weekend open thread – May 21-22, 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: Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel. I don’t know what to say about this! There’s a writer on a book tour and a detective using time travel, and a son exiled from his rich family, and it jumps between centuries. I did not like it quite as much as the author’s Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel, but she writes beautifully and the experience of reading this is almost trance-like.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,399 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just a reminder that the rules for these weekend threads prohibit posts that are just “here’s an update on my life.” One update on something you’ve asked for advice on here in the past, but not ongoing updates.

    Please also make sure you’re not assuming people have read your posts in the past. So that the site doesn’t feel cliquey to newcomers, any post should make sense to someone who is hearing from you for the first time. Thank you and happy weekend!

  2. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    It finally feels like everything is growing well here. I am feasting on asparagus and I see flowers on my tiny strawberry plants!

    1. OyHiOh*

      We’re about to get 3 to 5 inches of snow in the next 18 hours (not common in our next of the US but also not exactly unusual either). The plants I have out are hardy perennials and should be fine.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My daughter is visiting Colorado for the first time (I lived there when I was young) and experiencing the fun of “It’s 70°! No, wait, now it’s snowing!”

        1. Generic Name*

          Ha, yeah. We watched the temperature drop from the 70s to the 50s in about 15 mins.

      2. Salymander*

        You are probably accustomed to the snow, but that just sounds so strange to me. It is 85° here, and I’m rigging up a sun shade for my pepper plants because they are languishing in the hot sun. I finally gave in and brought a beach umbrella for taking to the community garden. It routinely gets to 110° here from June through early October, so I think the umbrella will improve my daily life. We can’t leaves them at the garden, through, because the wasps build nests in them. I don’t want to be stung in my face again this year. Not fun. I think I need to find a place that is somewhere in between our two extreme of 110° scorching heat and 5″ of snow in late May. Does such a place exist?

    2. Salymander*

      My Mr. Stripey tomato plant has some kind of weird issue. The leaves are curling and it isn’t getting any new growth. There is no insect infestation, and no other symptoms. It is very strange. I think a shovel pruning may be in order tomorrow morning. All the other plants are very happy and healthy, so that is good. Time to harvest basil, cilantro, and parsley.

      In the guerilla garden spots, plants are growing really well and looking nice. Strangely, someone has been stealing baby cosmos plants. I guess they don’t realize that cosmos is super easy to grow from seed and really inexpensive. Or maybe they don’t care? But seriously it is so easy to grow! I once grew cosmos in a patch that was basically a little clay with a lot of broken up asphalt, and the seeds grew really well even in terrible conditions. They could plant some seeds and then they wouldn’t need to sneak around stealing plants. It does give a really funny mental image of plant burglars skulking around in the dead of night. That is pretty entertaining to think about.

      1. river*

        It’s possible the thieves think the cosmos is something else, I’m not sure what. Not everybody is able to correctly identify plants.
        An anecdote: I was watering my garden one summer’s day, and my neighbour walked by and complimented some lovely blue flowers. I said, “It’s Bog Sage.” (salvia uliginosa). He said, “Oh is it? I guessed it was mint, I’ve been putting it in with my boiled potatoes.” !!!
        I was absolutely boggled that he would eat a plant so confidently, not knowing what it was! Thankfully sage is not harmful! Not to mention he was eating my plant without asking. But he was a pleasant guy, so I let it go.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          Mint in potatoes? Sage in potatoes makes more sense to me, but to each.

          1. Isobel*

            Jersey Royals boiled with mint, yes. Classic and delicious, one of my favourite seasonal treats, like asparagus.

      2. SpellingBee*

        There is actually a “tomato leaf curl” virus that could be causing this – as you might suspect, the main symptom is curling of the leaves. It will stunt the overall growth and fruit production. It’s also transmissible to other plants via insects, so I’d get rid of it promptly if I were you. Interestingly, I tried a Mr. Stripey plant a couple of years ago and while it grew pretty well, it didn’t set one tomato! I think they’re jinxed. :)

        1. Salymander*

          I love the name Mr. Stripey, and I really wanted this plant to work out, but I think you are right. It is just cursed. Or has leaf curl virus. Whatever. Time for the shovel.

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I mentioned sowing a flower patch (instead of grass lawn) two weeks ago. Well, they are sprouting!! Noticeable tufts of green everywhere. Can’t WAIT to be able to really walk on it!

    4. StellaBella*

      All good here – I bought a raspberry pant too this week, and my potatoes, papyrus, cat grass, parsley, aloe, indoor plants, and sunflowers are all good.

    5. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I was going to do an indoor succulent garden to keep me cheerful and occupied during covid. Bought plants, pots…one succulent and one I-don’t-know-what-it-is are still breathing. I applaud you and envy you and will be right over with whipped cream for those strawberries!

    6. Madame Arcati*

      On the one hand most of my garden looks like a cross between a mysterious forest where monsters may lurk, and the Somme after it had dried up a bit.
      On the other, my herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint and lovage) are doing very well – these are the ones I feel must be fresh so I wanted them outside so I can just go and pick a bit off – bunches from the supermarket often lead to waste ime. Basil doesn’t do so well outside in the uk and I personally don’t use enough to stop a potted one going all weird and leggy, and I don’t like coriander (cilantro) – soapy evil lol. Lovage has a slightly celeryish flavour so I use a few leaves when a recipe calls for a small piece of celery as a sort of base note in a risotto, soup or casserole, eg part of a soffrito. Saves me dealing with the rest of a whole bunch of celery or letting it go bendy!
      The rambling rose my mum got me (it was on special offer for three quid) seems happy enough. It couldn’t go against a fence so I gave it a little bamboo-cane tripod.

      1. I usually just lurk here*

        Lovage soup: Sautee a couple of finely chopped green onions in an ounce of butter until soft. Add about a quarter/third of a cup of chopped lovage leaves. Cook a couple minutes more. Sift in an ounce of flour. Stir in. Add about 4 cups of a light chicken stock, slowly with stirring. Add a pinch of nutmeg and black pepper. Simmer. Serve warm, with or without croutons.

    7. Batgirl*

      In my newly inherited jungle there are some surprise roses. Bright orange, deep pink, hot pink, red, yellow with peachy tips. The brambles are quite unwieldy so I wasn’t expecting them to flower so well, but they have. Huge double and triple centered heads.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Oh, that’s so cool! Roses don’t do well where I live and the only people who really have them are serious gardeners who can really cater to them. I love visiting areas where roses just sort of grow and bloom everywhere.

        1. Batgirl*

          Yeah I wasn’t planning on them, because I’m a lazy gardener, but I’ve never seen any like these. I might up my game for them.

    8. Susie*

      I planted my veggie garden last weekend and so far it’s safe from groundhogs. Next up, we’re planting raspberries bushes. Our cherry tree has little green cherries!

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I finished planting the last of the annuals at 6:45 this morning! Herbs are in and looking good, all the planters are filled, and several new perennials (a peony, 4 asiatic lilies, 2 sedum, 2 foxglove. 3 bee balm, 3 coneflowers, 3 lupine, and 3 of something I don’t remember the name of). My peonies seems to have grown a foot in the last week and have lots of buds; even the one that hasn’t ever produced a flower has one this year (I think it knew this was its last chance).

    10. mreasy*

      My calathea still has five leaves, but the new plants I got last week are loving their new big pots! Adding some new plant furniture this week too. I do not have a problem lol.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      We’re transitioning into summer. All of the spring blooming things are done. My astilbes are starting to bloom. I have cannas and elephant ears coming up rapidly. I’m planting the annuals in my deck planters: ornamental sweet potatoes and begonias. It’s supposed to rain this weekend and I hope it starts soon. My plants are looking pretty thirsty and it feels hot and muggy outside.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      The iris are blooming! (Never sure if the iris leaves will result in iris flowers.)

      I planted some daisy and echinacea seeds; we’ll see if this bears any results. (I am terrible at recognizing flowering plants in their infant stages, so when something shows up in my borders I usually give it a while to demonstrate that maybe I planted it there deliberately.)

      1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        My iris has two (2) flower buds and I’m very excited! We have lived here for 4 years, iris was in a bad spot and didn’t bloom so I moved it; last year it bloomed while I was away, so this year I will get to see its beauty for the first time!

    13. thebeanmoveson*

      heh, not well, ive beeen trying to grow lettuce from seed since march and my sprouts keep dying on me

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For the first time in five years, my peach tree (which was about two feet tall when I planted it and is now huge) has only a couple of leaves with red blisters AND it’s positively covered with the beginnings of green fruit. In previous years, the whole thing has been blistered and the last frost has killed off all the blossoms and we haven’t even gotten a few fruitlings for squirrels to steal. So I might, knock wood, manage to get the first-ever fruit off my peach tree this year! (Seriously, I’ll be happy if I can get ONE peach, between squirrels, birds, etc.)

      The sour cherry tree in my front yard also has green fruitlings, and that might also be a first. I know I’ve never gotten anything off it. :P

      Added bonus: Both of these trees were planted as memorials to cats gone beyond, so it’s very nice to see them thriving. :)

    15. GoryDetails*

      I’ve acquired a variety of vegetable plants to put in my self-watering planters (three “Patio Picker” boxes and one “Earthbox” – have used them for years and love them). It’s supposed to get quite hot tomorrow, well into the 90s, so I may have to throw some row-cover over the top to protect the young plants. And wire cages to keep the rabbits and groundhogs away. And finer-mesh to fend off the chipmunks. [Remind me why I bother to grow veggies… {grin}]

    16. allathian*

      We planted some potatoes today!

      Our daffodils are finally starting to bloom in earnest, and the tulip buds are growing bigger, with a bit of luck they should be blooming on our son’s birthday at the end of May. We just planted out some pansies in a flowerbed, they’re lovely. Our lilac bush has sprouted leaves and the flowers aren’t far behind.

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

      I still have two more succulents to repot but they are so overgrown I’m not sure how to get them out without tearing the plant apart in the process. All of the new plants I got at the Huntington Spring Plant Sale have done well; and the clippings I received from my friend seem to be taking root. Now there is another specifically cactus and succulent sale coming up…this is the one we were really waiting for because it’s been off during the pandemic and there weren’t any signs it was going to be back. It’s not on the Huntington calendar yet (i don’t think) but i saw an instagram post from the Succulent Society that it’s on in July! I don’t have any more room but that isn’t going to stop me…i just need a bigger balcony is all.

    18. Generic Name*

      I was so happy to put out my annuals last weekend. Enjoyed them in the warm weather all week, today, we have a foot of snow. D:

    19. Sparkly Librarian*

      It is trying to survive the “helpful” ministrations of my 3-year-old! This week’s injury list includes a squashed watermelon start, several strawberry flowers, and some half-buried lettuces. The chomped zucchini seedling was probably a slug. I added some mesh cloches (like you’d use to cover serving dishes at a barbecue) over some of the tender young things. The 3-year-old also likes to wear one on her head, but won’t stand still long enough for me to pin the edges down.

      1. Salymander*

        That is such a great age to get kids out in the garden. You make me nostalgic for the days when my now 16 year old was small and thought playing in the garden was a fabulous and magical adventure.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Since she was one, she’s had half of a 4×8 box assigned to her as her “patch” to dig in while the grownups garden in the other ones. This year she planted nasturtium seeds there (and lettuces in a container) and has been watering them. I love it when we’re out there together — a few battered plants are worth it.

          1. allathian*

            Absolutely! Now at nearly 13 our son’s a great help in the garden. He was 3 years old when we moved to this house. The first year we didn’t have much of a garden, but he’s been helping out since he was 4. I think it’s very important, especially for city kids, to learn that food has to be grown, it doesn’t just show up in the store by itself. My son’s always been a veggie lover, at 5 one of his favorite foods was broccoli, but even kids who don’t like veggies will often try stuff that they’ve helped grow. That’s one reason why veggie boxes are very popular in daycares here.

    20. The Peach*

      The recently planted Japanese magnolias seem to be settling in. The birds of paradise, while holding a few dead leaves from our late-spring cold snap, are sending up huge new green leaves. Just planted some salvias.

    21. Becky*

      The temperature dropped this week so I’m holding off on transplanting my tomatoes, but I need to inform my landlord that the outdoor spigot is leaky–it has a valve/splitter? that divides the water between the spigot and the evaporative cooler lines and it’s leaking both from that valve and the vacuum breaker. I turned the water off but when it gets warmer I need to turn it on so the cooler can run but don’t want to waste so much water.

    22. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m racing the end of planting season, but am hoping to put in asparagus and blackberry beds this week. Most of my new space is underneath one of several ginormous trees; I have precious little area that gets enough sunlight for edibles. Enter waist-high raised beds, with some nice edible perennials that get big enough to sneak their heads over the fence for bonus sunlight.

      Back on my balcony garden, the peas are spent, and the cucumber starts are hardened off – it’s time for the changing of the guard in my trellis planter. But I think I’m going to wait until it’s moved to the new place.

      I have some landscaping to do, but that can mostly wait until fall. Previous owners put in a whole bunch of full-sun nursery stalwarts that are clearly miserable in dry shade. A few may be headed to the sunny patch in the front yard; the rest are raised bed filler. I’m looking into native plants to replace them.

    23. Alison M*

      I finally got my husband to allocate some space for boysenberry bushes a couple years back — boysenberries are second only to great strawberries in the Great Berry Hierarchy. This year, it looks like we have hundreds of flowers, so we might actually have enough to make a small tart or pie. I can hardly wait, because I haven’t had any boysenberries except jam since I moved away from California 25 years ago. Around here (Northeast US), nobody even knows what a boysenberry is!

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

        That doesn’t surprise me…it’s truly a California creation; Boysenberry’s are a hybrid and originally sold by Knott’s Berry Farm — Knott was the first to make a commercially viable crop, although Boysen was the first to create the hybrid plant.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Boysenberries are too fragile to ship, and they’re also low-chill plants, such that up north they tend to start blooming before last frost and thus don’t yield consistently. But if you can get them, they are magnificent.

  3. Jean (just Jean)*

    Thank you for putting up this thread on Friday night! Unless it’s an especially busy or hectic weekend I enjoy checking in on the conversational threads.

    1. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

      Likewise thank you Alison for keeping the Friday posts open into Saturday & Sunday for those of us whose Fridays are so often overbooked by the place we will not discuss on the weekend.

  4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I loved Sea of Tranquility, especially the callbacks to the Glass Hotel characters.

    1. AY*

      Thirded! I had never read her other work, and I still found it to be moving and beautiful. And she’s so efficient with her words! Another author might’ve taken 500 pages to do what she could in less than 300.

    2. CatPerson*

      I just finished it yesterday, coincidentally! I didn’t like the Glass Hotel as much as Station Eleven, but I loved Sea of Tranquility the best of them all!

  5. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

    I’m working on making emergency bags for my 4-person family as well as a kit of stuff to keep at home, plus probably a kit for the car too. I’m still in the list making phase before I shop for things, although I did round up a few things we already have. Anyone have recommendations for
    – a solar phone charger
    – a hand crank/otherwise non-battery radio
    – awesome suggestions in general?

    Side note, I saved a couple “what to put in your emergency kit” lists on Pinterest and now my feed has become extremely… Interesting… with hardcore disaster-prepper posts mixed in with the crochet and baking recipes, lol.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Underwear
      Wet and dry pet food + bowls/boxes
      Athletic shoes and socks
      A car whose gas tank never goes below half way
      Paper towels
      Toilet paper
      Hand operated can opener
      Bar soap
      Toothbrushes + toothpaste
      Plastic bowls with lids (to soak / wash underwear, for dishwashing, etc.)
      Heavy duty aluminum foil
      Gallon and quart size freezer baggies
      Shampoo + conditioner
      Hair bands
      Rubber bands + binder clips or clothes pins
      Scotch tape
      Vinegar
      Dishwashing soap + sponges
      Extra sleeping pillow
      Cloth grocery bags
      Small trash bags (and maybe larger ones too)
      A couple of books you’ve read and loved
      A hammer and a wrench
      Mugs
      Picnic size salt and pepper
      Hand cranked flashlight
      A set of inexpensive sheets and a warm blanket or two

          1. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

            Brilliant– a cleaner that is not toxic if it spills AND doubles as meal flavoring.
            To YAULibrarian– There were recurring discussions of this topic on FlyLady and spinoff forums back when I was reading those regularly.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Guess I should have mentioned I have 2 young kids but no pets :)

        1. BethDH*

          As another parent of young kids, I’ve also talked to my older one about where to go and what to say if he gets separated from us.
          This includes which neighbor to go to if there’s a fire or something, and his own full name, but we’re working on other info like the names and cities of a couple of relatives are in driving distance but not likely to be displaced by the same event.
          We also put those toddler purée pouches in our emergency kit. Our kids get picky in unfamiliar situations but they’ll always eat those and you can have ones with some protein and grains in addition to fruit/veggies.

        2. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

          My family found a website that makes custom silicone bracelets, which might be a toddler-fun form of ID.

    2. nnn*

      A few thoughts:

      – Include masks, even if you’re in an area that’s currently not wearing them. Those are now a thing we sometimes need in emergencies
      – Think about the toiletries you use every day. It might be a bit much to include all of them, but, for example, I would be extremely uncomfortable if I didn’t have access to moisturizer.
      – If you get a crank or solar radio, check regularly to make sure it still works. I’ve repeatedly had the batteries lose the ability to hold a charge, meaning I charge the radio in the sun all day, and when I turn it on the battery’s dead. Or when I crank it, it only works for a second. I’ve actually found my old walkman from the 90s works fantastically as an emergency radio! It needs batteries, but I have them in the house, and I can take them out of the remote control or something in a power outage.

      1. Dino*

        On the topic of masks: if wildfires are a possibility where you are, look into respirator masks for each member of your family.

    3. Puggle*

      Cash. If the electricity is out, stores cannot process EFT payments. I’m in Australia and this was an issue in previous bushfire disaster events.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes. After Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, a Memphis friend loaded her car with water and food for her sister in NO. She also took cash because, as you noted, if there’s no electricity, there’s no way to process credit card payments. I had never thought of that but now I keep cash on hand.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I strongly agree. I keep a large plastic jar full of coins, about $50 worth, and of $1 and $5 bills (along with a few tens and one or two twenties) that totals about $300. I am aiming to get it up to about $500 total.. A good-sized earthquake or a bad fire can affect electricity, hence my suggestion for never letting your gas tank get below half-way. (And for the coins and small bills. I wouldn’t want to have to pay $20 for a $6 item because no one could give me change.)

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Those pocket hand warmers with iron oxide powder in, that you just have to take out of the sealed packet and shake. The heat lasts for hours, and they are a single-use item, but I have had success putting them into a ziploc plastic bag while they are still giving off heat, and being able to reactivate them later.

    5. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      After the big important stuff, include a couple of entertainment items (somebody else listed books). I found inexpensive travel sets of several games on Amazon.

    6. Isobel*

      I’d like to recommend Sustainable Prepping on YouTube – described as “Emergency preparedness for normal people”. She is left-leaning politically and a nice change from the anti-government conspiracy theorists who tend to dominate this field.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Thank you for that!! Yeah, even politics aside, a lot of the stuff I’ve seen is like “this is how we live off grid on our huge homestead where we grow all our own food and make our own penicillin and depend on nobody else ever!” and it’s like, more power to you, but my life is not like that and never will be.

    7. Artemesia*

      Thermal blankets — those tough kind that fold down small but not the milar which are basically one use and rip easily — the ones that can be re-used.

    8. Bookgarden*

      I picked up a Kaito KA500 emergency radio when it was on sale on Amazon a few years ago and had 2 opportunities to use it during two high-profile blackouts. It worked really well! It charges up with solar power, hand cranking, or batteries. I can’t speak well for how long the power lasts on it compared to other brands, but it fit our needs. It has a flashlight and cell phone charger, which gave us a little juice without draining our laptop.

      In addition to what everyone else said, we added Life Straws and some Lysol wipes for sanitation and a small single burner Coleman stove for cooking a simple meal. We added pens, a notebook, and sharpies. I also found folded emergency mylar blankets online that protects against the cold and also acts as shelter from the sun/rain.

    9. BethDH*

      I have been thinking about this myself and the best advice I got was to think about where you are and the kinds of disasters that are most common where you are. Some emergencies happen everywhere, but there’s probably something that’s more likely where you are — forest fires, flash floods, hurricanes. What time of year do these happen? Will it be super cold or really hot? Is your kit likely to be a “get out and be ready to live in a shelter for two months” kit or a “shelter in place with no electricity or phone signal” kit? What would you need to rebuild your life if your house is destroyed?
      These questions help you focus what’s in your kit and how much of it you need. I felt like I should be putting everything on every list in my kit, but that wouldn’t work if we’re evacuated by a fire and need to be able to move fast.
      There are maps that can help with this, including ones by organizations like the Red Cross, and my state has a more detailed map for things like flood zones.
      It can also drive other decisions — on my list for this year is taking a wilderness first aid course and stashing copies of important documents in a different region, though I haven’t investigated whether that’s a family member or just a different bank deposit box.

      1. Cj*

        I think this definitely depends on the area where you live. I could get hit by a tornado where I live, but those are much more localized, and I would no doubt be able to get shelter and supplies nearby. It’s not the same as being hit by a hurricane.

        We generally know when a blizzard is going to hit, and can stock up on food and supplies ahead of time. The real problem is if you lose power and are without heat for a number of days. I’m hoping we can afford a generator by this coming winter. We do have many, many extra blankets, can always snuggle up with the pets for extra warmth.

        Filling up your gas tank when it’s half empty is always a good idea, as is having some cash in small denominations on hand.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, hurricanes are the only natural disaster I prep for. (I live in Charleston, SC, where starting in June the first thing I look at in the morning is the National Hurricane Center webpage).

          Not just for evacuation – we’ve lived here 17+ years and have never evacuated for a hurricane. More what we need to get by for 2-3 weeks (although, so far, we’ve never needed even those precautions). It’s about time to start stocking up again. Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 – Nov. 30, but realistically, I don’t worry until August-October. I just found out my grocery store has shelf-stable organic whole milk, so I’ll be buying more of that in the coming weeks.

          My daughter is out in New Mexico for a summer internship, and fortunately the wildfires seem to have abated. I told her to be sure to keep a full tank of gas in case she had to leave in a hurry.

    10. Jim Bob*

      Something I don’t see mentioned elsewhere: copies of important documents (or have them stored on the cloud where you KNOW they will be accessible). Birth certificates, insurance policies and agent contact info, etc.

      If your home is wiped out, presumably your filing cabinet is also gone.

      1. Bird Lady*

        Please don’t laugh at this one: Sanitary napkins.
        Beyond their obvious use, they are excellent at absorbing blood from wounds.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Also tampons for the same reasons, although better for small wounds than large.

        2. Locke Lamora*

          This is extremely legit, I get a lot of amusement looking at all the premade survival kits sold online and not a single one has menstrual products. Or condoms! Like yeah both those things have tons of off-label uses but also the original purposes merit inclusion.

          1. Dragonfly7*

            Condoms strike me as something that weighs very little, takes up a small amount of space, and could be useful to barter.

    11. Pocket Mouse*

      Agree with BethDH on considering which emergencies, exactly, you’re preparing for. For me, it’s that I’d be displaced locally (e.g. building fire) or disaster strikes the entire region and all systems (including phone, electricity, water) are likely down. With that in mind, I’ve packed some of the items people listed above plus:

      1. Water bottles with built-in filters to <.1 micron, or with filters to .2 micron plus purification tablets—you want to be able to avoid both viruses and bacteria.
      2. At least a few days’ worth of necessary medications.

    12. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Each person in my family has their most important documents in one shared lockbox (birth certificates, social security cards, childhood vaccination records, car titles, baptism paperwork, etc). We all know where it is, so in an emergency, whoever is home can grab one box for the essentials. Besides the one box to rule them all, each of us has less important but useful paperwork in our own file (Stuff that can be replaced like the car insurance policy or paid credit card statements, or useful but not critical like records of non-emergency doctor visits. We also keep all the keys in the same place, although I’m thinking it would be better to have a copy of every key (house and vehicle) on an extra ring with the emergency stuff.
      I’ve never found a crank or solar radio that worked after a few years, but the stuff from my childhood is still solid. One handheld VHF radio (takes AA batteries or outlet power), and 6 walkie-talkies (ours take AA batteries, some take AAA), have lasted at least 2 decades of sporadic use, including periodic damp, and occasionally being dropped while camping.
      My dad had better luck with large portable charging batteries (way less convenient but they could power multiple devices for days). I don’t know what his setup was though.
      Oh one more thing that my family does: my mom has a lot of jewelry boxes of passed-down family stuff she doesn’t wear often. She stores them in gallon-sized ziplock bags, so if we have more than 5 minutes, she can grab 3 big bags instead of dozens of small boxes.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Good idea to consider taking a few heirlooms. Depending on evacuation circumstances I might include sabbath candlesticks or other Judaica (ritual items or books).

        Question re taking the jewelry along: would your mom keep them safe in the car, or in a backpack/tote bag that would always be on her person?

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          They would be in the car, probably brought inside with our bags wherever we end up staying. That would be during an evacuation situation like storm prep or flooding, not an emergency like fire.

          1. Well Spouse Association member*

            Thanks for this answer. May you be prepared but never have to evacuate.

      2. MaxKitty*

        You may want to practice evacuations to help your family members remember to grab the box. On another forum I’m on, a very levelheaded person said when they had to evacuate in a house fire, she didn’t react calmly at all, even though she thought she was at the time. She did unimportant things instead of grabbing vital things.

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          We actually had the bad luck to find out exactly how we react to fire. Turns out, most of us are the “eerily calm at the time, epic breakdown after the fact” type. That was a hell of a night…

      3. SaraV*

        While I don’t have physical heirlooms, I have a lot of pictures. I’d recommend scanning any pictures you don’t want to lose and saving them to the cloud.

    13. Jean (just Jean)*

      Great question and great comments. Especially appreciated here: the reference to the non-doomsday prepper and the Red Cross map/brochure to help one focus on local potential disasters.
      A few additions:

      For everyone:
      – up-to-date contacts list on smart phone or (gulp!) in several hard copies
      – up-to-date hard-drive backup of personal computer, unless you’ve decided to keep this in the cloud (not my personal choice, but I’m absolutely not a tech expert)
      – *looks at self in mirror*

      For anyone with any health complications:
      – documentation of diagnosis and treatments
      – any related medication (1-4 weeks’ worth, or whatever is possible) or equipment, including something as simple as a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses + related items
      – contact data for care providers (medical doctors, physical therapists, mental health counselors, pharmacies, other specialized vendors)

      For anyone who is a caregiver:
      – all of the above, in as much quantity as you can manage (e.g. medications; incontinence supplies; ALL diabetes supplies [needles, sharps container, glucose monitor, alcohol wipes, trash container or plastic bag(s)] if needed; mobility aids; dressing aids; urinals or commodes; disposable underwear aka adult diapers; disposable and/or non-disposable waterproof pads; spare clothing; devices to help with transfers in/out of bed, chairs, vehicles; any day-to-day documentation including blank pages and pens for future notes)
      a way to stay connected to anyone who provides moral support, even if it’s just a brief text every couple of days
      – a few physical items that provide moral support (a journal, book of prayers or other inspirational/consoling texts, worry beads, melatonin etc. if the caregiver takes it to facilitate a night’s sleep)

      For anyone grieving:
      – photos and other reminders of the departed loved one
      – condolence notes

    14. Jean (just Jean)*

      Great question and responses! I had a long detailed one for which I may have hit “cancel” instead of “submit” (argh). My lost (?) response included sub-lists for people who
      – have specific medical conditions
      – are caregivers for another household member
      – are grieving
      I also had a shout-out of appreciation for the suggestions for the Red Cross (list/brochure to narrow down preparations to one’s own most likely local disasters) and the non-anti-(U.S.)-government prepper. It’s easier to plan for temporary displacement without the noise of political opinions, shared or not.

    15. Preparedness*

      Our expected emergencies over the past few years have been (1) winter storms and (2) civil unrest. Possibly wildfire smoke, too.

      For winter storms: everyone keeps jumper cables, a shovel, a few blankets, a first aid kit, and some sand in their car. Also, never let your gas tank get below 1/4 if it’s winter and you’re not in the city. That 1/4 tank HAS come in handy one time when I was driving in an awful ice storm and decided to give up and sleep in a parking lot overnight!

      For civil unrest: we packed a bag with some food, water, and clothes. I made a list of names and addresses of friends/ family who live in other neighborhoods where we could stay if needed. We didn’t end up needing to use this bag, which was good!

      I’m thinking about getting an air purifier for possible future wildfires/ inversions/ poor air quality. We don’t have an HVAC system in our house, so in the summer we need to open the windows and deal with what’s out there.

      1. Preparedness*

        Forgot to mention tornados! Those are easy though. Usually you just have to hang out in the basement for a few hours.

    16. Girasol*

      I read an essay by a disaster preparedness podcaster who said she had her go-bag ready for anything when covid started. As lockdowns loomed she realized that her pantry was empty. It’s a good reminder to think broadly about the various kinds of disasters we might face and what preparation each will require.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, in coastal SC we’re on hurricane alert every summer/fall and yet – invariably – there are news articles featuring people who at the very last minute have realized maybe they should stock up on, I don’t know, flashlight batteries and bottled water, and are panicking because store shelves are bare. This happens every year. Hurricane season is not a mystery. It happens every year.

    17. Wishing You Well*

      I would add to anyone’s emergency stash: enough drinking water for each household member for at LEAST 3 days, several blue tarps in various sizes, staple guns and lots of duct tape for covering broken windows, creating small easier-to-keep-warm rooms in a house/tents/lean-tos . In your car, keep a tool that slashes seatbelts and breaks car windows. (Break car windows in the corner, not the center.)
      Keep a serious first aid kit, including a tourniquet.
      Keep photos of loved ones and decks of cards handy. Learn a manual card game now, if you don’t know one.
      I sure hope everyone stays safe and healthy and never has to use this stuff!

    18. MtnBike*

      I live in hurricane land. A mountain bike (nothing fancy) is way better than a car for getting around in the immediate aftermath if you must go out.
      This reminds, me, time to go into summer mode and start cooking down what’s in the freezer. I keep my fridge and freezer to the minimum during storm season and if there’s on that looks like it could head my way, I do my best to cook through whatever’s there.

    19. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone! My list is getting more filled out! A few notes of my own:

      Everyone says to put prescription medications in, which certainly seems smart, but is a bit hard to do when insurance will not fill them early. With the kids I’ll have to go through and update clothes and stuff every few months anyway, so maybe I could rotate. I should just keep my backup glasses in there too, I almost never need them so I won’t miss having them elsewhere.

      I saw an idea to have a “grab list” that is stored with the bags, so if you only have one minute, maybe you just take the bags, but if you have a little while longer to load the car, here are the additional things you have already decided you want and you can just go get them quickly.

      For my younger kid I’m going to put one of those Water Wow activities in, they’re small, require only a tiny amount of water and are reusable (also great for non-emergency travel).

    20. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      So interesting! I’ve never had an emergency bag for any possible situation. I guess I’m not wired that way, or it could be generational (I’m in my 70s). I’ll plan what to take for vacations and fun day trips, but that’s it.

    21. Dragonfly7*

      If anyone in your family has special dietary needs, pack more food than you otherwise might. For example, the cheaper options a shelter might default to because the money goes farther to feed more people, like pizza or many granola bars, wouldn’t be safe for me to eat as a celiac.

      Also, job loss can sometimes be a disaster. I’ve seen a well-stocked pantry called “an emergency fund you can eat,” and food that’s easy to evacuate with can definitely make up part of that pantry.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Agreed about the pantry. We keep a few staples in what we call “the strike cupboard”, which is intended for situations where we are safe at home but suddenly have no paycheck coming in. It’s stuff we’d normally eat, and we do go through most of it, but make sure we buy enough to keep it stocked while we have the grocery money. It took a few months to build it up, buying things that were on sale and getting one or two more than we normally would.

  6. Radical Edward*

    Victoria Goddard appreciation post! (But also, bookish enthusiasm in general)

    Is anyone else excited to finally read The Redoubtable Pali Avramapul?

    I have been subscribing to newsletters more and more this past year, but Goddard is the only author I have ever signed up with directly for ‘alerts’. I did a happy dance in my chair when I opened the email this afternoon.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Got it and read it! I enjoyed it, but it’s definitely not the place to start her works. I get alerts for Goddard, T. Kingfisher and Lois McMaster Bujold, because they all tend to drop self-published stuff with little notice.

      One detail I love in the book Whiskeyjack is how she never actually comes out and says that Whiskeyjack is a common name for the grey jay (which features in the book) – it’s there as a tidbit for Eastern Canadians and bird enthusiasts.

      There’s a free download on Amazon called “Sword & Magic: Eight Fantasy Novels” which includes the first Greenwing and Dart book, for anyone interested in checking out her work. It’s a good first introduction.

    2. OtterB*

      I have bought this but decided I wanted to reread The Return of Fitzroy Angursell first, so I haven’t started it yet.

  7. Jackalope*

    What is everyone reading this week? Any recommendations, or requests for recommendations?

    I just started The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. It’s written about the “monstrous” daughters created by 1800s experiments – Mary Jekyll, daughter of Dr. Jekyll; Justine Frankenstein; and so on. I’m only about a 5th of the way through but so far it has been delightful and quirky, & I like other stuff by the author (she has several published short stories, for example), so I’m thinking it will be a good read.

    1. Double A*

      I’m almost done with “When We Cease to Understand the World” which is a “nonfiction novel” about the development of theories around quantum mechanics. I literally knew nothing about it’s topic when I started; it’s very good. And short, about 200 pages.

      When I’m done with that, hopefully tonight, I’ll get back to SPQR a history of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. I know very little about the topic so I wanted to read a broad history and she’s an excellent writer. I’m determined to finish it because I rarely finish nonfiction books! But I’ve been kind of juggling it with the more in-demand library holds that are finally starting to come in for me. I have one more renewal, so like 4 weeks. I can finish it!

      1. Atheist Nun*

        When We Cease to Understand the World sounds fascinating. I majored in biochemistry in college and was a mediocre student (probably because I never studied…); the only class that I did well in was quantum mechanics, which I found interesting and logical. Now, 30 years later, I can feel free to study these personal scientific topics without the pressures of exams and grading.

        I enjoyed SPQR, as well as Mary Beard’s book about Pompeii (which is called, depending on the country of publication, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town or The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found). I was very fortunate to be on vacation in Italy last week, and I loved visiting Pompeii and the archaeological museum in Naples and seeing what Beard described so vividly in her book.

        1. Stitch*

          For fiction, I do enjoy Robert Harris’s books set in the Roman empire (Pompeii and his Cicero triology).

      2. Firefly*

        I just finished SPQR! I particularly enjoyed how the author discussed how later Roman writers wrote about early Roman times

      3. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

        Fans of the Roman Empire might be interested to try the webcomic SPQR Blues. Set on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius up to & around its big eruption. Chapters I -IV are available as a book. (I find it painfully ironic that “after the volcano” has been derailed by a pandemic.)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Thank you to the person here who mentioned “The Hired Girl” and its Anne of Green Gables vibe. I’m only a quarter of the way in but really enjoying it so far!

    3. StellaBella*

      I have just received 5 Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books this week, read 2 already. Am on a staycation and plan to read a lot!

      1. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

        I did something similar last week with Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series. There’s something very comforting about entering a universe that way.

        1. Stitch*

          For whatever reason the series disappeared from Libby for my library when I had two books left.

    4. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I started “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy and am about a third of the way through it. I’m seriously considering putting it on hold till after covid. It’s brilliant and I want to finish it, but not until more cheerful times.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I second the recommendation for the Goss trilogy, it’s an excellent read. It also inspired me to do a reading course of Gothic fiction, as the author pulls references from a lot of works, from the famous (Dracula, Frankenstein) to the less well known (Arthur Machen, H. Rider Haggard).

    6. Bazza7*

      Just finished Hide Out – Book 3 in the Alice Vega series by Louise Luna, OK, but not on par with the previous two books in this series.
      Currently reading Diablo Mesa – Book 3 in the Nora Kelly series by Preston & Child, really go so far, just as good as the previous two books in this series.

    7. mreasy*

      Loving Devil House by John Darnielle. I just finished Detransition, Baby, which was an absolutely incredible book. I cannot recommend it enough!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I got two next-in-series from the library: I’m reading the Chen Su Lin series by Ovidia Yu (detective stories set in 1930s Singapore) and the Natural History of Dragons series by Marie Brennan (collides dragons and the Victorian adventure traveler).

      My daughter gave me the Scholomance books for Mother’s Day, so rereading those yet again.

    9. BethDH*

      I would love a recommendation for something quirky/tongue-in-cheek and sort of escapist (probably sci fi or fantasy, possibly travel writing).
      Something in the vein of Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog would be ideal, but could also be something more akin to Robert Asprin or Douglas Adams. Doesn’t have to be new, though I would heartily welcome a wider representation of humanity than is in a lot of the British-centric examples I’m already familiar with.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Have you read anything by Becky Chambers? She’s done some good sci-fi over the last few years that’s a little quirky and lighthearted, especially the Wayfares series.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Quirky and travel-ish: The Time Traveler’s Handbook: 19 Experiences from the Eruption of Vesuvius to Woodstock. It’s nonfiction/historical in that it’s talking about actual events throughout history, but it’s written in the style of a travel guide for a time-travel travel agency that takes tour groups back to experience the events in question, which I found really entertaining.

      3. GoryDetails*

        If you haven’t already tried T. Kingfisher, do check out A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. (Minor Mage is also fun, though aimed for slightly younger readers – I think; even the most juvenile of Kingfisher’s work has fun-for-adults elements.) Fantasy novels with put-upon-but-snarky protagonists, great world-building, humor and suspense – I love ’em.

        I’ve just started The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune, which is about modern-day teens in a world where there are superheroes and supervillains (the “Extraordinaries”), with a diverse cast – including the gay protagonist who’s writing fanfic about his favorite superhero while coping with school, ADHD, and more. (The book opens with a sample of the fanfic and is both on point and amusing.)

        A very funny/quirky book I read a few years back: Emperor Mollusk vs. the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez, in which the titular cephalopod keeps on trying to take over the world using his vast intellect and a variety of mobile outfits that let him (despite being more or less an octopus) walk, stride, and/or fly around the world. Lots of great bits about the whole “Evil Overlord list” (a hilarious list of trope-based advice such as “I will not outfit my storm troopers with face-concealing headgear, as it makes it too easy for the enemy to masquerade as one”), and an entertaining adventure too.

        Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is also fun – a “gang of kid-detectives grows up” story, with a diverse cast and rather entrancing writing, in which the author often allows the actual scenery to insert a viewpoint on events.

          1. Autumn*

            Oh, fun! I just realized that Wil Wheaton performs the audio, may have to listen to it for a re-read. I blazed through the text in a morning.

      4. Stitch*

        Lots of good suggestions here. I’d recommend the Discworld series if you haven’t tried it (I personally recommend starting with Mort) and Good Omens. Pratchett’s work has a lot of satire.

        I’d toss in House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Really sweet book.

        There’s the book called Space Opera that is super Douglas Adamsy. I’ll admit I DNF this one because I got a little exhausted on the tangents.

      5. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

        I have a book of short stories for you. Mirabile, by Janet Kagan. Fun, uplifting, hopeful, strong female leads, progression of new employees even.
        Stories released separately, published together by Tor. (Unfortunately Tor’s connecting text didn’t make it into the Kindle edition. )

      6. Machine Ghost*

        Janet Kagan: “Mirabile” (planetary sf, several loosely connected short stories about weird genetics)
        Jim C. Hines: “Terminal Alliance” and “Terminal Uprising”, first and second book of the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse trilogy: Space Opera about zombies, space janitors and general mayhem.
        James Alan Gardner: “All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault” and “They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded” (superheroes vs. vampires et al, but neither are the standard fare)

      7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson was hilarious and fun and escapist.

      8. *daha**

        Look to Ron Goulart and Robert Sheckley. Both specialized in short and middle-length science fiction, generally light and comic in nature. Goulart also worked as a ghost writer, including on the William Shatner title Tekwar. One of Goulart’s characters was a ghost writer who was constantly chasing after his clients to collect his fee.

      9. BethDH*

        Thank you all! So many of these I’ve never heard of, and the few I have read reminded me of things I haven’t looked at for a while (for example, have read Scalzi before but not the recommended one!).
        There is something so reassuring about having lots of books on your to-read list, and mine has been too weighted toward non-fiction lately.

    10. Teapot Translator*

      I’m reading Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey this weekend.
      I enjoyed the first book in the series. Hoping this will be good, too.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I love The Expanse series!!

        You’re in for such a treat with this series and I’m a little jealous that you get to read it for the first time as I’d love to have that experience all over again.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Just finished The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking it would make a great movie!! I also read The Book of Cold Cases by the same author a couple of weeks ago. This lady knows how to write a ghost story!! I think after these intense books I need to find a cozy or a romance to read next!!

        2. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

          Yes! I loved the way the series ended. It was unexpected, unpredictable (for me at least), but completely made sense.

      2. Stitch*

        I almost abandoned that series at Book 4, but the later ones are better.

        TV series is quite good too.

    11. GoryDetails*

      SQUIRE by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas, a graphic novel set in a fantasy world based largely on Arab landscapes and styles. The society includes peoples from several conquered nations, who live in their own enclaves with varying degrees of restrictions on their lives – and prejudice against them from other groups. Heroine Aiza is a member of the lowest-status group, bullied outright in the marketplace, and is desperate to escape – and she might get the chance, as there’s an open invitation for people to join the military. If they pass the tests they can become squires, giving them lots of benefits immediately – and might become knights, which would grant full citizenship. So far it’s a lovely mix of character interactions (Aiza’s first friend among the trainees is a rather fabulous young man who apparently signed up to follow his boyfriend – who is not at all pleased to find him there) and pretty blatant examples of institutionalized racism that Aiza is, at first, oblivious to. (She’s attempting to keep her ethnic origin secret by covering her distinctive wrist tattoos, but it’s clear that the higher-ups already know who she is – and may have specific plans for her…)

    12. Ness*

      I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It’s about two sisters living in occupied France during WWII. The Great Alone is still my favorite of Kristin Hannah’s books, but I really enjoyed this one too.

    13. Bluebell*

      I’m waiting for a bunch of holds at the library so have read fluffier things this week. It Had to Be You was a romance set in NY with 5 different couples, and I also enjoyed The Break Up Book Club, which followed a group of women. Then I raced through two YA zombie novels by Jeff Hart which should have been a trilogy but were fun. Now I’m reading Monsters:A Love Story by Liz Kay. It’s amusing but the main characters keep getting more awful. I still have The Start Up Wife to finish, but it’s not really grabbing me.

    14. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I finished a fascinating book called Immune, by Phillip Detmer. It’s an in-depth look at our immune system, presented in an understandable way. He uses a combination of anthropomorphism (always while pointing out that he is doing so), simplification of the most complex systems, lots of illustrations, and replacing really confusing and hard to remember names with easier ones or with memorable descriptions of the thing. It mentions some things that I’ve only heard about recently, like mast cells and cytokines, and briefly touches on Covid-19 while saying the research there is very new compared to the other subjects he covers.

      Phillip Detmer is the guy behind the youtube channel Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell), and his writing style is very similar to the channel style (including the artwork). I highly recommend his book!

    15. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

      The Killing by David Hewsom. The book that the Danish, and then the American series was based on.
      I don’t think I will read more of his, because this book just Never Ends. It’s a murder mystery of 900 pages. I am not ready for this! Something by George RR Martin, or the history of Jerusalem – yes, sure. But a murder mystery? No. In addition, the chapters are super long, each covers a day in the investigation, but that means the story jumps between various sets of characters and it’s confusing.

    16. Cj*

      Any recommendations for a good mystery/Prime/detective series of novels? I’m pretty well caught up on the Kinsey Millhone novels by Sue Grafton, if she stops at the end of the alphabet I only have a couple left.

      I’ve also read a lot of the Alex Delaware novels by Jonathan Kellerman, but I kind of lost interest because I enjoyed the earlier ones a lot more than the more recent ones.

      1. Machine Ghost*

        I like the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr a lot. If you also like historical mysteries, I recommend the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas, and the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood.

      2. Russian in Texas*

        Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny.
        Bruno, chief of police, by Martin Walker.
        Angela Marsons books.
        Historical mysteries: Sebastian St Cyr mysteries by C.S. Harris.
        Maeve Carrigan series by Jane Casey.
        Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French.

      3. MEH Squared*

        She actually died before she could tackle Z so the series ends at Y. I completely agree with you about the Alex Delaware novels–I feel like they peaked about fifteen years ago or earlier. I haven’t read many lately, but I loved Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone back in the day and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody. Sujata Massey, Margaret Maron, and Laurie R. King are good, too. And, of course, the Hercule Poirot novels by Agatha Christie.

      4. PhyllisB*

        If you like funny books, you might enjoy the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. Word of caution: don’t read one right after the other because they will get monotonous if you do. I just started a new series today, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries by Vicki Delany. Very entertaining; especially if you like Sherlock Holmes.

        1. Cj*

          I forgot about those! I’m actually got part way through #14 a few years ago, didn’t finish it because of tax season and never went back to it. I think I read too many in a row and they got monotonous like you said.

          I think most people that like to Kinsey Millhone novels would enjoy the Stephanie Plum novels. I hadn’t heard that to Sue Grafton died. It’s really sad that she only had one more to go to finish the series. I agree with what another poster said about the final books not being is good, but I got part way through W and figured I might as well finish about the series.

          I’m a part way through a Stephanie Plum, Kinsey Millhone, and Alex Delaware novel and just can’t get into them as much as the previous ones in the series. So I would jump to another one and ran into the same problem. For a while I read like a novel a week, and now haven’t picked one up for a couple years. I love reading, so maybe I should try again and see what happens.

          I’m not terribly familiar with the original Sherlock Holmes. I did enjoy the TV show Elementary, which was a very updated version of the story. I think I’ll look into those. Thanks.

      5. allathian*

        Y is for Yesterday is the last Kinsey Millhone novel. I liked the first 20 or so books a lot, but I found that the quality of her writing dropped a lot in the last 5 or so novels, and I never finished Yesterday. Nevertheless I’m a bit sad that she never got the chance to finish Z is for… She died in December 2017. RIP

        Agatha Christie remains one of my favorite authors, in spite of the classism, sexism and racism (particularly antisemitism) that’s apparent, especially in the earlier works. I actually had to buy a new copy of “And then there were none” because the old one I had from the mid-80s, probably the last edition published with the original name (Ten Little N-word) was so jarring to read. Ten little soldier boys is a lot more innocuous. This is my favorite non-Poirot Christie book.

        I’m currently rereading Reginald Hill’s Dalziel & Pascoe series.

    17. Jen Erik*

      I read Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher, which I just loved – so hard to write a proper fairy story – and am about half-way through The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley which I’m really enjoying,

    18. Foreign Octopus*

      The Gray House, by Mariam Petrosyan. I’m about 200 pages in and still don’t know whether I like it yet.

    19. Nicki Name*

      The Pasha of Cuisine – food and magic in the Ottoman Empire. It’s a beautiful fairy tale so far.

    20. *daha**

      The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. If you’ve got a kid with frequent violent uncontrollable meltdowns (or if you need to work with such a child) this is the book for you. It was incredibly valuable to me two decades ago when I was working with school systems that were constantly putting my five-year-old under restraint or on suspension. I bought copies for all the staff and all his treatment team. The book is now in its sixth edition.

    21. Cj*

      I’m wondering if anybody could help me identify a series of books I read a couple decades ago that I guess would be considered fantasy.

      The main plot is kind of an adult Twilight, I guess. The main character was having a relationship with a Vampire, but was also involved with a werewolf. I believe the main character was also into witchcraft or magic, but I don’t remember for sure.

      I’d like to go back and re-read them, and finish the series but I can’t remember the name of the book or the author. I’m not sure what to search for on Google.

      Does this is sound familiar to anybody that might be able to point me in the right direction?

      1. Koala dreams*

        That sounds like urban fantasy, for example Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews. Maybe the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, it was very popular for a while.

      2. GoryDetails*

        If you’re talking about the “Anita Blake” series by Laurell K. Hamilton – maybe just leave the rest of the series out? Blake began the series as a necromancer – offically licensed to raise the dead, usually for the purpose of solving crimes by asking them whodunnit or whatever – but almost immediately began to get more and more involved in sex magic and politics with a variety of werecreatures and vampires. The first few books were rather fun, but for me they went south once Anita became less the kickass magic-cop and more the increasingly abusive in her relationships. (In-story I think it was “the magic made me do it”, but I didn’t like the direction things took. Less snarky banter and more “…and now it’s the were-leopards’ turn”…) But your mileage may vary!

        If that’s not the one you were thinking of, never mind. {grin}

  8. Double A*

    What is an improvement you’ve made to your life recently that had a disproportionately positive impact? I’m talking about more material things like a product upgrade or organizational improvement (not, like, applying a strategy you learned in therapy).

    I’m especially interested in purchases (big or small) that you waffled on and once you finally got them wished you had sooner.

    1. Double A*

      I recently purchased a $100 trash can to replace my super crummy, gross cheapo trash can. I hated that trash can. It was awkward and icky clunky. But $100 for a trash can?? Surely ridiculous!

      Oh no friends. The $100 trash can is a thing of beauty. It looks lovely. It opens smoothly. It changes effortlessly. Why oh why did I wait?

      I also recently reorganized my spices to be in a drawer rather than a cabinet. We have a ton of drawers but not so many cabinets, and I’ve been slowly figuring out how to make better use of the drawers. It made a big difference because I can see everything and it’s right under the counter where I cook. It’s just such a big organizational improvement in my kitchen.

      And finally, after several months of contemplating different ruggable options, I finally bought a new rug for the TV/playroom to replace our ratty thrift store rug and it looks amazing. Just makes the room feel so much better to be in. And we even had to make use of the washable feature after our kids’ first bought with stomach flu this last week did not spare the rug. Washes and dries great!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I don’t wear rings and didn’t want an engagement ring, but I wanted the Fancy Simple Human trash can with the foot-lever-operated lid.

        But, as you note, it costs $100!!!!!

        My then-fiance’ kept waiting for it to go on sale.

        But it never did.

        Eight months later, he paid full price (we are not Full Price People) for the trash can. Fourteen years later, it is still shiny and resplendent in its spot in the kitchen. I have no regrets.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I can’t remember who it was right now (not enough coffee yet) but someone who comments on this site wrote a few years ago about asking for one of those trash cans for an engagement gift. She even wrote about it on her blog. If you are reading this, will you please tell the story again for those who missed it the first time?

            1. PhyllisB*

              Ha Ha!! After I posted this, I wondered if that might not be the case, but was too late to cancel comment.

        2. pancakes*

          Similar here, though we haven’t had ours quite that long. My boyfriend was initially mad when I bought it because it arrived in a huge box and he thought it was too big for our kitchen, but it’s perfect and has held up brilliantly.

      2. BethDH*

        Are you me? We got the same trash can ten years ago and I was so conflicted. It’s now been with us ten years and through several moves.
        I also moved my spices to a drawer, and at the same time bought short wide spice jars. This cost about forty dollars and a whole morning to move the spices and put labels on the tops of the lids, but now I can see the labels easily and never have to be annoyed that a larger measuring spoon doesn’t fit in the jar.

        1. Double A*

          Ooh, that might be my next step with the spices. Thanks sounds so pleasing.

          And the thing with a trash can is…you use it a lot! So it might as well be an object that pleases you.

      3. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

        I got a new expensive, about the same price level trashcan for the kitchen few weeks back, and can confirm. They make a difference!

      4. Filosofickle*

        The SimpleHuman / OXO sticker shock is real — and worth every penny to me! I’ve had my SH trash can for 15 years and might replace it only because I’ve moved to a new place and it doesn’t fit as well here. Otherwise, it might last forever! Still works perfectly. Even the bags are better. I just bought one of their shower caddies, and while the price tag is steep (worse now due to materials shortages) it is everything I need that simply isn’t available at a lower price point. Nothing is tipping over or banging around, everything fits, it’s adjustable, and there’s little holes to turn your bottle upside down. I use this stuff every day and keep it for years and years, so better materials and function pay off for me.

      5. the cat's ass*

        A similar trashcan (handsfree) was offered at Costco a couple of years back with a smaller one, which we use in the bathroom. So simple, so beautiful!

    2. Jackalope*

      I’ve always been messy, and had a big (although contained) pile of stuff on my bedroom floor that kept getting higher and higher. I finally went to Target and got a wooden organizer that I’ve been using. I put fabric cubes in some of the squares for general stuff & left the other shelves open for books. It’s been so helpful! One of the useful things is that I gave myself permission to just throw stuff in the fabric cubes without having to organize it first. Normally I would aim for organization and it would take forever, but this helped make it go faster. And I can clean it out bit by bit when I feel like it without having stuff all over my floor. I still have a bit of a pile because… I’ll probably just always be like that. But now it’s much smaller, about 5 min work of cleanup, and not as daunting. Plus, I had an odd-shaped blanket that had also been living on the floor because it didn’t fit in our storage area even if I folded it. I draped it over the top of the shelving unit and voila! A cozy cat sunning perch right by the window with excellent view of our neighborhood’s many birds.* I’ll have to go through at some point and work through the drawers but it’s been delightful having the extra storage & the freedom not to have to organize all of the random stuff that otherwise lived on the floor.

      *No worries – our cats are indoors only and eat the neighborhood birds only in their dreams.

      1. esemess*

        This sounds like a good solution for my own messiness (and mental gymnastics on being less messy).

      2. rr*

        This is me. I’m trying to clean out a little this weekend (any suggestions for how to determine what books to get rid of if you haven’t read them yet but still think you might? obviously I bought them for a reason) and I would appreciate a link to the item you bought if you have it.

        I also recently bought a garbage can like this – I think it is the same brand, though I have to check. I really loved the sample package of liners they included too, but I have too many trash bags still to spend more money right now.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            From a fellow person who has piles of stuff, I think you just changed my life.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Parodontax toothpaste. I was raised on Crest, switched to Tom’s quite a number of years ago, and then recently found Parodontax, which is outstanding for people with gum issues or sensitive teeth. (I found Sensodyne to be the most awful stuff ever.) Wow, is it wonderful.

      1. mreasy*

        Ooh thank you for the recommendation. I’m a Nimbus fanatic with sensitive teeth but have never liked any of the sensitive toothpastes. I’ll try it.

      2. Mimmy*

        Ooh I may have to check that out. I’ve been using Sensodyne and don’t love the flavor.

      3. MEH Squared*

        Thanks for the rec! I hate Sensodyne and Tom’s is fine, but I can always try something new.

    4. Radical Edward*

      I just got a Chromebook with a 17-inch screen. I needed it to finish a short project but wasn’t about to settle for anything smaller than my 15-inch MacBook… which is so old that the screen brightness can’t be adjusted anymore, because a long-ago OS update killed the control keys. So you can perhaps imagine the incredible relief I felt after using a dimmed display for eight hours and not having any eye strain! Best $250 I have spent in a long time. I really wish I had bitten this particular bullet sooner.

      I am currently plotting all the ways I can crack that Linux terminal and recreate my preferred setup. (I have no love for Chrome, and learning that I could run Firefox via Linux on this sucker absolutely made my week.)

    5. Mid*

      I got new spice jars. The old ones had wide bases so they took up way too much space and I was wasting so much shelf space and it irritated me every day.

      So I just got new spice jars. They’re square. They’re bigger but take up less space than the old ones. And they came with cute labels as a bonus! And it’s the best $20 I’ve spent.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        The spice jar conversation is amusing me. I have moved most of my spices into the little flat flask shaped bottles from a particular brand of premixed cocktails. I get to use my label maker to name things, and somehow the broad but thin bottles work well in my cupboard — and are easy to grab if I’m pulling out several at a time.
        Upgrade project will be to start putting dates on things when I refill, and label both the wide and skinny sides.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I got an induction hob (stovetop) to replace the gas one that came with the house. I love it! I had to replace a couple of pans because they didn’t work on the new surface, but otherwise it’s been great. It heats up and cools down really fast, boils water very quickly and even switches itself off after a certain period of inactivity.

      I hated cooking with gas so much (being paranoid about whether or not I’ve turned it off is a major factor) plus I have asthma and gas appliances are terrible for that. Junking the old gas hob is the best money I’ve spent in years.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, I love our induction stovetop as well. I’m fine with gas for the barbecue grill outdoors, it’s much cleaner and faster than charcoal, but I don’t want to cook with gas indoors.

      2. Double A*

        Interesting! We have a gas stove but I’d like to go electric for various reasons. But we just replaced the gas range a few years ago so I don’t feel like we can convert to electric soon. What’s this called or could you share a link?

    7. Batgirl*

      I bought a multi pocket backpack to replace my fancy leather satchel, and I’m so much more organized. I have to move classrooms sometimes in a minute’s notice and my drink flask is in the elastic side pocket and my pencil case is in one of the front pockets so I can grab everything in one hand. If I need my hands for a box of books or classroom resources, I can put it on my back. I also keep the top unzipped to slide in whatever book we’re reading, if I have to go somewhere. It fits my substantial lunch bag in the center (previously I’d arrive at a lunch duty and remember too late that I’d nothing to eat because my food was on the other side of school). My huge, A4 unwieldy self-printed and bound planner (also life changing), fits easily in the first zippered section where there are also hooks for pens. I have stopped losing my favorite pen. There’s also a pocket for a spare mask and my lanyard which makes mornings easier, and a key fob hook. Yes, I have ADHD and work very hard on making organization easier!

        1. Batgirl*

          I used onestopplannershop for the key pages, including calendar pages which allows you to print out whatever options you like if you pay a membership, which is cheaper for me than buying a fancy planner. You can also edit the pages before printing and put colourful memos on your key days. I also took apart some free school planners for the pages that work for me (most don’t) and if I get key documentation or forms at work, like petty cash or purchase orders I also include those. I bought an Arc paper punch from Amazon and compatible rose gold discs from Etsy, where I also bought clear plastic covers. The “cover” is a photograph I found online of a lighthouse. The Arc punch is the expensive part (£50 but I can use it, and the discs to bind pages every year), but I got it over cheaper options because it’s sturdy enough to punch stiff plastic paper holders. I use those to stash unpunched pages or documents I collect because the Arc is too heavy to carry around.

          1. Batgirl*

            You can see lots of examples of disc bound planners that people have designed on onestopplannershop.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        What bag did you get? I have probably half a dozen backpacks and none of them really fit my life. I’ve been shopping for a new one (in the UK) but haven’t found one that’s quite right yet.

        1. Batgirl*

          I’m in the UK too, I bought the Lekesky laptop rucksack from Amazon. If I had a complaint it would be the lack of color options (my previous bag was a bright red satchel). I chose the black over the grey because the light colour looked prone to staining. For practicality and comfort though, I don’t think I could design a better one myself.

    8. Artemesia*

      I have a set of joseph joseph cutting boards that fit in a stainless case which is fairly narrow and goes up against the wall by a kitchen counter — takes up almost no space and the 4 color coded boards go in the dishwasher. We use at least 3 of them every time we cook — and use them every day. They look good, don’t take up space and are so useful and prevent cross contamination. Pricey but so worth it.

      Someone else mentioned an expensive trash can. We also cut a narrow stainless trash can with foot pedal for paper trash in the kitchen — looks good, works great, great purchase that makes our life better.

      Discovered traveling how important hyaluronic acid in face cream is if you are old. I took a 4 day side trip and just threw a moisturizer sunscreen into the mini dob kit and not my usual which comes in a less convenient bottle. In 4 days, my old face was 5 years older with visible deep wrinkles. Went to a pharmacist in small French town and got a face cream with the hyaluronic acid and within 3 days, back to old but not all that wrinkled. couldn’t believe how well this stuff I use every day was working until I stopped using it for a couple of days.

    9. Nopity Nope*

      House cleaner 1x/month. Been thinking about it for years, finally took the plunge. I hate cleaning, and did the bare minimum. (If I’m honest, less than the bare minimum. It’s amazing how much dust you can overlook if you take off your glasses.) Decided that if I want a clean house, gotta spend either time or money, and that’s not how I want to spend my time. Bonus is that I’m a “just put it anywhere” person, so having a regular clean means I have to pick up everything and put it away at least once a month. End result is overall more tidiness, found a great person, money well spent.

      Second place is remote unlock/start for my car. Got it for the unlock feature after locking myself out of the car, but the auto start on a cold winter day is delicious!

      1. SnootyGirl*

        I’m with you – HATE housekeeping but since I don’t work anymore I feel guilty about having someone come in to clean. Might bite the bullet now….

      2. Sundial*

        You are spitting truth about taking your glasses off. I couldn’t figure out why our shower was so gross, and then I ralized both of us are practically blind and (obviously) do not shower in corrective lenses.

      3. Bongofury*

        Just a funny note about not seeing anything without your glasses. When I got Lasik the worst thing was seeing how dirty my shower was every day. I couldn’t hide from it anymore!

    10. mreasy*

      We bought a toaster oven about a year ago, which isn’t a recent purchase, but I hadn’t had one in a couple of decades…wow. It’s a complete game changer for reheating and toasting…plus you can roast kale in less than 10 minutes!

      1. WellRed*

        Toaster oven has been a total game changer for me. Especially warming up leftovers for lunch during the past two years of WFH.

      2. Double A*

        Oh man, I can’t even imagine living without a toaster oven! We didn’t even have a microwave for awhile, but couldn’t live without the toaster oven.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream as a foundation primer. It makes my foundation last so much longer, makes the tint a better match for my skin, and has 30 SPF! That plus Revlon Colorstay lipstick have made my makeup a million times better!

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Good quality baking sheets. My son gave these to me for Christmas, and I requested more the following year. They’re just… so nice. Not warped. No mysterious burnt on bits.

      2) My husband says that he has never felt so rich as the time we got rid of all the old mismatched tupperware and replaced it with uniform leftover containers. (e.g. all the square lids fit on all the square boxes)

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I didn’t get this for myself, but someone gave me the best container gift once: “Mr. Lid” containers, which are like tupperware but with the lids attached with a hinge. No more missing lids!

    13. I am a unicorn but not your unicorn*

      Buying a second air fryer. Total indulgence (though I grabbed the second one at Costco on sale so it wasn’t that much of an indulgence), but now we can make chicken nuggets and tater tots at the same time (I never get good results from using that rack and trying to do two layer cooking in one fryer). I barely turn on my oven April to September and just cook out of the air fryers. Totally worth it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES, exactly the same thing — though for me it was shrimp and tater tots :) I love my air fryers and I can never get breaded things or potato products like tots to come out well in the oven. Everyone else I know raves about their instant pot – I never used mine and actually gave it away to make room for the second air fryer, haha.

      2. Cj*

        We also have two of them now. The original basket style one wasn’t big enough to do things like onion rings or french fries that made enough for the two of us. I got a second more expensive one with two racks that do work pretty well if you’re doing things that need to be cooked at the same temperature, but a lot of times I’m not.

        Bonus: my husband, who can barely make toast, even manages to make himself a meal in an air fryer.

      3. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

        Some people are opening their pool right about now. I’m rearranging the back porch (enclosed but unheated) for the ‘summer kitchen’. Air fryer, toaster oven, coffee pot, sous-vide, Instantpot… it all stays on the porch until fall.
        The first year we set everything up on the patio under the eaves, but squirrels raided our toaster oven.
        We don’t cook a thing inside after the AC is goes into the window.

    14. PhyllisB*

      One of the best small purchases I ever made was a mini colander. I bought it because it was so cute. (My husband was less than impressed. His reaction: “just what we’re going for with kitchenware. Cute!!”) Amidst much eye rolling. Well, y’all, that’s been one of the smartest purchases I’ve ever made. It holds about a cup of whatever, and it’s just right for a couple of empty nesters.
      Even Mr. Skeptical users it everyday. Another great purchase was an apple cover that cuts apples into 8 sections in one cut. We eat a lot of apples and this is quicker and neater than using a knife. It’s amazing how small things can make such a difference.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Just remembered another one: a zester. This one is long with a handle and not only is it great for zesting fruit, it’s great for finely grated cheese or garlic. If you’ve ever had to use a toothpick to clean out the small holes on your box grater you will understand my joy.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Microplane graters are an indispensable part of my kitchen! I have fine and coarse, use them all the time.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Xmas stocking stuffer: a mini whisk. SO USEFUL. I use it more often than the full-size whisks, because often I’m just making a few tablespoons of salad dressing.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          Also mini spatulas and tongs. Mini spatulas are great for tomato paste but I also use them for many other things. Mini tongs are great for getting toast out of the toaster and for serving chopped lettuce for tacos

      3. SnootyGirl*

        Bought a(nother) colander only this one has tiny holes – perfect for draining tuna without losing any of the meat. And yes, mini colanders are a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen for draining pickles, olives, relish, berries, etc.

    15. ThatGirl*

      We had an old, leaky, original to the house faucet in our kitchen. We bought a new one AGES ago, but realized we couldn’t install it ourselves and it sat in the box for years. I got fed up last year and called a plumber to come one day while my husband was at work. He also replaced the disposal and tightened everything up and it’s legitimately a huge improvement – no more leaking, the faucet is pull out and has a sprayer, such a small thing but it makes everyday tasks much easier.

    16. Forensic13*

      Very fancy (and fairly expensive) toaster oven that we had to wait MONTHS for and now that it’s finally here—oh my god perfect toast. With no effort. Game changer.

    17. Suprisingly ADHD*

      My file box! It’s a $15 metal mesh box for hanging files, and has no lid. It’s the only filing method I ever got to work for my personal stuff!
      It took me days to sort and transfer everything, but now filing is a breeze. One folder per company or topic (eg Credit Card, Car Insurance, Health), login information is in the front of each folder, and each folder is in chronological order with new stuff going in front. No more piles of paper everywhere, and if I slip up and don’t put things away for a week or two it’s 5-10 minutes to fix, instead of an hour.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      A better blender. We had a 10 year old cheapo blender that was annoying to use, annoying to clean, loud and took a long time to actually blend. Got a new commercial grade blender, not even a fancy super expensive vitamix. Just a $100 new blender replacing a 10 year old was $30 originally blender. Definitely a “why didn’t I do this sooner” moment.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Seconding! I got a very powerful Ninja blender, and it makes blender recipes SO easy! (Warning: the blades are not attached to the cup, so you need to be very careful when cleaning and never let kids anywhere near the thing.)

          1. Liminality (Formerly It's Quarantime!)*

            Oh, maybe I was imagining the Homestar Runner/Strong Bad reference?

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Oh, the name is absolutely a reference to that, but nothing in the specific comment was.

    19. Rui just had ssianInTexas*

      Dental water pick. My back teeth are spaced very tightly and I get food packed there, which leads to the gum inflammation.
      My dentist recommended one, and it made a difference!
      Also, partner and I are debating the Litter Robot. Got 3 cats, they like to poop, and our backs aren’t getting younger…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My husband got a Litter Robot and the experience has been … meh? It doesn’t do all the connectivity bells and whistles with the app and notifications the way it’s advertised to, and I don’t know if this is related to that issue or if he did something wrong in the setup or whatnot but it pretty much doesn’t cycle itself, he has to manually push buttons to cycle it a couple times a day. He is unbothered by this (“It’s still better than having to scoop the box manually!”), but personally, if I’d spent that kind of money on a cat box that didn’t even self-scoop the way it’s supposed to, I’d be pretty ticked off, and it annoys me when he travels and *I* have to push the buttons to cycle it a couple times a day.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          Thanks! There are multiple discussions online about self cleaning litter boxes, guess I need to dive in to them more.

        2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I agree, this was several years ago but we found the Litter Robot did not quite work as advertised. I think our smaller cat somehow would not trigger the automatic cycle thing, and I remember it having a lot of nooks and crannies that were annoying to clean.

      2. North Wind*

        Oh yes on the water pick!

        My gums got into a terrible state (bleeding) and within 2 days of using the water pick they were completely back to normal. Could not believe how fast it sorted me out.

      3. Half Empty*

        I got a rechargable water flosser (the “extra large” one from Smile Direct) a few weeks ago because my dentist recommended using a water flosser in the morning when I shower. Haven’t noticed any sort of difference in my teeth feeling cleaner or anything, but hopefully my dentist will see a difference at my next appointment!

        I feel like I can’t get to my back teeth well at all. Does anyone have tips on getting the back teeth? Or does everyone struggle with that?

        1. Russian in Texas*

          It takes some practice for sure and since hand gymnastics. And I still basically have a lake on my counter after I am done.

      4. Sundial*

        I bought a Waterpik and was less than impressed, but I stumbled across an amazing use for it: cleaning cartilage piercings! It works so well for getting under my rook and tragus, instead of taking them out and irritating the holes.

    20. Girasol*

      I spent the winter at home in a brand new pair of fleece lined moccasins that, like so many shoes, are only wide enough across the front to fit three toes. With my feet hurting I bought some inexpensive plastic Birkenstock Arizona shoes and thick woolly socks to wear with them on cool spring mornings. My toes are starting to unkink. I wish I’d done that sooner!

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Lined Crocs were my wear-around-the-house winter shoe game changer this past season.

    21. Lurker*

      For anyone who has to take public transportation — noise canceling headphones. I got a pair of Bose noise canceling ear buds as a gift about 10 years ago and have never looked back. Crying baby? Crazy religious zealot yelling about the end times on the subway? Loud cell phone talker? Can’t hear them! I used to get so irritated by the constant noise pollution on my commute; it made me so cranky. These changed that. I’m now on my 4th pair and will never go back. (They’re expensive, but completely worth it.)

    22. North Wind*

      Espresso Machine!

      I have spent so very, very much money on my daily Starbucks mocha and breakfast. I’ve thought about getting an Espresso machine for years now, but I was really afraid I’d spend a ton of money on it and then not really give up the morning Starbucks run. I work from home full-time, and getting out of the house first thing in the morning before starting my day is just essential to waking up and being prepared to start work. The Starbucks run is more than just the coffee.

      But I finally broke down and bought the machine, and and it’s working out great. I am definitely saving a lot of money, but I also make my own mocha syrup with raw honey and so am consuming a lot less refined sugar than in the mochas I get from Starbucks. I don’t need the drink to be super sweet, but it does need to be super chocolatey – and I can control for that by making my own syrup.

      So I make my mocha and breakfast at home, and then drive out to a really beautiful local seaside park most mornings – giving me the get-out-of-the-house-in-the-morning routine I need.

    23. Chaordic One*

      One thing I bought that was ridiculously overpriced for what they are, are these funny little hook things for my car. The hooks fit around the base of the headrests for the front seats. They face the back seat of the car and you hang shopping and grocery bags from them in the area in front of the back seat. No more tipped-over grocery bags, no more plastic bags falling down around whatever was inside of them, no more grocery items rolling around on the floor of the car and getting lost under the front seats or sliding over to the far side of the car where you can’t reach them.

      You should be able to find them at the dollar store, but you can’t. Instead I broke down and paid $15 or so for two of them, plus an additional shipping charge, from Publishers Clearing House. I suppose if you were terribly clever (like say, Martha Stewart) you might be able to make something similar out of bent coat-hangers using a pliers. (But I’m not that clever, and kind of lazy.) Anyway, they really work great.

    24. beentheredonethat*

      Solar panels. You need to get a reputable company to do it. But oh my, I am not dreading the summer bills.

    25. MEH Squared*

      SSD for my computer. I resisted it for years–not even sure why–and the first time I got one for my laptop, it was a life-changer. I can’t imagine getting a new computer without it. Also, at least a terabyte of memory and as much RAM as possible. Basically, anything that makes my computer run more smoothly, faster, and better since I’m on it for most of the day.

    26. The Peach*

      I bought a pair of glasses with a prescription specific to computer screen distance. While I can read books or my phone up close fine without corrective lenses, and my regular glasses work well for distance, driving, the TV, etc., my computer screen sometimes felt blurry and working could get to be a strain. So, on a whim, I tried these, and OH MY GOD I should’ve done this a long time ago. Worth every penny (granted, I got cheap ones, but this would be worth even the fancy glasses.) My work habits got shinier and better overnight. I hadn’t realized how much that bit of blurriness actually hacked away at my concentration over the course of days/weeks/etc. of work.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, I second this. I got my first pair two years ago, and it upped my productivity so much that my boss noticed! Bonus was that my employer paid for them, and an occupational health physical therapist came to the office and measured distances to put on the scrip. As a bonus, she also helped me adjust my chair to a better height…

    27. Allie*

      Litter Robot. Waited for literally years to buy due to the price, but finally got one about six months ago and it is amazing. I have two cats and empty the robot waste drawer every four days or so, which takes about three minutes. A total game changer for me!

    28. Clisby*

      Not *too* recently, since it was all done by December 2021, but I finally had surgery to remove cataracts in both eyes. The lens implants are seriously like a miracle. For the first time in years I can walk around my house or my neighborhood without glasses. (I still have prescription glasses for reading/computer use since I got the lens implants giving me distance vision for the first time in, oh, 55 years) but that’s OK.)

    29. Dragonfly7*

      Small purchase: already cooked and peeled hard boiled eggs. As someone who would otherwise skip breakfast, I can eat these in the car or when I arrive at work with a banana and be quite satisfied until lunch. This also makes me less likely to overeat later in the day.
      I’m not great at hard boiling my own, and they usually went to waste. I will actually eat these, so they are worth the expense.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        In the same vein, I discovered pre-cooked rice that you just need to microwave. A game-changer if I didn’t feel up to making rice in the regular way.

    30. Phlox*

      A magnetic door stopper. $8 at the hardware store and now my front door stays open when I’m walking out with the bike/supplies. Its just enough force to keep it there but also super easy release, and install was a breeze.

    31. Fellow Traveller*

      Prescription sunglasses. I had always resisted sunglasses because I already wore glasses and didn’t want to do those clip on things. But last eye appointment, my optometrist mentioned I had minor sun damage on my retina so I splurged and got prescription sunglasses, and it’s been such a game-changer. Wearing sunglasses in the bright summer sun somehow makes me feel less hot and also I get less sleepy when driving.
      The other thing that comes to mind is getting airpods. I usually resist upgrading my technology, but when I had to get a new iPhone, this was the only option. I often clean the kitchen after the kids are in bed, and now I can do it while watching my favorite tv shows without worrying about waking other people up. It also makes listening to podcasts/audiobooks while exercising, doing chores or nursing the baby so much easier.
      Oh and Bombas socks, proper maternity and nursing clothes (tool me til my third child to finally decide to splurge on this), and a pair of $150 wool sweatpants. It felt so off to be splurging on clothes for lounging around in, so those pants sat in my shopping cart for over a year. But I guess if nothing else this past year has taught me to invest in my own comfort.

    32. The OG Sleepless*

      Ooh, and I just remembered, a hooded long sleeved sun shirt from Title Nine. Their stuff is pricier than I usually spend on clothes, and I went back and forth about it for a couple of weeks. I basically lived in it on our trip to San Diego with all the time we spent in the sun and next to the water. I haven’t tested it out in the Georgia heat, but it feels like it will do fine here too. It will probably be a game changer for sun protection, and it looks great on me.

    33. Veronica Marx*

      I asked for a fancy milk heater/frother for my birthday, sort of accidentally got two, and now I have one at my desk at work and one at home. I love making myself a latte most days and I can better control sugar/type of milk used. It’s awesome and while I feel kind of extra having one at work it makes me ridiculously happy.

    34. Squirrel Nutkin*

      For years, I had waffled on getting a bath pillow, fearing that it’d get mildew-y, etc. I researched and found a mesh-covered one that can be hung up and dries pretty quickly, and my times reading in the tub definitely have gotten an upgrade! A few years ago, I got a bamboo bath tray that can hold a book and a drink, and I love that too!

    35. Rose*

      A car! I just bought my first car in over 15 years. I live in a city where it is definitely a luxury more than a necessity… but I am so looking forward to the freedom I anticipate it will provide in terms of being able to get out of town more easily and more often. Car rentals here are insanely expensive, and even more insanely a pain in the arse, and flying isn’t an option with my big dog.

    36. Brrrrr*

      Socks that I love. Brand name is Karma, they fit me perfectly with no thick seams poking my toes, they are a nice comfortable thin/dress-weight sock that is the right height for me (crew sock height). And they come in the most adorable prints, with cute sayings. I bought one pair on impulse at a gift shop a year ago and now have about 10 pairs. They’re $12 a pair, which is about 4x what I used to spend on socks, but I don’t care! So far they seem to be holding up well, no holes yet, though I’m also being more careful with them – they don’t go in the dryer and I fold them neatly.

  9. Family law*

    Has anyone ever used the legal aid services? I googled “legal aid [my state]” and was taken to a link to request a consultation with a lawyer for $5. There’s a membership, $45/per month for unlimited lawyer consultations. How would this differ from a traditional legal representation? Is it legit?

    BTW this is for family law/child custody issues. I’m broke AF so I can’t afford a one hour consultation with a lawyer which runs around $400+ in my state which is why I’m looking at this and other alternatives.

    1. SG*

      The $5 consultation with monthly membership sounds a bit scammy. It might not be a scam, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Does your employer have an EAP? If so, then they usually provide a free legal consult and may even be able to connect you with a nonprofit Legal Aid Center.
      Alternatively, call 211 and tell them you need resources free or sliding scale legal services. 211 is a Community Services resource line that is available in all states, although some 211’s are more helpful than others.
      You also might try calling a local nonprofit, even a branch of United Way or Catholic Charities, or Jewish Family Services, really any local nonprofit social service organization, and ask them for information. You might have to make several calls, but if you try all these suggestions I bet you will find someone who can point you in the right direction. Good luck!

    2. RagingADHD*

      No, that sounds like a commercial “prepaid legal services” business, which should not be calling itself “legal aid.” That sounds shady.

      For true volunteer help, look up (state) Bar Association. They should have links there that will take you to the real thing.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        We used a lawyer from the legal services benefit my husband had from his job (that he had paid for). You have to choose from a list of their lawyers.

        Here’s what we got when we went to their lawyer for a simple will:

        * She kept me waiting 30 minutes before our first meeting.
        * She wanted us both to come sign the will but didn’t want to send me a draft for review first
        * When she did send the draft, I discovered that not only had she gotten the terms wrong, she had OUR NAMES WRONG. Think “Paul McCartney” instead of “Paul [my husband’s last name].”
        * When I asked her to correct these things, she got really pissy.

    3. AnonforThis*

      I am not a family lawyer and nothing on this is legal advice.

      That doesn’t sound like true legal aid. Legal aid organizations or clinics are generally free for those who meet certain income requirements. You generally fill out an application and the downside is they generally have wait lists.

      I’m really not sure without seeing the website how legit or not it is, but I’d be really careful because $45 for “legal consultations” doesn’t sound like you’d maybe get any actual work done? And that’s not what a private attorney would charge. My field, people get into trouble using cheap filing services which don’t do due diligence on cases. They often have to start their application process all over again.

      If you’re willing to share more info about your location, I can try to steer you to a genuine legal aid society.

      If you live close to any law schools, you might check to see if they have a family law clinic. Again, they have restrictions on who can use their services and some wait time issues.

      There is definitely a bigger societal issue of lack of access to legal services and I’m really sorry you are going through this.

    4. Generic Name*

      I am so sorry you’re dealing with the family court system. Does your company have an EAP? They often offer prepaid legal services for a small monthly fee. I have no idea if they’re any good or what that gets you, but they are actual lawyers they have a deal with.

    5. Hazelnut Bunny*

      As suggested, look up your state’s bar and the legal aid associated with it. Also, if you have a law college nearby, they can provide free or lower cost consultations.

      When I went through this process(on two separate cases), I called every family attorney in a driving radius and asked if they provided free consultations. If they didn’t, I asked what their rates were. At some firms, consultation rates vary by attorney as well. Some may be $400 while another may be $200.

      The first time I went through this process. I could not afford my attorney throughout the duration of they process. I had to go pro se for awhile. I would NEVER recommend that route for anyone. However, if you are out options, it’s really your only choice. My courthouse had 2-3 a week where there would be a couple attorneys that you could walk in and ask questions or have them look at documents and somewhat consult. They would give you a mix of 20 minutes. They were not your attorney but they were helpful for me navigating the legal process without being a lawyer. I would reach out to your local courthouse.

      Also, any reputable attorney can direct you to lower cost services or where to get pro se assistance. Almost every attorney I talked with was super helpful.

      Best of luck!

  10. Anon Queer Christian*

    I have a question I’ve been wondering for ages (decades), and I’m not sure where to get the answer. I thought that this might be a good place to try a discussion about it. I will note (since this touches on some contentious issues) that this is a genuine good-faith question. I’m seeking someone to teach me something that I’ve never understood; if that’s emotional labor you aren’t interested in (Or aren’t up to this weekend), feel free to skip over this and move on to the next comment.

    I am a queer Christian, with a flavor of queer that is often not understood or liked by the queer community, so I’m more familiar with the norms of Christianity than of the LGBTQ+ community. Growing up I was taught that the approach to dealing with people who were making bad life choices (including being queer; insert “lifestyle” comments, whatever lies were going around about queer people at the time) was to “love the sinner, hate the sin”. I will confess that this made a great deal of sense to me at the time, but I’ve since heard many queer people say that they found this hateful, disrespectful, and out of line. Once in college I used this phrase and had a lesbian member of my college community tell me that she felt betrayed by my using this.

    So here’s my question: what is the offensive bit of this phrase, and how else can you phrase the idea? Is the offensive part the idea that being queer is a sin, and the direction of this phrase towards queer people? Is it the mere idea of sin itself as a concept applied to human behavior? The idea of separating someone into good and bad parts of themselves? Something else entirely?

    I can understand that being queer isn’t a sin, and that the current definition of sin in Christianity is off-kilter. But any time we have a relationship (friends, family, spouse, co-workers, whatever) that is long-enough lasting we’ll manage to be hurtful jerks, and if we choose to stay in the relationship we are choosing to accept that person warts and all even though we may not like what they do that is hurtful. That to me really sounds like the idea of loving someone even when you don’t love, say, the way that they snap at you whenever they’re stressed, or interrupt you when they get excited, or whatever. Some of these issues will just be annoyances, but some of them would be things that are wrong. So I don’t understand why the “love the sinner, hate the sin” wouldn’t be an appropriate way to describe this dynamic.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? I hope this makes sense; I’m utterly exhausted & am getting rambly (sorry for the long post!). Let me know what I’m missing here if you have an idea.

    1. Liz in the Midwest*

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but yeah, it’s offensive to say it’s a sin. Do you think it’s a sin that I love my husband? No? Well then of course it would be offensive to think it’s a sin if instead I had a wife I loved. Sins are BAD things, as your examples indicate, even if there are varying levels of intensity. It’s like you’re saying you love someone despite their flaws–why is being queer a flaw? That’s the bad part.

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        I agree. It sounds (maybe I’ve misread this) like when the Op used the phrase in college around their friend they were applying it to something which actually is generally agreed to be a flaw (say, a miserly mutual acquaintance) and was surprised the phrase still upset their friend. I think this reflects the fact that (at least to someone secular) the phrase is mainly associated with queerness – it’s one of those phrases which was arguably originally useful but is now too tainted to be appropriate. Think the r-slur’s original use to mean “deceleration”, which has almost vanished.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I agree. Upon rereading the LW may not have been applying “love the sinner …” to a queer person but it has been used so much in relation to queer people now, you can’t escape the association.

          LW, “Christians” appear to be a very judge mental and controlling group as a whole, rather than a loving one. “Christians” tend to use this phrase in relation to gays and rarely to murders, poor people, and people of other races. They often seem hateful rather than loving. To someone who has been hurt by Christianity telling they ARE a sin, this can be very triggering.

          Conservative Christians and the Republican Party has changed what Christianity means to a lot of Americans. Lots of people who claim to be very Christian seem to endorse hate instead of love so “love the sinner” rings very false.

          1. Anon Queer Christian*

            I appreciate your kind assumption here. Unfortunately I WAS using it in the context of relating to queerness. I thought at the time that I was being open-minded; my original point (as best as I can remember; this was a long time ago) was that it doesn’t matter if queerness is a sin, the primary point for Christians is that we should love everyone, so someone being queer shouldn’t affect how we treat them. Looking back from my current vantage point, I can see how my comment would have fallen SO flat! At the time I was a) just recently out of the conservative small town where I grew up, so I couldn’t understand the idea of just… not thinking that queerness was wrong (like, it wasn’t even a concept that existed in my mind, not even that it was an idea that I’d thought about and rejected); and b) trying desperately to wrestle with my own queerness which I had managed to hide even from myself (it was not long after this incident that I finally was unable to keep lying to myself and had to acknowledge that I was in fact queer, which involved a number of years stuck in a morass of self-loathing and self-hatred that took too much time to work through… I’m sure this is a familiar story to other queer people reading this).

            Two happy endings here: First, I’ve managed to get to a point of not believing that being queer is a sin, with the relevant changes in how I feel about both myself and the queer friends that I have. I had always tried to be kind and welcoming (welcoming my lesbian friend’s girlfriend to my house, being excited with my trans friend finally getting scheduled for her gender-affirming surgery, etc.), but I’m sure that my queer friends have felt the change as my theology has changed.

            Second, the church that I grew up at (which was liberal for a small town, but still a product of its location) had as its last pastor a gay man who got married while he was their pastor; their denomination was NOT happy, but their attitude was, “He’s OURS, don’t you even THINK about kicking him out of this job because he has a husband!” (He just moved because either he or his husband got a new job in a different state close to their families, but it was a hard choice and he is much missed.) They have also been in the last few weeks (my dad, who is still there, informs me) wrestling with how to become an officially queer-welcoming church, specifically trying to figure out how to do so in a way that’s deeper than “slap a rainbow on the website and call it good”. It’s been exciting watching the change from afar.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          I agree. I wrote a long comment agreeing which the internet ate. Long story, short: that phrase has been used so often in relation to the sun being homosexuality that it is likely to trigger.

          Also it’s obvious BS. Christianity particularly politicians who loudly proclaim their Christianity and Christian leaders supporting them have shown themselves to be very hateful and judgmental.

      2. Elder Millennial*

        Right. No one ever says “hate the sin, love the sinner” about romantic relationships between two cis straight people (or friendships), even when people are sometimes jerks to each other in that context.

        Using that phrase exclusively for same-sex relationships (or trans people transitioning) suggests that there is something inherently sinful about that specific situation.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Actually, some members of my Catholic family use that term for heterosexual couples who have children out of wedlock (partially why I’m not a practicing Catholic). And for people who are alcohols/addicted to drugs, as well as other things. The use of “love the sinner, hate the sin” only for queer people must be regional.

          Also, I agree with others – the phrase means that we love you even though you are committing a sin, with the sin in this case being queer. It is very offensive, and as a bisexual, if someone said it to me, I would no longer consider them a friend.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I don’t think they meant “only for queer people” in the sense of “never about alcoholics or other things” but rather “not ever about hetero relationships”. Not a regional thing as far as I’m aware but your counterpoint example is a reasonable point.

            1. Deanna Troi*

              Oh, yes, I see your point. When it is applied to heterosexual couples, it is NOT because they are dating, but because they had a child or are living together without being married or are an interracial couple. Whereas, some people will say it for a queer couple just because they are a couple. I didn’t think of it that way when I was responding to Elder Millinneal’s post and I stand corrected.

          2. Batgirl*

            It’s not that it’s only applied to gay people, but it’s applied more often. If you’re really dedicated to avoiding”sin”, it’s more possible for straight people to avoid unmarried living situations and doing drugs than it is to avoid being gay. So, a straight person growing up hearing the usages will just think “I won’t do that” without the self loathing you so often hear described from those who aren’t.

            1. Deanna Troi*

              I agree with you, and after thinking about it more, I realized that I was wrong. See my response above to fhqwhgads.

          3. Formerly Pregnant Teen*

            It was absolutely used in my conservative Baptist church growing up for teens who got pregnant out of wedlock. With much the same, er, “love” that the church might have shown to someone who was lgbtq+.

    2. Salymander*

      I always felt that that phrase failed to account for the fact that being queer is part of a person’s identity, it is not a choice. If someone tells me that my very identity is a sin, that is not going to make me feel at all respected or appreciated as a human being. Plus, saying that being queer is a sin is putting a person’s identity in the same category as sins like murder and theft and other things that are actually bad. Or even just in the same category as lying or saying something cruel or taking people for granted. So, that would mean that just by existing as myself in the world I am in the same boat as a murderer or a bank robber or a person who is unkind to the people in their life. But being queer is just a part of a person’s identity. It isn’t something they are choosing to do that hurts anyone. Being queer is not the same as being a bad person, and treating it like it is is incredibly insulting and dehumanizing. It is also often said in a really condescending way by people that just do not get it. They often understand so little that they don’t even realize that they are ignorant, and yet they feel very comfortable sitting in judgment about the very things they do not understand. It is hurtful and infuriating, and I can understand why someone might feel betrayed if a someone they thought of as a friend were to say that to them.

      Even equating being queer with snapping at people or interrupting them or other things like that, that are rude or unkind, is still not great. That is still a really negative and unkind thing to say to someone. I really hope that you don’t say that to people anymore, and I hope that you don’t think of yourself that way because that doesn’t seem very healthy or kind to yourself. It would be better and more healthy to think of being queer as just a part of yourself. Not as a sin, not as a negative trait. It is just who you are.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 A sin is a choice. Imagine saying this about other identities people can’t control, such as race or disability.

        1. Anon Queer Christian*

          Unfortunately I don’t have to imagine it. There are SO many comments in Christianity about how just being a woman makes you a filthy, sin-ridden worthless wretch, which was SO MUCH FUN to hear over and over again growing up (note that my specific church didn’t believe this but my stepfamily’s church did, and I sometimes attended their church because of family reasons). I also heard a Christian once say blithely that, “All black people are bad.” That exact sentence. (To give her what tiny justice she is due, this was someone from another country that I met while living in that other country, and it’s possible that she had never met anyone of African ethnic origins in her life [I lived in the country’s largest city and during the half decade I lived there I saw maybe 5 Black people total]. This means, however, that her entire exposure to Africans & African Americans was from the Evangelical Christian influence that had planted some of the churches she had attended, which says terrible things about those original denominations.) And the number of people saying that disabled people must not have enough faith or that God must be punishing them for some past sin is…. well, let’s not talk about it right now.

          1. Salymander*

            This sounds like the church my adoptive family goes to, and the one I grew up in. I am an outspoken bi woman, and growing up it was made very clear to me that everything about me was wrong and sinful. I was surrounded by people who viewed me with suspicion no matter how I tried to conform. It has been a long and difficult process to unpack all the wrongheaded and abusive nonsense that was crammed into my head. I felt so much self loathing just for existing as a girl. No amount of compliant, cheerful obedience could make me acceptable. What a relief it was to let all of that go.

    3. Stitch*

      I agree with the above, implying that queer relationships are inherently sinful is offensive. There’s also the word “hate” in there, implying the speaker hates those relationships.

      Given that I’ve generally seen that phrase overwhelmingly used against LGBT relationships (but I should note I grew up in a conservativearea and was a teen around 2004 when all those anti gay marriage campagns were going on) , I’d maybe choose not to use that phrase.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Honestly, I have trouble with the “love” part too. When it’s applied in a context like this, in my experience, it’s about trying to ‘fix’ the person by bringing them into the fold of believing the same set of beliefs and acting in the same way as the person saying the phrase. In this particular context, it would mean getting the person to hate a part of themselves that currently brings them joy and harms no one. (I’ve long been curious if there are any other actions labeled as sins that literally harm no one…)

        1. Irish Teacher*

          There are and those tend to be problematic too – divorce is a big one, to the point that it was only legalised in 1995 in Ireland and then the country was split 50/50 on whether or not it should be legalised; literally! The referendum passed with something like 50.2% voting to legalise and 49.8% voting against. Sex outside marriage. Missing church. Using God’s name to curse with. In Catholicism specifically, using birth control has been considered sinful. Some evangelicals consider things like reading certain fantasy books or watching certain TV shows to be sinful. Again in Catholicism, eating meat on Good Friday or Ash Wednesday is arguably considered sinful; not sure if that is official or more just tradition. That one is pretty harmless, but the others…tend to be problematic.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      In theory the phrase should work for the scenario you describe of loving someone despite flaws/quirks/conflicts… IF it didn’t carry such a strong connotation of intolerance. But best case scenario, it sounds really intense to call someone a sinner for mildly annoying you.

      “Warts and all” is fine for that kind of thing, or “love them for/despite/even with their flaws” or “I love you but please don’t do that” or “yeah I love them but they can be an idiot” or any number of other phrases would be better

      1. Melody Pond*

        IF it didn’t carry such a strong connotation of intolerance

        I was going to say something similar to this. Other comments above have touched on how implying that queerness is a sin, is itself rather offensive. But even aside from that – the “love the sinner” part seems kind of disingenuous to me. The entire phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” is not typically used in a context where the people hearing it feel tolerated, accepted, or loved. I’ve always seen/heard it used for intolerance and rejection -while trying to claim otherwise, which just grates on me all the more. Like, at least have some intellectual integrity about the fact that you’re being judgmental and intolerant.

        1. Salymander*

          Yes! That is it exactly. The person saying that is saying they are giving love in a very self righteous way and expecting to be lauded for it. Unfortunately what they are really giving is hate, while all the while feeling very happy with themselves for bring so loving. It is a really intolerant, smug and self righteous thing to say, and not at all caring or kind. How are you being loving to someone if you are being condescending and judgemental? That seems a lot more like hate than it does like love. It is like gaslighting, isn’t it? Telling someone that they are loved because you are a righteous and godly person, while actually treating them with contempt. It sounds very abusive and cruel to me.

          1. Reba*

            Always puts me in mind of Mandy Moore’s character in “Saved!” who throws a bible and yells “I am FILLED with Christ’s love!”

            1. Salymander*

              Yes that movie made me laugh so much, and particularly that bit. That is exactly what I was thinking about. So hypocritical and self righteous.

          2. A Feast of Fools*

            Reminds me of all the times a certain kind of Christian has told me that they’ll “pray for me” as soon as they learn that I’m an atheist. It’s usually said with a curled lip and a tone that implies that be happy to see me burn in hell.

            Really, it makes praying for someone sound like putting a curse on them. And there’s literally nothing loving or kind or accepting behind it.

            1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

              That’s exactly what it is. It’s always so tempting to reply, “I’ll boil a cauldron for you” or whatever might freak them out the most.

              1. Despachito*

                Haha, that is good.

                This “praying for you” thing in this context is an awful manner to say “I am the owner of the only truth and know what is best for you better than you do”. A very disrespectful and stupid thing to say.

            2. Salymander*

              Yes. I really dislike that lip curl and sneer I get when people in my family’s church or folks with similar extreme beliefs tell me they will pray for poor, atheistic, sinful me. Or that lofty, stuck up and looking down their nose look. What are they praying for, exactly? It can’t be anything very kind if you go by the facial expression they give when saying it.

              1. pancakes*

                That is gross. I’m not sure I’d be able to resist asking them that. If I met people who treated me like that I would be planning on not seeing them again.

                1. Salymander*

                  Yeah that is why I went no contact long ago. It just isn’t healthy to put up with that. And yes, it is super gross.

      2. Anon Queer Christian*

        This is perfect. Those phrase suggestions all get more at the heart of what I originally understood this phrase to mean, and what I might actually want to say to someone in the future.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I don’t know why it’s problematic for other people. For me, though, I have trouble actually distinguishing who someone is from what they habitually do. I mean, everyone has a one-off moment where they, say, snap at a loved one. But someone who regularly yells at their loved ones isn’t just a good person who yells sometimes. They’re a yeller. That’s a part of who they are.

      So the thing about love the sinner, hate the sin doesn’t resonate for me, personally. Think of any really horrible thing that people can do to each other. Maybe God still loves them, I don’t know, but I don’t. I don’t love the violent person but hate the violence, or love the racist but hate the racism.

      In your examples, those aren’t *sins,* in my opinion. They’re foibles. Interrupting your spouse is annoying, it’s not sinful. So can love your spouse and dislike being interrupted. But if your spouse is regularly, as a part of their personality, sinning against you in a meaningful way… I don’t know. Maybe you should re-evaluate your love for them.

    6. Princess Deviant*

      It’s offensive because you’re judging someone based on your own belief system and assuming you’re right and they’re wrong.
      Nobody – absolutely nobody – likes being judged. Plus the idea that being queer is a separate part of the person, like it’s something they do that separates them from god (sin), isn’t right, so therefore their whole being must be sinful by that definition, well yeah that’s hurtful and offensive.

    7. Despachito*

      I am not a Christian, but I agree with what has been said – the offending part for me would be assuming that being queer is a sin. Plus the words “sin” and “hate” imply a kind of superiority, as if the person speaking was a parent/priest figure whose job is to correct the “sinner” somehow.

      I understand the general meaning of the phrase as “you can have reservations against a behaviour, not against a person”, and it sounds logical in the context of Jesus condemning the behaviour but not the person committing it. I think this is the reason why it is recommended rather to say “what you are saying is bad” than “YOU are a bad person”. I think there are many contexts where it does work (if your child, for example, does something wrong, you punish the behaviour but it does not affect your love of your child), but my take is that it works only for something mutually (at least potentially) recognized as “bad behaviour”. And being queer is NOT bad behaviour.

      It feels like saying “I forgive you that you have blue eyes”. I would find it equally offensive because the point is that THERE IS NOTHING TO FORGIVE.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I am Christian and that is absolutely my understanding too. You’ve said what I was trying to a lot more succinctly and effectively.

        I think the phrase makes sense for things like bullying. Most of us hate bullying, we know what harm it does, but as a teacher, I also know that a lot of kids who bully aren’t really bad people or at least, will grow up to be good people. They are either just carried along with the behaviour of their peers or they have their own issues that they are taking out on others, which isn’t acceptable, but…I wouldn’t put a person in the “bad person” box because they teased a classmate when they were 12. I hate and will sanction or report their behaviour, but when they return after being suspended, I will treat them exactly as I did beforehand and will try to support them to improve their behaviour.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Sorry, meant to add, it makes sense for things like bullying which harm others. It does not make sense for something like being gay or transgender which is not a choice and not harmful to anybody.

        2. Despachito*

          The bullying is a great example, and the exact illustration of what the saying should mean. I’ve seen it in the best teachers – they were able to condemn the behaviour (i. e. “what you did (bullying) is intolerable, and it must stop immediately” ) and at the same time willing to go beyond an help the pupil, as they knew, exactly as you said, that although they behaved awfully they are not a bad person and could use some help.

          I wish you were my teacher :-)

    8. Hate to see it*

      “I love you but you shouldn’t ever be allowed to have sex because you’re a filthy sinful queer” is NOT love.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Same for “I love you but you definitely shouldn’t have as many rights or opportunities for safety, security, or happiness as I have” and “I love you but I also want to pretend you don’t exist.”

    9. Madame Arcati*

      If I correctly summarise this as “what is wrong with the phrase, love the sinner hate the sin”, then I think you’ve answered your own question about halfway down;

      “I understand that being queer is not a sin”.

      So the phrase doesn’t apply – there is no sin to hate, and by extension no sinner (at least not for being queer, nobody claims to be without sin).

      People don’t like the phrase because saying hate the sin, states pretty categorically that you think what they are doing is sinful. And if you don’t think it is, then you are contradicting yourself!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Jesus said, “Above all else, love each other.” So simple, yet for some so very hard. And with the growing animosity out there, it’s hard to find positive role models to see what this looks like IRL.

      Jesus did not say, “Do my job for me. Sort everyone else out, okay?”

      Just my theory but until we (collective “we”) accept the fact that there are massive amounts of things we don’t know, the problems will continue.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      I am not LGBTQ+ (unless being aromantic asexual counts and it doesn’t when talking about religious discimination), but I think the problem with “love the sinner, hate the sin” when applied to the LGBTQ+ community is two-fold, firstly in considering it a sin at all. There is absolutely nothing in Jesus’s teachings to suggest that it is. And secondly, that when people say that in relation to LGBTQ+ issues, they are often using it defensively and not in a “loving” way at all. It’s often an “I’m doing this for your own good, so I’m going to vote against you having he right to marry the person you love, going to pressurise you to date people of the opposite sex, going to refuse to accept your partner, etc.” It’s more akin to the way people justify criticising overweight people with “but being fat is UNHEALTHY. I’m only criticising them for their own good” than it is to getting irritated when somebody snaps at you, but continuing to love them anyway.

      I agree with everybody else who said that it is offensive to say that being gay is sinful and that sin is a choice. This is coming from a Catholic point of view, but even the church (despite its massively problematic attitude to gay people) says that sin requires “full knowledge (that it is sinful) and full consent.” And even if being LGBTQ+ WERE a choice, I still wouldn’t consider it sinful.

      But I would add that even apart from that, I do think those who use that phrase about same-sex relationships and other LGBTQ+ issues are not using it to mean “I avoid that behaviour myself but do not judge others, instead focussing on the ‘log in my own eye'”. It often seems to be used as a “get out of jail free” card for doing things that actually harm the person they are claiming to love.

      If they were sticking to “I don’t have same sex relationships myself because I believe them sinful and I don’t watch TV shows or read books that portray those relationships, but I support other people having the right to make their own choices, so I believe same sex marriage should be allowed, though I may think Christians should refrain” etc, then I would disagree with them but I would at least feel they were doing what they were claiming to and if they really kept it to themselves and didn’t show any disapproval of such relationships, I’d respect their beliefs.

      My dad was a pretty traditional Catholic and while he never said, I suspect he probably did believe in the church’s teaching on marriage and relationships, but when my sister and her boyfriend moved in together and had a child without marrying, he never said a word to imply he disapproved. And he once asked if a particular politician that he supported was married or “had a lady friend he lived with”. When my brother replied, “no, he has a gentleman friend he lives with,” my father just replied, “oh, I didn’t know that,” and carried on supporting the guy politicially. While I do not know for sure, as he never pushed his views, I suspect my dad himself would not live with somebody or have sex with them outside marriage and I could imagine him, if he had been gay, deciding to remain single rather than go against the teachings of the church, but he not only never preached at anybody; he genuinely didn’t think any less of anybody for having different views. His usual response in such situations was “well, I don’t agree with that, but everybody’s different,” meaning that they may have different views or morals and his didn’t trump theirs. But that does not seem to be the way people usually use “love the sinner, hate the sin” when talking about sex and relationships.

      1. Despachito*

        Your father was an exemplary Christian and a good person.

        I have Christian relatives I love dearly, and they are similar. When their beloved ones lived together without marriage, they never insinuated that it was wrong, and I appreciate and admire this extremely, and I think it teaches me a lot.

    12. S*

      I think part of what might be tripping you up there is grace. In that it sounds like you’re talking about sin and grace. In general terms (everyone is a sinner, everyone requires grace, everyone receives grace) that’s not offensive. But. The phrase is unequally applied to queer people and has been used to justify abuse in the name of love. Its coded language that you are using at its face value, but your friends no longer hear any of the face value of the phrase because it’s been used so often in the coded way that it’s been co-opted.

      It’s also a get out of jail free card for people who don’t want to do the work that relationships (and faith, frankly) requires: with that phrase people abdicate responsibility for the impact their beliefs have on how they treat people and the need to constantly evaluate whether you are in fact doing the loving thing, acting out of love, etc. You can also wonder why it’s your job to hate the sin in the first place—it’s God’s to judge, not ours. Think the parable of the woman caught in adultery. (Casual misogyny aside, sigh) It’s enough to love people, seek to uphold the dignity of every living being, see all of creation as beloved by God and to work for mutual flourishing. Queer people do not flourish in the closet—the fruits of Christian bigotry are toxic but that kind of rhetoric pretends there’s no moral responsibility there. If sin is the breaking of relationships (on a horizontal or vertical level) then that rhetoric, ironically, is sinful.

      TLDR: it’s a very loaded phrase and there is better theological language for what you actually mean, that doesn’t carry those connotations.

    13. peasblossom*

      In addition to what other’s have noted, I’ll add that this line is so pat that it becomes an abstraction without any sort of thought to the practices it requires. What I mean is, when people say that, have they considered what that love–or that hate–look like? In what ways do they treat or support people who are queer? When you hate the action someone is engaged in–and hate is an extremely loaded theological term, very different from annoyance–how does that impact the way you treat them? the way you socially and politically support them?

      In my experience, whether people recognize it in themselves or not, we are just not set up to compartmentalize in this way–to love someone and hate something they do–without that hate shaping that love. And the consequences of that can be really damaging.

    14. Amtelope*

      The phrase has been used so often to mean “I think it’s sinful that you’re gay, and I hate that you are,” that it’s hard for it to be useful in other contexts now. The assumption if you use it will be that you’re homophobic. I would find other words to express this idea.

    15. ecnaseener*

      The other part of this is that you’re talking about being annoyed by someone’s foibles, which is not the same thing as hate. Hate is really strong! I don’t “hate the sin” of someone interrupting me when they’re excited. They shouldn’t do that, sure, but it’s not a sin and I don’t feel anything nearly as strong as hate. So even ignoring the part where queerness is being called a sin, it’s uhh really intense to say to someone “I truly hate part of you, but don’t worry I love you :)”

    16. mreasy*

      Love the sinner, hate the sin works as a recognition that we are all humans (God’s children if you like) deserving of love, but that we are flawed and make mistakes. The problem with applying this to LGBTQIA+ folks is just what you said: it’s saying that being queer is itself a sin – and sins are by definition something to strive to avoid. The expression itself isn’t offensive, it’s this usage.

      1. Aealias*

        I would argue that the expression itself has [i]become[\i] offensive because of its long association with this usage.

        Also, it’s glib. Any situation where you really need to explain to yourself or another how you can still love someone despite a truly awful thing they’ve done cannot really be summed up in 6 words anyway.

        This is a response that shuts down conversation. Which, if you want to shut down conversation I feel like it’s kinder to say, “that’s personal,” or, “I’d rather not discuss this.” Cause, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” is also kind of virtue-signalling? “Oh, are you struggling with this? I just applied the magical balm of my effortless spirituality, and the cognitive dissonance just… went away!”

        Oof, that was snarky of me. Sorry. At any rate, there’s a lot of emotional baggage tied up around that phrase, maybe skip it and explain your thinking with more nuance instead.

    17. Person from the Resume*

      Being a “hurtful jerk” is not always a sin and not an inherent identity characteristic. You can ask a friend being a hurtful jerk to stop, you can’t a person to stop being queer.

      Calling it a sin means that you are basically implying you want the sinner (1) to apologize for their sin, (2) ask forgiveness for their sin, and (3) promise not to do it again.

      For me “love the sinner, hate the sin” very much carries with it an implication that you (the speaker) wants the sinner to stop sinning so you’re asking the queer person to stop being queer in order to stop sinning. You want them to be celibate or to “overcome their sin” and have a heterosexual marriage/lifestyle in order to fit in with the community saying it.

      In your example, I’m sure the person being a hurtful jerk isn’t one all the time. If they were, you’d actually stop being their friend. And you want them to stop their hurtful behavior towards you or you’d stop being their friend. Therefore your analogy is NOT the same as a queer person who you may be accepting of but your religion in not.

    18. Swisa*

      I was also raised evangelical.
      The reason people don’t like this phrase is because it’s disingenuous. In my experience, the “hate the sin” means that the Christians don’t accept the person.
      And for things like sexuality, you’re hating something someone can’t change.
      Think about how this would sound if applied to gender. “I hate that you’re a woman, but I love you”. Or race.
      I think it’s a way for evangelicals to feel less bad about their internal feelings of prejudice.
      But when people doing the sin hear it, they see through the smokescreen.
      It took me awhile to realize how awful this is.
      Now, in adulthood, I won’t attend a church that doesn’t approve of LGBTQ people getting married. It’s just not right.

    19. Anonymous Educator*

      I grew up in a right-wing Evangelical church and heard that phrase a lot, too. I think there are two major things wrong with the “hate the sin; love the sinner” phrase as conservative Christians use it with regard to queer folks:

      1. I mean, obviously, it’s extremely damaging to tell someone that their very identity is a sin. In right-wing Christian ideology, being non-hetero is a behavioral issue, but people don’t choose to be non-hetero, for the most part, so you’re saying “The behavior tied to who you are is wrong, but who you are isn’t wrong” rings hollow. It’d be like saying it’s okay to be hungry but not to eat food. Queer folks want consensual relationships with adults. There should be nothing wrong with that.

      2. I just didn’t see it to be true in practice. I saw real love for other “sins”: envy, hetero adultery, lying, etc., but I just didn’t see actual love for queer folks. The “love” turns out to be “hate who you are and ‘pray the gay away.'”

      Fortunately, there are some gay-affirming Christian churches, and I’d highly recommend any queer folks who still find their Christian faith important to them to find and go to those churches instead of the mainline ones.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I just want to point out that most of the Mainline Protestant churches – PCUSA, ELCA, episcopal, UCC, and even UMC now that the denomination has split/is splitting, have no issue with LGBTQ people. They perform same-sex marriages and ordain openly gay clergy without requiring they be celibate. Of course there are individual churches that are less welcoming, but on the denomination level, those are probably your best bet.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yes, good point. I believe the Presbyterian church had a big split over this as well, with PCUSA being gay affirming… and whatever the other thing is not being gay affirming.

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Let’s shift it to less emotional territory, that can be helpful. There’s nothing inherently wrong with drinking, right? Yes, some people really shouldn’t drink, some people can’t drink, etc, but outside of those situations there’s nothing terrible about an emotionally stable adult having a glass of wine. And yet there are people who are convinced that it’s the worst thing ever. But they’re going to love the sinner and hate the sin.

      Except that it’s not a sin. Instead of taking the approach of “I like you, and I’m gonna pass on the drinking”, you take the approach of “I like you despite the fact that you’re having a glass of wine”. It becomes inherently negative and judgmental.

      When you use the phrase in connection with anything else however, you’re also assigning a negative connotation. You are judging them for something, which may or may not actually be a problem. Add in the fact that the phrase ISN’T used in contexts where someone actually is doing something wrong. Ever hear anyone say love the sinner hate the sin in connection with a wife beater? I certainly haven’t. I only hear it used in relation to topics that simply aren’t an issue or have nothing to do with the speaker.

      Basically, this is one of the phrases that should just disappear. Don’t use it.

    21. RagingADHD*

      I believe part of the offense is that the culturally dominant strains of Christianity have failed to teach the doctrine of original sin correctly. As the comment thread here shows, the common understanding of what Christians mean by “sin” is doing wrong things, or making wrong choices. I think that is the most common view inside churches as well. It results in conditional love, which is incredibly toxic.

      The teaching of traditional Reformation theology is that sin is not a choice, it is our natural state, all of us, all the time. And therefore none of us have standing to condemn anyone else. It is only by supernatural intervention that we are able to connect with God and start to understand and manifest a new life/identity. That change has two parts – conversion and sanctification.

      Conversion (the desire to embrace Christ) can happen in a moment or a short time. There is a clear before-and-after. Sanctification is a gradual process that takes the rest of your life and will never be completed on this earth.

      Both are supernatural. Neither can be accomplished by our own efforts, though we find joy and spiritual growth by willingly participating. The process by which the Spirit of God shows us areas in our lives that need to change, and empowers is to live out that change, is intimate, individual, and miraculous. Again, sanctification *manifests* in choices and actions, but it is not something we can simply choose for ourselves. It is a work of God in us.

      The sin that Christians are called to confront is our own, not other people’s. We are neither wise enough nor good enough, much less able to impart sanctification.

      God will lovingly and graciously sort everyone else out in the way he deems best for them. “Take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the mote out of your brother’s.”

      Examination and correction point inward. Unconditional love flows outward.

      1. Salymander*

        This is a really good point. Original sin in the doctrines sense isn’t something you do. It is a part of every one of us and is inescapable because we are members of the human race. We all carry original sin. And so, when Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” he was basically saying that no one is without sin and so no one is allowed to bully or discriminate against someone just because we think we are better than the other person. No one is allowed to cast the stone. For some reason this has been twisted into a purity contest where people try to one up each other by being really self righteous while casting a whole lot of stones.

        It was such a relief when I realized as a child that I was an atheist. I could push away all my family’s abusive beliefs and try to figure out right and wrong for myself without all the shame and hatred. It made more sense to me.

    22. QueerChristianAnon*

      “Love the sinner hate the sin” feels uncomfortable for a lot of people because it’s not treated like acceptance. It’s used to assuage someone’s own guilt about having a “sinful” person in their life. It often feels like “I love you BUT,” especially when it is referring to some type of sexuality or gender identity that’s part of who you are.
      An analogy from my life: I’m a version of queer that isn’t particularly noticeable to others. And I know I can’t tell my family because they wouldn’t like it. It’s pretty exhausting to hear them going on about “the gay agenda” and saying things like “If one of my kids was gay (or trans, or whatever else was in the news) of COURSE I would still love them but it would be hard to accept!” The love is held as separate from liking the person.
      The closest thing I’ve experienced is having several mental illnesses that certain family members think are made up. I know those people would still love me if they know but they would still judge me and try to convince me to “stop being lazy.”
      So to me, there’s two issues with that phrase: One, that being queer or whatever is treated as a sin, and two, that “love” in that phrase doesn’t mean acceptance.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        It kind of ends up sounding like “I love my mental image of who you should be, but I hate who you actually are”

    23. Just another queer reader*

      Queer Grace Encyclopedia has an article on exactly this topic. It’s a bit more theology-heavy, if thats your vibe.

    24. Anon Queer Christian*

      I will try to reply to individual comments as I can, and keep reading today as I’m able to check in (gotta head out & run errands in a few minutes). But thank you everyone so much for your answers and the thoughtful responses you’ve given me. This is exactly what I was hoping for out of this conversation. I’ve tried to strike this phrase out of my vocabulary anyway out of the vague idea that it was not well-received, but this has given me much more of an understanding of why, and also some good ideas for what to use instead.

    25. Girasol*

      It feels wrong to consider any type of sexual orientation as sin; it’s the way we’re made and who are we to scorn how we’re made? But your question makes me rethink “love the sinner hate the sin,” a saying that I had always liked. I realize that I have always read it as “love the sinner hate *his* sin,” which is inappropriately judgy. If I see someone act in a way that I don’t think I should, then I can benefit from the example and choose not to do that. But if I “love the sinner,” I’ve passed judgement on him – he’s a sinner! – when it’s not my place to judge. Thanks for prompting me to think that through, Anon.

    26. Been There*

      To me it feels offensive because you’re equating being queer, an essential part of who someone is, to chosen behaviour that happens to be sinful according to Christianity. Being queer isn’t something you can choose not to be, thus you cannot choose not to sin in that way.

    27. MEH Squared*

      You’ve gotten so many really good replies, and I’d like to add my two cents. I was raised fundie Evangelical in a racial minority church (from a country that is mainly Buddhist. Ain’t no zealot like a converted zealot). Premarital sex was something that would cast you into Hell, so you can imagine that had my childhood church known about queerness what they would have had to say about it.

      Here’s the thing. We queers know that many people hate us and wish we didn’t exist. That we’re considered a perversion, unnatural, a sin unto God, etc. It’s not as if people are shy about sharing their feelings on this matter so believe me that adding a thin layer of plausible deniability (oh, we don’t hate YOU, just this crucial part of you) doesn’t make it better. In fact, it makes it worse to me because then the person saying it can pat themselves on the back for being so tolerant while continuing to do things such as deny equal rights for queer people.

      I remember when the debate over SSM was heating up and this saying got trotted out a lot along with, “I don’t hate you; I just hate what you do.” It was used as an excuse for discrimination and then people got offended when you pointed out that they were trying to deny you your civil rights and your humanity. That’s the only time I heard it, by the way, when someone was trying to take away my rights.

      Because, otherwise, why say it? What does it add to any conversation? Does it change how you actually act towards the person or what you’re going to do? If you (again, general you) truly love the person you’re referring to, then you don’t have to state that you hate something about them. It’s for the speaker’s sake and not the one hearing it. Believe me, the so-called love is overshadowed by the hate.

      Also, the foibles you mentioned are just that–foibles. I would not be friends with someone who is a serial murderer, which is the better analogy given that many Christians think homosexuality is a big sin (by the way they react to the mere mention of it). I would love a racist and hate the racism, either. I would stop being friends with them. So, if someone thinks homosexuality is a big sin, then I doubt they can truly be friends with that person.

        1. Despachito*

          Actually, why not?

          I have a friend who has some xenophobic views, and yet he is overall a good person, and most of his other values are OK.

          I am not able to talk with him about xenophobia, because I will not change his views and he will not change mine. I absolutely do not like this trait of his, but I still like him as a person, and I think it is absolutely doable.

          I see this as another possibility to understand the “love the sinner, hate the sin” saying. Here a person who has many other good characteristics for which he is my dear friend, has this one stance which is , in my opinion, stupid and short-sighted, but I am absolutely not willing to drop him as a friend for this, although I openly state I disagree with him every time this topic comes up.

          (However, I feel this as very different from what LW started in the initial post. My friend’s views can be changed, are short-sighted and have at least a potential to harm someone. Being queer, on the other hand, cannot be changed and does not harm absolutely anyone.

          1. MEH Squared*

            Well, personally, it’s because I’m a person of color and have been discriminated against because of it. It’s not something that can be changed, either, so someone espousing racist/xenophobic viewpoints is attacking the core of the person. I’m as Asian as I am queer. And being someone from another country or a different race does not harm anyone, either. Racism/xenophobia is as harmful as queerphobia so I absolutely would not be friends with someone who thinks racism/xenophobia is A-OK.

            1. Despachito*

              I see, and I understand why.

              It is a very sensitive issue, and I am aware that I would be probably much less tolerant if he was a misogynist (and therefore against me).

              As I said, I like him a lot, and he has shown many times over the years that he is a loyal friend, but whenever he starts with this BS, we cut it off pretty quickly and always say we disagree with him, IDK whether we have some influence on him or he is just getting wiser with age, but him 20 years earlier and him now is a pretty big difference for the better.

              I however fully understand that you would not want to be friends with him altogether. For me, in this particular case and with this particular friend, his many good properties prevail and I like him as a person, but I think I can say I hate his xenophobic BS.

          2. pancakes*

            “and yet he is overall a good person”
            – Respectfully, I don’t think you’re in a position to say whether he is or isn’t if you personally are on the right side(s) of the lines he draws with his ideas and values, because you won’t have experienced the way he behaves when he is alone with someone on the wrong side(s).

            I also think the nature of xenophobia, like racism and other -isms and -obias, makes it difficult if not impossible to disentangle the undercurrents of those views in the person’s other views. Their views on history, current events, media, the practice of healthcare, the provision of education, and the sources of problems in day to day life and at the national and multinational level, for a start, will likely all have passed through the lens of their xenophobia. As someone said earlier, people aren’t nearly as good at compartmentalizing as they think they are.

            1. Despachito*

              Fair point. Perhaps if I were on the wrong side of the line, I’d see it differently. And you are right about the lens.

              But I think xenophobia, racism and other in similar vein often come from ignorance, and that it is possible to evolve and grow out of them. Not always, of course. But some people are teachable and able to learn (were it not for that why would anyone organize awareness campaigns?), and in his case, I have a significant amount of hope.

              If I turn back to Christianity, even some saints started as active Christian-haters (St. Paul, for one), yet they were able to make a U-turn and become Christians and even martyrs.

              I repeat again that I see this as an example of “love the sinner” (i. e. the friend) but “hate the sin” (in this case his xenophobia), and that I’d consider appropriate to use this phrase for this situation, because xenophobia IS a sin (or, for us atheists, a bad thing you can influence).

              However, in the OP’s case, to use it would be awfully wrong, because being yourself is neither bad nor something you can change.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            You do you with your friends, but my internal defintion of what constitutes an “overall good person” by definition makes this not possible: “a friend who has some xenophobic views, and yet he is overall a good person”.

    28. Fikly*

      It’s because your sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender is not a choice, it’s something that is inherent to you (which is an idea that many flavors of Christianity reject, I’m going to guess yours did). It’s not a personality trait, or something else that a person has control over or can alter or change.

      So the phrase love the sinner, hate the sin, is offensive because by hating the sin, you are hating the person themselves. Which they would deny, because they claim it is a choice, but they are, of course, 100% wrong on that. It’s no more a choice than anything else you are born with, like the color of your skin.

      At this point, the phrase is so loaded with hateful context that even if you were to use it to refer to a different kind of sin (I don’t know, greed or something) you cannot use it without attaching the context, like pretty much any hate language.

      I will, however, point out that in your example that you are equating abusive behavior with sexuality, and if that’s equivalent in your head and you are identifying as queer, that’s some self hatred you need to consider.

  11. Liz in the Midwest*

    !bout 2 months ago I asked for advice on here regarding choosing between literary agents who’d offered me representation. I’d had an agent in the past and she was very flaky, canceling more meetings than she kept, unreliable in half a dozen different ways, and it left me very nervous about choosing the right person.

    I’d been torn between Agent A (newer and at a less successful agency, but nice and EXTREMELY organized) and Agent B (less organized, but very very passionate about my work, at a great agency, with years in the business). Thanks, in part, to the discussion on here, I made the leap and chose Agent B.

    In these past two months, as she gave me notes, I made edits, and we got ready for her to submit my manuscript to editors at publishing houses, it has become clear that my fears about Agent B were truly just leftover baggage from my previous agent (who I left a year ago). This has been a wonderful process. Beyond her being reliable and plenty organized, I feel actually comfortable working with her, talking frankly to her about my work, etc.

    This past week we went on sub (she sent it out to publishing houses) and she’s been forwarding me the initial positive comments regarding the pitch for my novel. It’s all very exciting!

    Thanks to all of you who chatted with me about this and helped me realize that for something like a lit agent, experience, connections, and passion are incredibly valuable, and that I didn’t need to make decisions based on fear of my old agent.

    1. StudentA*

      Good luck! By any chance, are these those vanity publishing houses I’ve heard about, or traditional agencies?

      1. Liz in the Midwest*

        Oh, traditional houses, Big Five like Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, etc.

        (No agent would submit to a vanity press. Besides, like, ethics, the agent makes money when you get a publishing deal. Vanity presses CHARGE money.)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        First reaction: “Oh, wonderful!”
        Second reaction: “Everything that Jennifer said!”
        Also, I hope you are feeling really, really happy. And many good thoughts for more good outcomes.

  12. Recovery*

    CW: Eating disorders

    I’m not asking for medical advice, just whether anyone else who has recovered/is recovering from an eating disorder has experienced anything similar.

    More than five years ago, I became anorexic. After medical intervention I recovered physically, but I’ve always been a fairly compulsive exerciser since then and not getting enough exercise is always a huge stressor for me. I’ve never really minded because exercise does benefit my mental well-being. I’ve also been super controlled in my diet (I’m autistic and a very monotonous diet suits me anyway) – I haven’t had, say, chocolate for the best part of a decade – which, while clearly not ideal, lets me function fine.

    But I’ve just got out of an awful situation in the place we don’t talk about on weekends where I was living in another country (so a bit isolated) and had a horrendous supervisor. I’ve been back home for a month and have another month until I start my next position and… I just don’t care any more. Spending more than, say, ninety minutes without moving around would have made me uncomfortable or even distressed before but I’ve spent entire days without leaving my room. I’ve not been eating at all well and I’ve stopped going to the gym (I still take some other forms of light exercise).

    This might sound like a positive change in some ways, but it’s actually making me miserable. Not exercising and eating poorly are terrible for my mental state, and makes me less productive in other ways, but I (fairly suddenly) don’t care any more. The emotional ”carrot” of good behaviour and “stick” of bad behaviour are gone and I feel basically apathetic about exercise and good eating.

    So, sorry for the lengthy background, but my question: Has anyone else experienced this sort of apathy and feeling of uninterest as part of their recovery from an eating disorder? Did it pass in time to lead to a healthier more balanced relationship with food and exercise?

    1. RagingADHD*

      For me, the urgency/ anxiety around following my rigid rules did not go away suddenly and become apathy. It faded gradually and became a small voice I could ignore instead of a loud voice that dominated my life. Eventually the ways I had been “keeping score” didn’t matter any more, but I wasn’t altogether apathetic about how my food & exercise made my body feel.

      Having a sudden, major change in your appetite/ eating habits and going for days without leaving your room do not sound like recovery. They sound like symptoms of depression, especially on the heels of such intense stress and isolation. Particularly when you say you are eating so poorly that you are already feeling negative health effects.

      Based on my experience, I would expect a recovery path to be more like feeling more and more free to eat in a balanced way and not getting upset if you have a treat or everything isn’t perfect.

      Do you have a support team IRL you can check in with? I think you could use a checkup.

      1. Mid*

        I was going to say the same thing. I stop eating when I’m depressed. I think it’s time for a check in with your doctor/therapist.

      2. Recovery*

        Thank you, I found this very helpful. I think the fact that my previous bad episodes have been so different may have left me unable to see the wood for the trees. A checkup is definitely a good idea!

    2. PollyQ*

      I’ve never been anorexic, but I have a great deal of experience with depression, and these behaviors/feelings can be symptomatic of it. Do you have a PCP? Can you make an appointment with them and talk to them about how you’ve been feeling? Alternatively, if you have a therapist you’ve been seeing for the eating issues, this is something you could definitely bring up with them. Even if there’s someone you’re not seeing anymore, you could reach out and ask for advice. There are a variety of interventions that may be very helpful to you. Good luck!

    3. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Fortunately the first thing to do is an easy thing- blood tests! See a doc and get your blood checked first as a quick way to find out if a physical thing is having an impact eg low iron, glitchy thyroid, low grade infection (eg dental) etc. Prolonged stress depletes a lot of the body’s resources. If there are issues there, you can sort them out straightforwardly.
      Second thing- a professional person to talk to about your experiences at the bad place, & to debrief with. And to support you in settling in to your new location and job, in the least stressful way. Your horrendous supervisor, and your isolation in another country – those things existed outside of, and are separate from, your past eating disorder. They had a bad impact on you but they were external – I am sorry you experienced these things, but they are something that happened to you, not a thing that you did in any way.
      Best wishes to you for happier and interesting days ahead!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        To the first paragraph above adding low vitamin B levels will really do a number. Then there’s vitamin D which I can’t tell if it is worse than low B, because it’s got it’s own “special” thing that happens.

        Dental infections will go systemic. This is why some people are on antibiotic when the go to the dentist. Indeed. a friend lost a family member this way. The family member went to the dentist and had work done. And they died the next day.

        Mold infections can cause some weird behaviors and personality changes- that is how huge mold is.

        I hope this reads as me saying, “Yes, I agree. This could be a serious problem if left unchecked.”

    4. Madame Arcati*

      I have little experience with anorexia or other eating disorders and certainly none personal, BUT feeling apathetic about things that interested you before, and not taking as much care of yourself in terms of diet and exercise are textbook symptoms of depression. Even fairly mild; I’m not trying to alarm you or diagnose you of course. But being less interested in/not enjoying as much things that you enjoyed before is literally on a list of standard questions used in assessing whether someone might be depressed – I’ve been asked it dozens of times (I have assessments for work as my job has elements that some viewers may find disturbing so they keep an eye on us).
      So, are you having any therapy right now? If not it might be a good idea to seek something out or at least talk to a nice sympathetic doctor.

    5. Anonaut*

      You mention a month living in another country in a stressful situation and you said you’re autistic. Have you already ruled out this being more autistic burnout than related to the eating disorder recovery?

    6. Tib*

      Feelings of apathy around things you used to enjoy or do willingly are a classic sign of depression. Apathy around self care (eating and exercise) are also big signs. Please ask for help.

      Most providers have email or have a patient management app. That means you could stop what you’re doing right now, no matter what day or time it is, and start the process.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Here’s the thing: disordered eating and exercise are not things you enjoy or do willingly. They are compulsions that make you miserable. So I can certainly understand why it would feel good by comparison to have that intense fixation go away for a while. Indeed, a “loss of interest” is a component of recovery.

        It’s the whole picture of intense prolonged stress, followed by crashing and holing up for days at a time, that is concerning.

        Could be it’s just a natural cycle of rest and recovery that will lead to a more healthy path. But a month is a long time to crash. The fact that LW is starting to wonder whether this is okay means that it’s time to investigate.

    7. pancakes*

      I don’t have experience with quite this same thing, but do have experience with being apathetic about looking after myself due to depression. What helped with that was medication (lexapro).

      As a matter of practical steps, what would it take to get you to start eating better? If you can sort that out I think you will be feeling better, and in a better place to tackle the rest. Can you get food delivered on a schedule you don’t have to think about? Or stock up on reasonably nutritious things that don’t require much effort?

  13. Gatomon*

    Is it worth it to hire a lawyer to probate a small estate?

    My mom passed suddenly this week, there’s no will, and her assets are minimal: an older car, wedding ring, some silver she inherited, plus whatever is in her bank accounts, possibly a very tiny sum in any retirement accounts, plus some small life insurance (I expect it to be <$50,000, no windfall here). She had some debt, including a large amount of recent medical bills (cancer and multiple hospital stays for complications) that are probably still rolling in. While she was organized and wrote down all the passwords to her accounts (grrr), there's still just a ton of work that I foresee in dealing with probate court even "informally," shutting down accounts, clearing her apartment, etc.

    I'm wondering if I can kind of just… give all this info to a lawyer and have them deal with it? I'm the only child, my dad died years ago, and I don't even have an SO to rely on with this. Extended family and the friends I trust to help are all distant. Funds aren't an issue as long as this isn't like a $10,000 deal, I'm fine with paying out of my savings… but I've never hired a lawyer….

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I was my mum’s executor and happily handed it over to a probate lawyer – I went into a local legal practice and asked if they had someone who did mostly probate, met a nice lawyer and explained the nature of the estate (mother in nursing home, 5 beneficiaries etc) in a half hour free chat. The lawyer described the process (banks needing a copy of the death certificate etc, social security needing formal notification, final tax return if required, applying for any insurance payouts, refunds on services paid in advance but no longer required eg health insurance, driver’s licence, getting bank statements etc etc) and gave me a written estimate of the cost. As a lawyer obviously she had all the standard letters and knew what various organisations required etc. I showed her the will. It was all clearly explained to me and I asked her to go ahead. I provided her with information re where the bank accounts were, and so on. I remember at one stage she went through a list of things I might not have thought to do eg cancelling subscriptions to magazines. She applied for probate, did all the paperwork, collected all the funds, paid all the bills, typed up a nice statement, cheques for the beneficiaries, the works.
      At the time (3 years ago) the cost was just under $5000, I realise that is not relevant specifically to you, but it matched the estimate. The whole process took just over three months, and was delayed a little by the probate office moving from one govt building to another! The lawyer’s fees came out before the money was distributed to the beneficiaries, at the end.
      I consider it to have been worth every penny. It would have been a lot of research and messing about and time and palaver and stress for me to do, despite the actual straightforwardness of the will/estate. If you are in a position to do so, I recommend having a chat to a probate lawyer or two and getting an estimate and then saying Excellent, please go ahead.
      Oh, re the medical debt, assuming you are in the US, the lawyer (or the hospital’s almoner/social worker etc) may be able to advise you on whether some of that can be waived – I only know of this possibility from what I have read on this site, am in Australia myself.
      My condolences to you on the death of your mother, and I hope that your friends and extended family can provide a supportive ear if you need it.

      1. Gatomon*

        Thank you for the note about subscriptions, that is a good reminder. I got into her streaming subscriptions and turn those off so she won’t get charged any further.

        If it weren’t for the medical bills I’d probably attempt it on my own but I can barely handle my own insurance’s BS day-to-day, let alone hers. I did find a recent explanation of benefits that showed she’d hit her max out of pocket somewhere along the way so I’m hoping that as long as things are covered (insert eyeroll at US healthcare system here), insurance will pay and that is that. I don’t think the debts fall to me, though I’m sure they will try. It seems like the consensus is it’s worth it to have it taken off my plate. Thank you!

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hello, my detailed reply disappeared when my battery went flat lol, so to summarise, 3 years ago I was the executor for my mother’s estate, she was in a nursing home so her house had already been sold. Five beneficiaries. I went into a local lawyers’ office and asked if they had someone who specialised in probate, and got a 30 minute free chat with her. Showed her the will. She listed everything she would do – getting probate, contacting all banks, insurers, social services etc, closing accounts, obtaining deposit refund from the nursing home, getting final bills from phone services etc, getting rebates wherever possible from, for example, driver’s licence having been paid for ten years in advance, doing a final tax return if required, accessing any govt assistance available for say funeral expenses.
      It was very straightforward for the lawyer as obviously she already had standard letters and knew what to provide etc. She explained the costs and gave me a written estimate once I had said go ahead. The total cost (not relevant as such to you) was $5000, as estimated. The whole thing took under four months (delayed by the probate office moving buildings!) and after she had paid all outstandings, collected all monies, taken her fees, drawn cheques for the beneficiaries, put all the info together in a folder for me and so on, it was all sorted.
      If it is economically practicable for you, it is so worth the money. I was spared months of having to research what was required, filling out forms, providing the specific info, dealing with all sorts of banks and services etc.
      If you are in the US, some of those medical costs may be waivable, the lawyer or the hospital’s almoner or social worker should be able to advise re that. (I am in Australia).

      My condolences to you on the death of your mother. I hope that things go smoothly for you and that your friends can provide a supportive ear if you need it.

    3. UKDancer*

      I’m not in the US so don’t know the rules but in general lawyers will do what you pay them for within their field. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small estate if you want to have a lawyer do the probate rather than do it yourself you can. The solicitor may tell you that it won’t be difficult and you can do it yourself but if you ask them to do it, they’ll do it regardless. If you can afford it and you’ll find it easier then why not?

      One of my friends has asked me to be her executor and deal with her estate and I agreed. I will almost certainly pay a solicitor to do it for me because I don’t have time to spend on it despite it being a fairly small estate.

      If it makes it easier emotionally and with everything else there is, to have someone do it for you then I think that’s fine.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Agree. I will be in a similar position to you when my parent goes and honestly there is enough to do so if you can pay someone to do that for you then I would. Plus you won’t stress about making a mistake. It sounds like you aren’t depending on any money left to you for a specific expense (like, finally I can put down a deposit on my own home or pay off that worrying debt) so mentally putting some of the bequest aside to replace the money from savings that you spend on a lawyer seems perfectly logical to me.

        Also, I am sorry about your mum.

      2. Kindle Unlimited Suggestions*

        I was gifted kindle unlimited but I find I don’t know what to read on there. I’ve started a lot of books that just aren’t for me. I’m don’t like awkward situations but find a hard time defining what exactly bothers me. I’d love suggestions in paranormal romance, I like Christine Feehan and Nalini Singh. I also like Christian fiction like Dee Henderson. It’s a long shot, but thought I’d ask.

        1. Kindle Unlimited Suggestions*

          Obviously wrong spot. I’m sorry. I definitely clicked the button at the top of the page so I don’t know how it happened.

          1. Gatomon*

            No problem! :) It happens to the best of us. I’ve considered trying Kindle Unlimited myself, just never pulled the trigger.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          No disrespect intended to anyone bereaved (I am a recent widow myself, dealing with my late husband’s estate) but thank you for adding some comic relief into what was becoming a very gloomy thread. It was a moment of fun to do the “Say what?!” head swivel after reading “paranormal romance.”

      3. Gatomon*

        Thank you, I think that is the way to go based on everyone’s input. I’m generally in the “paying people for their expertise” camp, especially in cases where I’m not likely to be skilled. I’m good with paperwork and budgeting but abysmal with the more complicated aspects of finance and anything legal. My state has documents and guidance published online but it still looks like multiple trips to a notary and court, which means time off work.

        This has also prompted me to think about my own death eventually and who to leave things to. I don’t have a will or anything at this point so I’m leaning towards friends as I’d have to leave things to cousins at this point, and there are just too many to divvy it up meaningfully. Perhaps I can specify an amount or percentage in the will for the friend to hire a lawyer to do the probate for them so they won’t be burdened.

    4. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      It’s worth an initial consultation with a lawyer. If you haven’t already filed the will, you may not need to go through probate — many states have a small estate process for estates under a certain amount, and I think the life insurance isn’t part of that.

      A friend of mine handed everything over to a probate firm and was happy with that decision.

      As far as finding a lawyer, I would ask at work, since you don’t have people you’re close to nearby.

      1. Girasol*

        Yes, this. A quirk in state law required me to open formal probate even though I’m sole heir. I had no idea how. My lawyer filed the right papers with the state, which I might have done wrong. She helped me sort out a problem with a shyster lawyer who claimed estate debts that didn’t exist. She helped when a mutual fund company and a life insurance company gave me a bureaucratic runaround, making me follow one process and then another, more and more obtuse forms and complicated proofs of identity that were getting me nowhere. Her fee wasn’t large and the help mowing down roadblocks that I didn’t know how to handle was way worth it, I thought.

        1. Gatomon*

          Thank you! I am all-too familiar with bureaucracy at the W place… and I am definitely not interested in fighting it in my personal life.

      2. Gatomon*

        There’s no will, which makes me worried it may be a little bit more complicated. Luckily I don’t think the rest of her family has any interest, she’s spoken with siblings, but was estranged from her father and step-mother. The instructions the state published make it seem that anything she listed me as beneficiary on will flow to me outside the estate. Thank you!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would definitely let a lawyer handle it. I tried probating my husband’s estate myself but the forms have been made too obscure and not accessible for the average lay person. I think in all it cost around 5k. Even the lawyer wasn’t sure on some of the stuff and had to call the probate court. When I tried contacting the probate court they would not answer my questions at all.

      Even with a lawyer you will probably still have plenty to do such as signing papers and paying bills.

      Things you can start with:

      Check the beneficiaries on the bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance. If you are the beneficiary, here in NY that will just roll to you.

      The car, ring and silver will probably have to be sold by the executor of the estate. This can be you or the attorney acting on your behalf. If you want any of these things, then you can just tell the attorney.

      Cleaning out the apartment. I am smh. In small estates, the legal system is pretty lackadaisical. The realtor for my father’s property decided the contents were worth $500. The attorney took that figure and ran with it. I think part of the reason for that is once you figure out the value of each item and then figure out my labor in order to do that work, it’s a wash. There’s no point to crunching all those numbers.

      The outstanding medical is the kicker and probably what takes the most time. You have to wait for all the bills to come in. Wait to see what insurance will pay. And then finally pay off the balance owed.

      You can get referrals for an attorney through the Bar Association online or you can check with coworkers, neighbors and others around you. I personally prefer smaller law firms, but that’s my own quirkiness.

      1. Gatomon*

        Thanks, I think this is the route I will go. $5,000 is worth it. The forms my state provides state several times if you have questions you need a lawyer as they won’t help you. (Sigh.) I’ll definitely ask around on Monday to see if anyone has any recommendations.

        She honestly doesn’t have anything… there’s a desk and chair, and some cushions she was using as a bed. The usual clothes/linens/dishes everyone has. A computer I built her ~6 years ago, and family photos. So many photos. I’ve started working on removing the perishable food and the piles of supplements (why mom??) but I’d be shocked if anything but the silver and ring have value to anyone else.

    6. Ready for spring*

      So sorry for your loss. I just went through this with my mom. State laws vary but in my state <50,000 is a much simpler process. My attorney charged a flat fee of $400 and initial consultation was free. I encourage use of an attorney, there are some minor hoops and forms to file and I don’t know about you but I wasn’t feeling up to figuring it all out and it didn’t seem to be available online. It was worth it.

      1. Gatomon*

        Thank you, this sounds like the way to go. Hopefully I can just hand off the info I’ve gathered and sorted and let them deal with it.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      My husband was the executor for his parents. It was so much work, but so much of it was work only he could do. I guess a lawyer could have sold his mom and dad’s car – but Mr T was the one who had to find the title to the car. (In a manila folder on the top shelf of the guest room closet.)

      A lawyer could have closed out the accounts, but she would have to know what those accounts were. Again, something Mr T had to track down.

      And I guess a lawyer could have listed the house, but Mr T was the one who cleaned out the house. I don’t know if lawyers do that, but even if they did, Mr T wouldn’t have wanted a lawyer to find his mom and dad’s – very personal – porn.

      (My annual PSA to AAM readers: If you have equipment and photos of yourself naked using the equipment, please put them in a box and ask a trusted friend to be the first one in your house when you die so that your children don’t have to see these items. No, there is no shame in consenting adults doing what they want, but I don’t think anyone wants to see their parents doing what they want. Naked.)

      1. Gatomon*

        Luckily my mom was organized, so I’ve found the car title and lien release notice, her SSN, birth certificate and at least some pieces of paper indicating accounts that exist. I suppose the only unknown I have at this point is if she had an IRA or not, but I’m in her email so they usually send some sort of message across eventually.

        Yikes, I am thankful I haven’t found anything that personal. Knowing I exist is the start and end of what I want to know about my parents’ personal lives! I am not into recording or photographing that part of my life, but I think my toy collection will soon be moving to a box labeled: DON’T OPEN JUST TOSS THIS BOX IF I DIE.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          I am so so very grateful to my extremely organized late father for labeling his porn, “Porn” so it could be humanely disposed of without examination.

          I have instructed my husband that one of his important Son duties is, if anything ever happens to his very hale and hearty dad, to go in and find and exterminate all porn before others find it on their quest for documents, etc. People’s privacy should, IMO, continue to be respected even when they are no longer with us.

    8. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m so sorry.

      Whether it’s worth it to hire a lawyer: depends on how much energy you have now and over the next few months. It sounds like you would be able to handle it yourself (recommend NOLO’s Executor’s Guide to anyone faced with handling a loved one’s affairs!) but very understandable and probably feasible to hand it off as well. I don’t have a sense of how much legwork you’d still have to do to get all the required information and documents to the person you hire, so consider that throwing money at it could take a lot off your plate, but not everything.

      1. Gatomon*

        Thank you. I just don’t have much energy on top of this, I am dealing with some (relatively minor) medical issues of my own and I have a professional cert I need to renew by the end of next month or it’s going to cost me $$$$. I’ve got a good handle on her accounts I think, and I’ve got the piles of paperwork she had as well so hopefully a lawyer could just buckle down with it.

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

      Perhaps a close-by university law school has pro-bono services you can use?

    10. Generic Name*

      If you can afford it, I’m of the mindset that it’s worth it to hire an expert to do a complicated and time consuming summing task you don’t want to do.

    11. Cj*

      It doesn’t sound like this is a large enough estate that it would need to be probated. My father-in-law died in January, and had a similarly estate. It cost $250 to have an attorney to an affidavit that my husband was the only heir so that he could close out the checking account and receive the money.

      Since there are medical bills, you will need to use the money in the checking account to pay those. Probably depends on how much the ring and car are worth if you would be required to sell them or if you could keep them. That a question for an attorney, but they could probably answer that in an initial consultation.

      Hopefully you’re named as a beneficiary on the life insurance policy and retirement plan so that those go directly to you and will need to be spent on the medical bills.

      With as few accounts as you mentioned, it doesn’t seem like it should take more than an afternoon to get all taken care of. I wouldnt want to pay an attorney the $5,000 other people have mentioned here for that small amount of work.

      If you want to spend money on something, I would spend it on having somebody empty out her apartment. Go in and take what personal items you want, but they can’t be valuable or you probably need to sell them to pay the medical bills, and have somebody else to deal with the rest.

    12. CatPerson*

      I would say yes. There are a lot of forms and filings. My Mom’s small estate was not very expensive to settle and the costs were paid by the state before the proceeds were divided between my siblings.

    13. Tea and Cake*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. Please remember to be kind to yourself.

      There’s already a lot of great advice here for you, but I will echo the sentiment that if it will make anything easier for you to hire a lawyer, it will be worth it. Probate and estate dealings can be so very draining and time consuming.

    14. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      You need to consult an attorney.

      A lot may depend on the state in which your mom resided, and a lawyer can help you with this. Where I live, the state actually decides who will handle the estate if someone who has probate assets dies with no will. (Probate assets as defined in my state would include personal property such as jewelry and cars. I don’t know if this definition is pretty constant from state to state, but I’m assuming it is since it also applied when my mom died, and she lived in a different state). Also, depending on the size of the estate, you may be able to go through a sped-up “small estate” probate, or even avoid probate entirely. Again, a lawyer will be able to explain the process and talk through any concerns with you.

      I think it’s highly likely you can have a phone consult with a lawyer, to talk things over and get a feel for the person, before you commit any money. (That was my experience when making a will for myself.) If you have coworkers or neighbors whose judgment you trust, ask them for recommendations (since it sounds like your closest friends are not close by?).

      When my mom died (with a will), the probate cost was $6000, which represented 20 billable hours for my parents’ lawyer. I think this was paid out from the estate though. Also, my mom had fairly sizable assets – I don’t know if this influenced the probate costs. (The attorney fees may also be a factor – another lawyer might have charged less.) But after describing the size and contents of your mom’s estate, a lawyer should be able to give you some kind of figure. You also might want to check out this website: https://trustandwill.com/learn/probate-fees. I had a look at the information listed for the state where my mom lived, and it matches very well with my family’s experience. So it seems like a fairly decent source.

      I was strongly encouraged to make my own will while Copacabana was raging at its worst, and I did so. I would highly recommend it to everyone. You just don’t know how things might get handled if you die without one.

      I also recommend checking to see if your bank accounts offer a Transfer on Death or Payable on Death option or allow you to designate beneficiaries. We’re pretty used to the concept of retirement accounts having beneficiaries, but some banks also allow it on regular checking or savings accounts. Just like with retirement accounts, if the account owner dies, the account passes directly to the beneficiary.

  14. NotReallyALemur*

    I bought a push-powered (so no power except me pushing it) lawnmower recently, and I’m feeling really disappointed. The way the weather’s been around here, it’s been raining a lot, and the grass grew fast, and some of the grass has produced tall stalks. The lawnmower can’t handle it at all. I went over some of those stalks several times, and they just bounced right back up. Plus the wheels of the lawnmower would lock every now and then.

    I wanted a push mower so that I didn’t have to mess with gas and so that it would work a long time, but this seems to barely work. Any suggestions for dealing with this better or for a new lawnmower that doesn’t need gas or electricity but actually works? I guess I could go for an electric lawnmower again, but they don’t always last all that long.

    1. Mid*

      My grandparents (and then my parents) had a Fiskar’s brand push mower that was a workhorse. They sharpened the blades (or rather took them to a guy who sharpened them?) and I think added their own wheels that were more rugged than the ones it came with. That seemed to make the biggest difference.

    2. PollyQ*

      I used a push mower to handle my parents’ very small yard, and it worked fine. Is yours new or used? It sounds like the blades need sharpening, at a minimum. You may also need to walk faster, since your speed affects how quickly the blades spin.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      You could always get a scythe.

      Pluses: they are REALLY fun to use. You swing it and it just goes “shwick”, and a wide half moon of grass falls over. Also, it’s a scythe and therefore awesome. You’d want to spring for a nice one, but it’d still be cheaper than a decent mower. And no moving parts to wear out. And beautifully quiet.

      Cons: much higher skill level to get a good result. I tried using my parents’ scythe on the lawn and my mowing was very choppy-it takes practice to have a level cut without chopping in too deep or cutting too high. It’s what people used to maintain lawns before mowers, but that’s also why lawns were a rich people thing, for folks with money to hire gardening staff. It’s also very physical work-very satisfying physical work but work nonetheless. And you really, really need to keep the blade wicked sharp.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Wow, what a great idea! Thanks for mentioning this. I always feel guilty about leaving all the mowing to Mr. Pond, because I can’t stand the loud noises of our mower (electric, but still loud). I also am looking to get more activity/exercise from “the gym of life”, and I think I could actually do this!

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          They work better on flat surfaces, mind you, because then you can just hold it level.

          My parents’ scythe is from Scythe Supply and is awesome and cuts beautifully, but is also pricier than I remembered. It’s a totally reasonable price for a tool that you actually use, but a bit much for something that might not work out. I’d recommend trying somebody else’s first, but where do you find a friend with a scythe you can borrow? Scythe Supply does have a lawn mowing tutorial on youtube, that would give you some idea of the work. And you can hear the “shwick”.

          Scything is kind of mesmerizing to do. Awesome sound effect, very visible result, and just a satisfying way of moving your body. It’s really easy to get carried away and do more than you meant to.

          1. Melody Pond*

            That’s hilarious, because I went looking on YouTube last night (before seeing your reply), and the first video I found was by Scythe Supply. And when I noticed the name of the channel, I thought, “that sounds like a business that SELLS them!” and promptly tracked down their website and looked through all their stuff. And Mr. Pond has given his go-ahead to buy one!

            Good thing, too, because prior to finding Scythe Supply, I was looking around WalMart, Home Depot, Amazon, and those scythes did NOT seem to be very good.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Oh yeah, go for the good one! The others look pretty awful.

              I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        My Dad used to use one! It’s basically a golf swing but much more fun!

      3. Anono-me*

        You may want to check an antique shop for scythes also. Apparently due the the sharpness of the blade, these tools were some of the best taken care of on the farm and are very available on the second hand and antique market. (A historian friend explained that while no one wants to trip over a shovel that was left out accidentally, but people really really don’t want to trip over a scythe.)

        Funny coincidence-Two very different posts this week, but the same advice from me to both.

    4. Anono-me*

      If the grass section of your yard is small enough, you might want to try weed whipping the entire thing and just skipping the mower.
      (There is a knack to it so it may take some practice before you are happy with the results. )

    5. Bunny Watson Too*

      I sprung for a Worx battery-powered push mower last year and really like it. Fully charged, it mows my front and back yards on one charge. No gas needed, lightweight enough that I can turn it on its side to wash off the underside occasionally.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can vouch for the Worx weedwhacker, too. I have used the heck out of mine. I got the leaf blower/vac and that wasn’t so great. They say not to vacuum wet leaves and that is all I have is wet leaves. I seriously started considering just getting a wet/dry vac to get the wet leaves.

    6. Virtual Light*

      In my brief investigation into these kinds of mowers, I found out that they do best when the grass isn’t very long. They need to be used pretty consistently and can only get so much new growth off. That’s why they don’t have a bag for the clippings; they are assumed to be minimal and that they can just go back into the ground.

      You might try getting it to a height you like with a powered mower, then just work on upkeep.

      That said, also make sure the blades are sharp and well-maintained and play around with the height they are set at. If you can set them higher that might help. Good luck!!

    7. Tib*

      You really need to keep on top of your mowing with a human powered mower because it doesn’t have the power to cut longer grass. I’d find a neighbor with a gas mower and borrow it for a fresh start and then try again. When we lived in Kentucky, the grass grew so fast that I divided our yard into thirds and mowed a section a day. I considered it part of my workout.And we had a neighbor with a gas mower I’d borrow when I got behind.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes, reel mowers work great unless you fall very far behind on mowing. My reel mower has an adjustable height lever and that helps tremendously as I can mow at the 3 inch height and then mow again to get it shorter.

        The reel blades also need to be resharpened from time to time. I doubt that’s the issue here since the mower is new. As others have mentioned a hand scythe will help with the tall patches.

    8. Julia*

      We have an EGO lawnmower. It’s electric and you just pop out the battery and charge it. It’s super powerful and awesome. No gas—no oil. The best. They’re also light and fold up for storage too if needed. Highly recommend! Very easily available in the US.

    9. Generic Name*

      I tried a push mower for the same reason, and I just couldn’t do it. I’m short and not super strong. If I were a tall hefty guy, I’m sure it would have been easier. Electric lawnmowers, wither corded or cordless work great.

    10. Girasol*

      I used a push mower for five years and loved it. The trick, I learned, is that after winter when wet grass springs up too fast and too tall to shove the mower through, I could use a cheap corded (yeah, electric) string trimmer to get the trouble spots under control, and then I could go back to the push mower. I had to mow often, because if the lawn gets too tall (which is not tall at all) the mower had a tendency to skid through the grass with its blades not turning. My age and the grass’s upset over the push mower’s low mow height have switched me to an inexpensive Worx battery mower which is terrific for me and our small lawn. Both mowers are way better than the spendy name brand high powered gas mower we used to have with the nasty fumes and the need to spend half its original price in repairs almost every year.

    11. beentheredonethat*

      I bought a battery powered lawnmower and blower 4 years ago. They are so nice. I did this after I bought a battery powered vacuum cleaner. I discovered I don’t hate vacuuming… I hate the plugging in and out.

    12. Random Bystander*

      If the grass has grown too much, you may need to do a first ‘top off’ with another tool (even a weed whacker, in a pinch–it doesn’t matter if it looks ugly/uneven, because you mow after that).

  15. KristinaL*

    Hank is such a good looking kitty! I keep picturing him with a beret in front of the Eiffel Tower. He has sort of an artistic look.

    1. Cj*

      I’ve posted here before that we had a cat who looked EXACTLY like Hank who died a few years ago. My heart stops a little every time I see Hank’s picture. I still enjoy seeing them, though.

  16. A.N. O'Nyme*

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

    I haven’t done much this week and I do ‘t foresee that changing in the next few weeks, but I’m curious to hear about your progress and struggles! And of course, as always feel free to ask for advice from fellow commenters.

    1. Forensic13*

      Actually had a great writing week! I’ve been extremely stuck on one section of a book draft for weeks, and finally figured out the one plot point I needed to make all the rest come together.

      How does anyone here deal with trying to find beta readers? I intend to bully a couple friends who are also writing/reading nerds, but I know I need more eyes/variety of eyes than that.

    2. Maryn*

      I’ve finally begun the fourth and final book of a series. I wish my master plan were more detailed in the middle, but I know how it starts and ends and much of what happens in between, so that’s enough for a first draft.

      Luckily, some fairly large chunks of this book will consist of material deleted from book three, so it’s already written. It’ll need tweaks, but the hard part’s done for maybe twenty percent of the whole.

    3. Cendol*

      I’m feeling dreadfully uninspired! There are three submission windows closing at the end of the month, for anthologies with concepts I love, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to write a word. It’s frustrating. I’m hoping to do a bit of catching up this weekend but we’ll see.

  17. The Prettiest Curse*

    Which songs (new or old) have you been listening to on repeat recently? Via Soundcloud, I discovered a newish rock band called Coach Party and their song FLAG (Feel Like A Girl) is ideal for those moments of feminist rage.
    I also love the most recent album by Japanese Breakfast – the first track, which is called Paprika, is just so beautiful.

    1. Bazza7*

      Pilgrim by Fink, heard the song at the end of the final episode of series 1 of a TV show called The Responders on ABC1 in Australia or BBC in UK. This series of 6 episodes had loads of music in it, but this song stood out and I’ve been playing it alot on YouTube.

    2. mreasy*

      Do you listen to Rina Sawayama? She has some great anthems for “feminist rage.” I’ve been listening to the new Pusha T nonstop, though I did check out Harry’s House (I think it’s goo! but the single is for sure the best track), and Lonnie Liston Smith has been soundtracking my workday (discovered by recommendation and I love him).

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve listened to a few of Rina Sawayama’s songs, but should probably do a deeper dive into her music sometime.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      So Called Life by Three Days Grace. Waiting for the End by Linkin Park. Higher by The Score (also The Champion and Legend).

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Mr T dragged me to a concert last week. I didn’t want to go out at 8 p.m. to hear someone I had never heard of.

      Mr T insisted I would like the artist.

      He was right and I was wrong. Paul Thorn is great. If you like bluesy rock with an overlay of growing up with Pentecostal church music, all with great lyrics, you will like Paul Thorn.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      YouTube: Baillandro, performed by Ballet Lizt. A beautiful mix of dance styles.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Well, if you’re forced to have the soundtrack of an animated film on repeat, Encanto is a better choice than many other options!

    6. *daha**

      Everything by Postmodern Jukebox. (Scott Bradlee re-arranges and re-imagines well known songs into earlier styles, with a rotating cast of guest vocalists and solid backup musicians.)

      1. Chaordic One*

        Totally agree. Love me PMJ. In addition to the PMJ site and the linked Scott Bradlee site, Scott now has a third channel on YouTube (which you can also listen to on Apple Music or Spotify) called: “Chill Jazzy Piano Music for Studying/Working/Dinner/Drinks – “LoFi Scott” 24/7 Stream.

        I find it a little too mellow for when I’m working, but sometimes, when you want some sophisticated elevator music in the background it is just the thing.

      2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        The freestyle Yiddish in PMJ’s klezmer-style cover of “Talk Dirty to Me” kills me every time.

    7. Sundial*

      I am currently blasting Pretty Reckless’ Death by Rock and Roll out of frustration, because I am missing their live performance (probably happening now or within the hour) at the MMRBQ due to my husband’s illness.

    8. Esmeralda*

      Be good tonyas. Especially their cover of Waiting around to die.

      Mohabbat by Arooj Aftab. (Great album —vulture prince—and that’s the best song on it)

      Irma Thomas, Ruler of my heart

    9. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have just discovered a Mongolian rock group called The Hu. Their sound is different from anything I have ever heard but wonderful. I especially like their songs Wolf Totem and Song of Women.

      1. acmx*

        Ok I just saw them perform (been listening to them for a couple of years) and they were fantastic!

    10. KR*

      I’ve been listening to a lot of the music I used to listen to in like 2005-2010 era when I was younger. It’s nostalgic and emo.

  18. 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.

    I didn’t really play anything this week due to lack of time, but curious to hear what you all have been up to!

    1. Scot Librarian*

      I’m on a Plants versus Zombies 2 kick at the moment. There’s something so satisfying about destroying zombieswho want to eat your lovely plants

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        There’s a zombie on your la-aawn…

        I’m going to have that song stuck in my head for the entire weekend now.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Probably going to play a little Destiny 2 later – do a little final seasonal cleanup before the new season starts next week. The current Nightfall strike is one of my personal faves, so I’ll probably try to pry my partner away from Rust later this afternoon to go kick Hashladun’s butt.

      I’m also considering trying out the Zero Build version of Fortnite some time this weekend. It still has all the additions that made me pretty much quit the game, but I’m mildly curious how it works with no building allowed. Time to break out my tertiary account and see what’s what.

    3. Schuyler*

      I am big into board games (well, tabletop games really) and of course have more time to play sometimes than others. This week I got to try Three Sisters, and loved it. Like so much that I went on their site that same evening to buy it and now cannot wait for it to show up on my doorstep. Unfortunately it’s supposed to show up Monday and that’s my campaign night, boo.

      TS is a roll and write. I have really come to like roll/flip and writes. Some others I have are Long Shot, Cartographers, and even a free roll and write called Roll ‘n Cook. Three Sisters sent me on a small rabbit hole where I Kickstarted such a game the other day; and also late-backed another roll and write called Motor City by the same people who made TS, as well as picking up some add-on accessories for both.

      Other than that… we quit our last campaign, a game called Tainted Grail, and are still deciding what to do next. So last week we played Ark Nova which is simply not a game I think I enjoy, though this time May have been a bit better than the first time I played it. And last night played a couple of short games because my neighborhood is having our Front Yard Cycle Sale today, and these were KS mistakes from long before I knew what I liked in games but I did want to try them before giving them away. Luckily (?) I didn’t enjoy them so they’re easy to part with (I have a lot that I need to sell and these were going to be in that pile).

    4. Emotional support capybara*

      Chugging along in Yakuza 0. The substories and minigames are deep fried gold drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with powdered sugar.

      Kiryu rescued a middle-aged lady who then tried to lure him into an MLM last night. You have the option to fall for it. If I hadn’t been saving up for a piece of real estate I would have bought in just to see if this big scary ex-yakuza ended up begging his associates to buy canned water.

    5. MEH Squared*

      Still playing Elden Ring. Will be playing it for the rest of my life. Got Loot River (Straka Studios) on Game Pass and it’s Tetris crossed with dungeon crawling. I’m excited to give it a try.

  19. Podcast person*

    Give me your favourite podcast recommendations! So tired of economics and news podcasts, but somehow that’s all Apple Podcasts keeps suggesting to me.

    1. PollyQ*

      How Did This Get Made? It’s dedicated to dissecting bad movies in great detail, while being funny as hell. The regular cast includes actual Hollywood personnel (including Jason Mantzoukas), and they’ve had some big name guests, too. Kevin Smith visited for the Batman & Robin breakdown. Warning: the language can get very R-rated. VERY. But if you don’t mind that kind of thing, then may I recommend you start with the episode they recorded for The Notebook. Hilarious!

      1. mreasy*

        The new episode about ‘Grand Piano’ is INCREDIBLE. June is just the greatest. Seconding this recommendation!

      2. CTT*

        A recommendation also along those lines is This Had Oscar Buzz, about movies that were expected to be nominated for Oscars and were not (so movies like Water for Elephants, Money Monster, Woman in Gold). Some of the movies they cover are good and it’s genuinely sad they got no nominations (Hustlers! A Most Violent Year!) but the fun episodes are the really bad movies (Tulip Fever, the Tourist, J Edgar). They tend to look at why the movie had buzz, the reception, and then what ended up being the actual Oscar narrative that year. Very fun if you are into awards shows.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Chop Bard and the sister show Shakespeare Sundays with Chop Bard. The first goes very in-depth about the plays (Romeo and Juliet takes 16 episodes, to give you an idea) and crucially treats them like the popular entertainment they were rather than Peak Literature. It’s even got a special jingle for when the host begins talking about something particularly crude – like pears. It’s also hosted by an actor so he brings his own experience into it as well, such as commenting on lines that are difficult to bring.
      Shakespeare Sundays deals with things that didn’t make it into the main show, and now they’re also doing the sonnets – so far the only podcast I’ve found that does the sonnets.

      The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine. This is a short series by SBS Italian that if I understand correctly is available in both Italian and English. They discuss some lesser known Italian products…like a cheese that legally can’t be sold because it contains live maggots and is unpasteurised.

      1. Not a cat*

        I think Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsey visited a farmer who makes casu modde. All I can remember is the maggot jump. Freaked me out.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Yep! It’s recommended you cover your eyes when serving it.

          I’m pretty curious about food but I think I’ll draw the line at “food that requires unusual safety gear”.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      -Stuff You Missed in History Class
      -Bananas! (A podcast about silly stories in yhe news)
      -Deeply Human, a BBC podcast hosted by rapper Dessa (who was on the Hamilton mixtape and has a degree in philosophy) about the science between the thoughts and behaviors that make up human nature. It’s very fun and science-y in a way that’s great for non-scientists
      -Unwanted, which is a fictional story acted out like an old times radio show. Two civilians turn bounty hunters for an escaped murderer to cash in on the reward. Hilarity ensues.

    4. mreasy*

      Maintenance Phase, You’re Wrong About, and Swindled are some faves. I assume you aren’t into true crime since that genre is extremely well-represented in podcasts, but if you are, I am a My Favorite Murder lifer and also really enjoy That’s Messed Up and Tenfold More Wicked on their network.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Terrible Lizards. About dinosaurs, and occasional other things. From this I learned that bats emit the sonar squeaks with their noses.

      You’re Dead To Me, about history topics. From this I learned about Zheng Yi Sao, legendary Chinese pirate.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Slow Burn delving into historical American political history. Each of the 7 seasons have a different topic.

      They’re starting on Roe vs Wade in June. Until then the seasons on Watergate, Bill Clinton impeachment, LA Riots we’re particularly interesting to me. The first episode of the watergate season was the inspiration for the new Starz series Gaslit.

      It just looks back at charged history and covers things things you never knew, never understood, or forgot.

    7. Schuyler*

      Oh that’s a hard question! But at least no news or econ gives a bit of direction.

      – Stuff You Missed in History Class: This is mothers first one I listened to circa 2008… I’m not as regular anymore but always recommend!
      – Vulgar Women: Another history podcast, some like some are annoyed, but I enjoy it. The scale is silly though.
      – Not Just the Tudors: History (seems to be a theme here). Suzannah Lipscomb interviews people in a non-Tudor topic from around that era.
      – You Must Remember This: Informed, scholarly-like discussion (in that she does copious amounts of research and has a degree in film) on Hollywood’s first century.
      – Aria Code: Rhiannon Giddens explores opera with experts and artists by examining a single aria in each episode.
      – Infamous America: Back to history. Focuses on tales in US history, typically 5-10 episode seasons.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Seconding You Must Remember This! I’m really loving the current season!

    8. bassclefchick*

      If you want to check out some celebrity podcasts, here are my choices!
      Alan Alda Clear + Vivid. It’s a communication podcast. Mostly about how scientists can communicate their research to a lay person. He has interesting guests and I just love his voice.
      Literally! with Rob Lowe. He just chats with his guests and the conversations are fascinating. The episodes with Henry Winkler and Valerie Bertinelli were my favorites!
      Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown. It’s a mental health podcast.
      Also, if you’re into them, Downton Abbey and Bridgerton have official podcasts.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend Sounds Like a Cult, Media Storm, Maintenance Phase, and Ladies, We Need to Talk.

    10. Aealias*

      This American Life – documentary news-ish? Not current events, necessarily, but investigations into real things. I’m not American, but it’s really about humans being human.
      Snap Judgement – stories, true and not, nightly variable. Shorter format.
      Critical Role – there’s a LOT of back-episodes. I’ve been listening for two years and haven’t caught up yet. It’s improv story-telling by professional actors, specifically in the fantasy context of their D&D game. Early episodes have variable sound quality, but a strong sense of being invited into someone’s living room and friend circle. More recent episodes have much higher production values, and a balancing sense of awareness of the audience – a lot more polished, a little less personal. Strongly recommend NOT trying to listen to an episode at a time! They’re between 3 and 5 hours long. I listen while I walk or drive or do dishes, and chip away at each episode over 2-3 days. There are effectively four different campaigns, with independent storylines, so recommend starting at the beginning of a season. Episodes are labelled by campaign and episode, so look for Critical Role Geek and Sundry (the black on white logo) “Vox Machina Episode 1”, or Critical Role (the white on black logo) “C2E1” “Exandria Unlimited Episode 1” or “C3E1”.

    11. North Wind*

      The Vanished by Marissa Jones: True Crime covering unsolved missing persons cases which are still unsolved. This isn’t a lurid, sensationalist ick kind of true crime podcast, the host does pretty deep investigations of folks who often don’t get much coverage or attention by the media and/or police (folks who struggle with drug use, or may be homeless, or somehow less than perfect). A really compassionate look at the whole person and their family, with the aim to bring new leads/focus to the case. Some of these have been solved/resolved, and she posts updates when they are.

      Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell. These are two British comedians who started the podcast during the pandemic to chat through the challenges of parenting in lockdown. I’m not even a parent and I absolutely love this show. I was already familiar with Rob and Josh though other British TV shows when I started listening, so I was already primed to enjoy it I guess. Heads up that is very swear-y. And I’d recommend starting from the very beginning of the episodes.

      1. North Wind*

        Also, not exactly a podcast but still a thing to listen to from your phone :)…

        The Unbelievable Truth, a 30 minute radio panel game show that can be found on BBC Sounds. Four (usually British) comedians/celebs deliver a very short “lecture” on a random topic (it can be anything – Nicholas Cage, colors, goldfish, etc) where only 5 of the facts asserted are true. Panelists have to guess the true facts.

      2. fposte*

        I love Parenting Hell too! It’s about male friendship as much as anything, and they’re good at interviewing their guests, so it doesn’t matter if I know who they are. (But who knew the Hanson guys would be hilarious?)

        1. North Wind*

          I know right? I remember some time ago an episode where they’re just going on and on about the bins (trash cans) and I was thinking, this isn’t really anything but I’d just as soon listen to this than anything else. It’s like the Seinfeld of podcasts, sometimes just a show about nothing (i.e. the trivialities of life).

    12. Other Meredith*

      My absolute favorite podcast is Tooth and Claw, a podcast about animal attacks and how to be safer in nature. It’s hilarious and often gruesome, and I have an intense podcast crush on Jeff, one of the hosts.

      I also recently got really into some Jane Austen podcasts, Pod and Prejudice which is an Austen fan guiding a newbie through the books one chapter at a time (they’ve done Pride and Prejudice and just finished Sense and Sensibility. Season 3 will be Emma), and The Thing About Austen, which does deep dives into specific small references in the books to give more historical context. I have learned so much from them!

      1. pancakes*

        Tooth and Claw looks really interesting, so thanks for that! My boyfriend is the one who bought our bear bells for hiking, which I hated wearing, I think I’d rather be eaten by a bear, so I bet he’ll like it too.

    13. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Overdue, a general books podcast (logo is green, hosts are Craig and Andrew I think). I only listen to those I’ve read the book for, since they do go into spoilers usually, but they have over 500 episodes so I’ll not run out for a while.

      I’m new to living in Canada so am enjoying learning from The Secret Life of Canada – about Canadian history but not the stuff that I’m guessing is on the citizenship exam! The hosts are an Indigenous woman and a Black woman whose parents migrated from Barbados, so there is a lot of focus on the history of marginalized groups.

    14. Dwight Schrute*

      I rotate through a few:
      Stuff you should know
      Morbid
      Cog dog radio- case studies from a trainer who works with behavioral cases
      My dad wrote a porno
      Ridiculous crime

    15. pancakes*

      You Must Remember This, which I see a few other people have mentioned. I’m a former film student and still love movies so that’s a must for me.

      Citations Needed, for news & media analysis.

      Bird Note Daily, which is one minute long,
      so, easy to catch up with!

      How Long Gone – two fashion dudes with guests.

      Hollyworld – writer Molly Lambert’s podcast on the madame Heidi Fleiss.

      Nota Bene – art world gossip.

      1. pancakes*

        Sorry, BirdNote Daily is one word and two minutes. I thought that seemed too short so went to check.

        Also, they’re not making new episodes, but Dear Joan and Jericha is hilarious. Fictional advice columnists / agony aunts who give inappropriately self-involved, inane advice, and often get weirdly sexual about it. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re the sort of person who appreciates, say, John Waters movies, it’s very funny.

  20. Podcast person*

    Give me your favourite podcast recommendations! So tired of economics and news podcasts, but somehow that’s all Apple Podcasts keeps suggesting to me.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Terrible Lizards – it’s a funny but educational podcast about dinosaurs.

      You’re Dead To Me – same, but for history. I do not think it’s been updated recently but there are plenty of back episodes and although it’s a British podcast the history is international. Eg there’s a fascinating episode on Sacagawea.

      No Such Thing As A Fish – done by the QI Elves i.e the researchers behind the TVshow QI so if you like that sort of content, fascinating information on all sorts of subjects, then you might like this.

      I am British and so are all the above podcasts, but if you are American then you can chuckle at our adorable accents and odd phraseology! :-)

  21. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I’ve got one more note to finish and then I can hit the hay and drop them where they need to go. (Procrastination is my superpower.) I’ll be glad to get them done.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. esemess*

      1. I’m on long-term travel for work and my family/friends have been so kind in reaching out! Including videos of my adorable baby niece and FaceTime with my BFF and her dog!
      2. My red finger and toe nails. :)
      3. Getting positive feedback on things I’ve done.
      4. Massage scheduled for the weekend!
      5. Access to library books, even when far away.

    2. StellaBella*

      Getting a handshake from my CEO, who also said good job, and also getting to hug a few coworkers I have not seen in a long time, and also getting some books to read that are pure fluff.

    3. river*

      I decided to change my planner style, so I bought a new planner that has more room for cute and colourful sticky notes and stickers. It makes me happy to have plenty of room for whimsy!

    4. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Having found an app that actually helps me be productive without feeling judged for how small my achievements are. I’ve had an unusually (for me) productive week and that’s a joy for me :)

    5. UKDancer*

      I made a really awesome beef goulash earlier in the week. I have a BBC Good Food recipe which is probably not authentically Hungarian (according to the comments on the site) but very good. I’ve tinkered with it slightly and I think my version is even better. It made 2 tupperwares of leftovers which I’ve frozen so I can have them on week nights when I get back from the office late.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        That sounds nice I must look it up – I do like BBC Good Food recipes. And i never worry about authenticity – I’m making dinner not an anthropological exhibit!

    6. Madame Arcati*

      I got a new rug for my (hard floor) lounge and it’s not only perfect in colour and pattern and general effect in the room, it was reduced in price and a veritable bargain!
      A thing of beauty is a joy forever; possibly for even longer when it’s 25% off!

    7. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got my second Supernatural tattoo on Thursday, and I love it. Which is a good thing since I’m stuck with it, lol! It’ll be my last one for a while, but I plan on a Jurassic World one at some point since I’m a huge nerd. :)

    8. Can't think of a funny name*

      My girl kitty didn’t have any fur on 1/2 her belly…when she was shaved for her spay 5 years ago, the fur just didn’t grow back…well, lately she’s had an infection on her belly and in the process of treating that, fur has started to grow! It’s like little peach fuzz right now, I hope it keeps growing. :)

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My puppy Abigail is now 12 weeks old, has doubled in size (25 pounds now) since she came home at 8 weeks, and is doing great in her puppy class! She went to a puppy playdate at the local Petsmart this week and apparently made good buddies with a 3-month old Dobie, they were alternating between playing together and sitting next to each other leaning on each other.

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      Today is the 2nd Gotcha day for my cat! She’s a sweetheart weirdo who is now chittering at the birds and attempted to jump onto the windowsill but it was closed. She glanced off it. LOL she’s totally fine and hasn’t learned her lesson.

    11. Girasol*

      Volunteer work with Fish and Game. We were up in the hills checking to see if the native plants put in to recover the area after a wildfire were surviving well. It’s fun work with good friends and the views up there are breathtaking.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That sounds wonderful. This weekend I attended a training to monitor and be a docent for threatened snowy plovers nesting on the shoreline of a national park.

    12. L. Ron Jeremy*

      My MIL’s sister works at Sees Candies and she gifted us a box of nuts and chews.

      Lasted two days. Yum.

    13. beentheredonethat*

      I was all excited to share and realized I would mention that other place. I got a unexpected compliment.

    14. North Wind*

      I bought a kind of pricey (for me), hand-made vase specifically for flower bouquets from an art coop awhile back, but hadn’t put it to use yet. I was feeling a bit gloomy this week and added fresh-cut flowers to my online grocery order. You can’t really specify exactly which flowers you get, and I was hoping for something red, orange, and/or yellow. I ended up with pink gerberas, and pink is definitely not something I’d ever choose myself.

      I kind of just rolled my eyes at myself (I could obviously choose the exact flowers I want if I could be bothered to go into the grocery myself, I just hate shopping so much) and put the flowers in the vase. They are really perfectly gorgeous. They’re in a corner of the room, right in the line of sight from my computer, right next to the sliding glass door through which is a huge tree blooming with pink flowers.

      It totally gives me a lift every time I look over that way. That whole side of the room is just open, sunlit, and gorgeous.

    15. RosyGlasses*

      I have been working on my first large canvas painting in almost 20 years and it’s been so therapeutic (and doesn’t look all that bad!).

    16. Might Be Spam*

      I won a door prize at a health fair on Wednesday. I had a really nice chat with the person who created the gift basket and let her know how much I liked the contents that she chose.

    17. allathian*

      My son and I oiled all of our deck & garden furniture this weekend. I’m sore from all the weird positions, but at least our FSC certified wooden furniture’s protected from the weather for another year.

      We also planted some potatoes. Or rather, my son and MIL planted them together, but they’re in our garden.

  22. Better late than never*

    I’ve always known I was “weird” and have been okay with that, but I realised during the pandemic and the lockdowns what a relief it was to not have to go into the grocery store and not have to go into the office. Then a friend received an autism diagnosis and suggested gently that I might also be autistic. Looking at my life through the lens of autism made so many things make more sense (constant struggled with my parents about my “tone” or my “attitude”, spectacularly bad friendship disintegrations that seemed inexplicable at the time, inability to process feelings, massive social anxieties, hating certain sounds and foods, refusing to go to parties because they are just not fun in any way, becoming hyper-focused on my interests, melting down when plans change…). I’ve also read loads about autism and how the socialisation of girls and the diagnostic process itself means that many girls and women are never assessed or receive incorrect diagnoses.

    So I took the plunge and am on a wait list for an assessment. I’d love to hear from anyone else who was diagnosed late (I am solidly middle aged) – how was your assessment? What do you wish you had known before getting assessed? Did you disclose that you were getting an assessment to anyone beyond your immediate family?

    Thank you!

    1. Dragonfly7*

      May I ask how you managed to get onto a list, and what type of provider is doing the assessment? I have enough traits to be suspicious but also a history of medical providers not always taking me seriously, so it might be helpful to know what to ask for.

      1. Better late than never*

        Private psychologists in my country accept self-referrals. So I was able to get myself on the waiting list. (It’s expensive, but they do have a payment plan option. And it’s high 3-figures expensive, so I’m fortunate to be able to have some disposable income to absorb the cost.) The place I’m using is a private practice that exclusively works with adults.

        I have the same history (I once went to a doctor for chronic fatigue and he told me “that’s not really a symptom. Come back when you have real symptoms that I can use”….yeah, he is not my doctor anymore.) So if I’d had to go through a GP, I might have been more reluctant to pursue a formal diagnosis. My concern about a GP is that they would not be familiar with all the presentations of autism and would have their own biases.

        I would recommend going on Twitter and using the #AskingAutistic hashtag to ask how people got their assessments.

      2. Steve Holt!*

        I will be in Atlanta Georgia for a few days in june. Any recommendations for great restaurants or places I should try to see while I’m there?

  23. esemess*

    I think I’m pretty average with money (no debt, but I could be better about strategically making my money work for me).

    I’m curious about two things:
    1. What is something you like to treat yourself to when you have disposable income? (I like to hire someone to clean my house!)
    2. What’s a way that you are strategic with savings/investing, when that is a financial option for you? (I up my 401k when I get a COLA increase.)

    1. LDN Layabout*

      1) Travel, always travel. Whether it’s a weekend away or a big splashy holiday, it’s where any money I can justify spending on myself goes.

      2) Saving for a deposit at the moment and having changed jobs, I am ‘living’ off my old salary and the excess is going into the bank. Same with the tax changes in July which will increase take home pay here in the UK. In my head the money goes into a ‘doesn’t exist’ category so I can’t spend it!

    2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      When we get our annual bonuses, I defer as much as possible into retirement account (along with regular payday contributions).

    3. UKDancer*

      The cleaner is definitely an essential for me now I’ve got one. It makes my flat so much nicer having someone in regularly to clean it.

      I also indulge myself with a massage when I have spare money because I love how good it makes me feel to spend an hour being pampered and having the knots in my back worked out. I also sometimes buy a really good steak from my butcher and cook it very simply with chips and salad.

      In terms of saving money when I got promoted a year ago and had a bit more money I started buying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) to sit alongside my company pension and perhaps help me retire a little earlier.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      #2. One of the best calls I have made in terms of handling money was to take any inheritances no matter the size and set them to one side as if I never got them. I did make investments with them but I otherwise did not touch them. The sense of having a safety net was priceless. And in the end, when I need that safety net, it was there and it rescued me.

    5. mreasy*

      Travel and/or a nice meal out.
      We hired a financial planner to help us be most effective for retirement with our savings and it was a game changer. She wasn’t super expensive or anything, just really helpful in explaining the investment types & making recommendations.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      1) We eat out. Other options are very limited due to Covid.
      2) Always pay yourself first – meaning save money (ideally 10% but whatever you can) from every paycheck, every income source. This worked out extremely well for us.

    7. Fikly*

      The biggest tip I can give about investing is that whatever type you do, use some version of an index fund. Over the long term, they always, always do better than anything run by a human, and they always have lower fees, because they aren’t run by humans. So it’s win win. They cannot be beat, whatever you are investing in, as long as it’s long term.

      Then never look at the numbers again, because when they are bad you will be tempted to change things.

    8. Sundial*

      I’ve just started an I Bond ladder, since HYSA rates are in the toilet. I’ll keep a rotation going from my e-fund, so there’s always some coming up for maturity. It’s a nice hedge against inflation without taking on the risk of my actual investments.

    9. overeducated*

      1. A summer pool pass. It could wind up costing a little more than the punch card, but I get a kick out of going whenever we want and not having to ration or calculate trips.

      2. My partner and I are finally, as of 2022, maxing out our 401(k)s and Roth IRAs. This is well over the 15% (standard) and 25% (pessimistic) recommendations at our income levels, so we live in a much smaller space than I would like, but we have a lot of catching up to do after many years of not even having access to employer retirement accounts.

  24. Wi-fi seeker*

    Wi-fi question. I spend a few weeks each summer at a cottage by the beach, and it is fabulous. My only issue is the wi-fi, which is very spotty. The cottage doesn’t have its own wi-fi; it just picks up the wi-fi signal from the main building. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And when it does work, it’s only in a specific part of the cottage where I can get the signal. I thought I’d post here in case there’s a solution that I don’t know about. Is there anything I can buy for my computer that will allow me to have my own wifi while I’m there?

    1. GraceC*

      How’s your data connection (3G, 4G etc) at the cottage? (And I suppose how expensive is your data, as well, since I think it’s considerably more expensive in some countries like the US than it is here in the UK, from what I’ve heard?)

      If you have a good data connection, could you buy a bigger data package for the month that you’re there and then connect your laptop to mobile data via hotspot? My workplace bought some of the portable wireless wifi routers for wifi-less meeting rooms and they did work, but they were considerably more expensive than a month of unlimited data.

      1. Wi-fi seeker*

        I hadn’t thought about just using my data. I think there’s a good data connection, so buying a bigger package is a good option. As far as a router, would it work when there is no wi-fi modem in the cottage itself? I’m sorry if that’s a stupid question. I don’t know much about this.

        1. Just another queer reader*

          You can buy a device called a “portable hotspot” or “mobile hotspot.” It connects to the cell phone network and creates a wifi network for you to connect to. About $50 at Best Buy, and another $50 for a month of data. This option would work best if the place you’re staying has good cell signal.

          https://www.bestbuy.com/site/simple-mobile-moxee-4g-no-contract-mobile-hotspot-black/6412518.p?skuId=6412518

          Another option is a satellite-based internet system, but I think that would get super expensive.

          1. Dragonfly7*

            I scrolled down to also make the hotspot suggestion. That’s actually what my mother uses full-time, so she takes it when she travels.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      You can get a Wi-Fi booster that you plug in at the dead spots. My router and the place where I sit to work (so need Wi-Fi for the vpn) have an oddly large distance between them for not a very big house, owing to the layout, so I got a booster having searched for recommendations online (I used Which?).
      The one I have is a SpeedTech and judging by the socket adaptor it came with, is available in the US, but you may want to do your own research. They can also be called Wi-Fi range extenders as well as Wi-Fi boosters.

      1. WellRed*

        I feel like this wouldn’t work. Doesn’t the booster need to be within a certain range?

      2. Wi-fi seeker*

        The modem is not in the cottage. It is in another building used by the owners. Would a booster still work?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If the booster GETS wifi signal, it will be able to boost the wifi signal, but it sounds like even that part is dodgy.

      3. pancakes*

        We have one in our hall because our apartment is in an ancient building with very dense walls, and it does help keep the signal to the bedroom more consistent, less spotty. But, we have the modem here as well.

    3. SnootyGirl*

      We had that same issue where our main building had the wi-fi and our outbuilding struggled with the connection. We bought a wi-fi extender/booster (≈ $20 – $50 USD) and it made a big difference. It just plugs into an outlet.

  25. Lady Whistledown*

    Respect/Disrespect in relationships

    I’m starting to realize that due to a number of life changes, I’ve been struggling to respect my partner and it’s starting to affect, well, everything. We’re already in therapy and have a regularly scheduled date night along with wonderful childcare help. If we met today, it’s unlikely we would even date, much less marry. But we have a young son and there are many things we do love about each other.

    If you’ve ever had a relationship rough patch, how did you get through? John Gottman lists contempt as the most dangerous relationship sin and I’m not there but I’m probably closer than I’d like to be and I want to rebuild. He’s a good person who has supported me during my struggles and who adores our kiddo. I think that this “season” will eventually pass but I am having a hard time feeling emotional positivity and closeness.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I do think relationships mature and in part that stems from our needs changing. There is definitely a honeymoon period where everything is just wonderful. Then real life steps in. What we needed at the beginning can become secondary to what we need in current time.

      My husband and I had a running joke. “It’s your turn to have IT, isn’t it?” The “IT” we were referring to was when one of us remembered why we were together. We used the comment when one of us responded kindly to the other one’s thoughtless comment.
      I think part of what helped us was the ability to laugh at our own folly/foibles. “Yeah, I was getting cranky there. You’re right we need to fix the car instead of going shopping.” Or just acknowledging brain farts that morph into a larger problem. If we can laugh at some of the simpler problems that are just part of being human, we can get back the bigger picture.

      Love changes. It’s not the parades and fireworks it was at the beginning. Nor should it be really. Day to day life can get tedious and get down right hard. I got a lot of use out of the idea that love is a commitment, not an emotion. If we wait for emotions to help us make the right choices, we can wait forever. But if we think about our commitment we can cover more ground quicker.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Whoops. Wanted to add, it makes sense that you might not pick each out at this stage in life. We change, hopefully at least, as we go through life. But we’d find this with any mate/partner. Everyone changes with age and there is no way to know how our chosen person will change over the years. That is an unknown in any relationship.

      2. Lady Whistledown*

        Thank you so much for commenting! Love the addition of humor and it’s one of my favorite coping mechanisms. I adore all our little inside jokes and the way we’ve often been able to reframe sad or stressful events into something silly or funny.

        I have a wonderful therapist I just started with and we’re in couple’s therapy so I feel like the recent breakthrough for me is that I don’t respect him as much as I used to (he’s been unemployed for over 9 months, though with some mitigating circumstances around physician and mental health) and while I’m exhausted, maybe this is the part where the rubber hits the road. The emotions aren’t there, but maybe the acts of kindness and commitment can be. I think I’ve spent so much time resenting the things he can change without sitting down with all the non-chore things that I can change.

    2. J C Books*

      Read the 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. It teaches a life skill and makes a huge difference!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ehhh that book has a strong evangelical bent. It’s got its usefulness – knowing how you express love vs your partner can be helpful, but only if you’re both communicating well.

        OP, can you point to something that has made you lose respect for your partner? Might be worth probing that a bit. (In therapy, not necessarily here.)

      2. Lady Whistledown*

        We did find that book helpful early on in our marriage but at this particular stage it’s almost more of an accelerator for resentment because it’s not that we don’t know what the other person needs, it’s that one or both us are exhausted and don’t seem to have the bandwidth to devote to it. Like, if I’m treading water as the breadwinner, I don’t have the energy for a lot of physical affection. And if he’s battling mental health demons, he doesn’t always get to acts of service around the house.

        I think this thread is helping me sit with my different choices. Kind of like having a bad boss. You can choose to acknowledge the pros of staying in your current position or you can take a risk and look elsewhere. What’s pointless is sitting and just feeling frustrated.

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      I can relate to this! Here’s what helped for me:

      -hubby doing his own work in therapy and just treating me better, strengthening our closeness and bond. We started to do the things you’re doing – so this isn’t something I’m including as advice for you but rather that I’m writing a thorough response – like daily dinners together without TV, Thursday night date nights where we tried to go out and experience something new.

      -Couples therapy, which encouraged me to do more boundary setting with him (and in life generally). I also did my own trauma work with all the quarantine quiet time. That helped a lot, now I’m working on boundary setting (like not managing his emotions or difficult family).

      -I also think just reminding myself of what he did well — he does a lot around the house like getting the roof fixed but also day to day things like groceries. He’s responsible. He’s smart and fun to talk about ideas with. I like his values / politics. He’s a good co-dog-guardian (I’m trying not to say dog dad bc human dependents are so different than canine dependents). I need to do this often.

      -time apart – I have been traveling a bit – long weekends away with friends. It helps. It makes me happier to come home and see him / the creatures.

      I think – at the end of the day – he just had to grow with me, to evolve the relationship as our lives and life stages evolved. I often think about people in arranged marriages and how they’re not less happy than folks who fell in love and got married — I think some of that might be more that their relationships turn into partnerships vs. what dating felt like. I like having a reliable partner by my side.

      There are tons of things wrong or that if we’re up to me to change about him, I would. Like, If he paid more attention & invested in his health? I’d be so grateful. But I can only support what he’s doing, not foist it upon him. There are others, but I think that’s just the nature of knowing someone well.

      I think the company for tiny little moments of shared joy – right now, coffee, dogs, sunlight, and breakfast cake – are what make me treasure it.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        This is such a treasure to read – thank you for sharing your personal journey! I couldn’t agree more that ultimately it’s about doing the work and remembering to feel grateful. I think I have slipped into a critical mindset that I wouldn’t use on a friend and so it feels unkind to save it for my spouse. We’re in the middle of a stressful family health event and I’m finding myself thinking that this is the time to reset and focus on the positive moving forward. I don’t expect things to get better overnight, but I’m encouraged that every action I’m considering is fully within my control.

    4. RagingADHD*

      We had a real rough patch after an intensely stressful period in our lives. I definitely struggled with respect.

      What helped me was to really examine my expectations for him, and sort out what was valid vs unreasonable.

      Some of it was that I was leaning too much on him to try and meet all my emotional needs, which is not reasonable for one person to do. I needed to find other people I could lean on, too.

      Some of it was that I blamed him for not handling the stressful time better. He has human flaws and weaknesses, and I had to work through accepting them.

      Some of it was that I felt burdened by him leaning on me too much for his emotional needs, too–especially in the midst of so much stress. He also needed to find others to lean on.

      And some of it was that I was creeping into a parental role. He is a perfectly capable adult, but he has different priorities and does things differently than I do. We had fallen into a pattern where I wanted things done my way, and he was trying to be agreeable (to not cause conflict) but I would be dissatisfied and swoop in, taking the responsibility away from him. The martyr syndrome of “I have to do everything around here!”

      Part of restoring respect for him was respecting his right to be different.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        I forget sometimes, too, that we’re in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with a young child and maybe WW3 and it’s… ok to be struggling. We’re human and I think being ok with my flaws means I really ought to extend more grace to his. When we first got married, I love the way our differences so elegantly balanced with each other. The day to day grind of managing a house together as different people has worn me down but I think this is a good time to pause and spend more time nurturing gratitude for the wonderful traits he does have.

        1. Stephanie*

          My husband and I had some struggles when we had little kids, because that’s just a difficult stage of parenting (and marriage). It’s extremely hard to find any time for yourself, and the day-to-day grind is sometimes crushing. Just getting the kids and myself dressed, fed and out the door took a massive amount of effort sometimes. Not to mention keeping up with household chores. Throw working at a job in there, and it’s a lot of stress. You have a pandemic and a husband with health issues on top of all of that. It’s… a LOT.
          (Our kids are now technically adults, but back home with us due to the pandemic. It’s not easy sometimes, but, believe me that it’s still a whole lot easier than when they were little.)
          Try to give yourself a bit of grace. I think that it’s much easier to be kind to others when we can find a way to be kind to ourselves.

          1. Lady Whistledown*

            Thank you so much for sharing your story! I think one of the worst parts of this pandemic has been how deeply deeply lonely it has been. So many people suffering alone without the comfort of broader routines and larger communities. (I realize that might sound like I’m anti-public health precautions. I’m definitely not! We wear our masks and for vaccinated ASAP and wish more people would take the pandemic seriously. It’s just that this is hard in a different way).

            I think the plan ahead is to slow waaaaaaay down and focus on just the essentials for right now. Family and health and rest. Sending warm wishes to you and your family as you navigate this crazy time too!

    5. Sister Michael*

      My partner and I had a couples counselor that used the Gottman method and it helped us immensely. We’d been married 15+ years by then and well, infatuation was long gone of course. Some things that I still use today and which might be helpful for you:
      1. I care about this person and I like this person. Am I acting in a way that is caring? How do we keep building our friendship?
      2. Each of us contributes to our relationship. I almost see the “relationship” as another dependent in our life, like another child! Are my actions in the best interest of the relationship? If something is harmful to the relationship, it needs to be addressed.
      3. It really doesn’t matter if I agree with my partner’s feelings in a situation. I need to listen to them, validate their feelings, and find out what positive need I can fulfill. I can ask to be seen and heard, but behavior is a much trickier area to navigate.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        “ 1. I care about this person and I like this person. Am I acting in a way that is caring? How do we keep building our friendship?”

        Oh wow this is EXACTLY what I needed to read on this. Thank you so much for taking the time to share! It gets to the heart of how much I’ve been struggling and how I think it’s caused me to treat him as a burden/lazy roommate instead of as a beloved friend and partner who needs help.

        Truly thank you for helping me find the right words to reframe my thinking. It doesn’t feel good to realize I’ve been hurting someone I care about but it gives me a way to change my attitude and actions moving forward.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Sometimes the rough patch resolves, sometimes it doesn’t.
      At some point, you’ll be ready to decide if you’re staying or not. Please remember your young son is watching and learning how relationships are managed.
      My niece was married to a man who became too depressed to continue working. He wouldn’t take his meds nor help himself or the marriage. After several years, my niece divorced him.
      My parents had a rough patch for 3 years. They stayed together.
      It’s your call, when you’re ready. Sending good thoughts.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your stories and grace. In my bad moments it has felt like it’d be easier to just start over and do this all myself. But when I step back I do feel gratitude for the history we have and the memories we’ve made. I watch him play with our son and it feels me with such joy. It impossible to predict the future but I’m feeling encouraged to keep trying.

    7. Batgirl*

      Disrespect is a spoken action as well as a feeling and the best advice I ever got from a counselor was to ban it in my speech, as a first step. So if you find yourself saying to your partner “You are doing (or not doing) x because of y” that is disrespectful because usually y is usually a negative judgement (or worse, an analysis of their childhood). Even when it’s a positive word, you’re analysing them and talking for them instead of asking them (and sometimes even the words “why are you doing that” can feel disrespectful to the hearer if disrespect has become a pattern.) It’s simpler to just communicate your own thoughts and simply say “that bothers me”. This is something we avoid saying, because it feels safer to avoid being a complainer. So we wait until we’re so resentful that we have created enough resent and disrespect to motivate us, and then when we bring it up, we phrase it as a you-problem rather than a this-bothers-me-problem. When the disrespect is not something you’re saying out loud and is still just a feeling, then it’s an action on the other person’s part which is causing you resentment. Again, it’s best to say that it bothers you in no uncertain terms as quickly as possible, and expect the other person to respect that enough to brainstorm a solution.

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      The Gottmans offer a package of relationship questions you talk through and conversations you have, a lot about hopes and dreams and things you don’t normally talk about as a couple. They model how to listen and how to be supportive and how to make some plans together. We found it really helpful.

    9. Tib*

      I think what’s helped me most is to think of love as an action and not a feeling. It’s also a choice you get to make every day. I’ve also found help with Dan Savage’s “Price of Admission” talk and a NYT article called “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”. (I read the book as well, but I got more out of the article.) I hesitate to mention both of those for fear of being misunderstood. The Price of Admission reminds me that there are costs to everything and to see how those are balanced by the fun ride my life is with my partner. And Shamu reminds me that there are other ways to get things done and to be creative in reducing friction.

      It sounds to me like you’re all moving in positive directions. Learning and changing can be rough. I remember when my son was little and we’d have this intense period full of angst and tantrums and then suddenly all would be calm and he’d have a new skill to show-off. It could be helpful to think of yourself in that jagged stage and that things will smooth out and you’ll have new skills to share. Another way to think of it is you’re over the top of the mountain, working your way down. Going down a mountain can be harder sometimes than going up, but you’re still almost over the mountain.

      And then there are the ever applicable words of my son’s preschool teacher: “We’re all doing the best we can.”

  26. Kindle Unlimited Suggestions*

    I was gifted kindle unlimited but I find I don’t know what to read on there. I’ve started a lot of books that just aren’t for me. I’m don’t like awkward situations but find a hard time defining what exactly bothers me. I’d love suggestions in paranormal romance, I like Christine Feehan and Nalini Singh. I also like Christian fiction like Dee Henderson. It’s a long shot, but thought I’d ask.

    1. Pardoname*

      I recommend checking out Shai August. Her worlds are a bit bonkers, but in a fun way, but she is incredibly readable. Also hard recommend on Lucy Eden stuff. Although hers is more fun silly.

    2. J C Books*

      I enjoy these authors: Lisa Scottoline, Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult, Colleen Coble

    3. Julia*

      DUDE—the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is phenomenal. And the series The Others by Anne Bishop.

      1. Princess Xena*

        If you like Mercy Thompson I would also check out Ilona Andrews, especially the Innkeeper books. They’re amazing

        1. Julia*

          Oh gosh I love Ilona andrews too! I’ve just read the Kate Daniels series. It’s awesome.

    4. Aealias*

      You might enjoy GA Aiken (and if you do, then Stephanie Laurenston). They’re pretty sweary, though, be aware.
      Lynsay Sands writes modern vampire romances that are light and fun. Ilona Andrews’ Blaze series is also great adventure/drama/romance with minimal cringe or second-hand embarrassment.
      The Others series by Anne Bishop (recommended above) is a favourite, but not a romance series. More, there are relationship themes because people have relationships.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Try some of the Amanda M Lee books- she’s got a ton of series that have paranormal cozy mystery themes with of course some love interests

    6. beach read*

      Late reply but the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning is awesome. I highly recommend. Karen Robards wrote a series that was good, the Charlotte Stone series. Other authors that write some good paranormal books are Jayne Ann Krentz and Gena Showalter.

  27. Bibliovore*

    Any recommendations for sites to create a checklist for the bathroom renovation?
    I am having memory issues and am worried that I will forget something or not know what I don’t know.
    I have created an excel sheet.
    For example- tile, style number, color, vendor, quantity, order date, delivery date, actual delivery date, price, invoice date, date paid, amount paid, notes. Who (designer, me, contractor, subcontractor etc)
    Am I missing anything?
    Looks like August start (supply chain issues)

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Your list is pretty similar to mine – I’m renovating in late July/August. I’m also recording measurements (picking out fixtures this morning), and notes from conversations with my contractor. Today I’m going to take all of the “before” pictures, because I’m afraid I’ll forget to do it before they start.

    2. Red Sky*

      Agree with the suggestions for measurements and notes from conversations with contractor, I’d also add an Issues column for unexpected issues that may need follow-up. For example, Subway tile arrived but 15 were broken, supplier states replacements will be sent by 5/29/22

      I’m living vicariously thru your bathroom reno, ours is sorely in need but it isn’t financially realistic right now.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t forget deadline dates on contracts. Never leave a job open-ended on final completion dates and never pay for the whole job in advance. Plan on it costing more than the estimate or quote by 10 to 20%. If the job miraculously comes in on budget, you’ll have spare cash.
      Congrats on your exciting reno!

    4. Bibliovore*

      Oh thank you. Is there a place or site that would have an actual list if things to think about in a bathroom renovation?

      1. Red Sky*

        Whenever I’m in the planning stages of a remodel, whether I’m doing it myself or paying someone else, I usually check out 2-3 diy books on the topic from my local library just to get an idea of what the process should look like and see if I’m missing anything. I like books better than websites for this because you can put posts-its on the pages and I seem to retain more information from physical books.

        Just did a quick check to see what my local branch has on Bathroom Remodeling and there’s a good selection. I would stick to the pro type books from Black & Decker or actual professionals etc rather than the home decor type from Better Homes & Gardens etc.

    5. Red Sky*

      Forgot to mention Permits! Cant recall if your reno is going to require any permits, but if so it’s a good idea to keep track of the date issued and when they’re set to expire. If you’re in a bigger city, your development department should have an online portal where you can check permit status by address or permit number.

      We had the unfortunate experience of discovering an expired window permit years after the window install was completed (contractor said everything was taken care of) and it was a pain in the butt to get it closed and held up some new work that required permits.

      1. bibliovore*

        thank you! the contractor will be getting the permits but I want to make sure to have every detail on my checklist

  28. Jules the First*

    A quick thank you to everyone who helped me refine and articulate my thoughts about my apparently gifted toddler last week – when I picked him up on Monday, the new daycare director was there and asked to talk to me. The short version is that they have also noticed boredom and the resulting acting out. His key caregiver and I will be working together to come up with some small enrichment kits that he can use in baby room when he is bored and the director will come by and collect him for extra garden playtime with the toddlers twice a week. This week he got the extra playtime and we’ve had only one incident (down from half a dozen a week). Once he turns one in a few weeks we can also sit down and plan to transition him part time to toddler room – as many of you suspected, he can’t move up before then for insurance reasons.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yay! I’m glad you came up with a plan. You’re his mom and you KNOW he’s different. Pay no mind to people who say you can’t tell giftedness at this age. Their opinions don’t matter. You know your child, and you know what’s best for him. Keep on advocating fo him, and teach him to advocate for himself as he gets older.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I have no problem identifying the kid as gifted. That said… putting AAM work management lens on it…the label isn’t even the important part. Mom is seeing unmet needs, patterns of behavior, and outcomes. She sees when the child expresses boredom, and when they thrive, which is great! Focusing on the behaviors and advocating for what makes the child thrive is what matter, whatever the label or cause.

  29. Meh*

    Asheville NC recommendations. I’m headed there for 4 days while my friend is in town for work. I’ve been there a few times, but usually only for a day. I’ve heard the food scene is good and I want to get some :)

    Probably skipping the Biltmore but if you have any other suggestions I’m open!

    1. BethDH*

      The southern highland craft guild has a lovely small museum and often has one or more artists doing demos of things like lathe turning or spinning. They have an extensive shop (or at least did when I was last there pre-pandemic) that includes plenty of handmade things in the <$10 category (wood or glass ornaments, for example, and a zillion shapes of wooden spoons) up to really nice stuff like furniture. I have a stack of handwoven kitchen towels that were like $12 each that I accumulated over several visits because they have held up so well to hard kitchen use and stayed so pretty.
      It’s right off the Blue Ridge parkway and there are several easy hikes from the same stop.
      Also love the hikes behind Montreat.

      1. Meh*

        Oh the craft guild sounds great! I’m a handmade maker myself (metal) so this is right up my interest alley.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t miss Curate. I have missed it twice, once because they were renovating, then because I couldn’t get a reservation. Get a reservation. I am deprived.

      I like the food at Wicked Weed a lot, plus the beer. Rhubarb was also very good for dinner. I had a great lunch at Laughing Seed, which is vegan. I am sorry to say that I do not remember the name of the bar/restaurant where I had seriously amazing small plates, but it was on the square across from Tupelo Honey, I think, and in an old bank building– a friend and I stopped in on the way to Pigeon Forge and had a great meal, plus they made me a low-alcohol spritz. Small spot, number in the name.

      We like Thirsty Monk for drinks– Belgian beer downstairs, excellent cocktails upstairs. Also Sovereign Remedies is great for drinks and food.

      I love Asheville. I do recommend the Biltmore on a nice day, but it’s not an “OMG YOU MUST”. I took the dog to the Arboretum, that was cool.

      1. Meh*

        Oh thanks! I think I’ve been to Thirsty Monk before but definitely adding Curate. I’ll let you know if I get in :)

        I’ve been to Biltmore before (when it was decorated for Christmas) and I don’t think my friend will care to go. I’ve packed hiking clothes and booked a class at a gym I belong to. I’m excited since this is my first pseudo vacation on 2 years!

      2. AY*

        Curate is so expensive but it’s sooooo good. I have been twice, and both times have been sublime. Like, no notes, everything was perfect. The Spanish wine list is definitely a treat if you’re a wine drinker.

      1. AY*

        My husband and I recently attended a wedding in Brevard just outside Asheville, and we loved all the waterfall hikes/walks in Pisgah National Forest. There are a bunch even beyond sliding rock. Great way to spend a morning! You can hit the absolutely enormous Sierra Nevada production facility on the way back to Asheville.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I have gone to Biltmore before and not even gone inside the house; the landscaping designed by Frederick Law Olmstead will keep me happy for hours.

    4. Bluebell*

      A friend and I were in Asheville for a long weekend 5-6 years ago and really enjoyed it. We went on a food tour that hit 5-6 places and was definitely worth it. We also went to the Farmers Market and Wicked Weed craft brewery. One morning I went to Riverside cemetery where O. Henry and Thomas Wolfe are buried. There used to be the SHEville Museum, but apparently now it’s the Asheville Emporium, which is a fun gift shop.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      I have fond memories of Mellow Mushroom pizza from 9 or 10 years ago. It seems to be a local institution. We had various meatless pizzas that were really good.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          It must be a regional chain; there are a few in the Atlanta area. One of my favorites.

            1. Uncle in Atlanta*

              I worked at the Ashville Mellow Mushroom like 15 years ago! I lived in Ashville for a short period, and the Mellow Mushroom seemed like THE MOST “Ashville” restaurant that could possibly exist. Later, I looked on the internet and learned they’re a chain based I think in Atlanta, and was somewhat disappointed that it was not in fact the homegrown Ashville pizza joint it seemed it should be. I must not have googled them or anything — I just walked in and applied for a job.

    6. beep beep*

      The French Broad Chocolate Lounge. There’s a factory as well that you can tour, but for sit-down treats it’s to die for.

      Also, the Blue Ridge Biscuit Company, which is properly in Black Mountain but IMO a must. HUGE biscuits, delicious toppings of all kinds. There’s a long line especially on weekends, so get there early.

      1. beep beep*

        Oh, and for tourist-y things, look around for a glassblowing shop. There’s a few indie offerings that sell pieces and do tours!

  30. Hello*

    This all so very high school drama… in my 40s, but I need to vent big time.

    25+ years ago when in college, I had a “friend” group. We all got along well. I was definitley the studious one of the group and the one who took responsibilities more seriously. I admit I enjoyed parties and get togethers, but I was not one to party all night and was usually the first to leave. When it came time to figure out housing for the next year, I suddenly noticed a lot of mean girl tactics in the weeks before. I was told in a very cruel way that would not be rooming with them. Apparently I didn’t party enough and was too boring. They did not even want to be acquaintances with me. I ran into a professor at an off campus cafe once who I guess saw things unfolding from the sidelines and told me that I was handling things better than she was. It is what it is.

    I can see now it would not have been a good friendship fit/ better off as the occassional person to say hi to. However it hurt the way they went about doing this. I went from having a decent group of friends (yes there were some good times, even admitted by them) to being the odd person out because there wasn’t enough room for ONE housing scenario they thought of. It was the best thing that happened though. I made a great group of new friends that to this day are still amazing friends.

    Anyway when social media exploded (gosh am I that old?!) the former friend group had friended me. They are all still friends. It was actually nice to catch up over different messaging aps. I realized that I had moved on. With the exception of college years I have lived in the NYC area and throughout major cities on the East Coast.

    Now that we’re all of an age where fun trips are financially possible this group (individually and together) want to come to NYC; I live near there now. I thought great it will be a great time to catch up for a coffee. We’ve all changed, I’m not the same person I was 25+ years ago. But apparently according to them, we were such great friends in college, they want me to act as personal tour guide and hotel. Bonus (and just a guess based on conversations) since I live in a high cost of living area, I am kind of under the impression they assume I can afford part of the touristy admission prices and meals with visitors.

    Hard stop no, this is not happening. I would love to catch up. Like I said there were some fun times. However we haven’t been friends for 25+ years. To me they are mere acquaintances. I would never impose on an acquaintance this way. To them I am throwing away all the good times and rude given the high COL in NYC. Yes I realize they are trying to use me as a way to see NYC more cheaply. I have been very direct that I have a crazy schedule and a coffee would be great, but other than that I am not able to play tour guide.

    I’m just shocked that I’m still getting messages with them trying to plan something.

    This is must be what high school life in your 40s looks like. sigh

    1. sswj*

      You’ve grown up and moved on, they apparently have not. They see you as useful to them, and not really a friend – friends don’t do that to each other. Good for you for the hard stop!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. This sounds like just another variation on their mean girl behavior all those years ago.

        Even meeting for coffee would be off the table for me at this point.

      2. Hello*

        Thank you. I hope they are starting (probably not) to realize they are rewriting history. Some of their newer messages are “that year was soooo fun, remember when we did xyz”…. And then I get a stunned response when I reply “nope I must not have been included in that outing”.

        1. Owler*

          I’d been tempted to say something like, “why is this so surprising? You all excluded me when you moved to TooSmall House, so I was only on the periphery of your group for freshman year. I’d be happy to gather for coffee once, but anything more is too much “

    2. WellRed*

      I’m not so surprised by the tour guide part but I’m fascinated by why they think you’d pay for admission costs etc.

        1. Academic Librarian too*

          I had had this with family members. Since I lived in NYC, I must be rich. So absurd.

        2. PollyQ*

          Holy crap, these people SUCK. I’d just block & unfriend them all at this point. They have absolutely nothing positive to contribute to your life.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            Yep. They unfriended her in real life a quarter century ago. Now she should do the same.

        3. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Oh, HELLLLLLLLLL no.

          Yeah, at this point, I’d say no coffee with them either. People who are that entitled do NOT deserve your time and attention, and certainly not your money. You can always block them, too, if they will not respect your boundary.

    3. Wi-fi seeker*

      They’re in your rear-view mirror for a reason. Good for you to say no. Follow your gut that says they’re just trying to use you, and stick to your guns. You don’t owe them anything.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If they were just strongly hinting at staying with you/having you be Julie the cruise director, I’d say gray rock them. Respond blandly and boringly, etc. “Sorry, I’m just slammed that week, coffee is all I can do!” Add a winky emoji or something.

      But they are flat-out telling you that you are throwing away all the (non-existent) good times because you are not underwriting them because you are rich? I’d block them and never look back. You can choose a middle ground, of course, but I certainly wouldn’t meet them in person at all. Stay Facebook acquaintances if you want to.

    5. Aphrodite*

      I’d suggest getting out of the “getting coffee” thing. All that’s likely to happen is that the mean girl behaviors will show up again. There will be no shared memories; instead, they will reminisce and you will feel the pain just as you did back then at being left out.

      Tell them no thanks. You are too busy–darn that huge project at work that came up suddenly–and can’t even meet for coffee. Then become a black hole to their texts and calls.

      1. JustForThis*

        … and it sounds like they will expect / demand that you pay for their coffees (and muffins, cakes, sandwiches etc.)

    6. AllTheBirds*

      To just assume that you’d be willing and able to host, plan and execute is… gobsmacking.

      1. Despachito*

        I would not do this to my own family and/or VERY close friends.

        To want it AS A GROUP, from ONE PERSON, wI only caught up with AFTER 20 YEARS, and whom we COLLECTIVELY SLIGHTED, and who is a MERE ACQUINTANCE now – NO, NOPE, NEGATIVE, NEVER, NO WAY.

        And they even dare to insinuate that, given all the above, you would be a bad person if you refused to host, wine and dine them?

        Definitely NO. I cannot imagine even the coffee not being hurtful.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Well, one would hope that people with a shallow, immature perspective and a self-serving definition of friendship would grow out of it.

      But it’s not surprising that they didn’t.

      There’s a saying that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I guess you raise