weekend open thread – April 23-24, 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 Intangible, by C.J. Washington. It’s about a woman who’s not pregnant but is convinced she is, and what happens around her.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 921 comments… read them below }

    1. Venus*

      The ground is just starting to get a bit soft, and I’m hoping to see the asparagus soon. The tomatoes and peppers are growing little leaves, and will be ready to plant in a month. I was a bit slow in starting them but hope to be on time for the corn, peas, and beans.

    2. SparklingBlue*

      I moved my new large planter outside this week, but the weather has been horrible, so can’t plant my flowers and herbs just yet.

    3. Squidhead*

      The rhubarb is unfurling! The bulbs (daffodils and hyacinths, mostly) are blooming, with plenty of greenery on the muscari and alliums. (The deer ate all the tulips.) The shrubs we planted last fall appear to have survived and have tiny leaflets…waiting to see if the deer discover them.

      Next month the compost needs to be transferred, all the beds need to be dug over, and by the end of the month we can plant some seedlings outdoors. Too much danger of frost before then, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny!

    4. gsa*

      My wife and her mother purchased burgers, awesome auto correct!!!, plants the other day.

      Asparagus!

      We’ll see how that goes.

    5. bratschegirl*

      My tomatoes from seed are real plants now! I gave away about half of them and still have more than we’ll have room for. So fun to see them getting visibly bigger every day.

    6. Princess Deviant*

      The front space is looking beautiful. I’ve really only got about 1.5m x .5m patch off soul and it’s blooming. I planted some bleeding tulips in memory of my dad last year and they’ve come up gorgeous this spring. They’re like velvet.

      I have similar space in the back (i.e. not much). It’s in the corner mostly in the shade, gets waterlogged, and the soil is very claylike.
      Has anyone got any recommendations for easy-to-care-for plants I can chuck here that will flourish without taking over?
      It’s the kind of soil that dandelions love, if that helps, LOL.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Patch of soil, oops.
        Although there’s something rather lovely about my phone changing ‘soil’ to ‘soul’ whenever I’m talking of nurturing plants.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Oh my goodness, I swear I proofread before hitting send. That should say ‘black tulips’, not bleeding tulips. I’m kind of fascinated by the concept of bleeding tulips though. They are a sort of vampire burgundy black, rather than true black, which fits.

          1. Missb*

            I love black tulips!

            I’m going to have to find some bulbs this fall. I had one- just one! – black tulip years ago. The deer ate any tulip I planted. Now that we have dogs + fences, the deer stay away.

      2. Love to WFH*

        I loved “patch of soul” and “bleeding tulips”. Those phrases definitely capture some of my gardening emotions. :-)

        If you can dig some perlite into the clay, that will break it up and help plants.

        I grow ferns, hostas and lime green heuchera in clay and shade, but it’s not a wet spot, so not sure how they’d fare.

        A neat combination that’s doing well for me in a shady spot with good soil is bleeding heart (dicentra) and perennial begonia (begonia grandis). The bleeding heart comes up early and booms, but dies back in summer. The begonia doesn’t show up until June, but is still blooming in September. I have ferns with them. I have ferns there, too. The begonia is hardy in USDA zones 6-9.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Ha right?!
          Thanks so much for those recommendations, that’s really helpful.
          I remember now that I used to have some flourishing begonias in that patch about 10 years ago but I wasn’t into gardening so much then and I didn’t really care for them or make an effort to maintain them, and they’ve long gone now.

    7. Missb*

      My asparagus spears are poking up! I’ve been able to harvest one very early one so far. Quite a few thick ones are emerging, which is great. This is the 3rd years for these roots so the harvest should be decent.

      I planted my spring peas out this week. I have a ton of onions to plant out but I think I will be filling the last three raised beds this weekend. My potatoes have been chitted so they’re in need of their bed.

      I stopped by the nursery yesterday and picked up some plants for my hanging pots. I have a huge wraparound porch and I usually get pre-planted pots of fuchsias. However, I’m up to 6 pots on hooks and that gets very spendy so I picked up starts in 4” pots instead to transplant into some pots I bought last year. Hoping I don’t regret it! I ended up with two different colors of trailing fuchsias each and one wave petunia. I have creeping Jenny (nice chartreuse color!) sitting in 4” pots that I put together a few weeks ago and I have a vining petunia that I started from seed. All of those should work together to spill out of the pots.

    8. Bobina*

      Its doing alright! Figured out that the slugs attacking my hostas were little baby ones that would hide down the stems of it, so figuring out how to deal with them was fun…

      Planted a load of anemones last autumn which sprouted way too early, and now its looking like they are going to die off without flowering which is a bummer. Similarly, the coreopsis is still looking very dead which I’m kind of surprised by. Saw some tiny signs of life on a few stalks, but nothing significant so fingers crossed it comes back to life.

      But, the geum which I was quite worried about is alive and thriving (first flower is out, yay!) and the ajuga are about to flower, so looks like its some colour is on the way finally! And the first corm of the windowbox ranunculus has sprouted so fingers crossed I’ll have a cool display in a couple of months! And I planted some (ornamental) alliums on a whim for the first time, so those look to be getting ready to do…something! They definitely have onion/garlic smell as well :’D

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Thistles and dandelions. :-P I swear, mine is the only yard in the subdivision with dandelions.

      I haven’t planted anything new yet this year, because we got an inch and a half of snow on Monday. But I looked yesterday and last year’s tub of strawberry plants have new growth!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        My yard is full of dandelions, violets, bugleweed, and a whole bunch of other things that aren’t grass. I have the only non-solid-perfect-emerald-green lawn in town, and I love it!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I love them when they’re yellow. But I hate the way they look when they’re gone to seed, all tall and scraggly. And the thistles make it really unpleasant to walk barefoot in my yard :(

      2. Venus*

        Dandelions are encouraged to help the bees, because their flowers are the first ones in spring and keep them alive after a long winter. If anyone comments on it, you’re trying hard to help them.

      3. JSPA*

        Dandelion flower fritters, dandelion flowers chopped into an herb omlette…get them freshly opened in the morning…

      4. allathian*

        Apparently dandelion roots when dried and roasted make a decent coffee substitute, it was commonly used in Scandinavia during the second world war. With climate change making it increasingly hard to grow coffee, especially Arabica, ours may be the last generation for whom coffee isn’t a luxury product.

    10. DeNaranja*

      I just planted some bougainvillea, so excited for them to grow big! I did ground plants and I’m a bit worried that it’ll be hard for them to grow but still hopeful, I’m in Austin and our fort is limestone heavy (can’t even have basements). When I was digging the holes for them, it felt like I was going through stone!

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I have loads of optimistic iris leaves; don’t know how many will put up flower stalks.

    12. Holly the spa pro*

      I’m a gardening novice but our first plants are officially in the ground! We moved to Missouri from Arizona so im very excited to grow things. We planted a raspberry and blueberry bush and a strawberry plant.

      The blueberry bush is kind of suffering after 2 frosts (we protected it as best we could) but guys….the strawberry are THRIVING and already producing berries. So I’m basically a farmer.

      Any suggestions for garden newbies is welcome! My first issue is that our property is heavily wooded and there are huge beautiful oak trees, so not a ton of sunny areas. What else should I attempt to grow?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve been trying to grow blueberries for years, but I’m told they’re SUPER finicky – best luck! I said above my strawberries are starting to show growth, and my raspberry bush grew from a stick that I planted two years ago to like, the size of my toolshed this past spring, we had to cut it back because it was encroaching on the deck stairs and my husband keeps having to cut off runners that are poking up where it grew under the deck too, raspberries can be SUPER aggressive, haha.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Blueberries like acidic soil, so get your soil tested as a first step. We mulch ours with pine needles, which break down to what the blueberries like. Also try to stick with a native variety to make sure the plants will have their best chance to thrive. Our blueberries took a few years to get established, but now they’re going gangbusters.

    13. allathian*

      The daffodils are thriving in pots. Most of our lawn is still covered in snow, and at this rate, we won’t get any tulips until early June at the earliest. The tulip bed is still covered in snow.

    14. Wildcat*

      Maybe about half the tulips I planted came up, which I’m happy with. We’re working on ways to keep the deer from eating everything.

    15. BlueWolf*

      All the greens in the raised bed are looking good. Still anxiously waiting to put out my seedlings I started inside. Our weather has been up and down. It’s supposed to be warm this weekend and then we’re going to have a couple cold days again so I can’t put the plants in the ground quite yet.

    16. Salymander*

      I have been vegetable and herb gardening on and off since I was a child, but this is the first time I ever did a soil test. I have a plot in the community garden, and my tomatoes and such have gotten less productive every year despite my very careful nurturing of the soil. Seriously, it was hardpan clay with no worms or even weeds surviving except bindweed. I had to take a pick to it in order to dig. Now, 6 years later, it is beautiful and crumbly soil and has gained about 10 inches in height from all the compost and cover crops. And yet, my vegetables were less productive last year than they were when it was still mostly clay. I did a soil test and it turns out that the soil is alkaline. The water at the community garden is very mineral heavy and alkaline, and the clay in my area is quite alkaline, so it just gets worse every time I water. I added some garden sulphur and a compost mix for acid loving plants, and started digging in citrus peels and now the pH is fine. I just need to add pH lowering compost and a bit of sulphur periodically and it should stay that way.

      I also had to treat the soil for root knot nematodes. I used a Neem oil drench and another organic drench, planted it over the winter with a ton of marigolds along with the normal cover crops, and I turned up the soil repeatedly in the infested areas to let the nematodes die in the sun. Like vampires, I guess. I think the high soil pH made the plants weaker and more susceptible to pests. Crossing my fingers that the lower pH and all the other measures I took will help. In a community garden, any pests tend to spread from plot to plot no matter what anyone does, and there are always people who are not very careful, so there is only so much anyone can do.

      I am planting most of my vegetables today, but I still have some carrots, garlic and onions left from the winter. I ate all the beets, chard and peas. There are still flowers growing in several spots as well. I don’t like to dig up everything at once to give the insects a place to hide and to provide flowers for the pollinators. I have borage, hairy vetch, scarlet clover, calendula, California poppies, and nasturtiums. I’m trying to nurture some penstemon and milkweed for the butterflies.

      Some of my guerilla gardening spots look good. In a few others, people either stole plants to take home (I actually saw them!!!) or the city came along and accidentally killed them. I planted around some of the bus stops, and the city maintenance people stepped all over the California poppies. Now there are lots of weeds, but no poppies. :( Oh well. The other spots look lovely. Lots of bees and butterflies.

      1. HannahS*

        Ooooh would you please tell me more about how you nurtured the soil year after year?? I always start fantasy-gardening around this time of year, and for various reasons nothing more than a few potted plants on the balcony is an option right now. In all likelihood, I will one day own a yard with very poor soil (typical of where I’ll eventually own a home,) and I find myself reading about how to change things over time.

        1. Salymander*

          I used to have a very elaborate fantasy garden whenever I didn’t have access to garden space. :) That and lots of plants in pots. I am really lucky to have the community garden plot. At 15’×20′ it is a good size for me to care for without getting too worn out. The other gardeners are really great, and we have a nice community spirit going on. Maybe there is a community garden in your area? Our city has 2 and 3 of the local churches have small community gardens. Though I was on the waiting list for 2 or 3 years even with our many gardens.

          Helping the soil to gain life was a very long process, but really rewarding. It was pretty much dead when I started. The person who had the plot before me didn’t do much with it, and never added anything to the soil. Now, It is am amazing tiny ecosystem. So much life!!!

          Every spring, I mix in compost and some organic fertilizer and cover the planting beds and paths with mulch. The planting beds get about 2-3 inches of mulch and the paths get enough to make them level with the planting beds. Every couple of years I scrape the top layer off the paths and scoop up the decomposed mulch underneath to add to the beds. Then I add fresh mulch to the paths. The city I live in provides as much wood chip mulch as we need as part of the garden agreement, so I don’t have to buy endless bags of the stuff. In fall, I add a 1 inch layer of manure in areas I don’t plant my winter veggies, and then I plant cover crops there too. The cover crops are fava beans, hairy vetch, scarlet clover, buckwheat, borage, calendula, marigolds and nasturtiums. In late winter/ very early spring I pull all of the cover crops up and let them wilt for a few weeks while the insects leave for other parts of the garden, and then I chop them up and let them decay for 6-8 weeks before starting all over again. I add coffee grounds, tea leaves, eggshells and citrus peels all year long and add an organic fertilizer every so often while the veggies are growing. This year I added garden sulphur to balance out the pH.

          I hope that someday you are able to have the garden of your dreams! :)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Guerilla gardening? Cool. I’ll check this out on Google. Thanks for introducing me to a new concept.

    17. Puffle*

      My camellia is looking a little sickly, I’m not sure if it’s ailing or just nearing the end of its blooming season :(

      The pansies are 50/50, one pot is fine, the other’s a bit wilty, but the violas are looking great.

      The lavender is looking a little limp but the catnip is flourishing and fighting to escape the flowerbed… think I’ll need to prune it right back.

      Fingers crossed my pink roses, alstroemerias and aster have survived and will bloom soon…

    18. IrishEm*

      My lawn is almost all weeds now, and I am so happy. I am not being sarcastic, there’s gonna be cute blue blooms appearing in a few weeks. The wild garlic that was never planted is taking over EVEN MORE of the garden it is a tasty floral bully.

      I kind of want to put in a small garden patch with flowers that bloom in the ace and enby flags but that feels like a lot more work than either I or my gardener is interested in (yes I have a gardener, it’s not bougie it’s keeping the garden manageable within my means).

    19. MeepMeep02*

      I’m getting apricots on my apricot tree! My garden is really messy – basically, it was a barren wasteland when we bought the house, and it still is a barren wasteland covered in weeds – but I did manage to stick in a couple of fruit trees and some blueberry bushes, and to my absolute amazement, the apricot tree is now covered in little green apricots. The blueberry bushes are covered in blueberries, too.

  1. It's Quarantime!*

    I was asking about tub-drain hair-catchers the other week and someone suggested the OXO Good Grips Silicone Shower & Tub Drain Protector.
    It’s working quite well so far. Thank you! :)

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I didn’t see that request last week so I’m not sure if these are repeats, but I have a few recs:

          Out by Natsuo Kirino
          Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
          The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
          The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
          A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
          Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai
          The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

          Please google before reading as these vary significantly in terms of length and tone (and possible supernatural elements) but all could be categorized as mysteries and all feature non-white protagonists and are written by non-white authors as well. I’ve put them in the order that I enjoyed them, but that’s more personal preference.

            1. Rose*

              If you want a good mystery with a non-white protagonist, you absolutely need The Immortal Alchemist by A.H. Wang!

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which I may not have paid attention to if I Alison hadn’t recommended it here some time ago!

    2. Gloucesterina*

      I would love recommendations for contemporary poetry, a world I’ve just barely dipped my toe in.

      Books I have loved so far from the library include Victoria Chang’s Obit and Diane Glancy’s Story of Ada Blackjack.

      Those both have a pretty strong narrative spine, but I’m also open to poetry books that do not.

      Thank you!

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Oh, and does anyone listen to The Slowdown (podcast that has 5-min daily episodes each featuring a poem, often if not always by a contemporary author)? Did you have any favorites I should check out?

      2. sagewhiz*

        Billy Collins! All the books by this past US poet laureate are wonderful. Gentle, insightful, and ofter LOL funny.

      3. kina lillet*

        My favorite of all time is What The Loving Do by Marie Howe (both the poem and the chapbook). I also really love Richard Siken—Scheherazade is one to look up, really beautiful poem.

        I was also thinking of the poem Two Headed Calf by Laura Gilpin. Black Stone On A White Stone by Cesár Vallejo is older but a really beautiful piece. I have a chapbook by Alejandra Pizarnik that’s absolutely full of dogears—Diana’s Tree.

        Recommend poetryfoundation (the website) for discovery; it has some sorting by genre and a lot of really good poems published there. Also I can’t recommend enough finding poetry sections in bookstores (used bookstores especially), leafing through the chapbooks, and buying the ones with poems that stand out to you.

      4. Jackalope*

        A few years ago I read Seamus Heaney in preparation for a trip to Ireland and I really enjoyed his writing.

        Mohja Kahf is a Syrian Muslim woman who immigrated to the US. She wrote a wonderful book of poetry called Emails from Scheherazad. I loved it so much. In it she talked a lot about the experience of being a Muslim immigrant in the US, and her images were beautiful and resonant.

        Finally, a friend recently gave me the book The Backwater Sermons by Jay Hulme. The author is a trans man in the UK who became a Christian towards the beginning of the pandemic, and this book of poems talks about spirituality, the pandemic (really capturing the feel of 2020), and other things various & sundry.

      5. Redux*

        Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey. She is Indian-Canadian and the the collection traces an arc of love and violence and grief and redemption. It was on the TX banned book list, in case that entices you.

      6. Fellow Traveller*

        Speaking of poetry podcasts- I’ve been really enjoying Poetry Unbound by the folks that do the program On Being. Each episode the host reads a poem and then breaks it down and then reads it again. For me, who finds poetry sometimes impenetrable, it’s been lovely.

    3. Leminwhirl*

      I have a request for something similar to Kaijui Preservation Society, which my 11 year old kid and I greatly enjoyed as an audiobook. We tried Redshirts, but bailed during the first chapter.

      We loved the first person narration, sense of humor, and the adventure in KPS. I am wondering about trying Scalzi’s Lock In series, which I’ve read, or the Rivers of London series, which I’ve also read. But my kid isn’t into murder mysteries, so they might be a tough sell to convince him to try.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love the Lock In books, but they are definitely murder mysteries.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I haven’t gotten to KPS (it’s on the list, but my library books have expiration dates so they come first :) ), but if you’re looking for first person narration, sense of humor and adventure, with good audio, you might look at Andy Weir’s “Artemis” — it’s a sort of Ocean’s Eleven style caper, in a lunar colony, narrated by Rosario Dawson. I can’t think of anything in it that’s not kid-safe, especially if you’re considering Lock-In.

          1. Lemonwhirl*

            Oooh, this could definitely be a possible great option for us – my kid looooves heists.

            1. acmx*

              Prefacing this by saying I don’t have kids. There’s cursing and sex talk (but I don’t think there were sex scenes). Here’s a quote from a review “Billy, I’ve swallowed better-tasting stuff that came out of people.”

              I loved The Martian and his 3rd book Project Hail Mary was great. But Artemis proves Andy Weir shouldn’t write as a woman.

      2. Slinky*

        Maybe Douglas Adams? Lots of people start with Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I was a bigger fan of the Dirk Gently books, which are extremely different from the television series.

      3. Wildcat*

        Rivers of London dies have some extremely violent bits (I read it on maternity leave and the bit with the baby was just too much for me).

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Thank you for the reminder. I couldn’t remember the specifics, but was kind of erring against because I had some vague memory that it could be a little intense.

      4. Alyn*

        If you want to stick with Scalzi, perhaps try Agent to the Stars; it’s in a similar vein.

        Another suggestion would be Terry Pratchett; the Tiffany Aching books are geared to a younger audience than his other Discworld novels, and if you like audiobooks, the narrator, Stephen Briggs, is fantastic. Wee Free Men is the first book of that set.

      5. Jen Erik*

        Again, haven’t read KPS, but maybe the Lockwood & Co books by Jonathan Stroud? Set in a vaguely Victorianish London – mudlarks and lamplighters, but also cars and, I think, televisions – ghosts walk, but only young people can see them, so adult-run agencies employ teenagers to deal with them. The narrator is Lucy, who comes to London and ends up joining a small agency run by other teenagers.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        Two that strike me from first person narration, adventure, humor:
        All Systems Red by Martha Wells, first in a series about a human-robot construct that just wants to watch the Netflix back catalogue but adventure keeps breaking out around it.
        The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, about a teenage girl in Silicon Valley who is On Track to succeed with her future life plan when the Monkey King shows up and hell starts leaking demons into our world.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Thanks so much – I’m planning on giving him the murderbot books for his birthday in November. :) I will definitely check out The Epic Crush of Genie Lo – sounds fantastic.

      7. Loredena*

        Dispatcher maybe? But if a mystery there but not a true murder mystery. And was written for audio

      8. J.B.*

        I put a hold on Kaiju Preservation Society, thanks for the recommendation. If you like fantasy you might want to check Garth Nix. The Left Handed Booksellers of London was a fun read, and I enjoyed the Keys to the Kingdom series with a teenaged protagonist. Both are young adult.

      9. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Haven’t read KPS yet (is on my list) but if looking for a bit of his sci-fi, maybe try Fuzzy Nation if you can find a copy?

        Really enjoyed Lock In…which is a murder mystery, but also gets into pandemics and uses of tech as well.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Yes, I loved Lock In as well and would happily listen to the audiobook even though I’ve read the book. I will check out Fuzzy Nation.

    4. Still*

      I’ve just finished Project Hail Mary, it was delightful and a real page-turner, I’ve swallowed it in two days! It has that same vibe of The Martian, funny and making it easy to suspend my disbelief with regards to the science in it. And I expected the ending to be anticlimactic but it was actually very satisfying!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Amaze! I loved Project Hail Mary! I did the audiobook and I thought that was terrific. I love how they did Rocky’s voice and I still think about that book from time to time though it’s been a little while since I read it. Good, good!

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      About to get started on Petrarca’s Canzoniere (the thing with all the sonnets about a married, later dead, woman), with footnotes by Giacomo Leopardi. It’s the kind of thing my literature nerd heart should love, so I hope it can live up to my expectations!

    6. Just a Guy In A Cube*

      Near the end of Fonda Lee’s Jade War trilogy, which is excellent. On the “big, interesting nonfiction” front, I’m working on “Boundless Sea” (history of people on & around oceans) and “The Dawn of Everything” by Davids Graeber and Wengrow.
      Heartily recommend all.
      Finished listening to the Earthsea series with my kids (11&8) on drives to school and was reminded how lovely Tehanu is. I think I’m going to try to interest them in Beowulf next, but not sure which of the two different translations to go with.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      I finished The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty this week. I liked it! But I have a big pile of books to read (from the library) before I can read the next one.

      1. Serenity*

        Agreed! But despite my pile of library books, I went and got the second (and then third) out and PLOWED through them because they were soooooo good. Fantastic worldbuilding, great character development, interesting conflicts that characters actually respond and change to, and overall amazing.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Omg, I look forward to it. Must resist. I have 23 library books. I have to read those first.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading “Dream Town” by David Baldacci. I like this new series, but he overdoes it with the dialogue and descriptions for the time period (late 40s/early 50s).

      I just download “Still Just a Geek” by Wil Wheaton. I’m looking forward to reading that.

    9. Slinky*

      I just finished Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. It was a lot of fun and exactly what I needed right now! I just started Popisho by Leone Ross. I’m only a few pages in, but already interested in the world.

      1. Jay*

        We have KPS and I’m virtuously trying to finish my library books first! Love Scalzi.

        I just finished “The Boys” by Ron and Clint Howard, which I really enjoyed. Before that I read “Brat” by Andrew McCarthy and “Enough Already” by Valerie Bertinelli (yes, there’s a theme – I strolled through “new non-fiction” at the library).

        Currently reading “Dreaming Spies” by Laurie R. King – part of the Mary Russell series. I got several years behind and I’m trying to catch up.

    10. Atheist Nun*

      I just finished Power Hungry by Suzanne Cope, and I recommend it. This book discusses the Black Power and civil rights movements from the perspective of the women activist leaders who “fed” the movement: Aylene Quin, who ran a restaurant in Mississippi and worked with the Freedom Riders, as well as Cleo Silvers, who was a Black Panther in New York and worked with the Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children program. As I read the book, I was struck that a lot of this history was new to me (at age 50!); I think that is because the U.S. public school system–at least in the 1980s–either glossed over or completely ignored Black American history.

    11. Teapot Translator*

      It’s World Book Day! I’m going to buy myself a book! (Any excuse is a good excuse.)

    12. Jamie Starr*

      “The Nineties: A Book” by Chuck Klosterman

      As a solid Gen Xer, the nostalgia factor is high. I’m maybe 1/4 of the way through but – and Klosterman admits this – it’s very much from a white hetero cis male perspective + middle class. For example, in the chapter that focuses on Nirvana / Nevermind / Smells Like Teen Spirit I kept wondering when he might mention the rise of New Jack Swing (maybe that was too 80s, but I remember it being huge in the early 90s where I grew up) or how hip hop became increasingly mainstream. But all we got was a brief postscript about the Tupac/Biggie feud.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      A WALL OF WHITE by Jennifer Woodlief, non-fiction about the deadly avalanche at the Alpine Meadows ski resort in 1982

      Carrying-around book: WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY by Jen Lancaster; humorous essays on a variety of topics, in her inimitable chatty/snarky style; have already had several laugh-out-loud moments.

      THE MIST by Ragnar Jónasson, a Nordic Noir novel set in Iceland and unfolding via alternating viewpoints. The book opens with the information that the police detective has just returned to work from some kind of personal disaster, and is being assigned a case in which several bodies were found at a remote farmhouse – apparently dead for the last couple of months. From that point the story reels back those couple of months, showing the detective’s life and that of the middle-aged couple who own the farm, as they each deal with very different pressures. Lots of snowbound-in-the-dark bits – perhaps I should have saved this one to read in the hottest part of August {wry grin}.

    14. J.B.*

      I am finishing a trilogy by Thedora Goss, the first book is “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter”. Female gothic horror characters or the daughters of characters (like Mary Jekyll) come together and battle Victorian evil scientists. It has been really fun!

      1. Dotted & Striped*

        She is also a really cool person ! I had her as a professor. She loves monsters!

    15. I Wish I Still Lived There*

      Valencia has wonderful weather in November and December, you can still walk on beautiful beaches though the Mediterranean will probably be too cold for swimming. Lots of street art near the Mercat Central (traditional Spanish market is a great place to visit in its own right) in old town*, and Spain is one of the safest places there is. Great public transport, less expensive than Barcelona, friendly, you can get by in English. They will wait patiently while you translate on your phone. It’s a big city full of Spaniards and resident expats, well used to all kinds of people. Plenty of museums, architecture is everything from Roman on. They moved a river and built a park in the old bed that circles the city. City of Arts and Sciences is a great place to walk.
      For more street art, Fanzara is a town that invites street artists, a train ride north of Valencia.
      *From the market walk north and west, past lots of street art until you reach Torres de Quart, the Roman city gate. Lovely Indian couple have a small grocery on Carrer de Santa Teresa, just north of Carrer de Pintor Domingo, in case you get homesick. We used to live across the street. I think of them often.
      Have soooo much fun, wherever you go.

    16. Foreign Octopus*

      Nearing the end of Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. After six years in Spain I finally decided to read it and it’s much funnier than I expected, there was one scene that made me actually laugh out loud in the first section; however, Cervantes was in dire need of an editor. The book is at least 300 pages too long. Saying that, I’m glad I’m reading it though I doubt I’ll be reading it again.

      I have lined up for when I finish it The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman and I’m very much looking forward to it.

    17. OtterB*

      I just finished The Plant Hunter, which is a memoir by a woman scientist about her work as an ethnobotanist finding traditional healing plants and testing them for use against antibiotic-resistant infections. Intertwines the story of developing her research interests, projects and discoveries, the science and the anthropology behind it, plus her experiences as a woman with a disability. Really excellent.

    18. IrishEm*

      Just debating whether to read Loveless by Alice Oseman which will be in work’s queer book club soon or Hannah Gadsby’s autobiography, Ten Steps to Nanette which I just got signed (pre-signed, I didn’t meet her) :D

      1. Serenity*

        Thank you. Loveless sounds like exactly the book a young person in my life has been asking for but didn’t know what to ask for (“why aren’t there ever any books with Ace characters?”). I am deeply appreciative.

    19. SofiaDeo*

      I am reading “Metabolical” by Dr. Robert Lustig. I have always been uneasy at eating “food/things that doesn’t exist in nature” because there are enough poisons in nature, and I don’t think chemicals can be good for us. I was anti-margarine and pro-butter way way back when it was first introduced. As a second generation American, I grew up on the Polish foods my grandparents were used to:heavy bread, whole milk, real cheeses, cooked whole grains. Nothing boxed or packaged. Our “frozen dinners” were things cooked ahead and put in the freezer ourselves, and during hunting seasons deer & elk were bow hunted plus we all fished.

      I am interested at reading the actual, biochemical basis for why junk food isn’t great for us. It’s making it easier for me to grab a piece of fruit or some nuts instead of going through some drive through (plus it costs way less), and eat meals other than those taught to us without any science behind the recommendation. Quite the eye-opener.

    20. RosyGlasses*

      Currently trying to finish up How the South Won the Civil War by Heather Cox Richardson and then rewarding myself with a fluffier book ; The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker (part of the French mystery series that I learned about on this blog!).

    21. Nell*

      I’m looking for spy fiction that doesn’t make someone somewhat familiar with how spycraft works in practice want to tear their hair out, like John le Carre . Preferably there’d be a heavy emphasis on the psychological aspects and tension. I’d greatly appreciate recommendations.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Have you tried The American Spy? It’s a true story and was really fascinating to read.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I liked The Company by Robert Little. Long book, but easy to follow all the characters and the action.

        For a less serious spy book, I highly recommend Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene.

        1. Nell*

          I’m already hooked on The Company, just from reading the excerpt online and I’ve added the other to my list. Much appreciated!

      1. Nell*

        About which part? I haven’t been reading the side stories and all of the different groups were extremely confusing at first.

  2. gsa*

    English Premier League thread!!!

    Who is watching games today?

    We’ll get to catch Arsenal V Man U.

    I think the top two are set. The next two are still up for grabs, in my opinion.

    Hopefully we can make it to your side of the pond in the fall.

    Cheers!!!

    gsa

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m a Wolves fan, and since we usually finish somewhere between 7th and 9th in the league, the main suspense in our season usually focuses around whether we’ll qualify for the European league and therefore get to keep our manager.
      We’re recently had a slump but can still technically qualify, and since we have to play Burnley on Sunday, that will hopefully give us an easy win. Fingers crossed…

    2. CTT*

      I’m only able to watch the first half of the Arsenal- Man United game because I have to get to an event for an organization I’m in, which may end up being for the best? I feel like the win against Chelsea has given me too much false hope.

        1. CTT*

          Ha! I’m a little bitter because the schedule we got was awkwardly worded and I didn’t need to be at this thing for another hour, so I could have watched the whole thing!

    3. suggestion*

      Lifetime Liverpool fan here. I have a conference today so I’m missing the games but I’m settling in tomorrow for the Merseyside Derby.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      COYS! Big match against Brentford later today. North London Derby in a couple weeks will be absolutely massive for top 4. I look forward to watching Arsenal being punished for their cowardice when they weaseled out of the match earlier this year.

  3. Buttercup*

    Help me pick a vacation destination!

    The basics: I’m a mid-twenties first time solo traveller. Planning a 7-10 day vacation sometime in November or December, but I’m okay to extend it to 12-13 days if needed. Budget is around $1700 excluding flights (but happy to spend lower than that hahah). I’m in India so I ruled out the Americas because it’s too far, but open to other places. I wouldn’t call my travel style leisurely but I definitely prefer a relaxed pace.

    Must-haves: safety for WOC solo travellers, extensive and reliable public transportation, no (or limited) language barrier – I speak English and Hindi. Good network connectivity so I can reassure my family that I’m doing okay :) No quarantine requirements that would eat into my trip – of course this would depend on the situation closer to the date, so I’ll make sure to book refundable tickets and accommodation as far as possible

    Things I like: art, literature, zoos, museums, architecture (both modern and older periods), parks, walking tours, not a huge party person but I enjoy the occasional cocktail or beer

    Things I don’t like: anything that could be called roughhousing – so no backpacking, dorms, trekking

    Bonus points: street art, availability of vegetarian food, moderate temperatures (up to 25 degrees celsius is fine), no rain! Happy to time my trip to coincide with any special events during that time frame, since I don’t have specific dates in mind yet.

    So far I’ve come up with London and Singapore. I’d love to know if you have any other options in mind. I’m open to tour group recommendations as well, I checked out a few but nothing felt right (GAdventures and Intrepid are too adventuruous for me and Contiki is too rushed).

    Also please feel free to share any advice or recommendations!

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I have to recommend Barcelona and its environs. There’s so much to see and do. Rosas is beautiful. So is Tossa de Mar, and there is so much to see in both places that it isn’t just a beach destination. Barcelona itself is fill of amazing architecture of course. There are museums, like the Parc Montjuïc for Joan Miró. There’s Monserrat monastery and the Black Madonna. Oh there’s the Dalí Museum in Figueres which is not far. And Sitges has a good, safe nightlife. All of these are within easy travel distance of the city centre.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I agree with Barcelona, though I do recommend picking up the basic Spanish phrases i.e. quisiera un café or lo siento, no hablo español: ¿habla inglés? The Barcelonans are proud people with a very rich heritage and in recent years there’s been a rise in annoyance around tourists coming to Spain (Catalonia in particular) and not even attempting to speak Spanish. So as long as you have basic Spanish, you’ll be fine.

        1. Lore*

          Interestingly, my experience in Barcelona a few years ago was that in a lot of parts of town, basic Catalan would have been appreciated but even people’s whose English was the same level as my limited but functional Spanish chose English.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            Very, very, very common. It made it hard to learn Spanish at the beginning for me, but I’m recommending learning a bit of Spanish because it’s much politer than walking up to someone and just dropping English into their lap.

      2. Bluebell*

        It was many years ago, but I loved Barcelona. I was a single woman traveling alone, but not a POC. The Gaudi architecture is amazing, and walking Las Ramblas is great.

    2. bratschegirl*

      London is an absolutely fabulous place to visit, but in November/December there will definitely be rain. The museums, though… you could do one every day and only scratch the surface (and you could easily spend multiple days in the British and the V&A).

      1. Bread Addict*

        I came here to say this. Its lovely. But in November December time it will be rainy, the sun goes down early like 4-5pm and its colder than one would expect. If you came more August/September that would be better.

        Otherwise the museums and galleries and food is lovely. Pricey though.

      2. Bob-White of the Glen*

        London is also extremely expensive. Even hosteling the money doesn’t go far. Other places in Europe will be far more economical. (But I do love London ever so.)

    3. Weegie*

      I’m a huge fan of Singapore, and it offers most of what you’re looking for. There’s not a huge amount of museums, though, and a limit on interesting architecture. But you can easily combine it with a cross-border trip to Melaka (Malacca), which is fascinating and has a rich history. I travelled there solo and had no problems (it was a while ago, though!)

      1. NotARacoonKeeper*

        Yes, seconding Melaka as a great and very safe destination! I’m a white woman and spent about two weeks in Melaka when I was in my mid-twenties, I just couldn’t bring myself to leave.

        OP I hear your desire not to sleep in dorms, but I would suggest looking into guesthouses where you can meet other travellers in the common areas. Meeting people was the best part of my whole trip!

    4. AnEuropeam*

      If you go for Europe you could def do London and Paris, these are just one train trip apart (that would give you access to plenty of museum, art etc). High chance of rain, but not too cold.
      Of you could go to Italy – Rome will be warmer, and you could add Florence or other Tuscan town (traveling by train is easy)

    5. StellaBella*

      That time of year most of Europe has rain or snow. Southern Europe in winter is nicer than northern Europe in terms of weather, like Greece, Italy, and well that time of year temps will be more like 5C-10C to be honest, in south Italy maybe up to 13C but not much in terms of art, museums etc there… Athens maybe? Cyprus? Crete? Singapore may be better but again check on the rain. Look at Kuoni tours and maybe Wander Your Way tour guide. I am a solo woman traveller so I wish you luck!

      1. Cj*

        When I think of architecture I would like to see, I think of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I think it’s amazing what they were able to build with the tools, or lack thereof, that they had at the time.

        Although as I just typed that, this crossed my mind. The last decade or so been considered crass to admire Antebellum homes in the southern US or other things that were built with slave labor. Weren’t at least the pyramids built with slave labor? And maybe the colosseum’s? Is that a big deal there? I could be wrong, I didn’t Google it cuz I would lose my place here.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          It’s a common misconception that slaves built the pyramids. Circa 2005 (I think) archaeologists found the ruins of a purpose-built village near the pyramids where the workers lived and discovered graffiti inside on of the pyramids that supported the discovery that the workers were paid workers who were probably attracted by the good quality food and the prestige of the project.

          However, saying that, the White House was built by slaves and that doesn’t stop the American government from using it as the presidential seat of power. I think there’s a strong difference by things built by slaves and antebellum houses that were the sight of horrific slave abuses and are broadly identified with slavery in the states.

          In Europe, we acknowledge that there were slaves and it’s not as hidden/concealed/deliberately obfuscated as it is across the pond.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            I haven’t heard specifically whether the Roman architectural marvels were build by slaves, but slave labor was the cornerstone of their economy so I would expect so. However, I think the statute of limitations has passed for the issue. It was 2000 years ago (give or take a few hundred), there is no cultural legacy of racism like we have in the US, and the slave population became an indistinguishable part of the general population ages ago.

            1. Berlin Berlin*

              Slightly off-topic, but slave populations also weren’t typically comprised of a separate race in Ancient Rome – often they were captured in military campaigns, but other tribes of the same region/ethnic group who allied with Rome wouldn’t be enslaved, and many ended up becoming Roman citizens, so there wasn’t a racial split between slaveowner and slave even at the start. The Roman conception of race did not overlap with ours at all!

      2. Nela*

        Malta is beautiful in the winter, although a bit windy! I’ve visited it around New Year’s and we had sunny weather during the entire trip.
        Public transportation is fine, not perfect, but it got us around two islands (Malta and Gozo), and we only used taxi twice.
        It’s quite multicultural, and English is one of the official languages. Though we ran into a few bus drivers that didn’t seem to speak it very well.
        Their national cuisine is similar to Spanish so not really known for vegetarian dishes, but we also ate Indian, Palestinian, etc. so I think you’d be fine!

        I personally would not visit London in November.

    6. Barbara Eyiuche*

      Singapore combined with Malaysia – some cities in Malaysia have well-preserved colonial architecture. Both places are great for food, but the weather may be hotter than you like. Taiwan, specifically Taipei: it has one of the world’s great museums, with the world’s best collection of Chinese art. The weather will will be warm, not hot, in November and December. Both Singapore and Taipei have great zoos.

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        Seconding Taipei – the National Palace Museum is amazing, I found it pretty easy to get around as an English-speaker and there’s excellent public transport in the city, and though I’m not a vegetarian myself, when I went there the vegetarians I was traveling with had no little trouble finding food options (and the food was incredible).

    7. AutoIconic*

      London in November/December will involve rain, grey skies, and the temperatures are unlikely to be moderate. It rains around half the days in November, on average, and the average high daily temperature is 10C (average low is 4C). It’s a great city to visit but if weather is important in your enjoyment of tge trip, I’d pick a different time of year to go there.

      I’d suggest southern Europe over Northern for weather at that time of year – Barcelona is wonderful, as is Madrid (but I prefer Barcelona). Rome is glorious.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep I live in London and love it but don’t come here for the weather (especially not in the autumn!)

        The big museums are all free to enter, though, and there’s so much more to the city beyond the tourist traps.

    8. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      Singapore is a modern city state and, in my opinion, can get pretty boring after a couple of days. But it has good connectivity to the many other countries in the region. You can go to Indonesia, or cross the land border to Malaysia and go on to Thailand and if you have time, to Cambodia and Vietnam. But make sure you’re not heading out in the monsoon season. English is widely spoken in Singapore and Malaysia.. Less so in the other countries, but you can easily get by. The other thing you could do if you’re really keen on Singapore is to spend a few days there and then fly to Australia. Or you could skip Singapore altogether and just go straight to Australia. It will be late spring there in November. Do find out visa requirements for all these countries

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I love Italy but it won’t be super warm though better than London! Slightly off the beaten path gets you more for your money ( example Verona instead of Florence).

      1. La Anon*

        Yeah, while the weather won’t be perfect, I’ve done a lot of traveling in Italy in the fall and winter (lived there two winters), and unless you are in the mountains, it will be always above freezing. Like I needed a nice coat but scarf, hat, gloves were never required. Plus, as long as you are well pre-holiday, even the popular tourist sites will be dead. It’s also a great place if you want to visit a couple cities in one go, the majors in northern Italy are connected by fast train, and I never had a problem as a solo woman (but not WOC). As a vegetarian, it’s pretty easy, it’s one of those cuisines where the meat isn’t hidden.

        If you are heading to Europe in early December, check to see when their winter holiday festivals start, you may be able to catch the uncrowded beginning of stuff. For example, in Milan, the festival of St. Ambrose is Dec 7 and the few surrounding days. London has a ton of stuff, I don’t recall when the fun fair in Hyde Park opens but it’s fun to go and people watch.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I went to Italy in late January, and would recommend. It can be chilly; Florence was sleeting, Rome was pleasant (but had rare snow shortly after we left), Naples was lovely, but you can stay in cheaper hotels because you don’t need A/C, and there aren’t the hordes of tourists you find in more popular times.

    10. Asenath*

      Have you thought about Australia? I chose to make my trip of a lifetime there in the fall because it was kind of between seasons – not yet too hot nor too rainy. I added on New Zealand, but did hit a rainy cool period. No problems at all being a a solo female (although I am not a WOC), and they speak English. My main problem was narrowing down my choices before I left, because it is such a big place. The major cities have lots and lots of museums and activities – Sydney, of course, but I also liked Melbourne and Adelaide. Although I was not up for roughing it, I couldn’t go that far and not see some of the wildlife, and it was easy to arrange a tour to a national park (since I wasn’t driving myself) and also to visit some Aboriginal sites. I like the approach of booking much of a trip as a solo traveller – eg w or three days in a major city – plus one or two or three day tours to areas that are harder to see without public transportation, repeat as many times for as many areas as you can afford and have time for. If you weren’t going at that time of year, I’d suggest Europe – it’s been far too long since I’ve been there, and I’d love to re-visit some of the major cities, plus visit some of the ones I haven’t seen. Barcelona is incredible, so is Prague, and of course London is great and English-speaking (not that there’s a major problem getting by in English in Europe). And Paris…. I never spent long enough in Paris. I also love the south of France with all those Roman and medieval ruins. But I think the weather might not be so great in the fall in much of Europe.

      1. rubble*

        not sure what currency they’re working with but their budget might be a bit tight to come here. that time of the year is summer, the start of the summer holidays and around the same time as schoolies (school leavers going on holiday and partying). it’s a popular time to go on holidays here so accommodation might be expensive.

    11. mreasy*

      While anywhere in Europe is likely to have a little inclement weather in winter, Rome and the rest of easily traversable Italy have better weather than London and everything else you’re looking for!

      1. mreasy*

        There are some areas where some say it’s best not to travel alone as a woman, like Sicily and Naples, but Rome, Venice, Florence, and surroundings should be fine.

        1. J.B.*

          I would love to go back to Siena, and I think it is very well situated to take trips into the countryside.

    12. Meh*

      This is very much an aside, but I never thought to look past the common modern American definition of rough-housing to mean play fighting/ rambunctious children. But I can see how it could have evolved. Thanks!!

        1. Meh*

          Not at all. Your explanation makes me think of flop houses or “rough accommodations” with people who are drunk/disorderly as the origin of the phrase. Which could fit.

          But to indicate no backpacking, camping, hiking I would say “roughing it.”

    13. Llellayena*

      Morocco! There’s plenty to keep you busy and many tour companies have good tours of various intensities going there. I recommend looking at Exodus tours. The Morocco tour I went on does have one ride a camel day and one night of sleep in the desert but it was seriously the best sleep I got on the trip. They probably have other tours with less trekking if you need it though. I think they’ve got a Tangiers/Fez tour that I’d like to take at some point.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        Two young Scandinavian women were killed in the Moroccan desert a couple of years ago – I’d definitely study travel advice thoroughly. Of course, one can be unlucky anywhere, but still…

    14. HannahS*

      I loved London, but I imagine it’s cold and wet during the winter. The arts/culture is still fantastic but it would be harder to wander through neighbourhoods and parks. And honestly, I think two weeks is too long to tour London, for me at least, but I wouldn’t want to tour the countryside in the winter (and I’m Canadian.) I wonder about checking out somewhere warmer, like Australia or New Zealand?

    15. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My first thought when you said November/December was Europe because so many countries start their Christmas markets at the end of November. And everywhere I’ve been in Europe is English-speaking, even small towns. But then I got to your temperature restrictions. Personally, I like traveling when the weather is slightly less perfect, because there tend to be fewer tourists. Late November/early December wouldn’t have snow, but it might be chilly.

      However! That’s what makes these markets so awesome: they sell hot drinks and snacks to warm you up while you walk around. My ideal would be Vienna – art, music, museums during the day, then stop by the Christmas markets in the evening with the locals. They will have multiple markets in different neighborhoods around town, so you’ll be able to see different parts of the city too.

      And according to this blog, “In early 2021, Vienna was rated as the fourth best city in the world for vegetarians out of the 200 they surveyed.” https://www.visitingvienna.com/eatingdrinking/vegetarian/

    16. Texan In Exile*

      I traveled alone to Paris in December. It was cold but mostly sunny. I had a year of high-school French, so am not fluent at all, but got by just fine, especially if I started with a (bad-accent) “bonjour!” There’s tons to do in Paris and no reason ever to be bored.

      Spain is also amazing. Madrid in Dec is cold but a jacket plus sweater plus scarf has been enough. Or you could go south – Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, Cadiz – all are beautiful, interesting, very walkable cities. And it’s easy to get to all of them from Madrid – take the fast train and you’re there in a few hours.

      Again, a lot to do (look for the free hours at the museums), great public transit – although you can walk to almost everything you want, and it would not bother me to travel alone in any of those places.

      I think you could get by OK in English. I speak Spanish, so it’s not something I think about a lot, but my husband does not and except for Bilbao and San Sebastian, where I had to interpret for him, it has not really been an issue for him. We have been able to find guided tours in English and most of the museum placards (maybe all?) are also in English.

      The one thing I don’t know about is vegetarian food. I have not looked for it in Spain, but I do notice it occasionally. I have heard jokes that in Spain, jamon is not considered to be meat.

      Have a great time!

    17. Raboot*

      How about Israel? Tons of cool architecture, both the really old “historical tour” stuff but also Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus. It won’t be reliably hot in December, especially in Jerusalem which is colder than Tel Aviv, but certainly warmer than London. Many English speakers, highly developed tourism infrastructure, and TLV had the most vegans or vegan restaurants or something of any city a few years ago so easy vegetarian food. Florentine neighborhood has street art tours. If you’re there in the run up to Christmas, Yafo and Haifa would be cool to check out.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        +1 Israel was my first thought – relatively close so flights shouldn’t be crazy $$$, so much history, art, & multiple cultures colliding, amazing food, and although cool in Nov/Dec snow is exceedingly rare.

    18. Foreign Octopus*

      Have you considered Edinburgh or Bristol if you go to Britain? Both have what you’re looking for, are much cheaper than London, offer a better look at Britain as a whole (London’s great but you’ll only have been to London if you go there, not Britain), and Bristol has the added bonus of being home to Banksy and great events. August would be a better time to go as they have the hot air balloon festival that always draws the crowds.

      1. Kiwiapple*

        The OP doesn’t want rain. Tbh that pretty much rules out ALL of the UK at the time they are planning on going on holiday. Bit otherwise, good suggestions for Not London.

    19. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Consider Buenos Aires (and South America generally). It will be their summer when you’re traveling.

      If you’re in the city you shouldn’t run into too many issues with language and it will meet the requirements for what you like.

      I want to caveat that I’m white so I can’t speak to the WOC experience, but I spent quite a bit of time there with my then-boyfriend who was a POC and we had no issues.

    20. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      How about Thailand or Vietnam? I’d also consider New Zealand.

    21. Fenn*

      If you go to Singapore, the Botanic Garden is a must visit, especially the orchid section. Some of my favorite Singaporean foods that are vegetarian: rojak, curry puff, chee cheong fun, and lots of desserts: mango pomelo sago, pulot hitam, pisang goreng.

    22. pandq*

      No recommendations for places to go, but some apps to recommend for staying in touch. I use Tripcast (free version) to load pictures with captions and to journal – you can share with friends and family and they can comment. Download What’sApp for free texting/phone calls. And google for locally run day tours in the subject matter you want covered – the tours I have taken from locals have been amazing! Have fun!

    23. JSPA*

      Lisbon / Porto / Coimbra. Stick to the tourist areas / university areas, and simple English will work.

      No way to predict who will have what restrictions come December, though!

    24. Buttercup*

      Thank you everyone for your responses, suggestions, and recommendations! I’ve read through all of them and the consensus seems to be southern Europe, which I’d love to explore. Somehow I always had the impression that Italy and Greece weren’t particularly safe for solo women travellers, but glad to know that’s not the case (perhaps it’s dependent on where in the country I visit?)

      One thing I’d like to clarify – the bonus points section is kind of a wishlist on my part, nice-to-haves but I can live without them :) It would be pretty difficult to find a destination that ticks all the boxes so I am okay with not having all the things on there! I once visited the Netherlands in December and found that I didn’t enjoy my visit to Kinderdijk as much because of the heavy rain, so I’d rather avoid that, but light showers are fine if they aren’t a hindrance to sightseeing. I’m also okay with limited vegetarian food options and cooler weather (10ish degrees celsius is okay)

      I will probably post on a future weekend thread asking for help with the itinerary once I get closer to the planning stage and would love for you to chime in there as well. I will save the UK trip for sometime when the weather is better :D thank you all again!

      1. londonedit*

        Any time from the end of May until probably mid-October is good for a UK trip but bear in mind that the school summer holidays run from the end of July to the beginning of September, so everything will be crazy busy for six weeks. Otherwise London (and the rest of the UK, as Foreign Octopus points out the UK is not just London and we’re a small country so you can explore a lot in two weeks) is an excellent city to visit at any time of year but won’t make the best impression on you in the winter if you don’t like unpredictable weather (there’s a reason why British people talk about the weather a lot and that’s because it can be all over the place!)

      2. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

        I’m late reading the weekend, so you may not get this… I would suggest southern Franc, from Bordeaux & the Gironde arcoss to Nice. There are historic chateaus, many still connected to working wineries, museums for art & history & prehistory, and gardens that let you enjoy the landscape without roughing it at all.

  4. Dunne*

    We have two 10 day old kittens whose mom has disappeared (this is out of character behaviour for her but we’ve roamed the streets day and night looking for her and no joy). I’m wondering what we should do to try and help them as none of the local rescues or vets have been any help and we’ve been trying to bottle/syringe feed them kitten formula over the last day or so with no success. It’s been about 36 hours since their mom left and I’m despairing because I’m doing the best I can to help them but it’s not working. The local vet receptionist actually laughed down the phone at me saying it’s not their problem to raise unwanted kittens – I should point out I asked her for guidance on what to do, not a state room for two with a sea view for a 4 week stay! I’m used to cat ownership but not little kittens and I’ve followed all the YouTube/google advice but they still won’t feed. Their mom is feral (but tame) and still missing in action. Amy suggestions on how to help the little guys welcome!

    1. Princess xena*

      I’m surprised none of the rescues have been helpful – I have friends who work in fostering and they’re saying kitten season is hitting so one would expect that the rescues in your area would be prepared for a whole bunch of new babies.

      I would hit up your social media and rescues to see if there are any fostering groups, kitten rescue, or TNR feral people you can connect with for advice, and check with the shelters and rescues again. Maybe also see if there are any other kinds of kitten chow you could try for them? My sympathies, you sound like an awesome person and all I can really do is try and beam good wishes at you as hard as I can through the Internet.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        The rescues may be overwhelmed already in many places, and be too busy to respond.

        1. FDS*

          Kittens have been surprisingly hard to place. I had feral kittens and none of my coworkers wanted them and all the shelters were full. I had figured that kittens would be more adoptable so the shelters would be more likely to take them but this is not the case at all.

      2. Hazel*

        When I found an abandoned (or lost) kitten a while back, the vet told me to give her water with a syringe and to crush up kitten food, add water to it, and feed that to her in a syringe. It worked fine. I held her in my hand with my thumb and forefinger on either side of her mouth and sort of squeeze a little to give her the idea to open her mouth. I put out a little bowl of water every day, and eventually she drank out of it. Best of luck with your kittens!

    2. ShinyPenny*

      Really young kittens won’t urinate or defecate on their own, and I’ve been told this is more quickly life-threatening than not eating. What a friend described back in the day was using a warm wet washcloth to stroke over the inguinal area to induce pooping/peeing… Hmmm…
      The top google snippet, from kittenlady dot org, says this:
      “Young kittens require stimulation from their mother’s tongue in order to defecate. If orphaned, they need to be gently stimulated by a caregiver before every meal. Use a soft tissue or a baby wipe to stimulate the kitten’s anus in a circular motion, continuing movement until and while the kitten is pooping.”
      Throwing this out there since you didn’t mention working on this already.
      Good luck!

      1. Dunne*

        Thank you! Yes I had read about burping them and stimulating them so that they urinate/defecate and have followed the instructions I was given. They still won’t take to the formula though, but I’m trying.

        I should mention before it comes up that we’ve had the local TNR folks out to trap the mama cat several times and they’ve not been able to catch her, and the local vet won’t come out to give her a sedative either.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Another thing which you likely probably already encountered in your research – it’s very important to never feed cold babies. Warm them up first before attempting to feed.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Some kittens hate the bottle / syringe. They fight it, which is frustrating because they are too young to understand that it is keeping them alive.

      Ensure they are warm, that the milk is the right temperature, and you can try goat’s milk in case they prefer the taste. It isn’t quite as good as the formula but would sustain them for a while if they take to it. Once you’ve done all those things then all you can do is be persistent. Be more stubborn than the kittens. We have one in care right now who sucks madly on everything except the bottle, which is frustrating for the foster but he’s only a few days old and will hopefully figure it out. He gets a bit to eat in many small amounts. Also check the size of the nipple hole. It needs to be big at first because they can’t suck very hard, and as they age you need nipples with smaller holes.

      The success rate for orphan kittens that young is quite low, so do the best that you can and know they would definitely die without you.

      Let me know if you have specific questions. If I don’t have the answer then I can ask.

      But don’t forget that the key is to be more stubborn. You would think that they should want to suck the bottle dry out of hunger, but sadly not always.

      1. Wildcat*

        I’m not trying to be a downer but when we went through this (and with my grandma who grew up on a farm and really knew animals) we only saved one out of seven.

        The butt wiping is absolutely crucial, for sure.

        Will they suck off a soaked cloth? Maybe try it with water first?

        1. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

          Long ago a friend bottle raised a kitten whose mother was hit by a car. He poked a hole in a blanket for the end of the feeding syringe so the kitten had something warm to knead.
          The feeding syringe might also help because early on they’re too young to suck a bottle.)

    4. Red Sky*

      If you are in the US can you post about this on Nextdoor? In my community we have a lot of volunteer animal rescue people who are active on Nextdoor and neighbors can usually network and connect neighbors to the right person to help. Also, check the Nextdoor Groups to see if there’s one for cats and post there too.

      I’m really shocked that was your vets response and I’d be side-eyeing them hard rn.

    5. Macaroni Penguin*

      You’re an awesome human and keep trying! If you haven’t found these resources, the Kitten Lady and Tiny Kittens may have some ideas.
      Are you using KMR (kitten meal/milk replacement)?
      Sorry that I’m not more help.
      Go kittens go!

      1. Dunne*

        Thanks for your reply – I’m not in the US but am using a powdered kitten milk formula from the vet.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Will they lick the formula off your finger? Will they lick it off their chin? Sometimes you can lead them to a better source, even a spoon, once they get started.

      Also, what style of nipple are you using? If you can get hod of them, the very small pointy ones recommended by KittenLady work better for tiny kittens than the rounded ones available in most stores.

      I was able to get a similar style – different brand- in a kit at my local pet store instead of waiting for shipping, so that might be an option.

      Good luck, it’s exhausting and heartbreaking.

    7. Random Bystander*

      OK, I’m going to presume that you found the Kitten Lady on youtube.

      Are the kittens indoors with you? Even if you don’t see mom outside, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t coming back to them if they’re also outside.

      Are they uninterested, or too weak?

      1. Dunne*

        Sort of frightened I think, I can get a little into their mouths but they push it away with their front paws. Still on the hunt for mama cat and hoping she comes back soon.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          At that age they don’t tend to be frightened, just confused, so they are likely uninterested. Feels like they are on strike, and only mama is good enough. It is unfortunately a common reaction. Be persistent, keep trying, and I really hope they will start to understand the nipple soon.

    8. Macaroni Penguin*

      Random idea: if the kittens aren’t taking to a bottle, would feeding them by eyedropper work? Or some other type of syringe?* No sucking, just a gentle delivery of liquid kitten dinner.
      *I am not a vet.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        They can aspirate milk into their lungs if the timing isn’t right with the syringe, causing pneumonia, which is why the bottle is better. Yet sometimes putting milk on the tongue for them to swallow is the best option. You just have to be very careful. There is also the option of soaking makeup cleaning pads in milk and having them suckle on those, but that hasn’t worked for me.

    9. JSPA*

      Scruff more solidly / less solidly… you want enough so the grip is firm, tipping head, but mouth has to be able to open.

      Wait for mewl of protest.

      Syringe or dropper tip can tuck in by the cheek, or deliver slowly enough to the throat so they can swallow.

      Practice delivery speed, before.

      Look at “how to give meds” youtube; starting to rehydrate a dehydrated cat or kitten is more like delivering meds than like nursing.

    10. Esmeralda*

      Call the vet back — don’t ask the receptionist your question. Ask to speak to vet or get a callback, tell them you’ll pay. Lie and say it’s a problem with momma cat, who is as already a patient.

      Then ask the vet. After you finish getting the info, tell the vet exactly how the receptionist spoke to you. If that happened at my vet office, that receptionist would be fired.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I think it’s fair to criticize the receptionist, but OP needs advice from a vet tech more than a vet. All our local expert bottle feeders are vet techs.

      2. Dunne*

        Thanks so much for this – I was beginning to think it was just me who thought the lady on the phone was a bit off. She is actually a veterinary nurse according to the website. I’ve had several feral cats neutered there (all paid for by me) but won’t be going back.

    11. Dunne*

      Update: Mama cat is back!!! She appeared out of nowhere today – very hungry and missing her babies. She’s now snuggled up in her nesting box with them and they are SO thrilled she’s home. A huge heartfelt thank you to you all for your time and advice, me and the feline family appreciate it so much. And yes I will be trying to trap and neuter her in a few weeks…

  5. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

    Just a quick couple of shout-outs after having stumbled across a few brilliant comments in columns past.

    Kali, I read your essay on the origins of “chav” and thoroughly enjoyed the perspective it brought. (I’ve visited Birmingham several times — family history research and girlfriend — and I think it’s a great city.)

    The Strand mentioned the Straight Dope Message Board and got a response from someone else whose name escapes me at the moment, but just wanted to say here’s another Friend of Unca Cecil checking in! Anyone others lurking about?

    1. fposte*

      I was a big fan of the column but only occasional reader of the message boards, which I believe may still be thriving. I miss the column, as there are so many things I’d like a reasonably authoritative and entertaining opinion on as an alternative to Quora.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      Me! The Straight Dope Message Board was one of my first online communities. (PinkyDVM).

  6. Daily reader, rare commenter*

    Singapore is a modern city state and, in my opinion, can get pretty boring after a couple of days. But it has good connectivity to the many other countries in the region. You can go to Indonesia, or cross the land border to Malaysia and go on to Thailand and if you have time, to Cambodia and Vietnam. But make sure you’re not heading out in the monsoon season. English is widely spoken in Singapore and Malaysia.. Less so in the other countries, but you can easily get by. The other thing you could do if you’re really keen on Singapore is to spend a few days there and then fly to Australia. Or you could skip Singapore altogether and just go straight to Australia. It will be late spring there in November. Do find out visa requirements for all these countries.

    1. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      This was in response to Buttercup above. Not sure how it got repeated here.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        You may have clicked ‘add comment’ instead of ‘reply’, or perhaps it’s internet gremlins!

  7. Thread starter*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had the opportunity to finally try Ma’amoul cookies and they are indeed as tasty as expected. I’m also looking forward to spring cleaning (with plenty of breaks).

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Bobina*

      Celebrated quitting my job by trying a lovely little Spanish style bar that was close to the office that I shall no longer be going to! Walking in and having a bartender immediately pour out samples of vermouth for me to try was lovely, and spending some time chatting to them and learning about different styles of vermouth and having lovely cocktails was my pretty big joy for the week!

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Best Good Dog, by virtue of his sweet and friendly personality, has now fully convinced my neighbor’s young daughters that they are not afraid, but are in fact dog lovers! They are planning to adopt a dog after school is out for the year (so that they will have more time to spend with the dog during the day while they get acclimated).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I asked her, “Are you little miss Abigail Rose?” And she gave me a kiss on the nose, so I interpreted that as a yes. :) she is now conked out in my lap.

    3. AGD*

      One of my local supermarkets is under new management, and they have brought in some favorite items of mine that the previous owners hadn’t. A wonderful surprise!

    4. GoryDetails*

      Finding out that spring has brought a new batch of tiny ants into the house. Why is this a small joy? Because I was convinced I was having tactile hallucinations of something crawling on me, and when I finally spotted an actual ant I was very, very relieved!

      1. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

        Life gives you ants? Plant peonies!
        (Ants help them bloom.)
        And yes, knowing that the spots on my granite counters we real is a weirdly reassuring thing.

    5. UKDancer*

      I did a wonderful ballet class this morning and had a lovely massage this afternoon. It’s been too long since my last massage so I’d forgotten how much better I feel for it.

      I’ve also booked for a lovely ballet workshop tomorrow with one of my favourite dancers from Royal Ballet. I think he’s drop dead gorgeous and such a lovely teacher. I will enjoy every minute of watching him demonstrate and trying to get my middle aged body to copy him.

      1. I take tea*

        I have had a massage too. Today I feel a bit sore to the touch, but am enjoying my new flexibility!

    6. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Besides getting my taxes to FINALLY be accepted (never used to be this difficult before electronic filing), the real joy has been watching our redbud tree bloom in all its amazing purple glory.

    7. IrishEm*

      I got pain management treatment that worked really really well, I have almost no pain it’s amazing, do people live like this all the time?

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      Went to my first concert in 2 years. I saw The Darkness for the first time and they are a stellar live act.

      Found a really nice T-shirt in Old Navy that I thought was regular price and it turned out to be 47 cents. I love that.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      My Husband and I took a day trip to New York City without the kids! My parents were in town and I had the day off work, so we decided to go somewhere just the two of us. We haven’t been on even a day trip without the kids since the oldest was born ten years ago!
      And bonus, I randomly ran into a beloved former work colleague whim I hadn’t seen in over ten years.

    10. Filosofickle*

      I’m packing to move, which is definitely not joyful. BUT I’ve been steadily clearing out cabinets and closets for a couple years in preparation for this and I’m patting myself on the back for what a good job I’ve done! I still have a ton of stuff — no minimalism here — but there’s not a lot that I need to rehome or trash now and that’s really nice.

    11. allathian*

      I just wrote a “letter of recommendation” for my son on his strengths. He’s in 6th grade and they’re doing a soft introduction to the working world, so they’re going to try writing a short resume about things they’ve done to contribute at home or help the community, and then they’re going to practice doing interviews with a non-profit that teaches young people about navigating the working world. The idea is to find the best fit for the day for each kid rather than kids competing against each other for “jobs”. There’s another session for 9th graders, which is more advanced and includes classes on entrepreneurship. Most kids by that age (15 or 16 here) have some experience of the working world, at least a week or two in an unpaid internship.

      I’m really glad that my son’s getting this opportunity.

    12. Virginia Plain*

      I had my first proper guest in my new house on Friday night (apart from my mum and boyfriend) and I was all out to impress with a nice dinner with the fancy plates and glasses etc, and the guest room all pretty. Not that I needed too as I’ve known her 3/4 of my life but I wanted to. I think it was a triumph! We had a lovely time.
      For the foodies: it was an all Nigella Lawson menu (she is my heroine) – toasted spicy bar nuts to nibble with drinks, shoulder of lamp with olives and anchovies and rosé wind, with jersey royals and haricot beans, then Turkish delight syllabub for dessert. And an espresso martini to round off.

    13. Voluptuousfire*

      My other little joy was finding that my cat left her mousie in her food bowl last night. She’s a skittish rescue cat I adopted two years ago and she’s fully showing her personality (or purrsonality?) now. She’s gorgeous and very sweet and awkward and charming.

    14. star*

      Went for a “boring” walk in a neighbourhood I don’t know very well, and found lots of interesting things, including a friendly black cat.

  8. Depp vs Heard*

    Removed. This drew some really problematic comments about domestic violence and would take more moderation than I’m up for on the weekend. – Alison

    1. FDS*

      This isn’t a “both sides” issue. It is very common for abusers to use isolation tactics against their victims and to turn their friends and family against the victim. Believing an abuser just because their social group has been manipulated in to supporting them only perpetuates the problem.

  9. 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 recreational writing for me this week, just some editing of stuff I had already written. First draft dialogues are so awkward for me ^^’.

    1. Princesa*

      I just got to the third act of my novel, so I am pretty excited about that. Wrapping up the ending is always so hard for me, so I hope I’ll be able to pull it off! This is my first draft, though, so I can always go back and fix it :)

    2. Siege*

      I had major breakthroughs on both my projects! I’m re-outlining the first based on a template from Plottr that suits what I want the beats to be for this book (I do not outline well in a vacuum; I do not write well without an outline). I also figured out my main character’s previous job, which was becoming pretty plot-important, and joined a couple more writing meetups which meet at better times for me so I’ve been churning out words.

      The second book has stagnated for … a while, because the main character was not actually a good character. But I had the idea to just start reading through the wiki list of occupations and found a job that will make him into much more of the character I need him to be. I’m going to flesh him out this weekend and set about getting a second draft of that book going. The problem is, he starts the book pretty passive (by necessity; he’s been kidnapped by an entity that doesn’t mean him any harm so he’s not really motivated by anything he can motivate himself to) and I was having a lot of trouble turning him into someone who acted in his own story. I think I’ve solved that by changing his job because it brings a totally different part of his personality to the fore and allows him to act and react to the situations around him in a way that is interesting.

    3. NancyDrew*

      I recently joined a local writer’s group, and we met again this morning. I hadn’t touched my manuscript in about a month (!) so it was fantastic to get into it again. I forgot how much I get done when I’m in a group with other writers! I’m committing to working on it several nights this week after work and the kids’ bedtimes!

  10. 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 wish including board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations and help identifying a vaguely-remembered game.

    Not much for me this week, just a little bit of the Sims when I had the time.

    1. Liz*

      So I recently rediscovered Lord of the Rings Online earlier this year, and they recently celebrated their 15th anniversary by making a bunch of extra content free to play and giving away ingame gift bundles. I am so very happy right now! I’ve spent a few hours this morning and yesterday mucking about in areas I couldn’t go to before and accessing new quests. I’m still planning to treat myself to some paid content when I graduate, but this has unlocked some other bits that I really wanted too.

      1. Squeebird*

        I met my husband of 10 years on Lord of the Rings Online. I had a lifetime membership back when they were still offering such things, so I log on every couple of years and poke around for nostalgia purposes. Nice to see that people are still playing and enjoying it!

    2. Bobina*

      I feel like once I passed level 1000 in CandyCrush it became noticeably harder and I am honestly not sure how I feel about it. Having to think too hard kind of defeats the purpose of the game for me, plus if I’m not completing levels how do I get that sweet sweet dopamine rush of having completed something? So weirdly enough I’ve been playing it less in the last couple of weeks.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        My guess would be that they’re trying to funnel you into microtransactions by making the game harder – making the whole “pay to win!” scheme a bit more explicit, as it were.

        1. Bobina*

          Probably true. But I’m cheap so that is unlikely to work! Ah well, its probably for the best to be honest. I definitely got sucked into way too many hours of it!

    3. Professor Plum*

      If you like Wordle but want more, try Hurdle.
      It’s also once per day, played the same, only there are five rounds.

      Round 1: same as wordle

      Rounds 2-4: the answer from the previous round becomes the automatic first guess.

      Round 5: the answers from rounds 1-4 become the first four guesses. Only 2 chances to get the right word.

      If you don’t get a word in any round, you don’t advance.

      Browser based: hurdle (dot) games

    4. Jackalope*

      I’ve just recently started running D&D as a DM rather than just as a player; I’m taking turns with someone else in our gaming group (we play once a week – some weeks he runs his campaign, some weeks I run mine). I started with a one-shot which was helpful because I really didn’t know what I was doing, and our next session in my campaign will be the last of the one-shot (it was supposed to be a 5-7 hour game and we do NOT play for that long). I think I’ve managed to get the end tied up (it will not be anywhere near the plot that was intended by the author of the one-shot given the choices my players have made), and am trying to figure out where to go next with the group. Part of the reason I chose this one-shot is because the author wrote three more that are sequels, so there’s potentially a fair bit more material for me to use. But my party also went off the rails a bit, which was fun and I encouraged, and now I’m trying to figure out what would be a logical next step for them.

      I’ve also been diving back into Skyrim. I’ve been making my way through the Dawnguard addition and have been having fun with that, only right now I’m a bit annoyed since I’ve been stuck in a super dark cave for the last few days and even a torch doesn’t help much. Finally got back outside so hopefully things will get better!

      1. Ariaflame*

        Welcome to the DM club, especially the bit where your players do something unexpected and you have to figure out if there’s a way to get them to the next bit. I’m only slightly ahead of you and am not sure I can help, (visions from deity appear to have been misinterpreted).

      2. Dont be a dork*

        Use the other three modules as fodder and to help a bit with world building if you’re not playing in your own home-brew world. You can probably adjust some of the “random” encounters to gently nudge your party back toward the more familiar if you really want to, but I’ve always preferred to let them do whatever the heck they want and adjust my plans to their responses.

        It is really unusual for a party to do what you want them to because you’re dealing with real people making real decisions for a make-believe entity. Sometimes they respond as their character would and sometimes they forget and respond as they would in the same situation.

        Their throwaway comments can be written down and come back into play later. I can frequently develop a plot twist based on what the party has been saying/doing to make the game more interesting (but don’t railroad them, and no fair changing the goal posts all the time).

  11. Meh*

    Does anyone else remember a commenter from years ago who would say she was an expert/boss/maybe lawyer but her comments were so off the wall? She was a regular and would confuse new people and stir the pot in the comments section.

    Was that here? Am I remembering correctly?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t want to name names, but there was a commenter that I recall (haven’t seem them as much lately) who regularly posted very sarcastic responses/comments but wouldn’t ever identify them as such, which might be what you’re thinking of.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      There was a commenter like that on Corporette. She claimed to be a lawyer but her grammar and spelling and punctuation were awful. And she wrote things that were just stupid.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Having worked for many years for a variety of lawyers, I wouldn’t necessarily consider either of those things disqualifying.

      2. Generic Name*

        I read one commenter on Corporette who said that some boys from her high school admitted to posting under that particular username to troll the comment section. There was a group of like 5 boys who did it. I don’t condone trolling (seriously people, get a life), but I got a teeny chuckle at the thought that a bunch of teenagers were able to rile up a comment section of grown women who are lawyers and bankers mostly.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t know that site, but my neighborhood has a blog and I wouldn’t be super surprised if some of the landlords, real estate developers, and SantaCon bros who start nonsense in the comments now and then are actually teens . . .

      3. Calliope*

        Oh that was Ellen. She was definitely a troll. It wasn’t just the grammar and spelling. It was the whole schtick.

  12. Simplo*

    I’m looking for men’s dress shoe recommendations.

    During the pandemic I discovered that I’ve been wearing the wrong shoe size and need inserts due to flat feet. I haven’t needed anything resembling a dress shoe, but we’re planning on attending two long postponed weddings this summer and so I need shoes. And I have no clue where to even start.

    1. Not Bob*

      ECCO dress shoes have worked pretty well for me. I think I have equivalent to the “CITYTRAY” plain toe. They are pretty light. They have lasted 4+ years with every-other workday use. May be expensive if you don’t need them often.

      Otherwise, you can try searching for “removable insole.” Zappos has a filter for “orthotic friendly.” You could look at the Dunham Bikefront (Oxford or Bryce) which could be an alternative to ECCO.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Depending on your budget you may want to check out Cole Haan. Their Zerogrand line is a nice mix of stylish and super comfortable. It’s a hybrid sneaker and wingtip. They are also running a Spring sale right now. If you’re looking for something more traditional they also have tons of options there. As a plus, depending on your location they have numerous outlet stores spread throughout the USA.

    3. EngineeringFun*

      As a life long orthotics wearer(F), this can be challenging. I assume you are getting the ones cast by a pediatrist. I have to buy a 1/2 larger in most thing if i want to wear orthotics. In my 20s I had full sized ones for sneakers and 3/4 ones for dress shoes (don’t work well with heels). Now that Im 45 I have the full orthotics for running/sneaker and wear sensible wide shoes (Clark’s, Dr sholes, sorel…) so im fine during work (I sit at a desk) or just wear sneakers if im going to be on my feet. As for the wedding, if you find a good supportive shoe you might not need the orthotics for the few hours, or you could buy them for orthotics and wear them again. Welcome to the game of how bad will my feet, knee, shins, Achilles…. hurt tomorrow if I wear these shoes. .

    4. Ellen Ripley*

      Check out the goodyearwelt subreddit. There is a huge archive of posts about dress shoes, flat feet, and all that. (Please don’t just make a new post there without searching first, as your question has likely been discussed many times already).

  13. Lady Whistledown*

    Recipes!

    What recipe do you make so often you know it by heart? Can be baking or cooking. Just kinda charmed to hear what else people are making regularly as I’m working to up my kitchen game.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh, can you share what you do for dan dan mian? There is one restaurant here that makes amazing ones but doesnt deliver and I’d love to be able to recreate them myself.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          I’ll post a link in the reply to this comment. I use the recipe from Sasha Gill’s Jackfruit and Blue Ginger cookbook (although it might be called something different in the US).

    1. Penelope Featherington*

      Saturday morning is pancake morning in my house, so I make those quite a bit! Sometimes we make fluffy buttermilk pancakes, sometimes buckwheat crêpes, and we just got a waffle iron so those are in the mix too. I could make the batter blindfolded at this point I think!

      Honestly I mostly cook without a recipe – this week we’re having lasagna, risotto, chicken adobo, tofu stir fry, coconut shrimp, and beet salad with feta, and I don’t think I’ll use a recipe for any of them. Maybe I need to add more new dishes to my repertoire if I’m cooking all old favourites!

      1. upping my buckwheat crepe game*

        how do you fry the buckwheat crepes? I’ve just started making them, and I find the only way they don’t stick is to fry them at near smoking point of the oil, which creates an aersol of the oil, which covers me and lingers in the air. I’d love to know how to fry them without being covered in oil.

        1. Penelope Featherington*

          Are you using a nonstick pan? I use a nonstick pan with just the lightest lightest gloss of oil (put oil on a paper towel and run it over the hot pan), and then don’t flip or try to move the crêpes until the edges start to lift away from the sides of the pan. I find they also stick if they’re too thick so I measure 1/4 cup of batter for each crêpe. Good luck!

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Any tips to pancakes? I can never get the ratio right, they always end up too burnt outside and raw on the inside despite being cooked on low heat.

        1. Penelope Featherington*

          If they’re burnt outside and raw inside they might be too thick! You could try adding a little milk to the batter and see if that helps them cook through before the outside burns. If you add sugar to your batter you might also be adding too much – I put maximum one tablespoon into one egg’s worth of batter (usually enough for about a dozen pancakes). You could also play with your ratio of egg to oil; sometimes mine scorch if there isn’t enough fat.

        2. RagingADHD*

          For fluffy flapjacks, if you wait to flip them until you see at least one bubble in the center that pops and stays open, they will be done in the middle after cooking the other side.

          For crepe style, wait until the sheen has turned dull all over.

          I think Penelope is probably right about the causes of burning too fast.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Meatballs and marinara sauce
      Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake
      Greek salad grain bowl

    3. Lady Whistledown*

      One I learned while living abroad is the kind of Japanese fried rice you find in US Hibachi/Teppanyaki steakhouses. The recipe is extremely forgiving but rough ingredient estimates below

      2 1/4 cups cooked white rice (MUST BE COLD, ideally a day or even several days old)
      1 egg
      1 tbsp butter
      1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
      1/2 tbsp sesame oil
      1/3-1/2 cup soy sauce (I… love soy sauce)
      Three pinches of Salt
      Black pepper to taste (I only like one pinch of black pepper but some people really dive in)
      3 scallions (optional)

      Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat.
      Once it’s shimmering crack in the egg and start scrambling (I prefer the mix of white and yolk instead of a single uniform yellow)
      After the egg is no longer raw around the edges but before it’s fully cooked, throw in the rice
      Cold rice tends to clump so start breaking apart the individual pieces
      Add the butter
      Add the soy sauce in several drizzles around the wok
      Stir stir stir. A hot wok gives good rice!
      Add the sesame oil
      Add three pinches of salt
      Stir stir stir
      Taste
      Add more soy sauce or pepper as desired
      If using scallions, sprinkle on top at the end of cooking and let them slightly wilt.

      And there you have it! Hibachi fried rice at home. It’s endlessly customizable to add more vegetables like frozen peas of carrots or riced cauliflower or garlic. Oh and it freezes magnificently.

      Enjoy :)

    4. Bobina*

      Risotto.
      Chorizo/pasta/tomato dish
      Pancakes

      To be honest I hardly ever follow specific recipes for anything other than baking sometimes. I suffer greatly from “I know enough to cobble most things together, but can never really replicate the delicious outcomes consistently” disease.

    5. Buen provecho*

      Eggplant parm, zucchini fritters, rice pilaf, risotto, shakshuka, and some templates like roasted vegetables with a quick grain, daal, and tagine

    6. Slinky*

      Bread. Every week, I make a loaf of sourdough. Most weeks, I also make a loaf of Andrea Stofford’s peasant bread (link to follow). I’ve made both so often I don’t need to consult the recipes anymore.

    7. Llellayena*

      Shortbread! Recipe is ridiculously easy to remember but requires a kitchen scale:
      2 oz sugar
      4 oz butter (1 stick)
      6 oz flour
      Up to 1/4 tsp of extract of your choice

      I usually squish the ingredients together in a bag, roll into a log, cool in fridge for 20min and slice for cookie shapes. Then 325F for 13-15 min until they start to color slightly. The advantage is they can handle some overcooking because it just goes more toward the nutty browned butter taste.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t know if these proportions scale to my favorite recipes — I might use less sugar? and seldom an extract — but a nice thing to do with shortbread is replace a tablespoon or two of the flour with white rice flour.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg. Chocolate chips optional, but mini ones work better than standard. Mix into a dough, form into balls, bake at 350 for ten minutes. They will be soft, but they’re dirt-easy gluten-free peanut butter (chocolate chip) cookies.

      1.75 cups non-instant oats (or oat flour), 1 cup plain pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup peanut butter. (Make sure you avoid xylitol in the PB.) Whiz the oats in a food processor (not necessary if you’re using oat flour), throw in the other two ingredients and whiz until dough. Make into quarter-sized balls and flatten slightly (they won’t spread out on their own), bake at 350 for 20 minutes. These are people safe, though not very tasty — but dogs love ’em. :) (They should be refrigerated, but as long as you keep them in the fridge they’ll keep for two weeks.)

      We like cookies in my house :)

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Rice Porridge with Chicken by Christine Ha; my son and I watched her season of Master Chef together and he gave her cookbook to me for Christmas. It’s very simple comfort food, and there’s no browning of the meat and vegetables which was new to me with a soup recipe. I have of late gravitated toward recipes with just a few ingredients treated well.

      Adaptation:

      3 chicken breasts
      1 small onion, chopped
      2-3″ ginger, chopped
      1 small box chicken stock
      2-3 T fish sauce
      1 cup jasmine rice
      optional for serving: green onions and cilantro

      Combine first 4 ingredients in a pot and add water to cover. (I imagine no stock is fine; all stock I find too strong.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pot and let cool; keep broth simmering and add the fish sauce. Tear chicken into bite-size pieces and return to pot. About half an hour before you want to eat, add the rice. Can be served with fresh green stuff torn up on top.

    10. Still*

      Roberto the soup! Forgiving, customisable, quick to prepare and makes excellent leftovers, can also be eaten as a sauce with rice or pasta. Very comforting and also healthy-ish!

        1. Still*

          If you just google Roberto the soup, it comes up, there’s a whole article about it’s history. But it’s basically onion, garlic, any spicy sausage, crushed tomatoes, any beans, any stock or wine, any leafy green, any strong, hard cheese, salt and pepper to taste, garnish optional. Eat with any carb of your choice.

          I’ve just made a whole pot this weekend, it’s amazing.

    11. DarthVelma*

      The Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe and my mom’s brownie recipe that I’m pretty sure came from the side of the Hershey cocoa box back in the 1950s or 60s.

    12. Wildcat*

      I have multiple muffin recipes memorized because it’s a way to sneak veggies into my picky kid’s diet.

    13. NoLongerFencer*

      GF/DF granola! Half stick avocado butter, 1 egg, 1/4 cup GF flour, brown sugar, 2 cups oats, diced dried apricots and Prunes, chopped dark chocolate

    14. Batgirl*

      I make pineapple curry often without a recipe. Just fill a baking tray with equal chunks of pineapple and butternut squash, drizzle on olive oil and roast for half an hour. Fry some leeks (or onions and garlic) and add a can of coconut milk together with a tablespoon each of honey, tamarind paste and soy sauce (or tamari sauce). Add half teaspoons of turmeric, coriander and cardamom. Add in the cooked pineapple and squash (adding chicken works well too, but you can keep it entirely plant based as well), Add a dash of lime and serve with rice. It’s good for a lot of food requirements, so it’s a good one for guests.
      I also make a great Victorian sponge without a recipe. You just weigh four eggs and match the weight in self raising flour, butter and sugar. Add a dash of vanilla. Mix it all up and bake in two 20cm cake tins at 180 or gas mark 5 till it smells good. Best sandwiched together with strawberry jam and cream. Alas, I no longer have the ability to eat wheat but maybe someone else can benefit!

      1. No gluten no problem*

        Victoria sponge lends itself very well to gluten free conversion; we are a celiac household and I make it all the time! Just replace the flour with your favourite GF blend, add 1 Tbsp xanthan gum per 1.5 cups flour if your blend doesn’t have it already in, and 1.5 tsp baking power per cup of flour if your blend isn’t self-raising. Delicious!

    15. enough*

      While I don’t really make it very often it’s simple and pretty quick to make and it’s one that my youngest and oldest really like and I would make it whenever they were home from college. And they have it memorized.

      Hamburger Stroganoff
      1/4 cup butter/margarine (can use a little less)
      1 pound lean ground beef
      1/2 cup minced onion
      1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I use chopped garlic in a jar –
      should be with the spices)
      2 tablespoons flour
      2 teaspoons salt (can use less)
      1/4 teaspoon white pepper (I just use regular)
      1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
      1/2 pint (8oz) sour cream

      Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in butter.
      Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.
      Add soup.
      Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

      Just before serving, blend in sour cream.
      Serve over hot noodles or rice

      Makes 4-6 good servings.

    16. GoryDetails*

      I… do not know ANY quantity-specific recipes by heart. (Sometimes this worries me; if I ever got stranded somewhere without access to recipes and had to make, say, bread, I would struggle. Though, come to think of it, “bread” is pretty forgiving, and if it turned out more of a flatbread than I intended it would (probably) still be edible.)

      I do have favorite dishes that I make without reference to recipes, but they’re things like ratatouille, where I just assemble a suitable quantity of whatever vegetables are ripe. Heck, even then I sometimes double-check the oven settings for roasting the vegetables…

      Maybe I should try learning a few simple recipes for favorite baked goods or seasoning blends by heart, just as a mental exercise!

    17. Not A Manager*

      I bake a sourdough bread where the proportions are 100:500:375:10 for levain:flours:water:salt, so that’s pretty easy. The levain is 1:1:1 starter:flours:water.

      1. Jessica*

        Ooh, thanks for this! I use a King Arthur recipe that has 227/608/397/12, but it produces a loaf that’s really too big for us to eat before it starts getting too crusty. This looks like it will make just a slightly smaller loaf!

    18. Raboot*

      An Israeli pashtida – I have a basic recipe that I add whatever veggies I have on hand to

      Honey cake – I need a quick refresher every season but then will knock out multiple batches without really needing the reference.

    19. Elle Woods*

      Swedish thin bread (the double batch recipe version), pretzel-crusted chicken, cheeseburger hotdish, honey dijon salmon, and browned butter chocolate chip cookies.

    20. Salymander*

      Potato and green onion soup. Chocolate chip cookies. Snickerdoodles. Almond bar cookies. Apricot squares. Lemon bars. Lemon pound cake. Chocolate cake. Pumpkin bread. Zucchini bread. Chili and cheese cornbread. Sourdough bread, yeast bread, focaccia, pretzels, flatbread. Chili. Mushroom soup. Lentil soup. Veggie and cheese enchiladas. Spring rolls. Pad Thai. Sesame and ginger cabbage salad with noodles. Roasted chicken with lemon and garlic. Lemon pasta. Pasta shells with beef and bacon. Salmon with lemon and capers. Rice pilaf.

      Reading everyone’s comments here made me so hungry!!!!

    21. Jackalope*

      I have a number of pasta dishes I make from memory; my favorite is Everything Pasta, which involves a cheese sauce and then whatever needs to get used up (veggies, chicken, shrimp, etc.). As far as actual recipes that I know by heart and measure, I’m pleased that I recently recommitted my pancake recipe to memory. I’d never forgotten the page # in the cookbook so I could always find it immediately, but now I don’t even need that.

    22. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Spinach-and-swiss-cheese stuffed meatloaf! It’s one of my favorite make-aheads, looks fancy, but with a little practice it isn’t much more difficult than a standard meatloaf.

    23. UKDancer*

      I can do a pretty good Thai red chicken curry (well I think it’s pretty good – a Thai person might differ) and I know how I like it enough to make it without the recipe. I also do a recipe for fusilli with red pepper and chorizo which I can do fairly easily without needing to check. There’s a really easy Greek chicken dish I do which I’ve done enough to know it by heart.

      Other than that I tend to check recipes for quantities most of the time because I have no ability to remember amounts.

    24. londonedit*

      I can do Victoria sponge (weigh the eggs, same weight of everything else), pastry (half fat to flour), fruit crumble and fish pie. I also just make it up as I go along whenever I make bean chilli, curry (Indian or Thai), dhal and any kind of veggie stew-type thing or stir-fry. I don’t often use a recipe for cooking unless it’s something new to me.

    25. Nopity Nope*

      Is it bad that the only recipes I know by heart are: pizza dough, chocolate chip cookies, and hot fudge pie? :-)

    26. small town*

      Carbonara with orzo, chicken picatta, .pesto cream sauce (goes with everything). Spouse makes ciabatta and chocolate bread at least once a week

    27. beentheredonethat*

      I make my own granola every week. Let’s pretend these are the approximate measurements
      1 cup extra thick rolled oats
      1 cup Nature Own Salad topper (lovely collection seeds)
      1 tablespoon my own chai mix
      1/4 cup olive oil
      1/4 pure maple
      dried cranberries
      Chai mix
      3 Tb ground cinnamon
      1 tb gr cardamon
      1/2 tb gr ginger
      1/2 tb gr allspice
      1/2 tb gr cloves
      1/2 tb gr nutmeg
      Mix oats and seeds, and chai mix.
      Add olive oil and syrup. Spread in preoiled sheet pan.
      Bake in 325 degree oven 15 minutes or until it smells toasty. Pull out of oven, add cranberries

    28. Girasol*

      Garden spaghetti sauce, but only because it’s not measured. Harvest a pile of tomatoes, ripen green ones in the kitchen, then slice them 1/2 inch thick and lay them on greased high sided cookie sheets. Sprinkle with salt. Roast 3 hours at 300 and puree in a blender or processor. Add hamburger crumbles, sauteed onion and peppers, sliced Italian sausage, leftover meat, olives, salt, pepper, basil, pinch of oregano, lots of garlic, several glugs of burgundy, and simmer briefly. It freezes nicely and the frozen blocks are handy to pull out on a tired evening or when company comes unexpectedly. The recipe is flexible, so if there aren’t enough tomatoes to fill a sheet, onions, zucchini, winter squash, peppers, carrots…whatever veggie there is can fill up the roasting sheet and go into the blender. As long as the batch is half tomatoes, no one will know.

    29. NeutralJanet*

      I make lo mein a lot. If I’m making a pound of noodles, I’ll mix up a sauce of 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine (you can use cooking sherry if you don’t have Shaoxing), a glug of oyster sauce, and a pinch of sugar. I cook cabbage, carrots, and whatever other vegetables I need to use up, then add the noodles, then add the sauce. Sometimes I include meat as well, sometimes not, depending on what I have/how I’m feeling.

      My go-to “I don’t feel like cooking” meal is roasting broccoli florets with some olive oil, salt, and garlic powder, then adding grated cheese (usually mozzarella because it melts so well, but sometimes other cheeses depending on what’s on hand) and a fried egg on top.

    30. Invisible today*

      Dutch baby (oven pancakes)
      1/2 cup flour
      1/2 cup milk
      2 eggs.
      Splash of vanilla
      Blend. Heat oven-safe pan on stove and melt butter. Pour batter and bake at 400 for 20min. Serve with lots of powdered sugar. My 8y/o makes the batter now.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes! I think of that one as David Eyre’s Pancake. A favorite in my house sweet or savory. Sometimes I make a savory one with herbs or grated cheese or both. I add a pinch of fine salt whether sweet or savory.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I do a version with sugar & nutmeg but no vanilla. Sometimes I add fruit if I have any. But Dutch babies (called “oven pancakes”) in my house) are one of my memorized recipes, too.

    31. Mary S*

      – Cuban-style black beans and rice
      – Chicken paprikash with boneless skinless chicken thighs
      – Baked oatmeal

    32. Squirrel Nutkin*

      My Grandma’s chocolate mousse (warning: contains raw egg yolks):

      Four oz. butter, room temp
      Confectioner’s sugar to taste
      Four eggs, separated
      Four oz./squares semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate
      Vanilla extract to taste
      Rum to taste
      Cream of tartar, a pinch
      Hand mixer or stand mixer

      Cream butter with some confectioner’s sugar till you like how sweet it is (I like it super sweet, but YMMV)
      Add egg yolks and mix some more
      Melt Baker’s chocolate in a double boiler (or, like a pan in a larger pan full of boiling water)
      Add melted Baker’s chocolate and mix some more
      Add vanilla to taste (1 tsp? 1 tbsp? Depends on how much you like vanilla)
      Add rum to taste (1 tsp? 1 tbsp? Depends on how much you like rum)

      Add a pinch of cream of tarter to egg whites and beat with mixer until stiff peaks form.

      Fold 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate/egg/butter/rum/vanilla mixture, then do the next 1/4, then the next 1/4, then the last 1/4. You can do a little stirring after the folding if there’s not enough mixing going on.

      Chill. Eat.

    33. Chili pepper Attitude*

      My two regular dishes are:

      Gochujong tofu
      steamed veg with red pepper sauce

    34. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Most of what I make is eyeballed. I’ll look at recipes but still end up winging it because I know enough what can be substituted and I never follow the quantity (I mean…1 clove of garlic is NOTHING). I also use a lot of shortcuts like jarred sauces, spice packs, or canned tomatoes/tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes.

      So this would include most pasta dishes (spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, baked ziti, pasta bake etc). most south asian dishes… biryani, chicken karahi, butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, daal (lentils). Stir fries, chili chicken, manchurian chicken, cauliflower manchurian, sweet and sour chicken

    35. California Dreamin’*

      I make a pasta sauce that’s like a marinara but with some Italian sausage in it (but not thick like a true meat sauce.). It was my mom’s signature dish. I make a giant batch and then freeze it in family-size portions. I make Another pasta in the summer with tomatoes, basil, and garlic all grown in our garden. Also Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes. And I think I can make potato leek soup from memory.

    36. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Scones, Swedish pancakes, baked oatmeal, and guacamole. I also (less frequently) make ham and bean soup, split pea soup with ham, Chef John’s potato scallops, homemade mac and cheese with an herbed breadcrumb crust, and Cooking with Clara’s Poor Man’s Meal.

    37. Freelance Anything*

      – (Chocolate) Cake-In-A-Mug
      – Almost got the recipe to an unbaked lemon cheesecake memorised
      – Penne Arabiatta with smoked sausage (only made it twice but it’s so easy)
      – Caramelised Onions
      – Baked Onion Bhajis

    38. Liz*

      A vegan banana bread from my friend’s wife’s cook book! This gets taken to all dinner parties and celebrations.

      3 ripe bananas
      60g margarine
      100g sugar
      250g flour
      3tsp baking powder
      1tsp vanilla essence
      5tbs milk
      3tbs fruit, nuts or choc chips

      Bake at 180c for about 40 mins. I’m not good in the kitchen but I’m pretty good at not messing this one up.

    39. Jo*

      My sister gs a delicious dish she keeps trying to share instructions for. Takes a bunch of spices I don’t own. Something like 17 steps. Merely discussing the recipe is exhausting.

      One day I sent her a photo of the dish “created” by me. Told her it was delicious and so simple. Only one ingredient: MASTERCARD!

      I stumbled across an Indian restaurant that had a big sign in the window for this dish.

      Best recipe ever: walk in, provide credit card, eat.

  14. Movies!*

    I haven’t seen a movies thread in a while, so: what have people seen recently and enjoyed?

    I watched “Azor” over the weekend; it’s a Swiss-Argentinian movie that takes place during the Dirty War. A Swiss banker has gone to Buenos Aires to look for his business partner who has vanished. I was worried it might be violent but instead it has this overbearing vibe of “something is not right” that kept me ok edge the whole movie (in a good way!)

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      This isn’t going to interest anybody most likely, as it’s in Irish and not sure it’s even AVAILABLE outside Ireland, but I watched Doineann last week and it is one of the best mysteries I have ever seen. And the West of Ireland scenery is just amazing.

      It’s about this journalist, who reports on serious crime, who comes home one day to find his wife and baby missing. He has been concerned about his wife, as he suspects she may be suffering post-natal depression and there are also concerns that perhaps one of the criminals he reported on may have decided to take revenge. The solution is sort of complicated and yet makes perfect sense and isn’t too convoluted.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That movie was such a trip, haha. It just kept getting weirder and weirder :)

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Yes! Saw it a week and a half ago in the theater with popcorn. The movie was great, weird, heartwarming.

        For me it’s got a hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy vibe. It’s ridiculously comedic sci fi that’s not making fun of science fiction fans or science.

    2. PhyllisB*

      My mom and I went to see Death on the Nile a while back. So good!! And loved the costumes!!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Watched this online and loved it. (In the vein of “It’s good rather than great, but also FUN.”) Loved the costumes and the strong sense of place. Also the singer was mesmerizing when performing or offstage, and I loved all of interactions with Poirot.

      2. allathian*

        I enjoyed it as well. It was the first movie my husband and I went to see just the two of us, when my mom insisted that she really wanted out son for a sleepover. Before the pandemic, we used to go to the movies together about once every two months or thereabouts, starting when our son was about 18 months old. Going on dates really helped us to reconnect as a couple rather than parents, and it’s one of the things that I’ve really missed during the pandemic.

        I enjoyed it more than I expected, frankly, because David Suchet is the one and only Poirot for me.

        The scenery was beautiful, and made me wish that I could’ve seen Egypt as a wealthy member of the English upper classes in the 1930s…

    3. Mrs Peel*

      I watched a short film recently that really stood out, called ANGAKUSAJAUJUQ: The Shaman’s Apprentice. It’s a beautiful, stop-motion short about an Inuit shaman and her granddaughter/apprentice who must travel to the underworld. Anyone in Canada (or with a VPN I suppose) can watch it on CBC Gem.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re ANGAKUSAJAUJUQ: The Shaman’s Apprentice – that sounds awesome! I found a preview, and with luck will be able to see the whole thing at some point.

    4. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      I have to admit I did indeed watch/start to fast forward through Llamageddon based on a thread posted here a couple weekends ago. I think it came through Pluto, and it was Really Bad Movie Making fun. And the llamas were Evil. :)

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Ha! I watched the trailer and thought that was the perfect amount of time to spend on it. It was hilarious, but also aaaawful. Can’t imagine sitting through the whole film.

    5. Rara Avis*

      I’m preparing for a 90’s movie trivia contest and so watched Jurassic Park and Titanic, neither of which I had seen. Worth the wait, I would say.

      1. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

        This month I finally watched Forrest Gump, and Sleepless in Seattle. Both were worth the hype, in very different ways.

    6. curly sue*

      I think we’ve now watched Encanto five times? Also Turning Red, but while that was fun, Encanto is the one that’s seriously stuck with my kids. Amazingly enough, I’m still enjoying it. And some of the lines of the songs are just so wonderfully resonant even (especially?) for adults.

      “What could I do if I just knew it didn’t need to be perfect?
      It just needed to be? And they let me be?”

      1. GoryDetails*

        I want to see Encanto! Not least because of the delightful YouTube video the “Cinema Therapy” guys did about it.

    7. Anono-me*

      I found ‘The Legend of Tomiris’ to be absolutely fascinating .

      It is about a warrior woman of the steppes in biblical times. Please be aware that it has subtitles and is pretty matter of fact about lots and lots of violence. (While I did find the violence disquieting, it seemed relevant to the movie and I did not feel like the violence was ‘arty to be cool’ or ‘comic book’ .)

    8. Suprisingly ADHD*

      1917, it’s a movie from 2019 set in WWII about two british soldiers trying to get a message through no-mans-land to a different platoon, to stop a planned attack. It has a very different feel from most war movies, there’s comparatively little action and absolutely no jump cuts or shakey-cam. It looks like it was all done in one very long take. It’s definitely not for everyone, its focus is on the despair and horror of the war and it doesn’t skimp on injuries or corpses (not so much gorey as bloody). By the end, we were rooting so hard for the message to get through. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it but I did!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m pretty sure it was done entirely in one take which was an impressive filmmaking feat.

          1. Suprisingly ADHD*

            The behind-the-scenes I saw was really cool, they used very long shots, including building a huge trench to walk down at the beginning, and timing out all the extras and little conversations they walked past. It had the same feel as a video game, because the camera never jumped from one place to another, and the other people were clearly dealing with their own problems that we only caught in partially-overheard conversations.

      2. allathian*

        I agree. It was an emotionally engaging movie, in a way that more action-packed movies rarely are. I find that there’s only so much action I can take, too much and I sort of tune out.

        There were a couple of scenes near the end of the movie that made me shake my head. The first was when they found the platoon hidden in the forest, and the protagonist was able to sneak up on them while one of the soldiers was singing. Even if they’d killed all the enemies in the vicinity, I strongly suspect that in reality they would’ve posted sentries just in case.

        The second scene was the big battle, when the protagonist ran in front of the trench just as the soldiers were coming over to attack. Looked impressive, but unrealistic.

    9. Arya Parya*

      Saw The Northman last week and loved it. It’s a movie about Viking revenge, based on the Danish legend of Amleth on which Shakespeare based Hamlet. So it pretty much follows that story, but a lot more violent.

      I loved it. It was beautifully made, great long shots, great action. The people behind me in the cinema hated it though, so it’s not for everyone.

  15. Teapot Translator*

    I read somewhere – but can’t remember where – that some sellers on Etsy are actually resellers of stuff they didn’t make. Does anyone know how to spot such sellers? I may turn to Etsy for some stuff I need, and I’d like to avoid these sellers.

    1. Anima*

      Look for were it comes from – China is often a hint (I know it’s a stereotype, but it’s often true on Etsy in my experience). Laaarge stock is also a hint, most sellers that make their stuff themselves can’t physically have auch a large amount of stock.
      Third category is small businesses, who outsource the making, those can have larger stock, but not huge usually.
      Read descriptions, also shop descriptions, good shops tend to talk about their making process or link to a website were they explain.
      Use filters, I for example filter for Europe, which somehow kicks out most resellers?
      Do Google reverse picture search, if the product shows up on more than Pinterest and a direct shop from the seller it’s likely a reseller (ignore Wish though, there the amount of stolen photos is just of the charts, that just means Wish stole a design from an Etsy seller).
      Read ratings, good shops have good ratings (but not perfect, a few disgruntled customers are almost always there) that read like they are made by real people.
      Last, communicatw with the seller. Ask a question (“What size is this best for?” or something). No reply? Reseller. Boilerplate reply? Orange flag. Reply takes a day? Green flag, people sleep sometimes. Nice, real sounding reply that even includes you name (“Hi Teapot Translator, it fits best for sofas size 30…”) – huge green flag.

      Sorry you have to do the research by yourself these days on Etsy. I remember times where there were mostly real people selling their handmade stuff on there, now you really have to filter… :/

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! I know I have to be a responsible consumer and that means do my own research.

    2. fposte*

      In addition to Anima’s great suggestions, you can do a quick search on Alibaba or Aliexpress for the item, since that’s a favorite place to resell from.

    3. HannahS*

      It’s really, really common. I got tricked by a shop that appeared to be a jeweller in Ohio, except my item arrived in two days from Turkey…and once I dug deeper, another seller was selling much of the same inventory.

      I recommend reverse image-searching the items. That way, if someone else is selling the same thing with the same listing photo, you’ll be able to tell.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I just did a reverse image-search for one of the products I’m interested in and no relevant. This is good!
        Thanks!

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      If there’s not a lot of consistency to the items that’s usually a red flag. Like I order a lot of embroidery stuff and if it’s an original artist most of the patterns will be in a similar style or color scheme, but a reseller will have TONS of generic looking florals plus a bunch of random other stuff.

      Sometimes there will be a lot of reviews from people saying the item wasn’t as pictured or was shipped via Amazon.

      If the same exact product photo shows up in your search from multiple sellers, none of them are the original artist.

    5. pancakes*

      You’ve gotten good advice from people, and I just want to say how disappointing it is that Etsy has let the platform deteriorate this way. I definitely shop there way less than I used to because I always now feel one click away, at best, from a dumpy flea market. This is a choice. This is a company with quarterly earnings, last quarter, of $717 million.

      1. Nela*

        Etsy has been allowing resellers for at least 10 years. I remember when they changed the rules from “handmade and vintage only”. Artisans protested loudly, but Etsy didn’t care.

        1. pancakes*

          Right, but most of the ones I encountered that long ago and until fairly recently (past couple years) were reselling craft supplies, which to be clear I don’t have a problem with. I found that manageable, either way. At this point there are floods of sellers listing ordinary mass-produced plastic tat and slogan t-shirts. There’s also tons of knock-off designer goods. I saw someone selling knock-off Fornasetti plates with decals recently, for example, and the market there for “character” products that appeal to kids and franchise fans is even worse. It’s the same sort of knock-off licensed goods you’d see at a dodgy flea market.

        2. Squeebird*

          “Artisans protested loudly, but Etsy didn’t care.” Yeah, that’s unfortunately kind of been Etsy’s MO for a while now. They just raised the fee that they take on each sale – to much outcry, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be backtracking. Big resellers don’t care, and it’s the small artisans who have very narrow margins who get hurt.

    6. coffee is my friend*

      Also watch the price. If it seems cheap it’s more likely to not have been handmade. I was recently ordering a mobile and a bunch was selling for a price that seemed too good to be true. A bit more investigation revealed that they weren’t being sold by artisans

  16. Nora without an h*

    I’m putting together the seating chart for our wedding. What’s the right order of the names? I was thinking alphabetical but many couple and families have different surnames so they are all over the list.
    Does this even matter? The tables are max10 ppl so the lists are short. There will be four tables.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If it’s that short, you could go alphabetical and just list each individual rather than by couple. (And if there are little kids in any of the families, they might get a kick out of seeing their own name listed “special” :) )

    2. Doctors Whom*

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

      We gave no such care to the order in which names showed up in a table list and are happily married for 21 years:) This internet stranger gives you permission to take this labor off your list!

      If I had cared, I probably would have ordered each table list by some property (birthday? height? when I had met them?) and given a prize to the first table that guessed what their order was based on:)

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Oooh I love the idea of charting by a common property! That’s fun and not so stuffy!

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I think I would list
      a) by first name last name
      b) grouped by relation, i.e. family of the bride, family of the groom, friends of the bride, friends of the groom. And then alphabetical by first name last name.

      I prefer listing by first names as it’s less formal – and in my mind a wedding doesn’t have to be formal but fun – and avoids the problem of different surnames in one family.

    4. MaryLoo*

      People are going to look at a list to find out what table they’re at.
      So if you put the all the names in a single list, alphabetically , it’s easy for a person to find their name. The list would have their table number next to their name.

      Please do NOT haves list that is first by table (for example”Table 1: name, name, name, Table 2:name name name) because that means each person has to read every table’s list until they find their name. I’ve been to a wedding that did it that way, and it was incredibly time consuming. There was a huge line at the seating list because it took so long for everyone to have to read table after table until they found their name.

      In a single list you can put couples on a single line (John and Mary Smith, or John Smith and Mary Brown if they have different last names)

  17. The Corny Collins Show*

    My mother is a product of the 1980s where the higher your hair, the closer to God. I am fairly certain her bloodstream and lungs have some percentage of ultra-strength sticky hairspray. She goes through a can of hairspray a week and help the poor soul checking her out at Target when hairspray is on sale. And my parents will have to completely redo their bathroom if they ever decide to sell because it has 20 years of Mom’s hairspray cemented over everything.

    Needless to say that my bathroom also gets covered in hairspray gunk during her visits. Any recommendations or strategies for how to clean this up? Or maybe a hairspray-friendly wall paint that doesn’t require me to scrub the door and walls down with soap and water?

    Asking Mom to give up the hairspray is as much a non-starter as asking a fish to give up water.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, man. (Your description of the problem has me rolling.) When I apply spray products in a bathroom, usually sunscreen, I actually step into the shower to spray so’s to minimize fall-out onto other surfaces. I do it so I don’t slip in sunscreen puddles, but do you think maybe she’d be willing to do that, so at least all you’d have to clean up would be the shower walls which are designed to be easy-clean? Or is ANY alteration to her routine not a viable option?

      1. GoryDetails*

        I do that too – get in the shower to spray on the heavy-duty DEET-based products I need to fend off ticks and blackflies and mosquitoes (yay, New England spring?). I didn’t want the overspray on the other surfaces – including my toothbrush or eyeglasses – and I figure a kind of “spray booth” setup helps improve my personal coverage!

      2. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

        My friend who is a contractor swears by diluted shampoo in water and wipe down with a rag, then go over again with a wet rag from just water.

      3. Burnt Eggs*

        Shaving cream. Cream, foamy stuff like Barbasol. I was all-in in the 80’s and had the high bangs, crimped hair, and my hair did. Not. Move. Shaving cream cut thru the glue on mirrors, fixtures, trim….

    2. RagingADHD*

      Wiping it down with rubbing alcohol should dissolve the stickiness pretty fast, so less scrubbing.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Mr Clean Magic Eraser will remove hairspray residue.
      (Signed, Daughter of Mr. Vitalis For Men)
      Note: this is effective after a short visit. Following a longer visit, I wipe down the walls with a very wet sponge and let it sit, then wipe down again with something like pine sol, and THEN go for the magic eraser.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Magic Eraser is a little bit tricky, though. It seems like it works by literal magic, but really it’s gently scrubbing off a layer of your surface. My mostly-matte painted walls now have some shiny spots on them because I Magic Erasered the top layer of the paint. There are some sad (and hilarious, if it’s not you) stories online of people who “discovered” using Magic Eraser on their car’s paintwork.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Yeah, if I had to do it regularly it might be a problem, but since my parents visit infrequently, the bathroom walls, mirror, counter, sink, etc. seem to be holding up well. The worst of it seems to land on the mirror- sometimes I wonder if he’s spraying his reflection instead of his actual head!

    4. Elle Woods*

      Speaking from experience, some shampoo mixed with water and a gentle scrub usually does the trick. If that doesn’t get it all off use a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol followed by a cloth dipped in warm water.

      Seriously though, it sucks that you have to do this. I had to do it in the first house I owned. The former owners had a love of hairspray similar to your mom’s. It was so bad that the main bathroom walls were actually tacky from all the hairspray. Gross!

    5. SofiaDeo*

      Natural Grocers’ brand Organic Multi Surface Cleaner has some(organic) alcohol in it, which works great on non water soluble gunk. Plus it has soapberry instead of artificial soap. And essential oil fragrance, so less likely to start “perfume headache”. Spread it around & let sit a few minutes so the cleaners have some time to dissolve the hairspray.

  18. Lcsa99*

    Wedding etiquette question.

    We were invited to a friend’s wedding but unfortunately we won’t be able to go. We’ve already returned the rsvp and sent a nice gift, both with nice notes for them, but should we also plan to send a card or something closer to the date? It feels weird to let the day pass without doing something even though we’ve done something already.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t think you NEED to, since you’ve already sent a gift, but if you WANT to send a card with a nice congratulatory note, I think it would be a sweet gesture :)

    2. DeNaranja*

      You’re good, you already sent them a gift and note. No one is going to think otherwise, especially when they’re busy getting stuff ready for the wedding.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The RSVP met the basic social obligation. The gift demonstrated affection and support.

      If you want to send a card or note for the day, that would be lovely and special, but there’s no “should” about it.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Others may disagree because I’m sure the bride/groom are very busy day-of, but I might send a quick text with no expectation of response (“thinking of you today! Congratulations!” – or if you’re really afraid to be intrusive perhaps an email. You’ve already mailed a present so I wouldn’t add a card to the mix I think.

    5. Lcsa99*

      Thanks everyone! We’ll probably post something on the bride’s Facebook page that day or the day before.

    6. HahaLala*

      When I got married, a good friend of mine couldn’t travel to come to the wedding, and instead she texted me the morning of to say she wished she could be there and hoped I had the best day. That was a few years ago now and I still remember how thoughtful it was that day. If you’re comfortable doing that, I’d highly recommend it!

  19. Red Sky*

    Has anyone made plant-based ice cream with an ice cream maker? I can’t have dairy and have a bunch of random intolerances to some of the ingredients (thickeners etc) in a lot of store bought plant-based ice cream. I’m thinking of buying an ice cream maker and trying to make my own from coconut and/or soy milk (intolerant to almonds so no almond milk), but wanted to get y’alls advice first.

    Also, recs for specific ice cream makers appreciated!

    1. Red Sky*

      Oh, and I’m not vegan so can add eggs to make a more custard-like ice cream if that’s a thing with non-dairy ice cream?

    2. Hungry*

      You can at least make sorbets which are dairy free. I haven’t had an ice cream maker in years but used to have a Cuisinart ice cream maker that worked well. I once made a delicious raspberry sorbet from our raspberry plants. Sadly, after a few years in storage, the cuisinart grew weird white flakes and was broken.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      They’ve done this with success on the Great British Bake Off; might try there for recipes.

    4. BRR*

      I have the cuisinart ice 100 and LOVE having one with a compressor. If it’s within your budget, I would highly recommend it. When I was doing my research, the cuisinart ice 21 looked to be the universal recommendation

    5. Pop*

      Yes! My husband has been getting into it and it and his recipe tastes better than some of the store bought things I’ve purchased. The first base recipe he’s been tinkering with is from Miyoko’s Vegan Kitchen cookbook. But he’s trying others as well. He’s been using a base of coconut and cashew milk mixed. It is definitely doable!

    6. pancakes*

      I don’t have dairy restrictions, but there used to be a great vegan ice cream shop in my neighborhood and their cashew milk ice cream was really nice.

      My ice cream maker is in storage at the moment, but there is a terrific recipe for Thai coconut ice cream on the blog She Simmers I’ve made a couple times. I’ll come back with a link.

      1. pancakes*

        Sorry, it looks like the author may have taken that recipe down to put it in a book.

        Serious Eats has some good, well-tested ice cream recipes, dairy and non.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I have both the Cuisinart standalone ice cream maker and the KitchenAid ice cream attachment. Each of them requires freezing the bowl for at least 24 hours before use, and preferably 36. If your freezer is very full or not very cold, this can be a barrier to actually using your machine. I’m okay with having to freeze the bowl, so I never invested in the countertop units.

      In my opinion both the Cusinart and the KitchenAid work equally well. I prefer the churn mechanism on the Cuisinart because you can insert a thermometer into the ice cream, or pour in last-minute additions, without having to stop the machine. The paddle on the KitchenAid requires you to stop the machine before you can insert a thermometer. On the other hand, if you already have a KitchenAid mixer, you save a bit of storage space by not needing to store the base of the Cuisinart as well as the bowl.

      I make sorbets which are obviously dairy-free and they are delicious. I’ve had limited success with non-dairy ice creams. They don’t have the same mouthfeel and consistency of dairy ice-creams. The best one that I’ve made is based on bananas, and that had a good mouthfeel but you have to like banana flavor. I added dark cocoa to one batch and made some very acceptable chocolate ice cream.

      If you’re not averse to corn syrup (just the regular kind, not the high-fructose kind), try substituting 2 tablespoons of corn syrup for 1/4 cup of sugar in your recipe. It will help prevent the formation of ice crystals, and create a smoother mouthfeel.

      Tips that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated: When you are cooling your ice cream base, freeze a small portion of the base at the same time. Before you churn your ice cream, stir the frozen base into the chilled base to further cool your base. The idea is to minimize the amount of time you spend churning the ice cream to avoid ice crystals from forming. Similarly, pop a metal bowl or baking tin into the freezer when you remove your ice cream attachment. After you’ve churned your ice cream, pour the soft-serve into the chilled bowl and freeze it until it starts to get solid. Then transfer it to your ice cream container. Again, providing a cold receptacle and more surface area chills the ice cream more quickly and deters ice crystals.

    8. fibfabfer*

      We make loads of dairy free ice cream over here–I’ve found that soy based (with both soy creamer and soy milk) yields the best texture. I think we typically use arrowroot to thicken. Van Leeuwen has some very fancy recipes in their ice cream book that are dairy free and their ice cream is so tasty. If you want the recipe for the soy base we typically make, let me know and I’ll go find it!

    9. anonagain*

      Yes. I used an ancient hand crank machine that my parents still kept from when I was a child. It turned out great. I’ve made it with and without thickeners. It has been quite some time so I don’t recall specifics. (I did once find a vegan cake mix and put that in the ice cream which was probably not smart but tasted amazing.)

      Do you know anyone who has an ice cream maker you can try out? That might give you an idea of what to look for when you buy your own.

    10. mreasy*

      Hi! Yes, you can very easily make vegan ice cream in a home ice cream maker using full-fat coconut milk and any flavorings you want. This won’t be as creamy as regular vegan ice cream from the store, but you can find recipes online using thickeners like agar agar or cornstarch that can help it become more custardy. But I have had a ton of just vanilla + maple syrup + coconut milk IC and it’s very delicious!!!!

    11. MeepMeep02*

      We’ve got a wonderful gadget called Yonanas. You put frozen fruit into it and it grinds it up into a fruit-sorbet like consistency. It does great with frozen bananas and mangos.

  20. Qwerty*

    Recommendations on podcasts for people who aren’t typically into audio? I have a lots stuff to around the house (spring cleaning, mountains of laundry, reorganizing stuff, building furniture) and so I need something to listen to in order to keep motivated. Music really only works for me for about 20min (and my cat dislikes anything with a good beat). I’m not really an audio processor and haven’t gotten into podcasts or audio books. Tried the TV but that’s too distracting. Anyone dealt with this?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not an audio processor either, but I’ve had some luck with listening to old favorite books on audio, the ones I like well enough to have read a few times already. I know it’s content I like, it’s familiar enough to not be super distracting in and of itself, and if I do zone out for a minute then I know what I missed and don’t get lost.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Specific rec of Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass series in audio books; it’s performed by a full cast.

      Check for any radio programs you like–quite possibly they are podcasts. (I’m thinking of Says You (word play); Wait Wait (current events quiz); Your Hidden Brain (neuroscience); The Moth (storytelling).)

      I really like You’re Dead to Me, a history podcast that does a dive into some topic with a historian and a comedian–it works the way great dinner party conversation would. And I have really fallen for Terrible Lizards, about dinosaurs.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      I like listening to recap/discussion podcasts of TV shows I like. That way if I miss anything its not a big deal since I’ve already seen the show, but its still nice to hear the discussion / other peoples thoughts.

    4. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      I don’t focus well with audio. I’ve found that lighter podcasts like The Read and Flash Forward work for me because I don’t have to keep up with a plot. The first of topical entertainment commentary and jokes. The second explores science ‘what ifs’.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I recently got into Chop Bard, which is a podcast about Shakespeare plays. It’s very in-depth (Romeo and Juliet is like 19 episodes) and has been going since 2008. He treats the plays the way they should be treated: as entertainment, rather than as highbrow Peak Literature (recently read a comment comparing Shakespeare to made-for-TV movies, which is pretty accurate). There’s also a sister show called Shakespeare Sundays with Chop Bard where he goes over stuff that didn’t make it into the main show, as well covering the sonnets.

    6. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I’m not really god at audio processing, either, as I tend to zone out.
      What I CAN listen to for a prolonged time are radio sketch shows, my favourite being John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme. If I zone out for one sketch I might get it on a re-listen another time :D

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Lol, that was, of course, meant to say ‘I am not really GOOD at audio processing’ not ‘god’ Though I presume, both is true

    7. Jackalope*

      This is a very specialized niche, but… I’m into gaming, and have been listening to a D&D podcast called Critical Role. The episodes are fairly long (which might be a good thing if you’ve got stuff to work on!), and the storytelling is a lot of fun. On the other hand, it does involve listening to people playing a game, so if you’re not into D&D it probably wouldn’t be the thing.

      1. TangerineRose*

        I once had a cat who got all sweet and purry if I turned on classical music. I think it was Bach or Beethoven (it was a long time ago).

    8. Rekha3.14*

      When I was cleaning at my FILs house, my go to was gimlet media’s Every Little Thing podcast. Random and weird and about 15-20 mins long each. I liked the host and their approach and how it’s quirky but also based in facts.

    9. Vancouver Reader*

      Ologies: each episode she talks to an expert with a different specialty.

      I like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me if I just want to laugh

      How To is also fun and informative.

      1. Evan*

        “Ologies” is perfect. The “Smologies” episodes are trimmed down to a length that might work for OP.

    10. TangerineRose*

      Sometimes I check books on CD from the library where I’ve already read the book and like it. That way, even if I don’t pay too much attention, it’s something I already read, so I don’t worry about missing stuff.

      1. Lilith*

        It depends on what topics you are interested in. I like murder and mayhem so I recommend Small Town Dicks, My Favorite Murder and The Murder Squad along with others in that genre. But other listeners hate crimes and that’s fair. So we need some direction from you.

    11. Evan*

      Good podcasts under 30 minutes, sometimes under 20:

      The Atlas Obscura Podcast
      Overheard at National Geographic
      Stuff You Should Know (“Short Stuff” episodes)
      Ologies (“Smologies” episodes)
      Noble Blood

      Are you interested in podcasts that run for up to an hour? If so, are there any subjects you would like?

    12. Firefly*

      I’ve found dramatized fiction easier to process than full audiobooks. My favourites on Audible are the BBC dramatizations of Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as Jane Austen books and Torchwood/Doctor Who. When I’m looking for something new to try I just search BBC on Audible and usually find something that works!

    13. Sam I Am*

      Try the What’s Her Name podcast (find at whatshernamepodcast.com ) Hosted by 2 sisters who are academics, they are bringing the lives of women most people haven’t heard of to the surface. Several seasons, so plenty to pick from. Women from all over the world.
      My favorite from last season (season 11, episode 86) is about a pirate named Ching Shih.
      The first season they didn’t quite have the audio dialed in but that’s true of a lot of podcasts.

  21. DNA Tests*

    I know DNA tests shouldn’t be taken for gospel, and I’m not posting to get commentary on how they might or might not be accurate (seems like people always like to mention it when I bring it up!)

    Has anyone gotten their ethnicity results and been a bit surprised? My last name is German, and you can trace my father’s paternal side back to a town in Germany (I know being from Germany doesn’t mean you’re German), but I was surprised to see that it’s only 10%! I was actually 43% Scottish, and the next highest number was 24% English.

    I was quite happy with the results, I’ve always had an attraction to Scotland and perhaps that’s why :) (I’m also a redhead!)

    1. enough*

      My niece did this. Don’t know the break down of her mother’s side. My mother’s side is primarily German and Irish. For the results the Irish was small and the British comes under the heading of England and Northwestern Europe (also small). There was no separate German. This heading appears to includes France and Germany. Dad’s side is supposedly 100% Swedish and that showed up at 33% with other scandinavian countries showing up. Would expect something closer to 25%.
      Part of the problem with the results is that they can only match you against the information they have in the data banks. Example to get Native American results you get matched against South American indigenous people. They are related and the Americans don’t tend to get DNA tests.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yes, my mother was shocked at her results. Not because it unveiled some dark family secret, but because she was convinced that she’s “plain Jane English” (she’s a huge Anglophile) and was disappointed when her results came back largely Scandinavian. Her great great grandparents were Danish, so the results made sense to me. She was really peeved that my dad’s results came back like 80% British Isles.

      1. Salymander*

        Could your mom be descended from the Scandinavian people who settled in Eastern England? Some areas were more heavily settled than others, and if her ancestors mostly married within their community or close by she could presumably be mostly Scandinavian even with more recent ancestors that are mostly from England.

    3. Katie*

      My mom’s dad is 100% Italian. His genetics test showed this. Much to my mom’s dismay she is only 30% Italian. My siblings and I are only 3% Italian. No there were no surprise parents.

      1. Imtheone*

        But if the grandfather was 100% Italian, mother should be 50% – as half of one’s genes definitely come from the father. Then the grandchildren are 25%.
        Different genetic testing companies get different results because of differences in their reference populations.

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      (seems like people always like to mention it when I bring it up!)

      Ok, I’m going to risk sounding like an ass here, but perhaps people mention it because the framing of your question seems to imply that you think these “ethnicity results” are accurate? Additionally, some of your framing (eg: “I know being from Germany doesn’t mean you’re German”) is a little sloppy, and while I’m sure you don’t mean what that implies, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was putting people on the defensive on some level.

      I’m not aware of any reason to believe there is a meaningful genetic divide between people from Scotland or people from England or people from Germany. Your question seems to carry the implication that this is a pedantic point, but I’m not sure everyone agrees with you on that; I certainly wouldn’t.

      1. Siege*

        The other part of it is, there’s increasing evidence that we’re all basically chimeras in our own bodies – some cases are extreme, like the man whose sperm is not his, it’s his unborn twin’s and others are less so like why I have partial heterochromia when most people have eyes of one color. Using DNA averages to assert an ethnic background under those circumstances is wobbly at best from a science standpoint. You have no idea whether another swab from the same side of your mouth will replicate the results, let alone from a different part. Confirmed siblings don’t have the same results! There’s nothing there to hang your science on.

        See also: I am going to scream the next time my mother tells me her very-obviously-a-whippet-terrier-cross is mostly pitbull based on the dog’s DNA test. Double screams if she says it in her usual tone, as she doesn’t like or trust pits but she loves this dog.

        1. enough*

          Daughter did DNA on her dog. 50% pure American Staffordshire Terrier (1 of 2 breeds actually labeled as Pit Bulls), 1/8th German shepherd, 1/8th Chow Chow, 1/8 Labrador, 1/8th so muddled as to be unknown. So pure bred pit bull mated with a true mutt. When you really study (in different lights) the dog you can see different breed traits. Like the dog appears black with white markings but in the right light you will see the shepherd black and brown.
          Given breeding requirements I trust dog DNA much more than human.

    5. TangerineRose*

      I’ve been surprised, but they also keep changing where they think I’m from. I had an Italian-American grandmother, but they think I’m only a tiny bit Italian. I can’t put a lot of faith in this ethnicity results because they keep changing. They indicate that the science keeps improving, so maybe they’re getting more accurate, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      1. Freelance Anything*

        As I understand it, the test results are indicative of regions where certain genetic markers are more prevalent. And so suggesting ancestry from those places.

        So the more people who use a given DNA service, the more data they have on the current locations of all those different genetic markers. Which leads to a change in results as they reflect the increase in information.

    6. Miel*

      My mother in law took two different brands of DNA tests. Both times, she was deemed to be a mix of European, but beyond that the results were very different. She was very surprised. I was not; I figure both the precision and accuracy of these tests is low, plus people have always been migrating.

    7. Squirrel Nutkin*

      You are living my dream, DNA Tests! I too, believe that I am mostly German, but I long to be part Scottish. Congratulations on getting to find out that a place you love is also a place where you’re from.

    8. Turnip Soup*

      Those tests are really not very accurate (and I don’t like them for other reasons but that’s besides the point.)

      Basically what they do is look at a a set of DNA samples from a particular region, focusing on specific parts of the human genome that tiny variances. They then basically average out the results and say these variants define Group A, these define Group B, etc., etc., (The math is slightly more complicated.) Then they compare your results to their “map” and assign heritage based on that.

      The issues:
      1) the groups they’re using for their averages are incredibly variable & many of them are quite small and aren’t an accurate representation. I also don’t think there’s a lot of validation – they’re not necessarily going through and comparing pedigrees so they know how long someone has been, say, German, not are they necessarily defining German heritage (say, “a German heritage means the last 16 generations of your family live in Germany.”)

      2) there’s tons of variance in how your DNA is inherited. It is possible that you get all your coloring and looks from your mom but all of the markers the tests use from your dad. There are ways to design tests around this, but they require more scientific rigor than most companies use.

      3) scientists can accurately call heritage from a genome but mostly on the continent level, not the country level. If your test says you’re mostly European it’s probably right! I’d take the country specificity more as fun speculation than actual fact though.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, although it does somewhat depend on the country. I’m from Finland, with a traditionally rather inbred population. My mom, who was born in the mid-1940s, will be the oldest woman of her family to die further than 50 kilometers from her birthplace since records exist, although the same thing applies to her younger sisters. Some men in older generations died on the battlefield in various wars, some of them quite far from home.

        There are some genetic markers that are exclusively Finnish, in that if you carry one of them, there’s a Finn somewhere in your ancestry.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          There are some genetic markers that are exclusively Finnish, in that if you carry one of them, there’s a Finn somewhere in your ancestry.

          Not disputing you, but how would they know such a thing?

    9. Invisible fish*

      I can’t be the only person who doesn’t take any sort of DNA test because they don’t want to discover various aunts/uncles/cousins, right? Because I had a traveling grandfather … who, uh, never took my grandmother on any of his trips … on purpose … (Insert cackling emoji here. My mom jokes about the siblings she probably has in other countries … because we can’t do anything but laugh, can we? Well, I guess I could see about having people to stay with if I travel ….)

      1. Katie*

        My husband doesn’t want to get a test because of the possibility of siblings out there. His dad was a truck driver and partied a lot.

      2. Salymander*

        I’m adopted. I don’t want to take a DNA test because I just don’t want to know. My adoptive family is super abusive and dysfunctional, and I went no contact years ago. I have no desire to risk finding more family. I’m pretty happy having just my husband, our kid, and our chosen family.

      3. Bye Academia*

        I took a DNA test right when they first came on the market, mostly because I was curious about the traits and health info. I’m a scientist and it sounded fun to learn about my genes.

        Years later, a cousin I had never heard of appeared as a relative. Turns out my uncle donated sperm while he was in grad school, and no one in the family knew other than his wife. He wants to keep it that way, so now I have this giant secret. I wonder if/when any of my other cousins will casually take the same DNA test and get the same surprise…

        Anyway, I probably wouldn’t do the DNA test again knowing what I know now. Not just the extra relative, but also all the privacy and data security issues. I was really young when I did it and the service was in its infancy, so I just didn’t think about the ramifications.

      4. anonagain*

        Have you read “The Lost Family” by Libby Copeland? It’s fascinating and makes me never, ever, ever want to take one of these tests. The family I have now is plenty, thanks.

    10. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Different brands can get VERY different results on ethnicity!
      Because my partner is a huge genealogy person, we have done three different brands (23andme, Ancestry, and MyHeritage) and they were all wildly different.
      MyHeritage came up with 32% Italian for me and 48% Italian for my partner. Neither of us have ANY Italian in our family history, and the other two brands we tried showed 0% Italian for either of that. So that was weird.
      Ancestry results and 23andme results were closer to each other in that they had the same groups but very different percentages, but both had only groups in our known family history.
      I feel like they are very good for matching two individuals to each other (lost siblings and the like) but the geography part? Educated guesses at best.

    11. selenejmr*

      I was surprised at how my dna results came back. Growing up we were always told that Mom was 1/2 Norwegian, 3/8 Irish and 1/8 English and that Dad was 1/4 English, 1/4 French, 1/4 Swedish and 1/4 German. So, going into the test I figured I would be 1/4 Norwegian, 3/16 Irish, 3/16 English, 1/8 French, 1/8 Swedith and 1/8 German. My test results came back as 20% Scottish, 24% Norwegian, 2% Irish, 45% England & Northwestern European, 2% Spanish, 3% Wales, 2% Sweden & Denmark and 2% Basque. My kids and sister were tested too and it was fun to see the differences.

    12. Evan*

      Yes, I was surprised. I always knew my ancestors were from Area A, but my results were from Area B. My ancestors moved from one place to another long before coming to the US.

      Maybe people from Germany, Scotland, and England share a lot of genetic markers. Maybe your family from Germany was originally Scottish and English.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      People always mention the accuracy when you bring this up, because the “surprise” bit is completely attached to the accuracy. It’s impossible to separate the two because of the way these companies “determine” ethinicity. If they were more accurate/using markers actually indicative of the time your ancestors lived in whichever places (rather than markers present in people who live there NOW – thus ignoring diaspora populations) there would likely be a lot less surprise to the ethnicity “results”.

    14. Ampersand*

      Yes! I know I’m Scottish and German (based on family surnames alone), but I’m less Scottish and German and am mostly English. I thought I was a little bit Native American but that didn’t show up at all. I realize there are good reasons that that might not show up on a DNA test…as it stands, all my ancestors were apparently from the same (small) part of the world.

      My husband’s results were much more diverse and included West Africa. That was at least interesting and unexpected. The only surprise with mine is that omg I could not be more white (per these results, at least).

    15. I make genetic tests*

      I got back almost exactly what I was expecting. I’m roughly half German and half British, though all the ancestors I know about came to the US before 1800. I do have Finnish mitochondria, plus a genetic signature that suggests a single female ancestor from the 1700s accounts for all of my Finnish heritage. I have no idea who she was; wish I did.

      Note that these things tend to be much more interesting for European folks. I’m actually involved with consumer DNA testing, in my non-weekend endeavors, so I’ve done many and have had the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues. Mine can go down to the county level with the right database (accurately as per the ~70% complete pedigree I have for myself), and will usually also point out that I’m a carrier of two European genetic diseases, thanks mom and dad (one from each). Other continents, not so much.

      A funny story about those Finnish mitochondria: I was a beta tester once, and I got back the results I expected, except my mitochondria were reported as Pakistani. I expressed my surprise, whereupon the Pakistani fellow in the next cubicle expressed his own surprise – his mitochondria came back Finnish. No, it wasn’t a sample swap; the rest of him was Pakistani, and there was a Y chromosome in there, which I don’t have. Turns out there was a migration event, such that our maternal lines are in fact closely related, and also a genetic marker that distinguished the two wasn’t working properly. We fixed it before that product went live. Like anything else, these tests are not 100% foolproof; there’s some amount of curation required to make the whole thing work. This is one reason your results may shift a bit over time, and why you might get different results from different vendors.

  22. Fit Farmer*

    I feel like it might be possible to combine a number of functions into a smartphone, add some new functionality, and get to where I don’t need to use my laptop much if at all at the farm — but I know zero about smartphones!

    I have always had a flip-phone, and still have no interest in a smartphone for my “phone”. I have a laptop with a cellular data chip to get internet off-grid and to do computer-work; a camera for video/photos; a CD player or the laptop for podcasts and music while packing vegetables.

    With the tech these days, how much “laptop” function do you think I would be able to replace with an iphone? Like looking at a spreadsheet, simple word-doc edits, printing word docs or emails, editing a webpage, typing emails? Like, can I leave a keyboard and monitor in a building somewhere and “plug in” the iphone to that setup, just like I would leave my laptop in a building and go over to it for laptop work? Can I print from an iphone?

    And if so, I’d welcome suggestions for particular devices, although it seems like no other device but the iphone 12 or 13 mini would:
    -be waterproof/dustproof/shockproof enough for farm use
    -be (barely) small enough to keep in a pants pocket while working on a farm
    -take good photos and video
    -upload videos to the internet easily, without transferring to a laptop first
    -play podcasts and serve as an old-school ipod
    -play music in the field as well as the packing shed, without cords to get tangled up in while working, if I got airpods or similar
    -check email
    -look up directions/traffic while out on deliveries

    Thanks for setting me in the right direction!

    1. Still*

      I mean, I don’t know about the rest of your list, but literally any smartphone made within the last five years should absolutely be able to handle the last four (and likely the last five) points, those are some very basic functions.

      So really I’d just focus on the size, durability and video quality as your criteria, the rest of the list is pretty much a given.

      But I wouldn’t want to do any editing on my phone, or do anything work-related that takes more than 5 minutes. Can you look at a spreadsheet on your phone? Sure. Is it a major pain in the butt compared to using a laptop or a tablet? Also yes.

      1. Still*

        Oh, I see now that you want to use the phone with an external monitor and a keyboard! The answer seems to be: it’s a bit tricky to set up, but possible. Though personally I think it would be much easier to just use a laptop, rather than have to set up a bunch of external equipment.

        1. Pharmgirl*

          Oh I think I missed this too. I agree that a separate laptop would be better. I think even with an external monitor/keyboard the software is a little different so the functionality might be different.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      I wouldn’t rely on a smartphone for spreadsheet/doc editing/webpage editing. It’s just too small of a screen to be truly useful. You can definitely print though, and typing emails is no problem at all either.

      As far as your bulleted list goes – the first one depends probably on the case you get. Most phones now a days will be pocket sized. And I think for the average user, the photos/videos it takes are good enough. If you’re super into taking photo and video then you may want a standalone camera. The last 5 point on your list can definitely be done with a smartphone.

      My only experience with smartphones is an iPhone, I have the XR now. I’m technically due for an upgrade but I’ve never felt the need upgrade with my phones, and I’m usually late to do so. I’m sure there’s even more functionality with newer models. I think most of what you’re looking for can be done with an iPhone and probably other popular smart phones. The only things that would be difficult would be document editing etc that I mentioned above.

    3. Fit Farmer*

      Thanks, yes that was where I was skeptical too. I mean a smartphone is most of a computer and with an external screen/keyboard it seems like it could act sort of like a non-portable “real” computer…but I don’t know if they make the hardware and software for that all to work together smoothly yet! I’d mostly be trying to look up something in a spreadsheet or make small changes and print something, not doing actual editing work, but still.

      1. Janne*

        On my Android phone, the Google Spreadsheets app works fine for small edits / looking things up / printing a spreadsheet. I wouldn’t want to set up a new spreadsheet in it or fill in a lot of info, and the spreadsheet shouldn’t be too big because my phone doesn’t have that big of a screen.

      2. another_scientist*

        A smartphone from the last 5 years should perform everything from your bulleted list. A phone case such as Otterbox will help with ruggedness. Pocket size can mean a lot of things, but I am going to take a guess and say that farm work clothes have fairly spacious pockets, so you can get a good size screen. This helps a ton for enabling a quick lookup on a spreadsheet, or entering a couple of values (but the phone screen will never be great for really analyzing data on the spreadsheet).
        You might still want a laptop for heavier document editing, website editing, and printjobs. But a smartphone can replace your flip phone, camera, CD player and whatever you use for directions on the go.

        1. Observer*

          A phone case such as Otterbox will help with ruggedness

          Yes, in general and specifically the OtterBox. They make some really good cases.

          o you can get a good size screen. This helps a ton for enabling a quick lookup on a spreadsheet, or entering a couple of values (but the phone screen will never be great for really analyzing data on the spreadsheet).</i.

          This is very true.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Those are very basic functions, pretty much all modern smartphones will do these.
      I really like my Pixel6 Pro, highly recommend. It’s a bit large possibly, so check the dimensions.

    5. Generic Name*

      I think you could easily replace laptop functionality with a tablet. And a good case will make an iPhone waterproof and shock proof. HP makes wireless printers that you can print to from mobile devices. And you can use mobile versions of spreadsheet programs, but I don’t know that the functionality is the same as the full program though.

    6. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      For your needs? Probably all of it. I invested in a really good Samsung smartphone recently (I like them for the expandable memory) and haven’t used a laptop since! It has all my office stuff for my dogwalking business on it, and all my music, books, and audiobooks on it. Admittedly I still have a tablet, because movies work better on that for me. I’m considering adding mobile data for it so I don’t have to worry about internet.

    7. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Typing and editing on a smartphone tends to be really tricky (small touchscreens aren’t the best, especially if you aren’t used to it). The rest, any smartphone will do, but from what I hear, Nokia is still setting the standard for sturdiest phones, and they seem to have a variety of sizes.

      I wouldn’t recommend replacing your laptop with a phone, although some people manage with just a tablet and keyboard.

    8. Turnip Soup*

      Maybe you can look into Google docs instead of hooking up your phone.

      That’s a free service where you can create documents -spreadsheets and word docs – and store and edit them completely online. So you can make quick edits from your phone and but also make edits on your laptop without needing to save or transfer files. You can also store and share files like videos and photos. (Apologies if you already knew this but it sounds like what you need).

      1. Fit Farmer*

        Thanks, I am aware of (but not at all fluent in) googledocs, and the missing piece you’re getting at is being able to access spreadsheets via a website, rather than via a program that runs on the smartphone’s operating system…which isn’t built for officework, it sounds like! The not needing to transfer files might also be nice.

    9. Observer*

      For external monitor and keyboard, an iPhone of any model is not a good idea. Most Android phones are not great either – your only really good choice for that is one of the higher end Samsung phones that have Dex. That’s their proprietary add on to Android to make that functionality work.

      Anything small enough to fit deeply into your pants pocket is going to be a royal pain to use for things like spreadsheet and document editing. Even really large phones aren’t great for that. It’s only on the foldables that it starts to be potentially ok.

      The thing is that the iPhone – NONE of the models are what I would think are a good idea the kind of environment you are describing. Yes, the phone is water and dust resistant, but any glass phone is going to be pretty fragile. This is true of all phones, not just iPhones, but it’s something to be aware of. You might want to consider a ruggedized phone. If you don’t do that, the you DEFINITELY are going to want to get a screen protector and a really good case.

      As for the rest of your list, any decent mid- range to high-end phone will do what you are asking for competently. They all have Bluetooth for wireless earbud, can play lots of music, handle email, and take decent pictures. If you want REALLY good pictures, the mini iPhone model may be pushing it, and your choices in Android are a bit more limited. Again, look at Samsung of the Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro. If you don’t need top of the line you have a lot more choices.

  23. Lizabeth*

    Birding thread!

    Cardinals are out strong (we’re got a lot of pairs around here) as are the wrens. They are making numerous messy twig nests and singing their hearts out. Saw my first hummingbird earlier this week (thought it was still too cold for them in central VA). The feeders are up and saw a male this morning at it.

    Hearing a lot of hawk cries – not sure what is going on there.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Eastern King Birds have built a nest outside my bathroom window. I’m looking forward to watching this season’s chicks!

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      A huuuuuge raccoon came by the other day and drank all the sugar water out of our hummingbird feeder…. arrrrgh. I’m debating how best to deal with that, I think I may move the feeder to the balcony on the other side of the house. The birds will have to travel farther but I’ve seen them on that side before, and I don’t think the raccoon will be able to get to it.

    3. Squeebird*

      We have a ton of little birds visiting our yard now and we’re just thrilled. We put out a bird house and a bird feeder, and a family of juncos is actually using the house! :) Bonus, they don’t seem to mind our dogs (and vice versa).

      We have seen many finches, juncos, chickadees, Stellar’s jays, and flickers so far!

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m going tomorrow to a session on wildlife photography at an annual birding festival. I’ve taken lots of photos that I feature on my blog, but I’ve never had any formal training. I’m excited to spend the afternoon outdoors with an instructor geeking out with other birders and nature photography fans and learning new skills!

    5. Baroness Schraeder*

      OK, just for fun… on my Easter hike I saw heaps of pīwakawaka, riroriro and tauhou although surprisingly not many tui. Pīpīwharuaroa have all left for the winter now. Plenty of big clumsy kererū crashing through the trees and I was lucky to spot several miromiro and heard but didn’t see a couple of kākā cackling to each other in the bush. At night there were a few nearby rūrū calling but they were well hidden too. Kept awake by a very opinionated kiwi screeching right outside at all hours!

    6. Lizabeth*

      The tree swallow is trying to get in the bird house the wrens have taken – drama! Indignation! Noise! A house finch is making a nest in Mom’s overgrown Xmas tree from years ago. Just heard a new to me bird call that will have to figure out what it is. Morning coffee on the porch is good…

    7. GoryDetails*

      Spotted a wild turkey in full courtship dispay – one huge, handsome dark bronze bird strutting his stuff! The female seemed rather blase about the whole thing, and then I noticed another male all puffed up some distance behind; perhaps she was weighing her options…

  24. OTGW*

    I’ve been wanting to dye my hair for like, years. Not sure how to go about it though.

    Should I do it at home or is it better to go to a stylist? Does it work better with shorter hair? Mine is at my armpits and while I like longer hair, maybe it shouldn’t grow much more? Is it better to do like an ombre thing or maybe the bottom layer of hair?

    Also, what color would you pick? Yes, I realize to each their own, but I’m honestly open to anything but pink. I have dark blonde hair. I also usually keep it in a single braid 90% of the day, for what it’s worth.

    Any thoughts you have would be appreciated!!

    1. DeNaranja*

      Perhaps there are some stylists who comment here, but you should really go to one! they’ll be able to answer all of your questions.

      It is DEFINITELY better to go to a stylist, home hair dye (unless you really know what you’re doing) doesn’t turn out great (personal preference).

      Also, I have never dyed my hair before so perhaps I’m not the best person to answer, but I follow a lot of stylists on instagram (it’s quite satisfying seeing the transitions) so I see a lot of videos and hear a lot about the process.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I have done my own at home. A friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years gasped in horror when she saw me: “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR HAIR?”

      That’s when I decided maybe it was worth spending the money to have a professional do it. (Maybe at least the first time – and then ask her how you can maintain it at home.)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I dye at home, but leave the bleaching to the professionals. I have hip-length dark red hair, so I have to bleach out whatever I want to color — I have it professionally bleached from the shoulders down about every two years, so the colored part goes from shoulders-down to about bra-strap down over the two years. (I do it this way -a- so I never have to worry about roots and -b- because, when I started doing funky colors twelve years ago, I worked somewhere that colored hair was against the dress code, but this way when I put it up nobody notices :P )

      I’ve tried a bunch of colors, and I always do multiple colors at a time – I split my hair into three sections like I was going to braid it, then do each section in a color, so when it’s done they kind of mix together. Purple is one of my constants, because even when it fades the color is still lovely – the purple I use goes from a deep dark purple to almost a raspberry-wine color over the course of like six months. I do a lot of blue, teal, green. Sometimes I throw fire engine red or orange in there for a bright spot. Right now I have black, teal and purple. In between bleaching sessions I just dye over what’s already there. I think next time I get bleached to start afresh, I want to try three different shades of green , but the green fades super fast, so that won’t be a very long-term experiment.

      I do Arctic Fox dye, which is available at Hot Topic. I only dye about every six months – I don’t wash my hair every day, due to its texture, so my colors tend to last really well. I don’t have a lot of experience with other dyes, but this one seems to be fairly gentle on hair for being a semi-permanent dye? I’ve never had any issues with it drying out my hair or any other sort of damage, stylists swoon over how good a shape my hair is in despite twelve years of dyeing, so I figure I’m alright :)

    4. RagingADHD*

      If you have never dyed your hair at all and are going for a “fun” color rather than a natural color, I recommend starting with a demipermanent dye from a beauty-supply store and doing it at home.

      There are many types that come in a cream or gel form and go on just like conditioner. They usually wash out in a few weeks, so they’re good for experimenting with a low committment. You can easily do just the ends for a dip-dye look, or just a streak in the front, and if you like it, do more later

      The main concern with those is cleanup, because they stain everything except porcelain.

      1. Ewesername*

        As someone who has been using Punky Color for years – the absolute best clean up product is not whitening dollar store toothpaste. No idea why, but it get the dye off skin, the floor, the bathtub, the sink. Weird but works.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Thank you! This is a tip I will need if I ever dye at home again.

          I was going to post that, if choosing home hair colour, one should be aware that it is possible to completely redecorate the bathroom by accident! Of course, it’s possible that I’m just unusually inept. Even using the gel colour that’s supposed to not drip, I usually managed to get a bit on my face or neck and leave a funny mark until it wore off. Many of my teenaged friends had a particular towel and nightshirt that they kept for hair colouring occasions. Products have become generally nicer to use, less stinky for example, since then; but they’re meant to dye, and so they dye stuff.

          About fifteen years ago I decided I would start investing in skilled professional help in this area, even though I never had a bad experience in the sense of hair damage. Oh — I did learn that ash blonde makes my face look ruddy in a way I find unappealing. But it wasn’t such a bad discovery that I rushed right out and ‘fixed’ it. I just didn’t choose that colour again.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Oh, I always put a barrier of vaseline around my hairline and ears, so drips wipe off easily.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and with dark blond hair there are plenty of vivid colors that will show up without pre-bleaching.

        If you needed to bleach, I’d only recommend DIY if you are totally okay with the risk of frying or melting your hair and needing to chop it off. I started doing my own color years ago and didn’t care at all because I was perfectly willing to get a buzz cut and start over. I never had to, it was always fine. But I would have been more upset that my project failed than about the actual hair.

        If you care about keeping your hair and don’t want to risk it, use a stylist for bleach.

      3. PostalMixup*

        I use Overtone every now and then. It’s a coloring conditioner, and tends to wash out pretty completely for me in about three weeks. I recommend trying that first because, honestly, it’ll be instructive as to how much work proper sectioning is, for if and when you go permanent. When I had long hair, I always missed patches. But when the color fades that fast, it’s self-fixing!

    5. wingmaster*

      I’ve had blue and now green balayages on naturally black hair – I always have the stylist do it, because of the bleaching process, the balayage technique, and these are “fashion” colors…I don’t trust myself to do that! You can always book a free consultation with a couple stylists to get their opinions on what you’d like to achieve.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      If you have never dyed your hair before, I highly, HIGHLY, recommend a stylist, at least for the first time, especially if you want something like ombre.

    7. Pool Lounger*

      I do bleaching + unnatural colors at home, because it’s so expensive to get my super dark hair double bleached at a salon, and I’ve done it myself multiple times with zero problems. If I wanted a natural color I’d go to a salon, because I can only do one flat color, not something that looks natural.

    8. cat socks*

      If you’ve never died your hair before, I recommend a stylist. I go to get my grays covered and tried highlights once. I could probably do just a root touch up at home, but honestly I’m too lazy so it’s nice to have someone else do it.

      You may want to check on prices and see if you’re able to keep up with maintaining the color.

    9. IrishEm*

      For a first time dye job go to a professional. It’ll be more expensive but you don’t run the risk of it coming out wrong or disappointing.

      (I know it’s a terrible website but) I have a Pinterest board with hairstyles I like for myself, including colours. The literal only thing I know about colour is that if your hair is lighter coloured you won’t need to do as much bleaching if you want to go adventurous in your colour. Also I just love teal hair, it’s amazing.

    10. Miel*

      Hi! Sounds like we have similar hair. I’ve been dying mine at home and professionally for about 8 years.

      If you just want to do a strand of your hair, you can bleach and dye at home. Or, try dying without bleaching beforehand (this only works for some colors). A bleach kit is $10 and dye is $15 from Sally Beauty Supply. Wear gloves. Bleach is kinda nasty and can irritate skin. Dye is harmless but messy; it’ll stain your skin, countertop, etc. I’ve used Manic Panic, Arctic Fox, and Strawberry Leopard brands. Many have images on their website of what a certain color looks like on various hair colors.

      Professionally: Every two years, I pay $250 to get my hair bleached and dyed all over. I ask the stylist to do balayage. This is a way to do a gradual shift from my natural color to the bright color. It grows out beautifully and I’m never obligated to go back. In between, I either embrace the blonde, or I add dye at home myself.

      I’ve done tons of shades of purple, as well as blue, pink, and now orange! I recommend every color in the rainbow. Have fun!!

      1. Miel*

        Adding: I recommend “semi-permanent” dyes. They will gradually wash out over several weeks/ months. Bright colors really only come in semi permanent.

        If you want your color to last longer, wash less often (use dry shampoo, such as Batiste) and use special sulfate-free shampoo (such as L’Oréal EverPure).

    11. Juneybug*

      Ombre with your hair braided would be stunning.

      I agree with everyone – go to a salon the first time. Ask plenty of questions. Get a good color-safe shampoo and conditioner. Ask if your local water fades hair and what to do (filter, color refresher shampoo, etc.). Use a lightweight hair oil to bring our the color(s).

      I am currently rocking blond hair (colored as I am gray/light brown naturally) wavy shoulder length bob with peek a boo* color of different shades of purple.

      I have done pink, orange, green, red, and purples. My hair stylist does not recommend blue for me (even thought it’s my favorite color) as it often turns green or he would have to bleach it first to get the blue to stay.

      *Peek a book is what my stylist calls it where the blond is on top but the various colors is placed under the top layers.

      Have fun!! I am in my late 50s and I love my different hair colors!!

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      If you have naturally lighter hair, and are willing to accept a darker color that can go right on top of your natural hair, that will simplify things enormously. Bleaching your own hair will absolutely ruin it. (I used to bleach my dark brunette hair to white-blonde, and I didn’t have to cut it, the hairs naturally broke off after five bleaching cycles – I bleached every two weeks, so it stayed at pixie length.)

      I would also suggest that you go with a warm color. If you’ve got hair that’s darker than the dye is designed for, a warm color will turn into a still-nice but more orangey version of itself, while a cool color will come out brownish and muddy.

      As for the mess factor, I had good luck with Pravana Locked In. It really did stick to the hair and nothing else. My bathtub and pillowcases were unharmed. It does stick to nails, so gloves are useful.

      If you’re debating whether or not you should see a stylist…put it this way, the first time I bleached my own hair, I ended up with a buzz cut. Would you be OK with that? Then have fun. Would you cry and refuse to leave the house until it grows back? Be honest with yourself, because it WILL go wrong, and if you can’t laugh about it then you need to entrust your precious locks to a pro.

  25. NoLongerFencer*

    Struggling with 5 week old baby that sleeps during the day, gets very screamy fussy 3-5 am when my SO feeds/takes care of baby. We adhere to a feeding schedule that adjusts if need be. Also, it seems like this phase lasts forever. When do the exciting milestones/unexpected milestones start? We’re 1st time parents, mid thirties, everyone else is childfree, we really wanted kids, but this is really soul sucking. First the stress of NICU then reflux and possible colic and I had to take over SO’s night shift bc baby was inconsolable and SO was worried he’d lose his temper with the baby screaming nonstop. SO is the most parient person on earth, normally. Please tell me this gets better? (Please?)

    1. Loves libraries*

      So so normal and so very hard. Currently 35 weeks pregnant with my second and not looking forward to this! I think there were a few times things suddenly improved – around 6-8 weeks and again 3-4 months. Best thing for resetting baby clock is to get outside in the morning so they start to pick up dsy/night. Take all possible help, time off and chances for sleep. It will get better, but is so hard until it does! Sending positive vibes to your family

    2. Wildcat*

      You’re in the absolute worst of it, if your kid is like mine. Social smiles are close and things will start calming down. 4-6 weeks is often peak crying.

      1. Lila*

        Yes, I remember my pediatrician telling me 6 weeks was “peak fussiness” but it is so hard at the time!

    3. RagingADHD*

      It gets better!!!

      For average babies, you start seeing some improvements in sleep, particularly day/night orientation, around 6-8 weeks and it’s much better by 12 weeks. I don’t know if the NICU situation means your baby will track younger than chronological age, but you’re getting really close.

      Social smiles can start as early as 6 weeks, too (though not always.)

      I highly recommend the book Wonder Weeks, which talks about the baby’s brain development and how it drives behavior. Fussiness often tracks with brain growth spurts as well as body growth spurts, and usually result in a milestone breakthrough.

      It’s gruelling, I know. Hang in there! Can you get someone to come hold the baby so you can catch a nap?

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      It absolutely gets better! This part is normal, albeit no fun. Every baby is different, but iirc it was around 2 months that my son seemed to settle in and started to be more interactive. (He’s 17 now, so it was long ago. There are lots of phases, and most of them were great!)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      It gets better!

      I would check with your pediatrician, and if nursing maybe with a nursing consultant. They have seen a lot of babies, and may cue into small things that I would miss. Or have a list of five different things to try, as you try to figure out if your baby responds to one of them.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Your baby will start smiling just when you’ve reached the very end of your ability to give and give with no reward. I am convinced there is a reason for this. Hang in for those smiles, they are coming soon!

      If you have any disposable income whatsoever, or any patient friends or relatives, see if you can get someone who isn’t you to sleep over with the baby once a week, and just bring her to you for nursing (if you are nursing). A decent night’s sleep will make everything else easier.

      1. Not A Manager*

        You mentioned that the baby is inconsolable without you. This will sound harsh, but don’t let that be a barrier to having someone else care for her on the occasional night. It will not harm her to be unconsoled once in a while, and it will greatly benefit you to have a night off. Which is also good for the baby, but that’s not the main reason to do it.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yes, especially if there’s someone else with the baby, your kiddo will still be getting loving adult attention. It might not be the attention she wants, but she won’t be harmed by not having you for a few hours.

    7. a long time ago when the earth was green*

      I had a baby with colic… and I remember the doc asking me at the 8 week checkup how often the baby cried … and I suddenly realized she was no longer colicy. Yay!. As for milestones: I remember having a toy that had a round heavy bottom that would return upright if pushed, and baby was definitely playing with that toy at 3 months. Crawling started not long after. Second the recommendation for walks. – easily took the baby outside walking for 3 hours a day- luckily I lived by a place with a good walking path. But, this is definitely the grueling part, hang in there.

    8. Pop*

      I did not start any sort of scheduling (feeding or napping) until around three months, and even that felt early. Honestly, five weeks is really little still! You might be more stressed trying to get on and stick to and adjust the schedule than if you just didn’t have one. Five weeks is still very normal for baby to not be great at nighttime. Might consider mixing up your sleeping shifts if you do that (ie you sleep 7-1, your spouse sleeps 1-7 or whatever) if they’re worried about losing temper in the middle of the night. Getting a long stretch of sleep made me feel like I could keep going. Good luck!! Like everyone else says, social smiles will come in the next few weeks and those are the best.

    9. HannahS*

      Hi, I have a 7-month old, and yes, in about a week or two your baby will smile at you which will help enormously. I had a lot of trouble nursing and it continued to get easier and easier as the baby’s mouth got bigger and my body adjusted. It will get better. It is soul-sucking and it will not last forever. Bear in mind that sleep-deprivation is a form of torture. It will get better.

      Similarly to you, my typically-very-patient SO needed more help from me than either of us expected at night, which was a source of real stress (and frankly, resentment from me.) Our baby really was less consolable with my partner, because he was less familiar/comforting to the baby, and not because he was doing anything wrong. Our baby had grown inside me and was nursing and spent most of her time with me; being held by me was familiar to her in a way that being with my partner was not. This was hard on my partner, both from the simple fact that holding a wailing baby is unpleasant, and also because it feels bad when your baby prefers their other parent. It worked itself out with time, both because baby’s sleep improved over time, and she got used to my partner over time.

      Also, just to say: You’re doing a hard thing. You’re not alone, and you will get through it. Your SO is doing the right thing by recognizing when he needs to put the baby down and also it really sucks for you to have to step up and do more when you’re already so exhausted. I’m sure more experienced people will have all kinds of ideas of what you should or shouldn’t do, but I’m on my first kid and I don’t have advice, except to say that it’ll pass, I promise.

    10. Invisible today*

      You’re in the thick of it right now. It gets better, I promise you. Don’t take it personally – your little one is still trying to make sense of this new weird world and cant reallu communicate except screaming. One thing I used to do is have ridiculous one-sided conversations pretending that the screaming was “legitimate complaints ” like ” oh I’m sorry for leaving you all by yourself in the crib for all of you yminutes – we should have known that a princess of your rank will only sleep in the comfiest of arms…. yes we understand how severe a mistake that was” etc…. it doesn’t stop the crying but if you and your partner cam make each other laugh, it’ll be less painful.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Yes! We always talk to our ten-week-old baby like “yes I know you’re unhappy right now, you are communicating that to us very well!” Because really, he is!

      2. RagingADHD*

        When I was really punchy from overtiredness, I’d reassure my baby that we would write a strongly worded letter and take it uo with the proper authorities.

    11. Not Bob*

      I’ll share my experience:
      1. When does it get better? When you are able to sleep and actually take care of yourself and not just the baby! It takes too long. It has been a while, but our first had acid reflux, and I want to say it was about 6-8 weeks until we got that under control. I really can’t remember exactly though. It got better for everyone when we did. Thinking back, we should have been more confident in our observtions that baby was in pain/that her reaction to eating was not normal fussiness. We may have gotten to medicine more quickly, which is what made the biggest difference.
      2. It does get better. It will pass. (Really, I enourage you to focus on trying to get as much rest as you can, however you can.)
      3. We tried hard to have a schedule. Just the time that we figured out a schedule that baby would work on, baby changed. Looking back, I wish we would have thought of the schedule only as useful information to help us guess what baby needed at the moment and not as a goal or something to measure our success against. Baby didn’t care.

      1. Picklelilly*

        Feeding schedules only work if the baby gets hungry “on schedule”. And babies aren’t predictable until at least 8 weeks and maybe longer.
        My first kid ate every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, my second was more of a 4-hour eater.

        Until the growth spurts. Then all bets are off! Feed them when they’re hungry. (Some babies will favor a pacifier when they aren’t hungry but want to suck. )

        Walking the floor was a sure way to quiet my kids. (I wish I’d had a pedometer, must have put in miles!)

    12. fhqwhgads*

      In my very very recent experience, the first 2 months feels like 100 years and the next two months will feel like 2 days. For us it got better around 9 weeks and has been getting better since. Once baby starts sleeping at least 8 consecutive hours, you will feel like a human again. Shortly after that, baby will become more interactive and then you’re on the road to good stuff.

    13. Macaroni Penguin*

      Yes, it gets better. For me, I noticed that my little one started understanding night/day around 8 weeks. He’s 5 months old now, and things are much easier.

    14. Janet Pinkerton*

      You are so close! My son is 10 weeks old today. Exciting milestones that we’ve hit since five weeks: he smiles at us! He makes eye contact! Just a few days ago he started raising his chest during tummy time. He can hold up his head so much better now. He looks at books and the mobile now.

      Screaming is really hard to handle. I’m sorry you’re in the thick of it. If you haven’t read up on the five S’s, or on wake windows, I’d suggest that. (I suspect you have, but I wanted to mention especially since I didn’t know about wake windows until after our son was born!)

      Is taking over SO’s night shift a permanent adjustment or a one-time thing? I hope he is able to take some of the shifts because it is so so so hard not sleeping.

      1. CheerfulGinger*

        Yes to wake windows and the 5 S’s!
        My kiddo definitely had a “fourth trimester”, by which I mean the 1st 12 weeks of her life were incredibly difficult for me and her dad. Newborns are not like other humans, but it gets so much better by month 4!

    15. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I have an almost-2 year old (seriously time has flown!). I still clearly remember those early days, yet I don’t remember. Go figure. It does get better. Try to get as much help as you can, from the baby, chores, etc. Not sure what SO’s schedule is but you both should really try to get at least 4-6 hours of solid sleep. Let the baby cry a little with dad. Constant sleep deprivation is dangerous.

    16. small town*

      Your have this! For both of my sons 5-7 weeks was the worst. They are now much older and quite lovely. I can remember nursing my older son, changing his diaper, tucking him into his crib because he was a bundle of freakish misery. I took 5 minutes and then went to the kitchen for a bit of iced tea and deep breathing. I remember thinking “this is how child abuse happens” though never condoned. And I was a financially stable married graduate educated professional. With family support. Now one is in graduate school and the other is a specialist lawyer. I think that it is a great mercy that most of us do not remember anything before we are 3-4 years old.

    17. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      It is absolutely fine to wear earplugs to take the piercing edge off having to hold a screaming baby close to you! And any other ear protection available! Has your partner experimented with having a tshirt you have been wearing, so that it smells of you, between him and the baby as he holds it? The familiar smell is a reassuring thing for a baby. Best wishes to you both for good sleeping times ahead.

      1. SunnyStreets*

        Totally agreed on earplugs or headphones to cut the volume level and take the edge off the crying!

    18. Salymander*

      Your post made me shed a little tear. It really does get better. My kid screamed like a banshee whenever anyone held her except me. She had colic and it was f’ing horrible. I felt like the worst parent ever to exist. I cried a lot. She didn’t want to nap much, and seemed to sleep for maybe 2-3 hours at a time at night, interspersed with an hour or more of screaming. I didn’t sleep much, and had terrible nightmares when I did. I definitely had postpartum depression. Husband also felt terrible, and there was a lot of simmering resentment between us because we both felt so sad and wrung out.

      Then, at age 4 months, kid suddenly started napping a bit and sleeping at night for 4 hour stretches with a couple of feeding breaks in-between. Shortly after that, kid started letting husband hold her. The first time she fell asleep on his shoulder without screaming, my husband just sat there crying with relief and happiness. He said he had thought that the baby had hated him, and that he must be a terrible person for a baby to hate him so much. It really messes with your mind when your baby just seems so miserable. Once I could finally get a few hours to myself, I started to feel much better and I was less stressed while taking care of the baby. The sleep improved after that for everyone, and everything just seemed so much easier. It is amazing how much kinder we were to each other once we could sleep and didn’t feel like failures and bad parents. By 5 months, kid was a happy, fun, easy baby and we actually started to enjoy life again.

      It does tend to get better as they get older, at least for us. I know you must feel exhausted and frustrated right now. You are not alone. People talk about how cute babies are, and the rewards of parenting, but the truth is that it is exhausting and frustrating a lot of the time. I was 34 when I had my baby, and none of my friends had kids so I joined a mom’s club. It helped to have other people around to share experiences with, and we helped each other with babysitting and bringing meals when anyone had an illness or another baby. It was a great support system for those of us without family or friends to help out. Just seeing that other people had a hard time with parenting too made me feel like I was not as incompetent as I had thought. It was a huge relief. We arranged regular playgroups when the kids got older, which was nice for the only children like my kid because they developed sibling type relationships with each other. It gave the adults a chance to get out, too. There are more clubs for parents that are less gender focused too, so that is nice and more inclusive. Maybe once you are a bit less sleep deprived you can find the energy to look up parent clubs in your area.

      For now, just do what you have to do and let go of anything that is not absolutely critical. Your house can be messy. Your friends can understand that things are just really stretched right now. Maybe some of them can step up and help later, but right now you can just focus on your baby, your partner, and yourself. Maybe friends could help by bringing a meal or running an errand. If a friend could agree to hold baby while you take a shower or get a nap, that might be good. Even people who are not up for a 4 hour babysitting gig will usually have no problem holding a baby and walking around with it or rocking for half an hour, even if the baby is fussing. Otherwise, let your world get a little smaller for awhile. You can open things back up once your baby feels better and once you all get a lot more sleep.

      Hang in there. It is exhausting and frustrating and harder than just about anything, but it gets easier in time. Captain Awkward introduced me to the concept of Jedi Hugs, which are hugs you give with your mind instead of actually hugging someone (great for those of us who don’t like hugging!). So, I’m sending Jedi Hugs to you and your partner and to your baby. And a Jedi fist bump of solidarity, because small babies are sometimes really, really difficult no matter how much you love them.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        I want to draw attention to the part about postpartum depression. Be on the lookout for symptoms, especially if you’re not sleeping. I’m convinced that the reason so many women get PPD is because of lack of sleep. (I have no evidence for this.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        People talk about how cute babies are, and the rewards of parenting.
        And yet the context is never these people offering to take a week of night shifts with a colicky infant.

        1. Salymander*

          I know, right?

          In my experience, the people who go on and on about the glories of caring for tiny screaming infants are either people who had their kids a really long time ago and have undergone parental amnesia (or want grandkids) and/or they had an exceptionally easy baby and/or they had a ton of help by competent friends and family. Sometimes they have an axe to grind re: The Correct Way Of Life. It is all very tiresome and unhelpful, especially because all those messages we internalize tend to make us feel like crap. Guilt trips and unreasonable expectations don’t babysit so you can get more than 2 hours of sleep a night.

    19. Data/Lore*

      I hope you are still reading and see this:

      My first had colic. So bad. She also had a dairy protein allergy that took forever for us to catch because we were breastfeeding. (She did grow out of it at around 5/6 years old). She would be up nightly, crying, and would only be calm if she was upright and swaying and listening to music.

      My second had reflux, and was an early baby, spent time under oxygen in the NICU. She was an octopus baby, and *had* to be held. Babywearing saved my sanity- she was the happiest wrapped up tight in a swaddle or baby wrap, and swaddling worked until she was physically too big. We had a whole routine for her- swaddle, lay on her left side, give her a pacifier, away or rock her back and forth very gently, and make a shushing sound. I am now a fussy baby whisperer lol

      They are in elementary and middle school now. It gets better, every phase does. They have their quirks, and they don’t stop being stressful (sorry y’all, it’s the painful truth) but I loved them hitting every milestone. I don’t miss the early years at all, they were so stressful, and I was tired all the time because life doesn’t stop when you have a baby, and I know we screwed up so many times. On the other side of the ankle biter years, I recommend taking a first aid class and definitely learn infant cpr and heimlich. Those will save you lots of panic moments.

      1. allathian*

        Seconding infant CPR and Heimlich. I’m very fortunate because I never needed those skills, but it made me feel much more secure in my parenting to have them.

    20. Observer*

      As everyone else says, it gets better.

      Also, speak to your pediatrician about sleep training. In your case, what you want to do is shift your baby’s schedule, since baby can go a few hours asleep, just not at a good time. It’s usually doable, and when you can do it, it’s better for everyone.

      Also, if the baby still has reflux talk to the pediatrician about what you can give Baby. There is no good reason to not treat it.

    21. NancyDrew*

      Oh god — you’re right in the thick of it. You’re doing great! Don’t stress!

      Babies change at two different lengths, in my experience: some phases are only 2 weeks, some are 3 months. In that first year, you’ll basically have a new baby four times (every 3 months!).

      Right now, it’s just about survival. It ABSOLUTELY gets better. Do whatever you need to get through this first year!

    22. MeepMeep02*

      It totally gets better. I second all the commenters saying to stagger the sleep shifts – if both of you can count on 5-6 hours of sleep a night, you’ll feel way better. And get a nighttime babysitter if you’re truly desperate. We had no outside support when our baby was that little, and we went into credit card debt paying for, among other things, nighttime babysitters every so often. I do not regret a penny of it, because I would have snapped otherwise.

      In my experience, 2-3 months is when the cute and adorable milestones start. Baby’s first smile, Baby discovering their feet (that was absolutely adorable to watch), that sort of thing. When you see that cute little face smiling at you, you’ll feel way better.

  26. bibliovore*

    bathroom renovation journey.
    So- turns out I can’t get a quote for the plumber until I choose the fixtures. (faucets etc)
    i need to choose a drain for the shower.
    If I choose large tiles it has to be a rectangular long drain. Called lineal. i have never seen one.
    Pro’s /Con’s?
    Tub filler can be anywhere from $350 to $3,000 for a standing goose neck. Worth it? Not worth it? Can’t find “tub filler reviews on line.
    Words to use for the designer and the contractor.
    Despite my saying “no vessel sinks” they show me floating vanities with vessel sinks.
    Is wood a no/no?

    I am overwhelmed.
    What search terms should I be using to find pictures of what would be “my style”
    Japanese/Swedish, I think.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Traditional Japanese tubs are wood. So it’s certainly possible. But if the contractor has never worked with wood in a bathroom, you might not want your bath to be the experimental canvas.

      Japanese and Swedish to me says minimalist, clean lines, warm wood with soft white or pale cool paint colors. Maybe some dark stone, but I am picturing something like slate–dark, matte, smooth. Rather than textured, shiny, or high contrast marble patterns. No elaborate tile work.

      1. pancakes*

        Hinoki wood, specifically, which has anti-microbial and humidity-resistant properties that other woods generally don’t. Something that looks vaguely Japanese but isn’t made of hinoki or teal or whatnot isn’t necessarily going to hold up well.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          I agree! And a lot of the scandi styles are based on getting the splash zone membranes absolutely up to code, so that they withstand the water/shower in the splash zones.

    2. pancakes*

      I think Remodelista is a good source for both of those. You may also start seeing references to “Japandi” design, which some sites and publishers like to use to refer to Japanese contemporary / Scandinavian influence.

    3. Generic Name*

      I personally wouldn’t choose large tiles for a shower floor; I’d worry that the water wouldn’t drain well. I chose very large tiles for the shower walls and went with “tile” that’s actually slices of pebbles for the shower floor.

      For the tub filler, if you have budget, go with what you like. I think a $350 one is probably just fine too.

      It is overwhelming. I suggest going to stores to narrow your choices. There’s tons on the internet, but not all of it is necessarily available. I’d fall in love with a tile from an internet search but then it wouldn’t be available anywhere. Wayfair seemed to showcase items that are perennially out of stock for some bizarre reason.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Also very large tiles requires a very very even base, so can be trickier for the floor. in my bathroom I have large tiles on the walls, and small 10 x 10 cm tiles on the floor. Much easier job to lay. The walls are easier to get flat, because it’s usually tiled on top of base bathroom wall boards.

      This is also a very Scandinavian style :)

    5. Anono-me*

      I am not a plumber; but I have always been told that for faucets, there are two types of internal working, and the ceramic type is much better. I know that some of the newer kitchen sink faucets have warranties. I would take a good look at a long time big brand one with a ceramic inside and a long warranty. The tub fillers with a shower head on a hose may not be something for how you will use the tub for bathing or soaking; but it might be nice for cleaning the tub (and the dog). You may also want to visit a locally owned hardware store and talk to one if their experts. Where we are there are a bunch of really knowledgeable people at the Ace stores and you may have good luck there also.

      A friend did a shower with a precast base and then uses sheets of granite countertop for each wall. It is beautiful. (I think there were some extra things that had to be done due to weight, but don’t recall what. ) It is beautiful and very low maintenance since there are only seams in the corners.

      Speaking of easy cleaning, if you don’t have a vision for the sink,I suggest taking a look at the one piece molded vanity counter top and sink combos. There are no seams or caulk to worry about which makes cleaning easier. (They are pretty plain and may not be beautiful enough for your dream bathroom ; but my dream bathroom is easy to use and easy to clean. )

    6. bibliovore*

      thank you everyone-
      easy to clean is number one.
      I am insisting on a sprayer for the tub.
      Good advice about the size of the tiles.
      My dream is to have a no threshold for future expected disability.
      I will look at the one piece sinks.
      thank you also about the wood information.
      I will investigate that.

      1. Generic Name*

        If you go with no threshold, make sure the shower is large and the shower head sprays well away from the entrance. I recently showered in a thresholdless shower, and the water migrated across the bathroom floor quite a ways.

      2. pancakes*

        Hi bibliovore. I was thinking about which other sites have photos of this style, and Dwell is one. I’ll link in a separate reply.

    7. bratschegirl*

      We have large tiles (12” x 24”) on both floor and walls, with a linear drain which is along the joint between the fixture wall and the floor. Some people, especially if they have curbless showers, put the drain along the “door” edge, but that’s a longer run so will be more expensive. I like the look of the linear drain. There were several options for what the metal cover could look like; ours has wavy lines. The metal cover/trim sits on several little plastic holders that sit in the trough where the water collects and hold it flush with the tiles.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      Question from someone who sheds in the shower: How does the shower-taker prevent long hair from going down the lineal / rectangular long drain?
      Does anyone sell rectangular-shaped hair catchers similar to the circular drain protectors for conventionally-shaped tub/shower drains? I’d love to improve my current method, which is to wash my hair very gently and hope for the best. Fortunately this only happens when I’m showering in a hotel bathroom.

  27. Cost of Dog Ownership?*

    I just got a new dog (large, rescue, mixed breed) and I thought I had put the right budget together but – wow. I was not prepared. Everything costs a fortune, and every time I go to the vet they send me home with a shopping list that is at least $500 (supplements, prescription food, symparica trio, etc etc). We are at the vet all the time somehow because of vaccines and ear infections. He is a fairly healthy dog although he might have an allergy which is contributing to ear infections … I can’t figure out if my vet is just being too spendy? How do you determine? What is a reasonable budget for a pretty healthy adult dog? Unfortunately, I splurged to get us started (private trainer with sessions every other week, doggy daycare package subscription) before the medical bills started stacking up. Here is an example: the vet prescribed this medication apoquel for his itching. This pill is $3.50 a day and he needs one every day. It does not resolve his allergy. I don’t see much benefit over something cheaper like zyrtek, which actually addresses the allergy and is $12 for a bottle of 120 pills. I’d like to raise this with the vet but I don’t want to look like I don’t care about my dog. They already asked why I haven’t started his elimination diet (I’m trying to finish the expensive bag of food we bought last time first).

    1. acmx*

      If you actually start the elimination diet then you may be able to pinpoint the allergy source then you wouldn’t need the apoquel. If the expensive bag of food doesn’t contain the allergen then you can go back to feeding him this food.

      Also, of the Rx medicine isn’t helping, go ahead and let the vet know!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Vets can be expensive, sure, but going straight to Apoquel gives me pause. We started with Benadryl, tried Zyrtec, then the vet suggested Cytopoint which works wonders and is much less expensive (it’s an injection). It sounds like you need some second opinions. How did you find this vet? Where do your friends go?

      It may be a little late for the best deal, but I also HIGHLY recommend pet insurance. It won’t cover everything but it will pay off in the long run. Our bud had two infected paws in his first 6 months with us, fully covered.

      1. blue*

        we did benadryl and apoquel before landing on cytopoint as well. that first year with getting vaccines up to date and multiple ear infections was rough. Then we had about 3/4 years where all his medical expenses were minimal. Now he’s older and the expenses are creeping up again. Much like people, the expenses for medical care ebb and flow.

      2. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        Yeah ugh I do have pet insurance but it excludes pre-existing conditions like his allergies (they were mentioned in the foster’s intake appointment), and now I’m unsure if they’ll cover the ear infections since the vet says that’s a consequence of the allergies. Sadly pet insurance seems kind of like human insurance and doesn’t cover a lot of things (it also precludes all maintenance type stuff, but still isn’t what I would call cheap)!

        1. pancakes*

          That was our experience with pet insurance for the dog too, and we didn’t bother getting it for the cat.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Dogs can be expensive! My neighbor has a dog with allergies and chronic ear infections that cleared up when she switched him to a grain free kibble. (It’s not prescription, she gets it from the grocery store.)
      Our dog’s expenses have ebbed and flowed…when we first adopted him, we spent a small fortune while we figured out what worked best as far as diet, flea/tick/heartworm, grooming, and miscellaneous care. It became quite reasonable for several years, and now that he’s a senior, we’re spending more on pain meds for his osteosarcoma.
      I hope you find the right balance for your pup soon!

    4. Doctors Whom*

      Congratulations on your new pet!

      Specific: Have you tried a vinegar and rubbing alcohol mix to clean the ears regularly to prevent infections? You can just store it in a squirt bottle. We had to do this regularly with our first lab.

      If the expensive med does not help the allergy, call the vet and tell them it’s not helping and you want to discontinue it. If you’ve given the dog zyrtec and it works, ask them over the phone for the correct dosage by weight and tell them you plan to try it. Zyrtec is safe for dogs in the right dose.

      Is the dog having any symptoms other than ear infections? It seems odd to me to jump to allergies and prescription food if the only problem is EIs. I’d start with trying to keep the ears clean with either vinegar/alcohol, or a prescription ear wash.

      It sounds odd to me that you are constantly having to get new vaccines? Our annual checkup for our lab does run a couple hundred bucks, but it’s one visit once a year and not all those vaxes are annual (eg rabies is 3 yrs). Kennel cough, some daycares/kennels require it every 6 months instead of annually. But aside from that and the super expensive allergy pills for… just ear infections? Things like heartworm & flea & tick preventive, a couple hundred bucks for annual vaccines, are all regular expected costs. I’d divide those annual costs by 12 and just set aside that amount of cash every month for your pet’s routine care. A large breed dog probably is going to run you $100/month on average in food, toys, and routine health care.

      1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        $100/month was my budget!! We blew by that immediately. Just the pet insurance is like $80/month, and I probably spend $100 just on doggy daycare alone. The last expensive food was like $65/bag and lasts two months the way he eats. The vet wants him on a *more* expensive one to see if that helps his allergies. It’s probably like $500 month right now, way more than I guessed. But to be fair, he is a new dog so I’m hoping it settles down … (sob?).

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          That sounds about right for the food. Our dry food is about $65 per bag, and it lasts about two months. I also have a subscription to MyOllie for their food, which has helped with his dandruff. Ollie is about $130 per month with the way I have it set up to do a combination of Ollie and his dry food. It would definitely be less than $500 per month, though. The bad thing about Ollie is it takes up a ton of freezer space. I can’t have much frozen food of my own after a new shipment arrives. Ollie might be something to try. You get the first month at a really steep discount, and you get a good mix of all of the flavors they have. My dog turned his nose up at the cranberry flavor, and they gave me a credit for the packs we couldn’t use to go towards my next order. Their customer service is pretty great.

    5. Spearmint*

      I grew up with big dogs, and for a healthy dog, supplements, prescription food, etc seems ridiculous to me. When my dogs were young and healthy the only expenses were dog food and the occasional vet visit when sick (they did need more medication in their last few years of life, but that was when they were 8-12 years old). I know some people are really into pampering their dogs but it’s never seemed to make a huge difference in their quality or length of life.

      I would strongly encourage you to see another vet to get a second opinion.

      1. Spearmint*

        (To be clear, you do want to deal with the ear infections and allergies, but been so what this vet is recommending seems excessive to me)

      2. WellRed*

        This reminds me if those lists people get when expecting a baby with a million things on it that they end up not needing

      3. pancakes*

        An elimination diet to see whether the itching is triggered by allergies and needs medication or a different diet isn’t pampering.

        1. Spearmint*

          No, but the vet is also recommending lots of other stuff like supplements and prescription food which seems like a bit much to me.

          1. pancakes*

            Supplements, yes, but suggesting that someone who seems resistant to start an elimination diet try prescription food that works with the most common allergies seems like a pretty standard next move or alternative. To be clear I think an elimination diet is a better choice, but that has already been recommended.

            1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

              To be fair they want me to buy this more expensive food and then do an elimination diet with only this food. And I will do that but it takes time to be ready – I have to find alternatives to all the ways I currently bribe him with various treats, for one thing!

              1. pancakes*

                Oh, hmm. That is pretty specific. I don’t know much about pet allergies beyond our experience, but I suppose you have to switch to something in the meantime. Maybe you could ask about a homemade alternative? Dog food doesn’t need to be complicated.

              2. Accountant*

                If they actually think he has allergies, this is generally the only way to do an effective elimination diet. Dog food is made is giant factories, there’s no attention paid to cross contamination.

                That said, food allergies are a lot less common than people tend to think, and your vet does sound like they might tend toward over treatment.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Our itchy dog responded well to salmon oil squirted on the food, which I get from our specialty pet store. It made the non-itchy dog’s coat very smooth and supple.

      I’m confused that you characterize the dog as fairly healthy despite lots of vet trips. And would be inclined to ask around for references to another vet.

      Our vet didn’t recommend supplements other than the fish oil for itchy dog, and glucosamine when one dog started to have stiff hips.

      1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        Well, he itches at his ears, which the vet says is caused by yeast, and says that recurrent yeast ear infections are likely a symptom of allergies. However, I can’t say the ear itching seems that urgent to me, and he is otherwise a happy healthy dog bouncing around and having a grand ole time, so I can’t imagine how much dogs with actual serious health issues must cost.

        1. Ali G*

          My dog had the same issues when I first adopted him. I suggest eliminating chicken and brewer’s yeast (this is in some dog foods) from his diet. Try a limited ingredient diet (you do not need an RX for these). I would also add apple cider vinegar and plain yogurt to his food. This cocktail worked great for my dog’s systemic yeast infections.
          Is his skin pink/red? If so, you can also spritz him with the ACV to clear the skin infection. You will eventually want to discontinue the ACV in his food because it can be hard on the teeth.

    7. pancakes*

      My dog years ago turned out to have some allergies (including beef and soy, which meant a lot of all-purpose dog foods and treats weren’t suitable for him), and it was expensive to get that sorted out, yes. One thing I’m not clear on is whether you have a good, trustworthy relationship with this vet and are confident that you’re both on the same page about necessary vs. optional care and products, and the importance of not throwing a lot of money on products you may not actually need.

      If they’re recommending an elimination diet and your point of view is that the dog has to finish the food you bought regardless whether it’s causing health problems or not, that is entirely legitimate for the vet to ask you a question about. As is what, how much, and how often you feed the dog. They need to know those things to give you reliable information on its health. If you resent simply being asked, you’re not being reasonable.

      1. pancakes*

        I should add, I know you don’t know whether you can trust this vet. What I don’t know is whether you’ve communicated about budgeting to them at all.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. People around here talk about one vet place that is out-and-out rude if you refuse to spend $10k on your pet for something they deem necessary. They are happy to sell you every surgery and script they can get their hands on.

          There are vets around that understand people have lives and budgets. Talk to friends and coworkers to see what they are doing. I am a fan of chiropractic vets. A lot of them are interested in natural ways that are actually effective- in other words, they will ask you how you are making out with what they prescribed for your dog and adjust things accordingly if necessary.

          My guy had lots of ear issues. I landed on home cooked meals- veggies and meats. I also use an air purifier which seems to really help. It’s a lawn sale thing that I found so nothing fancy.

          The “worst” bill I ever had with him was around $1000. He had thrown out his back/hips because he was just too bouncy/crazy. Additionally, he seldom slept, his sense of self-preservation was very low because he was just too hyper. That last one scared me, because he took big risks. I knew I was in for a decade or more of vet bills if I did not get a handle on this. The vet fixed his back/hips and got him up and walking. (The situation got bad when he hurt himself and could not stand/walk.) Then she helped with the big picture issue of his hyperness. She lined him up with things for calming. She changed that dog’s life, for sure. It was 5 appointments plus supplements and it totaled right around $1000.
          He turned 13 last month. (He was 5 when he met her.) He’s still a powerhouse. The vet feels he will go to 15 or 17, given what we have seen so far. He cries in JOY when he sees her walking up the sidewalk.

          Get with a vet who will help you build a cost effective long term plan. Ears are hard and it could be that they never quite clean up but it should be very manageable on your end even if it becomes a long term issue.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. There is quite a bit of variety among vets, and it’s important to find one that understands how to be sensitive about costs, in terms of being able to speak to you respectfully (bare minimum!!) about what needs to be done and what would be nice to do when that’s appropriate. I mean, for various emergencies or other very particular problems maybe there aren’t a lot of alternatives, but for things like, does this teeth cleaning need to happen right away or can we make an appointment for three weeks from now, or, what exactly should we be looking for in terms of the effectiveness of these supplements, etc., you need to be able to talk to them.

            1. Cat and dog fosterer*

              I also get irritated with vets that want a lot of complicated and expensive diagnostics for something that can be tried. My earliest example was a vet that charged $20 for a fecal test for worms, and $20 for the dewormer, so I just said that I saw worms and bought the dewormer. More recently, my pet was old and the test would have required an ultrasound, so the vet suggested we try the medication and see if it worked (it did!). A friend had a cat with a new little twitch that seemed minor yet odd, and their vet wanted them to go to a specialist who charged a thousand just to meet up. My friends could never afford that just for a consult, so they went to a vet that I knew who very kindly said that their cat was either going to be fine or die within days due to an aggressive brain cancer, so there was no need for diagnostics. The vet gave a list of signs of pain and told them to treat for pain if needed. In the end their pet passed quickly, but thankfully they didn’t spend thousands of dollars for no reason.

              A recent foster had bad allergies so I made ground beef and veggies and fed that for a week. It wasn’t a good diet for long term, yet it confirmed the problem was the food. Some dogs have extensive food allergies so they might need more than a week, and I know I was lucky. Once he was on a food that worked, I finished up the previous bag by giving him a tiny bit every day to build up his exposure.

              I find that vet expectations are often linked to the income in the area. I don’t go to my closest vet because they are next to some expensive homes and they sell all sorts of unhelpful supplements. In my experience the best vets understand that people have limits and want to be practical.

              1. pancakes*

                Yep, yep, yep. And it gets complicated here in terms of income because in NYC that is all over the map. There are lots of working class people, and lots of good-hearted people in Brooklyn and Queens trying to get feral cats fixed, but there are also some of the richest people in the world. I do think it helps that so many people have pets, there’s a lot of competition amongst vets. Dog people are always going to meet other dog people on walks and/or at the dog run, but I switched to being a cat person and we have fewer opportunities to chat about this stuff.

    8. HamlindigoBlue*

      Yes, dogs in general are expensive, but big dogs need bigger things, which are even more expensive. After doing the math, I opted not to do pet insurance. I would, however, recommend Care Credit. I put the “big” expenses on that and pay it off at 0% interest.

      My large breed dog costs me $160 per month in food. We also have the monthly expense of Heartgard (heartworm preventative) and Nexgard (flea and tick preventative). You can buy the doses individually each month or in packs, which will save money but has a higher up front cost. My dog has been on Nexgard for his entire life and just tested positive for Lyme disease. Because he’s been on Nexgard the whole time (and we could prove it), Nexgard is covering the testing and treatment. Unfortunately, the antibiotic in pill form wasn’t something he tolerated well at all so we had to do the shots (2 at $174 each). Nexgard is only covering one dose of that, so this is another unexpected expense.

      He has gotten two ear infections so far, and the prescription for that is about $32. He also had a fractured foot (played too rough is my guess as to how that happened), and we had xrays and prescriptions (anti-inflammatory and sedatives to keep his puppy energy at bay while it healed). Cold laser therapy to help speed up healing.

      I’ve spent $600 on training so far. $500+ for boarding each time we go on vacation for a week. I am working from home, so I don’t have to have a dog walker right now, but that would be another expense.

      His toys are things he can go through quickly, so I try to spend a little more on toys that will last longer. His favorite “chew” is a No Hide roll, so $15 each and it only lasts him about 30 minutes. I try to buy these from a local store when they have sales of 3 for $30. He also gets one Greenie (large) per day. The big box contains 17, and I think the last box we bought was $24.

      Care items were dog shampoo, toothbrush, wipes for in between baths, giant cotton balls for cleaning ears, leashes (one for each car, one for the house), poo bags, harness for car trips, large crate, large pet beds, pooper scooper, nail clippers (which he won’t let me use on him, so I pay $15 + tip to get his nails trimmed as needed). He’s a puller on walks, so we use a gentle leader. I’ve also gone through two gentle leaders because he grew out of the first one.

      With the itching, I would ask the vet if Benedryl is ok to try. It’s very inexpensive, but you would need to check with your vet for the correct dosage and frequency. I’ve given it to my dogs with our vet’s blessing for allergies (yes, he gets seasonal allergies).

      Even though I have a pretty good idea of what I’ve spent on dog care so far, I’m sure I’d still have a bit of sticker shock if I put together a spreadsheet of everything we’ve paid for. This dog is 16 months old, and I am sure I could have gone on a pretty nice overseas vacation by now with what I’ve spent on pet care. -But I’m not complaining! He’s such a clown, and I love him.

      1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        Okay it sounds like we’re in the same ballpark. Maybe I will cancel his pet insurance if it doesn’t pay anything out in the next year or two. I probably do live in an expensive area around a big city.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Just a word of experience-avoid the sweet potato catfish dog food if you have other options. It made our big itchy boy pungently, powerfully gassy.

      1. pancakes*

        Ha, that is precisely what our little itchy guy ended up eating! And one that was sweet potato and venison, I think? Thankfully he wasn’t smelly or gassy from it.

    10. Not a cat*

      Try removing chicken from his diet. My friend is a vet tech and she says chicken and beef are common allergens. I eliminated chicken from my chihuahua’s diet and her skin issues stopped.

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m getting flashbacks to when I adopted my cat. Within the first year, I spent €3000 trying to fix everything wrong with her (ultimately, getting all her teeth removed has given me a wonderful and healthy cat with very little expenses except for vaccinations).

      The problem with allergies is that it could be literally anything and the only way to figure that out is through trial and error. I went through so many with my cat before we realised the infection in her gums was the problem. The thing is, if you have questions about your pet, ask your vet. It’s literally their job to answer your questions and help guide you through the chaos and confusion. Tell them that this is costing more than you think and you want to give your dog the best care and then ask about the bottle of pills.

      Also, start with the elimination diet. If it’s dry food, seal it up and it’ll keep.

      Good luck!

      1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        Yeah, I do ask the questions and they are kind and helpful, but almost everything they suggest is even more money haha. I don’t want to sound heartless, I do really love the dog and want him to be happy and healthy. I’m going to hope it’s just because I got him recently and he may have had a backlog of care issues. Hopefully there’s several years where a once-a-year vet visit is the only extra expense.

    12. Alex*

      I personally would see another vet. A friend of mine recently rescued a medium-largeish dog, who has allergies as well. The vet just said to try benydryl. Seemed to work. They also recommended a few dog food brands that were good, but not prescription–she can just get them on Amazon! No supplements or anything like that.

      Your vet might be taking you for a ride a bit.

      1. Cost of Dog Ownership?**

        The strange thing is, the vet often tells me I can order these things off of Chewy, so it’s not like they’re making money on these suggestions. Maybe their usual clientele is just a lot wealthier than me.

    13. EventingForChickens*

      To be fair, Apoquel is legitimately super expensive — my veterinarian friend (whose clinic I help at) had to put her giant breed on it and it was bonkers pricey even at cost. Same with the prescription hypoallergenic food he needed (which hopefully your dog can do without, once you figure out what he’s allergic to!).

      Anecdotally Apoquel was a wonder drug for the allergy dogs when it first became available in our area, but seemed to lose efficacy after a couple of years. The allergy dogs in question are on Cytopoint now with excellent results.

    14. Freelance Anything*

      Presumably your expensive bag of food will keep for a little while?
      I’d start the elimination diet now. Right now.

      If Zyrtek works better than Apoquel, and is more affordable. Switch to Zyrtek.
      You seem to be very concerned that the vet will judge you, and that’s either completely unnecessary or you have a rude vet.

      Do the elimination diet.
      Talk to your Vet about budget restrictions and switching back to Zyrtek.
      And hopefully the diet change will pinpoint an underlying cause which solves your issue altogether.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      I have PetSmart (Banfield) wellness plan coverage for both my pets, and I’ve been satisfied with the coverage. Well, except for the emergency vet at midnight – the plan is only for their facilities. But twice yearly checkups, teeth cleaning annually, all vaccinations, are covered. Not the county rabies tag, but the shot itself. Also telemedicine visits since the pandemic. The monthly fee does go up for senior animals, but it’s still cheaper than all the individual prices added together.

      We got recommendations for Benedryl and Zyrtec dosages (cats, so reduced amounts) and suggested forms of glucosamine for arthritis. (Hint: cats cannot be tricked into eating medicine willingly. Maybe dogs….)

      Absent diabetes or organ failure, prescription food does more to make the owner feel good than the pet. Mass market brands have all natural formulae, grain-free, reduced calorie (what my daughter calls old fatty formula), you name it.

  28. Batgirl*

    Looking for some advice on what’s involved in digging over a garden. I’ve inherited a pretty lovely garden with lots of potential, with the house we moved into six months ago. There are some lovely plants very near to the house which I’m planning to relocate further out. The sides have some geraniums and roses in need of pruning. The lawn and the end of the garden is more overgrown. The lawn has no discernible edges and is very hilly to walk over and full of dandelions and bugleweed. At the end of the garden I need to cut back a lot of chest high nettles and goosegrass. A very pretty snowberry has taken over a huge area too with their woody stems. These weeds are hiding at least two tree trunks, one is probably pretty massive because it was local legend with the neighbors who asked for it to chopped down. They both have lots of suckers growing proudly above the nettles and snowberry. I would need to get rid of the trunks entirely because the end of the garden is the best place for a patio. I think pretty much the whole space needs to be dug over (30 feet by 25). I don’t mind tackling that but I am a bit daunted by never having done that before. I am a bit concerned that I will just spread weeds and chaos by doing it incorrectly and not get the best value from my time.

    1. RagingADHD*

      You need to create zones and a plan, so you can tackle one thing at a time. You also need to prioritize whether you want to spend more time and less money, or more money and less time. And do you want “curb appeal” first, or get the ugly bits in the back neutralized first?

      Getting the stumps out and the vining weeds cleared is going to be the most difficult and expensive. You also need to make sure and identify all the vines and things. Some of them might be the kind that spread by root fragments, so you’d need to poison or smother them instead.

      The biggest asset in gardening is the local community. If you’re in the US, check with your county agricultural extension office and see if they have a Master Gardener program. MGs will often volunteer to give advice about your situation and educate you on the best options.

      Failing that, look for garden clubs, botanical gardens with classes or associations, plant swaps/sales, or other local groups where you can connect with folks and pick their brains.

      I learned the hard way that specific garden advice is hyperlocal. I wasted tons of time and money on things that sounded / looked great online but absolutely will not work here. (Exhibit A: my small patch of medicinal herbs that turned into rampant invasives who drown my ornamentals and cannot be eradicated short of hiring a herd of goats or burning the whole garden down.)

      Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Seconding the point about hyperlocal. For your list of resources, I’d also recommend finding a nursery who has a good reputation. It’s probably been in business for decades and it’s not a chain store operation. This is a place where the employees remember you from year to year.
        A good nursery hands out tons of free advice for returning customers. They may provide landscape helpers (you’d pay them of course) and they may recommend reputable business for special things such as tree removal.

        I am not familiar with your area but I do agree that your best plan is to start by removing what you don’t want. Get all of that out of there first so your new stuff does not get trampled/crushed in the process. It will also all you to see the setting clearly and you will make better choices because of the clarity.

        I tend to be frugal. I had a thicket (saplings, vines and who-knows-what) in the back yard. We got a chipper and started cutting. We ran everything through the chipper and made a compost pile out of it. Where we cleared, we kept that mowed so the vines and little trees did not come back. We cleared that area probably 20 years ago. To this day, I can see if I stop mowing that area those vines and little trees will be right back in a heartbeat. My point is, once you get it cleaned up before you do anything else, have a plan on how to keep it cleaned up. This is because no matter how hard you try, the stuff just seems to come back. It got a little out of hand here at one point and my neighbor borrowed a brush hog to beat it back down again for me. That worked well.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Privet is invasive here, and I once had cut, dried privet branches from the brush pile root themselves and start re-growing.

    2. Jen Erik*

      Standard advice is to do very little for a year, to see what you might have.
      Tree stumps can be ground out – I don’t know how expensive that would be where you are, it might be something to price. At one point we burnt a large one out by just making it a fire pit for a year or two. Nettles are pretty shallow rooted, so they are easy to weed, but I don’t know about goosegrass or snowberries.
      Truthfully, even though we’re all meant to garden without chemicals, for some things I would spray – it can be hard to dig out some of the invasive weeds unless you’re extremely careful. (And if you don’t know, it’s worth finding someone who can identify if anything is invasive so you can deal with it properly. A friend of mine bought a house and her dad strimmed the overgrown garden for her in an effort to be helpful, and spread a particularly invasive weed everywhere.)
      Also, covering things can work – if you don’t mind looking at black plastic for a bit, just covering weeds for a year or so discourages them. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of digging?)

      1. ShinyPenny*

        I, too, am a fan of “do nothing for a year”– or at least your entire first growing season. Especially if you are newer to your new microclimate or to identifying plants.
        My favorite cautionary tales:
        One local property changed hands, and the elderly previous owners’ decades of careful work propagating naturalized trilliums was erased overnight, because the new owners did so much yardwork during a season when the trilliums were dormant/invisible. Trilliums are held in very high regard by the locals here (local kid-cultures self-police the Never Pick A Trillium rule, etc). The Great Trillium Massacree is still a topic in the neighborhood, years later, although I myself am completely over it :)
        And then there was the collection of young dwarf fruit trees a friend ran through the chipper as she cleared a bramble patch in her new backyard. It was late winter. They looked to her like dead weed trees. Only two were left by the time a visitor ID’d them among the REAL weed trees and brambles.
        Neither situation was the end of the world, but both sets of new owners would have benefitted from waiting a bit. At the very least, the trilliums could have been sold!

        1. Sloanicota*

          As someone who has added a lot of expensive plants to my yard, I’m going to leave a garden plan with the next owner of my house. They can of course do anything they wish but I would at least want them to know what was there!!

      2. Salymander*

        Yes, do nothing for a year and you save yourself time, money and heartache.

        You need to know where sun and shade are in all seasons and how much. You need to know where the rainwater pools and where you need better drainage. You need to see what is actually growing. You also will want to be careful with removing trees and even stumps because they can keep coming back. It is also helpful to get a peek at your neighbors’ gardens so you see what works for them and so you can make note of anything invasive they have planted that might spread and any trees whose roots might be under your property causing problems. Also, you will be better off if you test the soil and check to see how far down the good soil goes. The garden at my house has water that all drains onto my patio, and it is a few inches of ok soil on top of hardpan that is like concrete to dig in. It is super shady, and full of invasive plants that creep in from neighbors. The previous owner planted roses and trees about 4-6 inches from the fence, and sun loving plants everywhere in full shade. Waiting to fix things (other than shovel pruning the really bad stuff that couldn’t wait and would mess up the fences) saved a lot of money and labor. It still sucks, and I do most of my gardening at my community garden plot, but at least I didn’t jump in to a major garden overhaul without getting all the info first.

    3. Girasol*

      If you need to make an edge between lawn and garden, there are edging stone bars that are about 3″ x 3″ around and 12″ long, where one end is curved convex and the other concave, so that each one fits into the next. You can lay out whatever curvy line you want with them and if you change your mind, move them, fitting them together like Legos. They do a pretty good job of keeping the grass on its own side and out of the garden. They’re more flexible than fancy custom poured concrete edges, cheaper, and look as good, not to mention they’re great fun to use.

  29. Chat Noir*

    I hope this doesn’t veer too much into requesting medical advice; if so, please delete!

    I gave up wearing pierced-ear earrings a few decades+ ago, as my ear lobes would sometimes swell, get very warm, and get red and maybe kind of itchy. Then maybe 20 years ago, I went to a plastic surgeon (I think) and got them re-pierced and he fixed/removed some of the scar tissue and re-pierced them. I thought the earrings I chose would be good, as they were real gold (which I now know wasn’t a good idea), and I ended up with the same problem. However, I’m now thinking of at least talking to someone about it again, but I don’t know who/what kind of doctor might be best. Any suggestions? Dermatologist, plastic surgeon, allergist, other?

    If you’ve had anything like this experience, how did you handle it? It sounds kind of silly, but I really do miss wearing earrings, even if my only choice was a hypoallergenic, plain stud. Clip-ons really don’t seem to work for me.

    Thanks!

    1. acmx*

      If I wear earrings, I will dip the posts in neosporin. But my lobes never got swollen just red or irritated.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Seconding this. I had exactly the issue Chat Noir describes, and I would dip the posts in polysporin whenever it started up. The issue would resolve in a few days.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve heard of others who will paint the posts with clear nail polish and allow it to dry before wearing. The coating prevents your ears from coming in contact with the metal.

        1. TangerineRose*

          Clear nail polish never worked for me, but maybe I wasn’t careful enough. I’m usually OK with hypoallergenic earrings and surgical steel earrings.

      3. Bob-White of the Glen*

        I wearing piercing studs as default (cheap at beauty supply places) and any other earrings I coat with clear nail polish. That way my holes stay open, they close otherwise, and I can wear fun earrings with the right outfits.

    2. sagewhiz*

      Be sure to periodically clean the stems of the earrings with alcohol. I’ve learned that when the piercing gets tender, it’s past time for a cleaning.

    3. curly sue*

      I have many, many piercings (19 currently), and have had variations of this problem whenever wearing posts that have some adjacency to nickel. Yes, even the ones that say surgical steel, no nickel, 14k gold, hypoallergenic, whatever. The only metal I’ve found that is actually inert and non-reactive in me is implant-grade titanium. Thankfully, many body jewelry producers make titanium posts and rings and all kinds of things.

      The other time I’ve had inflammation and cranky piercings like you describe is when I’m having a reaction to something else – usually coming down with a cold, but also occasionally during allergy season when my system is annoyed at pollen. Sometimes one or two of my piercings will get caught in the crossfire, and just need to be babied a little until they calm down again. If it’s perpetual, though, I’d suspect trace nickel and a contact allergy. Try titanium.

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      I agree with the comments about allergies. I also have this problem more in the winter. My guess has been that it is something about the cold ears or metal freezing or something. I either don’t wear earrings when it is freezing out or put them on at work.

    5. sswj*

      I’ve never been able to wear post earrings for more than a few hours, it doesn’t matter what they’re made of. My ears start to itch and tingle, and if I ignore that they’ll swell. I can, however, wear non-backed wire earrings forever.

      I live in small hoops, the kind tha