weekend open thread – May 14-15, 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: Old New York, by Edith Wharton. If you need to escape the current moment in time, these four novellas will let you instead worry about the morals of the mid-1800s.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,071 comments… read them below }

  1. Missb*

    How crazy is the housing market where you are?

    The house next door to us sold last year. We were sad to see the neighbors move; they were quite old and needed assisted living.

    Their house sold promptly for over a million. We assumed the new owners would do some renovations and then move in. However, the new owners decided to tear down the place and build a home that was double the size (garage alone would be 1600 sq ft).

    We were sad but hey, it was their property. We weren’t looking forward to the long construction period.

    But suddenly, it seems that they changed their minds. Didn’t tear down the house, but rather put it back up for sale.

    They haven’t done a single thing to the house and are asking significantly more. It’s just shocking to see the increase in price!

    Do you see any signs in your area of housing sales slowing down?

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      It’s bananas! I live in Texas and we purchased our home in 2013 (new construction) and the houses in our neighborhood are selling for more than double what we bought for now. I wish it would calm down a bit if only to save us from the property taxes.

      1. Princess Xena*

        California had to institute laws that you pay property taxes on the value of the home when purchased, not yearly assessments, because people were unable to afford their homes. I wish more states would do this.

        1. HA2HA2*

          Those laws end up pretty bad TBH. You end up with, like, a country club with tens of acres of land being taxed less than a one-bedroom apartment two streets down, forever. There’s all sorts of loopholes that now allow you to pass down the tax valuation of the property – you can inherit a multi-million dollar property and pay taxes as if it’s a few hundred thousand.

          Do not repeat California’s mistake on this. It’s one of the things that’s led to the impossible housing market here.

          1. Esmeralda*

            California housing market was nuts before prop 19. I started college in the 1970s. My dad called up financial aid offices for every out of state college I applied to, to explain that no, that fat value of our family home did not mean we could afford college, because it was Southern California.

            Even in the 70s there was already a lot of resentment of California cash outs who moved to Oregon and Washington…

            And Prop 19 was terrible for funding public services.

          2. Observer*

            It’s one of the things that’s led to the impossible housing market here.

            That’s clearly not the case. I realize that there are a lot of problems and issues with it, but the insanity in the market is a major *cause* not a result of this law.

          3. Bongofury*

            I don’t understand why this Prop 19 was so horribly mismanaged. It should have been your property tax values are re-established every 5/10 years, whatever. Instead you have 95 year old seniors who should be downsizing into smaller condos or even assisted living options, but instead they live in their family 5 bedroom home for years and years to avoid paying more property taxes (or their kids force them to). It’s such an insanely bad law.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      This is my first week as a homeowner – we’ve been on the market since before The Plague, have been outbid roughly a dozen times, and finally managed to buy. (We are cheap, picky, and live in Silicon Valley…not a great combination.) The housing market around here has softened noticeably in the past couple of months, but it was absurd before and remains faintly ridiculous.

      The previous owners bought in 2017, and we bought it from them for 40% more than they paid. Though they did put money into a major remodeling; I’d guess they made 30% or less once that’s factored in. Which is a bargain, seriously. Had they sold earlier this year, I’m pretty sure they would have gotten more.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        I live in Silicon valley and prices continue to climb and the sellers market continues to be strong. No softening that I can see.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Prices aren’t going down by any means, but they’re going up at a slower clip. I’ve also seen a lot more properties sit on the market – some that we toured over a month ago haven’t gone pending yet. Some of them have even dropped the asking price. Last year, houses didn’t stay on the market for more than two weekends, unless something was quite wrong.

          This is anecdata, but our agent confirmed it: the dreaded “$1.49M house” category is not getting the same bidding wars that it used to. They do that to get past the search filters, but really they’re expecting $1.9M+ when the dust settles…and I’m not the money fairy, I can afford the former but not the latter. We’ve been outbid on many a $1.49M house over the past year, some objectively worse than the one we finally got. But they didn’t put it on the market until the interest rates had already started to spike. They got seven offers the first weekend, counter-offered at $1.85M, but no one would pay. So it sat on the market a few weeks, and then they gave up and took our $1.7M.

          (No, this is not a luxury house. It’s 90 years old, it’s apartment-sized, and it can’t be expanded for long-story reasons, mostly because it’s on a small lot in an awkward location.)

          1. Bad at picking names*

            As a fellow Silicon Valley resident, congrats!! Getting anything for $1.7 is amazing. I hope I can be so lucky when I can finally afford to buy.

          2. L. Ron Jeremy*

            House around the corner from me listed for 1.6M on April 1st, sold on April 9th for 1.73M. Just closed escrow on May 6th.

            62 years old, 3 brm 3 ba, 1860 sq ft on busy corner.

      2. Esmeralda*

        My folks bought their 1700 sq ft tract house, 7000 sq ft lot, in 1969 for $39 K (and it was hard for them to come up with the down payment).

        It’s worth a million dollars. Literally a million dollars. It is nothing special. It’s in a boring neighborhood in central Orange County, California. A million freakin dollars.

        1. Nicki Name*

          Similar story for my in-laws, except even smaller house and a less convenient neighborhood in a different part of the LA area. Just assessed at 1.3 mil. Holy eff.

    3. Bazza7*

      In Australia just as bad, I live in New South Wales (NSW) sort of near Sydney and at the start of Covid, the experts in real estate said the price of housing would go down. Did it? No, the opposite occurred, over the past 2 years it keeps going up and up. Now the government is talking about how to make housing affordable!

      1. Stitch*

        Without getting too specific I have a job for which demand can be affected by the economy. When COVID hit our bosses canceled our overtime assuming demand would slow. Nope, unprecedented demand. Our waiting time tripled, even with additional hiring.

    4. Aphrodite*

      No slowing here in Santa Barbara, CA. I live in a desirable senior mobile home park. Sales here are crazy; they are for homes too. Two examples:

      (1) In both the park I live in and the one next door (also a desirable senior park) it is unusual for the homes to last longer than a week or two before selling. And I bought mine, a particularly nice one, in December 2020 for $370K, $20K over the asking price. Now, however, the minimum in these two parks is about $500K, most for smaller places than mine. And two have sold in the last month for about $850K.

      (2) The mother-in-law of one of my best friends died about six months ago. She had a smallish home of 1200 square feet in one of the nice beach neighborhoods–her home was about two blocks from the ocean–sold for $1.8 million. The buyer paid all cash and didn’t care that the foundation had cracks in it.

      Rents are matching these crazy prices so I could–maybe, just maybe–get a small one bedroom for what I for mortgage + insurance + taxes + park rent. I am grateful beyond belief to all those who helped me find it, bid on it, and with renovations. Amazing!

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        A small place in SB like yours is my dream. I have a 4/3 in San Diego not far from the beach. I think things are slowing down. My neighbors listed theirs for $3.25M but it has a view and I don’t. I think things are slowing.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My best friend (who lives several states away) keeps getting cold texts from realtors asking her if she wants to talk to them about my house because they have TOOOOONS of buyers lined up.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I got one of those when my house WAS on the market. I told them what it was listed for, and what my agent’s name was, and if they were serious about making an offer, they could contact her. Shockingly, they did not. Guess they’re not so desperate for houses that they’ll pay market rate.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Mostly what boggles me is that they’re habitually pestering HER about my house, and not ME. (She’s much more polite about telling them to go away though.)

        2. Maxie's Mommy*

          I bought a house in the TX/OK/AR area, paid full asking price. I sent a picture of me in my blue and white kitchen, since the sellers had blue and white. I beat a guy who is a contractor because he was talking tear-down and she really loved the house. I’m just doing new cabinets and flooring, since now it’s a tribute to the 70’s. Wish me luck!

      2. Brief anonymity*

        I got a cold text asking if I wanted to sell my former mother-in-law’s house across the country. That marriage ended years ago, we don’t share a name, and I never lived at that address, so these testers are clearly taking a pretty scattershot approach.

        Our house in Montana has nearly tripled in value since we bought it several years ago. It’s really a problem for the area – lots of pandemic new residents in the past year driving up the cost of housing, and now people with service industry jobs can’t find anywhere to live. And I keep hearing about long-term renters on semi-rural properties having it sold away for new builds; this is especially rough for older, fixed-income people who have few other options.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I’ve been baffled by all the cold calls asking if I want to sell my property in Arizona. I have never been to Arizona; I’m tempted to tell them, “sure, it’s all yours!”

          1. Juneybug*

            Our adult son got a text asking if he would be willing to sell our house. Our house in a different state from him! He jokely called us asking if he could sell our house as he had a realtor reach out to him. We told only if he wants us to move in with him and his family. He noped out of that situation. :)

          2. COBOL Dinosaur*

            Somehow my phone number is tied to a google search on two different properties in a town I don’t live in. I lived in that town years ago but kept my cell phone number when I moved. I’ve had this cell phone number for more than 15 years. I don’t pick up if I don’t know the number but one day I picked up by mistake thinking it was a call I was expecting. Telling them that they have the wrong number doesn’t help and all they do is ask me if I have a house to sell them.

      3. Esmeralda*

        We’ve been getting those (or phone calls, letters, and postcards) for years. Medium sized southern city, desirable neighborhood. We love our house but it’s pretty ordinary: late 1940s, 4 bd, 1-1/2 bath, 1700 sq ft. It’s on a 1/4 acre, however, and even houses a lot bigger are tear downs—that will be its fate someday.

      4. Clisby*

        I’m in Charleston SC and we regularly get cold calls from realtors. We’ve started asking “What are you offering?” They start hemming and hawing about how they can’t give a quote so we tell them to call back when they can. Only one has called back to say “between $500,000 and a million.” I laughed and hung up.

    6. bibliovore*

      I thought it was being a recent widow that I was getting cold calls to sell my house for what seemed an outrageous amount of money. Houses in my neighborhood are on the market for less than a day.

    7. OutofOffice*

      We’d been renting a house since autumn 2020, and the landlords told us in March that they wanted to sell as they’re moving out of state. After a lot of work in a really short time, I’m happy to say we were able to buy it – at almost double what they paid less than a decade ago. Frankly, with the market, it was a steal, even though it needs Work. (And the benefit to having lived here for awhile is that we knew a lot about the house going in.)

      Weighing in the fact that the rental market has shifted with the housing market (we’d be paying hundreds more per month than our rent or mortgage now, for less space/amenities), that we didn’t have the capacity to enter the housing market and we’d have a tight deadline to get out when our lease ended, and we just…hate moving, it was the best option. At least that’s what I tell myself when I start to panic.

      Even doing it the way we did, the housing market had a direct impact on our leverage as buyers – their realtor kept telling us she could sell it for $60K more and she wasn’t wrong. We had to just kind of go along with the process and back down on multiple requests.

      I feel for anyone searching for a house right now, I really do.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Sounds like you made a good….MOVE!

        Sorry are puns allowed on Saturdays? Congratulations on the house!

        1. Tris Prior*

          It’s insane – we just moved here and were SO lucky to find a place via word of mouth because anything that’s listed got literally hundreds of applications. Even for places that our realtor told us were probably illegal apartments, places with visible water damage/mold or ceilings caving in, etc.

      2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        good for you! I’m in the same boat with the landlords selling the house. But I know what is wrong with the house and I wouldn’t buy it unless it was for a steep discount and I had unlimited resources. Problems include

        * Old copper plumbing that likes to get pinhole leaks. Has happened almost every year we lived here
        * Old wiring and not enough plugs. House was built 1890s.
        * hardly any installation in the walls. I think there is actually metal behind some walls
        * really weird windows (the landlord redid them but they don’t open right)

        This is all of the stuff I know is wrong downstairs. I don’t know about upstairs.
        If I did buy I would turn the house back into a single-family dwelling instead of a duplex.

    8. WellRed*

      Insane. Over asking price, cash, no inspections, out of state buyers bidding on the phone. Renters losing their homes so the owners can put in granite countertops and either sell or jack up rent. In a particularly egregious story this week, a California company bought up a rental complex that’s home to lower income families and is renewing leases for as much as $600 increase. Who are all these people who can buy while the rest of us worry about being homeless. Southern Maine

      1. Princess Xena*

        Huge mortgages is how. So many people were getting loans that even big banks like Chase weren’t doing any HELOC loans because everyone’s getting mortgage financing. Not just ‘upping requirements for loans’. We were looking at a HELOC to do some remodeling and no one was offering them.

    9. Cormorannt*

      It’s not too bad here, west suburbs of Chicago. I bought a 70’s split level in good repair but not very pretty for $280k in 2007 at the previous peak and sold the summer of 2020 for about what I paid. It was on a busy corner and didn’t have the kind of outdoor oasis yard that people wanted in the pandemic or it might have gone for a little more. I moved in with my fiancé in a very nice but further out suburb (still on the commuter rail) in a well-constructed 1980s colonial(ish) three bedroom 2.5 bath that he bought for $240k in 2012. That was a ridiculously low price, he got pretty lucky. More typical would have been $260 or $270 in this neighborhood . The kitchen and bathrooms are original and need work, but we could probably unload it now for $370k. We are planning to stay here a while and the kitchen reno is happening later this year. Even with a brand new kitchen I doubt we could sell it for more than $420. It does have a large finished basement that includes a good sized home office room (technically not a bedroom because no closet but there’s an egress window to meet fire code). The Chicago burbs never got that hot in the previous bubble and aren’t crazy now. I’m not sure why, maybe the winters? The demand was there the last few years. Our suburb got a lot more desirable with remote work eliminating the commute to the city, but prices didn’t go nuts.

    10. DeNaranja*

      I’m in Austin and it’s loco. People are selling for hundreds of thousands over asking, no contingencies, super fast closing. Anyone who can’t pay cash and 150k over asking along with a mortgage for a home that costs between 800k – 2mm is having to buy outside the city.

    11. PhyllisB*

      In my town market is meh, but where my oldest daughter lives in Alabama it’s red hot. She was house hunting for months and was outbid a number of times. The only reason she got her house is the couple she bought from liked her and wanted to give a chance to a single mother. I don’t understand it; they don’t even live in an area that’s industry or tourist heavy.

      1. voyager1*

        It is because of the price. Think about it, 250K for a typical house in the Birmingham suburbs. The investors can buy 4 of them for the cost of one house in southern CA.

        You are seeing a massive transfer of wealth in the USA in front of your very own eyes.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, here in the outer Maryland suburbs of DC, it’s at an all-time high, but not that much above where it was before the 2008 bubble burst. That’s still about 3x what we paid in 1999, but in 2008 it lost about 1/3 from the peak, and then slowly crept up and leveled off, and now it’s gone back up to that previous high. I think the effect is muted in major metropolitan areas like here because demand never really slacked off as much as some smaller or more remote areas.

    13. Kate in Scotland*

      We live in a solid, unpretty ex-mining town within commuting distance of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Edinburgh market has been hot for what feels like forever and is currently ludicrous. Friends/colleagues are having a tough time whether they’re buying at £150k or at £900k, everything has a ton of offers basically immediately. The market in our town has only gone up a bit price wise but the main difference is that everything seems to be selling a lot faster.
      Friends keep asking us if we’ll move to Edinburgh (where 90% of our friends are) now we’re mostly remote working, but we’ve just paid off our mortgage on a nice house with space for separate home offices and the thought of going through all that stress to pay twice as much money for a smaller house is really unappealing.

    14. Jay*

      We live in Allentown, PA (Lehigh Valley, abut 50 miles north of Philly) and it’s still bonkers. My husband, who is listed first on our deed, gets texts from realtors almost daily asking if we want to sell. Someone called my father-in-law who lives in upstate NY to ask about selling our house. The Zillow estimate suggests we could sell for twice what we paid in 2001 and while I realize Zillow is not a reliable source of information, recent sales in our neighborhood suggest it’s not far off. One of my colleagues moved here last spring and it took them six months to find a place – they ended up paying 40K over asking. It’s insane.

      1. Anon for this*

        Wow, really! My parents live in Allentown. I wonder if they’re getting those texts too.

    15. Charlotte Lucas*

      My Midwestern city that consistently ranks as a “best place to live” has had a crazy housing market for over 20 years now. Except for a few “less desirable” places to live. The prices seem great to people coming from the coasts, who often move here for work, but they are high for CoL & wages. (We’re a nascent tech hub.) Rents have also gone way up in the past two years.

      And the market didn’t really soften after the 2007 housing crisis. I wish there were a way to have caps on housing prices.

      1. Princess Xena*

        Won’t help – supply will just shorten more because even fewer people will sell.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I doubt it would shorten supply that much. People still need to move, because their housing needs change or they move out of town. But it might also stop some of the speculation, which is part of what’s driving up prices.

          1. Observer*

            I doubt it would shorten supply that much.

            We actually know that it does reduce supply – look at every area with rent control to see how it plays out.

            Caps SOMETIMES work, but only in the short term and only in situations where other issues are addressed, such as regulations that overly burden the creation of housing stock.

            I work next to a lot that has stood empty for literally decades because the regulatory issues knocked on plan after another out of the running. It’s FINALLY being built up, and it looks like it might be ready for people to move in by the end of the year. Multiply that by hundreds throughout the city, and you can see the kind of impact this can have. At least in NYC there aren’t too many regulations forbidding reasonable density building. But in places like California? That’s a major driver of housing issues.

          2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Here in Germany, property taxes are not that high ($1,000/year for an average home is typical) but if you sell less than 10 years after buying, any gain is taxable income at the same rate as other income (10-42% depending on total incomet that year). This is designed to somewhat curtail speculation (it’s literally called speculation tax).

            1. pancakes*

              That’s very sensible. We need something like that in the US to deter house-flippers.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                We have one I’m pretty sure? I don’t know how it compares to the German law mentioned above. But you don’t have to pay capital gains taxes if you own the house – and use it as your primary residence – for five years. Flippers factor that in to what they’re doing.

                1. Killer Queen*

                  Not sure if it’s different in different areas, but in my area the capital gains tax is only 2 years. I have also heard that if you use the money to buy a new primary residence you can get it waived.

    16. Nancy*

      I live in the Boston area. Housing prices, both to rent and to buy, are very expensive and keep getting higher. I have a decent salary and cannot afford and home in my town, and am lucky my landlord rents at below market rates.

      1. Anonymous Cat*

        Hi! I’m thinking of moving to the Boston area and would need to rent an apartment. Any suggestions where to look?

        Does Boston area have ways to match up roommates?

        1. Anonymous Cat*

          What are market rents for areas outside Boston? When I try looking online, they seem so high and I don’t know if I’m looking at luxury apartments or regular ones.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          There are Facebook groups for people looking for apartments/roommates in the Boston area. I don’t know any of the exact names off the top of my head and there are probably groups on other websites too, but you can start by searching “Boston apartments and roommates” on Facebook and see what comes up.

    17. Can't think of a funny name*

      Tampa, FL…crazy here! My neighbor just sold their house for 75% more than they paid for it just 2.5 years ago!

    18. curly sue*

      The market is absolutely ludicrous in my area (east coast, small city) and it’s not showing any real sign of slowing down. We had low supply issues for single family housing before the pandemic, as many older houses were being torn down to put up small luxury condos, but now it’s hit a major crisis point and the size of our unhoused population is increasing accordingly.

      For perspective, we bought our small townhouse in a fairly central suburb for ~150 k in 2009, 15k under asking. That was on the lowest end of normal for this style, age and size of house in this neighbourhood. A couple of weeks ago another townhouse around the corner – same layout and size as ours with some new flooring and excellent staging – went on the market for 309 k and sold days later for something like 450.

      It’s mind-boggling to think that our asset has supposedly appreciated by that much in 13 years, but I keep thinking that this can’t possibly be sustainable.

    19. the cat's ass*

      I live in the East Bay (Northern CA) and it’s NUTS here. House are on and off the market in a heartbeat, all cash offers, selling for 100K about ask price etc. We’re retiring in a few years but don’t plan to sell till then and i am getting letters through the mail box, “hiiiii, we’d love to talk to you about buying your beautiful home.” And just to make it stranger, we’re planning to move to the general Portland area where we will be on the other end of that equation as buyers.

    20. Chaordic One*

      I live in northern Utah and things are slowing down a bit, although it seems like everything is $100,000 more than it was just a year ago. About six months ago my parents really lucked out and were able to buy half of a very nice duplex (2 bedrooms and 2 baths on the main floor, 2 bedrooms and a bath in the basement) in a senior community for $10,000 below asking price when a previous deal to sell it fell through. Other duplexes in the community are now listing for $70,000 to $80,000 more than my parents paid, but they’re sitting on the market for a while and most are being sold for below asking price. I went to a couple of open houses in the community to see what their neighbors houses looked like and there was a smaller one that wasn’t as nice as my parents’ where they were asking for $50,000 more than my parents ‘.

    21. Potatoes gonna potate*

      The crazy inflated prices are worrying me. We bought our house in mid/late 2020 and just barely managed to get something in our budget. I’m hearing of houses selling for double asking price or even cash, it’s so extremely competitive. Whats really alarming to me is that if we ever decide to sell our home and the prices are still high, we won’t be able to “upgrade” to a newer/bigger house because even though our home has “appreciated” in value, so has every other house, so they’re still out of reach.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Upon re-reading my comment, I realize that not being able to “upgrade” is very much a FWP compared to renters being displaced but it’s still worrying. Our house was $290k, 90+ years old and I suspect all the renovations were done by the previous owner himself who was NOT a construction person or architect. When we had someone come to do some minor repairs and changes, he said that the electrical wiring and everything done was so shoddy like it was all DIY. There’s always a worry that the floors are sinking or the walls are cracking etc. We want to do major renovations but that would increase the property tax which would kill our monthly budget for now.

          1. Ampersand*

            This is what worries me about the current market, too. We have no plans to move, but if we ever wanted to we certainly couldn’t afford to upgrade. It makes me feel kind of trapped! Even though I’m one of the lucky people who own a house that’s appreciating! I hear ya on it being a FWP—it quite literally is, and I think it’s one homeowners in many US cities are experiencing right now.

          2. Cedrus Libani*

            On the plus side, if you’re already a homeowner, you are insulated against the craziness. If you need to move, you can sell for whatever the market rate is. Yes, you’re just going to spend it on your new place, but at least you’ll be able to do that. No upgrades, unless you put in extra money or move somewhere cheaper, but no downgrades either.

            This is also a FWP, but having spent a few years right on the border of being able to afford a house…and watching the magic number go up at least as fast as we could save, despite that thing where we stayed in our apartment for a year and a half straight and basically only bought food…I’m glad to have a foothold in that market. Who knows what will happen. Maybe I’ll lose my shirt, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, but if it keeps going up to the hecking moon then at least it’ll take me along for the ride.

    22. California Dreamin’*

      Greater Los Angeles area. We live in a “desirable” old neighborhood and homes are selling for completely ridiculous amounts. We have no plans to move, but I just heard that a friend and her husband (different neighborhood, probably even more expensive) decided to cash out and sell and they’re going to rent until they figure out where they’d like to buy again. They’re considering a much wider swath of SoCal, but they’re going to wait until things cool off.

      1. Jups*

        Here in BC Canada the government lets us seniors defer property taxes until we sell. Low interest on the “loan” makes it possible for us to stay in our homes in a fixed income. That said the market here is nuts. Practically nothing under one million. In Vancouver it’s worse.

    23. Anon for this*

      Northern Colorado. Things are bananas. Bidding wars and everyone paying cash. (Must be nice to have that much cash lying around!) I will say, it does appear that homes are sitting longer on the MLS now, maybe because of the interest rate hike and the general feeling of uncertainty. We used to see homes go contingent or pending within 24 hours of listing. But SFHs are still priced north of 500k and heading into the 600s.

    24. A Feast of Fools*

      North Texan here. I bought my 1650-sf home in 1998 for $98,000. Our county’s appraisal district now tells me that my home is worth $450,000.

      The house itself isn’t anything special — it hasn’t had any updates since the late 1980’s, other than the two bathrooms which insurance paid to have gutted and redone — but it sits on a little under half an acre of land deep inside the city limits where all new builds are zero-lot-line McMansions.

      A developer could buy my house for $450K, demolish it, put up something 3-5 times its size (while still having a decent-sized back yard) and sell it for $1.5M.

      It’s insane.

  2. Annette*

    Favorite literary adaptation turned into a movie or series? How about least favorite?

    My favorites are the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense & Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, and the Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch, and Midsomer Murders.

    Least favorites: the 1999 Mansfield Park movie (far too many deviations from the book, including the spirit of it not just the letter) and the High Fidelity movie with John Cusack (the book was charming, the movie annoying).

    1. Loves libraries*

      BBC version of Pride and Prejudice for sure! (As a favourite) And the Hornblower TV series.
      Least fave might be the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice, not that a I hated it per se, more was underwhelmed. Really thought Mr Bennet was suboptimal etc

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Definitely BBC Pride and Prejudice. It takes a miniseries to get all the lovely dialogue and inter-personal interactions that make the book so lovely, and their casting was mostly brilliant.

        I’m generally not a fan of adaptations, but the 1985 CBC adaptation of Anne of Green Gables was also well done (four hour mini-series). Generally faithful to the plot and spirit of the original, and well cast.

        The LOTR movies were, in general, an excellent adaptation. The main weakness was an increasing dependence on green screen special effects and giant battles as the trilogy progressed. The Hobbit trilogy was not successful – it took a fairly short kid’s book about a bunch of dwarves on a quest for treasure and tried to turn it into a big epic, shoe-horned in a pointless love triangle, padded with a bunch of stuff not related to the stories, and spent so much time on fake-looking CGI action scenes.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          The worst part of that stupid love triangle is that the actress who played Tauriel insisted on not having one before she took the role. It got added in post production, apparently.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            (hit submit too soon) and yeah, I do concur on the BBC miniseries for Pride and Prejudice. The problem with most movies that I’ve seen is that because they’re so short they go with the “love at first sight” angle when the entire point of the book is that “love at first sight” isn’t real.

            1. Love to WFH*

              Pride and Prejudice is about a man who treats a woman badly. She tell him off, and he actually listens.

              He doesn’t badger her, he is simply is polite when he encounters her again. He makes amends for his past failure to deal with a man who hurts women, and doesn’t ask for any credit for doing so.

              She decides he’s learned and grown, and _then_ they get together.

              1. A.N. O'Nyme*

                I…Yes? That’s kind of what I said?

                Though I do feel the need to point out that Elizabeth is just as much of a judgemental ass as Darcy is – she definitely does some growing in the book as well.

                1. A.N. O'Nyme*

                  @Sam I Am, it’s a bit more complex than that. Contrary to Sense and Sensibility, where we can easily assign “Sense” to Elinor and “Sensibility” to Marianne, both Darcy and Elizabeth display Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie takes pride in being prejudiced (her bragging about how she can immediately form judgements of people) and Darcy is prejudiced because of his pride. Elizabeth even literally states she could forgive him his pride if her own hadn’t been mortified by it in chapter 5.

        2. Batgirl*

          Ooh I really want a good Anne adaptation! The recent Anne with an E might have made a good show in its own right but I found it completely unrecognisable.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah I watched about 15 minutes of Anne with an E and had to stop, it was just so totally out of keeping with the book that I was really distracted.

            I would looove a high quality adaptation of The Blue Castle and am kind of surprised it hasn’t been done before. Though I think filmmakers of today might be too tempted to turn Valancy in to some kind of anachronistic hardcore feminist crusader who like, throws her corset out the window or something silly like that. I like that Valancy wants to wear nice clothes and get married and have kids, she just also wants to be free!

              1. Water Everywhere*

                It was recently announced in the hollywood reporter that an adaptation of The Blue Castle is in the works!

            1. Imtheone*

              My mother loved LM Montgomery books, and the Blue Castle was her favorite as a teen. She thought it was so romantic.

            2. allathian*

              Yeah, I watched about 1.5 episodes of Anne with an E until I had to stop watching, because it was so different from the books.

              I really liked the mid-80s adaptations of Anne of Green Gables with Megan Follows, though.

          2. Dark Macadamia*

            The 80s one with Megan Follows is really good, one of my favorite comfort shows. Don’t watch the third one, though, because it isn’t based on the books and is more like a fanfic “Anne and Gilbert in WW1”

        3. Love to WFH*

          The first Hobbit movie was horrible, bloated mess. I did not watch the other two!

        4. ecnaseener*

          Agreed, 2005 P&P was gorgeous of course but didn’t feel like it was telling the same story. I’ve heard it described as a Brontë-esque movie instead of Austen — dramatic rainstorms and sexual tension and whatnot. None of the excruciating secondhand embarrassment that permeates the book.

          1. Observer*

            And not even good Bronte, to be honest. Like Darcy’s first proposal makes no sense. And the shot towards the end where they look like they are actually about to jump into a fierce embrace? Where on earth does that one come from?

        5. allathian*

          I agree with you on Anne of Green Gables, and the LotR movies, at least the extended editions. They’re long, but the length is justified by the story.

          I also agree that The Hobbit pales in comparison, but I still enjoy them quite a lot.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I’m thrilled to see someone else who isn’t obsessed with the Keira P&P! It’s my least favorite movie version, and that includes the Bollywood one and the Laurence Olivier one where they reused costumes from Gone With the Wind.

        1. Batgirl*

          I can’t get more than ten minutes into it because Keira looks so scruffy (Elizabeth Bennett was no clothes horse but she took a basic pride in her appearance), and they skip right over the key intro dialogue between Mr and Mrs Bennett so we can watch Keira floating around wearing some sort of hair shirt dress to signify how down to earth she is. None of that is the actresses’ fault in the least, the set up overall just falls far short of the BBC version. Anything the BBC changed just made it better (Wet shirt scene for the win).

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            I just really need Kiera to stop shoving her jaw out when being very British. She ruins it with that weird move.

        2. AY*

          Someone must stand up for Joe Wright and Keira Knightley, and that someone will be me! I adore that adaptation. It’s simply gorgeous to look at, the music is incredible (bought the piano sheet music right after seeing the movie), and I think the leads have fantastic chemistry (the hand flex!).

          I love the BBC adaptation as well (watched it over and over with my BFF in middle school) but it’s also nice to have something to watch when you only have a couple hours.

          1. Sam I Am*

            Yes, I find it to be a beautiful film to look at. It’s just short, so it’ll never be able to live up to the book.
            But I’ll watch it when I need a quick fix of Austen!

          2. A.N. O'Nyme*

            I will semi-join you in that it’s by no means the worst adaptation I have seen. It’s just that movies are too short to really get into the complexities of the story.

            When I had to read the book I was actually very reluctant to do so because, based on the movies everyone always talked about, it seemed like yet another “love at first sight blablabla”. So one evening I very reluctantly started reading and before I knew it it was 3AM and I had a class at 9AM.

            At the beginning of the semester I thought the professor was crazy for being such an Austen fanboy, but damn was he right.

          3. Observer*

            If it were a movie on it’s own, I would say that it’s a mixed bag. But as an adaptation of the actual book? It falls down is SO many places, some of the quite fundamental to the story.

            Like the whole scene where Elizabeth more or less tells Darcy off for his rudeness to her. Sure, he deserved it, but it’s TOTALLY out of character for Austen’s Elizabeth. And it totally messes with one of the key dynamics of the book. A major reason that Darcy takes interest in her is that she does NOT ever indicate that she heard him, much less that she cares about what he said. That shocked him into actually paying some attention to her in a way he would not have had she acted in what he would consider a “typical” way by being all hurt over his augustness not approving of her.

        3. I take tea*

          I thought the Bollywood one was quite fun. It shows how much you can change the settings and still enjoy the story. Clueless is a similar example.

    2. Kitchen Witch*

      I liked what the BBC did with Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, although the book is still better. But I really enjoyed it.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        Seconding this – I loved the series and then read the book, which absolutely blew me away. I always enjoy well-deployed footnotes

      2. Reba*

        I totally agree, it was impressive what they did with such a huge, dense book! The book is still better ofc but there were a couple things that were actually added to the series that I thought were brilliant too.

    3. PollyQ*

      * The 1980’s CBC version of Anne of Green Gables. Completely delightful and brilliant performances all around.
      * The Martian, although I saw the movie before I read the book. Loved them both equally.
      * Gone With the Wind, although obviously both book & movie are problematic, to say the least.
      * The 1974 Murder on the Orient Express, which is a fizzy, star-studded joy.

      I don’t have least favorites, but I do have a slightly different category, which is books I loved so much that I refuse to see any adaptations of them, no matter how highly regarded, lest my mental impression be disturbed:
      * Presumed Innocent
      * The Color Purple
      * The Secret Garden

      1. Rara Avis*

        I love the 1993 Agnieszka Holland Secret Garden. I felt like it was true to the book, the little actress is a fantastic Mary , and you can’t go wrong with Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I’ll definitely support the Martian. I listened to the audio book before seeing the movie (on a flight) and the adaptation is very good.
        Another really good one is Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard.
        Not very faithful in the letter but works well in spirit is Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. While a lot of the backstory does not carry over to the movie, the film noir atmosphere and symbolism hints at hidden depths in the world-building.
        Another one I like where the movie makes chanhes that just work is Ender’s Game. The book has tons of introspection; the movie is narrated not from the main protagonists but a secondary character’s perspective to overcome that.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I really liked some of the choices they made with the Hunger Games movies! The books are first person narration and I thought they did a great job of adding some context of what was happening outside the arena, like Haymitch’s strategizing, the somewhat expanded role of Seneca Crane, and glimpses of the rioting in the other districts. I dislike the trend of stretching books into extra movies so I don’t feel like the whole series was amazing or anything, but a lot of the changes they made worked for me.

      On that note, The Hobbit. LOTR is possibly the only movie adaptation I enjoyed more than the books, I’ve watched the extended editions with commentary more than once despite being only a casual fan, but JEEZ. That one little book did not need to be 3 movies, and moving from incredible practical effects in LOTR to video game CGI in the Hobbits was the wooorst.

      Ella Enchanted. I didn’t read the book as a kid and sorta enjoy the corny badness of the movie (it really captures the vibe kid movies had in the early aughts, lol) but I read the book afterwards and OMG what an ending to change. Seriously terrible choices were made.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Another bad one: A Wrinkle in Time. Great cast, gorgeous visuals, completely disregarded essential character development and themes. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a movie.

        1. Reba*

          That one disappointed me, too, probably because of how much I obsessed over that book as a kid, lol. Might have made a better mini series and not been so rushed.

          1. one of the meg murrys*

            I am a hard-core L’Engle fan and the only way I could watch the Wrinkle In Time movie was to see it as an “inspired by” riff and I kind of was able to enjoy the acting and visuals – but yeah, very far from the source material. I did think some of the backlash was super racist and that it would be possible to make a very faithful adaptation where Meg was Black.

            1. Dark Macadamia*

              Oh definitely. Like when people got mad that Rue in the Hunger Games was black despite her being explicitly described as black in the books! My main problem was that I felt like they dumbed the story down a lot, but then added unnecessary new scenes for “action” or whatever. They could’ve easily devoted some of that screen time to better explaining the complicated stuff.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I agree on The Hobbit — it could’ve been amazing, if only.

      3. Stitch*

        U feel the same, loved LOTR trilogy both movies and books, love The Hobbit as a book, but I didn’t even finish the movies.

      4. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        Agreed on Ella Enchanted. I did read the book as a kid, and have reread it frequently since then, and was SO disappointed by the adaptation! It’s a beautiful and compelling story with compelling characters on its own. And yet they make everything goofy and ridiculous and add in multiple musical numbers? No thank you.

      5. Disco Janet*

        Along the same lines as Hunger Games, I thought the first Divergent movie was very well done with great casting picks and world building.

        Then they made the terrible mistake of putting someone new in charge of the second and third (because the person doing #1 was taking his time with the edits and not ready to start screenwriting the second as early as they wanted). Changed hugely important plot points, character motivation, etc. Super disappointing.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Totally with you on High Fidelity. I also found the choice of setting the film in the US puzzling. It should have been London!

      As an Agatha Christie reader, I found the recent Poirot movies with Kenneth Branagh a total trainwreck. The portrayal of Poirot as a glam celebrity detective particularly annoys me. I keep imagining book Poirot as someone who would have kept a lower profile. Plus, why make up that war backstory for him in Death on the Nile, when there’s more than enough literary material to use to make him a strong memorable character?

      Now for those I liked. I had high hopes for L.A. Confidential, but felt disappointed the first time I watched it (superficial adaptation of a novel that works because of its complexity). A rewatch years later convinced me it’s a very good film, beyond the comparison with the novel.

      And, circling back to Nick Hornby novels, I enjoyed the adaptation of About A Boy. It’s a shame it can’t fit all of the book’s funny moments, but it picks enough of the right ones to hit the spot.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you’re not opposed to anime, there’s actually a very cute adaptation of some Poirot and Marple stories called “Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple” that is pretty faithful given the time constraints (25 minutes per episode – short stories are usually handled in one or two episodes, the novels in three or four). They do change some things around such as Japp being renamed Sharpe (likely because his name sounds close to the slur) or a clue that relied on an English saying being replaced with a character tapping his eye, which functionally achieves the same end. They did add a new character and her pet duck in the form of Maybelle West (miss Marple’s grandniece through her nephew Raymond) who becomes Poirot assistant, but apart from her soliloquys most of her dialogue is taken from other characters and her presence doesn’t alter the story too much. It also seems like they aged Hastings down a bit, probably to give him more of a big brother vibe towards Maybelle (though Adventure of the Christmas Pudding kind of implies she may have a crush on him too). It’s definitely one of the better Agatha Christie adaptations I’ve seen in my life.

        1. MEH Squared*

          Oh, wow. This sounds right up my alley. I’m watching the beginning of the first episode now. I love the animation! Thanks for the rec.

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t like Branagh as Poirot at all, either. I haven’t seen his Death on the Nile and am not in any hurry, particularly because the CGI seems horrible. There was a clip going around of a scene at the pyramids and it looked ridiculous.

        Of the recent Agatha Christie adaptations, I liked the 2020 The Pale Horse best.

          1. pancakes*

            Same, pretty much. I can enjoy the Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov movies as curiosities, but Suchet was perfect and is by far my favorite.

          2. MEH Squared*

            Agreed. I love David Suchet as Poirot, though the adaptations vary in quality, getting sillier and sillier in the later years with swearing, sexual references, guns, and car ‘chases’. I am also a huge Poirot fan in general.

            I can’t stand Kenneth Braagh as an actor and was put off by the trailer for the first of his Poirot movie trailers. His version of Poirot feels like he’s mimicking someone playing Poirot rather than he is Poirot.

            Also, I think it’s time to put a moratorium on Brits playing Poirot. I would love a Belgian series of Poirot’s time in the Belgian police force, starting with The Chocolate Box (yes, I know there is a Suchet version, but still). There are many problematic things about the books (racism and classism, for example) that could be avoided by placing Poirot in his home country. And maybe get actors of the actual nationalities to play the characters. Just a thought.

            1. pancakes*

              Yes, good point about Branagh, and I’m inclined to agree about Brits playing Poirot. A Belgian Poirot could be really interesting. I read that someone is making a show around Sven Hjerson, who is Ariadne Oliver’s fictional detective. I’ll link to an article about it separately.

              I did enjoy the first Branagh Poirot nonetheless, but I’m sure that’s mostly because I went to a showing at a posh theater that served drinks and food with it (Electric Cinema in London, Notting Hill), because it had just come out while I was visiting. I don’t have strong feelings for or against him as an actor but his moustache and backstories are too silly for me, and he doesn’t bring anything to the character that strikes me as essential or new.

              1. MEH Squared*

                This looks really interesting. Thanks of linking! I’ll have to see if I can find a way to watch it.

                I think I’ll have a go at the Branagh movies just because I’ve seen every Poirot movie/episode that’s been produced. Even the one with Suchet as Inspector Japp! It does rankle a bit that I haven’t seen the two Branagh ones. I’ll just try to put aside Suchet’s performance as I watch them.

                But, yes, I would love a Belgian version of Poriot.

                1. pancakes*

                  I’ve meant to see that one with Suchet as Japp! I’d also really like to see the TV movie where he played Robert Maxwell
                  (Ghislaine’s father), but the only version
                  I’ve found of it so far is on YouT*be and the sound and image quality were not good.

              2. Koala dreams*

                The Hjerson show is nice. The characters are silly, the mysteries are classic whodunnits and the setting is modern day, not costume drama. Somehow I expect Hjerson to speak Finnish to make him more exotic but that’s not the case.

            1. pancakes*

              She has a small part as a maid in the movie Murder She Said (1961) with Margaret Rutherford as Marple.

              I’m fairly new to Marples and have been liking the Geraldine McEwan ones. There’s another funny little role-reversal in the first episode, The Body in the Library, which has the actor who played the first detective on Death in Paradise (Ben Miller) as a sleazy movie producer.

            1. allathian*

              Yup, he is. David Suchet’s 5 ft 6 in (1.68 meters), and occasionally seems too tall.

          3. allathian*

            I agree. That said, I did enjoy the Branagh movies on their own merits, but they are nowhere near Suchet’s Poirot in my affections.

            I also really like the 2015 adaptation of And Then There Were None, my favorite Agatha Christie novel that doesn’t feature Poirot or Miss Marple. The 3-part miniseries had a long enough running time to get to know the characters.

    6. Kivrin*

      Another vote for the BBC Pride and Prejudice, and Sherlock. Also North and South – I’d previously heard of Elizabeth Gaskell as the biographer of Charlotte Bronte, and then it was like “Omg! She wrote NOVELS!” and I had a whole new author to discover.

      Least favourite: still haven’t forgiven Andrew Davies for adding a tragedy to the end of A Room with a View – one based on historical events which occurred well after the book was published. Would probably have The Hobbit in there too if I could actually bring myself to watch it.

      1. AY*

        All the Elizabeth Gaskell adaptations I’ve seen have been great. I particularly love Wives and Daughters for the relationship between the stepsisters

      2. Gloucesterina*

        oh wow, I didn’t know there was more than one film adaptation of A Room With a View. I feel like the Merchant Ivory one was actually an improvement on the novel for me. This other one sounds less appealing.

      3. one of the meg murrys*

        agree the Merchant Ivory version of Room With A View is *chef’s kiss* and also didn’t know about the newer one – I was wracking my brain for what “tragedy” could be referring to!

    7. Vio*

      I was really impressed with the TV show Hannibal. it captured the atmosphere of the books and had some genuinely disturbing moments but without overly resorting to gore. while there were some bloody scenes, it was the psychological aspect that really carried the show (that and the characters). They also did an impressive job of writing around the problems getting the copyright for the second book (Silence Of The Lambs) which prevented them from using any characters who were introduced in that book

    8. OutofOffice*

      Favorites: Agatha Christie’s Poirot (the one with David Suchet). Tipping the Velvet. The Mist (although the altered ending means I can never ever watch it again, it was impactful). Rebecca (1940). Velvet Goldmine (if viewed as an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray).

      Least Favorite: The Giver. A Wrinkle in Time. There are others, but I haven’t had enough coffee yet for my memory to function!

      1. OutofOffice*

        Oh! Forgot to add the newest Babysitter’s Club series! They modernized and changed some things, but the core and the spirit are the same and I think it was really well done. I thought it was canceled before Season 2, but just looked it up and I have a whole season to watch!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yes, I really enjoyed babysitter’s club! They truly feel like 12 year olds, which is something so many movies fall down on.

      2. I take tea*

        I hated the changed ending to The Mist. It’s a pity, because I liked the movie a lot up to the last few minutes. To me the ending was just stupid.

        SPOILERy rant

        The whole premise of the story is that the army fucks up and opens a portal to another dimension. The soldiers in the shop commit suicide rather than having to deal with the mess. It’s all about how the normal people react to abnormal stuff, and their choices. I liked the open ending in the story. Having the army cleaning up their mistake more or less by hoovering up the mist and collecting the survivours just felt like pandering to the glorification of the army as heroes, instead of keeping to the spirit of the story, which to me is The Authorities are not to be trusted. Not trusted to not fuck up, nor to be able to handle the inevitable mistakes. Se also The Stand.

    9. Washi*

      Two where I think the movie is actually better than the book: Julie & Julia, and The Devil Wears Prada. Maybe it’s just that Meryl Streep makes everything better!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Also, Amy Adams does her best to make Julie more sympathetic. When I read the book, I thought it was an interesting project but that I would not like the writer if I met her.

      2. marvin the paranoid android*

        Although My Life in France, which the “Julia” part of the film is mostly based on, is pretty delightful. I have to admit that I don’t really care for the “Julie” part as a whole, but it’s just hard to make blogging seem as interesting as running a cooking school in Paris and sleeping with Stanley Tucci.

      3. 1-800BrownCow*

        I agree with Julie and Julia, although I haven’t read The Devil Wears Prada, so no opinion there. But another where I think the movie is better is Fried Green Tomatoes. I read the book and didn’t like it very much, the movie is so much better. Although I did read another book by the same author, don’t remember which one, but I did enjoy the book.

    10. AY*

      Two Saoirse Ronan movies are among my favorites: Brooklyn and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. What Gerwig did with the time switching was really ingenious and allowed her to mirror scenes of past and present to great effect. I also loved Annihilation and really loved that the director never reread the book but just proceeded on his memory. It’s obviously very different from the book but has strikingly beautiful visuals and is appropriately weird.

      Someone already mentioned Ella Enchanted as the worst and it really is awful. Not even the Hobbit comes close

      1. one of the meg murrys*

        It was so interesting for me to watch the Gerwig version as a big fan of the book and the 1994 film version. I spent a lot the movie being irritated by the time switching and then got furious as the ending started, and then it all fell into place and I was blown away by the brilliance – it’s like Gerwig explains why the novel ended so weirdly and ends up being more true to the rest of the book!

        1. AY*

          Yes, I feel like Greta really understood Jo as a character, and I really love the statements she made about authorship and commercial success. I’m so looking forward to whatever she does next

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Good: His Dark Materials series on HBO Max, seriously excellent. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for aggressive whimsy. And I really liked the new Dune movie.

      Bad: That Cumberbatch Sherlock, even though I liked the first few episodes–for me it embodies “written by someone who thinks smart people are indistinguishable from wizards.” I think it’s interesting that so many modern adaptations go with “What if you were the smartest person around and got to constantly rub other people’s faces in it?” which I don’t think is true at all to the spirit of the originals. And the Percy Jackson movie, which took out a lot of the nuance (It sucks when your godly parent abandons you to be attacked by monsters!) that made the books resonate.

      1. Mornington Cresent*

        Yes! Agreed on His Dark Materials, I thought they did a great job with that. The Will presented on screen was almost an exact match for how he’d appeared when I imagined him, so I was chuffed.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The whole series is really good, but Will definitely steals the show. Perfect casting.

    12. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I am always annoying my kids comparing movies to the source material, usually unfavorably. The one that has my goat currently is HBO Maxs version of station 11 (they turned it into 10 episodes). The book is magical. It is terrifying, jumps around in time, but highlights the importance of art and expression in society and how it is might be. And also weaves a wonderful backstory of failed marriages, and kids caught up in the world ending.

      I was pleased with the first and second episode, they changed a few things but the actors were fantastic and they always change a few things. Then it went off the rails. They have added in children terrorists, fights on the road, explosions. Made one of the characters into an angry alcoholic, really messed up the characters.

      I will not be watching the last few episodes sadly. Once the museum of civilization was blown up that was it. That is the entire point of the book.

      Sigh. Clearly I am still worked up about it!

      Also – if you haven’t read it – do! I read it before the pandemic and it was haunting, I read it again after the pandemic and it was a terrifying reminder of how things could have gone. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

    13. Pippa K*

      The movie version of Neil Gaiman’s novel Stardust is delightful. Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Robert DeNiro in a wonderful role, and Ian McKellan as narrator.

      1. Stitch*

        Completely different from the book but still great.

        I liked the Good Omens adaptation. Tennant and Sheen were great casting choices.

        1. E. Chauvelin*

          I think the reason the movie adaptation of Stardust worked so well in spite of being so different from the book is that it felt like what happens with the retelling and fleshing out of a fairy tale.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Yes to Good Omens! As a card-carrying Pratchett fan, that was a must and did not disappoint. Great casting.

    14. Stitch*

      Fun fact, one of my high school English teachers is thanked in the credits of Sense and Sensibility. She’s friends with Lindsay Doran (who produced the film) and gave some opinions on various things in the film. She had pictures from when she went to visit the set.

    15. Leonineleopard*

      Favorites: Howard’s End, Wolf Hall, The Handmaiden

      Least favorite: film adaption of Michael Faber’s slow burn page turner Under the Skin that just subtracted the whole plot and page-turner element of the novel in favor of turning into plotless scenery and languid dreamscape atmospherics (but like, not in a good way—that kind of thing can be done really well. This was not that lol)

    16. Stitch*

      I’m an avid reader but in some cases I think the show/movie was better than the book.

      The Godfather film is far better than the book in my opinion. Some of the subplots in that book are pretty bad.

      I controversially liked Game of Thrones better than the books (comparing the last two seasons to a nonexistent book is pretty tough). The last two books are bloated and you can see why he hasn’t written another one. It got too messy.

      For something recent I also think The Expanse TV series improved on the books (both of which I liked, though not one book). Introducing certain characters early, for instance, helped the show. Especially book/season 4. I nearly quit readingat that book.

      I do not like the books Bridgerton is based on at all, but I generally like the show (moreso Season 2).

      Jurassic Park is an interesting one. In the book, Hammond is more or less the bad guy, but they switched it up. I’d say both are good. I much prefer the second book to the second movie, even if Crichton had to unkill off a character.

    17. CTT*

      The Virgin Suicides and The Constant Gardener are tied for me for best – both faithful adaptations that really understood the book while also recognizing what needed to be included and what could be shed.

      Two that I am Still Mad about: Howl’s Moving Castle (not even in my top ten favorite Diana Wynne Jones books, but it’s so far-removed from the source text, they should have just rewritten it a little more and they wouldn’t have had to bother paying royalties) and the 2011 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which is SO BAD! It’s too complicated a plot to try to stuff into under two hours and I know this is verboten here, but Cumberbatch is terrible in it)

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I love both versions of Howl but it IS absurd. We like to laugh about how in the film, complicated-yet-important subplots are all carried by like tiny throwaway lines from background characters, why????

      2. marvin the paranoid android*

        I’m a big Diane Wynne Jones fan and a big Hayao Miyazaki fan, so my feelings about Howl’s Moving Castle are complicated. The book is one of my all-time favourites, so I was initially pretty annoyed by the weirdness of the adaptation. I’ve come to a place where I can appreciate the film more, but it’s definitely not among my top Ghibli picks.

    18. pancakes*

      I haven’t read the books they’re based on yet — and Edith’s Diary is higher in my to-read pile — but the movies of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (the 1999 one with Matt Damon, Jude Law, & Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Carol (the 2015 one with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) are both very, very good.

      For those of you get Criterion, they have a really interesting 1971 interview with Highsmith from French tv.

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of my all-time favourite film adaptations. Both versions are problematic faves for me, although I’d say the evil gay stuff is less explicit in the film, for better or for worse. Lots of shirtless Jude Law is definitely a highlight.

        1. pancakes*

          He is amazing in it. I keep meaning to watch the earlier version with Alain Delon (Purple Noon) but haven’t gotten to it yet.

          1. marvin the paranoid android*

            I think the casting in general is a big part of what makes the 1999 one so good. I’m not usually a big Matt Damon fan but this was a good role for him. And Philip Seymour Hoffman makes everything better.

    19. ecnaseener*

      The Lizzie Bennet Diaries holds a very special place in my heart, and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since it came out! Modern adaptation of pride and prejudice, with Lizzie as a YouTube vlogger so everything happening in “real time” over the course of a year. (And there were a bunch more similar adaptations in the following years, some of which were also excellent.)

      I actually didn’t like the 2020 Emma movie at all. It just felt so…cold. I think they ran with “Emma’s not supposed to be a wholly likeable character” and forgot that she’s supposed to be cheerful and charming and that’s WHY she gets away with being a jerk.

      I enjoyed the first couple seasons of Sherlock but ended up liking Elementary much better.

      The Holes movie was a damn near perfect adaptation of a great book.

      I haven’t seen anyone mention the Lightning Thief movies, but those were just terrible. (The author has actually posted some of the notes he gave to the producers, including “If I were intentionally trying to sabotage this project, I doubt I could have done a better job than this script.”) But it’s getting a new adaptation with the author’s involvement so I’m looking forward to that!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I was coming back to add Lizzie Bennet Diaries! It’s equal to the BBC version for me. They did an AMAZING job of staying very true to the spirit of the story and characters, while also updating it in ways that felt realistic and meaningful. I love the depth they brought to the relationship between Elizabeth and Lydia. It was really fun to follow when it was originally posting, along with the characters’ social media accounts.

    20. GoryDetails*

      Lots of my favorite film adaptations have already been mentioned; I’ll add a few more, including one from Alison’s book recommendation of Wharton’s Old New York – the story “The Old Maid” was adapted as a 1939 film, starring Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, and George Brent.

      The Manchurian Candidate (1962 version) was a powerful film and a very good adaptation of the book. (The remake was OK, but for me the changes lost some of the impact of the original.)

      Vertigo: this is one of many great films that I hadn’t realized were based on novels; finally read the source material for this one a few years ago. And – the film is very different; if I’d read the book first I might have kvetched about the changes on-screen, but experiencing them the other way around makes it clear that the movie is awesome and the book, while interesting, not quite as awesome.

      Cold Comfort Farm: I loved the book, and when I heard there was going to be a film I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly work – and yet it did, to delightful effect. (I still like the book best, but I re-watch the film whenever it’s on.)

      1. one of the meg murrys*

        Agreed about Cold Comfort Farm, delightful movie, delightful book, good choices in the adaptation (though I did see the film first).

        I Capture the Castle is another favorite – again, saw the film first, but love the book even more and I think the feel of both is so close.

        The BBC adaptation of Bleak House is amazing and gets to follow many threads deeply while still dispensing with Dickens’ habit of writing interminable passages when he wants to show how interminable a trial is.

        The 1995 version of Persuasion with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root is remarkably close to the novel for being so short: some uncharacteristically assertive/over the top moments that I initially thought were added in were actually from giving lines to other characters or having people say narration out loud, which I kind of admired.

        1. UKDancer*

          I loved that version of Persuasion. She’s just perfect in the part and he’s gorgeous in that naval uniform. It worked brilliantly.

          I’m also a fan of Cold Comfort Farm but then it helped that the casting was so perfect.

    21. Charlotte Lucas*

      The Princess Bride is a wonderful adaptation of an “unfilmable” book.

      I loved the first adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, hated the version from the 90s, but really enjoyed the recent TV series.

      I’ve seen bad adaptations of The Borrowers, but loved the anime version, The Secret World of Arietty.

    22. MEH Squared*

      I love Alan Rickman so Sense and Sensibility has a place in my heart because of his portrayal, though I thought he and Emma Thompson fitted together better (as they’ve proven in other movies). Also, shout-out to Ang Lee, who is a countryman of my parents.

      I wanted to also mention the Poirot series because I love the books and have a love/hate relationship with the adaptations. David Suchet is perfection, but the series itself became increasingly more and more ridiculous with the liberties they took. Except for Curtains. Yes, there were liberties, but it was very moving.

        1. UKDancer*

          I don’t blame her for her choice. I saw him on the stage and Greg Wise is a very fine looking man.

          Although I’d go for Alan Rickman as my first choice always. He’s so good in that film (and everything else he did).

          1. MEH Squared*

            Funny note: I got dozens of condolences on my socials when he died because I was such a fan of his. People still send me memes and articles about him. He’s my all-time fave.

      1. Reba*

        Ooh great one! I think both Clueless and 10 Things I hate about you hold up as smart adaptations.

      2. Batgirl*

        Absolutely. It completely nails what ecnaseer is saying upthread about Emma; she’s supposed to be charming and likeable while being a jerk.

    23. Water Everywhere*

      The Green Mile is far and away the best adaptation of a Stephen King book that I have seen. Michael Clarke Duncan was just fantastic as John Coffey. I’m also a Jane Austen devotee and have my decided favourites there but will also recommend Pride & Prejudice & Zombies as a thoroughly enjoyable take on the story.

      Not coming up with any least favourites, think I just block them out of my memory :)

    24. one of the meg murrys*

      @Annette, I see your point about Mansfield Park but thought it was a high-quality riff. And I loved the High Fidelity movie, though I see how Cusack can be annoying and the book is superior.

      My most hated adaptation might be the Ethan Hawke & Gwyneth Paltrow version of Great Expectations, almost unwatchable and nothing to do with the book.

    25. Stitch*

      I actually thought of this, I have a very controversial least favorite: The English Patient. Yes, the movie won best picture, but they took a book about 20th century colonialism watered down the message and heavily reduced the role of the Indian character. They cut the gut punch ending from the book and my favorite bits from the book. In the book it is very very clear that the “love story” is an extremely toxic relationship.

      Love the book, can’t stand the movie, particularly how they watered down the message.

    26. marvin the paranoid android*

      This is a controversial take, but I am not keen on the 2005 Hitchhiker’s Guide adaptation. I just love love love Douglas Adams’s writing voice and sense of humour, and I feel like the film is in a totally different place, tone-wise. I think I would probably enjoy the film if I had never read the books, but I’m too close to it to judge. (And I realized after writing this out that my username here outs me as being overly invested in the source material.)

      1. David*

        Ooh, yes, I hated that film. Personally I suspect I wouldn’t have liked it much even if I hadn’t read the books, but it’s hard to tell because I’m so disappointed in how the movie failed to measure up to the books.

        I actually just made a comment to this effect on another website a few days ago, and it got a bunch of upvotes and responses indicating agreement. So perhaps the take isn’t that controversial.

        1. marvin the paranoid android*

          That’s interesting, because I thought it was kind of a cult favourite. It definitely makes some choices, so I can see why it would resonate with people, it just really missed the mark for me in terms of capturing the spirit of the original. Maybe there are more die-hard Douglas Adams originalists out there than I thought.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I agree about the movie. You’d think that they’d be able to do a good adaptation of something that began as a radio series. But, alas, no….

          2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I’m with you. For me, the movie is too “meh” to even warrant hating it with a passion-in a way, it’s not even bad enough to be good?
            Marvin is just… odd. This annoyingly cuddly-looking shell while I always depicted him more like a steampunk C3PO – I like to think I hear Douglas Adams rotating in his grave, but I just may be imagining things.

            1. marvin the paranoid android*

              I was also confused about why they made Marvin so cute! I don’t think anything in the Hitchhiker-verse should be cute, except maybe the mice.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I read the book the night before watching the movie because I had never read it before. That was NOT a good way to watch the movie. (And I only watched the movie because Alan Rickman was the voice of your user name character.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Or the movie, Adaptation, which was originally an adaptation of The Orchid Thief but becomes a meditation on how hard it is to adapt material from one medium to another.

    27. E. Chauvelin*

      The movie version of Stardust by Neil Gaiman is to my mind one of the few examples of the movie being better than the book.

    28. Anono-me*

      At this point in my life, I really try to watch movies then see books as it bothers me when the casting doesn’t follow the author description and I am tend to find it disappointing when my favorite scenes are not included.

      I think that the first ‘To Kill a Mockingbird Bird’ and ‘The Outsiders’ are the ‘best movie true to both the story and the feel of the book’ movies that I have seen.

      Obviously the Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is just annoying to me. (Someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would have been much better casting imho).

      But to me the most egregious ‘book to movie’ offense is “The Prince of Tides”. I read the book first and thought the book was powerful and compelling. The movie may or may not be a good movie on its own merits, but cutting out about half of the book, including the title character ruined it for me. Also, I really wanted to see the soup scene. *

      *Both book and movie may be upsetting to some people for a variety of reasons.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I absolutely agree about To Kill a Mockingbird. I watched the film more than once before I read the novel in high school. Both remain favorites. Another good adaptation is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

        I’ve skipped some movie versions of books I enjoyed after seeing that the filmed versions get consistently bad reviews. An example is Snow Falling on Cedars, a book I loved. I don’t want to spoil it with a crummy movie version.

        1. Anono-me*

          ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is one of my all time favorites. I try to read and watch it about once a year. I almost always get something new to think about.

          Another old film that I love and that I think is actually better than the book is ‘Inherit the Wind’. So many wonderful actors, especially Spencer Tracy and Dick York.

    29. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I and starting to sound like I’m on endless repeat he feel, because I have to praise the movie adaptation of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Which I was praising as an audio book some time back.
      And as long as I’m thinking of audio books …a terrible screen adaptation was World War Z. The book was structured as an oral history covering points of view from many different people, but the movie forced many of those experiences onto one character. It dropped all experiences that couldn’t be made to fit that one guy.

    30. allathian*

      Granted, I’ve only seen one episode so far, but the 8-episode adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days starring David Tennant looks promising, although it has to be said that I haven’t read the book since my teens. Great production values and a fun story. Phileas Fogg seems a bit naive at times. Passepartout is Black, which is a credible change (I don’t remember any mentions of his skin color in the book), and there’s no Detective Fix on his trail, but instead a young intrepid journalist, Abigail Fortescue, traveling under her professional pseudonym, Abigail Fix, travels with them.

      The Hornblower series is a favorite, although I’ve never read the books, so I can’t judge the quality of the adaptations.

      Other favorites include David Suchet’s Poirot, the 1980s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, LotR, The Martian…

    31. Hiring Mgr*

      Least favorite for me was Bonfire of the Vanities – one of my all time favorite books so the bar was high… One of the only movies I ever walked out mid-film on

    32. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I really enjoyed both the movies and the books of The Help, The Shawshank Redemption, and the Green Mile. I rarely enjoy the movie once I’ve read the book, but these movies did it perfectly. I also listened to The Help on audio – so many different actresses really did it well! In fact that makes me want to listen again. What I liked about the movie was they didn’t try to cram every single book backstory in there; it stands well on its own.

      I also enjoyed *reading* Game of Thrones after watching the series. A long time ago I read the first book and I just couldn’t keep all the houses and relationships straight. Then I watched all the seasons (which, except for the last one, were pretty great) and then re-read the series and really enjoyed it. Everything that was confusing to me made sense.

      Also not exactly what you asked but The Hail Mary Project (by the same guy who wrote The Martian) is great fun to listen to on audiobook – something special happens in the recorded version that isn’t possible in written form, which I really enjoyed.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Oh, absolutely – one of the rare cases where I prefer the audio book over the written text. Masterfully done.
        That one could also make a good movie unless someone decides on adding too many action sequences (there’s no need, the book is quite nicely punctuated with action between quieter passages).

    33. beentheredonethat*

      The Count of Monte Cristo (1998 miniseries)… because it was long enough to cover the book

    34. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have one to add, because I just finished reading Crazy Rich Asians. For the first time in my life I am going to say that I liked the movie better. That brilliant Mahjong sequence at the end? That was new for the movie. Apparently Michelle Yeoh didn’t want to play a stereotypical tiger mom and encouraged the redemption arc.
      (That said, if you like the movie or like languages, the book is good & well worth reading…and don’t skip the footnotes.)

  3. Concerned Red Head*

    I’m concerned for a friend Brenda who I don’t know how or if I could help. She works in theater which even before the pandemic was not very lucrative but she made enough to get by. With Covid, she ended up moving back in with her parents. She’s been grateful that they’re letting her live there rent free but she’s really butting heads with them. I didn’t realize how much Brenda’s parents marriage was in trouble until she has now seen them argue on a weekly basis. She’s desperate to move out but can’t afford to. I can’t let her move in with me because I rent a house with two others. We had a fourth roommate who left but decided we could manage with just three so we made the fourth bedroom an office with no bed. My roommate’s would be fine if Brenda wanted to crash on our pullout couch for a couple weeks but they don’t want a new roommate.

    And most frustrating is that her plans for work seem to be just keep trying to make theater gigs work even though they’re few and far between with Covid going up and down. When she does get a gig, she’s constantly complaining that the money sucks and she disagrees with the director wants to do but has to go with it; so most of the time, she doesn’t even seem to like what she does any more. When she asks me for my advice, she doesn’t like my response, which is to put theater work on hold for a moment, get a steady office job save up and move out from her parents, and then think about theater work again. But she shuts me down every time. Now her new strategy is she wants to build up an Etsy shop and make a living through that. I love her art but her work is very niche which I don’t see too high a demand for; also the online artists I follow have had to work for years to be able to quit their day jobs and do that.

    Basically, I want so badly to help my friend but I’m not in a position to offer her a room and I’m frustrated with her career choices. Other than just letting her vent and get it out of her system, what can I do?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think venting is probably is not doing her a lot of good right now. And you aren’t giving unsolicited advice, she’s asking.

      Probably best to talk about neutral topics, or if she keeps venting about being unhappy with her own choices, you could ask reflective-listening questions. Stuff like, “that sounds tough – what do you think you are going to do about it?”

    2. Pop*

      Honestly, nothing. You can’t help her with her living situation and your ideas to help her make more money have been shut down. You can steer her towards other conversation topics (in a friendly way of course) in order to preserve your friendship. Captain Awkward would have some good scripts. Good luck!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Let it go. She’s an adult making her own choices. I suggest that you take a look at Captain Awkward for scripts about maintaining boundaries around how much venting you want to listen to, and steering her back to the kinds of interactions you used to enjoy.

    4. Aphrodite*

      There probably isn’t likely anything you can do other than, if you are willing, be a safe place for her to vent. (But I don’t think letting that go on repeatedly will feel good to you nor will it help her to move ahead.).

    5. PollyQ*

      Would it help to remind yourself that Brenda is making a deliberate choice? She knows there are other careers, and she knows that many artists of all kinds support themselves with day jobs of one sort or another. And knowing that, she’s still choosing to live with her parents, despite their rocky relationship. So, while this seems like a suboptimal situation to you (and to me, TBH), this is what she currently believes is the best way to live her life.

      I co-sign Not A Manager’s recommendation for Captain Awkward and ways to set boundaries for your own well-being. You do not have to listen to her kvetch endlessly in order to be a good friend to her, nor do you need to fix her problems for her.

      1. Despachito*

        Chiming in to say exactly this – she is an adult making a deliberate choice, and there is not much more you can do than you already did.

        You listened to her and tried to figure out some solution with her, and she did not agree. This is OK and is within her rights, but so is your refusal to talk it over and over again if you see it does not lead anywhere. You already did what a good friend would do, but I think you have reached the limits.

        It is unrealistic to fix her problems for her, and personally I think it is good that there is no place in your flat for her, because I’d be afraid it would not not only help her but living so close to her could easily damage your friendship.

      2. Rose*

        This! It’s hard to watch people make choices that make them actively unhappy, but there’s not a lot you can do about it. You’ve made the logical suggestion of putting her passion job on hold for a bit and finding a more consistent way to make more money, and she doesn’t like that idea. Unless she’s pushing back in some specific, fixable way (ie I’d never get an office job because I have no experience) there’s nothing you can do for her. As much as she seems to be complaining about this decision she’s clearly dedicated to sticking with it.

    6. TeaFiend*

      Ugh, it drives me crazy when people have obvious options to change/improve their situation and just spend all their time grumbling. I understand it can be complicated and frustrating when you have particular goals and interests and other factors are making change difficult, but yikes.

      I tend to be pretty direct with people and will offer potential solutions, but if they’re determined to just wallow in their circumstances I normally turn to saying something along the lines of:
      “Hey, so, from where I’m standing it looks like you do have a lot of other options but don’t want to take any of them. That’s fine, that’s totally your choice, and if this is what you want to do then fair enough—it’s your life and you make the decisions. BUT, we tend to have the same conversations about your frustrations over and over. While I want to support you, I find it really draining, especially because it feels like some of this could change if you were more open to doing something differently. I’m not saying you can’t vent to me, but I don’t always have the capacity to be a supportive listener, and sometimes I need a break from it. Maybe in the future if you do want to vent, can you ask first? Something like ‘Hey can I vent about XYZ?’. That way I can let you know if I’m not really in the head-space for it or if I’m all ears…”

      Generally I have found people to be pretty responsive to the above. If they start venting anyway I will cut them off and say “Look, we’ve had this conversation before and we’re going in circles, can we just talk about something else please?”. Sometimes I’ll also say something like “I get that this is frustrating for you, but I am not the type of person that’s good at just listening to people vent. I’m a find-solutions kind of person. So if you just want to vent and don’t want advice or solutions etc, I think I’m probably not the best person to talk to, sorry!”

      In terms of what you can do: not much. You can keep suggesting alternatives that might get her out of the situation (gig work like babysitting or cleaning or something, suggesting possible sharehouses that may be in her budget, house sitting for other people so she has a bit of space), but she sounds like she’s more comfortable complaining that she can’t have everything exactly as she wants it.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this sounds very familiar. I’m also very solutions-oriented, and I’m not willing to listen to someone repeatedly venting about something they don’t intend to change.

        Sometimes lending an ear can be enabling, because it lets a frustrated person get things off their chest just enough that they’re able and willing to go back to whatever the frustrating thing was. If you refuse to listen to the venting, it may inspire them to make other changes in their life instead.

    7. Batgirl*

      Is she asking for advice on whether she should quit theatre/artistic pursuits though? Or is she just asking for advice on making it work? It might help to separate your goals from her goals. Your goal is to be secure, secure enough to help others, whereas hers is to put as much time and energy into her art as possible, at the risk of security and at the risk of even her happiness. That’s okay for her to choose and she knows about the office job option! She can go for that when she’s exhausted her other options, or when she’s processed whether her current path will make her happy long term. She can probably also find other room mates who aren’t you or your room mates. Sometimes people don’t want to be full body rescued, they simply want time and space to make up their own minds. It absolutely is the most frustrating thing about friendship; letting people come to their own foreseeable conclusions because outside perspectives can be clearer, but ultimately the insider perspective needs to be processed too. As for actions towards her? Allow her to process somewhat: “So, what are you going to do?”, “What do you want to do?”, “Do you want advice or just to vent?”, “How long would you be able to put up with the status quo without it paying off? Okay so is that a deadline?”… But don’t allow her to process so much that you get tempted to start solving her problems for her and interrupt her process. Know when to say “I’m all talked out on this topic, tonight is about serious fun and escapism”. Let time be her teacher. Oh and I would probably be super nice to your roommates and build up some credit just in case she does end up on your couch…

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Sometimes in cases like this, it can help to phrase things as questions rather than suggestions. Like “are there any jobs you could apply for that would work around theatre work?” Or “have you any ideas as to what you are going to do about that?” The last does depend on how it is done. I had a boss once who was awesome with that. She always asked what you were going to do, if somebody came to her with a problem and it often did help to go through the possibilities. On the other hand, my brother once demanded, “well, what are you going to do?” when I was worried about the results of medical tests and had spent months (and he KNEW this), thinking through how I would cope with the worst option (something life-threatening) and being unable to think of any way of dealing with it. Given that a) results were something I couldn’t really control and b) he was demanding in an “I am your teacher and want your answer now” way, that was not helpful.

      In this case, however, there are some things in her control, so as long as you actually mean it in a supportive way, “let’s see if there are any solutions” rather than a “well, just find a solution so you shut up and stop annoying me” way, it might work. Depending on your friend, of course, but you know her and know what she is likely to find helpful.

      I can see why she wouldn’t want to put theatre work on hold if it is really what she wants to do with her life. I’m not sure exactly how theatre work works but I would guess that after a few years out of it, it would be harder to get work, making it more difficult to quit an office job (assuming she even has qualification for office jobs). However, there may be things she could do part-time between or as well as theatre gigs. Somebody else suggested babysitting, I think. I knew somebody who did substitute teaching work when he was between acting jobs; I guess he had a degree in English and drama or something like that. Tutoring, giving drama or theatre classes to kids, petsitting, possibly driving an Uber, if you have those in your country…

      I do know how frustrating it is when a friend keeps complaining and seems to be ignoring an obvious solution, but in this case, I do think that putting her long-term plans on hold and possibly damaging them/reducing the risk of their ever succeeding might seem a bigger problem than putting up with living with people who are really annoying her. It doesn’t sound as if her parents are abusive or as if she is at risk of homelessness, so I could see it being the “least worst option” which still being pretty stressful.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I suggest reframing this in your mind’s eye. Try to aim for turning it into, “Interesting life path! But not something that I know anything about so I am really not able to offer any intelligent suggestions.”

      What I like about this is that it draws it back on me- “I dunno about this line of work” and at the same time provides me relief from being The Answer Woman. You DO NOT have to offer solutions or provide answers to her dilemmas.

      I don’t have to dive into “well get a Real Job!” conversations that I just don’t want to have.

      As a point of curiosity you could watch to see what she does that DOES actually work out even if in small ways. In other words, one way to turn this situation upside down is to say, “I don’t know what you are going to do here, but I am sure I will learn something because of your experiences.” For example a potential learning experience could be “what’s it like to have an Esty shop?”. Keep stepping back and looking for a bigger picture.

      Some people have a work life that looks more like a patchwork quilt than a career. And while this can be nerve wracking for them, they do not see the traditional path of a 40 hr/week job as a solution. They want something else.

      Where I am going here is to suggest that you find a way to help yourself go WITH her life flow. And you can freely say, “I am really out of my element here, because theater [or whatever] is just not an arena I am familiar with.”

      I can also be a fan of addressing chronic complaints with, “ooo- that sounds very difficult. This is getting into a quality of life issue.” This lets the person know you see it as a serious matter and you might be able to lay the ground work to go in a different direction. Even if that direction is, “I can’t listen to your complaints all the time. We all have things about our jobs that we wrestle with.”

    10. AGD*

      I had a Brenda in my life. When I gave advice, she ended up complaining that I “wouldn’t stop pushing [her] around all the time.” When I decided my new approach was to shrug and change the subject, she ended up complaining that I “wouldn’t take her problems seriously.” When I explained to her that 95% of our friendship had turned into her being very negative instead of taking action and that it was turning into a real problem because we were hardly connecting anymore, she LOST IT at me and wrote me a very long detailed letter complaining that I “need[ed] to just stop being so self centered and think about other people for a change.” In other words, she was going to be an energy-vampire and was furious about any attempts to resist it.

      1. Despachito*

        I hope for your own sake that Brenda is a history now… what a piece of work.

      2. Rosamond Vincy repellant*

        Echoing AGD’s story: when I was much younger, I also had a “friend” who gradually took more and more and more from me. Commiseration about school turned into an expectation that I would spend hours on the phone with them before our papers were due, so they could “bounce ideas” off of me; of course, they turned in papers similar to mine, and my own work suffered from lack of time and attention to it. They changed their schedule to be in classes with me because their grades were always better when we could study together – all at the expense of any other relationships/friends I had. They guilted me about how lucky I was to be single and able to support myself and so smart and so talented…so OF COURSE because I was so blessed by fortune, it was a moral duty to share. With them, and no one else. And I did, for a long time.
        I cut this off when they insisted that I talk with them about a paper instead of talking with my own mother while my dad was in surgery to have cancerous masses removed. Dropping and rejecting their calls led to a meltdown and a demand that I “pay them back” by babysitting their kids for a full weekend so they could write their (now late) paper. Nope. It came to a head when they decided I needed an intervention to set boundaries with my mother and drop my then-fiancee (now spouse) because these things interfered with our friendship. Nope. I set strong boundaries with them. 35 years later, I hear they are still ticked off at me.

    11. WellRed*

      I think you should pull back from her a bit. She’s not asking for your advice, she’s venting or seeking your validation. Unenmesh yourself. And do not give her a free place to stay. She’s not homeless.

    12. marvin the paranoid android*

      It might help to remind yourself that Brenda is in a place where she has options. She’s not making the choices that you would, but it doesn’t sound like her current situation is unstable or seriously problematic. She’s annoyed about living at home and she’s frustrated by her work, but it doesn’t seem like either is enough motivation for her to make a total career change, and that’s her prerogative. I imagine that working in the arts is probably pretty meaningful to her, and she’s willing to put up with some significant downsides to try to make that work, at least for now.

      I understand where you’re coming from as a fellow overly empathetic person who likes to be helpful, but you’re probably better off just affirming how she feels rather than trying to offer solutions that she’s not receptive to. You might want to back off on offering any advice (even if she asks for it) because it’s not likely to be the kind of advice she wants to hear. And if you find that she keeps complaining about the same things all the time, it’s okay to limit the amount of time you spend talking about them.

    13. Anon for this*

      What do you do if you think you’re a Brenda? I’m trying so hard to find a solution to my problems and can’t see one.

      People suggest moving to a new city but the housing market is crazy for finding a new home and I don’t have the nerve to quit my job.

      And to make things worse, I’m having health issues and can’t find a provider for them. I call offices but they’re booked.

      I think people are saying things like this about me and I feel so stuck. I don’t want to annoy my friends but I don’t see a solution.

      1. Cookie*

        If you have enough money to make it work for a while, I vote for moving. My friend did this: she had been saving for a while and she had two other income sources (taught part time and rented out the house she had bought in City #1. She moved to City #2 – stayed briefly in a hotel and found a roommate by responding to ads. Lived with Roommate for a couple of years while saving money for a condo (and found a better job also). She has since changed jobs, sold/bought/sold other homes, etc. but none of this could have happened if she’d stayed where she was. The job market here is always bad, even now.

        AFA finding health providers where you are, does your insurance plan or HMO have a Find a Doctor utility? I used this to find providers taking new patients. It narrows the field and saves you making calls.

        And regarding Are You A Brenda, maybe? It could be helpful to tell a friend before you start the conversation whether you’re venting, looking for ideas/solutions, running your own ideas/solutions past someone else for their opinion, asking for networking connections in New City (or where you are now) etc. Then if you say you’re looking for input, actually consider their input – and if you don’t want advice, clearly tell them “I just want to vent.” They can choose not to participate if they know the nature of the conversation.

      2. OptimisticPessimist*

        One thing I would do if the topic gets brought up is use friends to come up with new ideas. If they are willing, say, “Ok, I know that x, y, and z has been suggested. They are good ideas, but they just don’t resonate with me. Could you help me come up a bunch of ideas that include me continuing to (insert main goal here)? I promise not to shoot any of them down.”

        I think that’s the biggest thing that grates on people. Immediately shooting down an idea kills a brainstorming session. When they say something ridiculous, just say “keep ‘em coming”. Who knows, something really useful that you hadn’t thought of could come from it.

        And they might not want to talk about it. You have to respect that. It doesn’t make them good or bad friends, per se, but it does give you more information about what kind of a friend you can expect them to be.

    14. Really?*

      For her, not much. Some people need to find their own way. In the interim, Thank your roommates for not letting her move in. She sounds exhausting….

  4. Kitchen Witch*

    What are you cooking? Have you got any good recipes for interesting, complete-meal salads?

    This week, I’ve been making lasagne and having leftovers with a garden salad. First time I’ve made vegan lasagne and it was quite good. I’m using the leftover mince to make a ragu to have with potato gnocchi.
    And I made some pretty good baked tofu with noodles and veg too. I might try my hand at my own garlic bread this weekend if I have time.
    I’ve been kind of eating tomato and herb soup with lentils on repeat this week too.
    Just for snacks I’ve had coconut yoghurt with berries and seeds, or fruit, with a chocolate mug cake – probably lethal that it only takes a couple of minutes to do in the microwave!
    Pick Up Limes on YouTube has a fab recipe for chocolate cake, which I made last month when I went to visit my brother – I froze some of the pieces and every now and then I’ll have a piece warmed up and it’s like fudge cake, so good.
    I tend to be very monotonous with my cooking though, so am looking for ideas.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Do you eat meat or fish? I like a salade nicoise with good canned tuna (or grilled salmon) and all the traditional nicoise fixings. I personally find chef’s salads to be a bit boring and heavy on fats, but a lot of people like them and they are certainly filling.

      1. Kitchen Witch*

        No I’m vegan, but I can substitute stuff in so don’t mind meat or fish recommendations :) thanks!

        1. pancakes*

          Chickpeas, le puy lentils, or cannellini beans in vinaigrette (maybe with some finely sliced hot pepper or chili flakes, etc.) would be good in place of the fish. Or seared halloumi, for vegetarians.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’m a big fan of meal salads in summer. Some ideas

      Taco salad: cooked ground meat with taco seasonings (warm it up slightly). Mix that with grated cheese and some crumbled Doritos, then top with diced cucumber, tomato, avocado, red onion, pickled jalapenos, black beans, and hot sauce and give a quick mix. The taco meat freezes well for later use.

      Vaguely mediterannean salad: cucumber, tomato, red onion, celery, black olives, chunky pasta, cooked chickpeas, shredded cooked chicken, cumbled feta, a dressing of fresh herbs, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic.

      Canned fish and white bean salad: sturdy greens, cucumber, tomato, red onion, avocado, canned sardines or tuna, white beans, crumbled feta, cooked white beans, capers, dress with lemon juice and olive oil. If you’ve got tuna packed in water mix the dressing in with it.

      Most of the above are fairly low carb, but you can add some bread on the side if desired.

      1. Kitchen Witch*

        Hmm I love these ideas thanks! I’m looking for more low carb things for sure.

    3. tired feeties*

      I like cooked white beans with chopped tomatoes cucumber peppers and feta with a lemon vinaigrette.

      1. pancakes*

        We often have something like that in the summer. Always fresh herbs in the dressing, lovage or tarragon are my favorites, and sliced scallions.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Pasta cooked al dente and let cool to lukewarm. Add quartered cherry tomatoes. Lightly sautee fresh green asparagus in extra virgin olive oil and coarsely ground green pepper. Mix in a bowl and add more olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar di Modena IGP to taste.
        Takes only 15 minutes or so to make.

    4. Middle Aged Lady*

      Roasted garbanzo beans are good snacks or salad bases. A sheet pan mix of patty pan squash, red onion and garbanzos roasted with a curry dressing poured over first, is nice. Tabbouleh, blackeyed pea salad with lots of parsley and some sesame oil. Make lasagna with zucchini planks in place of noodles. White bean salad is good, but so is garlicky white bean dip with tahini and miso.

    5. Despachito*

      I do not know whether this counts exactly as a salad, but today I made poké bowls: cooked rice as a base, plus diced raw salmon marinated in peanut oin and rice vinegar for about 30 mins (I poured the rest of the marinade on the rice), thinly sliced carrot, radish, avocado, red bell pepper, iceberg salad and cucumber.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I make a Greek grain bowl frequently – grain (farro, quinoa, etc), diced cucumber/red pepper/tomato, kalamata olives, garbanzos and lemon vinaigrette (half lemon/half olive oil). Optional feta for non vegans. Can add greens but shouldn’t store it in the fridge with greens. Can also add mint or oregano.

    7. tab*

      I’m a huge fan of the Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro salad from Bon Appétit.

    8. londonedit*

      Earlier this week I made a fridge-raid salad out of a tin of green lentils, steamed broccoli and asparagus, boiled new potatoes and eggs, with just some lemon juice and olive oil as a dressing. It was so nice! Being vegan you could obviously do tofu or a nice vegan cheese instead of the eggs.

      1. Cendol*

        This sounds DELICIOUS. It also reminds me vaguely of a salad I had at a Starbucks long ago as an exchange student in the UK. I was fascinated by what I thought were large beans in the salad…they were boiled new potatoes, lol!

    9. MaxKitty*

      Quinoa Wilted Spinach Salad and Wilted Spinach Salad with Butternut Squash, both from Taste of Home

    10. Kate in Scotland*

      My sister’s go-to hearty salad is Black & white rice salad with cumin-roasted butternut squash from BBC Good Food (I hope it’s available online everywhere not just in the UK). It does contain cheese but I think it could be successfully veganized by substituting with vegan cheese or avocado or artichokes or another roast vegetable

    11. HannahS*

      Quinoa (for protein) with cherry tomatoes, corn, basil, and fresh mozzarella (though that can be omitted to make it dairy-free).

      For meal prep (because it’s too much work to just make one) I bake slices of tofu brushes with soy sauce and sesame oil and put them on brown rice or greens with cucumber and carrots, and then spicy peanut dressing and chopped peanuts and cilantro.

    12. WellRed*

      I’m a huge fan of southwestern inspired cuisine. A nice big salad with your choice of greens (lots of color! Carrots, radish, red cabbage). Add black beans (maybe season with taco or adobo seasoning), corn, avocado, tortilla strips, vegan cheese, and sour cream, whatever you like. I always go for quality dressing, maybe creamy cilantro or cilantro lime vinaigrette but whatever you like is good.

    13. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

      I just had a whole week of this salad lunches:
      Israeli pearl couscous – 2 cups of dry.
      Chickpeas for protein (1can, rinse. Will add more next time)
      Halved cherry tomatoes (ballpark)
      Shallots (milder than onions) (2)
      Fresh parsley and basil (ballpark)
      Crumbled feta (5 oz)
      Sliced kalamata olives (ballpark)
      Dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped garlic, salt, peppers.
      Legit started completely fine dressed in the fridge for 5 days. I imagine you can add grilled chicken or shrimp to it without any issues.

    14. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

      I also make Texas Caviar by thecomfortofcooking dot com. Fully vegan, filling, and last in the fridge few days.

    15. Book The Wink*

      Budgetbytes has a fabulous cold peanut noodle salad that I have made a few times. It’s basically cabbage, carrot, cilantro, scallion, and your preferred noodle (I use the buckwheat soba) with optional crushed peanuts plus a peanut lime dressing. It’s hearty but surprisingly light and fresh tasting.

      There is also a really excellent honey mustard broccoli salad on that site. You would need to sub the mayo, but that is pretty much it.

      In a non-salad suggestion, I just made a FABULOUS hoisin tofu mushroom lettuce wrap filling. It is from the Eating Well website (search Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps) and with a few small mods for personal taste (added brown sugar to the sauce, way more hoisin, added white pepper to the tofu while cooking for seasoning, added a bit of corn starch slurry to the sauce for glossiness) it turned out PHENOMENALLY. I am almost mad I am taking it for a potluck.

    16. beentheredonethat*

      I am not a vegan, but I love and eat vegetables mostly.
      Daikon, white, green or korean are great for salads, roasted chips, soups.
      I made the recipe below and added 5 spice. (You can make your own)
      I roast veg in olive oil and spice… shichimi mix, or chopped up herbs.
      Artichokes jarred in oil, the oil is great for stir fry.
      Anytime I stir fry I end with acid, my go to is rice wine vinegar
      I have been playing with preserved lemons. They were amazing in a tomato sauce I made.
      Gochujang is also one of my favorites.

    17. crookedglasses*

      Ooh, I recently discovered a fabulous and very satisfying salad recipe!

      You start by pickling some cauliflower them toss that with some cooked farro, along with roasted red pepper and lima beans. The brine for pickling is a mix of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, some water, plus mustard seeds and some oregano’s sprigs and you want to let it sit about 24 hours in the fridge. I couldn’t find lima beans so o subbed in edamame and that worked great too. Toss in some of the brine from the cauliflower and then serve that over mixed greens. I kept the farro mix leftovers separate from the greens and it kept really well.

      I found the recipe in the most recent copy of forks over knives magazine if you want to hunt down the full details!

    18. comityoferrors*

      Following on the quinoa train :) I love the Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad from Simple Veganista. It’s a staple for me – easy to whip together (once you get the hang of it, at least), great taste, feels really light and refreshing but is nourishing at the same time.

      I’ve been eyeing the Tahini Mustard Sweet Potato Lentil Arugula salad from The Full Helping. Very descriptive name lol. It looks delicious and hearty, but then, I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes and lentils.

      Your meals sound amazing and pretty varied to me! It’s always fun to pick up new recipes though.

    19. Falling Diphthong*

      This is from Carla Lalli Music. One dish meal, simple, vegetable forward but with protein from the nuts and cheese. You can adjust the amounts to match your taste.

      Charred Broccoli and Date Salad

      2 broccoli heads, chopped
      6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
      small wedge of Manchego cheese, broken up
      1/2 cup almonds (Marcona if have)
      1 tsp honey
      1 T cider vinegar

      Preheat oven to 425°. Put broccoli in bowl and pour olive oil over. Toss and sprinkle with salt. Spread broccoli on baking sheet. Roast until charred on bottom, then flip each piece and bake some more.

      Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with dates, almond, and cheese. Pour vinegar and honey over and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    20. Missb*

      I love the quinoa pear/spinach/maple vinaigrette salad from gluten free goddess. It calls for chickpeas but I usually leave them out. I put way more spinach in there (or arugula or chard or whatever green) and I use apples if I don’t have pears. Holds up well in the fridge for a few days.

    21. tamarak & fireweed*

      I recently (re)discovered an Eastern European / German recipe that you can find as “fried cabbage with egg noodles” or sometimes “haluski”. My variant has no bacon (we don’t eat much meat, but aren’t vegetarian or vegan) – fry one onion until slightly caramelized, add shredded cabbage, salt/pepper, a bit of vegetable broth. Add boiled broad noodles (doesn’t have to be egg noodles – pappardelle work fine), top with feta (I’m sure there’s a good vegan substitute for a sweet-sharp cheese type component).

  5. Sawtooth Ache*


    Does anyone have experience with signing up as a driver for DoorDash or GrubHub just to make gas money? A hobby I developed during initial Covid lockdowns is to go for a very long drives I listening to my podcast. It got me out of the house but not interacting with people. I still do it from time to time; I really enjoy it.

    Obviously with gas prices on the rise, it has turned into a surprisingly expensive hobby. I have recently been thinking about signing up as a food driver for DoorDash/GrubHub to get a little bit of gas money while I’m driving around. One friend who doesn’t have experience with it but is talk to someone who did became very concerned, said I would end up paying way more in taxes. I didn’t even think I would make enough to qualify for any kind of taxes, if I did it I saw myself is doing it like once or twice a month. Any thoughts on how this stuff works?

    1. PollyQ*

      I don’t have experience with working as a driver, but I wanted to address the tax issue. Even if you’re making enough to be in a higher tax bracket, that higher rate only applies to the part of your income that’s above the bracket dividing line. So, it’s possible (although not guaranteed) that you’d have to pay a higher tax rate on part of your earnings, but it wouldn’t change the taxes on what you’re currently making.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes, this is a common misconception. If extra money pushes you up a level in tax brackets, it won’t make your take-home income less.

        Where the extra money can cause problems, however, is if it pushes you above a threshold for income based aid (say, you lose subsidies because it pushes you just over the limit).

    2. Blomma*

      I’ve not done this so I’m not speaking from personal experience but in more general terms because of my job (insurance agent): be sure to talk to your own insurance agent before doing this. Many auto policies have exclusions and/or gaps around delivery services and ride sharing. Some carriers allow you to endorse coverage for those activities but that may cost more than you’d be willing to pay for a hobby.

    3. Miel*

      Years ago, engineer/ blogger Mr. Money Mustache signed up as an Uber driver and concluded that it was a scheme to extract value out of people who didn’t fully understand the true costs of driving their cars.

      I’m sure things have changed since 2017, I’m sure doing food delivery is different than people delivery, and I know your main goal is not to make a ton of money! But you might find some interesting tidbits here.


      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Local restaurants where I live have many complaints about these services, which also cost them a lot of money. And often scrape out-of-season menus from websites, which can cause problems for customers & drivers.

        If there’s a local delivery service that was started by or truly partners with local restaurants, you might want to look into driving for them. They’re generally much better run & better paying.

    4. Miel*

      Note on taxes: you’ll be required to report *any* income from your side gig to the IRS. If you make over $600 in a year, the company will issue you a 1099 form, but even if you make less than $600 you’re obligated to report the income.

      Classified as an “independent contractor” you should be able to deduct 58.5 cents per mile as a business expense. Based on how little those apps pay, I’d guess that after deducting the milage you wouldn’t have much taxable income left over.

      I’m not a tax expert or anything so I’d recommend reading up on this a bit more! I was finding this info on the IRS website and from certain tax prep software websites. Good luck.

      1. Accountant*

        One note, none of these app-based gif economy companies pay by physical cash or check, so they’re not required to 1099 their “contractors” until they hit 200 transactions or $20,000. But yes, assuming you have other income, you’re required to report any taxable income whether or not it’s reported to the IRS.

        One other thing to consider if you prepare your own taxes and are above the threshold for IRS Freefile is that your usual software may cost more. When I started doing side work I had to switch from Intuit’s products because they wanted a truly ludicrous amount of money for a Sch C.

      2. ronda*

        I have been working for tax aide and one of the things they train us on is this. you do have to report all income and you can deduct expenses. (this is done on schedule c). you should keep a record of your milage for this purpose. milage from home to 1st work site and last work site to home are not deductible. the milage expense covers all car expense, so you can’t claim milage and then also claim repairs or gas.
        The software is good at this and will calculate all the taxes and deductions if you put in the income and expenses.

        so it might complicate your taxes a little bit, but any income can be offset partially by the expenses claimed, so there probably won’t be a big tax hit.

        If you are concerned about how to do taxes, look into tax aide available in your area and try them. We only had so many volunteers and appointments available in my area, so sign up early if you want to try them.

    5. Tib*

      It sounds like you’re thinking about this to break even on the gas money you’re already spending. For that purpose, you might be ok. Delivery service puts a lot of wear and tear on your car, which you’re already doing. You’re also already doing the long drives; although you’ll have more interruptions and waiting and might have to focus more on where you’re going compared to now when you can just go where you choose. You’ll also have additional tax forms.

      Personally, I’d either find a way to justify the gas expense by comparing it to the expense of other hobbies or find a way to enjoy listening without driving. For me, the headache of dealing with customers, clients, and traffic would outweigh my enjoyment.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      One aspect: car insurance. You must tell your car insurance company you’re using your car for commercial purposes to be covered in an accident. You’ll most likely pay extra for that coverage. My nephew wanted to deliver pizzas parttime while in college. His dad found that the hike in car insurance would wipe out any income my nephew would have made. The nephew dropped the idea.

    7. o_gal*

      Other people have covered the taxes and insurance. But you mention that you found it good to go for very long drives. You may not get that.

      My son is a Dasher. In his experience, he has gotten a variety of deliveries. Some are short, just a mile or two. Others are longer, with one of them being about 15 miles. The vast majority of them are short-haul. Based on what they are paying their drivers, the short-hauls are not worth it financially. He won’t get paid enough for the trip to justify it, especially if the person did not tip. You’ve seen those memes about places with Door Dash and Grub Hub order stacking up, because the person did not tip? 100% accurate.

      Door Dash has a rating for their drivers, called the Top Dash program. You get a number of perks with it, but to maintain it, you have to have a certain % of completed deliveries (not a problem for my DS) but also a certain % of accepted orders. He was a Top Dasher in his first month, but has fallen out. It’s all Taco Bell’s fault – tons of people order TB and want it delivered only a mile or two away. TB here has not opened its dining rooms, so that means going through the drive-through. Which around here are terrible – 20 minute waits are not uncommon. So DS turns down every TB delivery because it isn’t going to pay well and he’ll get dinged for the long delivery time.

    8. BookMom*

      My kid delivered pizzas two summers ago when everything was shut down and he was desperate for a job. His car still smells like pizza. (I didn’t even think about the insurance implications, oh well.)

  6. WoodswomanWrites*

    What old movies made in your lifetime can you watch over and over? I’d love to hear about your favorites to check out myself. Minimal violence please, and not movies before you were born.

    Here are a few of mine. Sometimes I’ll just pull up particular scenes I like watching again. On the light end of the spectrum are Tin Men, the Princess Bride, and Heaven Can Wait. More serious films include Lone Star, Children of a Lesser God, Michael Clayton, and Sense and Sensibility. Other dramas were great but too gut-wrenching for me to watch again.

    1. Jamie Starr*

      Heathers (this has violence…but it’s a dark comedy so…)
      Beautiful Girls
      Purple Rain
      Malcolm X – this may not meet the “minimal violence” threshold, being that there’s, you know, an assassination

    2. Aphrodite*

      I can’t watch any. I tried once with The Graduate but found myself squirming uncomfortably. Movies I can watch over and over and over were made before my time: Casablanca and Citizen Kane.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I hear you about the really old films. I didn’t ask about those because I have so many favorites. Casablanca is among them, and I appreciate the reminder to rewatch Citizen Kane since it’s been a lot of years.

    3. Mommy insomnia*

      Realizing I haven’t watched a non kid movie in ages… two of my favorites are Kong Fu Hustle & Goonies.

      1. Mommy insomnia*

        Although maybe not minimal violence- kong fu hustle is violent hyperbole. You may just have to watch to see.

    4. tired feeties*

      Amadeus. First saw it in theatres as a teenager. I love how the music is its own character.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        My husband and I will stop and watch Bridesmaids again anytime we come across it. I love Chariots of Fire but hubs thinks it’s boring.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Cold Comfort Farm! Excellent adaptation of a favorite novel – with some great use of film options that couldn’t appear in the book. (I’m thinking of the soaring music during the farewell-to-his-favorite-bull scene {grin})

      1. Movies, Yay!*

        Also the Lord of the Rings movies, A Fish Called Wanda, Galaxy Quest, Waking Ned Devine, Moonrise Kingdom.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I loved School of Rock, as well as Waking Ned Devine. I don’t even remember how I came across that movie, but I’m glad I did.

        2. LittleBabyDamien*

          Seconding Waking Ned Devine! Some of us sustained laugh related injuries. Also Clockwise, along the lines of A Fish Called Wanda.

        3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I adore Galaxy quest and Waking Ned Devine. I’ll add Hugo, A League of Their Own, 1776, The Secret of Roan Inish, Shrek, Gregory’s Girl, Comfort and Joy, Educating Rita… gosh, now I need to watch them all.

        4. Movies, Yay!*

          Oooops! LOTR is definitely very violent. Sorry. But then I remembered…

          The Thomas Crown Affair (the one with Pierce Brosnan, not the original one). It never gets old, and every time I watch it I notice something new. Also love to rewatch The Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.

      2. Puggle*

        Once. I love the description that it isn’t a fairy tale, but neither is it Shakespearean tragedy.

        1. Movies, Yay!*

          Comfort faves exactly! I have a list of no-fail movies I watch when I’m so down in the dumps that even chocolate doesn’t help. The American President and Dave are on my list.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Clue. The Princess Bride. Most anything Mel Brooks did (some of these were before I was born, but not all). The Mummy (some violence but not very realistic). Armageddon (I KNOW but Bruce Willis looks like my dad and I’m a sucker for “self-sacrifice to save the world” tropes and I bawl through the whole thing). The Disney Renaissance animated films.

      1. Pikachu*


        You cannot know my love for this movie. It’s the best worst movie ever made. What a plot. What a CAST. I laugh out loud and cry every time I watch it. Still. And the Aerosmith power ballad to go with it.

        *chef’s kiss*

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I know your love for this movie because it apparently mirrors mine. :)

    6. Anima*

      Big Fish. I read the book and liked the movie, despite them being quite different. No violence at all and sweet story, might be perfect for you.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’d forgotten about this one, which I enjoyed years ago. Adding it to my rewatch list.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Working Girl
      Shawshank Redemption (probably my favorite of all time)
      Any of the Ocean’s movies, including 8 (Ocean’s 11, the remake, is required viewing prior to any Vegas vacation)

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I agree that Shawshank Redemption is one of the best ever. It upsets me to watch the whole film, but periodically I watch the last 15 minutes.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I love Working Girl! It came out when I was in college. I made my teenage daughter watch it with me, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to age since some movies from that era didn’t age well. But she liked it too! I could truly watch the end over and over.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Just rewatched Shawshank Redemption on a plane and it was still great. Not much violence shown but it is emotionally intense.

      1. DarthVelma*

        Coming to America is my mom’s guilty pleasure movie. If she’s flipping channels and comes across it she cannot help but watch through to the end.

      2. Ali + Nino*

        Yes to Mean Girl, Clueless, and my all-time favorite, 10 Things I Hate About You. Maybe The Producers. Also, Shaun of the Dead. I just started rewatching Forgetting Sarah Marshall – just as funny as I remembered.

    9. Pippa K*

      My Cousin Vinny. Tremors when I’m in the mood for something silly. The Princess Bride because it’s a beloved perfect thing. And Star Wars (the original ones; I continue to ignore the 3 prequels, and I really like the new ones but they don’t count as ‘old movies’ yet).

    10. GoryDetails*

      (Here’s an advantage to being old – I have so many more movies to choose from for this post!)

      That said, many of my favorite re-watches aren’t nearly as old as my earliest favorites. On the comedy side, I love Galaxy Quest, and the various Christopher Guest-and-company movies – Best in Show and A Mighty Wind are my favorites, but they’re all fun. Young Frankenstein’s another; I can practically quote the whole thing by now but I still tune in when it airs on cable.

      Among the oldest: The Ten Commandments (Charleton Heston version) – I was only 4 when it came out and I probably didn’t watch it until it began airing on TV, but I adore it even now.

      Oh, and Them! It’s a giant-ant SF/horror film from 1954, and one of the best of the genre; sure, some of the giant-ant effects look rather lame by today’s standards, but the story and acting are really solid. [The violence is mostly implied rather than shown, but it still might be outside the not-too-violent request.]

      Witness for the Prosecution is a dandy courtroom drama starring Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, and Tyrone Power, and is based on an Agatha Christie story; great fun.

      Auntie Mame, with Rosalind Russell – the best of the screen adaptations, very entertaining!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        So nice to see Auntie Mame on this list, definitely a favorite of mine even it it’s before my time.

        1. Mannequin*

          My absolute favorite and I’ve watched it over & over, but yes, also made before I was born.

    11. Water Everywhere*

      Dirty Dancing
      Blazing Saddles
      A League of Their Own
      Sense and Sensibility (1995)
      Pitch Perfect

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I hate violence in movies. Here’s my list that I watch frequently or when I just need a dose of happy.
      A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy by Woody Allen.
      My Family and Other Animals. (the actual movie, not the series).
      Being There with Peter Sellers.
      The Gods Must be Crazy.
      Bagdad Cafe.
      Shrek (love Shrek!)

    13. MaxKitty*

      O Brother Where Art Thou?
      The Cutting Edge
      A Knight’s Tale
      While You Were Sleeping
      Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

      The Hudsucker Proxy
      The Incredibles
      The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

      Older than us, but just love it–
      Follow Me, Boys!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh yes! The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (NOT Mitty) and Up!!
        Also, pretty old, The Mouse That Roared with Peter Sellers

    14. David*

      I see I’m the third person to mention it but I really just have to add another “vote” for Galaxy Quest. It’s one of the very few movies that I can watch repeatedly and enjoy despite remembering what happens in it.

      Other movies with high rewatchability (for me) include The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) The Incredibles (2004, but skip this one if Disney-style cartoon violence bothers you), and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). I don’t know if these meet your desired definition of “old” though. Personally, I consider pretty much any movie that came out after I was born to be not old, so I don’t have a sense for where you draw the line.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good suggestion. I haven’t seen Galaxy Quest since it was in theaters.

    15. Mimmy*

      My favorites that come to mind

      Forrest Gump

      I saw Shrek mentioned above too, love the first one.

    16. Zee*

      Legally Blonde! Never fails to put me in a better mood.
      Jurassic Park – still holds up so well more almost 30 years later.

    17. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      About a Boy
      (though it does deal with emotionally heavier topics, still absolutely a feel good film for me)
      While You Were Sleeping
      (it’s just so lovely <3 )

    18. allathian*

      Hmmm, let’s see… Most of my favorites are probably too violent for you. On the less violent end some of my rewatch favorites are…

      Apollo 13
      Dirty Dancing
      Mamma Mia! (the first one, the second not so much)
      The Queen (2006, starring Helen Mirren)

      Musicals are probably a good bet…

    19. GoryDetails*

      Field of Dreams! That was on cable a few days ago and I had to re-watch. (I do have my favorite bits; the “Moonlight Graham” arc leading to the film’s conclusion is the best. I get chills at “I’m Archie Graham,” and generally weep like a baby all through the conclusion.)

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.

      The Martian. One I’m happy to have be, say, an annual Christmas rewatch.

    21. philmar*

      Apparently I like dry, mean, ironic, and ultimately depressing comedy, noir themes, period settings, beautiful costuming/set design, convoluted plots, and characters who never say what they mean and always have a zillion ulterior motives:
      A Room with a View
      Dangerous Liaisons
      LA Confidential
      Withnail and I
      The Age of Innocence
      Game Change (HBO original movie about Sarah Palin that I cannot figure out why I am obsessed with, but I am)
      Silence of the Lambs (this might be too violent?)
      In the Loop
      Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
      Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    22. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for all the fantastic recommendations! I haven’t seen a lot of these films, and others I had forgotten about. I’m happy to have this extensive list.

    23. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Fast Times at Ridgemont High (though its portrayal of the Black football star is really problematic.)

    24. SG*

      I second Cinema Paradiso and Babe. And also Toy Story (the original, not the sequels).

    25. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Local Hero.
      Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.
      The Princess Bride.
      The Mummy (such campy cartoon violence I just look down at my crochet for a while and ignore it)
      Black Beauty.
      Buckaroo Bonzai.
      Big Trouble in Little China.
      Grease. (And other musicals depending on what’s stuck in my head)
      Mistress of Spices.
      The flying sequences out of James Cameron’s Avatar

    26. My husband is a cop with guns and irony*

      Moonstruck is my perfect movie. Perfect! Everything about it is charming. I’ll watch it any time I can.

  7. Dazed & Confused*

    I moderate a casual peer support forum for people with a particular mental health issue, and have done so for the past two years. I grew the forum from the ground up from 10,000 people to 200,000 (after taking over for the creator, who had to leave) and feel like it’s my “baby,” so to speak. I wrote all the rules from scratch and I’ve even fielded media requests. Part of me thought that I might be able to monetize my participation at some point by offering goods and services (not in a sleazy way, we already maintain a list of those for anyone interested).

    But three weeks ago I had to step away for a work conference, and I honestly dread going back. I dread the complaints from irate people who don’t read the most basic of rules, I dread having to wade through disturbing posts and comments, and I dread parsing through the snark from people on exact opposite sides of the same issues. A lot of people have been kind, grateful for the forum, and happy to be there, but I’m honestly wondering if it’s worth it at this point. I was hoping someone here might have some perspective, or maybe has gone through the same thing, and has been able to parse out what was best for them from ego issues, sunk cost fallacies, etc.

    1. PollyQ*

      Is there any way you can recruit some help? Maybe some long-term members would be interested in helping with moderation. 200,000 users is a HUGE number!

    2. Miel*

      I can relate! I’ve started several groups (fb and otherwise) and while it’s been a great joy to grow them, it’s also been a great joy to hand the reins over to the next capable leader.

      Sounds like you might be ready to move on!

      I see you said there were several other moderators but you’re the main one. Perhaps your last project as admin could be to put out a call for new modmins, select a capable team, and hand it over.

      It can be hard passing along your baby to someone else! Inevitably, they will not make the exact same choices you would have.

      In particular, it sounds like you take a pretty hands-on approach to moderating, and I wouldn’t be shocked if nobody else is up for doing quite as thorough of a job as you have been. Maybe there are ways to automate part of the job (using boilerplate language/ setting up moderation flags for certain keywords); maybe you can designate certain topics as off limits for further discussion; or maybe you’ll just have to accept that the group may change a bit after you step back.

      Wishing you all the best.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      It sounds like something you once enjoyed has turned into something you now dread. Can you take a 6-month break from moderating and then reevaluate?

  8. Anon Parent*

    Childcare vent (not Covid-related). My husband who is mostly a stay at home parent has decided he’d like to flex up to full time at work if we are able to find part-time childcare (he works weekends and we have a little family help). We set an idealistic goal of having our kiddo in care by the end of 2022, but are lucky that it’s a flexible need. I intellectually KNEW that the search would be difficult and have very long waitlists, but oof getting an email today that they are currently accepting interested folks for September of 2023 was rough. :(

    1. Mommy insomnia*

      Childcare is crazy – and my little aging into kindergarten saved me! Depending on your littles age – options start to open up at age three outside of the private daycare realm. If you’re in a small to medium sized city check your city’s parks n rec programs, non profits like the JCC, arts non profits, etc.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, if you’re only looking for part-time that opens your options a bit because programs with limited hours won’t have the competition of families who need all-day care. My family has had great experiences with parks and rec preschools, which sometimes start at 2.5-3yo

      2. Anon Parent*

        Unfortunately she’s still ten months so we are quite a ways a way from some of those programs. There are also more options at 2/2.5 around here because of state licensing and ratios. It sounds like my husband would be fine continuing to work PT and stay home with her, he’s just starting to feel burnt out on parenting when I work four days a week and then working in the service industry three days a week. Which I get. Ultimately I know we’re in a good position, the fatigue of being a new parent (even with a strong support system!) is just really hitting me hard this week.

        1. CantBearToUseName*

          You actually might be in a good position for in home nanny if you’re looking for less tradition hours. Depending on the actual schedule finding a college student or retiree looking to pick up PT work could make make this more attractive (depending on location costs could still be high but we’ve had luck over daycare when we didn’t need full day, every day coverage.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      It’s awful. I wouldn’t despair entirely. The September 2023 thing means they specifically enroll students on a school year basis and they’re full for the upcoming year. What I reminded myself is that everyone is doing the shuffle, and a spot in Daycare B will open up if Ed at Daycare B gets into Daycare A that works better for their parent. Then Izzy can start at Daycare B and Izzy’s parents go off the waiting lists for Daycares C-F. So one enrollment will have a cascading effect that helps everyone waiting.

      But it’s so stressful, I really empathize. We finally recently got a spot for our baby to start in August, but until then the backup plan was to drive him an hour each day to my stepmom’s.

    3. Blue Unicorn*

      My 2 year old is at a place that opened shortly after covid began. (Started when she was an infant.) The place has a TWO year waitlist. They sent us an email in the fall that anyone contemplating having a baby or pregnant and wanted to enroll needed to do so since there was a year wait list at that point.

      I’ve tried getting care for my older kids for non school days and the waitlists are a year. (The price of their place increased substantially where it’s almost as much as my 2 year old for a school age!?) The before/after doesn’t do non school anymore since covid.

    4. coffee is my friend*

      That reminds me + I need to check on our wait-list position at the three daycares we put in for…we are lucky that we won’t need daycare for our now three month old until Jan 2023…but it’s stressful!

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Ouf. Yeah I find daycare search really stressful. Not sure where you are, but in my area, a lot of in-home daycares fill spots 4-8 weeks in advance. My kids did this option until they were two.
      Or if your husband just needs a break, would you consider hiring help one or two days a week even for a few hours? I’ve found it’s hard to find career nannies for part time help, but college students are often available.

      1. Anon Parent*

        Ha, the 18 month waitlist was from an in-home place – that’s mainly where we’re looking! Glad to hear that your city isn’t quite so constrained.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Yikes! I was afraid of this as well. We started looking in April (last month) and most all of them had availability beginning in July 2022. Luckily our favorite one also had slots available in May so we went with them.

      Best of luck!

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    Not much for me this week as I’ve been busy, but I’m still curious to hear about your writing journeys!

    1. Midwestern traveler*

      I’m working (very slowly) on fleshing out notes/narratives for my 7th Sea gaming group. 7th Sea is a DnD-like game set in an early modern Europe analogue plus magic. Having never done much writing besides my doctoral dissertation, it’s been a fun process. I’m finding I’m much more invested in emotional/dialogue scenes than in the action itself, though, much to my GM’s chagrin.

    2. Maryn*

      My writing slowly grinds forward. But this week’s pleasure was learning our younger daughter has begin writing. She’d like to sell it, but for right now, she simply enjoys it and finds it sufficient to keep going.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Got my 2 chapters in last week, through editor revision and off to the client. He loved them.

      Had a bunch of revision for other clients, and now I’m in exactly the same spot as last week – 2 chapters due, 0.5 written, no clue how to get there in time.

      At least this week I know where my time went, and that it will all work out.

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      I finished and turned in the second submission for a fanfiction exchange! It’s my first time participating in one and I’m very excited… both to hopefully make my requester happy and to see which of my requests got written for. I also wrote a “treat” fic for someone who made a request I really liked the look of.
      For anyone who’s not familiar wi these – it’s basically a fanfiction swap meet, where certain fandoms and prompts get matched to people who are interested in writing them, and at the deadline you trade them around and everyone gets to see what you’ve made.

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

    Nothing for me this week as I’ve not had any time to play games unfortunately.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Working my way through Legend of Mana HD again and keeping tabs on news for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

    2. MEH Squared*

      Still playing Elden Ring. Still loving it. But I did try out NORCO by Geography of Robots (it’s on Game Pass), which is a Southern Gothic point-and-click that is a cross of Kathy Rain and Night in the Woods (one of my favorite games ever). You’re a tough woman whose mother died so you go back to Norco to tidy things up. When you get back, you find out your brother is missing. I’m looking for him now. It’s got a lovely pixelated graphics look to it and none of the ‘combine a rabbit, hairbrush, and sock to make a key’ BS that most point-and-clicks have. And there’s fast travel, too! I’m digging it so far.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      Just started Yakuza 0. About 3 hours into the first game I’ve played in the series and it’s already bonkers. The minigames are wild. Sega really did go “lol we’re going to put fully playable Space Harrier machines in the arcade.”

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Whoa, you’re in for a ride! This is one of my favorite series, and in fact just finished Y5 last night. The contrast between the drama of the main story and the ridiculousness of the substories is fantastic. And yes, they’re full of Sega references and minigames; there’s clearly a lot of love put into these games.

    4. Pikachu*

      Mavis Beacon Meets Galaga: https://zty.pe

      Yes, I know how spammy that link looks but if you’re a typing speed geek you’re going to have a great time.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Played a lively round of Munchkin (original deck, with the D&D-style characters) with family on a recent visit. As usual, hilarity ensued – not least for several iterations of “wait, we got the rules wrong,” which is actually a very Munchkin thing to do!

  11. The Prettiest Curse*

    Who’s watching the Eurovision Song Contest this Saturday? I always enjoy the surreal grandeur of the whole thing, so will definitely be tuning in.

    Ukraine are obviously the favourites to win, since their song was seen as a leading contender even before the war started. And at least the UK can’t do any worse than our historically bad score last year (which was totally hilarious.) I never watch the qualifying rounds or listen to the songs before the big night, so I’m curious to see which other countries will be contenders. Let the weirdness begin!

    1. Raboot*

      My country didn’t make it to the finals… Deserved tbh so can’t blame the voters like I usually do instinctually. I don’t generally watch many songs before the final but someone sent me Serbia and I’m into it, glad someone is bringing that weird energy.

    2. Berlin Berlin*

      I’m terrifically excited as always! I haven’t heard the UK entry yet, but I live in hope that one year we’ll learn from some of the smaller countries and send a flamboyantly, fabulously terrible act. Every so often I remember the Croatian entry from a few years ago who duetted with himself (alternating between baritone/bass and falsetto) and burst out laughing. Or the Latvian pirate song where they performed in pirate costume. Apparently the Norwegian entry is “Give the wolf a banana before it eats your grandma”, which sounds fantastic.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, Norway look like they might be the fun novelty act of the night, and Serbia seem to have the “being in the contest while poking fun at it” angle covered. I remember all the past entries you mentioned, but the all-time most memorable bad song for me is the year that Germany entered a country and western song. Turns out, there’s a reason that no-one outside Germany ever talks about German country music and that reason is sheer slack-jawed horror at how awful it is.

    3. Liz*

      ALWAYS! Eurovision is typically our big party night. Our friends usually host and they work in international relations so we usually have a big multinational crowd. I think the year before covid we had 2 Brits, 2 Poles, 1 French, 1 German, 1 Italian, 1 Hungarian, and 1 Turkish. We are still going to be a smaller group this year, but a couple will join us on zoom.

      I look forward to coming last again. I have no idea what our entry is like but I’m sure we’ll be bottom of the charts as always.

      1. Liz*

        Oh boy did I speak too soon!! A wonderful night all round though, and a worthy win by Ukraine.

    4. Perpetua*

      I LOVE LOVE LOVE Serbia’s Konstrakta, it’s rare for a performer to thrill me like that. Although I do speak the language so there’s an understanding on that level as well.

      But yes, like you, I didn’t watch the semifinals and I’m looking forward to the show tonight, hoping I’ll be able to live comment online with some friends.

    5. londonedit*

      I hope Ukraine win but will also be supporting Finland thanks to family ties (and come on, it’s The Rasmus back from 2003 to entertain us all!)

      We have no chance of winning because everyone hates us – we’ve tried cheesy pop, we’ve tried having a mini contest to pick the UK entry, we’ve tried having the singer chosen by a panel of music experts, and we still crash and burn every year! Still it’s a bit of fun and it literally can’t get any worse than last year!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It’s almost a shame that the UK gets a pass straight into the finals. I think if we had to go through qualifying, our songs would be higher-quality.
        Still, there’s always hope. France came second last year with a great song after 15 years or so of awful entries. Italy won last year and they had an entire decade where they gave up and just didn’t enter at all!

        1. Kowalski! Options!*

          Commenting just after the final results were announced – HUGE congratulations! In any other year, I think Sam would have taken it, but that was a more-than-respectable second-place finish!!

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        +1 for The Rasmus. Can’t go wrong with Lordi as Finland’s entry into Eurovision. They’re a fun live band.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, too bad The Rasmus were 21st out of 25 in the final. Oh well, their goal was to reach the final and to have a great time after that, and they did.

          Ukraine winning was expected, and the UK coming second was also expected.

          1. londonedit*

            It genuinely wasn’t expected by anyone in the UK! We were utterly shocked when we even started getting points, let alone when we topped the jury vote and ended up second! Best possible result in my opinion – totally feels like a win for the UK but I really wanted Ukraine to win too.

            1. Liz*

              Yes, massive shock to us! Cheering at our zero score has become a cultural staple in the UK. I actually thought our entry was surprisingly good when I heard it but I was still gobsmacked when we came out in the lead for the judges’ vote and even moreso when the final position was announced. We might have to rethink our “yay, we’re crap!” approach.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                I was very glad that Ukraine won, and I enjoyed their performance. Moldova, Norway and Serbia were all bonkers and entertaining, and music-wise I really liked the songs from Sweden, Armenia and the UK.

                It was a nice surprise that the UK did so well! Very gratifying to see what can happen when we put a bit of effort into Eurovision. We really under-rate the depth of musical talent that we have in this country.

                Quote of the night, from my American husband (who was watching his second-ever Eurovision), during the Moldovan song: “You don’t get this during the Super Bowl!”

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Me! Sadly almost all the stuff I like got eliminated in the semis, so my votes are going to Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Moldova and Spain (I’m in the UK).

      It feels weird that people are talking about us as a contender. I don’t think we’ll win, but I will be happy with left hand side of the leaderboard, and I’m pleased to see us put a proper effort into staging and promotion for once, which I think is being massively helped by the fact that Sam Ryder is so enthusiastic and likeable. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and I really hope he does well.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, it is weird that in the UK we seem to think that Eurovision is cheesy and we’re above it AND also desperately want to win and resent it when we do badly! But it does seem like we’ve at least put some effort into the staging and our entry this year, so fingers crossed…

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yeah, I have to admit given our track record, I was surprised (and not entirely convinced) to hear us talked about as a favourite this year!

    7. curly sue*

      We won’t be watching live, but will be catching up on the stream tomorrow. We did watch the semifinals, and some of the songs that made it in were great fun. My youngest kid was deeply bummed out that Cyprus didn’t make it in; they were his favourite of the second semifinal evening entries.

      Canada is joining next year, for some bizarre reason, and I am extremely excited to watch whatever Mountie- or maple-syrup-themed atrocity we send crash and burn.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ha, Canada is actually a good choice for another country to join because they can alternate between entering songs in English and songs in French. (Or just have them in alternating verses every year.) Bring on the dancing moose and the on-stage poutine-making!

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I mean, we let Australia join that one time (anyone remember that cute video where they lifted up Australia with helicopters and dropped it next to the British Isles?) so why not Canada.

        I’m genuinely curious to see how Belgium will do – he’s a big step up from the undertakers we sent last year (let’s be real, performance is just as important as musical ability when it comes to Eurosong)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Australia are still in it, they have a contestant in the finals this year. I think they had a couple of years where they didn’t get past the qualifying rounds because the novelty had worn off. I also admire the dedication of anyone Down Under who watches Eurovision, because the time difference must be a killer.

          1. curly sue*

            I really liked Australia’s entry this year, even though I’m not normally a power-ballad person. And Belgium was great!

            WAITASEC. If Canada is in it next year, does that mean I’ll actually get a vote??

          2. Raboot*

            They only failed to qualify last year, didn’t help they were “live on tape” while everyone else managed to be love. I believe after this year the producers are going to discuss making them a permanent contestant, until now they’ve had a “special invitation” every year. I’m thrilled for them to stay, they clearly understand the assignment year after year :)

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yes, Australia always go for it! You don’t ever see them entering an act that’s a just a bloke with a couple of hand puppets.

      3. Kowalski! Options!*

        We could always send Céline Dion; after all, she’s competed in it before!

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      It’s interesting to read how people decide which country or countries to support. I will support the UK – unless our entry is terrible, like it was last year. Then I use the song/performance to decide who else to support – but I like to support countries that haven’t won before or haven’t won recently.
      I don’t really go for ballads as I think they’re over-represented at Eurovision, so usually vote for songs that are a bit different to everything else, like Italy’s winning song last year.

    9. Bobbin*

      I am live-streaming it now, thanks to your comment!

      I hadn’t given any thought to Eurovision since I moved from the UK to New Zealand nearly 20 years ago. It’s just as gloriously bonkers as I remember.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I am so mad I couldn’t watch! That Logo TV cable channel used to air it but they dropped it, and now US viewers can’t see it. >:(

      Next year, I will be watching it on my big TV, through my mirrored laptop’s paid VPN (the free ones are sketchy), in my own apartment in TargetCity. Or better yet, in my hawwwwt new BF’s house on his TV, haha. ;)

      Bucket list item: to attend a Eurovision final in person!

      1. Raboot*

        Hey! Too late to watch it live but this year and last year it was on peacock and you can still rewatch them. It’s only geoblocked in the US when someone buys the rights to show it, so just keep googling “how to watch eurovision in the US” until details are released every year.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh, good to know, thanks! That will come in handy if I can’t find a good VPN. I did see the official video Kalush Orchestra released for their winning song on Twitter. It was very moving.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m in the US and had never really heard of Eurovision before, but somehow did this year. I wasn’t able to watch it live (darn youtube!), but I’ve been enjoying watching clips of previous year’s and expect to enjoy this year’s as well. Once they show up on youtube at least.

      All I can think is one year Russia sent grandmas baking cookies, and another year Iceland sent S&M/bondage inspired. This is wacky and I love it, so I will sit on my couch, watch clips and enjoy. Thank you Europe for doing this amazing contest.

  12. Murder Of Crows*

    Does anyone have any humane suggestions for how to keep crows away from my yard and bird feeders? We’ve recently had a murder of crows show up in our yard that are completely emptying our feeders and bullying the other smaller birds and preventing them from eating. They’ve taken over and won’t move on. It’s frustrating trying to chase them off and they’re stressing the other birds out and costing us a lot of extra money having to constantly refill the feeders every other day now. Has anybody here ever had this problem and were you able to find a solution? Any ideas or help would be so appreciated. Thanks and have a great weekend, everybody.

    1. sswj*

      Crows are super smart, so probably the quickest, cheapest solution is to stop filling the feeders for a few weeks and see if they move on. You could also try feeders that are designed for small birds, like niger seed feeders and lightweight hanging ones with small openings and very short perches.

      I’ve never had true crows or ravens take over my feeders, but grackles and cowbirds can and do invade. They usually stir things up for a couple of weeks and then move on though.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        FWIW, the advice right now is to take down all feeders, to slow the spread of a nasty avian flu (non-human related).

        Also – crows remember people and keep grudges, so don’t do anything too nasty and identifiable, or you may never be able to use your yard again….

        1. StellaBella*

          Was gonna say this – the avian flu outbreak is very bad so I recommend the same. And yes they are super smart so do not do anything that will make them mad.

        2. LuJessMin*

          I work for a store that sells bird seed and other outdoor bird items. Our advice is as long as you are not near folks who raise chickens or other types of fowls, you’re okay to feed the birds. Keep your feeders and bird baths clean (you’d be amazed at the number of nasty bird feeders people bring us because “the birds aren’t eating from them.” Well, of course they’re not, would you want to eat off a dirty plate?)

          As for the crows, grackles, and starlings, unfortunately the best advice is to take down the feeders until the birds have moved on., then gradually bring them back.

        3. marvin the paranoid android*

          Can confirm, if you make a crow mad, you will be chased down the street by aggressive crows wherever you go. When this happened to me, I kept getting targeted until I moved away. (Just so I don’t come across as a crow-hater, I didn’t do anything mean to them to incur their wrath. I just lived close to a nest and they got suspicious. I actually really like crows and find them interesting.)

    2. RagingADHD*

      We have a feeder that’s spring-loaded so anything too heavy on the perches or roof causes the food openings to shut down. Songbirds can eat, but large birds and squirrels can’t.

      I’m not describing it well. I’ll look for a link.

  13. jmbagirl*

    Last week I asked for advice on navigating an unexpected marriage breakup. I didn’t get to respond to comments because of time zone differences (I’m in the Southern Hemisphere) but I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for the love I felt and the good practical advice. I have saved it and will continue to read it as I continue on this path. Thank you to those who posted.

    1. LittleBabyDamien*

      I have a lot of confidence that you will ultimately be ok. You are doing a lot of the right things, and sound like an intelligent, normally confident person, and, while it can get hard at times, I think you have a lot going for you to get you through this! I wish you and your little the best!

  14. Thread starter*

    Little Joys Thread

    The lilies of the valley are blooming now and their scent is so lovely.

    What brought you joy this week?

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Got some Kozy Shack chocolate pudding with my most recent Safeway delivery- so good!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      The baby geese made an appearance finally. I have a small pond on my property with marsh land around it, so every year one to two pair of Canadian geese move in for the spring season to lay their eggs. They hang around my yard quite a bit until the babies arrive, as well as the one across the street (he has a pond out front), and sometimes the guy next door (if he doesn’t chase them away). Once the babies are big enough, they bring them out and I get to watch them. :) This year we have eight little goslings and they’re so cute with their downy coats. But I’m always on the edge of my seat, so to speak, when I see the whole family cross the street. I’m always worried someone won’t see them and stop in time or worse, will choose not to stop in time.

    3. Liz*

      We are keepers of backyard chickens and have adopted 3 baby chicks to grow our flock as we lost 2 of our hens last year. The new babies are the most adorable things ever and I could sit with them for hours watching them. Today they are out in the garden for the first time and I’m just sitting by the door listening to their little peeps as they scratch around in the dirt and get used to the open sky.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      My strawberry plants are full of flowers. If only half of them turn into berries, I will be up to my eyebrows in fresh strawberries in about 5 weeks! Meanwhile it appears that the local bee population is getting much joy from the strawberry blossoms.

    5. AGD*

      A wonderful friend of mine from another city visited mine and we got dinner and caught up and laughed a lot. Plus, the weather has improved substantially and the leaves are reappearing. Ontario in the summer is fantastic.

    6. StellaBella*

      Brunch today with a dear friend and her little boys then a visit to play in the playground with them, and also finding a linen blazer in a charity shop for 15 bux. :) Now will head out for a walk in the woods plus it is summer finally here.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Got to visit family for the first time in a year – and we happened to get a perfect day for it; strolled around the grounds of the Storm King Art Center in New York, admiring the views and the sculptures – and a family of geese herding the little ones to the water. [Millions of dollars of artwork and landscaping, and we’re snapping photos of geese!]

      Back home, my flowering crabapple and cherry are in full bloom, one of the best blooming seasons for them in several years – enough flowers that the fragrance is noticeable through the open windows…

    8. fposte*

      Peonies have started to open! I have a multitude that go through the peony season, and it’s my favorite garden time of the year.

    9. Grey Panther*

      Had successful cataract replacement on one eye May 5, a fascinating and impressive process.
      I hadn’t thought my vision was all that compromised, but holy cow, what a difference, and we’ve only done one eye!
      I’ve spent the last nine days just observing things and exclaiming, “Wow! I never knew that looked like THAT!”
      I read books this week without needing glasses—first time that’s happened in decades.
      Having the same surgery on the other eye next week, and I can’t wait!
      (Sorry about all the exclamation points.)
      Once both eyes are completely recovered, my reward-to-self is going to be a visit to a local, nationally known art museum.
      Counting the days …

      1. Grey Panther*

        Sorry, I guess this doesn’t really qualify as a small joy—for me, it’s kinda big.
        But it does give me small joys every time I look out the window.

      2. Pippa K*

        Thank you for describing this. I have to have one done this summer and tend to be anxious about medical things, so I’m trying to treat this as an exciting opportunity for an upgrade! Helps to hear about other people’s experiences.

        1. Grey Panther*

          I completely understand your feelings, Pippa K. I felt the same way (ambivalence plus reluctance plus eagerness to do it)—and the hardest part was just dealing with that anticipation.
          After the fact, I can say that the whole process was not nearly as difficult or uncomfortable as I’d feared.
          In my case, the anesthesia put me at a level where I was aware that things were being done to (and around) me, but wasn’t really conscious of just what they were, and none of them were frightening or painful in the least. My only job was, basically, just to lie there—something I’m really good at.
          I think you’re absolutely right about seeing this as an upgrade opportunity, a really happy one. That’s definitely what it has been for me, and I still have one eye to go. (Now I’m eager to see how much more visual improvement comes with the second-eye surgery.)
          All the best to you. I’m sure you’ll soon be having the same “Oh, my gosh! That’s terrific!” post-surgery reaction that I’m currently enjoying.

        2. londonedit*

          My mum had cataract surgery on both eyes and it’s been absolutely life-changing so I completely understand how happy you must be! We’re trying to convince my dad to do the same.

      3. allathian*

        My dad had cataract surgery on both eyes a few years ago, and his reaction was pretty much like yours. He no longer needs glasses at all, either to read or to drive, and he’s worn glasses since his early teens.

    10. Filosofickle*

      This week I really enjoyed rustling leaves! The trees in my backyard make the nicest sound. Very calming.

    11. Laura H.*

      I’m finally feeling a bit more normal after a depression backslide.

      And I had my dinner and dessert paid for by someone else yesterday. That was a nice Friday treat.

    12. UKDancer*

      My parents are visiting which is a joy because we always have so much fun. I’ve cooked dinner tonight and we’re going to a lovely pub with a really good chef for Sunday lunch.

      I also heard from a friend who’s been out of touch for ages and we’re arranging lunch which will be the first time in 2 years because of Covid.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I went to an fundraiser honoring a milestone anniversary for a nonprofit I worked at many years ago, held outdoors so I was comfortable gathering. It was wonderful to see so many people I hadn’t connected with in years, especially sweet after the isolation of the pandemic. One person and I discovered we had mutually been thinking about each other recently and she lives nearby, and I’m excited that we’re going to get together and catch up.

    14. Elle Woods*

      I love salads, especially in the summer, so I was especially excited when I saw that the garden center where I buy my plants had pots of romaine for purchase. Now I can grow & harvest romaine all season long!

    15. RagingADHD*

      One more of the foster kittens got adopted this weekend at an event sponsored by the rescue org we’re working with.

      Only 2 to go. Of course, now we miss them!

  15. bibliovore*

    Content Warning -death, grief, grieving- Public Service Announcement

    This Sunday it will be a year since my husband died suddenly in his sleep somewhere between 4 and 6 AM on a Sunday. (Although the actual anniversary is Monday, my brain goes to Sunday)
    Thank you AAM community for being there when I was “beside myself”
    What helped:
    Everyone who has walked this path before me and generously shared titles of books and websites that could help.
    They did.
    Everyone who told me not to make any major decisions.
    Everyone who told me that I didn’t have to deal with the relatives who were behaving badly . (hurt people hurt people)
    Everyone who told me not to do anything alone and ask for help.

    If you have a friend who has experienced a traumatic loss
    Be like my friends who didn’t disappear or make me feel like I “should be over this”
    Or surprisingly like his family and friends who said, I will be there for you, and after the first two weeks vanished.

    These friends continue to bring by dinner (last night my favorite pizza, even though I missed their text)
    The friends who stops by to just open the mail or fold laundry or take the garbage cans down to the curb.
    The friend who calls in the morning to just to chat about what they watched on Netflix last night.
    The friend who texts a suggested grocery list every Monday because she knows going to the grocery store triggered meltdowns.
    And then picks up the juice and eggs and milk and bread and a few apples because that is all I could face.
    And now, I don’t really need the groceries but I love seeing her for supermarket sushi once a week.
    The friends who kept trying even though I kept saying no.
    The friends who told me the therapist who charted that the goals of therapy were to stop crying and be more productive at work was nuts and to get a new therapist. (and helped me find one)
    The friends who keep inviting me to dinner, to a concert, to a wedding even though I think I am going to go and sent my regrets at the last minute.
    The friends who sat with me as I wrote thank you notes.
    The same friends who gave me permission to stop writing thank you notes. (I gave up after about 150)
    The friends who flew in from other places during a pandemic.
    The friend who helped me go from top to bottom, “Swedish Death Cleaning” the house.
    The friends who read what I wrote and told me to write more.
    The friend who Facetimes once a week and sometimes we just knit for 40 minutes or watch the Great Pottery Throwdown.
    The friends who walked my dog, every evening for over six months until I was ready to walk with them (they didn’t ask, they just stopped by)
    My friend who insisted that I meet her at Carvel for a Covid- safe, distanced cone, a few times a week, all summer long. My friends who were okay with me not being okay,
    not being okay, still.

    The AAM community who gave me good orderly direction when I didn’t even have the will or words.
    The crowd sourcing about how to do the simplest things and complicated ones.
    The age in place plan is happening.
    The bathroom renovation is scheduled for August. (Chosen- tiles , tub, faucet, tub filler, trim, sink, vanity)

    I am grateful for Alison for continuing the weekend open thread.
    Thank you.

    1. Tib*

      Thank you for this. I’ll save it so I know what I can do. I’m sending you sunshine and good thoughts for this anniversary and all the others to follow.

    2. sagewhiz*

      Oh, it’s so good to hear you again! Honest to god, last night I was thinking of you, and fully intended to post “Bibliovore, are you there? Please let us know how you’re faring?”

      Or maybe I was picking up your vibes of checking in. Either way, glad to know my ESP signals are still strong. And that so are you.

      Treat yourself with extra care on this difficult anniversary.

    3. LuckySophia*

      I have been following your posts all year, and am consistently impressed and inspired by your courage and grace in navigating the dark forest that loss plunges us into. I am grateful for your willingness to share your emotions and your journey with all of us here. You have been a good friend to many of us, in more ways than you can possibly know. Sending an internet hug on your anniversary.

      1. Juneybug*

        Yes to above – thank you for sharing your difficult journey with us.
        You are often in my prayers.

    4. WellRed*

      I remember that first terrible post a year ago and have followed along with you since. This is a helpful list for everyone. The worst thing people can do is to do nothing. I’m wondering what happened with your garden. Did anyone step in to help with that?

      1. bibliovore*

        yes, one of my friends who flew in for a few days planted the annuals. A local friend told me to buy some now and I did today and she will plant sometime soon.

    5. Trixie B*

      I am so happy to hear that you have such wonderful friends, where can I find some? I thought about you all year and continue to send you good vibes. :)

      Take care lovely lady.

    6. Josephine Beth*

      Thank you for sharing this. My father lost his wife several months ago, and your posts have really helped me understand what he might be going through and how I can be supportive in real, meaningful ways. I, too, remember your post a year ago, and I am so glad to know you have such wonderful friends who have been there in the ways that were important over these months. You are in my thoughts.

      1. Mimmy*

        I second this. A good friend of my husband just lost his wife to cancer; it wasn’t sudden, but your posts have offered insights as to what he will likely be going through (I know everyone experiences grief differently, but they are still good reminders).

        Sending warm thoughts and hugs to you this weekend.

    7. Elle Woods*

      Thank you for all of your posts this past year, bibliovore. Your courage and grace in sharing them has blown me away more times than I can count. Those posts and the advice offered by the AAM community have helped me better understand how to be supportive in meaningful, helpful, respectful ways. Sending you much love and hugs on this anniversary.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have been thinking of you and this is such a moving post. My own thank you is for your sharing so much of yourself here, honestly and openly, and now providing such kind guidance and appreciation for others about navigating this very difficult journey. Sending my warmest thoughts your way.

    9. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’m so impressed with YOU for cultivating such an amazing community. Wow.

    10. Wishing You Well*

      I am so sorry about your husband. I cannot even imagine. Thank Goodness for your support system.
      Sending you my very best thoughts as you navigate this next year.

    11. Thinking of you*

      Good to “see” you, Bibliovore. What a hard anniversary. Sending much virtual support. Best wishes to you.

    12. Sparkles McFadden*

      Thank you for giving us an update. I am glad you have friends who know what it means to be a good friend. All the best to you…

  16. Midwestern traveler*

    My husband and I are considering a trip to Europe (from the US) early next summer. However, Europe is huge! With so many things to see! And we’re a little overwhelmed at the selection process. We both have personal/familial ties to Iceland and Germany, so we’re considering concentrating on those two countries. Any suggestions? Absolute do’s/don’ts/must-sees? Anything that wouldn’t occur to your fairly typical Midwesterner without further research? We’ve done minimal international travel, and I speak/read ein bisschen Deustch. (Sorry for thr jumble – early morning for me).

    1. Cbh*

      This is totally do as I say not as I do situation and I should totally follow my own advice! You are going to take thousands of photos with your phone or camera. You totally should as it’s a lifetime experience! But remember to live in the moment. Experience the culture, the food, tourist attractions not just take a photo. When you do take photos take them of your family experiencing these things. I guess what I’m saying is you can buy a postcard or get a online royalty free photo of the scenic areas. Trust me the professional photos are better than you will be able to take yourself. Again I’m the last one who should give advice… my last trip (I live in the US) for a 4 day weekend locally I ended up with 1000+pictures

      1. Midwestern traveler*

        Hah! My husband and I are both pretty camera-shy, so don’t wind up in pictures very often. But your point about the professional photos is well taken.

        1. Tib*

          A friend once told me something similar about buying a postcard when you can. But also landscape pictures are much more interesting with a person in them and it adds to your ability to remember the trip. So practice your selfies, us-ies, and including one of you in the picture.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I think this is a good point. I’m a hobbyist photographer and I’ve found that focusing on close-ups provides memories of places–flowers, portraits of people in a scenic places, rocks, etc.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Don’t over schedule, or you’ll be exhausted and cranky. For summer trips, I like to start early, do some museum or sightseeing stuff, have lunch, then find a nice park, cafe, or outdoor pub for a few hours in the heat of the day – read a book, have a relaxing beer, watch life go by, nap under a tree (my husband will fall asleep, I won’t, so getting robbed isn’t a worry). Then we can wander around a bit in the late afternoon before dinner.

      My usual approach is to book accommodation and major transportation in advance (planes, longer train rides). One thing I like to do is check out performance options – classical music concerts, plays, opera, etc. – to see if there’s anything interesting. Something like the opera in Vienna had to be booked well in advance, but I’ve caught last minute smaller performances just walking by.

      One very specific thing I enjoy is to book a local birding guide for a day trip. It’s not incredibly cheap, but you can have someone pick you up at your hotel, and take you on a full day or half day birding trip, with a local who knows the local species and best spots.

      As far as budgeting goes – remember to factor in donations to cultural sites (tossing a few Euros into the donation box at old churches, for example, can add up). And budget for what I call sitting food – a snack or drink that will get you a place to sit and rest your feet.

    3. StellaBella*

      Iceland is beautiful. Rent a car, drive the ring road which is 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) long, stay in small places. Visit the falls and the split (where the tectonic plates are splitting). You can stand between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and in the mid-Atlantic ridge at Þingvellir National Park and Reykjanes Peninsula. Go to the fishing villages. See the wild ponies and glaciers and volcanoes. Go to the Westman Islands or the Vestmannaeyjar are near the coast of south Iceland. It is an archipelago of 15 islands. See the geysers. I loved Iceland and would like to go back.

      1. Jay*

        This. Iceland was one of our best vacations and I’d love to go back. We went in March to have a chance at seeing the Northern Lights (and we did!!!) so there were areas we couldn’t get into because of the snow and I want to go back in the summer sometime. Just an amazing trip.

      2. Midwestern traveler*

        My husband lived in Iceland for a bit as a kid, but doesn’t remember a ton. How long did this take you?

        1. Jay*

          We spent eight days and stayed somewhere different every night except the last two were in Reykjavik. We never drove more than five hours in a day and never consecutive – there was always something to stop and explore. Waterfalls are my favorite thing in the world and Iceland is full of them – and one day we ended up going whale watching on the spur of the moment and watched a humpback (I think) feed for about an hour. It was an AMAZING trip.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m following this thread and you’ve reinforced my interest in a trip to Iceland. Definitely going to make it happen.

    4. Cordelia*

      It’ll partly depend on how long your trip is, because you’re right, Europe is huge!
      You need a way of narrowing it down, so I like your idea of concentrating on Iceland and Germany. In terms of timings – I spent 8 or 9 days I think, travelling round the ring road in Iceland, as Stella Bella suggests. It is a place like no other; it certainly didn’t feel “European” to me (I am from the UK). I’ve also spent 5 days in Berlin, which wasn’t enough, and been down the Rhine on a river cruise, actually as far as Budapest, and that was another week. So, unless you have multiple weeks to spare, going to Iceland and Germany will easily fill your time. Do you have ties to particular areas? Because it might be fun to get off the tourist trail and see some other parts of the country, if you know where your relatives were from.

      1. Midwestern traveler*

        I’ll have to ask my uncle. My mother spent nine years in Germany as a professional figure skater, but she died nearly 30 years ago. She had a lot of Augsburg-themed things that I’ve inherited, but I don’t know for certain. We have some records of family in various places from the early 1800s before they emigrated, but I’ve been told by my grandmother that when she and my grandfather tried to see some of them many of them were completely gone.

        1. LittleBabyDamien*

          Augsburg is in a very scenic area, so could be a good base to tour from!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Depends on what you see. Iceland is more like amazing hiking, hot springs and natural sites – I wouldn’t go there if art museums, nightclubs and castles are your preferred vacation sites.

      1. Midwestern traveler*

        Definitely more of a natural site type of person, so that’s good to know!

    6. California Dreamin’*

      We did a three week trip in just Bavaria and Salzburg, and we absolutely loved it. Obviously you wouldn’t need that long, but it was great to really settle into an area rather than bopping around a lot.
      Re planning, I’m a very thorough vacation planner. I typically have every day planned out with appropriate reservations made well ahead when necessary. I will research best local restaurants and make reservations when possible. For our trip to Maui this summer, there’s a famous seafood restaurant that you need to book about six months ahead, and I was all over that. Many people enjoy a less structured vacation so YMMV, but the activity of vacation planning brings me great joy, and while my family pokes some fun at me, we tend to have really good trips.

      1. Midwestern traveler*

        I like to *have* a plan, but the making of it is usually my husband’s purview. He was getting a little overwhelmed with even knowing where to start.

    7. Tib*

      Iceland is amazing! But it’s also going to be insanely busy in the summer. And colder than you expect…bring lots of layers. And expensive. But I loved the science museum in Reykjavik. it’s excellent and built around thermal containers. The history museum is also worth a visit. The lava museum is also very good. The blue thermal waters near the airport are not worth it and even more insanely busy, but you can walk around parts of it for free which was enough for us. The black beaches are stunning. They call the thermal pools “hot tubs”. We missed out on experiencing one in a less crowded area because we thought they meant an American-style hot tub. Go to a grocery store on Saturday and get candy. It’s a big thing there and it’s fun to try all the different sweets. Try the thrift shops first if you want an Icelandic sweater.

      1. Midwestern traveler*

        I’ve been warned about the temperature; the polar bear I live with will love it while I’ll need lots of layers. This will be early summer (May) since I’m a college professor and taking two weeks off during the semester isn’t feasible.

    8. pancakes*

      Google Flights is great for pricing flights and Citymapper is great for getting around cities.

      Have a look at your cell phone service provider’s website once you’ve settled on which countries to visit to see whether you’ll need to switch out your SIM card or toggle a switch in your account settings or whatnot before your trip.

      The Guardian travel section has a lot of good and free content.

    9. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I so agree about the scenery/landscape photos unless you are seriously good at photography. I sorted through all my family’s paper photos from trips when I was a kid and basically nothing without people in it was worth saving or digitizing.

    10. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      My husband and I went to Rome, a couple places in Austria (Mayrhofen, Innsbruck, and Salzburg), and Munich before the pandemic and had an awesome time. We basically got the Rick Steves guidebooks and followed them religiously, lol. They have some useful cultural info for American tourists as well as all the specifics about sights, hotels, restaurants. We also loved going everywhere by train. I could go on with details but there’s too much, I’ll try to check back later today and see if anyone wanted any more info…

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          It was pretty easy, we just booked the tickets online like plane tickets for all our inter-city trips. Rome to Innsbruck involved changing trains in Verona; all the others were just one leg I think. I’m pretty sure we didn’t need to have the advance reservations, we could have just shown up and gotten tickets day of, but we preferred knowing the schedule ahead of time. If you are going to do a whole lot of trains there are some passes that could save you money; it depends on the details though.

          Some trains had reserved seats but others were just sit wherever you like. We each used a single (large!) backpack and a small squishable bag as carryon/necessities to have at your seat, so luggage wasn’t too hard to deal with. Food on most of the trains was limited to vending machine kind of stuff so we bought food and brought it on with us. We also used the public transit in the cities and that was totally straightforward as well. We just quite enjoyed riding the trains and not dealing with cars, it’s something that most of the US doesn’t have and we were kinda jealous!

          1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

            Also I can’t speak to Iceland but I would not worry at all about language in Germany, you can put your German to good use but unless you get very far off the beaten path there are lots of English speakers.

            1. Midwestern traveler*

              I had assumed as much, that we’d largely be okay in English, but I hate to feel rude by making that assumption, if that makes sense.

        2. Cordelia*

          you could look at Interrail passes – these used to be a rite of passage for UK students, spending a few weeks in the summer travelling round Europe on the cheap, sleeping on the night trains. I did it 30 years ago! Less popular since the advent of cheap flights I think, but I just had a quick look at the website and looks like you can get some good deals, if you enjoy train travel.

    11. UKDancer*

      Germany is wonderful and one of my favourite places and the place (after England) where I feel most at home. I’ve visited all my life and lived there as a student. It’s also really easy to visit. If you check the Man in Seat 61 website called seat61 dot com you can see all about the public transport which makes it easy and fun to get around without needing to worry about hiring cars.

      My favourite places in Germany are Hamburg which is just a lovely city on amazing water with a strong character and some lovely port related things to see and do. I also love Berlin which has so much to see and do whether you like history, art or just wandering around.

      People tend to go to Bavaria which has scenery and castles and is what people usually associate with Germany. If you have to pick somewhere there I’d tend to go for Nuremberg over Much as it’s smaller and easily walkable and compact. I also love Stuttgart.

      Basically I love everywhere in Germany. It’s just so clean and safe and well organised. Food is good and there’s so much music and culture everywhere. If I couldn’t live in England I’d choose to live in Germany.

    12. Zee*

      Sticking to just 2 countries is a good choice. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to pack in a lot because plane tickets across the ocean are expensive and you’re not likely to get over there very often. However, stepping foot in every country for 3 hours just to say you went there is a waste of money. Germany is massive all on its own. My recommendation in general is just to make sure you visit multiple regions, as only going to a single city doesn’t really give you a feel for the country (imagine how different you’d view California if you went to San Francisco vs. Los Angeles!).

      Traveling by train between regions is a really good choice to see the countryside. Lower stress than driving in a foreign country, too. There’s good transit in cities, so I wouldn’t bother with a car at all.

      Look into Couchsurfing – it’s a good way to meet locals, and they can tell you about all the best spots.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I spent time in New Zealand, I booked the first part of the trip in advance and then left the rest largely unscheduled to give me the freedom to pursue what I wanted to check out as things came up. This also allowed me to just have some down time if I was tired from running around. My trip was largely outdoor-oriented, and I found that the locals directed me to parks and trails that weren’t on the standard itineraries for tourists. For the second part of the trip, I also stayed in locales that didn’t book up in advance, which could differ from what you’re doing if you’re going somewhere popular that requires reservations.

    14. Manders*

      My only suggestions are to try to get on the local time zone about a week beforehand, if you can, so that you don’t have bad jetlag. and hire a local guide or do something physical the first day My friend and I went on a 4 hour bike tour (ended up being 6 hours because we got along with the guide so well) in Sydney the first day we were there and it was the best thing ever. Gave us a sense of the city and staved off exhaustion from a long plane ride.

    15. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Id start by making a long list of things you want to see and then narrowing it down over time based on ongoing research/personal interests/travel patterns post Covid and the general state of the world. You could also look up specialist travel agencies for the type of interests you have and see what sort of itineraries they offer – not to necessarily book, but to get ideas.

      Trip planning is like packing – look at your itinerary and then subtract at least one location! You also don’t want to do much criss-crossing or jumping between regions. Look at open jaw tickets where you arrive in one locale and depart from another. Make sure to build in time to just be and explore with no activity planned – that tend to be how you find/have the best memories.

      My partner just went to Iceland two weeks ago for two days (we are London based) and commented that it was just like his Swedish hometown only a little larger and there was a general low tide smell that was rather pervasive. However, he was there a short time and not really into outdoor things and the weather was overcast the whole time. I would suggest,based on research, to look at public outdoor baths (rather than the Blue Lagoon) – they look to be really extensive and far cheaper and a great way to meet locals. Depending on the time of year you are going, you could probably also head out to the Faroe Islands (Atlantic Airways) to see even more nature, and then fly from there down to Copenhagen and travel down into Germany (or elsewhere) by train.

      Within Germany – Frankfurt is missable, but Mainz/Cologne is pretty interesting, and Munich is good fun. Ive been to Berlin a few times and there is a lot to see there as well.

      Check out Seat61.com for all the information you may ever want to know about train travel and types of neat train journeys just about anywhere. Also includes information on how and where to book.

      If you want to do a major European city then pick just one – London or Paris or Rome or Amsterdam, etc. You can get sucked in for days in these places and it can be exhausting to maneuver in them. Early summer may be hit or miss on weather in Northern Europe, but much better in the south (Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Florence) where at least its sunny and dry. Day after day of cloudy overcast on vacation is no fun!

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      • If you go to more than one location within a country, plan to spend a few days in each spot. Trying to hit everything will just exhaust you, and can mean you skim through the one thing you really wanted to see because you’re so tired and rushed by the time you get to that part.
      • On a 2-week trip, I have had good luck leaving the last few days unscheduled so we could go do whatever really appealed (e.g. return to the coast for a couple of days; go somewhere we only learned about once there). Obviously you need to be flexible and pretty confident lodging somewhere will be available.

    17. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Wherever you go, maybe check out typical temperature variations with their tourism bureau so that you don’t wind up under or overdressed.

      If you want to throw in an English-speaking place, I LOVED Scotland, particularly taking the train from Edinburgh to Kyle of Lochalsh and then going on to the Isle of Skye. That trip was featured on the *Great Railway Journeys of the World* tv show in the 1990s, and it truly IS a great railway journey. I enjoy Edinburgh too. I found people in Scotland generally very friendly in a New York/New Jersey gentle-teasing kind of way, and the food was quite delicious.

  17. Only Childs*

    I am an only-child, so I didn’t grow up with any perspective on or visibility of multiple-child parenting; only one of my friends has more than one kid beyond toddler age; there are no multiple-child families in my extended family; my partner is an only-child as well, and both our extended families are small to begin with and have few children, and of course we have no siblings with their own families. Neither of us did babysitting as a teenager, worked in a school, etc,

    We are considering having a family ourselves, and perhaps more than one kid, but neither of us has the cultural knowledge and experience of parenting multiple simultaneous children. I’m sure new parents don’t start off knowing much that’s all that useful for parenting, but historically most people grew up in or among larger families and so have some framework for understanding the issues at hand, and have family & friends who can help and offer their own perspective. We only have a perspective on single-child parenting! I don’t think raising two or three kids is the same as raising three only-children simultaneously. Are we qualified for multiple kids? And I don’t mean logistically; we’re good at logistics. The parenting part.

    1. Despachito*

      Of course you are, that is, if you feel like it! You will learn along the way, everyone does.

      And you will always (OK, almost always;-)) start with just one child, so you will get the gist of it and see whether you feel like having more. (And my experience is that things that looked complicated with one child, like logistics, were easy-peasy with the second one, so you should factor in this learning curve as well).

      I wish you the best of luck. I am an only child and lost both my parents as a teenager. I had never babysat to anyone, nor I wanted to, before I had kids, and I frankly dreaded having them. So I did not have any experience either, but when we finally decided to have kids, we did and just learned on the go. We have two, they are in their late teens and it was absolutely doable.

      Best luck with this, it is not as complicated as it looks :-)

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, I think your own upbringing is only limited help on this issue anyway. Having friends who can advise you might be helpful but I’m not sure growing up with siblings really helps with parenting multiple kids. In some ways, it may even create biases, eg, somebody who grew up with a bullying older sibling might be overly-inclined to take the younger child’s part in every row and see bullying in normal sibling squabbles.

      I don’t have children at all, but from my own upbringing and from teaching, which is very different from parenting, obviously, but does involve dealing with large groups of children/young people, I think one issue that might not occur to you if you were used to one-child situations is the need to treat everybody differently while avoiding favouritism. My mum says she felt like such a hypocrite when my brother and I were little (just over 1 year apart; my sister is younger so less in direct competition) because she’d be telling me, “you don’t need to get full marks on every test; 7 out of 10 is a good mark,” while telling my brother, “you need to learn ALL your spellings and tables; getting most right isn’t good enough” because she knew if she told me “7 out of 10 is fine,” I would take it as “7 out of 10 (or possibly even 8 out of 10) is the lowest mark I can get in any situation whatsoever” whereas if she told my brother the same thing, he would take it as “I only have to bother learning 7/10th of whatever we’ve been told to learn.”

      To be honest, though, I think whatever your own childhood situation and the situations of those around you, your own parenting experience will be different. If you had all sisters and all your friends had daughters, it wouldn’t mean you weren’t qualified to raise a son. If all your siblings and the children of your friends were neurotypical…well, it might make raising a child with ADHD or autism more difficult and a steeper learning curve, but people have to do it. If all your siblings and your friends’ kids were very studious and motivated, you could still raise a child who hated school or had a learning difficulty. I don’t think multiple children versus only children is such a big difference that you wouldn’t be able to handle it.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      The fact that you’re asking yourselves this question indicates to me that you’ll do well with however many children you end up with. I only have one, but was raised in a crowd (including cousins who were more like siblings), grew up babysitting for anywhere from one to seven at a time, and found when my son was little that he was actually easier to care for when we had friends and cousins visiting.
      It’s not that singles are easier than multiples, or vice versa, it’s just a different dynamic. The parenting part doesn’t really change. With one, you can be more focused (which itself has pros and cons). With multiples you will end up refereeing, but they can also entertain each other, giving you a moment to breathe now and then, so the total amount of effort in parenting is pretty similar.
      Go forth and raise good humans (as many or as few as Fate gives you) in full confidence!

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      You’re definitely qualified! But I do want to say that every parent of two young kids that I know say that two is really harder than one. They’re all still happy they have two, but it’s way harder. (I know exactly one person with three kids and they’re all under 3 and she says it’s really really hard but she’s glad they’re so close in age and this is a season of life.)

      I do have a coworker with four kids—twins then two singletons—and he said after having twins, adding a singleton was a breeze, lol.

      1. RagingADHD*

        The payback on them being close in age is that when they are old enough to play independently, they can entertain each other for hours.

        1. Disco Janet*

          If you’re lucky. My youngest much prefers playing by himself, so his brother (they’re only a year apart of age) constantly wants me to play while also wanting to whine about how his brother never wants to play.

        2. allathian*

          Not necessarily. I love my sister dearly, but I don’t remember anything except the fights we had as kids and teens. At some point in our early 20s, when we’d grown out of the worst of the sibling quarrels, both of us agreed that if we hadn’t been sisters and forced to try and get along, we would’ve hated each other because we’re so different temperamentally. My sister is two and a half years younger than I am. I was a shy kid and socially awkward, whereas she wasn’t, so at least socially our age difference seemed smaller than it really was.

      2. HBJ*

        Two is always going to be harder than one. And the transition to one is honestly pretty smooth. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, but even if you’re not, the baby starts out so small and can be baby worn everywhere. You can keep up nearly all of your same hobbies and take the baby with you. It gets harder as they get older and more mobile.

        But I will say, I’ve been comparing notes with a lot of my friends with 3+ children, and we all agree that the transition from 2 to 3 is way harder than 0-1 or 1-2. 1-2 gets harder by sort of an expected amount. Everything gets exponentially harder going to 3.

        1. Pikachu*

          I am pretty sure Child #3 is what fast-tracked my promotion from Child #1 to Parent #3.

        2. Ali + Nino*

          “And the transition to one is honestly pretty smooth.”

          I’m sorry, I have to disagree! Breastfeeding was hard, never sleeping was hard – baby #1 was extremely difficult, and I know many people who feel the same way (this is coming from a culture where 4-6 kids is the norm – I thought everyone would mock me for feeling overwhelmed, but I was always met with compassion and empathy, no matter how many kids others had). It’s an enormous adjustment! Totally worth it, but your whole life will be disrupted, at least for a while.

        3. Patty Mayonnaise*

          “The transition to one is honestly pretty smooth” LOL LOL LOL. Signed, parent of an only child for a reason

        4. Observer*

          And the transition to one is honestly pretty smooth. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, but even if you’re not, the baby starts out so small and can be baby worn everywhere. You can keep up nearly all of your same hobbies and take the baby with you.

          You have to be kidding!

          I don’t know anyone who has had that experience. Even keeping up with hobbies is not always as simple as you say. But beyond that there are major changes, because you are suddenly responsible for another human being and you have to work your way around those needs – in some ways even more so than with the other human you are hopefully in a committed relationship with. And a human being that is less able to know and express their needs.

          And the logistics! Childcare coverage is a huge issue, even if one parent is a SAHP. If both have jobs or obligations that are not compatible with childcare…. But it’s not just basic coverage. There are just so many things that you could do that can affect this other human being you are responsible for, and you simply have to factor it in when you make decisions. Everything from vacation plans, to the jobs you take, to the financial decisions you make.

          I’m not negating the change from 1 to 2, which is more than additive. And sometimes it add a level of logistical challenge that is greater than the you would expect from “just adding” one more person to the mix. But the fundamental change of who you are responsible to and what your decision making has to look like starts with the addition of the first child.

        5. RagingADHD*

          IME, zero to one was the biggest change. One to two was slightly easier, because you have a lot of the basic lifestyle stuff switched over already, but still hard you’re leveling up on the juggling skills.

          Our friends and family who have more than 2 say that each one added after 2 are marginally harder, but not exponentially harder.

        6. California Dreamin’*

          Hard disagree! First child upended life in a way that’s hard to even explain… I kept wondering why no one really warned me. Breastfeeding started out hard, lack of sleep was really hard, feeling inept a lot of the time was hard. I went from one to three (a set of twins), and that was easier. Don’t get me wrong, twin infants is its own kind of hard, but I at least felt like I knew what I was doing and just trudged through those early weeks.

    5. PostalMixup*

      Agree with everything above, and also, the exact age gap makes a HUGE difference! An infant and a 1yo is worlds different than an infant and a 4yo. Don’t get me wrong, they both have challenges. But you learn with your first which challenges you’re okay doubling up on, and which you can only handle one at a time. Also, different kids have different personalities. My 6yo is a rule-follower, and not particularly adventurous. My 2yo gets into things he knows he shouldn’t, but he plays more independently at 2 than his sister does at 6.

      1. Masked Bandit*

        Age difference also impacts the kids’ relationship to each other, which might be part of what you’re asking about? I was an only child until I was nearly ten when my parents had another. My sibling and I were not particularly close as children because what does a pre-teen have in common with a toddler? But we are very close as adults because we finally had interests in common. Whereas my friends who had siblings within 2-3 years of them were often close playmates as children.

        1. WellRed*

          I read once that if you have two children 10 years apart, you essentially have two only children. At least for awhile.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            I’m a decade younger than my brother, and yeah. We shared a house without complaint, but weren’t particularly close, because what did we have in common? We’re friendly, but we’re more like cousins who see each other at family events, rather than a super-tight sibling bond.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I would advise anyone not to worry about optimal spacing. For one thing, biology will weigh in. Then their individual personalities. (One of my kids was a breeze of a one-year-old, the other spent that year looking for things to climb.)

        For every pair of close-in-age siblings who became good playmates, someone has a tale of a pair who endlessly competed. (It was good mine were far enough apart not to feed competition, based on personality of oldest. But had they been close in age, we would have managed! It would just have been a different dynamic.)

    6. Tib*

      A friend of mine is an only child and had twins. She says that she had no tolerance for normal sibling squabbling because she had never experienced it. She also didn’t really know how to manage mealtime conversation because as a child she was left out of the dinner conversations.

      I’m sure there are books and other resources you can use for help. I’d also recommend joining playgroups so you can observe multi child families and get advice. You’ll be fine.

    7. Invisible today*

      Toy Story (original)
      Yes, I’m an adult – or atleast faking it.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Whether you are equipped to parent well has nothing to do with how many siblings you had. More, what kind of parents you had. People with loving, stable, responsive, consistent parents had good models to copy. People who did not get that have to do more intentional learning and self-work if they want to avoid replicating the bad examples. Still doable, of course, but you need to be thoughtful.

      You need emotional maturity, resilience, and support. And you won’t start out with all that you need- you grow into it.

      The hardest parts of parenting are:

      Being able to read, understand, and respond to their needs because they can’t tell you. (Even when they can talk, as their emotional needs get more complex they don’t have the self-awareness). Especially because their needs will be different but need equal attention.

      Balancing consistent boundaries with appropriate exceptions – using good judgment and discretion.

      Showing unconditional love to all parties in a conflict, and finding a fair solution (especially with limited resources).

      Knowing when to help / intervene, and when to let them work stuff out on their own. Similarly, it’s tricky to model both generosity and personal boundaries.

      Nobody does these things perfectly all the time, so you also need patience with yourself.

      Kids are hard-wired to test your love and look for any sign of favoritism. When they are fighting over the last French fry, it’s never about the French fry. *You* are the French fry, and they want you to pick them instead of their sibling. You’ll find yourself in all kids of weird situations and have to improvise a solution.

      The logistics of handling / caring for more than one child physically are tiring but not emotionally challenging. It’s like the quote – you have to switch from playing man-to-man defense, and start playing zone defense.

      There are all sorts of good reasons to have kids or not have kids. Fear is never a good reason not to do something you want. Go for it, you’ll do great!

      1. the cat's ass*

        Raging ADHD, this is a fantastic post! You are the French fry is SO it. Thank you!

      2. Batgirl*

        The favouritism thing is so true; I remember my brother, sister and I constantly asking my parents for something there was only one of and they were all “Hah, no, I’m not falling for that”. My mother who is one of nine (she actually credits her sister for most of her raising) had a golden rule of buy them all the same thing, in the same colour or they’ll all want the red one.

    9. Swisa*

      I would start with 1 and see how you feel. You may be really excited, and want more! Or it may feel like enough for 1 (or even too much!). Or you may have 1 and then change your mind and later want more when they’re older.

      But until you have 1, I don’t think you can really do decide about this.

    10. Invisible today*

      Your message reminded me of a friend of mine who was an only child. Married a woman who was an only child. Always talked about how he wanted to raise his hypothetical kid as an only child (or space out multiple kids so they couod effectively be only kids). And when the time came, they were blessed with twin daughters.

      The unfortunate reality is despite the best of plans, you have very little control. The child has their own path, and your plans for them have very little to do with it. Do your best and try to raise each of your kids based on what they need.

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      Each child is unique, whether you have one or a dozen. There is always a learning curve with each one. Experience (yours or others’) has some value, but parents still have to adjust every day.

      The fact that you are thinking about the question indicates you probably have the flexibility to adjust as needed.

      Plans are good, but your plans will change with circumstances. Take life a day at a time, enjoy each moment, and cherish each child, however many you have.

  18. Cbh*

    I wonder if I went overboard. I recently sold some items on Facebook marketplace. I am very distantly acquainted with this person- we see each other around our small town and say hi- that’s the extent of our relationship. She had asked to pick the items up at my house but since I would be busy asked if she could meet at a local park near my errands. She said she would prefer my house so we could go contactless as she is at the tail end of covid. I don’t know her vaccination status or what tail end meant. I live with two family members that are high risk. We have gone to extremes for 2.5 years to keep everyone in our household safe. I told her I would hold onto the items but would prefer to wait until she is done with the “tail end of covid”. Cue telling me I am being ridiculous among another rant. Am I wrong in this situation?

    1. Despachito*

      No, you are absolutely right, the ridiculous – or rather stupidly careless and rude – one is her.

      I have no understanding for people who ATTACK other people for different opinions – they can go pound sand.

    2. WellRed*

      I think stay away from her ; ) That was unreasonable of her. But I also think contactless porch pickups rather than meeting up is lower for Covid risk. This woman mentioned Covid, the next buyer might not.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      You get to set your own boundaries. The other person can walk away or accept them. She doesn’t get to rant at you.

    4. CTT*

      So, her rant is bad, but I wonder if by “go contactless” she meant that she was just going to pick them up from your porch/doorstep/whatever without actually coming in your house or even seeing you? That’s sort of pickup/drop-off setup is the norm for 90% of Buy Nothing items I’ve dealt with.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Yes, by “contactless” I’m assuming that means “items are left at the doorstep, money is e-transferred or cash left in a mailbox/envelope/whatever, people never meet face-to-face” in which case…that is about as low-risk as it can get.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That’s my take, as well. Contactless is pretty low risk compared to meeting face-to-face in a park. Not sure why it’s an issue.

      2. Nancy*

        That’s what I think and how I handle all pickups. They give me a time frame they are coming by and I leave it outside. i don’t need to see them or even be home.

        She may have wanted to get it from the front steps and never seeing anyone rather than face-to-face in a park. Maybe ask her clarify?

        1. pancakes*

          That’s precisely what contactless means. If someone is using that word to mean “actually I think we should have contact,” that’s very unusual. It is lower risk vs. meeting up in a park, so I’m not sure why this needed to be a conflict – it seems that would’ve suited both parties’ needs well.

          1. Nancy*

            Yeah, OP made it sound like they would be meeting face to face at her home, which isn’t contactless.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah I assume this is what she initially was expecting and meant by preferring to stick with your house. You leave it by the door/on the porch/wherever 10 minutes before the designated time and she comes and gets it, hopefully, within 15-20 minutes.
        Not clear on the nature of the rant, but if the gist was she felt she was not putting you at risk by being outside your house for however long it takes to walk up, pick up the items and bring them back to her car, then yes you may have been unnecessarily cautious – which is totally your call. I mean, still not worth a rant, so she went overboard there by ranting at all, but I think there may have been misunderstanding on both sides.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I guess I don’t understand the problem – she wanted you to put the things outside your door so there would be no contact. That protects you from covid or anything else. Why get mad?

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t really understand why you didn’t agree to a contactless pickup since that was her preference AND your best Covid option, but it’s fine to not want to interact with someone who currently has Covid! (I assume by tail end she meant she’s past the contagious stage or not having symptoms but still within 10 days of exposure/test)

    7. Courageous cat*

      Perhaps going to extremes, if it means avoiding things like contactless pickup, isn’t going to serve you long-term. There’s no risk here if you leave it on the porch, she grabs it, and leaves.

      Especially if she’s already paid for it, I would do this, or refund her ASAP.

    8. Maggie*

      She is being totally rude and inappropriate but there’s no way you could contract covid from her coming and taking items off your porch

    9. LLH*

      Sounds like you misunderstood what she meant when she said contactless. That literally means you put the stuff outside and she comes and picks it up, you never make contact with each other. Now if you did understand that’s what she meant and said no…sorry, I think you’re being ridiculous.

    10. RagingADHD*

      You are wrong about the Covid risk. If you have safety concerns about people coming to the house, that’s a separate issue.

      Her ranting was overboard, but meeting face to face after she’s well isn’t any safer than doing contactless now. Less safe, in fact. So in that respect you were also overboard. She was giving you the safest option, virus-wise, and you wanted a less-safe option.

    11. Also at the tail end*

      Just a brief thought on “tail end of Covid.” I’m in this state myself, and the guidance I got from both the CDC and my own doctor was to isolate for at least 5 days after the fever ended (this guidance applies to vaccinated people…it might be different for unvaccinated people). It has been quite a bit longer than that at this point and I still don’t feel 100%. I would totally describe my current state as “tail end of Covid.” And based on the latest guidelines, I’m not a risk to others anymore.

      My point here is that she might have received the same advice and is therefore following current health guidelines and is NOT being reckless for picking up items from you in this state. The fact that she disclosed this to you at all suggests to me that she does indeed take this seriously and is not being reckless.

      You of course have no way of knowing what she meant by tail end, so of course you should do what you need to in order to stay safe.

      Although as others have said, the contactless option seems like the lowest possible risk anyway so I don’t get your objection to that.

    12. California Dreamin’*

      Yeah, sorry to say I think you didn’t have this right. There would be no reason not to let her pick items up from your porch, which is undoubtedly what she was asking for. If it were me, I think I’d reach out with an apology saying that I’d misunderstood. (I don’t know about a rant, but you clearly were accidentally unreasonable.)

      1. Despachito*

        It would be OK to apologize in normal circumstances, but it would rub me the wrong way to apologize after the rant.

        Misunderstandings happen, and it is OK, but I think if this was the case, it should be the other party who would say “hey, you possibly get this wrong – what I mean is…”, instead of throwing a hissy fit.

        1. Despachito*

          I am now reading OP’s original post, and I correct myself – if all OP did was to wait until the end of the “tail end”, there is absolutely nothing for her to apologize for.

          And the other person burned a small bridge with their rant.

      2. KR*

        I think OP didn’t want this person having their home address – that’s where my mind went, which is why they opted with a public handoff first.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          They said they were going to be out rather than home at handoff time and gave that as the reason.

    13. Pikachu*

      I’ve cancelled my fair share of craigslist transactions because the buyer and I couldn’t agree on a meeting space where I felt safe. Doesn’t matter whether it’s covid or a craigslist murderer. I do my best to compromise but I’m not out here trying to die so you can have my $20 lamp. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    14. KR*

      I would take the “Tail end of COVID” to mean that she had COVID and is getting over it currently. It’s a shame she wasn’t willing to wait a few more days until she was fully recovered. You’re not in the wrong here – her reaction was over the top.

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      You are 100% right here. Compromising is not worth your and your family’s lives and long-term health, especially since you have high-risk family members. If you decide to go through with this exchange, do the safest handoff you can manage at the time when it feels the safest for you, and don’t think twice about it. If this person gives you attitude about your precautions, she is not your friend.

  19. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My asparagus is doing well, as are the tomato and pepper seedlings. Today I’m going to have to mow the bit of grass as it is getting tall!

    1. PostalMixup*

      The roses and peonies have exploded! We had a hot snap, so the tomatoes are trying to flower way too early, and the snap peas will probably cook on the plant. But we should get our first ripe strawberry today!

      1. PostalMixup*

        Cruel thievery! Something at the almost-ripe strawberries last night. The children are devastated.

        1. Missb*

          I’ve bought some little cloth fabric bags for my apples and strawberries. They’re the size of goody bags (in face they are) and have a drawstring tie. Hoping it keeps the squirrels out of some of my fruit.

          1. California Dreamin’*

            I need to look into this. Last year squirrels ate every single nectaplum from our new tree. That tree only went in in spring 2020, so last year was the first year we were going to get fruit. We are desperate that we not lose all the fruit again this year. So far my husband has tried putting Vaseline mixed with cayenne pepper all over the nearby wall that the critters walk on to get to the tree. But I think we need more defensive maneuvers.

            1. Missb*

              I bought them off Amazon, nothing special other than little white (see through) fabric bags with drawstrings. I bought two sizes, one for the apples and one for the strawberries. I think I may put them around some of the blueberries.

              I grew lots of ground cherries last year, from seed. I had so many starts that I tucked them here and there around the garden, so I had tons of ground cherries. But the squirrels would come in at night and sit there and eat all fo them, leaving neat little piles of husks. Very frustrating! So I’m going with the bag method this year.

              I don’t think we’ll have any plums this year unfortunately, as we had a solid freeze after the tree put on all of its (very, very many) blooms. I’m not seeing a single one that survived.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Irises are in their glory right now – it’s amazing to see all the colors.

      On a bad note a spotted lanternfly was seen at the neighbors. Not good – google it and be vigilant about reporting!

    3. Texan In Exile*

      No Mow May! No Mow May! You have the perfect excuse to wait until June to cut the grass. :)

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Peonies seemed to grow a foot this week! Some of my perennials did not come back, so I started my plant shopping this weekend. Between new perennials, annuals, and herbs, I have probably a hundred plants to put in (lots of herbs and annuals). Will tackle some this afternoon, some tomorrow, and then work on them during the week after work and next weekend. Every year I think I will plant fewer, but I never do.

    5. Macaroni Penguin*

      My garden is prepped with compost and coffee grounds! We’re nearly ready to plant the seeds.

      Being in Canada, its very interesting to see where everyone else is at in their growing season. We don’t put seedling plants in the ground until after the May Long Weekend. The risk of frost is real.

    6. infested by what??*

      help! I’ve just noticed some indoor plants (lemon tree, Pilea peperomioides – aka ufo plant, spider plant) have insects. They are very tiny – less than a hair’s thickness in width and grow up to 1mm or a bit less, otherwise just look like little spots. When they are big, I definitely see them moving, but even then I don’t see wings or legs. What are they? They really don’t look like aphids to me.

        1. infested by what??*

          Good thought, but I think they are rounder and redder and more mobile – at least the previous ones I’ve had. Only the long ones seem mobile, the small spots seem hard to brush off a bit.

      1. Accountant*

        Some kind of scale insect? It’s not that common to see them moving but they do have a mobile stage.

    7. beentheredonethat*

      My rosemary is its stalwart self. The basil is recovering from transplanting. The sage pineapple, mint chocolate, mint ginger are my new favorites. Who figured out how to make these herbs taste this way is my new hero. Oops need to go google and find out who and how they did it.

      1. oof*

        I had pineapple sage for a few years. I ended up ripping it out because it did too well!

    8. Salymander*

      My community garden plot is doing well. I just gave the plants some organic fertilizer mixed with compost, which the plants seem to be enjoying. There are already peppers growing, as well as tiny baby zucchini just beginning to grow. The tomatoes are blossoming and the fennel is doing well. I harvested some of the garlic, but I’m leaving some in place until later in the season. The cucumbers are beginning to sprout, but are not too impressive so far. All the flowers are blooming beautifully.

      I have seen so many butterflies already. I think I have seen about 10 different species at the community garden so far this year.

  20. Jules the First*

    Long shot here, but y’all are a uniquely diverse and interesting group, so I thought it was worth an ask. When I set out to become a solo mother, I thought about a lot of things (and talked a lot of it through with my therapist). I thought I was prepared (I’m not naive enough to have thought I had an answer for everything, but I did think I at least knew where to look). Now the little man is 11 months old and showing an un-ignorable number of markers that suggest he is profoundly gifted (it’s not me – friends who are teachers, random strangers in my parenting groups, the researchers leading the psych study we were enrolled in before he was born) and I’m struggling. I knew this might be something we would encounter eventually, but I was wholly unprepared for it to come up as an issue quite so early. I don’t know how to start the conversation with his daycare (technically nursery – we’re in the UK) or what to ask for…all I know is that we had a few weeks of peace because the nursery environment was so new and different, and now he’s clearly frustrated with the pace of the day and the activities he’s being offered. When they send photos of his day, he is *always* off playing on his own or with an adult…except when the toddlers (18-24mo) have joined their group, when he is at the centre of a knot of happy faces. On the handful of days when he has gone up to toddler room for a couple of hours because of short staffing in baby room, the kid I pick up at the end of the day is glowing and zinging with energy and can’t wait to babble at me about his day. On most baby room days, he’s clingy and crabby and has massive meltdowns at home if things don’t go exactly how he wants them to. He lights up when toddlers arrive in baby room for lunch, and then bites and hits and sulks when they leave. I’m terrified of being labelled “that” parent (the one who hothouses their little precious and claims they are precocious when really they’re just spoiled), but now that I see the pattern in his behaviour, I can’t bear to do nothing…and yet I haven’t the faintest idea what to do or where to start. Changing childcare isn’t really an option right now as we’re moving later this year which will involve a change of childcare.

    So, if you made it through all that: resources for raising a gifted toddler? Scripts for talking to the nursery? Tools for advocating for gifted small people in group settings? Resources for not doubting yourself when parenting non-mainstream kids? Help!

    1. Stitch*

      I’m a former gifted kid and the child of a pediatrician.

      Just lean into your kid’s interests and don’t push.

      Getting bored in the infant room is extremely normal. There was a boy who was the oldest in the infant room in our daycare and he would push the other kids in frustration. Most daycares move kids up when they’re a year old. If there’s another nearly 1 year old around, see if they can spend some time together.

      The other thing to understand is that gifted in one area doesn’t mean gifted in another. This is why my Dad is very opposed to grade skipping. A kid who is academically advanced is likely not socially advanced and so putting them with older kids can lead to social isolation. This happened to my aunt who went to college early then actually dropped out for a while (she went back and was eventually very successful).

      The other thing to remember is that even for a gifted kid, at some point where being smart and getting away with not working runs out and you have to learn to put the work in. Every gifted kid hits this wall eventually even if it’s in college (for me it was Organic Chemistry). So it is important to teach every kid persistence. That can mean working at a sport or musical instrument to develop those skills.

      1. Stitch*

        I also want to add: being gifted at 11 months really doesn’t mean that much and you need to temper expectations. There’s not a lot of correlation between early milestones and later academic success. He is really, really young to be reading into things. So don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t persist.

      2. RagingADHD*

        To your last point, I suggest OP look up Stephanie Tolan’s work on asynchronous development.

        Physical, cognitive, executive, emotional, and social development can all happen at different rates. When they are really far out of typical alignment, we give it different labels – asynchronous is one way is called special needs. Misaligned in another way, we call gifted. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

      3. Jules the First*

        With the utmost respect for your experience, people like your dad make life really hard for profoundly gifted kids. This is not a kid who is cruising through schoolwork and bored in the classroom. This is the kid who is teaching themself multiplication from first principles in first grade because adding is too slow. Forcing them to stay in an age-appropriate classroom will just make them doubly miserable because neither their intellectual nor their social needs are being met. This child is never going to have friends in a mainstream classroom because the kids think they’re weird. The kids are right – profoundly gifted kids are weird and different and it takes a long time and a lot of adult support for them to build the skills and emotional strength to relate to others socially. Expecting a profoundly gifted kid to make friends in a mainstream classroom is like expecting your kid to board the schoolbus when it passes your house at 30 miles an hour without stopping – sure, it might happen naturally if you’re very very lucky, and sure, a professional stuntperson could probably teach someone to do it eventually, but there are an awful lot of ways for it just to be horribly painful instead.

        1. Stitch*

          You can put kids in some advanced classes but the idea that a kid can’t make friends with kids his or her own age is pretty toxic.

          There also have been cases where kids are pushed into groups of older kids and end up abused (the phrase “you’re so mature for your age” is familiar for a reason).

          My Dad bases his decision on data of outcomes and kids who are pushed away from their peers often end up failing out.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I agree with your dad. There was no abuse, thankfully, but getting promoted into an older grade at an early age was very detrimental to my social & executive development. I had trouble making friends in my age cohort, but throwing me in with a group whose social interactions were even *more* nuanced and complicated was the exact opposite of helpful.

            It was like replacing a struggling swimmer’s floaty wings with lead weights.

            Didn’t help me academically either, because I hadn’t been in school long enough to master basic school functions, like being responsible for homework. I wound up going back with my age cohort and doing enrichment work to stay challenged.

            I took the tack with my kids that enrichment goes on top of regular classes, not instead of.

            It’s pretty unusual for a 1 year old to want to play *with* other kids at all (parallel play is typical), so I’m all for getting them a range of experiences. And the same is true at school age – mixed age play groups (or extracurricular groups) allow everyone to find their own level and interests, and make connections with different people about different things.

        2. AGD*

          Cognitive scientist here who was a ‘gifted’ kid herself. Development is not at all my specialty area (plus I work with college students), but I do recall reading an issue of an academic journal years ago on how to help gifted kids make friends in the classroom rather than feel constantly alienated and get picked on (as I was, because I loved school and couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to talk about math during recess). Take-away message, as I remember it: if you are very careful about providing options, choices, and access to kids with common ground, they do absolutely fine. (I didn’t find that for myself until my parents sent me to math camp when I was a teenager – the kind overtly marketed as being for the kids who are either 30 minutes or 30 days ahead of the teacher – but that did the trick. I made about 15 new friends and settled way down into a plan for adulthood. Loved college and then happily stuck around to get a Ph.D.)

          I have heard that Being Smart about Gifted Education: A Guidebook for Educators and Parents by Dona J. Matthews is a good bet. Me, I really had to take a huge step back from my impression that my experience was super-common (or inevitable) for gifted kids. I ended up intensely cynical pre-math-camp because I kept rallying about how my (normal teenage) classmates were trying to drain the intellectualism out of me (they were not; I just didn’t have like-minded people around), which was a surefire recipe for useless contempt and what I’d now call dangerous elitism! Took a long time to shake all that off.

    2. Not A Manager*

      In terms of meeting his immediate needs, I’d stick to what you see and not why you think you see it. “Little Man seems so happy when he gets to hang out with the toddlers, and he’s better behaved, too. Is there some way to schedule some predictable Toddler Time for him in his daily routine?”

      I second the advice above about recognizing that children can be precocious in one area and not in others. One thing about being extremely gifted is that your son is going to continue to encounter frustrations due to this – he’ll be able to understand the text of advanced books but not their emotional content; he’ll be able to play structured games with older children but not do so well at unstructured socializing, etc. So it’s good to start helping him understand now that he’s X age even if he has some Y talents. Whether the day care will cooperate with giving him more toddler time or not, talk through his day with him. “Today you get to have lunch with the toddlers! That’s so exciting and fun, but after lunch you nap with the babies because you need naps.” Or even, “I know you love to hang out with the toddlers, but sometimes you can’t because you’re not a toddler yet. When you’re 18 months old, then you can stay in the toddler room all day.” I made a bit of a mistake with my child in implying to him that if all of his differential needs weren’t met, something was wrong. It’s okay to tell even an 11 month old that you expect him not to melt down when his toddler time ends. It won’t change his behavior now, but it sets a tone for the future. And kids understand this stuff.

      I strongly second the suggestion to be sure that over time, he’s gaining age-appropriate life skills. Gifted kids can have a lot of trouble learning to persevere and to tolerate frustration or failure.

      1. Jules the First*

        Thank you for the scripts – I’ll give those a try. I’m pretty well equipped, I think, to manage the pitfalls of giftedness (I am profoundly gifted myself), I just wasn’t prepared for it to be an issue so early.

        1. Lilli*

          What’s the scale they use to identify normal gifted vs. profoundly gifted? I’d like to check my old report cards to see where I land on the spectrum.

      2. Princess Xena*

        I’m going to third this super hard. I was not ‘gifted’ overall as a child but did have a very advanced reading level and a voracious appetite for books. My parents did a good job of keeping me in the child-appropriate sections of the library but even so there were a lot of concepts I encountered early that I maybe should have had more supervision and support with.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I remember helping with reading in first grade. A couple of kids would whip through a pretty advanced text–but then I would ask a simple question about what they had just read to me, and they were blank. Meanwhile the child who needed extra help with mechanics was delighted to launch into a detailed play by play of the action, including informed speculation about Mr Fox’s possible motivations. I came to see the mechanics of reading and the art of understanding what you read as almost completely unlinked.

    3. fposte*

      If you can get a hold of it, there’s an old book called Does This Mean My Kid’s a Genius? by Linda Perigo Moore. It’s pre-Internet so very out of date in that respect, but it’s smart and funny and talks a lot about how to support your gifted kid and why.

    4. Double A*

      My son is the exact same age and while I can’t say he’s gifted (because, I mean this kindly, infancy is really too early to identify gifted kids), he also gets bored when under-stimulated. He’s crabby when there’s just one person around, but happy as a clam when there are more people. 11 months is definitely old enough to be more interested in the big kids than the babies, and to realize that babies are boring.

      I’d just talk to your daycare about if he can get more time with the big kids or when they plan to move him to a mixed room. I wouldn’t really talk about it being being anything to do with your son being gifted because again, who knows if it’s that. It’s definitely a behavior pattern you see, so you can bring it up.

    5. Courageous cat*

      Can one truly tell if a child is (or is going to be) profoundly gifted as early as 11 months? I would kinda be surprised if this particular situation is anything more than babies being babies. Just seems very early.

      1. Generic Name*

        I knew my son was gifted at 3 months old. Sounds crazy I know, it he was just so unusually alert and interactive. Strangers commented on it. He was formally identified in school and was in the gifted school. So all these comments Pooh pooing the idea just aren’t very helpful, frankly.

        1. Stitch*

          I mean if we want to get into it, the biggest predictor of success in school is actually the education level of the kid’s parents.

          As the child of two children developmentalists (my mom a speech therapist, my Dad a developmental pediatrician) it is really important to just keep talking to, reading to, and interacting with your kid. That’s really what helps a growing toddler out.

          1. Anon for this*

            My parents figured out I was “gifted” when I was 4.

            I’m glad they didn’t worry too much about it before that (or too much after it). They just let me have whatever milestones, and bought lots of games, crafts, toys, and activity books as appropriate.

            The biggest problem I had was that I was such a bookworm that I was terrible at making friends. But my parents just let me keep doing my thing, and it worked out completely fine.

        2. tessa*

          Yeah I dunno…somehow, “lights up when other babies are around” doesn’t necessarily align with “gifted.”

          Courageous cat’s comment is quite valid.

        3. Calliope*

          This is the problem with a sample size of 1. Like 90% of parents think their babies are exceptional. Some will term out to be right.

        4. Jules the First*

          Thank you for this. These comments are why I am afraid to bring the subject up with his nursery staff.

      2. Not A Manager*

        Jules says that the psychological researchers have commented on it. I don’t know why there’s this need to push back on someone’s stated issue. She didn’t say “I know my kid is gifted because he likes older kids,” she said she has reason to believe he’s gifted, AND he likes older kids.

        My child was clearly very gifted, and it was obvious to more than just his immediate family very early. It also caused a lot of problems for him later, or perhaps our parenting did.

    6. Generic Name*

      I’d advocate for putting your son in the toddler room early. When would he move up normally? At 12 months? We went through the same struggle at daycare with our son. They were very receptive, but it also depended on their capacity. If he can’t be moved early full time, ask if he can go to the toddler room as often as there is space now.

      1. Stitch*

        So there are often legal reasons they can’t. At my son’s daycare he was required to have a crib for naps and wasn’t allowed cow’s milk until he was a year old. Literally in his birthday we stopped bottles and he started practicing sleeping on a cot to be ready for the toddler room.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Yes to the legal issues – in the US, states have rules about how many staff people are needed in a daycare classroom by child age. So if there is even one child under age 1 in a classroom, you might need one staff member for every two children (infant room ratio) instead of one staff to every 6 kids (toddler room ratio). I’m making up these numbers as it’s been a while I worked in a daycare, FYI, but I’m bringing it up because OP should know that moving her kid up to the toddler room all day might not be possible for legal reasons.

      2. Jules the First*

        They don’t normally move them until 16-18 months, but that’s actually a great idea to see if we can get formal permission for him to room share when there is capacity in toddlers. I’m not sure he’s ready for a full move (he still very much needs two naps!) but maybe an hour or two a few times a week would give him the stimulation to make the rest of it easier.

      3. RagingADHD*

        You also have to bear in mind the size difference. Older kids can easily hurt a baby/small toddler with what is normal play for them, and it’s not fair to them or the teachers to create the need for extra vigilance.

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’ll say up front that I’m not a parent, so take my perspective with a block of salt. But my recommendation would be to step way back on the “gifted” label and focus on your kid’s individual needs. I was determined to be gifted at a pretty young age and for me, it was pretty isolating and harmful.

      I’m sure things have improved since then, but I still kind of think the term “gifted” does more for parents than for kids. It’s probably nice to think that if your kid doesn’t fit in, it’s for theoretically positive reasons, but I think from the kid’s perspective, it’s hard either way. Some tangible support would have done a lot more for me than the idea that I was smarter than my peers, which mostly just led to an unhealthy amount of perfectionism. Just my two cents!

      1. Jules the First*

        I’m so sorry you didn’t get the support you deserved! I was lucky enough to be raised and educated in a fantastic system who made it very clear that gifted was not about being smarter or getting better grades or being in any way superior to other people – it was a question of having different wiring in our brains which makes it easier to see and do some things and harder to see and do other things. I feel like I’m reasonably well equipped to help my child understand his giftedness; I’m just feeling a bit lost in advocating for him with others!

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          You honestly sound like you are uniquely equipped to advocate for your son, having grown up with this positive experience. I have no idea what kind of professionals or organizations or support systems you came in contact with as a kid, but maybe reaching out to them for resources or support would be more fruitful than posting here.

        2. ants*

          They’re really doing kids and parents a disservice by using the “gifted” label then. It sounds…snotty, frankly. There’s no way to be a parent of a baby, call them gifted and not sound like a typical parent who just thinks their kid is special, which of course all parents think. It’s too bad they didn’t land on another label. If it really means they do some things worse too, a different label could better reflect that.

        3. Janet Pinkerton*

          What the replies here show me is that using the term “profoundly gifted” may cause more pushback than benefit. If you can frame it as the following, folks might be more receptive and might have ideas that could help you. “He has a very hard time when he’s understimulated—he acts out. I know he’s had some great days when he’s been in the toddler room. Is there anything we can do to help him to communicate, or to increase his stimulation? I know I struggled with xyz as a small child and I recognize it in him as well.” Basically, focus on the drawbacks to this different brain wiring, rather than the benefits.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I don’t know if they go quite this young, but Mensa has a lot of information and resources for gifted children (and their parents).
      Being gifted intellectually does not entitle anyone to a free pass to behave badly. Biting and hitting are unacceptable at any age or IQ.
      Whatever else, don’t make him think that his giftedness or precocity is the most important thing about him. BTDT, and it’s taken me decades to forgive my father for it.

      1. Jules the First*

        Fear not! I don’t think giftedness is the be all and end all (nor is it about being smart!). As far as I was raised, it means you have special educational needs – you need more the standard academic material taught differently, but you also need more help in understanding social norms and behaviour. Biting and hitting at this chronological age are attempts at communication (because babies don’t have impulse control); the challenge is trying to figure out what he’s trying to communicate.

    9. Swisa*

      For what it’s worth, developmentally, kids don’t play with each other at 11 months. So it’s not really a sign of anything if he’s not. From what I’ve read, even at age 2 it’s common for them not to play together.

      1. Calliope*

        Yeah I’ve heard generally kids really shift and start to play with each other a lot more at 3.

        1. Stitch*

          Yes, kids parallel play until the 2-3 range then start interactive play.

          Piaget is pretty eye opening, particularly for things like empathy (which doesn’t develop until pre-k/kindergarten).

          It’s really crucial to not treat kids like little adults, their brains are wired totally differently.

    10. Calliope*

      So . . . you know babies don’t play together, right? This is not an issue of him being “off on his own” because he’s gifted and the other babies are boring. It’s just how babies are. You might see parallel play and handing things back and forth around this age but usually with older kids. Which is probably why he likes the 18-24 month olds. Nobody is saying your baby isn’t ahead developmentally but you will do him a profound disservice if you interpret everything through that lens. Trust his teachers who do this all the time and let him be a normal baby.

      1. Jules the First*

        Yes, I know babies don’t play interactively. They do, however, tend to group even when they play in parallel. I am in no hurry to label my kid – I think he’s cool and that’s plenty for me – but I’m getting a lot of input from people who are professionally equipped to know what they are seeing in him and it seems like it might be the explanation for a lot of the behaviour issues we are having in and around nursery (which we do not have when he is at home with me).

        1. Not A Manager*

          I know I said something similar above, but it might help you to reframe part of this as “some frustration can be a positive learning experience in itself.” It’s good to understand why he’s acting out (being under-stimulated vs. being ill, for example). That’s really important. But once you determine that he’s acting out because he’s under-stimulated because he’s gifted, the next question is, “and so”?

          It’s hard to tread a line between “my child’s immediate needs should be met” and “my child needs to learn to tolerate not having all of his needs met all the time.” All parents have to tread this line, and all children have to learn this lesson, but it can be harder to make these judgment calls when the perceived need is educational and intellectual. Basically, your child is going to need to learn how to tolerate being under-stimulated and under-challenged part of the time, no matter what.

          1. Jules the First*

            Thank you for your thoughts, Not A Manager. I disagree almost completely, but it’s been very useful in helping me articulate what my position should be. The day will absolutely come when my son has to take responsibility for engaging and challenging himself; the age of one in his daycare classroom is too early for that. His unmet needs at this point are partly intellectual, but actually emotional as well – a profoundly gifted child needs adult help in decoding the behaviour of other children and forming an appropriate response. He deserves to have his developmental needs recognised and met as much as every other child in that classroom. If staff are willing and able to engage him and meet those needs in the current space and peer group, fantastic. If they aren’t then we need to figure out a way to do that.

            1. Calliope*

              You’re not going to find a nursery that will label an 11-month-old as profoundly gifted. That is not a thing. Talk about being ahead on milestones. That is a thing and might get you a real response. But honestly I think you’re putting a lot of your own baggage on a baby.

              1. Courageous cat*

                Yeah I’m sorry to say but given that Jules herself also identifies as profoundly gifted, I would give consideration to the thought that there’s a little projection on this matter.

                I wouldn’t worry either way as early as 11 months.

              2. NeonFireworks*

                Yeah, this looks like projection to me. I understand the impulse, but I’d say it’d be better to get a fantastic child psychologist involved as soon as possible if there seems to be a need, and have discussions with that person rather than trying to advocate for a child so young on the basis of memories and/or other people’s anecdotal impressions.

            2. Not A Manager*

              I don’t know what the best response is to your child’s immediate placement needs, but I do want to clarify that I wasn’t really saying “The day will absolutely come when [your] son has to take responsibility for engaging and challenging himself.” What I was saying is that the world is structured such that your son will need to tolerate not being engaged and challenged some of the time. It’s great if he can then engage and challenge himself, but the bottom line is being able to regulate his emotions in the face of boredom or frustration.

            3. ants*

              I would really recommend that you stop referring to him as “profoundly gifted.” Especially at this age, that’s going to come across as an overbearing/deluded mom (not saying you are, but it’s going to make people think that) and make a lot of people give you a wide berth. I don’t think you are hearing how it sounds.

  21. Just me*

    My feisty and loving 17-year old cat, Anya, passed on yesterday, and I am completely bowled over.

    She was diagnosed with lymphoma years ago. They did surgery and expected she had 4 weeks to live. She made it 4 years and 4 months longer than that.

    Very fierce and strong sense of bodily autonomy – after she had the surgery, she was still fighting them even on heavy pain meds, anti-anxiety meds, and lingering anesthesia. She loved to snuggle, had all these snuggle routines, and is the loving-est cat I’ve ever had, but she had to be centered on her own feet even with me.

    She nagged me to turn off the lights and go to bed if I stayed up too late, and woke me up in the morning. In many ways she’s more my people than people, you know?

    Well, I can only be thankful I got as much bonus time with her that I did. Love that girl.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      They serve us and inspire us all in the same stroke.

      Good job, Anya! RIP, little girl.

      So very sorry for your loss.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I am so sorry for your loss. We are on “bonus time” with Best Good Dog ourselves, and it’s been a mix of gratitude for the extra time and grief that even if we got extra decades it would never be enough. Sending you virtual hugs, Just Me.

    3. A313*

      I am so sorry for your loss! Our time with them is never long enough, that’s for sure. Take good care of yourself, as Anya would want that for you!

    4. Just me*

      Thanks everyone, really.

      Hotdog – yes it can be bittersweet, for sure, but makes you all that more aware of making them happy. It’s safe to say that Anya has had pretty much everything she wanted the moment she wanted it (as long as it wasn’t harmful) for the past 4 years because I was so in the mindset of her time being limited :). I also happened to be working entirely from home that whole period of time as well, so she got extra attention and we just got extra bonded being together so much.

      1. TangerineRose*

        I’m sorry for your loss. You gave her a great life, and I’m sure she loved it.

    5. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Our cats are so individual and special and they help make us who we are! (((jedi Hugs))) if you’d like them.

    6. Double A*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My cat is about the same age. I feel like anything past about 15 with a cat is big time bonus time; so glad you got so much with your kitty. That doesn’t make it easier when she’s gone though.

    7. MEH Squared*

      I’m so sorry you lost your beloved Anya. She sounds like she was such a faithful companion. I have my own boy, Shadow (also a cat), who is in his tenth bonus year and I am grateful for every extra day I have with him.

  22. Not So NewReader*

    Robot lawn mowers.

    Anybody have one? Or know someone who does?

    I’d like to hear some pros and cons. I’d also like to hear about what you got right with your set up or what you wish you had done differently. If you had one and upgraded or if you had one and threw it out- I’d like to hear those stories also.

    If you are willing, I’d like to hear about costs also.

    For reference my friend’s lawn is not big- it’s less than a quarter acre. It’s very flat, so no places where the mower could really get stuck. I think she has an ideal setting for this.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Overeducated*

      This sounds TERRIFYING.

      (Sorry, I’m no help. I’ve never heard of a robot lawn mower before now!)

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s an outdoor Roomba. Most of them are string trimmers instead of regular mower blades. Not scary at all.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, exactly. I pass a house with one on the way to work. It’s outside mowing most days. The huge yard is nothing but a hillside, I understand why they bought the thing. It’s maybe the size of a dinner plate, maybe a couple inches high. It’s actually pretty benign looking to the point that it makes me laugh when I see it. It will go back to it’s little docking station when it needs to recharge.

          You’re right though it is about as “scary” as a Roomba.

      2. Princess Xena*

        I have seen these advertised but the last time I looked at them they were designed more for people with large estates. They really do look like lawn mowing Roombas.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      My sister has one – it saves her so much mowing time, that she can use for nicer garden work.
      They are really quite established, and getting affordable now.

      Make sure you understand the size and type of terrain they need to cover (hilly vs flat etc), and tailor the model to that.

      Understand that it is dumber than a Roomba – it does not hold its own map. Instead it is “fenced” – you do have to do the job of laying down (digging in) the cable that acts as a fence (which it won’t cross). Expect to need to put it down along the outer edges, and also any interior flower beds you don’t want it getting into. Apart from that, it won’t drive into things. Be prepare to adjust the cable a bit the first few outings. The cable is flat on the ground, and will disappear into the grass in a couple of weeks.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        The cable is not dug into the ground, but laid down on top, with clamp thingys holding it in place :)

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ah – we have friends with a Husqvarna one in Sweden (its called Hasse, and has its own little license plate). It trundles around their relatively large lawn all summer long. Their lawn is probably the size of your friend’s, is on a slope, bunch of trees and gardening beds and bushes to navigate around. Hasse takes it all like a champ – their lawn looks FABULOUS all the time and they never have to spend time mowing. When its done mowing, or needs a battery charge, it parks itself in its little shed.

      Im not going to lie the first time I saw one of these things in Sweden I wanted to scream/cry/hide. It was so oddly terrifying even though its essentially a lawn Roomba. But the local council uses them now in all their central parks so you see them all over the place and its common. I think in an environment where the lawn is sizeable and maybe grows fast at certain times of year, they can be indispensable. Id love for my parents to get one!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you very much.

        You are right, the lawn looks great ALL THE TIME. It never looks like it needs mowing and it never looks like it has just been mowed (severely clipped).

        I am going to see what Husquvarna has here in the US. Thanks!

    4. 1-800BrownCow*

      No advice but someone in neighborhood has one. I find it fascinating seeing it going all over the yard. It’s actually scared me a couple times when I’ve been out walking and I hear this whirring noise next to me and I didn’t see it coming. The only thing I find a bit odd is that it doesn’t mow in a “pattern” like most people do. It just goes very randomly around the yard. And when you see the yard after it mows, there are random mow lines going all different directions.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        From what I am reading online the randomness is to avoid stripes that you get with a regular lawn mower. I guess it’s not working for your neighbor that way though, lol. I love seeing it on my way to work, I get laughing every time.

  23. Not So NewReader*

    Robot pets.

    I am on a technology kick today, I guess.

    Anyone familiar with robot dogs or robot cats intended to be “pets” for people. I am picturing Furbies 2.0. Is there more to it?

    Has anyone heard of taking a robo-dog and using it as a seeing eye dog?

    1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      We recently got my father a robotic cat that is designed for the elderly, people with dementia, and people who are unable to have pets. (My father has dementia.) The cat doesn’t walk around or anything, but it will meow and respond to petting. It can even partially roll over onto its back. You can pick from a few different shades of fur. The manufacturer also makes a puppy version for dog lovers.

      Someone brought an old Sony Aibo to one of my computer science classes once. It did a little dance routine, and was simultaneously cool and really cute. I had thought the Aibo was discontinued, but it looks like I’m wrong. Definitely more expensive than the cat.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh so many questions. How does your dad like it? What does it do for power- batteries, charging station?

        This program sounds like what my friend is looking at- they will just give her the pet.

      2. Rrrrach*

        I have a robot cat! Ideally my husband and I would have a (real) dog, but our life circumstances aren’t right for one at present. And we really like cats, but I am allergic to their fur.
        It sounds the same robot cat as the one Slightly Less Evil Bunny bought for their father).
        I ‘know’ this isn’t a real pet – but the purring and miaowing and head-moving are very cute, and the cat makes us laugh. We often talk to the cat too. I only ‘activate’ the cat in the evenings when we sit together after dinner to watch TV or chat or read. It takes large batteries that get changed over every few months or so.
        It is most like the childhood toy, Teddy Ruxpin, if anyone remembers those…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thank you very much!

          Does the cat “learn” what you are saying when you talk to it?

          1. Rrrrach*

            Oh no, it just miaows, purrs and moves around – probably in a pattern – but it’s not obvious eg 3 types of miaows repeated.
            So sometimes we’ll greet the cat and it will yawn, or it will miaow and purr – and often the timing of that is quite funny!

  24. Orange*

    I had posted on a previous weekend thread asking for help styling a pair of pink(ish) Reebok Classic sneakers. Thank you to everyone who responded! I’m happy to say I’ve worn it a few times already, taking inspiration from your suggestions :)

    I have another styling question – aside from plain tshirts/tank tops/crop tops, what would you pair with dark wash paisley print jeans? I’ll post a link in a reply, but should come up if you search for ‘ONLY paisley print jeans’. I love print-mixing so please feel free to suggest bold/unexpected combinations :D thank you and happy weekend!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You could do a striped shirt like the blue and white French mariner style.

    2. Formerly in HR*

      A white shirt with navy/black paisley motif :-), coloured blouses/shirts (red is said to pair perfectly with white and navy), a chambray shirt

    3. LittleBabyDamien*

      I think traditional calico florals in reds or blues would look good! So would larger scale florals in bright reds on white would too. Quilting fabric combos often include variations of these patterns; here is one: https://www.amazon.com/Fields-Fabrics-Fat-Quarters-Reproduction/dp/B073WLNPKW/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1652567088&refinements=p_n_material_browse%3A378536011%2Cp_n_pattern_browse-bin%3A378655011&s=arts-crafts&sr=1-1
      Here is a blouse in a larger scale floral: https://www.boutiquefeel.com/product/Floral-Print-Long-Sleeve-Buttoned-Shirt-White-S-by-boutiquefeel/be64db1d-2cdd-437b-afd1-ac68d49d6cf7.html?utm_sku=AW0996-w-S-boutique&utm_currency=CAD&country=CA&utm_locale=en_US&utm_source=google&utm_medium=78422332013&utm_campaign=wucuicui?gclid=Cj0KCQjwpv2TBhDoARIsALBnVnluOXuBOXkJRnDFmvl2b92GFnpMxWFM_kSrss-SBO-sTsp2DXHuQlgaAlXeEALw_wcB

    4. Batgirl*

      White broderie anglaise and a straw bag. The straw and leather bags which are everywhere would look good.

  25. Window gardening newbie*

    My husband and I just bought a house and it comes with window boxes! However, we’re about to have a baby and when I read about window box planting, everything talks about rotating the plants out seasonally which we are realistically not going to be able to keep up with. Is there anything I can plant in there that can just stay year round, understanding that it may look nicer at some times of year than others? The house gets decent sun but we live in northern New England, so I guess it would have to be something pretty hardy.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Most of the time people do annuals in window boxes. The easier/less maintenance flowers would be impatiens or geraniums. Or you could do an herb garden – mint and chives are perennials but you could also do things you eat like basil or lettuces.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a good idea. I have a big pot of thyme on my NYC fire escape that’s going on it’s third summer and doing really, really well. I started it from seed, German thyme from Hudson Valley Seed Co. I don’t eat from it at this point because there are birds who like to hop in and pluck out branches for their nests, so I have a second indoor windowsill pot of it. There’s been a pair of robins in and out of the outdoor thyme all week and they’re fun to watch.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I don’t think there are many things that could survive a New England winter in a windowbox, and if there are, they wouldn’t look very nice when dormant anyway. (There may be exceptions, but it’d be tricky; the small size of the boxes would make it easy for the soil to freeze and thaw repeatedly, and to dry out completely in winter.) I’d suggest planning for at least two seasonal changes – planting annuals in spring and replacing them with some kind of winter ornamental arrangement, possibly even artifical evergreen boughs or something. If you set up planters that fit inside your window boxes you can swap them out more easily.

      1. Window gardening newbie*

        These are all great points! And I hadn’t really thought about using annual planters within the window boxes, but that wouldn’t be too hard. I just don’t really want to deal with replanting for inside and outside multiple times a year, but with annuals I would just toss them when they’re done, right?

        Would love any recs for low maintenance annuals that have a long blooming season!

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          If sunny, geraniums and petunias. If shady, impatiens and begonias.

        2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Vinca! Lovely flowers and the leaves are a pretty darkish, shiny green. My spouse and I can kill plants by looking at them, and we’ve had vinca last all season from May through September. We also like yellow pompom marigolds. Those need an occasional deadhead pinch, but the vinca don’t.

    3. Tib*

      You could consider a “permanent arrangement”. ;-) aka fake flowers. We had a neighbor who could grow amazing Gerbera daisies even in the snow. Kidding aside, you do t need to switch your plants around. I’d put in something like mums which are pretty, bloom repeatedly and don’t leave petal debris. You could also consider sweet potato vine for some interest and dimension.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yup, please consider fake plants in window boxes while raising a baby. I have fake plants in my planters during the winter months.
        Congrats on the new arrival!

    4. Generic Name*

      I’d treat them like flowerpots for annuals. Plant flowers in spring, yank ‘em out in the fall. In New England, I don’t think anyone is expecting attractive foliage anywhere outdoors in the winter.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I used to do with my giant flowerpot in front of my house. Petunias are cheap and come in tons of colors. Really easy to do; just put them in the dirt and water them when the soil is dry.

    5. Bluebell*

      I’m in New England. We have two barrels in front of our house that I put pansies in every spring, and there are also perennial chrysanthemums in with them. The pansies last from April – August, and then the chrysanthemums take over Sept- Nov.

    6. Overeducated*

      Honestly, we took our window boxes down in the same life stage! They are in the basement, waiting to be reinstalled when we’re more with it. I’ve so far managed to not entirely kill a couple of plants out back (they did die when we left town two weeks in the heat of summer, but they’re back!), so that time may come next year.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Window boxes are a lot of work and if not maintained they are just not that attractive. I have noticed a movement away from window boxes around here. Watering is a huge issue as they dry out so fast.

    7. LittleBabyDamien*

      For winter, I stick evergreen branches, holly branches, and twigs cut from deciduous shrubs or trees. Red twig dogwood looks good, also shrubs with yellow bark. There is usually enough moisture in the soil to keep them from drying out completely, and holding them in position. I do it as a sort of floral arrangement, and it will last the winter. If you have the time in the fall you could plant bulbs first before you put the branches in, and then do annuals for the summer after the bulbs are finished.
      I also second the artificial flowers! A great aunt had the most amazing geraniums, even on a fairly shady north facing balcony with a large tree in front of it. The plants were lush and healthy and most of the flowers silk or plastic!

    8. Esmeralda*

      Plants in pots. So much easier to care for. Put in colorful flowers spring/summer. Ivy in the winter.

  26. Teapot Translator*

    Are you planning to travel abroad this summer?
    I didn’t. I was going to wait for 2023. Something happened recently in my life though, and I feel sad so of course my thoughts have turned to travel to cheer myself up. But while my heart wants to travel, my brain thinks it’s still too early.

    1. AY*

      We are staying stateside this summer, but I’m still super excited for our trips: Lake Tahoe with my family and Pawleys Island with my husband’s family.

    2. londonedit*

      I went to Portugal in March which was my first trip abroad since the end of 2019. It was great! Hoping to do another trip there in the autumn.

      1. Tulips!*

        @londenedit, my partner and I are hoping to go to Portugal this summer—would love to hear your dos and donts!

        1. londonedit*

          Well my family have had a house in the Algarve for 20 years so that’s my main area of expertise! The Algarve isn’t nearly as ‘Brits-abroad’ touristy as the popular parts of Spain are, Albufeira is really the only big tourist town. Vilamoura is big for golf and sailing/yachting. And everywhere else along the coast you’ll find smaller towns with lovely beaches and amazing fish restaurants. Many also have wooden boardwalks set back from the sea which are fabulous for walks, and there are nature reserves with amazing birds. Personally I’d go out of the main summer season – April/May and September/October are lovely. The Moorish city of Silves is gorgeous and the Monchique mountains are similarly picturesque – at Foía there’s a vantage point where you can see for miles. Apart from that Lisbon and Porto are the classic cities to visit and both are gorgeous – loads of bars and restaurants to explore and tons of history. And if you go inland the Alentejo region is beautiful (with excellent wine!) and the Serra da Estrela is incredible and much more off the beaten track than some other parts of Portugal. It’s a beautiful country!

          1. pancakes*

            Thanks for this. I’ve been to Lisbon (and took day trips to places like Sintra and Cascais) and would love to go back soon, and see more of Portugal.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I have a trip to Copenhagen planned for July (I live in London). It’s for a concert – well two now – and hopefully getting to eat at NOMA (I foolishly forgot to book in time but hoping against hope a spot comes up on the waitlist!). I’ve never been before but am really looking forward to it as it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit.

    4. UKDancer*

      Yes definitely. Italy in early July for me. I’m going to the small spa hotel I love in Northern Italy for a week of swimming and nice food and wine I’ve not had to cook. I used to go regularly but I’ve missed 2 years because of Covid so going back will be a treat.

      I’m intending to to The Hague in the autumn. I’ve been 3 times on business but never for a holiday so I’m going to have a few days there to look at the things I’ve not had time to visit before. I may also go to the ballet in Amsterdam now Olga Smirnova has moved there.

    5. Cookie*

      I’m tentatively planning my first solo Big Trip Abroad next year.

      This year, I went on a road trip to the Ozarks and loved it. So beautiful in spring. I went hiking and sightseeing. I didn’t go to restaurants unless they had outdoor seating, and I didn’t catch any viruses!

    6. Lady Alys*

      Going to Scotland in September. My husband has been obsessively thoroughly planning every detail for ages, I think it helped keep him occupied during the earlier, more locked-down times.

      1. NYCRedhead*

        I will also be in Scotland in early September and the planning is making me very happy!

    7. Overeducated*

      We are just traveling domestically, to New England for a week, and I’d also like to make a couple long weekend trips to eastern shore MD and Pittsburgh. We still haven’t gone anywhere other than visiting parents since 2019, so I’m pretty excited, even if we’re starting small.

      I’m sorry about life making you sad, and understand wanting to cheer up. I think you could still travel abroad, and if you want to stay cautious (which I get, I do too!), maybe think about interesting/odd things closer to home you haven’t done?

    8. cat socks*

      I live in the US and I think a negative covid test is still needed to get back into the country. I’m not going to travel internationally until that restriction is lifted. My husband and I are vaccinated and boosted, but I don’t want to take the risk of getting stuck. I have unlimited time off at work but my husband would probably need to take unpaid time off.

      1. Guava*

        Same. Vaccinated, boosted, but not traveling internationally again until COVID tests are no longer needed for US re-entry.

        I traveled to Europe last week after not traveling abroad since 2019 (DH stationed there) and half way through my trip all I could think about was, what if I test positive? Too stressful unless you have a place to stay (family/friends) or can spend the extra money no problem if you test positive. Overall, I did have a wonderful time and I’m glad I went.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes friends just went to Turks and Caicos. Had to test negative to come back, and the Fam basically started rolling out positive tests before they arrived all the way home. Can’t imagine the expense of several unexpected days abroad.

    9. Kowalski! Options!*

      Yep. I’m fleeing at the end of July and heading back to Spain for five weeks (from Canada).
      The tickets cost a pretty penny, but I figure that since I haven’t been able to travel for two and a half years (I was supposed to go to Madrid three weeks after the pandemic shut the world down), it all works out on the end. My plans are basically beach, wine, not getting too sunburnt, not getting too hungover, and everything else I’ll figure out on the fly.

    10. Blomma*

      Ja! We’re traveling from the USA to Sweden to visit my Swedish grandmother and other family for Midsummer. I’m really quite anxious about the COVID risk, especially since I almost always get bad colds on planes. I’m chronically ill, so the thought of developing long COVID on top of my other health issues is terrifying. The trip should be a lot of fun though so I’m trying not to think too much about all that!

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Dont worry about wearing a mask on a plane – get a good FFP2 and have a great time! Sweden hasnt ever really been restricted – we went last summer and it was like going back to 2019. I was a bit nervous, especially as friends and family have kids and we needed negative tests then to get back into the UK, but after a few days we relaxed and never did test positive. Then again, there aren’t really the crowds to get in your space and youll hopefully be outdoors most of the time if the weather is good!

    11. California Dreamin’*

      Not abroad but we’re going to Hawaii next month. We’re doing a few fun activities like snorkeling, but mostly I’m excited to unplug and lie by the pool/beach drinking Mai Tais. Back in 2019 my daughter had requested that our next trip be a tropical destination and we had planned to do Mexico in 2020, so this is a reimagining of that plan.

    12. Rara Avis*

      Both friends who have traveled to Europe this month ended up with COVID and quarantined.

      1. londonedit*

        I mean, I drove 150 miles to visit my parents in March and they gave me Covid. It’s still out there and it’s obviously something everyone will have their own level of comfort about, but I didn’t feel any less safe flying to Portugal than I do travelling on the Tube or going into a shop.

      2. londonedit*

        Also ‘Europe’ is 25+ countries with individual Covid rates and precautions (sorry but people treating Europe like one country instead of an entire continent of completely different nations is one of my bugbears) so you can’t really say ‘people went to Europe and got Covid’.

    13. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We are headed to Thailand (Bangkok and Koh Samui) next Monday for ten days, which will be our first long haul in three years that doesn’t involve going to see family. Given everyone is still wearing masks there and its only just opening up, hoping it won’t be too crazy and relatively well protected.

      Have to go to Sweden for family this summer at some point, and I need to go to Vilnius to see friends.

      Other than that, we’ve agreed to do more city weekend breaks (London based) this fall.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Not this summer, but I’m hoping for next year or the year after. I had a big European trip in the planning stages before I lost my job. I was going to start in Belgium and visit all my chat friends as I worked my way west, eventually coming to the UK and then home. I may add Ukraine to the list (they’re going to win! Slava Ukraini!).

      There’s also a big film music festival in Krakow every year. I hope to attend it with my friends someday (we’re all soundtrack nerds; that’s how we met). While in Poland, I’d also like to visit Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

  27. RMNPgirl*

    I wrote a while back about signing up to foster through my local shelter. I got my first group Monday afternoon, a mama and 4 kittens. Mom is sweet and has started trusting me with the babies, they’re only about 10 days old. Two of the kittens are having issues with swollen and crusty eyes. The medical team at the shelter examined them and said they’re too young for meds so I just need to clean their eyes with saline soaked cotton balls a couple times a day. Has anyone ever dealt with something like this or similar before? I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can as they seem so fragile right now.

    1. Kitchen Witch*

      Yeah my kittens had crusty eyes. I got th when they were 5 weeks old, so probably a little older than yours, but the saline solution works really well. I still use it now if they get a cold to clear their noses and eyes. You’re doing good :)

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Thank you for fostering! You truly are saving lives.

      Crusty eyes are very normal. I usually wash orphans’ eyes with a bit of warm water on a facecloth, but if mama is there then that might not be needed. It resolves itself over time. If they are still having problems later then there are eyedrops.

    3. Random Bystander*

      Mama Cat, since she’s there, may help quite a bit.

      Granted, Jemmy was quite a bit older (6 months) when I brought him inside, but I used baby wash cloths (they’re softer than regular ones) when he had an upper respiratory infection flare up right after his neuter.

  28. Foreign Octopus*

    Reading thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m about 200 pages into Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron and a little unpleasantly surprised by the author’s fascination with his character’s sex life. I’m not thrilled that it’s taking up a huge chunk of the story as I’m, obviously, more interested in Sophie and her story.

    I haven’t had a good run of books lately, seeming to pick up stories that have potential and then spiral off so I’m hoping S.C. will improve further into the book.

    1. Tybalt's Cat*

      I just wanted to comment, given Alison’s reading recommendation this week, that I *love* Edith Wharton. I highly recommend The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Buccaneers; especially if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Wharton’s work too! I read Old New York some time back and found the different stories quite fascinating. I’ve read the better-known novels as well as some lesser-known works – and I adore Wharton’s ghost stories as well. The Glimpses of the Moon is rather fun – and has a more upbeat resolution than many of her relationship-complication books.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m about half-way through the Canzoniere . The sonnets are definitely a lot easier to get through than the full-on cantos – I guess it’s because I can read the sonnets completely before moving on to the footnotes whereas with the cantos I regularly have to interrupt my reading to read the footnotes lest I end up forgetting what the footnotes refer to. Also, otherwise I’d have to constantly go back several pages.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I just started The Every by Dave Eggers, which is his sequel to The Circle (a book I loved so much I read it twice). I hope I dig it just as much as The Circle!

    4. ecnaseener*

      I’m reading Dracula via the Dracula Daily Substack! It’s a newsletter that’s sending out Dracula in “real time,” ie it’s an epistolary and all the entries are dated so you get every journal entry or letter on the day it “happened.” I haven’t had the focus/energy for reading much lately, so these bite-sized chunks are perfect. (I haven’t read Dracula before but I understand the book doesn’t have everything in chronological order, so this is a totally different way of experiencing the story!)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I started this last week after seeing it mentioned here! I’ve never read the book either. I get a kick out of their little intro blurbs, like “introducing Mina, who is about to receive some Transylvanian recipes”

        1. GoryDetails*

          That sounds fun! I love the novel anyway, and have regretted the way that most screen adaptations leave out those amusing little domestic touches – like Jonathan jotting down the chicken paprikash recipe for Mina…

    5. GoryDetails*

      Among my recent reading:

      THE HIRED GIRL by Laura Amy Schlitz, a kind of reverse “Anne of Green Gables”, where our heroine (14-year-old Joan) flees her emotionally-abusive father and the drudgery of life on the family farm for the nearest big city. After a scary encounter or two (and after lying about her age!) she lucks into a job as housemaid to a prosperous Jewish family, who need her to help out their Old Family Retainer who’s getting too old to manage the heavier chores – and to do it without riling the old woman up too much. More depth in this one about differing cultures, religious views, and more, yet also quite entertaining. (A heroine who’s devoted to books – even though she grew up with only three novels as her entire library – always piques my interest.)

      A WODEHOUSE BESTIARY – a collection of stories featuring animals of one kind or another, and with the usual Wodehouse banter; some laugh-out-loud bits in this one. (The scene in which a would-be swain gets around his beloved’s obstructive father by teaching the older man how to call pigs to dinner – in the middle of the father’s very traditional club, mind! – is hilarious.)

      In non-fiction: THE HALL OF A THOUSAND COLUMNS, by Tim Mackintosh-Smith – the author’s memoirs of traveling in the footsteps of 14th-century traveler Ibn Battuta; this volume deals mostly with India, and features all the highs and lows of travel. Am enjoying this one, not least as it touches on places I’m glad to read about but would not want to visit myself…

    6. Jamie Starr*

      Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen It’s been on my shelf forever, since it’s a “classic” but so far I’m finding it hard to get into, and slow moving.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Hansen’s “Brandstetter” series! Hope you’ll enjoy them too. I enjoyed the concept of a noir detective series that’s mostly set in sun-baked southern California. And Brandstetter and the other gay characters demonstrate a variety of ways of coping with the prejudices of the time.

    7. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Just finished How Lucky by Will Leitch and it was more fun than I expected. Kinda like Rear Window for the modern day. A man largely housebound witnesses an abduction and then has some cat and mouse games with the kidnapper. Manages to be humorous and creepy at the same time. Highly rec.

      1. Bluebell*

        I thought that was such a great book! Part of me thinks it would be a cool movie, but part of me thinks they’d ruin it.

    8. WellRed*

      I’m reading When the Stars go Dark. I’m mostly liking it but she gets a little over descriptive on everything and never uses one adjective when she can use three.

    9. Redux*

      (Cue Reading Rainbow music) If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby for its decadence and sad romance and intrigue and passion, have I got a book for you! I’m reading _The Chosen and The Beautiful_ by Nghi Vo, which is a re-telling of the The Great Gatsby, from the perspective of Jordan Baker, if Jordan were queer and Vietnamese and also magic? I’m only halfway through it but it is strange and lovely and unsettlingly familiar– it’s the same story but very, very, different. A delightful and dark and decadent romp. Also Jay Gatsby literally sold his soul to the devil. 5 stars!

        1. Redux*

          Oh no! Did not mean to erase that! Jordan was and remains queer. And is also magic, which is kind of the same thing. ✧・゚: *✧・゚:*  ♡  *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            I’m just teasing because there’s so much ~ discourse ~ about queer coding in the original :) This retelling sounds seriously amazing!

    10. Bluebell*

      Just finished Forget the Alamo, which was very interesting. Half of it is the history of the Alamo, and the second half is how the history has been told over the last almost 200 years. Plus some awesomely snarky footnotes. Have started The Startup Wife, but not really into it yet.

    11. marvin the paranoid android*

      I had a great trans reading week. I read Calvin Kasulke’s Several People Are Typing and Isaac Fellman’s Dead Collections back to back, and neither disappointed. One is about a guy whose consciousness gets embedded in his company’s Slack channel, the other is about a trans vampire archivist. Both are very funny, clever, and moving, although quite different tones. I highly recommend both, and I think they pair well together. I only wish I hadn’t read them so quickly.

    12. Minta*

      Just finished The Two Mrs. Carlyles, by Suzanne Rindell. I’ve really taken to her novels, and now I’m all caught up.

      One of my favorite books from years ago is Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. I put more of her works on my to-read list earlier this week, so Alison’s mention of her is well timed.

    13. Bazza7*

      Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr, Book 21 of this series, nice too return to familiar characters and Laura Lippman book Seasonal Work, short stories, just strange, every story had a twist at the end, some people got their comeuppance others were WTF!.

  29. Perpetua*

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Serbia’s Konstrakta, it’s rare for a performer to thrill me like that. Although I do speak the language so there’s an understanding on that level as well.

    But yes, like you, I didn’t watch the semifinals and I’m looking forward to the show tonight, hoping I’ll be able to live comment online with some friends.

  30. Firebird*

    I’m still unpacking from my move and the kitchen is challenging. I was blinded by the beautiful cabinets and didn’t realize how inefficient the layout is. There’s a bottom corner cabinet that I can’t figure out how to use. The only opening is a very narrow door on one side. What can I put in there and still be able to get out? My short arms won’t reach to the back. There’s a shelf, so I can’t put anything tall in there. I can’t get a “lazy Susan” in either. Any ideas?

    1. GoryDetails*

      I have one of those, and it’s really annoying. I had been using it for the flatter things – cookie sheets, muffin tins, cooling racks – such that I could grope around the corner and fish things out by feel, but it hasn’t been very satisfactory. I’m thinking of trying it as storage for plastic storage containers, putting them into a shallow box such that I can (relatively) easily slide it into the corner space and out again. But even that requires shifting things out of the main cupboard or leaving that empty, so still not the best option. [If the stove weren’t right next to the end of the corner cabinet I could open a door on that side, but I’d rather keep the stove where it is.] Good luck!

      1. Reba*

        I have the same, and I just gave up on most of the inaccessible space. I removed the interior shelf and have an organizer/rack in front of the door opening that holds the sheet pans etc going straight back, if that makes sense, so their ends are facing the door and easy to grab.

        If the door is wide enough, there are narrow 9″ rolling pull-out type products by Simple Human and Rev a shelf.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I have what I believe is a similar setup in an upper corner cabinet. I got some bins that are narrow enough in width to pull through the door opening. I basically fill up one of them, push it into the cabinet and slide it to the side all the way to the wall, then push in another one and do the same until the cabinet has as many bins as will fit. When I need something, I have to pull out the first bin, reach sideways for the next one and pull that one out, etc. Obviously I use these cabinets for things that I don’t need to access every day.

      Because this is an upper cabinet, it has shelves in it so I’m able to utilize its full height. If I had a lower cabinet like that, I would either use sturdy, medium high bins to corral tall things like pot lid or baking sheets, or I would see about getting a shelf into the space or even using wire shelf dividers.

      1. pancakes*

        There’s a company called Yamazaki Home that makes useful dividers and inner shelves for that sort of cabinet. We have two of their rolling carts for spices and they’re well made.

        1. fposte*

          Ooh, I didn’t know about this company and this is excellent organization porn; thanks.

          1. pancakes*

            Ha, enjoy! We also have one of their storage caddies for cleaning products in the kitchen.

      1. Lifelong student*

        I have a similar problem- but not a cabinet. I have a narrow (11″) cupboard that I use for cookie sheets, etc. They fill up the cabinet- but the space above is largely wasted. I looked for some type of shelving so I could use it- but couldn’t find anything that fits in the space. Suggestions welcome.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I might be misunderstanding, but maybe — come back-to-school time, look for a locker organizer? I feel like when I was a kid my lockers ranged from 8-14″ wide, and the shelves everyone had were adjustable width to accommodate.

        2. Figgie*

          We have the same size cabinet and my spouse basically put a shelf in above the cookie sheets and so now we can put flat items on both the bottom and the top of the shelf. I store cookie sheets, muffin tins, pizza peel and wire racks in the top and bottom. The shelf was easy, as he cut a board the correct width and put it in with small brackets to hold it in place.

    3. Really?*

      I have one too and it’s a pain in the neck to get stuff in and out. I use it for storage containers and stuff I use occasionally for entertaining, recognizing that the stuff in the far corner of the back requies getting on the floor and leaning in to retrieve the contents. A reacher like they use in stores and rehab centers can help retrieve lighter items. The woman that owned the house before me said she kept her pots there, handles outward. I have too many pots & pans.

    4. Figgie*

      We use individual wire racks that are open underneath. In our case, the open space that is difficult to access is to the left, so the rack sits there and we store wax paper, parchment paper and other long, narrow items above and below. For the small space that is directly in front of the door, we use plastic shoe boxes to pull out to hold other items. I know that there are sliding, built in racks where you pull the rack forward out the cabinet door and the rack that sits to the left comes forward so you can access stuff in it. That wouldn’t work for us, as the cabinet opening was too narrow. We also have a rack hanging on the inside of the door to utilize that space more effectively.

    5. Stuff*

      I have one of those. I use it to store long rolls of contact paper, wrapping paper, etc.

  31. Fit Farmer*

    What spreadsheet app do you like, with a good interface for editing cells, copy-pasting, etc? My files are openoffice (*.ods) and while I can save as .xls, only the cell data is retained and not the formulas. I’m not sure what apps to check out. I’d like to store the files on the phone, not in the cloud.

    A few weeks ago I asked about replacing my limited on-farm laptop use with an iphone, which people were helpful/skeptical about. For a few reasons, mostly size-related, but also design-related (“it just works”), I did buy an iphone 13 mini, rokform case. The critical reason, which I definitely undervalued, is the tech support and in-person help!! I’m not sure if I mentioned that I am entirely unfamiliar with using a smartphone for any purpose, and wow, I really appreciate the tech folks at Apple for their hand-holding on basic things and their knowledge about the weird on-farm laptop-replacement use-case I’m going for. And their excitement about what I’m trying to figure out; apparently it’s rare that somebody comes in with something so unusual.

    To report, for anyone interested, because even the Apple store employees and tech-support people did not know this and were legitimately excited to find out: you CAN use a trackpad with iOS on an iphone (not an ipad), after enabling “assistive touch.” I was shocked (shocked!) that nobody else had ever asked about this — the Apple people hadn’t even considered it! I only found two keyboards in the world that are bluetooth-only AND have a trackpad AND work with iOS, but it does work.

    1. Locke Lamora*

      Google Sheets is fine, the formulas work similarly to Excel but it’s not as robust in terms of features. Fine for inventory and compiling data over time. Any task other than entering values would be tricky on a smartphone but it’s easy enough to build your workbook in a desktop browser and then open it in the app on your phone when you’re on the go.

    2. 653-CXK*

      My go-to has always been Excel, but LibreOffice works just as good if not better (and it’s free!). I tried Google Sheets and while it’s nice for quick entry, it’s not as robust as Excel is.

    3. Observer*

      My files are openoffice (*.ods) and while I can save as .xls, only the cell data is retained and not the formulas.

      What are you using to create those files? I just tested Libre Office, which does ODS, and it most definitely saves the formulas in .xlsl

      Check Apple’s app store to see what exists, but I think you may have to do the conversion on a desktop.

  32. Come On Eileen*

    I’ve been training to run my first 10K and it’s tomorrow – yay! However, three days ago during the run portion of a CrossFit workout, I tripped and fell pretty hard. I’m not injured but I’m sore. I braced myself on the left side and that’s where I took a brunt of the fall, so I have a (now healing) gash on my left elbow, a bruise on my left pelvis, and my left bicep area is fairly sore. And now I’m left to decide if I’m still going to do the 10K or not. I’ve been doing the things I know how to do – stretching, Aleve, epsom salt bath, drinking plenty of water, etc. I feel like I’ll be okay if I chose to do it, but certainly not at my best. I follow the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method, so it’s not like I’m running the full course. I basically run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds, repeat. Any words of encouragement or things for me to consider when I wake up tomorrow morning and need to make a game time decision?

    1. londonedit*

      It’s your first one so it’ll be a PB however it goes! I’d suggest a relaxing Epsom salts bath tonight, try to get a good night’s sleep, and then just see how it goes tomorrow. Start off slowly and see how you feel – you might carry on slowly, or you might feel you get into it as your body warms up. If you have to walk more than planned, that’s fine! You’re still doing the distance. And then you’ll have a benchmark for your next 10k, when you won’t have tripped over in the run-up! Good luck :)

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I second this advice! You won’t be as sore tomorrow as you are today, especially if you take the relaxing bath. Also you will feel like such a bad*** when you finish because you will have conquered the 10k when you were a little bruised.

    2. tired feeties*

      If it’s your first race, and you are capable: why would you *not* do it? I really don’t see any advantage to that.

  33. Ideas for care package for friend with cancer*

    A friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer (stage 2) and I am looking for ideas for a care package or gift I can send her(she lives a few states away). Food is out, as apparently the chemo is affecting her sense of taste, and many things taste “wrong” right now. I am planning to send her flowers or a plant, but would like to send something else as well.

    1. Hearts & Minds*

      You are a good friend! Some things my friends sent me when I was going through this;

      Bath bombs and lotion from a specialty store in her area

      Plush blankets/throws/socks that I still have & cherish

      Pretty cards just saying “I’m thinking of you”

      Hats & scarves (one of my friends threw a “chemoflauge” party for me

      Flowers and plants as you mentioned, which were lovely

      I don’t know if your friend wears makeup or jewelry, but when I lost all my hair including my eyebrows and eyelashes, I went into a little bit of mourning. Good quality makeup and pretty jewelry helped me to feel feminine again so she may appreciate a gift card for that sort of thing.

      I really appreciated the gifts my friends sent, but the most meaningful things they did for me were definitely the regular check-ins. Didn’t matter if it was a card, or text, or voicemail, just knowing they were out there warmed my heart. And it was helpful that they didn’t put any expectations on me to respond right away or at all.

    2. Virtual Light*

      I just posted a similar question (same user name) on the recent recommendations thread at Go Fug Yourself, which should be easy to find.

      The standout recs to me were hand lotion (unscented), coloring books, word / logic puzzles (I recommend Games magazine if she is at all a puzzle person), light / fun reading, a soft wrap for cold treatment centers, and cute notebooks/ pens.

      Also just writing a letter every week about your cats or whatever. I’m re-using/ sending “Dear Sherlock” serial mystery letters that I had already received for my person’s amusement, so I can tuck in little notes.

      Am looking forward to more cancer care package ideas from the AAM community.

    3. Liminality (Formerly It's Quarantime!)*

      Does she have a hobby of some kind?
      Perhaps having a new ‘project’ will give her something to focus on occasionally and also provide a topic of conversation when you call to check in on her?

    4. the cat's ass*

      I loaded a series of books from her fave author onto her kindle. Unscented lotions. Pretty scarves!
      You’re a good friend.

      1. Hearts & Minds*

        That’s a great suggestion!

        Also reminded me of another one: wireless headphones and/or an Audible gift subscription.

    5. Michelle*

      A few other suggestions:
      -comfortable, loose-fitting pajamas, sweat pants, or button up tops, which are easier to put on than those that go over the head
      -neck pillow for sleeping while sitting up in a chair
      -good quality lip balm
      -a new pillow with a decorative or satin pillow case

    6. Bagpuss*

      You could include Ryan Riley’s ‘Life Kitchen’ book – recipes specifically designed for people who have or have had cancer that affects their sense of taste.
      IIRC he started developing recipes for his mum when she was having cancer treatment.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Some people barrel through chemo without much change in activity, and don’t want to be seen as a patient. Others have lots of side effects and would love some pampering. So sometimes you have to ask what they’d like. The taste change can also affect smell, and some people on chemo can’t stand any scented products – so ask first on that, too. Same with flowers.

  34. Ali G*

    Hey Everyone!
    I haven’t been around in a while – a lot going on with a kitchen renovation and other stuff.
    Anyway, a while back I got a lot of good advice on new pots and pans when my old non-stick stuff needed to go. I ended up getting a Calphalon stainless steel set and I am really liking them. I also stripped and re-seasoned my 2 cast iron pans. It’s working out well.
    I also wanted to let you all know about a recycling program I found for my old stuff. Terracycle has a program to recycle Calphalon pans. All I did was join the program and they gave me a shipping label. I took the box to UPS and sent it off. All completely free. I’ll put a link in the chat. There are a lot of other programs I am looking into too.

    1. Salt Water*

      Thanks for this! Trying to get rid of the teflon coated stuff and is just what I needed. Good luck with the renovation!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Don’t know if anyone’s reading this late, but I bought a set of Calphalon back in the early 2000s that had a lifetime guarantee. So when the nonstick coating started coming off (as it always will), I contacted the company last year and got an unexpectedly large refund.

  35. the cat's ass*

    So, we are in the planning stages of a 2-3 week trip to Japan! Does anyone have tips, suggestions, or advice?

    1. Lifelong student*

      Loved it- spent three weeks there in 2017. We connected with an agency located in Japan which was wonderful.

      j t b u s a dot com. They organized all our hotels and travel among various cities and places- giving us lots of options and escorting us to and from trains. Although in a few areas and on some side excursions there were local guides it was not like a European bus tour- much more free time and selectivity. We had no language problems- English is even in the train annoucements! Very polite and helpful people- and the cleanest place I have ever been!

      1. the cat's ass*

        This sounds perfect! We all have certain things we want to do, so developing an intinerary with support would be great. Thank you!

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      You might want to keep an eye on the State Department’s website for travel info. My son’s summer Japan trip with school was just cancelled because of COVID restrictions. They were hoping the Japanese government would ease up on entry requirements before the trip, but, unfortunately, that did not happen. They do have an elderly population that they have to protect, so I understand.

    3. Nessun*

      Check out a JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass). You can only buy if you’re a foreigner to Japan, and you have to buy before you arrive in the country, but it will allow you on the shinkansen and lots of subways, and even some tour buses – you just show the pass and go. I was in Japan for a month and got a 3 week pass and it paid for itself in a week. Very straightforward to get and to use.

    4. Perpetua*

      I did a 3-week trip in 2016, and while I’m sure you’ll easily find plenty of recommendations for the “big”/most popular things (I’d start by checking out itineraries for your amount of time on various forums and blogs, and then choosing what attracts you the most), I’ll say that two of my favorite experiences were slightly less known:
      (1) staying at a temple at Koyasan (and visiting Koyasan in general) – it’s not easy to get there (depending from where you go), but the peace felt there was well worth it to me
      (2) spending the night on Miyajima island – the island is a popular destination for a day trip from Hiroshima, but what I really loved the most was when the last ferry with the day visitors left and we could enjoy the sunset and take a nice walk without any crowds

      Happy planning!

      1. The cat’s ass*

        Thank you all-this has been very helpful and exciting. My dd and I have been to Japan before as part of a GS exchange and I’ve been on multiple business trips but not for just pleasure and DH hasn’t been at all. I think the planning is half the fun!

    5. Cathryn*

      Loved our 1 trip and already hoping for another trip!
      Get tickets for Shinkansen at the offices and know your luggage can be sent ahead to your next hotel a day early for a reasonable fee. Shinkansen only has a small area for rolling luggage and must be reserved.
      We could not get Studio Ghibli tickets since they are released in batches so we got a walking tour that included Studio Ghibli entrance at end of tour. It was the hidden gem of our trip!
      Second for team lab! There was surprisingly not many eating choices near team lab- it is by vast convention sized buildings. We tried walking but had to give up and went to a hotel to ask for a cab to be called. We were there in off season Jan so quieter but by no means empty- before times of course!
      Random note: I felt overwhelmed by the size of Tokyo despite the soft landing we chose at a very nice hotel. And I joked playing Minecraft was training for getting around in all the many levels in Tokyo.
      I wish you the best trip!

    6. Guava*

      If you don’t have an international plan, you can rent a MiFi and pick it up at the airport! So helpful. I’ll reply again if I find the company I used, but it was very nice to always have Wi-Fi.

      Also, we broke up our trip into Tokyo and Kyoto and took day trips (Osaka, Hiroshima, Nara) from there.

    7. Rekha3.14*

      If you can spare a few days, go north! Tohoku is underappreciated, imho, and the Shinkansen now goes all the way up to Hokkaido, so I’d go there, too. It’s a very different feel than the hustle and bustle of big city life. Depending on the time of year there are different things to see. I have a soft spot, I lived in Aomori prefecture for 3 years about 2 decades ago now, so definitely biased! It’s not as train accessible as some other areas, so you may find renting a car a fun way to explore.

      Kakunodate, Lake Towada, Hirosaki castle, Yamadera, Aizu-wakamatsu, Atami, Aoni onsen, Hiraizimi (I think I remembered the names correctly)

  36. StellaBella*

    What is your perspective on being email chat friends with a partner after a break-up – where you had no contact for a few years and are now back in touch? This ex is moving to his home country in a month and we are in touch via email and today went for a walk for an hour to say goodbye. I have no romantic feelings for him but would like to keep up the beginnings of a new friendship now after all the years (break up was in 2017, only got in touch with him as I moved to this area for work, where he has lived for years and where we dated – walking in the area meant we were likely to run into each other and it has happened). Is this a good idea? It was a very acrimonious breakup, that involved another woman, too (his friend who wanted to date him).

    1. fposte*

      I think if you both want to it’s fine. There’s no automatic protocol to look to for frequency of emails (or any other communication) so I’d be prepared for the possibility that somebody writes more than the other and shrug that off. And of course it shouldn’t be a secret from any current partners.

      1. StellaBella*

        thanks for this – neither of us is partnered. I am post menopausal, and have not dated since the breakup and well, I am not interested for many reasons, pandemic aside.

      1. StellaBella*

        No. The woman friend of his was the one who introduced us. Then after a year or so of us dating she did not like it and freaked out and then started wanted to only see him alone for hikes etc and blocked me on social etc. This went on for 2 more years then we broke it off and I was VERY angry at her, and at hm for not seeing the issues.

        1. Generic Name*

          Ah, I was going to say I don’t think I could be friends with someone who cheated on me.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Hmmm. Did he have other friendships that were problematic?

          The thing that I see here is I am wondering if he just has trouble managing any type of relationship.

          I do have a general observation and you know what they say about generalities. So here goes: By the sheer fact that you are wondering about this, that stands a lone as a caution flag to me. Because, of the people I know who have remained friends with exes, they found their new path together and both were comfortable with the new set up. I have a male friend whose ex even introduced her new BF. It’s all fine. My friend and his ex are happy with keeping in touch and happy for the other one when they find someone. Interestingly, the BF also became a friend to my friend.

          This is hard to put into words. There’s an element of relaxation that comes from knowing for a fact that friendship is all there is here. There’s warmth without worry. But it comes from BOTH people, each person is solid about recognizing this is just a friendship. I think you are solid about yourself- but I think that you might have concerns about trusting this ex.

          My suggestion is to go as slow as need be to keep YOU comfortable.

          1. StellaBella*

            Very good points. We are not social media friends, any longer after the breakup. He has very few friends (like literally less than a handful). The only one that is problematic (to me, not him) is with this one woman. Will be going slow in terms of email now and then, only. Once he moves to his home country too that means we will more than likely never see each other is person either. Just email updates now and then.

    2. Double A*

      I think the only way to be friends with an ex is to go no contact for awhile. But after that, if you feel good being friends, then go for it. Even if the breakup was acrimonious. One of my best friends is an ex; I mean, there was a reason we dated– we got along great! Once the romantic stuff has been put to bed, then we can just be friends.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I’d say pay more attention to your feelings than your thoughts on this. Does it feel good to be in contact, to share / hear news? If it feels natural and comfortable, and the acrimony isn’t still present, then sure.

      My sibling has reconnected with their ex despite a massively terrible divorce — many years later that pain has faded and they find comfort being able to talk to someone who knows them so well. Not everyone would make that choice but it’s working for them.

    4. NeonFireworks*

      I have this with an ex. We had a hard breakup and some tense stuff after, but we rebuilt with a friendship as a shared goal and it’s serving us well. My opinion: tricky, but worth trying for if both want it.

    5. Anima*

      One of my boyfriends from ten years ago occasionally chats me up for general life updates, for example birth of a child, big move, stuff like that. It’s intermittent and friendly, and no one is miffed if the other doesn’t reply. It’s kinda nice to know what he and his family are up to.
      We had quite a bit of radio silence in between, so we had a lot to catch up on in the beginning. Haven’t see the guy in person since the break up. So, all I want to say is, it can work, but a friendship like this has other rules, like not replying asap or ever and month of quiet should be ok. You each have your own life now. And yeah if/when a new partner shows up they should know, as fposte says.

    6. marvin the paranoid android*

      I personally think it’s a bit weird that conventional wisdom says that exes shouldn’t be friends. Obviously there are cases when it’s healthier to stay apart, but I just think it’s a very individual thing. It’s a bit of a process to work out the new boundaries of the relationship, but I feel like if you still have a reasonable level of trust and compatibility, it’s sad to feel you have to write someone out of your life for arbitrary reasons. My perspective on this is probably coloured by the fact that I’m gay and tend to date people I’m already friends with, though.

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree with this. My spouse and I have stayed friends or friendly acquiantances with almost all of our exes (the exception is one of mine, but that friendship ended years after the breakup because he decided racism was acceptable). None of us had highly acrimonious breakups though, more just “didn’t work out for various reasons, was painful for a matter of months but we moved on” breakups, that might change the dynamic.

      2. StellaBella*

        Agree unless there was a major reason to not be friends, this is a good point.

  37. New(ish) to running*

    To all the runners on here: any words of advice for a baby runner focusing on short distances? Right now I tap out at around 3km in 23-odd minutes, I’d like to build up to 5km in 30 minutes. Not sure how I should go about it – do I work on my speed first or do I work on increasing the distance I can go? In your opinion, what’s a realistic timeframe to achieve this goal if I can run 3 times a week? Any suggestions appreciated :)

    P.S. I checked out couch to 5k but felt it started out too slow for me. Also I run on a treadmill because parks/roads near my area are too crowded, in case that would affect the advice.

    Happy weekend!

    1. New(ish) to running*

      Also – if you know of any resources that could help me with my question and goals, please feel free to share!

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I’d say your primary focus should be adding distance, because this builds up your endurance. Once you get close to your distance goal, you can focus more on speed work – maybe do some interval drills where you run as fast as you can for 30/45 seconds, then walk a minute, repeat for 8-10 cycles. The foundation should really be “I can run this distance” before you layer on “I can run this distance fast.” I generally only run two or three times a week myself. If you can do 3K right now, maybe try adding .5K once a week during a long run. If you need to repeat a week that’s fine, but otherwise you’d be at 5K in a month.