weekend open thread – April 16-17, 2022

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: The Lifeguards, by Amanda Eyre Ward. Three mothers try to protect their teenage sons when they might be involved in a woman’s suspicious death.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,059 comments… read them below }

  1. Dark Macadamia*

    What wholesome, lighthearted, or uplifting books have you been reading lately? In the past I’ve often gravitated toward dystopian or wartime historical fiction but I just don’t have the energy for that kind of bleakness right now! I’ll put some of my favorites in a comment :)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      The Tumbling Turner Sisters, Juliette Fay: It has dark aspects to it but overall really enjoyable, think like the circus episode of Bones where you know they’re investigating a death but the setting and characters are fun

      How to Be Perfect, Mike Schur: funny and accessible exploration of moral philosophy based on his research for The Good Place

      The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon: well-written YA romance about fate and possibility

      Nothing to See Here, Kevin Wilson: woman becomes a nanny to spontaneously combusting twins

      I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith: teen girl comes of age in, well, a castle in the 1930s, full of secondhand embarrassment lol

      Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson: humorous motherhood memoir made funnier (to me anyway) by the fact that the setting resembles some of her horror writing

      1. Vio*

        I cannot recommend Shirley Jackson enough! Even some of her really dark works contain elements of humour and her atmosphere building is incredible, especially The Summer People!

        on topic though I’d say The Slow Regard Of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. While having read the Kingkiller Chronicles will give it an extra layer, it’s still a fascinating read as a standalone. The story is a day in the life of a woman with a rather OCD-ish condition and, for the most part an optimistic and upbeat attitude.

          1. Squidhead*

            Seconded! I really enjoyed it earlier this year.

            My go-to when I need familiarity+dry humor+humanity is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I do have favorite sub-series within it (The Witch books, the Watch/Vimes books, The Tiffaany Aching YA series) but I’m currently re-reading one of the Big Idea books (Moving Pictures) and it’s like an incantation.

            1. DataGirl*

              Discworld is so great. I’ve been meaning to re-read the Tiffany series for a while now. I read The Hogfather every December, it’s probably my favorite book of all time. I even have a tattoo of Susan.

            2. GoryDetails*

              Another vote for Discworld! I’ve enjoyed all the books, though favorites include Guards! Guards!, Witches Abroad (talk about fairytale deconstruction!), Hogfather, and the intense (and largely standalone) Small Gods. Oh, and The Last Continent, in which Rincewind and the totally-awesome Luggage visit the Discworld equivalent of pop-culture Australia. [The book manages to be both hilarious and touching; the nods to the Australian creation myths were really lovely.] Also love the Tiffany Aching books, from her sentient (and angry) cheese to her connection with her beloved Chalk.

              1. DataGirl*

                even though Rincewind is one of my less favorite characters (don’t dislike him, just like the others better) The Last Continent is one of my favorite Discworld books. Every single thing about it is just perfection.

                1. allathian*

                  Rincewind is one of my favorite characters, although my top favorite is, without a doubt, The Luggage.

            3. Dark Macadamia*

              Thanks for the sub series suggestions – I’ve never read any Discworld books because there are just so many I don’t know where to start lol

              1. one of the meg murrys*

                I second that Tiffany Aching sub-series is great and mostly light, though they get a bit heavier as she gets older. Wee Free Men is the first.

      2. anonagain*

        I love Nothing to See Here. I’m not clicking with any books I’m trying right now so I may re-read it.

      3. one of the meg murrys*

        I love I Capture The Castle sooo much. The movie is actually really good adaptation IMO and delightful. And great audiobook narrated by Emilia Fox!

        I think Cold Comfort Farm is vaguely similar in vibe and very funny, though less sincere.

    2. Kyrielle*

      If you like urban fantasy at all, I recommend Seanan McGuire. Her Incryptid series, starting with Discount Armageddon, is hilarious but also a good read. The Toby Daye series, starting with Rosemary and Rue, is very interesting but a bit darker than Incryptid. (Also, there’s usually one of the first three books someone finds to be less awesome than the others, not always the same one, because those are three very different types of stories.) And her Wayward Children series, starting with Every Heart a Doorway, definitely has some darkness in it but also a lot of hope.

      Seanan also writes as Mira Grant, but those are medical thrillers and horror, so I don’t recommend them when you’re looking for something lighter!

      Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic, starting with Thirteenth Child, is an excellent alternate-world wild west fantasy.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Wrede’s Sorcery and Cecelia trilogy is also excellent – Regency England with magic.

        Becky Chamber’s Wayfarer series, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, Victoria Goddard’s The Hand of the Emperor, and also her Greenwing and Dart Series.

        The Hand of the Emperor is an odd duck – a 900+ page doorstopper fantasy novel with no warfare or battles, no sex, next to no romance, lots of talking about feelings, a protagonist who is a middle aged civil servant devoted to making the world better through careful legislation, and a climactic scene late in the book that is sung in epic verse. But it all works, and is magnificent.

        1. Radical Edward*

          So many of these are on my list! In the meantime, I can enthusiastically second The Hands of the Emperor; I have read it twice in six months, and will probably read it again soon (I am so, so impatient for its sequel…). I haven’t enjoyed a novel that much in over a decade; not sure I *ever* had more fun reading a new fantasy novel. Clearly it struck a chord!

          In the meantime I am enjoying the Greenwing and Dart series, which is a delightful fusion of Connie Willis, Patricia C. Wrede, and… I want to say Patricia A. McKillip. It’s got some of that same dreamlike, ephemeral haze about the edges, sometimes.

        2. Lucy*

          Seconding The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Very lighthearted and wholesome and uplifting.

          My friend raved about his other book, Under the Whispering Door, to me as well. I only got like 70 pages in because I typically don’t read lighthearted and wholesome books and couldn’t handle a second book like that, lol. But if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s probably a good fit too!

          1. Fellow Traveller*

            I agree with you about Under The Whispering Door. I loved The House in the Cerulean Sea- it had such a light and heartfelt touch. Under the Whispering Door felt really labored to me. I finished it, but didn’t love it.

          2. Dark Macadamia*

            House on the Cerulean Sea was a bit much for me, lol. It made me think of when you eat frosting and it’s so sweet your teeth hurt!

        3. Software Dev (she/her)*

          Just came back to say thank you for recommending hands of the emperor, I picked it up and it was exactly the book I needed.

      2. DataGirl*

        I like the October Daye series. It feels like a Dresden Files rip off in the first book but develops its own things pretty quickly.
        She brings a lot of old faerie tales into the stories which is fun. Great LGBTQIA representation.

        Incryptid I cannot recommend, it is so badly written. Huge plot holes, like, you wonder if your book has several chapters ripped out because one minute she’s keying up all these story lines then you turn the page and everything is over, the end. I abandoned the series after book 2.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve been wanting to check out McGuire. Arrrgh, the worst part of being unemployed is that I can’t buy ALL THE BOOKS.

        1. Sue*

          I am a huge library fan. I would spend a small fortune on books if I bought them, even on Kindle. Sometimes have to wait awhile but I read/listened to 100+ books last year for free.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like the library too, but the pandemic put the kibosh on using the library here last year. Now I don’t want to go to the trouble of getting a card when I’m just going to leave.
            I can wait. The books I want to read aren’t going anywhere.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              How much trouble is it where you are? The last two places I lived, it took 5 minutes to get a card. I think I even got my DC card online or something, but i did it the day after we moved. And once you have one, you have access to digital libraries too– sometimes I search for Kindle editions at the library where I haven’t lived since 2019.

              Reading library books got me through the toughest part of my unemployment, when I was completely freaking out about money– access to free books helped push me through. Shoot, free books get me through now, with a good job. I would go broke if I bought every book I wanted to read.

            2. LibrarianR*

              Most libraries let you apply online which will give you access to all their digital resources: ebooks, movies, music, journal articles, magazines, etc. Really, no reason not to do it.

            3. Libraries are awesome*

              It took me less than 5 minutes to get a library card and it was during the pandemic when the libraries were still closed to the public for browsing. I drove up in my car, called them from the car to give them my information, a librarian came out to the car and checked my town of residence and had me sign something and gave me a new card. We both wore masks.

              Now that restrictions have eased, I go to two different libraries nearby. The libraries are the only places in this area which still require and enforce indoor masking. I also check out ebooks through their online systems and honestly would not have gotten through the worst of the pandemic if I had not had access to online borrowing of ebooks.

              Anyone else who loves to read and either chooses not to buy or can’t afford to buy books, please look into your public library system! I love the library.

            4. Libraries rule*

              We moved at the height of the fourth wave so I got my card online and used the Libby app for ebooks until the library opened back up – took three minutes to do and gave me lots to read! Then when the library opened up again I converted it to a physical card in two minutes the first time I went in. No fuss no muss! Unless you’re moving like tomorrow it might be worth it – there’s lots of joy to be had from a library card for very little investment.

            5. Nancy*

              Most libraries let you apply online and you can continue to use it for ebooks if you move or for physical books when you visit. I still have a card for the library system in my home state even though I haven’t lived there for over 15 years. My current library lets anyone in the state get a temporary 6 month account online.

            6. Kiwiapple*

              Library books saved me when I was long term unemployed a few years ago. I had no money to go anywhere or do anything but at least I could access lots and lots of free and new books to help me forget my horrible reality.

              I join the library as soon as I can, anywhere I live and some places I’ve only lived for a few months.

              1. RagingADHD*

                I wonder if there’s some kind of documentation issue with not having proof of residence? But usually a driver’s license will do, you don’t have to have utilities in your name.

              1. Nope.*

                At this point, I’m convinced this poster would rather have problems than solutions. If that gets me banned, so be it, but it’s a bit tiring to see people constantly offer help only to be met with silly excuses.

                1. linus bk*

                  As a librarian I am a little confused by “I want to read all these books but I don’t want to get a library card.” OK?

                2. Willis*

                  Right. Maybe don’t bring up a complaint about being unable to read the books you’d like if you’re unwilling to entertain the super easy and free solution.

                3. linus bk*

                  Um… what exactly are you hoping for then when you come into a conversation —held in the comments of an advice column — about books people are reading and say you’re not reading because you can’t buy books?

            7. LibrarianR*

              Also, in my library system, a digital card gives you free access to The NY Times. Which I believe you’ve fretted about access to in the past. Just get the card, already.

            8. LilPinkSock*

              It’s not usually much of an arduous process to get a library card, right? Unless you’re leaving, like, tomorrow, I’d say that juice is well worth the squeeze.

            9. Elizabeth West*

              THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM GOOD LORD

              I’m CHOOSING not to get a card here; it’s not that big a deal. Sheesh!

              1. Middle School Teacher*

                You realise a library card isn’t an anchor. You’re allowed to not use it after you move away.

              2. Ma'am this is a Wendy's*

                To be fair…you’re the one saying it’s a problem up above to not be able to get the books you want.

                People are giving you an easy, practical solution. You seem weirdly set on not getting a library card in your hometown, which is fine, but it also comes off as unreasonable when you’re complaining about not getting the books you want.

                You’ve been here long enough to know: if the whole group is disagreeing with you, you might want to really take a look inside yourself to figure out why.

            10. I-away8*

              I can wait. The books I want to read aren’t going anywhere.

              I miss the days when I was young enough to think like that. Now that I’ve likely passed the midpoint of my life, I’m becoming increasing aware of the dwindling time left to do things I love.

              But at least the books will always be there.

      4. VegetarianRaccoon*

        I can second Rosemary and Rue. Possibly someone here suggested it on one of these weekend threads; I’ve been reading a lot of new things I wouldn’t have known about thanks to AAM!

      5. one of the meg murrys*

        I agree that there’s some hope in Every Heart a Doorway, but for those of us who don’t seek out horror, it qualifies as horror too, and it was pretty dark for me. YMMV, but CW for murder, graphic mutilation, cruelty, etc.

    3. Andy*

      Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. A wonderful setting, and without giving too much away, the short book exudes gratitude, wonder, kindness, and care.

      1. Wildcat*

        I liked this book, but I’d hesitate to call it uplifting. There’s a lot of disorientation in the book.

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      L’aiguille Creuse (the Hollow Needle) by Maurice Leblanc – it’s one of his Arsène Lupin books. I appreciate the sheer “do not give a fluff” energy that man had when Arthur Conan Doyle told him he couldn’t use Sherlock Holmes and Watson…so he went with Herlock Sholmès and Wilson. Admittedly the two feature most prominently in Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès, but they still get an honourable mention in this one.

    5. Kate in Scotland*

      I’m pretty sure it was someone here who recommended the Garnet Run books by Roan Parrish. They are gentle male/male romances in a rural setting, and all feature the characters’ pets in a distinctive way! References to mental illness, loss, trauma; a modern romance novel amount of sex. I enjoyed them a lot.

    6. I take tea*

      I just read a Madeleine Brent, can recommend those books for lighthearted reading. Romantic suspense, a bit Gothic at times. Not great literature, but the heroines are relatable and the story telling is competent and fast paced. They usually are set around the last turn of the century and feature a young girl who will face big challenges and solve some mystery with her past. I always feel uplifted from reading them.

      Madeleine Brent is a pseudonym for Peter O’Donnell, who wrote Modesty Blaise. I like those too.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Time-traveling Oxford historians try to keep history on track via punting, church fetes, and butling, mixed with an ode to Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat.

        1. SpellingBee*

          Agree! However, Crosstalk (one of her fairly recent books) is much lighter, and quite fun.

        2. aceinplainsight*

          I want to rant about how Doomsday Book WAS a sad but loving book about humanity THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN HERE- except now we live in the backstory with no time travel to make up for it and it’s too much to imagine a quarantine that WORKS.

          Also, T Kingfisher’s White Rat universe books are delightful

    8. PhyllisB*

      I mentioned Without a Hitch last week. It’s about a wedding planner for the wealthy. It’s fiction, but I can see these things really happening. It’s funny and just goes to show that even with a million dollar budget smooth sailing isn’t guaranteed.

    9. AY*

      I just finished Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley, and it would fit the bill to a T. It’s essentially a fable for adults. A racehorse named Perestroika wanders away from her racetrack just outside Paris. She meets a German shorthair pointer named Frida and a crow named Raoul. The animals talk, but not in a cutesy or Disney way because Smiley really has given a lot of thought to animal personalities and characteristics. I don’t know that I can explain it any better than Frida really seems like a dog and Raoul seems like a crow. It’s wonderful and I haven’t read much else like it.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        I wonder if you might like Hollow Kingdom? Post-apocalyptic/zombie apocalypse from the POV of animals. They did a good job with writing ‘talking animals’ too IMO.

    10. PhyllisB*

      I also read Very Sincerely Yours this week by Winfrey Kerr. It’s a cross between You’ve Got Mail and Mr. Rogers. I loved it. You don’t generally read a rom com and expect an Epiphany, but I had one. Main points that stuck with me; do one thing every day that scares you, find your passion, whether it’s personal or professional, and don’t do something that you really don’t want to do. I’m 71 years old so you would think I would have this stuff figured out by now, but having it laid out like that was really enlightening.

    11. DataGirl*

      I just finished Red Shirts, which is not wholesome but it’s very funny and overall a very enjoyable and uplifting little book.

      Next on my list is Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton.

    12. Swisa*

      Anything by Jasmine Guillory. She writes romance, but it’s romance that’s diverse and feminist. So fun and relaxing to read.

      1. one of the meg murrys*

        Seconding Jasmine Guillory for high-quality escapism – there’s usually some racism or injustice that MCs are dealing with, but the focus is always on the hot romance and not trauma.

    13. NotBatman*

      Nonfiction:
      – Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
      – Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, And What It Says About Us by Tom Vaderbilt
      – A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
      – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitilin Doughtry
      *[this one is wholesome and funny; I swear!]

      Science Fiction:
      – The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
      – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
      – The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

      Realistic Fiction:
      – Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
      – Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
      – Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We JUST talked about Braiding Sweetgrass in my meditation group this morning. It’s on my list.

        1. Ella*

          Braiding Sweetgrass is very good so far! I’m about a third of the way through and am planning on buying it for my sister and sister in law. Relaxing and pleasant.

          1. Merle Grey*

            I’m partway through this too. I’m taking my time with it – some chapters beg to be read twice (or sometimes out loud to my teen)! Not how I usually read, but it’s that good!

      2. GoryDetails*

        Lots of my favorites on this list as well – and I was pleased to see Caitlin Doughty, whose work I adore. (Her YouTube channel, “Ask a Mortician”, is also worth checking out.)

        1. NotBatman*

          I love her work! And you can back me up that hers really is a funny and wholesome memoir about handling dead bodies.

      3. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Murderbot is so much more wholesome than you would guess by the name! It really is good!

      4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        I very much like the Inspector Gamache novels, but they aren’t light-hearted, and while I could make a good argument that they’re uplifting overall, that’s in the context of thriller plots and large-scale corruption.

      5. rr*

        I would really like to enjoy Bill Bryson, but his more than not-so-nice attitude towards fat people really ruins his books for me. Every single time. It is a constant current in his books and it is distasteful, to say the least.

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          Yeah, that’s my biggest criticism of Bill Bryson. He’s very funny when he’s trying, but he does have a lazy tendency to fall back on mean-spiritedness for laughs, plus jokes based around swearing and sex (how edgy!). It’s pretty prominent in the early books, not as much in the middle books, and ramps up in the later ones. The Road to Little Dribbling is disappointingly ‘old man yells at cloud’.

    14. the cat's ass*

      Anything by Laurie Colwin. That includes her cookbooks, ‘Home Cooking’ and “more Home Cooking.” The books are getting a bit dated (she died in the early 1990’s) but still worth reading.

    15. Tib*

      One of my favorites is The Women in Black by Madeleine St John. It takes place in post war Australia, is about a group of women working in a department store, and is frothy but also has depth.

    16. OtterB*

      I have probably recommended this here before but I will say it again: The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard was my favorite book I read last year and it’s so encouraging. Kip Mdang is the emperor’s private secretary and head of the imperial civil service. You see coworkers become friends and the improvements Kip is bringing about in government with the emperor’s approval. The scenery and culture of Kip’s South-Pacific-like homeland are delightful. It’s long and some people find it slow. I like the immersion myself.

    17. GoryDetails*

      Looking through my recent reading, I find that most of them are pretty dark {wry grin}. A couple of exceptions:

      The Silent Traveller in London by Chiang Yee, a memoir/travel-book about poet/artist Chiang Yee’s time in London in the post-war years. Charming observations of everything from museums and artwork to the reaction of dogs to a rare winter snow.

      John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society – which does feature lots of real-world problems (including the pandemic, job-loss, etc.) but which is surprisingly light-hearted overall, and very funny.

      Not a recent read (though it’s high time I re-read it): Cotillion by Georgette Heyer, a delightful Regency romance that takes the whole “girl wants dashing rake” trope and flips it in marvelous fashion.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        That’s why I posted this lol. I haven’t read a lot of FUN books this year and it’s mostly just that I see some book about a lady spy or a teen who can fight and I’m like OOOOH that sounds good

      2. JustForThis*

        Just based on this comment, I went off and started reading _Cotillion_ yesterday evening — and couldn’t stop until I’d finished it around 5am. Great fun! Thanks for the recommendation :)

    18. marvin the paranoid android*

      Everything I’ve read by Jaclyn Moriarty fits this description. The subject matter of her books is not 100 percent light, but the tone is always very whimsical and amusing. I’d describe it as a Beverly Cleary energy but for an adult or YA audience (and Australian). I’m particularly fond of Feeling Sorry for Celia and I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes.

      (Fun fact: She is the sister of Liane Moriarty. I don’t think their books have much in common.)

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        ALSO, I absolutely LOVE Cemetery Boys and it has a very sweet and heartwarming story. If you’re up for YA fantasy (and ghosts!) I’d recommend it to anyone. I recently re-read it and if anything it’s better the second time.

      2. AGD*

        Her books are great fun! Had no idea she and Liane Moriarty were even related, though – there’s a surprise!

      1. Ali + Nino*

        The baking reminded me of the book Rabbit Cake – told from the POV of a young girl who recently lost her mother, it’s just very heartwarming.

    19. ccr in MA*

      I really enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abby Waxman. The protagonist is cheery without being sappy, and I enjoyed how she met new people and connected with them in unexpected ways.

    20. Candi*

      TROLL BRIDGE Terry Pratchett

      Cohen is troll hunting.

      Found in: Ashley, Mike. The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy . Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.

    21. Smol Book Wizard*

      It isn’t a recent read, but I recently-ish re-read The Goblin Emperor. A fantasy novel, vaguely steampunk but quietly, starts full of social anxiety, but ultimately uplifting and quietly joyful tale of belonging.
      Also, they’re marketed for kids but good for all ages – Kate Milford’s novels, especially Greenglass House and its sequels. Good fun, numinous magic, villains but lots of heroes.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        You’ve inspired me to request the Goblin Emperor from my library, looking forward to reading it. Thank you!

    22. Ella*

      I am discovering Alexander McCall Smith. I read My Italian Bulldozer (based off an AAM recommendation!) and its sequel The Second Worst Restaurant In France. I just started the Espresso Tales series of his and described it to my husband as “low stakes but interesting and pleasant”

  2. WoodswomanWrites*

    Birding thread. What birds are you seeing or hearing, and what are they up to?

    It’s nesting season and the local sparrows are landing on my windowsill to snatch spiderwebs to build their nests. When they land, they’re only about three feet away from my desk and it’s so cool to see them that close. I’m also loving all the spring bird songs.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Baby swallows at the bus stop, and we’re out this afternoon for the migrating shorebirds.

    2. Cheep Cheep*

      I was very happily putting out peanut butter on my fire escape the last week, which attracted a crow, some dark-eyed juncos, and a house finch…and then I read today the bird groups are asking people to not do bird feeders, etc. right now due to the worry of spreading avian flu. I am sad, they brought me a lot of joy. But as it gets warmer I can go out in the backyard and hopefully see some of them there.

    3. Radical Edward*

      I saw teenaged Mourning Doves the other day, harassing their parent for food under the bushes in the backyard. I had never seen that behavior from Mourning Doves before, and it was really funny. (Two against one though, hardly fair!)

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      We have all the finches at our house right now – goldfinch, siskin, chaffinch, and redpoll. We also get the occasional tit – great, blue, and coal. And I saw a blackbird in the cherry blossom tree and a thrush in the grass.
      I’m listening for the first cuckoo of summer, but haven’t heard one yet. Also haven’t seen the swallows yet.
      Does anyone have advice on how to learn the calls and sounds of birds?

      1. Usicechick*

        Have you used the Merlin app from the Cornell Ornithology Lab? It helps identify birds by look and by song and has recordings of all likely birds for your area. I’m lying in bed with my windows open and identifying birds with it right now :)

    5. Tortally HareBrained*

      Last weekend we got to add 15 species to our year list, migration is definitely on! Had a fabulous experience watching a Magnificent Frigatebird be harassed by gulls over a wetland.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      I am a very inexperienced birdwatcher having only got my first garden just before Xmas (before that I lived in a flat and all I ever saw flying about were magpies, and the odd chinook). But since moving in, I have observed some conveniently easy to recognise birds – robins, and blue tits. Fortunately not at the same time as a large ginger cat who must love hereabouts.
      A small river goes through my town and on my walk to the station I have often seen moorhens, coots and egrets. Also a couple of times goldfinches in trees.

      Not birds but flying beasts – at my old flat in London I once saw two massive stag beetles flying around – I was watching from my window and it was a first floor (second floor to USAians) flat so they were quite high, although I don’t know their usual habits. They were huge though, with these massive pincers! Well huge for the UK where nature is mostly gentle and unthreatening; doubtless an Australian would have regarded them as unimpressive lol.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        PS the reference to what the ginger cat does round here is a typo but I’m leaving it; I’m sure he is loving and beloved!

    7. Lizabeth*

      The wrens have descended! Singing their hearts out all over the place and frantically making twig pile nests all over for the Mrs. to inspect and chose one. Watched one go in and out of the collar opening to the propane tank with twigs yesterday. It must have just started that one because there wasn’t a twig pile yet when I looked in. Usually a birdbath sits on top and blocks that place.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Our wrens have arrived too! I had put out a lot of gourd birdhouses a few weeks ago and both the wrens and the black capped chickadees are very busy inspecting and defending them.

    8. Kate in Scotland*

      I can hear oystercatchers so I’m hoping they’re nesting nearby again – we’re inland so only get them in breeding season. They are my favourite birds and I’m hoping to spot them soon!

    9. Expiring Cat Memes*

      For weeks I could have sworn I heard king parrots at times, but their calls are like a slightly less raucous version of a lorikeet (and we have a lot of those), so I wasn’t sure. Then yesterday, there they were. A gorgeous pair munching on a vine that had gone to seed right outside the kitchen window.

    10. Berlin Berlin*

      This week on a lunchtime walk by the canal I saw a pair of Mandarin ducks! I’ve never seen them before and I thought they were two of the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      The Canada geese have returned to my backyard. There’s a small pond and also a running stream back there, as well as a small area of marsh around it. Every year we get one or two pair of geese who come to have their babies. We seem to have only one pair this year. They’ve been wandering around our yard, as well as the neighbors’, for about two weeks now. I love when they have their chicks and start bringing the little ones into our yards. They tend to have five to seven chicks each year. I get nervous when they decide to cross the road (homeowner has a big pond) because people often drive pretty fast and sometimes don’t see them crossing.

    12. Constance Lloyd*

      A mourning dive has been hanging out on the window ledge of my home office every morning, and it is easily the highlight of my day!

    13. Ready for spring*

      Watching bluebirds on the suet right outside our window here in the Midwest. A favorite. We put up boxes a few years back, but although we get bluebirds in the yard it seems someone else uses the bluebird boxes.

    14. allathian*

      Blackbirds are singing like crazy, and I saw a pair of common wood pigeons mating on a neighbor’s rooftop when I went for my lunchtime walk on Tuesday.

    15. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Both heard and seen — there was a BIG Canada Goose flying around the other day. I’m in Los Angeles area…this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a goose, but it’s a bit unusual.

    16. Suprisingly ADHD*

      The mockingbird has returned. Which mockingbird you might ask? The one that stands on the peak of my roof and sings, all day and all night, from mid-april till late september. And has picked up the cadence of a car alarm and added it to its set.

      I mean, it’s nice to have birdsong on the roof, but at some point I need to sleep! But apparently not this bird! It’s pretty impressive actually.

    17. MissCoco*

      My first warbler ever this week! A few yellow-rumped were in my backyard and hung around long enough for me to get an ID. I’ve seen them twice before but only long enough to think “I don’t know that bird”

    18. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      There was just a cheeky little towhee outside my kitchen window. Today I’ve also seen common mergansers, a bald eagle, lots of gulls and crows, a vulture, lots of varied thrushes and robins, grebes and heard a loon!

    19. Smol Book Wizard*

      The herons are still out in force in the heronry of our local park, and the ospreys have come north again, to my joy – they’re my favorites!
      There are a lot of chickadees, who we refer to as the Illegally Smol Birbs, who fly about beeping in our backyard trees too. Lovely little things.
      (She’s not a wild bird, but I just had to pull my green cheek conure Kino off the top of my laptop screen, because she was sliding down it while trying to chew on the edge.)

    20. Software Dev (she/her)*

      I’ve got a cardinal that keeps flying to the window above my porch to attack his own reflection. Beautiful bird.

    21. the Viking Diva*

      This morning I can hear a Say’s Phoebe issuing his call on blast mode. Every year he hopefully takes up residence in the local evergreens; some years he is joined by a female and they build a nest on a ledge in the little shed where the garbage bins are. Most of my neighbors never realize she is up there sitting on eggs. I enjoy spotting her but I think there is too much commotion to be a propitious site for getting eggs all the way to the hatching and fledging point.

    22. Trixie Belle*

      This is the week the orioles have arrived back from wherever they go over the winter. I can whistle something close to their song and although they don’t quite buy it, they do sometimes look a little astonished at me.

  3. WoodswomanWrites*

    Friends are getting married and invited me to their wedding. I’m honored to be included. I met the couple through a Meetup group that I organize. They called me to share the news, and brought up on the phone that I can bring a guest. Their invitation they mailed also includes that those attending can bring a guest. The wedding is about a 90-minute drive, so there’s no overnight travel.

    My friends know that I’m single. Although others from our Meetup group have met them, I’m the only one who has socialized with them outside the group and who has been invited. In that context, it would feel awkward to bring someone from our group. In the past when I’ve gone to weddings alone, I’ve known other guests. That’s not the case this time and I’m not big on chitchat at gatherings with people I won’t see again.

    I’m aware that the wedding is expensive for my friends, and if my guest would have no connection to the couple afterward, it feels weird to bring someone. That said, they brought up that I could bring a guest when they called to share their wedding news, so I’m not sure what to do. For other single folks who’ve received wedding invitations including a guest, how did you respond?

    1. PollyQ*

      They’ve apparently said twice (once in the formal invite & once in a phone convo) that you’re welcome to bring a guest, so if you want to, go ahead & do so.

    2. Nancy*

      If I know someone who is free and willing to go with me, then I invite them and include their name on the RSVP. You are allowed to bring a guest, so do so if you want.

    3. Despachito*

      They said that you could, not that you had to.

      I think there is nothing wrong to RSVP as one person. I think that the plus one invites are meant as a courtesy for people not to have to leave their significant other at home, but just like you, I would also hesitate to invite an absolute stranger with no connection to the bride or the groom just to have a plus one with me, and cause them to spend more money on him/her. I also understand why you do not want to invite anyone from your Meetup group (I would feel the same way).

      If I were you, I’d go alone and enjoy your friends’ special day.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In this context, I’d interpret the plus one not as a provision for the steady romantic partner (in that case, find out their name and put it on the invitation), but as a nod that WW–and perhaps a couple of other guests–don’t know anyone else on the guest list. If the wedding reception is likely to turn into a couple of family and college reunions, it’s a thoughtful provision. Not one WW has to take them up on, but I’d feel no guilt about doing so.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yes, this. When we got married that was part of the plan: if anyone happened not to know anyone else, they could bring someone that would be someone for them to talk to and hang out with if needed.

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Your friends want you to have a good time at their wedding. They know you won’t know anyone and are happy for you to bring a friend so it feels less awkward for you. It sounds like they know you well and can also foresee that they probably won’t get to spend much time with you on the day introducing you to others. If you can swing it, give a more generous (2-person equivalent) gift instead and make sure the friend you bring is a delightful party guest.

      1. misspiggy*

        I agree. Your guest is within the budget. If you don’t bring a guest the saving for the couple will be small in context of the overall wedding cost. So do what would please you most. The couple won’t mind you bringing a total stranger, as they’ve made clear you can bring anyone you like.

        1. Clisby*

          I tend to agree. Now, I, personally, cannot fathom going to a wedding where I didn’t know anyone, so whether the poster will be able to find anyone who wants to do this is a different story. (I don’t find weddings particularly entertaining, so for me to go at least one of the couple needs to be pretty close to me.)

      2. Kate in Scotland*

        Yes, I second inviting someone who is a good guest! If you happen to have an extrovert friend who likes chit chat then all the better, but if not then just a nice person who won’t get embarrassingly drunk or anything.
        I’ve been to a wedding as a +1 for a friend and I think it worked really well, it meant the couple weren’t worried about my friend being on her own and not having anyone to talk to.

      3. Doctors Whom*

        Agree! Invite a friend who is a good guest. Your friends have made sure to mention this to you because they want you to have a good time and know someone else at the wedding!

    5. Virginia Plain*

      The happy couple sound lovely – they know that you won’t know any other guests so they’ve encouraging you to bring a friend so you’ll feel more comfortable, and they have made it clear to all guests that they can bring a friend or date so it’s not just you being singled out. There might be others who don’t know other guests either so you probably won’t be alone in that.
      Given that you say you aren’t big on socialising with people you don’t know/won’t see again, I’d say that doing anything else than inviting a fun friend who you enjoy spending time with and who likes weddings, would be looking a gift horse in the mouth!
      If you were fine to go alone (I would be; I’m that kind of person) then it would be fine to do that – but it doesn’t sound like you are, it sounds like you’d feel a bit lonely.

      Fwiw when single I have never received a plus-one wedding invitation where the plus one is unspecified; maybe we brits are more parsimonious but guest headcount is usually too tight for that. Couples often don’t want to sacrifice seeing some of the people they love and value in order to invite a bunch of randoms. (I think the same reasoning is often at least part of the decision not to invite children; it can literally be, do I invite this half dozen lovely friends or do I invite my cousin’s sticky toddlers and my uncle’s second wife’s 13yo son from her first marriage?) It’s even common for established partners not to be invited if the bride/groom don’t know them; I’m going to a wedding in July of a friend I met at work, and my OH has never set eyes on them so he isn’t invited and I wouldn’t expect him to be.

      But if I received an invitation like yours I would decide based solely on what I wanted to do, given that you are welcome either to bring someone or not.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      People I have heard of brought successfully in such circumstances: A socially ept relative or friend (from a different friend group) who can chat pleasantly with people and keep you company, and rehash the event with you afterward.

      I would take them at their repeated word that they thought about how they would like to have you there, but recognize other groups will be having a reunion and they will be busy, so offer the plus-one for your comfort. It’s fine if you want to go alone! But I think the offer is sincere.

    7. Swisa*

      If they told you that you can bring a guest, and you want to, bring one!

      One of the main reasons I gave single people guests at my wedding was if they didn’t know people, I wanted them to have a good time.

    8. Maybe not*

      When I got married, I did the same thing your friends are doing. I wanted them to have fun and enjoy the night. It was fine that many people didn’t bring one. And it was fine that many did. I wasn’t invested in whether single people brought a guest or not. I just wanted them to have the option of it would make the night more fun for them.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You are overthinking this. They’ve said you can bring a guest, so if you want then bring a guest.

    10. mreasy*

      You can absolutely bring a guest. When someone invited you to their wedding, they want you to have a good time. It sounds like they’d rather you feel comfortable with someone else you know there than save the $ for the plate (which frankly is a drop in the bucket vs venue rental, flowers, bridal wear, etc). Please feel free to bring a friend!

    11. Little beans*

      At my wedding, I was more than happy to let single guests bring someone, even if I didn’t know them. I wanted everyone to have a good time, and I’m sure your friends do too! If you wouldn’t be comfortable going alone, bring someone who you’ll have fun with, or you can also always just decide not to go and celebrate with the couple another way!

    12. Jora Malli*

      I was invited to a wedding a few years ago where the only people I knew were the married couple and a few members of the wedding party, and I wasn’t given the option to bring a guest. I felt so awkward and lonely the whole time. I sat by myself during the ceremony, and my table at the reception was all married couples and I was the odd one out. I was really happy for my friends, but I wished I had someone to sit with and talk to and dance with.

      So, if your friends have said you’re welcome to bring a guest and you think having someone you know there with you would make the wedding more enjoyable, bring a guest.

    13. lapgiraffe*

      I was invited to a wedding a few years ago and had always attended weddings solo, I’m extroverted and will chat up just about anyone, but between not knowing any of the bride or groom’s friends and everyone involved being somewhat older than the usual for marriage around here, I ended up being the only single/solo person other than one very old relative and anyone under the age of 12. I won’t say it was awful, but it wasn’t great, actually it was pretty awful.

      Thing is, friend had given me a plus one and while my thinking wasn’t the same as yours, I figured I’d be fine on my own cause I’m a very fine on my own person. Like I dine alone most of the time, I travel alone, I am not afraid of showing up on my own. I stress this to say that despite my comfort in solo life, I’m never making the solo wedding mistake again, take the plus one! Like everyone else said, they want you to be comfortable and have fun, find a friend that’s good for parties and travel and make a weekend of it.

    14. Purple Cat*

      Your friends absolutely want you to bring somebody you’re comfortable with and that’s why you have a +1. They know it’s awkward to be the guest who doesn’t know anyone outside the couple.

    15. Anono-me*

      It sounds like you have lovely fortunate friends who want you to be happy at their wedding.

      The big +1 question if it were me isn’t “Should I bring a +1 or not?”; but rather Is there someone who would be able to be my +1 who would enjoy going, be a good guest and make the event more pleasant for me?”

      FWIIW When I was single, going to a big life event with a fun friend who got on well with lots of people was the best, going solo was okay and bringing someone who wasn’t a social person was the worst.

    16. Veronica Marx*

      If I know people at the wedding and I’m single, I wouldn’t bring a friend. If I don’t know many people then I would.

      I’m currently planning my wedding and we’re giving everyone a plus one. Most people will know lots of other people there but for those who don’t, I want them to have fun and feel comfortable. If that means bringing a friend/new date/whatever along I’m completely fine with it!

      1. Veronica Marx*

        I should also clarify that if one of my friends who knows lots of people at the wedding wants to bring a friend/date/etc., that’s cool too! I was more answering specifically to your question. Your friends won’t care at all—they want you to be there and have fun and be comfortable. Bring your plus one and don’t worry about it at all!

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks, all. I’m clearly ignorant of how weddings work. :) The couple is encouraging guests to dress in a 1920s style, and I have a sociable friend who enjoys dressing up for period events so I could invite her if I end up deciding to bring a friend.

    18. Esmeralda*

      Don’t bring a guest. It’s just a few hours. You don’t need to talk w anyone during the ceremony, of course . At the reception talk with and listen to people seated at your table. Or find someone who seems to be alone. Or someone who looks kind or friendly.

      Allowing plus-ones is a nice gesture on your friends’ part, but I’ve always felt that a wedding is a strange place to bring along a date/friend…

      And no, I’m not a naturally gregarious person, I’m naturally awkward in fact.

      1. Lilith*

        The 1920s dealio sounds rather fun. It would be difficult for me as I live in a smallish town and hate to shop but I’d enjoy seeing what others wear—especially the B/G.
        Your friend idea sounds good as a plus one. I was about to suggest your mom or sis if one was available.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I think if I decided to go solo to a wedding where I didn’t known anyone other than the bride and groom, I’d try to put on my most gregarious persona and chat politely with strangers through dinner (weddings are easier than most social events because “how do you know the bride or groom” is right there to get you started) but also plan to leave earlier than usual, after the last official wedding stuff is done but before the long music/dancing part is on, if I haven’t met anyone I clicked with. As someone says above, it’s just a few hours, I can try to be Social for that long. I would worry for myself about getting drunk trying to overcome the awkwardness and then ending up the Dancing Queen later, so I’d need to see myself out.

  4. Anon 4 this*

    If someone has a special needs child and taking care of said child means that the parent becomes a full-time caretaker, how does this parent live? If the parent is married, the household is now a one-income household. If the parent is a single parent, they are now without income. Is the answer going on welfare, provided there’s no one else to take on the financial responsibility?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Well, every parent (or every set of parents) has to make a decision about who is going to care for their child/children, whether the child has special needs or not.

      The choices are the same in all scenarios:

      -Make enough money to hire appropriate childcare.
      -Have 1 of 2 parents stay home and be FT caretaker.
      -Arrange for a family member to donate care (like a grandparent).
      -Scrape by on whatever pieces of the social safety net you can cobble together.

      When a child has special needs, the caregiving is more intense, more expensive, and goes on for longer. But it’s not as if typical babies or little kids can be left home alone.

      Somebody has to take care of them, regardless.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I suppose there’s the option of both parents working alternate shifts so one of them is always with the child. But then nobody ever sleeps, so that’s not sustainable.

      2. 30ish*

        The situation is really different for a special needs child though. Especially if they are always going to need care.

        1. misspiggy*

          Where I am you don’t ‘go on welfare’ if you have a disabled kid. Whether employed or unemployed, parents apply for different specific types of assistance, some from national government, some from local government, some from charity. Some things will come free from the NHS.

          Being the parent of a disabled child is a huge amount of admin as well as everything else, but there is support available. Once the disabled person becomes an adult, provision is less, but the health service and local government are just about still required by law to provide certain forms of help.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Some of those options are not possible for children with some more severe disabilities. For example, some forms of childcare, such as daycare or au pairs that might be appropriate for the average child might not be equiped to deal with a child who has severe medical needs, who may need to be tube fed, etc. Equally, grandparents who may be able to feed and change a baby might not have the physical strength to change a 10 year old who is still in diapers and needs to be helped or even lifted onto the changing table.

        Also some children with certain needs may be ill regularly or in and out of hospital, which adds another complication for caretakers. A daycare probably won’t be able to care for a child when ill and will certainly need to contact parents if they need hospital treatment.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Indeed, some of those options may not be available to all parents. That’s also true for typical children.

          One parent might be absent, disabled, or dead. There might be no extended family. The parent might not have the skills to earn a high enough income.

          I volunteer with an organization that serves low income families, and “how do we survive and who watches the babies” is a struggle for many, many families.

          My point was that every family has to make caregiving decisions,
          and they are costly. The OP seemed to postulate that there might be some magical other option that doesn’t exist for anyone.

          1. Sam*

            The OP is realizing that their situation comes with unique challenges that means the typical answers won’t work and is asking for experiences of that situation. I don’t read it as magical thinking at all, but wanting to hear from people who won’t tell them that grandparents can babysit, when they likely can’t. (Same as if the OP was asking without having family nearby—the typical answers of ‘my mother’ aren’t helpful, but someone suggesting a babysitting coop might. Or if a low income couple asks, hearing how two people with flexible work times, access to drop in daycare, ability to make as much PTO as they want, arranged it is the opposite of helpful.) maybe trust that OPs are asking specific questions for a reason and don’t pontificate at them, particularly if you’re not in the demographic being described.

          2. Maiasaura*

            “The OP seemed to postulate that there might be some magical other option that doesn’t exist for anyone.”

            That’s a pretty uncharitable interpretation. I’m a single parent of two kids, one of whom has a relatively mild disability, and I’m always, ALWAYS on the lookout for ideas and options I haven’t tried. A magical solution would be more than welcome.

      4. Katie*

        I have two special needs kids and I am absolutely struggling with this now. My husband and I both work and can get away with this because I work from home and my kids are in school most the day. We had a nanny before they started school but now that we don’t I am struggling to convince anyone to watch them.
        We don’t qualify for government aid because we make too much money so we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Your children might qualify for Medicaid anyway. TEFRA allows for children with a certain level of need to qualify for Medicaid without taking their parents’ income into consideration. How you apply varies by state, but check you state’s health agency website. (In some states, the program is named after Katie Beckett, the girl whose family fought to get the law enacted back in the 80s.)

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Yep! It’s one of many waivers a person with disabilities could be eligible for, depending on the state. Basically, each state works out with the federal government which services, etc., beyond standard Medicaid will be made available.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      In Ireland, we have specific allowances for people who have severe disabilities or are caring for somebody with a disability. Yeah, they are forms of welfare, but they are assessed differently from jobseekers’ allowance and there is no obligation to be “actively seeking work.” We also have a “one-parent family payment,” which is available to one parent families below a certain income.

    3. Asenath*

      In my family, the choice was to be a one-income household, although the parent with the job also did a lot of the caregiving. If that’s not possible, and the child’s needs are such that hired help isn’t enough, or the income from one or even two workers isn’t enough to pay for the extras needed, even with what government assistance is available (s0me places have allowances or payments for the caregiver or even, in big cities, for specially trained, but part time, home help), some parents have had to place their child in government care.

      1. allathian*

        Yes. Placing children in government care is pretty much the last resort, but may be the only option sometimes. Some kids with severe disabilities can be violent, and when they hit their teens, they may be uncontrollable except by force/medication. Especially if the kid is a big boy and the mom is petite, at some point she’ll no longer be able to control him physically. Then the only option may be to place the kid in government care where professionals care for them 24/7 and where the patients are on tranquillizers to ensure the physical safety of the nursing staff.

    4. Generic Name*

      I know a family that is in this situation. Their oldest daughter is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair. While the parents were married, the mom stayed home as her caregiver. Because no daycare would take the child, the state paid her a salary as a caregiver. I believe having the salary was family income dependent, because she mentioned that she couldn’t work too many hours at her side gig, or she would make too much money and lose the state income. The couple is now divorced, and that dad is a single parent and works as the daughter’s caregiver.

      I know another family where both parents work full time, and the mom works from home. Dad is a teacher, so his work hours make it possible for him to be the caregiver while his wife is working.

      If you are facing this situation (and are in the US) you can look up The Arc and ask for help navigating the resources available to you. A profoundly disabled child is often eligible for Medicaid when otherwise the family would not qualify based on income. But I think it varies greatly by state. This is based on my personal experience and on the experience of my friends.

    5. OtterB*

      In the US, available support and how you access it varies by state and is usually complicated. I have read that some places a parent or family member can be a paid caregiver, but it’s not something we needed so I never checked into it. Assuming the child is young, check with your school district early intervention program. In addition to arranging therapies, they can sometimes also help you identify parent groups or other resources. My daughter with special needs is 28 now, so my experience is somewhat outdated, but I got most of my information from other parents online. I found online government information too vague, because needs and eligibility vary so much that they can’t say much that applies across the board, but if I asked other parents how they handled something, I would get useful stories or suggestions. Other good sources may be local Arc groups or United Cerebral Palsy (they have info that applies to more than CP).

    6. ronda*

      I am volunteering doing taxes and some folks are being paid by the department of human services (I think that is the name) to care for their disabled relative. these payments can be set to not be taxable on your federal return if that gives you a more favorable tax treatment (it does not always)
      These are called medicare waiver payments.

      I am not sure how people get into this program, but it seems like it might be helpful in these situations.

  5. Your Oxford Comma*

    Your black kitty reminds me of my Schipperkes: They don’t bite, they judge. That cat is really good at his job.

  6. I just want contractors to listen!*

    Last summer I got bids for some landscaping work. We had 5 things on our “must have list”. None of the bids had all 5 of the things I asked for. The average was 2. Went a few rounds of changes with one guy, eventually gave up because he was so condescending and kept trying to tell me he knew better than I did what I wanted.
    This summer we tried again, this time with my husband as point man. Same 5 things. So far none of the bids have all 5 included, though his average is 3.75 of the 5 things we want. So….progress?
    Seriously WTF is up with that? This is not a small project, we are specific about a few things but others we are less specific about. But they CANNOT seem to give us a bid for what we want. We ask for X and they come back with “I changed it to Z because I think it will look better” – I even TOLD him I cared more about functionality than looks when he was here for the consult and suggested that change, and he admitted it would function better the way I asked. So why come back with a bid that makes that change we specifically talked about and I specifically said I didn’t want?
    Other things are like “We do not want the view from this first floor window blocked, it’s the best view in the house.” He puts a tree with an estimated height of 25 feet and a spread of 17 right in front of that window!
    Had similar issues with a kitchen remodel a few years back, but at least that time when my husband took over as the main contact suddenly the contractors cared about what we wanted. Literally had one contractor back then tell me that he “knew what women wanted better than they did”
    It would be a whole different thing if they came back and said “well, city code requires this….” or “Doing that would be a safety hazard” or “That tree doesn’t work in this climate” even anything other than “I like it better this way.” That’s the only reasons we are getting. We said “don’t block the view” and he came back with “I thought maybe you’d like shade there.” No, you don’t disregard our requirements because you like it better. (For the record, we didn’t request any specific plants. Just plants that were low maintenance and low water.)
    It’s so frustrating. Even finding contractors to give a bid has been a pain. One contractor only takes credit cards or Venmo, and yet charges a 10% surcharge for payment that way? Lost us right there, even if his bid had met our requirements. Looking like the project isn’t happening this year, either. It’s well beyond our skills to DIY and we’ve been saving for years and we’ve got cash to spend. I’m so irritated.
    Our 5 requests are:
    Low maintenance/low water plants/no grass (or astro turf)
    Paver walkway to side door
    Replace the deck but it cannot cover basement window wells
    Don’t block view from one first floor window
    No trees that would drop leaves into the air conditioner

    1. Double A*

      That does sound frustrating! That being said, we also want to replace decks and get pavers done, and for those projects were going with decking companies and paving companies, respectively. I personally wouldn’t expect one contractor to do landscaping, decking, and paving. You might have some luck if you break the project up that way?

      In terms of landscaping, I’m in California and would work with someone who specializes in native plants. That’s a big thing out here; it might be worth looking into on your area.

    2. Kiwiapple*

      Very frustrating. What I am curious about is when they give you the first drafts, which doesn’t hit all of your points and you correct them, do they then submit a second plan or do you just end the conversation and move onto the next?

      1. I just want contractors to listen!*

        Mostly, I’ve given feedback and they’ve dome back with a second. One dude who hit zero of what I wanted and had a 15 foot water feature and a hot tub (I didn’t ask for either) I just walked away.

    3. PollyQ*

      Just wondering, is the deck something that’s often been omitted? I ask because it seems like a different kind of work than the plant-based changes you’re looking for, so it might be worth splitting that out of the project.

    4. Wombats and Tequila*

      Maybe you could break up the tasks and hire people to do those specific tasks. For instance, in your place, I would start with the deck. Hire a deck vendor. Get recommendations from friends or even neighbors who have decks that you like. If you know of a contractor you like who doesn’t do decks, maybe they will know someone who is good with that. I have had good luck choosing contractors and auto mechanics that way.

      Use the same process to hire the paver. If you have the patience and physical strength to try it yourself, it’s not really hard, just a pain in the backside.

      Find someone who knows about trees and native plants. That person can help you select the tree and low water plantings. Get recommendations from local nurseries, and if there is a local arboretum, there should be someone there who could help. Then you can hire the landscapers to plant the tree and plantings.

      1. I just want contractors to listen!*

        I could, but the companies I’ve been asking for bids advertise that they do all of these things.

    5. Missb*

      I’ve hired a landscape architect to reimagine my backyard. I’m a bit less specific I suppose. My fenced veggie garden cannot be moved, I need the sloped yard terraced, I want one mature fruit tree to stay. I have other requirements like using onsite cobbles for any retaining walls in the terracing, a specific style of greenhouse, use my existing fire pit but in a different location.

      But from there I want their input and their design. Once they present their initial design, we will ask for a few modifications before they solidify the design.

      Then they can guide us to various contractors to implement the design.

      It’s costing about $2500 for the design, and they’re creating designs for about 1/2 the overall property (so for about 1/4 acre).

      Maybe you could start with a landscape architect instead of trying the design-build approach that isn’t working for you? Separate out the design from the build.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      Where did you source the contractors you’ve worked with so far? With lots of this sort of work it’s great if you can get a personal recommendation, “oh let me give you Jeff’s email, he did my front garden and look how lovely it is, and he was pleasant and reliable”. If you don’t know actual people locally, your local Facebook group is a goldmine for this sort of thing. I wanted some neglected overgrown shrubs removed from my back garden (not neglected by me I hasten to add; I only moved in a few months ago) and I asked on my town’s group and had a dozen personal recommendations within 24 hours, and quotes from the three I picked within a fortnight. I would recommend the one I chose to others. I also have details for someone to repair a sewing machine, and to reupholster a chair, ready to go.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I agree with other folks that say you need different folks for different projects. The walkway would be a mason. The deck would be a carpenter. Then a garden designer who specializes in native plants for the rest. Do NOT use a landscaper (I mean the guys that mow, weed whack, leaf blow etc) for your garden design. For some reason, they never do a good job. They don’t know how to prune either.
      I totally empathize with your annoyance!!
      Good luck and I hope you get your dream garden!

      1. fposte*

        Ugh, pruning. I’m still bitter about a pair of jobbing master gardeners who took it upon themselves to hack at one of my Japanese maples, which was 20 yards away from the bed they were hired for and absolutely not in scope–and they 1) didn’t know you can’t tip prune a Japanese maple and 2) cut branches off leaving 3 inch stumps. Master effing gardeners indeed.

        1. Sundial*

          There was a McDonald’s built in my area on land with gorgeous trees, and they hacked the living hell out of them in the most ridiculous fashion. Ever since, when we see garbage incompetent trimming done, we point it out as “McPruning”.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      1) My husband and his brother and sister jointly own the old house where they grew up. Even though his sister lives there, there is sadly definitely a huge benefit to having a brother be point on any “negotiating with the well digger” type stuff.

      2) It sounds like you might want to start with a garden designer? They could provide you with a plan–low maintenance plants, no trees in the wrong spot. With luck, they could also recommend someone for the walkway, the deck, and any major digging. Treat the physical work as discrete jobs (it would be great if one awesome company did them all, but you don’t seem to be finding that option) and find someone who just focuses on design for the overall design.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a nursery for almost a decade.

      Respectfully, I think your list requires a specialist in the field. For the most part when landscapers see things such as “no trees that drop leaves into the air conditioner” they throw their hands up in the air and run away.

      See, in this arena it’s pretty well known that people will call up if ONE leaf ends up in their AC and complain and complain. This may not be you, but they have no way of knowing that. Folks who make such detailed stipulations have a rep (right or wrong) of being too hard to please/satisfy. They end up costing the contractor out of pocket, that is, the contractor loses money in the long run.

      So yes, the contractors are only hitting a couple of your points because this is more service than they offer. They are actually bowing out- they probably do not want your project. I am sorry to say this, I hope you continue reading- I can explain why and then I have suggestions on what to do differently.

      Going one by one here:
      Low maintenance and low water plants. Low maintenance is in the eyes of the beholder. Nursery people can consider something that needs work once or twice a year as low maintenance. Customers can consider low maintenance as plants that never need anything. It’s hard to know where on the scale a person is.
      Low water plants are almost a specialty. Not everyone gets into figuring out what those plants would be. If the contractor is not familiar with selecting such plants, they are going to shy away from your job.

      Pavers. This one is easy. They should be used to putting in pavers.

      Replace the deck. This actually might require a carpenter. Nursery people probably might not be interested in this task because their staff does not have that skill set. They might be able to recommend someone who they have worked with in the past on joint projects. For this one you are looking for a nursery company that also does decking. OR you are looking at a regular contractor. Some places may have on-going relationships with one or more builders, they team up and work together to help a customer. It’s possible to find these loose partnerships that work well.

      Don’t block the view from a first floor window. So you want short things. This combined with low water plants really cuts down on the number of choices. If people are not familiar with low water choices, this adds one more layer to the complexity of sorting out what to get.

      No trees that drop leaves into an AC. No one can prevent acts of nature. I had a lady who wanted me to absolutely 100% promise her rhodos would be the exact same color every year. I said nope. For one thing flowers change color as they grow then age. Soil composition and how well the plants are taken care of can also impact blooms. Mother Nature is much stronger than I or my employer will ever be. I’d recommend planning that leaves WILL fall into the AC and an annual check will be necessary.

      What to do:
      Look for a planner/ designer who is very familiar with low water plants. Walk the property with them and point out what it is you want.
      Hire a different party to do your deck.
      Let go of saying no leaves in the AC and keep an annual maintenance plan for the AC. I can almost promise you that if you let go of this one requirement you will start seeing more interest. Build a separate maintenance plan for the AC.
      You might be interested in having the nursery come back each spring and fall to maintain the property for you. Nurseries have many people who use the company to set up the landscape design and they come back each year to have the company maintain it.

      I hope I do not leave you cringing too hard or upset with me. I learned a lot working in a nursery. They can afford to walk away from customers if they do not think they will satisfy the customer. The same goes with carpenters/contractors. It’s been a good thing to know in my life and very helpful in dealing with my house. I wanted someone to help with my house. The person who came to help impressed me right off the bat when he said, “I don’t do high roofs, furnaces or plumbing.” Thank you for telling me upfront, I said. I knew what he was doing from my years in the nursery. Just as every person has limits, businesses also have limits. He did help me search for reputable people who would actually do those things. See, some of what you are paying for is integrity- people with ethics lead you to more people with ethics. That is because their reputation rests on the good work the recommended company does. If they recommend a jerk to you, then they look like jerks, too.

      I understand your frustration, but I think if you break this down in a manner similar to what I have here, you will get what you are looking for.

      1. I just want contractors to listen!*

        I’ve gotten bids from “full service” companies that advertise they do all those things. They even advertise expertise in xeriscaping. So if they’re not choosing the right plants because they don’t actually have that knowledge, that’s on them, not me.
        Also, what I asked for was “no deciduous trees with branches that will spread over the AC” so putting one with a 15 foot spread placing the trunk 3 feet away is just stupid.
        If they have issues with what I ask for, any one of them could have SAID SO when I spent at least an hour (and in one case three hours) on site walking and measuring the area. So I agree, if any of them had said “I don’t do that” it would have been much better than ignoring me and wasting their time working up a detailed drawing and estimate.
        Don’t play games with me. Or just be honest on the web site and don’t put decks, xeriscape, etc on your list of services in the first place.

        1. Two Cents*

          Even though you are right, you’re not being realistic. It would be a bad business move to reject you outright when there’s a chance that you could see their revised design and say “Alright, I’m good with 3/5.” Just because these guys may not be up to your standards for decks, xeriscaping, etc, doesn’t mean that clients with less specific or complex needs aren’t satisfied by their level of expertise in the field.

          You can either be a stick in the mud about how things should be and get nowhere or you can accept that this is how things are and move forward. Splitting things up will be your best bet.

    10. BlueWolf*

      All the walls in my house are a terrible builder’s gray that I really don’t like. It’s a bit too dark and it’s a really matte finish which is fine in some places but not for high traffic areas. I wish I had just repainted some rooms before we moved in. Now, repainting would be much more of a hassle. I did at least repaint our bathroom last year, since it’s small and I could have at least one room with a different color. I picked a light green color. The shower tile is a dark blue and my fiancé said it looks like an Easter egg lol, but I like it. For our guest room/my home office I tried to pick out some colorful furnishings and have plants and artwork to brighten things up.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I solve this problem by doing the planning and legwork myself. I’m not asking them to make decisions – I’m asking them to do x, y and z, and those things are very specific. If there are specific things that I need their input on to decide, then it’s a conversation between me and the contractor, and I don’t call back contractors who can’t respect me as a person. Yes, it’s more work, but this way I get what I want.

    12. Generic Name*

      Echoing the other comments, it sounds like you need a general contractor to manage different trades for each of the tasks, or you need to be your own GC and hire probably 3 different companies (one for deck, one for paving, one for landscaping). If you have the budget, hire a landscape architect to do the plan and work with the GC to get it implemented to your exact specifications.

      1. I just want contractors to listen!*

        These ARE general companies that advertise that all of what I want is what they do. Including landscape design.

        1. Swisa*

          Then when you talk with a new one, I’d emphasize that in the past, quotes haven’t addressed all of your requests, and so it’s really important to you that each of these points be addressed in the quote.
          I’d literally provide them with a bulleted list, and say that unless they can do each thing, you won’t use them.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I can be a bit of a plant snob, so FWIW, no, general contractors cannot do specialized landscaping. They say they can because they do not actually know what specialized landscaping actually is- their scope is … well… general. They don’t know what it is that they don’t know. I have dealt with a lot of people in working on my house and it is amazing to see the knowledge gaps.

          I am not surprised by websites over stating what is being offered. I have seen many landscape jobs go the way you describe- a 15 ft tree 3 feet from an AC. smh. I understand. This happens more often than not.

    13. Chaordic One*

      Um, there really isn’t a nice way to say this, but you really are asking for an awful lot. I don’t know where you live, but you might very well have problems finding a general contractor to handle an ambitious project like this if you don’t live in a more urban area. And of course, it goes without saying that it is going to be pretty spendy no matter what you do.

      Echoing what the other commentators have said, this is probably something that you should break down into a series of smaller projects. And yes, it’s going to be more work than if you could just find a single business to do all of these things for you. Maybe get the deck built first, then put in the paver, and finally get the plants and garden put in.

      Sometimes, you might be able to find a landscaping architect, a landscaper, or even a competent gardener with a knowledge of low-maintenance plants, but such people are scarce and hard to find. IME many gardening centers are not very much help either, especially the national chain stores. However, an often overlooked resource for advice about gardening and choosing plants that I’ve found helpful is your local County Extension Office.

      Most areas will have a County Extension Office or similar governmental office offering information and advice about gardening and plant. Any place I’ve lived in the U.S., the Extension Offices have been able to offer a wealth of information about low-maintenance, drought-resistant native plants. (Though, I will say that they tend to do an appalling bad job of publicizing their services.) Xerioscaping is very popular where I live and actively promoted by my extension office. Something to consider.

    14. SofiaDeo*

      1) do the research for low maintenance/low water plants and trees yourself using county Extensions Service, utilities if you don’t have a well (many cities are giving customers ideas/info for “water wise” plants), or local/state gardening clubs. Then you can simply hire someone to install your choices, or at least to dig/prep the holes.
      2) Pavers can be done by a landscaping company. Big box stores have contractors they use/recommend, local landscaping supply places often have a corkboard where locals put up their cards. Knowing what brand/colors you want ahead of time will be helpful, no one will do a bid without knowing the brand because there are different requirements for placing/backing them properly. Sometimes the “brand” you want to use will list local installers on their website. Easier to decide on the paver you want, then hire someone rxperienced with that brand to install.
      3) Deck from someone who does decking. Again, local supply places & big box stores will have people they use/recommend if you purchase from them. Do you want all wood? Trex? Wood with metal railing? Concrete with metal rail? Deciding this ahead of time makes it easier to get a bid.
      4) figure out the window/plant heights yourself, and check that when deciding on plants. Because “don’t block the view” is too nebulous. What part of the view? Sidewalk? Something across the street? The horizon? If you can make it easy, that is key.
      5) Get a mesh AC condenser cover. Leaves will blow from neighbors even if you have zero trees on your property, unless your AC unit and house are on serious acreage. Even evergreens drip sap, drop seeds & cones, and shed needles that get blown by the wind. Or build a loose box to enclose the AC condenser, especially if you are in a hot sunny place and it has west or south exposure. Keeping the sun off of it will prolong the life more so than a few leaves in the condenser unit (which needs checking/cleaning yearly anyway, hence the mesh to keep 90% of stuff out)

      The problem with “we do it all” places is as you have noted, they design a vision and want to do that. It’s similar to hiring an Interior Designer and wanting to see/approve all purchases ahead of time. If you act as your own Design Manager, you get what you want. Not what “their vision” is IMO.

  7. Aphrodite*

    What colors do you have inside your home? Are they colors you love or colors you tend more to just live with for a reason like young children, a decorator’s choice, etc. What colors are where? Why?

    My favorite color is emerald so my home is white and green. The sofas are emerald, the loveseat is a gorgeous celery, and I have other greens. The home is painted entirely in a gorgeous white, Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. I am so happy with colors I chose because they don’t just make my heart sing, though they do that, but they are soothing and calming and I never tire of being around them. I.have lived in rentals until I was able to buy my first (and likely last) home rather late in. life and swore that never, ever. again would I have to see “rental” beige, tan, brown, off-white, dark cream or anything in that (to me) depressing range of neutrals.

    What about you? I’d love to know!

    1. acmx*

      I have 4 colors: Benjamin Moore Glade Green, a light/pastel purple (its barely purple) in the bedrooms and pale blue in bathrooms and closets (how I bought the house; don’t feel like repainting these lol). The blue and purple are similar in how light they are (can’t think of the word) My door is a deep purple.

      My houses tend to have lots of color,

    2. light-colours*

      We pick a theme colour per room. Downstairs kitchen/living room have red and yellow: walls are off white but chairs, cushions, boxes in the closets, curtains, etc are coloured, basically any detail we could pick the colour of.
      Bedroom and bath room have theme blue/turquoise because that’s my favourite color: curtains, half the walls (other half off white), bed linnen, soap dispenser, etc.
      Two other small rooms are one purple themed and one green.
      The previous owners had painted everything dark: dark grey, dark brown,… It gave the house so much less light, even though there’s big windows. First thing we did was repaint in lighter colours and it’s night and day difference (almost literally)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      All that green sounds gorgeous! The first house we owned was in Arizona and had a lot of bold desert tones (warm browns, reddish orange, etc). Not necessarily something I would choose now but I liked it so much better than paler neutrals. When we own a home again I want to have a lot of turquoise, red, and grey because I love how they look together and how you can tone it down with more grey and light blue vs going more vibrant with a lot of red and brighter blue.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Over time, I seem to have developed a colour scheme, simply by using colours I like!

      My living room walls are a warm grey (Jotun Washed Linen), with dark warm wooden floors and a cold purple couch, and plants in the windows. My hall has the same floors, with wallpaper (Cole & Son Hummingbird Archive – ivory background) that picks up on some of the same colours. My newly redecorated library/home office/guest room has a completely different wallpaper (from the same maker) on two walls, but again the colours are picked up in more muted shades. :). The wall paint is Jotun Fjær, which is a cool lavendery shade in daylight, with more neutral shelves and furniture.

      All was done a different times, but a pattern emerges. :)

      My bedroom I did in more neutral warm grays, with the Ikea hack of painting the wardrobe glass doors to match!

      Also things are fairly open, so I thought about how it would look together, looking through doorways etc.

    5. Missb*

      I’ve changed colors over the years. When we first moved in, the trim was all painted some version of white. I found it freeing to paint various colors.

      We eventually switched the painted trim to a natural (barely stained) fir. I insisted on crown moldings around the windows and doors. I really struggled with finding an unobtrusive color, and ended up with some versions of light beige.

      More recently, I painted some of the major rooms downstairs a gray that pops with blue or green undertones.

      I’m kind of over that now and am going to paint a lot of soft white. I can’t remember the BM color but I’ll make it happen later this summer when we have all the furniture moved off the main floor for the sanding of the hardwood. I’m finally getting natural color oak floors. They’re stained dark in two of the rooms, and I’m so over dark floors. We have two dogs; everything shows.

      Also, it’s good that I do the painting myself otherwise we’d go broke with my random color changes.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      My bedroom was painted and carpeted by the previous owner but I’m in no rush to change it actually; the walls are a very light sort of mushroom shade; a very pale grey with a brown tinge, or maybe a very light beige with grey tones. No yellowishness at all. The carpet is a slighter darker shade but still that silvery beige tone. A cold light brown, perhaps. It’s actually very restful. I prefer white bedlinen and have replaced the horrible red curtains with huge stiffened pelmets, with light coloured ones with a pattern of pussy willow.

      My living room has cream walls with a lightly patterned cream paper under the dado rail; one day I will repaper in something a bit more impactful but not too dark. My sofa and chair are upholstered in a very light greyish green, I have a pale green silk shade on a side lamp, and watercolours in soft greens and blues (landscapes). Curtains are a natural fabric with little trees embroidered on in shades of green and cream. Some furniture is dark wood (mahogany, oak) because is is old; I have a rather vintage look and I love it. It has greyish brown laminate wood floors and I need a nice area rug – UK recommendations welcome!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Most of my house is still the neutrals from when I moved in, but I redid the smallest bedroom from dark charcoal grey with dark wood trim that made it feel the size of a closed shoebox. Now it’s a really pretty spring green with white trim and feels twice as big as it did.

      I also redid my kitchen a couple years back, and I painted the walls in there bright turquoise. It’s a color that could be too much in many rooms, but so much of my kitchen wall is covered by cabinetry that in there it’s more of an accent. The cabinets are white and the mobile island started out a darkish red, but I put tile-look vinyl decals on parts of it so it looks like red framework with tilework in red, orange and turquoise. So basically my kitchen is white and turquoise with red and orange accents, and that is actually one of my favorite color combinations now. (I have applied it to other things from my favorite skirt to a remote controlled droid. :-P )

    8. UKDancer*

      I like light neutral colours because they make the rooms look bigger. I tend to go for neutral walls and then use shots of bright colour as accents. My lounge is kind of yellowy cream (the colour is called buttermilk) and I love it. I have purple accents in the rugs and cushions and also reflected in the curtains which I think looks good.

      The bedroom is yellow because I like sunshiny colours in bedrooms so I always paint my bedroom yellow and get linen to match (white with yellow accents or yellow and gold). The hall is a very light apricot because it’s quite dark so I wanted a light, bright colour. My tiny box room is painted silvery purple because I had the paint left over from my previous flat and was short of money when I moved. It wouldn’t have been my first choice but it does nicely.

    9. I take tea*

      Our living room has walls painted in a varm yellow with some accents in orange. It sounds wild, and I would never have thought of it myself, but it makes the room so warm and wonderful, like it’s swimming in sunlight even on dull days. I love it. We have wooden book shelves along them and lot of other colours around. It’s not excactly classic Nordic design, but it makes me happy.

      1. I take tea*

        When we had to design the bathroom we went for yellow there too, a little more subdued, perhaps, and chocholate floor. It looks so nice, and I just feel that people are so boring in their bathroom designs here, usually just white, grey, black and maybe light blue. You usually don’t spend hours in there, be a bit more bold!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If I were to be painting a room I spend a lot of time in (it’s currently sort of gold-ish beige, with a white chair rail, but between bookcases, art and windows there’s not a lot of wall visible), I think it would be sort of a terra-cotta orange with red accents, similar to your yellow/orange but a little more autumn :) Yours sounds lovely!

        1. I take tea*

          To be honest, I don’t see that much of the walls either, for the same reason. But what I see, I like.

    10. Anono-me*

      From me it isn’t the paint color so much as the paint itself. Good question paint is so much more true to the color and pretty looking. Cheap low quality paint will always be a bit ‘umeh’, no matter the color. I’ve been using BEHR, but the the next time master bedroom will be a splurge with Farrow and Ball (probably a pale blue with one wall darker)

      1. UKDancer*

        My decorator said that Farrow and Ball are lovely if you apply them with a brush but they don’t go on well with a roller so they’re very time consuming to do properly.

        I always go for Dulux which is better than B&Q in my view. They have a range called Light and Space which is supposed to make rooms look bigger and lighter. So as my flat is quite small I like this range for making small spaces look bigger. No idea if it works but it’s nice paint and I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

    11. HHD*

      We’re currently in what we hope will be our last rental, and are never going to have Landlord Beige once we buy. We’re now at a point where we’ve all the furniture we’ll need when we buy, which is mostly greys, teals and shocking pink, with light wood. Our general plan will therefore be to paint in white or pale grey, potentially with a couple of really bright walls.

      There’s a bit of a “Hinch” look in a lot of houses on the market in the UK at the moment, which is about 400 shades of grey and a lot of velvet. Our plan is to avoid that!

    12. The Other Dawn*

      My house was built in 1735. 90% of my house has wallpaper, which was here when we bought the house in 2014. It fits with the age of the house so we’ve left it up. I’d love to remove it and paint, but that’s a big undertaking. Especially when there’s cracking, bumpy plaster underneath. The bathrooms have paint and it’s just a boring beige that was here when we moved in. Family room is a drag sage green. I like normally like sage green, but this shade isn’t light and airy. It’s drab. My home office, which is the one room we’ve completely renovated, is Glazed Raspberry with white wainscoting on the bottom half of the wall. My gym (it’s a big pre-fab shed outside) is Sonic Plum, which is a gorgeous bright purple. I have white trim.

      I’d love my bedroom to be some shade of gray since it has a white chair rail and the bottom half of the wall is white. Right now it’s a boring tan. The other rooms, I’m not sure.

      1. HQB*

        There are paintable, embossed wallpapers. If you wanted to, you could apply another layer of wallpaper and then get exactly the color you want.

    13. Constance Lloyd*

      We rent and aren’t able to paint, but our walls are covered with concert posters. It’s a lovely explosion of color and they’re grouped somewhat by color scheme, so the end result is rooms with different color themes from moody blues to neon pinks and greens.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I appreciate the juxtaposition of “concert posters” and “moody blues” :)

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          The moody blues definitely accompany some moody music! Most of them are from the same Nashville printer and the range of colors and artwork are incredible haha

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            When I was wee, the only cassette tape we had in my house (or at least the only one I had access to) was The Moody Blues “The Other Side of Life” album, so that’s what the phrase made me think of :)

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      For paint I tend toward water shades, which I find soothing. The dining room, where I’m sitting, is pale green, and the nearby living room is a blue-grey I loved from a relative’s house on the water.

      Furniture tilts more toward “what is functional and, then, an okay color?” so the soft furniture is a navy blue because that was the color the chair/sofa came in that I considered okay. Slate blue and red.

    15. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      My kind of question! My flat is all white and wood inside so I decorated in a pjnk/earthen palette with gold and green pops.

    16. Nopity Nope*

      Bright colors! While I love to look at pictures of rooms with lovely greys, mossy greens, and muted blues, I can’t pull it off. I love my bright yellow living room, bright blue kitchen, and bright purple bedroom! Small house, so sadly no room that I can paint bright red. There’s no overall plan, just colors that appeal to me. Sophisticated? Nope. Happy and cheerful? You betcha!

      1. I take tea*

        It sounds nice. I like colours too. I once lived in an apartment with one wall painted a deep tomato soup red. It would have been too much for the whole room, but just the one worked well.

    17. Kathenus*

      I bought a house with grey paint mostly throughout – not my favorite but all newly painted so wasn’t going to pay to repaint. Thought about a couple of accent walls but instead I got full size murals on one wall in each of two rooms – one is woods in fall and one is a forest waterfall scene – love them! And I really like wall art so in most of the other spaces I just have lots of stuff on the walls that makes me happy.

      As to colors, when I bought my house it was being renovated, and the builder/owner asked what color I wanted the front door. I had never even thought of anything like that, and ended up going bold with a very bright green (in a blue house) – and that green is now my accent color throughout my house and it still makes me smile to see it.

    18. GoryDetails*

      I love monochromatic schemes – and neutrals – so both my bedroom and bathroom are wallpapered in a beige-on-cream faux-stone pattern, which works well with the woodwork. The bathroom has white accents and the bedroom has cream nubby-woven curtains and a burgundy-and-gold quilt for the bed, so not *entirely* beige. It’s been that way for a couple of decades now and I still enjoy the way it looks – though the cats have started “testing” the wallpaper in places, so I may need to do some redecorating in future…

      I do have a “blue room” which still bears the tiny-pattern slightly-grey-blue-with-white-accents wallpaper that it had when I bought the house in 1982; it’s a bit worse for wear (see time *and* cats), but I like the color and the small pattern. (It’s my computer-room/craft-materials room.) I put a blue Bokhara-style rug in the room to match the wallpaper.

    19. Bluebell*

      When we moved into our house 20 years ago, I liked most of the paint colors. Changed two though – bedroom 1 was phone book yellow, and the dining room was mauve below the chair rail. I know a great interior painter, so we’ve painted some of our rooms more than once. She’s helped with color selection too. Bedroom 1 has been light peach and is now a pale yellow, living room is 3 walls of bluish gray, with a claret color accent wall, dining room is light green under the chair rail. Bedroom 2/study has been green, white, and is now “Cancun sand.” The small den is still its original dark green, but that may be painted in the future. The kitchen is light grey, but the cabinets are a blue I picked custom. We mostly use Benjamin Moore, as their store is the closest to us.

    20. Girasol*

      Our color is in the furniture. I always liked the look of traditional ranger’s cabin white with forest green, so all our thrifted pine furnishings that were once a hodgepodge of odd colors got painted and stenciled in those colors.

    21. Sundial*

      My rooms fall into two categories: a bright cheerful cool tone (mostly blue or purple) or a version of beige the last owner chose that I have not had the time/budget to cover yet. That woman was terrified of pigment.

    22. small town*

      This is a great question! My house is from 1920. Central hall is a dark cream, formal dining room burgundy above the wainscoting. Living room and kitchen/family dining a celery green, first floor family room the dark cream, powder room a periwinkle blue. Second floor: master bedroom periwinkle, younger child’s room teal, older child white (their choices), master bath buttercup yellow above the subway tile, movie and football watching room pale blue, meditation room sky blue including the ceiling, laundry porch white, entire third floor white. Children’s bathroom sea green. Stairwells and halls on the top 2 floors white. Most of the paint is Benjamin Moore but the only name I remember is the green, called pickle.

    23. California Dreamin’*

      We love color on our walls! A lot of our house still has paint from when we moved in and painted everything, so some rooms need updating. But right now we have the foyer is a deep jewel tone red, living room and dining room are warm gold (all open to each other.). Hallway is a warm cream. Kitchen/mud room are French or country blue. Master bedroom is kind of a sagey green. Second bedroom is a beautiful deep olive above the chair rail. Oldest son chose it when we moved in and younger son kept it when he moved to that room. Daughter’s room is taupe and she hates it. It was originally my dad’s room and neutral was good for him, but now that teen daughter lives there, she’s begging for new paint. Her bathroom was recently remodeled in shades of gray, so we need a bedroom color that looks nice with gray but isn’t gray! Last bedroom was originally a warm sand colored home office, then was celery green for years as a nursery/kids room, now is back to the warm sand office again! Master bath and common area bath were both remodeled with very decorative Mexican tile so have neutral walls.

    24. Chaordic One*

      Your house sounds lovely. I have different rooms in my house painted blue, green, yellow and lavender with white ceilings and trim. I tend not to care for red, but I have a few smaller pieces of furniture and some pillows that are red and that “pop” in the yellow room. Also some furniture and pillows that are gold-colored. They might be considered theme colors for each room. I sort of worry that the house might look a big dated, say 1980s or even 1960s, but I like it, I’m comfortable in it and that’s the important thing.

      I really am tired of all the beiges and greys. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of spam from Basset Furniture (I don’t know why) and the rooms and the furniture featured are all so disappointingly very beige.

    25. Qwerty*

      I have a thread of color tying the rooms together. Unexpectedly it is light green, which I don’t have a particular affinity for, but it goes with my themes and helps with apartment living + open concept layouts. Sadly I have no control over wall color but look forward to bright neutrals when I can get them because I like having the option to redecorate without repainting (despite using the same color scheme in 10 apartments over 15 years)

      My kitchen is Tuscan themed – red for larger items like Kitchenaid mixer, kettles, wine rack, etc. Light green for smaller things. Wine + herb themed cross decorations

      My living room space is light blue with help from light green accents, which lead to the bathroom which is light blue + white shower curtain and pictures. Or take a turn the bedroom which is turquoise, pink, and light green. So that one color makes it feel like there’s a flow to the apartment.

    26. Ali G*

      Us too! We love green. The majority of our house if BM Simply White (we also looked and Chantilly White) and various greens. We just completely renovated our kitchen and our lowers and pantry cabinets are Farrow and Ball Smoke Green.
      Most of our furniture is neutral but we use the green everywhere!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Another fan of green, I find that the sage/mint shades are the most soothing colors. Of course bright greens can also pop and energize but I always want my home to feel calm.

    27. allathian*

      Our walls are some sort of painter’s white, our laminate floor has a light wood pattern. The bathrooms have slate-gray tiles on the floor and warm sandy-colored tiles on the walls. Our kitchen is white with slate-gray floor tiles and stainless steel appliances. We like neutral colors, and save the spot colors for things like throws and cushions on our dark brown couches.

    28. Littorally*

      Navy blue, teal, and silver/grey. When I first got my place, most of my furniture & linens were mismatched hand-me-downs but as I’ve been gradually replacing those with purpose-bought items, I’m bringing them into line with my preferred color scheme.

    29. Marion Ravenwood*

      My flat is currently mostly based around blues and yellows, with a bit of (darker) grey and mid- to dark brown wood details. I mainly picked that as I like blue and yellow and feel grey works well with both of those as a neutral to balance it out. The mid-brown wood is mainly because I don’t like super-light/blonde woods or anything too dark and heavy, but I also feel it goes well with the other colour choices.

    30. Hobie's people*

      Varying shades of grey in the main “path” – kitchen, family room, bedroom, master bath. Rocking jewel tones everywhere else and featuring a beautiful green in my office (redone during the pandemic to be more calming than the previous sunshine yellow).

    31. MommaCat*

      So, our walls are a lavender-tinted white with regular white trim, which I love because it can look warm or cool depending on what’s next to it. We have a neutral, mid-shade blue for our carpet, and a regular white for our ceiling, so it makes the room feel bigger and reflects the available light really well. We don’t really have pops of color aside from kid toys, but we definitely tend towards warm wood tones, black, and bronze.

  8. Aphrodite*

    Another home question. If your apartment or home has a guest room that isn’t really used for a guest room (because you almost never have overnight guests even. pre-Covid), what are you using it for? I have one which is partially furnished as a guest room but it seems like wasted space. I don’t want to use it for crafts or sewing or an office or workout space (none of which I need) and I really don’t need it or want it for “storage” which I also don’t need. I’d like it to be pretty but beyond that very fuzzy concept lies the truth: I really have no ideas for it.

    1. acmx*

      How about a library? Or a sitting room, dressing room (clothes, vanity, shoes), 2nd dining area maybe more along the lines of a bistro set. Paint a mural, gallery wall of pictures ?

      My spare rooms are office and one is essentially storage but space for a guest.

    2. light-colours*

      If you don’t need the room, you can just leave it as-is. Your life will change, you might need it later for something you don’t even know yet.
      We have a currently empty room in our house. It holds two guest beds we got for free second hand from a relative, and in all the years we’ve been here, only once did one guest sleep in it. But we keep it that way because we don’t need the space at the moment. Maybe we’ll get a kid someday and then it can be their bedroom. Maybe we’ll start a hobby that needs lots of space and then we can make that the hobby room.
      It’s not any burden to have the room “empty” so for now it’s just options for the future.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      There’s a large spare room in my house (over my garage). It’s down the hall from the guest bathroom and it gets really cold in winter, so it’s not really suitable to be used as a guest room. We’re currently using it for additional bookshelf space, another wardrobe for out-of-season clothes (our main built-in wardrobe is small) and some storage shelves. We’re currently planning on buying a small sofa for that room to make it a back-up living room.

      I think it’s good to have a space which allows you to relax alone, away from the person you live with, and we are very fortunate to have that one extra room that allows it.

    4. Virginia Plain*

      Are you a book person? Could it be a library and reading room, with bookcases, a special comfy chair and footstool, a desk (a pretty one for you to write letters or keep a diary/journal, take up calligraphy, etc, not an office type one)? You could also use it as a little gallery to display pictures or photographs you love, and have shelves etc with things of beauty you have collected. (I have a craft studio but in it I have repurposed a CD tower to display random ornamental things that don’t belong elsewhere; gorgeous tea-light holders; a matryoshka doll, a jade elephant, a small plush frog…) Music perhaps but no tv. A tranquil safe space just for you where nobody else goes.

    5. mreasy*

      I love having a guest room even though we don’t have guests terribly often. It’s great to have an extra bedroom in the event one of us gets sick or has trouble sleeping, and my cats love it. But we are lucky to have plenty of other space (from an NYC apartment perspective) so there isn’t a specific need we could address with it.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My house has four bedrooms (two of which are fairly small), a finished basement and did that mid-80s thing of a “living room” and a “family room”. So we’re very fortunate in our space – my housemate sleeps and works in the basement (he has a bedroom and a rec room/office space both down there), my husband and I sleep in the master bedroom, the other large bedroom is my husband’s office, and one of the two living rooms is my office. So we don’t have any real practical use for the two smallest bedrooms. One is fully set up as a guest room and gets used about 10 nights a year, mostly by my parents, with some misc stuff stored in the closet. The smallest currently has my treadmill and a TV in it, and again storage in the closet, but since the weather and the dog both encourage walking outside these days, that’s not getting used much either. The doors to both stay closed to keep the cats from getting into anything. So mostly I don’t worry about them, and if we get to a point where we actually need either space for something else, I can cross that bridge when we come to it.

      We occasionally ponder switching housemate and husband for temperature reasons – they are each in the section of the house that matches the other’s preference – in which case husband would office in the basement and housemate would have two bedrooms upstairs (one for sleeping and one for office), but the boys keep deciding that would be way too much work to move furniture and electronics and such, so I currently just ignore them when they whine about temperature :P

    7. Asenath*

      I never set a room aside for guests! When I was doing a lot of sewing, I had a sewing room. Until the last move and downsized, I had an office/library/computer room. The “second bedroom” where I am now would only accommodate a very small guest, so it became the cats’ room – cat litter and miscellaneous storage. The cats actually mostly live in the rest of the place, which is obviously the best place to spread around the cat toys and climb the window shades.

    8. NotBatman*

      My childhood home had a completely empty, ~15′ x 15′ carpeted room. Every Sunday we’d to put my four-year-old brother in the middle of the floor, position the two parents and two older siblings at each corner, and then yell “CHARGE!” The person who succeeded in picking my brother up first won the cinnamon roll from the middle of the batch. Not a serious suggestion, but your question brought back the memory of all the wrestling matches.

    9. Tib*

      We have a convertible day bed in our guest bedroom and the room also has a door to the attic. Most of the time it serves as a way station for things on their way to or from the attic. During the worst of the pandemic shutdowns, I turned the bed into more of a couch by covering some mdf squares with felt and using them as back cushion supports. It made a great private, non-office space to video chat and watch movies.

    10. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Does it have good natural light and air circulation, and do you like plants? Maybe have a “conservatory”. With grow lights and possibly a humidifier you could use it as an indoor garden or a space to winter plants that can’t be outdoors.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Mine’s a library, with shelves around the walls, a desk (that I seldom use but don’t want to get rid of just yet), and a small sofabed. I leave enough room so that the sofabed can be unfurled when needed without my having to shuffle furniture.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      One used as my office for WFH, and the other is “Room of Requirements”- basically all the boxes and stuff that were never unpacked in the 7 years since we moved in. I have plans for making it to the other home office for my partner so he can stop camping out in the dining room (to be fair, we never use it as a dining room either), but he haven’t really put up any initiative towards it, so it’s on the call burner.

    13. Little beans*

      Haha, we use ours as a closet for unfolded laundry. But it was supposed to be a mini home gym, with equipment that could be folded up/put away when we have guests.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I’d like to have a space for guests if I ever have more than one extra bedroom again. It was inconvenient to sleep on the sofa and give them my room. I probably would have invited people over more often if I did.

      My house had two (small) bedrooms; I meant to fit one with an extra bed, but I never got to it. Room 2 would have also needed a window AC since it was on the south side of the house and somewhat warm in summer. At various times, it functioned as a storage room, an office, and a craft/sewing room. The closet contained out-of-season clothing and extra random stuff—I also had two spillover bookshelves in it.

      The dream: to have a dedicated studio/writing space like the miniaturist main character had in the film Hereditary. All those beautiful shelves and workspaces!

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have 2.5 rooms like this. One is the guest room, some storage, that’s where the new kitty was when he arrived, etc. The 2nd room is the camera computer (interesting neighbor, and not in a good way), the litterbox is in there, a chest and dresser for towel/sheet/blanket storage, and the sewing machine. The .5 room is the most deliberately put together room, that is my desk and bookcases.

      In summary: I mostly don’t need any of these rooms, but they are there and are available space as needed.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          I’m assuming it’s for security cameras to make sure the neighbor doesn’t do anything sketchy?

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I have zero interest in even seeing my neighbor, ever. No, these cameras cover my property, and do pick up some of their property because it’s there and that’s how cameras work.

          I’ve caught them stealing from me, various property damage, all sorts of verbal abuse, and the real highlight was the day they had 2 mature trees on my property cut down. It’s an insurance policy. They know the cameras are there, I made zero attempt to hide them. If they want to be crappy and do illegal things, that’s their decision – but it’ll be on camera.

          They probably do know what the cameras pick up because I sued them, and provided a bunch of footage from the cameras as evidence. If they watched any of it they know what the cameras can record.

    16. VegetarianRaccoon*

      Not for everyone, but host an exchange student, house a refugee, foster animals for the local shelter?

    17. E. Chauvelin*

      My husband basically uses the guest bed as his closet rather than put most of his laundry away. (We each do our own, if we ever actually need the guest bed it’s his job to clear it off, the rest of the time it is not my problem.) I use the closet in the guest room to store my various steampunk/historical reenactment clothes.

      1. E. Chauvelin*

        (There are other rooms in our house that are officially bedrooms that are an office and a library, the “guest room” is the one that has a bed in it and could ostensibly be used for that purpose.)

    18. KR*

      My rental is way too big for what we need. We have 1 bedroom which is the guest room/litter box room (we don’t have many guests over so we just clean it & move the box before we have guests over), 1 that is my husbands hobby room and storage room for his work gear and hobby stuff, and 1 that is my home office and also storage for my sentimental stuff. We don’t use 2 of the rooms a lot and they’re very empty but that’s ok.

    19. allathian*

      Our 3-person family has 5 bedrooms for 3 people…

      We’ve lived in this house for 10 years and so far we’ve never hosted any overnight guests, mainly because we live in the same city as my parents and in-laws, so the people we see most often don’t need it. My friends, and my husband’s friends, also either live nearby, or stay at a hotel when they visit.

      I’m a very poor sleeper and hate sleeping with anyone else in the same room, so my husband sleeps in what’s essentially our guestroom, which doubles as my office. I sleep in the master bedroom, and my husband’s office and our stationary bike are in our son’s bedroom, and he has another room with a computer, games console and TV, as well as a desk for doing his homework. The last bedroom is our library/movie room with a projector and an 100 in silver screen.

    20. Sloanicota*

      The nursery in my house is now the crafts room. Games, knitting and quilting, wrapping, and art supplies all live in there now, and there’s a desk to work in. Love it.

    21. MeepMeep02*

      Another vote for “reading room”. My guest room is my quiet retreat to read and cuddle with the cats.

  9. anonnie*

    I’m glad the book recommendations are back! I missed them the last 2 weeks. Hope everything is well with you and yours, AAM!

    1. GoryDetails*

      Me too! The Lifeguards sounds like something I’d enjoy – for dark-and-traumatic values of “enjoy”, anyway. (The description reminded me of another book, THE DINNER by Herman Koch, in which two families try to cope with what turns out to be devastating behavior from their teenaged sons.)

  10. matcha123*

    Do you guys have any good responses to, “Well, why didn’t you XYZ?” type questions?

    Hindsight is 20/20 and since one cannot change the past, we can only work toward preparing for the future with the knowledge that our current selves have.
    I am prone to berating my past self for things, and I have spent many years working on my responses. That is fine and well for me, but I am having trouble navigating this with others when something happens. “Something” doesn’t happen every day or month, fyi.

    But I’ve recently had an issue happen and when I seek advice or some kind encouragement, a few people instead ask why I didn’t study XYZ in university; why I didn’t get married; why I didn’t move to ABC location. And I end up feeling frustrated and it pulls me back to a spot where I beat myself up. At times the questioning trail leads back to things my grandparents did and it’s exhausting.
    (ie- “Why didn’t your grandparents buy a home in XYZ city instead of EFG? Then they would have been able to blah-blah…” I can’t answer for decisions I wasn’t alive for!)

    I have pulled back on contacting or replying to the most egregious offenders, but I don’t see these types of questions ever stopping. Do you have people in your lives who engage in this behavior? Do you change the topic? Refrain from speaking about your private life?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      I have a tendency to try to combine bluntness with humour to let people know that they’ve asked a dumb question. Something along the lines of “I don’t have a time machine to go back and do things differently. Do you have any ideas that don’t require me to challenge the laws of physics?”

      The other tendency I have to ask questions about their questions, to try to figure out if they’re curious and trying to understand me or if they’re just being a bit judgy. “Interesting question – why do you ask? How do you think things would be different now?” And if I think I can pull off the tone (which honestly, I struggle with tone, so if I’m at any way worked up, I don’t even try), I might say something like “How is asking that question helpful now?”

      But honestly, if someone asks questions like that all the time, that’s not helpful or supportive and I would probably move them into “acquaintance” in my mind and not ask them for advice or talk to them about things that are important to me.

      I hope you have other people in your life who show more support and care for your feelings.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes –
        “Why didn’t you (blah)?”
        “Sorry, I left my time machine in my other pants, so that ship has sailed.”

      2. Janet Pinkerton*

        Yes—I often say “I don’t have a time machine, and even if I did, I wouldn’t use it for this.” The other sort of response I might give is a curt look with “Because I didn’t.” No explanation, just “what, are you kidding me?” vibes.

      3. TangerineRose*

        “But honestly, if someone asks questions like that all the time, that’s not helpful or supportive and I would probably move them into “acquaintance” in my mind and not ask them for advice or talk to them about things that are important to me.” This!

      4. Two Cents*

        The best response to a repeat offender isn’t humor because they’ll either think it’s okay or think you’re rude. (The time machine comment and any use of humor to say something without saying it outright is usually the latter to me.) The best response is exactly what you said later: “To be honest with you, asking questions like that isn’t helpful or supportive – it feels a bit judgy. Is that what you’re intending?”

    2. Not A Manager*

      I would look quizzical and say, “I have no idea. Why do you ask?” If they press on with “well then things would be different now,” I think the response is, “probably, but they’re not different now so this is where I’m at.”

      Honestly, these people sound exhausting. Is there something wrong with letting a little bit of annoyance show? “I can’t answer for my decisions in college, and I certainly can’t answer for my grandparents’ decisions. Let’s just not talk about this anymore.” If they’re not going to be helpful, let them at least be quiet.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      “I/They did what was right for them. I/They did what made sense at the time. I’m sure they had good reasons. I chose based on what was important to me back then. We’re fine with how things have worked out. Actually I’m glad I didn’t do xyz. You know if I’d done differently I would have missed out on [good thing]. Well, we can only try our best!”

      Or if you are over being polite…”you know what, you’re quite right. I’ll just get in my Delorian and go back to 1992 and pick a different degree course; have you got any plutonium?”

      1. Sloanicota*

        Your first answer is the best answer because it sounds like that’s what the OP needs to remind themselves: “I made the best choice I could with the information I had at the time.”

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      You already have it right there in your question: “Well, hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?”, delivered with whatever degree of warmth or sarcasm the situation merits, [subject change].

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also, “why didn’t your grandparents (whatever)” is just a really stupid question, and you have full validation to look at that person and go “You are aware, yes, that I was not even alive at the time that they made that decision, so how on god’s green earth should I know?”

    6. Forensic13*

      Honestly I’m a monster so I give equally absurd answers to what I feel are absurd questions, but I realize this is not a thing most people can/want to do.

      “Why are you so short?” Aliens.”
      (Yes, this was a real exchange.)

      “Why didn’t your grandparents buy in that city?” “Oh, terrified of the moles. Lots of moles in that city. Couldn’t handle the tiny potholes everywhere.”

      1. machinedreams*

        This reminds me of what I do when I get those “we are trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty” calls. if I’m in enough of a mood, I’ll make it put me through to a person. I’ll let them get going and then I’m like “So… does this mean you’re giving me a car, too? I don’t drive.”

        It throws them off SO MUCH.

        1. VegetarianRaccoon*

          If you don’t drive, they’d better be providing you a driver, too! Ask who is responsible for buying the driver one of those driving caps and a jaunty scarf.

    7. Asenath*

      Mostly my closest friend don’t do this, although sometimes I get the same idea, phrased differently – “Do you ever think it would have been better to…?” “Do you regret doing….?” It never goes back more than my own life, though, or maybe a comment on my parents’ choices. Only the other day when we were discussing jobs way back when, the other person asked if someone had advised or pushed me into a choice that had turned out very badly for me. I stared at her in astonishment and said, no, it was entirely my own idea (which it was), and segued into my usual, almost mocking, “Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.”. Which it did.

    8. RagingADHD*

      You could respond as if they are genuinely interested in the context of your life, and your family history. Not as if they’re offering a time-machine solution, but as if they are seeking understanding.

      My grandparents moved here because at the time a now-defunct industry made it one of the most prosperous and fast growing cities in the country. I changed my major because I fell in love with a different topic, that made me feel….

      I mean, it is a dumb question, but you could *act* like it isn’t, and that would do 3 things:

      1) you’d be less annoyed,
      2) It could potentially improve your relationship with the asker, and
      3) If they don’t really want to have that conversation, they’ll quit asking those kind of questions.

      1. matcha123*

        I generally do start this way! And I am happy to have the people around me understand my background a little more. But it’s gotten to the point where, in the same conversation, I will have to gently remind them of something I said five minutes earlier. When I feel I’m repeating myself, I try to quickly change the subject to something else. Sometimes it works.

        I do think that they are mostly trying to provide me with support. However when they have been in similar situations, they lean on their family for support/advice and have a hard time understanding why I can’t do the same.
        “Yes, my parent did have four other siblings, but they all passed many years ago. Yes, my grandparents passed. No, they did not leave an inheritance. No, I don’t know about any estranged cousins.” and so on.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Ugh, not listening. Why do they bother at all, one wonders.

          Sorry you’re dealing with that.

    9. matcha123*

      Thank you all for the replies. I’ve definitely used the “time machine” one myself recently. Along with “I made a decision based on the knowledge I had at the time.”
      I’ll continue to use those, and try some of the more humorous ones you all have suggested!

    10. Suprisingly ADHD*

      “I’m not going to guess at my grandparents (parents, etc) train of thought at the time. Maybe you should ask them!” (This works even better if the person in question is deceased or out of contact.)

      “What are you, the cops?” “Why do you need to know?” “Should I write you an essay?” Then when they get offended and say something like “I was just wondering,” “My logic back then doesn’t matter any more. Unless you have a solution for what’s happening NOW, lets move on.”

      “I’m trying to stop punishing myself for what I did when I was a kid (a teenager, less knowledgeable, etc.). All it does is make me sad about ‘might have been’ instead of grateful about what actually IS.”

      “I don’t want to rehash the whole thing again, I thought about it enough times back then.”

      ***When they start telling you what you should do Now: “Thank you, I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Then do whatever you decide is best. When they find out, and ask why you didn’t take their advice, “I considered your advice, and it helped me make a more informed decision.”

      The takeaway is, you don’t have to give your reasons for ANYTHING. They want to pick apart your reasoning to show why they are superior/smarter/wiser than you. If all they have is the outcome, it’s not as fun for them if they can’t get into the nitty-gritty details.

      1. E. Chauvelin*

        If the person in question were deceased, unless I actually knew the story behind their choice and thought the asker genuinely wanted to hear it, I would be tempted to answer with “You’ll have to consult a medium.”

    11. Generic Name*

      Those people don’t sound like they are on Team You. If they’re family, and you do want to remain in contact, consider putting them on an “information diet” and don’t count on them for any kind of emotional support. If they insist on berating you for “wrong” choices, deflect, change the topic, or remove yourself from the conversation.

      If they are friends, you could do all of the above, but also consider if those people are the kind of people you want to allow in your life.

      For me, the only person who critically asks me why I do stuff is my ex husband, and I don’t respond to those types of messages. I am in contact with him only because we share a minor child, and I will be going no contact with him when our child turns 18.

    12. the cat's ass*

      “Why do you ask?” is just such a great rejoinder to all sorts of questions! Sometimes that’s very educational. Sometimes it shuts the conversation down, too.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Agree on “Why do you ask?” – I wish I’d learned that one in my youth. One can vary the tone to indicate a friendly interest, a baffled curiosity, a chilly how-dare-you – whichever most applies to your feelings about the person doing the questioning and whether you want to encourage them to think a bit more about intrusive questions or just to go the bleep away…

        1. the cat's ass*

          I had occasion to get REALLY pro-level with this question when i adopted my kids. I’m a large red haired old white lady, and my kids are Chinese American, and one is visibly disabled. OMG, the questions people think are okay! And to ask some of those questions IN FRONT OF MY KIDS, you twits.

          But what’s really great, is when the kids got old enough to really follow the conversation, and started responding themselves. My now 16 yo once answered back to a woman at Target asking “Why you and your mommy don’t match” and riposted with, “well you’ve never seen my dad, but also that’s my personal story and i don’t have to tell it to you!” She was 10 at the time.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’m partial to, “Well my plan would have worked if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

    14. Former Young Lady*

      I like a low-energy “coulda-woulda-shoulda.” It’s a grey-rock way of implying that their non-actionable retroactive advice has, in fact, already occurred to you.

    15. PollyQ*

      You gotta find better people, because these ones suck. Those kinds of questions are bad enough when it’s just your choices, but if they’re questioning your grandparents’ choices, then they’re being completely ridiculous. Don’t just weed out the egregious offenders, weed out anyone who starts going down this path. (Politely, I guess, although I’d be mighty tempted to ask them right to their face how they think that kind of discussion is at all useful.) Honestly, I don’t have people who ask me questions like this, and having to quit discussing your life with friends seems like too harsh a restriction on basic human interaction.

    16. Squirrel Nutkin*

      My cousin used to do this constantly. It’s not really a question — it’s more like “Since you didn’t make the choices that I believe I would have made, I will now judge you as having everything that has gone wrong be your own fault.”

      We no longer speak much, and my life is the richer for it.

      Maybe people who do this are motivated by their own insecurities and their own need to believe that if they just make the “right choices,” nothing bad will ever happen to them, but frankly, I don’t even care. They are not worth the bandwidth it takes to deal with them.

      Kudos on pulling way back from the people who pull this crap on you. Save your time and energy for people who build you up, not people who tear you down.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        P.S. And please try not to beat yourself up when these people are acting like jerks to you. Their rude assumptions that *they* would never have the problem you do is a reflection on their own immaturity, lack of examination of their various kinds of privilege, etc. — it is NOT a reflection on you.

      2. matcha123*

        Thank you, and I believe you’ve got it. I don’t know why I keep running into these types, although I do have a theory it’s common among a certain type of high-achieving person. And also because I don’t fit their stereotype of how someone with my background should act.

        These are all people who seem to have good relations with their family and a large, robust extended family that’s always willing to help out. Perhaps part of it is that they assumed being smart was how they achieved success in life, but when they talk with me they realize how much their family actually helped them and feel something about it. The judgmental tone, however, remains.

        1. Not A Manager*

          From your previous comment, it sounded like you mostly trust these people’s good will. In this comment, it’s not as clear. If you do trust their good will, but you think their own assumptions (and perhaps a feeling about their own privilege) is getting in the way, you could try being more explicit. “I truly don’t have any family or community support for this. I understand that many people do, but please trust me that any suggestions about turning to family are going to be impractical. I really do appreciate your advice and your perspective, but continually trying to uncover some kind of hidden family support upsets me and really doesn’t address my situation.”

          In my experience, part of this type of hectoring is people who just don’t believe that you have complete information about your own life, so they do that weird Socratic dialogue thing. Sometimes naming what they are doing and being firm about why it’s not helpful, can reset the tone of the conversation. If it doesn’t, then I think this person just isn’t a good resource for this particular issue.

        2. Scarlet Magnolias*

          like my standard reply when people ask me about my psoriasis in that “What did you dooooo to yourself” tone. I smile and tell them it’s leprosy and it’s contagious

    17. justabot*

      I think you need a few different responses in your toolbox to pull for different situations. Sometimes you may want to be more honest/vulnerable, other times you just want to deflect, sometimes you want to tell them the topic if off limits or that they are being rude, etc. Some days you may feel more mentally strong to shut down a conversation and call it out for what it is, some days it might feel very triggering to talk about, or the person asking might not have any empathy or understanding to give anything more than an abrupt response. There’s no one way.

      If someone asks why you didn’t get married, you can answer anything from, “I never met the right partner” to “how do you know I haven’t been married?” or “That’s a bit personal, don’t you think?” to “oh wow, I forgot to do that!” to “Why did you?” or if you want to shame them a bit back for asking, “I’m surprised you felt comfortable asking me that.”

      As Brene Brown says, not everyone deserves to hear our stories. “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: Who has earned the right to hear my story?”

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    Not much recreationally for me this week, just a few loose scenes here and there.

    1. Girasol*

      Thanks to some encouragement from RagingADHD in this thread last week, my story is coming along much better!

    2. Princesa*

      Mine is going well this week! I feel like I’m on the verge of hitting a slump, but I wrote a few chapters over the past week that I feel good about. I’m a hobby fiction writer, but I’m majoring in English, so it may turn into something more someday…? Who knows?

    3. Forensic13*

      Does anyone have any good recommendations for online writing groups/places to ask people random questions? Not like: question and answer questions but like random writing questions for content. (For example: what are some love songs about doomed romances)?

      1. Sloanicota*

        For random questions not related to writing group I’d try twitter – or this group is good too :D

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Hmm, other than here I can’t really think of anything either.

        P.S. : Il Volo by Zucchero, Daar Gaat Ze by Clouseau, Domino by Clouseau, you can kind of make a case for Koning Liefde by Tourist LeMC, same for ‘n Welgemeende by Flip Kowlier

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think I’ll get much done this week. I have a Zoom panel interview on Wednesday. Then there is a lot of driving back and forth for Dad’s memorial next weekend. Mom can drive, just not very far (it’s across the state in our hometown), so I have to make an extra halfway trip and hand her off to my brother. She’s staying over for a while to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with.

      I’ve been doing some conlang work between filling out apps and other stuff. My morphology, grammar, and syntax is already developed—it’s just a matter of making up words and phrases, which I can dip in and out of. The story machine in my head is on a low setting, but it’s chugging along. There’s a lot to cover in Book 3 and I want to get it right.

    5. Jessica Ganschen*

      I haven’t done anything new recently, but I got a very flattering critique on a poem that I wrote a little while ago, so I’m still feeling pleased with that.

  12. 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 to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    Still not much for me other than cookie clicker. That game is as fun as it is silly.

    1. Cookie*

      Not really a gamer at all but I’m playing Tsuki Odyssey because it’s so relaxing. When I’m stressed out, I watch the little bunny fishing and harvesting carrots. I haven’t bought any add-ins, just very slowly accumulating objects. The music is hypnotically calming.

    2. MEH Squared*

      I am 225+ hours into Elden Ring (FromSoft) and on the last boss. I have so many emotions about my journey and I can’t believe I’m at the end of it. It’s my GOTY, quite possibly GOAT. What an incredible game. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty dang close.

      I will be playing this game forever, I’m sure, but I’m going to take a little break once I finish my first playthrough (with, hopefully, the plat in hand). Play something cozy and fluffy before returning to Limgrave for another go. I HIGHLY recommend this game with two enthusiastic thumbs up.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I beat the last boss in Elden Ring. So many emotions after taking this wild ride. I can heartily recommend this game if you like fantasy with engaging and difficult combat, breathtaking locations, and intriguing (if esoteric) lore. It’s an incredible game.

    3. Henry Division*

      Still working on Tunic. It’s very fun and very clever, and it’s a loving homage to 90s adventure games and game guides, most obviously A Link to the Past.

      I like the game but am mostly excited that signing up for Xbox Game Pass has made it finally easy to play games on my Mac. I can play Tunic (and a ton of other games) through Chrome with my Switch controller and it works beautifully.

    4. LimeRoos*

      Super late to the party (as always lol). I replayed Katrielle Layton over the last 2 weeks or so. That game is so fun and charming and I love it. The dining mini-game is my favorite, I wish it were bigger and had more characters join after you beat the game. Mr. Roos is playing FF Stranger of Paradise and loves it. It looks gorgeous, and he says it has the best parts of Dark Souls but an actual storyline and the beautiful FF graphics and worlds. Also Tonberry’s still suck lol.

      I’m debating starting Breath of the Wild again to go korok hunting because it’s my favorite and I love building Tarrytown. Also need to play Wytchwood and play more Spiritfarer, but haven’t had the time/energy to start completely new to me games.

  13. Scotlibrarian*

    My husband works 4 x 11 hrs a week and I work 2.5 days per week. That way there is always an adult at home for our 2 autistic kids (both of whom have been home educated or school refusers for many years). Husband and I see each other late on in the evening and 1 half day a week. It’s tiring, but hey, we made this choice

    1. Maryn*

      That sounds challenging, but I admire parents who put the well-being of the kids ahead of their own wants.

  14. Firebird*

    I signed the lease to my new apartment this week. There were some carpet spots and the landlord was going to have it cleaned. I didn’t notice more damage to the carpets until I started moving in. The carpet is only a year old, but there are several small burned spots and what seems to be dried gum and every room has pink stains, even in two closets. The landlord had it cleaned but the damage is still there.
    My daughter and I are going to mark the stain and burn locations today, so I can see if it as bad as I think it is.
    I’m not sure what to do now. I already signed the lease with the understanding that it would be cleaned. Now I’m finding more damage in both bedrooms and the living room and it really bothers me.
    I need some script ideas for talking to the landlord. Is it worthwhile to ask for the carpet to be replaced or repaired?

    1. Virginia Plain*

      Take photos and send to the landlord, and say you understood the carpet was to be cleaned and if that hasn’t happened yet can he please arrange it asap. Also say if the clean has been done and the things in the pictures are permanent staining, you are putting this on record so it’s clear to all that it was like that when you got here.
      Whether you ask him t9 replace it will depend on whether you can live with it or whether you would never have moved in if you’d known it was going to stay like that.

      Caveat – I have no experience of American landlords nor tenancy laws.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I agree to the document, document, document. Note every stain and hole and every bit of dirt. Otherwise, your landlord will charge it all against your deposit when you move out.

        I know – I have helped my landlord friend do this. His tenant claimed the apartment was filthy when she moved in but had no proof. Also, she was lying. The previous tenant had not washed her long hair in the kitchen sink, leaving hair stuck in the plumbing, and previous tenant had not spilled grape juice on the living room carpet and previous tenant had not put children’s stickers on the windows. My friend charged her $45/hour against her deposit to clean it.

        (The tenant also threatened to call the police as my friend and I were doing the inspection. I told her go ahead. She did and the police came. They were polite to her but didn’t even talk to my friend and me, as it is not a crime for a landlord to inspect a property when the tenant is moving out.)

    2. WellRed*

      I’m confused, did he clean it or not? If he didn’t, have him clean it but if there’s damage cleaning won’t fix it. It seems to really bother you so you might consider asking him to replace it but that might impact your move in date. And don’t be surprised if he says “no”

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It sounds like he cleaned the originally identified spots but not all the carpeting everywhere and OP has since realized there’s more staining/damage elsewhere? Possibly? Or in addition to the “more” maybe the original supposedly cleaned spot does not look like it was cleaned?

        1. Sloanicota*

          There’s also some stains that cleaning won’t fix, and it sounds like OP is wishing the carpet had been replaced instead of cleaned. It may be worth asking about.

    3. Swisa*

      I’d definitely take photos and document the damage, and send it to the landlord, so you don’t get charged for the damage later. You can ask for it to be cleaned, but this may just be damage that’s left after cleaning that you have to live with.

    4. Not a Lord*

      US landlord here, take pics with date stamps and ask they be included with your move-in inspection so you wont be held accountable for the damage when you move out. It’s unlikely they’ll replace the carpet if it’s only a year old, unless it’s really egregious or makes the unit unlivable.

      You can say something like “I just wanted to flag for you a lot of the damage to the carpet is still there despite cleaning and wanted to make sure it’s documented in my move-in inspection.”

      1. Not a Lord*

        Forgot to add that they might replace it if it’s a higher-end residence where you’re paying a premium for a ‘luxury’ type rental. It wouldn’t hurt to ask, but be prepared to hear no. And if you can document how it affects the liveablilty of the home (sticky gum everywhere? Ugh!) that could help.

  15. The Prettiest Curse*

    Removed because work-related. Feel free to post this next Friday on the work thread!

  16. Batgirl*

    Red hair colour question: I stopped doing my own hair colour and visited a salon which gave me the perfect colour. This was no mean feat because generally I get a colour that’s too brown and barely red, or I get too-red clown colouring or it’s too goth and purple. What I like is to be as much like a fox as possible: it could be described as natural, but vivid. However when I went back for a touch up, the colour had faded a little to a browny copper and they did my roots while dragging the colour down the hair to blend, but I ended up with the roots more vivid than the hair. Next time I thought they’d suggest toner (which costs more) but they just spent more time blending the colour downwards which didn’t really work. They wanted to add more brown to the roots (this always happens) but I asked them to instead match the hair colour throughout because I don’t want to be too brown. This last time, I asked for toner and I got very vivid hair throughout that looks great in some lights. However it’s too primary a red in a very bright light and too dark and purple in others. It still doesn’t match the roots, which are more gingery, although you’d be hard pushed to notice because they coated most of the roots with the toner. So I have three options: 1) Can I ask them to make the toner more, but not entirely, coppery? The original hair dye colour I asked for on the first visit was a blend of red and copper but for the toner they didn’t give me options, so I don’t know if mixing toner is a thing? 2) Should I go lighter? I think getting my 6 level hair colour more vibrant and coppery red might involve going to a 7, but I know lightening hair damages it. 3) Should I try a new salon? I know the toner colour will probably be toned down with washing (I even have good colour conditioners that can do this) but I pay a lot for styling and pin curls which get me through a week without hairstyling, so I want the colour to be right too.

    1. Virginia Plain*

      No expert on hair dying but it strikes me that you’ve been to this salon on two or three occasions and been dissatisfied with what they’ve done and the results you’ve got, despite your best efforts to explain what you are after. I think option 3) would be worth exploring.

    2. mreasy*

      Definitely try a new colorist, and see if you can find one with an Instagram account that shows results similar to what you are looking for. It sounds like this colorist just doesn’t have the skills for your specific color. I have long gone light blonde from brown with mostly good results, but it’s only my most recent colorist who has gotten me exactly what I want. Good luck!

    3. TDS*

      You asked them to make the roots more vivid & now you’re unhappy that the roots are too bright? Maybe using the colorist who got it right the first time & trusting their process/giving fewer instructions to them would yield the results you want.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      No advice but a comment about red. I learned that red is one of the hardest colors because the molecule is bigger or something? It’s really hard to get not only red hair right but red anything right! Red hair dye and red paint fade a lot faster than other colors, apparently.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thanks for answering my longtime (silent) question, “What on earth possessed that person to select that awful-looking, so-called red hair color?”

        It never occurred to me that it might be a salon processing fail! Of course I have almost zero knowledge of colored hair. One doesn’t always know what one doesn’t know.

      2. ThatGirl*

        It took me a long time to find the perfect reddish blonde shade, and I naturally have some reddish undertones. And even then it’s more vaguely dark strawberry blonde by the end of the month than full red.

      3. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Fascinating, thank you, I didn’t know this and it seems like it might explain a few past failures…

      4. The OG Sleepless*

        My original hair color was a strawberry blond, basically the color of a new penny. It faded to the color of an old penny. I always said I wouldn’t color my gray, but I wasn’t prepared for it not to turn gray, just dull. I haven’t been able to duplicate my “real” color for anything. It’s kind of a light brown with some red lowlights. So frustrating. I had a feeling it was just the nature of things.

      5. Sloanicota*

        Yes, my tattoo is red ink and I was warned they can fade faster (luckily it’s in a location that does not get a lot of sun).

    5. WellRed*

      I also color my hair red but can’t get the right color in the salon (too brown). However, there is only so much they can do to achieve certain reds unless you go lighter with the underlying hair color. Also, as Texan said, red fades, period. I do think it’s time to try a different salon but please make sure you understand what can and can’t be done. FWIW, I switched to esalon for at home coloring and am pretty satisfied with the color which is a coppery reddish dark blonde.

      1. Batgirl*

        I’ve had good results from esalon too – but equally I got good results from this salon the very first time! I find esalon dye a bit too gunky, I got tired of DIY and communication with the colourist is harder long distance. Like Texan in Exile said, being a red means it’s a fading issue. I’m lucky in that my hair is porous and holds onto colour really well, but there is some fade. I have to figure out how to colour the faded lengths the same as the fresh roots. I did have a salon do this really well ,way back when, which is how I knew to ask for toner. They closed ages ago and everyone since then seems to need a learning curve.

        1. Filosofickle*

          You likely got great color the first time because it was the first time — one solid overall color process. That’s the easy part. (Thought that does depend on what was going on with your hair before that.) It’s the roots / blending that make it so hard to match because applying fresh dye to new(er) growth acts very differently than on dyed hair and it’s not as simple as blending. Any way around it sounds like time for a new colorist.

    6. California Dreamin’*

      Red hair is so tricky. I used to have naturally copper hair, but a lot of the copper faded, leaving me with something more medium brown. So for years I’ve been coloring my hair to try to achieve what I once had naturally. It is very hard to find a colorist who does a good job with natural looking copper. The best luck I ever had was with a guy who did color only, no cuts (I would see someone else in the salon for cuts.) He was a true specialist in color. I actually cried when he moved away. I don’t know how easy it is to find someone like that where you are, but that would be ideal. The problem with red color too is that it does oxidize and get brassy on the ends easily. It’s just really high maintenance. I do recommend you try another salon since it sounds like this one isn’t hitting the mark for you.

      1. Batgirl*

        I think you might be right but it’s so hard when they got the perfect colour right first time! Lots of places go straight to burgundy or mahogany as though the idea of real red freaks them out. They just seem so perplexed by retouching because of the (slight) fade issue; when my old stylist was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of colour retention and could take it in her stride. One time she felt she hadn’t matched toner and root colour exactly and gave me a half refund; I couldn’t see anything amiss! Whhhyyy did I not get her number…

        1. Yes Please*

          If you can remember her first name, you might be able to find an Instagram account for a hair stylist in your city with that first name. Good luck!

      2. Batgirl*

        I am also trying to recreate my natural old colour! I would say it was impossible if I hadn’t managed to do it before.

    7. bratschegirl*

      Red is just hard. I haven’t colored my hair since 2019, but for several years pre-pandemic I went to a great local salon and had them give me the coppery blonde I always wished I had. Despite having my “formula” written down in a book, it didn’t always come out the same, and in thinking back on it now, I think I was happiest with the very first time, same as you. My hair is also very, very porous, so much so that the uncut ends still retain color now from my last dye job which is coming up on 3 years ago! I’m throwing in the towel on color at this point anyhow. None of which really helps you at all, except perhaps to know that you aren’t the only one to have that experience…

  17. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Essential oils: which have you been surprised to like and dislike?

    I buy pure essential oils (mainly for use in an oil burner) so the prices vary quite a bit. I was surprised to find that jasmine (which I adore in bloom) is far too sickly for me in a burner. Expensive too! Rosemary and mandarin (again, scents I ordinarily love) were meh… too volatile/scent dissipates too quickly as an oil I think.

    OTOH, I’m surprised by how much I love peppermint and lemongrass, sometimes on their own or with a drop of petitgrain or amyris. I like fresh and earthy scents in the house and these have become my go-to’s, but sometimes I want to mix it up a little. I’m thinking about trying more of the less expensive ones like cypress, juniper, star anise. Any recommendations?

    1. Virginia Plain*

      I really like vetivert which is sort of woody and herbal. I also like bergamot which is a citrus but not as sweet as orange etc. i love lavender too and it’s inexpensive, at least over here it is.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      Seconding bergamot. It’s citrus-y but almost woody and not as sweet. I like the brand Plant Therapy. They have some blends that are really nice for when you need a little change of pace but don’t know exactly what you want to blend.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I love peppermint for muscle pain or congestion.
      I put chamomile oil in my shampoo to soften the garish white hair I seem to have inherited. It makes my hair look like an extremely soft blond. I only use it in the winter. In the summer the sun does this for me.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        and Camomile is good for the scalp too! I used to do a camomile and marigold rinse for my scalp health and to encourage highlights.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve never tried it as an essential oil, but may I recommend costmary as an unusual but gorgeous smell? It’s a bit minty but softer and more lovely.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m a fan of basic scents so eucalyptus, peppermint, Lemongrass, and some citrus!

    6. Batgirl*

      When I was in Morocco, I mentioned to an essential oils shop owner about loving jasmine the plant, but not the oil (I found it similar to ylang ylang – too sickly sweet) and she showed me many different varieties of jasmine – I really loved jasmine blanc because it was subtle and fresh. She also sold me a knockout Rosa centafolia which I haven’t been able to find since. Rose is usually garbage, but it shouldn’t be. For woodsy, easy to source scents I’d definitely go for bergamot. I’d also look at Cedar, Clary sage, sandalwood, frankincense, rosewood and black pepper. If you like good gin or the smell of quality oil paints you’ll like juniper – it releases emotions though, so use it with care. I also like neroli, which is a type of orange blossom. I think lavender and lemon are quite underrated.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Obligatory warning – essential oils can be harmful or toxic to people and animals, so do check on that for anything you’re using. You don’t want to kill your cat by accident.

    8. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I love the scent of real cedar wood but cedar essential oil makes me gag. I thought it would be a way of “recharging” natural cedar blocks I keep in closets or make scented candles that aren’t floral or sweet. It’s hard to describe how it’s not at all the same scent.

      I have some valerian EO…supposed to be good for sleep…smells 100% like marijuana (to me) — herbaceous skunk. Mixing it with sage or eucalyptus helps cut the skunk.

      1. Batgirl*

        That’s a great point actually; essential oils are concentrated versions so they will smell stronger than the source and using them neat is usually advised against. I disperse a very few drops in water above oil burners or add them to a base oil. I don’t think wax is great at diluting them judging by some wax pellets I was given for oil burners – way too strong. If I wasn’t planning on diluting them, I would stick to something mild like lavender otherwise.

      2. VegetarianRaccoon*

        any possibility you bought a different ‘cedar’ essential oil than the blocks you love?
        I love all the things I’ve found that are called Cedar, but they definitely aren’t all the same. Check out the Wikipedia article for ‘list of plants known as cedar.’ Check the scientific names and compare. Juniperus Virginiana is apparently most commonly used in cedar closets but your EO might be Cedrus Deodara or Cedrus Atlantica.

  18. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Anyone else want to share in the (light?) embarrassment of mistaken identity?

    yesterday I was at a coffee shop and I thought I saw one of my friends there. It took me a while but I was convinced. I said hi! And…..y’all it wasn’t my friend…..LOL. I quickly mumbled “sorry I thought you were someone” and avoided eye contact til I left.

    Another time in college, many years ago, I approached who I thought was one of my friends. It wasn’t her but she kind of knew my friend and i think they were mistaken for each other occasionally so it wasn’t that bad lol.

    I’m laughing about the first one now but man oh man I had a LOT of feelings when it happened.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      It’s secondhand so not my own story but I love it. Former coworker saw “his friend” at the shops, and, as young men do, announced his recognition of said person with headlock and noogie. Turned out to be another, rather… murderously… perturbed random gentleman.

    2. I take tea*

      I once thought I recognised a colleague at a distance, and said her name quite loudly. Turns out that this somewhat similar person even had the same (common) name. She was confused, I was slihtly embarrassed.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I take tea reminded me of the phone one I routinely do: My phone number is easy to mix up with that of someone who works at the senior center. Unfortunately, we have the same first name, so once a month or so I’ll do a few rounds about how, yes, Falling answered the phone, but I can’t get you a bus for your thing. I have the person’s full name and phone number on the cork board with doctor and kennel cards, even though I’ve never met her.

      In person: I combine a distinctive appearance with near face-blindness, so I get a lot of people recognizing me whom I can’t place. Every once in a while we get the twist where someone met another uber blond woman and is convinced I’m her, and I have to insist I have never lived in Oakville and so am definitely not that person.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      I worked at a summer camp for a few years and got into the habit of waving and saying hi when I saw kids and parents walking towards me. One time I was at target with my mom after work and I waved and said hi to a family walking inside as we were leaving. I immediately realized I didn’t know them and had greeted them out of habit. My mom looked at me in confusion and asked if I knew them and I said no, both of us couldn’t stop laughing for several minutes and I was so embarrassed

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      A friend in college ran up and hugged me from behind and congratulated me only to realize it wasn’t me but someone who apparently looks just like me

    6. RagingADHD*

      I have one of those slightly generic faces that apparently resembles everyone’s friend from high school / former neighbor / their kid’s third grade teacher, etc.

      I get greeted by the wrong name by so many random people – sometimes with great surprise and enthusiasm – that I don’t even worry about mistaking other people.

      Fortunately, all my doppelgangers seem to be nice people. I’ve never had anyone mistake me for an old enemy, thank goodness.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Curious since it happens so often, are you ever tempted to roll with it out of mischievousness? Like, “oh did you know about the reunion? It’s canceled so we’re all donating to [x] instead!” or “don’t forget it’s bake sale on Thursday and everyone needs to bring goodies to share with their classmates!”. Just to stir the pot a little and get your own money’s worth..?

        1. RagingADHD*

          I have to say, that’s never once crossed my mind.

          About half the time, they don’t remember the name right away, so we are both groping around trying to figure out if we know each other.

          It’s not really a bother to have someone pleased to see me, even if it’s due to confusion, so there’s no “money’s worth.” I don’t think it would be funny to intentionally confuse or torment a stranger who thinks they are talking to a long lost friend / acquaintance. Why would someone do that?

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I don’t think it would be funny to intentionally confuse or torment a stranger who thinks they are talking to a long lost friend / acquaintance. Why would someone do that?

            Agree…. In the interest of keeping the original post light, I didn’t mention that anxiety brain/RSD (rejection sensitive dysphoria) took its hold but faded eventually. that would be cruel I think.

          2. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Ah. Yeah, playful wind-ups/banter/larrikinisms are one of those Australian cultural things that I tend to forget land as outrageously offensive to most Americans. FWIW, it’s understood here to be done with warmth and the objective is to connect, make them laugh/break the ice. I’m not a cruel monster that goes around deliberately tormenting people. But it won’t translate regardless of how I try to explain the nuances.

            1. RagingADHD*

              I mean, teasing is fine with friends. But a complete stranger?

              What ice needs breaking anyway, when you’re already talking about your personal backstory / where are you from, and laughing about the mix up?

              It’s not “outrageously offensive,” it just sounds wierd and try-hard.

    7. NotBatman*

      I have a sister who looks a lot like me, except as teens she had long brown hair while I had a blue buzz cut. Twice when I was visiting her at college, I had people stop dead at the sight of me and go “What did you do to your hair!?” Of course, both were friends of my sister’s who mistook us. Teen-me thought it was hilarious.

    8. Lucy*

      Several years ago, at a job with a crappy manager, my team had to stay at work until 5:00 even though a bad snowstorm was happening and we had laptops we could use to work from home (the rest of the building left in the morning…I think my manager didn’t care because they had a 5 minute commute and an SUV with four wheel drive). I tried to drive home in my tiny sedan, but had trouble keeping control of my car just going along the first street out of the parking lot (I basically had no experience driving in snow and ice and slush at this time), so I struggled to return to the parking lot and called my dad (who owns a big truck). Waited for him for like an hour, and when I saw what looked like his truck, I rushed over, opened the door, and got in.

      And it was some other poor confused guy, lol! I immediately apologized and hopped back out. Was sooo embarrassed.

      And then it took two hours to get home after my dad finally arrived.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        oh noooo lol

        This happened to my father a few years ago, it was dark and my mom and I were in the car while he went to the store. When he came back out, we saw him walking towards the drivers side of the car in front of us. We were looking at him like what is he doing??? Sure enough he opened the car door and he jumped. We were all cracking up after. Although we laughed about it, later I worried what if the other guy hadn’t been a good sport about it?

        If a stranger suddenly opened my car door, I would be terrified beyond belief.

    9. Seal*

      About 5 years ago I had a bad bout of panuveitis, which in inflammation of everything inside your eye. I was temporarily blind in one eye for a few days but with massive doses of steroids my vision eventually came back. As my vision was clearing up, my distance vision was basically shot; I could see shapes but not details. I didn’t realize how bad my vision still was until I saw a woman in the grocery store parking lot who I thought was my boss’s wife. It was Mother’s Day and since we knew each other well enough to chat and joke around with each other, I called out to her something to the effect of “so boss made you go out grocery shopping on Mother’s Day?” When she got closer I realized this woman was in fact not my boss’s wife. Fortunately she laughed!

    10. PostalMixup*

      Stories from the other side of this: I apparently have one of those faces that’s generic enough to look like everyone else. In high school, my English teacher couldn’t keep me and my best friend straight (we don’t really look much alike), so when returning class work he’d just put both assignments right in between us. In college, I had a friend a few years older, and we were both in the same campus ministry group. After she went off to grad school, people from nearby churches would come up to me and say “Friend’s Name, how is Princeton?” Dunno, I’ve never been there. In grad school, my boss asked who I’d gone to see graduate at the big all-campus ceremony. I replied that I had been in the lab all afternoon. He insisted he’d seen me there, but nope.

    11. WellRed*

      A former boss had a certain sports car and dark hair and lived near my local Dunkin’. I saw her in the parking lot, head back, window down enjoying the sun. I walked up and said “hey, lady!” Not her.

    12. Elle Woods*

      At my brother’s college graduation, I was sure that I saw an old friend of mine there. After the ceremony, I walked over to this man and said, “Jeff? It’s great to see you.” Turns out it he wasn’t MY Jeff. Oops. I stammered some apology and backed away.

    13. machinedreams*

      Not exactly embarrassment, but facepalm-worthy “oh my God why DIDN’T I say hi?”

      I was at a sci-fi convention and saw a guy who looked like my ex-boyfriend, but since I wasn’t at all sure I didn’t want to be like “Yo hey… oh, sorry, I’ll just go over here now.” So I get home, post about the con on Facebook and mention how I’d seen a guy that looked like him and was like “I wanted to say hi but I wasn’t sure.”

      IT WAS HIM.

      Then the year after, my friend and I did the midnight release of the final Harry Potter movie. Guy in my theater was dressed in Gryffindor Quidditch robes, the girl with him was wearing Slytherin. Yep, looked like my ex. Yep, once again was like “I want to say hi but noooo.” Yep, once again get home and post about it on FB.

      ONCE AGAIN, IT WAS HIM.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        This is so funny to me, because an old friend/”could have been a boyfriend if things had been just a bit different” works for a large sci-fi convention. Which I did not know until I was sitting against a wall at said convention, reading my phone, having changed out of my costume into leggings and a T-shirt from a large, recent 10K (making me as generically dressed as I could have possibly been). Suddenly Friend walks up and speaks to me. After the initial hugs and good-to-see-yous, my first question was how in the world he had spotted me! He had seen my husband walking toward me, and my husband is fairly distinctive looking. Good lord.

    14. Lore*

      My best story in this vein–I used to run box office for my small theater company, and the theater was on the second floor, which meant you’d see patrons approaching up a staircase. I saw someone coming who I thought was a co-worker, and waved enthusiastically and gave him a big friendly “Hi” then realized as he got to my desk that it was not that person. I mumbled sheepishly, “Sorry, you look just like someone I work with” and he said, “Oh, you must work with my brother, then.” And of course when he gave me his name, it was indeed my coworker’s brother, who turned out to have gone to college with one of my cast members. New York City: world’s biggest small town.

    15. Filosofickle*

      After a coworker’s car died I started giving her rides to work. She lived above a shop and every day I’d roll up to the curb in my red Honda — it was a city neighborhood so I couldn’t always park exactly in front, but close. Within a couple of minutes she’d hop in the passenger side and away we went. One day I was waiting for her, and couldn’t figure out what she was doing then it clicked that I was parked behind another red Honda and she was opening their door to get in instead! They were both very startled.

    16. marvin the paranoid android*

      This is my entire life. I have the hardest time recognizing faces and always second-guess myself, so I’ve developed my patented technique of looking at someone in a way that could mean “Hello, friend who I have known for 10 years, I am able to recognize you for obvious reasons” or could also mean “Hello, stranger, isn’t this a pleasant afternoon to behave in a socially appropriate way.” Sometimes it doesn’t work out but most of the time I get away with it.

      What I haven’t figured out how to deal with is always reflexively answering when someone says “Hi” to a person on the phone or waves to someone standing behind me.

    17. Generic Name*

      I was at a conference with my boss. We were supposed to meet up with a colleague we’ve never met in person. He described himself as very distinctive-looking so it should be easy to spot him. He said he is “a tall, lanky, funny-looking guy with red hair and glasses”. Those were his exact words. Reader, my boss and I approached no fewer than 5 men matching that description at the conference. Luckily, we found it hilarious, but it was kind of embarrassing to approach a stranger and then him telling us we’ve got the wrong person.

    18. Princesa*

      One time someone thought I was my sister. She was so confident while waving at me, so I waved back and went along with it. Not exactly embarrassing, but a little awkward! I told my sister about it later and we laughed together.
      Oh, and a stranger on a bus once thought I was her sister… she even showed me a picture of her sister after the mistake, but I didn’t think I looked that much like her… it was dark, so I gave her a pass! Definitely awkward though.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      This happened years ago in music school. I was in a dark nightclub with some people and gave an effusive greeting to a man I thought was one of my friends. When I got close to him and could see him better, I realized he was not my friend—he was a guy I knew only barely. Both men had dark hair and a similar build. From a distance in the low lighting, you could not tell.

      It went like this:

      Me (thinking it’s Guy 1): OMG! HIIIIIIIII! How ARE you?!?! It’s SO GOOD to SEE you!!! *actually gives him a hug*
      Guy 2 (slightly confused): Oh hi, what’s up?
      Me (to myself): Oh f*ck. (to him) Oh, you know. Schoolwork, theater, blah blah blah. What’re you up to? *chats* Oh, whoops, gotta go to the little girl’s room now, see you later! *hasty exit*

      I was so embarrassed but luckily, I hadn’t greeted him by name!

      1. I take tea*

        Oh my, the hug. I once met an acquaintance at a thing and as I had been feeling down and alone I hugged him out of relief of seing a familiar face. We have never been that close. I felt quite embarrassed when I realised what I had done.

    20. I take tea*

      I just remembered another. As a student I once went to a theatre play some friends had in a cellar (literally). It was really, really small, maybe space for fifteen at the most. Almost everyone in the public was an acquaintance. I nodded and greeted everyone that looked slightly familiar, as I don’t really recognise people that well. After quite a while it dawned in me that one of those people was a minor celebrity, that I certainly didn’t know…

      Funny thing was, I mentioned it to the group afterwards and one said: “at least you didn’t just laugh and said ‘yeah, yeah, sure, who is this really?’ when he called to book tickets…” She thought someone was just joking. Apparently this guy was a big fan of Beckett and went to every play he could find.

    21. Cordelia*

      my sister once crept up behind me in a second-hand bookshop, rested her chin on my shoulder, and said in a weird voice “I’ve read aaalllll the books”. I watched her do this from where I was actually standing. The poor lady she had actually accosted accepted her apologies politely but fled very quickly. This was years ago, we still do this to each other every time we are in a bookshop together.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Well at least she gave the lady a great story to tell! :’D

        This reminds me of the time I called my sister and as soon as someone picked up the phone, I did my best Anthony Hopkins Hannibal Lecter impression and said, “Is this Clarice? Well, hello, Clarice.”

        It was not, in fact, my sister. I had misdialed.

    22. PollyQ*

      I had a colleague I called by the wrong name “R” for 6 months, when her actual name was “L”. IDK why, maybe she reminded me of another “R” I had known? It wasn’t until another colleague corrected me that I realized my mistake. The kicker? When I apologized, she said she’d never noticed!

    23. Squirrel Nutkin*

      This has happened to me so often! I have prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing faces). I have totally had whole conversations with people where I thought I was talking with one person but was really talking to another person (which explains why those conversations were so confusing). The absolute worst was when I accidentally kissed someone on the cheek thinking they were a friend when they were NOT my friend but just someone I’d met like once before. Awkward.

    24. Not a Flatterer*

      I know someone who saw his wife from behind and grabbed her posterior. It was not his wife. It was her sister. We laugh about this still occasionally.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I put my arm around my best friend’s husband’s waist for a second, as my husband watched me realize it wasn’t him, lol.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Yup. I once went up and put my arms around my husband from behind as he was washing dishes at his parents’ sink… but it was my brother-in-law.

  19. Virginia Plain*

    Small joys! (another commenter usually does this but I’m beating them to it today :-)

    It is an absolutely beautiful spring day here in the south east of England. About 19 celsius, clear blue sky, birds tweeting and spring flowers in the hedgerows and on the verges. I’m just walking to the library etc and I saw a wedding car go past, a beautiful vintage model in cream and black with a wedding ribbon, and a bride in the back with her dad (well I suppose it could be her bridegroom but it would be a significant age gap, moreover it’s not midday yet and that would be very early to be all done). I’m so pleased they’ve got such a lovely day for it; this time of year in England could easily have shown dull grey skies, a chill wind and some persistent drizzle.
    Brings joy to my romantic soul!

    1. HHD*

      I’m joining you in the small joy of a beautiful day in southern England. I’ve just watched a squirrel superman their way down my bird feeder only to be repeatedly foiled by birds flying onto the perch they’re aiming for.

      My small joy of the week is having made the decision to outsource packing as well as moving, including dismantling and reassembling all the furniture. It’s such a weight off my mind, and means that I can enjoy this long weekend.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s definitely a rare sunny day for this time of year in the UK. Yesterday, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said “The Great British Summer – my favourite day of the year”, which just about sums it up.

    3. Swisa*

      I took a walk with my husband and kid yesterday in our neighborhood. Usually my husband doesn’t join us, but he initiated this one. We got to talk with the neighbors and it was a wonderful walk as a family, the favorite part of my day (though the preschooler was being a preschooler and was tough to motivate at times).

    4. GoryDetails*

      (Looks like we have two small-joys threads now!)

      I received a surprise gift of half-a-dozen freshly-laid and multicolor eggs – a friend of mine has a neighbor who has chickens, and saved some for me. I’m pretty sure the chickens are Araucanas, as the eggs range from a rich brown to various shades of blue, teal, and green – really lovely!

    5. Generic Name*

      This is probably bigger than small, it my son is home from the hospital after a major surgical procedure. I stayed with him at the children’s hospital, and it was a very sobering experience. The facility and staff was wonderful and supportive, but I saw children who will have much more profound challenges in their life than my son will. I saw a boy who recently had a foot amputated. I saw children who were in wheelchairs, who are nonverbal. I’m sure there were children there who have cancer and children who will not get better.

      While my son’s surgery was more difficult than it needed to be (I’m dealing with his dad, who is abusive to me), I’m profoundly grateful that he will make a full recovery and go on to live a life with few limitations (a “normal” life, as it were).

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Have had a very similar experience with my son having surgery and fully recovering, and had many of the same thoughts at the hospital. Glad your son is home and may his dad please stop bugging you ASAP.

    6. TheDisenchantedForest*

      The weather sounds lovely. I’m going to live vicariously through you today, as it’s sunny but a bit cold today in Seattle, WA. Enjoy the wonderful warm weather!

  20. Thread starter*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I saw a crow slowly walking through the grass seemingly deep in thought. The air smelled absolutely lovely after some rain earlier this week.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Doctor is In*

      Jogged 5K yesterday for the first time in a while, beautiful spring day after days of cold, wind and rain. Felt happier than I had in a while.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m learning to ride a bike lately and did my first mountain bike trail this week! It was scary and fun and hard

    3. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      My wife raises chickens for eggs and special occasions (not so special for the chicken). We bought 6 new Rhode Island Reds at a chicken and egg auction a couple weeks ago (the eggs came first). They have been really skitterish but are settling in.

      Yesterday morning I let them out of their pen so they can run around on the lawn and eat grass and brought some rice crispy’s out to see if they would eat out of my hand, and they did. Their beaks are a little sharp so it is a bit painful, but kind of fun.

      I repeated the process later in the afternoon but with no cereal. Surprisingly the girls bumrushed me thinking they were going to get treats but I shooed them off. While looking at my phone and not paying attention the biggest of the bunch came over and gave my finger a sizable chomp (ouch!!) My wife was playing in her veggie garden witnessed this and is still laughing.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I had a bad case of vertigo last Friday. I couldn’t walk without grabbing for handholds or I’d fall. If I opened my eyes, I’d get nauseous and puke, so I spent the day in bed with my eyes closed and head still.

      My little joy is getting my balance back and living life 3 days later.

      Vertigo makes you appreciate walking.

    5. RagingADHD*

      A secondhand or household joy for me. Last week I gave an update on the feral mama cat & kittens that we are fostering. My philosophy has been “socialize the kittens, be minimally distuptive to mama and try not to overstimulate her, give her space to reduce stress.”

      Well, my husband has been courting that cat with treats and sweet talk every moment he’s home. And now she will eat treats out of his hand, and lets him stroke her back while she’s eating from the food dish. He is over the moon.

      She goes to the vet on Monday to get fixed, and we are adjusting the return/release plan.

      Based on our prior experience with this clinic, she’s likely to be somewhat sedated when we bring her home. If she’s still groggy and not freaked out, we’ll return her to the indoor crate for a meal and then let her walk out the door when she’s ready.

      If she’s fully awake and freaked out, we’ll still release her outside with a meal nearby. In that case, we’ll just have to hope she remembers more of the good than the bad.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      While eating breakfast I read my friend’s social media comment that complimented my husband’s fine character and singing voice and expressed her sadness at his recent, pre-Passover death (after a long illness). Such a heart-warming start to the day, especially during this first holiday without him.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thank you, Blue wall, Elle Woods, and small town. Grief isn’t a picnic, but DH’s memory is a blessing.

      2. allathian*

        I’m so sorry for your loss, and I hope you’ll find more solace in friendship. What a lovely gesture by your friend.

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      I got a nice little windfall of my first paycheck at my new job, last paycheck heck and vacation from my old job yesterday so I got to pay off one credit card.

      I also have coupons for my favorite clothing store and since I have a little extra cash, I can buy myself a few of the super pretty summer dresses I have on my wishlist there. They’re of the “buy it to have in case and I like it” kind than anything I need. It makes me happy I can do that.

    8. Elle Woods*

      I cleaned out a tub of high school memorabilia from my parents’ house. I had no idea they even had the stuff. Trophies, graduation cards, plaques, yearbooks, certificates, choir & band concert programs, random pics. Looked at it all, took pics of a couple of things and recycled or trashed the rest.

    9. the cat's ass*

      I got through a wild week at the Place Which Must Not Be named On The Weekend

      My dear friend gave me multicolored eggs from her chickens, so it’s asparagus and shrimp quiche for lunch!

      Headed to the first live Cherry Blossom Fest in 2 years tomorrow!

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            Thanks! I can’t believe it never occurred to me that there might be more than one in the U.S.!

        1. Clisby*

          My parents are both from Macon, so I’ve been to that one a couple of times! It’s been awhile.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      There were violets in the front yard and I harvested some to put on my salad. I miss the giant crop of them in the backyard of my old house. I hope the new owner is enjoying them. :D

    11. small town*

      spring is glorious and every window in the house is open! I got my olive relish from Central Grocery in New Orleans shipped here and can’t wait to use it.

  21. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My new Great Dane puppy is coming home a week from today! I have a crate, collar/leash/harness, potty training bell, food, food bowl, some large-breed puppy-safe chewing toys, and a stuffed heartbeat puppy for adjusting to sleeping without her littermates. Her first vet visit is already scheduled for a couple days after her homecoming, and she will already be microchipped when she arrives home. (And I know, big dog big poo — that seems to be the thing that everyone focuses on, which is weird. :P “I’m getting a Great Dane puppy!” “Oh, wow, the poo is going to be huge!”)

    This is not my first go-round with puppy raising, but the first one (who is 7 now) was dirt easy – like, she chewed on something that wasn’t her toys exactly once, EVER – and the dog I already had when I brought HER home (who was also 7 at the time, apparently this is a trend) was about the chillest most laid back dog ever and she loved puppies so the two of them were snuggling and best friends within like six hours. That one has since crossed the rainbow bridge, and this one is not as chill and does not have any past experience with puppies. So – I’ve done a lot of research about introducing a new puppy to an older dog, but I am definitely open to tips and success stories!

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Oh boy have fun! Is this your first Dane puppy? My friend is a Dane person and had always gotten older rescues and got her first Dane puppy almost a year ago and he is an absolute hellion. He’ll be a wonderful dog when he’s out of adolescence but my god he has been a challenging puppy and that seems to be true of most Dane puppies from what she’s heard. Don’t be alarmed if she’s a bit of an a hole! For introing to your existing dog I’d just be sure to make sure the puppy doesn’t get to continuously annoy her. If old dog snaps and puppy doesn’t listen, best to separate them since it’s not fair for old dog to get beat up by a puppy who doesn’t listen

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        First Dane at all, yep! My first dog, the Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond, was a bloodhound/lab mix I adopted as a young adult, and the Junior Ambassador (who I guess will be getting a promotion) is a boxer mix :) I’ve been eyeballing giant breeds for a long time and finally taken the plunge! Puppy will be crate-training, while the Ambassador will continue to have full run of the house, and we have some baby gates we can use to divide some spaces too as necessary. I also have a professional trainer with large breed experience coming to the house for a consult (general puppy manners for the newcomer, plus hopefully remedying some weak spots in the Ambassador’s repertoire and frankly training ME how to work with both of them the most effectively) the weekend after puppy comes home. :)

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          You’re doing it all right! I’m a fellow giant breed owner (Scottish deerhound) :) they’re special and I’ll never not have one again! Post updates about her please!

    2. WellRed*

      I think they are awesome dogs. I was sitting behind a truck at a long light admiring the Dane sticking it’s head out the window. At first I thought he was moving from one side of truck to other than realized they were twins. Have you read Life with George?

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The poo isn’t going to be huge until after she grows up a bit though?

      Advice: I’m sure you know the rule “Don’t let the puppy (or kitten) do anything you don’t want the dog (cat) doing”, but be extra sure to follow it with a big dog. Make sure she has beautiful walking manners, don’t let her nibble your fingers, and don’t let her get away with any aggression whatsoever. My mother literally pulled the food from our puppy’s mouth so that he knew that food aggression was not an option. And generally remember that you can control a misbehaving pug, but a Great Dane is going to have to control herself.

      Both of our dogs have been mildly annoyed but tolerant of the puppies we inflicted on them, but enjoyed them once they grew up. Actually, I think the dogs were at least as successful at training the puppies as we were, including the one that was 90 lbs lighter than the puppy’s full weight. We learned to growl at the puppy when it was being too mouthy from them.

      We had a very easy time with potty training and only a bit of chewing from our big boy, though that did include eating a chunk off the coffee table. He also cracked a window one time slamming into it.

      Be sure to post pics.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yesssss. I’m a huge proponent of “begin as you mean to go on” in general. There are a few things (including leash manners) that I was a little lax on with my current dog, and that is something I’m being super strict on myself with this time, because what’s annoying on 50 pounds is potentially dangerous on 130+. There is a 2 year old GD in my neighborhood who’s people have not taught him any leash manners, and the one time I’ve seen him out on leash as opposed to in his fenced yard, he literally dragged his person a block and a half down the road and out into the street because that’s where he wanted to be, and she did not have a PRAYER of stopping him. (Thank god she at least managed to stay on her feet rather than falling on her face, and that we live in a quiet subdivision with minimal traffic.) That was definitely a strong reinforcement of my intentions for training.

  22. Bobina*

    Gardening thread: how are the green things doing?

    I am being extremely lazy about watering but I really need to get out and do it as my outdoor plants are looking kind of droopy. Have a few bits I think I want to plant as well, so looks like some outdoor time is in order. I also thought the hosta was escaping the slugs, but I had a look yesterday and a couple of leaves had been chewed, so its beer trap time tonight (the most effective things I’ve found so far). And it appears my snake plant is flowering!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Snake plants flower??? ha. I never saw one do that. Must google. I was never great with inside plants as the outside plants got most of my attention.

      1. Bobina*

        They do! I was also surprised given that I kind of ignore mine but apparently that’s what they like!

      2. WellRed*

        They can flower. Mine has once and I didn’t realize it at first but the flower had a really pungent scent which is how I finally noticed.

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Snake plants flower???!! Wow, that’s amazing. I’m already googling — in the cartoon sense of having my eyeballs bounce out of, then back into, their sockets. Three decades of indoor snake plants and nary a blossom. Maybe I need to step up my act (re-pot, give plant food, water more frequently).

        1. WellRed*

          The big difference for me was putting it where it gets a lot of light. But it has only flowered that one time and it was one small flower. Still very cool.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I just added ranunculus to my very sunny patio! It’s a rental without a hose so I will inevitably end up lugging water out there by the gallon to keep them alive but for now, I’m delighted.

      1. Bobina*

        Oooh exciting! I tried ranunculus last year and it didn’t go super great but I am undeterred and literally just put out a flower box full of their bulbs yesterday so hoping 2nd time lucky!

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          I have a very spotty history with plants but remain stubbornly optimistic to a fault. I hope your flower box is an explosion of color!

    3. DataGirl*

      still way too cold where I am for garden work. I usually buy all my plants on Mothers Day, which is still early but if I wait much longer there won’t be anything at the stores.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Daffodils and crocus popping up – mostly from unexpected places amid my long-neglected yard!

      Have also begun taking my potted bay shrub outdoors during the warmer days. (I think we’re past frost danger in my area, though there are some mid-30s nights in the immediate forecast, so I’ll bring it in for those to avoid having the tender new leaves nipped.)

      1. Bobina*

        Hah, I think I’m going to have some surprise bulbs next spring as well – I’ve already forgotten what I planted where (even if mine are just potted!)

    5. BlueWolf*

      We’ve had a string of warm days and nights so I’ve had my veggie, herb, and flower seedlings outside hardening off. It’s supposed to cool off for the next few days though so I’ll need to bring them back in. I’m hoping I can at least plant out my giant tomato seedlings soon. I started them way too early and they are about two feet tall at this point.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh good luck with the tomatos. I’ve given up on trying to grow them but I’m always really envious when I hear people talk about their harvest in the summer! There is nothing like good tomatoes!

        1. BlueWolf*

          Thanks! I had about a million cherry tomatoes last year even before the stink bugs started to take over. The slicing type I tried last year didn’t do that great, so I’m adding Cherokee Purple this year and hoping they will do better.

    6. just another bureaucrat*

      I am an indoor gardener and my strawberries are turning into fruit! I got to eat my first one this week, they are like a quarter of the size of my pinky tip but they are lovely and exciting and I’m thrilled to see them. I’m going to pick my first pepper tonight too. My lavender is being weird and I’m not quite sure what to do about it. But I think I’m almost committed to giving up on growing the cilantro in the aerogarden and sticking it in my “weed” pot. (I had a little starter rosemary plant I bought just to see how long I could keep it going inside, not long. But once it died I got a couple of other shoots out of the container so I kept watering it to see what would grow and now I have a little wild geranium growing in there because it was a weed. So I kind of love my little weed most of all. But I got a suggestion to just toss the cilantro in there and let it go.)

      I ordered some more plants as I have loved the strawberries but I’ll move onto something else after these are done. More thyme and a few other things I’ve forgotten already.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh fruit! I have an alpine strawberry plant a neighbour gave me a while ago that I thought had died but looks like its coming back to life. The fruits are also tiny but amazingly fragrant I have to say. Mine lives outside though, so most of it gets eaten by birds/slugs – but when I can nab one I do.

    7. Missb*

      I just spent the morning emptying out one of my large compost bins. It wasn’t full as I’ve been pulling the finished compost out little by little. But I needed to refill the bin with new material because I had two bokashi bins that were fully fermented and kitchen scraps kinda piling up in their smaller containers.

      So, I lugged a bunch of dried leaves, weeds, straw from the chickens, random clippings from my spring clean up and threw them all in layers and filled the whole bin. It’s one of those earth machine/darth Vader looking bins.

      We’ve had snow and hail on and off for the past week. It was a beautiful morning to be outside. Now we’re heading towards a thunderstorm or at least heavy rain, so I’m glad to be done. I peeked at all my winter sown containers and things managed to survive. It’s still jarring to see sunflowers, cucumbers, squash etc up and growing. They’re somewhat protected from the elements but they’re still getting hit with cold and rain/snow.

      1. Bobina*

        It feels like such a random thing to be envious of but your compost setup sounds amazing! Yet another random thing for me to aspire to :D

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Mine did when I lived in a tropical climate. I had no idea! The flowers were very fragrant.

  23. Patio Furniture*

    Hi all – looking for recs for comfy patio furniture (good prices too). Already looked a ton on wayfair, but looking for something a little more cozy!

    I had these lovely chairs at an Airbnb in italy and can’t seem to find anything similar in the states. If you google “ Emu – Bahama Deckchair, Scarlet / Red” they will come up.

    Has anyone seen a brand that sells something like that?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Those do look super comfy! They remind me a bit of zero gravity chairs- have you sat in both to see if they offer the same feel?

    2. Generic Name*

      I’ve had bad luck with furniture from wayfair, so beware. The proces are reflective of general poor quality. (I’ve been happy with the light fixtures I’ve gotten there, however).

    3. Juneybug*

      I have a patio set from Walmart and love it! However it definitely not what you were looking for but the Better Homes and Gardens collection are great patio furniture for a low price if you change your style. Another good thing, beside the quality, is you can return the furniture if you don’t like it. :)
      My set – Better Homes & Gardens Carter Hills 3 Piece Outdoor Metal Chat Set with Beige Cushions.

  24. How do you say …*

    Get a job before I kick you out? I’m not being funny or snarky. My partner has been out of work for 2 years (due to COVID). I know various things have negatively impacted partner’s confidence; I’ve tried to be supportive and encouraging and positive.

    Well, that seems to have worked too well. Partner just don’t seem to realize a job is now highest priority- we have a serious convo, interviews are attended, then in a few days partner settles back into “meh.” I can’t keep having forceful conversations about this every 5 days to keep partner job hunting for real.

    I have no desire to send partner packing, but at this point, I can’t stand any more of this . . . I need a healthy environment, I need my partner to be moving toward financial solvency …

    So how do I say “If you can’t find a job, we’ll have to separate until you do. Being partnered with someone who is this unmotivated is not an option for me. When you are solvent and handling life like an adult, we can resume our relationship.”?

    Or do those words work?

    1. Asenath*

      I haven’t been in that exact situation, but I’d be tempted to say “We can’t afford to keep this household up with no income from you. We’re going to have to split (followed by whatever makes financial sense; giving up the place, or you keeping it and looking for someone to share the rent.” It sounds like he’s not taking the serious convos seriously, so time for a next step.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        This is where I would land too. “I can’t keep us both afloat much longer. Either you find a job by x date or we have to find separate living situations that we can each personally afford.” Then follow through, and stick to it no matter what charming words and excuses they throw your way.

        I’m sorry, it sounds like a tough situation with your partner becoming increasingly comfortable with you carrying the financial load. But when someone starts relaxing into being completely reliant on you (financially/ emotionally/whatever) in ways that absolve themselves of personal responsibility, that’s not usually a sign of a healthy relationship.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Right. I don’t know if you own or rent but my *friend* was the leech one time (she was trying to pursue a creative dream that wasn’t paying off) and her husband made her see reason by saying, “We will have to sell the house by X date if you’re not bringing in Y a month by then; how do you feel about moving back in with my parents?” Wowza, that really worked. She still pursues her dream but also got a paying job.

    2. Wildcat*

      If your partner didn’t have you to use as a crutch, they would have found some kind of job already. So you probably feel like they’re taking advantage, which can be very frustrating.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        This is my question – when you describe him as settling into a stage of “meh,” do you mean he’s turning down valid job offers? To me, that would be unacceptable.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If that would resolve the issues with the relationship, then yes, I think those words work fine. You would also be totally reasonable to give a specific deadline for either a resolution or at least specific steps, if that would work for you.

      And if it’s too late to resolve, that’s okay too. I divorced this person twice. (I know :P I was 18 with the first one and knew it was a mistake before we got married but didn’t know how to get out of it. The second one managed to pretend to be a responsible adult until we got married, then he gave up all pretense along with his job and ultimately had a job for about 4 months total of the 3.5 years we were married.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I, too, foresee a possible future in which 6 months from now HDYS’s ex arrives to tell her he is now financially solvent and so they can go back to how things were and he’s moving back in and that… really not being appealing.

        Be open to the possibility that as this has worn on, the lack of job looks like the only thing because it’s the big and obviously fixable thing. Two years ago it probably was the only thing–but maybe not now.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      I think it depends on your relationship but those sound like something I’d say to my partner if he was doing that. Some people would probably soften the language but I don’t know that you’d need to.

      Sorry you’re being forced to make that kind of decision :/.

    5. Swisa*

      I personally wouldn’t say the “or we’ll have to separate until you do.”
      I would just say that it’s been a long time, you know it’s been hard, but you can’t stay in a relationship if they continue not seriously pursuing employment. I’d say something to the effect of that if they need to pursue counseling or medication or something, to get past their lack of motivation, they should do that, but if you don’t see a change soon, then it’s going to be time to break up.

      1. Swisa*

        And I would also address that you can’t keep having the tough “pursue employment” conversation with them every week. So this needs to be something that they initiate on their own from now on, though you’re happy to serve as a resource if they bring it up, but you’re not going to keep driving the train.

        1. Swisa*

          And I’d even say, if they keep having trouble finding something long term, they could find a retail or waiting tables job in the interim (if you’d be ok with that). But you won’t keep carrying the household yourself.

          And if you’re not ok with that then obvi don’t bring up that option.

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I think those words will work.

      Shortly after I married my wife, she became Ill and never recovered. Been married for 34 years now and, even though it’s been tough on one income, I loved her too much to kick her out.

      Hopefully you’ll stay single and just partner up so you can kick them out when they lack ambition in the future.

      1. tiredlibrarian*

        That seems a bit harsh – based on what the commenter said, it sounds like he’s not working not because he can’t, but because he hasn’t been willing to put in the work to do a sustained job search and is comfortable with the commenter supporting them both. That’s a bit of a different situation than a partner who gets ill and can’t work.

      2. Wombats and Tequila*

        I missed the part where OP willingly accepted the burden of fully supporting an able bodied adult.

        I have a friend with severe MS. He still contributes to the household by cleaning and cooking when he’s up to it, contributing his disability $$, and taking cash gigs when he can so he doesn’t lose his disability (one drugs alone costs $6,000).

        OP is simply enabling an able bodied adult at this point, to the detriment of her own financial future, and his personal growth.

      3. Swisa*

        I don’t think they’re married, and also there’s a big difference with someone who medically cannot work and some who prefers to stay home and watch Netflix because work isn’t fun.

      4. Two Cents*

        The key difference is that your wife fell ill – the commenter’s partner isn’t ill, they’re just unwilling or unmotivated to find work. If you love someone, you are kind to them. Enabling isn’t being kind to your partner. It will only get harder and harder for the partner to find work the longer they stay unemployed. It’s less like your ill wife and more like the adult child who perpetually lives at home for free. Even though it’s done out of love, eventually financing an unsustainable lifestyle hinders them more than it helps.

    7. WellRed*

      After two years, he’s not working because he doesn’t want to and there have been no repercussions so he doesn’t have to. Otherwise, he could at least pick up something part time like retail. Stop having conversations every five days and have the come to Jesus conversation.

    8. Loves libraries*

      Sounds super frustrating. Maybe make a clear line between a negative outcome for you as a couple and the way things are at present. Perhaps this is financial? In my case when I had a somewhat similar situation (finances weren’t a problem and we didn’t live together) I explained that having a role in the world (job or even unpaid vocation) was a key value to me and his decision to forgo that for an extended period caused me to lose respect for him. Which is a pretty core part of a relationship

      1. WellRed*

        I’m stealing this “role in the world.” When looking for a roommate recently I knew I wanted someone who leaves the house and engages with others once in awhile but this is very succinct and I could put it in my next ad.

    9. RagingADHD*

      When we went through a bad time with unemployment in the 2008 crash, I told my husband he needed to get into therapy or we needed couples counseling, because our status quo was intolerable, and I couldn’t make it better by myself if he wasn’t going to try.

      We did 2 sessions together and he did 1 on his own, and we were able to make some productive decisions and move forward.

      Our situation was different than yours, because we were married with kids and he had been the main breadwinner. He was stuck in a loop where he wanted to recreate that, but wouldn’t / couldn’t engage with the job hunt enough to find anything. Our resolution was for me to get the main job and have him be the SAHP for a while. Sounds very simple and logical, but there was a lot of unspoken baggage that needed to be unpacked and released first.

      But the overall idea that “we can’t go on like this, something has to change, I can’t fix it unless you are equally engaged” is the place I recommend starting the conversation.

      Don’t walk in with a pre-planned solution. Start by naming the problem – the partnership is unequal. The ultimatum (if any) should be attached to his participating in finding the solution, not in a specific outcome.

      Otherwise you wind up making artificial deadlines based on things he can’t control (like a start date for a job), which will mean you continually move the deadline back. Totally self-defeating. Or else you wind up micromanaging him in ways that further infantilize him and frustrate you.

      Best of luck – I hope it all works out for the best!

    10. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Difficult to say without knowing exactly what it is that has taken a toll on your partner’s confidence, but you are the best judge of your situation. At any rate, you definitely do need something far stronger than a weekly conversation that your partner doesn’t continue to follow up on, and it does sound like being blunt may do the trick.
      Whatever you end up doing though, be prepared to follow up on splitting up if you do go that route.

    11. Lore*

      My partner was frequently unemployed (and underemployed when employed) for five-ish years (long story involving caregiving for elderly parents, and then of course pandemic), and I can say this: there was nothing I could do to guarantee that they would get a job, and sometimes their approach to job hunting was not what I would have done in the circumstances. But they did everything humanly possible to avoid this becoming a burden on me and our relationship, whether that was taking on more around the house, finding small ways to keep a little bit of cash flow for spending money–small temp jobs; selling collectibles; whatever–cutting down expenses; making sure I had what I needed to continue to succeed at my own job. In my case, there were reasons why a lot of “survival” jobs weren’t good options for my partner–disability issues that mean both call center work and any retail/food service that involves being on one’s feet all day would be extremely challenging–but they were finding even applications for entry level admin type jobs were getting poor response, even in this “hot economy”. (They did get a job earlier this year, hurray!) If your partner isn’t in that mindset of helping, then I think you can focus on what the impacts are on you and your relationship, and how to get partner into that mindset, whether that’s partner helping to make a sustainable financial plan for you both, partner taking on all domestic responsibilities to free up your time and space. But if you condition the continuance of your relationship on something that’s not entirely in your partner’s control, especially if they’re already feeling adrift and lacking in confidence, then I’m not sure how well that will work as an ultimatum, if your real goal is to motivate them to keep the relationship alive rather than to kick off a separation.

    12. Wombats and Tequila*

      Your resentment is perfectly justified and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

      Maybe this guy has some invisible challenge such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, or low self esteem. Nonetheless, this is the best job market for workers that I have seen in my 6 decades. Yes, the earnings to COL ratio is poor, but it is easy to basically earn *something*. Food service jobs are always hiring. You can drive for Uber or Lyft or apply to work at an Amazon warehouse if there’s one in your area. None of these jobs takes much initiative to apply for. Show up, fill out the forms, pay attention, do what they ask. No, these are not the most fun jobs in the world, but they are jobs.

      It is doing no one any good for you to continue indulging him. The kindest thing you can do right now is do what Alison always advises managers to do with employees with performance problems: tell him sooner rather than later, and tell it to them straight.

      You can go ahead and start looking into the logistics of moving out. How much longer is your lease? If you are in the U.S. and you never re-signed the lease, it’s probably month to month, so you can leave any time after giving 30 – 60 days notice. If you adore your place and he is not on the lease, you can ask him to leave with a 30 to 60 days notice, and if he refuses, you can begin an eviction process. If he is on the lease, you can’t evict him, so your only escape is to move out yourself. So look over your lease, learn the housing rules of your state and local jurisdiction, and make a plan for separating based on that. Also, take a look at where you could possible move so you get an idea of how much to save up. See if any friends know of a house share that might be opening up.

      Bear in mind that making a plan is not the same as actually separating. But this way, when you have your conversation, you are not basing your fate on whether or not he does what you want. You will be ready to take your own fate into your hands.

      You say that you are not ready to end the relationship, but really that means you wish he would do this thing that would make you happy. You are still clinging to hope. However, he may not be willing to change his ways without being left on his own. If that were the case, if you knew for a fact that if you stay and 6 months from now, or 1 year from now, or 5 years from now, everything would be the same, promises or shirt lived jobs followed by long periods “looking” and “it’s hard, you just don’t understand,” would you still choose that future?

      If not, then you need to act as if that is your inevitable fate unless you take the initiative to be the “bad guy.”

      Consider that maybe having a woman he loves respect him and herself enough to demand that he pull his weight, and for her to be strong enough to follow through and walk if he doesn’t, may actually be the best thing for him at this moment. He may just be in a rut and need that shock, or he will never be the man he was meant to be. It sucks for you, but it may be how things have to shake out.

      So, write down what you want to say. Use your words above if you want, or you can say, “I am increasingly resentful that I have been carrying the entire financial burden of this relationship with no more than token gestures on your part to get a job and contribute, so much so that I am seriously contemplating leaving. I am not having this conversation again. You need to get a job and contribute, or I will end this relationship.”

      From what I have read above, this is true, is it not? So why drag it out? Tell it straight.

      Resist the urge to comfort and reassure him. He does not need comfort and reassurance. He is not a toddler. He is a grown man who is not acting like one. He will survive his girlfriend being displeased with him. Even if you love him, this is not a bond with the Universe signed in blood for all time to Never Displease Him Ever. He should be no less considerate of you, right? So why should you be hugely concerned about upsetting him when he is apparently unconcerned about upsetting you and in fact imperiling your financial future?

      You know what you should be doing with this money that is going to support him? Building up an emergency cushion for yourself in case you lose your job or get sick or disabled. Saving for a car, vacation, or house. Saving for your retirement. Yes, the money you waste on him today is robbing your future self tenfold. If he doesn’t care about that, does he really love you as much as you love him?

      So be bold, give the short speech, and leave the house so he can have his reaction.

      If he immediately goes into action and secures one of the humble, somewhat unpleasant, easily secured jobs mentioned above, and then pays his way cheerfully, without no complaints or guilt trips, until such time as he finds something better, then it might be ok to stay. Or, if you still found yourself resenting him and waiting for some kind or ramification, you can leave anyway.

      If, after the initial shock, he makes excuses, sighs and makes a big drama like you’re asking something horrible and cruel of him, guilt trips you, finds little things to nitpick which were never a problem before, completely drops his share of household chores because he’s too tired!!! (leaving you, also employed, to do everything), acts out sexually, or otherwise retaliates or expresses resentment in any fashion whatsoever, then walk, because he is showing that he never loved you; he was using you all along.

      If he is angry with you at all, then get your valuables and pets out of there and leave. A good man who was just in a rut would never, ever, ever show anger for being asked to do his share, not even for an instant.

      If you feel afraid at all, call the police without hesitation. There is no excuse for that garbage. It is an insult to all good men, even good men who have gotten themselves into a rut, to go into denial, normalize, or make excuses for that sort of thing.

    13. Ali G*

      I’m late to the party and you have received a lot of good advice. I just wanted to add, for words, I recently had to say to my husband something along the lines of “this was not the relationship I signed up for and if this continues there will be consequences for our marriage.”
      That seemed to do the trick. We’ve been in a stressfull time, and while I understood what was going on, he needed to know it couldn’t continue long term.
      Good luck to you!

    14. Former Retail Manager*

      Been in this boat, but I was married. I kicked him out, sent him to live with his parents in another state and told him that he needed to find a job with a company that would allow him to transfer back to this area and if our relationship (and family) was a priority that’s what he would do…..well, he didn’t. I divorced him. He did shortly thereafter realize that I was serious…..being served with divorce papers will do that I guess, and he did get it together about 6 months after the divorce was finalized. We reconciled and have been together over 20 years now with no further issues.

      We were young (early 20’s) when this all happened, so I think youthful immaturity may explain some of my situation, but if your partner is late 20’s or in their 30’s, frankly, I’d be more concerned.

      I always handled the bills & money management (still do) but back when this was an issue, I wrote out a very simply list of monthly income and expenses to show him that it just wasn’t working, gave him very explicit expectations with regard to how much I needed him to make and contribute (which were realistic and totally doable) and gave him a timeline. When he failed to meet it more than once, I finally made good and booted him. Doing so will either snap your partner out of whatever they’re in or potentially solidify for you that your financial goals & values don’t align.

  25. Teapot Translator*

    Last week, in the book thread, someone mentioned mystery books with non-white main characters. I thought I’d ask for recommendations here.
    The one’s I already know :
    Ben Aaronovitch’s River Series
    Barbara Neely’s Blanche series
    Ovidia Yu’s Auntie Lee

    1. Forensic13*

      Colin Cotterill’s books set in Laos with Dr. Siri Paiboun

      Walter Mosley’s detective books (they’re a bit hard-boiled for my taste, but good)

      I wasn’t personally a HUGE fan of the first book in a new series, Arsenic and Adobe, by Mia Manansala, but it was cute!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love the “Dr. Siri” books! Mystery, elements of magic/ghosts (not as helpful as one might imagine, though), marvelous relationships between the characters, snarky dialogue, a great sense of place…

    2. Wildcat*

      Assuming you’re including books in non western settings.

      Widows of Malabar Hill
      No. 1 Lady’s Detective Agency
      The Missing American

    3. sagewhiz*

      Not exactly full-on mysteries, but …

      Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle
      Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series, starting with Devil in a Blue Dress

    4. MaxKitty*

      Vish Puri series (India) by Tarquin Hall
      Tannie Maria series (South Africa) by Sally Andrew
      Perveen Mistry series (India) by Sujata Massey (The Widows of Malabar Hill mentioned above is the first of the series.)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I just read Yu’s The Frangipani Chen Su Lin, set in 1930s Singapore. Quite liked it and have requested the next in the series.

      The Perveen Mistry (Indian, I think Zoroastrian, early 20th c) and Rei Shimura (half Japanese, modern) series by Sujata Massey.

    6. Blomma*

      Thank you for asking this again! I love mysteries (I keep trying to read other genres but just don’t enjoy them as much) and want to read more of them with non-white characters and written by non-white authors.

    7. Wink and Tea*

      The Wyndham and Banerjee Mysteries by Abir Mukherjee is a pretty solid series, if a bit intense.

    8. Clisby*

      Barbara Hamby’s Ben January series.
      Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

    9. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I really enjoyed Barbara Neely’s books too! I’d add Valerie Wilson Wesley’s first Tamara Hayle book, *When Death Comes Stealing*, which I thought was AWESOME! The later ones she wrote are okay, but that one was really gripping.

    10. MEH Squared*

      The Tattoo Murder Case by Akinitsu Takagi. It’s written in 1948 and is set in Tokyo. It’s pretty grim, but also very compelling.

    11. Tofu Fan*

      Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein is about a female detective in Tokyo. It’s got present day and past storylines and fantasy elements and is part of a trilogy.

    12. So Much To Think About*

      I have several suggestions, and so appreciate all these new options to add to my to-be-read list!
      S.A. Crosby wrote “Blacktop Wasteland,” a *very* gritty semi-mystery, and “Razorblade Tears,” similar but maybe not quite as gripping. Cheryl Head’s “Bury Me When I’m Dead” is a classic noir mystery, but with a Black woman lead. Ditto for Nadine Matheson’s “The Jigsaw Man,” set in London and with that “British mystery” feel. I didn’t LOVE Bredan Slocum’s “The Violin Conspiracy” but it did keep me reading until the end.

      Great thread!

  26. Pocket Mouse*

    I have a loved one who is facing a cancer diagnosis. She and I live across the country from each other, and I’d like to support her in the ways that I can. As a way of gathering ideas: if you or a family member have faced a scary diagnosis and/or period of intense medical treatment, what actions did you appreciate from people who lived far away? What made you feel supported, and what did you wish people would avoid?

    1. Miel*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

      I would highly recommend the book “There’s no good card for this” by Emily McDowell and Kelsey Crowe. It answers pretty much every question you’re asking, from the perspective of people who’ve faced cancer and loss.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I had a very mild form of cancer and one of the things I really appreciated was my direct boss straight up asking me how I wanted her to support me. I think that would be equally true with somebody who lived far away.

      I also had a couple of colleagues give me small gifts, like a notebook or send a card which I really appreciated.

      In my case, what I wanted people to avoid was unnecessary fuss. I wanted things as normal as possible.

      It was a different situation as it really was just a matter of having an operation, so no intense medical treatment, but still kinda scary.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I was in the same boat. Honestly, just having friends send little care cards or boxes and knowing they cared was enough for me. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it for me but I still appreciated that folks knew I was dealing with A Big Thing/Surgery and it was nice to know they cared. Depending on what they like, big fuzzy socks, blanket, books or activity books, gift cards for coffee or treats – those were nice little items.

    3. MaxKitty*

      We sent one relative a couple of care boxes, based on on-line suggestions of helpful items for people undergoing cancer treatment. With another one facing intense treatment for just a couple of months, I sent a steady stream of cards, postcards, etc., some with silly jokes, some just saying hang in there, thinking of you, whatever.

      1. TheDisenchantedForest*

        +1 to care packages and regularly checking in. I did this when family and friends had cancer or prolonged illness; it doesn’t have to be anything big – just a card or stickers etc – basically anything that lets the person know that they’re not alone during a difficult time. Getting a random text or card or package can make a huge difference, especially on those down days.

    4. Asenath*

      I liked people who let me do things my way – who didn’t usually bring up my diagnosis, although one or two made a very practical offer of help, once, for me to accept or not, no strings or follow-ups. My employer made no fuss either; I was easily able to arrange leave for the surgery and those tests and treatments.

      And the thing, bar none, that I really appreciated, were the regular weekly phone calls from someone halfway across the country. They still continue, although I’m well past the crisis now, and with an excellent prognosis. Of course, each week there were the routine “How are you doing?” questions, but there was a lot of ordinary chitchat that just kept me feeling connected and not isolated.

      1. Juneybug*

        Same here. My sister just keep me in the loop of her life and to hear about “normal” things was so nice. It made me feel that normal would happen again.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I would suggest asking your friend directly if there’s anything you can do or how she wants this handled. There’s not really a single answer to something like this.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        (hit submit too soon) A very consistent thing I have noticed, however, is that people hate having assumptions made for how to handle this – unwanted or unneeded help, people awkwardly avoiding the elephant in the room when you really want someone who is not a doctor to talk frankly to or the exact opposite with people who keep bringing it up when you just want to have a normal film evening and not think about it for a few hours.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Cards. Pop up, or a particularly beautiful image, etc. I am not a card person normally, but I was so run down–a little spot of beauty in the day really helped.

      I was immensely grateful to the folk at my husband’s work who organized a meal train. And if my cancer returns, I will push for a cleaning service to come in. In both of these, there’s an element of not having to do the planning for the task to occur that can be an immense relief. In that vein, gift of a favorite snack, or healthy snack (sometimes people are changing up their diet, so try to be aware of that before you send a ton of banana bread), or gift card for a restaurant you know she likes closeby, or books or magazines. (When my mom had a stroke, eventually the thing I could send that was useful was local home/garden magazines not available 2000 miles away where she lived.) If you know what genres she likes, a list of things on streaming services she has that she might like to check out when laying on the couch. (I did a lot of classic Great British Bakeoff.)

      If you’re going to chat, ask what sort of chat she is up for. Maybe she wants to talk about the diagnosis. Maybe she would love you to describe the latest soccer snack drama while she listens with her eyes closed. Maybe she would like a normal back and forth that doesn’t focus on the illness.

    7. UKDancer*

      My cousin had cancer. I sent her the flowers she liked best at the halfway point of her chemotherapy. I sent her ginger tea because she mentioned it helped with nausea. I also sent her some bath salts from a range for people with cancer. Because of Covid I couldn’t be with her as we were under lockdown, so I sent her regular emails and tried to be there if she wanted to talk. It didn’t feel like very much but I wanted to do something to make her feel better and be there for her as I could.

    8. marvin the paranoid android*

      In my experience, these are pretty safe bets when someone you know is going through it:
      -Check in regularly but don’t get annoyed if they can’t always respond. Don’t forget to do this after the initial flurry of news is over, because the vast majority of people disappear at this stage.
      -Be open to listening and affirming their experiences. Hold back on offering solutions unless you’re being asked for them. Never say anything that dismisses their feelings. Do not force them to think positively.
      -To the extent that they are up for it, continue to maintain some degree of your normal social dynamic with the person. Don’t make them feel like they are now “just their diagnosis” to you.
      -If you have the opportunity, it may be helpful to corral other family members/mutual acquaintances as appropriate. That kind of social management is hard to deal with when you’re struggling, so it’s a nice thing to take care of for someone, if you have the chance to do this without overstepping.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        “-Be open to listening and affirming their experiences. Hold back on offering solutions unless you’re being asked for them. Never say anything that dismisses their feelings. Do not force them to think positively.”

        I especially agree with this. I think that in any stressful or upsetting situation, the most annoying thing is when people try to tell you how you feel or how you should feel, whether it’s “oh, you must be so upset/worried” or “just think positive. Don’t worry about it,” it’s dismissive.

        It’s usually best to take your cues from the person.

    9. WS*

      I wish people had stayed in contact with me but also understood I might not be up to regular activities and/or conversations on demand. Instead most people said “Oh, that’s terrible” and immediately dumped me.

    10. So Much To Think About*

      I have done this twice, and both women still talk about what it meant to them: I sent a card EVERY MONDAY for more than a year. Funny, serious, completely ridiculous (like a Happy Hanukkah card in February to a Catholic), maybe with a cut-out article, or a bookmark … but something every Monday for the entirety of each of their treatment and recovery. Once I wrote a five line limerick (of the safe-for-children variety) and sent one line/week for five weeks. Just … SOMETHING that made them smile!

    11. Pocket Mouse*

      Thank you all! I’ve requested the No Good Card For This book from my library and have a tentative plan for mailing stuff and approaches for other modes of contact.

  27. Invisible fish*

    Lookin’ for book recs for certain genre: the old “amazing historical discovery that somehow other people have not noticed for thousands of years” type. Think of She by H. Rider Haggard but without the racism, or James Rollins when he’s just telling a story instead of fixating on his Sigma Six characters (Amazonia, Subterranean, Excavation, etc.). I’m also a Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child fan- shocking, no?

    Obviously, I’ve read pretty much everything by those authors – suggestions?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Matthew Reilly’s Jack West series (begins with Seven Deadly Wonders, seven books total, series is complete with no more books coming out) might be along those lines? They’re very much modern Indiana Jones type feeling to me, with an underlying theme of found/chosen family that’s kind of endearing. (I’m not sure I’m interpreting your genre description quite right, but this is what it made me think of at least.)

    2. MMB*

      This might not be exactly what you’re looking for but Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt series is excellent.

    3. WellRed*

      Omg, I forgot about James Rollins because yeah, the Sigma Six stuff bored me. What about Michael Chrichton?

    4. GoryDetails*

      Jeff Long’s THE DESCENT deals with the discovery of a vast subterranean network of tunnels inhabited by… um, well, it’s probably more effective when discovered via the increasingly horrifying scenes in the book. Does shade more towards horror than golden-age-heroic-exploration, but it had its points.

      Then there’s a classic, Jules Verne’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH; the various screen adaptations tend to wander from the original, and while it has its wacky and sometimes badly-out-of-date aspects it’s worth a read.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Oh, and for a variation on the theme, SLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel, in which the ancient historical discovery turns out to be a giant mecha from the stars!

    6. TheDisenchantedForest*

      River of Doubt is about an expedition to the Amazon taken by former US President Teddy Roosevelt, where he discovered a previously unknown branch of the Amazon which is actually longer than the Amazon river itself. He spent years trying to prove his discovery. A great read.

    7. Pam*

      I love Nevil Shute’s work-“- try Pied Piper, about a man trying to get out of France during the second World War.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The Last Camel Died at Noon, by Elizabeth Peters. Part of the ongoing Amelia Peabody (Victorian archaeologist) mysteries, but you could pick this one up alone. It’s clearly written with those stories in mind–I think it explicitly references She. Dude disappears in the desert chasing tales of a lost oasis…. and a decade later sends a message.

    9. Buni*

      Stel Pavlou, ‘Decipher’ – team of soldiers & scientists discover that a supercomputer hidden under the ice of Antartica by the last race of humans to inhabit the earth is the only thing that can save the planet from a massive solar flare. Kind of a riff on that nuclear waste debate about how to convey information across 10,000+ years without a shared language etc. (also gave me slight Stargate: Atlantis vibes).

    10. Tofu Fan*

      If your library gives you access to NovelistPlus, try searching the theme “Ancient Enigmas” to see if any Clive Cussler, Matthew Reilly, etc. sound appealing.

  28. Dwight Schrute*

    Books from your childhood that you still like to revisit as adults? I still enjoy Nancy Drew!

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Ohhh that sounds like a fun series! I’m also reminded I’d like to revisit the magic treehouse books

    1. CTT*

      I return to a lot of Diana Wynne Jones books; I just finished a reread of The Merlin Conspiracy (an underrated one of hers!)

    2. Lore*

      Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series is well worth going back to periodically. Philip Pullman. Most of Madeleine L’Engle continues to delight me.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t revisit childrens books but I am sometimes tempted to reread the little house series.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did that last year after reading Prairie Fires, an actual non-fiction biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it was very nostalgic.

      2. Anonymous Cat*

        I sometimes think of doing that because I know so much more of what was going on. Occasionally I remember a scene from the books and I realize what was really happening. So I’m curious what else I missed!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          One day I was just randomly thinking about the books and had a sudden PA DID BLACKFACE realization.

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            OMG SAME
            When I was a kid I was just like “huh. that’s some kind of old-timey thing I guess. Paint our faces and do music? Before TV I guess that’s your most exciting Friday night??”

      3. DarthVelma*

        “Little House in the Big Woods” is still one of my go to books when I’m sick and can’t sleep. You can tell from my dog-eared copy that I tend to open it up to the part where they have the “sugaring off” party.

        (The other two sick but can’t sleep books are “Hunt for Red October” and “8.4”. I admit to having weird taste in literature, especially when I’m sick.)

      4. Mimmy*

        Not the books, but I’d love to revisit the Little House TV series. I was obsessed with it as a little girl (when it was in reruns).

      5. Invisible today*

        Little house on the Prairie did not hold up well at all. Some of the others do… little house in big woods and on the banks of plum creek come to mind.

    4. Kathenus*

      All my Madeleine L’Engle and S.E. Hinton books, can’t count how many times I’ve re-read them.

    5. UKDancer*

      I love Lucy Boston’s Green Knowe series, Joan Aiken’s Battersea series and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising. I also reread some of Penelope Lively’s books because they’re well written.

      I also love the ghost stories that Philippa Pearce wrote and some of the Andrew Lang fairy books simply because they’re beautiful.

      I like Tamora Pierce especially her earlier ones.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Danny Dunn. I’d read them from the library (over and over) and my husband had the set when we met. Still have them decades later.

      The Witches of Karres. I was pleased to discover there are several sequels, which are pretty good.

      And This is Laura, about a 12 year old who discovers she’s psychic.

      The Westing Game, about the heirs to a millionaire trying to solve the will to inherit the money.

      I really liked The Bagthorpes though haven’t revisited in a while.

      1. Amey*

        Ahh, just coming here to say the Bagthorpes still hold up! I reread Ordinary Jack recently and it’s hilarious. And I need to read The Westing Game again, that’s one I used to reread a lot too but haven’t in a while.

      2. Katiekins*

        Definitely the Westing Game. Even when you know the solution to the mystery/puzzle, it is a great reread. I reread it every few years.

      3. Blomma*

        Love The Westing Game! I revisited that one via audiobook last year (probably 15 years after the last time I read it) and really enjoyed the experience.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        And This is Laura, about a 12 year old who discovers she’s psychic.

        I loved that one, and they made an ABC Afterschool Special, or Weekend Special or whatever, out of it.

      5. Aealias*

        If you still enjoy the Witches of Karres and its sequels, you might like Schmitz’ other work republished in the last 10-15 years by Baen. The Telzey Amberdon series of short stories straight up holds up, and I enjoy the Trigger Argee stories through a lens of “the times were sexist, and this was pretty damned advanced FOR THE ERA.” The voice is consistent throughout.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I need to revisit Nancy Drew! When I was a kid I gradually collected the original 56 books at garage sales, antique stores, etc. It’s funny to think about now that anything can be found on the internet, my mom had a list on paper of the books I still needed and it was always so exciting to see those yellow covers at a used bookshop.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I re-read His Dark Materials every couple years, and recently did A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels too. I need to dig out The Dalemark Quartet and Sally Lockhart mysteries, they were some of my favorites as a teen an d I don’t think I’ve read either for at least 15 years!

      I’ve read some of the Little House books to my daughter and we just started Harry Potter, which is a really fun one to read aloud even though I’ve re-read it on my own many times.

    9. GoryDetails*

      The Secret Garden! Still love that book. (There’s a new graphic novel retelling called The Secret Garden on 81st Street, a modern-day multicultural version of the story that manages to retain the main characters and elements while fitting it all into a modern setting.)

      Kipling’s The Jungle Book – the Mowgli stories and the stand-alones like “Rikki-tikki-tavi”. Oh, and the “Just So Stories” as well, Oh Best Beloved.

      1. Rara Avis*

        There’s an amazing graphic novel retelling of Little Women called Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rex Ogle

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Rikki-tikki-tavi and the cartoon of it made me scared there were cobras in the garden and I told my parents we needed a mongoose. :’D

    10. T. Boone Pickens*

      I came across some old Hardy Boys books from when I was a kid and it was fun giving them a re-read. I was also hoping to find my collection of Matt Christopher books but I think those got donated a long, long time ago.

    11. Double A*

      The Secret Garden and Ronald Dahl books (I know he’s super problematic but he’s one I just have to separate the art from the artist.)

      Also I didn’t read this a a kid first but in my 20s and it’s YA: the His Dark Material series by Phillip Pullman.

    12. Nessun*

      The Secret Garden, and anything by Roald Dahl or Gordon Korman. Especially love his high school stuff – A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, Son of Interflux, or Don’t Care High.

    13. Amey*

      I love the fact that many of mine have already been mentioned. I reread Diana Wynne Jones’ whole back catalogue regularly, and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series. Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid and Libby on Wednesday. Rumer Godden’s Listen to the Nightingale. Gordon Korman’s The Twinkie Squad. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The Hunger Games totally holds up for me. Many of these are super specifically nostalgic for me though and I’d be totally identifiable to anyone who knows me well if they found this post! These are almost all books I read to myself as a kid and reread to my siblings so very fond memories. But I will reread Diana Wynne Jones any time!

      1. Amey*

        And it turns out I hadn’t reloaded the page and I am totally delighted to find that my more obscure ones have also been mentioned! My people are clearly here.

    14. TheDisenchantedForest*

      The Chrestomanci series; The Hobbit; Anne of Green Gables; Harry Potter to name a few.

    15. Zippy*

      What a great thread. Some books I reread a lot: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, A Wrinkle in Time, The Wizard of Earthsea and other books by Ursula LeGuin, The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit (though it took me aback when I reread a chapter with some stuff we would never write today — it’s from the early 1900’s), and lately the Oz books, which I started reading aloud to my kitty when she wasn’t feeling well. Probably calmed me down more than did her any good. :-) My favorite book as a young teen was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and it is still my favorite book of all time. When I turned 30 (oh so many years ago) as a gift to myself I went to a children’s bookstore and bought a load of things I had loved as a child but didn’t possess anymore. I recommend it!

      1. Katiekins*

        I also reread the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler. It struck me recently that this and the Westing Game are top rereads, and they both deal with “smart young girl solves a mystery and inherits something of value and keeps it secret, and also discovers her own self worth.” Plus in the case of MUFoMBEF, hides out in (“hides out in–what kind of language is that?”) the Metropolitan Museum of Art, what could be cooler.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      I had to give up on Nancy. If she’s such a great detective, how come she always gets knocked in the head every time? You think she’d learn to be more careful. Or maybe all the concussions took their toll!

      Here are mine, not counting picture books I can’t bring myself to get rid of and kids’ books I read as an adult:
      –the Ramona Quimby books (all Cleary, actually)
      –Charlotte’s Web
      –Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
      –Black Beauty
      –Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s Fairy Tales
      –Judy Blume, particularly Blubber and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
      –all the Paddington Bear books (I’ve added ones I didn’t have as a kid)
      –Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
      –Pippi Longstocking
      –A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
      –The Boyhood of Grace Jones
      –Ten Tales Calculated to Give You Shudders (c. 1972, a Whitman collection of classic horror fiction like The Monkey’s Paw, The Whistling Room, etc. that scared the living crap out of me)

      I donated all my Trixie Beldens to the library sale before I moved. They were just too silly to revisit, plus once someone told me there was Trixie/Jim/Marv, etc. erotica online, I just could not look at them without dying of laughter.

      So many of the books I read as a kid are extremely problematic—Caddie Woodlawn, Tom Sawyer, the Little House books, Island of the Blue Dolphins, etc. I loved them at the time but now I find them cringey even though they’re well-written stories overall. If I had kids, I probably would have pitched them long ago and provided other stuff for them to read.

      1. Amey*

        I’ve recently started reading the Ramona books to my kids and been surprised by how well they’ve stood the test of time – the gentle empathetic parenting in particular feels really modern. And my kids adore them and relate so strongly to Ramona. All of your examples of problematic books are ones I also loved as a kid and could possibly still enjoy now (as I do other stuck in their time books such as my favourite golden age mystery novels) but would struggle to read to my kids, so the Ramona books were a lovely surprise.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I love Ramona so much. I re-read the whole series to my daughter and they hit differently as a parent. I don’t know how Beverly Cleary managed to capture the experience of being a kid and feeling misunderstood by adults so accurately and compassionately while still being hilarious!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I love her so much. I still relate to her! Sometimes you have to make a great big noisy fuss, lol. And yes, I would only read the problematic ones to kids if I was certain they could understand a discussion about the issues.

          I forgot one in my list—a book by E. L. Konigsberg called Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. Anyone read that? I lost my copy ages ago and really need to replace it. It was a huge fave.

          Also Irma’s Big Lie and The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House!

          Man, I could do this all day. :)

          1. Amey*

            Oh, I read that one, but I don’t remember anything about it except the brilliant title! I read lots of E.L. Konigsberg because I adored The View from Saturday (also one of my rereads) and From the Mixed Up Files… but I found them quite hit or miss. She was always doing something different and interesting though.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              The Jennifer, Hecate, etc. book was about a little girl (Elizabeth) who is new in her school and meets another little girl (Jennifer) who pretends she’s a witch. They construct this whole thing around the witch business as they’re getting to be friends.

              I think my house ate it. I couldn’t find it when I moved, along with a couple of other books and a hoodie and t-shirt I KNOW were in that back closet. I really think there was a hole in my house like that Twilight Zone episode when the toddler went through the wall into another dimension!

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          You never know what someone will draw from a book. When I was young Podkayne of Mars was a HUGE favorite of mine, and I picked up on all the sexist stuff but Heinlein was old–even older than my dad–so I cheerfully ignored all that.

          My daughter was into Twilight in its time, and I figured she would be fine and didn’t need me to provide a helpful old person critique of the themes. She has in fact turned out fine.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s true; when I first read Gone with the Wind at twelve, all I cared about was Rhett Butler and Scarlett’s beautiful dresses. Re Twilight—if I had a kid, obviously I would already have taught them about consent, abusive relationships, etc. I’m sure you did that too.

            If they wanted to read something old with gross junk in it, I think I’d definitely want to mention it, but that’s just me.

      2. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Oh god it’s been ages since I read Caddie Woodlawn, and whatever was problematic I didn’t pick up on it as a child- can you summarize?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The way Native Americans were portrayed and the way they talked. The scalp belt, use of the words “squaw,” and the phrase “half-savage eyes” when describing how the children were fascinated with Caddie’s red hair.

          I would also add the whole massacre scare on which the climactic incident hinges (when Caddie sneaks out to warn Indian John’s tribe that the settlement intends to attack before they can be attacked), although that was part of the history of the time (because colonizers). You can read more in Debbie Reese’s essay “Reflections on Caddie Woodlawn: Teaching about Stereotypes using Literature.”

          Caddie was based on a real person—author Carol Ryrie Brink’s grandmother, Caroline Augusta Woodhouse. There is a sequel first called Magical Melons and now known as Caddie Woodlawn’s Family. I had it at one point but I don’t know where the hell it went.

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            Holy cow I really have forgotten more of that book than I remember. Like…I didn’t remember that there were Native Americans at all. Jeez. Hope I haven’t recommended it to anyone in the past. Funny thing is, I still remember the title Magical Melons too.

    17. Aealias*

      I’ve been reading Bruce Coville to my 7-yr-old (My Teacher Is An Alien! – although I’ve got an old AI Gang book on my shelf somewhere, too) and man, those are still good! The writing style is personable and engaging, the story is exciting, kiddo’s on the edge of their seat. There was one sexist joke I was tempted to elide – and it was called out immediately by another character, in no uncertain terms. I’m so pleased by how well some of my favourite childhood stories are holding up!

    18. Squirrel Nutkin*

      It’s great that so many people love *The Secret Garden* — me too! I re-read *Understood Betsy* recently as well. I like those “anxious, withdrawn cosmopolitan child gets sent to the country and learns practical skills and how to chill out” books. I would totally re-read all of the Encyclopedia Brown books again.

    19. matcha123*

      I work overseas so it’s a bit harder to revisit old books, but I have carried Jurassic Park with me for over a decade. I first read it in fifth grade? a yearish after the movie came out. And it scared the crap out of me.
      I re-read it every few years and with each new reading I discover something new.

    20. allathian*

      I read the Moomin books about once every ten years. I have fond memories of my dad reading them to us when I was 10 and my sister was 7. I was an advanced reader, but not quite at that level. I read them for the first time when I was in high school, and again in my late 20s and mid-30s. A few years ago I read them to my son, when I was in my late 40s, in an attempt to provide him with the same experience that I had.

      I still enjoy Anne of Green Gables.

    21. Camelid coordinator*

      I am late to this party, but I love The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy by Patricia McKillip. Little me wore out the original paperbacks reading them so much.

    22. Clisby*

      Anne of Green Gables series; Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series; Charlotte’s Web; Nancy Drew; Beatrix Potter books.

  29. Llellayena*

    My offer was accepted on a house!!!!!

    I will be the proud owner of a lovely 3-bed townhome. Now for my question: when I made the offer, the seller asked if I could up my bid. My lender walked me through the numbers and I have very clear memories (though little written info) of what she said for mortgage insurance amount, assumed home insurance amount, APR, and total monthly payment which she clearly stated included the HOA. This reassured me that I could up my bid by an additional $15k. AFTER the offer was accepted and I started to receive the actual calculated loan documents, I noticed that all these numbers (except the home insurance) went up. I anticipated some change to the APR, those rates are making leaps and bounds right now. But mortgage insurance 3x what you told me? Home insurance assumed to be lower based on it being a “townhome” where it’s “walls in” (but the community is fee simple and I am responsible for the outside as well). An APR that’s higher even AFTER prepaying to get a lower rate (and advice on that prepaying for rate thing would be helpful too)? When there was less than a week between the two quoted rates? The total monthly cost is about $200 more now and does NOT include the HOA, which is definitely higher than I wanted to be, though not impossible.

    So, is this kinda normal or am I looking at something of a bait and switch? Is there anything I can do to argue these numbers when I don’t have anything written from what they assured me before the offer? They keep saying the numbers will “only go down” as they get more accurate pricing in, but every time they say that, something goes up…

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Looks like you needed these numbers in writing from you lender right before you agreed to up your offer. It sounds like they didn’t lock the rate either. Also surprised the mortage surance is 3X what you expected.

      Sounds like you’ve been bitten by raising mortage rates. You can still walk away, but this will cost you your earnest money since you’re in escrow.

    2. Can't think of a funny name*

      The lender should have given you a document called a Loan Estimate…not just verbal info. I would go back to them and ask them to explain why all those things went up. When is closing supposed to be? You could attempt to get a new lender but you might not have enough time. Like L. Ron Jeremy says, you can back out and lose your earnest money. Do you have a real estate agent? Before you back out, they can ask the seller if they will agree to reducing the price…they might say no but they also might not want to start the process over. Do you have any contingencies in the sales document that could possibly get you out of the purchase?

      1. Fit Farmer*

        Yes, my impression has been that the loan officer at the bank has some level of discretion or wiggle room, which might allow them to reduce other fees or requirements to help make up for it — IF you can get them to admit that they ever told you those verbal numbers! My mortgage is with a small local bank, and it wouldn’t surprise me if giant bank would work differently.

      2. Llellayena*

        I got that document…after the offer was accepted. At which point the numbers were higher. I only had an hour to decide to up my offer so I couldn’t wait for things in writing.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Mortgage insurance is typically a percentage of the loan amount, so it makes sense that the amount went up as the amount of the loan did, though 3x is a large difference without a rate change. However, the rate may have changed if the additional cost lowered your down payment percentage significantly.

      1. Llellayena*

        Down payment has never changed. She verbally told me around $22/mo for mortgage insurance and now it’s listed at $68/mo.

        1. acmx*

          Well, you did increase your offer so is your down payment now smaller? I think if the down payment is now even lesser than 20% mortgage insurance will increase (not sure, never had to pay it).

          1. Can't think of a funny name*

            Correct…PMI is based on the loan amount so if the loan amount went up, the PMI will go up (as you said :) ).

          2. Llellayena*

            The numbers she gave me were for AFTER I raised the offer. It was part of what convinced me I could afford to raise the offer.

    4. Can't think of a funny name*

      Buying down the rate can be a good idea if you plan to stay in the house long enough…you would have to figure out exactly how long that