weekend open thread – October 1-2, 2022

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Lost Ticket, by Freya Sampson. Strangers unite to help an elderly man who is searching for a woman he met on a bus 60 years ago. Someone called this a “hug in book form” and that’s pretty much right.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,027 comments… read them below }

  1. My Cat's in the Yarn Again!*

    I have a question for the knitters: what is the secret about using interchangeable circular needles? Half of the people that I know that use them love them. The other half hate them because they won’t stay together. I decided to give them a try (ChiaoGoo brand) and there have been several times when the tips have started to separate from the cable. I use the little “key” to tighten them, but they still separate. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. germank106*

      There’s really no “secret” to interchangeables. I like them for the convenience. I love that I can make the body of the sweater using a long cable and the sleeves using a short one without having to change needles. Last year I finished a king size blanket (WTF was I thinking) and connected three long cables in order to have room for all my stitches. I have several sets of Chiaogoo Interchangeables and never had a problem with the needle tips separating from the cable. Did you buy them at Amazon? Lately there has been a bit of talk on Ravelry about counterfeit Chiaogoo needles on Amazon. Luckily Chiaogoo has a very generous return program and a lifetime warranty. You can contact them and they will make sure you get a good set of needles. You can file a claim here: http://www.chiaogoo.com/customer-service/.

      1. My Cat's in the Yarn Again!*

        I got them in my local yarn store, but perhaps I should contact the company for advice.

      2. LittleMarshmallow*

        I’m late to the comment section but am an avid knitter! And hate interchangeables with a firey passion… for myself. In the knitting community I’m in, many also hate them, some are willing to use them for the convenience even though you have to constantly tighten them, and some don’t seem to have issues with them coming loose. My completely unscientific theory is that the people where they don’t come loose either have ridiculous strength to tighten them or… their knitting motion isn’t as twisty. If you watch knitters some move a ton and some barely move at all… I actually think the ones that move less have more issues… because the small twist motions you do to maneuver the yarn is probably unscrewing your needles vs people that do more motions outside of the needles. Anyway, I think knitters should do what works for them. But I’ve not come across a foolproof trick to keeping them from coming loose.

    2. Basic Bisque*

      Yeah, there’s no secret! Maybe you need to try out a few different brands? I love hiyahiyas.

      I like interchangeables because I can have a billion projects on the go at once, without needing a billion different needles.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I use the KnitPicks brand and love them. I think separating is kind of dependent on how tightly you hold your needles and how roughly you manhandle them haha. I do check every row or two to make sure they don’t look loose but it’s rarely an issue. I do a lot of lace and I like that I can tie my lifeline through the tightening hole on my working needle and run it along that way rather than having to manually run it through a row.

    4. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

      I honestly just think they’re cool. I’m a Gen Xer and maybe they remind me of Lego or Meccano? I use Knit Picks or Knit Pro & just really enjoy handling them, the look & feel – I’m gradually replacing all my needles with the new Karbonz (black/silver) because I am a sucker for a good story about how they are light yet durable etc etc etc (“A revolutionary product!! New-age needles made from High-Tech carbon fiber with tips in electroplated brass!”)

      BUT I do find that they separate & the yarn gets snagged (mine don’t do this if I use the little key but I don’t always bother), and there is often a little snag hazard at the join even if they don’t fully separate. The join between the carbon-fibre shafts and the brass tips on my beloved Karbonz is never completely smooth, either, and very fine yarn gets caught sometimes.

      So I’m not too proud to say that for me at least this is about style over substance. But gosh,they’re stylish and they give me such pleasure to work with, where straight needles would probably make me feel like my mum.

    5. Susie*

      I use addi click. It took a few tries to make sure the connection was good, but I haven’t had any issues since.
      I like the interchangeable sets because it significantly reduces the storage space for the circular needles and the annoyance of sorting through them to find the right combo of needle size and cord length (or having to buy something if I couldn’t find the right combo)

    6. EventingForChickens*

      I absolutely love my HiyaHiya sets and have had them for probably close to a decade now. I have had one occasion where a tip loosened by itself as I was knitting and it was the one and only time I tightened by hand instead of using the little grippy thingies.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Yeah, same! I love my HiyaHiyas. I do find you need to use the rubber thingies (and I’m often lazy and don’t, but can usually catch it before it comes apart!)

    7. Gail Steehler*

      I have never had needles come apart (I have Knitter’s Pride). Do you feel like you are fighting and twisting the cable? Maybe try using a longer one and make sure to tightened with the key at the start?? Sorry!

    8. Lexi Vipond*

      Yes, mine tend to come apart if I’ve tightened just by hand, but stay better if I do it with something in the little hole (I can never find the actual key, but a T-headed blocking pin or the tip of a darning needle works!)

      Do you need to try tightening them more than you think?
      If it’s the needle part you feel like you’re not getting a good enough grip on, I suppose any of the friction tips for opening jars (rubber bands, rubber gloves, sellotape…) might work.

    9. e271828*

      I use addi clicks and have never had a separation.

      Are you coiling the cable as you work or for storage? Some makes have a stiff cable that could exert a fair bit of torque on the connection.

    10. Teacher, Here*

      I realized I sort of “untwist” as I knit? I’m not sure how to describe this other than that the way I shift to the next stitch was applying unscrewing pressure. Once I stopped doing that (and always used the key to tighten), I haven’t had trouble. I love my Ciaogoo set — smooth as silk and soooo nice to be able to swap around as needed.

  2. Doctor visit*

    My doctor referred me to a hematologist because my white blood cells are high and my red blood cells are low. I think some of the red blood cell concerns are due to excessive bleeding. Anyway, I asked my husband to go with me to the appointment and he doesn’t want to because he says it’s more of a “female thing.” There is a chance it could be indicative of something else, right? The building is a hematology/oncology facility.

    1. Maggie*

      I guess my question would be why do you not get support for “female” things? If you had a baby or a cancer in a female organ (very different things obviously but just an example) would he not be part of your care for that stuff? I’d be pretty frustrated! It sounds like it could be a variety of things since you’re being referred for testing. Sorry that you are going through that. I hope all is well with your health!

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        My thought exactly. You asked him for support and he refused? Because “female things” are not worth his time? Or he thinks they’re icky?
        That’s not a great attribute about your husband.
        I have no idea about the issue itself, but I hope it all works out, and I really hope your husband steps up and goes with you to support you. If he won’t, take a friend or another family member so you don’t have to go alone.

      2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        ^This, definitely. I guess he doesn’t need your support down the line if he develops prostate cancer? Or an ulcer in his manly stomach?

        It could be plenty of other things anyway. My wife had similar labs, but is trans so it’s obviously not menstruation related. The hematologist looked for hidden digestive tract bleeding first, but that’s not it and we’re still looking.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Yes, it could be indicative of something other than a female thing. Tell your husband that your blood runs throughout your body and not just through your lady bits.

      1. HoundMom*

        I am not a doctor but I can assure you that not all people with your blood tests have cancer or something scary. This is just one anecdote. My elderly father has similar results. It is not cancer but some kind of imbalance in the way nutrients get absorbed in his body. They don’t have a “real” diagnosis for it. Every few months he goes for an hour long iron infusion for two to four weeks. It is not painful or difficult. He doctor is a hemotologist working out of the cancer wing. So it maybe something chronic and not life threatening. He has been doing this for at least three years and he feels great after.

    3. Educator*

      I am sorry you are dealing with this; medical unknowns are hard. The term “female thing” is so ridiculous–because it is straight out of 1950, because support can come from people of all gender identities for all issues, and…because we all have blood. But I think you have a bigger issue than this appointment.

      Depending on where you are and what other paperwork you have set up, your spouse may be the one to make your medical decisions if you become incapacitated. If your spouse is uninterested in your care or unwilling to discuss “female things,” it could be a real problem in an emergency. I think there is a bigger conversation to be had with your spouse about the role you want to play in supporting each other in medical situations so that you can set up a healthcare power of attorney if needed.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Please don’t waste energy right now on your husband’s dumb hangups. Call a friend or a family member to go with you if you want support.

      It could be nothing in particular. It could be an elevated white count from an infection. It could possibly be something more serious, but for right now this is just a precaution.

      Best wishes.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Just to put your mind a little bit at ease, AFAIK, most hematologists are also oncologists. I’ve been to the same one for two different issues, one cancer and one not.

    6. Squidhead*

      Yes, there is a chance this is not related to menses, especially with the elevated white count. It’s also fairly unlikely that the hematologist is going to to a pelvic exam right there (they’d refer you back to a gyn) but your husband could step out of the room during the physical exam if he wanted.

      If your husband truly doesn’t want to go, that’s part of a bigger conversation but meanwhile I’d suggest bringing someone with you to take notes/ask questions about the next steps, etc… The visit will probably be some combination of reviewing your previous history and then explaining what avenues they want to pursue, which can get a little confusing with “if/then” types of things (“if the CT scan doesn’t show anything, then we would want to do an MRI”). Your buddy can help you remember to ask things like “what is the CT scan looking for?” “how do I schedule it?” “where do I pick up that medication?”

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband went with me to the appointment where I got diagnosed with breast cancer.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          It points out that some spouses are supportive even if the problem is “female problems”.

          1. eh*

            I definitely wasn’t confused about that. Dipthong’s comment is just unhelpful and, quite frankly, rude.

    8. Doctor visit*

      Thanks everyone so very much for your help! He generally is a wonderfully supportive man but just gets oddly squicky about this type of thing. The irony is he himself has undergone multiple surgeries for a laundry list of health issues! I think I’m just going to tell him that attendance at this visit is very important to me and is non-negotiable.

      1. Jay*

        Hope he gets it. If not, can you find someone else? I’ve been that person for some friends and will be again next month when one of my besties has cataract surgery. I was also the secret backup for a friend who was concerned her very squeamish husband wouldn’t make it through the delivery of her first child (he did!). You deserve support from someone you don’t have to take care of during the appointment. Hope all goes well.

      2. Generic+Name*

        I hope his response was just a knee-jerk reaction and he is able to be supportive of you. If that isn’t happening, I suggest finding a family member or a friend who can go with you and provide support regardless of whether your issue stems from having 2 X chromosomes or not.

      3. Ginger Pet Lady*

        He can be “oddly squicky” I suppose. Though he really needs to get over that if he wants to be with women. It’s misogynist. There’s no way around it – men who think women are gross are misogynists.
        He can ALSO step up and be there for you, if he chooses.
        If he chooses not to step up for you because he wants nothing to do with those “squicky” female things, that’s useful information to have a hard think about.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I’d put the fact that your haematology appointment is at a clinic that also deals with oncology, from your mind if you can. If you were going to a clinic for corns on your feet and it was a podiatry and orthopaedics clinic, you wouldn’t be worried there was something wrong with your bones :-)
      As for your husband, well if he’s going to be a t!t about it then I am sure you have a friend or relative that would go along with you and provide support etc.

    10. Chief+Petty+Officer+Tabby*

      Tell him to bring his ass to the doctor with you to support you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “female thing” or not!


      What the ever loving hell is WRONG with him?!

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your husband married a female. He has two choices: support you, or be a crappy person. And there are consequences to being a crappy person.

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      1. There are plenty of things it should be that aren’t “female things” from GI bleeding to something like leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome.

      2. I’d be tempted to support my husband’s comfort by allowing him to abstain from “female things” in the future by foregoing sex or touching my body if he took this tactic.

    13. bratschegirl*

      I am really ticked off at your husband for letting his childish “eeewwww, lady parts and blood” reaction get in the way of being an actually supportive partner when you’re facing something potentially scary. I also think you need a companion at this visit who will be present enough to listen, absorb, take good notes, and ask good questions, and if he’s too weirded out to do that for you, and so busy cringing that he doesn’t take in what the doc is saying, then you’ll be better off with someone else accompanying you.

      Best wishes for a not-scary diagnosis that’s easily resolved, and for your husband to find the strength to be a true partner “in sickness and in health.”

    14. KatEnigma*

      A “female thing?”

      My husband has gone to all of my gyn appointments to find out why I am bleeding so much (finally) and will go with me to my gynecological hematologist’s appointment.

      Tell him to grow up, even if it IS only a “female thing”

      1. KatEnigma*

        * Meant gynecological oncologist’s appointment. (And non scary. No cancer yet, but am getting a hysterectomy before it develops. My gynecologist just referred me to the oncologist for that part)

    15. Just Reading the Comments*

      Hematologist and oncology sometimes go hand-in-hand. I see a hematologist a few times a year for an autoimmune syndrome of the blood. My hematologist also happens to be an oncologist as are the others in the office. It’s sometimes hard to get past that but after 5 years I am used to it.

  3. cutting cords*

    I’m thinking of finally getting rid of my land line (I know) and just using my cell phone. My question: we have a house with 2 large stories plus basement. Would I have to take my cell with me all over my house so I can hear if someone calls me? That seems impractical. How do other people who live in large-ish spaces do this?

      1. Artemesia*

        I wear my phone in a bandolier phone carrier. I love it — can’t drop the phone or set it down and lose it and it is convenient to have for photos etc. BAndolier is terrific — my 5 year old leather case looks new; just got a new one like it for the new phone. But there are also similar much cheaper phone covers you wear cross body.

        We don’t have a land line — haven’t had for 12 years.

    1. You used to call me on your cellphone*

      No advice about the big house, but I want to encourage you (and everybody) to keep a land line in case of emergency, like hurricanes. A few years ago a person broke into my house in the middle of the night and stole my phone & it was super awkward to contact police in the middle of the night.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, I keep a landline for emergency reasons only. I think I’ve had one call on it in two years but it’s a handy backup and inexpensive. Also, I must admit I’m a bit of a vintage fan, and I have a reconditioned 1940s phone which I love the look of!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Same. And my SO rarely charges his phone (when he bothers to turn it on). It’s impractical not to have a landline for us.

        2. e271828*

          Land lines in most US locations are no longer over copper and have been transferred to VOIP, meaning they are dependent on power. They are also not “inexpensive.” I maintained one until two years ago, and it was nudging $40 a month for a line on which I got few to no calls.

          Cell towers have batteries and are likely to have some performance in a disaster situation.

          If one is very concerned about communications, one gets a ham license, which is not difficult now that they’ve taken out the Morse test.

      2. WS*

        Depends where you live! In Australia, landlines have almost all been transferred to the National Broadband Network, so no power means no landline. Yes, this is stupid, especially in rural areas that are most likely to have natural disasters, most likely to have power outages, and least likely to have good mobile coverage.

        1. PsychNurse*

          Yes– I am in Connecticut. Where I am, there is no such thing as a true landline. Everything is connected through, um (my understanding of technology is very fuzzy) the internet? Or something? So basically, I can have a phone that looks and acts like a landline, but it is connected to a box, and if we lose electricity, we lose the line. I really wanted a landline when my son was young enough to stay home alone but too young for a cell phone. But I just ended up getting a flip-phone cell for him, once I realized there was really no such thing as a “land line” in my town.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m pretty sure our land line uses a voip and so wouldn’t work if all the local power were out.

      4. fposte*

        Though unfortunately most people with landlines these days have cordless phones with bases that run on electrical power. No power, no landline, even if you’re in a system that still runs on good old copper wire.

        1. Russian in Texas*

          During a hurricane, the AT&T box in my Dad’s neighborhood got a short (? something electrical) and the whole neighborhood’s landline died.

        2. Random Biter*

          Yepper, that’s how it is at my house. I keep the landline because so many older accounts like doctors or businesses have my house phone number as opposed to my cell. But if the power goes out the house phone does, too.

      5. KatEnigma*

        If landlines were still ACTUAL landlines and not VOIP, sure. But 99% of “landlines” at least in populated areas are VOIP and go out as soon as you lose electricity. The cell towers come back up at lot faster in natural disasters.

      1. cutting cords*

        Huh. So if I’m on the top level and my husband calls to me from the basement and I go to see what he wants, I’d pick up my phone and carry it with me even though I don’t know if I’ll be gone 1 minute or 30 minutes? It seems like such a hassle.

        1. Maggie*

          I’d probably only bring my phone to do that if I was expecting a call? My apartment is only one floor but it’s very long and so if I care I’ll bring it, but if I don’t care I won’t? Haha never thought about it this much!

        2. Platypus Queen*

          Some people bring their phones with them everywhere, others don’t, but not sure what this has to do with landlines. Unless your house has more than one phone line and your husband is in the habit of calling you on your landline whenever he’s in the attic and you’re in the basement, which would seem…unusual.

          Personally I have hit a point where I tend to have my phone with me most of the time, but I don’t feel any obligation to answer numbers I don’t recognize. If it’s important, they can leave a message and I will call them back.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          My husband and kids tend to just leave a phone in their pocket and so it travels with them throughout any building. I tend to leave mine by my purse and so miss calls.

          We will probably get rid of the landline when we next move. I like it, but once the kids had their own phones it was less useful.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I hadn’t seen your post when I wrote my wish for pockets but there you go: your kids and your husband keep their phones in their pockets and you leave yours in your purse because women’s clothes do not have pockets and when they do have pockets, the pockets are not big enough for phones.

            Right now, the big issue is saving democracy, but after that, I am back to The Revolution for pockets and potty parity.

            1. Esprit de l'Escalier*

              Yes to pockets in women’s clothing! This is why all my skirts and dresses are at least 15 years old, because back then you could readily find them with adequate pockets (although as the smart phones get bigger, those pockets get more iffy). However, I rarely wear skirts and dresses any more…. My pants all have pockets too but those are still available if you don’t need to be fashionable. It’s really non-negotiable for me.

        4. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          I always have my phone on me anyways because I listen to podcasts nonstop when I’m home, so it tickles me to hear that this sounds difficult, but then again, I don’t put on shoes to go outside in cold weather because it would drive me batty to fiddle with them just to run outside for a few seconds, and I’m sure plenty of other people can’t fathom that either. Basically, if it’s gonna drive you nuts to carry a phone all the time, just don’t do it, or get some wearable that transmits your calls to you, or just keep that landline. Life is short! Don’t be annoyed by physical objects if you don’t have to be!

        5. Texan In Exile*

          If women’s clothes had pockets, this would not be such an issue.

          (And designers – when you do give us pockets, we want them to be big enough to hold a phone.)

        6. Madame Arcati*

          Don’t you have that issue with a land line? I mean, getting rid of a landline isn’t going to make it easier to answer the phone if it rings, will it? You might have had a cordless but the handset is usually much bulkier than a mobile phone. I feel like this problem is the wrong way round!
          Unless you had a landline socket and handset in literally every room, how the heck is using a mobile only going to make like more difficult in terms of getting to it? I mean, this is what mobile phone are for; you can take them with you wherever you go…

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think OP would have a phone on every floor, which actually makes sense. Or at least the floors with living space. She’d probably be able to hear it as it, no need to move it about.

        7. Russian in Texas*

          I don’t carry it around if I just coming downstairs to grab some snack or going to the bathroom or something of the sort. Only when I “relocate” to another room for a longer period of time. But I almost never get actual calls.

        8. Observer*

          I’d pick up my phone and carry it with me even though I don’t know if I’ll be gone 1 minute or 30 minutes? It seems like such a hassle.

          That’s what pockets are for ;)

          Seriously speaking, pockets or a belt clip are a good idea. Also, think about how you handle the landline in your house. Do you have multiple extensions or do you sometimes miss calls?

          1. Gnome*

            well, some of us only wear skirts and most of them don’t have pockets as per other comments. however, unless I’m expecting a call, or actively using my phone, I just leave my phone where I was. mind, I sometimes then need someone to call my phone so I can find it.

        9. Been There*

          I carry my phone with me everywhere out of habit, but if you don’t want to do that you could get a smartwatch that connects to your smartphone. It lets you pick up phone calls through the watch so you wouldn’t have to worry about where your phone is.

        10. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Maybe that’s why women are getting so vocal about refusing to buy clothing without pockets…

        11. LittleMarshmallow*

          That really depends how “connected” you want to be. I guess if you’re concerned put it in your pocket and just keep it on you. If you’re not in the habit of doing that… maybe leave it on “loud” in the center floor of the house and then you’ve got some chance of hearing it wherever you are. Or just glance at it when you pass its home. My guess is, if you miss a call for a bit, the world won’t end. If you are expecting a call or are like on call for work or something just take it with you. Other options: get air pods or a smart watch and just wear that. I don’t have either (cuz I’m a proper millennial that will not answer the phone unless absolutely necessary) so I don’t know for sure but I think you can answer calls on those without being right next to phone as long as phone is nearby.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      That’s what pockets are for, mine is usually in my pocket when I’m at home. It’s been a few years, but I have had some struggles with vertigo, so I do like having mine with me as I move around the house.
      But also, you don’t have a land line you carry around with you, do you? Or one in every single room?
      You can do the same with your cell phone if you want.
      Of course, that might mean turning the ringer on… and I know some people are really averse to that.

      1. cutting cords*

        No, but I have an extension for the land line on every floor so I can easily hear it and answer it wherever I am. That’s the part I can’t figure out how to substitute without having to carry this object whenever I move through my house.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          That’s why I have an Apple Watch – I don’t have to lug my phone but if I’m on a walk or away from it working on chores and my husband needs to reach me I can be alerted.

          1. EJ*

            yes this! if you don’t want to carry your phone, a smart watch makes life super easy!

            personally, I view my phone as “for my own convenience” and if I miss a call or just don’t want to answer, I simply don’t worry about it. I can always callback if I must.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Unfortunately, the reason landlines are on their way out is because 80% of people already carry that object with them as they move throughout their homes (and pretty much everywhere, in general). I get that it’s not the norm for you, but it is the norm. If you need to be able to hear your phone but don’t want to have it on your person at all times at home, cutting this particular cord may not be the right way to go for you.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Our house is not that big but I do not carry my phone with me everywhere because it’s not a big deal if I miss a call. Is it a big deal if you miss one? If I’m going upstairs for hours I might take it, but not if it’s just to shower or whatever.

      1. Sc@rlettNZ*

        This. If I miss a call, so what? If it’s important they can leave a message or call back. The phone is for my convenience – I’m not beholden to jump to answer every time it rings.

        Back in the dark ages, when I had a landline I’d regularly just let it go to answerphone anyway.

      2. Ali G*

        Yeah I have zero FOMO on missing a call. 90% of them are spam anyway.
        My house is 4 levels (basement plus 3 upper floors) and my phone is typically on the first floor as I go about my day.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup. Phones– all phones– are for convenience. If it’s a huge deal to miss a call, then you carry your phone around, but otherwise, people can leave a message. Like it was in olden times when someone called while we were at the store.

        1. Just Another Cog*

          This! After I balked for a long time, we finally got rid of our landline in 2007. I was a kid in the sixties and it was a scary thought not having a landline. My husband pointed out at the time that we screened our calls with the answering machine, anyway, because of the telemarketing calls that came regularly. We can do that with our cellphones and they don’t stop working when the electricity goes out. I’ve also never been a slave to my phone. I leave it on the kitchen table when I’m home and check it periodically for missed calls/messages. If I’m waiting for a call or text, I do take it with me.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Some people carry their phones all the time. Other people don’t answer every call the minute it rings. People can leave a message.

    5. Platypus Queen*

      Also, assuming you are regularly getting calls you want or need to answer, it would seem more practical to get them via cell phone that can be carried with you no matter where you are, rather than via land line where you have to rush to a phone in a fixed location in your house. Possibly this is just me speaking from the perspective of somebody who gave up her landline years ago and has not missed it.

    6. California Dreamin’*

      If I’m expecting a call, I’ll tend to stick my phone in my back pocket as I move around the house. If I’m working at my desk, I always have it next to me, but if I get up to go to the kitchen or laundry room or whatever, I probably just leave it on the desk. Basically I’ll bring it with me to anyplace I’m settling in for a bit. I am, however, fully conditioned to need to look immediately when I hear a text come in, so if I left it in another room and I hear that ding, I go trotting to get it, lol. We did keep our landline active in case of natural disaster (earthquake country), but we don’t answer it anymore. My neighbor gave me some good advice which is that we put an outgoing message on the landline that says this is not an active number and messages will not be checked but here’s how to reach us.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The great thing about cellphones is voicemail. If you miss a call, you’ll get a notification and a message. Many voicemail programs even transcribe it so you don’t even have to call in and play it back, you can just read the message.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I have only ever used voice-to-text for incoming messages. When I got a replacement android phone last year I had to google around a bit to find out how to set it up for a new brand & model of phone. I find it so much quicker and easier than listening to voicemail and sometimes the mis-transcribed words are very entertaining.

    8. Rara Avis*

      We got rid of our land line 3 years ago (despite living in earthquake country) because it was not sensible to pay the monthly cost for a service we weren’t using. I don’t carry my phone around with me because I’ve never adopted the idea that I need to be instantly reachable at all times. (The exception would be if my kid is out somewhere without an adult.) I also don’t carry my cell phone during my work day.

      1. English Rose*

        “I’ve never adopted the idea that I need to be instantly reachable at all times.” This!!

    9. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Unless I’m expecting a call, I leave my phone in the kitchen or downstairs office. If I’ve been either upstairs for a while or outside or in the basement, I’ll check it for messages.

    10. Squidhead*

      Most of the time in my similar house I do carry my phone around…in a pocket, or I put it on the kitchen counter when I’m downstairs, etc. I’m often using it to stream music anyway. I very rarely have the ringer on, though, so the chances that I might miss a call are still pretty high.

      The chances that an unexpected call will be someone I actually want to talk to are almost zero! If I’m expecting a call, I turn the ringer on. Most of my friends/family use texts to set up calls ahead of time. Businesses–car repair, doctors–I’m usually expecting the call. The rest are scams or election-related (these days). I do wear a fitness tracker that vibrates with texts, which makes it easier to leave the phone on silent. It’s an adjustment, but people can leave a voice-mail or you’ll see the name of the missed call-er and you can call them back if you want. Personally, I don’t return calls if there was no voice-mail and I don’t recognize the number…it’s almost always junk.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      My phone is on silent most of the time because I forget to turn on the volume after work, but I don’t miss calls because my smartwatch buzzes on my wrist whenever I’m getting a call. I can also answer the call through my watch if I want to, but I usually wait and return the call when I am back near my phone. There is a distance limit to my watch being able to pick up my phone though it’s usually fine in the same building. I’m pretty sure you can also answer calls through Alexa if you want to have a few of those on different levels.

    12. allathian*

      We live in a two-story house, with the main entrance on the top floor and the bedrooms in the half-basement. Our house is built on a slope and half of the ground floor (utlility room, sauna & main bathroom) are underground. I either carry my phone in my pocket, or mostly just leave it on the kitchen counter or living room table. I’m not worried about missing calls.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have an Apple Watch (and this is partly why), but my phone generally is in my pocket anyway, or if I run downstairs for a minute and leave it on the living room table I’m not too worried about it.

    14. PsychNurse*

      I think what most people do is miss a lot of calls! Sometimes my cell is in my pocket, sometimes it’s not. If it’s not, then no, I won’t hear a call if I’m on a different floor of the house. But so what! That’s why voicemail was invented, and I can just call them back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh boy do they ever. I have to return calls at work and easily 60% of the people do not answer when I call. And they requested a call back. sigh.

    15. Nancy*

      Voicemail still exists with cellphones. Just stuck it in the spot the landline used to be. Or if you have a call coming that you don’t want to miss, carry it. It’s not heavy and can fit in a pocket. It’s really not complicated, so no need to overthink it.

    16. Generic+Name*

      I live in a large multistory house and have no landline. When I’m in my basement office during the workday, I have my cell with me for work purposes. Unless I’m expecting an important phone call that I cannot miss, I leave my phone in the kitchen. I can normally hear it throughout the house. My husband normally has his phone in his pocket unless it’s charging.

    17. A313*

      Not sure about how this works, but I think there’s a way to have your cellphone ring to your home phone when you are home? I’ve always meant to look into this, so it’s on my list! I do have a little anxiety at missing phone calls, with elderly relatives, etc. I have, understandably, failed at training people to call the landline first, as I am so often home. But every time I suggest ditching the landline, it goes nowhere (and maybe has something to do with the alarm system, I think, so there’s that). As time has gone on, I find myself giving out my cell number by default, so there are very few legitimate calls on the land line now.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Big name cell company advertises that they do this but they actually don’t.

        I was sold a cell phone and plan by this company. Your calls will roll from your home phone to your cell. Yeah. Okay. I called months later and a different employee said “we don’t offer that service.” I feel a letter to the AG or BBB coming on.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Try a very specific internet search – like ”how to forward cell phone calls from a model X brand Y phone to my house phone with company Z as cell phone provider”

    18. Hiring Mgr*

      I’ll either carry the phone in my hand, or put it in my pants pocket. The funny thing is though, I’ll usually carry it in my left hand, but my right (front) pocket. Now on top of that, I’ve heard the observation that men usually carry the phones in their front pockets, while women typically use the back. So as you can see there are several options

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Because phones will fit in men’s front pockets but will not fit in women’s front pockets. :(

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Agreed… it’s cuz our front pockets suck… it’s not a weird male/female quirk.

          I carry mine in my bra sometimes (esp if I’m talking to someone alone at home on speakerphone)… just because it’s convenient.

    19. Buggy Crispino*

      I have a Bluetooth device that outputs to a regular modular phone plug (you can search amazon for Xlink Bluetooth gateway). When I did away with my landline, I found the point where the landline enters the house to attach to my internal wiring and actually disconnected it. I now plug the gateway into any phone jack and when my cell phone connects wirelessly to the gateway, it sends a signal to the house wiring and any standard phone that’s connected to a jack. I collect old telephones, so I actually have a ton of telephones around the house that I can answer and make cell calls with. The reality is that some of those old phones are way more comfortable to have a conversation on since they typically have a curve rather than just a flat surface slapped against your face. You could always add a battery back up device to cover you during short power outages.

    20. Chaordic One*

      Back in the day, I saw a cute little round flip phone that hung like a pendant from a necklace. More recently I’ve seen people hanging their smart phones from lanyards. Maybe something like that?

    21. StatKat*

      I have cordless ‘landline’ phones that have Bluetooth capability. My cell phone is connected to it via Bluetooth so when my cell gets a call the other phones ring and I can answer them. I have one base unit and several handsets throughout the house. Only needs plugged in to a regular outlet.

    22. cat socks*

      I keep my phone with me when I move about the house so I can take pictures and videos of my cats doing cute things.

    23. Combin*

      So you can get bluetooth “landline” handsets that sync to your cell phone. So you can have multiple receivers in the house and answer any one of them. You can even have them make a notification when you get a text message. Then you don’t have to carry around your cell phone

      1. BookMom*

        Yes, I had that in a three story home when we had one cell phone for the family and it was great! Now I have a Fitbit paired to my own phone which buzzes on my wrist when my cell phone rings anywhere in the house. I can’t answer the phone like you can from an Apple Watch, but at least I “hear” it anywhere in the house or yard.

    24. PhyllisB*

      I have considered getting rid of my landline because it’s basically become an answering machine for telemarketers. My husband said no because then that would cut off our internet.
      The repairman was out here last week because of internet issues, and I asked him about it. He said no, we wouldn’t lose our internet, BUT if we dropped our landline and then later had internet issues AT&T would not offer any support or repairs, so…guess we’re keeping our landline.

      1. costello music*

        ???? i’ve never heard of that. Why would they not? If you can, I’d look a little deeper into that cause that seems like BS. Maybe it’s just AT&T but comcast, at least, will come out.

        lmao that is so stupid—on AT&T not you—if that’s true. Like….. that makes no sense. Of course they should be able to come and help repair. The internet has issues and sometimes that requires a repairman.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Agreed. I have AT&T now, and have also had Comcast, both Internet only. Haven’t had a land line since high school, nearly 20 years ago. Can’t say I’ve needed a repairman for much either, but it’s happened…once for each company, I think. No problems, except of course having to click through various attempts to upsell every time I change plans / move / etc.

      2. ThatGirl*

        What? That makes no sense unless you have dialup internet. If AT&T supplies your internet they’re obligated to service it.

    25. Ed123*

      I haven’t really seen a landline in about 10 years. Either carry your phone, place it somewhere in the middle where you can hear it. Ot leave it be and if you miss a call just call back.

    26. bratschegirl*

      I hear you, @cutting cords; I always seem to be where my phone is not. Sometimes that’s because what I’m wearing has vestigial or no pockets, and other times it’s because I’m a dinosaur and still don’t think of my cell as my primary phone, even though the only calls that ever come through on the landline are scams and political fundraisers. Pockets or a belt clip are the best solution IMO.

      We still have a true copper landline got emergency purposes because earthquakes and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (the charming name for when PG&E turns off power to huge areas when there’s wind blowing so their antiquated, un-maintained equipment won’t burn down more of the state than they already have). AT&T is trying like heck to eliminate actual copper landlines here in CA, but so far they haven’t been allowed to. And as in the champagne/sparkling wine debate, if you have VOIP, you may have a home phone, but you don’t have a landline.

    27. Quinalla*

      We still have one basically to give to the bank, etc. so we don’t have to deal with the marketing calls, but it is VOIP like most people said so it really is no help in a power outage.

      When I had kids I started carrying my phone with my all the time. I didn’t like it, but you do get used to it, now it feels weird to not carry it with me all the time. If you don’t always have pockets, you can either carry it in your hand at set down next to you or get some kind of carrier. Or just carry it with you when you are expecting a phone call, voice mail is there for a reason :)

    28. OneTwoThree*

      I have two suggestions here.

      1) I have a smartwatch. When my phone gets a call, receive a text message, alarm notifications, etc. I get an alert on my watch. I regularly leave my phone in one room charging while walking all around my house (multiple levels). I can also control what types of apps send me alerts. I have a simple smartwatch, so I have to go to my phone to answer/ respond/ clear the alert. However, I miss a lot less information without feeling attached to my phone.

      2) My parents have bluetooth handset phones that connect to their cell phones. They look and function like cordless landline phones. They have 3 handsets throughout the house. When their cell phone receives a call, they ring. When their cell phone gets a text, the handsets announce that a text message has been received. If they pick up the handset, they can make a call using their cell phone plan. They have a set similar to Panasonic – KX-TGD863A.

  4. Aphrodite*

    For our friends across the pond, I have some questions that came up for me given how dominant the news of Queen Elizabeth and the other royals has been. These are mere curiosity on my part but I don’t know the answers and all the side drama, including the stories about Andrew trying to get Charles removed as king, made me wonder:

    When she was alive, could the queen have removed Charles from the line of succession? If so, would she need the permission of Parliament or anyone else? Would she have to have a valid reason or could it be just because she wanted to do so? If she did remove him, would William be automatically be next in line or could she appoint, say Princess Anne or even Prince Andrew? Would their families then become the “line” and take over from William’s line?

    1. Educator*

      Parliament controls the succession per the Act of Settlement. In the 1600s, they bucked the traditional succession and brought in William and Mary of Orange. They also eliminated the whole male primogeniture thing for the George/Charlotte/Louis generation in 2013. So my understanding is that King Charles could remove himself, Parliament could remove William as his successor without input from Charles, but Charles could not remove William without Parliament’s involvement.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        In general, in the British system, you can’t disinherit someone from a hereditary title. So you could completely hate your eldest child and think they would be an absolutely terrible Duke, and kick them out of your home while you live and refuse to speak to them, but you could not prevent them from inheriting the title (short of murdering them, which would cause other problems), and you couldn’t move the title to a different child. My understanding is that if someone gives up the title, it then goes to their next heir, so you can’t get around it that way.

        It’s similar with entailed property – you owned he property while you were alive, but it would be inherited according to strict rules – you couldn’t sell it, or leave it to someone else (this is a major part of the plot in Pride and Prejudice, as Mr Bennet’s property goes to a distant cousin at his death, as he doesn’t have a son.)

      2. Madame Arcati*

        Yeah, as monarch you can say, I don’t wanna, but you can’t say who gets to be next, there would have to be parliamentary shenanigans to get that agreed.
        So when Her Late Maj’s uncle, Edward 8, abdicated (because they wouldn’t let him marry Mrs Simpson (gosh the British establishment getting all sniffy about an American divorcee marrying royalty, couldn’t happen now of course…)) it was by default in favour of the next in line, his brother George (6). He wouldn’t have had much influence, if any, in the succession after he’d thrown the (purple, gold embroidered, diamond studded) towel in.

        On a similar note when Princess Diana was still alive but separated from and messily/publicly falling out with Charles, there was speculation along the lines of, can she ever be queen? A bbc constitutional expert or similar pointed out that, without some sort of new act of parliament, she had to be, because the wife of the king is the queen, automatically, there isn’t an alternative.

        1. Venus*

          Although Edward 8’s fondness for the Nazis ended up making that abdication for the best. Some weird rules hurt us, and some become very beneficial in hindsight.

    2. English Rose*

      I wouldn’t give any weight to these stories (which I’ve just had to google) about what Andrew may or may not have done in the past. He’s forfeited any right to have opinions or influence on the royal family.
      On your question about succession, I believe Educator is correct, removal of King Charles, or of William as his heir, would have to be by Act of Parliament, although the King could abdicate of course.
      But unless either of them went completely off the rails, there would be no reason. Charles has been groomed to be king all his life, famously the longest king in waiting we’ve ever had. William seems to be following nicely in his father and grandmother’s footsteps.
      Be interesting for us as Brits though to see whether the late Queen’s death gives impetus to the republican movement, which has never managed to make much headway here.
      I’m in two minds about this. Logically our head of state should be elected, but the thought of a President Boris or similar fills me with dread, and it’s entirely likely given how credulous my countrypeople seem to be by and large – believing all the Brexit lies they were fed, for example.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Wish someone would tell that to that Simon Dorante-Day bloke who keeps insisting he’s Charles and Camilla’s secret son (born five years before they’re supposed to have met) and was going on about what a kick in the teeth it was when William was named Prince of Wales. Does he not realise that even in the event that he could prove his claim, which I personally don’t believe, as Charles and Camilla weren’t married at the time of his birth making him illegitimate, he couldn’t inherit without an Act of Parliament legitimising him (which I doubt anyone other than him would have any interest in pursuing that)?

        I’m not giving any weight to the stories about Andrew plotting with Diana to get Charles out of the way so he could be regent for William. He’d surely have to have known that there was a good chance (as actually happened in the end) that the Queen would survive until William reached adulthood rendering a regent unnecessary.

        1. londonedit*

          Blimey. Where are all these stories being reported? The Daily Express? I haven’t seen any of them and hadn’t heard about any sort of secret plot by Andrew (who, let’s face it, can eff off).

    3. WS*

      The Queen could have asked Parliament to remove Charles from the line of succession, and they could have done it (they could also have done it regardless of her wishes), plus if Charles converted to Catholicism he would be automatically disqualified. Andrew has absolutely no power or influence in these matters (though, interestingly, Princess Beatrice now does, by virtue of her appointment as a Counsellor of State). If Charles abdicated, the throne can only go to William then George then Charlotte then Louis before it goes back to Harry then Archie then Lilibet and only then would it go back to Andrew.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Andrew is also a Councillor of State as it’s the 1st 4 adults in line for the throne, so currently William, Harry, Andrew & Beatrice.

          1. Despachito*

            What about Princess Anne? She is older than Andrew, isn’t she?

            My little feminist heart is filled with joy that they abolished the nonsense of exclusively male heirs, and that Charlotte precedes little Louis. Perhaps this was not valid yet for Anne in her times? She would make a wonderful queen, better than Andrew.

            1. Ina+Lummick*

              the change from Male primogeniture applies to children born after the law was created (in case Kate + Williams first born was a girl), so Anne remains in line to the throne after Edward’s children (currently 16th in line)

            2. Pennyworth*

              The male primogeniture law was changed well after Anne, and only once Charles has agreed. A great pity as Anne is worth a hundred Andrews, but I think the respect she has earned as the hardest working Royal certainly paved the way for the law change.

  5. Mitchell Hundred*

    I’m almost done reading “The Secret Life of Dr. James Barry” by Rachel Holmes. It’s a biography from about fifteen years ago of a Victorian-era surgeon who was well-respected in his field and generally recognized as a pioneer of modern public health. He was also assigned female at birth and is regarded by many people today as a transgender man (or the Victorian equivalent). It’s a bit frustrating to read about him, because he was understandably very guarded about his inner life, but she still manages to flesh out the story and make it interesting by talking about the era’s social and gender norms.

    1. Despachito*

      I had no knowledge about him, I had to google him up… and it was fascinating.

      There were also several other stories of women either dressing up as men for economic/carreer reasons, or because they were transgender. I admire their bravery and determination, I cannot even remotely imagine how difficult it was to live as a soldier among men and be able to never reveal your physical condition, and to have to dissimulate for your entire life.

      I often think how lucky I am for being born in a period when women are not considered feeble beings unable of any intellectual strain anymore, and of all those who paved us the way at the cost of their own wellbeing. There is still a lot to be desired, of course, but thinking of being stranded in a Victorian society with a Victorian mindset, or back in Joan of Arc’s times when it was a crime for a woman to dress in men’s attire makes me count my blessings.

    2. Jamie Starr*

      You may (or may not) be interested in “Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite.”

      Herculine was designated female at birth, but eventually was reclassified as a man. In the late 1970s/early 1980s Michel Foucault discovered Herculine’s memoirs in the archives of France’s Department of Public Hygiene and had them published, along with his introductory essay. Warning: there are very graphic medical descriptions of Herculine’s body before and after her death.

    3. marvin*

      I should check this out! I have an interest in gender diverse people from history. I wasn’t aware of James Barry, so thanks!

  6. marvin*

    I’m looking for closet organizing advice. My apartment has a couple of pretty big closets but I’m not using up the space well. They’re very wide but only have one shelf high up so there is no built in way to stack or organize stuff.

    Does anyone know of a method to create my own shelf/organizing space? The apartment is a rental so I can’t install anything permanent, and I also don’t want to spend too much if possible because I only expect to be able to use this here.

    1. Organizing Fun*

      1. Those hanging shelves that are made of cloth sold at Walmart, Target, etc.
      2. I’ve even put a bookcase with deeper shelves in my closet before and then used organizing bins for underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      How about one of the canvas hanging organizers that have several parts and hang off the closet bar? They can’t hold heavy stuff but they work well for clothes, etc.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Seconding those hanging shelves from Target. I bought one made for shoes, so it is very narrow, and I have it inside my front closet. It’s perfect for storing gloves, hats, tissues, insect repellent, etc. It was about $10, and is not very wide (but it is deep), so it doesn’t take up a bunch of space.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      My daughter gave me some old bookshelves that are one foot wide and one foot deep and six feet tall that I laid on their sides on the closet shelf. It gives me an extra shelf on top and I laid another on the floor for my shoes that also makes a handy place to step on so I can reach higher.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      An easy approach is to find a set of shelves or a dresser that fits inside the closet. You could have shelves on one side, and the other for hanging longer items. It’s going to be hidden by the closet doors, so you can go cheap – even a set of metal utility shelves with boxes on them.

    5. Red Sky*

      There are a lot of ideas if you try searching ‘diy closet organizer’. If the space is big enough, just adding a dresser and tall bookcase that you can attach closet rods to will make a huge difference.

      Also, your landlord would probably be okay with you adding a permanent closet organizing system as long as you check with them in advance and get permission. You could even ask if they’ll split the cost of materials. Not saying they’ll go for it, but if they’re reasonable, this isn’t a big deal to ask for, and will improve the value of the property (source: am a landlord)

      If you’re in the US, you can find good deals on both new and used dressers, bookcases, and closet organizers (and their various parts) on craigslist, nextdoor, facebook marketplace and local thriftstores

    6. fposte*

      In addition to other suggestions, I use wooden folding bookshelves from Target, Walmart, whatever. They’re easy to move and repurpose and they’re low enough that I can hang stuff from a rail overhead still.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m a sucker for those modular organizer things that you can get at Container Store, Target, Ikea, etc. (in varying price ranges and quality levels). There are stacking drawers, stacking shelves, stacking cubes, etc. Since they are modular, I generally find that they are transferrable to different locations and purposes whenever I move.

    8. Angstrom*

      I’ve seen carts with wire basket “drawers” — maybe park one of those in the closet?

    9. Cimorene*

      Similar to other suggestions I have used super affordable cube shelving units. The kind you can buy from target that you can get in two, four, six or eight cube units. And then you can use the fabric cube inserts as desired for additional organization.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      I am looking at purchasing metal, free standing “portable closet” things than I plan to use as plant stands eventually (so metal not MDF, water runoff from plants won’t cause damage). I am looking on Amazon but I am sure other stores carry such things. Easy to put up, no tools needed, shelves are adjustable. Handing rods can be removed easily and aren’t required. Some come with fabric storage cubes, or you can just buy your own if you want more drawers than hanging things. A second set of hands makes these pretty quick & easy, it’s possible to assemble them yourself but takes longer & is trickier.

    11. marvin*

      Thanks for the advice everyone! I should have mentioned that I don’t have rods in the closets and I’m ideally trying to find something that will be a minimal hassle to move and hopefully repurpose. The joys of my local rental market mean that I may not be able to stay here long and will probably have to downsize a lot next time I move. Some of the foldable/modular options people have suggested could be promising.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        I have wire cube shelves. You can assemble them in the closet so you can fill the whole space pretty well plus they’re modular so if you need to shape then differently you can sort of build them around things. You can put stuff directly in them or get those cube storage bins. Plus if you move then disassemble quickly and just sort of stack up into a pile of wire squares then just put in a box or wrap them with tape. Throw the connectors in a bag and figure out where they’ll be useful in your next place! I had way too many in my apartment and ended up giving a set or two to a friend when i moved so they’re still getting used even though I’m not the one using them. I still have a small set in my closet that I use for my many shirts because it’s more space efficient than hanging them.

    12. Junior Dev*

      I got some boxes from The Container Store because they allow you to filter their offerings by each dimension’s size, which allowed me to get ones that fit perfectly on the shelves I had.

      I now have a small shelf in the closet and each category of clothes gets its own bin. Tank tops and underwear are folded in thirds and then rolled, which leaves them the right length to stack in the bins. Socks are paired together (unmatched socks go somewhere else and I check for matches whenever I put laundry away). Everything else is folded in a way that allows it to fit neatly in the size of bin I have designated for it.

      If I start to have a bin overflow often I either need to get a bigger one for that category or get rid of the clothes I don’t wear often (if they’re still perfectly good I might put them in storage, otherwise give them away if I don’t like them and throw them away if they have damage).

    13. neurodivergent office queen*

      i follow an adhd-friendly interior design account on Instagram, and she actually suggests not storing clothes in your closet at all. some of us prefer open storage whenever possible to avoid forgetting about things, and benefit more from having different spaces for different purposes. for that she suggests buying a clothing rack and cubby organizer without the drawer, and using the closet space as an office. i understand that this won’t be for everyone, but personally, it’s my eventual goal. best of luck!

      1. IT Manager*

        I took the doors off my closet and put shelves on one side and it’s life changing. I’m never going back to closed storage again!!!! Seeing everything makes me a) keep it tidy b) know what I have before I go buying accidental replacements

        I’ve also gone to mostly open storage in my kitchen too, which looks kinda weird not to have cabinets but works for me.

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Oh my goodness… the accidental replacements is out of control in my house… Unfortunately open storage stresses me out because it feels like it’s cluttered (don’t get me wrong… I’m not tidy by any means) but when everything is put away I really struggle to remember what I have.

    14. Pennyworth*

      My SIL lives a house with large closets similar to yours. She measured the space and searched online for sets of drawers that would fit neatly and give the storage she wanted. She now has lots of drawers that look as though they were built in, but actually can just be lifted out and taken with her if she moves house.

    15. DannyG*

      Amazon has a pretty decent selection of different storage systems. Some closed, some open. I have a nice shoe rack that I use in the hall closet as I come in, bamboo, holds 9 pairs. Another cube system in the bedroom for general storage.The big box hardware stores have similar items, as does IKEA. And, they can be disassembled & taken with you.

    16. jleebeane*

      I’m a bit late to the party, but hopefully you’ll see this! There’s a military-spouse blogger out there who focuses specifically on rental-friendly decoration and organizing: https://thehomesihavemade.com/

      She sometimes pushes the boundaries of what I’d consider removable/temporary/rental-friendly, but you might get some good ideas.

  7. Rebecca*

    Fashion help please!

    I’m attending a wedding later this fall and it’s cocktail dress code. It’s a pretty fancy venue and I know the bride/groom and fam tend to be fairly fashionable, so I’d err on the side of more dressy cocktail. I’ve scoured the typical sites (e.g. Nordstrom, Macys) and I feel bleh about everything. Are there any brands you know of that make cocktail dresses that are “fun” either because they come in interesting prints or include details like embroidery or mixed media? I’d like something that is a classy statement dress. I feel like Anthropologie used to make dresses like this back in the day. I’m willing to spend a bit more for better materials/craftsmanship. Thanks folks!!

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Seconding this. I had a great experience with them when I needed a dress for my brother’s black-tie optional wedding.

          1. Rebecca*

            Thanks for this rec folks! I was worried about Rent the Runway my friend received a dress with a broken zipper and stain but it was obviously too late to return and get a new one. Sounds like others had positive experiences so I’ll look more into it.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I attended a wedding where guests were encouraged to dress in 1920s styles. I found great options on Etsy. You can plug in a particular theme and keywords and locate specific styles. I found a dress, hat, and jewelry that were affordable and comfortable, and I got lots of compliments on my outfit.

    2. CTT*

      I’ve gotten some great dresses for weddings at Boden and they love a pattern at that store.

      Also, if you’re willing to really spend some time, you can find interesting/well-made stuff on ASOS. They carry SO much for so many occasions that it does involve a lot of searching, but two of my all-time favorite event dresses that I have gotten a lot of wear out of are from there.

      1. Rebecca*

        Awesome, thanks! I never tried ASOS because I didn’t know what the quality would be like. I’ll give it a whirl!

    3. Jay*

      I like Adriana Papell – interesting embroidery and lovely cuts, not so much prints. Nordstrom carries some of her things and I’ve done better on her website directly.

      Second the recommendation for ASOS. Also take a look at eShakti – they have a wide variety of things – and maybe Modcloth?

      1. SanPellegrino*

        Thirding Adrianna Papell – I got a lace dress that I wore as a more casual wedding dress to my rescheduled wedding reception and I get so many compliments on it.

    4. Masked Bandit*

      The dress I have that would fit this bill is Kate Spade. If you can find an outlet, they’re generally not more expensive than your typical dress at Nordstrom.

    5. Lifeandlimb*

      I’ve had luck with Revolve Clothing (online retailer) and Poshmark (peer-to-peer secondhand selling, lots of designer stuff on there).

    6. Chaordic One*

      If you really can’t find a dress that you really like, follow WoodswomanWrites’ advice and dress up a “meh” dress with with a hat and jewelry. Also consider jackets, sweaters, wraps such as shawls, and also scarves.

    7. BalanceofThemis*

      I bought a couple great cocktail dresses for a wedding at Dillards.

      Modcloth is a good source for fun clothes, but they don’t always run true to size. Read reviews and leave enough time to either return for a different size or get the purchase tailored.

    8. LittleMarshmallow*

      I’m heavier so I do a lot of my dress shopping at Torrid. They do go down to like a size 10 though so depending on your size maybe still an option. They usually have unique dresses and also usually have pockets! Ive occasionally found fun dresses at Old Navy too… which is weird. If I were skinny… I’d love to shop at Anthropologie! Also recommend checking out small boutiques in your area. If you’re “normal sized” they often have really fun and unique clothing!

  8. Free Meerkats*


    What are your preferences?

    Abridged vs unabridged?

    Fully, partially, or un voiced?

    Solo or cast narration?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Always unabridged. Don’t want to miss anything. Honestly I haven’t really run across abridged since the days of books on CD. The books I borrow from my library are always unabridged. *

      Books are usually solo or maybe two narrators in books with two POV. I think a cast is much closer to an audio drama which I don’t dislike but not what I’m expecting from an audiobook.

      I’m not sure what you mean by voiced but basically someone reads a book to me.

      * Although I did listen to John Barry’s The Great Influenza a long time ago, and it was 20ish hours and way too damn long. I’d call that an editing problem with the book, but that could have been okay abridged.

      I think long and hard before starting any audiobook longer than 12-13 hours, but sometimes I do and it’s worth it.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Fully voiced – every character is read in a distinct voice.

        Partially voiced – usually only one character is read in a distinct voice, all the others are read flat.

        Unvoiced – the book is just read aloud.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Hmmm … I have no preference. I “think” that most of the books are partially voiced in that the audiobook narrator makes a bit of an effort, but doesn’t overdo it. Since we’re talking about audiobooks as long as the book is well written there shouldn’t be any confusion about who’s speaking so it’s not necessary. But I do recall some books with characters stated to have accents or something unusual in their speech pattern that the narrator inserts into their speech.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Definitely unabridged. Generally I don’t feel like I need multiple actors but my favorite performance I’ve listened to was “They Both Die At The End” which had two narrators for the two protagonists, plus a third one (Bahni Turpin, who is my favorite audiobook narrator because apparently I have one of those now lol) for the third-person interludes.

      The full cast audiobook of Daisy Jones and the Six was fun because it made it feel more like a real oral history of an existing band, but there was a “bonus track” that was supposedly one of the songs from the story and ended up being an extremely bad and repetitive instrumental which was a letdown!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes, THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END was awesome! (And tear-inducing, but also awesome.) Lovely narration too.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Usually audiobooks feel like, well, just someone reading the book out loud, but the actors did such a great job really bringing personality to the characters. There were parts where one of them would be recounting dialogue of the other and it was just so sweet? Like you had such a strong sense of their relationship from how they talked about each other, in a way I don’t think you’d get from reading the words yourself.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I’m not a big audiobook listener, but when I do, I just want it read as straight as possible.

      Dramatized audiobooks fall in this uncanny valley for me. The acting and use of dialogue and narration are never as fully realized as an actual radio play, but it’s just “actor-y” enough to be distracting.

      Dramatization is interpretation. If I’m going to read a book, I want to interpret it for myself.

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        yup, I want the voiced reading to be as close to neutral as possible otherwise it’s really distracting

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not much of an audiobook because of auditory processing issues, so usually I only go for favorite books that I’ve read a thousand times and treat them more as background noise. But for me a big exception was Stephen Fry’s Greek mythology series, Mythos/Heroes/Troy, and I’m listening to those (a little at a time) because he narrates them himself and wrote them knowing he would do, so they’re written in a very conversational style that works well. Sometimes I read memoirs from folks who talk for a living and I think those might present a little better in audio as well – Trevor Noah’s felt that way to me, it read weird but i think it would have listened better.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I have similar issues. I can only focus on an audio book or podcast if I’m lying on the couch, preferably with my eyes closed. The only audio book I’ve ever listened to in full was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, narrated by Sean Bean, because I really enjoy listening to him.

        When I had iritis a few weeks ago and was banned from using screens more than absolutely necessary, and even reading a printed book was difficult, I finally succumbed to listening to podcasts to keep myself entertained. It worked, but only because I had no other choice. I can’t listen to a podcast if I’m working out or doing chores, even something as repetitive as folding laundry, because my mind wanders if it has any excuse at all to do so. I never have that problem if I’m reading.

        I’m glad audio books and podcasts exist for people who enjoy them. They’re great for people with dyslexia who would find it more difficult to get access to information or entertainment without them. But for me, nothing will ever replace reading and I’ll never accept that reading and listening to an audio book are equivalent. Even if it’s just straight reading, you’re consuming another person’s interpretation of the text rather than making a completely fresh interpretation. Obviously this is compounded if you have several narrators, or if it’s more or less an audio drama. Please note, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying audio dramas, but it’s not the same as reading.

    5. Asenath*

      Always unabridged. That is just an extension of my life-long dislike of abridged non-audio books, dating back to my childhood when I thought children’s editions were a bit if a cheat because they left things out, like Reader’s Digest Condensed Books did. Back in the day a LOT of people had those, so of course I tried reading them. I like fully voiced narration, especially with a good narrator who does it well. I make an exception for things like historical biographies, in which I prefer an unvoiced narration. And I usually don’t like a cast narration, unless I’m listening to something like an adaptation intended as a radio play or something, and even then I’ll often prefer an unabridged version.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Excellent cast narration: His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman.

      I tend to prefer unabridged–but one of our first audiobooks for a long drive was an abridged DaVinci Code and that was fun.

      Two series–The Famous Five and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubry novels–I love with one narrator and hated with the second. The guy was trying to make a rip-roaring tale of adventure at sea into a pedantic reading of Shakespeare.

      When my children were young we had audiobooks of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner read by Charles Kurault, which shall forever be the correct voice for reading those.

    7. Jay*

      Always unabridged. Generally solo narration although I have enjoyed a couple of books with one reader for each of two narrators. Not sure what you mean by “fully, partially, or un-voiced.” I have definite preferences for narrators. I find some voices irritating or distracting. For example, I enjoy Sarah Vowell’s books and dislike her voice. I no longer try to listen to them.

      I’m a USer and I love listening to British narrators. I enjoy this so much I’ve sought out British authors on audiobooks and then looked for others read by the narrators I like. I have listened to a couple of books read by “big name” actors; the best for me is Wil Wheaton reading John Scalzi. Other than that I’m not a fan – reading an audiobook is a different skill than acting and not all actors are good at it.

    8. KarenK*

      Unabridged always.

      For fiction, I like the narrator to either do the voices, or have multiple readers. Jim Dale, who reads my versions of the Harry Potter books, is a master at the voices. Martin Freeman also does an excellent job on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books.

      For memoirs and autobiographies, I like the author to read, if possible, but it’s not a dealbreaker. For example, George Carlin’s brother reads his autobiography, and Johnny Depp reads Keith Richards’.

      1. Jay*

        I generally agree about memoirs – except for Billie Jean King. The book was great. Her narration was, at times, distracting.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Toni Morrison was/is great reading her own books. Pretty sure she’s narrated the audiobook for almost all of her novels.

        But, yeah, audiobook narration is a skill and not all authors have the skills.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I love audiobooks!

      Unabridged – strong preference, though once in a while I’ve stumbled across an abridged version that isn’t too bad. (When the abridgment means a subset of stories in an anthology, but the stories that are included are complete, I don’t mind as much.)

      Some of my favorite narrators do different voices so well that I appreciate their work even more; it’s especially helpful in long conversational passages that don’t have any other indicators as to who’s talking. Some narrators aren’t as good at that, and with those I prefer a more straightforward reading – better to have no accents or falsetto than bad accents/falsetto!

      Solo vs. cast: I’ve enjoyed both, though most of my audiobooks have solo (or at most 2 or 3) narrators. That said, the full-cast version of GOOD OMENS was a lot of fun – even if I still prefer the original!

      FWIW, my current favorite narrators include Simon Vance, Christian Coulson, and Michael Crouch – they’re in my short list of narrators whose work I’ll choose almost regardless of content, just so I can listen to them!

    10. Person from the Resume*

      My other thing about audiobooks is that I’m somewhat selective about what I listen to. For example, I don’t listen to sci fi with complex world building. If it’s a book with a complex plot or huge cast, I prefer being able to flip back to check things, figure out who’s who.

      Something that frustrates me in audiobooks if if the timeline is important is that I can’t flip back so when the last date time was mentioned because I don’t hold the details of the date/time in my head.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I listen to audiobooks, mostly from the library and occasionally check out the regular book(both digitally) so I can flip through the ebook for things like that, or to know how character’s names are spelled.

        I don’t have a strong preference for full cast vs dramatic vs. non. Mostly, I want the narrator(s) to not be grating or annoying or monotone, and I like variety.

        I listen to fiction and nonfiction. I was about to say nonfiction doesn’t need dramatization and then remembered I’ve listened to a couple that had some. The best example is Dreams of my Father by Barack Obama. Regardless of politics, I picked it up when he was president because I wanted to know more about him. He does impressions when talking about his family members. I found this especially amusing coming from the president.

        Another book that does is The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman. He does voices for people like Ross Perot when talking about them and there’s a different petson who reads the chapter titles and sidebars which makes it more engaging and useful to have audio cues.

        Graceling by Kristin Cashore was one of the most epic/dramatic full cast recordings I’ve listened to. They even had a bit of fanfare music at the beginning of each chapter, and then an epic voice would say “Chapter X”. It was a bit overkill but I was amused by it, too.

  9. thewriterbean*

    What are your favourite herbs to grow? Or other easy-for-beginners plants?

    I’m in the process of creating some herb gardens here at my new place and it’s the first time I’ve ever had to create herb gardens from scratch. I’m also pretty bad at high maintenance plants, so anything that can add some life to the backyard without me having to do heaps would be awesome!

    For context, I’m in Australia — it’s going into spring at the moment, although it’s currently pouring this weekend.

    1. Missb*

      I’d recommend that you consider planting herbs that you already use. I use thyme, parsley and rosemary a lot in cooking.

      I find that if I grow what I’ll use, then I’m a bit more invested to keeping things alive long enough for me to harvest and use them.

      Of course you can buy little pots of herbs and transplant them. That’s probably the easiest way to start. Rosemary grows quickly so even if you buy a small plant, it’ll get big in no time at all. I planted a small pot of rosemary this spring and it’s already about 2 feet tall, and that’s with very little water this year.

      I did some winter sowing this past winter (involves using a plastic milk carton full of soil and some seeds, out in the elements after the winter solstice.) I threw some rosemary and thyme seeds out there. I have even more of each plant now so that I can plant them out and take out some other things that I don’t need to be growing.

      I dry rosemary and thyme inside by tying twine around them and creating small bundles, and hang them up to dry inside.

      Also consider a culinary bay. I put mine in a very large pot and let it grow. Each spring I harvest some of the new leaves and use a needle/thread to string them like a necklace, hanging them to dry. The plant makes a nice centerpiece in an herb garden, and keeping it in a large pot keeps it from getting too big.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It really depends on your climate and the type of space you have, or the area of your garden where you plant it. Any herb is easy in the right spot and impossible in the wrong spot.

      I can grow rosemary and lavender beautifully on the uphill side of my garden, but not the downhill side, even though they get the exact same amount of sun. It’s just enough difference in moisture / drainage. Mint and lemon balm flourish along one side of the house where they only get a couple of hours of sun, but won’t grow along the other side that’s got too much sun.

      If you want low-maintenance, do a site assessment for the conditions in different parts of the property (hours of sun, direct/indirect, soil moisture, soil composition – loamy, sandy, clay?)

      Then look over the needs of the plants you’re interested in, to see where they want to go.

    3. The Jobless Wonder*

      Basil is hard to kill and comes in lots of varieties. It’s also great if you want to keep it outside in a container in the warmer months and bring it inside during the cooler ones — there’s just nothing like fresh basil-year round. Pinch off the flowers as they begin to develop to encourage the plant to produce more leaves.

      The suggestion for mint is good too, but keep it contained somehow because it can take over a garden. I know someone who kept it in a raised bed, and it spread within the bed but not to the rest of the yard.

      Chive patches are the gifts that keep on giving. Plant some and they should come back year after year. Chive blossoms also make a nice addition to a dish, esthetically speaking.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Came to say chives too! Bees also love the flowers, so we just leave them on the plant until they dry out in mid summer, and then again around now in fall.

        And yes, contain your mint! We pulled us 5 years ago from our balcony containers, yet every spring another few stalks still find their way up. Only the chives can fight back!

        1. Wink the Book*

          +1 to all these. My container herb garden consists of mint, chives, basil, and green onions. Alliums are tough as heck and tasty.

    4. TabbyCats*

      So, I grow some basic culinary herbs here in Canada – you may need to tweak advice on conditions and care, but if you can find a gardening group (uni extension sites, Facebook, seed savers clubs, plant clubs ie lily growers – there’s something out there) that will be good support. You are probably more likely to have trouble with something getting out of control than we are here in -40 country. I don’t know if you start your own – some are easy, some are quite hard, some are just frustrating (like, you start 20 and 19 die…) so I’ll leave that alone. The more common herbs like basil, sage, and thyme also come with a lot of colour and flavour/scent variations. I don’t usually have anything that needs much fuss unless I’m trying to start it or overwinter it; growing season I’ll water and basic maintenance/bug control but I don’t have time for much else!!

      Some herbs here will overwinter with some luck – lavender, thyme, oregano. You wouldn’t likely have trouble with these, though thyme and oregano do tend to bolt in heat. Depending on where you are, that might not be a huge issue. Lavender I don’t use a lot, but it’s such a lovely plant and pollinator friendly that I like having it. Thyme is also a bee magnet, so I usually let some bloom for them and keep some trimmed back for me.

      Sage and rosemary will grow as perennials where they don’t have to worry about winter freeze, and I love them as they are very very unfussy and good with hotter weather as long as they have water. Basil I also like as both cooking and just to have around with it’s wonderful smell, it definitely likes cooler/shade and if you had a low-light space that would be my choice. It’s an easy grower from seed if you need/want smaller plants, it will bolt and wilt in heat. My biggest issues have usually been with wilting; fusarium has been a problem so if you can source resistant plants I would. I adore Lemon Verbena, though it’s an annual here, for it’s *intense* lemon smell and taste (fresh and dried). Lemongrass is also good and both pretty low maintenance.

      I also “grow” – by which I mean mostly pull them out when they’ve seeded where I don’t want them – dill, coriander/cilantro, chives. I have spearmint and regular mint in containers as they are more enthusiastic than I can handle. These days I prefer Mojito mint as it seems best at holding the mint flavour when adding the leaves to water; others tend to a grassy taste.

    5. Quandong*

      It depends a lot on your climate and how much daily sun your garden will get.

      I’m in subtropical Queensland and have a lot of sun where my herbs grow.

      My suggestion would be to take some walks around your neighbourhood and check out what other people are growing, and try the herbs that you see in multiple gardens, and that you like.

      If you have time to maintain plants in pots, it’s easier to move them if they need more or less sun to do well.

      If you have enough sunlight I’d start with Mediterranean herbs that are easily found like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, lavender. For the moisture-loving herbs, common mint, Vietnamese mint, sawtooth coriander. I would add a few kinds of basil (African blue basil is great for pollinators), continental parsley, pineapple sage, nasturtium, perhaps winter tarragon.

      You might like to make a herb spiral if you have space for one.

      There are a lot of online suppliers around who will send plants in the post if you can’t find what you want in a nursery near you.

      Good luck! I hope it’s a lot of fun!

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Seconding the advice to grow what you use. Also, besides what others have mentioned, I like to regrow green onions. If you buy them, just cut away the roots with ~1.5 cm of white, and then put those bits out in the garden (or in a pot) – they’ll make greens again.

    7. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

      I’m in NSW and I honestly can’t keep mint alive. Chives are great. “Grow what you use” is the best advice – I grow a lot of little lettuces/ salad leaves and it’s great to be able to cut a fistful of leaves for a sandwich or tiny side salad w/o having to buy fresh leaves from the supermarket. Tomatoes I’ve found relatively easy and VERY EXCITING (like, omg a FREE TOMATO just spontaneously manifested in my garden!!!).

      A thing I found hard to figure out when I was a new herb grower was when I had enough parsley (eg) to cut some – I kept waiting till there was loads in case I killed it all by taking too much and ended up not using it. This sounds really stupid/obvious, but it grows back! Herbs seem to like being used as long as you don’t take all their leaves in one go.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I grow flat leaf parsley and always let one plant go to seed so there is always some parsley somewhere in my garden. I like to have rosemary as a hedge, I have a tall growing variety that flowers well, which bees love. Fresh thyme is lovely and will grow in dry areas.

    8. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I prefer to prioritise space in the veggie garden for herbs that are either hard to reliably find at the shops, or that I only use in smaller quantities than the usual bunch size. Tarragon and lemon verbena I love and seldom find. Sage, rosemary, thyme and dill I only use a little at a time so I prefer to pick what I need rather than throw out most of a bought bunch.

      Although I use a lot of coriander and basil when I cook, I’ve never found them worth growing where I am. I’m in Aus too (subtropics) and 9 months of the year it’s just too bloody hot – they will bolt almost instantly, shooting upright to flower and the few leaves left are either bitter or flavourless. I’d have to plant so many of them, and be so careful about timing progressive sowings to get enough during the tiny window when they’re still good that it’s just much easier to buy a fresh bunch when I need it.

      When planting, I keep my perennial herbs in pots separate from my seasonal herbs in the garden beds. The tough mediterranean herbs prefer less water and like full sun, so terracotta pots help evaporate excess moisture and can be moved around as the sun changes position throughout the year. The seasonal tender greens need regular water and may need light shade during the hotter periods, so that’s easier to manage in the ground with mulching and stakes for shadecloth. Also, when I’m digging over my garden bed at the end of the season I don’t want to be digging around perennials and disturbing their roots, so that’s another thing to bear in mind.

      Nasturtium is another low maintenance one you could try if you’re looking for visual appeal. The leaves are a little too peppery for me, but it looks pretty and the flowers make a nice edible garnish.

      1. TabbyCats*

        I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but coriander seeds added to mixed peppercorns (in a pepper grinder) add a really nice savoury touch. So that might be worth letting a couple of your plants bolt and go to seed! I just let them dry on the plant and then clip off the bunches. Takes a bit of time to separate the seeds and clean out all the plant bits, but I like to have around. It’s still one of my favourite things to have on scrambled eggs – nice taste, and of course I just like the colours in a peppercorn mix too.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I like herbs that flower, because I feel like I’m getting a two for one. Chives are easy, usable and have lovely little purple flowers. Rosemary is covered in blue flowers if it gets very happy.

    10. PhyllisB*

      I hope this doesn’t veer too much towards medical advice, it’s really more nutritional: I went yesterday to for my pre-op workup (in preparation for a hip replacement.) The doctor told me my sodium was low and she wanted to see it up a bit. Can any of you suggest healthy ways to increase my sodium? I do add salt to my food, and I occasionally eat things like salty chips and such. I just don’t add it at the table because I don’t like a lot of salt.
      I find this ironic since doctors have always told us CUT sodium, and I do take blood pressure pills.

      1. Clisby*

        Blood pressure pills can cause your sodium to go too low – my doctor changed my BP medication for that reason. In my case, the BP medicine was compounded with a diuretic, and that caused the problem. I think it’s true that most of us have been urged to cut sodium intake, but our bodies need sodium. We shouldn’t be cutting it down to nothing.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you. Doctor did mention the medication. I don’t totally avoid salt, I just don’t add it at the table. BTW, apparently this posted twice. Sorry.

    11. PhyllisB*

      I’m not sure what grows well in Australia, or what you personally like, but the ones we have that we planted and “forgot ” are rosemary, chives, and oregano. Caution about oregano: be sure to plant in a pot and space it apart, because it will “jump the ditch ” i just had to go pull a bunch of it out of my chives. We also plant basil, but you have to plant it yearly.

    12. Madame Arcati*

      Definitely grow the ones you want to use fresh. Also in Oz I’d think ones that need warmer climes, like basil, would do well (no good outside here in the U.K!).
      Rosemary is hardy and doesn’t need much attention, and makes a nice shrub. Mint grows so well you better put it in a planter or it’ll go everywhere. I’ve also had success with chives, thyme, marjoram, lovage, and parsley, although when we had a spell of temperatures that were hot even by Australian standards, I had to water them daily.

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

      One herb I “couldn’t kill” was italian parsley, but it is similar to mint in that it spreads easily so keep it contained. I could chop the whole plant to just above the soil line to make a batch of pesto and the next day it’ll sprout vigorously.

    14. Westsidestory*

      The most important thing to know about growing herbs is grouping them by sun needs and water needs.

      Most of the Mediterranean perennial herbs (rosemary, lavender, thyme, sage) prefer full sun and a well draining soil. Put those together for a “zone.” Mint, chives and parsley love moister soils, and can take a bit of shade. Basil and most annual herbs like sun and regular watering.

      So my tip is to see what your backyard conditions are, and plant accordingly – always of course remembering you can create a “zone” in a big container and just move it to the right shady or sunny spot.

      That said, start with herbs you use the most, add as you go. This season I have basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, and chives as those are the ones I use most as fresh herbs. But I’ve grown about 30 different kinds over the years – it is a wonderful hobby adventure on its own and I wish you much joy of it.

    15. SparklingBlue*

      If you have success with mint, you could try catnip–you can give the leaves to the neighborhood kitties.

    16. I take tea*

      I like lovage, when it grows well it becomes really big, like at least a meter high and sometimes twice that, but doesn’t spread out the way mint does. The taste is strong, use carefully, but it adds depth to a lot of food in the same way as bay leafs. It can be found in most vegetable stock. (In German it is called Maggikraut, I’ve always thought that it is why the stock brand is called Maggi.)

      1. Missb*

        My favorite success at seed sowing was to start some Lovage from seed- it needs a chill period that just doesn’t happen naturally in my climate.

        Despite my success, it turns out one only needs 1 Lovage plant per household, lol.

    17. Chauncy Gardener*

      You can easily grow basil, cilantro and parsley from seed. Just rough up the soil a bit and sprinkle the seeds thinly on the patch of soil. Sprinkle a bit of soil to cover and pat them in. Water lightly every day if possible
      Have fun!!

  10. Languages*

    Does anyone have had an experience of bilingual pre-school (ages 3-6)?
    How “bilingual” do kids end up?
    I’m in a country where english isn’t the spoken language , my husband and I are fluent in English but speak our mother tongue to our child. So kiddo will speak english half the time at school, maybe with friends, and a bit with us (we’re starting to integrate songs and books).
    We don’t plan on staying in such a program in elementary school (the public school is quite decent and cost is definitely a factor).

    1. chocolate zebras*

      It very much depends on how intensive the English is. I’d expect very little learning – a few words/phrases/songs. If the language isn’t continued, it won’t be retained. The best outcome is learning pronunciation, so if the kids do learn English again later, they might have less of an accent.

      1. Languages*

        There are two teachers per class of ten kids, one only speaks english to them, the other our mother tongue, half activities are in English.

      2. Alex*

        I used to work in a preschool with a lot of bilingual kids. I also have a parent who grew up speaking another language at home than at school. It’s generally totally fine. Kids that age pick up English even if their parents don’t speak it at all at home. They can also easily understand who speaks what language. It always amazed me how easily kids can switch in between (especially as someone who struggled to learn second languages).

        I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    2. AnonyMouse*

      I think it depends so much on the quality of the program itself. My child is in a bilingual preschool but the teachers end up speaking our country’s dominant language a lot. If you want your child to be bilingual, I’d encourage you to make a family language plan. Check out @bilinguitos on Instagram as a good resource.

    3. allathian*

      If you really want your kid to be fluent in English at a young age, what they really need is a chance to use English regularly. You could look into English-language after school playgroups or something, for when your kiddo’s old enough for elementary school.

      Kids learn languages quickly, but they also lose their language skills quickly and pretty completely unless they get a chance to practice the language regularly. To be fair, though, they’ll relearn quickly when they’re older and start learning it at school.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      My nephew went to an Irish language preschool and is now at the age of 4, just after starting an Irish immersion primary school. At the moment, he is nowhere near billingual. He knows the colours in Irish and words like “table,” “chair,” “window,” “teacher,” “homework.”

      I guess all primary schools in Ireland are to some extent billingual. We had to ask to go to the toilet in Irish throughout primary school, a lot of classroom instructions were given in Irish (sit down, turn around, etc; as a teacher, I’ve actually had to consciously change to English for those as my current role is a learning support teacher and one of the things I do is take the students who are exempt from Irish – recent immigrants, children with learning difficulties, etc – during the Irish period) and the roll is called in Irish (1st years in secondary school are often confused as to how to answer the roll as the only answer given in primary is “anseo”).

      I will say most of us, even with that level of use in primary school and Irish language classes from the age of 4 to the age of about 18, do not end up anywhere near billingual. I know that is not the same as speaking a language half the time though.

      My nephew has really only started (one year of preschool and the past month of school) so hard to tell what level of Irish he will attain. Given that all his textbooks are in Irish and it is the spoken language at school, I would assume he would come close to being billingual.

      I will add that Gaelscoileanna (schools that teach through Irish) generally get EXTREMELY good results and it is pretty much considered “the thing to do” (send your kid to a Gaelscoil) if you are really ambitious for them. I would sound a note of caution here, as it is likely that the parents who choose Gaelscoileanna are often quite well educated themselves and the children are likely average to high achieving (not always, but I imagine most parents would not send a child who is seriously struggling to a school where he or she would be educated through a second language), all of which may mess with the results – corrolation is not causation, after all. However, for what it’s worth, the two schools with the highest portion of student going on to college from 2017 to 2019 were Gaelscoileanna.

      1. fposte*

        I was really surprised when I learned about Gaelscoileanna, not so much that they existed but how widespread they were, rather than just being a phenomenon of the Gaeltacht. This was from an Irish colleague who’d gone to one in some eastern county I wouldn’t have expected and was bilingual as a result.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        Random question, but what other answers to the register do you need in high school? Aren’t you either present or not able to answer?

    5. Texan In Exile*

      How “bilingual” do kids end up?

      I can sort of address that question. I am a native English speaker, as are my parents, but my father was a career military officer and was stationed in Spain when I was a child. I went to a Dept of Defense school on base, which was taught in English by native English speakers, but we were required to study Spanish language, history, and culture.

      I attended this school from kindergarten to fifth grade and started learning Spanish in kindergarten. In addition, we had a Spanish cleaning lady (this was in Franco’s Spain, which was horribly poor, so even a military family could afford help), who spoke no English, so I heard Spanish from her.

      This start in Spanish has been an incredible advantage in my life. I went on to take Spanish in high school (which happened to be in the Panama Canal Zone, but again, I was in a school run by native English speakers) and in college. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, selected for that country because I already spoke Spanish.

      I have gotten jobs with international companies based on my ability to speak Spanish. I have been able to easily learn basic French, Portuguese, and Italian because of my knowledge of Spanish. I have travelled to Spain many times, getting around with no problems. Knowing Spanish has enriched my life in ways I cannot even begin to measure.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I would totally agree that hearing/learning another language early, even if you don’t keep it up forever, gives one a huge start in language learning and pronunciation later on. My parents occasionally spoke to me and each other in their native language without formally teaching it to me; I had a a big leg up when I started studying it formally later for many years in school, and I can still read it pretty well and have a good accent in it (though my knowledge of what nouns are masculine and what nouns are feminine is lousy, so I will never fool anyone into thinking I am a native speaker).

        I also spent a year overseas as a small child, and while I don’t remember the language I spoke there well enough to say much, my reading comprehension in it is still pretty good.

        And I also agree that once you know one Romance language, it’s pretty easy to learn/teach yourself the others!

    6. Jay*

      My friends who have managed to raise bilingual kids – or kids who can at least function in more than one language – have used the non-dominant language at home. We’re in the US, so that means they spoke English or French or Greek or Spanish at home, sometimes exclusively. I have one friend who only spoke to her kids in Spanish even though her husband doesn’t speak Spanish. She required them to answer her in Spanish as well. Both kids have traveled on their own in Spain and South America without difficulty; if they’re not truly bilingual, they are certainly more than competent in Spanish. School alone won’t do it no matter how good the program.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      The possible outcomes of *just* bilingual preschool are pretty limited. Doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile but do have realistic expectations.

      Real-life example: At a language academy where I used to work, we had a student enroll with us who had attended a Mandarin-language preschool. She wasn’t of Chinese heritage, her family just sent her to that preschool because the location was convenient.

      She didn’t study Mandarin again until she enrolled in Mandarin classes with us around age 12. At that point, she had no ability to communicate in Mandarin and had to start from Level 1 with all the other students. In class, she proved to have excellent pronunciation, better listening skills than other students, and she generally picked up things more a bit more quickly. But I don’t think anyone would consider her bilingual just based on her preschool experience.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      Not the same as what you’re asking, but my friend has two teen kids that had a parent that only spoke to them in French and they attended a French language school through 8th grade.

      The oldest is very smart, had no troubles, and speaks fluent French and also learning Chinese now. The youngest struggled in school and had anxiety. He was not helped by instructions being in French (he sometimes did not understand school work instructions). He’s way more fluent that any average American kid, but not like a native speaker and isn’t a great reader / writer. One parent still speaks to him only in French but there’s still some miscommunications.

    9. 3lla*

      at kindergarten, bilingual students know as many words as their monolingual peers but because the words are spread across two languages, they are often rated as having less breadth of vocab compared to their peers. this evens out by grade three, but be prepared for some pushback from their teachers at public school until then.

      1. Jessica*

        The studies on this are mixed, FYI. Some have found a vocabulary gap among bilingual kids and their monolingual peers, other’s haven’t.

    10. bratschegirl*

      Various family members have raised bilingual kids, but in those cases they have used both languages at home, and for the most part one parent spoke primarily English and the other spoke primarily the other language. Often kids in this situation are later to speak than their monolingual peers, but when they do start really talking they are able to keep the two languages separate. That’s with pretty much 50% exposure to each language, though.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, can confirm. I was raised bilingual, and I’ve spoken Finnish and Swedish for as long as I can remember. My dad traveled a lot on business when I was a toddler and preschooler, sometimes being absent for months at a time. During those periods, I always spoke Finnish with my mom, and I remember having trouble when I was 4 to adjust to speaking Swedish with my dad when he returned from a particularly long trip. This changed when I went to daycare when I was 5, because the language of the daycare was Swedish. (All of my education, with the exception of a year in the UK in my early teens and an exchange year in France as a college student, from daycare to master’s degree, has been in Swedish.)

        But knowing two languages from early childhood meant that adding a third, English, was easy. I went from a vocabulary of about 500 words, to no longer needing an assistant tutor in class, during the Autumn Term (1st of 3 trimesters), and I got an A on my report card at the end of the school year, graded on the same scale as the English kids who’d grown up speaking only English. I’m willing to concede that I have some talent in languages, though.

        When my husband was a preschooler, his family lived in the southern US for about three years. He didn’t learn much English, mainly because his mom was a SAHM, and he spent most of the time with her. But when he started learning English at school, he adapted a slight Southern accent, which you can hear even now.

        We’re raising our son to be bilingual as well. We speak Swedish and Finnish at home. My husband understands Swedish well enough that I don’t need to repeat what I’m saying to our son for his benefit, but he doesn’t speak it himself. When our son started talking, at first he’d only respond in Finnish. He was a fairly late learner, but he had lots of ear infections when he was a toddler to the point that they temporarily affected his hearing and delayed his speech development. When he went to daycare, he only started speaking Swedish when they had a visiting substitute teacher from Sweden who didn’t speak any Finnish. Now, because he’s in a Swedish-language school, his Swedish is stronger than his Finnish. He’s also picking up a lot of English from YouTube, he’s often able to point out translation errors in the subtitles of the TV shows we’re watching together.

    11. Pennyworth*

      I think you’ll need to speak English at home to get them properly bilingual. I know two families with bi-lingual children, in both cases one parent was a native English speaker, the other parent a Spanish or French native speaker. They chose to use Spanish/French exclusively at home, and English when out or with friends or family members who only spoke English. The kids switched between languages effortlessly.

    12. KatEnigma*

      It depends on the person. My cousin went to a bilingual school (barely… mostly French) in Montreal for all of elementary school and was proficient at the time, but can not speak much French today.

      It won’t hurt your kid, but if you’re looking for lasting effects, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  11. Jackalope*

    Reading thread: everyone share what they’re reading right now. All kinds of books and reading welcome!

    Someone here recommended Cassandra Clare a few weeks ago, and I’ve been reading some of her books. I’ve made my way through a number of them and I think I’m ready to take a break for a bit, but I’ve definitely enjoyed them so thanks to whoever recommended them.

    1. Forensic13*

      Just finished The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novak and loved it! It’s the final book in a trilogy, so I’ve been really excited for it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That was incredible. It hit the things I expected, but with new twists that were not only very satisfying, but shifted how I saw the earlier books. That beautiful feeling of “I did not see this coming, and yet now it seems so clear.”

        I just started in on A Deadly Education again.

        1. No Name Yet*

          Someone here (maybe one of you two?) recommended the Scholomance series a few weeks ago, and I just finished A Deadly Education, and LOVED IT! Impatiently waiting for my interlibrary loan copy of The Last Graduate to show up – glad to hear that The Golden Enclaves lives up to the series!

          While waiting, I started reading Spinning Silver also by Naomi Novik, and am enjoying it as well. The combination of her style of fantasy and historical context of being-a-Jew-in-something-like-medieval-Europe is really interesting.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            What if you were a student in a magical high school where you constantly had exciting and terrifying adventures due to monsters trying to eat you, BUT that was horrible and stressful and the only reason anyone would agree to go is that the outside world is even more lethal?

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Your description of Spinning Silver makes me think you might appreciate A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan – it’s a five book series written as the memoir of a bluestocking noblewoman in a pseudo-Victorian slightly steampunk world where dragons are real and the dominant religion of the narrator and her home culture is based on Judaism.

            1. No Name Yet*

              That *does* sound fascinating and right up my alley in multiple ways, thanks for the rec!

              1. AcademiaNut*

                I love this series! The narrator voice is lovely too – it’s written in the tone of an opinionated, independent older woman telling the story of her younger years, and it’s very obvious that she considers social scandal and political infighting as being much less important than studying dragons. Later books have one of my favourite SFF romances, as well.

    2. AnonyMouse*

      I just read Verity by Colleen Hoover and oof I don’t even know what I just read. It has some very graphic and heavy topics, and just generally it was A LOT for me.

      1. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

        Is that the Very Controversial one? I have been meaning to read it since a PhD student of mine told me about it. (Her reaction was very much like yours!)

    3. English Rose*

      I’ve just finished the third in the Thursday Murder Club crime series by Richard Osman, The Bullet that Missed.
      SUCH a brilliant series. Often laugh out loud funny, but with darkness and sadness creeping in, and lots of twists and turns.
      Set in a British retirement village, a group of friends in their 70s and 80s investivate cold cases. One of the friends, Elizabeth, is a retired spy. Highly recommended.
      Now I’m starting on Wolf Hall, not having read it during Hilary Mantel’s lifetime, thought now would be the time.

      1. IT Manager*

        This was just wonderful, wasn’t it? I forgot I had pre-ordered it so it was a delightful surprise (and I missed several meetings wrapped up in it). I literally wept at that scene with Bogdan and Stephen.

        Anyone have recommendations for anything similar? It’s been a long time since I loved something so much as that series. Recently from AAM reader recommendations (thank you!) I’ve also liked the Amelia Peabody books which had a little bit of the same flavor (but not nearly as much wonderful character definition) and the Louise Penny Gamache books (which are also lovely but get much heavier and sadder).

        1. English Rose*

          Yes, me too on the Bogdan and Stephen scene. And the Gamache books are wonderful – I want to live in Three Pines!

          On a much lighter note, I’ve also recently enjoyed a couple of books by Ian Moore – Death and Croissants and Death and Fromage. A hapless Englishman running a bed and breakfast in France, getting involved in all sorts of mayhem. Some similarities to Thursday Murder Club in style. Missing the tenderness, but very funny.

          And have you read the Mary Russell series by Laurie R King? A fantastic reimagining of how Sherlock Holmes’ life would have been if he had a young female apprentice.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      This week, I read : Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri, The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison and Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells. I only liked the last one.

      Does anyone have recommendations for stand-alone SF novels that are “light-hearted”? I don’t need another series for the moment (still need to finish The Expanse) and I don’t want to read anything depressing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, her ode to Three Men in a Boat. (The science is time travel.)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I have never read Three Men in a Boat, and To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite books.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Time-traveling Oxford historians must find an execrable giant Victorian vase, or else their research funding will go to Cambridge. There is punting along the Thames, there is a butler, there is negotiation with a cat.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Yes! And I read the one after that. I’m now waiting for the next one from the library.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        On the fantasy side, try Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. A retired orc mercenary opens a coffee shop – it’s a light, cozy read.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          Not the OP, but this sounds like exactly what I need, thanks for the rec!

        2. Science KK*

          I need you to know I sent this book to several friends with THERES A BOOK ABOUT A RETIRED ORC WHO OPENS A COFFEE SHOP.

          I may accidentally start a one shot book club, thank you!

          1. Jackalope*

            Do you mean Legends and Lattes? Because I have a paper copy so can assure you it’s already out (and wonderful).

            1. Teapot Translator*

              Maybe it’s because I’m in Canada? I checked the Indigo website and it’s on pre-order only. :(

              1. Teapot Translator*

                I’ve googled a bit, and it seems they’re publishing a new edition and in the meantime, only the digital formats (epub and audiobook) are available.

    5. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

      I’ve taken a few days off work to stave off burnout & haven’t had energy for anything other than mediocre domestic thrillers (my comfort reading, possibly bc as a childless lesbian they validate my life choices?*) I’ve really enjoyed Jo Jakeman’s The Safe House’ Kieran Scott’s Wish You Were Gone, Rebecca Whitney’s The Hidden Girls and Leonie Deakin’s Gone. But perhaps the most AAM-appropriate is the workplace thriller The Interview by C M Ewan, where a job interview turns into a terrifying interrogation…

      *I know from friends that not all husbands are trying to kill you & not all mothers experience postpartum psychosis, but the world of domestic noir would suggest otherwise!

          1. Bluebell*

            Usually I love Alisons recommendations, but when I finished The Golden Couple, I felt it was lacking. I love books with good twists, but not this one.

      1. Clisby*

        Next you’ll be telling us that visiting a picturesque English village while a fete is going on does not portend death for somebody.

    6. Flightless*

      The Greatest Beer Run Ever by John “Chick” Donohue. First about 115 pages felt like an lighthearted adventure story (which was nice) and now it’s starting to feel like a real war story. I read military history books a lot, and am enjoying it!

    7. llama leggings*

      I tried reading Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton, iirc the Hamish McBeth series was recommended here. One of the first people mentioned is a “heavy set” woman, and the book kept mentioning it, like I get it, you don’t have to remind me every other sentence… I had to stop because it felt very body shamey. For people who have read the series, are they all like this? Are the later books better? Should I not have started with one from 1985?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I think I read two books by M.C. Beaton, that one and on from the Agatha Raisin series. I liked some parts of Death of a Gossip; I didn’t enjoy the other one. It felt like the writer didn’t know how to write women except through misogyny (and fatphobia).

        1. llama leggings*

          Thanks, I was intrigued by the concept of the cop who doesn’t want to advance his career but I’ll just skip these then. Oh well.

          1. Jenna Webster*

            I read them all and enjoy them but Hamish is kind of a douche and the women tend to be presented as obstacles to his happiness because they are smart and want lives if their own. Wait, why do I read these?

    8. CTT*

      I’m reading “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” Jeanette McCurdy’s memoir. It is harrowing! But also very process-y; like, I’m learning a lot about the TV industry and child acting. Also, I was reading it yesterday at the pharmacy while waiting to get my flu shot, and one of the pharmacists saw me reading it from behind the counter and yelled “I loved that book!”

    9. Jay*

      Currently reading two, both non-fiction. “Doctors and Distillers” is a light and funny overview of the medical applications of alcohol over the centuries. Also reading “Light of the World” by Elizabeth Alexander which is definitely not, well, light. It’s a memoir about her husband, who died suddenly at age 50. Gorgeously written and compelling. I picked it up Thursday night and read about 75% of it – didn’t look at it yesterday, won’t have time today, will probably finish it tomorrow.

    10. DrKMnO4*

      I just finished 3 different books by Aiden Thomas.

      Cemetery Boys was my favorite of the 3. I started reading it at like 10:30-11:00 pm on a work night, which was a mistake, because I couldn’t put it down. I was always saying, “just one more chapter”. It features a transmasculine lead character and is steeped in Latinx culture. Love it so much and cannot recommend it highly enough.

      I liked The Sunbearer Trials, which is similar to the Hunger Games but with a Latinx context. It also features a transmasculine lead character. The book was good, and I will read the sequel when it comes out, but it felt very YA. Hard to explain that feeling, but if you’ve read a lot of YA novels you’ll know what I mean.

      Lost In The Never Woods was good, but very different from the other two. It is a new spin on Peter Pan.

      Now that I’ve finished Aiden Thomas’s books, I’m reading some of the Ciaphas Cain novels by Sandy Mitchell. They’re set in the Warhammer 40k universe, and are a good blend of funny and serious.

    11. fposte*

      I just read Richard E. Grant’s A Pocketful of Happiness, a reflection on the year his wife became ill with cancer and died, with flashbacks to their earlier life. I find him incredibly charming (I learned about the book from hearing his wonderful turn on the Off Menu podcast), and it’s such a love letter to his very adored wife. I just lost a dear friend a couple of weeks ago and it was heartbreaking and cathartic to weep over it.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Lots of books, as usual, with the notable ones including:

      THE TEA DRAGON FESTIVAL by K. O’Neill, a prequel to the other “Tea Dragon” graphic novels – lovely pastel artwork, diverse characters and relationships, kind plot-points – thoroughly charming.

      HAMSTER PRINCESS: LITTLE RED RODENT HOOD by Ursula Vernon, another in her snarky/funny kids-series about a bold hamster princess and her quests. I really wish these had been around when I was a kid, but I enjoy them even as a senior citizen {wry grin}.

      EVERYWHERE BLUE by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz – a novel in poem form, from the viewpoint of a girl whose brother has gone missing, with all the shock and doubt and different ways of fretting/grieving/coping/healing that such a thing can elicit.

      BOBCAT AND OTHER STORIES by Rebecca Lee – fascinating stories, often involving academia and personal relationships, by an author whose knack for evocative phrases kept me savoring each tale even when I didn’t like the characters very much.

      And some manga:

      HEAVEN’S DESIGN TEAM 6 by Hebi-zou, another informative/hilarious entry in this series about a team of designers tasked with building functional creatures (and, in this volume, some plants as well) based on often-sketchy customer input. (When God is the customer there’s some pressure to get things right.)

      MONOTONE BLUE by Nagabe (whose “Girl from the Other Side” series was deliciously macabre/sweet/poignant). This one’s a standalone book set in a world populated by beast-people who’ve evolved into bipedal, clothes-wearing pretty-much-like-humans folk, while retaining many of their dog-, cat-, and lizard-traits. Most of them are some kind of canine, the main character’s a cat (bored, sleeps a lot, gets hissy very easily – yeah, definitely a cat). And the lizard? He’s the new transfer student, and everyone else is wildly curious about him – except for the cat, who won’t follow where the dogs lead. But then the cat spots something so unique and fabulous about the lizard that he can’t stop himself from getting close… (This one gets into issues of bullying and assault – that poor lizard had some awful times at his last school – but the present-day characters are a lot nicer and things work out well.)

    13. GoryDetails*

      Oh, and a recommendation for a book that’s coming out October 15 – but that I’ve already read in early draft form, as its authors are my sister and brother-in-law:

      ANGEL FALLS by David Surface and Julia Rust – a YA novel set in a small coastal New England town (inspired by Rockport MA), and featuring modern-day teens who stumble upon a mysterious part of the forest where, just maybe, wishes can be answered.

    14. Science KK*

      I’m almost finished with Hidden Figures ( the book that inspired the movie!) by Margot Lee Shetterly and next I’m reading I am not your perfect Mexican daughter by Erika L Sánchez!

    15. Lifeandlimb*

      The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu.
      I recently read the first book in the trilogy, Three Body Problem; it’s quite unusual, but it really picked up in the second half.

    16. Kara Danvers*

      I started Islands of Mercy on audiobook. I usually have a hard time paying attention to audiobooks, but since this one is read by one of my favorite actresses, maybe it’ll go a little better.

      Also reading Because Internet, which is a linguist’s exploration of how the internet shapes language. It’s pretty interesting!

    17. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Just started THE LAST WHITE MAN, by Mohsin Hamid after hearing a glowing review on NPR. It’s about a white man who wakes up one day to realize his skin has turned brown.

      I am struggling with the run-on sentences & haven’t made it past page 4. It’s a short text, but it’s not going to be a short read. Not sure if I can focus as much as needed here. Suggestions or advice from those who have read it?

    18. PostalMixup*

      I just finished The Hidden Palace by Helene Walker. It’s the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, and they’re both very good! Much more character-driven than I’d anticipated, but I really enjoyed watching the characters grow and evolve across the two books.

    19. Bluebell*

      In nonfiction, I’m reading God is Here: Reimagining the Divine by Rabbi Toba Spitzer, and I like how it pushes against the “old man on a throne” image. Also read a meh domestic noir – The Heights. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is next on my list.

    20. Filosofickle*

      This morning I finished The House at Riverton, which I liked. Historic drama set in the 1910s/20s, told from the narrator’s end of life. Had enough urgency / what will happen next to keep the pages turning without being stressful

    21. Random Biter*

      Just finished Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs. If you enjoy urban fantasies the Mercy Thompson series is a great one.

  12. WoodswomanWrites*

    I’m interested in hearing about experiences taking the trip of a lifetime that you haven’t really been able to afford but did anyway. That’s the decision I’m looking at right now.

    Years ago when I was younger, I would take solo trips into wilderness, including in Alaska. Older and creakier now, I’ve been wanting to return to Alaska on a guided trip. Most haven’t appealed to me because the groups are large, and they’re based on a lot of travel time on vans/buses, etc.

    I have found what sounds like a dream six-day trip by bush plan to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with a guide and only five guests, focused on observing wildlife. It’s understandably expensive. The deposit is refundable so I figured what the heck and paid it to reserve a spot.

    In practical terms, it’s hard to justify the expense. I’m fortunate that it wouldn’t require going into debt, but I am playing catch-up on saving for retirement in a few years. That said, I want to take advantage of a dream trip while my body can still do it and with a reputable guiding company that seems to offer trips that are both safe and high-quality.

    I’d love to hear from people about how you did something like this you couldn’t really afford and how you managed to make it work financially.

    1. Weegie*

      Do it! Seriously, it sounds great – and if not now, when? Carpe diem, and all that.
      Not at all comparable, but when I was much younger I was determined to do a year-long round-the-world backpacking trip. I felt I’d missed out as a student by not doing the near-obligatory one-month Interrailing trip round Europe (because I got a job instead . . .), so I wanted to do that and then tack the rest of the world onto it :-) Problem? No money: we were in a recession, and I had two part-time, low-wage jobs and some shaky freelance income. I started planning a year before I went, taking on any extra shifts that were offered and a third job, babysitting, which I could do at weekends and was easy. I had some savings, I stopped doing any activities that involved money, and I sold books and a few other items that I didn’t need any more. Eventually there was enough in my travel fund to let me wander for 4 months, knowing that I’d have to stop off and get a job in a particular country (where I could legally work) for another few months to allow me to continue travelling. This worked like a dream, except the ‘few months’ turned into 5+ years, as I liked my temporary stopover so much. I earned tons of money, developed a career I never would have had otherwise, and got to meet interesting people and do more travelling – so the trip actually took about 7 or 8 years to complete in total, but it was 100% worth it.

        1. Weegie*

          Writing about my travels is one of those things on my Eternal To Do list – I do have a few pieces written, but I keep starting blogs and then abandoning them. One of these days . . .

    2. fashionchallenged*

      Another vote for doing it. I’m curious what the company is? I might want to do this one day!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I found the company searching online with a series of keywords. It was something like “birds hiking guided tours Alaska.” There are many options.

    3. Cordelia*

      That sounds amazing! I’d say do it. You can afford it, in that it sounds like you have the money now and it wouldn’t put you into debt. I’m going on a dream trip (safari) next week, and am in a similar position, I can afford it without going into debt, but I “ought” to be saving for retirement. The way I justify it to my “internal accountant” is that I haven’t had a holiday for a long time, I won’t have another for a long time, I have and will cut down on other things such as meals out, theatre tickets etc to pay for this – and it will be worth it. And I can spend my slightly less well-funded retirement reminiscing! It’s taken me a long time to accept and not feel guilty about things like this, but I work hard, I don’t spend frivolously, I can buy myself nice things sometimes. A close friend told me this last year when I was debating a new bag, but it applies to holidays too!

    4. UKDancer*

      Do it now, you don’t know where you’ll be in 12 months.

      My parents had 2 dream trips in mind, Canada and New Zealand. They went to Canada for a month, touring Vancouver, going up to whale watch in Newfoundland. Then heading off to the remoter parts of the country to somewhere with hides so they could watch the bears in their natural habitat. They absolutely loved it and said if they were 30 years younger they’d want to emigrate there.

      About a month after they got back my father collapsed and was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was lucky he got a transplant so he’s still here. But it means they can’t do that type of long trip again because he can’t get insurance and doesn’t want to be that far from his medical team so it meant New Zealand was off the agenda.

      My parents were so glad they got their Canada trip in while they could because they didn’t know what was coming.

      My major bucket list places are Buenos Aires and St Petersburg. I’m going to do Argentina as soon as I can afford to do it in style because I want to dance all night in the tango salons. I had intended to go to St Petersburg in 2021 but it got cancelled because of Covid. Now I’m not going for political reasons because of his invasion of Ukraine.

      When I’m down I remember the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen there. My favourites are the Maldives (amazingly clear skies and such a blue sea), Norway (cruising fjords and going on a husky drawn sleigh) and Tblisi (because it was a fascinating place)

    5. Asenath*

      A few years before I retired, I went to Australia and New Zealand (I’m in Canada). I made it work financially basically by taking some money that perhaps I should have added to my retirement pot – I had to cash in an investment that wasn’t paying much and basically used that, with some from my current savings to top it off, instead of putting it somewhere safe for my retirement. And I planned, well, not every minute (I chose a combination of organized tours to places I couldn’t easily get to since I don’t drive and unscheduled days in cities with public transportation that I toured on my own) but the spending of every penny while I was going to be away, because my research had shown me they were expensive destinations, and I needed to pay for a lot of travel in-country if I wanted to see a fraction of what I hoped to. I didn’t want to risk running out of money, so budgeting was key.

      I’m retired now, and I never regretted spending that money. While I still could travel I suppose, it does often get harder as you get older, and (in my case) the thought of such a long air trip is increasingly daunting. I always wanted to go to Australia, and now I’ve been there – and to a little bit of New Zealand too, added on a friend’s recommendation and because I thought, well, if I’m going so far, it would be a shame not to go a little farther.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got a small inheritance that sensibly should have been saved or invested, it wouldn’t necessarily have been never-work-again life-changing but was like, house down payment levels. Instead I used it to extend my “gap year” (I was 30 and had planned to take six months off when I moved cross-country) to fifteen months and took a six week trip around Europe because that wasn’t the kind of trip I’d likely be able to do once I started working again.

      And three years later I bought a house anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    7. Jay*

      You can afford it. It’s all about tradeoffs and this sounds like you really want to do it and the tradeoffs are worth it to you.

      I worked in hospice care for ten years. Nothing is guaranteed to us. I had that brought home personally in 2019 when three friends were diagnosed with cancer. I’m now 62 – I retired at the end of 2021 and we took a trip last June that ending up costing about twice what we’d originally budgeted. We went to Italy and Croatia with our daughter after her college graduation and we had private guides and transportation arranged by an awesome travel agent (HMU if you want the name – he’s AMAZING) and it was totally, totally worth it. For us the tradeoffs were postponing our next international trip by a couple of years, so not exactly eating ramen and living in penury. It was still way more than we could “afford” according to our financial plan. DO IT.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      We did a big trip–5 weeks in Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand–when I freelanced (so set my own schedule) and my husband was finishing graduate school (and so could take a big chunk of time off). That trip was wonderful and I think back to elements of it 20 years later, and I’m so glad that we didn’t shave it down to something smaller to be sensible and put more of our savings toward a new house.

      My physical body tossed a curve ball at me around age 40 that still limits my mobility, and so I say Go Now, while your body is up for this. If you said “I have a ton of debt, and I want to take on more for this” my advice might be different, but you can afford this financially and it should be a wonderful investment spiritually.

    9. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Will it be any more affordable when you have your savings and retire… are you budgeting for these kinds of trips in your retirement plan?

      If not, do it now. And if so, still do it now anyway. Having just watched a loved one pass away from a degenerative condition that progressed alarmingly quick, do not take your body and all the marvellous things it can still do and all the marvellous places it can still take you for granted. You won’t regret $x less in your bank account at the end, but you will regret missing the opportunity.

      Finances can recover and grow at any time; the same cannot be said for our bodies.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I want to be on Team Do-It like everyone else. But only you know how marginal your retirement savings are right now and how likely you are to catch up to your goal in the next few years. (And how realistic your goal is.)

      If your goal is super-conservative and you are already pretty close to it, then you should go on this trip. If your goal is razor’s-edge of what you will need if everything breaks exactly right, and in order to make that goal you can’t have any bobbles between now and retirement, then maybe rethink the trip.

      From your post, I’m guessing you’re closer to the former than the latter. But maybe it will help to ask yourself that. Suppose you go on the trip, and for some reason you don’t make your full retirement goal before you stop working. Would that be a “too bad” or would that be a catastrophe?

    11. fposte*

      I’m a more cautious go for it, but I still lean toward go for it. Do you have a clear sense of what directing the retirement savings toward this will do to your retirement? Then you can evaluate the tradeoff.

      I will say, as a retiree now, I try not to think in terms of “justifying the expense.” That sounds frivolous and Kardashian-esque, but I’m a naturally frugal person in a LCOL area, and I could “but is it worth it?” myself out of doing everything. For you this isn’t a whim–it’s something you have some experience with and a long-time desire for. I would definitely trade a trip later, or a new kitchen, or whatever, to do this now. Is it clearer for you if you think in terms of that? (Or have you already thought in terms of that and really just want some external eyes on your tradeoff?)

    12. Bluebell*

      I’d say definitely do it now! Who knows what may be around the corner, and it’s great that you’ve found a trip you want to do. Back in 2019 I took my niece to Iceland, even though she was still a teen. It was pricey, but I’m so glad we went, and didn’t decide to wait a year.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In May 2021, just as everyone got fully vaccinated, my mom had a stroke. She didn’t recover. All our plans for special trips we would take her on in the future (she was my father’s caregiver for many years; he died shortly before the pandemic kicked off) came to naught.

    13. the cat's ass*

      This sounds so wonderful and so you that you HAVE to do it! Travel is not practical, and tomorrow is not promised to us. I took a combination work/vacation trip to Japan in the 1980’s (when the exchange rate was terrible) and i have never, ever regretted it. I moved out of my apartment and put all my stuff in storage, and when i came back i moved in with roommates after having my own place, which was an adjustment, for about a year. Picked up a second part time job (young and peppy, so it was easy), and after a year i was back where i started before the trip. It was so worth it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I recognize some of this from when I up and traveled in the 1980s and ended up living for a while in the country I had planned to visit for just a couple weeks. No regrets for me, either. Doing it later in life when I feel more financially vulnerable is what gave me pause, but I posted lower in this thread that I’ve decided to take the trip.

    14. Lifeandlimb*

      You’ve said it yourself: you can afford it.

      I took a few trips when I first started exploring going outdoors that also didn’t put me into debt, but just barely fit into my budget. I definitely had to cut back on other things to make those trips work. Some of the skills I learned on those trips (as well as the connections) actually came in useful for my second career, later. Not to mention they were SO fun!

      Time and money both run out, but you can’t get back time, whereas often you can make back the money. Try your best to estimate the expenses conservatively ahead of time, and don’t splurge on anything else big right before or after. Memories (and potentially new skills and friendships) are a great investment.

    15. Anon for this*

      Just adding that my parents faced this same dilemma (Macchu Picchu) and decided against the trip. Now their health won’t allow it, and they very much regret not going. Personally, my feeling is that money is something you can figure out (within reason, you can make more of it, or cut spending in other areas) but time is something you can’t ever get back. If it’s not a totally irresponsible decision for you financially, I urge you to go for it! (Sorry, I know you were asking for practical financial advice – don’t have any of that unfortunately)

    16. Katefish*

      I went to France 5 years ago from the US for my cousin’s wedding. It was a bucket list trip, with the attendant debt. My husband couldn’t go because he was deployed, so I went with my mom to Paris and we took a train south to the Marseille area.
      I can’t even describe how much I have no regrets.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for all your helpful comments! While my retirement fund has a long way to go and I will be living frugally, I’m frugal already. I’m not on the edge of financial disaster.

      I’ve decided to go on this trip and reading comments here, I’m thinking that since I’ll already be in Alaska, I could extend my time doing other things there that would be cheaper. I’ve figured out that I can cover the flight as well as the required hotel stays before and after with points from my credit cards.

      I like the suggestions of supplementing my income to help make this work. I posted on a recent weekend thread about potentially offering Airbnb Experiences (not lodging) partly with this trip in mind, and will add that to a Friday thread soon to explore further. And for all of you who shared about letting go of travel plans due to poor health and worse, I send my best wishes to you and your families.

      Your feedback is useful–AAM creates such a great community.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I’m so glad! It sounds like you have a totally rational approach to this decision.
        I’m sure I speak for the whole AAM community when I say, PLEASE tell us about it when you come back!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Sure, the trip isn’t until June next year so it will be a while before I have any news. It will be brief to align with the weekend posting rules. I’ll most likely post about it on my blog and can and share a link for anyone who’s interested.

      2. Cat Wrangler*

        We have had some great Airbnb experiences. We are on vacation right now, in fact, and I just found one for hiking in a private slot canyon with goats—super tempting! If you offer experiences yourself, I hope it goes well. (And I am also on Team Take the Vacation.)

    18. AM*

      My husband and I married very young and didn’t take a honeymoon. So on our 10th anniversary we had a delayed honeymoon and it was so much fun (a dive trip in Belize) we decided to start doing big trips every five years or so. The last was near our 30th – we spent two weeks in the Cook Islands. Because they were celebrations we spent more than we would have normally but have never regretted it!
      I lost my business during the pandemic so money is tighter but we are making plans and often revisit our pics and talk about our previous “honeymoons”. Travel is worth it!

      1. Anima*

        Oi Queen Sally, don’t hit me with wisdom at breakfast time. ;)

        For real, I’m only 35 and I realized this on my own. I almost always pick the memory-makung activity over savig money, though ideally I try to do both. Saving a bit and spending a bit us the sweet spot.

        So I’m glad you’ll go, OP! Have a great time!

    19. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I blew more money that I had ever spent on a vacation in my life on a lesbian cruise (Olivia) around French Polynesia after I inherited some money. I don’t have any brilliant advice about paying for it, but I was glad I had gotten that adventure before covid hit. I saw that the cruise line now offers a payment plan. Maybe one of your Alaska options would as well?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good suggestion about a payment plan. The guiding company is sending me an overview of the trip soon in response to my making a deposit so I’ll start there.

    20. IT Manager*

      I’m always struggling with “carpe diam, you might die tomorrow!” and “the WORST thing is to outlive your money”.

      My current feeling is a) do NOT go into debt but b) otherwise, you should do bucket list things now while you’re healthy and also because they live in your memory so you get value now but also the remainer of your life. Don’t wait till the end, you’ll miss all that remembering and sharing and reminiscing.

      I did this for a pretty big trip I couldn’t really afford (but no debt) to Indonesia with my daughter while she was in high school and we talk about it all the time. Worth it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        You’ve captured my own dichotomy when I ponder things. I appreciate your perspective on balancing the two.

  13. Malarkey*

    Connection, not correction

    Such a simple parenting concept I heard recently but I realize it applies to so SO many relationships. I’m a naturally anxious person and my partner has been having mental health struggles that mean so much more is landing on my plate. Im struggling with connection over correction and frustration.

    Folks who have navigated rough patches in relationships, what got you through? How did you find connection under stress?

    1. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

      I was the person with the mental health issues -just coming out of a very long rough spot. My heart goes out to you – it was a hard ride for my terrific partner. One thing that worked for us was trying to have SOME good/connected times – we could almost always have good talks about books, even when everything else was hard.

      The main thing I wanted was to feel heard so “connection not correction” is such a crucial insight – sounds like you’re a lot of the way there already.

      Good luck. I hope things work out for you & your person.

      1. Malarkey*

        This was such a kind and insightful comment. I’ve been feeling really raw and it means so much to hear your experience, especially the part where we might come out on the other side ok!

    2. Jay*

      “It’s all about the relationship” remains my parenting mantra. That and “choose your battles.” Both also help me in my relationship with my partner. We’ve had some deep and difficult patches that included mental health struggles for both of us at various times.

      I realized that my frustration is usually a sign that I feel responsible for something that’s not mine. I’m not able to fix him or solve his problems. Irritation for me is almost always a cover for grief, and when he’s mired in his own stuff I often feel grief – for his losses, for my losses, for the loss of my idea of our relationship.

      A friend of mine talks about “radical self-care” and that’s what gets me through. I recognize that he is not capable of meeting my emotional needs at that particular moment and I look for other ways to meet them – more frequent therapy, lots of connection with trusted friends. I stopped trying to keep our problems a secret. The details are private; I share the truth that we’re in a low patch and I need my peeps.

      We’re lucky to have enough money to outsource a lot of the daily details – we have housecleaners, we can afford takeout and babysitters, and when my daughter was young we hired a college student to pick her up after school and get her to dance class. And I did relentless triage. The bills got paid. We were fed. The kid was cared for – any extra energy I had went to her. EVERYTHING else went on the back burner.

      I also asked myself if I wanted to leave. I answered “no” each time, and it was still important to ask myself the question so I recognized that staying was my choice and my commitment. I wasn’t trapped – even though there were days I felt that way.

      Gentle internet hugs. So so so hard.

      1. Malarkey*

        Oh my this describes me almost exactly! One kiddo, lots of outsourced help, and it still feels overwhelming and awful many (most?) days. And yet I want our son to have his father. And yet there are good moments. Might be easier if I could feel more hope about the wider world but it feels like there no comfort to be found on any fronts.

        Thank you so much for helping me name what’s underneath my frustration and irritation and helping me remember that I do still get a choice here. You are a kind soul to have lifted a stranger’s burden.

        1. Jay*

          We are in a much better place in our relationship now and the state of the world still feels overwhelming to me much of the time. It makes everything harder.

          It took us a long time to get to the “better place” and we both had to do our own work. Even in the worst times I could see he was trying to do his own work. I hope the same is true for you and that you have a “team you” to offer you comfort.

    3. fposte*

      Not quite what you’re talking about, but as I mentioned upthread a beloved friend of decades just died, largely unexpectedly. And I helped their partner out with mortuary stuff, etc. This partner, also a dear friend of decades, is very different from me in many ways, and I can tell I’ve finally obtained some maturity because I was largely able to suppress my stress response of Getting Things Properly Done and just let the living partner handle things they way they wanted. This sounds really obvious in text, but it is amazing how strong that “correction” impulse can be (to be fair, I did work as an editor for decades) and how important it is to say “quiet, correction impulse, you don’t have a place here today.”

      It was probably easier because this wasn’t negotiating a partnership or familial relationship where we had to figure out how to honor both impulses; I could just tell myself firmly this was not about me and learn that grief languages are just as varied as love languages.

      1. Malarkey*

        I have wrestled with this in the past. Why can I be so patient with other peoples mistakes but feel so furious/anxious/helpless when they’re coming from my loved partner? I think it’s wrapped up in my hopes for what my life would be like right now. With a partner and the parent of my child and at this stage of life. I have a therapist and kind friends but I want a *partner*. It’s hard but I’m so grateful for the people sharing their insights on this thread. Hoping to keep hanging in there.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I do think it depends on your person you are with.
      For us, it was the unwarranted, undeserved, softness. For example a soft and kind answer to a harsh or rude question. We could both jar each other and make the other one think, “Wait. I did not deserve that kindness in this moment.” I am kind of hesitant to mention this because it does NOT fit all situations nor all people.

      Loving humor is also a tool. But only if you are good at it and 200% sure Partner will think the joke is funny. Pets are helpful here. Make a joke about a cute thing the pet did. Never joke about the partner or anything they did. I’d joke about some stupid thing I did, but I could in my relationship, it would not bring on a barrage of words nor would it be thrown in my face later. Humor is a YMMV thing.

      Sometimes finding a time out is helpful. This could be a mutually enjoyable activity, such as a hike or a movie. Call it a time out from problems and just enjoy the activity.

      There is also connection from shared history. I was with my husband long enough that I could mention someone who passed decades ago and he would remember that person. This can be comforting to find shared things that you both remember together.

      I think that in times of stress it takes a deliberate effort to keep the connection alive and active. But I also think that this effort does not have to be elaborate or expensive. I have heard it said and found it helpful in my own life – take walks after dinner together. Key part- do it regularly. Talk about the day, talk about lost dreams, new dreams, wins and losses. Eh, talk about what is for dinner tomorrow night. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the repetition, you just keep taking walks together. It could be just a 15 minute walk- the duration does not matter as much as the repetition. Just as connections aren’t built in one day neither are re-connections. It takes time to build up connections, period. The critical part is that each of you show up to do this.

      1. Malarkey*

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the reminder to pick up some of the basics again! I love going on walks together and we used to sit down at night with tea to talk to each other. Stress and chores have cut into both of those but they’re worth prioritizing. I love the shared history we have, the many inside jokes, certain behaviors and choices of his that demonstrate love and tenderness. I think the minutiae of parenting and household management are clouding things in a tough way.

        1. Jay*

          Yes to all of that. It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae, especially these days when the pandemic has added extra layers of complexity and anxiety to everything, especially parenting. Whatever helps you feel connected is worth prioritizing.

          We sit down every Sunday to plan our shopping and meals for the week. When the kid was little, we did that after we dropped her at religious school. Coffee, cookbooks, calendars. In addition to keeping our food budget under control and giving us the chance to try new recipes, it helped us keep current on each others’ lives. He knew when I had a particularly long day coming up and I knew when he had his (very stressful) monthly check-in with his boss. The kid is grown and gone now, we’re both (mostly) retired and we still do the meal planning and calendar check, now usually on Sunday evenings since we shop on Monday mornings.

          When the pandemic hit and I was suddenly working from home full-time, we started having cocktails in the living room before dinner. It gave me a nice transition and a reason to completely shut down the computer (and also a reason not to go back to work afterwards since working after I’ve had a cocktail was a nonstarter). It’s become a lovely ritual part of our day and aside from feeling like we’ve become my grandparents I really love it.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Excellent question and great advice here, starting with your own contribution of connection, not correction. I want to share everything said so far with other current or former spousal caregivers! Note that the collective wisdom also applies anyone else helping other close friends or family through hard times. My summary is below.

      From Firefighter+(Metaphorical): Have a go-to conversation topic that both parties can enjoy as a break from Whatever Is the Current Trouble.

      From Jay: Focus on what’s most important (the relationship; the fact that you keep choosing to stay with it; food; paying bills) and what’s not (everything else). I recognized that staying was my choice and my commitment. I wasn’t trapped – even though there were days I felt that way.

      From fposte: Recognize when it’s most helpful to help in the way the other person wants–not in the way that you prefer. (This does not apply in extreme circumstances such as addiction, infidelity, abuse when the other person is stuck and wants only approval to continue their problem activity.)

      From NSNR: It helps when you and the other person share history, are equally commited to your relationship, and are willing to consistently spend time together doing something enjoyable. And that an “enjoyable” activity can be something very ordinary, like walking after dinner.

      From NSNR and also from me: YMMV. Each situation will be its own challenge. The bottom line is for each partner to to meet the challenge and maintain mutual respect. If the other person is unable to be an equal participant, try to get through the hard times without self-obliteration. It’s not always easy, so know your limits and when you have to call in help–or just stop trying. There’s no point in both of you being destroyed!

    6. Pool Lounger*

      Couples counseling, so we had a place we could really talk honestly, with a mediator to help us communicate better. Thinking of everything as “we” instead of “I” helps. Making sure we talk everyday, usually by eating dinner at the table and asking each other about the best and worst parts of our days. Physical touch—when upset, touch each other, look into the other person’s eyes. Hug and cuddle, remember the physical attraction and comfort. We both found Esther Perel’s coupkes therapy podcast helpful.

      1. Malarkey*

        We’ve been in individual and couples therapy for almost a year and it’s definitely better. I could hear his struggle and we spotted triggers for my anxiety. It just… life is still really hard right now and I have a hard time not resenting that I don’t have a full partner right now AND I am not sure when/if I ever will. :/

  14. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    Mine is Hocus Pocus 2 was a decent movie I think.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I was ending the week yesterday down in the dumps yet again, feeling isolated and my work forgotten and unvalued when I got an email out of the blue that I had won first place in a very small writing contest (it was on a very specific topic!). I had entered on a whim in June and forgotten about the whole thing for various reasons. It came with a small prize and it honestly made me feel so much better to see actual, measurable public response to something I had produced.

      1. Susie*

        I started a new knitting project today—a baby blanket. I love the yarn color and pattern the mom to be picked, so it will be a fun project.

        Right now, my kids are in bed and I’m watching some HGTV, drinking a beer from the brewery a friend is about to open, and working on the blanket. My introvert battery is getting recharged.

    2. English Rose*

      It was my birthday earlier this week, and someone I hadn’t heard from for ages reached out unexpectedly. It was so lovely to catch up with her.

    3. Cordelia*

      Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV in the UK! its called Dancing with the Stars, in the US and other places, I think – its the only reality show I watch, and I love it!

        1. English Rose*

          I love a good sequin! And just realised Great British Bake-off also back, so just binge-watched the first three.

    4. Firefighter+(Metaphorical)*

      I have new yarn! Made from recycled linen& cotton (mix d with new wool for stretch/softness) from a local sustainable clothing business I absolutely love.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      A couple of colleagues and I went out to lunch after work yesterday and had a good chat. September is always a busy time in schools and our school has big changes coming from next year – good ones but it meant a fair bit of planning and makes people even busier – so we hadn’t had much time to just chat and catch up with each other.

      The Irish budget was announced on Tuesday and while most of it doesn’t have any great impact on me personally, it’s generally good news all round (even the opposition seem to be struggling to find fault). Some of the best news includes free school books for primary school kids (I know that was the norm in most of the English speaking world anyway, but in Ireland, parents have always had to buy their kids’ school books), an end to hospital charges (which used to be up to a maximum of €800 a year), a reduction in college fees for those who have to pay them (from €3,000 a year down to €2,500, I think), an increase in the grant for the rest of the college student population, an increase of €12 on all social welfare payments and free contraception for women aged 16 to 30.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The third Scholomance book.

      I like series that know they’ve told the story and end.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My puppy turned seven months old last weekend, and I took her into the grooming salon to get her nails done. When I told them it was her seven months’ birthday, they put a cheapo “Happy Birthday” scarf on her. I wanted her to be a scarf puppy, but every time we’d tried she’d started chewing on the scarf before we even got it on her, so we figured it was going to be a minute yet, but she was behaving with the Happy Birthday scarf! So we gave it a couple more days with the cheap scarf, and no chewing, and then we put on a proper bandana, and no chewing, so now I have a lovely (enormous) dark grey puppy meandering around my house with a bright cheerful yellow scarf on and it makes me happy :)

      (Also, she’s up to 75 pounds yesterday. !!! Probably 45-50 to go yet :) )

      1. fposte*

        As a horse person to whom “Derby” means exclusively horse racing, I find this at first glance a very amusing sentence. I’m picturing footballers galloping down a course with thoroughbreds hot on their heels.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          I understand (as a non-football fan) that the term derby is used for a match between two teams who are located close to each other geographically, like Liverpool and Everton. I’d guess the other half of a north London derby would be Tottenham?
          No idea how, if at all, it is related to horse racing – I assume the use of the term in America arises from the favour horse race, the Derby, which is run at Epsom race course.
          Epsom is of course also famous for Epsom salts aka magnesium sulphate which people put in the bath…the thing with English cultural references is sometimes you can go on forever…

          1. fposte*

            Yes, the US apparently seized on the Epsom Derby, changed the pronunciation, and made it the go-to term for prestige horse races. Now I’m wondering if an Earl of Derby ever attended an American Derby, undoubtedly getting his name mispronounced the entire time. (And Wikipedia tells me that hockey’s Stanley Cup is also named for an Earl of Derby. Guess they were promiscuous, sports-wise.)

                1. Madame Arcati*

                  I was about to ask the reverse – assume in the US it’s Durby?
                  Derby the city is also pronounced Darby in case anyone needs to know.

          2. londonedit*

            Yep, ‘darby’, and it is indeed usually used in football to mean a ‘local derby’; i.e. when two football clubs from the same town or city play each other. I don’t really want to talk about our derby yesterday (Manchester City v Manchester United) but interestingly we also count United/Liverpool as a derby because of the historic rivalry between the two teams.

    8. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Perfect fall weather this past week ao my partner & I went for not one but TWO glorious, day-long bike rides on rail-trail bike paths outside of the city where we live. The air was just crisp enough that you didn’t feel like you were going to die from heat exhaustion but also didn’t need to bundle up in lots of layers, and we saw about 30 turtles, 2 huge herons, 2 chipmunks, a true metric ton of squirrels, 1 groundhog, 1 small red-headed woodpecker, 1 mysterious bright blue bird with a rusty red belly, and a wild persimmon tree, which I’d never seen before. Absolute heaven.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          Wow! Having only ever seen them in Disney movies, I didn’t realize what the real version looked like! But google images confirms your guess was correct. Thanks!

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I thought my central heating/hot water was on the blink (so I feared great inconvenience and a large repair bill). Turns out I’d accidentally switched the power to the boiler off (the switch is next to a rarely used light switch).
      So my small joy is that I’m an idiot, but an idiot with hot water and no fearsome expense payable to a boiler engineer…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you would like a tip: you can get covers that go over switches you don’t want to flip, I have some that you unscrew the faceplate cover and put the faceplate cover screws through them before screwing them back in and some that attach to the screws magnetically and are really easy to move, depending on how much of a pain you want to make accessing the switch. (Mine are all on switches for switch-powered outlets that we don’t want to be switch-powered.)

        1. Madame Arcati*

          Honestly now I know what that switch is actually for (not had the house long) I’ll probably be ok, but that is a very good tip as I hadn’t heard of such things!

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      Turns out the sensitivity I had on one side of my mouth was a cavity in a wisdom tooth. I have to have it out next week, but I’m ok with that. It’s good to know that will likely take care of the issue.

    11. GoryDetails*

      The onset of cool fall weather after a very hot summer, with the beginnings of color on the foliage. (Took a day-trip to southern Vermont and saw lovely scenery – though I also wound up spending more time on dirt roads than I’d anticipated. Still worth it!)

      The delivery of the latest SakuraCo snack box of Japanese snacks: I’ve been getting them for over a year now, and still enjoy the variety (and occasional oddity) of the flavors and textures. May have to stop after this one (they are a bit pricy) but it’s always a small joy to see the new box.

      Oh, and I had the vicarious thrill of seeing a video of my sister and her husband unboxing the first copies of their new book! (Mentioned in more detail in the reading thread.)

    12. Jay*

      Went to my second choir rehearsal of the year. Love singing SO much. Also sang in shul for Rosh Hashanah.

      We went camping! First time in decades – maybe 30 years – and we had a good time. This was proof of concept for a bigger trip this spring and now we know we can do it without arguing and that the air mattress is comfy enough to sleep. Yay!

    13. Madame Arcati*

      Ooooh I though of another! I bought a really nice jacket, faux leather (hang on, they say vegan leather now right?!), unlined so suede-effect side inside and smooth side out, in a lovely mushroom colour. And it was from a charity shop supporting a local hospice charity, meaning I am reusing and as such am envirosmug, I have supported local good works, and it only cost £7.50!

    14. Rara+Avis*

      Had the day off on Monday. Dragged my kid out of the house for a short hike. We had the hills to ourselves (except for a passing coyote) under clear blue skies —and found a few geocaches.

    15. Kara Danvers*

      Hocus Pocus 2 was delightful!

      It’s very October-ish weather in New England today. I spent some time outside in nature, and now I’m home, sipping on tea. Good day :)

    16. Simple Things*

      I am finally able to take bubble baths again, since it has been four weeks since I had surgery (I was restricted to showers only). I didn’t realize how much my stress levels were lowered by semi-weekly tub time. I am so thankful to lie in hot eucalyptus-spearmint water for an hour.

    17. anxiousGrad*

      I ate reindeer stew with lingonberries for the first time yesterday and it was delicious!

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      At the end of a Meetup hike I led today for the group I founded a few years ago, I received a surprise gift from one of the attendees. He went to his car and brought out me a beautiful landscape photo he’d taken on another hike I led for the group, large and ready for framing. I don’t know him well and it was completely unexpected. He just wanted to say thank you for leading hikes for our group. Such a kind thing to do. I’m going to frame it and display it for sure.

    19. Harriet Jacobs*

      Our high school has a “Unified” team which involves special needs students playing with general ed student “helpers”. I went to watch a soccer game and needed tissues. One of the Phys Ed teachers had built an extension to the front of one boy’s wheelchair so he could maneuver the ball (you really can find instructions for anything on YouTube). I don’t know who cheered more when he scored – his parents, the parents from the other team, his team, or the kids from the other team.
      Throughout the game there were so many examples of kids doing their best to help others. I came home glowing with happiness.

    20. slowingaging*

      Went on a short trip with friends to a bread store, book store, deli and brunch … all in one shopping area. I only allow myself to go there a maximum of once a month. It was fun bringing friends to one of my favorite places.

    21. Overeducated*

      I finally pulled the trigger on an expensive vintage household item I’ve had my eye out for a year or two. Saw one for sale yesterday at what I believe is a reasonable price (not a dealer, just a shopper), brought it home and put it in my living room, and I’m THRILLED.

  15. fashionchallenged*

    I have two 100% cotton dresses. I tried wearing synthetic tights and a primarily cotton spandex blend leggings under these and the dress fabric clings to my legs. I don’t want to buy a spray. Would adding a slip fix this? What material should it be made of?

    1. English Rose*

      Well I’ve never tried this (I don’t wear dresses) but a friend swears by using ordinary hairspray to spray on her tights. Of course if you don’t use hairspray that would still mean buying some.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I used to do that and it does work! That was with the kind of cheap and nasty supermarket mega-hold cement hairspray that could keep nanna’s beehive in place during a tornado though, so not sure if it’d work as well with the fancy newfangled organic vegan silk-soft brush-out nourishing sea kelp and butterfly essence sprays on the shelves these days.

        1. fashionchallenged*

          Thank you English Rose for the tip and what a great reply Cat Memes! I’ve heard about hairspray but one of my concerns is – would your legs become sticky? I guess it “dries” and then is OK?

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            I never had an issue with stickiness – you only need a very light touch of the spray.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep! That’s part of what they’re for! They can make a huge difference in how fabric lies.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Are the cotton dresses thin or sturdy fabric? All I know is that whenever I’ve had a mismatch creating static like this there’s little to be done and you have to switch one of the items. I’ve tried the safety pin thing, hairspray, water spray etc. I’ve also tried slips with such limited success I gave up because eventually all three things cling together. Haven’t tried the dryer sheets thing though, or the special anti static spray. It seems to be worse with very thin flowing fabrics though so you might have some luck if it’s a sturdier material. I would probably also try 100pc cotton leggings and tights if you have any of those. Since I started wearing cotton tights I don’t have this issue, but I also avoid buying thin skirts now so I can’t say for sure. Possibly they are bare leg weather dresses?

      1. fashionchallenged*

        One is lightweight cotton so on the thin side, the other is medium weight cotton – much heavier than the other but still the same problem! The thin one definitely is more for warm weather. The other is too heavy for hot days so I’ve saved it for the cooler months. This is a frustrating problem I wasn’t aware of at all! I always see people in photos wearing leggings or tights under dresses and never thought there would be any issue, but you’re probably right that those dresses are thicker cold weather dresses. Darn! Maybe I will try sewing a thin cotton lining layer into the thin dress. The problem I immediately see with slips is that I would need different lengths depending on the length of the dress and I don’t really want a collection of slips! Do you have any brand recommendations for 100 pc cotton leggings/tights? I’ve looked in the past but usually there is at least some spandex blended in, I suppose to help keep the shape.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah I could never get slip legnth right. The tights of choice at the moment are a John Lewis brand 64% Cotton, 33% Polyamide, 3% Elastane. I’ve had similar luck with merino wool where the cotton element should be. I can’t go back to regular tights because although these tights are less ultra stretchy, they stay put far better in terms of gusset slippage. You just have to get the leg length/size right. Falke make a similar type of tights.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              So, my polymer chemist partner tells me that polyamide is just nylon. So nylon seems to be getting the thumbs up.

              1. fashionchallenged*

                Thank you! I will check out those brands. My tights are so old that while I’m sure they are some kind of synthetic fiber, I am not sure if it is nylon or polyester. I do have a merino blend leggings somewhere so I will try that and I will find something definitively nylon based to try as well.

          1. Very Social*

            I’m another lover of cotton tights–thanks for the brand recommendations. At 5’0″ I have some difficulty finding ones that fit right, and my favorites are wearing out and no longer sold! The Falke ones look good, though yikes, with those prices I hope they last twenty years.

        2. Reba*

          You will need a slippery fabric for the skirt lining, not cotton! Cotton will not solve your problem here, which is that the fabrics aren’t sliding past each other (this is what I think is happening based on experience, not static cling but the actual fabric textures. If it is truly static then feel free to ignore)

          Acetate, viscose, polyester, rayon, and silk for the fancy are commonly used lining fabrics. Sometimes in the shop they have a section labeled “lining fabric”!

          1. fashionchallenged*

            You may be right. I am not sure if this is static or not – I am leaning toward what you’re saying about friction. It’s fine standing in front a mirror, which is how I got all the way to work without realizing the problem then had to turn around and go home to change! When walking, the fabric seizes up – this is the best way I can explain – like chocolate seizes when it touches water – and it gets really scrunched up and stuck to my legs and refuses to just hang straight down like it is supposed to. I will do some experimenting! Thank you for listing the different textile alternatives for lining.

    3. mimi*

      Do you use fabric softener when you wash tights/leggings/other synthetics? In my experience it cuts down the static.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      My best slip is made of anti static nylon tricot. I bought the fabric online from Sew Sassyand made the slip with cheap picot lingered elastic.

      1. fashionchallenged*

        I saw this trick online but I can’t bring myself to do it because it sounds messy! Thank you for the tip. I will think about it!

        1. MJ*

          You don’t need a lot of lotion. I use a small amount (less than a dime in size), rub my palms together briefly to spread it out, then run my hands lightly down my legs.
          Think of it more as layering on a microscopically thin barrier of lotion rather than saturating the leggings/tights.

          1. fashionchallenged*

            Ok interesting! I might try this! Thank you! Do you need to reapply or once before you leave the house does the trick?

    5. Sooda Nym*

      If you use dryer fabric softener sheets, try rubbing one of those all over your tights after you put them on. Sort of the same principle as the spray, different application method.

    6. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I have tried everything antistatic but basically have discovered that I just can’t wear tights with an unlined skirt/dress. Slips help a little but no real guarantee for me because if there’s even a few inches down near the knees that the slip doesn’t cover, everything will get all weird there. I have enough basic sewing skills to add linings to my skirts that don’t have them, but it’s boring work, so I mostly just bid a fond farewell to my unlined skirts in the winter.

      1. fashionchallenged*

        Thank you for sharing! Now I know I’ll have to have the length extend the full length of these skirts – what a drag. I might make some slips from the nylon tricot recommended above if I can find the time and try that. If I had known that static cling was going to be an issue – yes, it gets really weird on the leg area, all scrunched up and clinging, yikes – I would have bought pants!

    7. Madame Arcati*

      Microfibre waist slip ftw. They are inexpensive and easy to get in black/white/nude and seem to last well. What is the US equiv of Marks & Spencer?! That’s the sort of source I’d recommend.

      1. fashionchallenged*

        The US equiv is probably H&M and Zara now? Although they are not American companies. I will look into this! It would help me out to be able to buy one already made although the Sew Sassy Nylon Tricot mentioned above looks like a good potential solution and made in USA. Thank you!

  16. English Rose*

    How to make friends as an adult – any advice?
    Over the past few years my band of friends has become smaller – people have moved away, a couple of deaths, shared interests have waned etc.
    I still keep in touch with people who have moved away, and Covid has made us all used to Zoom calls. But I long for a small core group of local friends just to hang out with. Basically, I realise I’m lonely. I’m single, but not looking for a life partner particularly, frienship is more important.
    It feels strange and artificial to be looking to make new friends in my 60s, and I’m not sure where to start. Has anyone else had this experience?
    I’m single, female, based in the UK, in a small city.

    1. Puffle*

      I’m in my 30s, but in a similar situation apart from that (single, female, small city in UK). My friendship groups have waned over the last few years, and while I’m a member of a few local clubs and I’ve joined various Meetup groups, I really struggle to get beyond ‘friendly acquaintance’ or find people to hang out with beyond the parameters of the club/ group.

      I’m not sure I have any useful advice, mostly just commiseration! I’m trying to put more effort into reconnecting with people, and Meetup groups do have the advantage that there’s almost always something social going on that I can take part in, but it’s hard going

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I started volunteering, going to whatever events on Eventbrite sounded interesting, got involved in local politics, and that kind of thing. I still don’t have a group of friends like you mean but I certainly know a lot more people locally than I used to.

      1. Asenath*

        I’d agree with this. I have very few friends that hang out together – I’ve never been very sociable, although I do value the ones I have, even if they no longer live here. But I deliberately chose to add on small activities that interest me so that I meet some people. I usually choose local volunteer activities, but during COVID I signed up for any online activities or presentations that sounded remotely interesting – generally free, offered by local interest groups.

    3. Astoria*

      The Meetup app has been extremely helpful for me in meeting new friends and/or groups that share my interests. It is apparently available in the UK.

      1. English Rose*

        Thank you all and I’d forgotten about MeetUp – just checked and there are a few things that look interesting.
        I was also just reflecting, maybe coming at this from the perspective of ‘making friends’ is the wrong emphasis. Maybe it’s more about involvement in interesting things, plus ‘giving back’ (I know how corny that sounds) in terms of volunteering, with friends as a hopeful added extra.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          Good outlook! I recently moved to a different state in the US, and joined several meet up groups based on my interests and my desire to explore the new area. I went in just hoping to have fun times at the meetups and if I met people for just that day, or as potential friends, that was a huge bonus. and I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve clicked with a few people in one meetup group and we’ve become actual friends (in that we text outside of meetup and hang out outside of meetup, but still do meetup things as well!). Good luck and have fun!

        2. londonedit*

          I’m going to suggest parkrun. Free, timed 5k events at 9am in parks and other open spaces all over the UK every Saturday morning. And before you say no, not for me, I’m not a runner – parkrun is for absolutely everyone. There’s a tail walker every week whose job it is to walk at the very back, so it’s physically impossible to ‘come last’, and in fact this month there’s a ‘parkwalk’ initiative to encourage more people to just get out and walk the 5k. People run, jog, walk, do a combination of all three, bring a dog, bring a buggy, they just do their thing. And even if walking 5k doesn’t appeal, you can just volunteer. They need course marshals, people to hand out finishing tokens, people to scan barcodes at the end (that’s how you get your finishing time if you take part – you have a personal barcode and a finish barcode and they’re both scanned and matched up), and they need people to sort the finish tokens into order after the event. People go for coffee after the event, you see the same people most weeks, and it’s really easy to get chatting to people and to become a regular face at your local parkrun. It’s a fantastic way to meet people, and if you volunteer then you’re absolutely giving something back to the community by helping everyone to enjoy getting out on a Saturday morning.

          1. English Rose*

            You know, I’ve heard all about Parkrun, but never thought about doing one, but you’re right, that might be a really good idea… thank you

    4. fposte*

      I like the suggestions you’ve got; I’d also add the possibility of looking over friend prospects already in your life who are suitable for development. The odd “Oh, they seem nice” person can be suitable for an “I’m having lunch in your area” overture, or the person you always meant to get together with can get an “Okay, maybe we can find time to do this.” I would also strongly encourage a broad generational focus–it’s really nice to have friends of different ages.

      1. English Rose*

        Like this idea, and a couple of work colleagues immediately come to mind. And I completely agree about the importance of different age groups. Thank you.

      2. EJ*

        yes! my BFF was an acquaintance who invited me to her house to visit one day and we spent hours chatting there. I agree that the step to extend an invitation can be daunting, but something needs to happen to allow a friendship to develop from an acquaintance type relationship. good luck

    5. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      If you have the time and energy, have you considered starting a small book club/crafting group/gaming night/walking meetup? Pick a day of the week, source a location that works for you (either host at home if you’re ok with that, or else find a local cafe that would enjoy the extra business on a weeknight, or ask at your local library if they have space that can be reserved for community events); make some cute flyers to post around town; hope for the best!

    6. Jay*

      I joined a choir. I wasn’t looking for friends specifically – I love to sing. I’ve made one really good friend and have a large group of friendly acquaintances and regular social events outside of rehearsals. It’s a lot of fun. This is our first season fully back since the pandemic and it makes me so happy!

      I have also accepted that I’m the one who reaches out to most of my friends and we’re the house that hosts things. I have some theories about why this is – we have one kid who is living completely on her own a long way away and many of our friends still have kids at home and/or have kids who continue to require fairly intensive parenting into their 20s. We don’t have caring responsibilities for our parents, and many of our friends do. My husband is allergic to cats and most of our friends have cats, so even if they invite is, we end up asking them to relocate here. It bugged me for a while and now it doesn’t. I have the social life I want, my friends seem to genuinely enjoy my company, and we have a good time when people come here. I’d love it if there was some grown-up version of the student center where I could go hang out and run into people – that’s the much-vaunted “third space” and we don’t really have that around here.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Seconding. I’m a bit younger than you but in my choir there is an age range with plenty your age, and it’s very friendly. If you want to say which small city (and I absolutely get it if you don’t!) I could probably find you one as a starter for ten, especially if you are in the south; I do the Twitter account for my choir and we follow/are followed by lots of other choirs and choral-adjacent types.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        “I have also accepted that I’m the one who reaches out to most of my friends”

        I am also that person and for the longest time, it bothered me because I wondered if I might be pestering people who really didn’t want to spend time with me.

        But then one day, a woman who is one of the coolest people I know and whose friendship I treasure – but whom I see almost only when I initiate it – said, “Thank you so much for being an inviter. I never think of doing things but I am always so happy when you do and when you ask me to do them with you.”

        1. Jay*

          Yes! I had someone say something like that to me recently and it was so affirming.

          I’ve also realized that people think I’m busy and that my life is full and assume I will be too busy or not interested in them. This is not true (well, I am kinda busy…) and it helped me understand that people’s decisions are about them, not about me.

      3. English Rose*

        I love the choir idea, but I’m not musical. I know lots of people say they can’t sing, but I really can’t! Great advice though, and also really interesting what you say about being the inviter, and what @Texan in Exile says about it below. Thank you.

    7. MissCoco*

      I’m cheating currently, because I’m in a professional program which makes it much easier, but this also worked when I was single in a new city in my 20s.
      If I think someone seems cool or like they could be a friend, I ask them to do something. I know it sounds obvious, but reaching out can be hard for me to talk myself into.

      Also doing a weekly class or activity group were good ways for me to spark conversations and find those potential friends to “ask out”.

      I’ll second broad generational groups as well, some of my good friends when I was first living in that city were women in their 50s-80s who I met through a pilates class. After a few months of classes it seemed like everyone was really clicking and I asked a couple people if they’d want to get drinks after class sometime, and over a couple years, it became a big part of my social life.

    8. Lifeandlimb*

      The Power of Thrift has a blog post called “How To Make Friends” where she outlines how she made friends as an adult living in a foreign country.

    9. always making friends*

      I’m in my late 30s, no partner, no kids. I’ve been thinking lately that growing up, I expected to make friends for life. And that’s not really the case. There’s always ebb and flow in friendships, some move, some get married, some drift away, and I always have to be making new friends.

      For me this was an encouraging realization, since it helped me realize that I hadn’t somehow failed as an adult by not having more permanent friends; this is just the way of things. I share in case it’s encouraging to you.

    10. Junior Dev*

      Try a few meetup groups and try to find one or two you can attend weekly for a few months. Sometimes it takes a while to warm up to people. When you do go, introduce yourself to people. If you see anyone standing or sitting alone, say hi to them and ask how they’re doing. Remember that everyone at that group has chosen to leave the house and go to a setting where people socialize; don’t worry about bothering people by approaching them.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Oh and you might not make friends right off—try and think in terms of more incremental successes like remembering someone’s name and asking them about something they mentioned last time.

    11. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Are you musical? Maybe there’s a choir or city band or orchestra you could join? Or is there some other hobby you like that has local groups?

      The thing you need most for making friends organically is lots of shared time together in a low-pressure environment. Any hobby group with frequent rehearsals or meetings might work.

    12. Nitpicker*

      Coincidentally, the New York Times has a piece on this right now. You can read it online. They have a paywall but I think you get some free articles before you have to sign up.

    13. Chris in Scotland*

      Do you enjoy dancing? The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has branches all over the UK and beyond. I’ve found that to be friendly, fun and good exercise mentally as well as physically. Many people go by themselves; there’s no need to go with a partner.

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m in a similar situation, but in the US. I have had some success (yay!) with being active in my local garden club and other groups. When I meet someone I seem to “click” with, I screw up all my courage and ask if they want to go do something together. Go for a walk, hit a new shop or a farmer’s market or something low key.
      The screwing up my courage is the hardest part for sure! But so worth it.

  17. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    Genealogy nerds assemble!

    I’ve been fascinated by my family’s history for something going on 40 years now after my grandparents showed me old photographs or mentioned things about their ancestry (including a few famous historical figures).

    Over the years, however, I’ve found that I’m far more interested in the long-forgotten details in the lives of the “ordinary” people I’ve found in my family tree through my research. It really helps that the regional and national archives of my adopted country — where I have roots — are surprisingly thorough over the course of two or three centuries, so I can trace the movements of several of my ancestors from parish to parish throughout their lives.

    Some of the best small nuggets include finding out that my great-great-grandfather lived and worked just a few blocks from my own [place we don’t talk about on weekends], where he was living the day he took what became our family name (and an advertisement in the paper of record at the time stating he’d done so), and finding his father’s military record where it states he got busted for sneaking off his croft with a buddy from the next village over and going into town to drink.

    Any others out there who’ve been bitten by the family history bug? What are some of the small but interesting details you’ve dug up?

    1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Oh, I should add this one: the same branch of the family had a Bible where names and dates were duly recorded, and in it are two photographs of people that none of the old folks recognized. Based on my research through these same archives, I’ve been able to positively identify the people in one photograph and make a real strong guess as to the other.

    2. English Rose*

      Oh yes I love those small details. I’ve been able to go back several generations on my mum’s side. I found a news item that one of my 3rd or 4th great-uncles had been a horse cab driver in London and had been convicted for “furious driving”. And another had been a textile worker convicted of machine breaking when the industry was threatened by increased automation.

      But oh the frustration of not being able to find those missing links – I’m currently researching my grandmother’s oldest brother. Grandmother is long dead but she never spoke of him and I’ve lately wondered why. I have birth date and have traced him to age 26 but after that, nada, every search is a dead end!

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        “[A]nother had been a textile worker convicted of machine breaking when the industry was threatened by increased automation.”

        Ooh, a Luddite! Nifty! I have a Chartist a few generations back – a kind of radical working-class activist in the days before Karl Marx broke onto the scene.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          I am now having flashbacks to high school history and feel the need to express that all the demands of the Chartists are now in place except one (general elections annually). *gives self a gold star and wanders off to see if anyone wants to know why the north west had loads of cotton mills run by Quakers*

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        My dad had something similar – he’d found out quite late in life that his grandmother had been married to someone else before his grandfather, and they had a child. When my aunt told him that, it made sense of a time when he’d told his grandmother about this girl he’d met at some party, and she’d said “That’s your cousin”. He eventually tried to research his unknown uncle but had never managed to trace him (I think the question arose at some point over whether this uncle was going by a middle name, and Dad had no idea what first name he might have been registered under).

      1. Juneybug*

        Same thing here! I have two younger half-sisters (same dad) who found me via genealogy search. Had one of the sisters not reached out to me, I would have never known they existed (my parents were long divorced with no contact from bio-dad).
        One sister became one of my best friends (we can tell each other anything!). I have visit her three times over the last five years. She’s amazing and I am so glad she did the research.
        The other sister, who harbors grudges against our bio-dad (understandable as he’s a terrible person), does not want a relationship as it’s too much of a reminder of her awful childhood. I can respect that.

    3. Inkhorn*

      I found an old newspaper item about my great-great-grandfather and a dead cow.

      It wasn’t his cow – he found it, already deceased, close to the local schoolyard. Worried that it might pose a health hazard to the children, he took it away and destroyed it … then sent the local council a bill for 1 pound for services rendered.

      The council, after due deliberation, paid him ten shillings.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I got into family genealogy in a casual way – I was content with secondary/tertiary sources, which are far from gospel! – when my sister had her first kid, and found some interesting things, though for the most part our people seem to have been relatively boring: farmers, small business owners, teachers, very few dramatic incidents… Oh, we did have one ancestor who became governor of Michigan. (pause for dramatic reactions. Um… okay then! {grin})

      That branch of the family migrated from New England across to California by stages/generations, so the birth locations and death locations are often wildly separate. Indeed, all the family seems to have a tendency to scatter; careers in the military or in oil-well surveying helped, but at this point my immediate family from great-grandparents to niblings lived on the east coast, west coast, and deep South.

      By contrast, a friend who’s a professional genealogist found that her family seldom strayed from New England and most of them stayed within city limits – quite the contrast. (I envy their distant relationship to the now-infamous Lizzie Borden; much more interesting than my lot!)

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        Heh… got deep New England roots on both sides of the family. Dollars to doughnuts your friend and I are related somehow.

    5. Zephy*

      I haven’t personally gone on a genealogy deep-dive, but my mom has gotten into her family history recently. She was adopted as a toddler, and early in the pandemic (when she presumably had nothing better to do than chat with folks on Facebook, I guess), a friend of hers offered to help her locate her birth records, which led to tracking down her birth mom. My biological grandmother was still alive at that time, and my mom found her and got to meet her, along with a couple of half-sisters. “Grandma J” unfortunately passed away before I got to meet her myself, but Mom got a lot of good information from her before that, especially in regards to family medical history, which was the original impetus for wanting to look into this stuff (my mom is approaching 60 and her kids are grown now, she felt it was important for all of us to know if we had family risk factors for stuff like breast cancer and the like).

      She’s since gone down the ancestry.com/23andme/etc rabbit hole, and has found more half-siblings and learned more about her biological father. He died young (in the late 1980s, so he would probably have been in his 40s or 50s), of an unspecified cancer from what she could find, but he also had a son with another woman born 9 months almost to the day after my mom was born, so, you know, I’m betting he wasn’t exactly a clean-living kind of guy. I don’t live near her so I get all of this New Old Family Lore secondhand when she calls, but my God I bet some of my half-aunts and uncles have some Stories.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I love my scofflaw ancestors. They weren’t usually important enough to be famous, but some of them were locally infamous. There were the mother-daughter-granddaughter trio tried (and acquitted) for witchcraft in New England (the daughter twice!), the father-in-law of the middle one who took up with a floozie and tried to bring her back to his puritanucal town, the great-several-times-geandmother who, with some of her adult children, went on a marauding produce-stealing binge in the middle of the night, another one who was punished for living with a man not her husband, a great×7-grandfather who was too friendly with loyalists during the revolution, another of about the same era who slacked off assigned citizen duties … I seem to come from long lines of people who had “Screw You” as their mottos. The well-behaved ones, as the saying implies, did not make history, and they are just birth-married-died dry statistics. But I find that even discovering a nickname humanizes people from the past – so my Maria Magdalena suddenly becomes more approachable when she shows up as Molly in paperwork.

    7. Rara+Avis*

      My great-aunt and mom have both done a lot of genealogy. Here’s the best story: my sister-in-law has a distinctive family name. Her mother possesses a kind of quilt chart showing the generations bearing that name. She wanted to add her daughter and granddaughter to the quilt but doesn’t quilt herself, so asked my mother to help. My mom is reading up the generations and finds a name she recognizes— turns out my brother married his 13th cousin.

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        A few years ago I discovered my parents were seventh cousins… which only got weirder when that same ancestor turned up in the family tree of a woman I was dating at the time (another expat over here). Turns out she and I are eleventh cousins in two different ways.

    8. Helvetica*

      I used to do genealogy/family research a lot, with my grandfather on my mother’s side. He discovered that in the 1880s, his – our – ancestor was born 3 years after his mother had been a widower. And an apparently charitable pastor seemed to have looked the other way and recorded the child as from that marriage, and therefore as legitimate.

      Also discovered myself by reading old newspapers that my great-grandfather had been a POW (not in the US), as he had been fighting for our country’s independence. He was released. In a twist of fate, two decades later, after my country was occupied, he vehemently supported the new occupying power, which was completely antithetical to his previous activities. My grandmother, his daughter, had no idea about the POW thing, and we suspect that his later life was desperate attempt to not be caught and arrested for his views.

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      My brother inadvertently solved a century-old mystery in our family, the identity of our great-grandfather. He was the son of my great-grandmother’s employer, and when my grandfather was 3 years old he hopped a train to the opposite corner of the country and changed his name. Her family followed him on the train and tried to force him to come home and make an “honest woman” of her, and somebody got shot in the melee. My great-grandmother apparently never told a single soul, and somehow the secret never got out.

    10. ThatGirl*

      My own family isn’t incredibly interesting, but after my husband’s grandma died we learned some dark and fascinating info about her bio father. First we heard one story, then discovered that wasn’t quite true. Long story short he was an actual Chicago Outfit mobster and served time for murder.

    11. slowingaging*

      In a old Christmas card box, price tag 50c. My parents ssn cards with their current address in 1952. .. which I didn’t know. Same box, a letter from my Mom’s boss from 2000 saying how much she was appreciated. So interesting.

  18. Taking the long way round*

    The triumvirate of an autism diagnosis, my dad’s death, and the menopause descending upon me within 12 months, has tipped me over the edge into a mid-life crisis of immense proportions.
    I’m realising who I am (late in the day, hence the name), which is good, but…
    I’m on my own, no kids, and very few friends bc I find it difficult to make and maintain them.

    Any stories of mid-life success, love, health, happiness, friendship, standing up for yourself, new hobbies?
    Especially if you’re a woman going through the menopause or on the other side of it, much appreciated :)

    1. Stellar's Jay*

      I am in peri-menopause and both of my parents passed away a long time ago, so I meet some of your criteria. For me, the hardest part of these events is the fixed permanence of losing parents to death, and losing familiarity and comfort with your own body processes. Add in your autism diagnosis and you are going through so much change and loss. Are you seeing a therapist? Having a supportive person to help you work through grief and anxiety may help.

      I am 55, married with adult kids, and lonely. At our age people may change in ways that are not positive for them. I am trying to remain focused on healthy activities for my body and mind and I am trying to make new friends too. I have gone to a few board game meet ups, and they are good because you have an activity and a topic of conversation to focus on. Have you tried the Meet Up app/website? I have a note on my phone that reminds me of things I enjoy doing and should do more of: walking in the woods, birdwatching, reading, trying new restaurants. I know I can build a better life for myself if I just keep taking small steps forward.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Thank you. I’m not seeing a counsellor at the moment but I have access to one. I think I’ll go back soon. The point about losing bodily familiarity along with a parent is very pertinent.
        I’m sorry for your loss.

    2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’m so sorry, that is a lot all at once! Losing my dad left me very unthethered for quite a while, but now I’m able to sit with the loss much less painfully. It gets better.

      I can’t speak to menopause yet, but I have a complex chronic illness that toys with me the way my mom’s menopause messed with her, so I can empathize about the uncertainty of body/health changes. It’s stressful to not know how you will feel on any given day, or if you can accomplish the things on your list.

      Regarding the autism diagnosis, I’ve been listening to a new podcast called The Loudest Girl in the World, in which the host, a reporter, describes getting her diagnosis in her 40s. Her experience might help, or at least be a fun listen?

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Thank you so much for that recommendation. I’ll give it a listen. Best wishes.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Any chance your user name is related to The Chicks’ song of the same title?

      Sending you solidarity and good wishes. (My circumstances are somewhat different, but I’ve also had a Lot of Changes in the past, say, eighteen months.) My best advice is to reach out for new activities while also honoring your own self and your preferred ways of doing things. It also helps if you can keep your home comfortable for yourself and maybe for occasional visitors. (Housekeeping standards can be personal! I’m not saying you have to keep things immaculate as per a magazine article or home-staging-for-house-selling.)

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Yes! it is from the D-Chicks’ song of the same name :)
        Thanks for the recommendations. I had a look at MeetUps and have joined the waiting list for a walk next weekend so we’ll see how it goes.
        I’ve been thinking of joining a choir actually. I had an appointment to visit one before the plague, then I got ill so couldn’t go, then lockdown happened! This is a good excuse for returning to that idea.

        1. OtterB*

          Late response. I didn’t have the triple whammy like you did, but I joined a barbershop chorus about 10 years ago now when I was ready for something new and it has been great. It was moving outside my comfort zone, getting some right-brain activity in when my work is all left-brain, and it has been a source of some good friends.

          Book recommendation: Improv Wisdom, by Patricia Ryan Madson. It talks about applying some of the principles of improv theater to life in general, and to remaking your life. I found it really helpful.

    4. Generic+Name*

      I left an abusive marriage in my late 30s and later met and married the love of my life at age 40. I recently got a big promotion at work (reporting to executive level management), and my confidence has generally skyrocketed since I turned 40.

    5. Madame Arcati*

      My dad died a couple of years ago, I am in my forties, I have no kids (that’s just the way life turned out) and although I am in a relationship we don’t live together and no plans to do so.
      I find it helpful to remind myself that just because “everyone” does certain things in a certain way (spoiler alert – they don’t) doesn’t mean my life is the less because I don’t. At the risk of being a bit Pollyanna; I like to think of the positives; I bought this house all by myself and I can have things just how I like. I do things I like to do (such as hobbies – I sew, quilt, sing in a choir, do the gardening ineptly…) without inconveniencing anyone else or reneging on responsibilities. I contribute to society via my job and am valued there.
      You don’t need to value or assess yourself in terms of your relationship to others; you yourself are enough.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        I find it helpful to remind myself that just because “everyone” does certain things in a certain way (spoiler alert – they don’t) doesn’t mean my life is the less because I don’t.

        Oof this hit me hard. You’re very right. That will take some time to process the implications of that. Thank you.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I feel for you, Taking the long way round. Parents are dead, and I’m mostly menopausal, a cancer survivor, single and childless not by choice and thinking, “Is this all there is?” And the pandemic hasn’t helped.

      But in many ways, I am better than I have ever been. I was patient enough to wait and re-connect with my old friends whom I’d lost a bit when their kids were young and they were very busy, and now we’re in better contact. I finally got a regular slate of doctors who help me be more on top of my health. I care less about having to have everyone like me, and cutting down on the people pleasing has helped me to say no more often and to feel less guilt. Before the pandemic, in my late 40s-early 50s, I re-connected with playing an instrument in a musical group and made a lot of great friends and acquaintances of all ages (though covid has put a damper on that) and got a GREAT deal of joy from the experience. I stopped pining for my exes to love me in the way that I wanted but that wasn’t going to happen, and now I have excellent relationships with them — like, I’m able to accept them for who they are and appreciate what we do have without obsessing about what we don’t have. I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s okay if a friendship ends and that I don’t have to “fix” it, even if I don’t like it. I take a lot of things less personally now. I’ve learned that my [place we don’t talk about on the weekends] doesn’t really give a damn whether I live or die, which sucks, but which has helped me develop a better [thing we don’t talk about on the weekends]-life balance without feeling guilty. I get a surprising amount of pleasure from calling my aunts and catching up with them.

      And if you had asked me six or seven years ago, I could never have predicted any of this. I’ve had a couple of crises myself over the years where I couldn’t imagine anything pleasant in my future, but it has always worked out in the end.

      Very best of luck on your journey — I wish you great joy and many pleasant surprises and experiences as you move forward.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Thank you so much for saying this. I do sometimes think “there must be more than this”, which gets me down, but I do believe that it’ll work out for the best in the end.
        It’s the going through it that’s tough, but I do very much like how you framed it.

    7. Anon-E-Mouse*

      A few months before my 50th birthday, I decided I needed to get involved with animal rescue – something I’d thought about for a long time but didn’t think my heart could handle. At the same time, I decided to learn how to use a good camera, in preparation for a 50th birthday trip of a lifetime.

      After spending all my life thinking I was just a “words” person (I’m a lawyer) with no experience in visual arts (I don’t see very well), I learned that I had a gift for photography. I became fascinated by the practice, studied as much as I could and started volunteering with animal rescue groups as a photographer as well as caregiver.

      Soon, that led me to question my values and behavior. How could I say that I loved animals when I was caring for some (eg dogs and cats( but supporting the exploitation of others (ie farm animals). A trip to a farm sanctuary for ly 50th birthday led to the commitment to go vegan and to use photography to advocate for animals.

      My life was transformed almost overnight.

      I continued working on my photography and within a few years was exhibiting my work in juried shows. One series won a national “Peoples’ Choice” award and became part of a 9-city tour that was seen by hundreds of thousands of people (because it took place in large city parks). A book publisher approached me and I got a contract to publish the work as a book, too.

      Even more important than the impact I’ve had with my photography is the relationships I’ve made through coursework, connections with other photographers and with an international community of animal rescuers and advocates.

      (PS – All this happened while navigating peri-menopause.)

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Oh wow that’s absolutely fantastic!
        Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me :)

    8. Weegie*

      I have exactly the same life circumstances as you, but a little older and further down the path. Losing my dad was very hard, as we were close. I, too, struggle to make and maintain friendships – but those I do have are good ones. The key for me is having a job that suits me (it took a few years to get there!), living in a place that works for me (small, quiet town, but in reach of a city with lots of amenities and opportunities), and having hobbies that stimulate me, some of which are solo and absorb me, and some that give me opportunities to make friends. I have found that if I don’t ‘gel’ with one group or another, it’s best to give up that activity. I find that walking groups are good, as they allow for lots of chats with different people throughout the walk. It’s definitely a process, and often a long one, to find a place in a community. Find out where the interesting people are in yours, and join in with whatever they’re doing – having a specific activity, task or interest to focus on with others has really worked for me.

      1. Taking the long way round*

        Oh I’ve just joined a walking group on MeetUp.
        Thanks so much for what you said – you’ve given me some much needed hope.

    9. Taking the long way round*

      Thank you so much for your responses, you’ve all given me lots of food for thought and made me realise that I am not alone, which has been very helpful in what has been quite a difficult weekend. Thank you.

    10. LittleMarshmallow*

      I don’t necessarily have advice since I’m not quite at menopause yet… buuuuut, I’m 38, female, no kids (and not likely to have any), no spouse/SO, unsure of sexuality, and lost my mother about 16 years ago. It’s a weird time of life because you get to a point where you know that certain “experiences of adulthood” aren’t going to happen for you. I’m in the process of learning to be ok with that and even more… learning not to care what others think of it. I’m fortunate to have a parent left that doesn’t pressure me to do life differently (although his wife is endlessly judgy about it). He knows that child bearing/rearing isn’t for everyone and I have situations that would potentially make it risky. He knows that it’s ok to live your whole life single.

      Finding friends is hard! Mine sadly are mostly from work although I love them dearly! But I found some really dear ones through hobbies too. The fiber art community (knitting, crocheting, spinning, Felting, weaving) and the quilting community are both tons of fun! Lots of private shops have open crafting times and classes where you can bond with people. If you have the desire to learn any of these I highly recommend. You don’t have to do them perfectly to enjoy them. I don’t know where you live but nature based hobbies (rock hounding, mushrooming, hiking, bird or butterfly watching) or other domestic hobbies (cooking, baking, garment making, gardening, woodworking) are theoretically fun too! Heck, try glass blowing! Check your local community Ed program for classes for hobbies. Go alone or take a friend! There can be a lot of freedom in not taking a traditional adult journey. Embrace it guilt free!

  19. PsychNurse*

    I have a question about this site general. It is the norm on AskAManager that nobody gives any details that are even remotely specific. Like, I would be interested to hear what country you’re in– but nobody ever says “We live in Sweden.” They say “We live in a country where English is not the primary language.” Or if someone is asking a work question, they say “I work in a very large and somewhat prestigious industry” rather than “I work in investment banking.” Anybody have any insight into why? (Obviously I know people are trying to avoid getting identified by their coworkers, but naming an industry or a country wouldn’t do that, so there must be more to it.)

    1. Octavia*

      I can’t speak for the OP, but I do this across the internet, not just on AAM. One specific detail like profession or country may not be identifying, but those facts in combination with others that come up in discussion might be (or on other places where someone may use the same user name). Even writing style can “out” someone – famous case is Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman.

      Just my two cents.

    2. RagingADHD*

      1) Paranoia and poor risk assessment. Often the people who believe that they are obscuring their internet footprint are actually leaving a far more identifiable trail than they realize because they are bad at assessing which details are identifiable.

      2) Avoiding derailing or insulting commentary. You can pick any country, industry, or job, and there will be someone with a negative opinion about it that has nothing to do with your question. And they just itching to tell you how awful the place you live / work is.

      Actually, it’s still derailing if the opinions are positive. It’s not helpful if you ask a substantive question and just get a string of “I love Sweden, it’s so beautiful!”

      “I’ve always wanted to visit! I saw a Swedish person on TV once!”

      “As a Swede, do you know if Swedish Fish were invented there?”

      “Don’t call people Swedes, that’s a vegetable. The preferred term is Swedish person or person from Sweden.”

      “No, that’s not a thing, actually. Swede is a perfectly okay term.”

      “Just because it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother the OP!”

      “I’m allergic to Swedish Fish, I almost died when my narcissist mother-in-law slipped one into my Jello.”

      1. SofiaDeo*

        This is perfect. Reminds of how all the sideline pet comments mostly derailed the OP’s question when it was mentioned “partner bought a pet” when it was actually a “partner bought a gun” post.

        1. Generic+Name*

          Omg, yes! I kept reading all the pet-related comments and I kept thinking, “but she said it wasn’t actually a pet”. I agree that sometimes people’s efforts to anonymize their situation just leads to confusion. I’m sure I’m in the minority in this, but I have a hard time following extended analogies of teapot painting or llama grooming or other made up jobs. If you feel that your situation is so unique as to be identifiable, it’s fine to substitute a different job or industry, but I feel like using something generic like “accounting” should be sufficiently disguising bit still be understandable to most.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            The pet/gun thing was tricky though because there were some similarities between the two (expensive and you should have your partner’s consent before bringing it into the home) that the OP alluded to, but it wasn’t clear what exactly those similarities were, so people had to speculate about whether the OP had to care for the item in some way. I also think some people just didn’t read the post closely :) I honestly see why OP changed the item; the comments could just have easily turned into a political discussion. But the pet thing threw people off for sure.

            I’m also thinking about the time when the OP complained about being asked to build something with blocks during an interview but it was later revealed the company was Lego.

      2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        That’s spot-on, Raging!

        I appreciate two things about anonymization:
        1) Focus is on the workplace problem, rather than the sector. It’s less easy to think – “oh, that’s because it’s in accounting”, or “not relevant to me”.
        2) Less speculation about who the LW is and thus fewer non-LWs being speculated about by random internet users

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I think another reason is just that people find the llama and teapot analogies fun and that keeping it non-specific has become so much the norm here that people just go with it.

    4. Not in the US*

      I am pretty vague about my non-English-speaking country because if I also mention my industry, you could probably find me on LinkedIn! Especially outside of Europe there aren’t so many people who read English-only workplace blogs!

  20. Flightless*

    Does anyone have experience with bringing carry-on luggage on American Airline?

    The only thing that stresses me out about traveling by plane is the possibility of not getting my luggage back. I decided to buy a roller bag that exactly fits the carry-on dimensions so I could keep it with me. Of course then I read about people flying on larger planes (the kind with two rows of three seats) losing their carry-ons when they were checked at the gate because the plane ran out of room in the overhead bins. And then I read about people flying on smaller planes (two rows of two seats) losing their carry-ons when they were “valeted” because the overhead bins don’t fit standard carry-on size luggage. I’ll be going on two larger planes and two smaller planes for my trip, so it sounds like I’m guaranteed to not be able to keep my carry-on with me for half my flights, and might not be able to keep it with me for the other two flights.

    So bringing a carry-on is pointless in my situation? Am I missing something?

    Does anyone have any suggestions on “luggage locators” to buy?

    Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you have an iPhone, AirTags are great for luggage tracking. But that said, I fly a minimum of ten times a year with checked luggage, and have never had my checked luggage lost.

      1. Flightless*

        I have an android, unfortunately.

        I did read that they only lose like 9 out of 1,000 bags, which hypothetically doesn’t sound like horrible odds, but then everyone I talk to tells me they (or someone they know) had their bags arrive a few days late at their destination (which is bad since I’ll only be staying in a few states for two days each) or had them lost completely. And my brain is like “PANIC PANIC PANIC.”

        1. Octavia*

          Tile does the same thing as Airtags but are Android compatible. Androids have fewer users (so I hear) so it may not be as good as Apple, though.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I do have a friend who used Tile for such a thing before the AirTags were released, and she was pretty happy with them.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I flew American last week with just a carry on bag. The plane had new, more spacious overhead bins, that could accommodate 4 rolling bags and more, based on the bin my bag was in. Both planes were full, and as far as I could tell there wasn’t a shortage of space in the bins.

    3. Forensic13*

      I’ve always put the MOST important stuff (pills, my glasses, money etc) in my carry-on that goes under the seat. That way I can replace even the most annoying things when I get to my destination if I have to.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      “Wherever you go, they sell clothes.” -my brother-in-law, long-time international traveler

      His other advice is “half the stuff, twice the money.”

      Stuff you don’t want to risk even a small chance of losing, put in the carry-on that can fit under the seat in front of you. (Your glasses, prescription meds, etc.)

      I will say that in decades of travel I have only briefly lost a checked bag when the luggage cart carrying it went astray in a blizzard. My spouse did international business travel in the before times and never lost anything.

      Reasons for a carry-on bag:
      a) you don’t need much stuff
      b) you don’t want to deal with the wait for checking a bag/claiming a bag on each end
      c) to avoid the checked bag fees

      Advice from a seasoned traveler to a desperate college student who had misread the time on her ticket: While the check-in desk wouldn’t take her bag, she could take it through security and check it at the gate.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Amen, brother-in-law! I always remind myself, as long as I have my glasses, my medication, my wallet and my phone, I’m probably not going anywhere that I can’t replace anything I forgot if I need to. (Include passport on that list too if appropriate, but it’s been a minute there.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          One reason I really like the passport card–it fits easily in a wallet, and then your passport is somewhere else and so you are much less likely to lose both at once.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Your BIL must be an average size person. I can NOT just go into a store and buy clothes in most of the US, let alone the world. That was an out of touch thing to repeat.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          He’s actually very tall, and so in many parts of the world off the rack wouldn’t be great for him. But he is someone who goes through life in practical problem solving mode.

    5. RagingADHD*

      There were a whole bunch of stories in July about increases in lost luggage due to the surge in travelers while airlines were understaffed. Even still, losing carryons is much rarer because they are going to be on the same plane. If you think a rare chance of something going wrong means it is “pointless,” then I’m not sure how you navigate ordinary daily risks.

      There are a number of “Android alternatives to AirTags,” and you can find them with that search string.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      IME, if your luggage is taken at the gate to be stowed it is usually given back to you there (not on the luggage carousel). They usually have the bags on the aero bridge waiting as you deplane.

      Also a bigger plane is no guarantee that your luggage won’t be stowed. Since no one in North America seems to want to check in any luggage, if you’re in one of the last boarding zones they’re almost guaranteed to run out of overhead compartment space.

      If you’re handing a bag over at the gate though, you have nothing to worry about – it’s still going on the same plane. When checked luggage gets lost it’s usually because of multiple connections when it didn’t get transferred to the correct flight, had tags ripped off in handling etc.

    7. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      IME, the folks who board last have the greatest chance of having their stuff gate checked at the last second. It’s thereon the jetway when you land, but no one checks to be sure you’re taking the right bag, so be sure you have some VERY VISIBLE way of identifying it as yours (bright colored tags, colored tape on the handles, etc.). If there’s a way to upgrade your boarding group, that should help ensure there’s ample space for your stuff when you board. Good luck!!

    8. acmx*

      What are the aircraft types of the smaller planes and your boarding zones?

      Are you staying in the US? Or do you have codeshares in there with non US airlines?

    9. Jay*

      I fly American all the time and have never had a lost bag. I hate waiting for checked luggage so I usually try to travel with a carryon anyway. As someone mentioned below, the new planes hold a lot more luggage and it’s only the last boarding group that sometimes has to check their bags at the gate. Agree with putting meds, glasses, and electronics in the “personal item” that goes under the seat for added security.

      For smaller planes, they usually gate check, which means they take the bag on the jetway at the door to the plane and return it to you there when you land. I’ve never heard of losing a bag that way, although I’m sure it happens.

      Also remember that losing a bag makes a good horror story. “I flew to San Diego and everything arrived right on time” is boring. No one talks about that. It’s still what happens for the vast majority of people.

      (and just for the record, not everyone can replace their clothes in stores. I was very fat for a long time and could not buy clothing in any mainstream brick-and-mortar store. That’s one of the many things that made travel much much more stressful)

      1. fposte*

        I love smaller-plane gate check–never had a problem, and it feels like there’s lower risk. Since my nearest airport is only smaller planes, it’s pretty common for me to do gate-check for one leg and then overhead for the other. As noted, the main risk is that the overheads are full, especially with the narrower planes, as you note, where only one side can hold the largest carryons. It can be worth considering paying for priority one way or another if that’s how you want to travel.

    10. Retired Accountant*

      You should Google “American Airlines boarding zones”, there are nine of them and boarding early is obviously the best way to get your bag on. Look at the NerdWallet article. At a minimum sign up for the American frequent flyer program; that will get you in zone 6. And there are generally offers to buy earlier boarding.

      I fly a lot, and having my carryon lost is not something that’s ever happened to me or anything I worry about in the slightest. I don’t understand how the tiles help in this situation; don’t they have to be in a certain range to work? And I think 99% of the time if your bag is delayed they know exactly where it is and generally have it on the next plane.

      I just want to clarify that there are two different ways your carryon bags can be “checked”. Some smaller airplanes just cannot accommodate rollaboards. In that case your bags will be gate checked, they’ll put a tear off tag on it and you’ll get it back on the gangway immediately after your exit the plane. Early boarding won’t help you with this, but as previously mentioned the only thing that could go wrong is that someone else could pick up your bag so make it distinctive in some way. The other thing that could happen is the overheads get full, in which case they will check your bag through to baggage claim at your final destination and give you a barcoded claim tag. This is much less likely to happen if you are in Group 6 or earlier.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I did see an article where the blogger was able to convince an agent that their system was wrong and the checked bag was still near the gate instead of in baggage claim as the computer said. It wasn’t “lost,” it just hadn’t been put on the cart from the plane to the terminal. And another where another passenger picked up the wrong bag by mistake.

        But both of those were checked bags at baggage claim. It doesn’t seem as useful for carryons that can only be in one of 2 places anyway. But if $30 makes the OP feel better, there are worse things.

      2. Jay*

        The other thing about being an AA Frequent Flyer is that if you download the app and have your FF info registered, you can track your bag on the app. I forgot about that! I find it very reassuring, and I suspect it helps if the bag really doesn’t make it because you have the info to give to them. You also get better access to their phone service.

      3. Loopy*

        I fly American for work regularly and it’s almost always the smaller plane. I hate checking bags and getting gate checked just because I’m horribly impatient and don’t want to go to the baggage carousel.

        I signed up for AA Advantage just to get the group 6 boarding it’s it’s always worked get me overhead space. I’ve never seen them make people gate check bags due to I overhead space limitations before boarding group 7. If I’m really nervous, sometimes they’ll offer Priority for a few and that gets you to group 4 and you definitely won’t have to worry about overhead space then. I’ve bought it as low as 23 dollars. They don’t always offer this option though but it’s a guarantee for overhead space if you’re able and willing to pay for it. .

        Signing up for Advantage is probably the best bet to spend no extra money and ensure you board before they start gate checking bags due to overhead space limitations.

    11. Not A Manager*

      The airlines put barcode trackers on the bags. Usually delayed bags have been mis-directed, not actually lost, so they know where the bags physically are in their system and they deliver them to you if they are late. That said, it’s a pain to be without your stuff for four days even if you do eventually get it back.

      I try to pack in two bags that both work for carry-on. I put my absolute essentials in the “personal item” that fits under your seat, which can actually be quite large. I’ve seen people bring completely stuffed full-sized daypacks as their personal item. That has never been taken from me or denied, and on a very small plane in the worst-case scenario it fits in the overhead.

      I put the rest of my stuff in a standard carry-on size roller bag and put that in the overhead. If you want a better chance of not being denied, purchase airfare that not only allows overhead luggage, but that also puts you in the earlier boarding groups. They deny luggage space to the final boarders, not the early ones.

      Also, remember that whatever you are wearing isn’t counted at all. I don’t care if I’m flying out of the heart of a volcano, if I need a coat and boots at my destination, I am wearing them onto the plane. Sometimes I’m wearing multiple layers. Bring an empty tote bag in your small bag, and unload the layers into that after everyone has boarded. The plane always has nooks and crannies you can fit small, squishy bags into, even if it’s out of room for hard suitcases.

    12. OyHiOh*

      My children flew AA multiple times this past summer with rolling suitcases that fit carry on dimensions. Importantly, they flew as unaccompanied minors so they had an adult shadowing them, and helping put carry on’s away. Nothing got lost. Remarkably, only one child got significantly delayed on one flight but I think that was strictly due to good fortune.

      I would use airtags or similar as insurance!

    13. Maggie*

      I’ve only had my carryon force-checked a handful of times out of tons of flights. I would recommend getting a bag that holds a couple days of stuff that can fit under the seat in front of you. Then you KNOW you can keep it 100% and should something be lost you have your essentials and couple days of clothes. Alternatively you could pay whatever extra fee it is to get in the early boarding groups to secure overhead bin space.

    14. Meowsy*

      If you don’t have mobility issues that prevent you from carrying a bag throughout the airport, I always bring a duffle, backpack,or other soft sided bag that I can push under the seat. I’ve been able to fit clothes, hair tools, toiletries, a book, and my laptop for a week long trip and still find a way to shove it under there. It’s much more spacious under the seat than you’d think. Even on tiny puddle jumpers, I’ve gotten away with packing the bag in there. I generally do not carry a personal item in addition to the carryon unless it’s a shorter trip and I can fit both under the seat.

    15. Alex*

      I always try to volunteer be one of the ones who gets my carry on gate checked lol! I’d rather check it but I try to avoid paying the fee. I’ve never had any issue with not getting it back, but just in case, I put an extra pair of underwear and T shirt to sleep in in my backpack that I put under the seat in front of me, along with my prescriptions, just in case.

      Once in like 2001 I had a checked bag get lost, but that was a situation where I was switching airlines halfway through the trip.

    16. Rara+Avis*

      I traveled with 6 students on American in July. All of our flights were delayed; for one we changed planes 3 times. We were the last zone to board every time; I had checked my bag and the kids had to gate check. Even with the multiple changes, all of our bags made it every time. Some of the delays were due to short staffing on the ground and our bags still made it. Anecdotal, I know, and it doesn’t help if you’re one of the 9 in 1000 — but they have good systems in place in this technological age (scanning every tag as the load and unload).

    17. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      The only time I ever had to gate check my bag was when flying on a very small plane on a short hop flight. The plane was too small to bother with the cargo handling etc and it was a lot more like taking a big coach bus — they just pulled stuff out of the hold and you picked it up as you left the aircraft.

      Perhaps you could swap to a bag that is slightly smaller than the maximum dimensions? Or get a soft sided bag that is easier to squash for trips when you will be on a smaller plane?

    18. Nancy*

      The only times I have ever gate checked my luggage is when I volunteered to do so. I have never lost any luggage. Millions of people fly every day and never lose luggage. You just don’t read a out them because no one writes articles about how their flight was fine.

    19. IT Manager*

      When you get it gate-checked or valeted, you skip all the routing from the ticket counter to the plane and it’s more likely to arrive on the same plane. Sometimes the bags from gate-check are kept separate and delivered right at the gate, not at baggage claim.

      So, still a better risk to bring only a carry on.

      I’ve had lost or delayed luggage several times but never from a carry-on bag (and I travelled weekly for work domestic and for fun internationally. So thats a lot of carry on bags.)

    20. we almost had it all*

      I’ve valet-checked bags numerous times on American Airlines flights (domestic US) and never had a problem. I don’t see how they could get lost in that situation. As I’m exiting the plane onto the jetway, they’re unloading the valet-checked bags right there and I can grab mine and keep going.

      “Oh BUt somEONE MIght TAKE Your BAG!1!,!!!1”
      I mean, are you exiting the plane with your eyes screwed shut and your headphones jammed up to volume 15 and just purposely NOT paying attention??? If not then you’ll be fine.

      A standard checked bag does have some risk of being lost or stolen (and possibly never recovered), but some people get so paranoid about that possibility that they get a carry-on bag the size of a small car, stuff it well beyond any reasonable volume, and then take up most of the carry-on space on the damn plane (and can’t seem to walk down the plane aisle without letting their Cadillac-sized bag smack into at least 3 passengers).

      Please don’t be that person—pay the fee to check your bag and take a Valium, or pack a reasonable amount of stuff into a normal sized carry on. And then still take a Valium because my god.

    21. Boarding group 6*

      I fly American all the time, am an Advantage member and am always boarding group 6. 99% of the time I only do carry on and if you are in the first wave of group 6 there is always bin space. If you have to valet check because the plane is too small you just get your bag in the jetway after you deplane, no problem, it doesn’t get lost. Last month I decided to check a bag instead and it got lost! I got it back later that day but such a hassle and required a return visit to the airport – Boston Logan. So I will try to not break my carry on only rule again!

    22. Just another Fed*

      I travel A LOT! I have Tile trackers (been using them for years, before the Apple trackers were out) in my suitcases, carry-ons, wallet, etc. Highly recommend just for the peace of mind.

  21. Admiral Thrawn Rocks the Blue*

    From Tallahassee, FL. Last week I posted about my hurricane fears. I’m glad to say Ian avoided here entirely but has stomped through much of the state. I predict this will destroy the existing insurance carriers. They could barely scrape it together to buy reinsurance in June. The state will have to take over backing these companies. Citizens can’t do it all.

  22. Asenath*

    Oh, family history is fascinating. There’s so many little details and rabbit trails that are fascinating. In my case, well, mine and that of one of my sisters, who shares my obsession, we are very nearly sure where one of our great great grandmothers was born and raised. She was born in 1854, which isn’t that long ago, but that branch of the family lived in an area with very poor records, and a tendency for whatever records might have been existed to be stored in flammable buildings heated by wood stoves. We had some leads from later documentation, all pointing to the same general area, but contradictory as to specific locations. I was also spending time tracing down an uncle by marriage’s ancestry, which fortunately led me through areas with better documentation. I sorted out which of the women in his father’s life had been a “companion” (as described in an obituary), which the step-mother who mostly raised him, and which his biological mother (my uncle has been dead for a long time, so I couldn’t ask him). And then I hit a brick wall. The records were good, but they showed that his biological mother hadn’t been born in the region I was sure she had been born. I eventually tracked down information showing that of course she had been born there, but under a surname that she never used as her maiden name – but it was the one in the marriage records. She was born illegitimate, registered under her mother’s maiden name, her mother married when she was about 3 or 4, and thereafter she went by her foster/maybe biological? father’s surname. He witnessed her wedding – but there can’t have been an adoption, because if there had been, her legal surname would have been that of the father who raised her, and would have been used in the marriage records.

    1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      Oh, now *that’s* the kind of sleuthing that makes it a whole lot of fun for me. I got the same feeling when I was finally able to identify the mystery family in one of the photographs I mentioned above — the father, my distant uncle, came to a tragic end in the 1890s, and it was deeply profound to be able to look at the picture and know who it was.

      The whole “uncle by marriage” thing reminds me of a similar one with my great-aunt’s husband; he came from this country as well. I’ve been in touch with his grand-niece, who also had a bunch of mystery photographs, and digging around to identify them led us to a regional museum that has a collection of folk tunes written down in the early 1800s by *another* uncle by marriage. It’s scanned and online so I’ve downloaded it and scraped a few out on my fiddle now and then. It’s fun!

    2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      I love it when sleuthing uncovers the answers to those kind of questions! Forgotten history emerging from obscurity, and the satisfaction of knowing…

      The “uncle by marriage” story reminds me of my great-aunt’s husband, who also came from my adopted country. I’ve been in touch with his grand-niece out on the US West Coast, and she had a bunch of old photos of people she didn’t recognize. Following up on one of them revealed he was an uncle by marriage to my uncle by marriage, and a court photographer, no less! Mr. Photographer’s father wrote down a collection of folk music in a notebook sometime in the early 1800s; it’s now housed in a regional museum and a scanned version is available online. So I’ve downloaded it and play a few on my fiddle every now and then.

  23. Omicron booster experience*

    Unfortunately I’m removing this because some of the responses are going into medical advice and the topic, as I’m sure you can imagine, is rife for misinformation. I’m sorry! – Alison

  24. Weary Doc*

    Anyone else stressing over loved ones in Florida? I broke into tears after talking briefly with my sister yesterday. She is safe but no power and her house is damaged. I feel helpless to do anything other than tell her she is welcome to hop on a plane and come here.

    1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I am in the weird position of knowing I have lots of family in Puerto Rico but not actually having contact info for them (thanks adoption!) Hurricane Maria was a really hard time for me and this past couple weeks with Fiona I just haven’t been sleeping well. It’s so frustrating to feel an ache for a place but also not have anyone on the ground there I can actually call to check on.

      1. Weary of noise*

        That would really be hard, the whole country off the grid! I got a phone call from a random stranger the morning after Ian to tell me my sister was safe. He came across her in an area with no service, got my number and called me when he had a signal.

    2. Lilo*

      I grew up in Florida and have lived through a couple hurricanes. It’s weird but when you have nothing to do it ultimately just gets really, really boring. So just keep the connection and be there for a distraction.

    3. fposte*

      Elderly in-law family. And I was just getting over worrying about the Maritimes, which really got nailed with Flora.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy to everyone who’s coping with the hurricane damage, whether in person or for relatives and friends. (I have some online friends who live in the hardest-hit areas, so I’m doing some worrying on their behalf myself.)

    5. Anon in FL*

      I’m here in Tampa Bay and my heart goes out to my neighbors down south. The Tampa Bay Times has a round up of places to donate to, including organizations giving out cash assistance to those who need it to help with food, water, and repairs. You might also be able to connect your sister with some of those resources when she’s able to contact you again. Otherwise, unfortunately, there’s nothing for us to do but wait it out, I think.

    6. noncommittal pseudonym*

      My 85-year-old father is down there by himself, as my mom happened to be visiting my sister when the storm hit, so, yes, I’m pretty anxious. No damage to the house, fortunately, but the power is still out, and it’s unclear when it’s coming back on. His only means of communication is his cell phone, and he can only charge it by running the car.

    7. atexit8*

      I lived through 3 days of no power from Superstorm Sandy.
      It was a lesson about being prepared or as prepared as I can be.
      Fortunately no structural damage to the house.
      We fortunately still had running water. That was a concern.
      My house has natural gas for cooking, so after Sandy, I bought long matches to light the burners so that I can cook.
      Outdoor solar lights brought inside for light.
      I purchased 2 Mr. Buddy propane heaters and small propane canisters.
      I purchased equipment so that I can power the cable modem + router and small TV and charge smartphones if I lose power.
      The only thing I still can’t do is run the water heater and the refrigertor.
      That will require additional expenditure.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      No one I personally know, but I’m thinking of you and all who have been affected personally or had loved ones in the path of the hurricane. So awful.

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      My mom lives in the central northern part of Florida – like Jacksonville area. I know she wasn’t directly under the track, but I haven’t heard from her either. So yeah, stress. Happens every hurricane season.

  25. PhyllisB*

    I hope this doesn’t veer too much towards medical advice, it’s really more nutritional: I went yesterday to for my pre-op workup (in preparation for a hip replacement.) The doctor told me my sodium was low and she wanted to see it up a bit. Can any of you suggest healthy ways to increase my sodium? I do add salt to my food, and I occasionally eat things like salty chips and such. I just don’t add it at the table because I don’t like a lot of salt.
    I find this ironic since doctors have always told us CUT sodium, and I do take blood pressure pills.

    1. Anon5*

      No idea if this is particularly healthy, but soups tend to have lots of sodium. Would probably be better for you than chips.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, she mentioned eating Campbell’s soup. I’m a huge label reader and already knew it was loaded with sodium. I will try this, but thought I’d throw this out there for other suggestions. I don’t want to eat a lot of junk food. Thank you for responding.

      2. Unum Hoc Scio*

        My mother had to increase her sodium for years (due to heart problems after she’d been on a low sodium diet for decades to help my father, also for heart problems). Her answer? Dill Pickles. Super high in sodium and low in carbs and fats.

        Virtual hugs and support.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Hmmm…I forgot about dill pickles. I was talking to two ladies from church several months ago and they were talking about drinking dill pickle juice (Blech!! I like pickles, but the juice??!!) One of them was using it for leg cramps, the other for weight loss. I don’t think I would care for the juice, but I might start indulging in pickles more often.
          Thanks for the suggestion.

    2. Retired Accountant*

      Without purporting to offer medical advice (which would be inappropriate as a retired accountant), if I want to up my sodium intake before a marathon I drink V-8 juice which feels a little healthier than salty snacks.