Manager*

        We have a Business Center, too. Luckily it’s not too far from the regular Costco, and I buy different items at each one.

    26. Gray Lady*

      Sam’s has good deals on low fat content ground beef. Also buying gas there alone more than pays for the membership, and I don’t even drive that much. Since it’s just two of us at home now I don’t get a lot there anymore but it’s still worthwhile to me just for those things.

    27. HBJ*

      We don’t anymore, but when we did, I kept very close track of costs – a comparison spreadsheet and everything. There were things I specifically did not buy at Costco because they were cheaper elsewhere.

      The biggest cost savings, hands down, was meat of any kind. I bought all our frozen chicken, sausage, and ground beef from there Maple syrup and vanilla, too, huuuuge savings. Fruit also was a decent savings. I bought flour, sugar, canned tomato products, canned brand, olives, butter, chocolate chips, oil, raisins, cheese, what spices they have (not much), paper towels, toilet paper.

      Two big things I did not buy because they were cheaper elsewhere – laundry detergent and diapers/pull-ups/wipes.

    28. MissB*

      I usually buy toilet paper (if we need it, and it’s hit or miss right now).

      Bully sticks for the pups – they sell a 12 pack of 12” long sticks for $34. Super great deal if you have pups that enjoy them.

      Kirkland dog food

      Usually Cheerios for Dh

      Kerry gold cheddar cheese and salted butter

      Kirkland unsalted butter

      Bacon (clearly not all of these are weekly items!!)

      Freeze dried parsley

      Fresh boneless chicken breasts

      Pesto sauce (big jar, deli section) in the summer months

      Wine. Always wine

      Eye drops, tums, floss, electric toothbrush heads, toothpaste

      Crunchy rollers but they’re hit and miss on having those in stock. Mostly they look at me like I’m an alien when I ask them about them. I’ve taken to ordering them on Amazon instead.

    29. Tib*

      Toilet paper, tissues, antihistamines, vitamins and supplements, chicken sausages, hot dogs, taquitoes, chicken thighs, ground beef, pasta, almond milk, lunch meat, cow’s milk, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, laundry detergent, dish soap… Swedish meatballs and tater tots when they have them. Annie’s mac and cheese and Thai sweet pepper sauce when the college student is home. They had this great mixed nut butter that I loved and also a family pack of Barbara’s cheese snacks for a while and I bought multiples every trip.

    30. Three Pines Visitor*

      Lots of what everybody else has mentioned, especially King Arthur flours and TP/paper towels/Kleenex/Kirkland “Tide”.
      Also:
      Kerrygold Butter (we freeze the extra, and recently I found an Oxo butter dish online that fits it perfectly!)
      Aller-Flo (fluticasone Propionate) — dirt cheap compared to fluticasone anywhere else

    31. *daha**

      I pay the $100 for the Sam’s Club Plus membership specifically because it qualifies for the pharmacy discounts on erection pills that their regular membership doesn’t. $1 per dose of tadalafil (generic Cialis) and sildenafil (generic Viagra). Yes, you’ll need a prescription.
      Generally I don’t buy milk, eggs, or orange juice at Sam’s, because I can get them cheaper at Aldi. Meat prices generally are equal to what I find at GFS – Gordon Food Stores. There’s no membership requirement there, but I don’t know if they are nationwide. If you use actual butter, the four pound pack is usually under $9, while the butter per pound at Aldi is usually around $3.00. Just look closely at the package to make sure you are getting the four sticks per one pound box and not the solid one pound package.
      We have 5 dogs and 8 cats and buy the 50 pound bags of Purina dog chow and the 25 pound bags of Purina cat chow at Sam’s. I have had good luck buying shelving and garage cabinets there.

    32. Not A Manager*

      I am bored and in some psychological turmoil, so I will make a list.

      Fancy nuts
      Some special packaged snacks
      Booze/wine/occasionally beer
      fresh fish if it’s not too large a package
      sometime a small package of prime steaks
      rack of lamb (the only thing that feeds merely two people)
      parmesano reggiano cheese, three-packs of Boursin, sometimes a wedge of cambozola
      smoked salmon
      prosciutto
      tamales
      bags of lemons/limes
      pineapple (sold singly!)
      occasional bag of mandarins
      flats of berries
      occasional lettuce or green veggies, but usually those are too much for us
      TP
      PT
      jet dry rinse agent/dishwasher tabs
      sponges
      laundry detergent
      plastic wrap/foil/ziplock bags
      fizzy water
      bacon
      eggs
      half and half (I’m a fiend for the stuff)
      sometimes 2% milk for cereal or whole milk for yogurt and ricotta (I make our own)
      50# sack of bread flour (I keep it in a big tub and it lasts for a year)
      bags of AP flour, white and brown sugar, baking soda (I use it for laundry and cleaning), big bottles of cleaning vinegar
      olive oil/grapeseed oil (I don’t like their avocado oil)
      canned tomatoes/boxed chicken stock/sometimes canned beans
      Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen/antacids

      Additionally, I buy sandwich fixings and sack lunch items for the homeless/people in need. Costco is almost always less expensive for that stuff, unless I can find sliced bread on sale at the grocery store.

    33. Dancing Otter*

      I do *not* buy multipacks of yogurt or frozen dinners, because there are always flavors I dislike packaged with ones I do. They seem like a good value, if you or your family actually eat all the varieties.
      I used to get big jars of rice medleys, but they don’t seem to carry the good ones any more. (Quinoa is *not* rice.) Similarly, I would happily buy a huge sack of brown rice, but all they have is white.
      We don’t go through bread fast enough, and I’m not wasting freezer space on it. Their muffins, bagels and croissants are surprisingly good, but too much to use up before they go stale.
      I do buy the canned salmon and chicken and occasionally tuna, and you can’t beat their prices on nuts. Breakfast cereal, when they have one we like – the selection varies, and we have an oat allergy in the family to consider.
      Peanut butter, olive oil (but I transfer to a smaller bottle), butter.
      Ground beef chubs, already frozen – it doesn’t get freezer burn the way repacking big packages into one-pound quantities always seems to do.
      Shrimp, particularly the smallest size intended for salads, which I put in pilaf or stir-fry or pasta dishes, not just salad. Other fish, too.
      I really like AmyLu chicken apple Gouda sausage, which I never see anywhere else. The big packages of sliced ham or turkey can get boring before used up, but can be split into smaller sections to freeze some.
      Gasoline, obviously.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love their muffins – I’ve gotten the chocolate ones as a “birthday cake” option in the past a couple times, haha. But there are also a few things I’d get if the flavor assortment was better – instant oatmeal packets. I’ve split a box with my parents a couple times, because my boys like everything but the maple and that’s my mom’s favorite, but otherwise, I end up with a drawer full of maple and brown sugar packets that nobody wants to eat :P Nutrigrain bars – half the box is apple cinnamon, which is the flavor I like the least. :P

    34. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I forgot to mention the new discovery– Kings Hawaiian rolls. I bought the first set as a joke because my family loved this website’s cheap-ass rolls thread. For me they are now a sweet treat that’s less sweet than making brownies…. all of my ruin that by sometimes putting frosting on them. HA!

  18. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    A lot of cleanup for me this weekend! And I will pick the last of the tomatoes.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Southern New Hampshire: the weather has turned autumnal and the days are shorter, and my remaining vegetable plants are unlikely to produce anything new before frost, so I will be harvesting the remains (mostly jalapenos and sweet peppers, and some eggplant) and then cleaning out the planters. [Was hoping to have a few late cherry tomatoes, and then saw a cardinal cheerfully pecking at the remaining fruit. Ah, well!]

    2. fposte*

      The bulb company has clearly never heard of global warming, because I got a huge box of impending tulips and it’s in the 80s out. They’ll have to go into the basement for a month or so.

    3. CatCat*

      Lots of cleanup last weekend and I planted seeds for two varieties of radishes, two varieties of carrots, two varieties of kale, an celery. So far all radishes are sprouting and one variety of kale has sent up sprouts. Excited for my fall/winter garden.

    4. Coenobita*

      My parsley (outdoors in a container) is suddenly teeming with swallowtail caterpillars! Before this, I only noticed one all season so I’m super excited.

    5. MissB*

      I took out everything before the big rain recently. I have lots of green tomatoes and assorted squash in my kitchen. Peppers have been pickles or dehydrated or turned into hot sauce.

      I’ve planted my fall garlic, celery and Swiss chard.

      I’m about to go out and relocate my asparagus roots to my tall raised beds. Our puppy play dates have been hard on the in ground plants, so I’m raising them up.

    6. Girasol*

      Tomatoes did badly this very hot smoky summer, but now that we’re getting very light frosts, we’re starting to see tomatoes. I’m hoping that a fair few will become somewhat sizeable before I have to take them in ahead of the first hard frost. I’ve had good luck bringing them in green and spreading them on a tarp in the dining room, and making spaghetti sauce from them as they ripen. We’ve been out of spaghetti sauce for months and I really wish I had some. Other than that, we can’t eat and give away cantaloupes and cucumbers fast enough, and I’ll bring in a row of fat kohlrabis later today for processing into the freezer.

    7. Stitch*

      I’m about to get persimmons. I’m not really sure what one does with them (other than just eat them).

    8. GoryDetails*

      In the flower category, my New England asters are in full bloom and are swarming with bees; I expect they’re loading up as much as they can before the end of the growing season. It’s lovely to see the little blue flowers simply loaded with busy, happy bees…

      I think I have a Jerusalem artichoke, too. Had a bed of them behind the house that re-seeded for years, but lost it after some too-enthusiastic digging; apparently some of the roots survived, and are robust enough to produce the usual 7-foot-high flower stalks this year.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We had to start bringing plants in for a cold snap. We need to triage things to overwinter because some of our tender perennials got really big, and a lot of what we overwintered last year had bug problems this year. Between my frozen shoulder and my husband throwing his back out, I’m not sure how will get some of this stuff inside. Although the teenager brought the tangerine inside so that may be the answer.

  19. Sunshine*

    I have a beloved photo of my grandmother that is washed out from sun exposure. Does anyone know of any miraculous restoration options. I tried Costco photo center restorations but it was underwhelming. Another thought I considered was having an artist make a sketch of it. But I don’t know where to start in looking for someone.

    1. brdy75*

      Go online and you’ll find artists that can sketch or paint from a photo. I did it once and they let you preview it, make comments and they went back and changed stuff before it was finalized. I don’t remember the name of the service, but an internet search revealed different options. I’d suggest keeping a copy of the picture if the service requires you to mail it in. Good luck!

    2. Lizabeth*

      Do you know anyone that uses Photoshop? Scanning the photo and playing with the settings may bring it back to a level that you like. However, if it’s really sun bleached, a sketch/drawing may be your best bet. Check with the local community college art department, continuing education art teachers or a local studio.

      Another thing is ask around the relatives to see if there’s another copy of the photo somewhere that can be copied.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Have you tried heading to Fiverr, and searching for photo restoration? There’s a lot of folks with amazing photoshop skills out there, who will be happy to spend time restoring something significant to you for a relatively modest gig fee.

    4. AGD*

      Wikipedia has a few people who clean up historical images just for the sake of human knowledge. I’m not sure if Adam Cuerden takes commissions for private work, but his user page has some amazing examples!

    5. The Dogman*

      I think there is an image restoration subreddit on reddit… not sure what it would be called but if you add “site:reddit.com” to the end of a regular search for photo restoration you could find it.

      Or make a reddit account and post a question in r/AskReddit and someone will sort you out I am sure!

      Good luck!

      Some of the results I have seen in the past were amazing!

  20. IntoTheSarchasm*

    I was at SAM’s club and noticed that the hearing center makes custom earplugs molded to your ears. I think they were around $60.00. My son was looking at them, he works in a loud shop. Don’t know much more but I am sure they are a vailable elsewhere as well. Good luck!

  21. Victoria, Please*

    Advice for dealing with Too Much Stuff, as in accumulated possessions? I’ve reached the point where I wish I could just have an open house and literally say “Take ANYTHING you want!” My husband would not be pleased, lol.

    The thing is, we’re really not bad. No outside storage shed, both cars fit in the garage, no attic or basement. I just – everywhere I look there is Stuff and I’m – it feels so heavy.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have had some luck with a challenge to myself a la “Ok, every day this week I am going to put five things in the donation box.” And then any day I don’t comply, I fine myself an extra thing that has to go in the box :)

      Also, “the box” doesn’t have to be for one destination, though mine usually is for simplicity’s sake – you can sub-sort the box into Goodwill vs clothing for the women’s shelter vs trash vs whatever. But I find that I’m most likely to get it out of my house if it’s as simple as “put box of stuff in car, drive to donation point, take box out of car and frantically shove it at nice worker, drive away with less stuff” without additional sorting or further analysis.

      1. Girasol*

        Same here, except sometimes I quarantine stuff. If I can’t quite give it up even though I know I should, I put it in a box for donation and set it aside. Then six months later I check the donation box to see if I really missed anything in there. If not, off it goes. That seems to help wean me from the souvenirs and tchochkes that once seemed so precious and now are just dust traps.

      2. Virtual Light*

        Yes- I did this with a twist: every day I would put x items in a “free” box next to the sidewalk. Then they were GONE To someone who wanted them and over time I could count how many things I had gotten rid of and feel good. I also basically stopped buying stuff unless it was necessary or replacing a worn-out thing. Have hope. Slow and steady. (People also love “buy nothing” groups on fb.)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Is there a lot of stuff that’s just always putting the open, that could be stored out of sight? I got a bunch of bamboo boxes from IKEA that look nice on a bookshelf, and put cute labels on them to sort various items into and that helps a bit. Having a letter tray type box on the counter or dresser to contain random spread of things that don’t have a better place can also help, although I eventually have to go through the tray and get rid of things that never should’ve been there to begin with, lol.

      Is it shared stuff like decor? Can your husband contain the stuff he likes to a specific room or area so you have a few spaces that are more minimalist?

    3. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Marie Kondo is actually amazing for this kind of thing! You can use the part of her system that works for you. What helped me was keeping things that “spark joy” because then even if there’s clutter it’s not “stuff” it’s something I want that makes me happy. And also thanking items to say goodbye helped me get rid of things. It sounds silly but it works for me!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It worked for me too, once I finally got around to it. My sock drawer is a thing of wonder now. I gave a lot of stuff to the thrift store, but anything that was broken, messed up, or otherwise damaged went into the bin. I found myself apologizing to it for not taking better care of it even when the damage wasn’t my fault, haha.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        I do love Marie Kondo. I like Elizabeth’s twist below, too, “apologizing” to items if they’re broken!

      3. Lotus*

        I also like Marie Kondo! When I did it, it also taught me a lot about my shopping habits – where I went wrong and how I can avoid it in the future. I also like saying goodbye to items. It sounds silly but sometimes I think we hold on to things out of sentiment or guilt even if it no longer serves us. Expressing gratitude for what the thing has done for you in the past can address that feeling. This is how I felt getting rid of a lot of childhood clothes.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I can completely relate to what you are feeling, right down to the”heavy” part. There’s just too much stuff around! In the last few years I’ve noticed it more, and it sometimes makes me feel overwhelmed and disorganized, even though its not that much and it is super organized. Just wanted to tell you that you are not alone!

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Thank you for the solidarity. We went on a trip last week and as I was carrying all the damn gear to the car I almost sobbed, at that feeling so heavy.

      2. Dr B Crusher*

        Agreed. I just can’t stand the thought of owning too much stuff. ‘Heavy’ is the word. It makes me feel anxious.

    5. The Smiling Pug*

      I have this issue too. I’ve found that dividing things into categories is helpful. For example, one day I sorted through the books only. Then another day I divided the clothes. Having clearly labeled boxes for keeping/donating/other was another part of it. Lastly, when I found myself getting overwhelmed either mentally or physically, I stopped for the day. I made a mental note of where I was organization-wise and took it back up another day. Hope this helps. :)

    6. fposte*

      Are you trying to get rid of stuff or trying to negotiate a stuff-comfort-level difference with your spouse? I’m guessing the latter. Can you preserve some spaces as lower density and confine some items to designated areas? Rotating displays can help a lot, and it’s really enjoyable to rediscover items that have been out of site for a while.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Laugh/sigh. My husband is the dearest man in every other way, but is highly, highly resistant to participating in clearing activities. I am dreading…dreading…when his parents are gone. Large house full of stuff. His father saves empty toothpaste boxes as little storage compartments.

        Also he forgets that things exist. Here is a conversation that took place recently after I took out some unused decorative [thingies] to put in the “Buy Nothing” give pile:

        Him: Oh, where did these come from?
        Me: They were in the closet. They’ve been there for ten years.
        Him: I never saw them!
        Me: They were in plain sight on the shelf when you open the door to get laundry soap. Anyway, they won’t work for any of our [things needing decorative thingies], I don’t know why we have them. Maybe we got them for the last house? Or the one before that?
        Him: Well, we’re going to re-do and enclose the back porch for a sunroom, right? We can use them then!
        Me: …

        He actually managed to find places for three of the decorative thingies and allowed me to give away two of them.

    7. Exif*

      I think a lot of people are struggling with this more than usual, because Cov1d had all us stuck in our homes staring at our crap for weeks on end, plus the pandemic shut down all the usual donation centers. Our library stopped taking books, Goodwill stopped taking clothes, my job stopped doing their semi-annual toiletries drive for a women’s shelter.

      People keep telling me to sell/donate on Facebook, but I’m not joining that scummy company just to offload clutter.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Have you heard of Neighborhood App? It’s a good alternate to Facebook, and it doesn’t require any personal info, just what you’re selling and your general location/city. It’s how I got rid of a mini-fridge.

          1. The Smiling Pug*

            I don’t really know. Personally, I’ve never used Nextdoor, so I can’t really say, but I would hazard a yes?

            1. SofiaDeo*

              Nextdoor requires a valid, real name. Anyone caught attempting to use a fake one is removed/blocked. You don’t have to post your exact address for others to see. Nextdoor doesn’t allow trolling, spamming, or hate texts. Even posts that get too political or religious or whatnot will be removed, and potentially the person banned, although that’s pretty extreme. It DOES have a “mute” function for annoying people, too, I love it. So a few neighbors who flirt with the limits of trolling, I never see posts from anymore. And you can choose to limit the area you see. I choose to only “see posts” from neighborhoods about 1/2 mile around me. I especially like the “alerts” for when there is a missing dog or cat, or “found” pets that got out of their yard. Their “For Sale” section also has a “Free” subheading.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      I’ve found that if I tackle the stuff with the goal of reorganizing, I end up getting rid of much more stuff than if I go at it with the idea of clearing things out. I put books in order and think “Do I need all of these paperbacks?” and donate them.

      Every once in awhile, I have a pretend flood in my head and think “What would I be happy to throw out?’ and then I get rid of that. I got some nice shelves and storage boxes for things like board games and extra linens so everything is easy to get to but it looks more decorative.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      It helps to start in one corner. Work your way around from that, as time allows.

      Advice that resonated with me was including a “maybe” pile. Which stayed, but when you edit stuff again in a few years you might realize the only time you register this object is every few years you debate throwing it away.

      Different clutter-tolerance levels within the household is definitely tricky to navigate.

    10. Jackalope*

      I don’t know if this will help you or not, but I’ve found it helpful for me to sort through my stuff with my husband’s help. So I’ll say something about what my goals are (get rid of stuff, rearrange, etc), and then he will help me. Note that this works largely because he’s not emotionally attached to my stuff, but he has no need to get rid of it either, so as a neutral third party he can help me let go more easily. With his stuff, I’ve sometimes said that I need it to not be where it is (cluttering an area up). He can get rid of it, put it away, whatever, I don’t care; I just need it to move.

      Now, we haven’t been married long yet, so most of our stuff still kind of falls into the category of mine and his. But it helps to have us do things like that because neither of us have the same emotional connection to the other person’s stuff.

    11. Epsilon Delta*

      I’ve had some success with implementing a rule that if you want a new thing, you have to get rid of an old thing. Works best with things that are somewhat interchangeable like water bottles, clothes, books, etc. Also, when relatives or friends offer you stuff, say no. It is hard because the “nice” thing to do is take it! But if there is no space, or if you are not actually going to use it, don’t take it.

      Someone upthread recommended Marie Kondo – a thousand times yes. Very good framework for organizing your stuff and keeping things that you actually want around. The tips on how to fold clothes were life changing, and so was the obvious-in-hindsight tip to use boxes to store things.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        I did just manage to get my husband to agree on a rule that we won’t accept any more freebies! No more conference swag just because it was there. Yes, if you really really actively want something, go ahead, but no more accepting something just because someone puts it in your hand.

    12. Might Be Spam*

      Lately I’ve been thinking about moving, so I made a place to put things that I might have to leave behind. It’s helps me decide what is important for me to keep. I don’t absolutely have to get rid of these things, and it’s helping me start to let go of them emotionally.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      One year my New Year’s resolution was to discard (donate, recycle or throw away) one thing from every room every week on garbage day The linen closet counts as a room. It was SO helpful/easy to find just one thing per week per room! Sometimes it turned into a whole ‘purge the medicine cabinet thing’, other times it was ‘throw away one 10 year old scrunchy that has no elastic left.’ Either way, I made progress every week and in a couple of months the house felt so light!
      I think I need to do that again…

    14. Faith the twilight slayer*

      I used to be such a “stuff” person. Maybe it’s the fact that I have become older and lazier that has helped, but I will occasionally tackle my junk drawer or whatever and just ask myself: have I thought about/needed/used this item in six months, or even three? If not, it’s trash. I realize folks will have issues with just tossing stuff and not making an effort to recycle or donate or whatever, but I think a lot of people resign themselves to clutter and let things sit around because “we should donate instead of throwing” and then a year later the stuff is still sitting there, collecting dust and mocking you. I honestly don’t buy a lot of things I don’t use on a regular basis anymore, but allowing myself to just toss items I didn’t really use was so… freeing.

    15. Sparking Stardust*

      Hi Victoria,
      I think just start with a small project. If you feel the urge to work on feeling lighter in owning less maybe start by spending 5 – 10 minutes at a time going through a category or space. It’s okay to get rid of things. Some things were useful for a time and then now someone else can use them. It’s not enjoyable to keep things if it feels negative. Whenever I go through my things to decide what to do: I use 4 categories. A) keep (I love it and it’s used a lot), B) donate to a thrift store, C) toss or D) sell. It’s okay to get rid of anything that you don’t want to still own. Some things have good or bad or mixed feelings associated with them (i.e. I might carry shame for that impulse purchase on a craft I have never done yet, have mixed feelings about a clothing item that I used to feel attractive wearing but doesn’t look good anymore or isn’t my style anymore, it was a gift from a relative or expensive, etc… I’m more at the place that if I don’t want the memories associated with it or it no longer works in my season in life, i give myself permission to let it go). Good luck!

    16. *daha**

      It is time for me to shed many many books, but I don’t want them to end in recycling. Hundreds and hundreds of issues of science fiction magazines in the “digest” size, for instance, lots of them from the 1960s and more recent, with no demand at all.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        I feel your pain! I have a whole bookshelf of Science fiction novels from the 1950s, 60s, 70s. Apart from Philip K Dick’s stuff which I read regularly, I haven’t read any of the others in at least 25 years. I could have just had a picture of a bookcase full of books on the wall. I used to think my nephews and nieces would like them eventually but the inter webs came along and… those kids are in their 20s now and have never exhibited any interest in dated science fiction.
        The practicalities of donating them have just been impractical over the past years. They even have vintage dust!

    17. Wilde*

      You might find The Minimalists 30 day game good inspiration. Essentially you get rid of (trash or donate) one thing on the first day of the month, two on the second, three on the third and so on. Starting small helps to make decluttering achievable but the snowball effect gives you great momentum.

      theminimalists dot com slash game

      Alternatively, watch YouTube videos. I enjoy The Minimalist Mom but there’s plenty of others out there too.

    18. Sooda Nym*

      My golden rule for decluttering is “If I can’t find it when I need/want it, then I may as well not have it.” (Figured this out after my sister told me her husband-at-the-time had 3 pairs of black dress shoes because he could never find his when he needed them…). Which means if I find something I didn’t know I had, I either need to eliminate it (donate, garbage, etc) OR I put it someplace where I can find it and use it, which does eventually help clutter move on. Plus, I have to get rid of the things that obscure the actually useful stuff.

      I also think we put too much pressure on ourselves when decluttering. We seem to think it’s life-or-death, decide once, does this object leave-now-or-stay-forever. That is so not true! If you aren’t ready to part with something, keep it. You might be able to let it go in 6 months, or 6 years…. (I know “decide once” is a great tool for some people, but does not work at all for me when decluttering). If you dread going through things because of the difficult decisions, and potential regrets, just treat it as inventorying and organizing what you have….don’t make the goal eliminating items.

      Which leads to my next rule of decluttering – is this object, right now, worth the resources it’s taking (space, maintenance energy, mental capacity due to it being clutter…). It’s not inherently bad or wrong to have 6 or 8 boxes of memorabilia of a life-well-lived, if you have the space for them, know what’s in them, etc. It’s also not wrong to keep something you might need in 2 years…. if you are certain you can find it in two years, and if you don’t have to move it out of the way to get to something you use every day.

      And finally, this all became so much easier for me when I was able to invest in decent storage (Ikea Kallax with Drona boxes) that let me categorize the clutter and go through it a bit at a time. When I had to drag out six mismatched boxes that were on top of or in front of the box I actually wanted to go through, I just kept adding to the clutter, because it was too hard to get rid of anything. Experts say “you can’t organize clutter.” But, you can organize “stuff” and much of our clutter is just “stuff” without a home. With a home, those things can become items we use and treasure.

  22. OTGW*

    My husband has a bunch of toys (literally, toys) and 3D prints. I need help deciding how we can store all of these. Like, I know there’s just keeping them in a box, but he wants to display some of them and at least with the 3D prints (they’re mostly for dnd), want them easily accessible. I’m not too keen on getting another bookshelf, even though we could use it for other stuff, but I feel like that’s the only option. Any thoughts?

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Hrm… is the objection to the bookshelf how much space it takes up on the wall? If so, maybe consider a display tower or corner curio case – something that can fit in a smaller area, and won’t really be ideal for other things, but is intended to put things on display, and take up minimal space. Most would be more than able to handle minis and toys, and have opening doors for access when needed.

    2. Generic Name*

      One good tip I’ve seen for displaying collections is to not display everything all the time. Have a place to display say, 5 things, and keep the other stuff in storage. Rotate the collection out periodically. This can be especially fun if some of the items are holiday themed.

    3. marvin the paranoid android*

      I used to have a pegboard, which you can get pretty cheap and attach shelves and other storage stuff to. It actually looks pretty nice and it’s easy to change it around and add new stuff later. The main issue is that you have to attach it to your wall, which can be a bit of a hassle.

    4. Girasol*

      Check out Epbot for some cool DIY collection display units. They’ve done some wall hanging shelves that bring collections together cleverly.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve used an old printers type tray for miniatures. They’re not as easy to find as they were when printers first got rid of lead type, and you’ll have to check sizes against dividers.

    6. James*

      You say “another bookshelf”. That implies you have bookshelves. These are great opportunities to display things! I have a number of knives on mine, as well as a Brunson compass, some high-power magnets I use for separating magnetite from sand, the bolt from my bolt action 22 rifle (the rifle itself is locked up, and completely insert without this part), and…well, a lot of stuff that is really interesting if you know what you are looking at. Most geologists display stuff like this, partially because you quickly run out of room for hand samples. Toys are the same. You can display them in and around the books, maybe rotating them as mentioned above.

      Maybe not great for your living room, but if he has a den or study (I detest “man cave”) it would be a good aesthetic option. And yeah, my wife shares your view that this is so what ridiculous. But I am having fun, and she knew who she married. :D

      There is also a thing where you make mini-dioramas in bookshelves. May be an option for him. I know a lot of D&D players use landscapes and dungeon rooms, so he likely has a few lying around (my group uses Roll20 so I miss out on that). As an added bonus, it keeps him out of your hair for a few hours. ;)

  23. Anon100*

    I’m hosting an outdoor casual cookout later this month at a local park for about 10 adults, 3-5 kids. (Adults are all fully vaxxed, we live in a highly vaxxed county in the northeastern US, etc, etc…)

    My question is – what equipment (other than the basic park grill) do I need to obtain buy to make sure this is a successful event? I did not grow up with outdoor cookouts, so other than having vague idea that I need a specific type of lighter fluid and charcoal, what else do I need to host a successful cookout, especially on the cooking side of things? Foil? Tongs? How many burgers* per adult? Is lettuce absolutely necessary or will no one mind if I sub in more tasty vegetables like onions, potatoes, or corn? Is there a guide for this?

    I’ve planned and hosted indoor parties before in pre-pandemic times, so I’m probably good on the disposable plates and utensils front. This is super casual, so I’m hoping once I figure out what I absolutely need and the quantities, I can just buy everything at Costco in one go.

    Thanks all!

    *we are all omnivores, and no one has food sensitivities that are incompatible with a basic American-style cookout (or else they would have told me already)

    1. WellRed*

      I’m confused by the vegetable question. Do you mean to put on the burgers? As sides? If you’re not used to grilling, I’d keep it real simple. You need a platter, condiments, maybe chips or potato salad, napkins, drinks.

    2. Fellow Traveller*

      A really large cooler for drinks!
      A grill scrub brush. A set of those high temperature gloves in case you need to move the grill. A large grill spatula (i find easier for bugers than tongs). Something to cover the food (can be foil). Also have a bucket of water standing by just in case.
      You might want to think about investing an another portable grill- typically the grills at parks are on the small side, and might take a while to cook enough burgers and hot dogs for everyone. I would also only pack hearty veggies because i’ve found that at outdoor cookouts, food tends to sit because everyone eats at their own pace.
      Also- make sure you know how to dispose of the ash- it’s always a pain when you get there to find the grill full of ash from the previous party.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Adds learned from years and years of outdoor cookouts:
        $store plastic tablecloths, lg plastic cups—use several to place plastic cutlery handle side up for easy/safe grabbing and have extras on the spoons & forks, lots of napkins (and something to use as a paperweight), a cooler just for ice, recycling bin as well as trash can, and extra bags to pack up dirty serving platters/bowls/etc. Oh, and condiments, of course!

        1. The Dogman*

          Could you not use paper and wooden plates and utensils?

          All that plastic for just one meal seems a bit unnecessary.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            You certainly could, if you wanted to.

            You could take your regular plates and cutlery, for that matter. It wouldn’t be a faux pas.

            It depends on how you want to spend your time, and other resources.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding the big drinks cooler. And non-alcoholic options–my experience is those can go fast, since even beer drinkers might be alternating.

    3. Michelle*

      Some items to consider: plastic table cloths and clips to hold them on, bottle opener/corkscrew, bug spray, coolers (one or two for drinks so that alcoholic and non-alcoholic can be separate and one for food), first aid kit, garbage bags, matches, foil (both for keeping food items warm, and also for covering pans of food so that wasps and other bugs don’t get to it), a black permanent marker for people to mark their drink cups or water bottles, serving utensils, paper towels, and perhaps some outdoor activities for the kids (Frisbee, etc.).

      We usually do a couple of options for food, choosing from hamburgers, hotdogs, or chicken. Have foil pans that you can move the cooked food into for serving. Barbecues always seem to imply tons of snacks with our crew…potato chips (one of the few times we pick them up), chocolate chip cookies, chips and salsa, watermelon, etc. Make sure you remember the little things like butter for buns, condiments, cheese, etc. and utensils (large spoons for fruit salad or a sharp knife for cutting buns for example) for serving them if necessary.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Thongs for vegetable, long grill spatula for burgers, highly recommend aluminum trays for prep and cooked foods, paper towel and napkins.
      See if you can get a disposable “tablecloth”.
      Ice! You WILL need ice for drinks. And a large cooler.
      Lettuce – if to put on the burgers – yes, people like it. Condiments. Pre-slice your tomatoes, onions. Sliced cheese. You can go with nice cheese, but realistically, pre-sliced deli cheese or even American cheese works on burgers.
      How many per adult – thin patties – count 2 burgers per adult. Thick homemade (1/2lb per person) – I say 1.5 per adult. If you have hearty sides – you will need fewer burgers.
      Charcoal! If you get your standard supermarket bags, you’ll need both lighter fluid and matches.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Even if there’s a picnic table available, bring a folding table. Think about how you’re going to transport your stuff – is the grill area adjacent to the parking lot, or should you look at a folding wagon or some such? Think about the environment – do you need bug spray? Fly covers for food? (You don’t have to get anything fancy; usually you can drape a towel over the serving platter but be sure to bring enough cotton tea towels.) What about a sun umbrella? Do you need a tarp for damp ground, picnic blankets, folding chairs?

      You don’t need to supply all this stuff, but it’s the kind of thing that you might want to think about and then ask your guests to help out with.

      In addition to the things other people have mentioned, I’d add “things for leftovers”. Once you’ve used those aluminum pans for serving they get pretty sloppy for putting in your car. I’d bring some clean foil, whatever kind of bags or storage containers you feel comfortable with, and some clean shopping bags for transporting your usable leftovers back home.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For an event like what you describe, my Costco shopping list would be:
      frozen burger patties to a quantity of 2 per person (assuming you’re only doing burgers)
      ditto buns
      a box of the assorted single-serving size chips (the box I usually get has like, plain chips, sour cream and onion, doritos in both original and cool ranch, etc – this way, even vax’ed, people aren’t everyone sticking their hands into the communal bag to get chips out, plus if you have leftovers you don’t have to worry about eating half a bag of bbq potato chips before they go stale and if what’s left is flavors you don’t like, put them in the halloween treats :P )
      if they still have them this time of year, the “picnic pack” of condiments
      assorted pack of sliced cheese (I think it has cheddar, havarti, swiss and colby jack? four options any rate), 1-2 as needed
      Some kind of dessert – you can get cookies of many varieties (Milanos om nom nom) in the single serving packs as well, same reasoning as with the chips.
      A flat of bottled water.

      Then from a regular grocery store, I would get
      squeeze bottles of ketchup mustard mayo, if Costco didn’t have the picnic packs, and possibly bbq sauce (I like bbq on my cheeseburgers sometimes :) )
      a salad bag of pre-washed lettuce leaves
      3-4 tomatoes for slicing
      1 onion for slicing, maybe 2 if they were small
      A 12 pack each of Coke, Coke Zero, and Sprite. (Or root beer, or orange, or – basically I look for a caffeinated option, a non-caffeinated option, and a zero-calorie option, adjust based on your crowd if you know nobody drinks diet or whatever.)

      Trying to do potatoes or corn at a public park is going to be an exercise in frustration, between time and space constraints. Pre-slice your tomatoes and onion. Bring a sharpie so people can write their names on their drinks if you think it’s necessary. You said you had plates and utensils sorted, so I didn’t touch on those, and I don’t do the grilling at my house, so I’m not sure as far as charcoal and such goes. For burgers, I’d go spatula over tongs, but probably have a pair of tongs in the pile just in case.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If I were doing a cookout at home, I would also probably get a big tub of potato salad and doctor it up, but that might get fiddly to take it and have it sitting out somewhere.

        Also things I would bring: Big garbage bags for cleanup, tupperware for any leftovers that need it, sunscreen and bug spray, first aid kit, wet wipes to clean up after eating, a roll or two of toilet paper in case the park’s facilities are lacking. And I forgot to mention ice and coolers, but.

    7. The Smiling Pug*

      I’m going to second everyone that said use tongs. If you can, find ones with rubber on the handles so you don’t burn yourself. My mom has a few of those, and they’re amazing.

      As for the food itself, I think lettuce, chopped onions and tomatoes would suffice. Also, I’ve found that buying more food (meat, bread) and keeping it in coolers for seconds is helpful, as inevitably some look around for more, as their bellies will still a bit rumbly.

    8. Anonathon*

      Not a food item, but an outdoor Bluetooth speaker or some way to play music outside. Always makes it feel more like a party especially with a smaller group.

    9. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’d do a practice meal for just 2 or 3 people first, if you haven’t done anything like this before.

    10. Joie de Vivre*

      Since you are doing it at a park, make sure to check to see if you have to reserve the space.

    11. Anono-me*

      If there aren’t clean, safe accessible restrooms nearby; you may want a hand wash station.

      Easiest way to do it is to find an empty ginormous laundry soap container (ex. Tide 154 oz). Fill the laundry container with hot water. (It will cool off, but still probably be a little warm). Set it up on a table or steady stool where the water won’t make a mess on the ground. Have a foaming hand soap dispenser* on one side and a paper towel dispenser on the other.

      *Foaming soap dispensers result in using less soap and so hands rinse easier with less water. (Bonus they can be refilled using approx 5 parts water and 1 part regular liquid soap.)

  24. Dark Macadamia*

    My husband and I need a new show to watch together! We’re having so much trouble finding something we’d both enjoy (preferably on Netflix or Prime in the US). I think our mutual favorites have been ATLA and The Good Place, and back in the day we watched a lot of Scrubs, Office, Arrested Development. Shadow and Bone was decent, Shannara was not. Gave up on The Magicians when it became too dark/graphic. So… mainly fantasy or comedy? Anything great that we’ve been overlooking?

      1. Natalie*

        Fantasy/science fiction recommendations:
        Merlin, lost in space, the good witch on Netflix
        The expanse on Amazon prime
        The legend of the seeker on YouTube

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I couldn’t agree more, Quarantime! It’s on Apple TV, and is EXCELLENT! It’s in my “what brought you joy” response above! :)

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Every time I see stuff about it my brain is like “ugh, sports…” but actually it might be perfect as a couples show haha

      3. Team Ted*

        Love Ted Lasso. I’m not a sports person but it is the character development and interactions that make it so good

        1. the cat's ass*

          Love your name! Definitely Ted Lasso-im not a big TV watcher and it’s my fav program in ages!

      4. Frankie Bergstein*

        I feel the same as you do about sports. That being said, I really liked Friday Night Lights because of the deep stories about each of the characters. Lasso is similar in that way, but it’s funny, has a great soundtrack, it’s cheerful/optimistic, and you see a whole lot of character growth. It also turns many sports movie cliches on their heads, which I’m so very much here for!

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? it’s on Amazon Prime and is Comedy.

      There’s a lot of good stuff – IMO – on Netflix, like:
      -Kim’s Convenience (comedy)
      -Atypical (comedic pieces, sitcom)
      -One Day At a Time (reads like a 90s sitcom with present-day themes)
      -Grace and Frankie (dramedy)
      -Mr. Iglesias (comedy)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I love Mrs. Maisel but pretty sure he’s seen me watching it and been like “wtf is this” lol. Thanks for the list, I’ll have to look at them!

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      If you liked the Good Place, check out Mike Schur’s other shows: Brooklyn 99, Rutherford Falls

      For both fantasy and comedy, check out Santa Clarita Diet. Timothy Oliphant and Drew Barrymore are a suburban couple and I won’t spoil the rest for you!

    3. The Smiling Pug*

      If you like The Office, I’ll always recommend Parks and Rec! Once you muscle your way through the first two seasons, the humor picks up and it’s wonderful. :)

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          That’s ok! You’re welcome though. :) Also, I forgot to ask in my original post, but how do you feel about animated shows? I know they bug some people, but if they don’t, there’s a particularly good one from Disney channel called Gravity Falls: it’s fantasy and comedy, and it’s for everyone, not just kids.

        2. photon*

          I started P&R with season 2 and loved it. Later when I went back to watch season 1, I felt it was incredibly cringey. Just a thought.

          My partner & I just finished the first season of Avenue 5, which was hilarious. Bonus points if you’re a House fan, Hugh Laurie’s in it.

          1. The Smiling Pug*

            I agree that the first season/half of season 2 is rough. You can tell that they’re still ironing out personalities, jokes etc. Also, once they brought Adam Scott and Rob Lowe on board, and got rid of the guy that played Paul, the show’s chemistry went up 1000%.

            And I’ve never heard of Avenue 5: I’ll have to check it out. I like Hugh Laurie, but I haven’t seen House. I know him from Jeeves and Wooster, and the dad in the Stuart Little movies.

    4. Double A*

      These aren’t exactly obscure so you’ve probably watched some, but in line with what you’ve said:

      Community
      30 Rock
      Parks and Recreation
      Superstore

      And even if you’ve watched it before, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is fun to rewatch, especially if you haven’t watched it together.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Thanks! Community is one I’ve had on my radar for years but never actually watched, I might have to finally give it a try. I also might be due for another Buffy rewatch, it’s the best :)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          On Prime:
          Modern Love. Based on quasi-autobiographical pieces from the NY Times, about a lot of different kinds of love–love for a great doorman, love for the birth-mother of your child, love when you’re both kind of frustrated with each other.
          Continuum Sci Fi in which terrorists go back in time to change their present, and the cop who is accidentally zapped back with them. I really liked the nuance–the terrorists aren’t wrong about the government’s corruption; people like the cop aren’t wrong about just wanting to go about their day without being blown up.
          Orphan Black A con woman on the run sees a woman who looks just like her step in front of a train, and realizes the stranger’s life is the perfect hiding spot. Then she encounters another look-alike, and another…

          On Netflix:
          Abstract is a really fascinating look at design. As a rule, the episodes I was most inclined to skip (“Eh, not my thing” I thought) wound up being the most intriguing.
          Dark Matter Sci Fi in which six people wake up on a space ship with no memory of how they got there. Hijinks and space battles ensue.

          Other (HBO, which just stopped being a subscription on Amazon)
          Chernobyl on HBO was unexpectedly gripping–just a very, very well-executed story, with tons of details you probably never knew even if you lived through it.
          <His Dark Materials Fantasy. A really excellent adaptation of the book series by Pullman, which is a family favorite. Beautifully executed, and one book = one season gives the complex story the room it needs. Lyra and Will are really well cast. Lin Manuel Miranda plays a balloonist.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Seconding both Chernobyl and His Dark Materials – I wasn’t expecting much out of HDM, because I wasn’t super stoked about the books, but I sat down one morning and flipped it on and ended up binging the whole goldang first season in one day. (Is the second season done airing yet? I’m terrible at watching shows weekly, I have to wait til they’re all out and then slurp through the whole thing in a much shorter time frame.)

          2. Dark Macadamia*

            Thank you! I discovered Orphan Black during the pandemic and have watched the whole series through three times. And I forgot about that Dark Materials one! The books are incredible

          3. AlabamaAnonymous*

            Oh! I forgot about Dark Matter! I love that show! Such an intriguing exploration of why people make the choices the do and what determines who we are as people.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I think Dark Matter is really good at buzzing along as a fast-paced space opera on the top, while posing some excellent philosophical questions woven into the narrative.

        2. Double A*

          I am jealous of you for getting to watch Community for the first time!!! It’s one my husband and I really enjoyed watching together. It can get a little uneven in later seasons because Dan Harmon left, then came back, and Donald Glover leaves but the first 4 seasons are a joy.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      What we do in the shadows!! It’s so good. I’ve also heard great things about Ted Lasso.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Also, Wellington Paranormal.

        And I’ve really enjoyed the new Twilight Zone.

        Have you seen The Librarians? I love that show.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Oh yes Wellington Paranormal is also great. I haven’t seen the librarians yet! Where can you watch the new twilight zone?

    6. fposte*

      Not yet mentioned: Letterkenny, Murders Only in the Building. I definitely second the suggestion of Community.

      And Amazon now has Taskmaster (UK) on it, but I love that show too much to be objective about it.

      1. Double A*

        We just started Letterkenny and it is so strange and good! Not at all what I was expecting. And you need to give it a few episodes to get used to the style and to let some of the arcs build, but once they do it’s so excellent. I’ve never seen anything like it. The language is almost Shakespearean at times.

      2. mcl*

        We are also watching Only Murders in the Building (Hulu), which is cute! And What We Do in the Shadows is good fun. Other “lighter” shows that we like, that I haven’t seen mentioned yet (or if I skimmed past, sorry!). I apologize if you don’t have Hulu – that’s where I’m finding much of my comedy nowadays.
        – The Orville (I tend to dislike Seth McFarlane BUT he is largely balanced out by the ensemble cast), spouse talked me into it and I ended up enjoying. Available on Hulu.
        – Superstore, Hulu
        – Bob’s Burgers (Hulu)
        – Leverage, with the new spin-off Leverage: Redemption (Prime/IMdB)
        – If you are into Star Wars at all, the animated series (Clone Wars, Rebels, Bad Batch) on Disney+ are good stuff.
        – I am watching this on my own, but I am really enjoying Wynonna Earp (Netflix). Very much in the fantasy/comedy vein, slightly gorier/raunchier than Buffy but good fun.
        – Never Have I Ever (Netflix), comedy.
        – Toast of London (Netflix), British comedy, kind of absurdist but definitely tickled us. Matt Berry is now starring in What We Do in the Shadows.

    7. Cookie D'oh*

      Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix was funny. Unfortunately it’s one of those shows that got canceled and ended on a cliffhanger.

    8. LNLN*

      Netflix shows hubby and I have enjoyed together:

      Atypical
      The Queen’s Gambit
      In the Dark
      Dead to Me
      Orange is the New Black

      1. Double A*

        Oh my gosh, we LOVED Santa Clarita Diet. But it’s pretty gory– I tell people if you don’t like the first episode, you won’t like the show. If you think campy gore is funny, though, then is that the show for you.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      If you’re willing to sign up or have access to Hulu here are a few recommendations:

      Happy Endings–It’s like New Girl, except with ‘meaner’? I guess jokes. It’s a very, very funny show.
      New Girl for that matter as well which is on Netflix.

      Man Seeking Woman–Funny surrealist comedy that has Jay Baruchel as a bit of a sad sack trying to find love. Eric Andre plays his best friend. It’s funny and sweet and a really great show.

      I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve been told “You’re The Worst” is also quite funny.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          You know, I’m not sure why I never watched it as every time I saw the previews or a bit of the show it had me in stiches.

    10. AlabamaAnonymous*

      Maybe the Librarians? Or Warehouse 13? Those are both fantasy-set-in-the-modern world like Magicians but with the good interpersonal interaction among the characters.

    11. Eureka!*

      Eureka is about a fictional town for super scientists and is basically a hilarious hijinks procedural with a sci-fi twist. And the main actor is a phenomenal physical comedy actor. It’s older so can occasionally make you cringe but it’s really delightful. I think it’s on both prime and Netflix?

      1. banoffee pie*

        I always liked Castle, it’s a good mix of action and comedy, though Nathan Fillion can be a bit annoying. I think the character was meant to be annoying but he played it a little too well! It got a bit daft in the last couple of seasons though. Watch out for President Palmer’s wife Sherry from 24, as the police chief in later series!

    12. RagingADHD*

      It’s scifi, but we just started watching Dark Matter on Netflix. It’s very trope-y, slightly cheesy, but a good setup and quite enjoyable.

      My husband turned around in Episide 3 and said, “They’re the A-Team in space.” And kinda, yeah. Plus a mysterious backstory.

      We aren’t Marvel fans generally, but we just binged WandaVision and if you have Disney Plus I recommend it. Very well written, and the central relationship is so wholesome and well-played. We could tell that we weren’t gettung all the insider references to the movies, but the basic story still works just fine anyway. It was very satisfying.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      I came back to this thread and there’s a million suggestions so thank you to everyone! I’m excited to try some new shows now :)

    14. PostalMixup*

      I haven’t seen Carnival Row or Sweet Tooth here. Both are Netflix, both with one season so far and more in the works. Heads up about Sweet Tooth: it’s set in a post-pandemic apocalyptic world, and for some people might be a little too much reality for the current world situation. Also, plenty of violence against children, but most of it is implied or off screen.

      1. mcl*

        Carnival Row is on Prime, but yes – good stuff (though a little bit on the dark side) and excited to see more!

    15. Raika*

      ATLA and The Good Place are 2/3 of my top three favorite shows of all time, so maybe you’d be interested in The Americans, which is my third. It’s not fantasy or comedy, but the common thread between the three shows is that they are all have a focus on complex characters and their development. It sounds like a typical spy thriller, which isn’t something I’d normally be very interested in, but I was surprised to find that it’s so much more than that. It think it’s available on Amazon Prime.

  25. Squidhead needs Google-fu*

    Any intrepid Googlers out there want to help me out? I’m trying to find out which Far Side cartoon was first published on 1/14/1985. I thought if I could find a newspaper archive for that date I could look at the comic, but haven’t had luck finding a (free) archive like that. I just need to know the caption/description of the cartoon so I can mark it in a book. (The newspaper versions commonly have the date written in the corner but the compiled versions in books don’t seem to have these.) I appreciate anyone who takes this on OR points me in the right direction!

    1. fposte*

      What I’m seeing in two different papers is this cartoon: young Einstein at a chalkboard writing versions of his famous formula with e=mc[various wrong numbers] and getting a look of inspiration as a woman cleaning his desk says, “*Now* that desk looks better. Everything’s squared away, yessir, squaaaaaared away.”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Does your library have “The Complete Far Side” (or are you willing to buy it)? It looks like it’s arranged chronologically.

    3. Stglssb*

      So my son has a giant book of every Far Side comic! 1/14/85
      Description: Einstein is working at a black board. He’s working on his famous E=mc equation, but he doesn’t have the 2 on any of them. A woman in an apron with a duster is looking at a clean desk.
      Caption: “Now that desk looks better. Everything’s squared away, yessir, squaarred away”

    4. Squidhead needs Google-fu*

      You folks are the best! I appreciate it so much!

      I have a copy of The Prehistory of the Far Side and several of the skinny compilation books (Bride of… Far Side Preserves… etc) but none have the calendar dates in them.

      Thank you again!

  26. Consider tabling the issue?*

    IKEA used to make a product called ‘Pilbo’; it was a glass-topped living room / coffee table that had shallow drawers in it so you could display things under the glass. The drawers had a removable divider structure and were ~30mm (1.25 inches) deep; with a thin layer of foam and a bit of cloth it made for a pretty decent display option for D&D minis (lying flat).
    Now, I’m pretty sure I got mine as they were discontinuing the line ~20 years ago, but the concept is sound and maybe you can find (or have made) something similar from another source. Not hugely helpful, I regret, but it’s another starting point in your search.

    1. Consider tabling the issue?*

      Nesting fail. This was intended for OTGW’s “how to display husband’s stuff” post above.

    2. fposte*

      A friend of mine has a non-Ikea version of this–basically super-solid crates with thick tempered glass along the top.

    3. Chaordic One*

      An excellent suggestion. Many years ago I saw a fairly large, similar-in-concept coffee table, but with 2 or 3 other drawers under the top one at Montgomery Ward. The table was made of wood and painted green. I loved it, still regret not buying it, and have been looking for something similar ever since. Maybe a trip to IKEA?

  27. Double A*

    Has anyone had a cat diagnosed with FIP or presumptive FIP? Can you tell me about the course it took and how quickly the cat declined? More generally, have you lost young pets to a sudden illness?

    Our youngest cat (one year old) suddenly lost color and energy and was diagnosed with FIP on Wednesday. It’s invariably fatal. He declined quickly, going from basically normal last week to being extemely low energy and boney this week. He has a lot of fluid build up in his abdomen. I’ve got a euthanasia appointment for him for Tuesday. Depending on how he’s doing by then, it might turn into a discussion about palliative care, but I don’t think he could have more than 2 weeks at the absolute most left, and I don’t want him to suffer.

    Right now, he’s doing okay. He is very, very tired and clearly doesn’t feel good, but I don’t think he’s in pain. He’s still eating and drinking and doing the rounds of his normal routine, hanging out in his usual spots. He still wants to be wherever the people are. He’s not hiding, which to me is the clearest sign a cat is in pain and/or imminently dying.

    We’re just so sad. He’s only 1 year old. To make it even worse, this is the second kitten in a row we’ve lost in less than a year to a random illness. We adopted a kitten in summer 2020 and we had to put him down after about 4 months when he developed a massive lymphoma in his chest cavity. We’ve had this second kitten just 10 months. He’s been incredible; so gentle and sweet and friendly with animals humans of all kinds. Won over the old cats immediately. Completely gentle and patient with our toddler. Just too good for this world, I guess. But I can’t believe it’s happened again. (Believe me I’ve wondered if there’s something in our house, but I don’t think the illnesses could have the same cause, though I’m going to ask about this a bit more extensively at our next appointment).

    1. Schmitt*

      I have not, but I wanted to say I’m so sorry. We also lost a string of cats – not that young, but Too Young – and had a hard time when our 4 year old’s bloodwork turned up kidney disease a few years ago, not long after those losses. Like you we wondered what sort of stupid bad luck or karma we ended up with :(

      1. Double A*

        Thanks; I’m sorry you had to go through this too but it is helpful to hear that someone else has lost multiple cats too soon and it’s not like we’re cursed. Our two older cats are about 17 and 13 and going strong, so mostly my experience is that they live forever. My beloved first cat was 12 when he died and that seemed too young.

        But I guess it’s not that unusual for cats to just have so